Segment descriptions
Politics & Society in
     20th Century America Series
Roaring 20s, Part 2     

             Description: Roaring 20s 2            

  Roaring 20s, Part 2
  sampler  1’-19”    (63’ lecture.

Why in the 1920s is Benito Mussolini considered an American business hero?

         play sampler



Changes in The Twenties (continued)                    


Impact of the auto.  Transforms the U.S.  Spawns other industries.  Roads are surfaced.  Changes everyday lives: access to work, vacation choices, dating habits. Finance capitalists are dependent on banks, but Henry Ford is self-financing.  Ford’s dark side: acts brutally against unions, is a vicious anti-Semite.


Entertainment.  Movies and the coming of sound in the 1927 "Jazz Singer," as a great  escape.  The radio opens national and international connections. 


Sports.  Baseball as the national sport.  The "dead ball" era in the first 2 decades.  Ty Cobb as sports hero but also as psychopath.  The notorious "reserve clause" contracts.  The Black Sox Scandal of 1919.  Revival of baseball by Babe Ruth into a slugger's game where the ball is harder.  Babe Ruth's hidden dark side.


Combination of heroes.  There is Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, but also, Benito Mussolini who thwarts radicals and who represents order.




Political leadership


President Warren G. Harding is weak and a failure, but has capable  aides.  The Teapot Dome Scandal seems tame in the scope of today's scandals.  A nicer guy than President Wilson, he pardons Eugene Debbs from prison where he was sent for opposing the war.  He becomes ill and dies in 1923. 


Calvin Coolidge, with limited ability, becomes president after Harding dies.  He runs in 1924 in his own right and is elected.  He vetoes a farm relief bill twice seemingly uncaring that farmers are in great need.


Herbert Hoover is elected in 1928.  The Stock Market crash in October 1929.  It is a decade of enormous monopolistic profits, fueling  abundant speculative ventures.  The real estate bubble bursts.  Stock Market speculation, with buying on margin, continues so long as stock prices rise.  Some insiders become concerned about the situation and start selling, causing prices to nosedive leading to the crash.  The crash does not cause the Depression.  At the time 2/3 of the people are living below subsistence level, lacking consumer value (aside from their own plight), and in turn, the market is lacking.