Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

The roots of the “Roaring Twenties” can easily be traced to the unprecedented growth of the new American automotive industry. Basically created because of Henry Ford’s perfection of the process of mass production with his development of the moving assembly line in the early part of the 20th century, the rapid expansion of the industry gave way to one of the most prolific eras of economic boom in American history.

1920's Automobile Factory

In chapter 20, Foner mentions that “The automobile was the backbone of economic growth.” Citing that the production of cars had tripled annually during the 1920’s. What is the most significant aspect in measuring the success of the 1920’s with the explosion of the auto industry, however, is that although Automotive factories would seem to replace the steel and textile factories that were the driving force behind the inturstrial boom of the late 19th century, it would actually bring expansion and success to the production of  “steel, rubber, oil production, road construction, and other sectors of the economy. It prompted tourism and the growth of suburbs…” (Foner, 722)

Many economists believe that the production of steel is one of, if not the, most important factors in determining the health, and direction of the economy – high levels of steel production mean high levels of new construction, and in the production of cars. This still holds true today (for further explanation see,  \”Steel Industry Will Signal Recession\’s End\”).

-C. Salama


March Madness


Above is a video of The Ku Klux Klan marching in Washington D.C. in the year 1928. Unfortunately there is no audio for this clip, but the video is all we need. We see thousands of Klan members, sporting their white robes. Notice how they are marching in the center of the capital of our country. This is almost like a message that the Klan is sending; The Klan is here, and they will take over the country. There does not seem to be much opposition, probably because it would lead to death. During the 1920’s the Klan had a huge revival, and became even worse than the Klan of the 1800’s. They targeted many other groups of people besides black people, and their influence in the government made them nearly impossible to stop.

The funniest part about this video is how calm and nice it seems. It almost makes you want to join the Klan, if you did not know what they were about. The day is beautiful, and the white robes give off a symbol of purity. It does give us a great picture of how big the Klan became, and seeing that March on TV would be a scary sight to any person not considered “American.”


Sacco & Vanzetti


Nicola Sacco  and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were anarchists who were convicted of murdering two men during a 1920 armed robbery in South Braintree, Massachusetts. After a controversial trial and a series of appeals, the two Italian immigrants were executed on August 23, 1927.

There is a highly politicized dispute over their guilt or innocence, as well as whether or not the trials were fair. Very little evidence linked them to this crime. The dispute focuses on small details and contradictory evidence. As a result, historians have not reached a consensus.


Step Aside for the Flappers!

In the 1920s, a group, known as “flappers,” emerged into society. Flappers were defined as young, single women who strayed away from the traditional identity and role of women in previous generations. The birth of flappers was the result of the success in attaining women’s suffrage through the 19th Amendment. Granted with political rights, women now have more say and power. Therefore, flappers were a representation of change. Flappers typically had bob haircuts, wore short skirts, and smoke and drank in public venues. This is illustrated in the pictures above. On the left, is a picture of a flapper smoking. On the right, shows a flapper holding guns in both hands. These pictures illustrate how women were radically different in terms of fashion and behavior. If these pictures were taken a decade ago, it would have draw massive criticism and disapproval. This comes to show that times have changed, and the definition of a “woman” is evolving.