The Jazz Age Great Depression New Deal Era and World War 2 America

Chapter 13: Smashup :: The Perils of Prosperity, 1914-1932 by William E. Leuchtenburg

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “central to the culture”
  • “We grew up founding our dreams on the infinite promises of American advertising,”
  • “I still believe that one can learn to play the piano by mail and that mud will give you a perfect complexion.”
  • “Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”
  • “One can assign no single cause to the crash and the ensuing depression, but much of the blame for both falls on the foolhardy assumption that the special interests of business and the national interest were identical. Management had siphoned off gains in productivity in high profits, while the farmer got far less, and the worker, though better off, received wage increases disproportionately small compared to profits. As a result, the purchasing power of workers and farmers was not great enough to sustain prosperity.”
  • “The financial community purported to see the depression as a blessed occurrence that would improve the national character by chastening the spirit”
  • “I do not sympathize with those who think that this process of compulsory mass saving will sap the virility and self-reliance of our race. There will be quite enough grind-stone in human life to keep us keen.”
  • “Men relentlessly sabotaged the technology on which they had preened themselves in the Coolidge years.”
  • “When I think of what has been happening since unemployment began, and when I see the futility of the leaders,” declared Father John A. Ryan, “I wish we might double the number of Communists in this country, to put the fear, if not of God, then the fear of something else, into the hearts of our leaders.”
  • “They are just ready to do anything to get even with the situation. I almost hate to express it, but I honestly believe that if some of them could buy airplanes they would come down here to Washington to blow you fellows all up…. The farmer is naturally a conservative individual, but you cannot find a conservative farmer today…. I am as conservative as any man could be, but any economic system that has in its power to set me and my wife in the streets, at my age—what can I see but red?”
  • “Has the prophecy of Henry Adams, that we are all on a machine which cannot go forward without disaster and cannot be stopped without ruin, come true?”
  • “Sometimes it is a dreadful nightmare, when I feel the cold shears at the back of my neck, and see my curls fall one by one at my feet, useless, lifeless things to be packed away in tissue paper with other outworn treasures.”
  • “It was a time of paradoxes: an age of conformity and of liberation, of the persistence of rural values and the triumph of the city, of isolationism and new internationalist ventures, of laissez faire but also of government intervention, of competition and of merger, of despair and of joyous abandon.”

Thought Questions

  • Explain and Expand: “The prosperity of the 1920s encouraged the contagious feeling that everyone was meant to get rich.”
  • What was the “Great Bull Market”?
  • Affirm or Refute: “No one can explain what caused the Great Bull Market.”
  • Affirm or Refute: “It is true that credit was easy, but credit had been easy before without producing a speculative mania.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Customers borrowed money, bought more stock, watched the stock go up, and borrowed still more money to buy still more stock.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Not long before he left office, President Coolidge announced that stocks were “cheap at current prices.””
  • How did the nature of the stock exchanges change in the 1920s?
  • Explain and Expand: “The policies of the federal government in the 1920s were disastrous.”
  • What role did the Stock Market crashes in 1929 play in the development of the Great Depression?
  • Explain and Expand: “Nothing did more to turn the stock market crash of 1929 into a prolonged depression than the destruction of business and public morale by the collapse of the banks.”
  • In what ways did the Great Depression begin to impact American families?
  • How did President Hoover respond to the growing Great Depression in its early phases?
  • As the Great Depression continued how did President Hoover’s response change?
  • Describe “Hoovervilles”
  • Explain and Expand: “those in destitution and their children are actually receiving more regular and more adequate care than even in normal times.”
  • How did the European economic situation impact the United States?
  • How did the depression in the United States impact Germany?
  • What was the purpose of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and in what ways did it change the depression?
  • Explain and Expand: “While people went hungry, granaries bulged with wheat no one could sell.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Many Americans who had never had a radical thought before in their lives began to question the virtues of capitalism.”
  • What was the “Bonus Army” and how did Washington react to it?
  • Compare and Contrast: The Bonus Army and Coxey’s Army
  • Describe how the Great Depression impacted the Democratic primary for President in 1932?
  • Explain and Expand: “Here we are in the midst of the greatest crisis since the Civil War and the only thing the two national parties seem to want to debate is booze.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Never was a decade snuffed out so quickly as the 1920s.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The depression years killed off the icons of simplicity the 1920s had cherished.”
  • Explain and Expand: “In the 1920s, the events of half a century finally caught up with America”

Primary Sources

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Further Reading

 

The Jazz Age Great Depression New Deal Era and World War 2 America

The Perils Of Prosperity, 1914-1932 By William E. Leuchtenburg :: Chapter 10: The Second Industrial Revolution

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “Machinery,” declared Ford solemnly, “is the new Messiah.”
  • “Many industries— textiles, clothing, and bituminous coal, in particular— remained boisterously competitive, however, and the growth of oligopoly— domination of an industry by a few firms— often meant more rather than less competition.”
  • “To staff the agencies of distribution and the “service” industries, a new white- collar class emerged in the cities. Together with the civil servant, the salesman, and the salaried manager, these white- collar employees constituted a “new middle class.” This shift in emphasis produced important changes in the national character. In place of the idea that saving was a virtue, an article of faith as old as the first colonial settlements and the talisman of Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard, a conviction developed that thrift could be socially harmful and spending a virtue. “We’re too poor to economize,” wrote Scott Fitzgerald jauntily. “Economy is a luxury.””
  • “Our future,” wrote Walter Weyl in 1919, “may depend less on the hours that we work today than on the words or the smile we exchange with some anonymous fellow- passenger in the office- building elevator.”
  • “The customer,” he snapped, “can have a Ford any color he wants— so long as it’s black.” But by the mid- 1920s the country had less interest in price than in style and comfort.
  • “We are reaching and maintaining the position,” declared Coolidge as early as 1919, “where the property class and the employed class are not separate, but identical.”

Thought Questions

  • Describe the American The Second Industrial Revolution
  • Compare and Contrast how workers were impacted by the First and Second American Industrial Revolutions
  • Who was Frederick W Taylor and what is the theory of scientific management
  • React and Respond: “machine power replaced human labor at a startling rate”
  • Explain and Expand: “Since labor came out of the postwar depression with higher real wages— employers feared a new strike wave if they cut wages as sharply as prices fell— business was stimulated to lower production costs.”
  • In what ways did the Second Industrial revolution center around the “home” and “family”
  • Describe how the new chemical and synthetics industries contributed to the Second Industrial Revolution
  • Describe how infrastructure development was both a part of and necessary for the Second Industrial Revolution
  • What was the significance of The Federal Aid Road Act of 1916
  • React and Respond: “Without the new automobile industry, the prosperity of the Roaring Twenties would scarcely have been possible; the development of the industry in a single generation was the greatest achievement of modern technology.”
  • Who was Bruce Barton why was his work “The Man Nobody Knows” significant?
  • Who was Samuel Insull
  • What impact did Chain and Department stores have on America?
  • Explain and Expand: “Critics of big business in the 1920s emphasized not only the increase in concentration, but also the fact that the benefits of technological innovation were by no means evenly distributed.”
  • React and Respond: “Still, if one focuses exclusively on farm poverty or on depressed West Virginia coal towns, it is easy to distort the experience of the 1920s.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The growth of popular culture and consumerism reflected economic changes that had important consequences for class structure and life style.”
  • How did popular entertainment evolve in this era?
  • Who were Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll?
  • What were the common themes and prominent features of “blackface” comedy (radio, live performance and visual imagery)?
  • What role did “blackface” entertainment play in white culture?
  • React and Respond: “Whereas the nineteenth- century man wanted to make it on his own, the twentieth- century man sought a place for himself in the corporate bureaucracy”
  • In what ways did Irish immigrants impact the Second Industrial Revolution and how did the revolution change Irish immigrants?
  • How does the author incorporate the experience of colonialism into his narrative about the Second Industrial Revolution?
  • How does the author incorporate the experience of women into his narrative about the Second Industrial Revolution?
  • How does the author’s gender bias impact his analysis and conclusions?
  • How does the author incorporate the experiences of non-white communities into his narrative about the Second Industrial Revolution?
  • In what ways does the author’s bias and perspective impact his analysis and conclusions?
  • What year was this book written and how does the period of writing impact the author’s analysis and conclusions?
  • Taking the above few questions into consideration, why is it important to read this volume?
  • React and Respond: “Although the new prosperity fostered an exceptionally materialistic view of life, it resulted in more than just increased sales of gadgets. The country spent more than twice as much as it had before the war on libraries, almost three times as much for hospitals.”

Primary Sources

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Further Reading

 

Primary Source Document

The Federal-Aid Road Act of 1916

[39 Stat. 355]

An Act To provide that the United States shall aid the States in the construction of rural post roads, and for other purposes

Primary Source Typed Document

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to cooperate with the States, through their respective State highway departments, in the construction of rural post roads; but no money apportioned under this act to any State shall be expended therein until its legislature shall have assented to the provisions of this act, except that, until the final adjournment of the first regular session of the legislature held. after the passage of this act, the assent of the governor of the State shall he sufficient. The Secretary of Agriculture and the State highway department of each State shall agree upon the roads to be constructed therein and the character and method of construction : Provided, That all roads constructed under the provisions of this act shall be free from tolls of all kinds.

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The Jazz Age Great Depression New Deal Era and World War 2 America

The Perils of Prosperity, 1914-1932 by William E. Leuchtenburg :: Chapter 9: The Revolution in Morals

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “The right of women to vote should have required no special justification, but to overcome resistance to approval of the Nineteenth Amendment suffragists, accepting the traditional view of woman’s nature, had argued that giving women the ballot would purify politics and initiate a new era of universal peace and benevolence.” 
  • “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take anyone at random and train him to become any specialist I might select— doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief, and yes, even beggarman and thief, regardless of his talents, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestor.”
  • “The hedonism of the period was less a remedy than a symptom of what Walter Lippmann called a “vast dissolution of ancient habits,” and rarely did it prove as satisfying as people hoped.” 

Thought Questions

  • Describe the progress towards female suffrage? How did World War I impact the campaign?
  • How did moral norms and boundaries change in the post World War I era?
  • What role did the decline in religion play in changing values?
  • React and Respond: “The “new woman” revolted against masculine possessiveness, against “over-evaluation” of women “as love objects,” against being treated, at worst, as a species of property. The new woman wanted the same freedom of movement that men had and the same economic and political rights.” 
  • Describe the evolution in the attitudes of women in the post war period?
  • Describe the evolution in the attitudes towards women in the post war period?
  • Compare and Contrast the struggle for women’s suffrage in the North, South and West
  • Compare and Contrast the role Evangelical Christianity and Progressive Christianity played in the struggle for women’s rights in general and suffrage specifically
  • What was the Sheppard-Towner Act? 
  • How did female suffrage impact the economics of family and single life for women?
  • In what ways did men react to the change in the roles of women in society and the home? 
  • How were children and children’s rights impacted by the women’s rights movement?
  • In what ways did the field of psychology impact women and the family in the progressive era?
  • How was Eugene O’Neill significant in the social development of the United States?
  • Expand and Explain: “In the attempt to work out a new standard of relations between men and women, Americans in the 1920s became obsessed with the subject of sex.” 
  • Who were the “Flappers” and what impact did they have on urban American culture?
  • In what ways was the new status and circumstances of women reflected in the arts and how did the arts impact the role of women?
  • “None of the Victorian mothers had any idea how casually their daughters were accustomed to be kissed.”
  • Explain and Expand “The Gibson girl was the embodiment of stability. The flapper’s aesthetic ideal was motion, her characteristics were intensity, energy, volatility. While the Gibson girl seems incapable of an immodest thought or deed, the flapper strikes us as brazen and at least capable of sin if not actually guilty of it. She refused to recognize the traditional moral code of American civilization, while the Gibson girl had been its guardian.” 
  • React and Respond: “Instead of youth emulating age, age imitated youth. Scott Fitzgerald, looking back on the years of which he was the chief chronicler, recalled: “May one offer in exhibit the year 1922! That was the peak of the younger generation, for though the Jazz Age continued, it became less and less an affair of youth. The sequel was a children’s party taken over by elders.” “Oh, yes, we are collegiate” 
  • React and Respond: “Abandoning the notion of saving income or goods or capital over time, the country insisted on immediate gratification … The preoccupation with living in the present had problematic consequences.”

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading