Positive And Negative Changes In The 1920s Essay

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However, there were also negative changes in American society during the 1920’s, namely the increased crime and mortality rates caused by the Prohibition. The Prohibition (1920-1933) was a period in American history when the manufacturing, sale, purchase and distribution of “intoxicating liquors” with alcohol levels greater than 0.5% was constitutionally outlawed. As the these laws were impossible to enforce, consumption of alcohol continued but became a more covert affair as moonshine (unlawfully produced alcohol), bootlegging (the smuggling of alcohol) and speakeasies (illicit bars) emerged. As two hundred thousand speakeasies opened nationwide, disregard for the law was normalised and ordinary people became criminals. Gangsters such as Al …show more content…

During this time, the American government continued to deny African Americans the right to vote. Additionally, Jim Crow Laws enforced segregation policies which prevented equality in terms of education and civil rights, etc. The lives of African Americans were also threatened by the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a cult dedicated to the maintenance of white supremacy, which had more than five million members by 1925 . These KKK members assaulted, tortured and murdered African Americans and anyone else they deemed immoral (e.g. alcoholics and homosexuals). This extreme violence was not too out of line with the racial attitudes of the time, which is evidenced by the federal government’s failure to ban lynching, the KKK’s preferred method of execution. Anti-immigrant hysteria was also widespread during the “Red Scare” of 1919-1920. During this time communism was demonised and the National Origins Act (1924) was passed to prevent Eastern Europeans and Asians from entering the country . This discrimination conflicts with America’s modern values of equality and tolerance in term of race, religion and political beliefs. Therefore, the 1920’s were not a time of positive change due to the rampant racist and anti-communist …show more content…

From 1920-1929 the richest 5% of the population garnered 33% of the wealth in America. This disproportionate distribution allowed only a small number of Americans enough income to sustain a comfortable lifestyle while the rest eventually fell into debt. This is supported by a 1929 survey, which found that 60% of Americans earned less than $2,000 per annum (the minimum income required to afford basic necessities) . Additionally, despite the general economic boom, major industrial sectors such as coal and textiles declined throughout the 1920’s. The coal business suffered and many coalmines were closed as modern forms of energy like oil, gas and electricity became more popular. Similarly, the textile industry deteriorated as new synthetic materials like rayon entered the market and the trend towards shorter skirts required less material and thus generated less income. The prosperity of American farmers also waned after the end of World War I as European farmers once again became self-sufficient and no longer relied on American crops. The use of modern machinery in agriculture was also problematic as it resulted in overproduction, a fall in food prices and lower incomes for farmers who could no longer afford their mortgages. In 1924, approximately six hundred thousand farmers wereevicted from their land . This created a

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