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(solution) 7 Tradition and Modernity in the 1920s The Stapleton


Read Chapter 7 of the textbook (attached) Reflect: The 1920s was a decade of significant social change and social conflict. Consider the sources of social change that occurred in the 1920s, how those changes affected the group that you chose for your Final Project, and what long-term effect those changes had.

Why do you think the event was important, and how does it fit into the conflict and changes of the 1920s?

How does the event you chose relate to your Final Project topic?

What does the primary source you chose tell you about this topic?

What does it not tell you?

Your initial post should be at least 250 words in length answering these questons


7 Tradition and Modernity

 

in the 1920s The Stapleton Collection/Art Resource, NY Modern culture brought new fashions, dances,

 

and freedom to the American middle class. bar82063_07_c07_199-232.indd 199 1/9/15 9:33 AM American Lives: Mary Pickford Pre-Test 1. Though the 1920s was a boom time economically, the American people were cautious

 

about making purchases on credit. T/F

 

2. Entertainment was a central part of the 1920s experience, and popular pastimes

 

included amusements at Coney Island and jazz music from New Orleans. T/F

 

3. Most Americans were comfortable with the new morality, sexual promiscuity, and

 

intellectual movements of the 1920s. T/F

 

4. Harlem artists known as the New Negroes demanded respect from those who continued

 

to harbor racist ideas; their efforts became known as the Harlem Renaissance. T/F

 

5. The Great Depression originated within the United States, and the rest of the world was

 

largely unaffected. T/F

 

Answers can be found at the end of the chapter. Learning Objectives By the end of this chapter, you should be able to: ? Understand the conservative economic shift the policies of Warren G. Harding brought

 

to the United States.

 

? Explore the ways in which the consumer economy changed the lives of Americans.

 

? Discuss the importance and relevance of leisure pursuits.

 

? Explain the significance and impact of the Harlem Renaissance.

 

? Discuss how fundamentalism and conservatism impacted different elements of society.

 

? Discuss the weaknesses in the U.S. economy during the 1920s. American Lives: Mary Pickford

 

An early film actress known affectionately as ?America?s Sweetheart,? Mary Pickford became

 

famous in the early era before movies included sound, when actors had to dramatically express

 

meaning without the benefit of dialog. But Pickford was more than a silent-film movie star. Her

 

work bridged the silent and talking film eras in the late 1920s, and her sense of artistry and

 

financial acumen marked her career as a New Woman.

 

Like other career-oriented women of the 1920s, she pushed the boundaries of male-dominated

 

society, exercising social and economic control of her life. A levelheaded businesswoman, Pickford?s approach to the motion picture industry established the star system that persists well into

 

the 21st century. She leveraged her stardom to negotiate unprecedented budgetary and creative

 

control over her work, and she regularly received 50% of a film?s profits, often guaranteed to be

 

more than $1 million.

 

Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith in Toronto, Ontario, in 1892, and in their youth she and

 

her siblings performed on the Canadian stage. As a young woman she moved to New York to

 

further her stage career, and in 1908 she was cast in a 2-year run of the Broadway production bar82063_07_c07_199-232.indd 200 1/9/15 9:33 AM American Lives: Mary Pickford The Warrens of Virginia. When the play ended, the performer who was by then known as Mary

 

Pickford tried her hand at acting in a number of short films in the new and growing movie industry, starring in more than 50 short films in 1 year alone. By 1911 she was established as one of

 

the nation?s leading actresses, having appeared in 20 films, including many produced by D. W.

 

Griffith, the filmmaker responsible for the controversial blockbuster The Birth of a Nation. She

 

often played a youthful girl or adolescent, even well into her 20s.

 

Pickford became one of the first women to control the

 

creative side of her career and the production of the

 

films in which she appeared. In 1919 she joined with

 

other top creative talents, including Charlie Chaplin,

 

D. W. Griffith, and her soon-to-be husband Douglas

 

Fairbanks, to form the United Artists film studio, a

 

filmmaking and distribution corporation that gave

 

them creative and financial control of the projects on

 

which they worked.

 

Pickford?s star quality made the venture a success.

 

Pollyanna, the first film Pickford starred in under

 

United Artists, put the studio on firm financial footing, though many of those that followed were less

 

successful. Bridging the transition in filmmaking, in

 

1929 Pickford starred in Coquette, her first talking

 

film, for which she won an Academy Award for Best

 

Actress (Garraty & Carnes, 1999).

 

Pickford?s business sense and involvement behind

 

the scenes of movie production earned her great

 

wealth but less public acclaim and recognition than

 

Considered ?America?s Sweetheart,?

 

actress Mary Pickford was also a sharp her acting did, and her glamorous appearances on

 

the big screen have overshadowed her importance

 

businesswoman. She was among the

 

to the overall success of the movie industry (Whitfounders of United Artists film studio

 

field, 2007). She ended her acting career in the early

 

and helped make the movie industry a

 

1930s, but she remained active in the business operaforce in the U.S. economy.

 

tions of United Artists. She spent her later years living

 

in seclusion and turned to writing, penning two books and an autobiography. She died in Hollywood in 1979.

 

Album/SuperStock Pickford?s contributions to the early motion picture industry were influenced by the time in

 

which she lived. The 1920s culture of opportunities made it possible for women to make important strides in business, education, and other parts of society once restricted to men. Although

 

her achievements were not typical, Mary Pickford represented the possibilities opening to American women during the modern age. For further thought:

 

1. How did Mary Pickford?s life reflect the New Woman in the 1920s?

 

2. How did Pickford?s career and the growth of the film industry represent a turn

 

toward modernity? bar82063_07_c07_199-232.indd 201 1/9/15 9:33 AM A Return to Normalcy Section 7.1? 7.1?A Return to Normalcy Some elements of prewar society persisted into the 1920s, including concerns over private

 

economic power and government responsibility for social problems. Racial and ethnic divisions and tensions that had grown in earlier decades endured and even intensified. Overall,

 

though, the decade following World War I represented a shift in temperament and culture

 

for the United States. The idealism and reform impulse of the Progressive era were replaced

 

by conservatism, materialism, and a rising consumer culture. Americans turned away from

 

imperialism and involvement in foreign affairs and back toward isolationism. Among the

 

most striking changes of the 1920s was the state of American politics (Cooper, 1990). Harding and Coolidge With his health failing at the end of his second term and struggles over the League of Nations

 

continuing, Woodrow Wilson had ceased to be a viable leader for the Democratic Party by

 

1920. In the election that year, the Democrats nominated Ohio governor James M. Cox for

 

president, with Franklin D. Roosevelt for vice president. The other commanding national

 

political presence, former president Theodore Roosevelt, had died in his sleep on January 5,

 

1919. On the 10th ballot held at the convention, the Republicans nominated conservative

 

Ohio senator Warren G. Harding. Harding?s running mate, Calvin Coolidge, had most recently

 

served as the governor of Massachusetts. Newly enfranchised female voters swelled the electorate, so that 8 million more people voted

 

in the 1920 election than had in 1916. They cast their ballots for Harding by a large margin

 

because he was seen as sympathetic to their concerns. During the campaign he sent a personal letter to Carrie Chapman Catt endorsing suffrage, and he sent a campaign staffer to

 

be on hand for the Tennessee legislature vote that ratified the 19th Amendment. The election was a landslide, with Harding earning 16 million votes to Cox?s 9 million. Campaigning

 

from federal prison, Socialist Eugene

 

V. Debs claimed just over 3% of the

 

vote, demonstrating that more than a

 

million American voters did not find

 

representation of their interests in the

 

dominant parties.

 

Harding?s administration represented

 

a turn away from reform and toward

 

conservative policies. He argued that

 

the nation needed ?not heroism but

 

healing, not nostrums but normalcy,

 

not revolution but restoration,? by

 

which he meant an emphasis on economic growth that would result in

 

community and harmony. He offered

 

America a normalcy that represented

 

an end to reform and war and aimed to

 

substitute them with small-town simplicity full of nostalgia and tradition

 

(Payne, 2009). bar82063_07_c07_199-232.indd 202 © Bettmann/Corbis Running one of the first modern presidential

 

campaigns, in 1920 Warren G. Harding recorded

 

campaign speeches on a phonograph and distributed

 

the records among supporters. 1/9/15 9:33 AM A Return to Normalcy Section 7.1? In international affairs, Harding opposed Wilson?s advocacy for membership in the League of

 

Nations, but also Theodore Roosevelt?s arguments about military leadership, pacts, and alliances, even within the Western Hemisphere. Harding largely avoided discussing the growing

 

global interconnections between nations and economies, although the president well knew

 

that it was impossible to insulate the United States from the world economy and global politics. Instead, he dealt with international issues quietly while he publicly advocated a return to

 

an unconcern over foreign affairs and gave Americans the impression that they could accept

 

or reject involvement in world concerns when and where they pleased.

 

On the domestic front, Harding supported the efforts of conservative Republicans to court big

 

business and subvert the gains made by labor during the war. Harding?s probusiness orientation faced some challenges at the state level when Progressive Republican governors were

 

elected in Wisconsin and Montana. For the most part, however, conservative Republican leaders surged forward with their agenda (Cooper, 1990). A series of scandals also characterized Harding?s presidency. He appointed his close friends

 

and allies to important political positions, and several members of the so-called Ohio Gang

 

took advantage of their place in the Harding administration to advance their own agendas. It

 

is unclear if Harding was fully aware of the actions of his appointees, since many of the scandals came to light only after his death. The Teapot Dome affair, involving the lease of navy petroleum reserves in Wyoming and

 

California to private companies without public bidding, was the subject of a congressional

 

investigation. The scandal resulted in the bribery conviction of Harding?s secretary of the

 

interior, Albert B. Fall, who had negotiated the leases. Other Harding administration scandals involved corruption in the Justice Department, perpetrated by his attorney general and

 

former campaign manager Harry M. Daugherty, and in the Veterans? Bureau, where director

 

Charles R. Forbes was accused of putting his own economic gains ahead of the needs of returning veterans. A New Economic Vision In 1921 the nation?s economy was in a severe slump. Demobilization resulted in high unemployment, and investments fell below the rate of inflation, leaving all Americans with less

 

buying power. The end of wartime production resulted in thousands of layoffs, and the nation

 

entered a period of economic adjustment that required intervention. Even Americans still

 

employed found that their incomes did not stretch far enough to cover household needs, and

 

the purchase of extra consumer goods was out of the question for most households.

 

To deal with the economic concerns, Harding called a President?s Conference on Unemployment. Its participants recommended a controversial public works expansion and a bonus bill

 

to reward veterans for their service, but both failed in Congress. Instead, the administration

 

cut taxes and created a budget bureau to oversee and limit the spending of government funds.

 

Once the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates, investment recovered, and by 1923 many

 

industries actually faced a labor shortage (Perrett, 1982). Harding?s approach to the presidency was in many ways the opposite of his Progressive predecessor (McGerr, 2005). He supported more individual freedom and greater limitations

 

on government activism, and he was far more favorable to and tolerant of big business. He bar82063_07_c07_199-232.indd 203 1/9/15 9:33 AM A Return to Normalcy Section 7.1? demonstrated his convictions by appointing officials to the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Federal Reserve Board that he believed would change those agencies? policies to

 

make them much more supportive of business.

 

He also strove to enact legislation that gave corporations more power. He signed legislation to

 

restore a higher tariff that supported American production, and he encouraged federal agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and Interstate Commerce Commission to cooperate with businesses rather than merely regulate them. Harding also supported business by

 

taking a more hands-on approach to breaking labor strikes. Using both the ?carrot? and the ?stick,? business in the 1920s sought to erode worker protections and union membership. The stick, or punitive tactics, some employers used included

 

forcing newly hired workers to sign so-called yellow dog contracts in which they agreed not

 

to join unions; if they did, they would be fired. Challenges for Labor More employers engaged in an open shop movement, arguing that they wanted to give their

 

employees the ability to decide on their own whether to join a union. Mobilizing under what

 

they called the American Plan, these employers declared that the open shop was consistent with American values, freedom, and patriotism. By contrast, they charged unions with

 

limiting freedom by creating closed shop workplaces, where only union members could

 

be employed. They argued that unions restricted production, made unreasonable wage

 

demands, and kept capable workers from reaching their full earning potential. In reality,

 

employers promoted the American Plan to rid their industries of union organization and

 

were successful in holding back the number of workers who could enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining (Goldberg, 1999).

 

To further discourage unionization, industrialists devised as a carrot the system of welfare

 

capitalism. Designed to instill worker loyalty and encourage efficiency, welfare capitalism

 

was practiced by the largest employers, including Goodyear, International Harvester, and

 

General Electric. The programs included company unions that could bargain for limited workplace improvements but not for wage increases. Some created grievance committees to hear

 

worker complaints. Other features could include profit sharing, life insurance, and company

 

baseball teams. Labor journalist Louis Francis Budenz, a reporter for Labor Age, railed against the practices

 

of company unions, considering them the gravest threat to workers. In one case, he reported

 

a construction job purporting to have a company union that ingenuously promised, but failed

 

to pay, trained carpenters $12 a day, nearly double the wage union carpenters earned. Budenz

 

asserted that company unions were disingenuous organizations that aimed to draw in unsuspecting workers (Grant, 2006). By the mid-1920s a mere 4 million worked for a firm that

 

practiced welfare capitalism, but the concept grew throughout the decade (Dumenil, 1995).

 

Both the American Plan and welfare capitalism accelerated during the postwar recession

 

and caused considerable strife between labor and employers. Although the decade saw many

 

strikes across multiple industries, the probusiness climate assured that organized labor made

 

few gains. bar82063_07_c07_199-232.indd 204 1/9/15 9:33 AM A Return to Normalcy Section 7.1? The U.S. economy rebounded from the postwar recession by 1922, thanks largely to a consumer revolution and growth in industries that manufactured automobiles and other

 

durable goods like refrigerators and radios. Following Harding?s sudden death in 1923,

 

Calvin Coolidge succeeded to the presidency. A Republican attorney from Vermont, Coolidge

 

began his political career in Massachusetts, first in the state legislature and then as the commonwealth?s governor. He gained a national reputation as an opponent of organized labor

 

after he fired the striking Boston police force in 1919. The Triumph of Big Business Coolidge was elected in his own right in 1924 and extended a series of policies favorable to

 

business expansion. He appointed probusiness men to the Federal Trade Commission and the

 

Interstate Commerce Commission and supported a move to raise tariffs to offer more protection for business. Under his watch, Congress also passed three revenue acts, greatly reducing

 

income taxes for most Americans. In contrast to the Progressive era?s push to regulate large corporations and make them more

 

responsive to environmental and societal problems, the 1920s political climate supported

 

business mergers and did little to restrict or influence business practices. The U.S. Supreme

 

Court and Justice Department protected businesses from organized labor through a series of

 

injunctions and limitations on union organization and strike activity.

 

The economy grew considerably for the remainder of the decade. Industrial output rose

 

64%, and the production of automobiles grew from 1.5 million in 1919 to 4.8 million in 1929.

 

Industries incorporated new technologies, including mechanization, assembly lines, and electricity to boost production. Worker productivity grew 43%, and overall output grew 70%

 

(Murphy, 2012). Henry Ford?s motor company stands as a clear example of the business ethos of the 1920s.

 

Initially operating one plant outside Detroit, Michigan, Ford introduced the moving assembly

 

line and applied Frederick Winslow Taylor?s scientific management to the manufacture of his

 

Model T automobiles. The process reduced the time and cost to produce a car but also created

 

a monotonous and challenging work environment that initially led to massive turnover. Ford countered by paying workers $5 per day (roughly $15 an hour in today?s money) and

 

reducing the workday to 8 hours. Soon workers were lined up for jobs at the Ford plants.

 

The Ford Motor Company was also one of the first to apply the principles of welfare capitalism, offering workers profit sharing to discourage unionization. Ford also implemented

 

a so-called sociology department to ensure worker loyalty, patriotism, and moral values

 

(Drowne & Huber, 2004).

 

Ford?s sociology department, also known as the education department, aimed to guide his

 

workers in living moral and upright lives and to embrace a new identity as a ?Ford Man.? Ford

 

expected his workers to refrain from using tobacco and alcohol and to avoid interaction with

 

unions, political radicals, and socialists. Immigrant workers received instruction in English

 

and endured a plan of Americanization as a condition of continued employment. Those who

 

demonstrated clean and wholesome habits were likely to see a wage increase. Those who did

 

not want their employer intruding in their personal lives were invited to look elsewhere for

 

a job (Hooker, 1997). bar82063_07_c07_199-232.indd 205 1/9/15 9:33 AM A Return to Normalcy Section 7.1? Although some workers such as those at Ford plants made wage gains in the 1920s, most

 

corporate profits were not passed along to employees. Nor did all segments of the economy benefit from the government?s new probusiness orientation. Although most of the

 

economy recovered from the postwar recession fairly quickly, railroads, coal, textiles, and

 

agriculture continued to struggle. Workers in those industries experienced stagnant wages

 

(Murphy, 2012). Employees at a Gastonia, North Carolina, textile mill, for instance, averaged

 

70 hours per week. Despite the long hours, men?s wages were a mere $18 per week, and

 

women earned a paltry $9 per week (St. Germain, 1990). Many workers also faced unemployment or underemployment. Sick Industries The coal industry was another ?sick? industry struggling to recover in the postwar decade.

 

Coal was once the main fuel for American factories and mills, but competition from cleaner

 

and abundant oil and hydroelectric power contributed to falling coal prices. The price of coal

 

fell from a high of $3.74 a ton in 1920 to a mere $1.78 in 1929. Mines reduced production or

 

shut down altogether, leaving remote communities unable to participate in the growing consumer economy.

 

Farmers likewise struggled to find prosperity. Mechanization in the form of tractors, combines, and disc plows increased production capabilities but reduced the prices of staple

 

crops like wheat and corn. Coolidge vetoed congressional proposals to aid the farm crisis,

 

arguing that the government had no constitutional power to intervene in private business

 

(St. Germain, 1990). The agricultural sector continued to limp along well into the 1930s, when

 

the Great Depression reversed attitudes toward government interference in the economy. Economic Growth and Foreign Policy America?s emergence as the world?s dominant economic power drew the nation into a host of

 

international affairs during the 1920s. The nation officially sought a foreign policy that aimed

 

to reduce the risk of international conflict and ensure the safety of trade and investment. In

 

practice, however, U.S. foreign interactions often undermined those very goals. U.S. investment overseas made America the world?s leading creditor nation, and its continued economic success depended on the ability of other nations, especially those in Europe,

 

to repay their war debts of approximately $10 billion. However, Harding and the Congress,

 

focused on nurturing U.S. business development, enacted a series of policies that showed

 

little concern for European recovery following the war?s devastation. Higher tariff rates made

 

it difficult for Britain and France to profit from exports. At the same time, the United States

 

flooded European markets with American manufactured goods. Instead of providing relief

 

and encouraging the commerce needed to reduce the debt, the United States continued on a

 

path that produced further restrictions. In this climate the United States hosted the first conference aimed at world disarmament.

 

Held in Washington, D.C., from November 1921 through February 1922, leaders from nine

 

nations met to consider interests in the Pacific Ocean and east Asia. Among those attending

 

were representatives from China, Japan, Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, and Portugal. Neither

 

Germany nor the new Soviet Union was invited. Supported by peace advocates in America

 

and abroad, the conference resulted in the Washington Naval Treaty, in which each nation bar82063_07_c07_199-232.indd 206 1/9/15 9:33 AM The Culture of Modernity Section 7.2? agreed to reduce the size of its naval fleet and limit production of new warships (Goldstein &

 

Maurer, 2012). The Harding and Coolidge administrations also sought to retreat from involvement in Latin

 

American affairs unless economic ties there forced the United States to intervene. American

 

business interests sought investment in the rich oil fields in South America and encouraged a

 

foreign policy favorable to their plans. The Senate ratified a treaty apologizing to Colombia for

 

American intervention in Panama in 1903 and offered a payment of $25 million in amends.

 

This paved the way for U.S. investment in Colombian and eventually Venezuelan oil fields. To further cement relations in Latin America, Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes used

 

the centennial of the Monroe Doctrine in 1923 to assure the nations of the region that the

 

United States intended to be a good neighbor, although at that moment the United States

 

still occupied and controlled the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic (see

 

Chapter 6) (Goldberg, 1999). 7.2?The Culture of Modernity Modernity, or the bureaucratic, industrial, and consumer-oriented society of early 20thcentury America, was characterized by an evolving and distinct culture. Following the postwar recession, the nation saw unprecedented prosperity and industrial productivity. The

 

United States stood as the world?s dominant economic power, and at home most Americans

 

enjoyed a higher standard of living and more leisure time. Although some segments of society,

 

such as farmers, coal miners, and African Americans, did not experience as much prosperity,

 

all participated in an emerging culture of modernity. The Boom of the Consumer Culture and the Consumer Economy Beginning with the growth of American capitalism and industrialization in the 19th century,

 

a new consumerism began to emerge. Linked to the expanding market economy, consumer

 

culture celebrated the worth of goods and services in terms of their financial value. A significant part of modernity in the 1920s was the expansion of a consumer-oriented culture that

 

prioritized acquisition and consumption. It associated happiness with accumulating material

 

goods and made monetary value the most important measure of worth. Consumption rather

 

than hard work came to measure an individual?s worth in society (Leach, 1994). Drawing more Ame...

 


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