20th Century US History 1900 1928 | EssayIvy.com

20th Century US History 1900 1928

20th Century US History, 1900-1928
Student’s Name
20th Century US History, 1900-1928
Impact of WW1 on Progressivism, American Culture and the Place of the United States in
Global Affairs
The World War 1 had a massive impact on the United States during 1920s as it was the
foundation for many reformations and changes in the American society.
Its effects were
experienced on almost every aspect of the society ranging from culture, women’s place in
the society, politically as well as economically. In addition, it did not only impact the
American culture but also progressivism and the place of the United States in global
After the world war 1Progressivism was cast as a form of idealist progress, which was
depicted as a way of making the world safe for democracy. In addition, it depicted WW1 to be
the war to end all wars, which failed because many Americans decided that being engaged in the
war was a bad idea and hence they retreated towards isolationism instead of internationalism.
This was also driven by the fact that there had been a war that had taken place between civilized
nations and supposedly advanced that brought about questioning about the whole idea of
progress. Furthermore, the United States was a more conservative pro business climate as a result
of post war economic boom. There was establishment of quotas whose main aim was to curtail
immigration from particular nations.
1 Frederick, Lewis Allen, Only yesterday: An informal history of the 1920's, (Vol. 12. John
Wiley & Sons, 1931) 23-54
2 Steven Watson, The Harlem Renaissance: Hub of African-American Culture, 1920-1930, (New
York: Pantheon Books, 1995) 111-123
This exploitation was among the factors that caused animation of progressives. Slowing
of immigration changed the emphasis of the movement. While progressivism declined,
conservatism surged after the war. However, it never went away completely. Due to a number of
malnourished young people who failed to attain the standards of getting in to the army,
children’s health was highlighted by the war because it was one of the concerns for
Sheppard- Towner Act was passed by the federal government, which purposed to
fund social welfare program. It also provided grants to community organizations in order to build
clinics that supported women and infant health; a time when mortality was still high and
childbirth was the second ranked cause of death in women. This paved a way for the
progressives’ goal to provide for the social welfare of its citizens.
The industry production in the United States boomed as a result of joining the war. In
order to support the war, manufacturers had to keep production up to the needed pace. New
technologies were deployed to produce materials at a short span of time so as to meet the
demand of the government and the people. Employment opportunities opened for women and
African Americans. One of the cultures in America before the World War 1 was that women
were not allowed to take part in activities outside the homestead.
However, this changed
drastically as a result of the war because women were allowed to work for the military. The main
reason behind this is that during this boom in the industry, most American men were working
oversees and hence the positions in the military had to be filled. While men were fighting in the
3 John Milton Cooper, Pivotal Decades: The United States, 1900-1920, (WW Norton &
Company, 1990) 67-89
4 Frederick, Lewis Allen, Only yesterday: An informal history of the 1920's, (Vol. 12. John
Wiley & Sons, 1931) 23-54
5 Steven Watson, The Harlem Renaissance: Hub of African-American Culture, 1920-1930, (New
York: Pantheon Books, 1995) 111-123
war, women were working in the factories in order to support their families. This independence
of working class women was carried over in to the after effects of WW1. Before the onset of the
war, women were campaigning for universal suffrage but the politicians would not allow them to
participate in the elections.
Nevertheless, this attitude changed after the war when women were
allowed to hold the same position as men in politics. This is mainly because President Wilson
though that they deserved it after being so helpful in the war. In addition, black Americans also
migrated to the city to find jobs. The highly productive industry proceeded to the Great
Depression. World War 1 also became a display for technologies and warfare.
America’s entry in to the World War 1 in 1917 marked the beginning of its path to
becoming a super power.
This was the sole goal of some politicians in Washington, who were
already forging plans to replace the sterling pond with the dollar as the international reserve
currency. However, the war was a turning point for the making of the American nation as it
turned away from the problems of other counties such as Europe and focused on dealing with
problems of its own. After the elections, Warren Harding saw the necessity of the country to
worry about issues within its borders. Moreover, American citizens also made it clear that they
were fed up by sacrificing their lives and money to solve other peoples’ challenges. America just
wanted to live its own life and make the country a better place. Wilson and Roosevelt had
foreign policies that aimed at driving the nation in to becoming a major world power. However,
after the end of the war, the United States intervened in foreign affairs a couple of times in order
to serve democracy and cat as the international police.
6 John Milton Cooper, Pivotal Decades: The United States, 1900-1920, (WW Norton &
Company, 1990) 67-89
Discuss the Schisms in American Society in the 1920s
The 1920s were known to be a period of dramatic changes for the United States. This era
was characterized as melting pot due to the increase in political, social and economic differences
from all the new races born from immigration (Allen, 24). It was evident that America was going
through some changes as it had only come from a great war. The nation did not want to be united
despite the immense changes in all aspects of the society. Many American citizens lived in the
cities. The increasing affordability of automobile made people more mobile than ever. There
were many divisions and conflicts such as the city and country, science and religion,
Victorianism and modernism. In addition, it was termed as the tribal decade because of the
cultural clashes as expressed in the Klan Revival, the Red Scare, the Garveyites, the Scopes
Trial and the Election.
The Conflict between City and Country
As mentioned earlier, the 1920s was a decade that the United States became an urban
country. There was resentment in rural towns against the growing urban mindset that was
permeating America (Cooper, 70). Those citizens who did not live in the city felt that the values
associated with urban life required to be opposed. These sentiments resulted to several cultural
battles that were at the center of American life during the decade.
The Conflict between Science and Religion
One of the documented conflicts between religion and science during the 1920s is that the
Butler bill was passed leading to the ban of the theory that denied the story of divine creation and
to teach that man descended from a lower order of animals (Watson, 115). The disagreement was
that religious groups believed that man was created by God while scientists believed human
beings to be descendants of animals. This conflict resulted to numerous court cases as well as
banishment of laws. An example of the major cases resulted from the disagreement was Scopes
Monkey Trial.
The Conflict between Victorianism and Modernism
In the 1920s, the American society started to adopt new values that posed a threat to
traditional values that were carried over from the 19
century (Allen, 24). Throughout the
decade, conflict between Victorianism and modernism could b seen in both literature and the
drama of American culture. Modernism was a core movement of the youth that challenged the
Victorian art and the values of the generation before them (Allen, 24). Modernists put a great
emphasis on the future as they were looking forward to what was coming on their way. For
instance, modernists had a prime motif of living in the urban areas and fast paced cities while
Victorians remained in their small communities and villages.
The Cultural Clash of the 20s (The Tribal Decade)
The 1920s was a decade of change for America. After the end of the First World War, a
new cultural dynamism followed driven by progressivism movement that came to an end when
the United States entered the Great War (Cooper, 70). Furthermore, this was a decade defined by
a shift from rural agricultural life to urban industrialization. The shift from traditional family life
to metropolitan life occurred at a faster rate than any other social swift in the economy. These
changing tides caused cultural clashes and confrontations throughout the decade as America
strived to define its position as a world power.
For instance, the Ku Klux Klan grew dramatically as majority of its members were from
rural America, who continued to use violence to prevent the decline of their status (Watson,
115). It was an organization formed by white southerners during reconstruction. Their main
target was to destroy the newly freed African American population (Lecture Notes). It gained its
support from the working class members who were in competition with blacks for employment
and housing. 10 years after its revival, it declined in 1925 as a result of scandals involving its
leadership and reduction in immigration numbers.
The Red Scare was a period of antiradical hysteria in which there was labor unrest and a
wave of bombings, which led to the fear that the United States was on the verge of revolution
(Watson, 117). However, it faded after 1920s but strengthened the belief in a connection between
radicalism and foreigners. The Scopes Trial, also known and the Monkey Trial was as a result of
conflict between religion and science as mentioned earlier. It was a prosecution of a science
teacher for teaching evolution in a Tennessee public school, which had been made illegal by a
recent bill. It was an opportunity to challenge the constitutionality of the bill to legitimate the
theory of evolution as well as to enhance the profile of ACLU (Watson, 119). Lastly, Garveyism
was an aspect of Black Nationalism that referred to the political and economic policies of UNIA-
ACL founder. It was an empowerment of African American race. Garvey was responding to the
discrimination against black by white people.
Allen, Frederick Lewis. Only yesterday: An informal history of the 1920's. Vol. 12, John Wiley
& Sons, 1931. 23-54
Cooper, John Milton. Pivotal Decades: The United States, 1900-1920. WW Norton & Company,
1990. 67-89
Watson, Steven. The Harlem Renaissance: Hub of African-American Culture, 1920-1930. New
York: Pantheon Books, 1995. 111-123

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