The 1920's in the United States was a decade of dramatic change. With the end of World War I, the United States population found it to be a time of celebration. During this decade, people began to party more and enjoy popular dances of the day, as well as the music. Girls began to dress in fun and frivolous ways as flappers and men dressed in suits when they were celebrating. However, the 20's was also an era when the government clamped down on drinking by instituting a Prohibition of all alcohol. While people began finding ways around the alcohol embargo, the government fought the war on crime and illegal distribution of alcohol. Sadly, the happy and carefree time of the 1920's ended in 1929 with the Stock Market Crash, which led to the Great Depression of the 1930's.
During the fun times of celebration in the 1920's many new dances began to appear. With the appearance of new forms of music such as jazz and blues, new dances were invented. During the 20's dances such as the Charleston, the Shimmy, the Lindy Hop and the Tango began to appear in dance halls around the country. These dances were indicative of the happy times of the post World War I era.
The fashion of the roaring twenties matched the mood of the country. Colors were bright, hairstyles were fun and fancy attire was found when people went out on the town. In the 20's flappers started to make an appearance. Flappers were women who drank, wore makeup, smoked in public and started to enjoy freedom by having fun whenever possible. In the 20's men also dressed up when they were out in public. They wore fancy suits, shirts and top hats. Overall, the fashion of the era matched the fun attitude of the people in the 1920's.
Literature and Music
The 1920's was an era of artistic freedom. Writers and musicians enjoyed the carefree life and found a new artistic direction. The decade found jazz and the blues become popular music genres. Performers such as Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and Al Jolson were just a few of the popular musicians of the day. Writers also enjoyed the new freedom by taking the written word in different directions. Some of the more famous writers in the 20's included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner.
Politics in the 1920's was very confusing. The early 20's found the country reveling in the post war time period, and alcohol was very popular. A strong element in the country thought that drinking was evil and began to pressure politicians into banning the sale and consumption of all alcoholic beverages. This prohibition became a key political
factor both in localities and nationally.
On January 1920, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was put into place. This Amendment prohibited alcohol from being manufactured, sold and consumed in the United States. Because of this prohibition, criminal elements began to bootleg alcohol into the country to be sold at secret clubs called "Speakeasy's". These clubs were very popular among the people in the country. However, these illegal clubs were the target of federal authorities that were looking to end them. The battle over alcohol lasted until 1933, when the government rescinded the 18th Amendment.
Stock Market Crash
The utopia of the roaring twenties lasted until 1929. During the decade, the Stock Market enjoyed one of the best periods with the market going up and people making money in the market. Because of the upswing in the market, people began to invest their life savings in the market in hopes of becoming rich. However, on October 29, 1929, the stock market crashed leaving the majority of the people who invested in the market, broke. The crash affected millions of people either who lost their money in the market, or lost jobs because businesses folded. The crash led the country into the Great Depression which dragged the country into one of the darkest periods in history.
Article written by Janice D. McDonald