The Roaring Twenties

.. they were produced. Since the economy was in such good shape, many Americans could afford to purchase refrigerators, washing machines, and radios. Low income families could afford to buy an inexpensive Model T, which Henry Ford developed in 1908. The number of passenger cars in the United States jumped from fewer then 7 million in 1919 to about 23 million in 1929, (Cronon 341).

Traffic jammed the nations highways and created still another need for businesses, roadside restaurants, tire manufacturers and gas stations. Standard Oil gas stations grew from 12 in 1920 to 1,000 by 1929, (Time-Life 102). With all the expansion, and the economy doing well, business became the foundation of society. Calvin Coolidge epitomized the time when he was quoted saying, The business of America is business, (Cronon 342). The Stock-Market became a very important aspect of the economy in the 1920’s.

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As the economy was flourishing, many Americans found it a practical investment to put money into the Stock Exchange as the return could be quite large. John J. Rascob, the vice-president of General Motors Corporation during the Twenties, declared that anyone that put $15 dollars a month in the stock-market could make $80,000 dollars in twenty years. It was such promises of these that convinced many Americans to buy stocks. Stock prices rose gradually in the early 20’s, but skyrocketed in 1927, and 1928. Average stock prices tripled from 1925 to 1929. The high profits seemed to confirm President Hoover’s pledge of a new era of abundance, during which poverty will be banished from this nation, (Cronon 341).

The nations illusion of unending prosperity was shattered on October 24, 1929. Worried investors who bought stock on credit began to sell. This led to the development of a panic amongst investors. The panic only worsened things and on October 24, 1929, stockholders sold a record 16,410,030 shares. By mid-November, stock prices had plunged 40%. The crash of the Stock Market led to the Great Depression.

The depression was the worst in the history of the United States and proved to be a terrible price to pay for the false sense of prosperity and national well -being of the roaring Twenties. Many Americans felt that they were untouchable in society. The thought of the American Dream cemented in the heads of thousands of Americans overshadowed the real risk of business in the United States. When the American people saw that the economy was flourishing, they felt that they were on a pedestal, protected from the river of uncertainty, economic depression and the failure of the American Dream. Many Americans found a way to improve their lifestyle.

Whether it had been through hard work on the job, or even with a struck of luck on the stock market. There were, however, many people who found other ways to make a living. Some of these ways were prohibited. With the passing of the 18th Amendment, it became illegal to manufacture or sell alcoholic beverages. Thousands of Americans began making liquor at home which quickly became known as bathtub rum.

Gangsters disregarded the law and found it quite profitable bootlegging liquor from Canada and selling it to illegal bars known as speakeasies. Police were often bribed not to intervene in the activities of smuggling. Bootlegging, although prosperous to the ringleader, was a dangerous activity in which over 500 gangland murders occurred as underworld mobs fought for control of the liquor traffic. (Time Life 166) The United States in the Twenties was still a young country which had not yet established itself an identity. Was the image of the United States going to be that of the American Dream? The image of a successful entrepreneur whose once insignificant business exploded into a nationwide corporation? The image of the stock holder who hit it big on the market? The image of the local supermarket owner whose business grew to a chain from coast to coast? What about the bootlegging capital of the world? The truth was, there was no image established yet for the nation. During the Twenties, everybody was trying to make it to the top with their own techniques and methods, whether it have been through such positive activities as investing, or negative activities as bootlegging. There were many famous Americans who left a positive mark on the history of the United States during the Twenties.

One of the most famous was Charles A. Lindbergh, an aviator who is noted in his achievement of being the first person to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean. Lindbergh’s feat gained him immediate, international fame. Lindbergh and his wife paved the way for future airlines by charting routes for aircraft. While Lindbergh was contributing to aviation, other Americans had some exceptional contributions.

One scientist became famous for his work with rockets. In 1926, Scientist Robert H. Goddard fired liquid fueled rockets into the atmosphere. It was he who laid the basis of modern rocketry. There were many new inventions which were created during the Twenties, as well as new methods and techniques.

Department stores began introducing installment payment plans to their customers. The idea of Buy Now and Pay Later became very popular. Department stores saw an increase in sales of the radio in the Twenties. The value of radio sales in the United States jumped from $60 million in 1922 to $850 million in 1929, (Time-Life 101). The radio revolutionized the nations economy by giving new ways of advertising products, rather then newspapers and magazines. Department stores profited by the radio through commercials which persuaded listeners to spend a larger portion of their income on their products.

The Twenties began as an era were Americans were feeling good. They had forgotten about the troubles of Europeans and began to better their lifestyles. Americans were finding new ways to earn a better living through an overall period of booming business and higher wages for workers. Many Americans began investing in the stock exchange in the hope of having a prosperous return, while others chose to make their fortune in such illegal activities as bootlegging. As fortunes were earned, and fortunes were lost the reality of the American Dream was sinking in.

The dream of coming to the country and making it big came true for some Americans, but to others, it was not as sweet. Many lost all they had while trying to make it. People came to the United States having the idea that no matter what happened, they were going to make it. There dreams were however short-lived as the so called American Dream surrounded them and sucked them into the dark side of reality. Those who were not perceptive enough to see that business was risky, failed.

In this era, Americans soon learned that the American Dream was not all it was cracked up to be. The Twenties showed a revolution in art, literature and music, which greatly reflected the nations changing values. Americans found new ways to entertain themselves, enjoying new dances such as the Charleston, popular for the time, and watching such sporting events as baseball, and boxing. Famous people emerged in the Twenties leaving their mark on history, just as new inventions were created revolutionizing even the simplest of activities for years to come. The Twenties were a fabulous decade outlined by a booming economy, and big business finding new ways to become bigger.

New stores were popping up all over the nation and stores that were already around, grew into chains which stretched the length of the United States. All of these outstanding events, people, inventions, and happenings occurred only to be overshadowed by the Stock Market Crash in 1929. The Crash was the worst in the countries history and blanketed its negative effects over the positive happenings of the previous decade. The Crash, which carried the Great Depression into the 1930’s was a nightmarish end to a fairytale era of prosperity and happiness. Many Americans had the privilege to be part of this period, a period known as The Roaring Twenties.

American History.