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Era Of 1920s Essay

1903 words - 8 pages

Even though politicians and historians view political cartoons differently, historians can now look back and truly capture the minds of the American people during the 1920s. This political cartoon, “The Modern Devil Fish,” illustrated by Victor Hugo, was published in a 1925 issue of the Chicago Tribune. This specific cartoon was used as propaganda to promote the Prohibition Party and encourage the support of voters by addressing the usual arguments against the legal status of alcohol. It also was used as propaganda to show the far reaching effects of its use on American society, as demonstrated by the labels on each of the octopus’ tentacles, ranging from ‘partnership with thieves’ to ‘traffic in girls’ to ‘political corruption.’ The fight for prohibition had been an ongoing one, but it had become clear to those rallying to ban liquor that the power of the vote would be the only way to ‘slay’ the saloon monstrosity – pictured here as the knife labeled ‘votes,’ driven into the head of the creature by a hand bearing the name of the Prohibition Party. By destroying the center of the problem, saloons, the knife wielding political party is destroying all of the problems connected to it. In reality, the issues on each tentacle were far from solely the fault of alcohol consumption, but the Party was making an effort to get votes and inspire support, thus exaggerating the point of the prohibition issue. The hope of Hugo as he illustrated this cartoon was clear – that people who understood it would recognize the evils of a nation which does not prohibit saloons and the like subjects itself to by not utilizing the ‘knife’ of Prohibition Party votes. The cartoonist with his drawings could say more in one cartoon than could be said by a speech given by a politician, and could represent the voice of the American people.
At the beginning of the roaring twenties, the United States was converting from a wartime to peacetime economy. Although there was a temporary stall in the economy, after a few years the country became the richest nation and a culture of consumerism was born. There was an unemployment rate as low as 4.2 percent. New inventions and technology contributed to the successful economy. Even many low-income families could afford to buy an inexpensive automobile called the Model T, which Henry Ford had developed. The number of passenger cars in the United States went from fewer than seven million in 1919 to about 23 million in 1929. Traffic jammed the nation's highways and created a need for still more businesses, including gas stations, roadside restaurants, and tire manufacturers. Stocks were growing overnight and people were living lives of leisure and wealth. All of this stopped on October 29, 1929 due to the Wall Street crash. Thousands of Americans lives changed forever. Panic and chaos broke out all through Wall Street. “By 1 p.m., with the now 92 minutes behind, stock values shrunk total of about $11 billion” (218 Thomson). Unemployment...

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