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Were 1920's America An Era Of Social And Cultural Rebellion Or Was It The Result Of Mere Exaggeration Of The Press?

2027 words - 8 pages

The 1920's: Era of Social and Cultural Rebellion?Americans have never been shy about attaching labels to their history,and frequently they do so to characterize particular years or decades intheir distant or recent past. It is doubtful, however, that any period in ournation's history has received as many catchy appellations as has thedecade of the 1920's... "the Jazz Age," "the Roaring Twenties," "the drydecade," "the prosperity decade," "the age of normalcy," "and simply theNew Era"...(page 198)In the second edition of Taking Sides: Reconstruction to the Present,William E. Leuchtenburg, a history professor, and David A. Shannon, an author,address their positions on how the 1920's received as much attention as it didand why it was tagged with such specific classifications, as noted in the quoteabove. Leuchtenburg argues that the twenties was an era labeled for itssecularized growth of American society, "the demands by newly enfranchisedwomen for economic equality and sexual liberation, and the hedonistic mood inthe country, which produced a youth rebellion against the symbols of theVictorian authority"(page 198). Shannon, however, does not support the popularnotion that the second decade of the century was one praised because of the"'flapper,' 'saxophone,' 'bathtub gin,' 'and speakeasies'"(page 210). Using factsand statistics produced by the developed economy, Shannon further explainsthat the twenties were labeled by such "shallow" classifications, because of theboasting from the press during and following the decade.Leuchtenburg's "The Revolution in Morals," illustrates the 1920's as anera of dramatic change which would not only influence the future of America,but set a standardized profile of Americans to the rest of the world. He proclaimsthat Americans, especially the newer generation, had lost their reverence forreligion. Thus, society had no interest in the spiritual life, but rather in thesecular life in which they were physically living in. A new revolution came aboutwhich focus was the life and time that people were going through at thatmoment, not Heaven nor Hell.The growing secularization of the country greatly weakened religioussanctions. People lost their fear of Hell and at the same time had lessinterest in heaven; they made more demands for material fulfillment onEarth. (page 200)He uses women as an example and how the ideal above became their motivationto reach their goal of liberation that they had so long strived for. Their radicalenergy that sounded the blow of women's voices across the nation andthroughout history. "The extreme feminists argued that women were equal tomen, and even more so" (page 201). The energy that would later create a trulyequal nation where women would share offices and professions with men, outsideof the home. This radical wave was set by the Nineteenth Amendment that hadrecently been adopted during the Woodrow Wilson administration in 1920.Another law that went into effect were the prohibition laws that...

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