The American Journey © 2007

Chapter 24: The Jazz Age

Chapter Overviews

As World War I ended Americans wanted to withdraw from world affairs and concentrate on their own lives. News of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia created a "Red Scare" and increased Americans' distrust of many foreigners. Americans also opposed the growth of labor unions, because they believed the movement was influenced by radicals. The intolerance of the era was also evident in the treatment of African Americans.

In 1920 Warren G. Harding was elected president. Americans desired a return to what Harding called "normalcy." However, scandal and corruption marred Harding's administration. When Harding died in August 1923, Calvin Coolidge became president. Coolidge took an active role in supporting business. The economy boomed and many Americans were able to buy automobiles and new appliances for their homes. Farmers, coal miners, and railroad workers, however, did not benefit from this prosperity.

During this decade many Americans had more leisure time. They used it to follow events like Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic and Babe Ruth's 60 home runs. Movies and radio shows became popular, as did a new form of music—jazz. In Harlem a renaissance of the arts took place, led by writers like Langston Hughes. The temperance movement that had begun in the 1800s achieved its goal in 1920 with the Eighteenth Amendment—a prohibition on the manufacture, sale, and transportation of liquor. Changes in the 1920s affected every aspect of American life.

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