Title:1920s: The Jazz AgeName: LidaHansonDate:01/25/18 “The parties were bigger. The pacewas faster, the shows were broader, the buildings were higher, the morals werelooser, and the liquor was cheaper.
” (Bookrags) Thisquote is from the Great Gatsby. Thisquote boldly summarizes the 1920s. The 20’s were a time in history that no one hadseen yet. People tested their morals and even the law. Women wore more vibrantand as they would say in the 20’s more scandalous clothing than in the yearsprior. The 20’s were time when so much was going on. Many big events shapedthis time.
Prohibition and women gaining the right to vote all lead to thebright and vibrant 20’s that we think of. One of the main events that shaped the 1920’s was theProhibition. On January 19th, 1919 the 18th amendment wasratified. (“18thand 21st Amendments”, 2010)This amendment banned the manufacture, transportation, andsale of intoxicating liquor. (“Prohibition”,2009)Before the 18th Amendment was ratified, the movement to banalcoholic drinks had already begun about eighty to a hundred years before. Thismovement began in the 1846 when states (starting with Maine) began to passprohibition laws. (“Prohibition”,2009) Many people and historians thoughtthat the Prohibition movement started with the Evangelical Protestants but itactually started with upper class women. These women saw alcohol as destructivein families and marriages and thought the ban of it would help end thoseproblems.
(Schweikart andAllen, 2014) Thecombination of women against alcohol, people seeing saloon culture as corruptand urban growth, all lead to the 18th Amendment being ratified. (“Prohibition”,2009.) The IRS (Internal Revenue Service)was the first group to enforce Prohibition. Later this responsibility was givento the Justice Department (“Prohibition”,2009.)Enforcing Prohibition was very difficult; in fact it was almost impossibleespecially in large cities.
The strongest enforcement took place in ruralcommunities and small towns (“Prohibition”,2009.)After the initial passing of the Amendment it seemed likethere was some success with less public drunkenness arrests and a 30% drop inalcohol consumption. (“Prohibition”,2009) But the Prohibition era encouragedthe rise of criminal activity. (“Prohibition”,2009)The illegal manufacturing and sale of liquor (called bootlegging) andspeakeasies (which were illegal liquor stores and night clubs) grew substantially.(“Prohibition”,2009) With the rise of illegal liquoroperations came more gangs and gangsters.
One of the most well known was AlCapone. (“Prohibition”,2009) Capone earned $60 million annuallyfrom bootlegging and speakeasies that he owned. (“Prohibition”,2009) Him and his gangwere also responsible for the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, killing manypeople. (“Prohibition”,2009)”Support for the Prohibition was fading by the end of the1920s early 30s with the criminal activity and violence associated with it. Theidea that jobs and revenue could be created by legalizing liquor had anundeniable appeal especially since the Great Depression had begun. It was onthe platform of Prohibition appeal that Franklin Delanore Roosevelt ran forPresident.” (“Prohibition”,2009) He easily won the Presidency and in 1933 Prohibition had ended and the21st Amendment had been ratified.
(“Prohibition”,2009) Another important historical event that took place during the1920s was Woman’s Suffrage. Before the ratification of the 19thAmendment, the fight for Women’s equal rights and voting rights had begunroughly eighty years prior. The idea of Woman gaining voting rights gainedprominence with the first women’s rights convention in the entire world. Thistook place at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. (“Women’s Suffrage Movement”) During the year 1869 a rift formed inthe suffrage movement. Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed one ofthe groups, called the National Suffrage Association (NSA). (“Women’s Suffrage Movement”) This group was slightly more radicalthan the other group that formed. The NSA was focused on universal suffrage inthe USA, changes in divorce laws, and an end to employment and paydiscrimination.
(“Women’sSuffrage Movement”) LucyStone, Julia Ward Howe, and Josephine Ruffin formed a less radical group calledthe American Women’s Suffrage Association (AWSA). (“Women’s Suffrage Movement”) This group sought suffrage for blackmen and winning women’s right to vote ignoring the broader rights the NSAfocused on. (“Women’sSuffrage Movement”) Laterhowever, these two groups realized they could get more done if they combinedand formed one group. So in 1890 the two groups merged together and formed theNational American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA). (“Women’s Suffrage Movement”) This new group recruited celebritiesto their cause and held multiple parades and rallies to get the need forwomen’s suffrage out. (“Women’sSuffrage Movement”) Twoladies named Alice Paul and Lucy Stone both decided that they were not happywith the NAWSA for many reason, so they left the organization in 1914 andformed their own group called the Congressional Union.
(“Women’s Suffrage Movement”) This group used tactics such asputting pressure on the Democratic Party which controlled the house and WhiteHouse to achieve women’s suffrage. (“Women’s Suffrage Movement”) This group renamed itself in 1916 to the NationalWomen’s Party (NWP.) This group continued to get the word out about suffrage.
There was more campaigning, picketing and holding demonstrations in front ofthe White House. (“Women’sSuffrage Movement”) TheNWP was also one of the women’s groups that were furious at the government for”supporting democracy abroad (during WW1) while denying the women the right tovote at home.” (“Women’sSuffrage Movement”)Later however the NWP became to “unladylike” and “had too much bad publicityassociated with it.” (“Women’sSuffrage Movement”) Oneexample of the NWP’s behavior was on June 1917, NWP members were arrested onthe technical charge of obstructing traffic.
” (“Women’s Suffrage Movement”)Many women did not like the NWP’stactics of gaining women’s suffrage. One of these women was Carrie ChapmanCatt. Catt was the President of the NAWSA from 1900-1904 and again in1915-1920. (“Women’sSuffrage Movement”)Sheand many other women distanced themselves from the NAWSA and NWP. Catt wasreally the woman who led the final push to gain a constitutional Amendment. (“Women’s Suffrage Movement”) She even set up a public bureau inWashington DC. The last battleground state to that Suffrage took place inwas Tennessee. (“Women’sSuffrage Movement”) Tothe culture of the south, feminism was extremely counter-cultural.
This is whythe 19th Amendment took longer to ratify in the South than in theNorth. (“Women’s SuffrageMovement”) But finallyTennessee ratified the Amendment, being the final state needed to make theAmendment official. (“Women’sSuffrage Movement”) Andin the end, the 19th Amendment was ratified on August 26th,1920 by only a margin of a vote. (“Women’s Suffrage Movement”)Lastly this paper will discuss the fashion of the 20’s. Thefashion of the 1920s was bold and vastly different from the decades before. The1920s were the Jazz Age, the Age of the Flappers.
20s fashion was directlyrelated to all that was going on during that decade. The ratification of the 18thamendment which outlawed alcohol, speakeasies, and the ratification of the 19thamendment where women were granted the right to vote all affected the style ofthe 20s. Flapper girls are the main thing one thinks of when thinking of the20s. These girls dressed in “flapper dresses that were loss fitting, shorthemmed which sometimes went to the knees, and were covered in gems and fringe.
“(Herald,pp.28-29) “They cut their hair short and infact some say that “99% of American women had short bob-cut hair.”(Herald, pg.29) The style of the flappers contraststhe corset and long dresses of the centuries before. This style was born out ofwomen’s suffrage and women gaining the right to vote. With this came new foundfreedom. Women felt more free to wear what they wanted. “A woman in the 1920sdrank, voted, danced, and played sports.
She took risks, which starkly contrastedthe decades before.” (Rosenburg,”Flappers in the Roaring Twenties”) “Another style that started in the 1920s was called”Tutmania”. After the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in Egypt the fashionindustry was sent into a frenzy. Egyptian motifs entered the market place.
Egyptian green was a popular color and dress silks were on the rise. Cheapknock offs of “Cleo” earrings were a favorite piece of jewelry.” (Herald, pg 44) “One other piece of clothing thatwas very popular among young college students was called “Oxford bags.” Thesewere wide-legged trousers that both men and women were fond of.
” (Herald, pg 34) The bold styles and fashions of the1920s are a fascinating reminder of how events going on in the world directly impactfashion.The 20’s were a time of testing the limits and taking risks.Women took a risk and gained the right to vote. Limits were tested during theProhibition as people would see how much they could get away with. The fashionindustry took risks with clothing nobody had ever seen in the centuries before.All in all the 20’s were a time of big change in America. Even though thefantastical 20’s ended with the rude awakening of the Great Crash and GreatDepression, it will still be remembered as one of the most vibrant decades inAmerican history.
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