History GCSE AQA Unit 3 - The Roaring 20s (3.2)

How far was the USA a divided society in the 1920s?


Rich vs Poor

  • 1929, one third of Nation's weath was shared by 5 per cent of the population
  • Wealth of the USA was more than Germany, France, Britian, Japan and 18 other countries put together
  • Blacks were 10 per cent of the population in USA
  • Lived in squalor and misery in the south (seen as inferior beings)
  • Mississippi and South Carolina - they lived in
  • In 1929, 71 per cent of all families were living uner minimum living wage ($2,500)
  • Up to 2 million 14-15 year olds worked for up to 11 hours on low wage
  • Farmers also struggled due to overproduction 
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Race: Immigration Controls - Black Americans

  • Gained freedom from slavery in 1860s, HOWEVER still treated badly
  • In 1896, US Supreme Court gave legal approval of the Jim Crow laws; which allowed people to treat blacks as inferior
  • 1920s - 1 million people left the South to go to the North, where the living conditions were a little better, however there was still racism there
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Klu Klux Klan

  • Formed in 1866, after American Civil War, disbanded and reformed in 1915, once reformed also opposed to Catholics, Jews and ALL foreigners
  • 1920-25, Klan had 5 million members
  • Klansmen met in secret at night
  • Spoke in "Klonversations" and read from the rule book known as the "Kloran"
  • Also paraded in white sheets and hoods
  • Black people suffered violence, ****, beating and lynching
  • 1925, involved in a scandal, Stephenson (leading member) was involved in the kidnapping, **** and murder of a woman
  • The Klan's influence decreased
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Prohibition in the 1920s

  • Volstead Act, 1920 January, stated that any drink with over 0.5 per cent alcohol would be banned
  • Evils of alcohol were stressed
  • 75 per cent of USA was 'dry'
  • 1918, Association Against Prohibition Amendment (AAPA)
  • More support in the North against Prohibition
  • 17 Jan 1920, law against alcohol
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For / Against

  • Speakeasies were made (illegal bars)
  • 200,000 speakeasies in USA at the end of the decade
  • Each year 5,000 people would die from homemade moonshine
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Organised Crime

  • Al Capone - Bribed officals, politicians and police
  • Didn't fear arrest and operated openly
  • Employed over 1,000 men
  • Was making around $60 - 100 million from his crime
  • 227 murders in four years
  • No arrests
  • St Valentine's Day Massacre (1919), killed 6 members of rival gang, no arrests made
  • 1932, Roosevelt in elections promised to repeal Prohibition
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Young People: Fashion and Flappers

  • Women gained freedom, wealth and opportunities for leisure
  • Young middle-class women "flappers" cut their hair short, smoked in public, wore rouge and lipstick, wore short skirts and danced until late at night
  • This angered and shocked their parents and the older generation
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