Background: When the First World War ended, Americans welcomed what they hoped would be a “return to normalcy.” The decades that followed, however, are ones which would rarely be described as normal in comparison to what came before or after. During these decades, a struggle ensued within the American nation regarding how best to define the nation’s essential character, as groups like the revived Ku Klux Klan fought a rearguard action to define nationhood solely in terms of white skin and Protestant religion against secularists, Catholics, flappers, “New Negroes,” and others who challenged the traditional order. Immediately thereafter, the New Deal implemented in response to the Great Depression revolutionized the role of the federal government in lives of the American people, in ways that many Americans believed violated the basic tenets of the Constitution—and others believed were not radical enough. Taken together, the decades from 1920 to 1940 may have transformed the American nation more than any other comparable time period.
Resources: When responding to these questions, draw material from ONE of the following videos:
- Hogan, H. (Writer). (2003). The great depression. [Television series episode]. In R. Hawksworth (Executive producer), America in the 20th Century. New York, NY: Films for the Humanities & Sciences. Retrieved from http://digital.films.com/OnDemandEmbed.aspx?Token=36219&aid=18596&Plt=FOD&loid=0&w=640&h=480&ref=
- Hogan, H. (Writer). (2003). The roaring twenties [Television series episode]. In R. Hawksworth (Executive producer), America in the 20th Century. New York, NY: Films for the Humanities & Sciences. Retrieved from http://digital.films.com/OnDemandEmbed.aspx?Token=36218&aid=18596&Plt=FOD&loid=0&w=640&h=480&ref=
- Stone, R. (Writer & Director). (2009). The civilian conservation corps [Television series episode]. In M. Samels (Executive producer), The 1930s. Boston, MA: WGBH Educational Foundation. Retrieved from http://digital.films.com/OnDemandEmbed.aspx?Token=44081&aid=18596&Plt=FOD&loid=0&w=640&h=480&ref=
Also, draw from the material in
AT LEAST TWO of the following primary sources:
- Bliven, B. (1925, Sept. 9). Flapper Jane. Retrieved from http://www.colorado.edu/AmStudies/lewis/1025/flapperjane.pdf
- Forquignon. (1932).Bonus army marches on Washington, DC 1932 [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWvCCxOUsM8&feature=youtu.be
- Hartt, R. L. (1921, Jan. 15). “The new Negro”: “When he’s hit, he hits back!”. Independent. Retrieved from http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5127
- Long, H. (1934, Feb. 23).Share our wealth speech. Retrieved from http://www.hueylong.com/programs/share-our-wealth-speech.php
- Marshall, C. C. (1927, April). An open letter to the honorable Alfred E. Smith. Atlantic Monthly, 139, 540-544, 548-549. Retrieved from http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5074
- Martin, T. T. (1923).Hell and high schools. Atlantic Monthly, 139, 540-544, 548-549. Retrieved from http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5074
- McDougald, E. J. (1925). The double task of Negro womanhood.In A. Locke (Ed.), The New Negro: An Interpretation. Retrieved from http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5126
- Roosevelt, F. D. (1933, May 7).Address of the President delivered by radio from the White House. Retrieved from http://www.mhric.org/fdr/chat2.html
- Shafter, L. H. (1938).I’d rather not be on relief. Retrieved from http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/todd:@field(DOCID+st045)
- The New Deal Network. (2003). TVA: Electricity for all. [Interactive Exhibit]. Retrieved from http://newdeal.feri.org/tva/index.htm
Instructions: Review the major social and economic developments in American society during the 1920s and 1930s. After reviewing your Instructor’s Guidance and completing the weekly reading assignments (including those in the resource section below), please post a substantive discussion post of at least 200 words that compares and contrasts the decades of the 1920’s with the 1930s using the following questions as the basis of your analysis:
- How did American society change in the two decades after the First World War?
- How did the federal government change in response to those changes?
- How did the American people respond to the changing role of the federal government?
- How did the New Deal change over time and what alternatives were offered to it?
- Which groups benefited or suffered most from these changes?
- Should this period be regarded as having represented a revolutionary moment in American history?
Along with the general discussion, address developments across these two decades related to
AT LEAST ONE of the following groups:
- Evangelical Protestants
- African Americans
- Business owners
- The middle class