After WWI, unfortunately for many countries around the world, they were in a state of retrogression, due to the effects of WWI, however the US was in a state of progression. This time period was known as the “roaring 20’s”. Many Politicians and Historians argue and state that this was the era of prosperity for Americans, and it shaped and changed the country forever. This “prosperous” era was however, only beneficial to approximately 14% of the country, therefore one must critically think and ask themselves, were the 1920’s prosperous for all Americans? Did this time period truly project the “American Dream”?
“Majority of the Americans did not have prosperity… There was about 5% of the country who owned 33% of the nation’s wealth.” (McElvain, The Encyclopedia of the Great Depression, 234). Due to the fact that less than 1% of the American population owned stock, the abundant returns in the stock market directly benefited the wealthy elites. Evidently, as a result, the share of America’s wealth controlled by the wealthiest of Americans increased drastically to the highest level in American history, at the time. Those who benefited from the prosperity of the 1920’s were aided by government policies, which reduced taxes, in order to increase the amount of money that could be invested into popular industries and ensuring inflation was kept below one percent. In addition, high tariffs were imposed, so that there was a guaranteed market for the manufacturing industries. The government also imposed fewer regulations, meaning these industries could get away with price fixing and without paying minimum wage. There were many technological advances, that made it easier for the manufacturing business to produce a higher quantity of goods, at a much cheaper production cost.
“Many of the new innovative technological advances included the use of fertilisers and an superior system of animal husbandry.” (?Odontel, Kelvin. “Roaring Twenties.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 21 Aug. 2018,) Evidently there was an abundant amount of crops and livestock that were produced and there was no market. The government put forward a insufficient amount of effort in trying to solve the matter, but they did pass the McNary-Haugen Bill, which would allow farmers the opportunity to sell and distribute any extra produce overseas and the farmers were required to pay the difference. This bill was never put into action, because it was vetoed by the president, and yet again ignoring the growing problem of overproduction. According to the “The Encyclopedia of The Great Depression” President Coolidge did not want to disturb foreign relations by distributing food in their countries, in addition to the fact that, this would be far too difficult officials to coordinate it.The only actual form of assistance was the Agricultural Credits Act of 1923 which contributed to funding 12 banks, in order for these banks to have the resources needed to lend loans to farmers. This method only benefitted agri-businesses, who had the revenue needed to buy goods in bulk. Small local farmers went into greater debt, and inevitably African American farmers suffered a great deal more than the average white farmer. In America, the coal industry was being superseded by oil industry in its energy values and as a result, coal was going into decline. Cotton was also declining during this time period, due to the fact that fabrics such as silk, polyester, etc were on the come up. “As the ‘old’ industries were in the north east, many of the new industries were there for easy access to resources, so geographically people living in the south fared worse. In 1929, the incomes in the north east and the far west were $921 and $881 respectively compared to $365in the south east. In more detail, in South Carolina, non-agricultural sectors of the economy earned $412 to that of farmers at $129.’’ ( Chávez , Alan K. “Essay Sample – How Real Was the Prosperity of the 1920’s in America? – OzEssay.” Ozziessay, 10 Nov. 2017, ozziessay.com.au/essay-on-real-prosperity-1920s-america/. ) America was seen as the ‘land of opportunity’. This image and the idea of the ‘American dream’ was a huge influential factor that caused many immigrants to uproot and permanently move to America. The new immigrants didn’t succeed very well in careers, in addition to this, immigrants also lived in ghettos and had poor lifestyles. The government did very little to improve the living conditions for immigrants in the U.S. The increase in taxes hindered the immigrants even more, considering that they received pay less than minimum wage, immigrants could barely afford to pay taxes before they were raised.
The ‘’American dream’’ was a facade. Looking from the outside, America was seen as the land of opportunity, yet only a certain percentage of the country actually experienced the prosperous era in the 1920’s.
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