The Motor Industry:
The motor car industry was one of the first to use the method of mass production. Mass production was carried out in large factories across the USA and mainly in the large northern cities where the industry was located. Mass production is a method of manufacturing a product. It was done using long assembly lines where each person along the line would make the same component over and over again then pass it down the line for the next part to be added until the finished product was created. Henry Ford mastered this with a Model T Ford being produced every 10 seconds. The Ford Company continued to produce and prosper with the Model T through boom and bust. By 1925 one in two car owners in America owned a Model T Ford.
It was not only the car, which had major success during the 1920's in America. Consumer goods were also in huge demand. Consumer goods also used the method of mass production, as did cars. Radio sets, telephones, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners, washing machines and ovens were the main goods wanted and bought by the American public. These new gadgets and appliances were attractive and sales rocketed. To help booster consumer goods sales a credit system was introduced.
This system gave people the power to buy the product on credit. Those who could not afford the product in one go could pay for it in installments. Mail order also gave people who lived beyond the towns and cities the chance to buy the product in remote areas; this was also good for people who had responsibilities at home. Advertisements in magazines, cinema, and newspapers, on the radio and on billboards encouraged people to buy the product. These adverts were propaganda and said that this product made you a better person and if you did not own it you were a lesser person compared to those who did.
The Ku Klux Klan:
The Ku Klux Klan originated from the southern whites after the American civil war in 1866. They were a group who were against black people. By 1900 the KKK where nearly non-existent until 1915 when William Simmons an ex history teacher from Georgia re-founded the Klan. With this new start the KKK reformed their ideas. They were only for WASP's (White, Anglo Saxon, Protestants) and against all Jews, Catholics, immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, Asia and especially Blacks. From 1921 to 1925 Simmons claimed an increase of nearly 5 million people on the Klan members list. The reason for the re-foundation of the Klan was because of the Blacks and immigrants' getting the white men's jobs.
This was clear because most members were poor, white men. There were also a few influential members of the Klan such as politicians and owners of large companies. The KKK took part in actions, which varied. They wore long white robes with white hats. This was used to intimidate their enemies as they went on marches and burned Catholic crosses; they also spoke in a secret code called 'Klonversations'. Their actions were not just based on intimidating people, they used torture and violence on untrue Americans. Victims were beaten, whipped, tarred and feathered and lynched The popularity of the Klan was reduced when people realised the extent of the Violence used against their enemies and millions left.
Prohibition was introduced in America in January 1920. The law was passed across America under the 18th Amendment. The 18th Amendment prohibited the making, selling and transporting of liquor over 0.5% in the USA. The ban was due to long running campaigns from Women's Christians Temperance Union and the Anti Saloon League. They claimed Alcohol was the cause of poverty, marriage separations, crime, and insanity also that it disrupted industry. The ban was not supported or popular at first. Prohibition was a huge failure and this was down to reasons such as many produced their own alcohol, this is called moonshine. Moonshine was often poor quality; it caused illness and even death. Others went to speakeasies. These were bars, which were very secretive; they were located in a back room or celler.
To enter a Speakeasy you would often have to say a password; this allowed only welcomed people and prevented unwelcome visitors or FBI agents. In the Speakeasy you had to keep your voice down so people couldn't hear the bar hence the title. The alcohol which speakeasies provided was often imported from bootleggers, which got whisky from Canada, Tequila from Mexico or Rum from the West Indies. The government had a hard time controlling the problems, which had risen from prohibition. In New York there were nearly 30'000 Speakeasies and over a quarter of a million in the USA. Along with this there was a shortage of agents to control them.
Organised crime sprung up from the vast profits made from illegal alcohol trade. There were major gangs in cities, which fought for territory. Gangland murders in Chicago went up to 277 with out one eviction. In one day, Severn Bugs Moran gang members were massacred by Al Capone's men, this was named the St Valentines Day massacre. The gangs also operated in protection rackets, prostitutes and drug trafficking. The authorities did not do much to stop them. Many police judge and state officials were bribed to turn a blind eye to the activities. Organised crime also went into legal business activities and trade unions. This part of the 1920's was exciting yet dangerous and was the cause and caused many things.
With the economic prosperity of the 1920's bought a change in life style for many American women. In 1920 they had been given the vote. Many women entered work in industry and the office. The flapper girl was the typical young woman of the 1920's. Most flapper girls had short hair, short skirts, and high heels, they were considered rebellious towards there elders. The flappers offended the older generation because they defied conventions of acceptable feminine behaviour. The flapper was "modern". She disposed the traditional elements of a young lady, longhair etc. She wore make up and baggy dresses, which often exposed her arms and sometimes her legs, often from the knees down. Flappers did more than symbolise a revolution in fashion and mores; they embodied the spirit of the Jazz Age.