The Roaring Twenties

By ghamm
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    Andrew Mellon

    A millionaire financier who served as Secretary of the Treasury for eleven years under Republican presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. As Treasury Secretary, Mellon pushed through a series of large tax cuts for the wealthy, freeing huge sums of capital for reinvestment in the booming stock market. During the Roaring Twenties, Mellon was regarded as a genius of rapid economic growth; after the Great Crash, however, he was blamed by many for unwisely promoting wealth inequality.
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    Warren G. Harding

    Warren G. Harding was the 29th President of the United States. A personable, conservative senator from Ohio, Harding won the presidential election of 1920 in a landslide by promising a "return to normalcy" after World War I. Harding's administration ended up plagued by corruption scandals, as many of the President's cronies used their high positions in government for illegal personal gain.
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    Herbert Hoover

    Herbert Hoover was a self-made millionaire in the mining industry, a very successful Secretary of Commerce from 1921-28, and a very unsuccessful president of the U.S. from 1929 to 1933. His term saw the onset of the Great Depression, which began with the stock market crash just a few months after he took office. Today, Hoover's name is most associated with the shanty towns—"Hoovervilles"—erected during the Depression by the nation's unemployed and homeless.
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    D.W. Griffith

    An important movie director of the early twentieth century and one of the founders of the Hollywood film industry. Griffith's 1915 film Birth of a Nation—which depicted Ku Klux Klansmen as triumphant heroes—was one of the most important films in American history. A runaway box office success, it proved the viability of the Hollywood feature film as a commercial product. It also revealed the deep racism still prevalent in American society, and led to a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan.
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    Henry Ford

    Henry Ford was one of America's greatest businessmen, the founder of Ford Motor Company and the man largely responsible for initiating the era of mass-consumption and mass-production in the American economy. Ford's innovative business practices, including standardization, the assembly line, and high wages for workers, revolutionized American industry. Ford also became one of America's most prominent citizens in the early twentieth century, and began to take strong positions on social affairs.
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    F. Scott Fitzgerald

    F. Scott Fitzgerald was a prominent American writer of the "Lost Generation," the author of novels including This Side of Paradise, Tender is the Night, and—most famously—The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald achieved huge fame and success by his mid-twenties, and later struggled to live up to the expectations he had created for his own work. He died of alcoholism at the age of 44.
  • Germany and Allies End World War I

    Germany and the Allies sign an armistice to end the fighting in World War I.
  • Eighteenth Amendment

    Congress ratifies the Eighteenth Amendment, prohibiting the sale of alcohol anywhere in the United States.
  • Treaty of Versailles Creates Conflict

    In Paris, diplomats representing the combatant nations of World War I sign the Treaty of Versailles, which promises to sustain peace through the creation of the League of Nations but also plants the seed of future conflict by imposing mercilessly stiff reparations upon Germany.
  • Woodrow Wilson Suffers a Stroke

    Under heavy strain while on a speaking tour promoting the League of Nations, President Woodrow Wilson suffers a stroke, leaving him largely incapacitated for the final 18 months of his term. He dies on February 3, 1924.
  • Seattle Strike

    In Seattle, local trade unionists affiliated with both the mainstream American Federation of Labor and the radical Industrial Workers of the World organize a general strike, halting economic activity in the city for five days. The strike ultimately fails when workers, threatened with state violence and undermined by their own cautious labor leaders, return to their jobs. Still, by raising the specter of class-based revolution, the Seattle General Strike terrifies many Americans, leading to new a
  • Palmer Raids

    The Palmer Raids begin, launching a period of intense government persecution of radical political dissidents in response to the postwar Red Scare sweeping the nation.
  • Steel Strike Ends

    The Great Steel Strike of 1919 ends with capitulation by the steelworkers.
  • Senate Rejects League

    The Senate refuses to ratify the Versailles Treaty or authorize United States participation in the League of Nations.
  • Cotton Fallout

    Cotton prices at New Orleans peak at 42 cents a pound, prompting Southern farmers to plant the largest crop in history. The resulting overproduction causes a collapse in prices, with cotton falling to less than 10 cents a pound by early 1921. Cotton farmers will toil in near-depression conditions throughout most of the 1920s and 30s.
  • Garvey Conference

    Charismatic black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican immigrant, convenes the first International Convention of the Negro Peoples of the World in New York's Madison Square Garden.
  • Nineteenth Amendment

    The Nineteenth Amendment is ratified, granting women the right to vote.
  • Harding Landslide

    Republican Warren G. Harding is elected to the presidency by a landslide. Harding wins 60% of the popular vote and 75% of the electoral vote; Democrat James Cox wins only a handful of states in the South. Socialist Eugene Debs garners more than 900,000 votes despite campaigning from prison, where he is incarcerated for violating the wartime Espionage Act by giving an antiwar speech in 1918.
  • Immigration Quota

    Congress passes immigration restrictions, for the first time creating a quota for European immigration to the United States. Targeted at "undesirable" immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, the act sharply curtails the quota for those areas while retaining a generous allowance for migrants from Northern and Western Europe.
  • Sacco-Vanzetti Trial

    The Sacco-Vanzetti trial begins; immigrant Italian radicals Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti will eventually be convicted of murder and executed.
  • Bessie Coleman

    Bessie Coleman became the first person to receive an international pilot's license as a graduate of the Federation Aeronautique International in France. She was also honored to be the first black woman pilot and stunt aviator.
  • The Lie Detector

    John A. Larson was a medical student at the University of California when he invented the Polygraph, or lie detector. This devise measured heartbeats and breathing to learn if a person is lying or not. It later included a skin monitoring system to tell if a person is sweating. If a person was sweating and their breathing and pulse became higher, an alarm would sound concluding that the person was lying.
  • World Series

    Baseball's World Series is broadcast on radio for the first time; the New York Giants defeat the New York Yankees, five games to three.
  • Tariffs Raised

    Congress passes the Fordney-McCumber Tariff, sharply raising tariff duties to protect the American market for American manufactures. The tariff boosts the domestic economy of the Roaring Twenties, but it also worsens the crisis for struggling European economies like Germany's, helping to enable Adolf Hitler's rise to power there on a platform of economic grievance.
  • Invention of the Bulldozer

    Engineer Benjamin Holt built a crawling tractor, which he called “caterpillar” in 1885. Later, scraping blades were attached and in 1923, LaPlant-Choate Manufacturing Company produced the first bulldozer in 1923.
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    Germany Reparations

    Germany, burdened by reparations payments imposed by Treaty of Versailles, suffers hyperinflation. One American dollar is now worth 7,000 German marks.
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    Yankee Stadium

    Yankee Stadium, "The House that Ruth Built," is constructed in the Bronx, New York.
  • Harding Dies

    President Warren G. Harding dies of stroke in a San Francisco hotel room. Vice President Calvin Coolidge ascends to presidency.
  • Threats Made by the KKK

    On this day, the Ku Klux Klan demonstrated their power and made threats to the immigrant and African Americans in Monticello.
  • Nellie Tayloe Ross

    The first and only woman governor of Wyoming.
  • Ford Motor Company

    The market capitalization of Ford Motor Company exceeds $1 billion.
  • The Great Gatsby Published

    F. Scott Fitzgerald publishes The Great Gatsby.
  • Scopes Violates Ban

    Tennessee schoolteacher John Scopes is arrested for teaching evolution, in violation of new state law banning the teaching of Darwin. The ensuing "Scopes Monkey Trial," pitting defense attorney Clarence Darrow against three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan in a proxy debate of modernity versus fundamentalism, captivates the nation. Scopes is eventually found guilty.
  • Klansmen March

    Forty thousand Ku Klux Klansmen march on Washington, their white-hooded procession filling Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • Charlie Chaplin appears in "The Gold Rush"

    Charlie Chaplin's popular silent comedy The Gold Rush premieres before enthusiastic audiences.
  • The Sun Also Rises Published

    Ernest Hemingway publishes The Sun Also Rises.
  • Gertrude Ederle

    At the age of 19, she was the first woman to swim the English Channel.
  • The General

    Buster Keaton's comedy classic The General, considered by many to be the greatest silent film ever made, premieres.
  • Mae West Obscene

    Risqué entertainer Mae West is found guilty of obscenity by a New York court and sentenced to ten days in jail.
  • First Solo Transatlantic Flight

    Aviator Charles Lindbergh completes the first solo transatlantic flight, landing his "Spirit of Saint Louis" in Paris 33 hours after departing from New York. Lindbergh becomes a national hero.
  • Invention of the Bread Slicer

    Otto Frederick Rowedder of Iowa worked on his idea of a bread slicer since 1912. Finally he completed a machine that could successfully cut and wrap a loaf of bread. This machine was later improved by baker Gustav Papendick.
  • Babe Ruth Sets Home Run Record

    New York Yankees star Babe Ruth hits his 60th home run of the season, breaking his own record of 59. Ruth's record will stand for more than thirty years.
  • The Jazz Singer

    Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer, the first "talking" motion picture, premieres, marking the beginning of the end of the silent film era.
  • Kellogg-Briand Pact

    Fifteen nations, including the United States, sign the Kellogg-Briand pact "outlawing" war. The unenforceable pact will be made a mockery through the rise of European fascist states in the 1930s.
  • Hoover Elected President

    Herbert Hoover, running on a slogan of "A chicken in every pot, a car in every garage," is elected to the presidency, crushing Catholic Democrat Al Smith to maintain Republican dominance of the Oval Office.
  • Mickey Mouse

    Walt Disney's Steamboat Willie premieres, introducing the world to a new animated character—Mickey Mouse.
  • Stock Market Collapse

    The American stock market collapses, signaling the onset of the Great Depression. The Dow Jones Industrial Average peaks in September 1929 at 381.17—a level that it will not reach again until 1954. The Dow will bottom out at a Depression-era low of just 41.22 in 1932.
  • Saint Valentine's Day Massacre

    In the "Saint Valentine's Day Massacre," the single bloodiest incident in a decade-long turf war between rival Chicago mobsters fighting to control the lucrative bootlegging trade, members of Al Capone's gang murder six followers of rival Bugs Moran.
  • The End of Prohibition

    The Twenty-first Amendment repealed Prohibition.