Chapter 26

Chapter 26: The Modern Temper

Chapter Outline

I. Reaction in the twenties

  1. After World War I, America was seen by many as crumbling culturally. This belief led to confusion among Americans and radical reactions to 19th century cultural assumptions.
  2. Nativism
    1. Immigration led to early 20th century fears of immigrant radicalism-a threat to the established social order. By 1920, immigrants became the majority of white factory workers.
    2. Sacco and Vanzetti
      1. Arrested for robbery and murder
      2. Their main crime might have been their political beliefs combined with their immigrant status
      3. Executed despite public demonstrations on their behalf
    3. Immigration restriction
      1. Emergency Immigration Act of 1921 limited immigration
      2. Influence of racist pseudo-scientific studies
      3. New immigration quota law in 1924 favored old immigration from northern and western Europe and excluded Asians.
      4. New law allowed unrestricted immigration from Western Hemisphere countries making Latinos the fastest growing ethnic minority
  3. The Klan
    1. Unlike predecessor, devoted to "100% Americanism." TargetedAfrica-Americans, but also Roman Catholics, Jews, and immigrants.
    2. The founding and early years of the new Klan; no longer confined to the South
    3. Reaction to shifting moral standards, decline of church's authority and broad-mindedness of city dwellers and college students
    4. Internal dissent and violent methods caused the decline of the Klan
  4. Fundamentalism
    1. Rise of "modern" Christianity and the reaction to that notion
    2. William Jennings Bryan and other leaders against the teaching of evolution
    3. 1925, The Scopes "Monkey" Trial in Dayton, Tennessee, over teaching of evolution in public schools and colleges
      1. The Tennessee antievolution law and the civil boosters of Dayton
      2. Bryan, Clarence Darrow, and the trial
    4. Death of Bryan and the decline of fundamentalism
  5. Prohibition
    1. Reasons for push for Prohibition: moral righteousness and social conformity
    2. Early prohibition movements: WCTU and Anti-Saloon League-rhetoric contains virulent ethnic and social prejudice and seems aimed at policing the poor, the foreign born, and the working class
    3. Eighteenth Amendment ratified in 1919
    4. Problems of enforcement
      1. Congress did not allocate adequate enforcement resources
      2. Illegal stills and rum-running
      3. Speakeasies
    5. Organized crime
      1. Prohibition gave new source of income and encouraged political corruption
      2. Auto and machine gun provide mobility and firepower
      3. Al Capone and Eliot Ness

II. The Roaring Twenties

  1. Defensive temper of the 1920s partly a reaction to social and intellectual Revolution-cosmopolitan urban America confronts insular, rural America
  2. The Jazz Age
    1. Scott Fitzgerald named it and the music spawned new forms of recreation and sexuality
    2. New dances like the Charleston shocked guardians of morality
  3. The New Morality
    1. Young people lead a revolution in manners and morals
    2. F . Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise documents the change-the "petting party," bathtub gin, promiscuity and more
    3. The New Woman
    4. Growing awareness of Sigmund Freud's theories prompted discussion of sex
    5. Fashion fights prudishness-the flapper
  4. Margaret Sanger and Birth Control
    1. Sanger a nurse among the poor and recognizes need for family planning-distributes literature advising women to take control of their bodies
    2. She forms The Birth Control League targeting doctors, social workers and scientists as well as working-class women
    3. Lost support when she advocated sterilization for the mentally incompetent and those with certain genetic disorders
    4. "Every child a wanted child"
  5. The Women's Movement
    1. Suffrage movement
    2. Alice Paul, the National American Woman Suffrage Association
    3. Paul, Lucy Burns, and the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage-first suggestion of Constitutional Amendment
    4. Paul and the National Woman's Party-picketing and civil disobedience
    5. After vacillating, Woodrow Wilson proposes states allow women to vote; addresses NAWSA and works for woman suffrage
    6. Arguments for woman suffrage
      1. the right to vote and hold office is simple justice
      2. women are morally superior to men
      3. women are less prone to war
      4. women would promote society's welfare-an engine for Progressive social change
    7. Women's Movement not immune from era's prejudice
      1. Carrie Chapman Catt warns of danger from poor and ethnic votes
      2. Southerners say womens' votes would insure white supremacy
    8. Wilson embraces the "Susan B. Anthony Amendment"
    9. Nineteenth Amendment ratified in 1920
    10. The Equal Rights Amendment
      1. Promoted by Alice Paul
      2. Introduced in Congress in 1923
      3. Congress did not adopt amendment until 1972; it then failed ratification
    11. Working women
      1. Increases in number of working women
      2. Most still in traditional occupations
  6. The "New Negro"
    1. In the Great Migration of African Americans, nearly 1 million of the South's native blacks moved north; political influence followed
    2. The Harlem Renaissance
      1. Literary and artistic awakening among African-Americans
      2. A rediscovery of black folk culture and bolder treatment of controversial topics
    3. Writers of the Harlem Renaissance-Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Countee Cullen, James Weldon Johnson
    4. Cane by Jean Toomer
    5. Negro nationalism
      1. Promoted black cultural expression and black exclusiveness
      2. Marcus Garvey the leading spokesman
        1. Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA)
        2. African-Americans were to liberate themselves from white culture
        3. Appalled W. E. B. DuBois
        4. Garvey advocated return to Africa
        5. Prison, obscure death in London
    6. The NAACP
      1. Organized in 1910 by white progressives and black activists
      2. Main strategy of NAACP was education and legal action
      3. 1919 attack on lynching

III. The culture of modernism

  1. Science and social thought
    1. Isaac Newton's universe had been an ordered one, knowable by the human mind; an infinite progress in knowledge seemed possible
    2. The work of Albert Einstein showed that everything is relative
    3. Max Planck and quantum theory-atoms more complex that previously believed
    4. Werner Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle indicated that human knowledge of the universe is limited-the observer changes what is being observed
    5. Relativity and uncertainty undermine traditional values of personal responsibility and absolute standards
    6. "Culture" changes from refinement to the product of human endeavor; thus, all societies exhibit culture and no one is better than another.
    7. Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead
  2. Modernist Art and Literature
    1. "All that is solid melts into air"-reality was not to be accepted, but created; subconscious more interesting than reason
    2. Modernism applied
      1. Abstract painting
      2. atonal music
      3. free verse
      4. stream-of-consciousness
    3. Bohemian culture in New York and Chicago
    4. Armory show shocks audiences
    5. Ex-patriots lead literary modernism from outside the U.S.
      1. Ezra Pound
      2. T. S. Eliot
      3. Gertrude Stein
      4. James Joyce
      5. F. Scott Fitzgerald
      6. Ernest Hemingway
  3. The Southern Renaissance
    1. The south a mythic world in the process of rebirth
    2. Angered the Klan and traditionalists, but inspired young writers
      1. Thomas Wolfe
      2. William Faulkner
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