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How well do you know early-to-mid 20th century America?
A. Pretty well
B. Alright I suppose
C. Less than I probably should
D. What’s a century again?
*A century spans 100 years for those who don’t know, so the 20th century would be the 1900s.
America was pretty different 100 years ago. There were the progressives, a war and its not-so-anticipated sequel, and a depression here and there, but really nothing too extreme. Except for prohibition, of course. That was VERY extreme. The little rebellious America is finally making a name for itself in the world! But first, a few internal affairs.
The progressives were a movement dedicated to helping the lower classes and striving for better working conditions, as well as breaking down and exposing corrupt and large businesses. The journalists who dug up dirt on these large corporations were called “muckrakers” by Roosevelt due to the fact that they related to the manure raking characters in Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress,” according to the eleventh edition of American Pageant. During this time, Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson all came into presidency and all had some progressive tendencies.
Wilson won his second term by 277 to 254 electoral votes, (American Pageant, 1998), under the impression he would keep America out of the war, but as we know today, he didn’t. Germany, with its unrestricted submarine warfare, was literally giving the U.S. callbacks to play a part in the new film “The Great War.” Long war short, complex alliances, extreme nationalism, and a whole bunch of things can lead to one great big mess- or war.
After the war was over (man, that was fast), America saw a period called the “Roaring Twenties.” Although it’s perceived that this was a time of great prosperity and wealth, the wealth was very unevenly distributed among the population, as well as a massive increase of buying on credit (Green, 2013). The alcohol made everything alright though.
With every high, there’s a low, and that low was the Great Depression. Lots of things were factors into the economic downfall, such as WWI and the poor banking system, as John Green mentions that the stock market crash wasn’t the sole reason for the depression, contrary to what people think. Although Roosevelt and his New Deal greatly helped America (as he tried to help the economy rather than sitting back and just watching it burn), what really pulled America out of the depression was WWII.
How exactly did we get pulled into WWII? Whatever happened to isolationism? The attack on Pearl Harbor ultimately caused America to enter the second world war (while the reasons on why the Japanese attacked can be spread into a variety of different debates and potential arguments). With a two-front war and the newly invented atomic bomb, the war finished in a very timely fashion. America was unstoppable!
Or at least, that’s what people thought.
Who knows? Could there really be another superhero to challenge Captain America?
Pick up the next issue of Marvel’s comic series to find out.
The American Pageant, 11th edition
John Green Crash Course U.S. History – The Great Depression
John Green Crash Course U.S. History – The Roaring 20’s