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1920's Free Response Question

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The 1920's were a time of great cultural change in America. Traditionalists found the new values of the Jazz Age to be utterly sinful and immoral. The youth of the twenties rebelled against the constraints of their elders in several ways.

One of the most provocative changes was the "new look" for young women. The Flapper Era entered America with a bang. Ladies did the unthinkable in cutting their long tresses to chin length bobs, smoking, wearing shorter dresses and even engaging in premarital sex. Traditional women were horrified at these loose morals and daring behavior. They strove to quell the women reformers who pushed for legalized birth control. They spoke against the sensual behavior of young women.

Another source of tension was the difference in religious beliefs among people. A new way of thinking called Modernism emerged in which people took a slightly more critical look at the Bible. It was these people who claimed to believe in the theory of evolution as opposed to the seven-day Creation story of Genesis. Fundamentalists, on the other hand, denounced this as blasphemy. These traditionalists took the word of the Bible as exact and literal. Nowhere was the conflict between these two parties more highlighted than in the Scopes Trial in Tennessee. John Scopes, a schoolteacher, had been arrested for teaching the theory of evolution to his students. He was eventually convicted (but later released on a technicality), demonstrating the tenacious hold that Fundamentalism still had on this country, while also emphasizing the new ways of thinking that had begun to appeal to Americans.

Yet another source of tension was Prohibition. Alcohol consumption and manufacture had been outlawed in 1919 in the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act. This by no means meant that America was a dry country. Young people could still find alcohol in shadowy "speakeasy" clubs. There bootleg alcohol would be sold to customers. While Prohibition did reduce alcoholism and alcohol-related deaths during the Twenties, it also caused crime to skyrocket. Mobsters like Al Capone tried to corner the



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