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The Roaring 1920

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The Roaring 1920s

The roaring 1920s was a time where Americans were living the American dream. Many people called it the “age of excess” because it was the first time in American history that people could afford to buy in abundance and buy anything they pleased. The roaring 1920’s was effected by many inventions and a new life that Americans were adapting to. The production of the Model T’s, Baseball, Fashion, and Prohibition effected the 1920s. Americans were learning how to live the life.

The Ford Model T was an automobile invented by Henry Ford. Henry Ford Company was called Ford Motor Company, and was successful from 1908 through 1927. It was considered the first affordable automobile. The first Model T was built on September 27, 1908 at the Piquette Plant in Detroit, Michigan. Inventors of the Model T were Henry Ford, Childe Harold Wills, with two Hungarian emigrants named Joseph A. Galamb and Eugene Farkas. With the help of Harry Love, C.J Smith, Gus Degner and Peter E. Martin that were part of the team. In the international poll for the award of the world’s most influential car of the twentieth century, the Ford Model T came first. Most Model Ts cost around $290 in 1925 2. Most cars sold after 1926 were equipped with the electric starter. Before starting a Model T with the hand crack in front, the person had to hold back the spark, or stand a chance of damaging the starter. It was very dangerous because the person could break their arm by having the hand crank spin around widely. The car had a 10-gallon fuel tank that was mounted to the frame beneath the front seat3. Many people started to go to baseball games and traveled in their Model T. The Model T effected 1920 because it helped the economy by increasing the amount of money people spent. The Model T made it easier to get from one place to other place without waiting for a train or other means of transportation. It also allowed people to travel without any worries and make it to their location in less time. Model T showed a sense of wealth and power. All of the famous baseball players owned their Model Ts and showed it off, for example, Babe Ruth.

Babe Ruth started his first season making fifty-four homers. People couldn’t believe this man had so much talent. It made people want to go to baseball games and watch him play. Babe Ruth started to earn $100,000 and more through salary, bonuses, and product endorsement, while the average player earned between $4,000 and $10,000 a year. His nickname by the people was “ The Sultan of Swat” and “ The Bambino”. Babe Ruth started to make personal appearances and endorsement deals for tremendous sums of money. He made endorsements for sporting equipment, breakfast cereals, candy bars, and even underwear. He also appeared in three Hollywood films between 1920 and 1931. The movies were Heading Home, Play Ball with Babe Ruth, and How Babe Ruth hits a Home Run4. The movies were automatic success. People would go and see the movie to get fashion tips and what the latest style. Babe Ruth affected the 1920s by becoming a role model, and even left a curse on the Red Sox for 86 years after being sold to the New York Yankees for $125,000. The “Curse of the bambino” was an urban myth because of the failure of the Boston Red Sox Baseball team to win the World Series. The curse ended when the Boston Red Sox’s won the 2004 World Series5.

Gambling became a big issue in sports. In the early 1920s many players would throw games for money. They got paid more for throwing a game then actually winning the game. Major League baseball games leaped from 6 million during the 1910s to more than 9 million during the 1920s. Players’ salaries increased in the late 1920s especially for those players who smashed the balls into the bleaches 6. On September 28, 1920, a Chicago grand jury indicted eight Chicago White Sox baseball players for conspiring to throw the 1919 World Series, which they had played against the Cincinnati Reds. This was called “The White Sox Scandal”. The eight players accused were pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Claude “Lefty” Williams , first baseman Arnold “Chick” Giandil, Shortstop Charles “Swede” Risberg, third baseman George “Buck” Weaver, left fielder “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, center fielder Oscar “Happy” Felsch, and substitute infielder Fred McMullen. There was not enough evidence to convict the players. However, they were expelled from baseball for life on August 3, 1921. After this scandal many other sports like boxing, wrestling, track meets, and horse racing also came under suspicion because they were so closely associated with gamblers. Baseballs affected the 1920 by creating organized crime and corruption. Many people started to become obsessed with gambling and wasting their life earnings on games.

America’s biggest mistake happened on January 20, 1920 when America passed the 18th amendment called Prohibition. The Eighteenth Amendment was put into effect and all importing, exporting, transporting, selling, and manufacturing of intoxicating liquor was put to an end. “Prohibition did not achieve its goals. Instead, it added to the problems it was intended to solve” 6. Prohibition was supposed to end corruption and reduce crime but it only increased it. People started to smuggle alcohol into America and sell it for much more. Many people hid their liquor in hip flasks, false books, hollow canes, and anything else they could find 7. Speak-easies were also illegal which replaced saloons after the start of prohibition. By 1925, there were over 100,000 speak-easies in New York City alone. Just about five percent of smuggled liquor was hindered from coming into the country in the 1920s. Just below there is a graph showing the percentage of Total Alcohol Sales (1890-1960).

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It shows the increased in the years of prohibition.

Many illegal liquor businesses fell under the control of organized gangs, which overpowered most of the authorities. Many bootleggers secured their business by bribing the authorities, namely federal agents and persons of high political status. In large cities the homicide went from 5.6 (per 100,000 population) in the pre-prohibition period, to nearly 10 (per 100,000 population) during prohibition, nearly a 78 percent increase. Serious crimes, such as homicides, assault, and battery, increased nearly 13 percent, while other crimes involving victims increased 9 percent. Many supporters of prohibition argued that the crime rate decreased.

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