This is a Document Based Question for an Advanced Placement United States History class on the topic of tensions in the 1920s (and how they were manifested). This paper received an 8 (out of the 9-point grading scale) because I did not use enough documents and was not thoroughly analytical with the documents that I did use.
In the 1920's, tension between old and new spawned from technology, commerical ideals, and new expression of "self" in society.
The change in American households was shaped by the booming industry in producing consumer goods. The average American, due to these luxuries, had more time for recreation. Tensions arose as rural farmers and conservative Protestants allowed this new wave of technology to pass them by. For example, in Document D, Hiram Wesley Evans expressed a personal belief regarding the contrast of urban-dwellers and conservative farmers that could be interpreted as a farmer's defiance of change. Regardless of the lack of luxury items, they maintained intelligence and skill and were angered by their denouncement by liberals as "hicks." While some farmers may have taken advantage of machinery on the farm, most were too poverty-stricken to be able to afford anything like electric lighting or tractors.
New feats were accomplished such as Charles Lindbergh sailing over the Atlantic Ocean on his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis. Americans, as suggested by Document F, were wooed by the use of technology to emphasize his bold character as a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant. New technology was integrated into man's appearance. Cars, like the Ford Model T, were manufactured and sold at an affordable price, but all of this was merely due to post-war prosperity that was not observed in the following decade.
The number of Conservatives and members of the Ku Klux Klan skyrocketed. The Ku Klux Klan, which preserved the Protestant doctrine of creationism, exploded at the new liberal idea of teaching evolution in the classroom, and showed religious fervor in the Scopes Trial. They were also against electing Smith, a Catholic who ran for governor of New York. Nostalgic conservatives and nativists such as the Supreme Court judge who ruled against Sacco and Vanzetti, two Italians who were tried for murder, were not for the continuation of immigration.
Tensions were not only built by poltical views, but also by a generation gap between the middle-aged and the youth of America. The middle-aged had grown up in a society where extreme expression of sexuality was condemned and role models were found in the home. With the introduction of the radio, themed magazines, movies, and ads, American youth idolized more movie stars like Rudolph Valentino and the comics Amos n' Andy than parental figures and teachers. This group moved to the city, away from family and avoided their elders' ideals such as the more church-going conservative lifestyle. Surprisingly, this tension wasn't as extreme as others because a lot of the images depicting youth were false and the more liberal lifestyle was a pipedream.
Women changed from the old housewife image that had been imposed. They made independent purchases and some smoked. Document G raised a question regarding the health factor of smoking which was actually a long stand against women smoking altogether. A very small percentage of women, known as flappers, wore short skirts and cut their hair short. It could be said that this change came with World War I, when many women took over men's jobs. Most men continued to believe a woman's place was in the home.
The Harlem Renaissance brought racial tensions. Whites were willing to experience the byproducts of the black cultural revolution, but most did not accept them in society. Blacks were less likely to get a job, were victims of segregation, and were not shown in advertising. But black arts made their way into America. Famous writers, artists, and actors like Zora Neal Hurston, Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, and Paul Robeson were accepted in popular culture almost immediately. Activists like Marcus Garvey stepped out to proclaim that "black is beautiful." This was the African-American way of expressing their anger caused by the tensions. White Americans tried to assimilate black culture in this new art into a more avant-garde style but this only angered blacks even more, like Hughes, in Document E, who showed that black shall remain independent.