Was America A Free Society In The

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Was America A Free Society In The 1920s Essay, Research Paper Was America really a free society in the 1920’s? Freedom covers many aspects of life : human rights, religious freedom, economic freedom, freedom of expression and political freedom. In America in the 1920’s there was an illusion of freedom – but some people were more free than others and this depended on race, social class and political belief. There was a big divide between rich and poor and this was further exagerrated by the divide between the urban and rural populations. The smaller farmers suffered from low income. The government did nothing to help, as it was Republican and believed in not interfering with American peoples lives. This ties in with the idea of economic freedom – the rural poor were

not free because they could not afford to buy what they wanted. They barely had the money to survive, let alone the opportunity to earn the extra money to buy the things that they needed. The mining story was much the same. As the demand for coal dropped, the wages were lowered and the hours for miners were longer. A non-union policy was set up in many mines, which prevented any worker from joining a trade union. This meant that they could pay lower wages and charge less for coal and get a bigger percentage of the market, (65 percent in 1926.) So the freedom to join a trade union was taken away. As a citizen of the United States of America, you had the right to vote, that is if you were classed as a citizen. Citizenship excluded blacks and Indians in most states, and even

communists in one. This exclusion was more prominent in the Deep South where racism was still a bitter fact of every day life. The Jim Crow laws prevented black people from voting, getting a good education and even riding on buses in the seat they wanted to sit in. (Despite this fact, many black people rose to the top and got good jobs such as lawyers). The majority of blacks though, were employed in low paid, dirty jobs, such as bin men and toilet cleaners. A lot of industries had an all white hiring policy, making it even harder for black people to get jobs. The justice system was also very biased. If someone even suspected that a black man had committed a crime, he would be put to trial (if he was lucky) and most likely hanged. Sometimes if, he was sent to prison, or awaiting

trial, lynch mobs would take them away, beat them and kill them. The Ku Klux Klan were an active, and very vicious organisation ,a hater of all that was not White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant. They were mostly behind the lynchings, and killed many blacks. The authorities did not do any thing about it, because many of them were members of the Klan them selves. There were also questions of freedom according to gender. Again, this was not clear cut. Women in the rural areas were still very dominated by their husbands and played a traditional role in the home. Tasks like milking the cows, making the food and bringing up the family were what women were thought to be for. The country folk saw the ‘the liberated, free women of the city’ to be corrupt and immoral. The women in the city

were not as free as many thought though. Their clothing was restricted (in Chicago, one piece bathing suits were banned), and even though they got the vote in 1920, and started in employment, they still got lower wages and were exploited as a result. Political freedom was also in serious question. Communism was banned in some states, but the fear of it was exagerated compared to the real threat. The Bolshevik revolution in Russia had led to an immense phobia of any thing Soviet, especially communism – and anything that hinted at radical left politics . The fear of anarchists was also as great. One example of this fear was the trial and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti. Sacco and Vanzetti were men who were executed on political grounds. The fact that they were both anarchists and