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Roaring Twenties

            Hoover's claim that the Americans were a happy people was not entirely factual rather it was based on the great "American dream" that the acquisition of material things is responsible for happiness and fulfilment. "Wealth is the chief end of man" commented President Coolidge (a). The 1920's were a time of great political, economic and social change for the United States of America (USA). The decade saw a massive economic boom, widespread technological advance and increased personal freedom. As a result of the changes and developments that took place, it became characterised as a period of apparent prosperity and happiness. However, Hoover's claim that Americans at that time were a "happy people" was not an entirely accurate portrayal of reality, unless one equates happiness with mere statistics, because to a large extent the 1920's were an era of "mindless materialism and consumption and the pursuit of private wealth over public purpose"(b). Whilst for many the twenties really were a "roaring" time, it was a decade in which underneath the surface of a seemingly optimistic and flourishing country, lay rising intolerance, racism and economic suffering for minority groups. It was a period of great contradiction: of high hopes yet endless despair, of optimism yet cynicism, of social advances but moral decline and of happiness for some yet widespread sadness for others.
             Political developments during the 1920's contributed to a large extent in creating the statistics President Hoover claimed were proof that Americans were a "happy people". Between 1920 and 1929 the American people elected three republican Presidents, each of whom promised to promote the politics of prosperity and thus create a flourishing economy and a happy people, "The Chief Business of the American people is business"(c) stated President Coolidge. The use of a republican policy known as laissez faire played a key role in bringing about the economic boom and consequent prosperity, which many Americans equated with happiness.

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