Chapter 25: Transition to Modern America (the 1920s).
Mass Production: the result was the creation of a New America, on e in which individualism was sacrificed to conformity as a part of the price to be paid for a new era of abundance.
The 1920s, often seen as a time of escape and frivolity before the onset of the Depression, actually marked a beginning , a time when the American people learned to adapt to life in the city, when they decided (wisely or not) to center their existence on the automobile, and when they rejected their rural past while still longing for the old values it had created. It is in the 1920s that we can find the roots of modern America as we know today.
The Second Industrial Revolution.
With the advent of the new consumer goods industries, the American people by the 1920s enjoyed the highest standard of living of any nation on earth.
After a brief post-war depression, in 1922 saw the beginning of a great boom that peaked in 1927 and lasted until 1929.
In this brief period, American industrial output nearly doubled , and the gross national product rose by 40%.
Most of this explosive growth took place in industries producing consumer goods-automobiles, appliances, furniture, and clothing.
Equally important, the national per capita income increased by 30% to $681 in 1929, American workers became the highest paid in history.
The Automobile Industry.
The nature of the consumer goods revolution can be seen in the automobile industry, which became the nation's largest in the 1920s.
In 1920 there were 10 million cars in the nation; by the end of the decade, 26 million were on the road.
Production jumped from fewer than 2 million units a year to over 5 million by 1929.
The new industry revealed a basic weakness in the consumer goods economy; once people had bought an item with a long life, they would be out of the market for a few years.
In the affluent 1920s, few noticed the emerging economic instability.