Portal:1920s

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The 1920s Portal

The 1920s was a decade that began on January 1, 1920 and ended on December 31, 1929. It is sometimes referred to as the Roaring Twenties or the Jazz Age, when speaking about the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom. In Europe the decade is sometimes referred to as the "Golden Age Twenties" because of the economic boom following World War I.

Since the end of the 20th century, the economic strength during the 1920s has drawn close comparison with the 1950s and 1990s, especially in the United States of America. These three decades are regarded as periods of economic prosperity, which lasted throughout nearly each entire decade. Each of the three decades followed a tremendous event that occurred in the previous decade (World War I and Spanish flu in the 1910s, World War II in the 1940s, and the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s). The 1920s marked the first time in the United States that the population in the cities surpassed the population of rural areas. This was due to rapid urbanization starting in the 1920s.

However, not all countries enjoyed this prosperity. The Weimar Republic, like many other European countries, had to face a severe economic downturn in the opening years of the decade, because of the enormous debt caused by the war as well as the Treaty of Versailles. Such a crisis would culminate with a devaluation of the Mark in 1923, eventually leading to severe economic problems and, in the long term, favour the rise of the Nazi Party.

The 1920s were characterized by the rise of radical political movements, especially in regions that were once part of empires. Communism began attracting larger amounts of support following the success of the October Revolution and the Bolsheviks' determination to win the subsequent Russian Civil War. To move the backward economy of Russia towards a more developed economy in which socialism would become possible, the Bolsheviks adopted a policy of mixed economics, from 1921 to 1928, and also created the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at the end of 1922. The 1920s also experienced the rise of the far right and fascism in Europe and elsewhere, being perceived as a solution to prevent the spread of Communism. The knotty economic problems also favoured the rise of dictators in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, such as Józef Piłsudski in the Second Polish Republic and Peter and Alexander Karađorđević in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The devastating Wall Street Crash in October 1929 drew a line under the prosperous 1920s.

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Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia
Credit: American Colony, Jerusalem

Haile Selassie I was Ethiopia's regent from 1916 to 1930 and Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. The heir to a dynasty that traced its origins to the 13th century, and from there by tradition back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, he is a defining figure in both Ethiopian and African history. Selassie is revered as the religious symbol for God incarnate among the Rastafari movement, whose name comes from Ras (literally "Head," an Ethiopian title equivalent to Duke), and Tafari Makonnen, Selassie's pre-coronation name.

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Calvin Coolidge (1923)
Calvin Coolidge was the 30th President of the United States. A lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state. His actions during the Boston Police Strike of 1919 thrust him into the national spotlight. He was elected as the 29th Vice President in 1920 and succeeded to the Presidency upon the death of Warren G. Harding. He was elected in his own right in 1924, and gained a reputation as a small-government conservative. In many ways, Coolidge's style of governance was a throwback to the passive Presidency of the nineteenth century. He restored public confidence in the White House after the scandals of his predecessor's administration, and left office with considerable popularity. Many would later criticize Coolidge as a part of a general criticism of laissez-faire government, especially in times of economic hardship, such as the Great Depression. His reputation underwent a renaissance during the Reagan administration, but the ultimate assessment of his presidency is still divided between those who approve of his reduction of the size of government and those who believe the federal government should be more involved in regulating the economy.

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