News and Politics In the 1920’s
The five years (1920-1925) chosen are exciting. There were presidents elected, one dying in office, baseball was still the national pastime, a major political scandal, and there were new inventions everywhere!
Although all of the events can be listed in chronological order and described as news, the 1920s had many exciting firsts. In telling about them, it seems to be better not to put them in any order. That makes them more interesting. That makes it easier to divide them into events. Those events make up the news, sports, industrial announce-ments, and political reports of the time.
Warren Harding walked a couple of miles down Pennsylvania Avenue on the day he was sworn into office. He appointed the Republican Senator Albert Fall from New Mexico to the Department of The Interior. Secretary Fall became one of the major scandal makers in U. S. History.
The Teapot Dome affair (named for an oil field in Wyoming) was about oil. Albert Fall believed that the Navys oil reserves, still underground, should be available to the private enterprise. That was against the law, especially since it was done for a bribe.
Radio station KDKA out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was the first to make a broadcast in America. There were very few people listening!
Radio receivers didnt exist for the general population. Americans soon caught on to the idea and demanded radio sets for their homes.
A previous World Series was scandalized by bribery. By 1921, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and eight others of the Chicago White Sox players were on trial. Baseball really took it hard. In that same year, baseball enjoyed the first radio broadcast of the World Series, and the Giants beat the Yankees.
Colonel Billy Mitchell decided to prove his theory of airpower to the big shots in 1921. Using German ships from the Great War, Col. Mitchells bombers sank the former dreadnaughts pretty easily. Although he was correct, the brass disliked him for showing up the Navy, and the star (General Staff) was never put on his collar. Air-power did take its place in the military and it became every bit as important as he hoped.
The Early Twenties sure went by fast; Lt. Al Williams broke the air speed record in 1923. He was flying a Curtis Racer when he passed 273.7 mph at an airfield in St. Louis, Missouri.
The President died in office. The newly sworn President Mr. Coolidge really cleaned up the government after he canned Mr. Fall.
Things were faster yet on the dance and nightclub scene. Jazz and flappers were the popular musical directions. Of course Prohibition (the 18th Amendment) was keeping Americans from consuming booze! Sure, anyone who went to a speakeasy club was only going for a cigarette, and to drink soda water!
Tut finally arrived at another time and place! The boy-kings tomb was discovered and the beauty of his burial finery was breathtaking. When the golden coffin was examined, it was quickly moved to the top of the lists of wonders. Egypt became the hot place for archeologists to look for treasures that would go to museums instead of crooks.
In 1924, Lenin died in Russia. It was news, but it also was political because so much changed there after his death. Stalin challenged all others and became the Russian dictator until his death.
Eugene ONeil, an American playwright, opened his Desire Under The Elms in an off-Broadway theatre. The rest of his plays would always open on-Broadway. Good theatre, as written about in newspapers, was done only in New York through the 1920s.
Coconuts starring the Marx brothers was brand-new in New York. Another nut was the Scopes trial in Tennessee; Bryan prosecuted while Darrow helped show that local laws continue to be more powerful than logic. Not in the same category was Robert Millikan, a California scientific experimenter-genius, who proved that he had isolated cosmic rays.
My opinion is that the 1920s were good years, all-in-all. Many things that would lead to better living, new moral views, and some lively arguments came about in that time. Sports set records, radio and scientific milestones were in place, and politics came out of the fog. Thats when the public realized that the folks they sent to Washington were just like all of us. They needed to be watched, too.
All of the events in the 1920s, some exciting, fantastic, even embarrassing, changed all the people then and continue to this day.