10 Reasons Why the Roaring Twenties Sucked
10 Reasons Why the Roaring Twenties Sucked

10 Reasons Why the Roaring Twenties Sucked

Patrick Lynch - January 28, 2018

10 Reasons Why the Roaring Twenties Sucked
KKK march on Washington DC in 1925 – NPR

9 – The KKK’s Popularity Surged

The original KKK was formed as a social club in Pulaski in 1866. Former Confederate general, Nathan Bedford Forrest, was named as the first ‘grand wizard.’ It wasn’t well organized, and in 1870, it was classified as a terrorist organization. Although racism was prevalent in the Southern states during and after the Reconstruction era, the Klan faded from view.

The KKK was revived by William Joseph Simmons in 1915. Unlike the original version, which remained shrouded in secrecy, the second Klan was out in the open, and it used to advertise in the newspapers. It sponsored sports teams and college fraternities, and even hosted beauty pageants. Aided by a smooth marketing machine, along with hostility against Jews, African-Americans, and a skepticism of science, the new KKK tried to come across as a bastion of morality bent on healing society’s ills.

Of course, they were little more than thugs for hire who enjoyed committing violent acts without risk of censure. The Klan reached its peak in the 1920s when it had an estimated four million members. The prevailing idea is that the KKK was filled with backward rural types. In reality, about half of the Klan’s membership lived in cities. Chicago alone had 50,000 members. As well as continuing the reign of terror against African-Americans, the Klan added Jews, Catholics, and non-Nordic immigrants to its list of targets.

The organization was flowing as new members had to pay fees. At one point, the Klan was earning $25 million a year, equivalent to over $340 million. Eventually, the general public and the government saw the danger and President Warren Harding, and Calvin Coolidge spoke out against the Klan while. The group’s membership dwindled markedly towards the end of the 1920s and returned to the shadows from whence it came. Today, the Klan is active in up to 22 states amidst fears that white supremacist movements may return to the fore.

Related: Worst Crimes Committed by the Ku Klux Klan.

10 Reasons Why the Roaring Twenties Sucked
Panic during Wall Street Crash – NY Daily News

10 – Economic Disaster

On October 24, 1929, the Dow Jones Industrial Average began to plummet in an event known as Black Thursday. The stock market continued to collapse, and by October 29, the Dow Jones lost 30% of its value, $30 billion or almost $400 billion in today’s money. It was a sum of money greater than what was lost during World War I and utterly eroded confidence in the stock market. On Black Tuesday, investors panicked en masse and sold over 16 million shares. The ensuing economic crisis became known as the Great Depression.

For every boom, there is a bust, or so it seems, and the stock market fared spectacularly well during the Roaring Twenties. From 1922 until 1929, the market had increased by almost 20% a year on average, and this growth encouraged investors to risk their life savings in what amounted to one of the biggest failed gambles in history. The practice of buying on margin became very popular as it enabled investors to borrow money from their broker to purchase stocks and they only had to pay a 10-20% down payment.

Companies began investing in stocks and banks were using customer money without permission. There were warnings signs in the weeks before the crash that were ignored by all but the savviest investors. The Dow Jones had reached a record high on September 3, 1929, but had fallen by 20% by October 22. It was on this day that the New York Times published articles about short selling, foreign investors leaving the market and margin sellers. The Times and the Washington Post fanned the flames on Wednesday and panic began to set in on Black Thursday.

The Wall Street Crash destroyed countless lives as many people lost their life savings. The Dow Jones continued to plummet. Its record high was 381.2, but by July 8, 1930, just 10 months later, it closed at 41.22, a fall of 90%. The Dow Jones did not exceed its 1929 record high for 25 years, and during the Great Depression, unemployment fell 25%, wages fell over 40%, and global trade fell 65%. The Roaring Twenties was replaced by the Terrible Thirties.


Where’d we get this stuff from? Here are our sources:

History.com – The Roaring Twenties

History.com – Women’s Christian Temperance Union

Ohio State University – Temperance and Prohibition

Drug Library – Did Alcohol Use Decrease During Alcohol Prohibition?

History Collection – Epic Parties you Wish You Went To: The Roaring 20s in Photos

History Collection – Doctors Wrote Prescriptions For Liquor During Prohibition

History.com – 10 Things You Should Know About Prohibition

Legends of America – Giovanni “Johnny” Torrio – Presiding Over the Chicago Outfit

Chicago Tribune – 10 Things You Might Now Know About The Outfit

National Crimes Syndicate – The Castellammarese War

Buffalo News – On This Date In 1901: Mckinley Assassin Leon Czolgosz Was Executed At Auburn Prison

Massachusetts Court System – The Red Scare of 1919-1920

Mass – Sacco & Vanzetti: Investigation And Arrest

Massachusetts Court System – Sacco and Vanzetti: Justice on Trial

The Atlantic – The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti

Famous Trials – Leopold and Loeb by Professor Douglas O. Linder

Chicago Sun Times – Robert Franks Found Murdered, Launching Leopold And Loeb Trial

Gallup News – Belief in Creationist View of Humans at New Low

History Net – Scopes Trial

PBS.org – Scopes Trial

The Atlantic – When Bigotry Paraded Through the Streets

The Washington Post – Conspiracy Theories, fake news, racism fueling KKK’s rise – in the 1920s

The Pendergast Years – The Second Ku Klux Klan In Kansas City: Rise And Fall Of A White Nationalist Movement

The Balance – Stock Market Crash of 1929 Facts, Causes, and Impact

Marketplace – Why Didn’t Any Wall Street CEOs Go To Jail After The Financial Crisis?