Using the four passages and your own knowledge, assess the view that the impact of the First World War was the main reason for the booming economy in the USA in the 1920’s (40 Marks)
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I believe that the First World War did not have as much of a significant impact on the American economy as mass production, infact i however see that instead of benefiting the economy the War in fact had the reverse effect to that of which interpretation A and C suggest that the war was the most important factor of the 1920’s American economic boom.
Firstly, the biggest reason as to why mass production was the main reason for the economic boom was that the American GNP soaring from $72.4 billion in 1919 to $104 billion 1929 only 15 years after mass production was first implemented in America, the figures show the huge impact that mass production had upon the American economy, this is direct evidence of the huge impact mass production had as opposed to the 3 other interpretations which do not have any direct evidence of the impact they had upon the American economy, this is supporting that mass production had the most important impact on the American economy and shows evidence of why mass production was the main reason for the 1920’s boom.
This leads to a criticism of source A as the interpretation does not refer to The First Wold War costing America over $32 Billion, instead of injecting growth into the economy the war in fact had the reverse effect as less money was available in America leading to slow growth in the economy. Mass production had a positive effect upon economy, boosting its GNP through stimulation of the American retail market. This supports why the War was not beneficial to the economic boom of the 20’s compared to mass production.
Interpretation B states that ‘the key to the boom was a tremendous increase in productivity resulting from technological innovation and the application of scientific management’ this goes against the point that interpretation D suggests that Andrew Mellon was the key figure of the 1920’s boom in America. The reason why scientific management had a bigger impact than Andrew Mellon’s reforms is because the implementation of mass production saw workers’ pay increased from $710 to $857, whereas Mellon’s reforms were based upon the banking in America which had little effect upon all classes whereas mass production benefited all classes of society. Also the scientific changes to production and the national scale it happened saw upon America begin to prosper and boom far before Andrew Mellon’s policies were implemented, after which there was little impact by Mellon’s policies as opposed to mass production which propelled the boom this supports the fact that mass production was the key reason for the booming economy in America.
Mass production was the main reason for the economic boom is because once it was introduced in 1914 just a few years later there became a clear direct change to Americas economy as interpretation B states ‘Although the population grew by only 16% during the decade, industrial production almost doubled’ The increase in production saw the American economy begin to produce more and more goods, leading to a sharp increase in jobs, sales and profits. This supports my point that mass production was the most important factor to the American economic boom.
Further support for mass production being the catalyst for the economic boom is because once production in mass was introduced in 1914 just a few years later there became a clear direct change to Americas economy as interpretation B supports ‘Although the population grew by only 16% during the decade, industrial production almost doubled’ The increase in production saw the American economy begin to produce more and more goods, leading to a sharp increase in jobs, sales and profits. This backs up the point that mass production was the most important factor to the American economic boom.
Another point why mass production was the most important reason for the economic boom was the impact on electricity demand. Electricity demand shot up due to businesses needing electricity to power the machinery to mass produce products, interpretation B supports this as it says ‘Electricity consumption more than doubled during the decade mainly because of industrial demand’ the increase propelled a whole new area of business in America creating thousands of jobs and further strengthened the American economy showing further evidence that mass production was important to the boom.
Mass production also effected domestic consumption of electricity. The increase of electricity usage further developed the economy of America. Interpretation B mentions the increase of power usage: ‘in 1912 only 16% of the population lived in electricity lit dwellings, the proportion had grown to 63% by 1927’ it also states ‘electrical household appliances came into general use. This can be used to criticize Interpretation C as it quotes ‘If every American could own a car and a house, buy quality clothes, own stock, take vacations and go to the movies then clearly there was no longer any significant inequality in society’ This quote is inaccurate as many across America did not see the benefits of the boom as interpretation C suggested. Much of the wealth was split between the North of America and the south. The north saw boomed while in the South the more agricultural based economy began to suffer, farmers where particularly affected by the boom new technologies and farming equipment left American farmers with a huge surplus of food. In order to sell the food farmers would drop and drop their prices until it soon became unprofitable and many became bankrupt and fell into poverty, hundreds of thousands of farmers land and homes were repossessed leaving them homeless. this is a criticism of interpretation C as it stated everybody had benefited from the war in America however it is untrue, whereas interpretation B states ‘63% lived in electricity lit dwellings’ not over exaggerating the impact it had and so making B more of a valid source.
More evidence why mass production was the most important reason for the economic boom was the impact on electricity demand. Electricity demand shot up due to businesses needing electricity to power the machinery to mass produce products, interpretation B supports this as it says ‘Electricity consumption more than doubled during the decade mainly because of industrial demand’ the increase propelled a whole new area of business in America creating thousands of jobs and further strengthened the American economy showing further evidence that mass production was on necessities and not luxuries while the male was away at war. This created a big stunt in the countries in economic growth.
I also believe that passage C is not as important to boom in America, the passage asserts that America had the upper hand compared to its European rivals as WWII had devastated much of the European countries building factories and infrastructure. However this infact had the reverse effect that the passage expected, newly built factories in European countries had the latest technologies installed with modern planning and architecture compared to the previous buildings destroyed in the war. The rebuilding would have also increased productivity and kick-started economies as each country needed to develop and progress after the war. These countries needed lots of workers and so work was easy to find. People could earn wages and rebuild their lives by purchasing new houses. Consumer and governmental spending in the allied and Axis countries stimulated the countries’ economies leading to rapid economic growth. England and France quickly re-established their economies into even stronger economic powers than before.
Furthermore there was a huge amount of inequality in America, Racist inequality was at its highest during the 20’s with extremist groups such as the KKK gaining huge following from American people, and over 5 million people were members of the KKK in the 20’s. With 100’s of blacks being attacked and killed passage C is shown as a further inaccurate and invalid passage as it is contracted by evidence against it showing that America was not equal as Passage C suggest.
A big criticism of interpretation D is that the piece is taken from an autobiography published almost 90 years after they had taken place, therefore the passage will not be as valid as a piece from the same time period. Also being an autobiography the piece will always have a bias towards Andrew Mellon and will possibly over play the role he had and will not mention any bad things about him. The passage is not as important as mass production impacted the whole of America on a national scale this showing that the innovation of businesses were more important than the reforms he implemented.
In conclusion I believe that mass production was the fundamental reason for the boom in the 1920’s. Their war was not important and did not have such an impact on American society as it was only a short term temporary effect on the economy, whereas mass production propelled all levels of society and business into economic growth and expansion.
Interpretations a & D are not as beneficial to the economy as they did not have such a major impact and interpretation D only made a small contribution to the economy unlike mass production which completely overhauled the whole American infrastructure permanently. Source C is also not a fully valid and reliable source, the passage has multiple criticisms due to the war being a very controversial point; however the war was a negative as it stifled the American economy and did not bring any long term positives to America. I believe that mass production was a much more significant reason for the boom in America as opposed to the war and Andrew Mellon’s policies as it had vast evidence of creating one of the most prosperous boom periods any economy has ever witnessed, this period saw America become the most affluent and powerful nations on earth from the 1920’s.