The 1920s Terms
AmericanizationThe process by which immigrants assimilate to the social and cultural customs of the United States.
Financial Bubble, Stock Market Bubble, BubbleA market phenomenon in which overly optimistic traders bid up prices for assets to a level far beyond their intrinsic value. Bubbles lead to spectacular short-term profits but eventually burst, causing a rapid decline in asset values. The trouble is that it is difficult or impossible to distinguish a bubble from a normal bull market until after the bubble has burst. In retrospect, it seems clear that the booming stock market of the 1920s was a classic bubble, which burst with devastating effect in the Great Crash of 1929.
Financier, FinanciersA large-scale investor or major player in the stock market.
Fundamentalist Christianity, FundamentalistsA branch of American Protestantism that arose in the early twentieth century in opposition to modernist cultural changes. Fundamentalists emphasize rigid adherence to traditional biblical teachings and conservative social mores, and insist upon a literalist rather than metaphorical reading of the Bible.
Laissez-FaireFrom a French term meaning "let the people do as they please," laissez-faire is the philosophy that government should not intervene to regulate the affairs of the free market economy. Laissez-faire ideology was powerful in late nineteenth-century America, then after a period of stronger government regulation experienced a resurgence in the 1920s.
Political EconomyThe aspect of social science or philosophy that deals with the optimal interaction between the capitalist marketplace and the democratic political system.
ReconstructionReconstruction was the government-led effort to transform Southern society following the Civil War. With the South under military occupation, Reconstruction governments sought to ensure civil rights for formerly enslaved blacks. The North abandoned Reconstruction after 1876, allowing southern whites to regain power and reimpose a social system based on white supremacy.
The historical time period after the Civil War and before the withdrawal of federal troops from the South. Reconstruction is usually dated from 1865-1877, but it technically ended earlier in several southern states where conservative white "Redemptionist" rule took hold after the state had already been readmitted to the union and whites had organized to prevent blacks from voting or exercising their other newfound rights. During Reconstruction, the government passed a series of laws establishing the criteria by which the former Confederacy could reenter the Union. When the Congressional (or "Radical") phase of Reconstruction commenced in 1867, the criteria became more stringent and states had to accept several new federal requirements for readmission. The Radical Republican Congress sought to safeguard the rights and liberties of African-Americans, and for a time, it succeeded at least in part. Black men held public office at the local, state, and federal levels. Black communities established their own churches, schools, and associations. The South as a whole received some of its first public hospitals and public schools. Reconstruction did not last longer than a decade in most places, but it was a critically important time that would be remembered for generations by blacks and whites alike (though usually in very different ways).