Why were the decades from 1900 to 1920 called the “pivotal decades?”   At the start of the 20th century the nation was at a critical turning point. During the twenty years from 1900 to 1920 technological, political, economic, and social developments transformed the country in ways that still affect us today.

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These decades could be called pivotal for a number of reasons.  I will examine two important examples.

  • Politically, this was the Progressive Era.  This was the time during which the government became more involved in regulating the economy.  This was the time of "trustbusting" and of things like the Pure Food and Drug Act.  It was the time when the income tax was made legal.  These sorts of government interventions have continued and grown since they started during this era.
  • Economically, this was the time when American industry was moving towards the assembly line and greater efficiency.  Consumer goods were being produced in greater quantities.  This was the time of the Model T.  Changes like these moved us towards cheaper and more plentiful consumer goods.
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