Living and writing during the 1910s, Teasdale was exposed to and inspired by some of the most dramatic changes American life had ever encountered. By the time “There Will Come Soft Rains” was published in 1920, the United States had risen to the status of world power, and mass production had made the nation the most highly industrialized in the world. Henry Ford’s one millionth Model T had rolled off the newly invented assembly line, selling for a little over $300. Social attitudes loosened remarkably, compared to the previous Victorian era, and women became more outspoken about voting rights, better job opportunities, and greater freedom and independence. In the same year that Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment, 1919, granting women the right to vote, Prohibition was also enacted, a law that would prove futile and pave the way for bootlegging gangsters such as Al Capone and Dutch Schultz. In response to the illegality of alcohol sales, clandestine speakeasies cropped up, providing throngs of customers a place to have a drink and listen to jazz, the music that became increasingly popular during the period.
The decade of the 1910s also saw the rise of labor unions, mostly because of widespread unsafe working conditions. Children were hired for low wages to work long hours in mills, mines, and factories, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, a result of hazardous workplace conditions, took the lives of 145 female employees. By the middle of the decade, every state had passed a minimum age law for employment, but a federal law with the same restrictions had failed. One of the most remarkable, as well as saddest, occurrences of the 1910s was the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912, drowning more than fifteen hundred people after the mighty “unsinkable” ship was ripped apart by an iceberg. But regardless of all the unprecedented social, political, and personal changes that Americans witnessed and endured during this decade, none surpassed the “war to end all wars” in its lasting effect on individual perspective and human life in general.
World War I was the impetus behind Teasdale’s writing “There Will Come Soft Rains.” When the conflict erupted in 1914, pitting Germany and Austria-Hungary against Great Britain, France, and Russia, American President Woodrow Wilson took a position of neutrality. He insisted, however, on maintaining full trading rights with all the countries on both sides of the battle, a proposal that both...
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