COM 381

Twentieth Century American Public Address
COM 381

“Freedom is a large word,” said Crystal Eastman just after women finally got the right to vote in 1920. The 20th Century came to define just how large “freedom” could be for the United States as it approached its bicentennial. 

The leaders of 20th century America faced two world wars, undeclared wars in Korea and Viet Nam and then ended the century with “Operation Desert Storm.” Mixed into these military conflicts came important home issues:  the right of women to vote, prohibition, the stock market crash, the Great Depression, the rise of socialist thought, business and industrial reform, voter rights, civil rights, gay rights, animal rights, and those uppity women who wanted equal rights.

Technology exploded as did the population. In 1900 the use of telephones was just spreading and electricity was beginning to be delivered to a few cities. By 1915 automobiles were taking the place of the horse and carriage. By 1924 radio broadcasting had begun. By 1940 the technology for television was a reality.  By 1945 atomic energy could be used to destroy whole cities. By 1950 homes all across American could tune in a television. By 1955 there was a vaccine for polio.  By 1960 the population could travel not just by airplane, but by jet liner. By 1962 the US was in space. By 1969 we were on the moon.  By 1975 computer systems could be networked. By 1980 a computer could sit on a desk top. By 1988 there were mobile phones.  By 1995 there were cell phones. By 2000 computers, Blackberries, palm pilots, and a myriad of other small and very small portable technology that keeps anyone who wants to stay “networked” able to do so 24-7.

This course looks at the politicians, civic, religious, educational, and social leaders who guided America through the century of change by studying their words, their actions and the response they received.

Ready for some action? America’s 20th Century is just the place to start looking.


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