The Roaring Twenties is a term used to describe Western society in the 1920s. Sometimes known as the Jazz Age, it was characterized by new freedoms in social, economic and cultural aspects of life. It is often synonymous with pleasure seeking and people having a good time after the devastation of the First World War. In America especially, the economy boomed, with mass consumerism arriving for the first time. For the first time in history, ordinary workers were able to purchase goods, such as motor cars and radios. The Roaring Twenties also saw a loosening of social morality, though in America, prohibition saw alcohol outlawed and the subsequent growth of criminal bootlegging.
Facts about the Roaring Twenties
Bright Young Things was a term given to a group of bohemian young people, who enjoyed partying in 1920s London. These were predominately aristocrats and the ‘idle rich’
P.G. Wodehouse in his humorous novels, e.g. Jeeves and Wooster lampooned the habits of these ‘bright young things’ and idle rich.
During the 1920s, millions of African-Americans migrated from the south to north – to escape segregation and racism. It was termed the Great Migration.
The new black communities, helped to forge a new black identity, especially in major cities, like New York. The Harlem Renaissance was considered the flowering of a new negro identity and culture.
The 1920s also saw a re-emergence of the Klu Klux Klan, with membership peaking at over 4 million people during the 1920s.
Despite growing wealth and conspicuous consumption – during the 1920s, more than 60 per cent of Americans lived just below the poverty line – especially black-Americans and those living in rural areas.
In 1920, all women were given the right to vote in the US. (19th Amendment)
In 1921, Margaret Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, which later became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The greater availability of contraception, helped to liberate women, enabling a greater sexual promiscuity without risk of pregnancy
In the 1920s, divorce was made easier and the number of divorces doubled.
In the 1920s, more Americans lived in cities than in rural communities for the first time.
The 1920s saw the explosion of numerous dance crazes, including the Charleston and the Breakaway.
The Cotton Club was the most famous jazz club, played by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and other masters of jazz.
In 1927, ‘The Jazz Singer’ starring Al Jolson was the first major ‘talking’ movie. This led to the decline of the silent movie, but growth in cinema attendance.
The 1920s, saw an explosion in ownership of the radio. By the end of the 1920s, there were over 100 million radios in circulation.
Flappers was a term used to describe young women, who wore short skirts, listened to jazz music and took rebellious attitudes to old standards of morality.
In the 1920s, many banks, including the Federal Reserve had an ‘anti-flapper code’ – prohibiting women dressing too attractively.
Due to prohibition, speakeasies – illegal salons selling alcohol – became popular and numerous as the Prohibition years progressed.
In 1927, Charles Lindbergh was the first pilot to fly solo,non-stop across the Atlantic – in the “Spirit of Saint Louis”.
The economic boom of the 1920s was not equally felt across the country. Agriculture suffered from low prices and entered recession, even before the Stock Market Crash of 1929.
Art deco was a new style of architecture, which was based on pure, geometric shapes. The Empire State building was designed in the late 1920s and built in 1930-31.
Buying on the margin. The stock market boom caused many investors to buy shares on the margin – a way of increasing profits by taking more risk. This led to the creation of many new ‘paper millionaires.’
In the 1920s, there was a credit and share price bubble. The S&P 500 Share price index saw a rise in earnings per share from 20 (1922) to 100 in 1929. (What caused Wall Street Crash?)
The Roaring Twenties came to a shuddering halt on 29 October 1929 (Black Tuesday. Share prices fell by $40 billion in a single day. By 1930 the value of shares had fallen by 90%.
The Progressive Era was a period in American history from 1890 to the 1920s. The Progressive Era saw a mixture of political and social change, which sought to reduce inequality, corruption and introduce reforms to make society fairer.
Key Elements of the Progressive Era
Anti-corruption. In the Nineteenth Century corruption was a major problem in American politics with local bosses controlling key positions of patronage and power. Progressives, such as Theodore Roosevelt, sought to take on corrupt political and voting practices.
Labour market reforms. Progressives sought to reform working conditions. This included health and safety, the right to unionise and higher pay.
Anti-trust. The Gilded Age, saw the development of monopolies which were highly profitable. In the Progressive Era, the government tackled many monopolies through anti-trust legislation.
Women’s suffrage. The Progressive Era saw the culmination of efforts to give all women the vote (Nineteenth Amendment)
Modernisation. Progressives generally sought the implementation of new scientific and business methods to overturn outdated customs and improve efficiency. This included Taylorism and the assembly line.
Limited civil rights. Some progressives sought to improve conditions of black Americans, but the Progressive Age failed to end decades of segregation. In fact, the 1890s to 1920s saw the implementation of many ‘Jim Crow laws’ cementing segregation between races.
Prohibition. Many progressives supported the banning of alcohol ‘prohibition’. One of the motivations was that they hoped it would reduce the economic power of salon owners who often exercised great influence.
Famous people of the Progressive Era
Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919) President (1901-09) Roosevelt was a leading political figure of the Progressive Era – fighting corruption and the power of monopoly trusts. Roosevelt tackled corruption and patronage in the New York Police, US civil service and business. As President, he was active in signing legislation aimed at progressive ideals. He sought a middle road or ‘Square Deal’ for the conflicting demands of capitalists and labour.
Woodrow Wilson(1856 – 1924) US president (1913-1921). Wilson was a Democrat and leading progressive. Under his presidency he passed many progressive bills, including a graduated income tax, Federal Reserve Act, anti-trust legislation and federal support for agriculture and the beginnings of a welfare state. In international affairs, Wilson was an idealist, who sought to create a League of Nations after the end of the First World War. During his presidency, laws on prohibition were passed.
William Howard Taft (1857 – 1930) Taft served as president 1909-1913 and was seen as the successor to the reforming Roosevelt. Although he is often considered less distinguished than Roosevelt, Taft did quietly legislate against monopoly trusts and advanced other progressive causes. After his presidency he served as Chief Justice and supported the ideal of international peace.
Jane Addams (1860 – 1935) Jane Addams was one of the most influential progressive reformers. She was a social worker, philosopher and a leader of the women’s suffrage and peace movement. Her ideas on practical reform for the betterment of family, local communities and the nation were influential. She is considered the founder of American social work and in 1931 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on internationalism and peace.
Jacob Riis (1849 – 1914) Riis was a Danish-American journalist and social reformer. Riis wrote and photographed the poverty of New York, helping to expose squalid social conditions. For example, his seminal How the Other Half Lives (1890). Riis also investigated corruption in politics, leading the ‘muckracking’ strand of investigative journalism which was important for helping to turn public opinion against corruption and monopolies.
Grace Abbott (1878 – 1939) An American social worker who campaigned for improvements in labour protection. She was particularly concerned for the welfare of children and immigrants.
Sophonisba Preston Breckinridge (1866 – 1948) Social scientist who advocated social reform. She served in the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL), serving as a factory inspector. She wrote extensively on social welfare, immigration and social reasons for truancy. One of the first women to be employed as associate professor at the University of Chicago.
Booker T. Washington (1856 – 1915) Author and orator, Washington was an adviser to the presidents of Roosevelt and Taft. He was the de facto leader of African-Americans. He advocated an incremental approach to improving education and life prospects of black Americans.
W.E.B. Du Bois (1868 – 1963) Du Bois was an influential African-American activist who sought to campaign for full equality between blacks and whites. He rejected the Atlanta compromise of 1909, but insisted on full equality. Thought little change was achieved in the ‘Progressive Era’, Du Bois laid the framework for the NAACP and future civil rights movements.
Eugene Debs (1855-1926) Trade Union Leader, and five times Presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America. Debs spent time in jail for supporting trade union activity and opposing the First World War. He was the radical wing of the Progressive Era.
Business entrepreneurs of the Progressive Age
Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856 – 1915) Taylor was a mechanical engineer who became famous for his work on improving efficiency in business. His work The Principles of Scientific Management (1911) was influential for improving business efficiency. His ideas were iconic of the Progressive Era and hopes for new modes of efficiency.
Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931) Pioneer of the mass use and distribution of electricity. Edison was one of the most prolific inventors, who developed commercially available electric light bulbs. Edison was at the cutting edge of the modernisation of American society.
Henry Ford (1864-1947) Founder of Ford motor company. Ford pioneered the use of the assembly line for making cars, helping to reduce the price and make cars affordable for the average American consumer.
Wright Brothers Orville (1871 – 1948) and Wilbur (1867 – 1912) successfully made the first powered air flight in 1903. They continued to develop aeroplanes ushering in a new world of flight.
People of the Industrial Revolution (1750s to 1900) The great inventors, entrepreneurs and businessmen of the industrial revolution. Also includes the social activists of the era, such as Charles Dickens.
Famous people of the Gilded Age (1870 to 1900) The great industrialists, such as J.D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie who defined the Gilded Age. The Progressive Era is often seen in contrast to the excesses of the Gilded Age.
Roaring Twenties – ‘Jazz Era’ (1920-1929) The Roaring Twenties was a period of economic expansion and social change. New styles of music, dance and dress. Including Calvin Coolidge, Louis Armstrong, Al Capone and Coco Chanel.
People of the Edwardian Age (1901 to 1914). A period in British history, characterised by the growth in science, technology and also rising tensions between the major powers. Also saw the ‘heroic age’ of exploration.
Maria Theresa (1740–1780) The only female ruler of the Habsburg Empire. Maria Theresa succeeded to the throne after the death of her father Charles VI. With great strength of will, Maria held together the disparate empire and instituted military, financial and education reforms which strengthened the international position of the Habsburg Empire.
Marie Antoinette (1755 – 1793) Born in Vienna Austria, she had an arranged marriage to the King of France (King Louis XVI) to help secure peace between the two countries. The marriage was not a great success, with Marie Antoinette often held up as a symbol of Royal decadence and profligacy, which was a factor in the French revolution. The negative portrayal was heightened by her Austrian origins. Whether fair or not, she was executed in 1793 for treason and holding principles in opposition to the French revolution.
Mozart (1756 – 1791) (Austria) Born in Salzburg, and spending much of his life in Vienna, Mozart was one of the greatest classical composers of all time. A child prodigy, Mozart began composing at the age of six, and by the time he died, aged just 35, he had completed a remarkable array of symphonies, opera, chamber music and more.
Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828) Born in Vienna, Schubert was one of the great composers of the late classical and romantic period. He composed symphonies, sacred choral work, operas and a large body of piano music.
Johann Strauss, Sr., composer (1804 – 1849) Austrian composer. He was famous for his waltzes and marches. His most famous work was the Radetsky March. The work became an unofficial anthem of Austria and was used to celebrate Austrian military victories.
Franz Liszt (1811 – 1886) Hungarian born composer and virtuoso pianist. Liszt was a prominent member of the “New German School” of musicians. Significant compositions include: Piano Sonata in B minor (1853), “Liebesträume No. 3”. He also transcribed for the piano great works by other composers, such as Schubert. Also developed new musical ideas, such as the symphonic poem.
Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) Austrian composer who was known for his symphonies, motets and masses. His music was considered innovative and help to develop the Austrian-German Romantic tradition of rich harmonies and unexpected dissonance. Whilst his music was radical, personally he was modest and humble about his contribution to music.
Johann Strauss Jr. (1825 – 1899) Austrian composer of popular light music. He wrote over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles. Famous works include Blue Danube Waltz, Egyptian March, Persian March and Roses from the South Waltz.
Francis Joseph I (1830–1916) Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, from 1848 to 1916. Joseph was one of the longest serving Kings of Europe. He was wedded to preserving the traditions of the monarchy and Catholic Church. Under his conservative rule, his Empire began to splinter under the forces of emerging nationalism. It was Joseph who signed Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war, setting in train the start of the First World War.
Bertha von Suttner (1843 – 1914) Czech-Austrian author and Nobel Peace Prize winner (1905). Suttner author, nobel prize winner. She wrote an influential pacifist novel Die Waffen nieder! (“Lay Down Your Arms!”) She founded the German Peace Society and was an influential figure in the Pre-war movement to lay down arms and avoid war.
Joseph Pulitzer (1847 – 1911) Austro-Hungarian publisher. Pulitizer moved to the US in 1863 and became an influential newspaper owner and journalist. He revived the flagging fortunes of the New York Journal and left a legacy the Pulitzer Prize for outstanding journalism.
Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911) (Austrian Empire / now Czech Republic) Mahler was a composer of the late Romantic period. His symphonies (No. 5, No. 2 and No.1) have become some of the best known in the classical repertoire.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1863 – 28 June 1914) Ferdinand was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Despite relatively liberal and conciliatory approach to Serbian nationalism, Ferdinand was assassinated by a ‘Young Bosnia’ activist Gavrilo Princip. This assassination led to Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia and the escalation to the European wide First World War.
Martin Buber(1878-1965) Austrian born philosopher. Buber wrote on the philosophy of dialogue – a form of existentialism. A major work on this theme was I and Thou. His family were Jewish, and after Hitler’s rise to power, he resigned from the university of Frankfurt. He left Germany in 1938 for Palestine. He advocated a two state solution in the new Isreal and hoped that Jews and Arabs could live in harmony.
Adolf Hitler (1889 – 1945) Dictator of Nazi Germany. Ordered invasion of Poland, Western Europe, North Africa and Soviet Union.
Friedrich Hayek, (1899 – 23 March 1992) Economics noted for economic liberalism. The Road to Serfdom Nobel Prize economics 1974 (became a British citizen in 1938)
Robert Adler (1913-2007) Austrian born inventor. Adler held numerous patents, including early versions of remote control. He escaped Austria in 1939, and took refuge in the US, where he began working at Zenith Electronics.
Gustav Klimt (1862 – 1918) Austrian symbolist painter, he was a leading figure in the new artistic movement of the Vienna Secession. Klimt’s work focused on the female body and was often criticised for his unorthodox ‘eroticism’. His work ‘the Kiss’ is one of the most famous works of the Twentieth Century and a high point of his “Golden Period” where he portrayed works in gold.
Fred Zinnemann (1907-1997) Austrian born American film producer. Zinnerman received 65 Oscar nominations, winning 27, including 4 best picture. He mixed actors with civilians to give added realism. Some of his most famous films include High Noon (1952), A Man For All Seasons (1966), The Day of the Jackal (1973).
Niki Lauda (1949-) Austrian F1 driver. Lauda was F1 World Champion three times, in 1975, 1977 and 1984. Lauda was champion for both Ferrari and McLaren. Since retirement he has set up his own airline company.
Kurt Waldheim (1918 – 2007), Austrian diplomat and politician, Waldheim was UN Secretary-General 1972–1982, and President of Austria 1986–1992. He served in the German Wehrmacht during World War Two.
Arnold Schwarzenegger (1947- ) Austrian-American actor. Schwarzenegger was a professional body-builder winning Mr Universe and Mr Olympus titles. He went on to be a movie star in films such as The Terminator and Conan the Barbarian. He has also been a former Republican governor of California, USA.
It means that a person feels the important of sticking to certain values, beliefs and actions – regardless of outer consequences.
For example, if we believe it is wrong to discriminate on the grounds of religious faith, a man of principle will be willing to oppose this discrimination even if it costs his job.
Men and women of Principle
Socrates (469 BC–399 BC) – Greek philosopher. During a time of war, Socrates was critical of his own Athenian government. Socrates said in matters of war and peace principles of justice should trump the view of the majority. For his criticisms and unorthodox views, Socrates was condemned to death – something he willingly undertook.
William Tyndale (1494 – 1536) – Tyndale believed that everyone should be able to read the Bible in their native tongue. At the time, that was strictly prohibited, but clandestinely, Tyndale translated and printed the bible in English. Tyndale was burnt at the stake for his ‘heresy’, but soon after English Bibles became widely distributed.
Thomas Paine(1737-1809) English-American writer and political activist. He was a free thinker – criticising many political and religious orthodoxies of the day. He narrowly avoided execution in Paris, after falling foul of Robespierre. He fled to America, though even in America he became shunned by society for advocating non-Christian ideas.
Matangini Hazra (1870– 1942) Indian independence activist. Hazra (known as Gandhi Buri) led a protest against British rule until she was shot dead by British Indian police outside Tamluk police station. She was shot several times shouting the slogan of Indian Independence “Vande Mataram” and carrying the Indian flag.
Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941 ) was a Polish Franciscan priest. During the Nazi occupation of Poland, he felt it his duty to offer shelter to Jews, who were being persecuted. Eventually, Koble was caught and sent to Auschwitz concentration camp. Even in this hellish experience, he stood out as a man of faith and principle, eventually offering to die in place of a condemned man who had a family.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906 – 1945) German Lutheran Pastor who was consistently outspoken in his criticism of Nazism in Germany. Preferring to stay in the country of his birth, he was eventually arrested and executed in Flossian concentration camp.
Rosa Parks (1913-2005) Rosa Parks lived in Montgomery, Alabama during a period of racial segregation, where blacks were discriminated against. Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, sparking the mass bus boycott – eventually leading to the end of segregation.
Harriet Tubman (1822 – 1913) Tubman escaped from slavery but, despite threat to her own safety, she returned on many dangerous missions to slave plantations, helping many others to escape slavery.
Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) Nelson Mandela had the courage to fight against the unjust system of apartheid. For his political activities, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but he was released to lead a free South Africa.
Sophie Scholl (1921-1943) German student who took part in the White Rose Resistance group who opposed Hitler and the Nazi Party. She was arrested in 1943 for distributing anti-war leaflets and was executed.
Mikhail Gorbachev (1931 – ) Gorbachev was leader of the Soviet Union, but he instituted fundamental change of glasnost and perestroika (economic and political freedom) – even though these democratic reforms ultimately led to losing power. In 1991, when a coup tried to remove him from power, he stepped down from office rather than risk the Soviet Union descend into civil war.
Muhammad Ali (1942 – ) American boxer and civil rights campaigner. Ali became undisputed Heavy Weight Champion of the world. At the peak of his fame, he refused to fight in Vietnam. Because of his decision, he was banned from boxing – missing the best years of his career, though he came back.
Aung San Suu Kyi (1945 – ) Leader of Burmese opposition party. Kept under house arrest for several years. She has sought to fight for democratic principles in her country Burma.
Malala Yousafzai (1997 – ) Pakistani schoolgirl who defied threats of the Taliban to campaign for the right to education. She survived being shot in the head by the Taliban and has become a global advocate for human rights. She has sought to emphasis the peaceful nature of Islam and the respect Islam has for education.
Carl Lewis (1961 – ) USA, Athletics. Nine-time Olympic gold medallist, Carl Lewis won gold over three Olympics and was the great star of 1980s track and field. Lewis won gold in the 100m, 100m relay and long jump.
Jesse Owens (1913-1980) USA, Athletics. Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He was the star of the Berlin Olympics, much to the chagrin of Hitler. Despite suffering racial discrimination in his own country, he remained a great ambassador for the sport.
Usain Bolt (1986 –) Jamaica, Athletics. Usain Bolt won triple Olympic gold at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Bolt won gold in the events 100m, 200m and 100m relay gold. He set an amazing world record time of 9.58 for the 100m, and 19.19 for the 200m. By 2016, he had also won 11 world championship golds.
Al Oerter (1936 – 2007) USA, Athletics. Four time Olympic champion in the discus throw. Winning Olympic gold from 1956 to 1968. Oerter was the first to break 200 feet for the discus.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee (1962-) USA, Athletics. One of the most successful female track and field athletes. Kersee won Olympic medals in four Olympics between 1984 and 1996. Her best year was 1988, where she won Olympic gold in Heptathlon and Long Jump. In 1992, she returned to win gold in the heptathlon. In 1996, she managed bronze in the long jump.
Edwin Moses (1955 – ) USA, Athletics. Moses was a champion 400m hurdler. He won Olympic gold in 1976 and 1984. He set the world record four times in his chosen event. Moses was also instrumental in changing rules on allowing Olympic athletes funding and also promoting drug testing.
Sergei Bubka (1963 –) Soviet Union/Ukraine, Athletics. Bubka broke the world record for the pole vault on 35 occasions. His outdoor record was increased from 5.85m in 1984 to 6.14m in 1994. Olympic gold medallist 1988.
Jim Thorpe (1888 – 1953) USA, Athletics, American Football, Baseball and Basketball. One of the greatest all-round sportsmen, Thorpe won Olympic gold in the decathlon and pentathlon (1912). He also had a successful career in the NFL.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1911-1956) USA, Athletics, Golf. Ground-breaking female athlete who achieved success in basketball, track and field, and golf. At the 1932 Olympics, she won gold in the 80m hurdles, javelin and achieved silver in the high jump.
Bob Beamon (1946 –) USA, Athletics. Olympic gold in Long jump set in 1968, Mexico. Famous for his record breaking jump of 1968 – 8.90m – which broke the existing record by 55cm and stood for 22 years.
Shelley Ann Fraser Pryce (1986 – ) Jamaica, Athletics. Won Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012 in 100m. Also 7 times world champion with golds in 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.
Jessica Ennis (1986 – ) Great Britain, Heptathlon. Olympic gold in heptathlon 2012. Ennis missed the 2008 Olympics due to injury. For the 2012 Olympics, she was featured as the ‘face’ of the games. Despite the pressure of the home games, she was a convincing Olympic champion in the Heptathlon event.
Fanny Blankers-Koen (1918-2004) Netherlands, Athletics. In the 1948 London Olympics she won four gold medals at 100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4x100m relay. Her performances earned her the nickname ‘The flying housewife’ and helped to change perceptions of female athletics. She won five European Championship gold medals.
Hicham El Guerrouj (1972 – ) Morocco, Athletics. Double Olympic gold medallist in 2004 in 1500m and 5000m. Set World Record for mile at 3.43.13 and 1500m of 3.26.00.
David Rudisha (1988 -) Kenya, middle distance running. Rudisha provided one of the greatest performances in the 2012 London Olympics, winning the 800m in a new world record – 1.40.91. He is also double world champion at the 800m, his favourite event.
Kenenisa Bekele (1982 – ) Ethiopia, Athletics. Triple Olympic gold medallist at 5000m and 1000m. Set new World Record for 5000 metres: 12:37.35. 10,000 metres: 26:17.53.
Paavo Nurmi (1897 – 1973) Finland, Athletics. Dominated middle distance running in 1920s, winning nine Olympic gold medals and setting 22 new world records from 1500m to 20km.
Haile Gebreselassie (1973 – ) Ethiopia, Athletics. Two-time winner of the Olympic gold in 10000m. Held world record for marathon for 3 years with 2.03.59.
Cathy Freeman (1973 – ) Australia, Athletics. Freeman was the first Aboriginal athlete to win Commonwealth Games. She won Olympic gold in 2000, when Sydney hosted the games.
Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. Famous Olympic Track and Field, Oxford, www.biographyonline.net, 28th July, 2016.
Female athletes – Over 50 famous female athletes who have made contributions to tennis, football, cycling, athletics, gymnastics, golf and swimming.
Muhammad Ali was a truly great individual. All around the world people have identified with the positive energy, courage, dynamism and principles of Ali.
Ali was an Olympic and world champion boxer, but he would also display courage in many fields of life, not just the boxing ring. During the Vietnam war he was a conscientious objector, seeing the war as unjust. He endured much hate and scorn for his refusal to fight in that war, but Ali was a fighter for social justice and fairness at home. His position on the war was very unpopular at the time, but in retrospect many see it as a principled stand.
Ali was no angel and his response to the racial injustices of society was often strong, especially in his early years. But over the years his stance became more nuanced and understanding. He started out as an activist for Muslims and African Americans, but by the end of his life, it would be fair to say that Ali stood for the rights of all humanity. As Ali himself said:
“A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
Before boxing matches, Ali could express an unmatched self-confidence, a self-confidence that was well founded. But that is only one side of Ali; there is also the spiritual side, the humble side.
“Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams — they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do — they all contain truths”
― Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times
“Truly great people in history never wanted to be great for themselves. All they wanted was the chance to do good for others and be close to God.”
― Muhammad Ali, The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections of Life’s Journey
When struggling with Parkinson’s disease, Ali retained his wit and humility, seeing it as an opportunity to make a different kind of progress:
“Maybe my Parkinson’s is God’s way of reminding me what is important. It slowed me down and caused me to listen rather than talk. Actually, people pay more attention to me now because I don’t talk as much.”
“I always liked to chase the girls. Parkinson’s stops all that. Now I might have a chance to go to heaven.”
Asked how he would like to be remembered, Ali said:
“I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times. Who was humorous and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him. And who helped as many people as he could. As a man who stood up for his beliefs no matter what. As a man who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love. And if all that’s too much then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people. And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.”
This is a list of the major periods in world history. It includes broad global eras, such as the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. It also includes modern eras, which have lasted only a few decades, such as the Gilded Age, Progressive Age and the Information Age.
Stone Age (50,000–3000 BC) The Stone Age refers to the broad range of ‘pre-history’ which lasted from approx 30,000 BC to 6,000BC where the first metals started to be use. In the stone age, use of metals was scarce and the most common building materials and weapons were wood and stone. Much of his this history is undocumented, though some archaeological evidence persists.
Bronze Age (3000–1300 BC) The Bronze age refers to the broad period of history were cultures in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world made the first uses of bronze melt – from mining copper and tin. Bronze enabled more powerful tools and weapons. It was an age where the first writing systems became devised and used.
Iron Age (1200–230 BC) The iron age was a period of economic development, where iron and steel enabled a greater use of metal tools which were stronger than previous Bronze Age items. The era led to developments in agricultural production and we see the first evidence of written manuscripts, which includes great religious texts such as the Indian Vedas, (Sanskrit), and the Hebrew Bible.
Ancient Egypt (3000 BC to 300 BC) Ancient Egypt was a civilisation which inhabited the banks of the Nile. Egypt was successful in using technology to increase agricultural production, giving spare labour for other pursuits, such as cultural, religious and military. Egypt was ruled by powerful Pharoahs, though there began a slow decline after being invaded by foreign powers. By 30 BC Egypt fell under the rule of the Roman Empire.
Ancient India (7000 BCE or earlier to c. 500 AD) Ancient India refers to a long period of history which includes the Vedic ages and the development of Indus and Aryan civilisation. Ancient India includes the period from the earliest Vedic sages and Vedas and the great Indian epics of the Ramayana and Mahabharata are said to have occurred. See: Famous Indians
Ancient Greece (8th Century BC to 0 AD) Ancient Greece is considered the birthplace of modern democracy and representative government. Ancient Greece also produced some of the earliest Western philosophy, with great thinkers such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Ancient Greece also was an important source of early Western literature, with epic poets, such as Homer. Other contributions of Ancient Greece include modern sports (Olympics) and scientific innovations. See: Famous Greeks
Ancient Rome (8th Century BC to 476 AD) The Roman Empire was centred on the city of Rome and the Italian peninsula. Rome went through different phases – from classical Republic government to autocratic Emperors. At its peak, the power of Rome extended throughout the majority of Europe, laying many foundations of Western civilisations. Towards the end of the Roman Empire, it adopted Christianity as its official religion; this helped the religion to spread across Europe. See: Famous Italians
Middle Ages (Europe, 5th century – 15th century) Also known as the post-classical era. The Middle Ages stretches from the end of the Roman Empire and classical period and the Renaissance of the 15th Century. It includes the rise of Islam in the Middle East. The Middle Ages is often considered a period of relative darkness – with severe wars (e.g. 100 year war, crusades), plagues, religious persecution and a relative lack of learning.
Islamic Golden Age (Middle East, 750 – 1300) This refers to a period in the Islamic World which saw a flourishing of science, mathematics and preservation of classical writings, such as Aristotle. The Islamic Golden Age saw the creation of centres of learning, science and culture, beginning with the House of Wisdom in Baghdad.
Age of Discovery (or Exploration) (Europe, 15th century – 17th century) The Age of Discovery refers to a period in the late Middle Ages / Renaissance where foreign travel and discovery was an influential part of European societies. In the Age of Discovery, European powers discovered and settled in different continents – changing the fate of the Americas, Africa and Asia. It led to a global spread of Christianity and ideas of Western civilisation, it also marked the growth of the global slave trade. See: Famous explorers
The Protestant Reformation (Europe, 16th century) The Protestant Reformation was a Christian movement, which criticised the excesses of the Catholic Church and promoted a new branch of Protestant Christianity – which emphasised the pre-eminence of the Bible over the priesthood and the church. The Protestant Reformation began with Martin Luther pinning 95 theses to the church door of Wittenburg, Saxony. The ideas of the Reformation were spread with the help of the newly developed printing press. See: People of the Protestant Reformation
The Enlightenment (1650s to 1780s) The enlightenment is a period which saw the growth in intellectual reason, individualism and a challenge to existing religious and political structures. Enlightenment ideas had an influence on the American and French revolutions and also limited the power of religious authority. See: Famous People of The Enlightenment
Age of Revolution (1750 – 1917) The Age of Revolution is a period in which the Western world underwent several major revolutions, changing society from autocratic monarchies to more democratic republics. Major revolutions of this era, include the American and French revolution, European-political revolts of 1848, nationalist revolutions of Italy, Greece and Latin America. It also includes the Haitian revolution against slavery. See: Famous Revolutionaries
The Romantic Era (1790s to 1850s) Romantic poets (Blake, Keats, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Shelley) and Romantic artists, composers and writers. The Romantic era was partly a reaction against the faith in reason alone. It was also a reaction to the industrial revolution retaining a faith in nature and man’s spiritual needs.
Industrial Revolution (1750s – 1900) The industrial revolution is a phase of social development which saw the growth of mass industrial production and the shift from a largely agrarian economy to an industrial economy based on coal, steel, railways and specialisation of labour.
Age of Imperialism (c. 1700 – mid 20th Century) The Age of Imperialism refers to the process of (mostly) European powers conquering and annexing less developed countries. Imperial powers ruled dominion countries directly. The most widely spread Empire was the British Empire, which at its peak covered 25% of the globe, in countries, such as India, West Indies and parts of Australasia.
The First World War (1914 – 1918) The First World War was a devastating global war, mostly centred on Europe and the battlefields of France and Belgium. It featured troops from across the world, and later involved the US. See: People of The First World War
Inter-war era (1918 – 1939) A period of peace in between the two world wars. It was characterised by economic boom and bust, and the growth of polarising ideologies, in particular, Fascism and Communism.
Roaring Twenties (1919-1929) The roaring twenties refers to the period of rapid economic expansion and rise in US living standards. It also saw an emergence of new music and a decline in strict morality. The ‘Roaring Twenties’ was associated particularly with the East coast of the US and major European cities, such as Paris and London.
Great Depression (1929-39) The 1930s were a period of global economic downturn. Major economies experienced mass unemployment and stark poverty. It also led to the rise of political extremism, e.g. Nazi Party in Germany.
The Cold War (1948 – 1990) The Cold War refers to the period of ideological conflict between the Communist East, and Western democracies. The cold war saw a period of rising tension, especially over the proliferation of nuclear weapons. There was no direct war between the US and the Soviet Union, but both sides gave support to ideological similar armies in minor conflicts around the world. See: People of The Cold War
Information Age (1971–present) The Information age refers to the new modern technologies which have shaped the modern world. These technologies, include the internet, computers, mobile phones. Key figures include business entrepreneurs, such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
Periods of American history
American revolution (1765 – 1783) The American Revolution was the period of political upheaval in which the American colonies declared their independence from British rule.
American Civil War (1861 – 1865) The American civil war was the intense fighting between federal army, led by President Abraham Lincoln and the confederate armies of the south, who wished to break away from the union to defend slavery.
Reconstruction era (United States, 1865–1877) The period of rebuilding in the south after the civil war.
The Gilded Age (US 1870-1900) – The Gilded Age refers to the last part of the US industrial revolution. The Gilded Age included rapid economic growth, but also refers to the immorality behind the accumulation of great wealth by a few leading industrialists, such as J.D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie, who came to define the Gilded Age.
Progressive Era (1890-1920) The progressive era was a period of political activism which included causes such as votes for women, labour and trade unions movements and civil rights. It also included movements to regulate aspects of Capitalism and big business.
Civil rights movement (1950s-1960s) The civil rights movement is principally aimed at supporting rights of African Americans and ending segregation. The wider civil rights movement has spread over the whole of American history, but the 1950s and 60s saw some of the most intense activism. Further reading: Civil rights activists
Periods of British history
Elizabethan period (England, 1558–1603) A period in English history marked by the rule of Queen Elizabeth I. It saw Britain emerge as a major world power. It also saw the English Renaissance, with figures, such as Shakespeare and William Byrd.
Victorian age (1837 – 1901) The Victorian Age co-coincided with the later part of the Industrial Revolution. In Britain, it also saw the growing strength and extent of the British Empire. The Victorian Age is associated with a stricter type of morality.
Edwardian Age (UK 1901 – 1914). A period of growth in science, technology and also rising tensions between the major European powers. Also saw the ‘heroic age’ of exploration.
The Nineteenth Century (1801-1900) The Nineteenth Century saw the economic boom of the industrial revolution and world-wide movements for political change, which included the suffrage movement for women, growing nationalist movements and also the emergence of workers movements in response to the inequality of the industrial revolution.
Population of Scotland: 5,313,600 (9% of UK population 64m)
Area: 33% of UK landmass including 790 islands. (660 uninhabited)
Patron Saint: Saint Andrew
Scotland’s major cities
Glasgow – 592,820
Edinburgh – 486,120
Aberdeen – 217,120
Dundee – 144,290
Inverness – 56,660
Stirling – 89,850
Mountains: Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the UK at 1,346m.
There are 600 square miles of freshwater lakes, including Loch Ness
Loch Ness Monster is a famous and enduring myth of an ancient sea creature still inhabiting the deep loch of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. It became world famous in 1934 after a hoax photograph was widely circulated.
The first recording of the Loch Ness monster was 565 AD where a follower of St. Columba related being attacked by a ‘water beast’ Scottish dogs.
There are over 2,000 castles recorded being built in Scotland, most of which are still standing. Famous castles include Stirling Castle (above) Balmoral and Edinburgh Castle. Usually these were built as defensive mechanisms. Read On…
The Industrial Revolution was a period between the late 18th Century and early 20th Century, which saw rapid growth in mechanisation, industrial production and change in society.
Two stages of Industrial Revolution
First stage of the Industrial revolution – (1770-1870) Centred on steam, water, iron and shift from agriculture.
Second stage of Industrial revolution (1870-1914) – New technologies of electricity, development of petrol engine, oil, and greater use of cheap steel.
Key features of the Industrial Revolution
Population shift – moving from rural agriculture to work in factories in cities.
Mass production of goods, increased efficiency, reduced average costs and enabled more to be produced.
Rise of steam power, e.g. steam trains, railways and steam powered machines.
Industrial and scientific discoveries enabled a revolution in our understanding of the material world.
Rapid industrialisation had a cost in terms of pollution and poor working conditions for labour.
Reasons for the Industrial Revolution
Birmingham New Street station
New technologies dramatically improved speed of transporting people and goods. The first Intercity railway was built in 1830 between Liverpool and Manchester. The railways enabled more freight to be transported cheaply and quickly.
In 1700, it took four days to travel from London to Manchester, by 1870, it took four hours.
Application of steam engines. The development of the steam engine was critical for the Industrial revolution. It enables steam trains, but also steam powered pumps and machines, which increased the productivity of labour.
Agricultural revolution enabled higher food output from less farm workers, leading to surplus workers who could go and work in factories. This revolution in agriculture was due to new techniques like crop rotation, selective breeding, economies of scale from bigger farms and better transport.
Growth in global trade. Helped by Britain’s effective shipping capacity and Empire, which was a source of raw materials.