[From "The Retreat of Racial Science"]
At the beginning of the 20th century, America was still in the Victorian era. American identity was White, Anglo-Saxon (in culture), Protestant and liberal and republican in principles. There was an overwhelming national consensus in support of progress, traditional moral values and the Anglo-American literary canon. The dominant aesthetic was New England and Appalachian Regionalism.
American dominant ethnicity looked something like the left hand column before the big Victorian-to-Modern cultural transition that we are exploring:
["American Dominant Ethnicity" vs. "Avant-Guard Community"][…]
In 1910, race was still considered an objective biological reality. There was no moral stigma attached to either White identity or the belief that racial differences exist. The development of “antiracism” was still in the future and occurred largely in New York in the 1920s and 1930s.
This was not an isolated change. It was part of a larger sweeping cultural change that unsettled and transformed everything in America in the interwar years: manners, morals, national identity, gender roles, dress, art, literature, music, dance, architecture, religion, psychology, etc.
Before the 1910s, America was characterized by regional cultures dominated by their metropoles. Boston was the cultural capital of America. In the 1920s though, New York became the largest metropolitan area in the world and the cultural capital of the United States. It reduced other metropolitan areas into its satellites. The culture of the New York avant-garde became “mainstream” culture.