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The Cold War Begins. 1945-1952. Post-War America. 1946 to 1961: Four Main Themes. COLD WAR CONFIDENT NATION CONSUMERISM CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT. Was it a time of “happy days or anxiety, alienation, and social unrest”?. 1948 to 1968: The “Vital Center”. A political consensus developed.

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1946 to 1961:

Four Main Themes


Was it a time of “happy days or anxiety, alienation, and social unrest”?


1948 to 1968:

The “Vital Center”

A political consensus developed

  • Anti-Communist
  • Economic growth can solve societies problems
  • Political pluralism
postwar economic anxiety
Postwar Economic Anxiety
  • Fear of return to depression
  • Businesses called for an end to government controls over the economy
1946-47 saw an economic slump & inflation increase 33%
  • Removal of price controls led to the increase in inflation
labor trouble inflation
Labor Trouble & Inflation
  • Worries about job security & inflation led to new labor demands
  • Organized labor called for crippling strikes in major industries
Increasing numbers of strikes led to Truman warning strikers of federal intervention
  • 1946 Congressional Elections: Republicans gained control of both houses of Congress
taft hartley labor bill 1947
Taft-Hartley Labor Bill (1947)
  • Passed over Truman’s veto
  • Banned closed shop & weakened labors rights
Labor frustrated in its attempts to unionize the southern textile industries in its “Operation Dixie”
truman s economic policy
Truman’s Economic Policy
  • Employment Act of 1946
    • Created the Council of Economic Advisors
    • Sought to promote maximum employment, production & purchasing power
servicemen s readjustment act 1944
Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (1944)
  • GI Bill of Rights
  • Servicemen given educational & economic benefits
civil rights
Civil Rights
  • African-American’s fared a little better economically & politically, despite congressional refusal to pass civil rights & fair labor laws
1947: Color line crossed in baseball when Brooklyn Dodgers hired Jackie Robinson
  • 1948: Armed forces began desegregating
long economic boom 1950 1970
Long Economic Boom: 1950-1970
  • GNP (Gross National Product) began to climb after 1948 – nearly doubling in the 1950s & again in 1960s
By 1950, the economy will begin to skyrocket & reach a plateau of growth that will last until 1970
middle class prosperity
Middle Class Prosperity
  • “Chicken in every pot” of depression became desire for 2 cars in every garage
    • Plus a TV, air conditioner, swimming pool, vacation home, RVs & hoola-hoops for the kids
women in the workforce
Women in the Workforce
  • Many women decided to keep working after the war but did so under gender discrimination
Women account for 25% of the workforce by the end of the war & will have 50% of the jobs by the 1990s
Cult of domesticity re-emerges & supported by science & popular culture
  • Clash of these dual roles will lead to the feminist movement of the 1960s

Suburban LivingThe Typical TV Suburban Families

Leave It to Beaver1957-1963

The Donna Reed Show1958-1966

Father Knows Best1954-1958

The Ozzie & Harriet Show1952-1966

causes of growth
Causes of growth
  • Much of the continued economic growth caused by the “war economy” appropriations of the Cold War
Korean War, Arms Race, Space Race, & Vietnam will keep American defense spending rolling through two decades
America productivity increased & educational levels rose
  • By 1970, 90% of the school age population was enrolled in school
Farmers dropped from 15% of the workforce in the 40s to 2% by the 90s but harvested a large percentage of the world’s food
the sunbelt
The Sunbelt
  • Invention of air-conditioning, existence of cheap fuel, & large number of defense jobs in the south & west caused many Americans to move to the “sunbelt” following the war

The U. S. population was on the move in the late 1940s and into the 1950s.

  • NE & Mid-W  S & SW (“Sunbelt” states)
the suburbs
The Suburbs
  • Low interest FHA & VA loans made it economical to own a home
Levitt brothers pioneered the “assembly line” construction of suburban homes (Levittown)
Post-war families snatched up these “cookie cutter” tract homes
    • They filled the yards with barbeques & kids
    • Lots of kids

Suburban Living

      • 194019501960 1970
  • Central Cities 31.6% 32.3% 32.6% 32.0%
  • Suburbs 19.5% 23.8% 30.7% 41.6%
  • Rural Areas/ 48.9% 43.9% 36.7% 26.4%
  • Small Towns
      • U. S. Bureau of the Census
the baby boom
The Baby Boom
  • Huge birthrate jump began in 1945, peaked in 1957, & tapered off to 1961
  • “Baby boom” generation has had a major impact on the economy & culture in America

Baby Boomers

“It seems to me that every other young housewife I see is pregnant.”

British visitor to America, 1958

harry s truman
Harry S. Truman
  • “The average man’s average man.”
  • First president in many years without a college education
Failed at business but worked his way up in local Missouri politics
  • Truman’s bluntness & hard-headedness worried & upset many people
us ussr similarities
US & USSR Similarities
  • US & USSR resembled each other in many troublesome ways:
    • Large, expansionist, born in revolution, & believed their way was the best way

Conflicting Interests

  • Soviet Goals
  • Wanted to rebuild Europe in ways that would help the Soviet Union recover from the huge losses it suffered during the war
  • Wanted to establish Soviet satellite nations, countries subject to Soviet domination and sympathetic to Soviet goals
  • Wanted to promote the spread of communism throughout the world
  • American Goals
  • Wanted conquered European nations to experience the democracy and economic opportunity that the United States had fought for during the war
  • Wanted to develop strong capitalist economies, which would provide good markets for American products



The Cold War Summary:


  • Uneasy peace between the U.S. & Soviet Union.
  • Competition for world dominance & global power.
  • Fought on political & economic fronts rather than on military battlefields - even though the threat of war was always present.
  • Defined American foreign policy from 1946-1989.
  • It affected domestic politics & how Americans viewed the world & themselves.
  • Constant state of military preparedness & arms race
  • Propaganda war: Democracy vs. Communism
  • US policy: Support nations threatened by Communism

The Cold War [1945-1991]: An Ideological Struggle

Soviet & Eastern Bloc Nations[“Iron Curtain”]

US & the Western Democracies

GOAL “Containment” of Communism & the eventual collapse of the Communist world.[George Kennan]

GOAL spread world-wide Communism

  • Espionage [KGB vs. CIA]
  • Arms Race [nuclear escalation]
  • Ideological Competition for the minds and hearts of Third World peoples [Communist govt. & command economy vs. democratic govt. & capitalist economy]  “proxy wars”
  • Bi-Polarization of Europe [NATO vs. Warsaw Pact]
yalta conference
Yalta Conference
  • Before A-bomb tested, US believed Soviet military would be needed to defeat the Japanese
Soviets agreed to allow democratic elections in Eastern Europe
  • They lied leaving the USSR in control of a large sphere of influence
potsdam conference
Potsdam Conference
  • Stalin warned indirectly about the existence of the Atomic bomb
  • Soviets felt slighted about being out the loop on the Manhattan Project
united nations
United Nations
  • April 25, 1945: SF Conference creates UN Charter
  • Security Council responsible for settling disputes among nations
american soviet relations
American-Soviet Relations
  • Decades of distrust & misunderstanding came to a head at the end of the war
  • 1945: Washington abruptly ended lend-lease to Soviets & refused to grant them loans while still aiding Britain
bretton woods conference 1944
Bretton Woods Conference (1944)
  • Agreement created the World Bank & the International Monetary Fund
  • Soviets refused to participate in either
the baruch plan
The Baruch Plan
  • Bernard Baruch called for a UN agency to oversee nuclear power to halt weapons development
  • Stalin rejects the idea
postwar germany
Postwar Germany
  • 1945-46: Nuremberg Trials
    • 22 top Nazi war criminals put on trial for crimes against humanity
    • 12 hanged

Nazileaders being tried for war crimes and crimes against civilians: Established the principle: That individuals are responsible for the actions regardless if they are carrying out orders.


Crimes against peace, humanity = war crimes

Important principle established:

Individuals responsible for their actions


Several Nazi leaders would be found guilty for crimes against humanity. Punishments ranged from prison sentences up to life and execution by hanging.

USSR sought to make Germany pay reparations for war
  • US realized need for a economically strong but militarily weak Germany
Germany divided into 4 territories at the end of the war: British, French, American, & Soviet
  • Western Allies began to call for a reunited Germany
the iron curtain falls
The “Iron Curtain” Falls
  • Soviets force the Eastern European countries behind what Winston Churchill called the “Iron Curtain”
fulton missouri 1946
Fulton, Missouri (1946)

“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.”

the containment policy
The Containment Policy
  • 1947: George Kennan writes from Moscow describing that the goals of the Soviet Union were expansionary
  • Kennan suggests a policy of “containment”



Containment: Stop the expansion of Communism in Asia and Europe

Democracy vs. Communism

Bi-Polarization of the World

Soviet Union/China and Allies

US, Allied Nations and Allied colonies

the truman doctrine
The Truman Doctrine
  • Greece & Turkey were turning leftist - danger of Soviet involvement
  • Truman issues his Doctrine describing the need to “contain” communism

Truman Doctrine, 1947:

The first use of “containment”

March 1947: Truman asked Congress for $400 million to support democracy in Turkey & Greece
  • 1948: Truman recognizes Israel
marshall plan 1947
Marshall Plan (1947)
  • Sec of State Marshall develops European Recovery Program to stop communism (containment)
  • $12.5 Billion spent in Europe over 4 years
1948: Soviet sponsored coup in Czechoslovakia pushes Congress into action
  • Creates an “economic miracle” in W. Europe
berlin airlift 1948 49
Berlin Airlift (1948-49)
  • Stalin closes ground access to Berlin to choke off the Allies
  • US & British air power breaks the blockade through a massive airlift
berlin airlift
Berlin Airlift

U.S. flew supplies 24/7 to feed West Berlin for 11 months.

iran crisis
Iran Crisis
  • Stalin tested the West\'s resolve in Middle East & began fomenting revolution in Iran
  • Truman’s protest caused Stalin to back down
us military is reorganized
US Military is Reorganized
  • National Security Act of 1947
    • Brought all of the armed forces under the Department of Defense
    • Created the Joint Chiefs of Staff
1948: National Security Council coordinated decisions on military intervention
  • 1949: Central Intelligence Agency created for intelligence gathering
the north atlantic pact 1949
The North Atlantic Pact (1949)
  • NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
  • Defensive alliance of US & 12 W. European countries
  • Greece & Turkey join 1952
  • West Germany in 1955

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (1949)

  • United States
  • Belgium
  • Britain
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Luxemburg
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • 1952: Greece & Turkey
  • 1955: West Germany
  • 1983: Spain

Warsaw Pact (1955)

  • U. S. S. R.
  • Albania
  • Bulgaria
  • Czechoslovakia
  • East Germany
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Romania

TheBipolarization of Europe





us east asia 1945 53
US & East Asia (1945-53)
  • Reconstruction of Japan
    • Under General MacArthur Japan received a democratic constitution & aid for reconstruction
    • Japanese war criminals also tried & 7 executed
1949: Communists in China under Mao Zedong defeat the Nationalists
  • Nationalists under Chiang Kaishek establish the Republic of China on Taiwan
Republicans declare Truman had “lost” China to the communists
  • New Secretary of State Dean Acheson seeks to recognize communist China
election of 1948
Election of 1948
  • Democrats nominate Truman
    • Platform of civil rights causes segregation south to form State Rights Party
    • Strom Thurmond runs as States Rights candidate
New Progressive Party nominates Henry Wallace - seen as a patsy for the communist party
  • Republicans nominate Thomas E. Dewey
truman defeats dewey
Truman Defeats Dewey
  • Though polls & pundits call for Truman defeat, he wins 300 to 189 in electoral vote
    • Dixiecrat Thurmond: 39 electoral votes
truman s fair deal
Truman’s Fair Deal
  • Truman’s State of the Union called for a Fair Deal including:
    • Aid to Education
    • National Health Insurance
    • Civil Rights Legislation
More Social Security
  • Public Housing
  • Repeal of Taft-Hartley
  • Streamlining of Federal Bureaucracy
point four
Point Four
  • Point Four of Truman’s inaugural address calls for aid, along with scientific & technical assistance to third world countries to stop communism
the second red scare
The Second Red Scare
  • American fears:
    • Spread of Communism
    • Nuclear War
    • Spies at Home
    • Economic Depression
truman s loyalty program
Truman’s “Loyalty” Program
  • 1947: Launched to investigate “leftists” in the federal government
  • Employees, especially school teachers, were forced to take loyalty oaths
  • House Un-American Activities Committee (1938-1975)
  • 1948: Investigations begin of suspected commies
hollywood ten
“Hollywood Ten”
  • Government employees dismissed
  • Writers, movie producers & actors blacklisted
shocking events of 1949
Shocking Events of 1949
  • China goes Communist (Mao defeats Chang Kai Shek = China & Taiwan)
  • Russians detonate their 1st atomic weapon
alger hiss trial
Alger Hiss Trial
  • State Department official Alger Hiss accused of spying by Whittaker Chambers
Hiss sues for libel but is then charged with perjury when he is found to have lied under oath
  • Richard Nixon prosecutes Hiss
  • 1950: Senator Joseph McCarthy makes his “Wheeling Declaration”
    • He has the names of 200 known communists in the federal government
the rosenbergs
The Rosenbergs
  • 1951: Julius & Ethel Rosenberg found guilty of espionage for giving atomic secrets to Russians
  • 1953: Executed
the h bomb
The H-Bomb
  • 1952: 1st Hydrogen Bomb (fusion) tested successfully in the South Pacific
  • 1953: Russians explode their H-bomb & the arms race is on
June 25, 1950: North Korea invades South
  • US & Korean forces retreat to Pusan perimeter
Truman resurrects NSC-68
  • UN Security Council votes to restore peace
the forgotten war
The Forgotten War
  • UN allows invasion of North
  • November: Chinese troops cross the Yalu river & push UN troops south of the 38th parallel
MacArthur criticizes Truman’s decision not to fight China
  • April 11, 1951: MacArthur relieved of duty
Civilian control of US military reaffirmed
  • Issue becomes a political “hot potato” over communism
truce negotiations
Truce Negotiations
  • July 1951: War breaks down into stalemate
  • Discussions over a truce breakdown about exchange of prisoners – war continues
twenty second amendment
Twenty-Second Amendment
  • 1951: Amendment passes saying no person shall be allowed to be president more than twice
  • Truman excluded
election of 1952
Election of 1952
  • Democrats: hampered by Korea, scandals, & Red Scare nominate Adlai Stevenson
i like ike
I Like Ike
  • Republican isolationists sought to nominate Robert Taft
  • Dwight Eisenhower wins nomination on first ballot
Anti-Communists got Richard Nixon to be vice-presidential nominee
  • Nixon attacks Stevenson while Ike takes the high road
nixon slush fund
Nixon Slush Fund
  • Reports claim Nixon had a secret campaign fund for his personal use
  • Nixon makes “Checkers Speech” in reaction to slush fund allegations
war ends
War Ends
  • Ike goes to Korea & 7 months later, after the threat of a nuclear strike, the war in Korea ends in a shaky armistice
communist expansion a chronology of events

Soviet Union1918


Berlin Blockade 1947-8

Eastern Europe1946


Communist ExpansionA Chronology of Events


Korean War1950 to 1953


Marshall PlanBerlin AirliftNATOKorean War


Analyze the successes and failures of the Cold War policy of containment as it developed in TWO of the following areas from 1945-1975.

  • Europe
  • East and Southeast Asia
  • Middle East
  • Latin America

Compare and contrast American foreign policies after WWI (1918-1928) and WWII (1945-1950).