The postwar years at home 1945 1960
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The Postwar Years at Home (1945-1960). Section 1 The Postwar Economy PW years, US embarks on period of economic expansion. Per Capita income increase $1,223 per year to $2,219. c. Corp exp accompanied economic growth. Conglomerates develop to protect from downturns.

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The Postwar Years at Home (1945-1960)

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The Postwar Years at Home

(1945-1960)


Section 1 The Postwar Economy

  • PW years, US embarks on period of economic expansion.

  • Per Capita income increase

    $1,223 per year to $2,219.

    c. Corp exp accompanied economic growth.


  • Conglomerates develop to protect from downturns.

  • Franchising also begins w/ Ray Kroc and McDonald’s.

  • Other types of business also adopt the franchise method throughout the 50’s.


Technology Transforms Life

  • Tech aimed at saving consumers time and money

    Ex. Dishwashers, vacuums, lawnmowers, etc.

    B. TV popularity grows.


Advances in Medicine

  • Vaccine for Polio developed by Dr. Jonas Salk.

  • Advances in anti-bacterial med such as penicillin.

  • WWII docs lead to adv surgical techniques.


Change in the Workforce

  • After war machines performed many of previous jobs.

  • Led to decline in blue-collar worker.

  • Many soldiers w/ new degrees gravitate to WC work.


Suburbs and Highways

  • Baby boom of 1940’s leads to population growth.

  • Growing families look to retreat from the cities.

  • GI Bill of Rights made this possible.


  • Developer William Levitt makes housing possible.

  • Mass-produces houses, built in weeks rather than months.

    Ex. Long Island 17,000 homes

    Bucks County PA-16,000


Cars and Highways

  • Stores from cities follow their customers.

  • Out of reach of public trans they need cars.

  • Led to explosion in auto industry.


  • Growth in car industry leads to need for better roads.

  • 1956 Interstate Highway Act leads to est of interstate highway system.


Growth of Consumer Credit

A. Lending agencies pick up on the credit card idea.

B. American’s use credit cards to purchase items considered “needs”

Ex. Washing machines, TV, vacuums.


Section 2 Mood of the 1950’s

Comfort and Security

  • Americans no longer cherish individuality now value conformity.


Men’s and Women’s Roles

  • Roles were clearly defined in the 1950’s.

  • Men were to get educated, get a job, and support/take care of a family and home.

  • Lived in a public sphere, away from home.


  • Women were to play a supporting role for their husband.

  • Keep house, cook meals, and raise children.


Youth culture

  • Often referred to as the ‘Silent Generation’

  • Economy allowed more young to stay in school.

  • Leisure time leads to young enjoying more entertainment.


  • Advertisements begin to target teens in the 1950’s.

  • Create a sense of conformity in style.

  • Rate of teenage brides increase to half of all brides by 1954.


Resurgence in Religion

  • By 1950’s found renewed interest in religion.

  • 1954 “under God” added to pledge and “In God We Trust” on currency.


Challenges to Conformity

  • Such conformity made differences noticeable.

  • Not all Americans fit into the exact mold.


Women At Work

  • Many women did not want to give up jobs filled during WWII.

  • In 1950 only 24% of married women had jobs.


  • Most women’s jobs were as secretaries, teachers, and nurses.

  • 1963—Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique.


Youthful Rebellions

  • Many young rejected values of parents. Led to isolation.

  • Reflected in movies and books

    Ex. Rebel Without A Cause

    Catcher in the Rye


  • Moondog Rock and Roll party draws large teen audience.

  • Played black rhythm and blues music.

  • Became known as Rock and Roll.


  • Teens rushed to buy their favorite records.

    Black artists—Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Domino Fats

    White artists—Jerry Lewis and Buddy Holly.


  • One of best known was Elvis Presley.

  • Flamboyant style attracted large following and int’l spread.

  • Influence later artist like The Beatles.


  • Many adults feared a rise in immorality.

  • This had a lot of to do with race.


Beat Generation (Beatniks)

  • Stressed need for release from money and property.

  • Shocked people with openness towards sex and illegal drugs.


  • Jack Kerouac often referred to as the voice of the movement through his novels

    Ex. “On The Road”


Section 3

Domestic Politics and Policy

Truman’s Domestic Policies

  • 1st priority was reconversion of the economy.

  • Men wanted rewards for their sacrifices—now.


  • Workers demanded wage increases—1946 4.6 million workers go on strike.

  • Congress took action to limit striking workers.

  • Taft-Hartley Act—president could call 80 day cool off to industries of national interest.


Truman’s Fair Deal

  • Truman extended upon FDR’s New Deal.

  • Worked to secure economic justice for all citizens.

  • Much opposition to this by Conservatives in Congress.


  • By 1946 mid-terms Truman lost most support.

    Ex. Support polls fell from 87% to 32%.

    E. Republican Party worked hard to block Truman’s liberal goals.


Truman on Civil Rights

  • Recognized as president he had to take action on CR.

  • 1946 met w/ AA leader to discuss goals.

  • Congress refused to address concerns.


The Election of 1948

  • Truman had little reason to expect victory in 1948.

  • Support was diminishing even within his own party.

  • Both Southern and liberal Democrats give up support.


  • Opponent was Thomas Dewey, gov. of NY.

  • Truman campaigned mainly against the Republican Party not Dewey.

  • Truman won an astounding upset—and Democrat control of Congress.


  • Longtime Dem control over Washington frustrates Republicans.

  • Push for Amend limiting terms of a president.

  • Led to adoption of 22nd Amend in 1951. Limiting terms to 2.


Eisenhower and the Republican Approach

  • Eisenhower had a lot of public support from his role as Allied Commander in WWII.


B. Eisenhower promised to end Korean War, and strong approach to Communism.

K1 C2- Korea, Communism, Corruption.

c. His VP mate hammered on corruption in government, CA senator Richard Nixon.


Nixon’s Checkers Speech

  • Although popular Eisenhower’s campaign hit a snag.

  • Newspapers accused Nixon of having a secret fund.

  • Cries arose to dump Nixon from the ticket.


  • Nixon speaks on nat’l TV, about the charges.

  • A disaster turns into a public relations success.

  • Ike and Nixon win 55% of pop vote, and gain a Republican controlled Congress.


Modern Republicanism

  • Ike intended to be: “Conservative when it comes to money; liberal when it comes to human beings.”

  • Like traditional Republicans Ike favored big business.


C. Eisenhower maintained a mood of stability.


Meeting the Technology Challenge

  • SU launched Sputnik in 1957 led to fear of Americans

  • 1958 US created NASA (Nat’l Aeronautics and Space Adm)


C. The same year Congress also passed the National Defense Education Act.

  • Designed to improve math and science among students.

  • Keep up with Soviet Union.


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