United States History The Soldiers Come Home Postwar America
After World War II, millions of returning veterans used the GI Bill of Rights to get an education and buy homes. The United States changed from a wartime to a peacetime economy. When wartime price controls ended, prices shot up. The economy began to improve on its own, and there was a huge demand for consumer goods. Many items had notbeen available during the war, now Americans bought cars, appliances, and houses. The Cold War increased defense spending and employment. How did the end of World War II affect America? Readjustment & Recovery
President Harry S. Truman faced a number of problems immediately after the war, one was labor unrest. He threatened to draft striking workers into the army, and then order them back to work In the 1946 election, conservativeRepublicans gained control of congress EconomicChallenges & Social Unrest Persists • Truman was nominated for president in 1948. • He insisted on a strong democratic “plank”, which split the party. • Dixiecrats were against civil rights What were Postwar Problems
After the war there was racial violence in the South. African American leaders asked for a federal anti-lynching law, and an end to the poll tax, and a commission to prevent discrimination in hiring. Congress would not pass any ofTruman’s civil rights measures. In 1948, he issued an executive order to desegregate the armedforces, he also ordered an end to discrimination in hiring government employees. Economic Challenges & Socail Unrest Cont'd • Truman tried to pass economic and social reforms. He called his program the Fair Deal • Health insurance and a crop-subsidy program were defeated by congress, but an increase in minimum wage, extension of Social Security and financial aid passed.
Issues of the 1952 Campaign 1) the stalemate in the Korean War 2)anti-Communist hysteria and McCarthyism 3)the growing power of the federal government 4)strikes 5)inflation
Republicans Take the Middle Road • Truman didn’t run for reelection in 1952 • Voters wanted a challenge, and the Republicans nominated war hero General Dwight Eisenhower. • He beat Democrat Adlai Stevenson • Eisenhower was a low-key president with middle-of-the-road policies. • He had to deal with one controversal issue--- civil rights. Why did Eisenhower win
Repulicans Take the Middle Road cont'd • In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that public schools could not be segregated • Eisenhower believed the federal government should not be involved in desegregation. • When the governor of Arkansas tried to keep African-Americanstudents out of a white high school, Eisenhower sent federal troops to integrate the school
progress • The America of the mid-1950’s was a place of “peace, progress, and prosperity. • Eisenhower won a landslide victory in 1956 prosperity peace
The American Dream in the Fifties
The Organization and the Organization Man. ~Business expanded rapidly during the1950’s ~More people were considered white collar working in professional occupations, rather than blue collar ~Conglomerates- a cooperation that own a number of smaller companies in unrelated businesses. ~Franchise- a business that has bought the right to use a parent company’s name and methods, thus becoming on of a number of similar business in various locations.
The Suburban Lifestyle More people lived in the suburbs and worked in the cities due to the cars and cheaper gas. During the 50’s 13 million homes were built, 85% of them being in the suburbs. The idea that people had about the suburbs was: • *safe for their children • *Place to make friends • *good environment * good school systems
Affluence and Its Anxieties • The economy really sprouted during the 50s, driven by science and technology. • The invention of the transistor exploded the electronics field, especially in computers (circa 1950 to the right), helping such companies as International Business Machines (IBM) expand and prosper. • Aerospace industries progressed, as the Boeing company made the first passenger-jet airplane (adapted from the superbombers of the Strategic Air Command), the 707.
In 1956, “white-collar” workers outnumbered “blue collar” workers for the first time, meaning that the industrial era was passing on. • As this occurred, labor unions peaked in 1954 then started a steady decline. • Women appeared more and more in the workplace, despite the stereotypical role of women as housewives that was being portrayed on TV shows such as “Ozzie and Harriet” and “Leave It to Beaver.” • More than 40 million new jobs were created. • Job opportunities were also opening to women in the white collar work force. • Women’s expansion into the workplace shocked some, but really wasn’t surprising if one observed the trends in history, and now, they were both housewives and workers. • Betty Friedan’s 1963 book The Feminine Mystique was a best-seller and a classic of modern feminine protest literature. She’s the godmother of the feminist movement.
Consumer Culture in the Fifties • The fifties saw the first Diner’s Club cards, the opening of McDonald’s, the debut of Disneyland, and an explosion in the number of television stations in the country. • Advertisers used television to sell products while “televangelists” like Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, and Fulton J. Sheen used TV to preach the gospel and encourage religion. • Sports shifted west, as the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants moved to Los Angeles and San Francisco, respectively, in 1958.
Elvis Presley, a white singer of the new “rock and roll” who made girls swoon with his fleshy face, pointing lips, and antic, sexually suggestive gyrations, that redefined popular music. • Elvis died from drugs in 1977, at age 42. • Traditionalists were shocked by Elvis’s shockingly open sexuality, and Marilyn Monroe (in her Playboy magazine spread) continued in the redefinition of the new sensuous sexuality.
Critics, such as David Riesman in The Lonely Crowd, William H. Whyte, Jr. in The Organization Man, and Sloan Wilson in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, lamented this new consumerist style. • Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith questioned the relation between private wealth and public good in The Affluent Society. • Daniel Bell found further such paradoxes, as did C. Wright Mills.
Baby Boom Baby boom- the sharp increase in the U.S. birthrate following WWII. During the late 1940’s and the early 1960’s the number of births increased due to: Decreasing marriage age Soldiers returning home Economic prosperity Advances in medicine The peak of the baby boom was in 1957, when a baby was being born every 7 seconds. A total of 4,308,000 babies were born.
Advances in Medicine *There were many discoveries as far a drugs that helped fight typhoid fever, and diphtheria. *The biggest advancement was against Polio. *Polio was a disease that afflicted 58,000 American children in 1952. *Dr. Jonas Salk was the man who developed a vaccine for the disease polio.
Dr. Spcok During the 50’s the family revolved around the children. Dr. Benjamin Spock came out with a book called “Common Sense book of Baby and Child Care” Selling nearly10 million copies parents read his book on how to raise their children. He advised that spanking or scolding children was not the was way to punish children. He thought that having meeting would be best so that children could express themselves.
The Automobile Culture >After WW2 we had an abundance of petroleum. >There for the number of Americans that bought cars rose because they could afford gas. Car Sales Rose 6.7 million in 1950 to 7.9 million in 1955 Total # of private cars owned 40 million in 1950 to over 60 million in 1960
Highway-Interstate >Because of the highway the use of railroads declined because it was easier to make longer trips by trucks. >In 1956 41,000 miles of expressways were built connecting cities, schools and shopping centers. >Because of the highway it made it easier for families to go on vacation. Common places families went were the mountains, lake and national parks. >The towns along the highway did great, business was booming, but the small town stores had a major decline in business.
However, Eisenhower kept many of the New Deal programs, since some, like Social Security and unemployment insurance, had already become nationally accepted. • In some respects, Ike even did the New Deal programs one better, such as his backing of the Interstate Highway Act, which built 42,000 miles of interstate freeways – a far larger and more expensive project than anything in FDR’s New Deal. • Actually, Eisenhower only balanced the budget three times in his eight years of office, and in 1959, he incurred the biggest peacetime deficit in U.S. history up to that point. • Critics said that he was economically timid, blaming the president for the sharp economic downturn of 1957-58. • Also, the AF of L merged with the CIO to end 20 years of bitter division in labor unions. The AFL-CIO is the most powerful union in America today.
Consumerism Unboud ~Nearly 60% of Americans were considered middle class. ~They measured success by their consumerism. ~Consumerism: the amount of material goods they bought. • Also war-time developments in electronics reaches the market place things like: • Household appliances • Televisions • Hi-fi record players • Business were flooded with new products such as: • Polyester fabrics • Teflon • Plastics
Popular Culture In Post WW2 America- the 50’s
New Era of Mass Media • Mass Media- the means of communication that reach large audiences-include radio, television, newspapers, and magazines. • Television became the most important means of communication in the 1950’s • At first the number of television stations were limited by the Federal Communications Commission. • Federal Communications Commission (FFC)- the government agency that regulates communications industry.
…new era of mass media (cont’d) • The shows were broadcast live, in the beginning. • Advertisers took advantage of this new medium. Especially of it’s children shows. • Young fans wanted to buy everything that was advertised on their favorite T.V. shows • Television reflected the mainstream values of white suburban America. • The movie industry suffered from competition by television.
A Subculture Emerges • Two Subcultures presented other points of views on the suburban way of life on television. • One subculture is beat movement in literature. These writers made fun of conformity and materialism of mainstream • Their followers were called beatniks.They rebelled against consumerism and the suburban lifestyle. • They didn’t hold steady jobs and they lived inexpensively.
A Subculture Emerges (cont’d) • Some musicians started adding electric instruments to the African American music called rhythm and blues. • The new music resulted in rock and roll and had a strong beat. • And lyrics to the music focused on teenagers feelings toward alienation and unhappiness in love. • Some adults criticized rock ‘n’ roll into the mainstream
African American and Popular Culture • Many of the great performers of the 1950’s were African Americans • Nat “King” Cole, Lena Horne, Harry Belafonte, and Sidney Poitier were popular with white audiences. • Jazz musicians entertained audiences of both races. • The most popular black performers were the early rock and roll stars like little Richard and Chuck Berry.
African American and Popular Culture (cont’d) • Television was slow to integrate. One of the programs to do so was Dick Clark’s popular Rock and Roll show “American Bandstand” • In 1957 Bandstand showed both black couples and white couples on the dance floor. • Radio stations also had stations aimed specifically at African–American listeners.
The Inner Cities While poverty grew rapidly in the decaying inner cities, many suburban Americans remained unaware of it. Some even refused to believe that poverty could exist in the richest, most powerful nation on earth. Each year, the federal government calculates the minimum amount of income needed to survive- the poverty line. In 1959, the poverty line for a family of four was $2,793. In 2000, it was $17, 601.
The Urban Poor Despite the portrait painted by popular culture, life in postwar America did not live up to the “American Dream.” In 1962, nearly one out of every four Americans was living below the poverty level. Many of these poor were elderly people, single moms, or members of all minority groups.
James Baldwin was born in New York City, the eldest of nine children, and grew up in the poverty of the Harlem ghetto. As a novelist, essayist, and playwright, he eloquently portrayed the struggles of African Americans against racial injustice and discrimination. He was one voice of the “other America.”
Mexican Americans During World War II, there was a shortage of laborers to harvest crops. The federal government allowed braceros, or hired hands, to enter the U.S from Mexico.
Mexican Americans cont. They were supposed to work on American farms during the war, and then go back to Mexico. However, when the war ended, many braceros stayed illegally. Many other Mexicans entered the U.S illegally to find jobs. The government started a program to seize and return illegal aliens to Mexico. Mexican Americans suffered discrimination even though they were citizens.
Native Americans Native Americans also struggled for equal rights. This struggle was complicated by federal involvement in Native Americans affairs. At first, the government had supported assimilation, or absorbing Native Americans into mainstream American culture. That forced Native Americans to give up their own culture.
Native Americans cont. In 1934, the Indian Reorganization Act changed that policy. The government now wanted Native Americans to have more control over their own affairs. In 1953, the federal government decided to end its responsibility for Native American tribes. This termination policy stopped federal economic support for the Native Americans. The termination policy had was ended in 1963.