Changes in Post World War II America Peace and Prosperity as a Global Superpower
Returning veterans from World War II were given the opportunity to attend college. • Vets were also given low interest loans with which they could purchase houses. • Employment opportunities for veterans were everywhere. They were the first hired for jobs all across America. The G.I. Bill of Rights Helped Soldiers Transition to American Life
As President of the United States, Harry S Truman was the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed forces. As such, he made the decision to integrate the US Military in 1948 and made it the official by executive order. • Truman desegregated the armed forcesfor several reasons. First, he had personally seen African-American soldiers serve bravely during World War I. He had seen their contributions to World War II as commander in chief. Moreover, labor leader A. Philip Randolph was pressuring him to desegregate – and preparing a march on Washington for the cause.. And finally, in 1947, Jackie Robinson had integrated Major League Baseball! If baseball could integrate, so could the United States Armed forces! Harry S Truman Desegregated the US Armed Forces in 1948.
Civil Rights legislation – laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 - led to increased educational, economic, and political opportunities for women and minorities. Greater individual rights and significant progress towards living up to the idea of “equal protection under the law” were made. The Civil Rights Movement Changed the United States
Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt fought for basic human rights at home and abroad. While FDR was President, Eleanor Roosevelt had served as the “eyes and ears” of the President. After he passed away in April of 1945 – just before the end of World War II – she remained an influential figure. While she was the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt fought for African-American equality. She also supported anti-lynching bills in Congress. Eleanor Roosevelt held news conferences just for female reporters, encouraging greater opportunity for women. She was also an ambassador to the United Nations later in her life, where she advanced the cause of human rights.
The “JC” stands for Jim Crow. • By the 1940s and 1950s, there were already many laws in place which supported African-Americans’ demands for equality: • The 14th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteed citizenship rights and equal protection under the law. • The 15th Amendment stated that African-American men could vote. • The NAACP’s lawyers fought to make certain that these laws were upheld! African-Americans and groups like the NAACP continued to fight for equal rights and the enforcement of standing laws.
Good jobs and prosperity were available to everyone willing to work hard during the boom of the 1950s. Many returning veterans used the G.I. Bill of Rights to get started, built homes, and started families. The economy boomed as housing construction increased and American factories transformed from making war materials to more domestic goods. Following World War II, the economy of the United States was strong. The housing market boomed, American factories were productive, and new worldwide markets purchased American goods.
Greater Investment in Education, especially Math and Science After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik into space, Americans started to believe that the USSR had surpassed us in terms of science and technology. By the end of the 1950s, the “missile gap” was considered a major shortcoming of the United States. Part of the reason the USA invested so much money into math and science classes and invested into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was to make certain that we led the way in terms of science and technology.
The “Baby Boom,” led to changing demographics and huge population growth.
Dwight Eisenhower was so impressed by the Autobahn in Germany that he insisted that the United States – for military and commercial reasons – build an interstate highway system of our ownduring the 1950s. Interstate Highway System
The Role of Women in Society Changes Women had gained the right to vote in the 1920s with the passage of the 19th Amendment. During World War II, the contributions of women to factory work and the war effort had made a major impact on the outcome of the conflict. After the war, women demanded greater economic and social independence, insisting that if they so chose, they should be able to work outside the home in any capacity they wished. Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique to articulate this message, and the National Organization for Women (NOW) also pushed for equal rights. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 would forbid discrimination against women on the basis of their sex. Throughout the decades of the 1960s and 1970s, feminists attempted to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, as well. It never passed.
Changes in the American Economy, 1945 – the Present Reasons for the Rapid Growth of the American Economy
The United States went through a brief transition period following World War II, but quickly became the strongest and most productive economy in the World. Consumer goods and international markets helped US business grow. With rationing of consumer goods over, businesses converted from production of war materials to consumer goods.
Purchasing costly goods – like cars, electronic appliances, or houses – required consumers to buy with credit. Using credit cards for payment started in the 1950s. Soon, Americans would rely on these short term loans to purchase a wide variety of goods. Americans Purchased Goods on Credit, Confident that their Economic Future was Strong!
Gender roles during the 1940s and 1950s dictated that women should leave there jobs in the factories to make way for returning veterans. Men were considered the breadwinners in society. Many women felt discontent with the arrangement! The work force shifted back to men, and most women returned full time to family responsibilities. Some were very discontent!
The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) merged during the 1950s. They shared many of the same goals: higher pay, fewer working hours, and safer working conditions. • Unions made major strides towards these goals during the 1950s. • Samuel Gompers had founded the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1886. • John L. Lewis was the founder of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in the 1930s. Labor Unions Merged and Became More Powerful.
Prosperity and Technology Allowed women to Re-Enter the Labor Force in Large Numbers. Problems persisted in wages and promotions.
Ray Kroc wasn’t the founder of McDonald’s – it was actually founded by two brothers –named McDonald – in California. Kroc liked the restaurant so well that he mass produced it! • Franchises of the McDonald’s restaurants were created using quality control methods. Every hamburger, french fry, or milkshake in every restaurant had the same proportions of the same ingredients, and everything was supposed to taste alike! That way, a traveler in a faraway town knew they could count on the quality of McDonald’s restaurants, no matter what. Ray Kroc of McDonald’s Fame
The Guggenheim Museum in New York is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous works. Frank Lloyd Wright was a famous architect. He believed building designs should be inspired by nature and fit into their surroundings.
The Cold War Between the United States and the USSR A War of Ideology and Visions, 1945 - 1991
The United Nations was formed near the end of World War II to create a body for the nations of the world to try to prevent future global wars. Today, it serves as an international peacekeeping organization.
The Cold War The Cold War was the longstanding state of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union - without actual fighting between Americans and Russians directly - which divided the world into two camps from 1945 – 1991. The two nations engaged in a prolonged arms race which brought the world to the brink of nuclear war on several occasions. Both sides believed that the goal of the other side was world domination. Both sides believed that the others were conspiring to take over other nations throughout the world.
Much of Europe was in ruins following World War II. Soviet forces occupied Eastern and portions of Central Europe, including East Germany, after WW II.
The Truman Doctrine In 1947, President Harry S. Truman introduced the policy of containment by announcing that the United States would provide over $400 Million to Turkey and Greece to prevent the spread of communism. The Truman Doctrine – and the $400 Million - saved Turkey and Greece from communist aggression. The money was given to supporters of capitalism and democracy – our most treasured American values. Communism was halted. The containment policy had been successful. The United States felt it was in its best interest to help rebuild Europe and prevent political and economic instability.
The Marshall Plan The Marshall Plan for reconstructing Europe provided over $13 Million to any nation in Europe which pledged itself to democracy and capitalism. Compared to the Soviet Union’s exploitation of nations in Eastern Europe, the United States plan looked pretty good! The United States felt it was in its best interest to help rebuild Europe and prevent political and economic instability.
A Divide Germany Germany was partitioned into East and West Germany following World War II. West Germany became democratic, and capitalistic, and was allowed to resume self-government after a few years of American, British, and French occupation. The Soviet Union had been attacked twice by Germany in the 20th Century, and did not whish to see Germany reunified. East Germany remained under the domination of the Soviet Union and did not adopt democratic institutions. It would remain communist until 1989. Similarly, the city of Berlin was divided into four parts. When Joseph Stalin attempted to take control of the city with the Berlin Blockade in 1948, American and British intervention saved the city.
The United States The Soviet Union Communism – the government controlled all. Totalitarian Dictatorship No Individual Rights – Dissent was not tolerated. • Capitalism – free trade and free enterprise. • Democratic Government • Individual Rights – Free Speech and Religion Major Differences in the Cold War – The US vs. The Soviet Union
The Soviet Union controlled all of Eastern Europe. Winston Churchill would claim that Eastern Europe was behind the “Iron Curtain.”
The United States was committed to a policy of containment – a policy to stop the spread of Communism. The United States used a variety of methods to encourage containment: • The Truman Doctrine – economic intervention • The Marshall Plan – economic intervention • The Berlin Blockade – humanitarian aid • The Korean War – military intervention Containment
NATO Members: The United States Canada England France Spain Portugal Italy West Germany Greece Turkey North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created as a defensive alliance against the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union responded to NATO with its own defensive alliance in 1955, when it created the Warsaw Pact. All of the nations of Eastern Europe – which the Soviet Union occupied militarily – were forced to join the alliance. The Warsaw Pact
Rebuilding Japan Following its defeat, Japan was occupied by American forces. With Douglas MacArthur acting as the military governor of the islands, the nation was reconstructed as a democratic, capitalistic ally of the United States of America. The people of Japan even took on baseball as a pastime. Today, Japan is one of the United States closest allies in Asia.
The Korean War ends in a STALEMATE. Major Conflicts During the Cold War Era North Korea attacked South Korea in the summer of 1950. The United Nations gave permission for American forces to restore South Korea by invading. MacArthur and his soldiers pushed the North Koreans out of South Korea; then, they attempted to take over North Korea. China entered the war and pushed Americans back to the 38th Parallel, and the war ended in a stalemate. The Korean War ended in a stalemate. After Chinese forces attacked the United States and UN forces, the war ended with Korea divided at the 38th Parallel.
In 1962, the US discovered that the Soviet Union had placed nuclear missilesin Cuba. Fidel Castro sought protection after the Bay of Pigs Invasion. • John F. Kennedy responded by placing a blockade around Cuba and insisting the Nikita Khrushchev remove the missiles. • After coming close to nuclear war, the USSR agreed to remove the missiles in exchange for a promise from the United States never to invade Cuba. The US also pledged to remove some of our missiles from Turkey. The Cuban Missile Crisis
The United States intervened in Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident took place in 1964. It would ruin Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Presidency, and millions of Vietnamese – along with close to 59,000 Americans – would die in the war. LBJ and others feared that if Vietnam fell to communism, other nearby nations would, too. This was the domino theory. The Domino Theory was a critical reason for US Intervention in the Vietnam War.
Americans were very much divided over the war in Vietnam. Hawks wanted to continue fighting against communism no matter the cost. Doves argued that the war was not just, and that the Vietnamese only wanted independence and self-government.
The Cease Fire ended the war in 1973, but it would still be years before the US had all of its troops out of Vietnam. NOTE: Lyndon Johnson died in 1964 after a massive heart attack. He passed away just days before the cease fire was signed. The Vietnam War ended in 1973 when the US signed a cease fire and withdrew its troops. Communists took power almost immediately.
In 1989, Germans tore down the Berlin Wall. Germany was reunified in 1990. Communism was very much on the decline – China, N. Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba were the final practitioners.
The Soviet Union allowed it’s satellites in Eastern Europe to choose their own course going forward. Then, in 1991, the Soviet Union itself collapsed. Russia – without it’s fifteen controlled states – was reborn.