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The Search for a Better Life Chapter 41: Peace, Prosperity and Progress. Why are the 1950’s remembered as an age of affluence?. Postwar Politics: Readjustments and Challenges. Once WWII ended, Truman has to lead the country through the economic transition to peacetime His “Fair Deal”

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the search for a better life chapter 41 peace prosperity and progress

The Search for a Better LifeChapter 41: Peace, Prosperity and Progress

Why are the 1950’s remembered as an age of affluence?

postwar politics readjustments and challenges
Postwar Politics: Readjustments and Challenges
  • Once WWII ended, Truman has to lead the country through the economic transition to peacetime
  • His “Fair Deal”
    • Increase minimum wage, increase aid to education and agriculture and enact a program for national health insurance
  • Billions of dollars of war contracts were cancelled
  • Defense workers lost their jobs
  • Inflation soared
  • In 1946, 5 million workers walked off the job
truman battles the republicans in congress
Truman Battles the Republicans in Congress
  • 1946: “Had enough?”
    • Republicans gain control of both houses of Congress
  • 22nd Amendment: two term limit for the president
    • A popular president could be “for life”
  • 1947: The Taft-Hartley Act
    • Limited the power of unions by outlawing the closed shop and banning “sympathy” strikes
    • Mandated an 80 day “cooling off” period before a strike
    • Vetoed by Truman but overridden
  • Truman desegregates the armed forces by executive order when Congress refuses to act on a civil rights bill to outlaw segregation and discrimination
an upset victory in 1948
An Upset Victory in 1948
  • Truman looked weak because of his losses to the Republicans in Congress
  • The Democratic Party splits
    • Left-wing (liberal) Democrats form a “Progressive Party” behind candidate Henry Wallace
    • Probably more liberal than Truman on social issues
    • Wanted friendlier relations with the USSR
    • Segregationist Southern Democrats became known as “Dixiecrats”
      • Strom Thurmond runs on a segregationist platform
  • The Republican candidate is Thomas Dewey
  • And the results were…

The predicted Dewey landslide never occurred

  • Truman narrowly wins
  • His Fair Deal programs were still rejected by Congress with the exception of a modest social security increase, an increase in the minimum wage and slum clearance
we like ike
“We Like Ike!”
  • Modern Republicanism: “In all those things which deal with people, be liberal, be human…(but with the) people’s money, or their economy or their form of government, be conservative.”
dwight d eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Supreme Allied Commander (WWII)
  • Head of NATO after the war
  • Chooses Richard Nixon as his vice-president
    • Active on the HUAC
  • Although a Republican, he expanded Social Security and ensured New Deal programs would survive regardless of who was in the White House

Eisenhower kept his campaign promise and traveled to Korea to try and get the stalled peace talks moving.

  • Secretary of State John Foster Dulles helped shape Eisenhower’s Cold War policies.
    • Dulles did not want to merely contain communism; he wanted to roll it back.
    • Brinkmanship: the diplomatic art of going to the brink of war without actually getting into war. To this end he advocated building more nuclear weapons.
    • Massive retaliation (use overwhelming force against the Soviet Union to settle conflicts)
  • Later, Eisenhower will warn the US about the power of “the military-industrial complex” that he helped build
economic growth
Economic Growth
  • 1940’s- the first “fast food” restaurant
  • Real Income grew after WWII.
  • People in the 1950’s had twice as much money as people in the 1920’s.
  • People were spending money and shopping centers grew
  • Business methods encouraged growth in 3 ways
    • Advertising
    • Buy now, pay later
    • Planned obsolescence (buyinggoods that go out of date)
      • Clothing fashions
      • Automobiles
the u s economy shifts from goods to services
The U.S. Economy Shifts from Goods to Services
  • Industries that provide services begin to replace industries that manufacture things
  • Cost of living increases become common
  • Franchises standardize businesses (McDonalds, Holiday Inn, Howard Johnson’s)
    • Clean, family-friendly
  • A white collar workforce begins to replace a blue collar workforce
    • Salaries not hourly wages
    • Suits not uniforms
the baby boom
The Baby Boom
  • Depression: Decline in marriage and birth rates
  • WWII: Fear for the future
  • Post WWII: the future looked bright (marriage and birth rates soar)
    • In 1957, there was one baby born every 7 seconds!
impact of the baby boom
Impact of The Baby Boom
  • School districts had trouble keeping up
  • Maternity wards were overflowing
  • Families flocked to the suburbs
family roles
Family Roles
  • Dr. Spock’s Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care
    • The leading child care expert (then and now)
  • The Woman’s Guide to Better Living 52 Weeks a Year
    • “The family is the center of your living. If it isn’t, you’ve gone astray”
  • “Traditional” family roles were reinforced by the media
the suburbs and the sunbelt1
The Suburbs and the SunBelt
  • Returning veterans were anxious to buy homes and start families
  • Bill Levitt revolutionized home building by bringing the “assembly line” to the suburbs
    • Virtually identical homes built by teams of contractors who specialized in one aspect of building (36 houses/day)
    • Commuters lived in a “bedroom community”
    • Overwhelmingly white and middle class (blacks could not buy homes in a Levittown)
  • Americans move from (what becomes known as) the “RustBelt” to the “SunBelt”
    • Weather and low labor costs (fewer unions)
    • Water projects and air conditioning made it possible
the triumph of the automobile
The Triumph of the Automobile
  • Suburban living required transportation for commuters and for moms
  • Cars became status symbols as Americans were encouraged to move up to more expensive cars to show success
  • 1956: Interstate Highway Act
    • A Cold War necessity
      • Move troops and weapons
      • Evacuate cities
    • Made travel faster and safer
    • Created economic opportunities (gas stations, motels, restaurants)
    • More choices for Americans to live, work, vacation
technological advances transform everyday life
Technological Advances Transform Everyday Life
  • Polio (infantile paralysis) epidemics struck every summer
    • Jonas Salk develops a vaccine (90% effective)
  • Open heart surgery, kidney transplants, antibiotics
  • Life expectancy increases
  • Nuclear energy for a power source
  • Nuclear energy to treat diseases
  • ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) – 300 multiplications a minute
  • UNIVAC – could handle numbers AND letters

29,000 pounds

  • 1905 operations a minute
chapter 42 rebelling against conformity

Chapter 42: Rebelling Against Conformity

How did some Americans rebel against conformity in the 1950’s?

the culture and the critics of suburbia
The Culture and the Critics of Suburbia
  • By 1960, 1/3 of all Americans lived in suburbia
  • The Critics
    • A wasteland of conformity and materialism
    • The Organization Man condemned society for forcing conformity on the masses
    • Television and popular entertainment for the masses were NOT high culture
      • It isolated individuals becausethey were sharing in a commonexperience…but by themselves (sound familiar?)
in defense of suburbia
In Defense of Suburbia
  • The people in the suburbs weren’t EXACTLY the same
    • No, there wasn’t racial diversity but there was ethnic and religious diversity
  • The materialism wasn’t any worse than previous generations, there was just the $ to take advantage of the situation and pursue possessions
    • Remember…the parents of the 1950’s lived through the Depression and World War II!
currents of non confomity
Currents of NONconfomity
  • Jack Kerouac embodied the era’s nonconformist streak and as part of the Beat Movement (beatniks)
    • Rejection of convention
    • Rejection of traditional Western religions
    • Famous for examples of streams of consciousness in their writing
  • Allen Ginsberg’s Howl was considered obscene
    • I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night…
rebellious teens
Rebellious Teens
  • The “Youth Culture”
    • Music
      • Rock – n – Roll
      • Considered “race music”
      • Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed named it
    • Movies
      • The Wild One, Rebel without a Cause
    • Dance
      • Sock hops
comic books and artists rebel
Comic Books and Artists Rebel
  • Comic books were about superheroes who fought for “truth, justice and the American Way” in the 1930’s and 1940’s
  • Now, the comic books pushed the limits
    • Tales from the Crypt, Crime Suspense Stories, MAD
  • Artists like Jackson Pollock explored expressionism
chapter 43 two americas

Chapter 43: Two Americas

Why did poverty persist in the United States in an age of affluence?

poverty among affluence
Poverty among Affluence
  • Pauperism (a dependence onpublic assistance) was seen as a moral failure
  • Americans did seem to understandpoverty as a result of misfortune
    • Disability, the elderly
  • Many were the working poor that held jobs but their wages were too low
  • The poverty line is established identifying “poverty” not as a moral failing but a lack of income
    • Becomes official in 1965 by calculating a minimum family food budget and tripling it (food = 1/3 of family budgets)

By the end of the 1950’s about 1 in 4 Americans lived below that poverty line

    • The other America, the America of poverty, is hidden…its millions are socially invisible…
  • The middle class suburbanites rarely saw the urban poor left behind
    • The elderly kept to themselves
    • The young stayed in their own neighborhoods
    • No political voice
  • The poor were not only in thecities but the rural areas as well
the urban and rural poor
The Urban and Rural Poor
  • Blacks from the South to the North, Puerto Ricans into NYC and Mexicans to L.A.
    • Jobs disappeared to the suburbs and these new “immigrants” were left in the decaying sections of the inner cities
    • The Housing Act of 1949 tried to help but it bulldozed neighborhoods and didn’t provide enough low income housing in return
  • The overcrowded and impoverished “projects” became the new slums
the urban and rural poor1
The Urban and Rural Poor
  • Small farmers in the US could not compete with agribusiness
    • Agriculture as industry
    • If you couldn’t compete, where did you move? (Where could you move?)
  • Migrant workers (some were part of the bracero movement during WWII) worked for low wages
  • When coal mining declined, therural poor in Appalachia suffered
america s poorest citizens
America’s Poorest Citizens?
  • American Indians
  • 1934: The Indian Reorganization Act affirmed their right to govern themselves but they were wards of the federal government
    • Dependent on the federal government to provide them with protection and economic and social aid
  • 1953: The Indian Termination Policy ended federal aid to tribes
  • Voluntary Relocation Programs tried to move American Indians into cities (is that better?)
  • The poverty grew worse