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Postwar Confidence and Anxiety. Domestic Issues and Politics of the 1950s Chapter 17. An Economic Boom (17.1). “The American soldiers is…worried sick about post-war joblessness.” – Fortune Magazine 60% of Americans thoughts their earning would fall 12,000,000 WWII troops were returning

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postwar confidence and anxiety

Postwar Confidence and Anxiety

Domestic Issues and Politics of the 1950s

Chapter 17

an economic boom 17 1
An Economic Boom (17.1)
  • “The American soldiers is…worried sick about post-war joblessness.” – Fortune Magazine
    • 60% of Americans thoughts their earning would fall
  • 12,000,000 WWII troops were returning
    • SERVICEMAN’S READJUSTMENT ACT (GI Bill) – granted veterans aid for homes, college, or businesses
the baby boom
The Baby Boom
  • Soldiers happy to come home, want normalcy, and family life
  • Americans feeling more secure because of the good economy and peace in the world
    • 1957 – one baby born every 7 seconds; 4,300,000/year
converting from a wartime economy
Converting from a Wartime Economy
  • Unemployment did not come back but…
  • There were problems:
    • Prices soar because returning soldiers pushed up demand
    • Rationing and price controls were ended (had helped keep inflation in check…)
us economy dominates the world
US Economy Dominates the World

More hiring






US Economy After


Lower Prices

Lower Inflation

  • Profits create new technology which leads to increased productivity
the growth of the suburbs
The Growth of the Suburbs
  • 40,000,000 between 1940-1960
    • Rural regions suffered the most dramatic decline in population
  • Urban construction halted during Depression
  • Returning veterans needed a place to raise kids
levittown the american dream
Levittown – “The American Dream”
  • Developers figured out how to build affordable housing in a hurry
    • William Levitt – became a leader in mass production
      • Produced 150 houses per week
  • $7,990 or $60 per month with no down payment
growth of suburban living
Growth of Suburban Living


1940195019601970 Cities 31.6% 32.3% 32.6% 32.0% Burbs 19.5% 23.8% 30.7% 41.6% Rural 48.9% 43.9% 36.7% 26.4%

U. S. Bureau of the Census.

the government fosters growth
The Government Fosters Growth
  • FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATION – provided low interest loans
  • The Eisenhower Interstate Highway System – 1956
  • Developed for military preparedness and economic development
    • Rise of trucking over rr in the US
car culture and shopping malls
Car Culture and Shopping Malls
  • 26,000,000 to 60,000,000 car owners from 1945-1960
    • Newest technology – power steering, brakes, automatic transmission
    • Designed cars with lots of chrome to remind people of jet planes
      • Futuristic
      • Drive in theaters
  • Without cities, new shopping and entertainment patterns emerged
    • Fast food, drive-in movies
the birth of franchises
The Birth of Franchises
  • Ray Kroc – McD’s
  • Kemmons Wilson – Holiday Inn
    • Quality and sameness
    • Critique – all US lives in same homes, listens to same music, drives same cars, etc…
      • Conformity?
  • Autos, highways, and middle classspending money (leisure time) lead to hotels and vacations
    • Death of Route 66, Mom & Pop Motels and restaurants
    • Disneyland
the dawning of the sunbelt
The Dawning of the Sunbelt
  • SUNBELT – name given to the southern and western states
    • Explosion of aerospace, electronics, and petrochemical industries boomed
    • Birth of air conditioning made TX, CA, AZ, NM, etc…pleasant
    • Mid-1960s CA passes NY as largest US state
      • Political shift…
the post industrial society
The Post-Industrial Society
  • SERVICE SECTOR – businesses that provide services, like healthcare, law, retail, banking, or insurance
    • Farmers disappear
  • Birth of computers
  • Women start to work (often part time) to keep middle class status

Computers Mark I (1944). First IBM mainframe computer (1951)

a changing workplace
A Changing Workplace

Automation & Corporate Consolidation:

*1947-1957  factory workers decreased by 4.3%, lost 1.5 mil. blue-collar jobs.

*By 1956 more white-collar than blue-collar jobs in U.S.

*By 1960  600 corporations (1/2% of all U. S. companies) accounted for53% of total corporate income!!!

the multinationals
The Multinationals
  • US businesses began to sell their products globally (Marshall Plan)
  • US businesses synonymous with “American”
    • GM, GE, IBM, Coke, Pepsi, etc
a political split
A Political Split
  • Blue collared workers support Democrats
    • Less educated, poorer, minorities
  • White collared workers support Republicans
    • More educated, wealthier
blue collar issues
Blue Collar Issues
  • Blue collar workers couldn’t keep up wit post-war inflation – Strikes!
    • Congress passes TAFT-HARTLEY ACT – outlaws a closed shop – a workplace in which only union members can be hired
  • 1955 – AFL-CIO form a massive union
    • Became associate with Democratic Party (the tail that wags the dog)
minorities after the war
Minorities after the War
  • African Americans
    • Executive Order 9981 integrated military – 1948
    • 1954 – Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, KS integrates schools
  • Hispanic Veterans
    • Felix Longoria Affair
    • 1st Non-white buried at Arlington after denied burial in Texas
politics of the 1950 s 1948 presidential election
Politics of the 1950’s:1948 Presidential Election
  • Truman not popular even with Democrats
    • Expansion of Communism aboard & at home
    • Support of Civil Rights Legislation angered the South
    • Soaring inflation
  • Republican Thomas Dewey sure to win...
truman s 2 nd term
Truman’s 2nd Term
  • THE FAIR DEAL – tried to create National Health Care Program
    • Extension of the New Deal
  • Political Failure
    • Congress wouldn’t pass his reforms
    • Impact of the Korean War
    • Unpopular
  • Truman won’t run in 1952
1952 charting a new course
1952 – Charting A New Course
  • (D) Stevenson vs. (R) Eisenhower
    • Ike so popular Both parties wanted him to run
    • His platform, a “Middle Road”
      • Stop Korean War
      • Cont. popular New Deal
      • Stop growth of gov’t
      • Highway system
      • Invest in sciences
      • Peace and Security
the rise of the vp nixon
The Rise of the VP Nixon
  • Reporters found that Nixon had $18,000 worth of political gifts from supporters
    • At the time it wasn’t legal (lobbyists…)
      • Stricter rules today
  • Nixon goes on TV and defends his actions
    • People love it
truman vs eisenhower
Truman vs. Eisenhower

“Containment”[George Kennan]

“Brinksmanship”[John Foster Dulles]

  • Marshall Plan
  • Truman Doctrine
  • Berlin Airlift
  • NATO
  • NSC #68
    • -Global concept of containment & boosting military-industrial complex
  • Korean War
  • Mutual security agreements.
  • Massive retaliation.
  • M. A. D.
  • “Domino Theory”
  • CIA & covert operations
  • Eisenhower Doctrine
  • “$ Diplomacy” – Part II
  • Warned of Military-Industrial Complex