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Truman and Eisenhower on the Homefront. Chapter 20, Section 1 March 9, 2011. The GI Bill. As the war came to an end, the U.S. looks for ways to help its servicemen returning home.

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truman and eisenhower on the homefront

Truman and Eisenhower on the Homefront

Chapter 20, Section 1

March 9, 2011

the gi bill
The GI Bill
  • As the war came to an end, the U.S. looks for ways to help its servicemen returning home.
  • The GI BILL (aka the SERVICEMEN’S READJUSTMENT ACT) provides low interest loans to veterans – helps them buy houses, start businesses, and go to college.
taft hartley act
Taft-Hartley Act
  • Although the economy is getting better, there are still problems. Strikes and inflation happen after the war.
  • The TAFT-HARTLEY ACT sets unions back by getting rid of :
    • Closed shops (businesses that only hired union workers)

Truman VETOED it, but a Republican congress overrides the veto.

Seen as a response to the Wagner Act

truman s domestic agenda
Truman’s Domestic Agenda
  • President Truman wanted to do a number of things to help the country when he became president. These included:
    • Expansion of social security
    • Raising the minimum wage
    • National health insurance

Congress won’t pass most of these things – Truman calls them the “DO-NOTHING CONGRESS”

election of 1948
  • Many Southerners got angry when Truman proposed a Civil Rights Bill.
  • In the Election of 1948, Southern Democrats start the States’ Rights (or DIXIECRAT) party.
  • Sen. STROM THURMOND of SC leads the party.
  • Henry Wallace runs on the Progressive Party ticket.
  • Although they wouldn’t win, this looked as if it would split the vote and let the Republican win.
  • Truman defeats THOMAS DEWEY narrowly to win the election.
fair deal
  • Truman coins his ideas as the FAIR DEAL.
    • Congress does raise the minimum wage and expands Social Security.
    • They do not provide national health insurance or pass Truman’s civil rights legislation.
the checkers speech
The “Checkers” Speech
  • In the Election of 1952, Eisenhower is almost derailed when his VP candidate, Richard Nixon, is accused of taking illegal gifts.
  • Just before Ike drops him from the ticket, Nixon goes on TV and says he had never taken any gifts except for a puppy named “Checkers.” The American people think puppies are really cute, so they let him slide.
nixon and checkers
Nixon and “Checkers”

The gift] was a little cocker spaniel dog . . Checkers . . .and, you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog, and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say abut it, we're going to keep it."The Checkers Speech" - 1952

The gift] was a little cocker spaniel dog . . Checkers . . .and, you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog, and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we're going to keep it."The Checkers Speech" - 1952

dynamic conservatism
“Dynamic Conservatism”
  • Although Eisenhower was a conservative, he enacted many activist policies. This blending of the two ideas becomes known as “dynamic conservatism.”
  • Ike calls for the FEDERAL HIGHWAY ACT. This helps construct 40,000 miles of interstate highway which cost $25 billion.

Eisenhower wins again easily in 1956.


“And they’re all made out of ticky-tack, and they all look just the same…”: Prosperity, Conformity and Security in the 1950s

Chapter 20, Section 2 & 3

life for americans in the 1950s
Life for Americans in the 1950s
  • In the 1950s, the nation has seen a decade of economic depression and a decade of war. After this, society is characterized by THREE THINGS:
    • PROSPERITY – economic well-being
    • CONFORMITY – Being like everyone else
      • David Riesman’s book The Lonely Crowd discusses how Americans want to be just like their neighbors in the 1950s
    • SECURITY – Feeling safe (from econ. Depression, war, and Communism)
reasons for prosperity
Reasons for Prosperity
  • There are a couple of major reasons for prosperity after the war:
    • Machines meant less people had to work on farms and factories. More people had WHITE-COLLAR jobs (sales and management) than BLUE COLLAR jobs (labor in factories).
    • The GI Bill allows people to buy houses, and start businesses – this allows people to have stuff that they couldn’t have imagined before the war
baby boom
  • After the war, couples reunite and want to start families. This leads to the BABY BOOM – a period of time from 1945 to 1961 when birth rates were at an all time high. Reasons included:
    • Couples “missed each other” during the war
    • The GI bill allowed people to have jobs and homes where they could raise kids
    • Popular culture glorified the idea of “happy families”
  • Because of the GI Bill, many soldiers could afford MORTGAGES.
  • This leads to LEVITTOWNS – huge neighborhoods in the SUBURBS with houses made out of pre-cut and easily assembled materials.
  • All the houses looked alike, but they could be build and sold cheaply.
  • Businesses began FRANCHISES – where a person owns several businesses in different places that are just alike.
    • In 1951, Kemmons Wilson started the HOLIDAY INN motel chain – all of the hotels were the same.
    • In the 1950s, Ray A. Kroc buys a burger restaurant and builds a nationwide chain. At McDONALD’S, you can get the same burger in California as you could in Virginia.
the power of tv
The Power of TV…
  • In 1946, the U.S. has 7,000 TV sets – by 1957, there were over 40,000,000.
  • TV shows promote CONFORMITY – Leave it to Beaver, I Love Lucy, and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet show happy families playing out traditional gender roles.
  • TV also allows for more ADVERTISING – which encourages people to buy new stuff.
scientific breakthroughs
  • In the world of medicine, Dr. Jonas Salk creates a vaccine for POLIO (FDR’s disease). This helps end nationwide polio epidemics.
  • In space, the U.S. has launched its own satellite by January 1958 to keep up with the Soviets.
pros and cons of 1950s life
PROS and CONS of 1950s life
  • PROS: On one hand, people were able to live BETTER than ever before. People had nicer stuff and more of it. The standard of living had increased for many Americans.
  • CONS: On the other hand, many Americans put less emphasis on individualism and independence. People are encouraged to look, act and think just like everyone else. Also, times become harder for those left out of this prosperity.
who gets left out
Who Gets Left Out?
  • Some people did not share the prosperity of the 1950s…
    • People in the inner cities – When people move to the suburbs, the life of those left in the cities begins to decline. High-rise housing projects lead to violence and crime.
    • African Americans – Despite moving to cities, many African Americans could not find higher paying jobs. They still faced a great deal of discrimination – even in the north.
Native Americans – With the TERMINATION POLICY, the government makes them subject to the same laws as white citizens. They also try to move NAs to big cities.
  • Non-conformists – People who did not fit the Beaver stereotype were often seen as outcasts or “juvenile delinquents.”
    • “Beat” poets like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac criticize the CONFORMIST culture in America.
    • Movies like Rebel Without a Cause brings attention to the “generation gap” between parents and their children.