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1950’s America PowerPoint Presentation
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1950’s America

1950’s America

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1950’s America

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  1. 1950’s America An Affluent Society Consolidation & Conflict

  2. Dwight D. Eisenhower • Seen as political outsider – very little experience • Claim to fame: military career – made Amers. feel safe b/c he was in charge • Domestic policies conservative & major changes were “brought” upon him • Foreign policies extension of opposition to communism • “In those things which deal with people, be liberal, be human…but in those things which deal with people’s money or their economy, or in their form of government, be conservative”

  3. Eisenhower Republicanism • 1stRepub. president in more than 20 years • Cabinet filled w/businessmen & admin focused on business needs again (saw them differently now) • Supported New Deal ideals but tempered them w/cost reductions & fed. gov’t limitations • Upset farmers in cuts to supports • Believed private not federal investments in development (private power comp. against TVA) • Strove for balanced budget (1960 - $1 billion budget surplus)

  4. “Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.” • Reversed bracero program – Operation Wetback – more than 1 million Mexicans sent home by 1954 • Federal Highway Act of 1956 – bigger than any New Deal public works project - $27 billion, 42,000 miles • rr not happy – especially passenger business trains • Cities feel sting of drawn off shoppers for downtown areas • Air quality & energy consumption issues

  5. McCarthyism Continues • With Repub. victory, accusations grew bolder • Polls showed majority of Amers approved crusade • Eisenhower avoided conflict w/him “I will not get in the gutter with that guy” – controlled personnel policy @ St. Dept – banned books • Army-McCarthy hearings – 35 days of public hearings showed his brutality & irresponsibility on TV • Senate formally condemns – “conduct unbecoming a member”

  6. McCarthyism’s legacy • Hurt foreign service – purged numerous Asian specialists from gov’t – could they have given better perspective on Vietnam? • International reputation hurt –fair and open democratic dialogues are going on? • When demanded exec. files Eisenhower successfully denied turning them over so strengthened “executive privilege”

  7. Desegregating America • In 1950: 15 million black Americans (more than 2/3 still living in South) • Jim Crow laws dictate life • Only 20% of eligible citizens registered -fewer than 5% in Deep South(MS & AL) • Emmitt Till (1955) • Robeson & Baker performing in Europe & LA publicized ugliness of segregated America • International pressure for US to live up to reputation • Rosa Parks (1955) – Montgomery bus boycott

  8. Segregation & The Court • Vinson Court (‘46-’53) – working w/in constraints of “Plessy” • Sweatt v Painter- black professional schools were not equal so integrate • Warren Court (‘53-’69) – new leadership in civil rights • Brown v BOE of Topeka, Kansas- (1954) – public school segregation is “inherently unequal” – “with all deliberate speed”

  9. Little Rock • Eisenhower unwilling to publically support Brown decision • OrvalFaubus – Sept ‘57 - Ark. governor – used Nat’l Guard to block 9 black students from Little Rock’s Central HS • Eisenhower couldn’t allow disregard of federal authority – 101st Airborne sent in • The “Lost Year”

  10. Civil Rights Act of 1957 – permanent Civil Rights Commission investigating violations & allowed for federal injunctions to protect voting rights • Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) -1957- Martin Luther King, Jr (involve black churches - best organized institutions allowed to flourish under segregation)

  11. Lunch counter sit-ins – (1960) • Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) • Young movement – frustrated by “stately tactics” of SCLC & “deliberate legalisms” of NAACP • Civil Rights Act of 1960 – federal supervision to guarantee no being denied right to register or vote • Brown ruling being expanded to other public facilities but de facto segregation still in place

  12. Eisenhower’s Second Term • Election of 1956: Eisenhower & Stevenson again • Republican win for White House but neither house in Congress • Criticized for more recreation activities than governing • Slow to move on labor problems (7.5% unemp) • Consolidation of industry and farming to few large corporations • Serious corruption in unions • Gangsterism,strong-arming, fraud –Teamsters/Hoffa • Landrum-Griffin Act (1959)

  13. Science & Technology • Medical – widespread penicillin use – TB, influenza & polio vaccinations • Decline in infant & young child mortality rates • Life expectancy increases to 71

  14. Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane – WW2 godsend becomes household product

  15. Computers • Computers become smaller & more practical business tools • UNIVAC – involved in census data & predicting pres. election (fantastic publicity) • Computer tech. related to space tech • Focus on teaching math & science in effort to compete with Soviet tech. advances • Role of German scientists in designing of missile & rocket tech. • ICBMs (move to solid fuel & micro guidance systems)

  16. Space Program • Sputnik (1957) • NASA (1958) • Gagarin 1st - Shepard 1st American (Mercury Program)

  17. Postwar Baby Boom & Consumerism • Added 50 million babies by end of 1950s (*1957) • toys & baby products, schools, clothes – “youth culture” • Increased power & influence of middle class • People of Plenty – economic abundance of the American character • Increase in consumer credit – credit cards & installment plans • Prosperity was consumer not investment driven

  18. Suburban Life • Easy access loans, tax deductions & new highways all incentives for moving • By 1960 - 25% suburban living • Levittown & tract developments • White flight by homeowners & businesses • Birth of “the mall” • Perceived homogeneity but diverse • Ethnically, socioeconomically, occupationally • lower-middle class & affluent suburbs

  19. Supported emphasis on family life • Assumption/expectation: women only worked if they had to (unmanly to have you wife working and unmotherly to do so) • Dr. Benjamin Spock – Baby and Child Care – parenting all about putting baby first – moms’ needs (physically/emotionally) not a factor • Conflicted with consumer reality of increasingly needing 2nd income (by 1960, 1/3 married women worked outside home) • Creates conditions (some workers, some community involved, some frustrated) for women’s rights movement of 1960s

  20. Car Culture • Necessity of suburban lifestyle & status symbol • Drive-ins, drive-thrus • Motel industry • Fast food + drive-in + franchise = McDonald’s • McDonaldization of America begins

  21. Television • Revolution in electronics inspired by transistor made availability a reality • Sponsorship key to content decision making • added to sense of conformity (white, middle class, suburban, gender roles) • Conflicting images (Honeymooners, Amos N Andy, I Love Lucy) portrayed as nonthreatening • Excludes real social issues & controversies taking place during era – heightens social strain around these issues by not including them

  22. Youth Culture • Beatniks – highly critical of mainstream society’s promise of fulfillment • Jack Kerouac – On the Road • Allen Ginsberg - Howl • To greater extent - solidified angst-ridden teenager • Law breaking, living fast, sexually driven, anti-authority

  23. Rock &Roll • Grew out of rhythm & blues • Suggestive lyrics created even more controversy • “American Bandstand” help spread moves & sounds- Dick Clark Elvis Little Richard Buddy Holly Bill Haley

  24. Not everyone was happy • Serious concerns over conformity & materialism • The Lonely Crowd • The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit • The Catcher in the Rye • About 20% of nation in constant state of poverty • Rural population shrinking & many of those in agriculture economically vulnerable • Concern over urban decay

  25. Foreign Policy • John Foster Dulles – Sect. of St – believed containment was weak • Promised policy of “boldness” • Focus on air fleet of nuclear superbombers – cut budget but increase warheads • Strategic Air Command (SAC) • “Massive retaliation” if communists over step • “Brinkmanship” – art of bringing us to brink of war as policy of winning w/out engaging • Created alliances w/non-comms (SEATO, CENTO)

  26. Hot Spots – Far East • Korean armistice (1953) • Vietnam- • Nationalism v colonialism • Dien Bien Phu (calls for a “show of boldness” from Dulles, Nixon & Joint Chiefs) but Ike balks & it falls • Geneva Accords • Ho Chi Minh/Vietminh & Ngo Dinh Diem

  27. Hot Spots – Middle East • Israel relationship • Iran (1953) - Mohammed Mossadegh – Reza Pahlevi • Egypt (1956) – Gamal Abdel Nasser (OPEC 1960) • Eisenhower Doctrine (1957) • Lebanon (1958) – Christians & Muslims

  28. Hot Spots - Europe • Nikita Khrushchev –”secret speech” (1956) • Hungarian Revolt (1956) • Conflict over “Open skies” –mutual inspection • “Berlin Crisis” (1958) • “Kitchen Debate” w/Nixon (1959) • Plans for Camp David meeting • Paris Summit fiasco • U2 spy plane (1960) Francis Gary Powers

  29. Hot Spots – Latin America • No more Good Neighbor Policy • Guatemala (1954) – United Fruit Company • Cuba (1959) Fulgencio Batista – Fidel Castro

  30. CIA – Allen Dulles – very active extension of foreign policy – The Good Shepherd • Threats not always clearly “communist” in nature – sometimes nationalism was the danger • “Both sides increasingly saw local conflicts in global terms, political conflicts in moral terms, and relative differences as absolute differences”

  31. End of the Era • Election of 1960 – Nixon/Henry Cabot Lodge (Repub) & Kennedy/Lyndon Johnson (Dem) • Amer. influence abroad waning & econ struggling • Dems represented a “New Frontier” highlighted by new innovation – tv debate • JFK’s win – closest since 1888 • Not a mandate!

  32. Eisenhower’s farewell speech warns against “military industrial complex” • Legacy: solidified New Deal hold as a reality • Did little to address social problems of civil rights, urban struggles, poverty, energy • Foreign policy: empowered CIA, wavering of US role in world policy