America in the 1950’s
Students will examine the domestic
and international impact the Cold War
had upon U.S. growth from the
Policy of Containment- established under President
Truman in 1947 the U.S. would try to contain
communism around the world. (give money, military aid
to fight communism)
Marshall Plan- U.S. policy proposed by Secretary of State
Marshall gives economic aid to 16 nations.
1. Reason- provide aid to keep communist rebels
from taking over, establish democracies in Western
2. The money given is used to buy American goods
from American companies, stimulated our
Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD)- policy preached by
both the U.S. and Soviet Union not to fight a direct war
Iron by the Soviet Union after
ThedominatedCurtain Falls WWII,
Stalin installs communist governments.
1. Iron Curtain- All the countries under communist
control no longer have economic and social ties with
“Western Capitalist” nations.
Berlin Airlift- In an effort to cut off West Berlin, Stalin orders
the closing of all highways and railroads into the city.
1. Airlift- From 1948-1949 U.S. and Great Britain fly in
tons of medical and food supplies to maintain the city
2. Blockade lifted- Stalin order the lift in 1949
3. East/West- Two separate Germany’s formed until
1990 full integration still ongoing
The Cold War: What side are you
Cold War: state of conflict, tension and competition that
existed primarily between the United States and Soviet
Union and their allies, from the mid-1940s to the early
NATO- North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed
out of fear of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc.
1. Aim- contain communism
2. Pledge- full cooperation in war
Warsaw Pact- formed by the Soviet Union to counter
China- a civil war between the nationalist forces under
Chiang Kai-shek and Communist forces under the
leadership of Mao Zedong.
1. Nationalist government- corrupt and inefficient
2. Communist Rebels- mainly farmers and poor workers
3. 1945- Communist control North China, U.S. suspends
funds to China due to corruption of government
1. Taiwan- In 1949 the Nationalist flee to the island
and claim they are the legitimate Chinese government
2. American reaction- Blame Truman for not sending
enough aid to stop the spread of communism.
38th Parallel- marks the line of surrender of
Korea by Japan to U.S. and Soviet Forces. Above
to the Soviets below to the U.S.
North Korea Attacks- 1950 the communist north
attacks under the disguise of unifying the
1. U.N. Reacts- the Security Council
approves of military intervention to stop the
2. MacArthur- placed in charge (hero of
3. North Korea- with the surprise they took
control of 90% of the country before the
Korean War cont’d..
Counterattack- MacArthur organizes a brilliant
amphibious assault behind North Korean lines.
1. North Korea- army was destroyed be the
two sided attack
2. Chinese Warning- China warns the U.N.
not to get to close to their border or risk
attack, MacArthur ignores it.
3. China attacks- Hundreds of thousands of
Chinese troops swarm the border and push
back the U.N. armies to the 38th parallel.
End of the Korean War
MacArthur vs. Truman- MacArthur calls for the
bombing and invasion of China by the U.N.
1. Truman reacts- tells MacArthur to stop making
public statements, MacArthur ignores them.
2. Fired- Truman recalls MacArthur for
insubordination but receives a hero’s welcome
from the American people.
3. Consequence- Truman wanted a larger war
but the Soviet Union warned that attacking
China would result in them entering the war.
4. Armistice- 1953 both sides agree to a cease of
5. Republicans- happy over the outcome they
label Democrat Truman “soft on communism”
The Communist Scare
House Un-American Activities Committee- was
established to find communists.
1. Investigations- looked into government
officials, actors, athletes, writers, directors, Boy
Scouts and Hollywood for Communists activities.
2. Refusal- anyone refusing to testify or show
up was blacklisted in Hollywood and labeled a
1. Alger Hiss- a member of the State Department
is found guilty of perjury and accused of being
a communist spy, sent to prison.
McCarran Internal Security Act 1950- passed by
Congress out of fear
1. Made it illegal to support a totalitarian
2. restricted the employment and travel of
people supporting Communist organizations
3. authorized the creation of detention camps for
Cause- Soviet Union tested it’s first Atomic Bomb in
1949, many Americans are convinced that spies
have given our secrets to the Soviets.
1. Physicist Klaus Fuchs- admits giving
information about U.S. bomb to the Soviets.
2. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg- An FBI
investigation leads to this couple as the head of
a communist spy ring.
3. Rosenberg’s- members of the American
communist party are convicted and sentenced
to death for treason.
4. Anti-Communist Hysteria- Civil rights groups
wonder if these feeling were the real reason
behind the conviction and execution of the
Senator McCarthy- used the fear of Communism in his re-
election campaign, said there were hundreds of spies.
McCarthyism- accusing Americans of being Communist
without evidence (ruined their lives).
1. Fear- he used unsupported accusations about
Communist in the government to gain media support
and attack the Truman administration
2. Americans- at first loved his antics, especially since
they were pointed toward the wealthy in the country.
3. Politicians- most were disgusted by his accusations,
Republicans did not stop it since it was aimed at
End of McCarthyism
McCarthy vs. Army- In 1954 McCarthy went
after members of the Army in a live televised
1. Exposed- McCarthy is exposed as a
cruel man who bullied people
2. Destroyed- “Mr. McCarthy have you
no shame?” with that one sentence the
communist hysteria is broken in America
and McCarthy’s career is destroyed
President Dwight Eisenhower
Eisenhower- seen by the American public as honest
and full of integrity. “I Like Ike”
1. Domestic Policy- maintained many of the
New Deal programs but focused on balancing
2. Civil Rights- tried to avoid it as it gains
strength during the 1950’s
3. American Middle Class- this is the golden
age of White suburbia
Eisenhower and the Cold War
Dulles Diplomacy- Dulles was Secretary of State
under Eisenhower he develops brinkmanship
1. Brinkmanship- be willing to threaten nuclear
war with the Soviets in order to stop the
spread of communism.
2. “Bang for the Buck”- Dulles advocated a huge
Air Force and huge arsenal of nuclear weapons
3. Hydrogen Bomb- better than the old A-bomb,
U.S. tests one in 1953, Soviets in 1954.
Cold War and Asia
Asia- The U.S. and Soviet Union look to expand their
1. Vietnam- In 1954 this country is divided into
North Vietnam (communist) and South Vietnam
2. Domino Theory- U.S. justifies spending billions
to support anti-communist governments by
saying if they fall then one nation after another
will fall until there are no more non-communist
The Cold War: Goes into deep
Hungarian Revolt- In 1956 anti-communist successfully
overthrow the communist government.
1. Liberals- take over the government and want to pull
the country out of the Warsaw Pact.
2. Khrushchev- New Soviet leaders sends in tanks to
crush the revolt and reestablish a communist
3. Eisenhower- does not send in any troops to help the
revolutionaries, recognizes their control over Eastern
4. Fear- Eisenhower believes that sending in U.S. troops
would lead to another war, not worth it in the grand
Communism in Cuba
Fidel Castro- leads a successful revolution in Cuba in 1959 to
overthrow the corrupt dictator Batista, with his second in
command Che Guevara.
Politics- Batista was America’s guy he turned Cuba into a
playground for the rich and criminals, legalized prostitution
1. Castro- establishes a communist government in Cuba,
catches the U.S. off guard.
2. Nationalization- Castro nationalizes all foreign
companies in Cuba enraging the U.S. and Western
3. Eisenhower retaliates- Cuts off trade with Cuba.
Authorizes the training of anticommunist exiles to
4. Castro reacts- Draws close to the Soviet Union, signs a
treaty of friendship with Khrushchev
Space Race Begins
Sputnik- 1957 the Soviet Union shocks the
United States by sending into orbit the first
satellites in history.
1. Education- schools blamed for not
producing better engineers and scientist,
shift in education to math and science to
2. Fear- the same missiles that launched
Sputnik could be used to launch nuclear
weapons against the U.S.
3. Money- billions spent on the U.S. space
Baby Boomers 1945–1965: baby boom; soaring birth
rate after soldiers return they will be the generation
that changes the world.
Women- they begin to feel restless during this time
because American culture reaffirmed their status as
second class citizens.
1. Education- women going to college are
very restless about their status , enter the
workforce but are severely underpaid and
Suburbia becomes “The American Dream”
Suburbs- people come home and live in these cookie cutter
homes and enjoy their lives.
Interstate Highway Act- Eisenhower gets Congress to pay for
a Federal Highway system, Defense.
1. Connections- suburbs, cities, schools, shops are now
all connected. People begin to move out further from
2. Cars- gas is cheap and plentiful, no public
transportation in the suburbs people need cars.
3. Problems and Businesses- Traffic Jams, Commutes,
Accidents, Pollution, Drive-Ins, Fast Food restaurants all
cater to the car culture of Suburbia
America’s Cities Suffer
White Flight- Urban whites flee to the suburbs and
take their jobs and taxes with them, leave poorer
whites and minorities in cities
Urban Collapse- Most major cities can not maintain
their schools, roads, etc. Poverty grows rapidly as
income in cities declines
Projects- Cities begin an urban renewal by building
new urban “suburban” cities for their low income
residents, homes destroyed.
Popular Culture- Television, advertising and the
middle class all contribute to the growth of
Television- suddenly becomes the center of the
family replacing the Radio in American homes.
1. Programs- comedies (“I Love Lucy”), quiz
shows, news, dramas, soap operas, variety
shows, Westerns (“Gunsmoke”)
2. Stereotypes- Women and minorities shown in
stereotypical fashions, very few on T.V.
New Corporations and Advertising
Conglomerates- new American corporations that own
diverse, unrelated companies.
1. Fortune 500- Americans want to work for one of
these top corporations
2. White collar vs. Blue collar- more Americans are
working in corporations than factories for the first time
3. Uniformity- Americans want to work for this so they
can afford the new home, car, good schools and
vacations (American Dream)
Advertising- name brands become phenomenon’s Coca-
Cola, Marlboro Man, McDonald’s, Hershey’s.
1. Gets people to buy things they don’t need
Consumerism- (buying material goods) equated
with success, numerous new products appear on
market in response to demand
1.Planned obsolescence- Corporations begin
making products that get outdated and wear
out, makes consumers buy or want to buy new
2. Credit- installment plans, credit cards, credit
all begin to reappear
Civil Rights Movement Begins
Jackie Robinson- breaking the color barrier in
baseball in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers was the
first chink in the armor of segregation.
Truman- 1948 integrates the Armed Forces, no
more segregation, second chink in the armor.
Movement- African-Americans from urban centers
demand better educational opportunities, voting
rights and racial equality.
Cold War- America was competing with the Soviet
Union claiming freedom and democracy, so racial
segregation and discrimination stood out on the
Civil Rights in the 1950’s
Brown vs. Board of Education 1954- argued by
Thurgood Marshall that segregation violated the 14th
Amendment “equal protection under the laws”,
Supreme Court unanimously agrees with Marshall.
1. Chief Justice Earl Warren- states that
“separate facilities are inherently unequal” and
segregation should end with “all due haste”
2. Southern Reaction- Fought the ruling with a
variety of methods, public school closings,
3. Eisenhower- did not agree with the ruling but
upheld his position in office and used federal
troops to protect the rights of African Americans
in the south
Civil Rights cont’d...
Little Rock Nine- were a group of students who were the first
to integrate a white only school in the south.
1. Federal troops- Eisenhower sends in troops to escort
the nine to school everyday.
Montgomery Bus Boycott- In 1955 Rosa Parks refuses to
leave her seat and move to the back. Parks is arrested for
violating the segregation laws of the state.
1. Martin Luther King Jr.- leads the boycott of the
Montgomery bus system for a year, ends when the
system is financially bankrupt
2. Supreme Court- Rules in favor of Parks and strikes
down all rules against segregation in 1956
Nonviolent Protests- peaceful demonstrations against
segregation and oppression in the south.
1. Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)- led
by Martin Luther King it organized ministers and
churches in the south behind the Civil Rights movement.
2. Student Non-Violent Coordinated Committee-
college and high school students would be the foot
soldiers of the movement.
3. Sit-In Tactics- students would sit in segregated
businesses (movies, diners, pools, libraries, hotels,
etc..) and get arrested to bring attention to continued
segregated practices in the South.
4. Legacy- these groups would be the leaders of the Civil
Rights Movement of the 1960’s…
Rock n’ Roll
Black musicians add electric instruments to blues—
rhythm and blues
Rock ‘n’ roll- mix of rhythm and blues, country, pop
1. Has heavy rhythm, simple melodies, lyrics
about teenage concerns
2. Music appeals to newly affluent white teens
who can buy records
3.Many adults concerned music will lead to
4. Artists- Little Richard, Chubby Checker, Elvis
Pressley, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, Richie