THE ADVENT of EISENHOWER Explain how conditions favored the Republicans in the presidential election of 1952. Democrats nominated a reluctant Adlai Stevenson, the governor of Illinois. Republicans nominated Gen. Dwight Eisenhower on the first ballot. Why was Eisenhower the “perfect” candidate? To balance the ticket, Sen. Richard Nixon from California was selected as Eisenhower’s running mate.
Why was Nixon the ideal running mate for Eisenhower? Explain the eventssurrounding the “Checkers” speech and its political significance.
The outcome of the election was never in doubt. Motivated by Eisenhower’s last-minutepromise to go personally to Korea to end the war, the voters massively declared for “Ike.”
True to his campaign pledge, president-elect Eisenhower undertook a three-day visit toKorea in Dec. 1952.
But even a charismatic “Ike” could not jumpstart peace negotiations. What threat issuedby Eisenhower precipitated a truce seven months later? Was the Korean War a ColdWar victory, or loss? Explain.
“IKE” TAKES COMMANDIn Dwight Eisenhower, the man and the hour met. Americans yearned for a period of calmin which they could pursue without distraction the new visions of consumerism. AfterWWII, the Cold War began abroad, and explosive issues of communist subversion and civilrights divided Americans at home. Americans longed for a reassuring leader, and “Ike”seemed ready to give it to them.
One of the first problems with which Eisenhower had to contend was the swellingpopularity of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, the anti-communist “crusader.” How did McCarthycrash into the limelight in 1950? Did McCarthy provide any evidence to support his charges? Initially, how did Republicans in Congress react to McCarthy and his “crusading?” What was Eisenhower’s position on McCarthy? McCarthy flourished in the seething Cold War atmosphere of suspicion and fear. For four years after 1950, “low-blow Joe” proved a master at manipulating the media and playing upon the anxieties of politicians and the public. The careers of countless officials, writers, actors and others were named after being labeled by McCarthy.
McCarthy finally went too far. Explain the series of events. The embattled militarymen fought back in 35 days of televised hearings in 1954. The television spectacleembittered the American public. What was McCarthy’s fate? McCarthy’s legacyincludes representing the dangerous forces of unfairness and fear that a democraticsociety can unleash only at its peril.
DESEGREGATING the SOUTHAmerica counted some 15 million black citizens in 1950, two-thirds of whom still madetheir homes in the South. There they lived bound by a rigid set of antiquated rules knownas Jim Crow laws, that governed all aspects of their existence, from the schoolroom tothe restroom.
Every day of their lives, southern blacks dealt with the bizarre array of separate socialarrangements that kept them insulated from whites, economically inferior, and politicallypowerless.
Where the law proved insufficient to enforce segregation, vigilante violence did the job.A Mississippi mob lynched black 14 year-old Emmett Till in 1955 for allegedly leering at awhite woman.There were token successes in race relations (Jackie Robinson), but overall blacks stillsuffered.
Increasingly, African-Americans refused tosuffer in silence. The war had generated a newmilitancy & restlessness among many membersof the black community.Identify the two early courtroom victorieswon by the NAACP. Who was the NAACP’schief legal counsel?On a chilly day in December 1955, Rosa Parks, acollege educated black seamstress, made historyin Montgomery, Alabama. Describe what shedid, what happened to her, and how the blackcommunity of Montgomery react.
The bus boycott was a smashing success for the black community, serving notice thatblacks would no longer submit meekly to the absurdities and indignities of segregation.
The Montgomery bus boycott alsocatapulted to prominence a young pastorat Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue BaptistChurch, the Reverend Martin Luthur King,Jr.Provide a profile for King. Describe hisstrategy for winning civil rights forAfrican-Americans.
SEEDS of the CIVIL RIGHTS REVOLUTIONIn the 1940’s President Truman was appalled upon hearing about the lynching of black war veterans in1946. In 1948 he ended segregation in federal civil service and ordered “equality of treatment andopportunity” in the armed forces. The military brass initially protested, but the Korean War forcedthe integration of combat units, without the predicted loss of effectiveness.Yet Congress stubbornly resisted passing civil rights legislation, and Dwight Eisenhower showed no realsigns of interest in the racial issue. That left only the judicial branch as an avenue of advancement forcivil rights.
Breaking the path for civil rightsprogress was Chief Justice EarlWarren, an Eisenhower nomination.
How did Eisenhower respond to Warren’s judicial activism?
The unanimous decision of the Warren Court in Brown v. Board of Education ofTopeka, Kansas, in May 1954 was epochal, for it overturned the earlier Courtdecision, Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Explain the landmark ruling.Thus, desegregation, the justices insisted, must go ahead with “all deliberate speed.”
Similar suits to Brown’s on behalf of some200 black plaintiffs in South Carolina,Virginia, Delaware, and Washington D.C. hadbeen filed in a coordinated effort led by theNAACP. They were all merged under Brown’sname.A young attorney, Thurgood Marshall, andother lawyers at the NAACP Legal Defenseand Educational Fund, had worked for yearsto establish the legal framework for theBrown decision.Their cornerstone argument was that raciallyseparate schools violated the Constitution’sequal protection clause.
Describe white southern reaction & compliance. Was the Court ruling an effectiveend to segregation?
CRISIS at LITTLE ROCKWhat was Eisenhower’s reaction to the Court’s Brown v. Board ruling? Explain whyEisenhower was forced to act in September 1957 in Little Rock, Ark. In the sameyear, Congress passed the first Civil Rights Act that set up a permanent Civil RightsCommission to investigate civil rights violations.
Blacks meanwhile continued to take the civil rights movement into their own hands.Martin Luthur King Jr. formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in1957. It aimed to mobilize the vast power of the black churches on behalf of blackrights.More spontaneous was the “sit-in” movement launched on Feb. 1, 1960, by four blackcollege freshmen in Greensboro, North Carolina. Describe this first incident.In April 1960, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee was formed to give morefocus to these efforts.
EISENHOWER REPUBLICANISM at HOME Eisenhower entered the White House in 1953 pledging his administration to a philosophy of “dynamic conservatism” – explain the philosophy. What was Eisenhower’s two primary goals? Was he successful in achieving either of the goals?
Eisenhower responded to illegal Mexicanimmigration with an operation dubbedOperation Wetback – as many as one millionMexicans were rounded up and returned toMexico in 1954.
Eisenhower also sought to cancel thetribal preservation policies of the“Indian New Deal,” in place since 1934.He proposed to “terminate” the tribesas legal entities and to revert to theassimilation goals of the Dawes Act of1887.Most Indians resisted and the policywas abandoned in 1961.
Ike pragmatically concluded that he could not undo two decades of New Deal and FairDeal programs, so he accepted many of them.And surprisingly, he even did the New Deal one better by backing the InterstateHighway Act of 1956, a $27 billion plan to build 42,000 miles of interstate highway.
The new highway construction created construction jobs, spawned commercial development, andgreatly accelerated the suburbanization of America. What were some of the downsides of the act?
A NEW LOOK in FOREIGN POLICYThe Eisenhower Administration repudiated Truman’s “containment” policy – what would bethe new policy? Describe Eisenhower’s strategic strategy – what were its perceivedbenefits?
Explain how Eisenhower’s statedstrategic strategy proved to be a failurein application.
THE VIETNAM NIGHTMARE Europe was secure, thanks to the Marshall Plan, by the early 1950’s, but the Far East was a different story.
Nationalist movements had sought for years to drive the colonial French out ofIndochina. Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh, had personally appealed to Pres. Wilson in1919 to support self-determination in S.E. Asia. Ho Chi Minh increasingly turned tocommunist countries for help against the French. What was the U.S. response?Explain the significance of the Battle of Dienbienphu and the subsequent GenevaConference. What was the purpose of the U.S. establishing SEATO?
MENACES in the MIDDLE EASTIncreasing fears of Soviet penetration into the oil-rich M.E. spurred Washington to takeaction. Explain events in Iran and in Egypt. Events in both countries were driven bynationalism, which Washington construed as movements toward communism. In 1957Eisenhower and Congress proclaimed the Eisenhower Doctrine – what did it state?
ROUND TWO for IKEDespite a heart attack in 1955 and a major operation in 1956, Eisenhower still enjoyedstrong public support. Who was the Democratic nominee? What were the messagesof each party? The election of 1956 was a resounding personal endorsement ofEisenhower.
In fragile health, Eisenhower began hissecond term as a part-time president.A key area for the president was laborlegislation. Congress in 1959 passed theLandrum-Griffin Act. Identify some ofthe key provisions of the legislation.
THE RACE with the SOVIETS into SPACESoviet scientists astounded the world on Oct. 4, 1957 by lofting into orbit Sputnik.What was the impact in the U.S.?
THE CONTINUING COLD WAR The fantastic nuclear arms race continued throughout the 1950’s. Explain the crisis that Soviet leader Kruschev provoked in 1958. A Paris “summit conference” was scheduled for May 1960, but it turned out to be a fiasco. On the eve of the conference, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down deep in the heart of Russia. What was the American response? The conference collapsed before it could get started.
CUBA’S CASTROISM SPELLS COMMUNISMAn ill-timed “goodwill” tour by V.P. Nixon through South America in 1958 turned into afiasco. Latin Americans bitterly resented the U.S. – why? Explain the situation in Cubain 1959. What led to bad relations between Fidel Castro and the U.S.? What werethe major impacts of the Cuban Revolution on the U.S.?
KENNEDY CHALLENGES NIXON for the PRESIDENCY As the presidential election of 1960 approached, V.P. Richard Nixon was the Republican heir apparent. How was he perceived by both opponents & supporters? The Democratic race was a free-for-all, with Massachusetts Sen. John Kennedy prevailing in the primaries. To appease the South, Sen. Majority Leader, Lyndon Johnson, was selected as Kennedy’s running mate.
In the campaign, bigotry showed itssnarling face. How did Republicansattack Kennedy?What was the primary issue ofKennedy’s attack?
Television may well have tipped the scales. If the experts proclaimed that nobody“won” the debates, then why was Kennedy perceived by the American people as“winning” the debates? Why was the impact of television ironic for Nixon?
On election day, Kennedy won by a rather comfortable margin of 303 electoral votes to219, but with the breathtakingly close popular margin of only 118,574. Nixon supportersdemanded a vote recount, but Nixon decided to accept the results. Kennedy became theyoungest man to date and the first Catholic to be elected president. Democrats alsoswept both houses of Congress.
AN OLD GENERAL FADES AWAYPresident Eisenhower continued to enjoy extraordinary popularity to the end. Surprisingly to many,Eisenhower’s second term was as vigorous, or more vigorous, than his first term. And, he consistentlyexhibited his clout despite a Congress that was Democratically controlled for 6 of his eight yearpresidency. In the final analysis, how would his detractors and supporters rate him aspresident?