Sources of Economic Growth The gross national product grew by 250 percent after the war. government spending continued to stimulate growth through public funding of schools, housing, and welfare. The national birth rates reversed a long pattern of decline with the so-called baby boom. The economy grew nearly ten times as fast as the population in the thirty years after the war and the American people achieved the highest standard of living of any society in the history of the world.
The Rise of the Modern West The West experienced dramatic changes as a result of the new economic growth. Population expanded dramatically; cities boomed; industrial economy flourished. By the 1960s, some parts of the West were among the most important industrial and cultural centers of the nation in their own right. What contributed to this growth were federal spending, military contacts, an increase in automobile use giving a large boost to the petroleum industry, and the climate.
The New Economies The postwar economy became a source of national confidence for two reasons. First was the belief in Keynesian economics made it possible for government to regulate and stabilize the economy without intruding directly into the private sector. The “new economics” finally won official acceptance in 1963 and caused an increase in private demand, which stimulated economic growth and reduced unemployment. By the mid 1950s, reformers concerned about poverty were arguing that the solution lay not in redistribution but in economic growth.
Capital and Labor Over 4,000 corporate mergers took place in the 1950sl and a relatively small number of large scale organizations controlled the nation‟s economic activity. Business leaders made concessions to unions in order to prevent strikes from interfering with growth. Bay the 1950s, large labor unions had developed a new kind of relationship with employers known as the “post-war contract” Workers in large unionized industries received increases in wages and in return the union agreed to refrain from raising other issues. The success led to the reunification of the labor movement with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merging to create the AFL-CIO.
Medical Breakthroughs The development of antibiotics proved that virulent bacterial infections could be defeated by other more ordinary bacteria. Alexander Fleming, an English medical researcher, accidentally discovered the antibacterial properties of a organism he named Penicillin. In 1954, the American scientist Jonas Salk introduced an effective vaccine against Polio. As a result of medical advances, infant mortality and death rate declined significantly after the war.
Pesticides Scientists were developing new kinds of chemical pesticides in order to protect crops from destruction by insects and protect from the diseases they carry. The most famous of the new pesticides was dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, generally known as DDT, discovered by Paul Muller.
Postwar Electronic Research Researchers in the 1940s produced the first commercially viable televisions and created technology that made it possible to broadcast programming over large areas. In 1948, Bell Labs, the research arm of AT&T produced the first transistor capable of amplifying electric signals. Integrated circuits combined a number of once- separate electronic elements and embedded them into a single microscopically small device.
Postwar Computer Technology The first significant computer of the 1950s was the Universal Automatic Computer (UNITVAC) by the Remington Rand Company. It was the first computer able to handle both alphabetical and numerical information easily. It used tape storage and could perform calculations and other functions much faster than its predecessor the ENIAC. In the mid-1950s, the International Business Machines Company (IBM) introduced its first major data-processing computers and began to find a wide market for them among businesses.
Bombs, Rockets, and Missiles In 1952, the United States successfully detonated the first hydrogen bomb which derives its power from fusion (the joining of lighter atomic elements with heavier ones). The development of the hydrogen bomb put back on track efforts by the U.S. and Soviet Union to develop unmanned rockets and missiles. Both the American and Soviet leaders were struggling to build longer range missiles that could cross oceans and continents. By 1958, scientists had created solid fuel to replace the volatile liquid fuels of early missiles; and also produced miniaturized guidance systems. Within a few years, a new generation of missile, known as the Minuteman, with a range of several thousand miles, became the basis of the American atomic weapons arsenal.
The Space Program The origins of the American space program can be traced to when the Soviet Union in 1957 announced it had launched an earth-orbiting satellite –sputnik –into outer space. Federal policy began encouraging and funding strenuous efforts to improve scientific education in schools and speed the development of America‟s own space exploration. The centerpiece of space exploration became the manned space program established in 1958 through the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA‟s initial efforts, the Mercury and Gemini program, gave way to the Apollo program that allowed astronauts such as Neil Armstrong to on July 20, 1969 land on the moon. The enthusiasm for the program waned afterwards, with focus instead begin given to the development of the “space shuttle”.
The Consumer Culture At the center of middle-class culture in the 1950s was a growing absorption with consumer goods. It came as a result of increased prosperity, increasing variety, availability of products, and advertisers‟ adeptness in creating a demand for products. It was also the result of the growth of consumer credit with increased between 1945 and 1857 with the development of credit cards. The 1950s were notable for the rapid spread of great national consumer crazes such as the Hula Hoop. The popularity of the Walt Disney-produced children‟s television show The Mickey Mouse Club created a demand for related products and led to the creation of Disneyland.
The Landscape and Automobile Between 1950 and 1980, the nation‟s population increased by 50 percent, but the numbers of automobiles owned by Americans increased by 400 percent. The Federal Highway Act of 1956, which appropriated $25 billion for highway construction, was one of the most important alterations of the national landscape in modern history. The great ribbons of concrete- 40,000 miles- spread across the nation. The effects of the highways Reduced the time to travel Trucking was more convenient Long, steady decline in railroads Travel by automobile a lot faster Encouraged economic activities Creation of fast food restaurants
The Suburban Nation By 1960, a third of the nation‟s population was living in suburbs. Suburbanization was partly a result of important innovations in home-building, which made single-family houses affordable to millions of people. “Levittown” William Levitt Made use of mass-production techniques to construct a large housing development on Long Island Inexpensive Reasons Young couples- often newly married- war veterans GI Bill Enormous importance postwar Americans placed on family life Similar age and background Race
The Suburban Family For professional men, suburban life generally meant a rigid division between their working and personal worlds. For many, middle-class, married women, it meant increased isolation from the workplace. The enormous cultural emphasis on family life in the 1950s straightened the popular prejudice of women entering the workplace.. Dr. Benjamin Spock‟s Baby and Child Care Approach to raising babies was child-centered opposed to parent centered Purpose of mothers: help children to learn and realize full potential
The Birth of Television In 1946, there were only 17,000 sets in the country; by 1957, there were 40 million television sets in use. Three networking company: The National Broadcasting Company, the Columbia Broadcasting Company, and the American Broadcasting Company Early shows:The GE Television Theater, the Chrysler Playhouse, the Camel News Caravan, and others. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Rvxxa66Co4&feature=related
Impact of Television and Shows Impact Rapid, pervasive, and profound Replaced newspapers, magazines, and radios as the nation‟s most important vehicle helped create a vast market for new fashion and products Athletic events Television‟s Homogenizing Message An image or predominantly white, middle-class, and suburban: Ozzie and Harriet and Leave it to Beaver Gritty, urban, working families I Love Lucy The Honeymooners
Travel, Outdoor Recreation, andEnvironmentalism The construction of the interstate highway system contributed dramatically to the growth of travel. So did the increasing affluence of workers, which made it possible for them to buy cars. People who traveled to national parks did so for many reasons- some to hike and camp; some to fish and hunt; some simply to look in awe at the landscape.
Echo Park The federal government‟s Bureau of Reclamation proposed building a dam. In 1950, Bernard DeVoto published an essay titled “Shall We Let Them Ruin Our National Parks.” It created arousing opposition other Echo Valley dam. The Sierra Club revived with David Brower.
Organized Society and ItsDetractors Industrial workers also confronted large bureaucracies, both in the workplace and in their own unions. Consumers discovered the frustration of bureaucracy in dealing with the large national companies from whom they brought goods and services. The American educational system responded: by experimenting with changes in curriculum and philosophy. science, mathematics, and foreign languages The Organization Man (1956) by William H. Whyte Jr.
The Beats and the RestlessCulture of Youth The most caustic critics of bureaucracy and of middle-class society in general, were a group of young poets, writers, and artist generally known as the “beats.” They wrote harsh critiques of what they considered the sterility and conformity of American life, the meaninglessness of American politics, and the banality of popular culture. (On The Road by Jack Kerouac) Blackboard Jungle “Juvenile delinquency” James Dean
Rock „n‟ Roll Black rhythm and blues tradition Appealed to some white youths Sam Phillips American Bandstand African American singers and bands: Chuck Berry, Little Richard, B.B. King, Chubby Checker, and The Temptations “Disk Jockeys” Jukeboxes and 45 rpm format “Payola” Scandal
Elvis Presley One of the most powerful signs of the restiveness of American youth was the enormous popularity of rock „n‟ roll- and of the greatest early rock star, Elvis Presley; Presley became a symbol of a youthful determination to push at the borders of the conventional and acceptable. Most all, the open sexuality of his music and his public performances made him widely popular among you Americans.
Poverty in America Despite the economic expansion, many Americans still lived in poverty. In 1960 more than a fifth of American families were living in poverty. About eighty percent were in “temporary” poverty, which would typically stop once they got a job. Twenty percent lived in permanent poverty, which was debilitating and often offered no hope. Michael Harrington depicted this in his 1962 book, The Other America.
Poverty in Rural and City Life Poverty was rampant in rural life. Farm prices dropped thirty three percent despite the fifty percent increase in national income. About ten percent of the farm population had moved into or been absorbed by cities. Rural poverty was especially hard for migrant farm workers. Inner cities became ghettos. These cities grew mostly because of the huge migration of African Americans to industrial cities. Between 1940 and 1960 more than three million African Americans moved into northern cities from the south. Similar migrations happened from Mexico and Puerto Rico. These cities remained poor, though there is some debate as to why. The response to this was “Urban Renewal” which tore down buildings than gave families new homes and built new public structures.
Brown v. Board of Education ofTopeka and Desegregation Civil rights became stronger. This is shown in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in which the Supreme Court overruled its decision on the Plessy v. Ferguson case. The case also involved school segregation. The court ruled that it was wrong to have segregation in schools, and overturned “separate but equal”. There was strong opposition to this and many people tried to overturn it or evade the ruling. This became known as “Massive Resistance”. In 1958 the Supreme Court did not rule new student placement rules, which were used to enforce segregation, unconstitutional. Central High School in Little Rock displayed this extreme opposition. When they received orders to desegregate, an angry white mob formed outside the school. Eisenhower was forced to send troops in to restore order.
The Growing Movement On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give her seat up to a white passenger on a Montgomery bus. She was arrested it. She became the symbol of a bus strike. The bus strike forced the Supreme Court to rule that segregation on public transportation is illegal, in 1956. Martin Luther King became the new leader of the movement with a message of love and calmness. He told people to remain calm when they were arrested as well. Eisenhower had integrated the military and in 1957 he signed a civil rights act offering protection for African Americans who wanted to vote.
Causes The legacy of African American fighters in World War II, radio and media, and higher education led to the growth of the Civil Rights movements.
Eisenhower‟s Presidency Eisenhower had a strong tie to business, and modified his practices and cabinet around it. Though he was strongly tied to business, he wanted to ensure federal welfare. He most notably created the Federal Highway Act, which was the largest public works project in American history.
The Decline of McCarthy Senator Joseph McCarthy initially had a lot of power because of his anticommunist stance. His decline came when he attacked the secretary of army, Robert Stevens. The questionings were televised, and because McCarthy was so cruel he lost all public support. The senate voted to remove him. He died three years later.
Massive Retaliation Eisenhower‟s Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was incredibly anticommunist and wanted to stop communist expansion through the process of “massive retaliation”, which was the use of nuclear weaponry. The motivation was partially economic because many people thought nuclear warfare would be cheaper than traditional weaponry.
International Crises Frances fall in Dien Bien Phu further pushed France out of Vietnam, and pulled America towards it. America‟s alliance with Israel caused strife with the Middle East. The CIA and Iranian military leaders worked to elevate the Shah, Muhammad Reza Pahlevi to a high position. He ruled closely to the United States. America had less luck with Egypt. Dulles withdrew American aid when Egypt formed a trade alliance with the Soviet Union. When Israel attacked Egypt Eisenhower encouraged a truce for fear of another world war.
International Crises (cont.) In1954 Eisenhower tried to stop Jacobo Arbenz Guzman‟s government in Guatemala because he considered it Communist. America also stopped relations with Cuba, under its new leader Fidel Castro. Cuba then aligned itself with the Soviet Union. The Hungarian Revolution further embittered relations with the Soviet Union. In 1958 the new Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev demanded that NATO released West Berlin, when they refused he suggested that Eisenhower and himself have three meetings one in each country and one in Paris. After Khrushchev‟s American visit, the Soviet Union shot down an American U-2 (high altitude spy plane). Khrushchev lashed out and ended the Paris conference in addition to resending his invitation to Eisenhower.