1950’s

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1950’s

  1. 1. 1950’s
  2. 2. Presidential Election of 1952 • Republicans – Dwight D. Eisenhower – – – Turned down bid in 1948 Concerned isolationists might regain the White House VP – Richard Nixon • • Democrats – Adlai Stevenson – • • • The “Checkers speech” Governor of Illinois Truman very unpopular, cabinet members facing bribe charges, Democrat in charge for 20 years “I like Ike” Landslide victory for Eisenhower – – 55% to 44% EC – 442 to 89
  3. 3. Eisenhower Presidency • Cabinet acted as a true advisory board – • Cabinet members could easily take over day-to-day operations – • – Small government, reduce taxes, end government regulation of business (Tennessee Valley Authority “creeping socialism”) Health insurance program, domestic affairs The Bricker Amendment – – – • Suffered a heart attack and a stroke while in office Moderate approach – • Full-time secretary, an agenda, regularly kept meeting minutes Intended to limit the power of the President Would require Senate ratification of all agreements made by the President with other nations Bill defeated by a single vote 2 new states during his presidency
  4. 4. Business, Labor, and Farms • Big business booms – – – • 1955 – AFL and CIO unions merge to create the AFL-CIO – • Tons of mergers in the 1950s Nation’s 100 largest companies controlled 30 % of all industrial production General Motors, AT&T had annual budgets larger than many countries The merger increased the strength of organized labor and made it easier for workers to form local unions Farmers’ share of the national income dropped from 9% to 4% from 1948-1956 – – – Eisenhower reluctant to guarantee farmers set prices Hurt small farms, agribusinesses (large-scale farms) take over by 1959 half of U.S. farmland belonged to 4% of the farmers
  5. 5. Presidential Election of 1956 • • • • Exactly the same as 1952 Republicans – Dwight D. Eisenhower Democrats – Adlai Stevenson Even more of a landslide than 1952 – – 57% to 42% EC – 457 to 73
  6. 6. An Economy of Abundance • Post WWII – economy gets rolling – • • “Economy of scarcity” – productivity limited by a lack of resources and overpopulation “Economy of abundance” – new technology led to endless variety and amounts of goods and services – • Highest standard of living in the history of the world Americans produced more than we could use – – – • Video Wealth distributed throughout the population 1920s – wealthiest 5% received 35% of the country’s income 1960 – this group received only 18% Americans bought automobiles, household appliances, and other luxuries
  7. 7. Technological and Scientific Progress • Factories and industries began using automation – operating a production system using mechanical or electronic devices – • Computers emerge – – • Goods produced more efficiently and quickly than ever before Took over bookkeeping functions such as billing and inventory Guide satellites, forecast weather, identify fingerprints 1955 – Dr. Jonas Salk develops a vaccine for polio – – Within a year polio is nearly wiped out By 1960 – pneumonia, tuberculosis, diphtheria all nearly eliminated
  8. 8. Move to the Suburbs • • Reliance on automobiles meant people didn’t have to live in the city anymore Levittown – endless housing development created right outside the city – – – – • • • William Levitt – father of modern American suburbia Planned communities – assembly line houses $8,000 to $12,000 Monthly payments of $57 – even low by 1950 standards Shopping centers emerge in the suburbs along with businesses and factories Highway Act of 1956 – 42,000 miles added to the interstate highway 1955 – automobile sales account for 20% of GNP – Car culture
  9. 9. Conformity and Changes in Family Life • • • • “The American Dream” – new house in the suburbs, larger television, newest model of car Everyone alike – young, white, good income, job in service industry The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit pressure on women to return home – • • Post WWII more women dropped out and married young “Baby boom” – 1945 to 1961 – – • Dr. Benjamin Spock – raising children is more important and rewarding than a job More than 65 million children born Record high in 1957, finally broken in 2007 with 4.3 million babies Children given more freedom and an increasing amount of material goods – Critics pointed to the rise in juvenile delinquency
  10. 10. “The Golden Age of Television” • • 1946 – 17,000 sets in homes 1957 – 40 million sets in homes – • • More people owned televisions than refrigerators Industry emerged directly out of radio – • ABC, NBC, and CBS all started as radio companies Beginning with 1952 Election, Republicans and Democrats were pouring millions into television advertising – • 1 for every family Fear that it would help whichever candidate most effectively used television By the late 1950s television had replaced newspapers and radio as the primary source of news

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