In 1944, in anticipation of the return of millions of servicemen and servicewomen, Congress passed the G.I. Bill. What did the Bill provide?
The G.I. Bill provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans (commonly referred to as G.I.s). Benefits included low-cost mortgages, loans to start a business or farm, and tuition aid to attend vocational school, high school, or college.
Approximately 2.2 million veterans used the G.I. Bill's education benefits in order to attend colleges or universities, and an additional 6.6 million used the benefits for some kind of training program.
Between 1946 and approximately 1957, the United States experienced a massive growth in population, which historians and demographers term the Baby Boom.
Between 1948 and 1953 more babies were born than in the previous 30 years combined.
What was Levittown?
Begun in 1947, Levittown on Long Island was the first large-scale planned community. Levitt and Sons, a home developer, built hundreds of concrete slabs and erected 6,000 almost identical houses.
Levittown presaged the large flight to the suburbs which would take place during the 1950s.
The Conservative Coalition was an alliance of Southern Democrats and Republicans that dominated Congress in the 1940s and 1950s.
The Conservative Coalition was able to block most of President Truman's economic and civil rights legislation.
Throughout his administration, President Truman proposed numerous measures that continued the spirit of the New Deal, such as the Employment Act of 1946. What was the fate of most of Truman's domestic proposals?
Most of President Truman's domestic proposals were blocked in Congress by a combination of Republicans and Southern Democrats.
As an example, Truman requested that Congress draft legislation to provide national health insurance, a raise in the minimum wage, and a national commitment to full employment. Congress responded by providing the President with a Council of Economic Advisors.
In 1946, Congress eliminated the Office of Price Administration, which had been responsible for setting the prices on hundreds of goods. What was the result of this action?
During the Second World War, prices had been held at an artificial low. Once the check on prices was removed, inflation resulted and over the next year, prices rose 25%.
As a result of the elimination of the Office of Price Administration, inflation skyrocketed. In 1946 alone, prices rose 25%. How did workers react?
Wages had failed to keep up with inflation, and some 4.5 million workers went on strike in 1946. The vast number of strikers in essential industries threatened U.S. security interests, and during a United Mine Workers strike in 1946, Truman deployed the Army to ensure coal continued to be mined.
During his administration, President Truman desegregated the armed forces and the federal government, strengthened the Justice Division's Civil Rights department, and created a Committee on Civil Rights. Yet President Truman failed to have any proposed civil rights legislation passed. Why?
Faced with strong opposition from Southern Democrats, however, any civil rights legislation would have died in Congress. Truman did propose the Fair Employment Practices Commission, which failed to pass.
In July and August of 1945, representatives from the Soviet Union, the United States, and Great Britain divided up Germany into zones of occupation at the _____ _____.
The British, French, Americans, and Soviets each agreed to occupy roughly a quarter of Germany. In addition, the parties divided Berlin (which lay within the Soviet Zone) into four quarters, each assigned to one of the four powers.
What was the Baruch Plan?
The Baruch Plan was a proposal put forward in the United Nations in 1946. The Plan proposed a complete elimination of all nuclear weapons and the use of nuclear power only for peaceful means.
The Soviet Union rejected the Plan, heightening suspicions among U.S. leaders that the Soviets intended to develop their own weapons.
In an agreement with the United States, Stalin and the Soviet Union were to allow free elections in the Eastern European countries they occupied by 1946. What were the results of these elections?
The countries of Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia all backed Soviet candidates, although the elections were not open and honest.
The Soviet's failure to allow open and honest elections strained relations with the United States.
In a speech decrying the elections of 1946, which placed the countries of Eastern Europe under Communist control, what term did Winston Churchill employ to describe the division between East and West?
Churchill used the term "Iron Curtain."
The term came to symbolize the sharp division between the democratic nations of Western Europe and the nations of Eastern Europe, which were under Soviet control. During the 1950s, border defenses such as the Berlin Wall divided the two sides of the Curtain.
In 1946, Republicans were swept into office based on widespread dissatisfaction with President Truman's domestic and foreign policies, and passed the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. What did the Taft-Hartley Act establish?
The Taft-Hartley Act outlawed the closed shop, which required workers to be union members before being hired. In addition, states were permitted to pass right-to-work laws, secondary boycotts (sympathetic boycotts in related industries) were outlawed, and the President was empowered to order an 80-day cooling off period if a strike took place in an industry vital to national security.
The Taft-Hartley Act differed from the Wagner Act (passed as part of the New Deal), and favored employers over workers.
In the 1948 election Republicans chose _____ _____, the Governor of New York, to run for President, in opposition to President Truman, the Dixiecrats, and the Progressives.
Feeling assured of victory due to the rifts in the Democratic Party, Dewey adopted a banal tone, focused on mere platitudes, and provided little indication of his post-election Presidential program.
In an example of his non-confrontational style, Dewey once stated, "You know that your future is still ahead of you."
Who were the Dixiecrats?
The Dixiecrats were made up of states' rights Southern Democrats, who opposed President Truman's support for civil rights. The Dixiecrats ran Strom Thurmond for President.
The Dixiecrats weren't the only Democrats to offer opposition to President Truman. Liberal Democrats who thought that Truman's aggressive foreign policy threatened world peace formed a short-lived Progressive Party in 1948.
Faced with opposition from both the Dixiecrats and Progressives, President Truman still received the Democratic Party's nomination in 1948. What was President Truman's campaign strategy?
Faced with a three-way split in his own party, Truman went on the offensive. He criticized his Republican adversary Thomas Dewey's refusal to address specific issues, and attacked the Republican-controlled Congress with a wave of relentless and blistering partisan assaults as the "do-nothing" Congress.
In an astonishing upset, Truman was re-elected, winning by some two million votes.
In his 1949 State of the Union Address, President Truman outlined his domestic policy, termed the "Fair Deal." What did Truman propose?
Truman proposed civil rights legislation, an increase in public housing, federal education, an increase in the minimum wage, aid for farmers, and national health insurance.
With the exception of an increase in the minimum wage (from $0.40 to $0.70), all of Truman's Fair Deal programs failed to get Congressional approval, blocked by the Conservative Coalition of Southern Democrats and Republicans.
During President Truman's second term, U.S. foreign policy centered upon the doctrine of containment. What is containment?
Suggested by George Kennan in 1946, the U.S. foreign policy of containment centered on containing Communism to those countries where it existed, and halting its further spread.
Containment led to the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and to U.S. involvement in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Who was George Kennan?
George Kennan was a Soviet expert in the State Department who first articulated the doctrine of containment in a 1946 cable to the State Department. Kennan believed that the policy of containing Communism in the areas where it currently existed would, in time, lead the Soviet Union to retreat from the idea of Communist world domination.
Containment would guide U.S. foreign policy until the Nixon Administration, and then see a resurgence as a foreign policy strategy during the Carter Administration, before being ultimately rejected by President Reagan.
How did the pre-World War II appeasement of Adolf Hitler influence the policy of containment?
After the Second World War, many in the foreign policy establishment felt that the failure of Britain and France to check Hitler's expansionist policies between 1936-1939 had directly led to the War, and criticized the policy of appeasement.
In contradiction, American foreign policy leaders adopted the policy of containment after the War, which called for challenging any expansionist tendencies on the part of the Soviet Union.
In early 1947, President Truman announced that the United States would provide aid to _____, where pro-Western forces were involved in a civil war with Communist troops.
Truman announced the aid with the statement that "[t]he policy of the United States is to support free people who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or by outright pressure.” U.S. involvement in Greece was justified under the policy of containment since Communism was not already established in Greece. U.S. aid was also given to Greece's longtime rival Turkey, in an effort to appear neutral.
Truman's decision is widely recognized as the start of the Cold War.
What was the Marshall Plan?
Beginning in 1948, the U.S. provided $13 billion in economic aid to rebuild Europe after the devastation of World War II. Aid was available to all European countries, but was rejected by the Soviet Union and the Communist states of Eastern Europe.
The Marshall Plan didn't only repair damage, but also aimed to modernize European industrial and business facilities. In addition, as part of the policy of containment, the Marshall Plan allowed the pro-democracy governments of France and Italy to provide an alternative to Communism.
What was the economic result of the Marshall Plan?
The Marshall Plan was a resounding success. By 1951, those European countries involved in the Plan saw their economies grow at a rate 35% higher than in 1938.
The Marshall Plan also proved advantageous to both the United States and Canada. As the only Western economies not destroyed by war, most Marshall Plan purchases came from these two countries.
How did President Truman view post-World War II Germany's role in the European economy?
President Truman and most U.S. foreign policy experts viewed an improved German economy as integral to Europe's recovery. As such, Marshall Plan aid was provided to Germany for the rebuilding and retooling of German factories.
The introduction of what currency triggered the Berlin Crisis of 1948?
The Deutsche Mark
From the end of the Second World War, Germany had continued to use the Reichsmark, whose value declined to the extent that cigarettes became a more accepted currency. The introduction of a new currency to stabilize the German economy was created under the guidance of the Western powers and without Soviet approval.
In response, Stalin introduced an alternative German currency (the Ost Mark), closed Eastern Germany, and sealed off Berlin from the Western powers.
How did President Truman and the Western powers respond to Stalin's 1948 closure of road and rail traffic to their enclaves in Berlin?
The U.S., Britain, and France each had enclaves under their control in Berlin, which had at most a month's worth of food and coal, and required 5,000 tons of food per day to supply.
With the assistance of the British and French air forces, Truman launched an airlift into Berlin to keep the city supplied.
The Berlin Airlift was a success, and Stalin reopened access to the city in May 1949.
Raisin Bombers was the nickname given by German children to the American bomber pilots who carried food into Berlin in 1948-1949. As they flew into Berlin, the pilots dropped candy (and raisins) via small homemade parachutes to the children waiting below.
The effort also received widespread support in the United States; candy manufacturers sent truckloads of free candy to Europe and children contributed to the campaign.
How did the Berlin Airlift affect the creation of the two separate countries of East and West Germany?
After the Berlin Airlift, the de facto division between the Soviet-controlled and Western-controlled areas of Germany became official. The Soviet sector became the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), and the Western portion became the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). Armed checkpoints prevented people from leaving East Germany.
Berlin itself became divided between the two sectors; in 1961 the Berlin Wall was erected to divide East Berlin from West Berlin.
In 1949, in partial response to the Berlin Airlift, the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, and several other European nations created a mutual defense organization, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). How did the Soviets respond?
The Soviets created their own alliance with the Eastern European Communist states; the Warsaw Pact. The formation of NATO and the Warsaw Pact formalized the Cold War, which would last until 1991. Several former Warsaw Pact countries are now members of NATO.
The Cold War, often dated from 1945–1991, was a longstanding state of political and military tension between the Soviet Union and its allies and the West, primarily the United States and the NATO nations.
Neither sides' allies were limited to the Western world, as both sides had defense arrangements with countries in Africa and Asia as well.
In 1947, Congress passed the _____ _____ _____, which streamlined the U.S. military by combining the Army Department with the Navy Department into one Department of Defense.
National Security Act
Congress established the United States Air Force as a separate branch of the armed services and placed it under the control of the Department of Defense. In addition, the National Security Act established the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council to coordinate foreign policy.
In 1949, the Soviets escalated the Cold War by detonating their first atomic bomb. How did President Truman respond?
Truman countered the Soviet threat by giving approval for the development of the hydrogen bomb, 450 times more powerful than the bomb dropped at Nagasaki.
Competition between the U.S.S.R. and the United States had escalated into an arms race, which would continue virtually unabated until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
After the end of the Second World War, who set up democracy in Japan?
General Douglas MacArthur
MacArthur set up a parliamentary democracy, but retained the Japanese Emperor as a figurehead. In addition, the Japanese constitution barred Japan from participation in anything but a defensive war. Japan would by necessity rely on the United States for protection.
As promised in the Tydings-McDuffie Act (1934), what country received independence from the United States on July 4, 1946?
The Tydings-McDuffie Act had promised independence within ten years, but the Second World War intervened. Although the Philippines was now an independent nation, as with Japan, the United States retained significant bases in the country and guaranteed its liberty.
Who was General Chiang Kai-Shek?
Chiang Kai-Shek was the leader of the Chinese Republican forces. At the end of the Second World War, a civil war between the Republican forces and the Communist forces, led by Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, resumed. In 1949, Chiang Kai-Shek was defeated and fled to Taiwan, establishing a separate government there. Communist Chinese forces took over Mainland China.
The rise of a Communist Chinese government, allied with the Soviet Union, terrified the Western powers.
How did the U.S. and the Soviet Union administer the Korean Peninsula at the end of the Second World War?
After the end of the Second World War, the Korean Peninsula had been divided at the 38th Parallel, with the Soviet Union occupying the northern portion, and the United States occupying the southern one.
Elections to establish a permanent government were to take place in 1948, but never happened. Instead, the North formed a Communist government under Kim Il-sung, and the South formed a democratic government, under Syngman Rhee.
How did the Korean War begin?
After advising both Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao of his plans, North Korean leader Kim Il-sung crossed the 38th Parallel on June 25, 1950.
By June 28th, the North Korean Army had captured Seoul, the South Korean capital, and the South Korean Army was in headlong retreat.
How did President Truman react to the North Korean invasion of South Korea in 1950?
Instead of requesting a declaration of war from Congress, Truman worked through the United Nations Security Council. The Soviet Union was boycotting the Council (because the Council had refused to recognize Communist China), and on June 27, 1950, the United States secured a Security Council resolution allowing armed intervention.
In addition to the United States, Australia, Great Britain, Turkey, Canada, France, Greece, Colombia, Thailand, Ethiopia, and other nations contributed troops.
Who led the combined United Nations Command (the anti-Communist forces) during the early years of the Korean War?
General Douglas MacArthur
MacArthur's plan called for the stabilization of the rapidly disintegrated Korean front, which by the end of June 1950 held only a small portion of South Korea.
Having done so, MacArthur directed a successful naval landing behind North Korean lines at Inchon in September 1950. Seoul was recaptured, and the North Korean Army fled north.
Why did President Truman remove Douglas MacArthur from command of the American and United Nations forces during the Korean War?
As United Nations forces pushed north, they approached the Korean-Chinese border, and the Chinese intervened in 1950, sending the United Nations forces retreating southward. To avoid angering the Chinese and provoking a Third World War, Truman barred U.S. planes from attacking Chinese forces in China.
MacArthur publicly denounced the decision and criticized the President. Determining that MacArthur had been insubordinate, Truman relieved him of command and replaced him with General Matthew Ridgeway.
In July 1951, the Korean War stabilized along a front at the 38th Parallel, where it had begun more than two years before. Although small-scale battles continued until an uneasy peace was established in 1953, no large offensives took place. Why?
Although Douglas MacArthur had advocated for full and total victory, Truman was dedicated to a limited war, to avoid provoking the Soviet Union and a resulting outbreak of war in Europe.
Truman's Korean actions were part of the larger foreign policy plans of containment, with Communism having been contained to North Korea.
The Red Scare was a period of anti-Communist hysteria which followed World War II, and was similar to the anti-Communist fervor which followed World War I. The hysteria was exacerbated by Communist victories in Eastern Europe and China, the Korean War, and by Joseph McCarthy, who declared that 205 Communists were working in the State Department.
What was the Loyalty Review Board?
As part of the Red Scare, in 1947, President Truman authorized the creation of the Loyalty Review Board. The Board looked into the background of three million government employees to determine whether or not they held Communist sympathies and were therefore security risks. Only 300 government employees were dismissed.
As part of the investigation, the Attorney General's List of Subversive Organizations was established. This secret list (which included the Communist and Nazi Parties and the Ku Klux Klan) would prove instrumental in the rise of McCarthyism during the height of the Red Scare.
How did the U.S. government use the Smith Act (1940) to target Communism?
The Smith Act made it illegal to advocate overthrowing the government by force, or to join an organization doing so. During the Red Scare, 98 Communist leaders were convicted and jailed; the Supreme Court upheld their convictions in 1951.
A Supreme Court case in 1957 weakened the Act's purview, but it is still in effect.
What activities became regulated under the McCarran Internal Security Act (1950)?
Passed by Congress over President Truman's veto during the Red Scare, the McCarran Internal Security Act:
- Made it unlawful to advocate a totalitarian government
- Restricted travel for known Communists
- Gave the government permission to detain persons on suspicion of espionage
- Banned picketing a federal courthouse
The acronym HUAC stands for what governmental agency, especially active during the Red Scare of the post-World War II era?
House of Un-American Activities Committee
The Committee investigated real and suspected communists in positions of influence in American society, including Hollywood where a number of actors, directors, and producers were suspected communists.
In 1948, HUAC also investigated allegations of spying against Alger Hiss, a high-ranking State Department official.
Who was Alger Hiss?
Hiss was a former State Department official. Whitaker Chambers, a prominent newspaper publisher, accused Hiss of being a Communist spy. Prosecuted by staunch anti-Communist Richard Nixon, Hiss was convicted of perjury in 1950.
Hiss had served as an assistant to President Roosevelt at the Yalta Conference.
What was the fate of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were accused of conspiracy to commit espionage for passing American atomic secrets to the Soviet Union?
The Rosenbergs were convicted and executed via the electric chair in 1953. Material provided to the Soviet Union may have hastened Soviet development of a nuclear warhead. The revelation that secret materials were passed on to the U.S.S.R. convinced many that Communist infiltrators were everywhere.
The Rosenbergs remain the only civilians executed for espionage in U.S. history.
What is McCarthyism?
McCarthyism is a term associated with Senator Joseph McCarthy, who in the early 1950s claimed that there were over 200 Communists in the State Department. McCarthy led a "witch hunt" for Communists, investigating the State Department, the Army, and Hollywood, among others.
McCarthy only rarely had evidentiary support for his accusations, and the term "McCarthyism" has come to mean a practice of making allegations via investigative techniques which are unfair, especially in order to restrict political opinions with which one does not agree.