Most Significant Events in History- 1950-1990

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Over the past 50 years there has been a constant series of events that have significantly changed the future of America. This course specifically focused on the American Experience since 1945. Topics such as the Cold War, McCarthyism, Civil Rights and the Vietnam War all put in to place a chain of events that have made our country what it is today. This paper will review a few of the social, economic and political events between 1950 through 1990 that had a powerful impact on the American people and their decade. 1950’s Cold War Ideology, McCarthyism and Eisenhower’s politics Cold War ideology crystallized after the end of World War II. During this war the US had alliances with Britain and Russia. Postwar the US was slowly able to rebuild their economy while Europe continued to struggle. Prior to the war Europe had been a dominant force. As a result of their troubled Western European economy, a power struggle was started between the US and Russia known as the Cold War. Communism movement began and Americans become suspicious of the Soviets. The Americans adopted an anti communism theme that carried over to many doctrines and in hopes of containment. (Brown 2001) As a result of the rising concerns of communism mass suspicion spread. Many people were accused of communism with little to no proof. President Truman began what was known as the Truman Doctrine which enforced loyalty against communism which later opened to the door for McCarthyism. McCarthyism, named after a former U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, is a termed used to describe anti-communism era of the 50’s. During this time, McCarthyism created a wealth of problems for the government and caused many social issues. When Senator McCarthy claimed to be able to identify "Communist in the State Department" (Davidson et al., 2005) it caused fear and hysteria towards anything foreign or liberal. There was never any real basis on most of his claims but it gained him recognition politically. As a result many people were arrested or labeled supporters of communism. This was a vulnerable time for the country and many began to question loyalties. Unfair accusations were handed out and leaving suspicion among the American people as well is ill feeling towards others for the little reason. Americans believed that they were being patriotic and protecting Americanism. Eisenhower initiated several pragmatic measures in order to manage the economy. In 1956, President Eisenhower implemented the Interstate Highway Act. This act was an approved 20 year plan to build a highway system. Building a highway was initially intended to create a better evacuation solution in case of nuclear attacks. (Brown 2001) Not only did the highway create a solution for better traffic patterns but it also had a large impact on the economy. More people began to move to the suburbs and a highways system made the commute easier. There was also further distance to travel which increased automobile sales. Along the highway there were many new opportunities for people to open businesses such as shopping centers, drive in movies, gas stations and fast food places. Eisenhower also signed the St Lawrence Seaway Act that opened up the Great Lakes to allow shipping between the US and Canada. 1960’s- Kennedy’s New Frontier, Civil Rights, and the Hippie Subculture The 1960’s marked an era of change and a social revolution for many people in the United States. The Civil Rights Movement was in full force, man first walked on the moon, there was also the devastation regarding the assassinations of both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and President John F. Kennedy. There was the development of a counter culture that brought about the Hippie subculture. The Anti-War movement which began after the Cold War in the 1950’s continued on until the late 1960’s. The movement became the focus of many university and college campuses as a protest to the Vietnam War and “The Draft.” For the new frontier,...
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