Significant Events in the 20th Century

Topics: Interstate Highway System, Iran–Contra affair, Oliver North Pages: 7 (2492 words) Published: May 2, 2012
Significant events in the 20th century

In the 20th century, a countless number of events took place such as social, economic, and political that had a huge impact on America and literature. The impacts over the past 20th century affected Americans greatly, that many might think just how much more can people endure. For example, I researched the latter part of the 20th century taking one major event from each decade to understand the changes. First, the 1956 Highway Act had both economic and social impacts. The law’s inception facilitated the growth of suburban communities tied to urban areas by both the highway and light rail construction. Becoming more popular each day suburban living broke way for the beginning of the automobile owner and annual auto sales rose relentlessly for years. Altering the transportation model forever and bringing railroad construction virtually to a standstill, as trucks used the highway to haul rail-transported products directly to retail outlets. Trying to gain support for the new interstate system was a huge undertaking for President Eisenhower and his staff. Uncertain and unconvinced city officials believed that roads bypassing downtown would reduce business visibility and profit. A major selling point was public safety and roadways would allow for the evacuation in the event of nuclear war. As a result, the name was changed to National System of Interstate and Defense Highways which many thought was misleading or deceptive, but it was portrayed that opposing highway construction was made to appear unpatriotic. However, the development and implantation of the interstate system would provide jobs and bust the economy and as a result a number of traditional areas were disfigured.

At a more personal level, many Americans never enjoy leisurely drives along two-lane country roads, such as a 4-day ride from Los Angeles to Seattle described by Scott Heidrick and annually undertaken by his family during his childhood. “The trip took place in 1962, with Seattle World’s Fair being the final destination. The trip took weeks of planning, countless maps, and endless coordination. It was an amazing journey, with excitement at every turn, breathtaking scenery and countless tourist traps (Drive, Spring 2007).” Transportation was changed for-ever as Americans new it, with the introduction of the automobile and highway system. Leaving the booming 50’s and moving into peace, love, and acceptance, the 60’s brought American’s the Immigration Act of 1965. This law is thought by some people that it will have a huge impact on our future American generations. Starting in the 1920s, American immigration was almost entirely of Europe descent. During the four decades prior to the 1965 act an individual’s homeland dictated immigration eligibility, with UK, Ireland, and Germany having the highest numbers. Refugees from communist countries were granted special privileges under the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act. That law was amended in 1965, to change the requirements for entrance to the United States. Motivation for the act was closely associated to the civil rights movement. In the words of President Lyndon Johnson, ”This system violates the basic principle of American democracy, the principle that values and rewards each man on the basis of his merit as a man. It has been un-American in the highest sense, because it has been untrue to the faith that brought thousands to these shores (CIS, 1995).” Congressmen anticipated that immigration under the new law would be much the same as the old, with only a small amount of foreigners opting to take advantage of the new allowances. Planners of the 1965 law did not see it as an effective means of changing the flow of immigration but was to be considered more of a symbolic act or an extension of civil rights sentiments beyond our borders (CIS,1995). There is some evidence on the part of the Johnson Administration during the period leading up to this...
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