The Eisenhower Era
The Advent of Eisenhower
Lacking public support for Truman, Democrats nominated Adlai E. Stevenson to run for the presidency in the election of 1952. Republicans chose General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Richard M. Nixon was chosen for vice-president to satisfy the anticommunist wing of the Republican Party.
During the presidential campaign, reports of Nixon secretly tapping government funds arose. After Eisenhower considered dropping Nixon from the ballot, Nixon went on television and stated his apologies in the "Checkers speech"-this saved his place on the ballot.
The new technology of black-and-white television changed political campaigning. Television often over-simplified the complicated issues of the time.
Dwight Eisenhower won the election of 1952 by a large majority.
"Ike" Takes Command
True to his campaign promise, President Eisenhower attempted to end the Korean War. In July 1953, after Eisenhower threatened to use nuclear weapons, an armistice was signed, ending the Korean War. Despite the Korean War, Korea remained divided at the 38th Parallel.
Eisenhower's leadership style of sincerity, fairness, and optimism helped to comfort the nation after the war.
The Rise and Fall of Joseph McCarthy
In February 1950, Republican Senator Joseph R. McCarthy made a speech accusing Secretary of State Dean Acheson of knowingly employing 205 Communist party members. Even though the accusations later proved to be false, McCarthy gained the support of the public. With the Republican victory in the election of 1952, his rhetoric became bolder as his accusations of communism grew.
Though McCarthy was not the first red-hunter, he was the most ruthless, doing the most damage to American traditions of fair play and free speech.
In 1954, McCarthy went too far and attacked the U.S. Army. Just a few months later, he was condemned by the Senate for "conduct unbecoming a member."
Desegregating the South
All aspects of life of African Americans in the South were governed by the Jim Crow laws. Blacks dealt with an array of separate social arrangements that kept them insulated from whites, economically inferior, and politically powerless. Gunnar Myrdal exposed the contradiction between America's professed belief that all men are created equal and its terrible treatment of black citizens in his book An American Dilemma (1944).
World War II had generated a new militancy and restlessness among many members of the black community. In 1944, the Supreme Court ruled the "white primary" unconstitutional, undermining the status of the Democratic Party in the South as a white person's club.
In the Supreme Court case of Sweatt v. Painter (1950), the Court ruled that separate professional schools for blacks failed to meet the test of equality.
In December 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white person on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Her arrest sparked a yearlong black boycott of the city busses and served notice throughout the South that blacks would no longer submit meekly to the absurdities and indignities of segregation.
Seeds of the Civil Rights Revolution
Hearing of the lynching of black war veterans in 1946, President Harry S Truman commissioned a report titled "To Secure These Rights." Truman ended segregation in federal civil service and order "equality of treatment and opportunity" in the armed forces in 1948.
When Congress and new President Eisenhower ignored the racial issues, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren stepped up to confront important social issues-especially civil rights for African Americans.
In the case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954), the Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public schools was unequal and thus unconstitutional. The decision reversed the previous ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).
States in the Deep South...