History Question

You will write a response paper of 2-3 pages in length. The topic can be any topic you found and read in the primary course text, readings, videos etc. But make sure the topic is after the first Response Paper you wrote. You select your own topic from the materials we have covered so far in class. You will write a 2-3 page response that is double spaced, Times New Roman with 12 Font, and have a proper introduction and conclusion. The response must explain the topic (what is it?), why it is important to American History, why you are interested in the topic, and your thoughts on the topic.
If you use outside sources then cite the materials, but outside sources are not required. Again, if you do use outside sources, cite the material.
Many relate the Leave it to Beaver show with the 1950s so I decided to put a clip that is a compilation of short cuts in the show. You can see the lessons, ideas and perspectives of the show briefly. Also look at the clothing and listen to the language usage. This was the idea of suburban America during the time period, but it was only idealized, the reality was often times different for everyone.

Watch Video on Civil Rights in the 1950s (Watch)
World War II is Over!!! Americans feared that the end of World War II would bring the same vicious cycles of boom and busts. More specifically the end of the war and demobilization would bring inflation and unemployment.Troops coming home would flood the work force and the same situation that occurred after World War I would run its cycle.  The first 18 months of peace did bring rising prices, conflicts between labor and management, and shortages of everything from meat to automobiles. This was to change and the next 2 decades would bring unprecedented growth in the United States.

The Boom The era would bring unprecedented economic growth Keynesian economics would guide the U.S. economy The rise of the United States as a Superpower The U.S. would confront the Soviet Union in the Cold War using a military buildup  The U.S. would develop a more activist foreign policy, engaging Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, and Latin America.  A continuous domestic policy that would last from the late 1940’s to the 1960’s.

Reconversion Chaos The sudden surrender of Japan caught the United States off-guard.  2 days after the Japanese surrender $15 billion in war contracts were cancelled.  The Public and the draftee military demanded immediate demobilization.  Approximately 12 million people awaited demobilization in Europe and the Pacific At a rate of 25,000 a day it still took over a year

Reconversion Chaos (cont.) Veterans returned home to shortages of food and consumer goods High demand and short supply meant inflationary pressure The Office of Price Administration did alleviate some pressure until Oct. 1946 Due to war time pressures on strikes the labor force was in turmoil With the end of the war, a wave of strikes occurred making it difficult to retool the factories to peace time production Fall of 1945 workers went on strike to redress the rise in prices and stagnant base wages By January 1946 some 1.3 million auto, steel, electrical, and packinghouse workers were off the job.  Presidential committees mediated Workers wade up ground in wages while the costs were passed on to consumers

Economic Policy John Maynard Keynes had professed counter-cyclical economic policy Counter-cyclical policy focused on aggressive government intervention in economic down cycles and government easing during economic expansions.During economic contractions (down-cycles) government wouldMonetary Policy – reduce interest ratesFiscal policy – Government would invest in infrastructure The policy was adopted in Roosevelt’s New Deal Keynesian economics would be a major economic policy until the 1970’s but would be resurgent in 2008 and the recent recession

Economic Policy (cont.)THE ECONOMIC SITUATION FOLLOWING WWII LED TO 2 CONTRADICTORY EFFORTS TO READJUST TO A PEACETIME ECONOMY The Employment Act of 1946  Effort by congressional liberals to fine-tune government taxation and spending Two goalsEconomic growthHigh employment Council of Economic Advisors – established to assist President Taft-Hartley Act Conservatives sought to reduce gains made by organized labor Made possible due to anger over major strikes following WWII Outlawed some tools of Unions as “unfair labor practices” Barred closed shops – requirement that all workers hired be union Blocked secondary boycotts – strikes against suppliers or customers of a targeted business

Economic Policy (cont.) Council of Economic Advisors Board of three professional economists established in 1946 to advise the President on economic policy Taft-Hartley Act Federal legislation of 1947 that substantially limited the tools available to labor unions in labor-management disputes

The G.I. Bill The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (GI Bill of Rights) Designed to ease veterans back into the civilian world Instead of giving bonuses the government tied funds and assistance to public goals Guaranteed loans of up to $2,000 for buying a house or farm or starting a businessA large sum when a new house cost $6,000. Provided funds for millions of veterans to attend collegeProvided stipends for college tuition and booksBy 1947 half of all college students were veteransConverted the college degree from the socially privileged to a basic business and professional credential Many colleges and universities did not accept African-Americans and women dropped from 40% of students in 1940 to 25% by 1950The G.I. Bill The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (GI Bill of Rights) Designed to ease veterans back into the civilian world Instead of giving bonuses the government tied funds and assistance to public goals Guaranteed loans of up to $2,000 for buying a house or farm or starting a businessA large sum when a new house cost $6,000. Provided funds for millions of veterans to attend collegeProvided stipends for college tuition and booksBy 1947 half of all college students were veteransConverted the college degree from the socially privileged to a basic business and professional credential Many colleges and universities did not accept African-Americans and women dropped from 40% of students in 1940 to 25% by 1950

Assembly-Line Neighborhoods In 1947 3 million married couples were unable to set up their own homes due to a shortage in the supply of homes Buyers lined up for hours and paid fees to tour model homes or to be placed in lotteries to have the opportunity to buy homes The Veterans Administration (VA) provided the beginnings of the solution The VA allowed veterans to obtain loans from private lenders with no money down.  But neither the VA nor the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) could fix the housing shortage without an adequate supply of houses

Housing (cont.) In 1947 William Levitt, a New York builder, built 2,000 houses for veterans on suburban Long Island The homes were basic, with 800 square feet of room, two bedrooms, a living room, bathroom, and kitchen By 1948 6,000 homes were built and by 1951 there were 17,000 homes built From 1946-1950 the federal government backed $20 billion in VA anf FHA loans Mass production of homes by the end of 1940’s 55% of Americans owned their own homes.

Military Quonset huts that were no longer used for troops during the war were converted to civilian living spaces. This photo depicts a college housing unit in Rhode Island where married students were allowed to billet.

Isolation and Discrimination New suburban life had costs. Vast new tracts of housing tended to isolate women and children from community life Africans-Americans populations in northern and western cities grew with migration due to war production, but now were also left out of the new housing areas due to discrimination Federal Housing agencies and private industry worsened the problem by redlining old neighborhoods, involving withholding home-purchase loans and insurance coverage from inner-city areas that were deemed too risky as investments Thus due to public and private actions Africans-Americans were kept in deteriorating inner-city ghettos.

Steps Towards Civil Rights The need for housing motivated African-Americans to demand full rights as citizens The wartime experience of fighting for freedom abroad while suffering from discrimination at home led to a new generation of leaders seeking to close the inequality gap As was the case following World War I, some whites sought to maintain the practice if segregation A wave of racial violence swept across the South But now many whites did begin to feel uneasy with the contradiction

Civil Rights (cont.) President Truman was caught between black leaders and the fear of alienating white southern democrats In 1946 he appointed the Committee on Civil Rights The NAACP had already begun an anti-segregation campaign filing law suits which the Justice Dept. had supported The administration ordered federal housing agencies to modify their racially restrictive policies and prohibit racial discrimination in federal employment Federal committees began to push for desegregation in Washington DC In the case Shelley v. Kraemer (1948), the Supreme Court held that clauses in real estate deeds that forbid selling or renting to minorities could not be enforced in courts

Civil Rights (cont.) The President orders “equality of treatment and opportunity” in the armed forces in July 1948 The army dragged their feet The armed forces soon followedManpower needsThe combat record of integrated units in the Korean war Over the next generation African-Americans would use the military as a new avenue for career opportunities Professional sports played an important role specifically individual sports Black Boxer Joe Lewis Sprinter Jesse Owens Now team sport Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson 1947 Brooklyn Dodger His ability to endure taunting and hostility and still excel opened the door for others

The Consumer and Baby Boom The housing boom was a product of pent-up demand and a post war family boom Many women who left the labor force sought marriage Women married at a younger age, the median age was 20, lower than any other time in 20th century New Marriages jump-started a baby-boom Many married couples who postponed baby’s during the war also began to extend families In early 1940’s 2.9 million babies born per year was average Between 1946-1950 the average was 3.6 million

The Baby Boom!!! Wa Wa Wa!!!

Consumer Boom Those new babies needed diapers, swing sets, lunch boxes, bicycles, and schoolrooms Fast-growing families needed appliances The average family in 1946-19447 had an income of $4,000 with $300-$400 for furnishings and appliances Television!!!

Truman, Republicans, and the Fair Deal Americans were propelled to the political center 15 years of war and depression led Americans to enjoy prosperity William Levitt humorously captured this idea in 1948 with the statement – “no man who owns his house and lot can be a Communist, he has too much to do.” President Truman sought to capitalize on this move to the political center. Sought to define policies attractive to moderate republicans and democrats

Whistle-Stopping across America The 1948 Presidential Campaign mixed the old with the new For the first time a major candidate crisscrossed the nation by rail Made hundreds of speeches from the railcars whistelstops Truman ran on character and issues “Give’em Hell Harry!”

Truman Victory

Truman’s Fair Deal Truman sought to build on the gains of the New Deal Called for a Fair Deal for all Americans Promised to extend the New Deal and ensure “greater economic opportunity for the mass of the people” Over the next 4 years conservative Republicans and southern Democrats forced Congress to choose carefully Expanded current legislation Avoided new departures

Trumans Fair Deal Housing Act of 1949 Federal government reaffirmed its concern about families priced out of the market Act provided money for local housing agencies to buy, clear, and resell land for housing Intent was to clear bad neighborhoods with new affordable apartments Never really occurred due to low appropriations, poor housing designs, and local decisions that concentrated public housing in segregated minority neighborhoods Congress revitalized the weak Social Security program Benefits went up by 80% 10.5 million additional people received old-age and survivor’s insurance Congress rejected other Fair Deal proposals Blocked a national health insurance as “socialisitic” Killed a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission to fight racial segregation in hiring, halting progress towards civil rights

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