Domestic Policy and Postwar Cultural Changes 1945 – 1960
(Pages 816-820) Truman’s domestic policies after the war—Truman was tasked with reconversion to a peacetime economy and introducing his domestic agenda.
Explain the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act, more commonly known as the he GI Bill.
As Congress dismantled wartime controls, high inflation and a soaring cost of living caused many labor strikes (4.5 million striking workers in 1946 alone), including a mine workers and railroad strike in which Truman had to threaten to intervene with the army.
(Pages 830-840) Truman battled a conservative Congress over his liberal domestic agenda
Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947 over Truman’s veto. What did this law establish?
In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball and the expectations for racial equality were on the rise. What did Truman do to support civil rights? How did his actions affect the Democratic Party?
The 1948 election pitted an increasingly unpopular president against the well-liked New York Governor Thomas Dewey. The Progressive Party ran Henry Wallace as a third party candidate. What were the results of the 1948 presidential and Congressional elections?
Which of Truman’s Fair Deal proposals were approved by Congress?
However, Congress rejected Truman’s attempts to create national health care insurance, a federal anti-lynching law, and abolish poll taxes. While defeated, these parts of the Fair Deal were nevertheless important as they helped to further define the agenda of the modern Democratic Party.
Fear of communism and nuclear weapons was becoming ingrained in the public due to films, television, air raid drills, emergency testing on the radio, the building of fallout shelters, etc. These fears also played a role in dooming Truman’s liberal agenda.
(Pages 834-840) The Politics of Anticommunism—the fall of China to Communism and stalemate in Korea were used as campaign tactics by the Republicans. Soviet nuclear developments and the conviction of Albert Fuchs (Manhattan Project spy) heightened Americans fears. Explain the role of each of the following:
The Federal Employee Loyalty Program/Loyalty Review Boards:
The House Un-American Activities Committee:
B. Alger Hiss:
Senator Joseph McCarthy/McCarthyism (the eventual downfall of McCarthy is explained on page 848):
McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950:
(Pages 844-850) Eisenhower Republicanism --Eisenhower was a popular, largely hands-off president with regard to domestic affairs. He labeled his agenda s “dynamic conservatism” which became the basis of the modern Republican Party agenda.
What was Eisenhower’s position on the role of federal government? Provide several examples.
Despite pressures from within his own party, Eisenhower did NOT dismantle the welfare policies that had been created under the New Deal. In fact, he extended Social Security benefits and raised the minimum wage.
What was the most significant accomplishment of the Eisenhower administration (see pages 846-847)?
What was the ruling of the Court in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)? How did Eisenhower respond to the decision in the short run as well as to the Southern resistance that mounted in 1957?
American Society at Midcentury
The Economic Miracle the 1950s and early 1960s saw booming economic growth. The prosperity was certainly not distributed equally, but it did affect most of society.
Government spending, particularly Cold War military expenditures, supported economic growth as did the $100 billion interstate highway program
The baby boom meant increased consumer spending
The rapid growth of the suburbs supported construction growth and automobile sales
The West grew dramatically due largely to New Deal programs and WWII defense industries
The Federal Reserve carefully monitored interest rates and the government regulated tax rates to further stimulate the economy and cure recessions
Wide-scale corporate and agricultural growth took place. Corporations made concessions to large labor unions known as the “post-war contract.” This air of cooperation also led to the unification of the AFL-CIO in 1955.
Unions made some strides, but membership remained stagnant due to the Taft-Hartley Act and state right-to-work laws.
The Explosion of Science and Technology —The atomic age saw an unprecedented explosion of technology.
Medical breakthroughs: antibiotics such as penicillin; antiseptics to prevent infection; vaccines for smallpox and typhoid; Dr. Salk’s polio vaccine in 1954
Pesticides: DDT used by the military, long-term toxic effects were unknown
Consumer electronics: TV introduced in the 1940s; color TV introduced in the 1950s