USH 1945-1959

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The Post War Baby Boom
After World War 2 ended (1945), families started growing all over the world. This was known as the baby boom. The term ‘baby boom’ was made by Sylvia F. Porter in 1951, referring to the rapid increase of birth rates. In the U.S, more than 79 million children were born during this time period. Because there was economic prosperity and their family incomes tripled, people felt it was a good time to raise children and make a family. Large families were not a problem as middle class women were able to stay home and take care of their children instead of going to work. There were many veterans returning from the war, and they started families right away. Right now, the oldest baby boomers are in their 60s. Two famous U.S presidents, William J. Clinton and George W. Bush are baby boomers. — Elisa Aoki

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The Post War Economic Expansion
After World War II ended, the United States entered a period of economic growth which carried on for many years. During the war, people in America were able to save up a lot of money for there was only a small amount of consumer goods being produced so they didn’t have much to spend on. Also, the people who had lost family members in the war received insurance money which added up to their current years of saving during the war. During the first years after the war consumers goods were once again produced in large quantities and people had money to buy them so the growth was obvious for the industries were earning a lot of money. The big companies that were getting a lot of profit bought other smaller companies which were completely unrelated to them, for example car companies bought insurance companies. This is how the industries grew so much and benefited from each other. Due to this corporate expansion, many new jobs were created and since the companies were earning so much, workers enjoyed a high salary and many benefits. The economic and technological advance during this time was so great that it was named “The Greatest Period of Economic Expansion in American History”. — Anthony Sasso

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The Rise of Suburbia
The development of suburbia began in the late 1940’s to early 1950’s. Due to the high demand for community housing outside of city boundaries, large territories of land were in turn purchased and designated as neighborhood accommodations. Families and returning war veterans hoped to flee from the dangers of the inner-city; resulting in an outward expansion of living space. The first arranged suburb of the United States, “Levittown,” underwent construction on Long Island starting in 1947 and was successfully completed in 1949. 17,500 houses were manufactured within the short, two year span. To decrease production funds, all houses were built in similar styles with like design. Soon after “Levittown,” subsequent housing projects rapidly grew in popularity. Throughout the remainder of the 1950’s, several builders began to model Levitt & Sons’ developmental ideas. The Levitts later constructed two additional suburbs (both titled, “Levittown”); one in close proximity to Philadelphia and the other in New Jersey. — Shay Mlakar

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The Start of Television
The television existed since the late 1920’s but it was developed in late 1940’s. It was mass-produced after World War 2. There were not a lot of people who were using it. It began to blossom in the United States in 1948 and 1949. People started purchasing the televisions and the percentage of the American households who had television increased to 90 percent. The television industry was mostly advertising to appeal to the people who had the most spending power. The advertisements and the programming Americans tended to reinforce the importance of white suburban people.Televisions were also used for political campaign. The Presidential election of 1952 was the first Presidential election that the candidates used television for their advertisements. In 1960, most people blamed Nixon’s loss to Kennedy because of his poor appearance on television that time. — Mia Piccio

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The Cold War – U.S. (Democracy) vs. Soviet Union (Communism)
But the tensions and disputes between the United States and Russia at the time increased, as both countries utilized the new knowledge and the modernized technology to build weapons. The United States with democratic values fought against the Soviet Union and communism in what is known as the Cold War. They got involved in an “arms race” where both countries built powerful, nuclear weapons to be able to be prepared for an attack from the opponent. When the first satellite, Sputnik, was launched by the Soviets in 1957, the Americans feared a huge missile attack. As fear and hatred towards the other side got even bigger, more and larger nuclear weapons were built on both sides. The Russians spent their money into getting a large number of missiles while the United States produced fewer but of better quality. By 1961, there were enough bombs to destroy the world.  – Christina Engelberth

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Jonas Salk / polio vaccine
Jonas Salk was an American biologist and physician who is best known for inventing the Polio Vaccine. Polio was a very devastating disease in the mid 1900s. The polio virus attacks the nervous system and within hours paralysis may occur. Salk believed that in order to become immune to the virus, the virus must be killed, but still enough must be intact to trigger an immune response. Once Basil O’Connor and the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis funded the research, testing on monkeys began. The vaccine was thought of as successful, so in 1952 he started testing the vaccine on volunteer parties. On April 12, 1952 the vaccine was announced as safe and effective against polio. Using Salk’s vaccine, the eradication of polio began. In 1916 polio left about 6,000 people dead and 27,000 paralyzed. In 1952, 57,628 cases were recorded, but after the polio vaccine cases dropped 85%-90% in only two years. Thanks to the polio vaccine, the polio virus is very rare in the US today.  — Liz Zimmer

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The First Computers
The UNIVAC was invented by the same peoples as the ENIAC computer. It started of with that the United States Cencus Bureau needed a new computer to help dealing with the huge increase of the U.S. population. There were given money to research in the new computer. The beginning of their research started badly and it was not until 1948 that it actually was finalized. The two inventors went through a tough economic time and they were bailed out of financial trouble by Remington Rand Inc. The Remington tried to re- negotiate the government contract for additional money but they failed. The Remington Rand had the complete the UNIVAC at the original price. It was not until 1951 that Census Bureau accepted delivery of the first computer. The final cost of the computer was near one million dollars.  – Rebecca Graf

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Sputnik & NASA “the space race”
The Satellite Sputnik was launched in to space on October 4, 1957 by the Soviet Union.  It was launched during a time of great tension between the United States and the Soviet Union.  Before Sputnik, America was believed to have the superior technology, education, culture, and many other things.  Basically, the US had a great deal of pride in themselves, but that changed after the Russians became the first to launch a satellite in to space and have it orbit the earth.  Americans felt like they were falling back and were a step behind the Soviets and their pursuits.  It is this tension that lead to a time called “the space race” (1957-1975).  Four months after Sputnik and many unsuccessful tries at Cape Canaveral, the Americans launched the satellite “Explorer 1″ in to space and it orbited the earth.

While the Americans were busy at work trying to put a man in space, the Russians beat them to it again when the sent Yuri Gagarin on the Vostok 1 on April 12th, 1961.  23 days later, the Americans sent John Glenn and Alan Shepard in to space and they became the first Americans to orbit the earth.  The Russians added to their victories in 1965 when Alexey Leonov became the first man to do the spacewalk.  With all these losses, the US had their back up against the wall with their eye on one target; being the first to put a human on the surface of the moon.  To give you an idea of how important it was to America, here is what President Kennedy had to say about it.  ”Everything we do ought to really be tied in to getting on to the Moon ahead of the Russians… otherwise we shouldn’t be spending that kind of money, because I’m not interested in space… The only justification (for the cost) is because we hope to beat the Soviet Union to demonstrate that instead of being behind by a couple of years, by God, we passed them.”  They did eventually succeed when Neil Armstrong walked the surface of the moon on July 21, 1969 on the “Apollo 11″ mission. — Clay Tormey

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McCarthyism – fear of Communists in the U.S.
Americans were scared. They thought they were being followed. They were suspicious of everyone and everything. Tired of looking over their shoulders, the American government decided to do something about, and in doing so they looked to McCarthyism.  In 1952 they entrusted Senator Joseph McCarthy to seek out and investigate possible communists, or people sympathetic to communism. Once a man was investigated by McCarthy his whole reputation went up in flames. He wouldn’t be able to work, nobody would hang around him, he would be alienated by the rest of society. Even if this man was found out to be completely innocent, the effects of the investigation would still be the same. Americans started to realize this was happening, but out of fear of being accused of being a sympathizer, they would remain silent. McCarthyism though, was just a small part of a much bigger anti-communist idea. Many movie actors and producers were forced to stop working because they were suspected of being communists. Then McCarthy went after politicians. After this he went on to anti-American books and then to the military. President Eisenhower finally realized that he had to stop McCarthy because he was putting a great number of innocent people in jail. McCarthy was censured and lost his power. With McCarthy’s power gone, so went McCarthyism. — Ethan Hoffman

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The Beat Generation   – writers and poets
The Beat Generation consisted of a group of writers and poets that were not content with American values and culture at the time.  The most famous of these writers are Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.  These writers protested the stereotypical suburban family lifestyle portrayed on TV during the 1950s.  The movement happened during the late 1940s and the 1950s.  The beliefs of the Beat Generation writers consisted of a more relaxed, sort of hippie lifestyle.  They envisioned a return to the artistic and spiritual world.  Usually this meant taking a lot of drugs, having a lot of casual sex, listening to music and even indulging in Zen Buddhism.  This movement later became inspiration for early Rock and Roll artists.  The inspiration for Beat writers came from some 19th century poetry and jazz music of the early to mid 20th century.  One of the most famous works of Beat poetry is a poem entitled “Howl.”  The poem does not rhyme, and talks about American’s worship of material goods.  — Mike Holmes

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R&B / Rock n’ Roll music
The 1950’s was the beginning of a cultural surge that still exists today.  Along with the “Beat Generation” came the rise of the popular music genre called rock ’n’ roll.  Authority figures including parents and ministers scolded listeners of this outrageous music saying that it was not “real” music and sometimes dubbed it sacrilegious.  However, this did not phase the listeners, but rather fueled their fire.  Rock ‘n’ Roll was created through the roots of Rhythm and Blues, a popular style of music mostly among the African American culture.  The first artists to define rock ‘n’ roll were Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and of course Elvis Presley who became known as the “King of Rock ’n’ Roll.”  Television and radio fed on the new style of music because of the high demand for it.  Many music artists often used “payola,” or paying off owners of radio and television stations, to get their music heard by listeners.  Since then, rock ‘n’ roll has greatly changed but its artists and listeners are still one of a kind.  — Nick Mace

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Medgar Evers
Medgar Evers was an African American civil rights activist from Mississippi. He was involved in the boycott campaign against white merchants. The operation involved speaking to large groups of African Americans and enlightening them about the current situation and about the future. He would tell them that they needed to stop purchasing goods from these stores if they ever wanted to gain freedoms and rights. Another accomplishment he had was desegregating the University of Mississippi. On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers was assassinated by Byron De La Beckwith. There was more than enough evidence to put Beckwith behind bars, such as his gun that was found on the murder scene, but because it was an all white jury they did not convict him. He had another trial, once again with all white jurors and yet again they were dead locked and he was not convicted. Finally, in 1994, thirty one years after the murder of Medgar Evers, Byron De La Beckwith was finally brought to justice. —Max Solow

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Civil Rights / African-Americans
In the 1950’s African Americans were not given the same opportunities that white kids were having. They had to go to separate schools, and the facilities were far inferior between the two. Under the Jim Crows Laws, blacks were not allowed to be in the same area, and the attitude towards them was very different. In 1954, there was a Supreme Court case, Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, arguing that the facilities should be equal, and different facilities and opportunities were unconstitutional. The Brown party won the case, but no specific time was given to them on how long the process would take. It took 10 years for the process to go through, and African-Americans were still not given the same qualities as the white people. Hundreds of people across the country formed the “White Citizen’s Board”, which worked against giving African-Americans the same quality of life. It was a struggle for African-Americans to gain the same quality of life, but after a decade they were finally given equal opportunities. — Andrew Gain

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Civil Rights / Native Americans
During the 1940’s, Native Americans had nineteen segregated elementary schools called “Special School” that served the Native American communities.  The Catawba Indian School and the Summerville Indian School were just a few of these “Special Schools.”  In 1944, about one hundred Native Americans met up and created the National Congress of American Indians.  This organization monitored federal policies to secure the rights and benefits that the Native American people are entitled to have.  During the 1950’s more than one hundred Native American tribes were legally terminated.  The Native Americans lost their lands and were relocated to urban slums where they had troubles adapting to the urban life.  This new policy was abandoned by the government in 1963.  In 1961 youth activism rose around the country and the National Indian Youth Council was developed to resurrect a sense of national pride among young Native Americans and to inspire an activist message.  In 1968 urban Native Americans created the American Indian Movement which believed that direct and militant confrontation with the US government was the only way to gain contemporary civil rights.  — Jarrod Czinski

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Civil Rights / Women
Colorado was the first state to grant the amendment giving women the right to vote, many states followed after. In 1919 the federal women’s suffrage amendment written by Susan B. Anthony was sent to the states for ratification. Things seemed to be going a lot better for women, more people were beginning to listen to them and some people even saw that they were not useless. Women were still not treated equally and still had a lot of more hills to get over and laws to get passed so the next big law that was passed was the Equal Pay Act, which made it illegal for employers to pay a women less than what a man would get for the same exact job.  — Megan Fabry

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Civil Rights / Gay & Lesbian
The homosexuals living in the United States during the 1950s had virtually no rights. Their rights were even taken from them in a way. Shortly after the WWII ended the gay community started to develop. Many cities witnessed their first gay bars in the 1940s. This increase in the openly homosexual population upset Dwight D. Eisenhower for some reason and in the 1953 President Eisenhower issued an executive order banning gay men and lesbians from all federal jobs. The military was also involved in throwing gay men and lesbians out of the service. State and local goverments were allowed to make their own laws about homosexuals but the majority of them followed Eisenhower’s lead. The homosexual community even had their constitutional right to privacy taken away when the FBI began a surveillance program against them. The hatred for homosexuals in the 1950s was so strong that local police were even encouraged to harass gay citizens. Gay bars were raided regularly by vice officers and dozens of men and women could be taken to jail on a single night. This public humiliation and hatred led to the formation of advocacy groups for gay rights.  — Christina Miller

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Racial integration of schools / Brown v. Board of Education
The desegregation of schools was a major goal of the American Civil Rights movement.  In 1896 the United States Supreme Court ruled that as long as separate facilities for each race were equal, then segregation did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment.  Fifty eight years later, the Brown vs. Board of Education decision overturned the earlier rulings of Plessy vs. Ferguson, by declaring that state laws that established separate public schools for black and white students denied black children equal educational opportunities.  The Court’s unanimous decision specifically stated that ” segregation of students in public schools violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, because separate facilities are inherently unequal.”  Three years after the Brown vs. Board decision, nine black students were denied entrance into Little Rock Central High, disregarding the Supreme Court ruling.  President Eisenhower ordered military escort for these nine students into the school where they faced an angry mob of over 1,000 whites protesting integration.  This was a huge step in the American Civil Rights movement and brought us to where we are today.  Even one of the nine students quoted, ” After three full days inside Central High, I know that integration is a much bigger word than I thought.” — Tory Bauman

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Montgomery Bus Boycott / Rosa Parks
It was a time of segregations and the Blacks were put in a very difficult position. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a political and social protest campaign which opposed the city’s policy of racial segregation on its public transit system. When white people boarded the bus, they took seats in the front rows. However, black people who boarded the bus took seats in the back rows. Once the bus was full, and another white person boarded the bus, then everyone in the black row nearest the front had to get up and stand, so that a new row for white people could be created. With no freedom, one black woman decided to take a challenge and as a result she became the woman who changed the nation. With the racism, segregation, and Jim Crow laws of the time, Rosa Parks was exhausted and drained of all the sour treatment that she and the other African-Americans had to deal with when getting onto the bus. She stood up for herself, and all African-Americans, by refusing to move when the bus driver came to the back of the bus and told her she had to get up from her seat and make room for more white riders.  She made a statement to the world saying “Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it”. – Kanhai Patel

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President Eisenhower / support for civil rights
President Dwight D. Eisenhower served as president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. He supported the advancement of the Civil Rights Movement but did not do so in an ostentatious manner. He was quiet about his support and was moderate. However he did fight for what he believed in and was not afraid to ask for the support of the Supreme Court. Especially when dealing with the segregation in the South. When the integration of an all-white school in Arkansas began, Eisenhower insured that part of the 101st Airborne Dviision was there to enforce the new order.  Eisenhower was also careful to appoint people to the southern districts federal judges who were committed to the advancement of equal rights for all. He also helped in the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. This was the first civil rights law proposed after the Reconstruction and was made to enforce voting rights of disenfranchised African-Americans. He was also the first president to give an executive power to an African-American in the White House.  — Melanie Haschek

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Poverty in the U.S.
In the 1950s, an image of American prosperity and well being was being portrayed via the television and pop culture. Unfortunately, not all Americans were enjoying the same comforts. In fact, there were many communities that lived in harsh conditions. Minorities were often not financially stable. They suffered because of racial discrimination and were not given the same opportunities as their racial counterparts. There was a vast economic gap between the affluent and the deprived. Single mothers and the elderly were often the groups found at the bottom of the spectrum. The American society lacked a notable middle class and often this big of a disparity between the rich and poor can cause unrest. Change was definitely on the horizon as the African-American community felt more and more oppressed.  — Shaaz Khan

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3 Responses to USH 1945-1959

  1. andrewg23 says:

    so let me get this straight. in order to get an “A” for the quarter you need to do this assignment?or is it this assignment + another one??and then where do we write this extra assignment?you said on your blog?I’m sorry Mr. Kennedy I an really confused about this and I want to get it right

  2. andrew,
    to simplify – the only requirement is to write a post on one of those topics. But for those who want to be get an “A”, you need to write at least one (over the next three weeks) of superior quality.

    we’ll talk about it in class.

  3. dirkr says:

    I think its about time you put a post in for the last topic ;-)

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