HIST 122 – American History Survey from 1877 Know these persons, events, and concept for exam 3:
Yalta – Many historians feel that the “Cold War” began at this 1945 gathering of the leaders of the US (Roosevelt), Britain (Churchill) and Russia (Stalin) to plan for the postwar occupation of Germany and organization of Europe. At Yalta, Stalin refused to commit himself to how he would deal with the eastern Europe nations that Russian soldiers “liberated.” As for Germany, the 3 Allies agreed to occupy and administer Germany by dividing it into zones based on the position of their troops at the end of the war. This will eventually result in divided West Germany - East Germany for nearly 50 years.
Harry S Truman – As Vice-president, Truman became president in 1945 with Roosevelt’s death. He devoted his energies as president to “completing the New Deal,” with proposals for state-assisted medical care, fairer labor practices, etc. He also played a key role in American strategy during the Cold War. United Nations – Created as a successor to the League of Nations, the UN began its work in 1945. American opinion about the UN has varied over the decades, especially during the Cold War (Russia had the same power to veto UN Actions as the USA, Britain, France, and China, making deadlock over issues a regular problem).
Containment – The basic strategy followed (until 1980) for dealing with the challenge of Soviet-style communism, this idea was proposed by a State Department expert on Russia, who argued that as long as the US acted to prevent the spread of Soviet influence (“containing” it) then the Soviet system would eventually fall as Russian citizens became increasingly unhappy with the lack of freedoms.
Marshall Plan – As part of the strategy of Containment, this program (named after Truman’s Secretary of State) provided aid to European and Asian countries so they could rebuild after World War II. Because the US insisted on the right to inspect the industries of countries that received aid, the Soviet Union refused to accept Marshall Plan assistance. None of the “East Bloc” nations (occupied by Soviet troops) accepted aid.
“Iron Curtain” – After Winston Churchill used this term in a speech in the US, it became popular to refer to the countries (especially in Europe) that were allied to the Soviet Union as being “behind the iron curtain.”
Taft-Hartley Act – A major law passed in 1947 (when the Republican Party had a majority in Congress for the first time since 1930), this legislation affected union growth by permitting states to pass “right-to-work” laws and prohibit “closed shops” (industries where one was required to join a union to have a job).
Alger Hiss, and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg – All three of these individuals were implicated in Soviet espionage against the US. Hiss was accused of giving to a Russian agent copies of sensitive State Department documents during the 1930s, while the Rosenbergs (husband and wife) were convicted of treason for giving atomic-bomb research to Russian agents in the 1940s. The Rosenbergs were both executed in 1953.
McCarthyism – Named after US Senator Joe McCarthy, this anti-communist movement in the 1950s led to suspicions that numerous Americans (public employees, government figures, teachers, etc.) were acting as “Russian spies.” McCarthy led the campaign to “uncover Red spies” in the 1950s, using Congressional investigation powers to intimidate witnesses with threats, claim he had a “list of known communists” that worked for the Federal government, and charge that the Democratic Party knowingly permitted “20 years of treason.” After failing to produce conclusive evidence to support his claims, McCarthy was censured by the US Senate. But his legacy has affected party differences to the present.
Korean War – The invasion of South Korea by North Koreans troops in June 1950 was seen as a “test” of American resolve to prevent the spread of communism. For nearly 3 years US troops led a UN coalition force to fight in this undeclared war, until a cease fire was arranged (and continues to this day).
The “Third World” – Because small nations in Asia (like Korea), Africa and South America, were viewed as places where Soviet and American influence would compete for support, the “third world (nations that were not allied with either the US or Russia) became the “battlegrounds” where the Cold War was contested.
Dwight Eisenhower – This major hero from World War II was president from 1953 to 1961. As a long-service Army officer, Eisenhower’s views on military preparedness were accorded great respect in Congress and he played a major role in defense planning. As party leader, he also was important to arranging a Republican acceptance of many New Deal measures (social security, etc.) His response to the civil rights challenges of the 1950s was less impressive.
“More bang for a buck” – the 1950s defense plan – Because the maintenance of a large peacetime army would harm economic growth, US defense strategy in the 1950s became centered on atomic warheads and long-range missiles. Cheaper than troop expenses, nuclear missiles were viewed a deterrent against all-out war.
Rise of the suburbs – The increase of suburban neighborhoods in the 1950s was due largely to 1) the need for new housing and space to raise the large numbers of “baby boom” children; 2) the rise in the standard of living of middle-class Americans; 3) the desire to maintain a form of segregation in society by “yielding” the cities to minorities.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) – A key organization in the civil rights movement of the 1950s, the SCLC employed publicity and non-violent tactics (sit-ins, etc.) while demonstrating for the end to legal segregation in the US.
Martin Luther King – Head of the SCLC for many years, King made use of his charisma and oratory to publicize the civil rights protests. In the last years of his life, he was losing influence to other African-American leaders, and the SCLC was losing support to newer civil rights groups.
Malcolm X – As one of the leaders of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) was seen as an advocate for a more forceful strategy through which African-Americans could win equality. Speaking to audiences, he rejected the non-violent tactics of King, telling his followers that “the time for you and me to allow ourselves to be brutalized nonviolently has passed. Be nonviolent only with those who are nonviolent to you.” His message appealed to many younger African-Americans.
Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) – Two civil rights groups that emerged to greater prominence in the 1960s, CORE (which had exited since 1942) and SNCC (created in 1960) campaigned against segregation in the south and “defacto segregation” (achieved by not selling suburban homes to blacks, etc.) in the north.
“Freedom Riders” – A term used in 1961 for the black and white civil rights advocates who worked to eliminate segregation in transportation (mainly buses) in the south. The Supreme Court had outlawed such segregation in 1960, but the organized freedom riders (including CORE leaders) had to defy the threat of intimidation and violence to make the court decision a reality.
New Frontier – The informal label for Kennedy’s presidential plans, which including a major program for space exploration, a more vigorous effort to contain Soviet influence, and civil rights legislation to eliminate segregation.
The Space Race – When Kennedy set the goal (after one successful launch of an astronaut) of landing on the moon by 1970, the “race for the moon” was seen as a major US-USSR rivalry, a challenge as to which “system” was best. Te space race was at least as much about missiles that could accurately hit targets and satellites that could be used to monitor possible national threats, as about prestige.
Cuban Missile Crisis – When the US discovered Russian made missiles (with nuclear capability) in Cuba, the crisis in October 1962 came very close to war before the USSR agreed to withdraw the missiles (in return for US pledge not to invade Cuba, and withdraw some US missiles in Turkey.
Nuclear Test Ban treaties – The most significant efforts at disarmament in the 1960s were a series of agreements not to test new nuclear weapons in the open atmosphere (underground tests still occur).
Engel vs. Vitale (school prayer, 1962) – One of the most controversial Supreme Court decisions of the 1960s, this decision forbade prayer at public, tax-supported schools. Public reaction to the decision encouraged the rise the neo-conservative movement.
Roe vs. Wade (abortion, 1973) – Another controversial Supreme Court decision, the ruling permitted abortions in all of the states. This also became part of the growing cultural division in US society.
Vietnam, the “Domino Theory” – It was held by advisors to the Kennedy and Johnson administrations that should the US fail to intervene in Vietnam, then South Vietnam would “go communist,” and eventually be used as a base to spread communism across southeast Asia. This would counter the US strategy of containment, and the argument helped sway Johnson into sending large numbers of troops to Vietnam.
Tonkin Gulf Resolution – It has never been clear exactly what two US destroyers fired on in the Tonkin Gulf off the coast of North Vietnam, August 2 and 4, 1964. But, claiming that North Vietnamese “gunboats” had attacked the destroyers, Johnson ordered bombing of bases in Vietnam and asked Congress for authority (the Resolution) to send US army troops into the conflict.
Tet Offensive – In January, 1968, a huge offensive by Vietcong guerillas and North Vietnamese soldiers did much damage in South Vietnam. Because the US Army had recently declared that the “insurgents” were on the point of collapse, this offensive severely harmed the credibility of the Johnson administration.
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Port Huron Statement – An organization formed in 1962, the SDS would play a major role on collage campuses in the 1960s, both in organizing protests against the war in Vietnam and in altering the status of students in higher education. Its founding statement, the Port Huron Statement, attacked the older generation for tolerating racial and sexual intolerance, for supporting “brush fire wars” around the world, for permitting pollutions and a nuclear standoff that might “destroy the planet.”
Creation of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEH) and the "culture wars" Both the NEA and the NEH were created by Congress in 1965, which has yearly provided Federal funding for various arts projects and humanities projects (including presidential biographies). Both groups have drawn criticism for what it supports.
The Free Speech Movement (and "Foul Speech" protest) – The Fe Speech movement occurred at Berkeley in 1964, where students protested an action to block a speech by Malcolm X. This was seen as the first major student protest of the decade and was soon flowed by many others, across the nation, especially as the war in Vietnam continued.
Generation Gap - "the "blue-jeans" vs. the "geritols" – The “generation gap” was a term used to indicate the disagreement between the baby boomers and their parents (from the Depression era). TV, radio and market advertisers increasingly aimed their ads at one of the other age group (the jeans crowd being the young and the geritol crowd the older – the beginning of modern age-specific “programming.”
Kent State – the most tragic incident in the anti-war movement of the Vietnam era occurred in May 1970 when national guardsmen fired on students at Kent State University in Ohio, killing 4 and wounding several others.
Great Society and “War Against Poverty” programs – President Lyndon Johnson’s comprehensive program of reforms, from 1965 to 1968. At the heart of the program was his “war against poverty,” a series of programs that he believed could eliminate most poverty in America. The program proved to be very controversial and ultimately many of its components were dropped in the 1970s.
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 – This act was grounded on a formula for providing Federal money to local schools. The level of assistance was based on the economic conditions of the students in each school, rather than the non-Federal budget of the school itself.
Votng Rights Act of 1965 – This action allowed the Federal government to file lawsuits in courts to prevent state actions to prevent people from voting (that is, the use of literacy tests and other actions to prevent African-Americans from voting in the south or Hispanics from voting in the west). Federal agents could also take action against acts of intimidation, to ensure the voting rights of minorities.
Détente – A term that literal means the lessening of tension, détente was Nixon’s policy for dealing with the “Soviet bloc” by obtaining agreements to reduce nuclear arms and increase trade with Russia.
Watergate – Since the wire-tapping of offices at the Democratic Party National Headquarters (at the Watergate Building in Washington DC) was the beginning of the crisis that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, “Watergate” became the label used to describe the entire course of events that uncovered the numerous illegal acts that White House staff performed from 1969 to 1973.
Iran Hostage Crisis – Formally a very loyal ally of the US Iran became a threat to American interests in the Middle East when the Shah (monarch) of Iran was overthrown by a Shiite-led revolution in February 1979. When 66 American hostages were taken by Shiite students in November 1979 the crisis (“America Held Hostage”) essentially ruined the presidency of Jimmy Carter.
Camp David Accords – Carter’s major foreign policy achievement was help negotiate a vast improvement in relations between Egypt and Israel (through direct meetings at Camp David, Maryland). While this led to peace between Egypt and Israel, it had the side-effect of moving the leadership of the anti-Israeli movement into the hands of Iraq and Iran.