United States History And Government

Growth of automobile industry

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Growth of automobile industry after WWI changed the U.S. economy by stimulating the development of other new industries.

  • In terms of international trade and finance, the U.S. emerged from WWI as a leading creditor nation (U.S. becomes the world's leading economic power).

    • American women helped gain support for the suffrage (right to vote) movement by working in wartime industries.

    • African Americans migrate to the North during and following WWI as a result of the availability of new factory jobs.

    Political Effects

    Fourteen Points-statement of principles proposed by President Wilson that would govern the postwar world.

    • Designed to provide for a just and lasting peace.

    • Aimed to prevent international tensions from leading to war again.

    • Believed that the principal of self-determination should be applied to people of all nations (they should be free to rule themselves (aka no more colonies).

    • Established the League of Nations.

    • U.S. follows a policy of neutrality & isolationism during the 1920's and 30's because of a disillusionment (disappointment, frustration) with WWI and its results.

    • Congress refuses to sign the Treaty of Versailles (even though President Wilson wanted them to) because many Senators objected to the U.S. membership in the League of Nations, fearing that it would pull the U.S. into another major war.

    • Washington Naval Conferences & Kellogg-Briand Pact- Were attempts by the U.S. to achieve peace and arms control in the decade after WWI

    • Bolshevik Revolution (Communist takeover of Russia 1917) increased nativism leading to the Red Scare (fear of Communism in the U.S. following WWI).

    • Passage of the immigration quote acts of 1921 & 1924 (restricted the amount of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe) because of a recurrence of nativist attitudes following WWI (Americans became more fearful and hatful of foreigners being communists).

    Women's Rights

    • Women were granted the right to vote through the19th Amendment during the Progressive Era (1917).

    • The national effort to ratify women's suffrage (right to vote) was strengthened by the economic opportunities created by World War I because women had to perform the jobs of men while they were away at war.

    • Seneca Falls Convention 

    Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott were major female leaders of the women's rights movement.

    • Many of the western states granted women the right to vote before the adoption of the 19th amendment because frontier (western) women played important roles in society.

    Roaring Twenties

    The 1920's are called the "Roaring Twenties" because of widespread social and economic change and changing cultural values (social change). During the 20's there was a conflict between old and new American ideals.

    Social Change

    • Prohibition- Law authorized by the 18th Amendment that banned the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages.

    • Led to an increase in organized crime.

    • Respect for the law decreased.

    • Led to a public awareness that unpopular laws are difficult to enforce.

    • Prohibition was officially ended by the 215` Amendment.

    • Increase of nativism can be illustrated by the Red Scare, trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, and the activities of the Ku Klux Klan.

    • Immigration acts of the 1920's attempted to use quotas to limit immigration from southern and eastern Europe.

    • Sacco and Vanzetti- Two immigrant anarchists who were convicted of murder and executed with very little evidence during the height of the Red Scare. Demonstrated U.S. intolerance toward immigrants. Represented a threat to civil liberties.

    • Scopes Trial - John Scopes was convicted in 1925 for teaching about evolution (because it conflicted with what the Bible says).

    • The conviction was supported by some Americans who wanted to promote traditional fundamentalist values (people who believe strictly in a set of principles and do not consider other views or opinions).

    • Illustrated a conflict concerning religious beliefs and scientific theories.

    • Illustrated a larger conflict over cultural values in American society during the 20's.

    • Harlem Renaissance- African American authors and artists used literature and art to celebrate the richness of their heritage. Increased pride in African American culture. Ex) Langston Hughes, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington.

    • Flappers- Women during the 1920's that rejected traditional feminine roles. Refused to conform to society's expectations (they acted and dressed how they wanted to, not how society told them they should).

    • Automobiles, radio, and motion pictures standardized American culture (influenced what people considered to be "American culture").

    Economic Change

    • Henry Ford- Use of the assembly line in the production of automobiles led directly to a decrease in the cost of automobiles.

    • Growth of the automobile industry changed the economy by stimulating the development of other new industries.

    • Development of many new consumer goods led to rapid economic growth during the 1920's.

    • The number of credit purchases increased (people bought on credit rather than using cash).

    • Emergence of a "consumer culture" because advertising and installment payments encourage buying.

    • Installment Buying- Paying for something a little at a time rather than all at once.

    • Increase in consumer buying and spending.

    • A belief in never-ending prosperity (economic success) helped to promote heavy increases in stock speculation.

    • During the 1920's prevailing view of government's role in the economy was that the government should interfere as little as possible.

    • President Warren G. Harding- Called for "a return to normalcy" by advocating for reduced international involvement and less government regulation of business. Supported isolationism.

    • President Calvin Coolidge- believed the economy functions best if government allows business to operate freely (free enterprise system). Small farmers did not fare well during the Coolidge prosperity in the 20's.

    • Overproduction of Farm Crops- Demand for American farm goods dropped dramatically during the 1920's because European need for imported farm products declined after WWI. Owners of small family farms experienced the most severe economic problems during the 20's.

    • Dust Bowl- Caused by over-farming and severe drought. The Great Plains (flat farming center of the U.S.) suffered most directly from the Dust Bowl. Resulted in increased westward migration (people in the Great Plains moved west in order to find a better living).

    The Great Depression
    Causes of Great Depression

    • Stock Market Crash of 1929- Considered the start of the Great Depression. Largely caused by speculators that purchased shares of stock on margin with borrowed funds (bought stocks on credit).

    • Decline in farm prosperity.

    • Overproduction and the excessive use of credit.

    • Overproduction and under consumption (U.S. businesses and factories were making more products than the U.S. people could buy). Consumer demand was low, while industrial production was high.

    • Uneven distribution of income between the rich and poor (people were either really rich or really poor).

    • Wages lagged behind the cost of living (workers were getting paid too little and could not pay their bills).

    • Rapid, worldwide spread of the Great Depression of the 1930's was evidence of global financial interdependence (economies all over the world are tied to each other and depend on each other. If one falls they all fall).

    President Herbert Hoover- President of the U.S. at the start of the Great Depression.

    • His policies favored big business.

    • Trickle Down Economics- believed that economic growth depends on making increased amounts of capital available to big business.

    • Believed that the problems of the Depression could be solved by relying on private enterprise and individual initiative to improve economic conditions.

    • Hoover's response to the Great Depression was criticized because it failed to provide direct relief for the neediest people.

    • Refused to provide funds for the unemployed during the Depression based on his belief that Federal relief programs would destroy individual initiative (people would not be motivated to work hard if the government helped them).

    • Hoover and the Republican Party believed that the economy would recover on its own.

    • Hoovervilles- Nickname given to poor communities because of Hoover's refusal to provide direct federal aid to the homeless. Hoover was blamed for the suffering of the poor.

    • Bonus Army- WWI veterans march on Washington in protest, demanding to be paid for their services. Demonstrated the growing discontent with Republican efforts to deal with the Great Depression.

    FDR and the New Deal

    • Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) wins an easy victory over Herbert Hoover (1932), demonstrating that most voters blamed Herbert Hoover for the Great Depression.

    • The big difference between FDR and Hoover was that FDR was more willing to use government intervention to solve economic problems.

    • The election of FDR in 1932 reflected the desire of many Americans to have government take an active role in solving economic problems.

    FDR's Administration

    • Supreme Court declared several New Deal laws unconstitutional because they overextended the power of the federal government. FDR responded by proposing legislation to increase the size of the court to make it favorable to New Deal laws. This was seen by his opponents as a threat to the system of checks & balances.

    • Used deficit spending to stimulate economic growth.

    • FDR Reelected to 3'd Term in 1940- Seen as controversial because it challenged a long held political tradition of presidents stepping down after 2 terms. Most strongly influenced by the advent of WWII in Europe.

    • FDR's reelection to 3'd term in 1940 eventually led to the establishment of presidential term limits.

    • Good Neighbor Policy- Reduced U.S. military intervention in Latin America. Designed to improve relations with Latin America.

    New Deal 

    • Most immediate goal was to provide work for the unemployed.

    • Tried to stimulate economic recovery by creating public works jobs.

    • Social welfare programs were expanded.

    • Increased government involvement with both business and labor.

    • Agricultural Adjustment Acts- Designed to increase prices of farm products by reducing farm output.

    • Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) 1933- Created to improve economic conditions in a poor rural region. An example of federal intervention to meet regional needs.

    • Social Security Act 1935- Considered an important program because it extended support to elderly/retired citizens.

    • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) - Tried to restore public confidence in banks. Safeguards savings (government insures the money you have in the bank so that you can't lose it if the bank fails).

    • Declared a bank holiday (1933) in order to restore confidence in the nation's banks.

    • WPA- Intended to help unemployed workers.

    • Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)- Intended to help unemployed workers.

    • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)- Regulates certain economic activities of banks and the stock market. Develops rules to limit speculation. Designed to correct abuses in the stock market.

    • National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act)- Strengthened labor unions because it legalized collective bargaining. Labor movement grew rapidly during the 1930's once the right to organize was protected by law.

    Opposition to New Deal

    • The strongest opposition to FDR's New Deal programs came from business leaders. New Deal policies ran contrary to (against) the tradition of Laissez-Faire (government shouldn't interfere with the economy).

    • Republicans criticized the New Deal because it spent more money than was taken in.

    • Critics of the New Deal claimed the TVA and Social Security System threatened the U.S. economy by applying socialist principles.

    Impact of New Deal

    • Raised national debt (the U.S. owed a lot of borrowed money).

    • Resulted in the expansion of the power of the Federal Government

    • Resulted in a stronger link between the national and local levels of government.

    • Changed political thinking in the U.S. because it supported the idea that the government should become more involved in the social and economic life of the people.

    • State governments increased their powers of taxation.

    • The effectiveness of the New Deal in ending the Great Depression is difficult to measure because the U.S. involvement in WWII rapidly accelerated economic growth (many historians say that WWII ended the Great Depression, rather than the New Deal).

    World War II

    U.S. Neutrality

    • In the 1930's Fascism rises in Europe (Germany & Italy). U.S. responds by passing a series of neutrality laws.

    • In the 1930's Germany was seeking to dominate the European continent. Great Britain and France followed a policy of appeasement (avoid war at all costs) when they allowed Germany to expand its territory. WWII started when Germany went too far and invaded Poland (1939) causing Britain & France to declare war on Germany.

    • Primary objective of the U.S. foreign policy during the 1930's was to avoid involvement in Asian and European conflicts (Neutrality and Isolationism). This was due to disillusionment (disappointment) over the failure to achieve U.S. goals in the postwar world.

    • Congress passes Neutrality Acts in mid-1930's in attempt to avoid mistakes that led to WWI.

    • Lend-Lease Act/ Cash-and-Carry Act/ Destrovers for Naval Bases- - Efforts to help the Allies (Britain/France/Soviet Union) without formally declaring war. Signaled a shift from neutrality toward more direct involvement.

    • Japan invades Chinese territory which heightens tensions between U.S. and Japan.

    U.S. Involvement in WWII

    • Bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan brought the U.S. directly into World War II.

    • U.S. became involved to fight totalitarian aggression (Germany, Italy Japan) and because Germany and Japan achieved important military successes in Europe and Asia.

    • D-Day Invasion June 1944- Important to the outcome of WWII because it opened a new Allied front in Europe (Germany had to fight enemies from the East and West instead of just the East).

    • A key challenge faced by the U.S. during World War II was fighting the war on several fronts (Europe and Asia).

    • The cooperation between the U.S. and Soviet Union during WWII supports the idea that alliances are built upon mutual self-interest (the U.S. and Soviet Union were enemies but formed an alliance because they were both enemies with Germany).

    • 1944 election of FDR to a fourth term can be attributed to the unwillingness of voters to change leadership during a major crisis.

    • The personal diplomacy conducted by FDR during WWII strengthened the President's role in shaping U.S. foreign policy.

    The U.S. Home-Front During World War II

    • Women replaced men in essential wartime industries.

    • Posters of Rosie the Riveter were used to recruit women into wartime industries.

    • During the war, economic opportunities expanded for women.

    • After the end of the war, many working women left their factory jobs because they were forced to give up their jobs to returning war veterans.

    • More African Americans migrated to large cities because industry was expanding.

    • GI Bill (1944)- Extended educational and housing opportunities to war veterans. Provided federal funds for veterans to attend college.

    • U.S. government ordered rationing during WWII to conserve raw materials for the war effort.

    • To help pay for WWII, the U.S. government relied heavily on the sale of war bonds (lends from citizens to help fund the war. Also contributed to the national debt).

    • WWII impacted the U.S. economically by accelerating its recovery from the Great Depression.

    • Manhattan Project- U.S. project to develop an atomic bomb.

    Koremetsu v. U.S. - The U.S. government considered Japanese Americans a threat to national security during WWII, causing them to place Japanese Americans in confinement in internment camps.

    • Supreme Court said that the removal of Japanese Americans from their homes was constitutional because this type of action was necessary during a national emergency.

    • Supreme Court ruled that wartime conditions justified limitations being placed on civil liberties.

    • Many Japanese lost their homes and businesses.

    President Harry Truman

    • Fair Deal- continue reforms begun during FDR's presidency

    • Decided to drop atomic bombs on Japan (Hiroshima & Nagasaki) because the bombs' destructive power might end the war quickly.

    • Decided to use atomic weapons against Japan in order to end the war while limiting the loss of American lives.

    • Truman believed that an invasion of Japan would result in excessive casualties.

    • Advanced the cause of civil rights for African Americans by ordering the desegregation of the Armed Forces (Black and White troops fight together and are no longer separated).

    • Truman Doctrine- Originally designed to contain communism by giving aid to Greece and Turkey (later expanded by Eisenhower).

    • Relieved General Douglas MacArthur of his command in the Korean conflict because General MacArthur challenged the concept of civilian control over the military.

    • Required loyalty checks due to the fear of communist influence in government.

    End of World War II/ Impact of World War II

    • Nuremberg Trials- Held to make German leaders accountable for the Holocaust (mass genocide against Jews and other minorities). Established the principle that leaders of a nation may be held accountable (put on trial) for crimes against humanity/ war crimes.

    • United Nations- Replaced the League of Nations in order to prevent international disputes from escalating into major wars. Unlike the League of Nations, the U.S. joined the United Nations because it recognized that efforts to achieve world peace required U.S. involvement.

    • Marshall Plan (1948-1952)- U.S. provided economic aid in order to help Europe's economic recovery after WWII.

    • U.S. foreign policy changed following WWII as the U.S. became more involved in world affairs.

    • Eleanor Roosevelt- Helped create the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    • In the decade after WWII, rapid growth in personal income contributed to the expansion of the middle class.

    1950's/ Post World War II Era

    • 1950's were marked by the beginnings of the space race, suburbanization, and a continuing baby boom.

    • Baby Boom- Population burst caused by the delay in marriages during WWII (soldiers came home from the war, got married and had lots of kids, causing a population burst).

    • Immediately after WWII, white, middle-class Americans migrated from the cities to the suburbs.

    • After WWII, the U.S. was better able than its allies to adjust its economy from wartime to peacetime because the U.S. had suffered no widespread wartime destruction (the war was not fought on U.S. soil, so U.S. cities and factories were not destroyed, unlike Europe and Japan).

    • Interstate Highway Act 1956- Increased suburban growth.

    • Population increases that resulted from the baby boom of the 1950's & 60's contributed to a rise in demand for consumer goods.

    • The post-WWII baby boom affected American society between 1945-1960 by increasing the need for educational resources.

    Cold War(1946-1989)-An era of political tension and military rivalry between the U.S. and Soviet Union (Communist Russia) after WWII, that stopped short of full-scale war (the two nations never directly fought each other in a war).

    • After WWII, the U.S. and Soviet Union were no longer allies because each nation believed that the other was a threat to its national security.

    • Developed mainly as a result of the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe (after WWII, the Soviets did not withdraw their troops from Eastern Europe).

    • Iron Curtain- Nickname given to the boundary of Soviet domination in Europe during the Cold War.

    • During the Cold War era, the U.S. and Soviet Union were hesitant to become involved in direct military conflict because of the potential for global nuclear destruction. The superpowers supported opposing sides in conflicts, but did not confront each other directly.

    • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)- Formed in 1949 in order to protect Western Europe from the Soviet Union and provide collective security against Communist aggression.

    • Marshall Plan (1948)- U.S. plan to economic aid to European nations threatened by communism.

    • Sputnik Launch (1957)- Soviet Union launched the first satellite into space. Led to American fears that the Soviets had achieved technological superiority. Heightened the space race as a form of Cold War competition.

    • Containment- U.S. policy dedicated to stop Communist influence from spreading. NATO, Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, Korean War, Vietnam War, and the Eisenhower Doctrine were examples of the U.S. foreign policy of containment (started by President Truman).

    • Truman Doctrine- Originally designed to contain communism by giving aid to Greece and Turkey.

    • Eisenhower Doctrine- Expanded the principles of the Truman Doctrine by extending Middle East military assistance in order to offset communist influence in the region.

    • Berlin Airlift- Soviet forces cut off Berlin from the Western world, causing the U.S. to airlift supplies to West Berlin.

    • Fall of the Berlin Wall is most closely associated with the end of the Cold War.

    McCarthy Era- Resulted from charges that Communists had infiltrated the U.S. government.

    • Senator Joseph McCarthy- Led a "witch hunt" for Communist spies in the U.S. government during the early 1950's.

    • McCarthyism- Fear of communist influence in the U.S. The term has since been applied to events that are related to reckless accusations unsupported by evidence.

    • Opponents of the Senate hearings led by McCarthy during the 1950's argued that these investigations violatedthe constitutional rights of many people.

    • The reputations of many people were ruined by false accusations of disloyalty.

    • Execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg reflected the post-WWII concern over spying by communists in the U.S. (the Rosenberg's were executed in the U.S. for being Soviet spies.)

    Korean War (1950-1953)-Civil war between Communist North Korea (supported by Communist China & Soviet Union) and South Korea (supported by the U.S and United Nations).

    • U.S. intervened in the war because of its policy of containment (stop the spread of communism).

    • Marked the first time that the United Nations used military force to oppose aggression.

    • General Douglas MacArthur was relieved of his command in the Korean War because he threatened constitutional principle of civilian control of the military.

    • Presidential wartime powers were expanded.

    • Major outcome of the Korean War was that Korea continued to be a divided nation (neither side was able to win).

    Vietnam War- Civil war between Communist North Vietnam and U.S. backed South Vietnam.

    • U.S. became involved to prevent the spread of communism in Southeast Asia/Indochina (following the policy of containment).

    • Domino Theory- Idea that if one country falls to communism, others around it will as well. Used by the U.S. as a justification for the Vietnam War.

    • Different from World War II because the Vietnam War caused a significant amount of protest in the U.S. The Berkeley demonstrations, riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and the Kent State protest all reflect student disapproval of the war. Protests against the Vietnam war grew in the late 1960's and early 1970's because many Americans believed that the war was unjust.

    • The ratification for the 26th amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18, was a result of the participation of the U.S. in the Vietnam War (many 18 year olds went to war, causing the people to feel they deserved the right to vote).

    • Presidential wartime powers were expanded during the war (but limited after).

    • U.S. pulls out of Vietnam in 1975 resulting in a North Vietnam victory and all of Vietnam falling to communism.

    Effects of Vietnam War

    • The War Powers Act 1973- Limited the president's ability to send troops into combat abroad (asserted the role of Congress in the commitment of troops). Passed by Congress as a response to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

    • The U.S. questioned its role as a police officer of the world.

    • Caused a reluctance to commit U.S. troops for extended military action abroad.

    • Showed that foreign policy can be altered by public opinion.

    • Led to greater public distrust of governmental policies.

    • U.S. experience in the war showed that superior military technology does not guarantee victory.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower

    • Eisenhower Doctrine 1957- an effort by the U.S. to counter the influence of the Soviet Union in the Middle East.

    • Used the "Domino Theory" to justify U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

    • Sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957 to enforce a Supreme Court decision to desegregate public schools.

    • In a farewell message to the American public, Eisenhower warned of the growth of the "military-industrial complex" referring to the influence of defense contractors on Congress.

    President John F. Kennedy

    • Established the Peace Corps- Gave support to developing nations.

    • Bav of Pies Invasion 1961- An effort supported by Kennedy to remove a communist dictator (Fidel Castro) from power in Cuba. Kennedy's most significant foreign policy failure.

    • Cuban Missile Crisis 1962- The Soviet Union placed nuclear weapons in Cuba (only 90 miles off the U.S. coast). Kennedy attempted to deal with the situation by imposing a naval blockade to isolate Cuba from the Soviet Union. Eventually led to Kennedy negotiating the limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union.

    • New Frontier- Program that was successful in expanding the U.S. space program. The Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite which led Kennedy to set a goal of landing a man on the Moon and increase funding for science and math education.

    Civil Rights Movement

    • Movement to end segregation based on race during the 1960's.

    • Civil Disobedience- Lunch counter sit-ins and freedom riders are examples of nonviolent attempts to oppose segregation.
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