We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Revision Notes – the USA 1945 to 1980 Essay Sample

  • Pages: 28
  • Word count: 7,557
  • Rewriting Possibility: 99% (excellent)
  • Category: war

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues.

Get Access

Introduction of TOPIC

After the First World War the USA had returned to a policy of isolationism, but when war broke out in 1939, President Roosevelt wanted to help Britain and prepare the USA for war against Germany. He asked congress for $1,300,000,000 to build up the army. He signed a deal to send destroyers to Britain. He signed the lend lease act which allowed the USA to “lend” military equipment to Britain, to be returned or paid for at the end of the war.

What was the effect of the Second World War on the USA ?

1. The economy. The USA had suffered before the war in the great depression, and there had been much unemployment. The war changed this. Employment fell rapidly. In early 1941 there were 8 million people out of work. By the end of 1944 it was only 1.4%. 16,000,000 Us citizens joined the armed forces. Many had never travelled abroad before. Many students left education early to fill jobs as there was so much work. Federal spending rose 1000% during the war.

Wartime production of goods carried on into peace time. Europe was devastated by the war and the US had very little competition in the world for her manufactured goods. This means the US economy did very well out of the war. Big firms like General Motors, Chrysler, General Electric and Ford, exported their goods around the world. The USA became the richest country in the world, and was the leading nation in developing “consumer goods” such as fridges, televisions, cars and washing machines, which it exported around the world. Americans had a higher standard of living, and there was little unemployment. Richer Americans began to move out of the cities into suburbs and by 1959 25% of Americans were suburban. By 1960 nearly all Americans had a TV and a car.

2. Women workers. Women were needed in the factories to help with war production. The number of working mothers also increased rapidly. The percentage of women working rose from 27 to 37% by the end of the war. This had long term effects on the status of women in society. 300,000 women joined the army, 7 million were needed in the workforce. Rosie the riveter was a famous poster to attract women into the factories. After the war most went back to their civilian lives, but many women carried on working, and attitudes to women working had changed forever.

3. Blacks. Like women many black Americans were needed to work during the war. The government needed 16 million extra workers during the war and many of these were black Americans. In 1941 Philip Randolph organised a march of 100,000 in Washington demanding the right to “work and fight for our country”. In 1942 CORE the congress of Racial Equality was set up, which later became active in the civil rights campaign.

There was still a lot of discrimination, but Roosevelt tried to help by awarding government contracts to firms that ended discrimination in the workplace. This was the “Fair Employment Practices Committee”. Black Americans also joined the army and fought in the war. There were 1 million blacks in the army, however the often fought in black only units with white officers. Eisenhower supported integrated units in the army and by the end of the war many black and white soldiers were fighting together. Possibly the biggest influence upon them was that they were fighting a racist dictator in Germany. When these soldiers returned home they found they were treated as second class citizens and could not vote. This was a big influence on the civil rights movement. By 1946 the NAACP had 460,000 members.

4. Japanese Americans. They were interned during the war and many lost their homes and property as a result. 120,000 were rounded up into camps in California alone. Although later many Japanese Americans served in the armed forces, and some argued that internment was against the US constitution.

5. Anti Communism. The US was fighting alongside Russia during the war, but immediately after the war tension between the USA and USSR increased as the Cold War began. Before the war many people had been afraid of communism, and these feelings returned in the late 40’s as the conflict between the capitalist west and the communist east increased. This set the stage for the “red Scare” in the 50’s and McCarthy’s witch hunts. In 1947 Truman declared that America would oppose communism across the world, and developed the Marshall plan to help build strong democratic, pro American states in Europe.

The Red Scare. 1945 to 1950

Immediately after the war the USA and USSR embarked in a long “Cold War” which divided the world into the Capitalist West and the Communist East. They stockpiled weapons against each other and came into conflict over Berlin in 1948 and Korea in 1950. In 1949 China went communist, the USSR exploded its first atomic bomb, and the USA began to fear that they were under threat.

1. The FBI under its anti- communist director J Edgar Hoover, had fought suspected communists in the 1930’s. In 1947 Truman, who was fighting communism abroad, allowed Hoover to set up the “Federal Employee Loyalty Programme” The FBI could investigate any government worker if they suspected they were a communist. In 3 years to 1950 they investigated 4 million people.

2. The House Un-American Activities Committee, was a government body which had the right o investigate anyone suspected of being a communist. Hoover told the committee that he knew many prominent people in American life were communists. He picked on Hollywood actors and producers, and the HUAC called them to give evidence. If anyone refused to answer their questions they were jailed for contempt of court. This made the HUAC very important, as now everyone had heard of it and many well known people were suspected of communist leanings. People could lose their jobs and go on the “Black List” a secret list held by Hoover, of all the people he felt could be communists.

3. In 1948 Alger Hiss, a senior member of the government, was prosecuted for spying for the Russians (by a young Richard Nixon.). Hiss spent 5 years in jail, and as a result people began to fear that even well respected members of the government could be secret communists.

4. Atomic Spies. In 1950 there was another spy scandal, this time involving scientists who were working on the US atomic bomb, and passing secrets to the Russians to enable them to make their own. The most famous were Klaus Fuchs, a German born British Physicist, and the Rosenbergs, a US couple who were tried and executed in 1953.

5. Finally the McCarran act said that no communist could have a US passport or work in the defence industries.


From 1945 to 1950, people had been lead to believe that there were secret communists in all walks of life who were working towards the overthrow of the US government. This was the atmosphere that Senator Joseph McCarthy used in 1950 to advance his political career.

In 1950 McCarthy claimed he had a list of 205 communists in the state department. He also said he had a list of 57 communists in the government. This claim was not true, most had been people the FBI had investigated but found innocent. When a Senate committee chairman said that McCarthy’s claim was false, McCarthy simply accused him of being a communist.

McCarthy’s tactics were simple.

1. He made a claim or an accusation against an individual or organisation that they were communists.

2. If people criticised him for this he simply made an accusation against them. He said they were Un-American, or that they were themselves secret communists.

These tactics frightened people into silence, as no one wanted to make an enemy of McCarthy and find themselves on one of his lists. This is what is known as a “Witch Hunt”

McCarthy had a lot of success.

1. Eisenhower appointed him head of a committee to investigate the government.

2. In 1952 and 53 he extended his investigations into all walks of life.

3. He attacked senior figures in the army and education. 100 lecturers were fired. 324 Hollywood actors writers and producers were sacked and blacklisted.

Many Americans believed he was defending the country and saw him as a crusader against communism. They believed that communism was a real threat to the USA. In 1951 the war was going badly in Korea and McCarthy forced general Marshall to resign for “deliberately allowing communist victories”. He was accusing Marshall of being a communist himself.

However no more that 50% of the public supported him and many people spoke out against him despite the threats. In 1954 he overreached himself and his campaign began to falter. McCarthy was never able to produce any actual facts to support his case but relied on fear and accusation. He often claimed to have evidence which he later was unable to produce.

1. He accused the army of being riddled with communists. Most people admired their military and did not believe these accusations.

2. Many senators spoke against him and in 1954 he was censured by the senate.

3. Hollywood stars protested against his actions

4. Two major newspapers turned against him. The New York Times and the Washington Post.

5. Ed Murrow produced a film in 1954 exposing McCarthy’s methods. The HUAC hearings on television showed McCarthy as a bully.

6. McCarthy was by now an alcoholic

7. McCarthy died in 1957 his career in ruins.

However those blacklisted were often unable to get jobs for years. Many prominent people left the USA never to return.

Civil Rights

Black Americans (who made up about 12% of the population) were descended from slaves brought over from Africa to work in the tobacco, cotton and sugar plantations. They were theoretically freed in 1863 but still suffered from poverty segregation and discrimination, particularly in the South where most Blacks lived.

At the end of the war 17 states in the South, still enforced the “Jim Crow” laws. These laws enforced segregation in almost every sphere of public life. Parks, transport, schools, cinemas, toilets, cafes and restaurants, were all segregated between black and white.

Black Americans could expect to have worse schooling and no access to good universities. They found it hard to register to vote, usually by intimidation but sometimes by forcing them to pass a test in order to vote. They were terrorised by the local Ku Klux Klan, and could expect little protection from the police. There was also discrimination in the area of employment and pay.

The start of the civil rights movement

1946-7 Truman tried to outlaw the Jim Crow laws and reform the laws on the treatment of Blacks, but this was thrown out by congress. An important section of Truman’s own party, the southern democrats, voted against the law. However Truman was able to end segregation completely in the armed forces which came into effect in 1950.

Education was the first battleground in the civil rights movement. Most states had some form of segregated schooling, and if Black and white could go to the same school they were sometimes segregated into separate classes.

In 1950 the supreme court declared that Black and White could not be taught in separate classes in the same school. They also said that black schools should provide and equal education to white schools.

1954 The first victory in the struggle for civil rights came in Kansas.

Schools were segregated in Kansas and the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) represented by Thurgood Marshall, brought a court case in 1952 to challenge these laws. The supreme court could declare the segregation of schools “Unconstitutional” which would force the state to integrate schools.

In 1954 in the case of “Brown vs the school board of Topeka” the Supreme Court ruled that forcing a black girl, (Linda Brown) to go to an all black school was unconstitutional. In 1955 they ordered all segregated schooling to be ended, because separate schools must mean that educational opportunities were unequal, and therefore unconstitutional

This set the pattern for Civil Rights campaigns. Black organisations such as the NAACP would bring a case to challenge a “Jim Crow” law as unconstitutional. This would force the states to do something to change it.

1957. The second test case came in Little Rock. Elizabeth Eckford and eight other black students tried to enrol at little rock high school in Kansas. The governor Orval Faubus, ordered the local state troops to stop the students from entering the college. He claimed this was for “their own safety, as he could not guarantee they would not be attacked by the crowds that had gathered. Eisenhower called out federal troops to force the governor to allow them to attend. The troops were there for a year. This is important because it demonstrated that the federal government was determined to force the states to accept the ruling of the supreme court. In 1957 Eisenhower went further and passed a civil rights act which would prosecute anyone who denied another American their civil rights. The case attracted world wide attention, and in 1958 Arkansas was forced to integrate all the schools in the state.

However, many states dragged their feet. By 1963 there were only 30,000 children in integrated schools in the south out of nearly 3 million. Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina were still entirely segregated.

1955 Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The civil rights movement began in earnest when martin Luther King formed the MIA or Montgomery Improvement Association. In Montgomery Alabama. The MIA decided they were going to protest at the segregation of busses by refusing to ride the bus and boycotting the bus company. The boycott lasted for months and the bus company lost 60% of its income. This was the first major example of Non Violent Direct Action, and is therefore very important. It showed that peaceful protest could work, and became the main weapon used by MLK to challenge discrimination. There was much intimidation of blacks at this time. Bombings, burnings and shootings were tried to stop the boycott.

In 1956 the supreme court declared segregation on the busses to be illegal

After this decision more and more groups were formed to began to use this form of protest. They were the

SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee) organised student protests.

SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), was run by MLK.

CORE (Congress of Racial Equality)

1960 Greensboro, in Woolworths, 85 black and white SNCC students began a”Sit in” and demanded to be served at a whites only counter. Eventually 70,000 took part and 3,600 went to jail. The violence was seen on TV and attracted widespread sympathy.

1960 in Nashville. 500 students began protests which resulted in the desegregation of the town

1961 CORE began the “Freedom Rides” which were attempts to force the desegregation of busses. The activists rode segregated busses in the south, and were often the victims of violence and intimidation. The SNCC then joined them and this form of protest saw some of the worst violence of the civil rights campaign. In late 61 all bus and railway stations were desegregated.

However the non violent protests had an effect and by 1961 the New president Kennedy had committed himself to bringing in a civil rights bill which would outlaw all forms of segregation and discrimination. Kennedy also said he wanted to increase the number of Blacks who could vote, as this would ensure they had a voice in their communities.

Kennedy had made promises, but seemed to some to be slow in acting on civil rights. He was concerned that the southern democrats who had stopped Truman’s programme in the 40s would also stop him from moving too quickly on civil rights. However he did do some things. He began to appoint blacks to important positions, and got his brother Robert, as Attorney General, to prosecute people for civil rights violations.

In 1962 Kennedy sent in the Civil Guard and Federal troops to Mississippi to make sure that James Meredith, a black student, could attend university. 23,000 troops were needed when rioting broke out.

style="text-align: justify;">In 1962 Robert Kennedy started the Voter Education Project to encourage

Sorry, but full essay samples are available only for registered users

Choose a Membership Plan
blacks to register to vote.

The Voting Rights Campaign was the result. The NAACP conducted campaigns to increase the number of blacks who were registered to vote. They often faced intimidation and worse at the polling booths.

In 1962 some of the worst rioting took place when the city of Birmingham closed all parks and public places in a desperate attempt to avoid integrating them. By 1963 the momentum for civil rights was growing. Martin Luther King organised a campaign which was met by the police commissioner Eugene Connor, with water cannon, dogs and baton charges. There were 500 arrests per day, King himself was arrested along with 1000 others. The whole event was seen on TV which sickened most Americans. In 1963 Kennedy forced them to give way

Washington and the Freedom Summer.

In 1963 Kennedy introduced a civil rights bill to congress, but it was bogged down and resisted, as Kennedy had predicted, by his own supporters in the South.

Later that year came the Washington march when over 250,000 blacks and whites marched together in the capital in support of the bill. It was at this march that King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech, which had a tremendous impact on US public opinion. Kennedy allowed himself to be photographed with King and others and for the first time associated himself with the civil rights movement directly.

1964 was labelled the “Freedom Summer”

Kennedy was killed in 1963, and Lyndon Johnson, his successor, committed himself to passing Kennedy’s civil rights bill. This was signed in July 1964, making discrimination illegal across the United States. The hated “Jim Crow” laws had finally gone. It stated that

1. Segregation in education and housing is illegal.

2. All Americans were entitled to equal employment opportunities.

3. All federal projects must be integrated.

1965 Voting Rights Act

The SCLC continued to try and register as many blacks as possible and the campaign continued into 1965. In March of that year King organised a march in Selma, Alabama, which had one of the worst records for denying blacks the right to vote. There was great violence on the march and this encouraged Johnson to bring in the “Voting Rights Act” in 1965 to ensure that blacks could register and vote.

After 1965 some major cities in the USA had their first black mayors. Detroit, Atlanta and Cleveland for example.

Malcolm X and Black Nationalism

From 1955 to 1964 the civil rights movement was mainly peaceful, influenced by MLK’s philosophy of non violence. However not all blacks were in favour of MLK’s non violent approach to civil rights. Between 1965 and the end of the decade the nature of the civil rights movement changed and became more violent.

Many felt that the pace of change was too slow. They believed that society was fundamentally racist and that nothing could change it. There was an increased interest in Islam which was seen as a black religion. Some rejected the idea of integration and wanted a separate black society. This was known as Black Separatism.

Among these were Malcolm X, who was a follower of the Nation of Islam, and Stokely Carmichael. Malcolm X believed that the civil rights movement held back black people, and wanted a separate black nation, by force if necessary. He was killed in 1965. Stokely Carmichael was a student who was elected to lead the SNCC in 1966. He proposed his ideas of “Black Power” that non-violence was not working at that blacks needed to seize power to improve their status in society, by violence if necessary. He wanted a separate black state.

Another group formed at this time were the “Black Panthers” a political party and also a secret terrorist organisation with about 2000 members. They wanted to arm the blacks of America and force the government to give them equal rights.

This more violent approach had an effect on the civil rights movement. There were riots in big American cities from 1965 to 1967. Many of the rioters were simply expressing their frustration at the slow pace of change and the treatment they still received from the almost completely white police force. Most cities were divided into “Ghettos” where the blacks lived, which had the poorest housing and environment. However some rioters were influenced by the violent speeches of Malcolm X and Carmichael.

There were riots in Watts in LA in 1965 with 30,000 rioters, resulting in 34 deaths. There were also riots in Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland and new York. 1967 saw rioting in 150 cities the worst being Detroit in 1967. It looked like a civil war was breaking out in America. A study in 1968 said that the main cause of the riots was black frustration at their continuing situation. When king was assassinate din 1968, fresh violence broke out.

The final Civil Rights Act of 1968 banned discrimination in housing. After this date the government programmes began to have an effect and more blacks were appointed to prominent positions. The Great Society programme helped the poorest, and unemployment among blacks fell in the 1970s


John Fitzgerald Kennedy also known as Jack Kennedy or simply JFK was born in 1917 into a wealthy Irish Catholic family. He served in the Navy and became a senator after the war, promoted by his millionaire father.

In 1946 he was elected to congress and served for six years but was a poor attendee at debates and had a mixed voting record and often voted against his party. 1952, he was elected to the U.S. Senate and married socialite Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953. Jackie was a great asset to Kennedy, adding a touch of glamour to his campaigns, and becoming a fashion icon of her day.

Kennedy was very good on television and was one of the first presidents to really understand how to use the media his advantage. Kennedy at 43 was the youngest person ever to be elected President and he and his equally young wife “Jackie” were both extraordinarily popular influencing fashion trends and becoming the subjects of numerous photo spreads in popular magazines.

The New Frontier

In his inaugural address he spoke of the need for all Americans to be active citizens. He famously remarked, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

This was a call for the younger generation of Americans to get involved in society and voluntary work. He also promised to stand up to Communism and defend liberty around the world. He famously said “we will help any friend, oppose any foe, and bear any burden in defence of Liberty”.

As one of his first presidential acts, Kennedy created the Peace Corps. Through this program, Americans volunteered to help underdeveloped nations in areas such as education, farming, health care and construction.

Kennedy often said that America was on the verge of a “new frontier” and that the 60’s would see a period of rapid change and improvement in Civil Rights, Education, and Scientific progress. This phrase came to encapsulate Kennedy’s programme which was a mixture of social welfare, progress on black emancipation and a drive to develop America’s space programme, with a declaration that the USA would put a man on the moon by the end of the 60’s.

The “New Frontier” in practice

At home Kennedy was promising an ambitious programme including federal funding for education, medical care for the elderly, and government intervention to halt the recession. Kennedy also promised an end to racial discrimination. In fact many people say that Kennedy had laid out the “Great Society” programme of the next president Johnson in his first term, but failed to get the measures passed in congress.

Kennedy tried to improve the economy

1. He cut taxes to improve the economy

2. Tried to invest in high tech businesses

3. Tried to create new jobs with government money. A programme of public works costing 900 million dollars

4. Increased defence spending which brought jobs

5. Increased investment in space technology


1. Traditional industries were still in decline

2. Black unemployment was still a problem

3. Company profits didn’t always improve the lives of the poorest

Kennedy tried to tackle poverty

1. Increased the minimum wage from $1 to $1.25

2. The Area Redevelopment Act tried to improve poor communities

3. The Housing Act tried to clear slums and improve housing

4. The Social Security Act gave more money to the elderly and unemployed

5. The Manpower Development and Training Act tried to help the unemployed

6. He also tried to introduce a system of health insurance


1. Housing loans were often not available to the very poorest

2. The minimum wage didn’t help the unemployed

3. Slum clearance lead to housing shortages in some areas

4. Black immigration from south to north created extra problems

JFK’s greatest achievement was to promote Civil Rights and to press for a comprehensive Civil Rights Bill. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in 1954 that racial segregation in public schools would no longer be permitted. However, many schools, especially in southern states, did not obey. Segregation on buses, in restaurants, movie theaters, bathrooms, and other public places remained.

Kennedy thought that the movement for civil rights would only anger many southern whites and make it even more difficult to pass civil rights laws through Congress, which was dominated by Southern Democrats, as a result, many civil rights leaders thought Kennedy did not do enough quickly enough to end discrimination.

However in 1962, when James Meredith tried to enroll at the University of Mississippi, but was prevented from doing so by white students, Kennedy responded by sending some 400 federal marshals and 3,000 troops to ensure that Meredith could enrol in his first class. Kennedy also assigned federal marshals to protect Freedom Riders who were being attacked by whites opposed to integration.In June 1963, President Kennedy intervened when Alabama Governor George Wallace blocked the doorway to the University of Alabama to stop two African American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from enrolling. George Wallace moved aside after being confronted by federal marshals.

In 1963 JFK was shot dead in Dallas with his legislative programme unfinished. Since then he has been often named as one of the greatest presidents of the US by the American People, however others argued that this reputation is undeserved. He was very optimistic about his new frontier programme, but most of his promises were kept by his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson.

Lyndon Baines Johnson or LBJ

Johnson was a long serving democrat congressman and was president from November1963 till his announcement that he would not run for president a second time in 1968. He was renowned for his domineering personality and arm twisting of powerful politicians. This often involved the use of the legendary Johnson “Treatment” which would involve cajoling, pleading, demanding, and arm twisting of senators to get what he wanted. Sometimes people accused Johnson of stepping over the line into outright “dirty tricks”, but he got the job done and was respected for his ability in congress. He was much better than Kennedy at getting his bills passed by congress.


He was born in Stonewall Texas one of a family of 5 children in a small farmhouse in a poor area. This experience was a big influence on Johnson and was to come back years later when he attempted to create his famous “Great Society”

The wave of national grief after Kennedy’s assassination gave Johnson the chance to carry out Kennedy’s programs. Financially the US economy was strong, and Johnson expected would remain strong for the next few years, giving him the increase in Tax revenue which would enable him to pay for his programme. He also felt that within 2 years he would have lost the momentum of sympathy and support from Kennedy’s death and that after 1966 things would be more difficult for him. He called this his political “Honeymoon” this short period would be his window of opportunity and he knew he had to work quickly.

Johnson also had an eye on the support of the blacks in the south and poor whites who he was determined to help. As a democrat his position depended on the support of these groups, and Johnson felt that his loyalty to them would be repaid by support in 1968, particularly by the millions of black voters in the south who would be voting for the first time.

The Great Society program

Civil Rights



Urban renewal and the development of depressed regions

Measures against poverty

The right to vote.

Civil Rights

In 64 and 65 Johnson passed two major civil rights bills. The first, the Civil Rights Act, made the old Jim Crow laws in the southern states illegal.

The second, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, enabled millions of blacks in the south to vote for the first time.

Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court, making him the first Black American on the Supreme Court.

The Economy

Johnson Cut Taxes, this helped the better off.

He increased the minimum wage

He also introduced laws to protect the consumer.


Inflation continued to rise and so did unemployment. The cost of the Vietnam war AND the great Society programme was probably to blame. Also US companies invested abroad rather than in the USA.


He also increased funding for universities, which helped the middle class. But he also passed the Elementary and Secondary Education act in 1965 which put money into education in poor areas. For the first time large amounts of money went to state schools. He also gave funding for poor college students, including grants, work-study money, and government loans.

Medical Care Act 1965

Millions of elderly people were aided by the 1965 Medicare amendment to the Social Security Act. Poor people received federal money for medical care through the Medicaid program

The Poor

He also introduced measures to help the poorest such as food stamps and help to families with children. The Office of Economic Opportunity set up schemes to help the poor in the cities. The Appalachian Recovery Programme was designed to help a run down area of the USA.


He also tried to clear slums and provide better facilities in the inner city with his Model Cities Act in 1966

How Successful was the Great Society?

1966 was the high point of Johnson’s time as president. Slowly other factors were coming into play, particularly the loss of support in Congress, from the people and the opposition to the war in Vietnam. The biggest problem for Johnson was the cost of the war, which, after 1965 came to cost nearly 20 billion a year, and which drew money away from his Great Society programme. After the congressional elections of 1966 congress was increasingly reluctant to grant Johnson money to pursue his programme and the war. There wasn’t enough money for both, Johnson was made to realise he would have to chose. By 1968, the US deficit was 18 billion a year. Johnson had predicted it would be only 1 billion. Johnson had to wind down many of his programmes through lack of money.

From 1964 to 68 there were a series of “long hot summers.” In America characterised by rioting and disturbances in major cities.

Harlem in 1964, the Watts district of Los Angeles in 1965 and Detroit in 1967. In Detroit there were fire bombings, looting, and attacks on white-owned businesses and on police. Johnson finally sent in federal troops with tanks and machine guns. Detroit continued to burn for three more days until finally 40 were dead, 2000 were injured, 4000 were arrested; property damage ranged into the hundreds of millions; much of inner Detroit was never rebuilt

The biggest wave came in April, 1968, when riots occurred in over a hundred cities in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King. Johnson’s popularity plummeted and in 1968 he shocked the nation when he announced he would not run for re-election

The Changing Role of Women in the USA

Why did demands for equality for women develop?

The second world war had given women new roles and opportunities.

The Birth Control Pill had become available in the 1960s

In 1961 JFK appointed Eleanor Roosevelt to head a Commission on the status of women.

How did the role of women change?

The Equal pay Act of 1963 stated that men and women had to be given the same pay for the same work.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination on the grounds of gender.

In 1966 the National Organisation for Women was set up. By 1970 it had 40,000 members.

In 1972 the Educational Amendment Act banned all forms of gender discrimination in education including in school books.

In 1976 women were admitted to West Point and Anapolis, the elite academies for the army and naval officers.

The Student Movement

Young People’s Protest began in the 1950s Beatnik poets like Allen Ginsberg protested at the smug life of suburbia. He suggested dropping out, taking drugs, etc.

Rock and Roll outraged middle class America in 1955. Teenagers music became a separate world. James Dean and Elvis Presley became the heroes of the younger generation.

In the 60s youth protest increased. More people were in education, and therefore not in a job, and had free time to get involved in protest. The Civil Rights Movement was a great influence on the youth of America and encouraged them to question their society.

The Vietnam War and the Bombing of civilians lead to many student protests. 3 million Americans, mainly young men, some college students, served in the war. Many started using drugs to help them cope with their experiences.

The protesters turned on Johnson with the chant

Hey Hey LBJ! How many kinds did you kill today?

The issues of Civil Rights and Vietnam came together when blacks realised they were more likely to be conscripted than whites

1968 was the peak of protest, and “make Love Not War” the main rallying cry of the Hippy generation. In 1970 four students at Kent State were killed by National Guardsmen during a protest.


Nixon built his political career in being fiercely anti-communist. He used the accusation of communist sympathies as a weapon against his enemies and opponents in congress and the senate. It was no surprise when he became a member of the House Un-American activities Committee and prosecuted many individuals for their suspected communist links. Nixon came to prominence during the era of McCarthy witch hunts and Anti Communist Hysteria.

His investigation of Alger Hiss pushed Nixon into the public eye and made him a hero to the conservative anti-communist public and press. Nixon earned the nickname of “Tricky Dicky.” Because of his use of dirty tricks and underhand dealings. During this time Nixon was accused of using money donated by people for his own purposes. This was the first time anyone had accused Nixon of using campaign money in this way. Later during Watergate it was revealed that Nixon had a slush fund in the Whitehouse with which he paid people to bug his opponents.

In 1960, Nixon lost the election to John F. Kennedy, before coming back to get the Republican nomination for president in 1968. Nixon appealed to what he called the “silent majority” of conservative Americans who disliked the hippie counterculture and anti-war demonstrators. Nixon said he would pull troops out of Vietnam and promised peace with honour.

Nixon’s greatest achievement was in foreign policy. Once in office, he proposed that American troops be withdrawn from Vietnam and argued for a peace treaty with the North. Eventually in 1973, most US soldiers had gone. To help achieve this he ordered the Bombing of North Vietnam and ordered secret bombing campaigns in Cambodia in1969 and later escalated the conflict with secretly bombing Laos before Congress cut the funding for the conflict in Vietnam.


Nixon’s second great policy achievement was the changing relationship with the Chinese and Soviets called “D�tente” In 1971, a move was made to improve relations when China invited an American table tennis team to China which was given the nickname “Ping Pong Diplomacy”. Nixon sent Henry Kissinger on a secret mission to China in July 1971, after which a stunned world was told that Nixon intended to visit Communist China in 1972. The first Strategic Arms Limitation Talks were finally concluded the same year with the SALT I treaty which was designed to limit the use of Nuclear Weapons and reduce tension between the worlds superpowers.

The Economy

As President, Nixon imposed wage and price controls, and created the Environmental Protection Agency. He also implemented the Philadelphia Plan, a programme to help Black Americans into work.

During Nixon’s presidency more Black Americans went to college

Nixon was hugely popular in 1972 and was re-elected in one of the biggest landslide election victories in U.S. political history. defeating Senator George McGovern and garnering over 60% of the popular vote.


The one thing that Nixon will be remembered for long after his successes are forgotten is the Watergate scandal. The term Watergate has since been used to describe a huge amount of illegal and secret activities undertaken by Nixon or his aides during his administration.

These began as early as 1969, when Nixon and Kissinger tapped the phones of many journalists and government officials to find out who was leaking information to the press. It was this effort that lead to the formation of a group of security staff inside the Whitehouse who would stop the leaks. As a kind of joke they called themselves the “plumbers”. It was to be this group “the plumbers” under former CIA agent Howard Hunt who would later try and bug the Watergate building in Washington where the Democratic party had its headquarters. Other episodes included burglary and getting the FBI to investigate people they didn’t like

In June 1972 Nixon’s men were caught breaking into Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington DC. They were linked to the White House and later it was discovered that Nixon had told the FBI not to investigate the men and therefore had tried to cover up the burglary.

It also emerged that Nixon had a slush fund of millions of dollars in a white house safe, and that they had drawn up an “enemies list” of people they wanted to be damaged. Nixon’s role in ordering an illegal cover-up came to light in the press. Nixon had evaded taxes, accepted illegal money, ordered secret bombings, and harassed opponents using the FBI, buggings, and break-ins. When the senate began an investigation they learned that the President had taped all of his conversations in the Whitehouse since 1971.These conversations were revealed and showed details of his complicity in the cover-up. They also revealed Nixon to be a foul mouthed racist who peppered his everyday speech with swearwords.

Finally he had tried to bribe some of the “plumbers” to keep quiet. He paid them $460,000 each. In light of his loss of political support and the near certainty of being convicted and possibly jailed, he resigned in August 1974, after addressing the nation on television the previous evening.

What were the effects of the Watergate scandal.

It was one of a sereis of revelations about the US presidents that had hit Americans hard. The truth about Kennedy’s affairs were already beginning to come out, and Nixon’s own Vice President, Spiro Agnew, had been forced to resign for tax evasion.

Thirty one of Nixon’s staff and advisors went to jail as a result of the investigations

Congress acted to reduce the power of the president. In future he would have to consult Congress before sending US troops into action, and top using federal Money for personal reasons. They also set a limit on contributions to presidential campaign funds and allowed private citizens to see any files the government held on them.

The long term result was a decline in respect for and trust in politicians. Gerald Ford, Nixon’s Vice president, was defeated at the election on 1976 and Jimmy Carter was elected as a new face, untainted by association with the old regime.

We can write a custom essay on

Revision Notes – the USA 1945 to 1980 Essay ...
According to Your Specific Requirements.

Order an essay

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

The Civil Rights Act and Reconstruction Act

The American Civil War and Reconstruction Era have caused a general and social change, most particularly for the African Americans in the South. The passing of the Civil Rights Act, Reconstruction Act, and the unwritten Compromise of 1877 to end Reconstruction was all a fight for the African Americans to gain their equality and freedom. The Civil War had entirely changed how Americans viewed their morals. During the American Civil War and Reconstruction period, continuity and change were constantly occurring through the legislations that the President and government were passing, along with the impact it had on the African Americans, and the southerners reaction to these new measures. One of the legislations that were passed by Congress that had impacted the African Americans and white southerners were the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 purpose was to protect the Freedmen from the Black Codes and...

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood overview

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is based on the anxieties of the 1980’s impending nuclear war and the issues of gender and reproduction. Atwood portrays a dystopian society based in a republic called Gilead, which is run by a theocratic and misogynist dictatorship. The society distorts the hierarchy of its citizens from the modern world, to one that characterizes males as the ruling class, who oversee women in servant roles. Most of the women population of Gilead is infertile, while the women that still have the ability of child- bearing, live under sexual degradation as handmaids in the households of the Commanders that act as the ruling class. By using a feminist and Marxist viewpoint to analyze the novel, it magnifies the power that women have over themselves and others regardless of their suppression and to further the agenda of men. Due to economic factors, the Gileadean society is...

The hybrid threat of the Second Indochina...

The hybrid threat of the Second Indochina War significantly contributed to the unification of Vietnam and the only known loss to the United States of America. The combination of assistance from Communist allies to the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, along with the tactics utilized, played a monumental role in defeating the Republic of South Vietnam and the U. S. These regular and irregular forces’ working together in conjunction of the aid rendered by China and the Soviet Union is an excellent example of a hybrid threat. The North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the Viet Cong (VC) both shared mutual desires to Re-Unify Vietnam into one country and remove the western influence within their region. The NVA utilized conventional or regular military tactics when fighting a campaign. The VC were opposite of their counterparts in their approach to fighting. The VC utilized “guerilla warfare” or irregular tactics to fight. The...

Popular Essays


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?