Civil Rights

Harry S. Truman

1945 - 1953

-First modern president to use the powers of his office to challenge racial discrimination
-Used his executive power to establish the Committee of Civil Rights
-Ordered the end of racial discrimination in the federal government

Committee of Civil Rights

December 5, 1946 - December 1947

Terms included:
-examine condition of civil rights of US
-produce a written report of their findings
-submit recommendations to improve conditions of civil rights


April 15, 1947 - April 16, 1947

-The color barrier for major league baseball was officially broken by Jackie Robinson, who played his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers on this day.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

1953 - 1961

-Signed two civil rights laws in 1957 and 1960: provided for a permanent Civil Rights Commission and gave the Justice Department new powers to protect black voting rights

Earl Warren Court

1953 - 1969

-Earl Warren: Chief Justice
-Expanded civil rights, civil liberties, judicial power, and federal power
-Brought an end to racial segregation
-Most important Warren cases include Mapp v. Ohio, Gideon v. Wainwright, Escobedo v. Illinois, and Miranda v. Arizona

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

May 17, 1954

-Called for racial desegregation of schools
-Combined 5 different cases with the same complaint
-Argued that segregation in schools was unconstitutional under the 14th amendment
-Overturned Plessy v. Ferguson

Montgomery Bus Boycott


-Rosa Parks, an African American woman who was too tired to move to the back of the bus (the African American section) was arrested for breaking the segregation law
-Sparked massive African American protest: boycott against riding city buses

Greensboro, NC

February 1960

-College students in Greensboro, NC started the sit-in movement after being refused service at a restaurant
-Students would deliberately invite arrest by sitting in restricted places
-The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was formed to keep the movement going

Mapp v. Ohio


-Ruled that illegally seized evidence can't be used in court against the accused



-James Meredith, a black Air Force veteran tried to enroll in the University of Mississippi
-A federal court guaranteed his right to attend, with support from 400 federal marshals and 3,000 troops to control mob violence so that Meredith could attend class

Feminine Mystique

February 19, 1963

-Written by Betty Freidan
-Gave the women's movement a new direction, encouraged middle class women to seek out professional careers instead of the confining roles of being a housewife

Gideon v. Wainwright

March 18, 1963

-Required that state courts provide counsel (attorney service) for poor defendants

March on Washington

August 1963

-One of the most successful and largest demonstrations in US history
-Led by Martin Luther King, Jr.
-Peaceful march on Washington to support the civil rights bill of about 200,000 blacks and whites
-Highlight: "I Have a Dream" speech by MLK Jr.

John F. Kennedy's Assassination

November 22, 1963

-Was assassinated in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald who was killed two days after the assassination
-Unanswered questions led to conspiracy theories pointing to possible involvement by organized crime, Castro, the CIA, and the FBI
-Marked loss of credibility in government for many Americans

Escobedo v. Illinois


-Required the police to inform an arrested person of his/her right to remain silent

Civil Rights Act

1964 - 1965

-Made segregation illegal in all public places
-Gave federal government additional powers to enforce school segregation
-Set up Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to end racial discrimination in employment

24th Amendment

January 23, 1964

-Abolished the practice of collecting a poll tax that had once discouraged poor people from voting
-Led to brutality in Alabama which moved Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965
-Voting Rights of 1965: ended literacy tests


1965 - 1968

-The Panthers (advocates for self-rule for American blacks) made whites suspect that black extremists were behind racial riots
-There is little evidence that the Black Power Movement was responsible
-Racism and segregation was responsible, concluded by the Kerner Commission

Miranda v. Arizona


-Extended the ruling in Escobedo v. Illinois to include the right to a lawyer being present during questioning by police

National Organization of Women (NOW)


-Adopted activist tactics of other civil rights movements to secure equal treatment of women
-Betty Freidan helped found the organization, also wrote the Feminine Mystique
-Congress had already enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Equal Pay Act of 1963



-Political protests went hand in hand with a new counterculture
-Counterculture expressed by young people in rebellious dress, music, drug use, and communal living
-1969 was the last fling at the Woodstock Music Festival; this gathering of thousands of hippies reflected zenith of counterculture

Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)


-"Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied of abridged by the US or by any state on the account of sex"
-The amendment missed acceptance by required 38 states
-Defeated in '70s because of conservative reaction to radical feminists

Cold War



-Reactivated to find Communists
-Investigated government officials and looked for communist influence in organizations
-UN-American American Activities Committee

Atomic Weapons

1945 - 1949

-US was the only nation that had an atomic bomb

Defense Policy


-Not official date.
-International security and military and comprises the measures and initiatives that governments do or do not take in relation to decision-making and strategic goals

Containment Policy


-Used to prevent the spread of communism
-Policy created by George Kennan

Truman Doctrine

March 12, 1947

-US supported Greece and Turkey with economic and military aid
-Tried to prevent communism catching up with Greece and Turkey

National Security Act

July 26, 1947

-Established the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
-Reorganized the Armed Forces

Marshall Plan

April 1948

-Economic plan to aid Europe
-Aid to help European economies, so they wouldn't easily fall to communism

Berlin Airlift

June 18,1948

-Soviets cut off all land routes to Berlin
-US flew over Berlin to give supplies to those who had been cut off


April 4, 1949

Joseph McCarthy

1950 - 1954

-Used concern of Communism in reelection campaign
-Was favored by many but in 1954, televised hearing ruined his career

Effects of Truman v. MacArthur


-Americans favored MacArthur’s statement better than the president’s containment policy
-Truman and Democrats were viewed by many as appeasers for not trying to destroy communism in Asia

Second Red Scare


Truman administration’s tendency to see a Communist conspiracy behind civil wars in Europe and Asia contributed to the belief that there were also Communist conspirators and spies in the US State Department, the military, and all institutions

Truman v. MacArthur


-MacArthur made public statements that suggested criticism of official US policy
-Truman recalled MacArthur for insubordination

Rosenberg Case

1951 - 1953

-Rosenbergs found guilty of treason and executed for crime


October 4, 1957

-First artificial satellite
-Began Space Age and triggered the Space Race
-Soviet Union launched it into orbit

U-2 Incident

May 1, 1960

-US U-2 spy plane was shot down
-Plane was shot down over airspace of Soviet Union

Bay of Pigs

April 17, 1961

-Unsuccessful invasion of Cuba by the US
-Trying to stop Communist roots from being placed in Cuba

Berlin Wall

August 13, 1961

-Cut off West Berlin from East Berlin
-Separated East and West Germany
-Berlin Airlift Crisis

Cuban Missile Crisis

October 1962

-Confrontation with Soviet Union over supposed missiles in Cuba
-Missiles placed to stop US invasion
-Agreement that Soviet Union would remove missiles; US wouldn't invade

Tonkin Gulf Resolution

September 7, 1964

-Authorized President to do whatever necessary in order to assist “any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty”


1965 - 1968

-Slowly added more troops to the War

Tet Offensive


-Campaign of surprise attacks that were launched against military and civilian command; changed opinion of the Vietnamese



-“expand, equip, and train South Vietnam’s forces and assign to them an ever-increasing combat role, at the same time steadily reducing the number of U.S. combat troops.”

Election of 1968

November 5, 1968

-Richard Nixon won over Hubert Humphrey


1972 - 1979

-A series of talks between United States and Soviet negotiators which sought to curtail the manufacture of strategic nuclear weapons