We Didn't Start The Fire

mid to late 1900s


Chinese Revolution

1927 - 1950

The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought in China between forces loyal to the government of the Republic of China led by the Kuomintang (KMT), and forces of the Communist Party of China (CPO).

National Housing Act


When the 1937 congressional session ended, the only major new bills were the Wagner-Steagall National Housing Act and the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act. The Housing Act, developed by Senator Robert F. Wagner, set up the Housing Authority which extended long-term loans to cities for public housing projects in blighted low-income neighborhoods The agency also subsidized rents for poor people. Later, during WWII, it financed housing for workers in a new defense plants.

Jackie Robinson


During the1940s, the civil rights movement started in an unexpected way: baseball. Jackie Robinson was signed in by the Dodgers. Throughout the first years of his career, he got millions of letters of hate mail, was beaten on by other players, and booed by crowds eventually though; his courage, dedication, and good playing led other teams to sign black players and started a civil rights movement that would soon swoop the nation.


1942 - 1950

By the mid 20th century, varying degrees of smallpox occurred in many parts of Africa. Many of these people were going out in public when they had smallpox, which therefore spread it more easily. Thus as the minor cases spread to the USA, Canada, and the South American countries and GB is because the dominant form of smallpox, further reducing mortality rates. Typhoid fever had forever plagued America, starting with wiping out many of the people at Jamestown. Antibiotics were introduced in clinical practice in 1942, greatly reducing mortality. Today, the incidence of typhoid fever in developed countries is around 5 cases per 1 million people per year. The tetanus vaccine was developed by P. Descombey in 1924, and was widely used to prevent tetanus induced by battle wounds during WWII. In 1946 the development of the antibiotic strephomycin made effective treatment and cure of TB a reality. Prior to the drug, the only treatment, other than sanatoria/fresh air, was surgery.

Norman Rockwell


Norman Rockwell was a 20th century American painter and illustrator. His works enjoyed broad popular appeal in the US for their reflection of American culture. Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life scenarios he created the The Saturday Evening Post magazine for over 4 decades. His best known work is Rosie the Riveter, pictured on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1943.

Teheran Conference


In1943, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin met in order to discuss many things. One was a planned invasion of France and a Russian offensive timed to coincide with it. They wanted to defeat Germany in this, and since this would take care of the war in Europe, they needed a way to end the war in the Pacific. They did this by convincing Stalin to declare war on Japan, which would most likely scare them into surrendering. Also, the Declaration of China was discussed, with China declaring that the war with Japan would continue until Japan’s unconditional surrender, all Chinese territories would be returned to China, Korea would become free, and Japan would lose the Pacific islands acquired in 1941. Lastly, they discussed an establishment of the United Nations in order to maintain peace throughout the world. This is important because it shows the countries finally coming together, and the cooperation of Stalin before the Cold War.

GI Bill


Congress passed the GI Bill, or the servicemen’s readjustment Act of 1944 due to fears that a sharp drop in military spending and the sudden influx of veterans into the workforce would disrupt the economy/produce unemployment. It created a new government agency, the Veterans Administration (VA), and included provisions for unemployment pay for veterans for a year, preference for veterans applying for government jobs, loans for home construction, access to government hospitals, and generous subsidies for college. Between 44 and 56, 8 million vets took advantage of the $14.5 billion in GI bill subsidies for college and job-training programs. About 5 million bought new homes.

Atomic Energy Commission


The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was a US agency established after WWII by Congress to control the peace time development of atomic science and technology. President Harry Truman signed the McMahon/Atomic Energy Act on August 1, 1946, transferring the control of atomic energy from military to civilian hands.

Causes of Civil Rights Movement

1945 - 1954

Five important factors contributed to the rise of African-American protest in the mid-1900s.. 1) The legacy of WWII was important. Millions of black men and women had served in the military of worked in war plants during the war and had derived from the experience a broader view of the world. 2) The urban black middle class was growing; it had been developing for decades but began to flourish after the war. Much of the cause for the civil rights movement came from the leaders of urban black communities. 3) Television and other forms of popular culture were another factor in the rising consciousness of racism among blacks. More than any previous generation, postwar black had constant, vivid reminders of how the white majority lived. 4) In addition to the forces that were inspiring African Americans to mobilize, other forces were at work mobilizing many white Americans to support the movement once it began. Once was the Cold War, which made racial injustice an embarrassment to Americans trying to present their nation as a model to the world. Another was the political mobilization of northern blacks, who were now a substantial voting bloc within the Democratic Party; politicians from northern industrial states could not ignore their views. 5) Labor unions with substantial black memberships also played an important part in supporting and funding the civil rights movement.

Dumbarton Oaks Conference


The Big Three (Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill) gathered in 1945 in Washington D.C. at the Dumbarton Oaks estate. The new United Nations would contain a General Assembly, in which every member would be represented. But the most important decision-making body would be a Security Council, with permanent representatives of the five major powers (U.S., Britain, France, Soviet Union, and China), each of which would have veto power. There would also be temporary delegates from several other nations on the Security Council. These agreements became the basis of the United Nations charter.


1945 - 1975

Kennan was a State Department official who had a philosophy called containment that was displayed in the Truman Doctrine. In a journal entry in the journal Foreign Affairs, Kennan wrote of a concept of “containment” which meant using American power to counter Soviet pressure of creating Communist nations. This is important because it not only lead to the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949 to defend Western Europe against Soviet attack, but the Marshall Plan and the Red Scare of the 1950s.

Credit cards


The baby boom directly after the war was accompanied by a consumer craze, largely due to the credit card. Between 1945 and 1957, consumer credit soared 800%, and in the 1960’s American families only saved an average of 5% of their income. This showed the change from the age-old Puritan lifestyle against debt to the new debt sunken nation. Credit cards also triggered shopping as becoming a major recreational activity, shaping American society to less family and community to more “stuff”.

Yalta Conference

February 1945

As the final offensive against Nazi Germany got under way, the Yalta Conference, hosted by the Soviets, brought the Big Three (Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin) together in Yalta. Roosevelt had 2 aims at this conference: 1) Ensure that the Soviet Union would join the ongoing war against Japan, and 2) adopt an internationalist policy (United Nations).

Potsdam Conference

July 1945

The Allied leaders met in Potsdam, Germany to discuss the fate f defeated Germany and the ongoing war against Japan. While there, they issued the Potsdam Declaration, demanding that Japan surrender or face “prompt and utter destruction.” The deadline passed, and on August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was bombed. Then on August 9, Nagasaki was bombed.

Dr. Benjamin Spock


One of the most influential books in postwar American life was a famous guide to child rearing: Dr. Benjamin Spock’s Baby and Child Care, first published in 1946 and reissued for decades after. Spock’s approach to raising babies was child-centered, as opposed to the parent-centered theories of many previous child-care experts. The purpose of motherhood, he taught, was to help children learn, grow, and realize their potential. Dr. Spock at first envisioned only a very modest role for fathers in the process of child rearing, but changed his mind over time.



Television was central to the culture of the postwar era. Commercial television began shortly after WWII. Its growth was very rapid. In 1946, there were 40 million TV sets in use. More people had TVs than refrigerators, a statistic similar to one in the 1920s that had revealed more people owning radios then bathtubs. The TV industry emerged directly out of the radio industry, and all three of the major networks - The National Broadcasting Company, the Columbia Broadcasting System, and the American Broadcasting Company - had started as radio companies. Like radio, the television business was driven by advertising. The impact of TV was rapid and profound. By the late 1950s, television news had replaced newspapers, magazines, and radios as the nation’s most important vehicle of information.

President’s Committee on Civil Rights (Truman)

1946 - 1947

The President’s Committee on Civil Rights was established by Executive Order 9808, which Harry Truman issued on December 5, 1946. The committee was instructed to investigate the status of civil rights in the country and propose measures to strengthen and protect them. After the committee submitted a report of its findings to Truman, it disbanded in December 1947.

“Operation Dixie”

1946 - 1953

In the American South in particular, impediments to unionization were enormous. The CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) had launched a major organizing drive in the south shortly after WWII, targeting the poorly paid workers in textile mills in particular. But “Operation Dixie,” as it was called, was a failure – as were most other organizing drives for at least 30 years after WWII.


April 1946

By the end of 1945, there had already been major strikes in the auto, electrical, and steel industries. These strikes were in response of the inflation that occurred after the war because of the high consumer demand. The president also vetoed an extension of the wartime Office of Price Administration, thus eliminating price controls. Inflation soared to 25% before he signed a bill very similar to the OPA bill. These economic difficulties were the cause of the strikes. In April 1946, John Lewis led the United Mine Workers (UMW) out on strike, shutting down the coal fields for 40 days. Fears grew rapidly that without vital coal supplies, the entire nation might virtually come to a stop. Truman finally forced the miners to return to work by ordering government seizure of the mines. But in the process, he pressured mine owners to grant the union most of its demands. Almost simultaneously, the nation’s railroads suffered a total shut-down - the first in the nation’s history - as 2 major unions walked out on strike. By threatening to use the army to run the trains, Truman pressured the workers back to work after only a few days.



Established by the National Security Act in 1947, the CIA was established to monitor media and communications for foreign intelligence. It was important in accusing many people of communism, and finding out much information about other nations and what they were up to, including the Soviet Union in the Great Space Race. It is also important because it often competed against the FBI, confusing not only the people, but the authorities as well, and it took them decades to work together.



By 1960 a third of the nation’s population was living in suburbs. The growth of suburbs was a result not only of increased affluence, but of important innovations in home-building, which made single-family houses affordable to million of new people. The most famous of the postwar suburban developers, William Levitt, came to symbolize the new suburban growth with his use of mass-production techniques to construct a large housing development on Long Island. This first “Levittown” (later would be others in New Jersey and Pennsylvania) consisted of several thousand 2-bedroom Cape Cod-style houses, with identical interiors and only slightly varied features, each perched on its own concrete slab and facing curving, treeless streets. These Levittown houses sold for under $10,000, and they helped meet an enormous demand for housing that had been growing for more than a decade.

Second Red Scare

1947 - 1957

The Second Red Scare occurred after WWII and was popularly known as McCarthyism after its most famous supporter, Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Hollywood Ten/blacklist


The Hollywood Ten were people who were blacklisted after refusing to answer HUAC (House Un-American Committee) question about their alleged involvement with the Communist Party.

National Security Act


The National Security Act of 1947 created several new instruments of foreign policy. A new Department of Defense would oversee all branches of the armed services, combining functions previously performed by the War and Navy departments. A National Security Council (NSC), operating out of the White House, would advise the president on foreign and military policy. A central Intelligence Agency (CIA) would be responsible for collecting information through both open and covert methods and, as the Cold War continued, for engaging secretly in political and military operations on behalf of American goals. The National Security Act gave the government (and particularly the president) expanded powers with which to pursue the nation’s international goals.

Taft-Hartley Act


The Taft-Hartley act was passed in response to the suffering labor units. It banned the closed shop, which was a shop where only union members could be hired, and it permitted a union shop, which newly hired workers were required to join the union. It also had provisions against “unfair” union practices. It also passed regulations in which union leaders had to take oaths saying that they weren’t part of the Communist party. The people thought the bill would further sink labor in American. Truman vetoed the bill, which gained him respect, but it passed over him. It’s important because it shows the problems with unions and labor at the time, and showed the clash between Truman and the Republican congressmen.

Truman Doctrine

March 12, 1947

The Truman Doctrine was written with George Kennan’s philosophy of containment, and was written in reference to Greece and Turkey. The Soviet Union had started morphing all of the nations around it to Socialism, and in order to avoid Greece and Turkey from turning socialist as well, Truman asked Congress to pay $400 million in American advisers and military aid with the Truman Doctrine, saying, “I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. It is important because it not only instigated the Red Scare, but was the first of all of the policies passed for decades to come that showed our fear of communism and our new non-isolationist policy after the war.

Employee loyalty program

March 21, 1947

Truman issued the employee loyalty program, also known as Executive Order 9835, on March 21, 1947. The order established the first general loyalty program in the US, designed to root out communist influence in the federal government. Truman aimed to rally public opinion behind his Cold War policies with investigations conducted under its authority. He also hoped to quiet right-wing critics who accused Democrats of being soft on communism.

Democratic Convention 1948 Civil Rights Proposals


In the election of 1948, the Democratic Convention gathered in Philadelphia. To keep from provoking southern hostility, the admin sought a platform plant that opposed racial discrimination only in general terms. Liberal Democrats, however, sponsored a plank that called on Congress to take specific action and commended Truman “for his courageous stand on the issue of civil rights.” White segregationist delegates from Alabama and Mississippi walked out of the convention in protest. This is important because the solidly Democratic South had fractured for the first time since Reconstruction.

Shelley v. Kramer


Truman was not able to persuade Congress to adopt his civil rights legislation he proposed in 1949, which would have made lynching a federal crime, provided federal protection of black voting rights, abolished the poll tax, and established a new Fair Employment Practices Commission to curb discrimination in hiring. Truman did proceed on his own to battle several forms of racial discrimination. He ordered an end to discrimination in the hiring of government employees. He began to dismantle segregation within the armed forces. And he allowed the Justice Department to become actively involved in court battles against discriminatory statutes. In the meantime, the Supreme Court signaled its own growing awareness of the issue by ruling, in Shelley v. Kramer (1948) that the courts could not be used to enforce private “covenants” meant to bar blacks from residential neighborhoods.

Escalator clause


Corporations enjoying booming growth were reluctant to allow strikes to interfere with their operations, and since the most important labor unions were now so large and entrenched that they could not easily be suppressed or intimidated, business leaders made important concessions to them. As early as 1948, Walter Reuther, president of the United Automobile Workers, obtained a contract from General Motors that included a built-in “escalator clause” - an automatic cost-of-living increase pegged to the consumer price index.



In 1948, rebellious southern democrats nominated Strom Thurmond as the head of the Dixiecrats, a new party that sought to draw electoral votes from the Democrats and Republicans so that it ended in a tie and the vote could go to the house of representatives where they could strike a sectional bargain. With the Dixiecrats and the Progressive party tickets, there was a spilt in the Democratic Party, and no one thought that Truman would win. Newspapers were even printed before the election saying that Dewey, the republican candidate, beat Truman. Truman, in the end, did win the election in a huge upset.

Marshall Plan

1948 - 1952

American policy makers believed that unless something could be done to strengthen the shaky pro-American governments in Western Europe, they might fall under the control of rapidly growing domestic communist parties. In June of 1947, Secretary of State George Marshall gave a speech announcing a plan to provide economic assistance to all European nations that would join in the drafting a program for recovery. Although Russia quickly rejected the plan, 16 Western European nations eagerly participated. In April 1948, Congress approved the creation of the Economic Cooperation Administration, the agency that would administer the Marshall Plan, as it became known. Over the next 3 years, the Marshall Plan channeled over $12 billion of American aid into Europe, helping to spark an economic revival. By the end of 1950, European industrial production had risen 64%, communist strength in the member nations had declined, and opportunities for American trade had revived.

Whittaker Chambers


Whittaker Chambers, a former Communist Party member, testified in August 1948 before HUAC that Hiss had secretly been a Communist while in federal service. Chambers had previously testified under oath that Hiss had never been a Communist or a spy, and Chambers would admit, under oath, to other instances where he had committed perjury under oath.

Fair Deal


When elected in 1948, Truman stated in his inaugural speech that he was elected because people wanted a continuation of the New Deal policies. His new program was called the Fair Deal. Most of these policies were extensions/enlargements of New Deal programs: a higher minimum wage, expansion of Social Security coverage to works not included in original bill, increased farm subsidies, and a slum-clearance and public-housing program. More specifically it called for expansion of Social Security benefits; the raising of the legal minimum wage from 40 to 65 cents an hour; a program to ensure full employment through aggressive use of federal spending and investment; a permanent Fair Employment Practices Act; public housing and slum clearance; long-range environmental and public works planning; and government promotion of scientific research In the 1948 elections, Democrats took over congress and the new Fair Deal was passed. This deal raised the minimum wage from 40 to 75 cents an hour. It approved an important expansion of the Social Security system, and it passed the National Housing Act of 1949, which provided for the construction of 810,000 units of low-income housing, accompanied by long-term rent subsidies.

Pumpkin papers


The pumpkin papers was a scandal that happened during the Red Scare. Whittaker Chambers, a former Soviet Agent told the House Un-American Activities Committee that Hiss had given him secret documents ten years earlier, when Chambers was spying for the Soviets and Hiss was working in the State Department. Hiss sued for libel and Chambers produced microfilms of the State Department documents that he said Hiss passed to him. He hid them in a pumpkin in Hiss’s house, which is why they became known as the pumpkin papers. Hiss was convicted in 1950 for perjury and lying about espionage. This is important because it shows the scandals that took place during the second Red Scare, and the constant blaming and accusing of innocent people, which would only lead to convictions and blaming of more innocent people. It also triggered McCarthy’s anti-communist witch hunt.

Shelley v. Kraemer


Shelley v. Kraemer was a 1948 Supreme Court case which held that courts could not enforce racial covenants on real estate.

Alger Hiss


Alger Hiss was accused of being a Soviet spy in 1948 and convicted of perjury in connection with this charge in 1950. He was found guilty and was sentenced to 5 years in prison, but maintained his innocence until his death.

Berlin airlift

June 1948 - May 1949

The Berlin blockade was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War. During the occupation of post-WWII Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies’ railway, road, and canal access to the sectors of Berlin under Allied control. Their aim was to force the western powers to allow the Soviet zone to start supplying Berlin with food, fuel, and aid, thereby giving the Soviets practical control over the entire city. In response, the Western Allies organized the Berlin airlift to carry supplies to the people in West Berlin. Aircrews from the US, Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa flew over 200,000 flights in a year. This succeeded, backfiring on the Soviets.

Syngman Rhee


By the end of 1945, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union had sent troops into Korea, and neither was willing to leave. Instead, they had divided the nation, supposedly temporarily, along the 38th parallel. The Russians finally departed in 1949, leaving behind a communist government in the north with a strong, Soviet-equipped army. The Americans left a few months later, handing control to the pro-Western government of Syngman Rhee, anticommunist but only nominally democratic. The relative weakness of the south offered a strong temptation to nationalists in the North Korean government. The Truman admin responded quickly. On June 27, 1950, the president ordered limited American military assistance to S Korea, and on the same day he appealed to the UN to intervene. The Soviet Union was boycotting the Security Council at the time to protest the council’s refusal to recognize the new communist government of China. As a result, American delegates were able to win UN agreement to a resolution calling for international assistance to the Rhee government. On June 30, the US ordered its own ground forces into Korea. This was the start of the Korean War.



NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was created in 1949. The crisis involving the split dividing East Berlin from West Berlin caused an alliance among the United States and the countries of Western Europe. On April 4, 12 nations signed the agreement, which declared that an armed attack against one member would be considered an attack against all. The NATO countries, moreover, agreed to maintain a standing military force in Europe to defend against what many believed was the threat of a Soviet invasion. The American Senate quickly ratified the treaty. It spurred the Soviet Union to create an alliance of its own with the communist government in Eastern Europe - an alliance formalized in 1955 by the Warsaw Pact.

West German Republic

May 1949 - October 3, 1990

During 1949 to 1990, the NATO-allied West Germany and the socialist East Germany were divided by the Inner German border After 1961, West Berlin and East Berlin were physically separated by the Berlin Wall.

1950 Slang Terms


There were many slang terms that were common in the 1950s: “cat” for a guy, “chick” for a girl, “dude” for a geek, “fuzz” and “heat” for the police, and “bad/boss/choice/fab/far out/keen/outta sight/righteous” for cool.



The Beat Generation was a group of American post-WWII writers who came to prominence in the 1950s, as well as the cultural phenomena that they both documented and inspired. Central elements of “Beat” culture included rejection of receive standard, innovations in style, experimentation with drugs, alternative sexualities, an interest in Eastern religion, a rejection of materialism, and explicit portrayals of the human condition. The term “beatnik” was coined by Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronical in1958, a blending of the words Sputnik and Beat generation. This suggested that beatniks were 1) “far out of the mainstream of society” and 2) “possibly pro-Communist.”Caen’s term stuck and became the popular label associated with a new stereotype.


1950 - 1970

Mechanization is the process of doing work with machinery. In the 1950s, corporations changed from single-industry firms to diversified conglomerates. By the end of the decade, half the net corporate income in the nation was going to only slightly more than 500 firms, or 1/10 of 1% of the total number of corporations. A similar consolidation was occurring in the agricultural economy. As increasing mechanization reduced the need for farm labor, the agricultural work force declined by over half in the two decades after the war. Mechanization also endangered the family farm. By the 1960s, relatively few individuals couldn’t afford to buy and equip a modern farm, and most of the nation’s most productive land had been purchased by financial institutions and corporations.

Corporate consolidation

1950 - 1970

Corporate consolidation is when the total number of companies that operate in an industry shrink, usually giving the remaining companies more power within the industry. Mergers and acquisitions are the leading cause of consolidation today.


1950 - 1956

After the pumpkin papers scandal, people were fretting because they were afraid if someone with as much respectability as Hiss was guilty, then anyone could be guilty. In order to quell the public’s fears, McCarthy, a senator from Wisconsin, claimed that he had a list of many State Department officials that were all communists. He would never end up revealing any authority on the list, nor admit if the list was real or not. The confusion instigated a nationwide accusing of people being Communists, often with little knowledge or credibility. It also led to the McCarran act in which made it unlawful “to combine, conspire, or agree with any other person to perform any act which would substantially contribute to...the establishment of a totalitarian dictatorship.”


1950 - 1970

Suburbs became very popular in the latter half of the 20th century. The acute housing shortage in the late 1940s spurred the suburban revolution. Almost the entire population increase of the 1950s and 1960s (97%) was an urban or suburban phenomenon. Rural American continued to lost population as many among the exploding middle-class white population during the 1950s (and after) moved to what were called the Sunbelt states – California, Arizona, Florida, Texas, and the southeast region.

Keynesian economics


The exciting discovery of the power of the American economic system was a major cause of the confident/arrogant tone of much American political life in the 1950s. During the Depression, politicians, intellectuals, and others had often questioned the viability of capitalism. In the 1950s, this doubt virtually vanished. Two features in particular made the postwar economy a source of national confidence. First was the belief that Keynesian economics made it possible for government to regulate and stabilize the economy without intruding directly into the private sector. By the mid-1950s, Keynesian theory was rapidly becoming a fundamental article of faith - not only among professional economists but among much of the public. The most popular economics textbook of the 1950s and 60s, Paul Samuelson’s Economics, created a generation of college students with Keynesian ideas. Second was the belief in permanent economic growth. As the economy continued to expand far beyond what any observer had predicted was possible only a few years before, more and more Americans assumed that such growth was now without bounds, and that there were few effective limits to the abundance available to the nation.

Office of Defense Mobilization

1950 - 1958

Since the war in Korea produced only a limited American military commitment abroad, it created only a limited economic mobilization at home. Still, the government did try to control the wartime economy in several important ways. Truman set up the Office of Defense Mobilization to fight inflation by holding down prices and discouraging high union wage demands. When these cautious regulatory efforts failed, the president took more drastic action. For example, when railroad workers walked off the job in 1951, and Truman ordered the government to seize control of the railroads.

Hydrogen Bomb


After the Soviets successfully tested a nuclear bomb in 1949, Truman in 1950 ordered the construction of a hydrogen bomb. By the mid-1950s, both the Soviets and the US had developed the H-bomb. This was just one of the new weapons created during the arms race.

Domino Theory

1950 - 1980

The domino theory speculated that if one state in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow in a domino effect. This theory was used during the Cold War era to justify the need for American intervention around the world.


1950 - 1970

The most derisive critics of bureaucracy, and of middle-class society generally, were a group of young poets, writers, and artists generally known as the “beats,” or “beatniks.” They wrote harsh critiques of what they considered the sterility and conformity of American life, the meaninglessness of American politics, and the banality of popular culture.



Payola is the illegal practice of payment or other inducement by record companies for the broadcast of recordings on music radio in which the song is presented as being part of the normal day’s broadcast. Prosecution for payola in the 1950s was in part a reaction of the traditional music establishment against newcomers.

Juvenile delinquency


During the 1950’s, the children of the baby boom were beginning to become adolescents. Raised in abundance from an early age, the teens had more time and more money than adolescents had ever had. Because of this, juvenile delinquency swooped the nation, with around 1 million teens being arrested in 1956. Most were arrested for car theft. The epidemic was often blamed on a lack of religious education or the growing number of urban slums, encouraging delinquency because of the brutish environment. Others blamed it on the growing popularity of cars, saying they were places in which kids could drink and have sex.

McCarran Internal Security Act


In 1950, Congress passed the McCarran Internal Security Act, requiring all communist organizations to register with the government and to publish their records and creating other restrictions on “subversive” activity. Truman vetoed the bill, but Congress easily overrode it.

antibiotics/sulfa drugs/penicillin


Penicillin is a group of antibiotics that it used to cure small sicknesses and strengthen immune systems. In the 1950s, total synthesis of the drug had started, beginning to popularize it and finally get a profit for it. It was important because it was revolutionary in the medical field because it was able to manipulate immune systems.


April 1950

The nationalist Chinese government under Chiang Kai-Shek collapsed in 1949, leaving the Chinese mainland under the control of a communist government that any Americans believed to be an extension of the Soviet Union. The United States would then devote its time to revitalizing Japan as a buffer against Asian communism. In response to these and other setbacks, Truman called for a thorough review of American foreign policy. The result was a National Security Council report, commonly known as NSC-68, which outlined a shift in the American position. The April 1950 document argued that the United States could no longer rely on other nations to take the initiative in resisting communism. If must itself establish firm and active leadership of the noncommunist world. And it must move to stop communist expansion anywhere it occurred. This report called for a major expansion of American military power, with a defense budget almost four times the previously projected number.



After the story of the pumpkin papers and the story of Klaus Fuchs passing America’s atomic secret to the Russians, people were in a craze to blame anyone and everyone that seemed like a communist. They believed that anyone could be at this time. Soon, David and Ruth Greenglass were blamed for being spies, but Greenglass testified that he had passed drawings of atomic weapons to his sister and brother in law Julius and Ethel Roseburg. They were arrested and tried in 1951. The Rosenburgs were sentenced to death, but all the other conspirators were simply sentenced to year in jail beacuse they had all agreed to help the prosecution, which the Rosenburgs did not. Eventually it was released that although the Rosenburgs were indeed guilty, they passed not nearly as dangerous notes as Fuchs or other spies, and this showed the unreasonable blame that was going around everywhere at the time.

John Foster Dulles (mass retaliation/brinkmanship)

1952 - 1960

Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (under Eisenhower) believed that communism could be contained by bringing America to the brink of war with an aggressive communist nation. He believed that the aggressor would back down when confronted with the prospect of receiving a mass retaliation from a country with nuclear weapons.

American Bandstand

1952 - 1989

The American Bandstand was a music performance show that aired from 1952 to 1989. It featured teenagers dancing to songs in the Top 40s. During this time, a new craze for music, especially rock-n-roll emerged within the teenagers. Many Adult conservatives did not approve of this craze, and believed it was a paganistic lifestyle. This is important because it signified the generation gap as well as the emerging importance of music.

Checkers speech

September 1952

The Checkers speech goes down in history as one of the most genius political speeches ever. Given by Nixon, it came in the midst of the Eisenhower campaign in September of 1952. Nixon had been accused of keeping a “secret slush fund” provided by extremely wealthy contributors. The speech saved Nixon’s career and the Republican’s tickets because he essentially said that all they wealthy people had given them was a dog, and his kids loved the dog, and that they would get rid of it if that was what the American people wanted. Of course America’s dog-loving hearts felt sympathetic and apologized for accusing him of having a secret slush fund by voting for him and Eisenhower.

38th parallel


After World War II, North Korea was shortly divided, among the 38th parallel, with Soviet forces establishing a government in the North and the United States establishing a Western style government in the south. At the end of World War II, the Soviets and Americans accepted a proposal to divide Korea among the 38th parallel until steps could be taken to unify the war torn country. But with the cold war, the 38th parallel became more of a dividing line, and it stayed this way, even after the Korean War ended with the Treaty of Panmunjon on July 27, 1953.

Eugene “Bull” Connor


Eugene “Bull” Connor was the Commissioner of Public Safety for the city of Birmingham, Alabama, during the American Civil Rights Movement. His office gave him responsibility for administrative oversight of the Birmingham Fire Department and the Birmingham Police Department, which had their own chiefs. Through his covert actions to enforce racial segregation and deny civil rights to African American citizens, especially during the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Birmingham Campaign of 1963, Connor became an international symbol of bigotry. Connor infamously directed the use of fire hoses, and police attack dogs against peaceful demonstrators, including children. His aggressive tactics backfired when the spectacle of the brutality being broadcast on national television served as one of the catalysts for major social and legal change in the southern United States and helped in large measure to assure the passage by the United States Congress of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Earl Warren

1953 - 1969

Earl Warren was the 14th Supreme Court Justice. He is known both for his efforts on behalf of Japanese internment during WWII as well as the decisions of the Warren Court, which ended school segregation and transformed many areas of American law, especially regarding the rights of the accused and ending public-school-sponsored prayer. He made the Court a power center on a more even base with Congress and the presidency especially through four landmark decisions: Brown v. Board of Ed (1954), Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), Reynolds v. Sims (1964), and Miranda v. Arizona (1966).

Nikita Khrushchev

1953 - 1964

Nikita Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War.

“postwar contract”


By the early 1950s, large labor unions had developed a new kind of relationship with employers, a relationship sometimes known as the “postwar contract.” Workers in steel, automobiles, and other large unionized industries were receiving generous increases in wages and benefits; in return, the union tacitly agreed to refrain from raising other issues - issues involving control of the workplace and a voice for workers in the planning of production. The postwar “contract” had the support of the National Labor Relations Board, whose mediators believed the purpose of labor relations was to maintain industrial peace and promote the general health of the economy, not to defend or expand the “rights” of workers.

Army-McCarthy Hearings


The Army-McCarthy hearings finally brought the reign of McCarthy, a reckless accuser of thousands of innocent people as spies and communists, to an end. Many of the government officials were angry with him, realizing the unreliability and inaccuracy of his accusations. When he accused an associate of Joseph Welch, a counsel of the Army, the accusation backfired and ended in Welch accusing him of being cruel and reckless, causing McCarthy to back down. In 1954, McCarthy was overwhelmingly voted to be condemned by the senate, and his political career collapsed, and he died three years later because of alcohol. This shows that some members of the government at least would not be a part of all the conspiracies, and would help people continue to be innocent.

Geneva Accords


An international conference at Geneva, planned many months before to settle the Korean dispute and other controversies, now took up the fate of Vietnam as well. The US was only indirectly involved in the Vietnam phase of the Geneva conference. The US never signed the accords. Even so, the Geneva conference produced an agreement to end the Vietnam conflict. There would be an immediate cease-fire in the war; Vietnam would be temporarily partitioned along the 17th parallel, with the Vietminh in control of North Vietnam, and a pro-western regime in control of the South. In 1956, elections would be held to reunite the country under a single government.

Dien Bien Phu


In the early 1950s, the US faced a difficult choice in Southeast Asia, where France was fighting to retain control of its onetime colony Vietnam. Opposing the French were the powerful nationalist forces of Ho Chi Minh (who was both a committed nationalist and a committed communist), which were determined to win independence for their nation. The Truman admin had supported the French, one of America’s most important Cold War allies, and at first the Eisenhower admin did the same. Early in 1954, however, 12,000 French troops became surrounded in a disastrous siege at the city of Dien Bien Phu. Only American intervention, it was clear, could prevent the total collapse of the French military effort. Yet Eisenhower refused to permit direct American military intervention in Vietnam, claiming that neither Congress nor America’s other allies would support such action. Without American aid, the French defense of Dien Bien Phu collapsed on May 7, 1954, and France quickly agreed to a settlement of the conflict at a conference in Geneva that summer. The agreement marked the end of the French commitment to Vietnam and the beginning of an expanded American presence there.

Elvis Presley

1954 - 1977

Singer Elvis Presley became a national phenomenon with number-1 hits such as Heartbreak Hotel, Don’t Be Cruel and Hound Dog. He was called “Elvis the Pelvis” because of the way he shook his hips while dancing. Many religious leaders and school officials banned his songs, which only made them more popular. He later went on to be nicknamed “The King.”

Dejure & Defacto segregation


Starting mostly after Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, the difference between de facto segregation (segregation that existed because of the voluntary associations and neighborhoods) and de jure segregation (segregation that existed because of local laws that mandated the segregation) became important distinctions for court decisions.

1954 Geneva Accords

April 1954 - July 1954

The Geneva Conference, which took place in Geneva Switzerland, was held to attempt to unify Vietnam and discuss the possibility of restoring peace in Indochina. The Soviets, US, France, UK, and People’s Republic of China participated the whole time.

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

May 17, 1954

Brown v. Board of Ed was a landmark Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which allowed state-sponsored segregation. The decision was unanimous.

Warsaw Pact


The Warsaw Pact, signed in 1955, was a mutual defense treaty between 8 communist states of Central and Eastern Europe. The treaty was established under the initiative of the Soviet Union. It was in part a Soviet military reaction to the integration of West Germany into NATO in 1955. The countries involved were the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and East Berlin.


1955 - 1975

Nixon's policy of withdrawing American troops from Vietnam while providing aid for the South Vietnamese to fight the war.

Brown II


In 1955, the Supreme Court considered arguments by the schools requesting relief concerning the task of desegregation. In their decision, which became known as “Brown II,” the court delegated the task of carrying out school desegregation to district courts wit orders that desegregation occur “with all deliberate speed.”

Housekeeping Monthly’s Good Wife’s Guide


The Housekeeping Monthly’s “Good Wife’s Guide” is a magazine article published in 1955’s issue of Housekeeping Monthly, describing how a good wife should act, containing material that reflects a very different role assignment from contemporary American society.

AFL-CIO/ G. Meany

December 1955

The economic successes of the 1950s helped pave the way for a reunification of the labor movement. In December 1955, the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations ended their 20 year rivalry and merged to create the AFL-CIO, under the leadership of George Meany.

Martin Luther King arrest

December 1, 1955

Martin Luther King was arrested in 1955 during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. His arrest was concluded with a US District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses. King’s role in the bus boycott transformed him into a national figure and the best-known spokesman in the civil rights movement.

Montgomery Bus Boycott

December 5, 1955 - November 1956

Starting on December 5, 1955, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was a boycott started by Rosa Parks, a member of the NAACP. Rosa Parks was riding the bus and refused to give up her seat for a white man. She was arrested because of this. Soon after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, lead by Martin Luther King Jr, began in which for months African Americans carpooled, hitchhiked, or walked. It proved to be very effective because buses lost money and complained to civic leaders, and eventually a federal case was won rethinking the “separate but equal decision” that was decided in Plessy v Ferguson.

Federal Highway Act


Perhaps the most significant legislative accomplishment of the Eisenhower admin was the Federal Highway Act of 1956, which authorized $25 billion for a 10-yr effort to construct over 40,000 miles of interstate highways. The program was to be funded through a highway “trust fund,” whose revenues would come from new taxes on the purchase of fuel, automobiles, trucks, and tires. This was important because it encouraged more migration to the suburbs.

Hungarian Revolution


The Hungarian Revolution was a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the government of the People's Republic of Hungary and its Soviet-imposed policies, lasting from October until November 1956. It was the first major threat to Soviet control since the USSR's forces drove out the Nazis at the end of World War II and occupied Eastern Europe. Despite the failure of the uprising, it was highly influential, and came to play a role in the downfall of the Soviet Union decades later.

Southern Manifesto


The Southern Manifesto was a document written in February and March 1956 by Congress in opposition to racial integration of public places. The manifesto was signed by 99 politicians, 97 of them Democrats. They drafted the document to counter the landmark Supreme Court 1954 ruling Brown v. Board of Education.

Yates v. US


Yates v. US was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States that held that the First Amendment protected radical and reactionary speech, unless it posed a "clear and present danger." Fourteen lower echelon officials of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) were charged with violating the Smith Act by being members of the CPUSA in California. The Smith Act made it unlawful to advocate or organize the destruction or overthrow of any government in the United States by force. The appellants claimed that the Communist Party was engaged in passive political activities and that any violation of the Smith Act must involve active attempts to overthrow the government.

Civil Rights Act


This was the first civil rights act passed since Reconstruction, and was passed because although President Eisenhower didn’t believe the schools should be desegregated, he believed that they should have the right to vote. The act, though, had no teeth and depended upon vigorous presidential informed to achieve any tangible results. It did show the improvements being made in the senate though towards African American rights.

Watkins v. US


Watkins v. US is a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States that held that the power of the United States Congress is not unlimited in conducting investigations, and that nothing in the U.S. Constitution gives it the authority to expose individuals' private affairs.

Eisenhower Doctrine

January 5, 1957

The term Eisenhower Doctrine refers to a speech by Eisenhower that referred to the situation in the Middle East. Under the Eisenhower Doctrine, a country could request American economic assistance and/or aid from US military forces if it was being threatened by armed aggression from another state. In global political context, the Doctrine was made in response to the possibility of a generalized war, threatened as a result of the Soviet Union’s attempt to use the Suez War as a pretext to enter Egypt.

Little Rock Central High School

September 1957

In September of 1957, the governor of Arkansas called 270 armed men to Little Rock Central High school. Nine black children were attempting to enter the all-white school and their duty was to stop them. A mob was outside the school spitting and cursing at them, and the event was even televised. This prompted President Eisenhower to call out the Federal Army to escort the kids into school. The troops stayed in Little Rock Central High school for the remainder of the year, and eight of the students stayed in school despite the harassment of the white students. This is important because it showed that the civil rights movement was going to need the full force of the federal government to enforce laws that the Supreme Court had passed.


October 4, 1957

On October 4, 1957, the Soviets launched the first satellite, Sputnik, into space. The importance of this satellite was immense. After the launch, Americans began to panic, thinking that if the Soviets were advanced enough to launch a rocket into space, then they would be advanced enough to hit America with armed missiles. Thus, the space race began. The United States began to increase defense spending, offer NATO allies intermediate range ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and establish a crash program in science education and military research. The launch of Sputnik ultimately released the Sputnik syndrome from 1957 to 1958, increasing the government spending immensely and increasing American fear.

U-2 Crisis

1958 - 1960

The continuing existence of an anticommunist West Berlin inside communist East Germany was irritating and embarrassing to the Soviets. In November 1958, Nikita Khrushchev demanded that the NATO powers abandon the city. The US and its allies refused. Khrushchev then suggested that he and Eisenhower discuss the issue personally, both in visits to each others’ countries and at a meeting in Paris in 1960. The US agreed. Days before the Paris meeting, however, the Soviet Union announced that it had shot down an American U-2, a high-altitude spy plane, over Russian territory. Its pilot was in captivity. Eisenhower responded by at first denying it but then awkwardly admitted that it was true. Khrushchev was angry and broke up the Paris meeting, withdrawing his invitation to Eisenhower to visit the Soviet Union. By the spring of 1960, Khrushchev knew that no agreement was possible on the Berlin issue. The U-2 may have been an excuse to avoid what he believed would be useless negotiations.

Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham

  • After Brown v. Board of Ed (1954), there was a lot of resistance to the outcome. More than 100 southern members of Congress signed a manifesto in 1956 denouncing the Brown decision and urging their constituents to defy it. Southern governors, mayors, local school boards, and non-government pressure groups (including hundreds of “White Citizens’ Councils”) all words to obstruct desegregation. Many school districts enacted “pupil placement laws” allowing school officials to place students in schools according to their scholastic abilities and social behavior. Such laws were transparent devices for maintaining segregation; but in 1958, the Supreme Court, in Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham Board of Education refused to declare them unconstitutional.



The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was created by Congress in 1958. It was created to coordinate research and develop in the field of space and defense and was created in response to the great Space Race. By the end of 1958, NASA unleashed a plan for putting a manned craft in order, showing the frantic hassle and effectiveness in the creation of NASA.

The Affluent Society


In The Affluent Society (1958), the economist John Kenneth Galbraith attacked the prevailing notion that sustained economic growth was solving chronic social problems. He reminded readers that for all of America’s vaunted prosperity, the nation had yet to eradicate poverty, especially among minorities in inner cities, female-headed households, Mexican American migrant farm workers in the Southwest, Native Americans, and rural southerners, both black and white.

National Defense Education Act


During this time, more and more Americans were becoming convinced that the key to a successful future lay in acquiring the specialized training and the skills necessary for work in large organizations. The American educational system responded to the demands of this increasingly organized society by experimenting with changes in curriculum/philosophy. Elementary schools and secondary schools gave increased attention to the teaching of science, mathematics, and foreign languages. The National Defense Education Act of 1958 (passed in response to the Soviet Union’s Sputnik success) provided federal funding for development of programs in those areas.

Greensboro, North Carolina sit-ins


After the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56, King’s philosophy of “militant nonviolence” inspired others to challenge the deeply entrenched patterns of racial segregation in the South. At the same time, lawsuits to desegregate the public schools got thousands of parents and young people involved. The momentum generated the first genuine mass movement in African American history when four black students enrolled at North Carolina A&T College sat down and ordered from Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. The clerk refused to serve them because only whites could sit at the counter; blacks had to eat standing up or go outside. The Greensboro Four waited for 45 minutes and then returned the next day with 24 more students. They came back every day that week, taking the jeering and taunting from crowds. Meanwhile, the “sit-in” movement had spread to 6 more towns in the state, and within 2 months the sit-in demonstrations – involving blacks and whites – had occurred in 54 cities in 13 states. By the end of July, 1969, officials in Greensboro lifted the whites-only policy at the Woolworth’s lunch counter. The civil rights movement had an effective new tactic: nonviolent direct action against segregation.


1960 - 1974

OPEC is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and is an oil cartel whose goal is to coordinate the policies of oil-producing companies. OPEC is an intergovernmental organization that was created at the Baghdad Conference on September 10-14 1960, by Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Later it was joined by nine more governments: Libya, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Indonesia, Algeria, Nigeria, Ecuador, Angola, and Gabon. OPEC's policy statement is that there is a right of all countries to exercise sovereignty over their natural resources. In the 1970s, OPEC began to gain influence and steeply raised oil prices during the 1973 Oil Crisis in response to US aid to Israel during the Yom Kippur War. It lasted until March 1974.

New Frontier


The term "New Frontier" was used by JFK in his in the 1960 United States presidential election to the Democratic National Convention. He used it as his slogan to get votes. The term developed into a label for his administration's domestic and foreign programs.


1960 - 1980

Hippies were the name for people practicing counterculture in the 1960s and 1970s. They displayed their contempt for conventional standards by flaunting long hair, shabby or flamboyant clothing, and a rebellious disdain for traditional speech and decorum. The hippies were primarily middle-class whites alienated by the Vietnam War, racism, political corruption, parental demands, runaway technology, and a lifestyle that correlated the good life to material goods.

Chicano Activism


The Chicano Movement was a Mexican American empowerment movement. Younger Mexican Americans were impatient with the MAPA, or Mexican American Political Association, so about 1,500 proclaimed a new term, Chicano, to replace Mexican American, after meeting in Denver. They pressed for bilingual education, among other things.



In the 1960s, a new philosophy of “black power” came into being. It suggested a move away from interracial cooperation and toward increased awareness of racial distinctiveness. This was creating a rift in the civil rights movement. The NAACP, the Urban League, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which MLK was a big part of, all advocated for cooperation with sympathetic whites. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had started as relatively moderate, interracial organizations; SNCC, in fact, was originally a student branch of the SCLC. By the mid-1960s, however, this and other groups were calling for more radical and occasionally violent action against white racism. They openly rejected the approaches of older and more established black leaders.

Boynton v. Virginia


Boynton v. Virginia was a Supreme Court decision that overturned a judgment convicting an African American law student for trespassing by being in a restaurant in a bus terminal which was "whites only". It held that racial segregation in public transportation was illegal because such segregation violated the Interstate Commerce Act, which broadly forbade discrimination in interstate passenger transportation. It moreover held that bus transportation was sufficiently related to interstate commerce to allow the United States Federal government to regulate it to forbid racial discrimination in the industry. The majority opinion was written by Justice Hugo Black.

Women’s Liberation

1960 - 1980

By the late 1960s, new and more radical feminist demands were attracting a large following. New books more radical than Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963) included Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics (1969), which stated that “every avenue of power within the society is entirely within male hands.” In its most radical form, the new feminism rejected the whole notion of marriage, family, and even heterosexual intercourse, though not very many women accepted these extremities. By the early 1970s large numbers of women were coming to see themselves as an exploited group organizing against oppression and developing a culture and communities of their own. The women’s liberation movement inspired the creation of grassroots organizations and activities though which women not only challenged sexism and discrimination but created communities of their own.

Sexual Revolution

1960 - 1980

During the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, Americans became more tolerant of premarital sex, and women became more sexually active. Between 1960 and 1975, the number of college women engaging in sex doubled, from 27% to 50%. Because of this increase, the birth-control pill was invented and approved for the first time by the Food and Drug Administration in 1960. Easy access to the pill gave women a greater sense of sexual freedom. This also, however, contributed to a rise in STDs.

British Invasion

1960 - 1970

The British Invasion was a phenomenon that occurred in the mid-1960s when rock and pop music acts from the UK, as well as other British culture aspects, became popular in the US, and then throughout the world. Bands such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones made big impacts on the US.

Counter Culture

1960 - 1980

Disaffected young activists abandoned political action in favor of the counterculture. This new youth culture openly scorned the values and conventions of middle-class society. The most visible characteristic of counterculture was a change in lifestyle; hippies were born. Drugs such a marijuana became popular. Everything that was in the 1950s, was not.



De-industrialization was the name of the process of closing of thousands of factories across the country closed, causing millions to lose their jobs. Many new jobs were opening in the “knowledge-based” areas, but the previous industrial workers were not fit for these types of jobs.

Gender roles/feminism


Even though during the war women joined the male workforce and helped with war efforts, after the war, they were encouraged to turn their jobs over to the returning men veterans and resume their full-time commitment to the home and family. At the time, an ideal middle class woman was a devoted wife with kids, and her most important job was making babies. This is important because it created the baby boom in the following years because of the importance put on the women for making children.

Alliance for Progress


The Alliance for Progress was initiated by President John Kennedy in 1961. It aimed to establish economic cooperation between the US and Latin America.

Declaration of Indian Purpose


At the 1961 American Indian Chicago Conference, an Indian policy called the “Declaration of Indian Purpose” was given to John Kennedy by the National Congress of American Indians. Its policy outlined many solutions to the problems of termination.

Dominican Republic intervention


In 1961, the leader of the Dominican Republic was murdered and a new dictator, a left wing nationalist, Juan Bosch, took charge. Even though there wasn’t any evidence, Lyndon B. Johnson dispatched 30,000 American troops because he thought that Bosch planned to establish a pro-Castro regime.

Bay of Pigs

April 17, 1961

The Bay of Pigs Invasion occurred on April 17, 1961. It was in response to Fidel Castro becoming the dictator of Cuba, and was a huge disaster. Under the direction of John (Secretary of State under Eisenhower) and Allen Dulles, directors of the CIA, 1,400 poorly trained and unequipped Cubans were sent to the Bay of Pigs, without knowing that Castro was there, but plotting to kill Castro. Castro was on alert because of the air raids, and sent in troops when he saw the men, many of them struggling on the sharp rocks of the bay. 114 Cubans and 4 Americans died during the invasion. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev immediately saw the Bay of Pigs defeat as the opening to start arming Cuba more heavily, precipitating the missile crisis of October 1962.

Mapp v. Ohio

June 19, 1961

Mapp v. Ohio was a landmark case in criminal procedure, in which the United States Supreme Court decided that evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against "unreasonable searches and seizures," may not be used in state law criminal prosecutions in state courts, as well, as had previously been the law, as in federal criminal law prosecutions in federal courts.

Port Huron Statement


Tom Hayden and Al Haber, two University of Michigan students, formed Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1960, an organization influenced by the tactics and successes of the civil rights movement. In 1962, Hayden and Haber held a meeting of activists at Port Huron, Michigan, all whom shared a desire to remake the US into a more democratic society. Hayden drafted a manifesto that became known as the Port Huron statement. It said: “We are the people of this generation, bred in at least moderate comfort, housed in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.” Hayden then called for political reforms, racial equality, and workers’ rights.

Cesar Chavez


Cesar Chavez founded the United Farm Workers (UFW) in 1962 and workers to organize migrant farm workers. In 1965, the UFW joined Filipino farm workers striking against corporate grape farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley. In 1970, the strike and a consumer boycott on grapes compelled the farmers to formally recognize the UFW. As a result of Chavez’s efforts, wages and working conditions improved for migrant workers. In 1975, the California state legislature passed a bill that required growers to bargain collectively with representatives of the farm workers.

Ticky-Tacky Housing


“Ticky-Tacky” is a reference to the poor materials used in the construction of housing during the 1960s. This type of housing was referred to in the song “Little Boxes” by Malvina Reynolds, which came out in 1962. The song is a political satire about the development of suburbia and associated conformist middle class attitudes.

The Other America


In 1962, the socialist writer Michael Harrington created a sensation by publishing a book called The Other America, in which he chronicled the continuing existence of poverty in America. The conditions he described were not new. Only the attention he was bringing to them was. The great economic expansion of the postwar years reduced poverty dramatically but did not eliminate it. In 1960, at any given moment, more than a fifth of all American families continued to live below what the government defined as the poverty line. This “hard-core” poverty rebuked the assumptions of those who argued that economic growth would eventually lead everyone into prosperity. It was a poverty that the growing prosperity of the postwar era seemed to affect hardly at all, poverty, as Harrington observed that appeared “impervious to hope.”

Baker v. Carr


This was a case that went to the Supreme Court in 1962, with Chief Justice Warren. It required state legislatures to reapportion their electoral districts, so all citizens could have votes with equal weight.

Engel v. Vitale


This 1962 case ruled that prayers in public schools were unconstitutional. It was decided under Hugo Black when a Jewish family came to the court complaining that the forced prayer in schools was against their religion.

Rachel Carson/ Silent Spring


Silent Spring, written in 1962 by biologist Rachel Carson, warned of the dangers of pesticides such as DDT. It helped launch the United States environmental protection movement, and was a result of the realization that there wouldn’t be an abundance of fossil fuels and other resources forever.

The New Left


This was a radical youth protest movement named by the leader Tom Hayden that replaced the Old Left of the 1930’s. It started with the formation of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), created by Tom Hayden and Al Haber. They both believed that the country was dominated by huge organizations such as the government, corporations, unions, and universities, but sought for more individual freedom for women, Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans, homosexuals, and students.

James Meredith

October 1, 1962

James Meredith was an American civil rights movement figure who was the first African American student admitted to the segregated University of Mississippi, an event that was a flashpoint in the civil rights movement.

Cuban Missile Crisis

October 1962

The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred in October of 1962. When American spy flights produced evidence of Soviet missile sites in Cuba, American and the Soviet Union were brought to the brink of war. Kennedy demanded that the missile sites be dismantled and removed from Cuba. To prove the validity of his ultimatum, he ordered a naval blockade to “quarantine” Cuba, and readied a full-scale American invasion of the island. With Soviet ships steaming toward the island, Soviet premier Khrushchev warned that his country would not accept the quarantine. Through back channels a secret deal was struck that the Soviets would dismantle the missiles in exchange for a promise not to invade Cuba. As a result, WWIII was avoided.

Gideon v. Wainwright


The Supreme Court had greatly strengthened the civil rights of criminal defendants and, to many Americans, had greatly weakened the power of law enforcement officials to do their jobs. For example, in Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), the Court ruled that every felony defendant was entitled to a lawyer regardless of his or her ability to pay.

Betty Friedan/The Feminine Mystique


The Feminine Mystique, published in 1963, was written by Betty Friedan. She wrote that women, after World War II, had in fact lost ground, causing them to move from their wartime jobs to the suburbs. She wrote about the fact that most women were thought to be content in “a world of bedroom, kitchen, sex, babies, and home,” where, in fact, studies showed that most middle class housewives were miserable. After this book and the creation of the National Organization for Women (NOW) which sought to end discrimination of sex in the work force, many women started to liberate themselves, find work, and get rid of the typical housewife.



Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. He was arrested later after the assassination. When Oswald was being transported to a safer jail, Jack Ruby came into the basement of the Dallas police station and murdered Oswald. Ruby was a nightclub owner. Oswald moved to Russia and lived there until he returned to America with a Russian wife. This feeds the conspiracy theory that Russians were somehow involved in Kennedy’s murder.

March on Washington

August 28, 1963

The March on Washington was one of the largest political rallies for human rights in US history and called for civil and economic rights for African Americans. This was where Martin Luther King gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

George Wallace

1964 - 1976

George Wallace was a politician and the Governor of Alabama, serving on and off from 1963 to 1979. He ran four times for president in 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1976. He was nominated as a Democrat every year except for 1968, when he was a third-party candidate for the American Independent Party. He earned the title “the most influential loser” in 20th-century politics. A 1972 assassination attempt left Wallace Paralyzed, and he used a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. He is remembered for his Southern populist and segregationist attitudes during the desegregation period. He eventually renounced segregationism but remained a populist.

Great Society programs

1964 - 1966

In 1964, LBJ called for a “Great Society” resting on “abundance and liberty for all. The Great Society demands an end to poverty and racial injustice, to which we are fully committed in our time.” In 1965, LBJ flooded the new Congress with Great Society legislation that he said would end poverty, revitalize decaying central cities, provide every young American with the chance to attend college, protect the health of the elderly, enhance the nation’s cultural life, clean up the air and water, and make the highways safer and prettier. Altogether, the Great Society legislation had carried 435 bills through Congress. Among them was the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1966, which allocated $1 billion for programs in remote mountain areas that had long been pockets of desperate poverty. The Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 provided for construction of 240,000 public-housing units and $3 billion for urban renewal. Funds for rent supplements for low-income families came in 1966, and in that year a new Department of Housing and Urban Development appeared, headed by Robert Weaver, the first African American cabinet member.

Escobedo v. Illinois


In Escobedo v. Illinois (1964), the Court ruled that a defendant must be allowed access to a lawyer before questioning by police. This added to the common thought that the Supreme Court had greatly weakened the power of law enforcement officials to do their jobs.

Title VII


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited employers from discriminating based on race in their hiring practices, and empowered the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to regulate fair employment.

UC Berkeley (Free Speech Movement)

1964 - 1965

The Free Speech Movement was a student protest which took place during the 1964-1965 academic year on the UC Berkeley campus. In the protests unprecedented in this scope at the time, students insisted that the university administration lift the ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students’ right to free speech and academic freedom.

Great Society

1964 - 1966

Great Society was a program (similar to Roosevelt’s New Deal) of Lyndon B. Johnson’s once he became president after Kennedy’s assassination. This was a major reform program that gained much approval. It worked towards social reforms and the elimination of poverty and racial discrimination.

New York Times Company v. Sullivan


The New York Times Company v. Sullivan was a United States Supreme Court case that established the actual malice standard, which has to be met before press reports about public officials or public figures can be considered to be defamation and libel, and hence allowed free reporting of the civil rights campaigns in the southern United States. It is one of the key decisions supporting the freedom of the press. The actual malice standard requires that the plaintiff in a defamation or libel case prove that the publisher of the statement in question knew that the statement was false or acted in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity.

“War on Poverty”


The War on Poverty was initiated by Lyndon B. Johnson, who was disgusted with the unnoticed issue of poverty in America. Johnson re-opened many New Deal policies to combat the poverty.

24th Amendment

January 23, 1964

The 24th Amendment prohibits both Congress and the states from conditioning the rights to vote in federal elections on payment of a poll tax or other types of tax. It was proposed by Congress in 1962 and ratified January 23, 1964.

Freedom Summer

June 1964

Freedom Summer was a campaign in the United States launched in June 1964. Its purpose was to attempt to register as many African American voters as possible in Mississippi, a state which, up to that time, had almost totally excluded black voters. The project was organized by the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), a coalition of four established civil rights organizations: the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), with SNCC playing the lead role.

Civil Rights Act 1964

July 2, 1964

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation in the US that outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the public. Howard W. Smith (81-year-old Virginia Democrat) added the word “sex” into the act, thinking that it would keep it from passing because no one would want women’s equality in addition to African Americans’. However, this backfired on him because the bill did pass.

Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

August 7, 1964

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress passed on August 7, 1964 in direct response to a minor naval engagement known as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. It is significant because it gave U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson authorization, without a formal declaration of war by Congress, for the use of military force in Southeast Asia.

Selma, Alabama protests

December 1964

In December 1964, King and the SCLC joined forces with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Selma, Alabama, where the SNCC had been working on voter registration for several months. A local judge issued an injunction that barred any gathering of 3 or more people affiliated with the SNCC, SCLC, DCVL, or any of 41 named civil rights leaders. This injunction temporarily halted civil rights activity until King defied it by speaking at Brown Chapel on January 2, 1965.

Griswold v. Connecticut


This was a Supreme Court case in 1965 in which a person’s “right to privacy” was established. The case involved a Connecticut law that made the use of any contraceptives illegal.

Immigration Act of 1965


Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965 while saying that the new law would help undo all of the wrong things done to the people from Europe and the developing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It treated all races equally, but did put some quotas on the amount of people that could be let in.



The Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 provided for the construction of 240,000 houses and $3million in urban renewal. Funds for rent supplements for low-income families followed in 1966. That same year, a new Department of Housing and Urban Development was created and headed by Robert C. Weaver, the first African American cabinet member.


July 30, 1965

Created to replace the American Medical Association, the Medicare and Medicaid programs were passed as part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society on July 30, 1965. Medicare serves people over 65 with hospital insurance and a program for the payment of doctor’s bills and drug costs with the government funding half the program. Medicaid gave federal grants to states to help cover medical payments for the poor. These are today’s current policies.

Voting Rights Act 1965

August 6, 1965

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S.
Echoing the language of the 15th Amendment, the Act prohibits states from imposing any "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure ... to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." Specifically, Congress intended the Act to outlaw the practice of requiring otherwise qualified voters to pass literacy tests in order to register to vote, a principal means by which Southern states had prevented African Americans from exercising the franchise. The Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had earlier signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.

Miranda v. Arizona


This case, in 1966, confirmed the obligation of authorities to inform a criminal suspect of his or her rights. These include the right to remain silent, the right to know that anything said can be used against the individual in court, and the right to have a defense attorney present during the interrogation.

National Organization for Women (NOW)


In 1966, Betty Friedan and other activists founded the National Organization for Women (NOW). NOW initially sought to end discrimination in the workplace on the basis of gender and went on to spearhead efforts to legalize abortion and obtain federal and state support for childcare centers. The membership of NOW soared from 1,000 in 1967 to 40,000 in 1974.


1967 - 1973

Stagflation is the economic term that refers to when there is a recession and inflation at the same time. The phrase was created during the Nixon administration, when inflation was increasing from 3% in 1967 to 9% in 1973 and unemployment was increasing from 3.3% at the beginning of Nixon’s term to 6% in 1970. It was a result of three things: the fact that the Johnson administration had attempted to pay for the Great Society social-welfare programs and the war in Vietnam at the same time without major tax increase, facing industrial competition with Germany, Japan, and other nations, and depending heavily on cheap sources of energy.

Six Day War


Occurring in1967, there was a short conflict between Egypt and her allies against Israel won by Israel; Israel took over the Golan Heights, The West Bank of the Jordan River, and the Sinai Peninsula.

Loving v. Virginia


Loving v. Virginia was a landmark civil rights decision of the Supreme Court which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage. The case was brought by Mildred Loving, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, who had been sentenced to a year in prison in Virginia for marrying each other. Their marriage violated the state's anti-miscegenation statute, the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which prohibited marriage between people classified as "white" and people classified as "colored." The Supreme Court's unanimous decision held this prohibition was unconstitutional, overturning Pace v. Alabama (1883) and ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.

Detroit Riot 1967

July 23, 1967

The 1967 Detroit riot was a civil disturbance in Detroit Michigan. The event was caused when there was a police raid of an unlicensed, after-hours bar. Police confrontations with patrons and observers on the street evolved into one of the deadliest and most destructive riots in United States history, lasting five days and surpassing the violence and property destruction of Detroit's 1943 race riot. To help end the disturbance, Governor George W. Romney ordered the Michigan National Guard into Detroit, and President Lyndon B. Johnson sent in Army troops.

Green v. County School Board of New Kent County


Green v. County School Board of New Kent County was an important Supreme Court case dealing with the freedom of choice plans created to comply with the requirements of Brown II. The Court held that New Kent County's freedom of choice plan did not constitute adequate compliance with the school board's responsibility to determine a system of admission to public schools on a non-racial basis. The Supreme Court mandated that the school board must formulate new plans and steps towards realistically converting to a desegregated system.



The American Indian Movement (AIM) is a Native American activist organization in the US, founded in 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with an agenda that focuses on spirituality, leadership, and sovereignty. The organization was formed to address various issues concerning the Native American urban community in Minneapolis, including poverty, housing, treaty issues, and police harassment. In October 1971 AIM gathered members from across the country to a protest in Washington, D.C. known as the "Trail of Broken Treaties." AIM gained national attention when it seized the Bureau of Indian Affairs national headquarters and presented a 20-point list of demands to the federal government. In 1973 it led a 71-day armed standoff with federal forces at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Dem. Convention/Election


In this election, Richard Nixon ran against Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey and Independent George Wallace. This election was the first time a Republican (Nixon) had been elected in 12 years. George Wallace was a member of a strong third party called American Independent even though he was a Democrat and ran on a segregationist platform. Nixon won 43.4% of the popular vote with Humphrey winning 42.7 % and Wallace winning 13.5%.



Yippie was the nickname for the members of the Youth International Party. This party was a radically youth-oriented and countercultural revolutionary offshoot of the free speech and anti-war movements of the 1960s. It was founded on December 31, 1967. They participated the 1968 Democratic National Convention riot in Chicago.

Tet Offensive

January 31, 1968

On January 31, 1968, the first day of the Vietnamese New Year (Tet), communist forces launched an enormous attack on American strongholds throughout South Vietnam. A few cities fell to the communists. The Tet offensive was so shocking to the American people because they saw reports of it on TV, and they saw the brutality of the communists and the war in general.

My Lai Massacre/Lt. Calley

March 16, 1968

In 1968, Lieutenant William Calley and his soldiers massacred 347 Vietnamese civilians in the village of My Lai. 25 army officers were charged with aiding in the massacre and its cover-up but only Calley was convicted. Later, President Nixon granted him parole. This massacre was important because the American public saw it for what it was; a killing of a town full of innocent people.



A powerful symbol of the fusion of rock music and the counterculture was the great music festival at Woodstock, New York, in the summer of 1969, where 400,000 people gathered on a farm for nearly a week. The crowd remained peaceful and harmonious though all of it. Champions of counterculture spoke at the time of how Woodstock represented the birth of a new youth nation, the “Woodstock nation.”

Nixon Doctrine

1969 - 1970

Central to the Nixon-Kissinger policy toward the 3rd World was the effort to maintain a stable status quo without involving the US too deeply in local disputes. In 1969 and 1970, Nixon described it to the nation, and it became known as the Nixon Doctrine, by which the US would participate in the defense and development of allies and friends but would leave the basic responsibility for the future of those friends to the nations themselves. Essentially it meant a declining American interest in contributing to 3rd world development.

Gay Liberation

1969 - 1980

After the Stonewall Riot ended in 1969, gays had forged a new sense of solidarity and a new organization, the Gay Liberation Front. As news of the Stonewell riots spread across the country, the gay rights movement assumed national proportion with almost 800 gay organizations having been formed by 1973. However, just like the women’s movement, the campaign for gay rights soon suffered from internal divisions and a conservative backlash. Gay activists engaged in disputes over tactics and objectives, and conservative moralists and Christian fundamentalists launched a nationwide counterattack. By the end of the 1970s, the gay movement had lost its momentum.

Brandenburg v. Ohio


Brandenburg v. Ohio was a Supreme Court case based on the 1st Amendment. The Court held that government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is directed to inciting, and is likely to incite, imminent lawless action. Specifically, it struck down Ohio's criminal syndicalism statute, because that statute broadly prohibited the mere advocacy of violence.

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

February 24, 1969

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District was a Supreme Court decision that defined the constitutional rights of students in US public schools. The Tinker Test is still used by courts today to determine whether a school’s disciplinary actions violate students’ First Amendment rights. The case was caused when in 1965 John Tinker (15 years old), sister Mary Tinker (13 years old) and their friend Christopher Eckhardt (16 years old) wore black armbands to school in protest of the Vietnam War and in support of the Christmas Truce called for by Robert Kennedy. The principals of the Des Moines schools banned the wearing of armbands to school.

Stonewall Riot

June 28, 1969

The Stonewall Riots were a series of spontaneous and violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid on June 28, 1969. It took place at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for gay and lesbian rights.



In the 1970s, the US and the Soviet Union began working together to achieve a more orderly and restrained competition between each other. Both countries signed an agreement to limit the number of Intercontinental Long Range Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) that each country could possess and not construct antiballistic missile systems.

bipolar v. multipolar world


By the 1970's the American government was beginning to realize their original view of a bipolar world, in which the only two major powers were Russia and America, was beginning to be inaccurate. A new view of a world (a multipolar world) of different powers like Japan, Russia, China, America, and the European nations would each balance each other out.

1970’s inflation

1970 - 1980

Inflation had been slowly rising for several years, but when Nixon took office, it began to soar. This was the worst economic problem of the 1970s. Its cause was the significant increase in federal spending when the Johnson Admin tried to fund the Vietnam war without raising taxes on American people.

Earth Day

January 1, 1970

Dramatic increases in the price of oil and gas during the 70s fueled a major energy crisis, and people began to realize that natural resources were limited. This spurred large support in the 70s for environmental protection. Bowing to pressure from both parties, as well as polls showing that 75% of voters supported stronger environmental protections, President Nixon told an aide to “keep me out of trouble on environmental issues.” Nixon feared that if he vetoed legislative efforts to improve environmental quality, Congress would overrule him, so he wouldn’t stand in the way. In late 1969, he reluctantly signed the amended Endangered Species Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The latter became effective on January 1, 1970, the year that environmental groups established an annual Earth Day celebration.

Clean Air Act


Dramatic increases in the price of oil and gas during the 70s fueled a major energy crisis, and people began to realize that natural resources were limited. This spurred large support in the 70s for environmental protection. In 1970, Nixon by executive order created 2 new federal environmental agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Admin. That same year, he also signed the Clean Air Act to reduce air pollution on a national level.

Kent State

May 1970

In May of 1970, many college students were protesting the war, including at Kent State University of Ohio. When antiwar protesters started burning down the campus’s buildings, the Ohio National Guard was sent in to quell the riots but ended up killing 4 people. These riots were specifically in response to the My Lai Massacre and the Cambodian invasion, and resulted in Nixon becoming very shaken by the events, causing him to rethink his policy in Indochina. It showed that the younger, more educated people did not see a point and therefore did not want to fight in the Vietnam War because the result was a bunch of dead people.

Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenberg Board of Education


When Nixon became president, he transformed the Warren Court into what was called the Nixon Court or the Burger Court. The new Court fell short of what the president and many conservatives had expected. Rather than retreating from its commitment to social reform, the Court in many areas actually moves further. In Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971), it ruled in favor of the use of forced busing to achieve racial balance in schools.

Pentagon Papers


The Pentagon Papers were leaked to the press by Daniel Ellsberg, who was a former Defense Department official. The Pentagon Papers claimed that the public had not received the full story on the Gulf of Tonkin incident that had gotten America into the war, and said that President Lyndon B. Johnson had been planning to enter America into the war while telling the public that no troops would be seen in Vietnam. The papers were generally on US political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 – 1967.



The Watergate Scandal was a political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s as a result of the Jun 17, 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in DC and the Nixon admin’s attempted cover-up of its involvement. The scandal eventually led to the resignation of Richard Nixon. As soon as the break-in became known, Nixon ordered the entire affair covered up. It became clear that the Nixon presidency had been involved. The two investigators into the scandal were Woodward and Bernstein, who received all their inside information from Mark “Deep Throat” Felt, the Associate Director of the FBI.

George McGovern


McGovern was the democratic candidate for the 1972 election. His running mate, Thomas Eagleton, had undergone treatment for emotional problems and eventually withdrew from the ticket. McGovern lost by a landslide to Nixon in this election, with only 17 electoral votes to Nixon’s 520.

ERA (Equal Rights Amendment)


The Equal Rights Amendment was a proposed amendment to the Constitution designed to guarantee equal rights for women. It was originally written by Alice Paul and, in 1923, was introduced to Congress for the first time. In 1972, it passed both houses of Congress and went to the state legislatures for ratification, but failed to receive the required number of ratifications before the final deadline of June 30, 1982.

Wounded Knee Incident

February 27, 1973

The Wounded Knee Incident began on February 27, 1973 when 200 Oglala Lakota and followers of the American Indian Movement (AIM) seized and occupied the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota. The protest followed the failure of an effort of the Oglala Civil Rights Organization (OSCRO) to impeach tribal president Richard Wilson, whom they accused of corruption and abuse of opponents. Additionally, protestors attacked the US government’s failure to fulfill treaties with Indian peoples and demanded the reopening of treaty negotiations.

Yom Kippur War/Oil Embargo

October 1973

In October 1973, on the Jewish High Holy day of Yom Kippur, Egyptian and Syrian forces attacked Israel. For 10 days, the Israelis struggled to recover from the surprise attack. they finally launched an effective counterattack against Egyptian forces in Sinai. At that point the US intervened, placing heavy pressure on Israel to accept a truce rather than press its advantage. This war demonstrated the growing dependence of the US and its allies on Arab oil. Permitting Israel to continue fighting Egypt may have jeopardized the ability of the Us to purchase the oil.

Pol Pot/Khmer Rouge

April 1975

The Lon Nol regime in Cambodia fell to the murderous communists of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Their genocide policies led to the deaths of more than a third of the country’s people over the next several years. At the same time, American forces were hardly out of Indochina before the Paris accords collapsed. Then in March 1975, the North Vietnamese launched a full-scale offensive against the now greatly weakened forces of the south. Thieu appealed to Washington for assistance. President Ford asked Congress, but they said no. Late in April 1975, communist forces marched into Saigon after the American embassy staff fled. The communist forces quickly occupied the capital and renamed it Ho Chi Minh City. It began the process of reuniting Vietnam under the harsh rule of Hanoi. These events are important because they show how the American forces in Indochina only led to more communist countries.

Bakke v. Board of Regents of California


This was a landmark case that ruled reverse discrimination as unconstitutional, specifically in the admissions process at the University of California that had set aside 16 of the 100 spots for Asians, Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans, with a different admissions process for those 16. It gave limitations on affirmative action and was ruled in 1978.

Iranian Revolution/Hostage Crisis

November 4, 1979

Ever since the 1950s, the US had provided political support and massive military assistance to the government of the Shah of Iran. By 1979 however, the Iranian people overthrew the Shah, who fled in January of that year. The US tried cautiously (and failed) to establish friendly relations with the new militant government. On November 4, 1979, a mob invaded the American embassy in Tehran and took hostage the diplomats and military personnel. They demanded the return of the Shah of Iran in exchange for their freedom. 53 American remained hostage in the embassy for over a year.

Sandra Day O’Connor


Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed by Reagan to the Supreme Court in 1981; she was the first women justice, and retired in 2005.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg


In 1993, the second woman Supreme Court Justice (after Sandra Day O’Connor), Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was appointed by Bill Clinton. She is also the first Jewish female justice. She still serves today.

Presidential Succession

Calving Coolidge

August 2, 1923 - March 4, 1929

30th President: Republican

Herbert Hoover

March 4, 1929 - March 4, 1933

31st President: Republican

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

March 4, 1933 - April 12, 1945

32nd President: Democrat

Harry S. Truman

April 12, 1945 - January 20, 1953

33rd President: Democrat

Dwight D. Eisenhower

January 20, 1953 - January 20, 1961

34th President: Republican

John F. Kennedy

January 20, 1961 - November 22, 1963

35th President: Democrat

Lyndon B. Johnson

November 22, 1963 - January 20, 1969

36th President: Democrat

Richard Nixon

January 20, 1969 - August 9, 1974

27th President: Republican

Gerald Ford

August 9, 1974 - January 20, 1977

38th President: Republican

Jimmy Carter

January 20, 1977 - January 20, 1981

39th President: Democrat

Ronald Reagan

January 20, 1981 - January 20, 1989

40th President: Republican

George H. W. Bush

January 20, 1989 - January 20, 1993

41st President: Republican