Chapter 13: Postwar Confidence and Anxiety

Chapter 13: Postwar Confidence and Anxiety
• Demobilization – decreasing the man power in the
military by allowing service men and women to return
• GI Bill of Rights – Federal law that granted benefits to
1. A year of unemployment benefits if they could not find a job
2. Financial aid for college
3. Government loans for building and starting businesses
• .
1A. Baby Boom
It seems to me that every other young
housewife I see is pregnant.
-- British visitor to America, 1958
1957  1 baby born every 7 seconds
1B. Baby Boom
Dr. Benjamin Spock
and the Anderson
Converting War Time Economy
• Inflation most painful economic problem after
• U.S. untouched by war’s devastation
– U.S. produce 50% of world’s output
• Technology improves productivity
– Use of computers began in business
• Increased military spending leads to new
– Development of plastics and light metal alloys
– Marshall Plan increased demand for American goods
The Taft-Hartley Act
• Republicans take control of both houses of Congress
in 1946 and seek to return to a conservative
Lower taxes
Reduced government regulation
Support for business
Anti-Union – reduce the power of unions to aid business
End price controls passed during the war
• Taft, a conservative Republican Senator sponsored
– Authorized President- 80 day cooling off period for strikes
in essential industries
– Banned shops closed to non-union members
Truman Vetoes but is overridden
Truman and Civil Rights
• Supports the trend in post war America
against intolerance- Lesson of discrimination
of the Nazis- rings loud and clear- Nuremberg
Trials began, the truth of Nazi racism comes
• War was fought for freedom- freedom should
be available at home
• Some former soldiers don’t like racism in USA
• American society is developing conditions for
change emerge
Incremental Civil Rights for
African Americans
• 1946 Morgan v. Virginia- segregation in public
interstate travel was unconstitutional
• 1950- Shelley v. Kraemer- restrictive covenants
in housing- not selling property to members of
certain groups violated the Constitution
Civil Rights
• Truman desegregated the Military and Federal
Civil Service
• Big step in the early struggle for an end to
Election 1948
• Southern Democrats leave national party in
response to Truman's support for Civil Rights
• Dixicrats
• Strom Thurmond- South Carolina Senator,
runs for president
• Dewey runs for the Republicans
• Truman appeared to lose- but appeals directly
to the people citing the “Do nothing
Republican Congress” and Wins the Election
Fair Deal
• Liberal programs of Truman similar to New
– National health insurance
• Limited and refused by Republican Congress
Eisenhower Charts Middle Path
• Eisenhower popular choice for president in 1952 – both
parties wanted him!!
• First elected post he ever held was president
• Charted middle course
– Agreed government was too big, but did not repeal New
Deal programs
– Federal spending increased during his presidency
The Car Culture
• Cheap, plentiful gas, easy credit, advertising
increase car sales
• No public transit in suburbs; cars necessary
Car Culture Takes Over
• Depended on cars to get to work
• Cars necessary to grocery shop or go to new
suburban shopping malls
• Fast food restaurants and drive-in movies
capitalize on car
• Towns near highways prosper; those near older,
smaller roads decline
The Car Culture
Mobility Takes Its Toll
• Cars create social, environmental
e.g. accidents, pollution
• Upper-, middle-class whites leave
cities; jobs, businesses follow
• Economic gulf widens between
suburban and urban
- also widens gap between middle class
and the poor
Chapter 13: Postwar Confidence and Anxiety
• Interstate Highway Act
1. $$$ to build 41,000 miles of highway consisting of
multilane expressways that would connect the nation’s
major cities
2. Biggest public works expenditure in history
3. Modeled after the German Autobahn that Hitler built
4. Ike’s plan for rapid mobilization in times of
international crisis.
5. In 1990, became known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower
System of Interstate and Defense Highways
Chapter 13: Postwar Confidence and Anxiety
• Sunbelt – Name given to southern and western states during the
migration of the U.S population from eastern and northern cities
• Houston, TX - Benefited from boom in petrochemical and
aerospace business
• Migration had a heavy impact on the shift of
representative power in Congress
• California and Texas are now players in the Electoral
College game
• Factors in move
Large number of jobs (especially defense industries)
Air conditioning
Influx of Latino populations
Chapter 13: Postwar Confidence and Anxiety
The Organization and the Organization Man
Employment in the U.S.
• By 1956, majority of Americans not in blue-collar
(industrial) jobs
• More in higher-paying, white-collar (office,
professional) positions
• Many in services, like sales, advertising,
insurance, communications (service sector)
• Conglomerates—corporation that owns
smaller, unrelated companies
• Diversify to protect from downturns in individual
The Organization and the Organization Man
• Franchise—company offers similar products,
services in many places
- also the right to use company name and system
• Fast-food restaurants among first, most successful
Social Conformity
• Many employees with well-paid, secure jobs
lose individuality
• Personality tests see if job candidates fit in
company culture
• Companies reward teamwork, loyalty, encourage
Chapter 13: Postwar Confidence and Anxiety
• Multinational Corporation - Companies that produced
and sold their goods and services all over the world and
established branches abroad.
• General Motors, General Electric, International
Business Machines, Coca-Cola
• Consumerism – large-scale buying, most of it on credit
• Union Gains
– 1955 AFL and CIO combine to form AFL-CIO
• Educational Opportunities
– Number of young people attending college increase
– Government funds education (science and math)
– California Master Plan
Consumerism Unbound
New Products
• 60% of Americans in middle class; twice as many
as before WW II
• Consumerism (buying material goods) equated
with success
• Numerous new products appear on market in
response to demand
Planned Obsolescence
• Planned obsolescence—making products that
get outdated, wear out
- makes consumers buy or want to buy new ones
Consumerism Unbound
Buy Now, Pay Later
• Credit purchases, credit cards, installments
extend payment period
• Private debt grows; consumers confident of future
The Advertising Age
• Most people have satisfied basic needs; ads
encourage extra spending
• Psychological appeals in ads lure consumers to
particular products
• Ads appear in all media; television emerges as
powerful new tool
Well-Defined Gender Roles
The ideal modern woman married, cooked and
cared for her family, and kept herself busy by
joining the local PTA and leading a troop of
Campfire Girls. She entertained guests in her
family’s suburban house and worked out on the
trampoline to keep her size 12 figure.
-- Life magazine, 1956
The ideal 1950s man was the provider, protector,
and the boss of the house. -- Life magazine, 1955
1956  William H. Whyte, Jr.  The
Organization Man
A a middle-class, white suburban
male is the ideal.
Religious Revival
Today in the U. S., the Christian faith is back in
the center of things. -- Time magazine, 1954
Church membership: 1940 
1960  114,000,000
Television Preachers:
1. Catholic Bishop Fulton J. Sheen  “Life is
Worth Living”
2. Methodist Minister Norman Vincent Peale 
The Power of Positive Thinking
3. Reverend Billy Graham  ecumenical message;
warned against the evils of Communism.
Religious Revival
Hollywood: apex of the biblical epics.
The Robe
The Ten Commandments
Ben Hur
It’s un-American to be un-religious!
-- The Christian Century, 1954
The Suburban Lifestyle
Advances in Medicine and Childcare
• New drugs fight, prevent childhood diseases
• Dr. Jonas Salk develops vaccine for poliomyelitis
• Pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock writes popular
guide for parents
• Baby boom impacts economy, educational system
Popular Culture
New Era of the Mass Media
The Rise of Television
• Mass media—means of communication that reach
large audiences
• TV first widely available 1948; in almost 90% of
homes in 1960
• Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
regulates communications
• By 1956, FCC allows 500 stations to broadcast
• Programs: comedies, news, dramas, variety shows,
children’s shows
• Lifestyle changes: TV Guide is popular magazine;
TV dinners
New Era of the Mass Media
Stereotypes and Gunslingers
• Women, minorities on TV are stereotypes; few
blacks, Latinos
• Westerns glorify historical frontier conflicts
• Raise concerns about effect of violence on children
Radio and Movies
• Television cuts into radio, movie markets
• Radio turns to local news, weather, music,
community affairs
• Movies capitalize on size, color, sound
advantages; try gimmicks
1946  7,000 TV sets in the U. S.
1950  50,000,000 TV sets in the U.
Television is a vast wasteland.  Newton
Minnow, Chairman of the Federal
Communications Commission, 1961
Mass Audience  TV celebrated traditional
American values.
Truth, Justice, and the American way!
Television – The Western
Davy Crockett
King of the Wild Frontier
Sheriff Matt
Dillon, Gunsmoke
The Lone Ranger
(and his faithful
sidekick, Tonto):
Who is that masked man??
Television - Family Shows
Glossy view of mostly
middle-class suburban life.
I Love Lucy
Social Winners?...
The Honeymooners
African Americans and Rock ‘n’ Roll
Rock ‘n’ Roll
• Black musicians add electric instruments to
blues—rhythm and blues
• Rock ‘n’ roll—mix of rhythm and blues,
country, pop
• Has heavy rhythm, simple melodies, lyrics
about teenage concerns
• Music appeals to newly affluent teens who can
buy records
• Many adults concerned music will lead to
delinquency, immorality
Teen Culture
In the 1950s  the word “teenager” entered
the American language.
By 1956  13 mil. teens with $7 bil. to spend
a year.
1951  “race music”  “ROCK ‘N ROLL”
Elvis Presley  “The King”
Teen Culture
Behavioral Rules of the 1950s:
U Obey Authority.
U Control Your Emotions.
U Don’t Make Waves  Fit in
with the Group.
A Subculture Emerges
The Beat Movement
• Beat movement—writers, artists express social,
literary nonconformity
• Poets, writers use free, open form; read works
aloud in coffeehouses
• Beatnik attitudes, way of life attract media attention,
The “Beat” Generation:
Jack Kerouac  On The Road
Allen Ginsberg  poem, “Howl”
Neal Cassady
William S. Burroughs
“Clean” Teen
The Other America
The Urban Poor
White Flight
• 1962, 25% of Americans below poverty level
• Post WW II–1960, 5 million blacks go from rural
South to urban North
• White flight results in loss of businesses, tax
payers to cities
• Cities can no longer afford to maintain or improve:
- schools, public transportation, police and fire
• The Other America by Michael Harrington –
documents changes in cities
Continued . . .
The Urban Poor
The Inner Cities
• Poverty grows rapidly in decaying inner cities
• Poor economic conditions lead to illness and
terrible conditions
Urban Renewal
• Urban renewal—replace rundown buildings with
new low-income housing
• Housing and Urban Development Dept. created
to improve conditions
• Not enough housing built for displaced people
Rural Poor
•Plight of rural poor just as bad
•Included Mississippi delta sharecroppers, miners in Appalachia and
farmers in remote areas
•Corporations and large farmers dominated farm production, forcing small
farmers out of business
•Many left to the urban areas, some remained behind hoping for better
economic times
Poverty Leads to Activism
Mexicans Seek Employment
• Many Southwest Mexicans become U.S. citizens
after Mexican War
• 1942–47, Mexican braceros, hired hands,
allowed into U.S. to work
• After war, many remain illegally; many others
enter to look for work
The Longoria Incident
• Undertaker refuses funeral services to Felix
Longoria, WW II veteran
• Outraged Mexican-American veterans organize
G.I. Forum
• Unity League of CA registers voters, promotes
responsive candidates
Continued . . .
Poverty Leads to Activism
Native Americans Continue their Struggle
• During Depression, U.S. policy of Native American
• National Congress of American Indians: civil rights,
maintain customs
• U.S. stops family allotments, wages; outsiders take
tribal lands
The Termination Policy
• Termination policy cuts economic support, gives
land to individuals
• Bureau of Indian Affairs helps resettlement in cities
• Termination policy is a failure; abandoned in 1963

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