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The U.S.A.


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Title: The U.S.A.

The U.S.A. A History1953 1960
1952 Election
  • In 1951, the U.S. ratified the 22nd Amendment,
    making a president ineligible to be elected for a
    third time, or to be elected for a second time
    after having served more than two years of a
    previous president's term. The latter clause
    would have applied to Truman in 1952, except that
    a grandfather clause in the amendment explicitly
    excluded the current president from this
    provision. However, Truman decided not to run for

1952 Election
  • At the time of the 1952 New Hampshire primary, no
    candidate had won Truman's backing. His first
    choice, Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson, had
    declined to run Illinois Governor Adlai
    Stevenson had also turned Truman down Vice
    President Barkley was considered too old and
    Truman distrusted and disliked Senator Estes
    Kefauver, whom he privately called "Cowfever."

1952 Election
  • Truman's name was on the New Hampshire primary
    ballot but Kefauver won. On March 29 Truman
    announced his decision not to run for
    re-election. Stevenson, having reconsidered his
    presidential ambitions, received Truman's backing
    and won the Democratic nomination.

1952 Election
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower, now a Republican and the
    nominee of his party, campaigned against what he
    denounced as Truman's failures regarding "Korea,
    Communism and Corruption" and the "mess in
    Washington, and promised to "go to
    Korea."Eisenhower defeated Stevenson decisively
    in the general election, ending 20 years of
    Democratic rule. While Truman and Eisenhower had
    previously been good friends, Truman felt
    betrayed that Eisenhower did not denounce Joseph
    McCarthy during the campaign.

Eisenhower Era
  • In American memory, the postwar 1950s have
    acquired an idyllic luster. Reruns of 1950s TV
    shows such as Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows
    Best leave today's viewers with an impression of
    unadulterated family bliss. The baby boomers look
    back nostalgically to these years that marked
    their early childhood experiences.

Eisenhower Era
  • The president for many of these years was war
    hero Dwight Eisenhower. Ike, as he was nicknamed,
    walked a middle road between the two major
    parties. This strategy, called Modern
    Republicanism, simultaneously restrained
    Democrats from expanding the New Deal while
    stopping conservative Republicans from reversing
    popular programs such as Social Security. As a
    result, no major reform initiatives emerged from
    a decade many would describe as politically dead.
    Perhaps freedom from controversy was the prize
    most American voters were seeking after World War
    II and the Korean War.

Eisenhower Era
  • A booming economy helped shape the blissful
    retrospective view of the 1950s. A rebuilding
    Europe was hungry for American goods, fueling the
    consumer-oriented sector of the American economy.
    Conveniences that had been toys for the upper
    classes such as fancy refrigerators, range-top
    ovens, convertible automobiles, and televisions
    became middle-class staples.

Eisenhower Era
  • The pent-up demand for consumer goods unleashed
    after the Great Depression and World War II
    sustained itself through the 1950s. Homes became
    affordable to many apartment dwellers for the
    first time. Consequently, the population of the
    suburbs exploded. The huge youth market had a
    music all of its own called rock and roll,
    complete with parent-detested icons such as Elvis

  • Levittown is the name of some large suburban
    developments created in the United States of
    America by William Levitt and his company Levitt
    Sons. They featured large numbers of similar
    houses that could be built easily and quickly,
    allowing rapid recovery of costs. This is the
    beginning of the suburbs and the decline of
    urban centers.

Eisenhower Era
  • Of course, not everything was as rosy as it
    seemed. Beneath the pristine exterior, a small
    group of critics and nonconformists pointed out
    the flaws in a suburbia they believed had no
    soul, a government they believed was growing
    dangerously powerful, and a lifestyle they
    believed was fundamentally repressed. And much of
    America was still segregated.

  • "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of
    the Communist party?"
  • In the 1950s, thousands of Americans who toiled
    in the government, served in the army, worked in
    the movie industry, or came from various walks of
    life had to answer that question before a
    congressional panel.

  • Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin rose to
    national prominence by initiating a probe to
    ferret out communists holding prominent
    positions. During his investigations, safeguards
    promised by the Constitution were trampled.

  • In 1947, President Truman had ordered background
    checks of every civilian in service to the
    government. When Alger Hiss, a high-ranking State
    Department official was convicted on espionage
    charges, fear of communists intensified.

  • McCarthy capitalized on national paranoia by
    proclaiming that communist spies were omnipresent
    and that he was America's only salvation.
  • An atmosphere of fear of world domination by
    communists hung over America in the postwar

  • There were fears of a nuclear holocaust based on
    the knowledge that the Soviet Union exploded its
    first A-bomb in 1949. That same year, China, the
    world's most populous nation, became communist.
    Half of Europe was under Joseph Stalin's
    influence, and every time Americans read their
    newspapers there seemed to be a new atomic threat.

  • At a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, on
    February 9, 1950, McCarthy launched his first
    salvo. He proclaimed that he was aware of 205
    card-carrying members of the Communist Party who
    worked for the United States Department of State.
    A few days later, he repeated the charges at a
    speech in Salt Lake City. McCarthy soon began to
    attract headlines, and the Senate asked him to
    make his case.

  • On February 20, 1950, McCarthy addressed the
    Senate and made a list of dubious claims against
    suspected communists. He cited 81 cases that day.
    He skipped several numbers, and for some cases
    repeated the same flimsy information. He proved
    nothing, but the Senate called for a full
    investigation. McCarthy was in the national

  • Staying in the headlines was a full-time job.
    After accusing low-level officials, McCarthy went
    for the big guns, even questioning the loyalty of
    Dean Acheson and George Marshall. Some
    Republicans in the Senate were aghast and
    disavowed McCarthy.
  • Others such as Robert Taft and Richard Nixon, saw
    him as an asset. The public rewarded the
    witch-hunters by sending red-baiters (communist
    accusers) before the Senate and the House in 1950.

  • When Dwight Eisenhower became president, he had
    no love for McCarthy. Ike was reluctant to
    condemn McCarthy for fear of splitting the
    Republican Party. McCarthy's accusations went on
    into 1954, when the Wisconsin senator focused on
    the United States Army. For eight weeks, in
    televised hearings, McCarthy interrogated army
    officials, including many decorated war heroes.

  • But this was his tragic mistake. Television
    illustrated the mean-spiritedness of McCarthy's
    campaign. The army then went on the attack,
    questioning McCarthy's methods and credibility.
    In one memorable fusillade, the Council for the
    Army simply asked McCarthy, "At long last, have
    you no sense of decency left?"

  • The final downfall occurred when CBS News
    Reporter Edward R. Murrow spent an entire episode
    of his show See It Now on McCarthy. By using
    mostly recordings of McCarthy himself in action
    interrogating witnesses and making speeches,
    Murrow displayed what he felt was the key danger
    to the democracy not suspected Communists, but
    McCarthy's actions themselves. As Murrow said in
    his tailpiece
  • No one familiar with the history of his country
    can deny that Congressional committees are
    useful. It is necessary to investigate before
    legislating. But the line between investigating
    and persecuting is a very fine one, and the
    junior senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it

  • Poll after poll showed the American people
    thought McCarthy unscrupulous in his attack of
    the army.
  • Fed up, McCarthy's colleagues censured him for
    dishonoring the Senate, and the hearings came to
    a close. Plagued with poor health and alcoholism,
    McCarthy himself died three years later.

  • McCarthy was not the only individual to seek out
    potential communists.
  • The House Committee on Un-American Activities
    (HUAC) targeted the Hollywood film industry.
    Actors, writers, and producers alike were
    summoned to appear before the committee and
    provide names of colleagues who may have been
    members of the Communist Party.

  • Those who repented and named names of suspected
    communists were allowed to return to business as
    usual. Those who refused to address the committee
    were cited for contempt. Uncooperative artists
    were blacklisted from jobs in the entertainment
    industry. Years passed until many had their
    reputations restored.

  • Were there in fact communists in America?
  • The answer is undoubtedly yes. But many of the
    accused had attended party rallies 15 or more
    years before the hearings it had been
    fashionable to do so in the 1930s.

  • Although the Soviet spy ring did penetrate the
    highest levels of the American government, the
    vast majority of the accused were innocent
    victims. All across America, state legislatures
    and school boards mimicked McCarthy and HUAC.
    Thousands of people lost their jobs and had their
    reputations tarnished.

  • Unions were special target of communist hunters.
    Sensing an unfavorable environment, the AFL
    (American Federation of Labor) and the CIO
    (Congress of Industrial Organizations) merged in
    1955 to close ranks. Books were pulled from
    library shelves, including Robin Hood, which was
    deemed communist-like for suggesting stealing
    from the rich to give to the poor.

  • No politician could consider opening trade with
    China or withdrawing from Southeast Asia without
    being branded a communist. Although McCarthyism
    was dead by the mid-1950s, its effects lasted for
  • Above all, several messages became crystal clear
    to the average American Don't criticize the
    United States. Don't be different. Just conform.

The American Dream
  • For millions of Americans in the 1950s, the
    American Dream became a reality. Within their
    reach was the chance to have a house on their own
    land, a car, a dog, and 2.3 kids.
  • Postwar affluence redefined the American Dream.
    Gone was the poverty borne of the Great
    Depression, and the years of wartime sacrifice
    were over.

The American Dream
  • Automobiles once again rolled off the assembly
    lines of the Big Three Ford, General Motors, and
    Chrysler. The Interstate Highway Act authorized
    the construction of thousands of miles of
    high-speed roads that made living farther from
    work a possibility.
  • Families that had delayed having additional
    children for years no longer waited, and the
    nation enjoyed a postwar baby boom.

  • With the ability to own a detached home,
    thousands of Americans soon surpassed the
    standard of living enjoyed by their parents.
    Homeowners struggled to keep their communities
    looking uniform. Residents had to pledge to mow
    their lawns on a weekly basis. African Americans
    were excluded by practice. The irrational need to
    "keep up with the Joneses" was born in the
    American suburb.

  • A generation of Americans loved the chance to
    avoid rent and the dirtiness of the city to live
    in their own homes on their own land. Soon,
    shopping centers and fast food restaurants added
    to the convenience of suburban life. Thousands
    and thousands migrated to suburbia.
  • America and the American Dream would never be the

The Golden Age of Television
  • Perhaps no phenomenon shaped American life in the
    1950s more than television. At the end of World
    War II, the television was a toy for only a few
    thousand wealthy Americans. Just 10 years later,
    nearly two-thirds of American households had a
  • The biggest-selling periodical of the decade was
    TV Guide. In a nation once marked by strong
    regional differences, network television
    programming blurred these distinctions and helped
    forge a national popular culture.

The Golden Age of Television
  • Television forever changed changed politics. The
    first president to be televised was Harry Truman.
    When Estes Kefauver prosecuted mob boss Frank
    Costello on television, the Tennessee senator
    became a national hero and a vice presidential
  • It did not take long for political advertisers to
    understand the power of the new medium. Dwight
    Eisenhower's campaign staff generated sound bites
    short, powerful statements from a candidate
    rather than air an entire speech.

The Golden Age of Television
  • Americans loved situation comedies sitcoms. In
    the 1950s, I Love Lucy topped the ratings charts.
    The show broke new ground by including a Cuban
    American character (Ricky Ricardo, played by
    bandleader Desi Arnaz) and dealing with Lucille
    Ball's pregnancy, though Lucy was never filmed
    from the waist down while she was pregnant.
    Forty-four million Americans tuned in to welcome
    her newborn son to the show.

The Golden Age of Television
  • Through shows such as Leave It to Beaver, The
    Donna Reed Show, and Father Knows Best,
    television created an idyllic view of what the
    perfect family life should look like, though few
    actual families could live up to the ideal.
  • Television's idea of a perfect family was a
    briefcase-toting professional father who left
    daily for work, and a pearls-wearing, nurturing
    housewife who raised their mischievous boys and
    obedient girls.
  • With rare exceptions (such as Desi Arnaz) members
    of minorities rarely appeared on television in
    the 1950s.

The Golden Age of Television
  • America's fascination with the Wild West was
    nothing new, but television brought Western
    heroes into American homes and turned that
    fascination into a love affair. Cowboys and
    lawmen such as Hopalong Cassidy, Wyatt Earp, and
    the Cisco Kid galloped across televisions every

The Golden Age of Television
  • The Roy Rogers Show and Rin Tin Tin brought the
    West to children on Saturday mornings, and Davy
    Crockett coonskin caps became popular fashion
    items. Long running horse operas, such as Bonanza
    and Rawhide, attracted viewers week after week.

The Golden Age of Television
  • One Western, Gunsmoke, ran for 20 years longer
    than any other prime-time drama in television
    history. At the decade's close, 30 Westerns aired
    on prime time each week, and Westerns occupied 7
    spots in the Nielsen Top-10.

The Golden Age of Television
  • Like The Lone Ranger or Zorro, most programs of
    the early 1950s drew a clear line between the
    good guys and the bad guys. There was very little
    danger of injury or death, and good always
    triumphed in the end.
  • By the late '50s, though, the genre had become
    more complicated and the lines between good and
    evil was blurred. America entered the more
    turbulent '60s with heroes such as the black-clad
    mercenary Paladin and the gambling Maverick
    brothers who would do anything to earn a buck.

The Golden Age of Television
  • Because most early television was live, the
    producers of major networks found their talent
    among people already had experience with live
    performance vaudeville. Television and
    vaudeville combined to created the form of
    entertainment known as the variety show. Variety
    shows were made up of short acts musical
    numbers, comedy sketches, animal tricks, etc.
    usually centered around an engaging host. Former
    vaudevillians Bob Hope, Milton Berle, and Ed Wynn
    all hosted popular programs. The influence of
    vaudeville on television was so strong that
    television critics called the shows "Vaudeo."

The Golden Age of Television
  • Sid Caesar had two popular variety programs in
    '50s, Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour. These
    shows featured the writing talents of Carl
    Reiner, Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart, and Woody
    Allen. Nat "King" Cole became the first African
    American host of a television series when his
    variety show appeared in 1956.

The Golden Age of Television
  • But perhaps no variety program had a greater
    effect on American culture than The Ed Sullivan
    Show, which ran for 23 years beginning in 1948
    and was for a while America's most popular show.
    Combining highbrow and popular entertainment,
    Sullivan's "really big shew" became a major stop
    for both established performers and young,
    up-and-coming artists.

The Golden Age of Television
  • Although Elvis Presley had appeared on other
    shows in the past, it was his performance on The
    Ed Sullivan Show that grabbed the headlines. By
    securing rock-and-roll acts, Sullivan won the
    adolescent market, truly making the variety show
    a whole-family event.

The Golden Age of Television
  • With more and more American families owning
    televisions, manufacturers now had a new way to
    sell their products, and the television
    commercial was born. By late 1948, over 900
    companies had bought television broadcast time
    for advertising. By 1950, sponsors were leaving
    radio for television at an unstoppable rate.

The Golden Age of Television
  • Television sponsors ranged from greeting cards to
    automobiles, but perhaps the most advertised
    product was tobacco. TV Guide voted Lucky
    Strike's "Be Happy, Go Lucky" ad commercial of
    the year for 1950, and Phillip Morris sponsored I
    Love Lucy for years, inserting cartoon cigarette
    packs in the show's opening animation. Cartoon
    characters were common in '50s commercials,
    representing everything from lightbulbs to beer.
    In 1950, Coca-Cola launched its first television
    ad campaign using a combination of animation and
    celebrity endorsement.

The Golden Age of Television
  • Most Americans still got their news from
    newspapers in the 1950s, but the foundations for
    the modern television newscast were established
    as early as 1951 with Edward R. Murrow's See it
    Now, the first coast-to-coast live show. Many
    consider Murrow's 1953 Person to Person interview
    with Joseph McCarthy to be a major step toward
    McCarthy's downfall.

The Golden Age of Television
  • Two major developments in the 1950s that set up
    television as the news medium of the future were
    the establishment of coaxial cable linking the
    East and West coasts, which enabled footage to be
    moved electronically instead of physically, and
    the invention of videotape, which allowed the use
    of prerecorded footage (such as studio

The Golden Age of Television
  • Understanding that the population of children was
    in greater numbers than in previous generations,
    television producers developed a host of
    children's programs. Shows such as The Mickey
    Mouse Club and Howdy Doody, entertained millions
    of American kids.
  • During the 1950s, few households owned more than
    one television, so viewing became a shared family
    event. Even the American diet was transformed
    with the advent of the TV dinner, first
    introduced in 1954.

Top TV Shows
Year Show Network
1950-51 Texaco Star Theater NBC
1951-52 Arthur Godfreys Talent Scouts CBS
1952-55 I Love Lucy CBS
1955-56 The 64,000.00 Question CBS
1956 - 57 I Love Lucy CBS
1958-60 Gunsmoke CBS
Rock and Roll
  • Rock and roll was everything the suburban 1950s
    were not. While parents of the decade were
    listening to Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, and big
    bands, their children were moving to a new beat.
  • In fact, to the horror of the older generation,
    their children were twisting, thrusting, bumping,
    and grinding to the sounds of rock and roll.

Rock and Roll
  • This generation of youth was much larger than any
    in recent memory, and the prosperity of the era
    gave them money to spend on records and
    phonographs. By the end of the decade, the
    phenomenon of rock and roll helped define the
    difference between youth and adulthood.

Rock and Roll
  • Disc jockey Alan Freed began a rhythm-and-blues
    (RB) show on a Cleveland radio station. Soon the
    audience grew and grew, and Freed coined the term
    "rock and roll."
  • Early attempts by white artists to cover RB
    songs resulted in weaker renditions that bled the
    heart and soul out of the originals. Record
    producers saw the market potential and began to
    search for a white artist who could capture the
    African American sound.

Rock and Roll
  • Sam Phillips, a Memphis record producer, found
    the answer in Elvis Presley. With a deep Southern
    sound, pouty lips, and gyrating hips, Elvis took
    an old style and made it his own.
  • From Memphis, the sound spread to other cities,
    and demand for Elvis records skyrocketed. Within
    two years, Elvis was the most popular name in the
    entertainment business.

Rock and Roll
  • After the door to rock and roll acceptance was
    opened, African American performers such as Chuck
    Berry, Fats Domino, and Little Richard began to
    enjoy broad success, as well. White performers
    such as Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis also
    found artistic freedom and commercial success.

Rock and Roll
  • Rock and roll sent shockwaves across America. A
    generation of young teenagers collectively
    rebelled against the music their parents loved.
    In general, the older generation loathed rock and
    roll. Appalled by the new styles of dance the
    movement evoked, churches proclaimed it Satan's

Rock and Roll
  • Because rock and roll originated among the lower
    classes and a segregated ethnic group, many
    middle-class whites thought it was tasteless.
    Rock and roll records were banned from many radio
    stations and hundreds of schools.
  • But the masses spoke louder. When Elvis appeared
    on TV's The Ed Sullivan Show, the show's ratings

Rock and Roll
  • The commercial possibilities were limitless. As a
    generation of young adults finished military
    service, bought houses in suburbia, and longed
    for stability and conformity, their children
    seemed to take comfort for granted. They wanted
    to release the tensions that bubbled beneath the
    smooth surface of postwar America.
  • Above all, they wanted to shake, rattle, and roll
    and rock around the clock.

Rock and Roll
Most requested songs 1945 - 1959
Year Song Artist
1945 Sentimental Journey Les Brown
1946 Christmas Song Nat "King" Cole
1947 Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Doris Day
1948 I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover Art Mooney
1949 (Ghost) Riders In The Sky Vaughn Monroe
1950 Daddy's Little Girl Mills Brothers
1951 Too Young Nat King Cole
Rock and Roll
Most requested songs 1945 - 1959
Year Song Artist
1952 Unforgettable Nat King Cole
1953 Dragnet Ray Anthony His Orchestra
1954 Shake Rattle and Roll Bill Haley and The Comets
1955 Rock Around The Clock Bill Haley The Comets
1956 Love Me Tender Elvis Presley
1957 Jailhouse Rock Elvis Presley
1958 Tequila The Champs
1959 Mack The Knife Bobby Darin
Best Picture Winners 1945 - 1959
Year Title
1945 The Lost Weekend
1946 The Best Years of Our Lives
1947 Gentleman's Agreement
1948 Hamlet
1949 All the King's Men
1950 All About Eve
1951 An American in Paris
1952 The Greatest Show on Earth
1953 From Here to Eternity
1954 On the Waterfront
1955 Marty
1956 Around the World in 80 Days
1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai
1958 Gigi
1959 Ben-Hur
Pro Sport Champions of the 1950s
Year Baseball Football Basketball Hockey
1950 New York Yankees Cleveland Browns Minneapolis Lakers Detroit Red Wings
1951 New York Yankees Los Angeles Rams Rochester Royals Toronto Maple Leafs
1952 New York Yankees Detroit Lions Minneapolis Lakers Detroit Red Wings
1953 New York Yankees Detroit Lions Minneapolis Lakers Montreal Canadiens
1954 New York Giants Cleveland Browns Minneapolis Lakers Detroit Red Wings
1955 Brooklyn Dodgers Cleveland Browns Syracuse Nationals Detroit Red Wings
1956 New York Yankees New York Giants Philadelphia Warriors Montreal Canadiens
1957 Milwaukee Braves Detroit Lions Boston Celtics Montreal Canadiens
1958 New York Yankees Baltimore Colts St. Louis Hawks Montreal Canadiens
1959 Los Angeles Dodgers Baltimore Colts Boston Celtics Montreal Canadiens
The Cold War Heats Up
  • The end of the Korean War in 1953 by no means
    brought an end to global hostilities.
  • As the British and French Empires slowly yielded
    to independence movements, a new Third World
    emerged. This became the major battleground of
    the Cold War as the United States and the Soviet
    Union struggled to bring new nations into their
    respective orbits. Across the Third World, the
    two superpowers squared off through proxy armies.

The Cold War Heats Up
  • The United States' recognition of Israel in 1948
    created a strong new ally, but created many
    enemies. Arab nations, enraged by American
    support for the new Jewish state, found
    supportive ears in the Soviet Union.
  • When Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser sought
    to strengthen ties with the Soviet bloc, the
    United States withdrew its pledge to help Nasser
    construct the all-important Aswan Dam. Nasser
    responded by nationalizing the Suez Canal, an
    action that compelled British, French, and
    Israeli armies to invade Egypt.

The Cold War Heats Up
  • The Western alliance was threatened as President
    Dwight Eisenhower called upon Britain and France
    to show restraint. With Soviet influence growing
    in the oil-rich region, Ike issued the Eisenhower
    Doctrine, which pledged American support to any
    governments fighting communist insurgencies in
    the Middle East. Making good on that promise, he
    sent over 5,000 marines to Lebanon to forestall
    an anti-Western takeover.

The Cold War Heats Up
  • Asia provided more challenges for American
    containment policy. China was flexing its muscles
    on Taiwan by threatening the takeover of the
    Taiwanese islands of Quemoy and Matsu. United
    States Secretary of State John Foster Dulles
    chose to follow a strategy of brinkmanship. He
    told China that any aggressive actions toward the
    islands would be met by force from the United
  • In a grown-up version of the children's game of
    chicken, Dulles hoped to avoid war by threatening
    war. The Chinese shelled the islands to save
    face, but no takeover occurred.

The Cold War Heats Up
  • To the south, communist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh
    successfully defeated the French colonial army to
    create the new nation of Vietnam. American
    commitment to the containment of communism led to
    a protracted involvement that would become the
    Vietnam War.

The Cold War Heats Up
  • One 1950s Cold War catalyst of fear was the
    capture and conviction of Ethel and Julius
    Rosenberg for selling nuclear secrets to the
    Soviet Union. Although the FBI advised sparing
    Ethel Rosenberg's life (she had two children),
    Judge Irving Kaufman refused to do so and
    sentenced her to death with her husband. The
    trial and sentencing were controversial, partly
    due to charges of anti-Semitism.

The Cold War Heats Up
  • In the aftermath of World War II, the United
    States created a new weapon to assist in
    fighting the Cold War the Central
    Intelligence Agency. In addition to gathering
    information on Soviet plans and maneuvers, the
    CIA also involved itself in covert operations
    designed to prevent communist dictators from
    rising to power.
  • The first such instance occurred in Iran, when
    Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh
    nationalized British Petroleum. Fearing Soviet
    influence in the powerful oil nation, the CIA
    recruited a phony mob to drive off Mossadegh and
    return the American-backed Shah Mohammad Reza
    Pahlavi to power.

The Cold War Heats Up
  • When Jacobo Arbenz came to power in Guatemala, he
    promised to relieve the nation's impoverished
    farmers by seizing land held by the
    American-owned United Fruit Company and
    redistributing it to the peasants. With the
    support of American air power, a CIA-backed band
    of mercenaries overthrew Arbenz and established a
    military dictatorship.
  • Throughout Latin America, the United States was
    seen as a brutal defender of thuggish autocrats
    at the expense of popularly elected leaders.
    Fidel Castro capitalized on this sentiment by
    overthrowing U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio
    Batista from power in Cuba in January 1959.

The Cold War Heats Up
  • Relations remained icy between the United States
    and the Soviet Union. Relying on the knowledge
    that the United States had a much larger nuclear
    arsenal than the Soviet Union, Eisenhower and
    Dulles announced a policy of massive retaliation.
    Any attack by the Soviets on the United States or
    its allies would be met with nuclear force.

The Cold War Heats Up
  • The Soviet crackdown on the Hungarian Uprising of
    1956 further strained relations. In an effort to
    reduce tensions, Eisenhower offered an "open
    skies" proposal to Soviet leader Nikita
    Khrushchev. Planes from each nation would be
    permitted to fly over the other to inspect
    nuclear sites. But Khrushchev declined the offer.
    A summit conference between Eisenhower and
    Khrushchev was canceled in 1960 when the Soviets
    shot down an American U-2 spy plane piloted by
    Gary Powers.

The Cold War Heats Up
  • Despite the passing of Joseph Stalin, Americans
    continued to view the Soviet Union as the Great
    Red Menace.
  • When the USSR put Sputnik into orbit in 1957,
    panic struck the American heartland. Thousands
    rushed to Sears and Roebuck to purchase bomb
    shelter kits, and Congress responded by creating
    the National Aeronautical and Space
    Administration and by appropriating funds for
    science education.

Youth Culture
  • In the artistic world, dozens of beat writers
    reviled middle-class materialism, racism, and
    uniformity. Other intellectuals were able to
    detach themselves enough from the American
    mainstream to review it critically.
  • The writers of the Beat Generation refused to
    submit to the conformity of the 1950s. Greenwich
    Village in New York City was the center of the
    beat universe. Epitomized by such Columbia
    University students such Jack Kerouac and Allen
    Ginsberg, the beats lived a bohemian lifestyle.

Youth Culture
  • In 1957, Kerouac published On the Road, the
    definitive Beat Generation novel. The beats were
    a subculture of young people dissatisfied with
    the blandness of American culture and its
    shallow, rampant consumerism.

Youth Culture
  • While mainstream America seemed to ignore African
    American culture, the beats celebrated it by
    frequenting jazz clubs and romanticizing their
    poverty. The use of alcohol and drugs
    foreshadowed the counterculture of the following
    decade. Believing that American society was
    unspeakably repressed, the beats experimented
    with new sexual lifestyles.

Youth Culture
  • In On the Road, Kerouac's hero travels around
    the nation, delving into America's fast-living
    underside. In "Howl," Allen Ginsberg assails
    materialism and conformity and calls for the
    unleashing of basic human needs and desires.
  • As the media helped create a single notion of an
    idyllic American lifestyle, a vocal minority of
    social critics registered their dissenting
    voices. The notion of the white-collar,
    executive-track, male employee was condemned in
    fiction in Sloan Wilson's The Man in the Gray
    Flannel Suit and in commentary in William Whyte's
    The Organization Man.

Youth Culture
  • The booming postwar defense industry came under
    fire in C. Wright Mills' The Power Elite. Mills
    feared that an alliance between military leaders
    and munitions manufacturers held an unhealthy
    proportion of power that could ultimately
    endanger American democracy a sentiment echoed
    in President Eisenhower's Farewell Address.

Youth Culture
  • While the 1950s silver screen lit up mostly with
    the typical Hollywood fare of Westerns and
    romances, a handful of films shocked audiences by
    uncovering the dark side of America's youth.
    Marlon Brando played the leather-clad leader of a
    motorcycle gang that ransacks a small town. In
    1953's The Wild One. The film terrified adults
    but fascinated kids, who emulated Brando's style.
    1955 saw the release of Blackboard Jungle, a film
    about juvenile delinquency in an urban high
    school. It was the first major release to use a
    rock-and-roll soundtrack and was banned in many
    areas both for its violent take on high school
    life and its use of multiracial cast of lead

Youth Culture
  • Perhaps the most controversial and influential of
    these films is 1955's Rebel without a Cause.
    Another film about teenage delinquency (the main
    characters meet at the police station) Rebel is
    not set amid urban decay, but rather in an
    affluent suburb. "And they both come from 'good'
    families!" the film's tagline screamed.

Youth Culture
  • Ironically, the film made it clear that the
    failure of those very families was to blame for
    the main characters' troubles. Juvenile
    delinquency was no longer a problem for the lower
    classes it was lurking in the supposedly perfect
    suburbs. Once again parents were outraged, but
    the message could no longer be ignored. The film
    earned three Academy Award nominations and
    propelled James Dean to posthumous but eternal

The Civil Rights Movement
  • Civil Rights During the 1950s

Rise of the Automobile
Rise of the Automobile
1950 Nash Statesman 2-door Sedan
Rise of the Automobile
1950 Ford Coupe
Rise of the Automobile
Rise of the Automobile
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible
Rise of the Automobile
1959 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight
Rise of the Automobile
Ford Edsel
Route 66
Route 66shown in red
Route 66
  • Officially recognized as the birthplace of US
    Route 66, it was in Springfield, Missouri on
    April 30, 1926 that officials first proposed the
    name of the new Chicago-to-Los Angeles highway. A
    placard in Park Central Square was dedicated to
    the city by the Route 66 Association of Missouri,
    and traces of the "Mother Road" are still visible
    in downtown Springfield along Kearney Street,
    Glenstone Avenue, College and St. Louis streets
    and on Missouri 266 to Halltown.

Route 66
  • After the new federal highway system was
    officially created, Clayton Avery called for the
    establishment of the U.S. Highway 66 Association
    to promote the complete paving of the highway
    from end to end and to promote travel down the
    highway. The association went on to serve as a
    voice for businesses along the highway until it
    disbanded in 1976.

Route 66
  • Traffic grew on the highway because of the
    geography through which it passed. Much of the
    highway was essentially flat and this made the
    highway a popular truck route. The Dust Bowl of
    the 1930s saw many farming families (mainly from
    Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Texas) heading
    west for agricultural jobs in California. Route
    66 became the main road of travel for these
    people, often derogatorily called "Okies" or
    "Arkies". And during the Depression, it gave some
    relief to communities located on the highway. The
    route passed through numerous small towns, and
    with the growing traffic on the highway, helped
    create the rise of mom-and-pop businesses, such
    as service stations, restaurants, and motor
    courts, all readily accessible to passing

Route 66
  • Much of the early highway, like all the other
    early highways, was gravel or graded dirt. Due to
    the efforts of the US Highway 66 Association,
    Route 66 became the first highway to be
    completely paved in 1938. Several places were
    dangerous more than one part of the highway was
    nicknamed "Bloody 66" and gradually work was done
    to realign these segments to remove dangerous
    curves. However, one section just outside Oatman,
    Arizona (through the Black Mountains) was fraught
    with hairpin turns and was the steepest along the
    entire route, so much so that some early
    travelers, too frightened at the prospect of
    driving such a potentially dangerous road, hired
    locals to navigate the winding grade. The section
    remained as Route 66 until 1953, and is still
    open to traffic today as the Oatman
    HighwayDespite such hazards in some areas, Route
    66 continued to be a popular route.

Route 66
  • Notable buildings include the art deco-styled
    U-Drop Inn, constructed in 1936 in Shamrock in
    Wheeler County east of Amarillo, Texas, listed on
    the National Register of Historic Places. A
    restored Magnolia fuel station is also located in
    Shamrock as well as Vega in Oldham County west of

Route 66
  • In the 1950s, Route 66 became the main highway
    for vacationers heading to Los Angeles. The road
    passed through the Painted Desert and near the
    Grand Canyon. Meteor Crater in Arizona was
    another popular stop. This sharp increase in
    tourism in turn gave rise to a burgeoning trade
    in all manner of roadside attractions, including
    teepee-shaped motels, frozen custard stands,
    Indian curio shops, and reptile farms. Meramec
    Caverns near St. Louis began advertising on
    barns, billing itself as the "Jesse James
    hideout". The Big Texan advertised a free
    72-ounce (2 kg) steak dinner to anyone who could
    consume the entire meal in one hour. It also
    marked the birth of the fast-food industry Red's
    Giant Hamburgs in Springfield, Missouri, site of
    the first drive-through restaurant, and the first
    McDonald's in San Bernardino, California. Changes
    like these to the landscape further cemented 66's
    reputation as a near-perfect microcosm of the
    culture of America, now linked by the automobile.

Route 66
  • The beginning of the end for Route 66 came in
    1956 with the signing of the Interstate Highway
    Act by President Dwight Eisenhower who was
    influenced by his experiences in 1919 as a young
    Army officer crossing the country in a truck
    convoy (following the route of the Lincoln
    Highway), and his appreciation of the German
    Autobahn network as a necessary component of a
    national defense system.

Interstate Highway System
  • Eisenhower's support of the Federal-Aid Highway
    Act of 1956 can be directly attributed to his
    experiences in 1919 as a participant in the U.S.
    Army's first Transcontinental Motor Convoy across
    the United States on the historic Lincoln
    Highway, which was the first paved highway across
    America. The highly publicized 1919 convoy was
    intended, in part, to dramatize the need for
    better main highways and continued federal aid.
    The convoy left the Ellipse south of the White
    House in Washington D.C. on July 7, 1919, and
    headed for Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. From there,
    it followed the Lincoln Highway to San Francisco.
    Bridges cracked and were rebuilt, vehicles became
    stuck in mud, and equipment broke, but the convoy
    was greeted warmly by communities across the
    country. The convoy reached San Francisco on
    September 6, 1919.

Interstate Highway System
  • The convoy was memorable enough for a young Army
    officer, Lt. Col. Dwight David Eisenhower, to
    include a chapter about the trip, titled "Through
    Darkest America With Truck and Tank," in his book
    At Ease Stories I Tell to Friends (Doubleday and
    Company, Inc., 1967). "The trip had been
    difficult, tiring, and fun," he said. That
    experience on the Lincoln Highway, plus his
    observations of the German autobahn network
    during World War II, convinced him to support
    construction of the Interstate System when he
    became President. "The old convoy had started me
    thinking about good, two-lane highways, but
    Germany had made me see the wisdom of broader
    ribbons across the land." His "Grand Plan" for
    highways, announced in 1954, led to the 1956
    legislative breakthrough that created the Highway
    Trust Fund to accelerate construction of the
    Interstate System.

Interstate Highway System
  • Eisenhower argued for the highways for the
    purpose of national defense. In the event of an
    ground invasion by a foreign power, the U.S. Army
    would need good highways to be able to transport
    troops across the country efficiently. Following
    completion of the highways the cross-country
    journey that took the convoy two months in 1919
    was cut down to two weeks.

Interstate Highway System
  • The Interstate Highway System was authorized by
    the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 popularly
    known as the National Interstate and Defense
    Highways Act of 1956 on June 29.

Interstate Highway System
  • The opening of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon in
    1992 is often cited as the completion of the
    originally planned system. The initial cost
    estimate for the system was 25 billion over 12
    years it ended up costing 114 billion (adjusted
    for inflation, 425 billion in 2006 dollars) and
    took 35 years.
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