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American History: Reconstruction to the Present

Harry S Truman

US president from 1945-1953

Fair Deal

the social reforms that President Truman proposed

New Deal

FDR proposed these programs to help solve problems of the Great Depression

Cold War

conflict between the US and the Soviet Union after WW2


policy that wanted to stop communism; favored by Truman

Truman Doctrine

policy that promised aid to those countries who fought to maintain democracy


north Atlantic treaty organization, a military alliance that included Canada, the US and 10 European nations

Joseph McCarthy

senator who accused many Americans of being connected with communists

38th parallel

line of latitude dividing North and South Korea

Korean War

conflict involving US-led UN forces against North Korea and China

arms race

competition between the US and the Soviet Union to develop destructive weapons, including the atomic bomb and the H-bomb.


hydrogen bomb; very explosive

space race

There was a competition between the US and the Soviet Union who would go to space first.
The Soviet Union started the first satellite, Sputnik.


almost going to war to fight communism. Eisenhower supported this.

Rock n' roll

music like rhythm and blues that became popular in the 1950s

Baby boom

sharp increase in birthrate that followed wwII


Warmer states in the southern and southwestern united states


a person buying goods or using services


To agree with the beliefs and ideas of majority

How did the US economy and political climate change after WWII?

-industries make goods for peacetime
- too many people want to work (returning veterans)
- economy is doing well

What changed for African Americans after the war?

- first, nothing.
- Truman works against segregation and for civil rights

Who did Truman beat in the 1948 election?

Thomas Dewey

Name the three main parts to the "Fair Deal."

1. New housing projects 2. New employment projects. 3. End racial discrimination in hiring.

How did the Cold War affect the United States and Europe?

-Eastern European governments were Pro-Soviet Union which caused the US and the rest of Europe to be fearful.
- As a consequence, the US and the rest of Europe came together and called themselves NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

What did Joseph Stalin do at the end of WWII

He said "You will have free elections after the war", but he gave them communist governments, not democracy.

Reason for the Cold War

The US was afraid that the Soviet Union would dominate the world.

The countries that split up Germany and Berlin.

- USA, England and France control Western Germany and Western Berlin.
- The Soviet Union controls Eastern Germany and Eastern Berlin.

Berlin Airlift

Stalin was afraid that a united Germany would be bad for the Soviet Union. So he made a blockade around Berlin so the people in Western Berlin could not get any food. England and the US flew in supplies with helicopters.

Marshall Plan

The US helped the European countries rebuild so they would be strong enough to help fight against communism.

What is the "red scare"?

People said that many Americans were communists (or spies), even if they were not. Those people lost their jobs and were then unable to find new ones for quite some time.

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg

They were convicted of passing atomic secrets to the Russians and were killed (executed) in 1953. They were members of the American Communist Party.

Alger Hiss

He was accused of passing military information to the Soviet Union and was later jailed for lying under oath. He was an official of the State Department.

Where was Korea divided?

At the 38th parallel

Why did the Korean War start?

Because North Korean troops moved South of the 38th parallel. The US saw that as a threat.

Who did the US ask for help to stop communists?

The United Nations

Who was a big leader in the Korean War?

General Douglas MacArthur

Why did China enter the war?

The Chinese thought it was unfair that the UN soldiers almost came up to the Chinese border.

Why was MacArthur fired?

He wanted to invade China. But President Truman said no. MacArthur criticized him. Truman didn't like that and fired him.

How does the war end?

It doesn't really end.
The new president Eisenhower makes compromises with China and North Korea. (He also threatens them to use nuclear weapons.)
North and South Korea split at the 38th parallel again.

Who is Joseph McCarthy?

He was a senator from Wisconsin. He accused many people of being communists. He didn't care if they were communists or not.

What is McCarthyism?

It is when between 1950 and 1954, McCarthy accused people when they couldn't prove themselves wrong. It ended when the public turned against McCarthy.

Consequences of the arms race

The US and the Soviet Union were afraid that one country would start an attack. That's why they produced more and more bombs, just to be sure.

What were some problems in foreign countries because of communism?

- US helped overthrow a leader in Iran
- CIA helped overthrow the president of Guatemala
- There was a conflict in Egypt around the Suez canal.

What are some changes that Eisenhower made?

- he kept the New Deal programs
- he expanded Social Security
- he created the department of Health, Education, and Welfare
- he increased the minimum wage
- he built a lot of highways

What are the consequences of the baby boom?

- many people move to suburbs
- many people move to the south because it's warmer
- many people buy cars. That's good for the economy.
- many people become consumers

What can people buy in the 50es?

They consumethings like TVs, washing machines, cauum cleaners, record players

What is a disadvantage in the 50es?

Conformity: People feel that they all have to do the same, like live in a suburb and drive a car.

Who are the beatniks?

They are a group of poets who don't like don't like conformity. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg are two of them.

Who are the disadvantaged groups?

- about 20% are poor people
- Mexican immigrants (called braceros)
- African Americans (very poor, racism)

What are braceros?

- The US government asked for Mexicans to come to work on farms. But they didn't treat them well: They made little money and had bad working conditions.

What is "I love Lucy"?

a TV show that showed "the ideal American family"

Why did Kennedy become the president after Eisenhower?

- because he knew how to make use of the TV: He was good-looking, and he looked right into the camera (as if he wanted to address the people directly)

What was the U-2 incident?

The Russians shot down an American spy airplane. The pilot survived. Eisenhower lied about it. This brought more tension.

What did Levitt do?

He used assembly-line techniques to mass-produce houses and sell them cheap.

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