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American History following the end of WWII through the end of the Vietnam War

Potsdam Conference

meeting of Truman (US President), Winston Churchill (British Prime Minister), and Joseph Stalin (Soviet Union Leader) after Germany surrendered in WWII. Resulted in the division of Germany into four occupied zones.

Nuremberg Trials

war crime trials of high ranking Nazi officials held in Nuremberg, Germany.


movement pushing for the formation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine following WWII.

Cold War

Long power struggle between the US and USSR (Soviet Union) waged mostly on political threats rather than on the battlefield. Effects of the Cold War include: Korean War, Arms Race, Space Race, Vietnam War, and conflicts in Latin America.

Satellite Nations

Countries controlled by the USSR (Soviet Union) mostly located in Eastern Europe. These nations helped the Soviet Union by being a buffer zone against Western Europe and by being trading partners.


the US foreign policy during the Cold War. The US and its allies hoped to stop the spread of Communism in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and Africa.

Marshall Plan

European recovery program; US gave money to European countries to help them rebuild their economy after WWII.


North Atlantic Treaty Organization; a military alliance formed in 1949 by the US, Western European nations, and others in case of Soviet attack.

Berlin Airlift

Operation in which Britain and US planes provided support to West Berlin, which had been cut off by the Soviet blockade.

Warsaw Pact

an alliance formed by the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries in response to the formation of NATO

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Federal agency created in the late 1940s to conduct covert (secret) operations. Agency performed many operations throughout Latin America against radicals.

House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)

the committee became known for investigating US citizens accused of communist ties in the late 1940s.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

Two Americans that were convicted of providing the Soviet Union with atomic-energy secrets during WWII.


practice of accusing politicians of anti-American/Communist ties.

38th Parallel

latitudinal line where Korea as split between Communist North Korea and non-Communist South Korea.

Ho Chi Minh

led the Vietnamese fight for independence against the French and Japanese.


group of Vietnamese nationalist organized in the late 1940s by Ho Chi Minh to drive the Japanese and French out of Vietnam.

Domino Theory

belief that if one nation in Southeast Asia fell to Communism, the rest of Southeast Asia would also fall.


National Liberation Front; communist guerilla force that began fighting against the South Vietnamese in the 1950s

Gulf of Tonkin Incident

Two ships attacked at the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964. Led to full commitment of the United States to the conflict in Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh Trail

network of Jungle paths from North Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia and into South Vietnam. It served as a supply route for the Vietcond.


Hawks were American supporters of the Vietnam War. Doves were Americans who opposed the war.

Tet Offensive

huge assault by the North Vietnamese on numerous strategic points in South Vietnam.


Policy followed by the Nixon administration of gradually turning over all the fighting in Vietnam to the South Vietnamese army.

War Powers Act

legislation that reaffirmed Congress' constitutional power to declare war; set a 60 day limit on the president's authority to commit troops to serve in a foreign conflict.

Berlin Wall

a wall that separated East and West Berlin. Became a symbol for the damage caused by Communism in Eastern Europe.

Cuban Missile Crisis

period of widespread fear in America caused by Soviet missiles pointing to the United States after the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs incident.

Bay of Pigs

unsuccessful plot by the CIA to overthrow Cuban leader Castro in April 1961.


first man-made object sent into space. It was launched by the Soviet Union and started the space race.

New Frontier

Kennedy's plan to fix the economy and help the disadvantaged.

Area Redevelopment Act

Kennedy's plan to provide economic assistance to poor regions.

Lee Harvey Oswald

man arrested for killing Kennedy.

Warren Commission

Commission led by Chief Justice Earl Warren to investigate the assassination of JFK.

War on Poverty

Johnson's program to help poor Americans. Included numerous programs starting in 1964.

Volunteers in Service to America

domestic version of the Peace Corps. Helped bring jobs to poor communities and performed community service.

Great Society

Johnson's program to improve American society. He targeted poverty and racism.


provided health care insurance to the elderly (age 65+)


health assistance to people under the poverty level.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Designed to end inequality in schools by giving more financial aid to schools in poor areas.

Changes during Warren Supreme Court

rulings that expanded individual rights and those accused of crimes. Helped with Johnson's Great Society goals.

Miranda v Arizona (Supreme Court Case)

Ruling gave more protection to those accused of crimes.

Silent Majority

Middle-class voters who Nixon courted in the 1968 election. This group of people were weary of the social programs by LBJ and JFK.

Southern Strategy

Nixon's plan to win Southern support by promising not to pass new Civil Rights legislation and to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices.


Economic conditions characterized by rising inflation and unemployment that occurred during Nixon's first term.

Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries

an economic organization consisting primarily of Arab nations that controls the price of oil and the amount of oil its members produce and sell to other nations.


Nixon's policy that national interest rather than moral principals should guide the United State's foreign policy.

Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT)

Negotiations between the United States and Soviet Union (USSR) to limit the number of war arms/ missiles each country holds.


Period in the 1970s when tensions between the United States and Soviet Union eased.

Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP)

Organization that ran president Richard Nixon's 1972 re-election campaign.


The events and scandal surrounding a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in 1972 and the subsequent cover-up of White House involvement, leading to the eventual resignation of President Nixon under the threat of impeachment.

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