Roosevelt's proposal in 1937 to "reform" the Supreme Court by appointing an additional justice for every justice over age of 70; following the Court's actions in striking down major New Deal laws, FDR came to believe that some justices were out of touch with the nation's needs. Congress believed Roosevelt's proposal endangered the Court's independence and said no.
Roosevelt's informal radio addresses throughout his presidency; they gave the people a sense of confidence that he understood their problems and was trying to help solve them. With these "chats", FDR was the first president to use the electronic media to spread his message.
Roosevelt's secretary of labor (1933-1945); the first woman to serve as a federal Cabinet officer, she had a great influence on many New Deal programs, most significantly the Social Security Act.
retired physician who proposed an Old Age Revolving Pension Plan to give every retiree over age 60 $200 per month, provided that the person spend the money each month in order to receive their next payment; the object of Towsend's plan was to help retired workers as well as stimulate spending in order to boost production and end the Depression.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
president (1933-1945); elected four times, he led the country's recovery from the Depression and to victory in World War II. He died in office, however, just weeks before Germany's surrender. He is generally considered the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln.
close adviser to Roosevelt and FDR's czar of relief programs; he headed the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, Civil Works Administration, and Works Progress Administration and later undertook diplomatic missions to the USSR.
Harry S. Truman
vice president who became president when FDR died in April 1945; he was elected on his own in 1948. He ordered the use of atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II, set the course of postwar containment of communism in the Cold War, and created a Fair Deal program to carry on the New Deal's domestic agenda.
Hawley-Smoot Tariff (1930)
raised the duties on imported foriegn goods to all-time highs; intended to boost American industry and unemployment, it actually deepened the Depression when European countries could not repay their loans (World War I war debts) and retaliated against American exports.
president (1929-1933) who is blamed for the Great Depression; although he tried to use government power to bring on recovery, his inflexibility and refusal to giver direct relief doomed his programs and his presidency.
camps and shantytowns of unemployed and homeless on the outskirts of major cities during the early days of the Depression; they were symbols of the failure of Hoover's program and the way the nation held him responsible for the hard times.
flamboyant Louisiana governor and U.S. senator; he challenged FDR to do more for the poor and needy and proposed a popular "Share-Our-Wealth" program to tax the wealthy in order to provide a guaranteed income for the poor. He was assassinated in 1935.
term applied to the first weeks of the Roosevelt Administration, during which Congress passed 13 emergency relief and reform measures that were the backbone of the early New Deal; these included the Civilian Conservation Corp, the Glass Stegal Act (FDIC), Agricultural Adjustment Act, Federal Emergency Relief Act, and the National Industrial Recovery Act.
Lend Lease (1941)
program authorizing the president to lend or lease equipment to nations whose defense was deemed vital to the U.S. security; it was designed to help a bankrupt Britain continue fighting the Nazis. By 1945, the United States had extended $50 billion in wartime aid to Britain and the Soviet Union.
National Labor Relations Act (1935)
created a National Labor Relations Board that could compel employers to recognize and bargain with unions; this law helped promote the growth of organized labor in the 1930s and for decades thereafter.
National Recovery Administration (1933)
agency that created a partnership
between business and government to fight the Depression; it allowed
major industries to fix prices in return for agreeing to fair practice codes,
wage and hour standards, and labor's right to organize. Major parts of the
law that created the NRA were declared unconstitutional in 1935.
Neutrality Acts (1935,1936,1937)
series of laws that provided Americans could not ship weapons, loan money, travel on belligerent ships, extend credit, or deliver goods to any belligerent countries; they were high tide of isolationism, and all were repealed between 1939 to 1941.
New Deal (1933-1938)
Roosevelt's program of domestic reform and relief; the three Rs of Relief, Reform, and Recovery did not end the Depression, but they gave hope and security and made government more responsive to the people in bad economic times.
united States naval base in Hawaii that was attacked by Japan on December 7, 1941, with serious U.S. losses: 19 ships sunk or destroyed and over 2,000 deaths; the attack brought the United States into World War II.
Reconstruction Finance Corporation (1932)
Hoover's economic recovery program that provided government loans to businesses, banks, and railroads; it was "pumping priming," but it was too little ($300 million) too late to make any real improvements in the economy.
Hoover's philosophy that called on Americans to help each other during the Depression without direct government relief; he feared too much government help would weaken the American character , endanger liberty, and lead to totalitarianism in the United States.
proposed Anglo-American invasion of France to relieve the Soviets, who were fighting a German invasion of the USSR; originally scheduled for 1942, it was not delivered until D-Day in June 1944. This was a divisive issue in Soviet relations with the United States and Britain during the war and after.
Second New Deal (1935-1936)
name given to a series of proposals that FDR requested and Congress passed to reinvigorate the New Deal as recovery from the Depression began to lag; they were antibusiness in tone and intent and included the Public Utility Holding Company Act, Social Security Act, National Labor Relations Act, and the Wealth Tax Act.
Social Security Act (1935)
required both workers and their employer to
contribute to a federally run pension fund for retired workers; it also provided
federal disability and unemployment assistance. Although benefits
were meager, it was the first significant government program to provide for
retired, disabled, or unemployed Americans.
Bay of Pigs
U.S.-supported invasion of Cuba in April 1961; intended to overthrow Communist dictator Fidel Castro, the operation proved a fiasco. Castro's forces killed 114 of the invaders and took nearly 1,200 prisoners. The disaster shook the confidence of the Kennedy administration and encouraged the Soviet Union to become more active in the Americas.
Camp David Accords (1979)
agreement reached between the leaders of Israel and Egypt after protracted negotiations brokered by President Carter; Israel surrendered land seized in earlier wars and Egypt recognized Israel as a nation. Despite high hopes, it did not lead to a permanent peace region, however.
Chiang Kai Shek
ineffective and corrupt leader of China in 1930s and 1940s; he was a wartime ally of the United States, but was unable to stop Communists from seizing power in 1949. His exile to Taiwan was a major American setback in the early days of the Cold War.
Cuban Missile Crisis
a confrontation between the United States and the USSR resulting from a Soviet attempt to place long-range nuclear missiles in Cuba (October 1962); Kennedy forced the Soviets to remove them with a blockade and the threat of force. The crisis enhanced Kennedy's standing but led to a Soviet arms buildup.
Dien Bien Phu
French fortress in northern Vietnam that surrendered in 1954 to the Viet Minh; the defeat caused the French to abandon Indochina and set the stage for the Geneva Conference, which divided the region and led to American involvement in Vietnam.
Eisenhower's metaphor that when one country fell to Communists, its neighbors would then be threatened and collapse one after another like a row of dominoes; this belief became a major rationale for U.S. intervention in Vietnam.
World War II hero who led United Nations forces during the Korean War; his outspoken opposition to President Truman's decisions to limit the war cost him his command. He wanted to bomb China, and Truman rejected the idea as too reckless.
World War II hero and president, 1953-1961; his internationalist foreign policy continued Truman's policy of containment but put greater emphasis on military cost-cutting, the threat of nuclear weapons to deter Communist aggression, and Central Intelligence Agency activities to halt communism.
Communist leader of Cuba who led a rebellion against the U.S.-backed dictator and took power in 1959; President Kennedy tried to overthrow him with the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 but failed. _____became closely allied with the Soviet Union, making the Kennedy Administration increasingly concerned about Soviet influence in the Western Hemisphere.
State Department official who was architect of the containment concept; in his article "The Source of Soviet Conduct" he said the USSR was historically and ideologically driven to expand and that the United States must practice "vigilant containment" to stop this expansion.
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (1964)
an authorization by Congress empowering President Johnson "to take all necessary measures" to protect U.S. forces in Vietnam; it was issued following reported attacks on U.S. destroyers off the Vietnam coast. Congress later regretted this action as the Vietnam War escalated, and questions emerged about the legitimacy of the attacks.
advisor to Presidents Nixon and Ford; he was architect of the Vietnam settlement, the diplomatic opening of China, and détente with the Soviet Union.
Ho Chi Minh
Communist leader of North Vietnam; he and his Viet Minh/Viet Cong allies fought French and American forces to a standstill in Vietnam, 1946-1973. Considered a nationalist by many, others viewed him as an agent of the Soviet Union and China.
Iran-Contra Affair (1986-1987)
scandal that erupted after the Reagan administration sold weapons to Iran in hopes of freeing American hostages in Lebanon; money from the arms sales was used to aid the Contras (anti-Communist insurgents) in Nicaragua, even though Congress had prohibited this assistance. Talk of Reagan's impeachment ended when presidential aides took the blame for the illegal activity.
Iran Hostage Crisis (1979-1981)
incident in which Iranian radicals, with government support, seized 52 Americans from the U.S. embassy and held them for 444 days; ostensibly demanding the return of the deposed Shah to stand trial, the fundamentalist clerics behind the seizure also hoped to punish the United States for other perceived past wrongs.
president, 1977-1981; he aimed for a foreign policy "as good and great as the American people." His highlight was the Camp David Accords; his low point, the Iran Hostage Hostage Crisis. Defeated for reelection after one term, he became very successful as an ex-president.
John Foster Dulles
Eisenhower's secretary of state, 1953-1959; moralistic in his belief that Communism was evil and must be confronted with "brinkmanship" (the readiness and willingness to go to war) and "massive retaliation" (the threat of using nuclear weapons).
ruthless leader of Soviet Union from 1925 to 1953; he industrialized the nation and led it in World War II and the early stages of the Cold War.
president, 1963-1969; his escalation of the Vietnam War cost him political support and destroyed his presidency. He increased the number of U.S. troops in Vietnam from 16,000 in 1963 to 540,000 in 1968. After the Tet offensive, he decided to not seek reelection.
Communist Chinese leader who won control of China in 1949; a wary ally of the Soviet Union, he was an implacable foe of the United States until the 1970s.
Marshall Plan (1947-1954)
Secretary of State George Marshall's economic
aid program to rebuild war-torn Western Europe; it amounted to an
enlarged version of the Truman Doctrine, with billions of dollars going to
revive European economies and contain Communism.
idea that united states should depend on nuclear weapons to stop Communist agression; prompted by the frustration of the Korean War stalemate and the desire to save money on military budgets, the concept reduced reliance on conventional forces
Ngo Dinh Diem
American ally in South Vietnam from 1954 to 1963; his repressive regime caused the Communist Viet Cong to thrive in the South and required increasing American military aid to stop a Communist takeover. he was killed in a coup in 1963.
Soviet leader, 1954-1964; he was an aggressive revolutionary who hoped to spread Communism into Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Blame for the Cuban Missile Crisis eventually cost him his leadership position in the USSR.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) (1949)
military alliance of the United States, ten Western European countries, and Canada; it was considered a deterrent to Soviet aggression in Europe, with an attack on one nation to be considered as an attack on all members.
Peaceful coexistence (1955-1960)
period in Soviet-American relations marked by less tension and by personal diplomacy between Khrushchev and Eisenhower; the two leaders recognized that, in a nuclear age, competition between their nations must be peaceful. This thaw in the the Cold War was ended by the U-2 spy plane incident over the Soviet Union in 1960.
president, 1969-1974; he extracted the United States from Vietnam slowly, recognized Communist China, and improved relations with the Soviet Union. His foreign policy achievements were overshadowed by the Watergate scandal.
Tet Offensive (January 1968)
series of Communist attacks on 44 South Vietnamese cities; although the Viet Cong suffered a major defeat, the attacks ended the American view that the war was winnable and destroyed the nation's will to escalate the war further.
Truman Doctrine (1947)
the announced policy of President Truman to provide aid to free nations who faced internal or external threats of a Communist takeover; announced in conjunction with a $400 million economic aid package to Greece and Turkey, it was successful in helping those countries put down Communist guerrilla movements and is considered to be the first U.S. action of the Cold War.
Yalta Conference (February 1945)
meeting of Roosevelt, Stalin, and Winston Churchill to discuss postwar plans and Soviet entry into the war against Japan near the end of World War II; disagreements over the future of Poland surfaced. During the Red Scare of the 1950s, some Americans considered the meeting to have been a sell out to the Soviets.
State Department official accused in 1948 of spying for the Soviet Union; Richard Nixon became famous for his, which resulted in a perjury conviction and prison for this person. Although long seen as a victim of Nixon's ruthless ambition and the Red Scare, recent scholarship suggests that he was indeed a Soviet agent.
unsuccessful presidential candidate against Lyndon Johnson in 1964; he called for dismantling the New Deal, escalation of the war in Vietnam, and the status quo on civil rights. Many see him as the grandfather of the conservative movement of the 1980s.
rallying cry for many black militants in the 1960s and 1970s; it called for blacks to stand up for their rights, to reject their integration, to demand political power, to seek their roots, and to embrace their blackness.
Brown vs. Board of Education (1954)
Supreme Court decision that overturned the Plessy vs. Ferguson decision (1896); led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Court ruled that "separate but equal" schools for blacks were inherently unequal and thus unconstitutional. The decision energized the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
proposed by John Kennedy and signed by Lyndon Johnson; it desegregated public accommodations, libraries, parks, and amusements and broadened the powers of federal government to protect individual rights and prevent job discrimination.
Civil Rights Act of 1965
sometimes called Voting Rights Act, it expanded
the federal government's protection of voters and voter registration; it
also increased federal authority to investigate voter irregularities and
outlawed literacy tests.
controversial Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1953-1969); he led the Court in far-reaching racial, social, and political rulings, including school desegregation and protecting rights of persons accused of crimes.
Truman's legislative program; it was largely an extension of the New Deal of the 1930s, and Truman had little success convincing Congress to enact it.
Federal highway Act (1956)
largest public works project in United States history; Eisenhower signed the law, which built over 400,000 miles of highways in the United States as a cost of $25 billion and created the interstate highway system.
civil rights campaign of the Congress of Racial Equality in which protesters traveled by bus through the South to desegregate bus stations; white violence against them prompted the Kennedy administration to protect them and become more involved in civil rights.
Alabama governor and third-party candidate for president in 1968 and 1972; he ran on a segregation and law-and-order platform. Paralyzed by an attempted assassination in 1972, he never recovered politically.
house Un-American Activities Committee
congressional committee formed in the 1930s to investigate perceived threats to democracy; in the 1940s, the committee laid foundation for the Red Scare as it investigated allegations of Communist subversion in Hollywood and pursued Alger Hiss.
liberal senator from Minnesota and Lyndon Johnson's vice president who tried to united the party after the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago; he narrowly lost the presidency to Richard Nixon that year.
president, 1961-1963, and the youngest president ever elected, as well as the first Catholic to serve; he had a moderately progressive domestic agenda and a hard-line policy against the Soviets. His administration ended when Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated him.
junior senator from Wisconsin who charged hundreds of Americans with working for or aiding the Soviet Union during the Cold War; he had no evidence but terrorized people from 1950 to 1954, ruining their lives and careers with his reckless charges until Senate censured him in December 1954.
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
an engineer and his wife who were accused, tried, and executed in the early 1950s for running an espionage ring in New York City that gave atomic secrets to the Soviet Union; long considered unjustly accused to victims of the Red Scare, recent evidence suggests that Julius was indeed a Soviet agent.
president, 1963-1969, who took over for Kennedy and created the Great Society, a reform program unmatched in the twentieth century; however, his Vietnam policy divided the country and his party, and he retired from politics in 1969.
Malcolm X (Little)
militant black leader associated with the Nation of Islam (Black Muslims); he questioned Martin Luther King's strategy of nonviolence and called on blacks to make an aggressive defense of their rights. He was assassinated by fellow Muslims in 1965.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
America's greatest civil rights leader, 1955-1968; his nonviolent protests gained national attention and resulted in government protection of African American rights. He was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.
National Defense Education Act (1958)
law that authorized the use of federal funds to improve the nation's elementary and high schools; inspired by Cold War fears that the United States was falling behind the Soviet Union in the arms and space race, it was directed at improving science, math, and foreign-language education.
controversial vice president, 1953-1961, and president, 1969-1974, who made his political reputation as an aggressive anti-Communist crusader; his presidency ended with his resignation during the Watergate scandal.
John Kennedy's brother who served as attorney general and gradually embraced growing civil rights reform; later, as senator from New York, he made a run for the Democratic presidential nomination. An assassin ended his campaign on June 6, 1968.
NAACP member who initiated the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 when she was arrested for violating Jim Crow rules on a bus; her action and the long boycott that followed became an icon of the quest for civil rights and focused national attention on boycott leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
protests by black college students, 1960-1961, who took seats at "whites only" lunch counters and refused to leave until served; in 1960 over 50,000 participated in sit-ins across the South. Their success prompted the formation of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.
Soviet satellite launched in September 1957; the launch set off a panic that the Communists were winning the space and were superior in math and science education. It gave impetus for the Nation Defense Education Act of 1958 to improve schools.
Democratic governor of South Carolina who headed the State's Rights Party (Dixiecrats); he ran for president in 1948 against Truman and his mild civil rights proposals and eventually joined the Republican Party.
Taft-Hartley Act (1946)
antilabor law passed over Truman's veto; it provided a "cooling off" period wherein the president could force striking workers back to work for 80 days. It also outlawed closed shops and allowed states to pass right-to-work laws.
twice-defeated Republican candidate for president (1944,1948); his overconfidence and lackadaisical effort in 1948 allowed Truman to overcome his large lead and pull off the greatest political upset in American history.
leading attorney for NAACP in 1940s and 1950s, who headed the team in Brown vs. Board of Education case; later, Lyndon Johnson appointed him the first black justice on the United States Supreme Court.
A. Philip Randolph
labor and civil rights leader in the 1940s who led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; he demanded that FDR create a Fair Employment Commission to investigate job discrimination in war industries. FDR agreed only after he threatened a march on Washington by African Americans.
Agricultural Adjustment Administration (1933)
New Deal program that paid farmers not to produce crops; it provided farmers with income while reducing crop surpluses and helped stabilize farm production. The Supreme Court declared major parts of this law unconstitutional in 1936, helping lead FDR to his court-packing plan.
Alfred (Al) Smith
first Catholic ever nominated for president; he lost in 1928 because of the nation's prosperity, but his religion, urban background, and views on Prohibition (he was "wet") cost him votes as well.
American Liberty League
a conservative anti-New Deal organization; members included Alfred Smith, John W. Davis, and the Du Pont family. It criticized the "dictatorial" policies of Roosevelt and what it perceived to be his attacks on the free enterprise system.
Atlantic Charter (1941)
joint statement issued by President Roosevelt and Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill of principals and goals for an Allied victory in World War II; it provided for self-determination for all conquered nations, freedom of the seas, economic security, and free trade. Later, it became the embodiment of the United Nation's charter.
an informal network of black officeholders in the federal government; led by Mary McLeod Bethune, William Hastie, and Robert Weaver, they pushed for economic and political opportunities for African Americans in the 1930s and 1940s.
Bonus Army (1932)
group of jobless World War I veterans who came to Washington to lobby Congress for immediate payment of money promised them in 1945; Hoover opposed payment, and when he used the U.S. Army to drive the veterans out of the capital, he was portrayed as cruel and cold-hearted.
name applied to college professors from Columbia University such as Rexford Tugwell, Adolf Berle, and Raymond Moley who advised Roosevelt on economic matters early in the New Deal; the Brain Trust took on the role of an "unofficial Cabinet" in the Roosevelt Administration.