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Satellite States

Nations which, after World War II, were greatly influenced by the Soviet Union and adopted Communist governments.

Iron Curtain

Term first used by Winston Churchill to describe Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. The "Iron Curtain" prevented the entrance of western ideas to the east & did not allow east Europeans to travel to the west during the Cold War.

Truman Doctrine

U.S. Foreign Policy during the Cold War; The United States gave monetary aid to nations struggling against communist movements in an effort to keep communism from spreading

George F. Kennan

American diplomat and leading authority on the Soviet Union; In 1947 Kennan's article titled "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" presented a blueprint for the American policy towards the Soviet Union known as containment.


The U.S. goal to keep communism contained within its existing borders.

Marshall Plan

through the Plan the United States gave about $13 billion in grants and loans to nations in Western Europe to help them rebuild following World War II & maintain democratic governments.

Berlin Airlift

U.S. and British planes supplied Democratic West Berlin with necessities through airplane deliveries, thwarting Stalin's attempt to blockade the city, which was located in the middle of Communist East Germany.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

Military alliance of 12 Democratic Western European and North American nations which agreed to defend Western Europe from Soviet expansion.

Warsaw Pact

Military alliance of the Soviet Union and its satellite states which pledged to defend one another if attacked.

Jiang Jieshi

Nationalist leader of China who, though supported by the U.S., was defeated in the Chinese Civil War and forced to flee to Taiwan in 1949.

Mao Zedong

Chinese communist who succeeded in establishing the People's Republic of China in 1949, a communist nation allied with the Soviet Union.

38th Parallel

Latitude at which was set the dividing line between North and South Korea after World War II by the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. The line still forms the border between the two independent nations today.

Douglas MacArthur

General who led American troops in the Korean War

Limited War

Military engagement fought to achieve only specific goals

Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO)

Military alliance sponsored by the United States in Asia during the Cold War to stop the spread of Communism in Asia; Similar to NATO, member nations agreed that if any individual country were attacked then all would respond with military force

Arms Race

Competition between countries to achieve superiority in number and quality of weapons

Mutually Assured Destruction

Understanding between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. that the full-scale use of nuclear weapons would result in the annihilation of both the attacker and the defender.

John Foster Dulles

Secretary of State under President Eisenhower; Dulles helped organize the United Nations after WWII and, supported stockpiling nuclear weapons to prevent endless U.S. involvement in minor conflicts.

Massive Retaliation

U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War; The U.S. would respond to communist threats to its allies by threatening to use overwhelming force, including nuclear weapons, against the Soviets.


Dulles' approach to diplomacy with the U.S.S.R.; Going to the brink of war in order to protect allies, discourage communist aggression, and prevent war.

Nikita Khrushchev

New leader of the Soviet Union following the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953; Khrushchev was a communist and a determined opponent of the U.S.A., but he was not as suspicious or cruel as Stalin.


Placing a private business under government control

Suez Crisis

In response to Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal, a coalition of French, British, and Israeli troops seized the canal from Egypt. U.S. President Eisenhower's refusal to support the coalition's actions forced them to withdraw their troops, diffusing the crisis.

Eisenhower Doctrine

American foreign policy that the United States would use force to help any Middle Eastern nation threatened by communism.

Central Intelligence Agency

intelligence gathering organization; Eisenhower approved secret CIA operations to protect American interests worldwide

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

coordinate the space-related efforts of American scientists and the military

Red Scare

Widespread fear of communism

Smith Act

Law which outlawed teaching or advocating for the violent overthrow of the US government.

House Un-American Activities Committee

the HUAC investigated possible activities by fascists, Nazis, or communists in the United States, looking into all aspects of American society, including the government, armed forces, unions, education, science, and newspapers.

Hollywood Ten

Group of liberal writers, directors and producers who refused to answer questions regarding their political beliefs in front of the HUAC in 1947. The ten were tried, convicted and imprisoned for contempt of Congress.

Alger Hiss

High-ranking American government official who, was accused of being a Soviet spy.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

Jewish-Americans who were accused and convicted of sending secrets of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union

Joseph R. McCarthy

Wisconsin Senator who, beginning in 1950, made a series of shocking accusations that communists had infested various parts of the United States government and military.


Extreme anticommunism; Senator McCarthy bullied and badgered witnesses, twisted testimony, and accused any who opposed him of being communists in Senate hearings.


Decreasing the size and activity of the military

GI Bill of Rights

Law enacted after WWII which provided returning soldiers with a year of unemployment payments, financial aid to attend college, and government loans to buy houses and start businesses

Baby Boom

The greatest population increase in American history; Between 1940 and 1955, the U.S. population grew 27%, from 130 to about 165 million.

Taft-Hartley Act

Law which outlawed workplaces in which only union members can be hired

Fair Deal

Legislative program announced by President Truman following his upset victory in the presidential election. Its purpose was to strengthen existing New Deal reforms and establish new programs, such as national health insurance.


America's first mass-produced model home community

Interstate Highway Act

Authorized funds to build 41,000 miles of highway consisting of multilane expressways that would connect the nation's major cities. This Act provided jobs, eased commutes from suburbs to cities, and boosted travel and vacation industries in the United States.


Name given to the southern and western states; After World War II millions of Americans, seeking a warmer climate and job opportunities, moved to the Sunbelt states of Texas, California, and Arizona.

Service Sector

Businesses that provide services, such as healthcare, law, retail, banking, or insurance. In the post-WWII era Americans increasingly founds jobs in this sector of the economy, moving away from traditional manufacturing jobs.

Information Industries

White-collar, office jobs focused on calculating, displaying, and storing information, including the developers and operators of the first computers.

Franchise Business

Corporation which allows a company to distribute its products or services through retail outlets owned by independent operators. ex. fast food chains and hotels

Multinational Corporations

Companies that produce and sell their goods and services all over the world and establish branches abroad. Ex: coca-cola, kraft and walmart


National workers union formed in 1955 by the merger of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations; The AFL-CIO became a major force in the Democratic Party, but the rise in white-collar, non-union jobs weakened the union movement overall.

California Master Plan

Educational plan which called for three tiers of higher education in the state of California during the 1950s: research universities, state colleges, and community colleges. The system was designed to make higher education more accessible and affordable to average citizens.


Buying as much as possible;American spending skyrocketed, often with purchases made on credit.

Median Family Income

Average Family Income nearly doubled, contributing to the increase of consumerism among American citizens

Nuclear Family

A household consisting of a mother and father and their children; During the 1950s sociologists emphasized that the nuclear family was the backbone of American society, and if it began to fall apart so would the nation.

Dr. Benjamin Spock

Author of the best selling book on parenting in the 1950s, Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. The book emphasized the importance of nurturing children from birth to the teen years, suggesting that parents should not worry about spoiling their children because children could not get too much comfort and love.

Jonas Salk

Doctor and Inventor of the Polio Vaccine in 1954;

Lucille Ball

Comedian and star of the most popular TV show of the 1950s and early 1960s, I Love Lucy; 50 million Americans watched the show each week and its portrayal of idealistic American life in which divorce and major family problems did not exist.


Popular music genre of the 1950s and 1960s; becoming popular in the Midwest and then spreading nationwide thanks to performers such as Chuck Berry, B.B. King, and Elvis Presley.

Elvis Presley

The King of Rock and Roll; Elvis rose from being a shy, lower-class southern boy to becoming the most popular Rock artist of all time.


Small group of American writers and artists who, during the 1950s, criticized the conformity and blandness of American culture.

Inner City

The older, central part of a city with crowded neighborhoods in which low-income, usually minority, groups live. Since WWII these areas have been known for poor living conditions, inadequate schools and housing, and increased crime rates.

Urban Renewal

Projects created by federal, state, and local governments designed to clear older housing, build freeways and encourage development in order to "revitalize" downtown areas.

Termination Policy

Change in the rules governing Native Americans which sought to end tribal government and relocate Native Americans to the nation's cities while ending federal responsibility for the health and welfare of Native Americans.

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