Доклад: History of the USA
it). Private concerns preoccupied most Americans during the 1920s until the
Great Depression of the next decade, when increasing numbers turned, in their
collective misfortune, to government for solutions to economic problems that
challenged the very basis of U.S. capitalistic society.
The 1920s: Decade of Optimism
By the 1920s innovative forces thrusting into American life were creating a
new way of living. The automobile and the hard- surfaced road produced
mobility and a blurring of the traditional rural-urban split. The radio and
motion pictures inaugurated a national culture, one built on new, urban
values. The 19TH AMENDMENT (1920) gave women the vote in national politics
and symbolized their persistence in efforts to break out of old patterns of
domesticity. The war had accelerated their entrance into business, industry,
and the professions and their adoption of practices, such as drinking and
smoking, traditionally considered masculine. So, too, young people turned to
new leaders and values and sought unorthodox dress, recreations, and morals.
Traditional WASP (white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant) America fought the new ways.
The adoption of PROHIBITION in 1919 (with ratification of the 18TH AMENDMENT)
had been a victory of Yankee moral values over those of immigrants, but now
many of the great cities practically ignored the measure. The Russian
Revolution of 1917 sent a Red Scare shivering through the country in 1919-20;
suspicion centered on labor unions as alleged instruments of Moscow. The KU
KLUX KLAN, stronger in the northern Republican countryside than in the South,
attacked the so-called New Negro, who returned from the fighting in France
with a new sense of personal dignity (the HARLEM RENAISSANCE expressed this
spirit through the arts), and the millions of Roman Catholics and Jews who
had been flooding into the country since the 1890s. The Immigration Law of
1924 established a quota system that discriminated against all groups except
northern and western Europeans. In 1925 the spectacular SCOPES TRIAL in
Dayton, Tenn., convicted a high school science teacher of presenting
Darwinian theories of evolution, which fundamentalist Protestants bitterly
New ideas, however, continued to inundate the country, and optimism remained
high. The U.S. population delighted in the "miracles" that new inventions had
brought them--electric lights, airplanes, new communication systems. The solo
flight to Paris of Charles LINDBERGH in 1927 seemed to capture the spirit of
the age. The business community was praised for its values and productivity.
Henry Ford (see FORD family) and his system of cheap mass production of
automobiles for people of modest incomes was regarded as symbolic of the new
Three Republican presidents occupied the White House during the 1920s. Warren
HARDING, a conservative, was swept into office by a landslide victory in
1920. He proved an inept president, and his administration was racked by
scandals, including that of TEAPOT DOME. Calvin COOLIDGE, who succeeded to
the office on Harding's death (1923), worshiped business as much as he
detested government. Herbert HOOVER, an engineer, brought to the presidency
(1929-33) a deep faith in the essential soundness of capitalism, which to him
represented the fullest expression of individualism. In 1920 the U.S. census
showed, for the first time, that a majority of Americans lived in cities of
2,500 people or more.
The 1930s: Decade of Depression
The stock market crash of October 1929 initiated a long economic decline that
accelerated into a world catastrophe, the DEPRESSION OF THE 1930s. By 1933,
14 million Americans were unemployed, industrial production was down to one-
third of its 1929 level, and national income had dropped by more than half.
In the presence of deep national despair, Democratic challenger Franklin D.
ROOSEVELT easily defeated Hoover in the 1932 presidential election. After his
inauguration, the NEW DEAL exploded in a whirlwind of legislation.
A new era commenced in American history, one in which a social democratic
order similar to that of Western European countries appeared. The federal
government under Roosevelt (and the presidency itself) experienced a vast
expansion in its authority, especially over the economy. Roosevelt had a
strong sense of community; he distrusted unchecked individualism and
sympathized with suffering people. He nourished, however, no brooding rancor
against the U.S. system. He sought to save capitalism, not supplant it.
Recovery was Roosevelt's first task. In the First New Deal (1933-35) he
attempted to muster a spirit of emergency and rally all interests behind a
common effort in which something was provided for everyone. Excessive
competition and production were blamed for the collapse. Therefore, business
proprietors and farmers were allowed to cooperate in establishing prices that
would provide them with a profitable return and induce an upward turn (under
the NATIONAL RECOVERY ADMINISTRATION and the AGRICULTURAL ADJUSTMENT
ADMINISTRATION). By 1935, however, 10 million were still unemployed, the
economy seemed lodged at a new plateau, and the U.S. Supreme Court was ruling
such agencies unconstitutional.
The Second New Deal (1935-38) was more antibusiness and proconsumer.
Roosevelt turned to vastly increased relief spending (under the WORKS
PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION) to pump up consumer buying power. In 1933 he had
decided to take the nation off the gold standard, except in international
trade. Setting the price at which the government would buy gold at $35 an
ounce, he induced so massive a flow of gold into the country that its basic
stock of precious metal increased by one-third by 1940 (expanding by much
more the currency available in the economy). This monetary policy and the
spending to aid the unemployed succeeded in moving the economy toward
recovery before 1940, when the impact of war-induced buying from Europe
accelerated such movement.
The impact of the New Deal was perhaps strongest and most lasting in its
basic reform measures, which profoundly altered the American system. Farm
prices were supported and farm plantings centrally planned; the money supply
became a federal, not private, responsibility under a strengthened Federal
Reserve Board; and stock exchanges were put under regulation of the
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION. The FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION
insured bank deposits, and banking practices were closely supervised under
the Banking Act of 1933; the NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT made relations
between employers and employees a matter of public concern and control; and
under the direction of agencies such as the TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY
government facilities supplied electrical power to entire regions, providing
a standard for private utilities. Private utility monopolies were broken
apart and placed under public regulation; antitrust efforts were reenergized;
and economic recessions, then and afterward, were monitored by the federal
government, which was ready to increase public spending to provide employment
and ward off the onset of another depression.
For the majority of the population, New Deal legislation defined minimum
standards of living: the Fair Labor Standards Act set MINIMUM WAGE and
maximum hour limitations and included a prohibition on child labor in
interstate commerce; the Social Security Act (see SOCIAL SECURITY) made
provisions for old-age and disability pensions, unemployment insurance,
monthly payments to mothers living alone with dependent children, and direct
assistance to the blind and crippled.
In addition, the New Deal helped make it possible for organized unions to
gain higher wages; in 1938 the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was
formed; members were organized by industry rather than by craft. The New Deal
also provided a sense of confidence that in a time of disaster the federal
government would take positive action.
Meanwhile, totalitarian movements abroad were inducing world crisis.
Congress, mirroring public opinion, had grown disenchanted with the U.S.
entry into World War I. This spirit of isolationism led to the passage (1935-
37) of a series of neutrality acts. They required an arms embargo that would
deny the sale of munitions to belligerents during a time of international war
and prohibited loans to belligerents and the travel of Americans on ships
owned by belligerents. Congress thus hoped to prevent involvements like those
A WORLD POWER
The spirit of isolationism eroded steadily as Americans watched the
aggressive moves of Adolf Hitler and his allies. President Roosevelt and the
American people finally concluded that the United States could not survive as
a nation, nor could Western civilization endure, if Hitler and fascism gained
dominance over Europe. During the world war that followed, the American
nation rose to the status of a major world power, a position that was not
abandoned but confirmed in the cold-war years of the late 1940s and the
Total War: 1941-45
In September 1940, Congress established the first peacetime draft in American
history, and 6 months later it authorized Roosevelt to transfer munitions to
Great Britain, now standing practically alone against Hitler, by a procedure
called LEND- LEASE. On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese reacted to stiffening
American diplomacy against its expansion into Southeast Asia by attacking the
U.S. fleet at PEARL HARBOR in the Hawaiian Islands. This thrust was aimed at
immobilizing American power long enough to allow the establishment of a wide
imperial Japanese perimeter including all of the western Pacific and China,
henceforth to be defended against all comers. Japan, however, in one stroke
had succeeded in scuttling American isolationist sentiment, forcing the
United States into World War II, and unifying the American people as never
before in total war.
The first American military decision was to concentrate on defeating Hitler
while fighting a holding action in the Pacific. The next was to form an
alliance with Great Britain so close that even military commands were jointly
staffed. The year 1942 was devoted to halting, after many defeats, the
outward spread of Japanese power and to keeping Hitler's forces from
overwhelming America's British and Soviet allies. Large shipments of
munitions went to both allies. In November an American force invaded North
Africa; it joined the British in defeating the German armies in that region
by May 1943.
In 2 months the Allies were fighting the Germans in Sicily and Italy; at the
same time U.S. forces in the Pacific were pushing in toward the Japanese home
islands by means of an island- hopping offensive. On the long Russian front,
German armies were being defeated and pushed back toward their borders. In
June 1944 a huge Allied force landed on the French coast, an invasion
preceded by 2 years of intense day-and-night bombing of Germany by British
and American aircraft. By August 1944, Paris was recaptured. Hitler's empire
was crumbling; clouds of bombers were raining destruction on German cities;
and on Apr. 30, 1945, with the Soviet troops just a few miles from Berlin,
Hitler committed suicide. Peace in Europe followed shortly.
The Pacific war continued, the Japanese home islands being rendered
practically defenseless by July 1945. American aerial attacks burned out city
after city. In April, Harry S. TRUMAN had succeeded to the presidency on
Roosevelt's death. Now, advised that the alternative would be an invasion in
which multitudes would perish, including many thousands of young Americans,
he authorized use of the recently tested atomic bomb. On Aug. 6, the city of
Hiroshima was obliterated; on Aug. 9, the same fate came to Nagasaki. Within
a week, a cease-fire (which later research suggests was reachable without
atomic attack) was achieved.
The political shape of the postwar world was set at the YALTA CONFERENCE
(February 1945) between Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill.
Soviet occupation of Eastern European countries overrun by the Red Army was
accepted, in return for a pledge to allow democratic governments to rise
within them. Soviet and Allied occupation zones in Germany were established,
with Berlin, deep in the Soviet zone, to be jointly administered. In return
for Soviet assistance in the invasion of Japan (which was eventually not
needed), it was agreed that certain possessions in the Far East and rights in
Manchuria, lost to the Japanese long before, would be restored to the USSR.
Soon it was clear that the kind of democratic government envisioned by the
Americans was not going to be allowed in the East European countries under
Soviet control. Nor, as the Soviets pointed out, was the United States ready
to admit the Soviets to any role in the occupation and government of Japan,
whose internal constitution and economy were rearranged to fit American
desires under Gen. Douglas MACARTHUR.
The breach widened steadily. Charges and countercharges were directed back
and forth, the Soviets and Americans interpreting each other's actions in the
worst possible light. Americans became convinced that the Soviets were
thrusting out in every direction, seeking to communize not only the Soviet-
occupied countries, but also Turkey, Greece, and Western Europe. In February
1946, Stalin declared in Moscow that there could never be a lasting peace
with capitalism. Shortly thereafter, Churchill warned of the "iron curtain"
that had descended across the middle of Europe. The COLD WAR had begun.
In March 1947, Truman asked Congress for funds to shore up Turkey and Greece,
both under Soviet pressure, and announced the Truman Doctrine: that "it must
be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting
attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." Then the
MARSHALL PLAN (named for George C. MARSHALL, U.S. chief of staff during the
war and at this time secretary of state), approved by Congress in April 1948,
sent $12 billion to the devastated countries of Europe to help them rebuild
and fend off the despair on which communism was believed to feed.
True to its Democratic tradition, the Truman administration stressed
multilateral diplomacy; that is, the building of an international order based
on joint decision making. Nationalism, it was believed, must be tamed. The
United Nations received strong American support. Meanwhile, the United States
continued the drive toward a lowering of world tariffs (begun in the 1930s).
During the war, all recipients of Lend-Lease had been required to commit
themselves to lowered tariffs. These commitments were internationally
formalized in 1947 in the GENERAL AGREEMENT ON TARIFFS AND TRADE, when 23
nations participated in an extensive mutual lowering of trade barriers. In
1948, at American initiative, the ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES was
established to provide a regional multilateral consultative body in the
Western Hemisphere. Within Europe, the Marshall Plan required the formation
of Europe-wide organizations, leading eventually to the Common Market.
Toward the USSR, the basic American policy was that known as containment:
building "situations of strength" around its vast perimeter to prevent the
outward spread of communism. Angered Americans blamed the USSR for world
disorder and came to regard the peace of the entire world as a U.S.
responsibility. After their immense war effort, many Americans believed that
the United States could accomplish whatever it desired to do. Also, having
defeated one form of tyranny, fascism, and now being engaged in resisting
another, Stalinist communism, the American people assumed with few questions
that, since their cause was just, whatever they did in its name was right.
Critics of national policy were harshly condemned.
A series of East-West crises, most dramatically the Berlin Blockade of 1948-
49, led to the creation (April 1949) of the NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY
ORGANIZATION. The NATO alliance sought to link the United States militarily
to Western Europe (including Greece and Turkey) by making an attack against
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