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Доклад: History of the USA бесплатно рефераты

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


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


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

of 1914-17.


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.

Cold-War Years

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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