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Доклад: History of the USA бесплатно рефераты

one member an attack against all. As Europe recovered its prosperity, the

focus of East-West confrontation shifted to Asia, where the British, French,

and Dutch empires were collapsing and the Communist revolution in China was

moving toward its victory (October 1949). In June 1950 the North Korean army

invaded South Korea. The United Nations Security Council (which the Soviets

were then boycotting) called on UN members jointly to repel this attack.

Shortly afterward, a multinational force under Gen. Douglas MacArthur was

battling to turn back North Korean forces in the KOREAN WAR. As the UN army

swept northward to the Manchurian border, Chinese forces flooded southward to

resist them, and a long, bloody seesaw war ensued. An armistice was not

signed until July 1953, following 150,000 American casualties and millions of

deaths among the Koreans and Chinese.

Domestic Developments during the Truman Years

In 1945, President Truman called on Congress to launch another program of

domestic reform, but the nation was indifferent. It was riding a wave of

affluence such as it had never dreamed of in the past. Tens of millions of

people found themselves moving upward into a middle-class way of life. The

cold war, and the pervasive fear of an atomic war, induced a trend toward

national unity and a downplaying of social criticism. The Atomic Energy Act

of 1946 nationalized nuclear power, putting it under civilian control, but no

other bold departures were made. What fascinated Americans was the so-called

baby boom--a huge increase in the birthrate (the population was at 150

million by 1950 and 179 million by 1960)--and the need to house new families

and teach their children.

In the presence of rapidly rising inflation, labor unions called thousands of

strikes, leading in 1948 to passage of the Taft-Hartley Act (see LABOR-

MANAGEMENT RELATIONS ACT), which limited the powers of unions, declared

certain of their tactics "unfair labor practices," and gave the president

power to secure 80-day "cooling off periods" by court injunction. As union

benefits increased nationwide, however, industrial warfare quieted. In 1948

the United Automobile Workers won automatic "cost of living" pay increases in

their contracts and in 1955 the guaranteed annual wage. In 1955 merger

negotiations were completed for the formation of the AMERICAN FEDERATION OF


percent of all union members were now in one organization.

Fears that Russian communism was taking over the entire world were pervasive

during the Truman years. Soviet spy rings were discovered in the United

States, Canada, and Great Britain. In 1948-50 a sensational trial for perjury

led to the conviction of a former State Department official, Alger HISS, on

the grounds that while in the department he had been part of a Communist cell

and had passed secrets to the Soviets. In 1950 a Soviet spy ring was

uncovered in the Los Alamos atomic installation. These events, together with

the explosion (1949) of a Soviet atomic bomb and the victory (1949) of the

Communists in China, prompted a widespread conviction that subversive

conspiracies within the American government were leading toward Soviet


In February 1950, Republican Sen. Joseph R. MCCARTHY of Wisconsin began a 4-

year national crisis, during which he insisted repeatedly that he had direct

evidence of such conspiracies in the federal government, even in the army.

The entire country seemed swept up in a hysteria in which anyone left of

center was attacked as a subversive. A program to root out alleged security

risks in the national government led to a massive collapse in morale in its

departments; it destroyed the State Department's corps of experts on Far

Eastern and Soviet affairs. The Truman administration's practice of foreign

policy was brought practically to a halt. In 1952, Dwight D. EISENHOWER,

nationally revered supreme commander in Europe during World War II, was

elected president (1953-61) on the Republican ticket, but soon McCarthy was

attacking him as well for running a "weak, immoral, and cowardly" foreign

policy. In 1954 a long and dramatic series of congressional hearings, the

first to be nationally televised, destroyed McCarthy's credibility. He was

censured by the Senate, and a measure of national stability returned.

The Eisenhower Years

Eisenhower declared himself uninterested in repealing the New Deal, but he

was socially and economically conservative and his presidency saw the

enactment of few reforms. His appointment of Earl WARREN as chief justice of

the Supreme Court, however, led to a Court that suddenly seized so bold and

active a role in national life that many called it revolutionary. During

Warren's long tenure (1953-69), the Court swept away the legal basis for

racial discrimination; ruled that every person must be represented equally in

state legislatures and in the U.S. House of Representatives; changed

criminal-justice procedures by ensuring crucial rights to the accused;

broadened the artist's right to publish works shocking to the general public;

and in major ways limited the government's ability to penalize individuals

for their beliefs or associations.

No decision of the Warren Court was more historic than that in BROWN V. BOARD

OF EDUCATION OF TOPEKA, KANSAS (1954), which ruled unanimously that racial

segregation in the public schools was unconstitutional. This great decision--

followed by others that struck down segregation in all public facilities and

in elections and marriage laws--sparked a revolution in race- relations law.

The separate-but-equal principle was cast aside, and the Second

Reconstruction could get underway. Now black Americans could charge that the

statutory discrimination that tied them down and kept them in a secondary

caste was illegal, a fact that added enormous moral weight to their cause.

Resistance by southern whites to desegregated public education would make the

advance of that cause frustratingly slow, however. By 1965 black children had

been admitted to white schools in fewer than 25 percent of southern school

districts. The fight for racial equality was not limited to the South, for by

1960 only 60 percent of black Americans remained there; 73 percent of them

also lived in cities: they were no longer simply a scattered, powerless rural

labor force in the South.

In 1957 the Soviet government launched its first orbiting satellite, Sputnik,

and a national controversy erupted. Why are we so far behind in the crucial

area of rocketry? Americans asked. Many critics replied that weaknesses in

public education, especially in science and technology, were the root cause.

In 1958, Congress enacted the first general education law since the Morrill

Act of 1862--the NATIONAL DEFENSE EDUCATION ACT. It authorized $1 billion for

education from primary level through university graduate training,

inaugurating a national policy that became permanent thereafter and that

resulted in the spending of huge sums and the transformation of American

public education.

Eisenhower's foreign policy, under Secretary of State John Foster DULLES, was

more nationalist and unilateral than Truman's. American-dominated alliances

ringed the Soviet and Chinese perimeters. Little consultation with Western

European allies preceded major American initiatives, and in consequence the

United States and Western Europe began drifting apart. Persistent recessions

in the American economy hobbled the national growth rate while the Soviet and

Western European economies surged dramatically. An aggressive Nikita

Khrushchev, Soviet premier, trumpeted that communism would bury capitalism

and boasted of Moscow's powerful intercontinental missiles while encouraging

so-called wars of liberation in Southeast Asia and elsewhere.


During the 1960s and 1970s cold-war concerns gave way as attention focused on

social and cultural rebellions at home. Involvement in a long and indecisive

war in Asia and scandals that reached into the White House eroded the

confidence of many Americans in their country's values and system of

government. The United States survived such challenges, however, and emerged

from the 1970s subdued but intact.

The Exuberant Kennedy Years

The Democratic senator John F. KENNEDY, asserting that he wanted to "get the

country moving again,"won the presidency in a narrow victory over Vice-

President Richard M. NIXON in 1960. The charismatic Kennedy stimulated a

startling burst of national enthusiasm and aroused high hopes among the young

and the disadvantaged. Within 3 years his Peace Corps (see ACTION) sent about

10,000 Americans (mostly young people) abroad to work in 46 countries.

Kennedy's ALLIANCE FOR PROGRESS proposed a 10-year plan to transform the

economies of the Latin American nations (partially successful, it sunk out of

sight during the Vietnam War). He also proposed massive tariff cuts between

the increasingly protectionist European Common Market and the world at large.

(The so-called Kennedy Round of tariff negotiations concluded in 1967 with

the largest and widest tariff cuts in modern history.) In June 1961, Kennedy

pulled together the disparate, disorganized space effort by giving it a

common goal: placing an American on the moon. Responding enthusiastically,

Congress poured out billions of dollars to finance the project. (After the

APOLLO PROGRAM succeeded, on July 20, 1969, in landing astronauts on the

moon, the space effort remained in motion, if at a reduced pace.)

Kennedy blundered into a major defeat within 3 months of entering the White

House. He kept in motion a plan sponsored by the CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

(CIA) and begun by the Eisenhower administration to land an invasion force in

Cuba, which under Fidel Castro had become a Communist state and a Soviet

state. The BAY OF PIGS INVASION failed, utterly and completely. The force was

quickly smashed when it struggled onto the beaches of the Bay of Pigs in

April 1961. During the succeeding 2 years, Kennedy labored to break the rigid

cold-war relationship with the USSR. In October 1962, however, he discovered

that the Soviets were rapidly building missile emplacements in Cuba.

Surrounding the island with a naval blockade, he induced the Soviets to

desist, and the sites were eventually dismantled. The relieved world

discovered that, when pushed to the crisis point, the two major powers could

stop short of nuclear war. This CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS effectively ended the

cold war.

The atomic bomb now seemed defused, and Moscow seemed ready to negotiate on

crucial issues (perhaps, it was suggested 15 years later, to give the Soviets

time to build a far more powerful armaments system). A new and more relaxed

relationship developed slowly into the U.S.-Soviet DETENTE that emerged in

the late 1960s and persisted through the 1970s. A test-ban treaty, the Moscow

Agreement (see ARMS CONTROL), signed in October 1963 symbolized the opening

of the new relationship. Three of the world's nuclear powers (Great Britain,

the United States, and the USSR--the fourth, France, did not sign) agreed to

end the detonation of atomic explosions in the atmosphere.

In this new environment of security, American culture, long restrained by the

sense of team spirit and conformity that the crises of depression, war, and

cold war had induced, broke loose into multiplying swift changes. People now

began talking excitedly of "doing their own thing." The media were filled

with discussions of the rapidly changing styles of dress and behavior among

the young; of the "new woman" (or the "liberated woman," as she became

known); of new sexual practices and attitudes and new styles of living. The

sense of community faded. Romanticism shaped the new mood, with its emphasis

on instinct and impulse rather than reason, ecstatic release rather than

restraint, individualism and self-gratification rather than group discipline.

Assassination and Cultural Rebellion

The excitement of Kennedy's presidency and his calls to youth to serve the

nation had inspired the young, both black and white. His assassination in

November 1963 shocked and dismayed Americans of all ages, and the

psychological links he had fashioned between "the system" and young people

began to dissolve. His successor, Lyndon B. JOHNSON, later shouldering the

onus of an unpopular war, was unable to build a reservoir of trust among the

young. As the large demographic group that had constituted the "baby boom" of

the post-World War II years reached college age, it became the "wild

generation" of student radicals and "hippies" who rebelled against political

and cultural authority.

Styles of life changed swiftly. Effective oral contraceptives, Playboy

magazine, and crucial Supreme Court decisions helped make the United States,

long one of the world's most prudish nations in sexual matters, one of its

most liberated. The drug culture mushroomed. Communal living groups of

"dropouts" who rejected mass culture received widespread attention. People

more than 30 years old reacted angrily against the flamboyant youth (always a

small minority of the young generation) who flouted traditional standards,

glorified self-indulgence, and scorned discipline.

In the second half of the 1960s this generation gap widened as many of the

young (along with large numbers of older people) questioned U.S. involvement

in Vietnam. Peaceful protests led to violent confrontations, and differences

concerning styles of life blurred with disagreements about the degree of

allegiance that individuals owed to the American system. In 1968 the

assassinations of the Rev. Martin Luther KING, Jr., and President Kennedy's

brother Robert F. KENNEDY seemed to confirm suspicions that dark currents of

violence underlay many elements in American society.

Race Relations during the 1960s and 1970s

Race relations was one area with great potential for violence, although many

black leaders stressed nonviolence. Since the mid -1950s, King and others had

been leading disciplined mass protests of black Americans in the South

against segregation, emphasizing appeals to the conscience of the white

majority. The appeals of these leaders and judicial rulings on the illegality

of segregationist practices were vital parts of the Second Reconstruction,

which transformed the role and status of black Americans, energizing every

other cultural movement as well. At the same time, southern white resistance

to the ending of segregation, with its attendant violence, stimulated a

northern-dominated Congress to enact (1957) the first civil rights law since

1875, creating the Commission on Civil Rights and prohibiting interference

with the right to vote (blacks were still massively disenfranchised in many

southern states). A second enactment (1960) provided federal referees to aid

blacks in registering for and voting in federal elections. In 1962, President

Kennedy dispatched troops to force the University of Mississippi (a state

institution) to admit James Meredith, a black student. At the same time, he

forbade racial or religious discrimination in federally financed housing.

Kennedy then asked Congress to enact a law to guarantee equal access to all

public accommodations, forbid discrimination in any state program receiving

federal aid, and outlaw discrimination in employment and voting. After

Kennedy's death, President Johnson prodded Congress into enacting (August

1965) a voting-rights bill that eliminated all qualifying tests for

registration that had as their objective limiting the right to vote to

whites. Thereafter, massive voter registration drives in the South sent the

proportion of registered blacks spurting upward from less than 30 to over 53

percent in 1966.

The civil rights phase of the black revolution had reached its legislative

and judicial summit. Then, from 1964 to 1968, more than a hundred American

cities were swept by RACE RIOTS, which included dynamitings, guerrilla

warfare, and huge conflagrations, as the anger of the northern black

community at its relatively low income, high unemployment, and social

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