His135 Final Essay

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Final Project: Most Significant Events William Benson HIS / 135 February 27, 2011 Professor Cyndi Krupa

Most Significant Events Many significant events have had a powerful impact on the American people following World War II. The most influential social, economical, or political event from each of the five decades – 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s – will be explored. The events selected are believed to have had an overriding effect on United States culture, economy, or government policy within each designated decade. Although each decade can obtain numerous life changing events, the events following are considered the most powerful impacts to the American people. Post War Prosperity (1950’s) [pic] Image 1 – Suburban Living The Great Depression was disturbingly apparent to the American people prior to the United States efforts in World War II. The war efforts brought about improvement to the U.S. economy through the production of military goods. The end of World War II started off in a downslide as many American soldiers returned home with little employment opportunity. Fear of communist takeover influenced the U.S. government to continue spending on its defense with the manufacturing of military products. According to About.com (2011), “As the Iron Curtain descended across Europe and the United States found itself embroiled in a cold war with the Soviet Union, the government maintained substantial fighting capacity and invested in sophisticated weapons such as the hydrogen bomb.” (para. 2). Private manufacturing of products grew drastically as demand from growing families began. The long time separation of Americans fighting in WWII had come to an end. The beginning of the baby boom generation was at hand. Restrictions on product purchases were lifted and the American people started to revel in the comforts they had not known. The economy improved and the population of the American middle class grew. Manufacturing of automobiles, growth of families, and the return of prosperity created a huge shift from city living to suburban growth. United States Congress passed the Interstate Highway Act to ease the commute from the intercity and housing projects began to rise drastically in the suburbs. Americans were redefining the manner in which they lived. Americans were living the dream and the post war prosperity was definitely apparent to many. Winston Churchill stated after WWII, “America at this moment stands at the summit of the world.” “The United States was the world’s strongest military power. Its economy was booming, and the fruits of this prosperity – new cars, suburban houses and other consumer goods – were available to more than ever before. However, the 1950’s were also an era of great conflict.” (History.com, 2011). Organized Protests Conquer (1960’s)

[pic] Image 2 – Civil Rights Movement Although many Americans were living the dream and prosperity was alive in much of America, many were still tremendously affected by racial bias and outrageous treatment. The civil rights movement had started gaining strength in the late 1950’s but was more substantial in the 1960’s. Although the civil rights movement predominantly brings the thought of African American equality, the movement was instrumental in promoting better treatment to all minorities. “When John F. Kennedy became president in 1961, African Americans throughout much of the South