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Truman Doctrine, 1947
Stated that the U.S. would support any nation threatened by communism. Played a large role in the developing cold war with the Soviet Union. Helped set the stage for the Marshall Plan.
Introduced by Secretary of State George G. Marshall in 1947, he proposed massive and systematic American economic aid to Europe to revitalize the European economies after WWII and help prevent the spread of communism. Did much to rebuild Western Europe. Paved the way for the policy of containment.
Containment, George F. Kennan
A member of the State Department, he felt that the best way to keep communism out of Europe was to confront the Russians wherever they tried to spread their power. Would form the backbone of the nation’s cold war diplomacy in fighting communism throughout the world, especially in Vietnam.
Israel created, 1948
In 1947 the UN General Assembly had approved the creation of a Jewish homeland by ending the British mandate in Palestine and partitioning it into two states: one Jewish and one Arab. On May 14, 1948, the Jews proclaimed the State of Israel, and all of the surrounding Arab nations declared war and invaded. After a short war, the Israelis gained control of the country.
President Truman recognized Israel in the face of serious opposition from Europe and the U.S. State and Defense Departments.
Berlin blockade, 1948
Russia under Stalin blockaded Berlin completely in the hopes that the West would give the entire city to the Soviets to administer. To bring in food and supplies, the U.S. and Great Britain mounted airlifts that became so intense that, at their height, an airplane was landing in West Berlin every few minutes. West Germany was a republic under France, the U.S. and Great Britain. Berlin was located entirely within Soviet-controlled East Germany.
Fall of China, Mao Tse-Tung (Mao Zedong)
Mao Tse-Tung led the communists in China. Because of the failure to form a coalition government between Chiang Kai-Shek (Jiang Jieshi) and the communists, civil war broke out in China after WWII. The communists won in 1949, but the new government was not recognized by much of the world, including the United States. Instead, Chiang and the nationalists were forced to flee to Formosa, a large island off the southern coast of China, after the communist victory in the civil war. Throughout the 1950's, the U.S. continued to recognize and support Chiang's government in Formosa as the legitimate government of China, and to ignore the existence of the Communist People's Republic on the mainland. Communist China would not be recognized as the legitimate government until after Nixon’s visit in 1972.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Truman removed General Douglas MacArthur from command in Korea as punishment for the general’s public criticism of the government's handling of the war. Intended to confirm the American tradition of civilian control over the military, but Truman's decision was widely criticized.
Dixiecrats, J. Strom Thurmond
Southern Democrats disgruntled over the strong civil rights proposals of the Democrats' 1948 National Convention formed the States' Rights Democratic party and nominated Thurmond (governor of South Carolina) for president.
House Committee on Un-American Activities
Committee in the House of Representatives founded on a temporary basis in 1938 to monitor activities of foreign agents. Made a standing committee in 1945. During World War II it investigated pro-fascist groups, but after the war it turned to investigating alleged communists. From 1947-1949, it conducted a series of sensational investigations into supposed communist infiltration of the U.S. government and Hollywood film industry.
Senator Joseph McCarthy (1908-1957), McCarthyism
Dennis v. U.S., 1951
Decided in the middle of the McCarthy era, this case upheld the conviction, 6-2, of eleven leaders of the Com-munist party for violating the 1940 Smith Act. The case revived the division among judges over the “clear and present danger” and the “bad tendency test” in regard to subversive activities. Ruling claimed that “whatever theoretical merit there may be to the argument that there is a ‘right’ to rebellion against dictatorial government is without force where the existing structure of the government provides for peaceful and orderly change.”
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
Arrested in the summer of 1950 and executed in 1953, they were convicted of conspiring to commit espionage by passing plans for the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.
Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh
North Vietnamese leader who had led the resistance against the Japanese during WW II and at the end of the war had led the uprising against the French Colonial government. He had traveled in Europe, educated in Moscow, and was an ardent communist. Became President of the North Vietnamese government established after the French withdrawal in WWII. Often called the George Washington of North Vietnam he helped Vietnam claim its independence from France in 1945.
Hungarian Revolt, 1956
Partly encouraged by the U.S., Hungary tried to overthrow the communist government, but in the midst of the resistance President Eisenhower declined to send assistance. The rebellion was quickly crushed.
Egypt's dictator, Abdul Gamal Nasser, a former army officer who had led the coup that overthrew King Farouk, nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956, and was attacked by British, French and Israeli forces. The U.S. intervened on behalf of Egypt and damaged Britain and France's standing as world powers.
Eisenhower proposed and obtained a joint resolution from Congress authorizing the use of U.S. military forces to intervene in any country that appeared likely to fall to communism. Used in the Middle East.
Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 1954
The Supreme Court overruled Plessy v. Ferguson, and declared that racially segregated facilities are inherently unequal and ordered all public schools desegregated “with all deliberate speed.” The majority opinion, 8-0, relied heavily on sociological and psychological factors as well as legal arguments. Directed lower courts to implement the desegregation order “with all deliberate speed.” This speed was lacking for a number of years.
Rosa Parks, Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1956
In Montgomery, Alabama, she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man as required by city ordinance. Her action, though planned, started the civil rights movement and led to a bus boycott lasting 11 months.
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)
An Atlanta-born Baptist minister, he earned a Ph.D. at Boston University. The leader of the civil rights movement and President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He advocated nonviolent resistance; he was assassinated outside his hotel room in Memphis.
Little Rock, Arkansas School Desegregation Crisis, 1957
Governor Orval Faubus sent the Arkansas National Guard to prevent nine black students from entering Little Rock Central High School. Eisenhower sent in U.S. paratroopers to ensure the students could attend class.
Geneva Conference, 1954
Betty Frieden, The Feminine Mystique, 1963
Depicted how difficult a woman's life is because she doesn't think about herself, only her family. The book claimed that middle-class society stifled women and didn't let them use their talents. It attacked the "cult of domesticity."
Bay of Pigs, 1961
Fourteen hundred American-trained and financed Cuban anti-Castro expatriates left from Nicaragua to try to topple Castro's regime, landing at the Bay of Pigs in southern Cuba. They had expected a popular uprising to overthrow the communist government and sweep them to victory, but the local populace refused to support them. When promised U.S. air cover failed to materialize, the invaders were easily killed or captured by the Cuban forces. Many of the survivors were ransomed back to the U.S. for $64 million. President Kennedy had approved this CIA clandestine operation.
Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962
After discovering that the Russians were secretly building nuclear missile launch sites in Cuba, which could have been used for a sneak-attack on the U.S., President Kennedy announced a quarantine of Cuba, which was really a blockade, but couldn't be called that since blockades are a violation of international law. After 13 days of confrontation that led to the brink of nuclear war, Khrushchev backed down and agreed to dismantle the launch sites
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
Sit-ins, freedom rides
Late 1950's, early 1960's, these were nonviolent demonstrations and marches that challenged segregation laws, often braving attacks by angry white mobs. President Kennedy’s decision to protect the freedom riders with federal marshals earned him support from black Americans.
One-time pimp and street hustler converted to a Black Muslim while in prison and advocated separatism. At first urged blacks to seize their freedom by any means necessary, but later changed position and advocated racial harmony. He was assassinated in February 1965.
In 1966, as chair of SNCC, he called to assert “Black Power,” a slogan used to reflect solidarity and racial con-sciousness. Supporting the Black Panthers, he was against integration and believed that racism was an inherent part of the U.S. capitalist society.
Twenty-fourth Amendment, 1964
It outlawed taxing voters, i.e. poll taxes, at presidential or congressional elections, as an effort to remove barriers to black voters.
Watts race riot, 1965; Detroit race riot, 1967
Watts: the riot began due to the arrest of a black by a white and resulted in 34 dead, 800 injured, 3500 arrested and $140,000,000 in damages. Demonstrated the confrontational nature of the civil rights movement. Detroit: the army was called in to restore order in race riots that resulted in 43 dead and $200,000,000 in damages. Was a clear indication of the militancy of the civil rights movement.
Civil Rights Act of 1964, Public Accommodations Section
This portion of the Act stated that public accommodations could not be segregated and that nobody could be denied access to public accommodation on the basis of race.
Voting Rights Act, 1965
Passed by Congress in 1965, it allowed for supervisors to register blacks to vote in places where they had not been allowed to vote before. Convinced Southerner politicians of the importance of black voters.
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, 1964
After the USS Maddox reportedly was fired on, the U.S. Congress passed this resolution which gave the president unlimited power to send troops to Vietnam to protect against further North Vietnamese aggression.
Tet Offensive, 1968
During Tet, the Vietnam lunar new year, Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army raiding forces attacked provincial capitals throughout South Vietnam, even seizing the U.S. embassy in Saigon for a time. U.S. opinion began turning against the war and Johnson’s Vietnam policy.
Berlin Wall, 1961
The Soviet Union, under Nikita Khrushchev, erected a wall between East and West Berlin to keep people from fleeing from the East, afterwards Kennedy asked for an increase in defense funds to counter Soviet aggression.
Lee Harvey Oswald, Warren Commission
November, 22, 1963 - Oswald allegedly shot Kennedy from a Dallas book depository building, and was later killed by Jack Ruby, a Dallas strip-tease owner with Mafia ties. Chief Justice Earl Warren led the official government investigation and ruled that both Oswald and Ruby acted alone.
Kennedy abandoned Eisenhower's theory of massive nuclear war in favor of a military that could respond quickly to any situation at any time, at any place, in different ways.
Chicago, Democratic Party Convention riot, 1968
With national media coverage, thousands of anti-war protesters, blacks and Democratic party supporters were clubbed outside the convention hall by Major Richard Daley's police.
Governor George Wallace of Alabama
In the presidential election of 1968, Wallace ran as the American Independent party candidate A right- wing racist, he appealed to the people's fear of big government and made a good showing. He ran again in 1972, but was seriously wounded by a would-be assassin.
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Inspired by Betty Frieden, a reform organization that battled for equal rights with men by lobbying and testing laws in court. NOW wanted equal employment opportunities, equal pay, ERA, divorce law changes, and legalized abortion.
Supreme Court: Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963
Court decided that State and local courts must provide counsel for defendants in felony cases at the State's expense in any serious felony prosecution. Before, counsel was only appointed if the death penalty was involved.
Supreme Court: Miranda v. Arizona, 1966
Court declared that police officers must inform persons they arrest of their rights: the right to remain silent and the right to counsel during interrogation.
Kent State Incident, Jackson State Incident
Kent State: May 4, 1970 - National Guardsmen opened fire on a group of students protesting the Vietnam War. Jackson State: Police opened fire in a dormitory.
Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg
Papers were part of a top-secret government study on the Vietnam War and said that the U.S. government had lied to the citizens of the U.S. and the world about its intentions in Vietnam. Ellsberg, a former pentagon employee, copied the papers and made them available to the New York Times, which published the papers.
My Lai, Lt. Calley, 1968
An American army unit destroyed the village of My Lai in Vietnam, murdering many women and children. The incident was not revealed to the public until 20 months later. Lt. Calley, who led the patrol, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 10 years for killing 20 people.
Bombing of Laos and Cambodia, 1969
U.S. bombed North Vietnamese positions in Cambodia and Laos. Technically illegal because Cambodia and Laos were neutral, but done because North Vietnam was itself illegally moving its troops through those areas. Not learned of by the American public until July, 1973.
Senator George M. McGovern
Nixon’s Democratic opponent in the 1972 election. Somewhat of a radical, many traditional Democratic voters thought he was a hippie and too supportive of women and militant blacks. He was very vocal in his promise to “get the boys out of Vietnam.” Ran an unsuccessful campaign, hampered by lack of funds.
The effort to build up South Vietnamese troops while gradually withdrawing American troops, it was an attempt to turn the war over to the Vietnamese.
War Powers Act, 1973
Gave any president the power to go to war under certain circumstances, but required that he could only do so for 90 days before being required to officially bring the matter before Congress.
Watergate Scandal, 1972
As part of a broad effort on by CREEP (Committee for the Reelection of the President) to sabotage political opposition, five men were arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee's executive quarters in the Watergate Hotel in Washington. Although Nixon apparently had no advance knowledge of the break-in, he subsequently obstructed an investigation of the crime. Two White House aides were indicted and resigned. The Senate began hearings in May, 1973. After fighting a two-year holding action, which included trying to withhold tape recordings implicating him, Nixon faced impeachment by the House of Representatives. The House Judiciary Committee recommended three articles of impeachment against Nixon: taking part in a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice, “repeatedly” failing to carry out his constitutional oath, and unconstitutional defiance of committee subpoenas. Admittedly guilty of complicity in the burglary, the president resigned on August 9, 1974. He accepted a pardon from President Gerald Ford.
Gerald R. Ford
SALT I & II Agreements
Strategic Arms Limitations Talks by Nixon and Brezhnev in Moscow in May, 1972. Limited anti-ballistic missiles to two major departments and 200 missiles. The Second Strategic Arms Limitations Talks: the second treaty was signed on June 18, 1977 to cut back the weaponry of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. because it was getting too competitive. Set limits on the numbers of weapons produced. Not passed by the U.S. Senate as retaliation for U.S.S.R.'s invasion of Afghanistan, and later superseded by the START treaty.
Lowered voting age to 18.
Arab oil embargo, 1973
Egypt and Syria attacked Israel. Moscow backed Egypt and the U.S. supported Israel. Both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. put their armed forces on alert. In an attempt to pressure America into a pro-Arab stance, OPEC, the international oil cartel dominated by an Arab majority, imposed an embargo on all oil to the U.S.
Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty: Menachem Begin, Anwar Sadat
Brought together at Camp David by President Carter, Anwar Sadat, representing Egypt and Menachem Begin, representing Israel; Israel returned land to Egypt in exchange for Egyptian recognition. Earned both men the Noble Peace Prize and was considered a spectacular foreign policy achievement for Carter.
Olympic Boycott, 1980
The U.S. withdrew from the competition held in Moscow to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The Soviet Union had sent troops into neighboring Afghanistan to support its communist government against guerrilla attacks by fundamentalists Muslims. About 64 other nations withdrew for this and other reasons.
Iranian Crisis, the Shah, the Ayatollah Khomeini, 1978
A popular uprising forced the Shah to flee Iran and a Muslim and national leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini, established an Islamic Republic based on the Koran. President Carter allowed the Shah to come to the U.S. for medical reasons. Young Iranian militants broke into the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and kept the staff hostage for 444 days, releasing them January 1981.
Supreme Court: Roe v. Wade, 1973
Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional most State statutes restricting abortion. It ruled that a State may not prevent a woman from having an abortion during the first three months of pregnancy, and could regulate, but not prohibit abortion during the second trimester. Decision in effect overturned anti-abortion laws in 46 States.
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