GCSE History - The USA, 1929 - 1980

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The USA 1929 ­ 1980
The Impact of the Second World War on the US economy and society
After the First World War, the USA pursued a policy of isolationism. This continued until the Japanese
attacks on Pearl Harbour during the Second World War, which prompted them to get involved in the
War. The War brought about important social and economic changes.
Changes in the role of Government:
President Roosevelt introduced the War Production Board in 1942, to coordinate and organise
supplies for all the needs of the War. The Government also created new jobs for civilians; by 1945,
the Government employed nearly four million civilian workers, the majority of which continued in
these roles after the War had ended.
War Production:
The War Production Board was run by William Knusden, a leading industrialist; Roosevelt was
determined to make use of US businessmen for the needs of War. Roosevelt used a number of
different industrialists to ensure that the needs of War were sufficiently met; the businessmen would
decide which companies made which goods ­ a job that needed to be done well to ensure that
production was done by well-suited established businesses. During the War, the USA became the
main producer of all wartime goods, from artillery to submarines. The traditional industries, such as
coal, iron, steel and oil, benefited from large Government contracts. By 1944, the USA had expanded
its air-force from 300 planes to 96,000, in just one year; this made the US more productive than
Germany and Japan combined. Between 1941 and 1945, American factories produced: 250,000
aircraft, 90,000 tanks, 350 naval destroyers, 200 submarines and 5,600 merchant ships. Indeed, by
1944 the USA was producing almost half the weapons in the world.
Impact on the workforce and unemployment:
Due to the 16 million men and women serving in the armed forces, many more workers were
needed on the home front. In turn, this put an end to the unemployment caused by the Depression
and, between 1939 and 1944, unemployment fell from 9.5 million to 670,000. Many US citizens
worked in munitions factories, such as General Motors. Many black Americans migrated from the
rural South to the industrial North. One of the greatest changes was that of the employment of
women. A further 7 million women joined the US workforce during the War, taking on jobs that had
previously been excluded to them. Half of all electrical and munitions workers were women.
General Benefits:
Out of all the countries involved in the Second World War, the USA was the only one to grow
economically stronger. More than half a million new businesses were set up, and US food growers
became wealthier; the US could grow crops in safety, and then export them to the Allies in Europe.
The American Government raised money to fund the War through increasing taxes and also selling
bonds to the public. Those who bought bonds were guaranteed their money back after a certain
amount of time, plus a guaranteed rate of interest. By the end of the War, Americans had bought
bonds totalling $129 billion, all of which funded the American involvement in, and, disputably, the
success of, the Second World War.
How were Japanese-Americans treated?
America had a large Japanese immigrant population, but after the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbour
during the Second World War brought a large anti-Japanese feeling to the country. Although not all
Americans felt that the Japanese were a security threat, the majority did, aided by anti-Japanese
propaganda aimed to drum-up support for the War and attract volunteers for the Armed Forces. In
the Spring of 1942, more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans were interned. They were moved out

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The Government
defended this move by saying that the Japanese-Americans were a threat to internal security. The
Japanese-Americans in the internment camps acted with patriotism and unity; they hoisted the
American flag every morning, and, along with the 8,000 who were conscripted, 9,000 volunteered
to fight for the US. At the time, there was great criticism for these measures, with the US Supreme
Court calling it `government racism'.…read more

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There were no black pilots in the US Air Force, but the
worst discrimination was within the Navy; black soldiers were given the most dangerous jobs, such as
loading ammunition onto ships, which killed 323 mostly black officers in 1944.…read more

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FELP introduced.
The Rosenbergs arrested.
Alger Hiss sentenced to 5 years in prison.
McCarran Act passed by Congress.
The Rosenbergs are executed.
How did events outside America add to the growing fear of communism in the USA?
After the War, the USSR emerged as the only other great Superpower besides America. This means
that the USA now has someone equal to them, with the resources to challenge them. The USSR is now
seen as a threat to American security and safety.…read more

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How did events inside America add to the growing fear of communism, 1945-1954?
HUAC and the Hollywood Ten:
The House Un-American Activities Committee was set up in the 1930s to deal with political groups
whose views were deemed inappropriate and unacceptable, but did not become active until the
outbreak of the Cold War in 1945. The Hollywood Ten, a group of prominent Hollywood writers and
directors, were asked by HUAC in 1947 to confirm that they had once been members of the
communist party.…read more

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They spent 2 years on death row, and were executed in June 1953. Once
the atom bomb has been exploded by the USSR, the Superpowers are equal, increasing the fear of
war between the two and that the Soviet Union could overtake the USA in the arms race. The
Rosenbergs were sentenced to death ­ an excessively harsh punishment for spying. The
government are showing that they are concerned about the security of the country. This increases
the idea of minimum evidence, but maximum punishment.…read more

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What progress had the black civil rights movement made by the end of the 1960s?
Civil Rights: the campaign for equal social, economic and political rights and opportunities
Jim Crow Laws: laws passed in the Southern states in 1865 to segregate blacks from whites daily
The Supreme Courts felt that, as long as conditions and facilities were equal, segregation was
constitutional. They supported segregation, which became known as the "separate but equal"
doctrine.…read more

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Caused embarrassment for the US ­ they were seen as an oppressive nation, contradicting
the idea of the American dream and the fact that they were simultaneously criticising the
communist government for not allowing basic human rights
What were the Key Features of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-1957?
Up until 1955, segregation was the norm on public transport in Alabama. The first four rows
of buses were `white-only'.…read more

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Once again, this showed that peaceful methods were successful,
emphasising MLK's pacifistic views. However, MLK was worried that patience would wear
out, turning to violence.
How else did the civil rights movement develop?
In 1960 in North Carolina, a sit-in was held at the Greensboro branch of Woolworth's, where
4 black students demanded to be served at a white-only lunch counter. They were refused
service but remained seated until the shop closed.…read more

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Americans often failed as they had inferior education
to the white population.
The Project resulted in many black Americans being enfranchised but many were refused the
right on dubious grounds.
The SNCC members faced harassment and people who did vote were sometimes evicted
from their land, sacked from their jobs and refused credit.
The SNCC felt that Robert Kennedy should protect them but both Robert Kennedy and
President Kennedy felt that it should be the local police who protected the SNCC workers.…read more


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