History GCSE- USA, A Divided Union? 1945-70

History GCSE- USA, A Divided Union? 1945-70

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How did events inside America add to the growing fear of communism, 1945-1954?

 HUAC and the Hollywood Ten: 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.

McCarran Act:Created in 1950, the McCarran Act stated that: it was illegal for Americans to engage in activities that might create a communist government in the USA; communist organisations had to be registered with the federal government; communists were not allowed to work in defence factories or obtain US passports.

 The Rosenbergs:After the Soviet Union successfully exploded their atom bomb in 1949, Julius Rosenberg was arrested on suspicion of spying and charged with conspiring to commit espionage. His wife, Ethel, was arrested on the same grounds, and the government claimed that they were intending to give atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. 

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What were the Key Features of McCarthyism?

Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin addressed a Women’s club in 1950, saying that he had the names of 205 communists working in the State Department. This created hysteria and panic; internal security is threatened. McCarthy continued these claims, but was inconsistent with the details, sometimes claiming 57 names and sometimes “a lot”. Any opposers to McCarthy were immediately accused of communism, creating little incentive to oppose him. Many politicians chose to support McCarthy’s claims, to protect their jobs and reputations, even though no evidence to support his claims was ever produced. Senator Tydings, Chairman of the Senate committee created to investigate McCarthy’s claims, lost his high-ranking governmental position after being accused of communism. He lost his position to a supporter of McCarthy. McCarthy was made Chairman of the Government Committee on Operations of the Senate, allowing him to investigate state bodies and interview hundreds of people about their political beliefs. His accusations destroyed the lives of many officials, even though nothing was proven. Fears over possible accusations even prevented President Truman from speaking out against McCarthy.

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Why did McCarthyism die out?

After the Presidential elections of 1952, McCarthy began to object to the new President, Eisenhower, going against his own political party. His views were overruled by a Senate committee and, from this point onwards, McCarthy was seen differently by the public. President Eisenhower’s new government pursued the threat of communism in a different way to that of Truman’s government, pushing McCarthy out of the spotlight. After this, McCarthy turned his attentions to the army, accusing the army of being controlled, internally, by communists. His investigations were televised between April and June 1954, allowing the public to see his aggressive nature and bullying interview technique. The public saw that McCarthy had no evidence to support his claims, and relied on bluffing his way out of situations.

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What were the effects of McCarthyism?

  • Showed how easy it was to create public hysteria, on the basis of unsustained evidence
  • Hysteria created by the “Red Scare” led to the formation of many vigilante-style groups run by private citizens, who were still convinced of communist activity in the USA
  • Governmental films and brochures were produced to encourage the exposure of anyone who the public suspected of having communist links
  • Some American states demanded a pledge of loyalty from their employees
  • The communist party was made illegal in 1954
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What progress had the black civil rights movement made by the end of the 1960s?

  • Civil Rights
  • 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.

: the campaign for equal social, economic and political rights and opportunities

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What were the Key Features of the Brown vs Topeka case in 1954?

  • In Kansas, Linda Brown’s parents protest against segregated schools.
  • The NAACP (National Association for Advancement of Coloured People) took the case to the Supreme Court.
  • In May 1954, the Supreme Court passed a judgement that there was no place for separate but equal in education. This was not a law, but only a judgement.
  • Furthermore, the judgement failed to specify how integration should occur, so many areas failed to comply. Some areas complied but KKK membership increased dramatically.
  • There was resistance in the South – more than 450 laws were passed to resist integration of black and white schools.
  • Rising to the Supreme Court raised awareness of Civil Rights within the public
  • Started desegregation in some areas, improving quality of life for some blacks
  • Resistance from the Southern states caused the KKK to re-emerge and the formation
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What were the Key Feature of the Little Rock High School in 1957?

  • The black students were denied entry to the school by the Governor, Orval Faubus, who ordered National Guardsmen to block their entry.
  • After a day, Faubus removed the Guardsmen, leaving the black students to face violent white crowds. By midday, the black students were escorted home by Police, as their safety could no longer be guaranteed.
  • Press and TV coverage broadcasted images all around the world, embarrassing the US. This caused President Eisenhower to step in and use the National Guardsmen and Federal Troops to protect the black students.
  • Faubus closed all schools in Arkansas for a year to prevent integration, until the Supreme Court ordered them to re-open in 1959.
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  • Involving the President showed people that civil rights was important and not ignorable
  • Being covered by the press and TV showed the world, and many US citizens, for the first time, that racial hatred existed in the Southern states
  • Demonstrated that the federal government could overrule state leadership when necessary
  • 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
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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’. Black passengers had to sit at the back and were expected to give up their seats to white people.
  • n 1955, Rosa Parks was asked to give up her seat to a white person. After refusing, she was arrested.
  • Rosa Parks was a respected member of the community and had been a secretary of the local NAACP branch. Local civil rights leaders built a case around her to protest against segregation on public transport. Furthermore, car pooling was organised to help the boycott
  • To do this, a one day boycott of the buses was organised, with taxi firms owned by black Americans helping people to travel around the area.
  • The Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) was set up to co-ordinate these efforts, and was led by Martin Luther King. This led to MLK’s house being firebombed and other leaders faced intimidation.
  • The bus companies began to lose money and struggled to continue running; their profits fell by 65%.
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  • In December 1956, the Supreme Court ruled that the Montgomery bus laws were illegal.
  • The ruling by the Supreme Court implied that all segregation was illegal
  • The boycott had shown black Americans that they could protest in a peaceful way and still be successful, leading the way for other boycotts and economic protests
  • The rest of the USA could see that the black Americans were not completely useless and could manage to organise themselves, and be successful
  • Led to the emergence of ML; he was the leader of the MIA and organised car pooling. Both black and white Americans saw that he was enthusiastic and inspiring, showing that non-violent tactics won support from blacks and whites. He also set up the Southern Christian Leadership Committee (SCLC) and became a leading civil rights activist
  • The boycott demonstrated that collective action was powerful, especially when the economy was affected, as the bus companies were forced to comply by lack of profits
  • The Supreme Court declared that segregation was unconstitutional
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How important is Martin Luther King in the fight for civil rights?

  • In 1963, the SCLC, under the authority of MLK, organised a number of sit-ins in Birmingham, Alabama. He started ‘Project C’ to push for integration at lunch counters. MLK was arrested and jailed for defying a ban on marches. Police dogs attacked civil rights demonstrators, including children and students, showing that they were being unreasonable. Over 2000 demonstrators were jailed, causing President Kennedy to become involved. The media spreads the views that the police were being unreasonably forceful.
  • March On Washington, 1963 – MLK says his famous “I have a dream” speech. The march involved many key groups (NAACP, CORE, SNCC, SCLC) and initially aimed to provide jobs for black Americans, but broadened to encompass the whole civil rights movement. The civil rights bill was demanded from Kennedy. Over 250,000 demonstrators marched, 80,000 of which were white. 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.
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How else did the civil rights movement develop?

Greensboro: 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.

Freedom Rides: In December 1960, the Supreme Court decided that all bus stations and terminals serving interstate travellers should be integrated.CORE wanted to ensure that this was being done by carrying out freedom rides. If the rides failed, CORE would have proof that racism still existed in the Southern states.The first freedom ride began in May 1961, when 13 CORE volunteers set off by bus from Washington DC to New Orleans.

Voter Education Project:The results of the Freedom Rides caused Robert Kennedy, the Attorney General, to fear violent confrontations between the black civil rights group and white segregationists.

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President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy

After the freedom rides in 1961, President Kennedy secured a promise from the state senator that there would be no more mob violence against black Americans on public transport. This made the public see that the issue of civil rights was unavoidable for the public and was important enough to be raised to the presidential level. In the case of the Voter Education Project, however, neither the President nor Robert Kennedy were willing to act to support and protect the black voters, giving the public a contradictory impression that the President did not feel it was necessary to become involved.

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The Civil Rights Act, 1964:

  • Segregation in hotels, motels, restaurants, lunch counters and theatres was banned
  • The Act placed the responsibility on federal government to bring cases of continued discrimination to court
  • Any business engaged in business with the government would be monitored to ensure there was no discrimination occurring
  • The Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC) was established on a permanent basis
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The Voting Rights Act, 1965:

  • Ended literacy tests
  • Ensured Federal agents could monitor registration and step in there was discrimination
  • The Bill meant that 250,000 black Americans had registered by the end of 1965 (one third had been assisted by government monitors who checked that the law was being followed). A further 750,000 registered by the end of 1968. Also, the number of black representatives increased rapidly after the Act.
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Did MLK's policys work?

  • MLK’s policy of non-violence appeared to have worked; there was widespread support from white Americans and there had been two key pieces of legislation to remove discrimination and disenfranchisement.

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Why did the methods of the Civil Rights campaigners change?

Followers of MLK began to get impatient in the fight for the Civil Rights Act, starting to oppose his anti-violent views as they believed that violence would achieve their aims sooner. The black community still faced everyday discrimination and hardships, although there were many people whose lives had improved; the percentage of non-whites living in poverty had fallen from 56.2% to 33.5% between 1959 and 1968. The voter education project had allowed many blacks to become more involved with politics but only 53.7% of blacks in North Carolina had registered to vote by 1969, showing that most blacks were still at a political disadvantage. The average wage was received by 27% of blacks by 1967, but many people still resented that the whites were earning more than them. This was an important aspect in the gradual rejection of MLK’s ideals; he always promoted working in unity with the whites. Although there was progress made, many blacks felt that progress would be quicker with the use of violence.

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Why did the Student Movement emerge?

The Frustrating ‘50s: Young Americans felt that the ‘50s was a decade of frustration and anger; they wanted to rebel against everything, especially their parents.Frustration led to the formation of teenage gangs and heavy drinking, fuelled by the media – films and music.Elvis Presley’s songs were very influential.

The Swinging ‘60s:Attitudes developed in the ‘50s carried into the ‘60s.Young people further distanced themselves from the older generation and their traditional views.Greater freedom was demanded in a number of areas – clothes, music, social life etc.The introduction of the pill allowed women to have the choice over whether and when to have children, but also led to increased use of recreational drugs.

Protest Singers:Increased popularity of pop music; it was an expression of the emerging youth culture and protested against important issues.Lyrics covered a variety of political themes – nuclear war, racism, Vietnam etc.

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 Why did the Student Movement emerge?

The Frustrating ‘50s: Young Americans felt that the ‘50s was a decade of frustration and anger; they wanted to rebel against everything, especially their parents.Frustration led to the formation of teenage gangs and heavy drinking, fuelled by the media – films and music.Elvis Presley’s songs were very influential.

The Swinging ‘60s:Attitudes developed in the ‘50s carried into the ‘60s.Young people further distanced themselves from the older generation and their traditional views.Greater freedom was demanded in a number of areas – clothes, music, social life etc.The introduction of the pill allowed women to have the choice over whether and when to have children, but also led to increased use of recreational drugs.

Protest Singers:Increased popularity of pop music; it was an expression of the emerging youth culture and protested against important issues.Lyrics covered a variety of political themes – nuclear war, racism, Vietnam etc.

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Kennedy’s Assassination:Kennedy’s relatively young age allowed youngsters to relate to politics, making them more interested in the events of the time.His death angered the youth and disillusioned many from politics, driving them to protest.

Martin Luther King: Gave young Americans experience in protesting – marches, freedom rides, sit-ins.The SNCC was closely linked with MLK, giving students first-hand experience of the situation and how they could help.

War in Vietnam:This controversial war divided the whole of US society, fuelled by the media coverage of the casualties incurred.The students were inextricably linked with the war; they would have been called up to fight. This united the movement, as no-one really wanted to go to the front-line to fight.

Worldwide:Protests in Northern Ireland and Paris almost overthrew their governments.Fuelled by worldwide media coverage; people could see the effect that the student movement was having, and that they were achieving their aims.

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How did the Student Movement develop?

SDS (Students for a Democratic Society): This was set up in 1959 by Tom Hayden. It formed groups in 150 universities who wanted a greater say in how their universities were run. It had 100,000 members by the end of the ‘60s. Organised sit-ins at universities across the US. More support after President Johnson announce bombing raids on North Vietnam in 1965.

Civil Rights: Students organised rallies and marches to support the civil rights campaign. Many were appalled at the racism in American society and wanted to expose racists at their own college. SNCC (Student Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee) organised sit-ins, joined marches and was involved in the Voter Education Project.

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Vietnam: Huge anti-Vietnam protests were organised. Students opposed the death toll and mass bombing by the US, which used chemical weapons and killed many Vietnamese civilians. Protests peaked in 1968-1970. In 1969, 700,000 marched in Washington DC, burnt draft cards, or the US flag. This led to clashes with the police. At Kent State University, Ohio, in 1970, 4 were killed after a peaceful protest turned ugly. The world was horrified, after media coverage.

The ‘Hippy’ Movement: Others protested by dropping out of society and becoming hippies. They grew their hair long and lived an alternative lifestyle. Their slogan was ‘Make Love, Not War’. They were influenced by groups such as The Doors and attended huge open-air rock concerts. They refused to work, experimented in drugs and rejected their parents’ values.

Radicalism: Later in the ‘60s, the student movement became more radical in its views and more violent. The ‘Weathermen’ group (after a Bob Dylan song) supported violence to achieve their aims. They bombed army recruitment centres and government buildings. Tom Hayden disapproved of this extremism and left the movement in 1970.

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What did the Student Movement achieve?

Vietnam: The SDS and student protest did not bring an end to war. However, they did force a shift in government policy and made the withdrawal much more likely. They influenced Johnson’s decision not to seek re-election in 1968.

Racism: The student movement provided greater publicity for racism still prevalent in the USA. The support of many white students for black civil rights strengthened the whole movement and showed that most American youths no longer tolerate discrimination and segregation.

Youth Culture and Middle Class: There had been profound changes in the whole lifestyle of the young. This had been reflected in fashion as young people became determined to move away from the norm of the older generation. The mini-skirt symbolised greater sexual permissiveness. Teenagers became more aware of their individuality and demanded a greater say in what they wore and did. For middle class people to oppose the government on key issues, and in some cases oppose their family’s views, was virtually unheard of and shook the older, more conservative generation.

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Why did the Women’s Movement emerge?

Frustrating Fifties: The contraceptive pill gave females much greater choice about when and whether to have children. This allowed women to pursue careers. Women were better educated. In 1950 there were 121,000 women in university, but this had risen to 1.5 million by 1960. Many women became increasingly bored and frustrated with life as suburban housewives.

Eleanor Roosevelt: In 1960, she set up a commission to investigate the status of women at work. The results, reported in 1963, showed that 95% of company managers were men and 85% of technical workers were also male. Women only earned 50-60% of the wages of men in the same job.

Betty Friedan: In 1963, she wrote “The Feminine Mystique”, expressing the thoughts of many women. The term ‘feminine mystique’ was the idea that a woman’s happiness was all tied-up with her domestic role. She encouraged women to reject this and called for progress in female employment opportunities.In 1966, she set up the National Organisation for Women (NOW).

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What were the Key Features of the women’s movement?

Organisations: The National Organisation for Women (NOW) was set up by Betty Friedan and other white middle-class women in order to attack obvious examples of discrimination. By the early 1970s, it had 40,000 members and had organised demonstrations in American cities. They challenged discrimination in the courts and secured $30 million in back-pay owed to women who had not been paid wages equal to men.  Some women had far more radical aims than NOW and set up the Women’s Liberation Movement (feminists). They were much more active and wanted nothing to do with men. All signs of male supremacy were to be removed. NOW inspired the formation of other groups as well, such as the North American Indian Women’s Association and the National Black Feminist Organisation.

Protests and Demonstrations: The Women’s Liberation Movement believed that even not wearing make-up was an act of protest, and were determined to get as much publicity as possible. For example, they burned their bras, as these were a symbol of male dominance. In 1968, feminists crowned a sheep as the winner of the Miss America beauty contest.


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Thanks for this but could you tell me what board were these notes made for?



thanks very helpful :)

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