The Changing Presidency (Truman to Nixon)

  • Created by: lwilson23
  • Created on: 15-01-19 09:26

Harry Truman and the Korean/Cold War (1950-1953)

- The Korean War was essentially mini-Vietnam, the TRUMAN DOCTRINE (declared by Truman on March 12th, 1947) was an attitude towards foreign policy that aimed to prevent the spread of Soviet expansion (in order to prevent the spread of Communism). Was a catalyst for the start of the COLD WAR. Communism's spread known as the 'DOMINO EFFECT'. 

- The Korean War began in 1950 in response to the North Korean (Soviet) invasion of South Korea (American) - UN troops (made up of 16 nations) were sent in to prevent the spread of the Soviet menace. This was not after a peaceful resolution was attempted (and rejected) however.

- After 5 million deaths of soldiers/civilians, the war ended in 1953, having not achieved much at all. 

- Truman, unlike Roosevelt, was not that charismatic and would often make mistakes, led to issues such as the media lying about his presidential policy (dropping another atomic bomb on Korea for example to end the Korean war). This was untrue but MASSIVELY damaged Truman's popularity. General MacArthur was the one who wanted to drop an atomic bomb on China (who were threatening to send in troops to assist the North Koreans) in order to achieve total victory. 

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The Second Red Scares (1947-54)

- the beginning of the Cold War in 1947 (along with Soviet spies being revealed to be operating in the Manhattan Project) sparked these, more of a threat than the first which was blown out of proportion yet again by the media (magazines etc.), MASS HYSTERIA AND PARANOIA.

- the fall of China to Communism in 1949 (which Truman didn't prevent) contributed to this and damaged Truman's presidency. Senator Joe Mcarthy also attacked the Truman administration.

- HUAC (the House Un-American Activities Committee) - founded in 1938 - were dedicated to investigate subversive activities in society, focussed especially on the film industry

- HUAC's investigations led to the blacklisting of 1000s of actors, meaning they could no longer find work in the entertainment industry. 'The Hollywood Ten', a group of ten Hollywood actors refused to answer HUAC's questions citing that they were exercising the 1st amendment, they were imprisoned as a result of this. 

- The most significant case of Communist prejudices infiltrating the justice system yet again was that of ALGER HISS, a government official who was accused of having Communist ties in Jan 1950 despite no tangible link, declared GUILTY of perjury (lying under oath).

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Presidency of Dwight Eisenhower (1953-61)

- Eisenhower renounced Mcarthy and was key in ending the failure that was the Korean War with the armistice (1953). 

- earned the respect of the American people by serving as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during WWII, a role which garnered him extreme popularity as president. 

- he acknowledged the importance of a good relationship with the media, but would often obscure and minimise certain issues (USSR first into space etc.)

- he was a decent orator with a good public manner and optimistic mindset. 

- his organisational ability was top notch, he would hold regular briefings and planning sessions to decide actions. 

- he was also adept at manouvering around Congress, good at bargaining and persuasion. 

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JFK and Counterculture

- JFK championed the cause of LIBERALISM - defined as the protection and enhancement of the rights of the individual. SOCIALIST attitudes after decade of uncertainty.

- JFK's forward-thinking attitude brought both political and social change after people lost faith in Republican policy after the hysteria of the 50s. US was stagnating and needed change. 

- Kennedy epitomised the idea of The American Dream, championing the causes of civil rights, social welfare and foreign affairs (postive discrimination etc.)

- his ideas sparked the COUNTERCULTURE movement, where youths rebelled against traditional capitalist American values, anti-establishment. These were the baby boomer generation. These youths proposed an alternative culture based on PEACE and LOVE

- these people were disliked by the older generation, Republicans and some Democrats, who saw it as a show of disrespect for all they had built. Blocked by Republican Congress. 

- the only thing Kennedy really did legislation wise was pass the 1963 Equal Pay Act - which gave women equal pay but was held back as it didn't guarantee them employment. 

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Counterculture Continued

- the banning of political speeches near the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA in BERKELEY in 1964 led to a year long student protest (led by MARIO SAVIO) - showing the power of the 'new left'.

- this protest was key in sparking the FREE SPEECH MOVEMENT (1964-1970).

- one of the key groups involved in the Counterculture movement was the STUDENTS FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY (SDS) - founded in 1960 by TOM HAYDEN.

- in the midst of Vietnam, (a situation which was further escalated in 1965 by President Johnson when he bombed North Vietnam in OPERATION FLAMING DART) they were strongly anti-war. 

- despite emphasising non-violence, protests did become violent (1968 COLOMBIA UNI - three uni officials taken hostage etc.) 

- the MAY 4, 1970 KENT STATE SHOOTINGS in Ohio shocked the nation, as the Ohio national guard fired 67 rounds at student protestors, killing 4 and wounding 9 - altered public perception about Vietnam. Caused a strike of over 4 mil students and the blowing up of a Wisconsin army base which did $60 mil worth of damage. 

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Hippies and Counterculture

- Hippies essentially had the same beliefs as Counterculture kids, except the Hippies also had a firm belief in the spreading of psychedelic drugs and use of marijuana

- the 1967 'SUMMER OF LOVE' embodied what they stood for - 100,000 Hippies moved to Haight-Ashbury district of SAN FRANCISCO. Crime increased, Hippies disruption caused them to be viewed more negatively by the public. 

- this didn't stop the mentality of the 1969 WOODSTOCK FESTIVAL however, where 400,000 gathered to experience Hippie culture in all its glory. Drugs, music and sexual freedom was expected. Audience was unexpectedly large. 

- both the Hippie and Counterculture movement died in the mid 70s as Vietnam drew to a close and the individuals involved grew up. 

- the 'new left' indirectly sparked the 'new right' - led by RICHARD NIXON

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Presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson (1963-1969)

- most of his tenure was consumed by issues surrounding Vietnam - as he dealt with both foreign affairs and the social welfare situation in the US. Cronkite's 1968 doc and 1969 draft ruined him.

- his 'Great Society' welfare scheme (1964) promised to improve things for American citizens, and in fact it did achieve great things (the provision of MEDICARE, educational reforms such as HEAD START and the advancement of Civil Rights - the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 for example) but was marred by Vietnam and its monetary expense

- his 'war on poverty' aimed to use community programmes (e.g the job corps which created 100,000 jobs) to reduce unemployment, whilst also aiding parents to enter the workforce. Funding for farmers and monetary incentives provided to business owners to employ the unemployed were also crucial in restoring America to its former glory. 

- however conflict in Vietnam forced LBJ to divert funds from his social welfare scheme to the war effort, meaning it collapsed and was undone by Nixon upon his inauguration in 1969

- it is dubious that Johnson would have passed much policy without JFK's death - as he used his assassination as an excuse to pass most of his legislation (CRA, VRA etc.)

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Richard Nixon's Presidency (1969-1974)

- Nixon was the champion of 'the new right', and upon inauguration ordered LBJ's great society to be dismantled due to its cost on America. 

- Nixon introduced the concept of 'workfare' over 'welfare' - meaning that if Americans wanted to claim government benefits they had to be employed to do so. Whilst good on the surface (reduced unemployment) it created issues for when people couldn't work due to other factors (disability, single parents etc.) and didn't account for the inflation that occured in the 1970s. 

- the biggest issue of Nixon's presidency has to be the WATERGATE SCANDAL (1972) - an event which damned the Nixon administration. Nixon was found to have bugged Democrat phones using his own secret service (CREEP), initially lied about it, got away with it and got reelected in 1973. New evidence then emerged in 1974 and Nixon was threatened with impeachment, he became the first president ever to resign from the presidency due to this. 

- the fact that Nixon successfully convinced the American public into reelecting him cast a shadow of distrust over the presidency which wasn't broken until Reagan's tenure. 

- on a more postive note, Nixon was responsible for Vietnamization, the process of removing American troops from the mess that was Vietnam. Increased bombings however. 

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