The USA; 1945-70

The USA: A Divided Union?
GCSE Modern World History for Edexcel (A) 

The Impact of the Cold War

  • Anti- Communist attitudes increased. As the Soviet Union began to occupy more and more of Europe, America was afraid that the Communists were trying to take over the world.
  • The fear of Nuclear War developed. Both sides had spies in eachother's countries, and America was especially desperate to not allow any atomic secrets into the hands of the Soviet Union.

  • Germany (and Berlin) were split between the 4 World Powers. The Soviet Union closed all transport lines and this cut off all food supplies. The French, British and Americans flew in supplies to their parts of Berlin. This was the Berlin Crisis. Berlin stayed split after that.
  • War in Korea. In 1950, the Korean War broke out when North Korea invaded South Korea. The Soviets supported the North, the USA supported the South. Both sides sent aid, supplies and troops to help fight the war.
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The Red Scare

  • House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). This was set up by the government to search for Soviet agents. Nearly everyone was under scrutiny.

  • The Hollywood Ten: The Hollywood Ten were a list of 10 film makers who refused to give evidence to the HUAC.They were all put in prison for not giving evidence.
  • The McCarrn Act. This limited the places communists could work, and the givernment could refuse them US passports. All communist parties had to register with the government so their members could be monitored.
  • Alger Hiss, 1948: Was accused for the second time of being a communist. The evidence was muddled and confusing, and eventually he was given 5 years for LYING to the court. He was not found guilty of spying. 
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  • McCarthy made a lot of claims that he knew of communists in the government. In 1949, he claimed he had a list of 205. Then he claimed he had 57. Then later he had 81. The governement set up the Tydings Committee to investigate his accusations. They found him to be 'a fraud and a hoax', and so he claimed they were communist.
  • McCarthy had a lot of support. He played on people's fear of communists to gain popularity. He began accusing personal enemies and anyone who denounced him. His evidence became more and more obviously faked.
  • McCarthy stepped too far and tried to accuse the Army, 1953. The trials were shown on air, and people for the first time saw McCarthy as who he really was- a bully with no evidence.

  • The senate censored McCarthy in 1954 for improper conduct. 
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The Rosenberg case

  • Julius and Ethel Rosenburg were accused of being communist spies, 1950. They were both arrested and put on trial for treason.
  • The evidence was unclear and very dependent on other evidence. This was quite common for communist conspiracy cases. The evidence was weak, especially against Ethel.
  • They were both sentenced to death. The couple spent 2 years on Death Row. They made multiple appeals but none were successful.
  • There were protests asking for their lives to be spared. In the UK, the spy who had given most of the atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, only got 14 years in prison. This was mostly because Anti-Communism was less intense in Britain. 
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The Civil Rights Movement

  • National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, (NAACP) and the Congress of Racial Equality, (CORE). These were set up to campaign for black civil rights. They protested against racism, segregation and violence against black people.
  • The most racist states were in the South. This was where most of the violence against the blacks took place. There was a lot of resistance by anti-segregation groups towards the advancement of black civil rights.
  • Getting to vote. It was seen as one of the most important things for the black civil rights movement. If black people could vote, politicians would be much more inclined to help the civil rights movement as it would result in votes from a large number of black people
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Peaceful protest

  • Martin Luther King wanted peaceful protests; 'leave no doubt who were the oppressors and who were the oppressed'
  • Picketing. Standing outside a place that discriminated against black people and asking others not to use it.
  • Boycotts. Refusing to use a service if it discriminates against black people.
  • Sit-ins. Sitting in a place, and refusing to move. This could be in a segregated lunch counter or a public place in a town. 
  • Freedom Rides. Riding on buses to integrate them, and using 'whites-only' toilets and facilities in bus stations. 
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The Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955

  • Buses were segregated, and blacks had to clear a whole row for a white person. Rosa Parks refused to move for a white person, and the driver called the police. She was arrested and fined $10.
  • The Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) was set up. It's aim was to improve segregation in Montgomery, starting with the buses. Martin Luther King became the group's chairman.
  • The MIA asked people to boycott the bus service. 70% of the bus users were black, and most of them joined in the boycott. The MIA organised carpools and black taxi firms charged less during the boycott. 
  • The Boycott lasted 281 days. The buses lost a lot of money, and the Supreme Court ruled bus segregation and unconstitutional. 
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Using the law to gain civil rights

  • Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896: This case had caused the Supreme Court to rule that segregation was allowed, providing it was 'separate but equal'.
  • Brown v. Topeka, 1951: This case was that Oliver Brown's daughter, Linda, was rejected from the white only school, despite it being the closest school to them. The case was rejected. 
  • Brown v. The Board of Education: The NAACP combined Brown's case with 4 other examples in the USA. Eventually, in 1954 the Supreme Court ruled segregation in schools unconstitutional.  
  • However: No date for integration was set, and so individual states were able to chose their own deadlines. This weakened the law. 
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Little Rock, 1957

  • Arkansas was one of the only Southern states to attempt integration. They chose 9 of 75 black students to enter the school. All nine were supposed to arrive together, but one arrived early. 
  • Whites of Arkansas rejected integration, as did the Governor. There was a mob outside of the school, and Orville Faubus called out the National Guard to prevent the students from getting into the school. 
  • President Eisenhower had to step in. He sent federal troops to protect the students and force Orville Faubus to allow the students into the school.
  • The Federal troops stayed till the end of the year. They protected the students during school hours and helped them get to class and made sure no riots broke out. They couldn't however prevent teachers and students ignoring the them, nor could they protect their homes. 
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Freedom Rides

  • In 1961, the Supreme Court desegregated bus station facilities. The Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and CORE did not believe that this was the case, and so Freedom Rides were organised to test the South's compliance with the law. 
  • The Freedom Riders were expecting a hostile response. They were attacked at various bus stations, a bus was firebombed in Anniston and many people were arrested. Three people were killed. 
  • In the summer, over 400 Freedom Riders were arrested. SNCC and CORE kept sending buses around the South. They had both black and white riders, and this especially caused outrage. 
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Greensboro, 1960

  • In 1960, 4 students organised sit-ins to integrated lunch counters. Black students (and some white) sat at lunch counters and refused to move.
  • Other citizens were not happy. Others in the shop would pour sauces and throw food at the protesters. Some would even start beating them, but the protesters still refused to move.
  • SNCC helped the students maintain calm. They ran courses to help people stay non-violent in the face of aggression and violence. In general, the protesters stayed calm and passive, and eventually integration in restaurants and lunch counters was enforced.
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Civil rights opposition

  • The Klu Klux Klan: A 'secret' society. The members wore white robes with hoods. They opposed integration and physically attacked many black people, especially those with influence. 
  • The White Citizen's Council: This was formed after the Brown v. Topeka case. They protested against segregation and were quite violent towards black people. This was one of the reasons that black civil rights campaigners got more sympathy, they were much less violent than many white groups. 
  • With so much opposition, many Federal Laws were ignored. In 1962, James Meredith was the first black university student in Mississippi. Riots broke out, and federal troops had to move in to keep the peace. 2 were killed, and many were wounded.  
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Changing Views

  • As the  protests went on, replying with violence became more frequent. The pressure increased, and many black leaders preached that rather than reply passively, they should meet violence with violence.
  • The Black Muslims wanted segregation. They believed that integration was too slow and did not give equality. They felt that being separate would prevent so much racism and violence against them, and so it was better for everybody. 
  • The Black Panthers disliked non-violent methods. They believed that it was not getting the campaign anywhere, it was merely dampening people's spirits. They thought that if the black campaigners were more violent, then the whites would be less likely to attack them.
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Birmingham, 1963

  • Birmingham, Alabama had not carried out any desegregation. In 1963, civil rights campaigners turned their attention to Birmingham and prepared a full scale desegregation campaign.
  • The protests were peaceful, and people marched along roads. Bull Connor's police made many arrests, and so many adults were jailed that children began to be trained to ensure the marches kept going. 
  • The Mayor and Protest leaders met on May 10th. They discussed how to break down desegregation, but the governor sent in state troops to disrupt the meetings. President Kennedy sent in federal troops and calm was restored.
  • The mayor passed desegregation laws. Shops, lunch counters and other public facilities became desegregated. Blacks could also apply for jobs that previously they could not apply for. 
  • It was a successful campaign. 
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The March on Washington

  • Civil Rights groups worked together to organise a march on Washington. This was to try and convince Congress to pass a civil rights bill. President Kennedy tried to convince the organisers to cancel it, but supported it when they refused to cancel.
  • The march was the biggest civil rights movement ever. Between 250,000 and 500,000 people marched, and it was televised lived around the world on the new Telstar satellite.
  • The march on Washington was the place that Martin Luther King gave his 'I have a dream' speech. 
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Malcom X

  • Malcom X was the voice of the campaigners who felt that non-violence had failed. He believed that non-violent direct action had failed, and he wanted to meet violence with violence.
  • He was a member of the Nation of Islam. This was until 1964, as he left after many angry disagreements with the leader. 
  • He believed segregation was a bad idea. He thought it would be better for blacks if they lived separately from the whites as they would always face racism.
  • He did not agree with Martin Luther King. He often spoke out about him, and had very different priorities. Malcom X did not want to work with politicians, while MLK did. 
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President Kennedy- Civil Rights

  • President Kennedy respected MLK, and pressed for his release in 1960. This won him a lot of votes, as it showed he supported the black civil rights movement. Black people were hopeful that he would pass and enforce civil rights laws. 
  • Kennedy found it hard getting support from Southern states to pass laws. He gave government jobs to black people, and set up committees to improve housing and education, but he found it difficult to pass laws as Southern states wanted segregation to continue. 
  • Kennedy supported many black campaigns. Such as the march on Washington, which showed the public support for the Civil Rights Bill. However, there was a lot of opposition, and retaliation attacks were launched on churches and houses, where many black people were killed. 
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Freedom Summer

  • Mississippi was reluctant to allow blacks to vote. Black people were threatened, attacked and beaten to death by whites to stop them from voting. Literacy tests were set up so that blacks could not vote without passing the tests. These were very difficult for most blacks.
  • SNCC set up 'Freedom Schools'. 1000 white, middle class students volunteered to teach blacks in freedom schools in Mississippi. They also trained blacks in how to pass the voter registration.
  • CORE workers were arrested, and then killed. A fire broke out at one of the churches that had been designated as a 'Freedom School'. James Chaney, Michael Schwener and Andrew Goodman went to investigate. They were arrested, released in the middle of the night to a mob, and all three were killed.
  • Very few blacks were able to vote by the end of the summer. But the campaign did help to focus people's attention to black voting rights.
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The Civil Rights Act, 1964

  • President Johnson pushed the act through despite Southern opposition. This was mainly because of the media frenzy that had followed the freedom summer. 
  • This act meant that black people had more rights. The act banned discrimination in education, work and public places.
    It also set up the Equal Opportunities Committee.
    Voter registration had to be the same for both blacks and whites. 
  • Despite this law, there was still objection in the South. Federal troops were needed to help keep the peace when blacks were voting.
  • Selma to Montgomery, 1965: Civil rights marchers were stopped by state troops and had tear gas fired at them. Marchers were continuously attacked with cattle prods and clubs. Federal troops had to move in to allow the march to continue. 
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Black Power

  • Black people had a vote, but no-one to vote for. The SNCC set up a political party called the Lowndes County Freedom Organisation. Many people did vote for them, but there wasn't enough votes for a party member to be elected. 
  • Black people still felt that they could not trust the government. There was still a lot of violence against civil rights campaigners, and a lot of it was from the police. James Meredith was shot on the second day of a mass march by a policeman.
  • The non-violent march was met with violence. Campaigners began to think that  non-violent protests were not working. Stokely Carmichael's militant speeches gained much more support at the March Against Fear than Martin Luther King's.
  • The Black Panthers: Were a black group that carried guns for self-defence. They also organised community projects in 25 American cities.
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The Assassination of Martin Luther King

  • Martin Luther King was assassinated on the 4th April, 1968. This marked the beginning of a downhill slope in the black civil rights movement. Martin Luther King promoted peaceful protest, but many other leaders did not.
  • Marches became violent. Without Martin Luther King to speak and motivate the protesters, many of them broke out into violence. The marches were unorganised and the National Guard eventually broke the march up.
  • Black civil rights became lower on the priority list. The government became preoccupied with other protests, such as the protests against the Vietnam war.
    The civil rights movement lost support, money and importance.
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"Turn on, Tune in, Drop out"

In the 1960's, the number of students increased. Many were unhappy and protests were frequent. They often protested about:

  • The way the education system was run; They felt that they were simply being 'processed' to fit their parents ideals. 
  • The 'social norm'; Many believed in 'free love' and communal living, which was unthinkable to the older generation.
  • The Vietnam War; Most students wanted peace, and did not want to fight in wars.
  • Social inequality; They believed that every-one was equal, and that there should be no discrimination. 
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Key Features of Student Protest

  • Begun by a small group; Often the most radical and extremist students.
  • Campus authorities would call in the police; There were arrests for disruption and sometimes violence. 
  • Several issues were targeted; This meant more students came for many different reasons. This made the protests larger.
  • Lasted several days; They often had to be put down by the police.
  • Used many tactics such as in the civil rights movement; This included sit-ins, occupations, strikes and deliberately getting arrested.
  • Protests got larger and more violent through-out the 60's.
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The Kent State Shootings, 1970

  • Friday 1st May:
    A group of students buried the Constitution, and some draft cards.
    Violence broke out in the evening.
  • Saturday 2nd May:
    The campus Officer Training Corps was burnt down.
    More violence broke out.
  • Sunday 3rd May:
    Violence continued and more and more students were arrested. 
  • Monday 4th May:
    2000 protesters gathered to demonstrate for the 4th day in a row.
    The National Guard attempted to break up the meeting with tear gas.
    There was increased violence against the police, and eventually the police open fired, killing 4 students, and seriously wounding 9.
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Women in the 1960's

  • Women were merely seen as 'home-makers'. There job in life was simply to 'catch' a husband, and then start a family.
  • Women were very rarely given 'career' jobs, and were not taken seriously. 'Career' jobs were unsuitable for women because working was only temporary until they found a husband. Women's rights groups such as the Federation of Business and Professional Women, were ignored. 
  • Eleanor Roosevelt campaigned strongly for women's rights. This was both before and during the war. She pushed for childcare for working women, and was so popular that she was asked to run for vice president. She refused and continued working for women's rights.
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Women's Liberation movements

  • The Equal Pay Act, 1963: This act meant that it was illegal to pay women less than a man for doing the same job. This was an advancement, but it did not abolish discrimination. 
  • Civil Rights Act, 1964: This act meant that it was illegal for employers to discriminate on grounds of race, religion or gender. However, this was allowed if it could be proven that they could not do a certain job. 
  • NOW, 1966: The National Organisation for Women was set up to bring about more civil rights for women. 
  • However there was still opposition: Many men, and even some women were against the Woman's Liberation because it went against the 'social norm' and some felt that women should be putting their energy into other things, such as cleaning and cooking. 
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Excellent  :)

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