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Week 4 notes

by: Katrina Salamon

Week 4 notes HIST 0848-002

Katrina Salamon

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These are the notes for week four of American Revolutions
American Revolutions
Silke Zoller
Class Notes
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Katrina Salamon on Friday February 5, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HIST 0848-002 at Temple University taught by Silke Zoller in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 9 views. For similar materials see American Revolutions in History at Temple University.


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Date Created: 02/05/16
February 2, 2016 Questions  What kind of impact did McCarthyism have on us politics?  Who were the targets of McCarthyism? What does the pattern reveal about the  nature of American anxiety in the 1950’s? What is McCarthyism?  Political repression: series of civil liberties violations against supposed  communists in the late 1940’s and 1950’s  This repression is linked by o A common concern with domestic communism and  o A desire to eliminate its alleged threat to us society  Went beyond communism to target almost any group that challenged the  established social, economic, or racial order  Early US Anti­communism o Businesses, large corporations o The FBI and local forces of law and order o 1938: House of Representatives’ Un­American Activities committee  (HUAC)  1946 election o End of wartime price controls sends inflation high, products and food  increase greatly in prices o Organized labor begins wave of strikes  These waves of strikes result in holds on transportation, and other  repercussions. o Republicans seize control of the House of Representatives and the Senate  for the first time since 1930  1948 Taft­Hartley Act o Restricts the rights of unions o Allows states to adopt right­to work legislation o Mandatory wait period for any strike o Restricts ability to expand union o Expands the power of the federal government   National Security Act of 1947 o Unites all branches of the armed forces under the new department of  defense o Creates the National Security Council o Creates Central Intelligence Agency o Federal Government showing clearly that communism is a threat to be  taken very seriously  o Gives the president more power in conducting foreign policy  o US government is afraid of the soviet union and acts against it in this way —Americans should be afraid too.  Political Gains o Truman administration used the fear of communism to fund increasing  military expenses o Republicans attacked Truman's democratic administration, claiming that  they were soft on communism  Democratic counter­prosecution of communists   Targets o Communists  Communist party of America  550,000 members, affiliated with the Soviet Union  These are actual active members of the communist party o Associates of Communists  “Hidden communists” with clandestine activities, secrecy—made  them inherently untrustworthy  o “Security Risks”  Nonconformists to US society   Susceptible to communist influence  The ideal US society was: breadwinner father, homemaker  mother, “nuclear family”  At risk: those who don’t align with this societal expectation o Homosexuals, alcoholics, addicts, debtors, singles,  party­goers.   1947 Employee Loyalty Program o Investigations into the loyalty of more than 3 million US government  employees o Any civil servant could lose his or her job by belonging to any  “Totalitarian, Fascist, Communist, or subversive group” o Little regard for due process o Only about 300 people were discharged  Helped create the impression of a serious communist problem in  the federal government  This mentality was a harmful result of the process  The “Hollywood Ten” o 1947 HUAC Hearings on supposed communist plots in Hollywood o Eight screenwriters, a producer, and a director cited their first amendment  rights and declined to testify or to name suspected communists o The Hollywood ten convicted in court for contempt of congress o Studios in Hollywood then blacklisted hundreds of actors, screenwriters,  directors and support personnel such as makeup artists.   Video: I was a communist for the FBI o How does this clip incorporate many of the aspects of anti­communism? o What is unusual, surprising, or unexpected?  Alger Hiss o Whitaker Chambers claimed to be a soviet agent in the 1930’s, and now  works with the HUAC to get other communists.  o He accuses Alger Hiss of being a communist. Hiss is a democrat, former  secretary of aid, and refutes these charges.   1948 Alger Hiss Case o Whittaker Chambers’ accusation o Alger Hiss, former aide to secretary of state  o Richard Nixon, congressman, goes after Hiss for nuclear espionage o Chambers and Nixon alleged that Hiss had given chambers secret  documents in the 1930’s, and produced copies of the documents o Triumph for Republicans, who have unearthed a “communist” high up in  the Truman administration o Makes Richard Nixon known nationwide—Eisenhower choses him as his  vice president and later becomes president.   Nuclear Espionage o 1950: Klaus Fuchs arrested  o 1953: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg sentenced to death—former members of the communist party of America. They were accused of running a spy ring to steal nuclear secrets. This was extremely controversial; they were  Jewish and parts of the trial had anti­Semitic overtones. Not much public  evidence presented to convict them. They are convicted and sentenced to  death. After this, many who worked on the Manhattan project lose their  security clearance   1949 o University professors targeted  Result: many university professors began downplaying  controversial material in their courses o Eleven unions, with over 900,000 members, were expelled from the  congress of industrial unions o Truman administration charged leaders of the communist party with  violating the Smith Act (criminalizing membership of organizations  advocating for the overthrowing the US government)  11 leaders were convicted and sent to jail.   Joseph McCarthy o Makes his political career by making a speech in Wheeling, WV o Questions:  Describe the claims McCarthy makes about communism in the US   Who were the targets of McCarthyism? What does this pattern  reveal about the nature of American anxiety in the 1950’s?  McCarthyism o McCarthy crystallized the anxieties many felt, and he was instantly  popular and powerful  Many people wanted to believe in a senator bold enough to fight  back against communists o McCarthy began leading congress’ efforts against communists  Accused large numbers of people of being communist  sympathizers  1950 McCarran Act  o McCarthy Discredited  1954: Went after the US army—accused them of harboring  communists  Secretary of the army, Robert Stevens, refused to cooperate,  claimed that McCarthy was investigating because one of his aides  had not received a draft deferment  Televised hearings: McCarthy Abrasive, lack of evidence  McCarthy dies three years later of alcoholism related causes February 4, 2016 Consumerism:  Progressive era: consumerism began playing a larger role in the American  economy and politics  Industrialized workplaces and increasingly commercialized leisure o Dance halls, movie theaters, restaurants, amusement parks.   Servicemen’s Readjustment Act   “GI Bill of Rights”  Compensate the return of veterans into U.S. Society  Provided: unemployment benefits, low interest loans, stipends to cover the cost  of college or technical school tuition and living expenses.  GI Bill Results o Opportunities change shape of U.S. Society o Great increase in well­educated and technically trained workers o Social mobility o By 1957: 60% of US families are middle class (this was not the case  before—middle class status becomes mainstream)  US Economy Booms o Influx of well­trained labor o World­wide dominance of US corporations o Federal spending for defense and foreign aid o Consumerism  New Abundance o In this consumer society, people used consumer choices to   Express their personal identity  Claim status within the broader boundaries of the middle class  Overcame old ethnic identities  The Meaning of Consumerism o Personal right, connected with personal identity o Part of a cold war rhetoric of U.S. superiority   Capitalism, and consumerism, delivered not only economic  prosperity, but also loftier social and political ambitions  Consumerism demonstrated U.S. liberty and citizenship  Demonstrate the freedom you have in the US by buying things  1959 Kitchen Debate o In 59 the US and SU decided to hold exhibits in each other’s countries to  display their upward mobility and capabilities.  o The soviet was very industrial and technical, while o The US was full of things like kitchens, computers, color televisions,  makeovers for women, and a fully equipped suburban house   Nixon and Khrushchev get into a debate about the usefulness of the things in the  displays   Meaning of consumerism o Personal right, connected with personal identity o Part of a cold war rhetoric of U.S. superiority  Capitalism and consumerism delivered not only economic  prosperity, but also loftier social and political ambitions  Consumerism demonstrates U.S. liberty and  o Suburban Development  Most Americans before the cold war had not owned their own  homes  Entrepreneurship, new construction methods, cheap land, and  federal aid from the GI bill made much affordable housing  available outside of cities.   Levittown o William J. Levitt o Created low­priced affordable suburban homes o Homes created on assembly lines o First town on long island o Basic design, identical floor plans, no basement.   Suburban influence on U.S. society o Levittown both more democratic, and less democratic than before o Visual reminder of equality, upward mobility o Brings together whites from many ethnic backgrounds o Homogenous communities created, where everyone had a very similar  income  Suburban influence on U.S. society o Restrictive clauses ban African Americans  o Uniform behavioral codes in place  Accusation of “communism, not conformity” o Helped create a white middle class with very similar outlooks and  behaviors.   Government support o Tax benefits o GI bill o 1956 federal highway act  Result of suburbanization o “Landscape of consumerism”  Transformation in residential patterns  New commercial marketplace structures  Shopping centers, credit cards, fast food  Racial Discrimination o Zoning commissions created areas with majority white populations o Fewer federal benefits for non white groups o Result: consumer society segregated non­whites by making it difficult for  them to acquire choice consumer goods.   Automobiles o Essential for new patterns of settlement o “Dynamic obsolescence” marketing   Television o By 1960, 90% of Americans had TV o Many white Americans new to the middle class, and unsure of what  behaviors were proper and expected  Instruction in the national mass media  Gave Americans a shared set of experiences o Economics of television industry also fostered middle class ideals  Major companies sponsored programs  Mutually reinforcing circle of development  Television fosters new political trends o Orientation towards professional expertise in polling and advertising o Targeted campaign to segments of the electorate   Women and consumerism o Consumerism reinforces gender stereotypes o Women are main consumers  Questions to consider: o How did consumerism change the ways in which Americans live?  Gave them a freedom to live in whatever way they wanted— provided an identity that they strived for. It improved the economy. Instead of saving only, they spent a lot of their money.   They bought things to fit in, conformity o How did consumerism change the ways Americans thought of their  country?  Connection between consumerism and anti­communism: if you  buy the goods, have a nice house; it’s the “American way” that  defeats communism. Communism told you exactly what you had  to have, where consumerism allowed you to have free will and  typical American liberty.   Does it help or hurt individual liberties in the US? Maybe a little of both—helped develop families, etc., but people also didn’t save  and they used credit cards, so it put people in debt. This is a  double­edged sword. 


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