Apush Essay- 1950’s Was an Era of Complancency
“The 1950’s were an era of conformity and complacency. ” Give reasons for either agreeing or disagreeing with this statement. The statement, “The 1950’s were an era of conformity and complacency”, is untrue to a certain extent. Though it is true that the post WWII America has the highest standard of living that no other countries can match, the 1950s, backed by the Second Red Scare, really had been a time period of tension and anti-communism.The 1950s, inspired by the Soviet nuclear spying and aggression, starts off with the 2nd Red scare during Truman’s second term. During the second Red Scare, the entire nation holds itself in a great panic attack in search for Soviet infiltration in the American Government.
Famous organization, HUAC (House of Un-American Activities Committee), was known for looking for communist influence in diverse organization, “blacklisting” the careers of those who are suspected or accused, making it a controversial violation of the 1st amendment.Another famous case of the Red scare would be the ventures of Joseph McCarthy. The supposed name holder of over 200 communist spies in the US government, McCarthy rode a wave of anti-Communist fear, tirelessly trying to discredit Truman administration and the Democrats. Numerous accused spy cases across America fed the panic that was driving the American public out of control. Court cases such as the Alger Hiss Case, and the Rosenberg Case fed into the public hysteria of anti-communism feelings.Besides the fear for Communism, the Cold war itself was advancing through the 50s.
By 1949, China’s ugly civil war resulted in the victory of the Communist Party, dubbed as “The Loss of China” by eager republicans trying to attack Democrats. By the start of the 1950s, the Korean War came immediately, following suite with the Chinese Civil war. From WWII, the Koreas had decided to separate at the 38th parallel. However, North Korea launches its surprise attack in attempt to unify the country under its ideology.With the Soviet’s backing, the North Koreans manage to push the South Koreans back, spurring up the first UN war, though technically called “police action”.
Failing to acknowledge Chinese warning, General Mac Arthur pushes the US/UN army up near the Chinese border, allowing the Chinese to enter the war. Though Mac Arthur requested to nuke China, Truman continues to fight his “limited” war, which was not to expand into Chinese territory. The war does not end, however the Koreas do separate once more by the fiercely guarded DMZ (De-militarized Zone).This war summed up the democratic v. communist feelings at the time into action.
There was no direct contact between Soviet Russia and US, but it showed the world their high-tension situation on both sides. Another prominent competition between the communist soviets and the democratic US was the space race, an amazing technological race between the Russians and Americans. During the 1950s, the USSR displayed its technological advancement through blowing up its own nuclear bomb at 1950, and releasing the first space satellite, Sputnik, spurring the US creation of NASA.Conflicts also arose for Cuba and its leader, Fidel Castro, as they sided with the USSR, putting the US at a great geographical disadvantage. Though tension rose high for the Cold War during the 50s, America during its post WWII era had the highest living standards that no other nation could match up to.
Pent up consumer demand and government road building business introduced an era of strong economic growth in the US. Immediately after the war, the government issued the GI bill, a bill still in action today.This bill granted returning service men with financial aid allowing tens of thousands to go to university who otherwise would not have been able to. During this time, there had also been a great “white flight” for the majority of the middle class to travel from the big cities to the suburb, introducing the famous Levittown, cheap, mass produced and identical looking middle class suburban homes. America also reached an economic high from its glorious Baby Boom after the war.
When the returning GIs got back to their families and home, there came an explosion of marriages and births. The nation’s economy adjusted itself as it tries to fulfill this boom’s need during each stage of its period. This also impacted the woman’s way of life, bringing them back into the Gilded Cage, since the big boom of births brought 2/3 of the women working back in the home. As the baby boom progresses, America also progresses through its culture and art. Famous entertainers such as Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe (1st Playboy Magazine odel), and Elizabeth Taylor revolutionized the US entertainment industry.
Musician like Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, and the Everly Brothers brought on a new Rock Age following the teenage years of the baby boomers. Civil rights for minorities also took a step in American society as Jackie Robinson becomes to first black baseball player, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Truman pushed desegregation forward by controversially ordering the desegregation of the military, making it a major step for racial equality.Infrastructure also took a major leap forward as President Eisenhower issued the first trans-state highway. The statement, “The 1950’s were an era of conformity and complacency”, is untrue to a certain extent. This could be seen from how US rises against the tension it builds against the soviet union during the Cold War, even though the post war America goes through series of social evolution within their society and maintains the highest living standards that no nation can match.