Even with the support he received from the Rosenberg trial, McCarthy went too far in 1954. He charged that even the U.S. Army was full of communists. He held trials to try to prove his claims. Democrats asked that the hearings be televised, hoping that the public would see McCarthy for what he was. Ever eager for publicity, the senator agreed. For weeks, Americans watched and were horrified by McCarthy's bullying tactics and baseless allegations. By the time the hearings ended, the senator had lost even his strongest supporters. The Senate formally condemned him for his reckless actions. Eventually the Red Scare subsided, but the nation was damaged by the era's suppression of free speech and open, honest debate.
Section 5: The Cold War Expands in the 1950s
New Leadership for Both Sides
The Cold War entered a new era in 1953, when both the United States and the Soviet Union got new leaders. Harry Truman and Joseph Stalin had been the only leaders in the eight year history of the Cold War, but Truman's term as President was up, and Stalin died. Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president. Eisenhower had been a general and hero in World War II, and American voters saw him as the perfect man to lead the U.S. during this tumultuous time. In the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev replaced Stalin. Khrushchev was much more moderate than Stalin. While Stalin and Truman had not gotten along personally since the end of World War II, the world hoped Eisenhower and Khrushchev could form an alliance to stop the Cold War from becoming hot.
A New Policy - Brinkmanship
Eisenhower's Secretary of State, John Dulles, was a harsh anti-Communist who considered winning the Cold War to be vital to the future of America. Dulles believed that Truman's containment policy was too cautious. As a military leader, Eisenhower recognized the risks of confronting the Soviets. He acted as a brake on Dulles's more extreme views. The two of them worked together to come up with a new way of approaching the War. Dulles made it clear that the United States was prepared to risk war to protect its way of life. Dulles explained the policy of brinkmanship this way: "The ability to get to the verge without getting into the war is the necessary art. If you cannot master it, you inevitably get into war. If you try to run away from it, if you are scared to go to the brink, you are lost."
To many Americans, this new policy of brinkmanship was just what the country needed to intimidate the Soviets into backing down. But to many others, it was too risky of an approach. What if the Soviets felt threatened by this new, tough policy? Could they possibly start a hot war? Democratic leader Adlai Stevenson was one of these skeptical Americans. "I am shocked that the Secretary of State is willing to play Russian roulette with the life of our nation."
In Eisenhower's judgment, the United States could not directly intervene in the affairs of the Soviet Union and its European satellite nations. When people in those countries tried to rebel against the Soviet presence in their nations, the United States kept its distance as Soviet troops crushed the uprisings. Eisenhower felt that any other response risked war with the Soviet Union. He wanted to avoid that at all costs. But Eisenhower used a new government agency to secretly carry out missions to spread American interests in those countries without the general public being aware of such tactics. This agency is known as the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), and its purpose is to gather intelligence on foreign governments and if necessary, intervene against or with those governments to enhance U.S. interests. It played a large role in American foreign policy during the Cold War and still does today. Eisenhower used the CIA to spread democracy and fight communism in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America.
The Soviet Atomic Threat
As the 1950s began, the President made a terrifying announcement to the American people. The Soviet Union had successfully tested an atomic bomb. The news jolted Americans. Ever since World War II ended, the U.S. had been the only country in the world with nuclear weapons. That weapon superiority gave Americans security. They believed that the Soviets would not start a war with the U.S. when they were at such a disadvantage. But now the disadvantage was gone. And so was American security. New York, Los Angeles, and other American cities were now in danger of suffering the horrible fate of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
To calm American's fears, the President created the Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA). This new agency educated the nation with posters, pamphlets, and movies about how to survive a nuclear attack. These materials included plans for building bomb shelters and instructions for holding air raid drills in schools. Adults and children listened to the advice of the FCDA, and to an extent, Americans somewhat relaxed. Privately, however, experts knew these methods would not help much if the Soviets decided to use their new weapons.
The Arms Race
America's response to the Soviet construction of atomic bombs was to try to create a new weapon to regain America's weapon superiority. This weapon was completed two years later. It was a hydrogen bomb (H-Bomb) that would be many times more destructive than the atomic bomb. The first successful test occurred in 1952, reestablishing the United States as the world's leading nuclear power. However, the Soviets were already close to developing their own H-Bomb. It became clear that the Cold War had developed a very dangerous arms race, a struggle to gain weapons superiority. The race would continue throughout the 50s, and into the next three decades.
Less than a year after the United States exploded its first H-Bomb, the Soviet Union successfully tested its own hydrogen bomb. As part of the policy of deterrence begun by President Truman, Eisenhower stepped up American weapons development. Deterrence is the policy of making the military power of the United States and its allies so strong that no enemy would dare begin an attack for fear of retaliation. The increased weapons development would produce a new type of weapon in the late 1950s, the ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile). ICBMs were rockets that could fly across the world carrying the explosive power of H-Bombs, but without the need for a plane or pilot. Both the Soviets and Americans had working ICBM's by the end of the 1950s.
The Space Race
While Americans had always been proud of their technological developments, especially when it came to the military, the Soviets pulled ahead during the arms race. This became apparent in 1957, when the Soviets used one of their rockets to launch Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth. The realization that the rocket used to launch Sputnik could carry a hydrogen bomb to American shores added to American shock and fear. The arms race was about to take on a new component: the space race. The space race was a struggle for technological superiority in space exploration. Both sides began to compete to see who could control space, because the belief was, if a country controlled space, it could use it to place nuclear weapons there. To help America catch up with the Soviets, Eisenhower started a government agency which would employ scientists devoted to space technology. This agency, still working today, is called NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration).
The U-2 Incident
As the 1950s moved on, Eisenhower and Khrushchev grew closer, and relations between the two countries seemed to be improving. As a sign of this growing trust, Eisenhower proposed "open skies" between the two nations. This would allow both militaries to legally use spy planes to fly over the other to monitor military developments. Khrushchev would not agree to the plan. But secretly, the U.S. went ahead with the plan and used spy planes to gather information over the Soviet Union for years. In 1960, the Soviet military shot down an American U-2 spy plane over Soviet territory. The U-2 incident damaged relations between the countries, as Eisenhower had stated to Khrushchev that the U.S. was not spying on its rival prior to the downing of the plane. Any progress toward peace between the nations had been undone.
Section 6: The Cold War in the 1960s
NOTE: This section refers to President John Kennedy. In this section we will only discuss the Cold War events he dealt with during his presidency. We will discuss his election, domestic policies, and assassination in later sections.
Although President John F. Kennedy would have liked to dedicate most of his time as president and most of America's resources to improving conditions at home, he found himself on the front lines of the Cold War. It was a dangerous and expensive battle, but, as Kennedy argued, it was one worth fighting. As President at the height of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, Kennedy spoke boldly. In the three crises he faced as President, though, Kennedy found that he had to act more cautiously to prevent a local conflict from sparking a global war.
Castro Takes Over
Kennedy's first foreign crisis arose in Cuba, an island nation just 90 miles off the Florida coast. The United States had been concerned about Cuba since 1959, when communist Fidel Castro overthrew the Cuban government, which had been loyal to the U.S. Some Cubans had supported Castro because he promised to improve the lives of poor people. Castro claimed that the poor were being exploited by wealthy Cubans and by U.S. companies operating in Cuba. Once in power, Castro's government took over large, privately owned farms and factories owned by foreign companies, including some U.S. businesses. The United States broke peaceful relations with Cuba and refused to accept Castro as the country's legitimate leader. When Castro developed ties to the Soviet Union and its leader Nikita Khrushchev, American officials began to fear that Cuba could become a threat to the safety of the U.S.
The Bay of Pigs Invasion: A Plan to Overthrow Castro
After Kennedy became President, he was informed about a plan that President Eisenhower had approved in 1960. Under this plan, the CIA was secretly training a group of anti-Castro Cubans to invade Cuba and overthrow the new leader. The training took place in Guatemala, a nearby Central American country. Kennedy and his advisors expected the Cuban people to help the invaders defeat Castro once they landed, so he accepted the advice of the CIA and agreed to push ahead with the plan, called The Bay of Pigs Invasion, based on where it would occur.
A Military Catastrophe
The Bay of Pigs invasion took place in April 1961. It was a total disaster. Cuban troops, who knew of the attack through spies, were more than a match for the 1,500 U.S.-backed invaders. When Kennedy's advisors urged him to use American planes to provide air cover for the attackers, he refused. Rather than continue a hopeless effort, he chose simply to accept defeat. The United States lost a great deal of prestige in the disastrous attack. To begin with, the invasion was clumsy and incompetent. Furthermore, America's support of an effort to overthrow another nation's government was exposed to the world. Foreign leaders, who had high hopes for the new President, were concerned about the kind of leadership he would provide.
The Berlin Crisis
Upset by the failure at the Bay of Pigs, Kennedy was now even more determined to prove his toughness against communism. Later in 1961, he had another opportunity when a new crisis arose over a familiar issue: Berlin. After the Soviet attempt to cut off access to Berlin in 1948 had failed as a result of President Truman's successful Berlin airlift, they were eager to find a new way to stop East Germans from defecting, (illegally moving for political reasons) to West Berlin. Kennedy feared that the Soviet effort in Germany was part of a larger plan to take over the rest of Europe. Adding to his fears, his first meeting with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, went poorly. When Khrushchev made public demands regarding Berlin, Kennedy felt bullied by the Soviet leader.
Upon returning home, Kennedy decided to show the Soviets that the United States would not be intimidated. He asked Congress for a huge increase of more than $3 billion for defense. At the same time, he sought more than $200 million for a program to build bomb shelters across the country. He argued that the United States had to be prepared if the crisis led to nuclear war. The United States, he said, would not be pushed around: "We do not want to fight-but we have fought before."
The Soviets responded by building a wall to separate communist and non-communist Berlin. The Berlin Wall became a dark symbol of the Cold War and a physical representation of the Iron Curtain. Speaking in West Germany after the wall went up, Kennedy declared that, "The United States will risk its cities to defend yours, because we need your freedom to protect ours." Two days later, the President addressed a cheering crowd near the Berlin Wall. To symbolize his commitment to the city, he concluded his speech with the rousing words, "Ich bin ein Berliner" or "I am a Berliner." Despite his strong words, Kennedy was not willing to use the American military to attack the wall, fearing that this would lead to nuclear war.
The Cuban Missile Crisis
The following year, Kennedy also had a chance to restore American prestige in another crisis with Cuba. The Soviet Union, disturbed by the attempted Bay of Pigs invasion, had pledged to support Castro's government. In October 1962, photographs taken from an American spy plane revealed that the Soviets were building nuclear missile bases on Cuban soil-dangerously close to America. What followed was the Cuban Missile Crisis, a terrifying two-week standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union that brought the superpowers to the brink of nuclear war.
Installing missiles so close to the United States seemed to be an effort by the Soviets to intimidate the Americans. In addition, the Soviets intended their missiles in Cuba to counter American missiles close to the Soviet Union in nearby Turkey. Kennedy was convinced that the missiles presented a direct challenge to which he must respond. But how? The President quickly assembled his top advisors in a series of secret meetings. They outlined four possible responses:
1. Engage in further negotiations with Khrushchev. This option, although peaceful, risked making Kennedy look hesitant and weak in the face of the bold Soviet move.
2. Invade Cuba. This would give the US a strong chance of eliminating the missile threat and achieving the additional goal of ousting Fidel Castro. A Cuban invasion had failed before, though, and this plan risked all-out nuclear war with the Soviets.
3. Blockade Cuba. This action would prevent Soviet ships from making further missile deliveries. It would force Khrushchev either to back off or to take aggressive action against U.S. warships. However, no one knew how the Soviet leader might react to this step, and it did not remove the missiles already in Cuba.
4. Bomb the missile sites. A series of airstrikes could quickly knock out the missiles. Yet, would the Soviets launch a counterstrike, and where?
Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the President's younger brother, argued against the airstrike option. It seemed, he said, too much like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. At one point former Secretary of State Dean Acheson joined the discussions and declared that the United States had to knock out the Soviet missiles. He was asked what would happen next. He replied that the Soviets would probably strike US bases in Turkey leading to a broader war. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara argued for a blockade to hold the Soviets at bay until negotiation can be reached. Army officials were in favor of an invasion of Cuba. In the end, one man would decide the course of action to take, and the stakes could not have been higher. An error in Kennedy's judgment could lead to millions of deaths and the destruction of the entire United States.
President Kennedy ordered United States forces on full alert. U.S. bombers were armed with nuclear missiles. The navy was ready to move, and army and marine units prepared to invade Cuba from Florida. Kennedy listened to the different views of his advisors, grilling them with questions. Then, privately, he weighed the options, facing one of the most dangerous and agonizing decisions any President has had to make. Kennedy went on television and radio to respond to the media rumors that had begun to circulate about Cuba. "Unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now on that imprisoned island," he said. The President then announced his decision: He had authorized a naval "quarantine" around Cuba. He had chosen the blockade option, but was careful not to call the action a "blockade" because a blockade is an act of war. America did not desire confrontation, Kennedy said, but it would not back down from it either.
The World Waits
The two most powerful nations in the world stood teetering on the brink of disaster. The immediate public reaction was a mixture of anger and fear. The naval quarantine went into effect, with a dozen Soviet cargo ships containing more ICBMs steaming toward it. Then, to everyone's great relief, the Soviet ships suddenly reversed direction. Khrushchev had called them back. The blockade had worked.
The crisis was not yet over, however. The original missiles remained in Cuba, and Khrushchev sent Kennedy a long letter in which he pledged to remove the missiles only if Kennedy promised that the United States would end the quarantine and stay out of Cuba. A second letter delivered the next day demanded that the United States remove its missiles from Turkey in exchange for the withdrawal of Soviet missiles in Cuba. Kennedy accepted the terms. With that, the crisis ended, and the world again began to breathe. As Secretary of State Dean Rusk observed to President Kennedy, "We have won a considerable victory. You and I are still alive." The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world closer than ever before to nuclear war. Kennedy emerged from the confrontation as a hero. He had stood up to the Soviets and shown that the United States would not be pushed around.
The Cuban Missile Crisis led to a number of efforts to reduce the risk of nuclear war. Once the confrontation was over, Kennedy and Khrushchev established a "hot line" between their two nations to allow the Soviet and American leaders to communicate quickly in the event of a future crisis. In addition, the next summer, the two countries signed the first nuclear treaty since the development of the atomic bomb. This agreement, the Limited Test Ban Treaty, banned nuclear testing above the ground. The treaty still permitted underground nuclear testing, and the United States and the Soviet Union continued to build bigger and bigger bombs. Nonetheless, as Kennedy noted, the treaty marked "an important first step toward peace, a step toward reason, a step away from war."
America's relationship with Cuba, however, remained strained. Kennedy and Congress placed a full trade, travel, and immigration embargo against the nation. Castro remained in power for more than five decades, and pushed communism on his people, even long after it fell in the Soviet Union. As a result, one of America's closest neighbors was still shut off from the free world and remained one of the poorest nations in the world well into the 21st century.
The Civil Rights Movement
Section 1: The Start of the Civil Rights Movement p.47
Section 2: Martin Luther King and Nonviolent Protests p.50
Section 3: Birmingham and Other Major Victories p.52
Section 4: The Government Responds p.55
Section 5: The Movement Splits p.58
Section 1: The Start of the Civil Rights Movement
Before and during World War II, African Americans were not treated as equals by a large portion of American society. Although slaves had been freed during the Civil War in the 1860s, most areas of American society were still closed to black Americans by the 1940s. After World War II, however, the campaign for racial equality began to pick up speed. Millions of people believed that the time had come to demand that the nation live up to its creed that all are equal. This campaign for equality became known as the Civil Rights Movement. Civil Rights are basic human rights given by a government to its citizens. Before the movement, most blacks in America did not have access to Civil Rights.
The Great Migration
The Civil Rights Movement made its most significant gains during the 1950s and 1960s, but small progress was made long before this. The drive for equality began as soon as the Civil War ended in 1865. After the Civil War, many freed black slaves moved from plantations in the south to large northern cities. This was known as the "Great Migration." Between 1910 and 1940, the black population of New York City leaped from 60,000 to 450,000. Other northern cities experienced a similar growth in black population. Out of these expanding black communities emerged a small but growing number of prominent citizens, including doctors and lawyers, who gained political influence.
World War II
World War II played a key role in starting the Civil Rights Movement for two reasons. First, the end of the war revealed the horrors of the Holocaust, and opened many people's eyes to the discrimination taking place in the United States. Many wondered, "How can we fight racism in Germany when we allow racism in our own country?" This realization did not spread to everyone, nor did it have a sudden impact. Rather, these new ideas crept into the mind of the country slowly. Secondly, hundreds of thousands of African-Americans served in the U.S. military. This bravery in fighting for a nation that was denying them equal rights caused many whites to change their minds about the need to treat black citizens equally.
Although World War II may have jump-started the Civil Rights Movement, one single man made a massive impact in the young movement just two years after the war ended. In the 1940s, baseball was not only America's most popular sport, it was known as "America's pastime," because almost everyone in the country enjoyed playing, watching, or talking about baseball. But, by 1947, every player on every major league baseball team was white. Each team owner agreed to not hire minority players.
However, Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, believed this was wrong. He wanted the best players for the Dodgers, not just the best white players. He called a young black player named Jackie Robinson into his office. Rickey told Robinson of his plan to challenge the rule in Major League Baseball that required black baseball players to play in a separate Negro League. Rickey wanted Robinson, a promising athlete in college and a World War II veteran, to be the first player to break the "color barrier". Rickey explained to Robinson that many people would not want him to succeed, including fans, umpires, and other players. But Ricky also told Robinson he had to be tough enough to not fight back when he faced discrimination.
In 1947, Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. Despite many instances of prejudice and discrimination, Robinson behaved with dignity and bravery and had an amazing first season. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1947, and led the Dodgers to a World Series appearance. In 1949, he was voted the league's most valuable player. Just as important, Robinson fostered pride in African Americans around the country and paved the way for others to follow him into previously all-white professional sports and other areas of America life. With the success of Jackie Robinson in Major League Baseball, the Civil Rights Movement was underway.