HIS 135 Final Project

HIS 135 Final Project - MOST SIGNIFICANT EVENTS 1 Most...

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MOST SIGNIFICANT EVENTS 1 Most Significant Events Mary E. Spurlin HIS/135 January 9, 2011 Gabriel Jewell
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MOST SIGNIFICANT EVENTS 2 Most Significant Events The five decades that followed World War II saw significant social, economic and political events that had a powerful impact on the American people. The United States transformed drastically between the 1950s and the 1990s due to events such as McCarthyism, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Watergate scandal, Mikhail Gorbachev’s Soviet Union reforms, and the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. It is possible that the next 10 years may bring about as many revolutionary events that change the way all people live their lives as the preceding 50 years already have. 1950s and the “witch hunts” of Joe McCarthy In the 1950s to say Communism was just a concern was a gross understatement. With the rise of the Cold War, it was becoming clear that America was not the only country vying for the title of Super Power . The Soviet Union wanted to spread Communism across the world and the threats of another war, now with atomic capabilities, was frightening for many American people. Senator Joe McCarthy understood the level of anti-Communist sentiments within this country and therefore decided to exploit the fears of the people. In essence, McCarthyism was the bitter fruit the Democratic Party reaped from its attempts to exploit the anti-Communist mood (Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle, & Stoff, 2005). McCarthy began his “witch hunts” in Wheeling, Virginia, when he announced that he possessed a list containing several members of the State Department who were members of the American Communist Party (Simkin, 2003). Stating that these “card-carrying” Communists infiltrated the government heightened political tensions and brought about one of the most repressive times in 20 th -century politics (Miller, 2006). Although McCarthy’s allegations turned out to be falsified, the damage was already done to the American people. Socially, people
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MOST SIGNIFICANT EVENTS 3 became distrustful of all things liberal, foreign, or intellectual (Davidson, et. al., 2005). When an investigation was launched that resulted in 3,000 firings and 5,000 resignations of government employees, the people believed that they had their hard proof that there were subversives lurking in the federal bureaucracy (Davidson, et. al., 2005). It was evident to many people that their own government may not be trusted, causing further social hysteria. Many people in the Senate and other areas of the government did not want to oppose McCarthy for fear that doing so would have been political suicide. McCarthy took the anti-Communist fears of the American people and exploited their misunderstandings to gain control. In one respect, this brought the American people together. Bonded by their feelings of
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HIS 135 Final Project - MOST SIGNIFICANT EVENTS 1 Most...

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