A.P. U.S. History Notes
Chapter 39: “The Cold War Begins”
~ 1945 – 1952 ~
Postwar Economic Anxieties
The Americans cheered the end of World War II in 1945, but many worried that with the
war over, the U.S. would sink back into another Great Depression.
Upon war’s end, inflation shot up with the release of price controls while gross
national product sank, and labor strikes swept the nation.
To get even with labor, Congress passed the
, which outlawed “closed”
shop, made unions liable for damages that resulted from jurisdictional disputes among
themselves, and required that union leaders take non-Communist oaths.
Labor tried to organize in the South and West with “
,” but this proved
frustrating and unsuccessful.
To forestall an economic downturn, the Democratic administration sold war factories and
other government installations to private businesses cheaply, passed the
of 1946, which made it government policy to “promote maximum employment, production,
and purchasing power,” and created the
Council of Economic Advisors
to provide the
president with data to make that policy a reality.
It also passed the
Servicemen’s Readjustment Act
of 1944, better known as the
Bill of Rights
, which allowed all servicemen to have free college education once
they returned from the war.
The Long Economic Boom, 1950-1970
Then, in the late 1940s and into the 1960s, the economy began to boom tremendously, and
folks who had felt the sting of the
now wanted to bathe in the prosperity.
The middle class more than doubled while people now wanted two cars in every
garage; over 90% of American families owned a television.
Women also reaped the benefits of the postwar economy, growing in the American work
force while giving up their former roles as housewives.
However, much of the prosperity of the 50s and 60s rested on colossal military projects.
Massive appropriations for the
, defense spending, industries like
aerospace, plastics, and electronics, and research and development all were such
Even though this new affluence did not touch everyone, it did touch many.
Cheap energy paralleled the popularity of automobiles, and spidery grids of electrical cables
carried the power of oil, gas, coal, and falling water into homes and factories alike.
Workers upped their output tremendously, as did farmers, due to new technology in
fertilizers, etc… in fact, the farming population shrank while production soared.
The Smiling Sunbelt
With so many people on the move, families were being strained, which explained the
success of Dr.
The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care