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U.S. History: Unit 7 Summer 2011

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1 U.S. History: Unit 7 Summer 2011
The 1950s U.S. History: Unit 7 Summer 2011

2 Ch. 1: Post War Boom And End to War
As America entered the 1950s the American people had endured many sacrifices over the last 2 decades. They had survived two World Wars and a Depression. FDR gave Americans hope over his 4 terms, and directed war effort…sadly he died in office before he could finish his work. Who was Harry S. Truman? He was FDR’s Vice-President. When FDR died of a stroke, Truman assumed the presidency. Truman inherited a nation that finally came out of the Depression because of WWII. He now had to make sure that this new prosperity would continue…he would also have to lead America in world affairs…but the economy is first. How was the economy doing? After the war, factories went back to producing consumer goods. Again veterans return home looking for their old jobs, and they have their pay to spend. During the war years Americans saved $100 billion, and they are eager to spend it. Also, now that the war is over labor conflicts re-emerge.

3 Amazing Economic Growth
WWII improved the economy. WWII is what improved the economy. Factories that were closed during the Depression were now reopened to produce weapons. With men either in the military or working unemployment fell. What is the GDP? The Gross Domestic Product, a measurement of the value of goods & services produced in a country. Thanks to WWII, America’s GDP grew, which means the economy was improving. Weren’t there any problems with the economy? The government kept prices of goods low during the war and unions promised not to strike. After the war, prices rose, so business made more money. Unions wanted their members to be paid more. If the economy wasn’t stabilized another Depression could occur. Truman had to keep people spending $$ so economic growth could continue. What is discretionary income? It is extra money people have after they pay for their basic needs. After WWII Americans had more discretionary income than ever, & they were eager to spend it.

4 Industrial Expansion & New Corporations
The improved car industry. The automobile industry of the 1950s benefitted from new technology developed during the war. Cars had become popular since Henry Ford invented the Model T. How did the car industry improve? The 1950s is when cars developed different options, features, colors, and different model years. Did Truman encourage the growth of the car industry? Yes. Truman used the Interstate Highway Act of 1956 to fund (pay for) interstate highways that crisscrossed the country. Billions of $$ to build the highways were justified by making it easier to evacuate cities in case of an attack (or transport nuclear weapons). What was the economic impact of the automobile industry? The demand for new cars thanks to the highways also increased the demand for new homes in the suburbs so the construction industry boomed. With cars, ‘mom & pop’ business were hurt. Why? People could now drive out of the neighborhood and visit shopping malls, large chain stores, & supermarkets.

5 Ch. 1, Labor Policy: White & Blue Collar Workers.
Did things improve for workers? Wages improved for American workers…but things did not look so good for both White collar & Blue collar workers. What are White and Blue Collar workers? White Collar workers are those that have received extra education, at least some college education. They worked as management or in offices. They got the nickname from the belief that they wore white collared dress shirts. Blue Collar workers were those who performed manual labor; plumbers, construction workers, cooks, factory workers, etc. Did White Collar workers fear anything? They worried about loosing their individuality. They had to conform to be accepted into the world of business. Did Blue Collar workers fear anything? Blue Collar workers always feared losing their jobs to overseas competition which are paid less. How did Truman treat labor? Truman tried to continue FDR’s labor friendly policies. He wanted to provide them with health insurance, minimum wage, & social security.

6 Ch. 1, Labor Policy, p. 21 Did Truman face any opposition?
North pro business Republicans and conservative southern Democrats fought against Truman’s legislation. What was the Taft-Hartley Act? A law passed by Congress. It weakened organized labor. The conditions which workers could use as a reason to strike were limited, the closed shop (agreements that allow employers to only hire union members), & allowed ‘right to work’ laws (laws which allow employees whether or not to join unions). The Taft-Hartley Act was vetoed by Truman…the Congressed override the President’s veto. Did Truman give up? No. Despite these setbacks Truman wanted to continue to improve things for the American people. He wanted a Fair Deal for the American people.

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