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The 1950s: Peace, Prosperity and Progress Rebelling Against Conformity

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Presentation on theme: "The 1950s: Peace, Prosperity and Progress Rebelling Against Conformity"— Presentation transcript:

1 The 1950s: Peace, Prosperity and Progress Rebelling Against Conformity
History Alive Chapters 41 and 42

2 Postwar Politics When WW II ended, President Harry Truman had an enormous challenge-converting the country back to a peacetime economy. Fair Deal- He called for Congress to raise minimum wage, increase aide to agriculture education, and enact a national health insurance program.

3 Rocky Transition-Wartime to Peace
As the war ended, millions of wartime workers lost their jobs. In addition wartime price controls were lifted and prices skyrocketed! Inflation soared as workers demanded higher wages! In 1946, republicans gained control of the House and the Senate first time since the 20s!

4 Actions of Congress 1947 Congress passed the 22nd Amendment, limiting the President to 2 terms of office. The Taft-Harley Act placed limits on the power of labor unions. Truman established the President’s Committee on Civil Rights to investigate segregation and discrimination, BUT the Congress refused to act on its recommendations.

5 1948 Election Between Truman (D) and Thomas E. Dewey (R).
Pollsters and headline writers predicted an upset (On election night some newspapers ran headlines saying Dewey won-before the results were final). Harry Truman won election!

6 (Truman holding up a copy of the Chicago Tribune after he won)

7 Over the next four years, Truman presented his Fair Deal programs to Congress, but was denied.
(Southern Democrats and Republicans denied Truman's efforts to push towards ending segregation and discrimination).

8 Election of 1952 Republicans nominate the popular Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower, who served as the supreme commander of the Allied forces in WW II, and head member of NATO. Eisenhower swept the victory in gaining 39 out of 48 states.

9 Economic Growth Creates an Age of Affluence
Affluence-a large amount of wealth. By the end of the 1950s, middle class families were experiencing wealth that could have only been dreamed about 20 years before! In 1940, Dick and Mac McDonald opened a drive in restaurant in San Bernardino, CA. Developed an assembly line process to speed service at lower costs!

10 Mc D’s!

11 Consumer Demands Spur Economic Growth
As the economy grew, incomes rose! By the end of the 1950s, the average American family had twice as much income to spend than the average family of the 1920s! Rising income, easy credit, and aggressive marketing helped create a “culture of consumption” during the 1950s.

12 Birth of Franchises In 1954 Ray Kroc convinced the McDonalds brothers to hire him as a franchising agent. A franchise is an agreement to operate a business and carry a company’s name and sell it’s products. Under Kroc’s leadership by 1963 McDonald’s began dotting the landscape. By 1963 McDonald’s had served 1 billion hamburgers!

13 Economic Growth-Franchises
Other service industries soon followed-Holiday Inn (motels).

14 The Workforce Shift. When the 1950s started most workers were blue-collar workers. These are people who work in factories or at skilled trades, such as plumbing or auto repair. By the end of the 1950s white-collar workers outnumbered blue collar. White-collar workers include professionals such as doctors and lawyers, engineers, salespeople, managers and office staff.

15 The Baby Boom During the depression marriage and birthrates dropped.
After WW II ended, millions of Americans got married. The result was a baby boom, or a large increase in the number of births in proportion to the size of the population.

16 Roles for Women Women had entered the workforce during WW II. After the war, women were encouraged to retake traditional roles in the household. Mass-media reinforced traditional family roles. Magazines, movies and advertisements portrayed the ideal family as one with a male “breadwinner” and a wife who stayed at home.

17 “June Cleaver” from Leave it to Beaver

18 Population Shifts Middle-class families move to the suburbs.

19 Middle class to the Suburbs
Between 1950 and 1956, the number of Americans living in suburban communities increased by 46%. Suburbanites were largely white and middle-class. In many places, homes in the suburbs were to sold to African Americans. (Discrimination)

20 Migrations to the ‘Sunbelt’
Many people moved from cities and states of the North to warm-weather states which stretched across the southern third of the US from Florida to California.

21 1950s and the Automobile The Middle Class Dream was to have two cars in every garage! Cars became a status symbol or a sign of wealth. ROADS TO EVERYWHERE! In 1956 the Congress passed a bill to create a nationwide Interstate Highway System.


23 Advances in Life Expectancy!
During the 1950s Dr. Jonas Salk created the first polio vaccine! Surgical techniques advanced during the 1950s-The first open heart surgery occurred and first kidney transplant! Advances in medicine brought a rise in life expectancy-in 1950=68, 1960=69.7!

24 First Computers! In 1946 two engineers from the University of Pennsylvania developed the earliest electronic digital computer (it was as large as 2 small houses). By 1959 transistors replaced bulky unreliable vacuum tubes, and it became a reliable system to store data. As they shrank in size, record keepers, such as librarians and tax collectors.


26 Chapter 42 Rebelling Against Conformity
Picture page 548: What are some of the things you notice about 1950s culture from the picture? (“Sock hop”)

27 Doris Kearns Goodwin As a teenager, Doris Kearns Goodwin, like many other teens at the time, started listening to rock n’ roll. Many teens during the 1950s began to question their social world. The 50s are seen as an age of conformity-a time when everyone behaved in socially expected ways. Many teens began to rebel!

28 Marlin Brando Brando became a symbol of youth rebellion against authority.

29 Critics of Suburbia “Suburbia”- is a term to describe the nations suburbs and the people who lived there. Many critics viewed suburbia as a wasteland of conformity and materialism, or preoccupation with the pursuit of wealth.

30 Cartoon page 550: The cartoon pokes fun at conformity in suburbia. Identical husbands going into identical houses.

31 Critics of Television Many people grew critical of the television. Television brought “high culture,” works of art, such as plays and concerts into US homes. Many called the TV as an “idiot box.” Other worried about the TV’s isolating effects.

32 In Defense of Suburbia Where some critics saw conformity, people who actually lived in suburbs often experienced diversity. Most suburbs had a broad mixture of religious and ethnic groups. Many neighborhoods excluded African Americans in the 1950s 

33 Nonconformity Despite the widespread conformity, many people (teenagers) became nonconformists. Nonconformity is rebellion against conventional behavior.

34 The Beat Movement The beat movement was formed by a group of writers and poets who were nonconformists. The movement spread from New York’s Greenwich Village to San Francisco. A newspaper columnist in SF called members of the movement “beatniks” and the name stuck.

35 Beatniks Beatniks rejected all forms of convention, or customary ways of living. Beat writers made a significant contribution to American literature. Their subject matter consisted of their own feelings and adventures. They used stream of consciousness, a writing technique where thoughts are presented randomly-from the writer’s mind.

36 Youth Culture Teens rebelled against the world of their parents in the music they listened to, the dances they danced, the movies they watched, and the slang they used. Two (2) factors that supported youth culture: 1) number of baby boomers, 2) affluence-kids had money!

37 Alan Freed and Rock n’ Roll
Freed was a DJ in Cleveland, Ohio. He heard that white teenagers were buying records buy black rhythm and blues artists, who used amplified instruments (electric guitar). Before long white musicians began blending rhythm and blues amplified music with country music and popular songs. New sound was called rock n’ roll.

38 The Effects of the Transistor
At one time, many parents would simply stop their children from hearing rock n’ roll, but with transistors, teenagers could listen freely. This made rock n’ roll the sound of their generation.

39 Elvis Presley At one point most boys sported crew cuts. Elvis wore his hair slicked back with long sideburns.

40 Elvis Presley Elvis blended African American rhythm and blues with white country music to create a new sound.’ Although tame by today’s standards, Presley’s sexually suggestive dancing offended many!

41 Sock Hops Teenagers often gathered at “sock hops” where they could listen and dance to the latest hit records. They were held in gyms where shoes were not permitted.

42 Movies of the 50s Movies were made where young people were misunderstood by adults. In Rebel Without a Cause, James dean played an intense, young misfit. In The Wild One, Marlin Brando played a rebellious motorcycle gang leader.

43 Teenagers’ Language Teenagers developed their own language so that “big daddies” (older people) would not understand them. “Boss” meant great. “Threads” were clothes. “Radioactive” to describe an attractive person. “Square” dull person.

44 Comic Books Comic books went from featuring wholesome crime-fighting characters to gruesome covers and violent storylines. Mad made fun of just about everything-books to popular television, to foreign policy and espionage.

45 Art-Abstract Expressionism
Artists began to make abstract art-art that rarely depicts recognizable objects. They rebelled against highly realistic styles of painting. One of the best known is Jackson Pollock

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