Few modern historians would doubt that World War II, and the years immediately following it, truly set the stage for the remainder of the 20th century, with echoes of that era being felt even today. In this paper, various facets of post World War II America will be discussed in order to better understand the topic. Available Housing After World War II When discussing available housing after World War II, there are many negatives to consider, but ultimately, as will be shown, the end result was generally favorable for most Americans.
After World War II, returning servicemen and women found a shortage of suitable housing, and the housing that was suitable was overpriced; this was felt most acutely by African Americans, who also faced widespread discrimination despite their devotion to the war effort Obrien, et al, 1995). Ultimately, however, this dilemma reshaped American cities, as affordable housing was built, thereby improving the inner cities of America. Harry Truman, Congressional Republicans, and the Legacy of The New Deal
Perhaps the most lasting legacy of The New Deal when discussing the involvement of Harry Truman in the enforcement of New Deal legislation would be found in the area of civil rights; more specifically, Truman enacted legislation in the spirit of The New Deal which desegregated the U. S. military, federal employment, and government offices. This legislation was vigorously opposed by Congressional Republicans, who sought to maintain many of the racially divided ways of years gone by (Campbell, et al, 1960). Truman and the Regulation of Labor Unions
Regulating labor unions became a central domestic issue in the time of Truman’s presidency because of the fact that the control of labor was a key element in preventing widespread economic recession (Obrien, et al, 1995); therefore, labor leaders could literally hold the nation’s economy as a hostage if they were allowed to control unions without regulation. Because of Truman’s regulation of these unions, the nation was spared economic hardship. Truman’s Win in the 1948 Election The win of Harry S. Truman in the 1948 Presidential Election remains even today as one of the classic studies of modern political history.
By all estimates, Truman should not have won that election, but those who opposed him may have helped him win in a sense. Truman, motivated by a possible loss, embarked on a non-stop train tour of the U. S. , making brief campaign stops nationwide and gaining popular support. Beyond this, he also focused his efforts on appealing to those states that may be swayed into supporting him and not wasting time in states where he could not win, thereby facilitating what has been called the greatest comeback in American politics (Campbell, et al, 1960).
Postwar Opportunity for Veterans & Women In the years following World War II, the oppportunities for veterans and women underwent some fundamental changes. During the war, women filled many of the jobs that were vacated by the men who were engaged in fighting the war; after the war, these jobs reverted back to men, leaving women in many cases with limited job opportunities. However, the post war baby boom had many women taking up the role of mother and housewife, thereby giving them a new and important occupation (Obrien, et al, 1995).
US Foreign Policy Priorities After 1945 After 1945, the U. S. had two distinct foreign policy objectives: the rebuilding and unification of Europe and the containment of communism (Hinds, et al, 1991). Both of these initiatives ultimately led to the mistrust between the U. S. and U. S. S. R that gave birth to what would eventually be called The Cold War. The Cold War in 1949 and 1950 The Cold War in 1949 and 1950 changed character for several reasons; from the viewpoint of the U. S., the issuance of The Truman Doctrine, which held the eradication of communism as a top priority, pitted the U. S as the main enemy of all communist nations.
Also, two of the most powerful communist nations, China and U. S. S. R, were active in the support of North Korea as a communist nation, which led to the invasion of South Korea and began the Korean War which was quite literally a war against communism (Hinds, et al, 1991). It was during this time as well that an atmosphere of mistrust was brewing in the U. S.
, leading to an all out witch hunt against suspected communists within America. The Second Red Scare The hunt for suspected communists reached a boiling point in the late 1940s and early 1950s during what has come to be known as The Second Red Scare, an era punctuated by the Soviet blockade of East Berlin, increased bloodshed in Korea, and the hunt for communists in America which reached its climax with the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, an American husband and wife accused of communist espionage (Hinds, et al, 1991).
Over the long term, The Second Red Scare led to an opposition of communism that played a large part in the eventual collapse of the U. S. S. R several decades later. Conclusion This essay has made one fact quite clear: history is a constantly changing and living thing, with the power to affect future generations and change the world. In closing, let it be understood that, as the old saying goes, without a knowledge of history, we are condemned to repeat it.
Campbell, Angus, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Stokes. The American Voter. New York: Wiley, 1960. Hinds, Lynn Boyd, and Theodore Otto Windt. The Cold War as Rhetoric: The Beginnings, 1945-1950. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1991. O’Brien, Kenneth Paul, and Lynn Hudson Parsons, eds. The Home-Front War World War II and American Society. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995