Life in the Cold War U.S History Essay
Order ID 53563633773 Type Essay Writer Level Masters Style APA Sources/References 4 Perfect Number of Pages to Order 5-10 Pages
Life in the Cold War U.S History Essay
1 Reading-26 Life in the U.S. During the Cold War the Cold War influenced life in the United States, creating numerous social and cultural changes. Technological innovation played a part, particularly in the home as new labor-saving devices (dishwashers, electric ovens, washers and driers, etc.) came on the market, and television sets became standard household items.
However, two things influenced life for Americans in this period more than anything else: the tremendous prosperity enjoyed by the nation in the decades that followed World War II, and the anxieties created by life during the Cold War, particularly the constant threat of nuclear war.
This combination created a unique environment that combined general affluence [prosperity] with widespread conformity to a narrow range of culturally accepted behaviors. The post-war economy grew at a fantastic rate, by more than fifty percent in the 1940s alone. Automobile production quadrupled, the housing market boomed, and corporations expanded.
The invention of air conditioning made living in the sun belt attractive, and cities in Nevada, Florida, and everywhere between experienced tremendous population growth and prosperity. New Deal style government spending continued after the war and contributed to the economic boom.
In 1956 President Eisenhower approved the Federal Aid Highway Act, which authorized and funded construction of 41,000 miles of interstate highways that connected the nation like never before because it allowed citizens to travel extensively in their own automobiles.
For the first time, suburbs sprang up within commuting distance of major cities, starting with Levittown, New York. It opened in 1947 and almost immediately rented or sold all 6,000 homes, aided in part by creation of the Federal Housing Authority, which made it possible for Americans to get long-term, low- interest rate housing loans. Televisions became immensely popular: there were only 17,000 in the U.S. in 1946, but by 1960 over 75 percent of homes had one.
During the Cold War, more people entered the middle class, including minorities, and the wealth of the nation was more evenly distributed across the population than ever before. In terms of prosperity, the U.S. had never been in better shape, but Cold War anxieties provided an uncomfortable counterbalance.
The fears about communism ingrained into the American public since 1917 returned after WWII, and magnified as the ideological struggle with the Soviet Union became more manifest in people’s daily lives. The vigilance against potential spies requested by the federal government during the war shifted its focus from fascists and Japanese to communist subversives allegedly skulking around the United States, intent on its downfall.
This propaganda- fueled paranoia created another series of paradoxes in the nation’s history, as government officials and private citizens alike deliberately denied individuals their Constitutional rights in what looked a lot like a witch hunt that lasted through most of the Cold War. Starting in Hollywood, those accused of having communist sympathies found themselves black listed.
A black list is literally a list of individuals denied work (blackballed) in a particular industry, in this case, the film making industry. But blacklists appeared in other fields too, including government work and education. The fear of communist infiltrators reached a fever pitch in 1950 at the hands of Joseph McCarthy, a Republican Senator from Wisconsin. While campaigning on behalf of a colleague, McCarthy gave a speech in which he held up a piece of paper and told the audience that it was a list of 205 names of “known communists” in the U.S. State Department.
The media picked up on his sensational claim, and it spread across the nation like wildfire. This event inaugurated the Second Red Scare, perhaps better known as the McCarthy Era. His claims made the senator an overnight media sensation, and he was soon bringing people he accused of having ties to communism before public hearings, during which he would bully them and claim they were traitors to the United States.
But McCarthy’s accusations were often based on little or no evidence, and in fact he never did have any list of “known communists” in the State Department. Instead, McCarthy made up his accusations because they brought him a lot of media attention, which made him politically very powerful. McCarthy’s strategy was the Big Lie: fabricated stories the consequences of which were so terrible that many people doubted he would make them up.
Accusing someone of being a communist during the Cold War often led to that person losing their job, being blacklisted, and perhaps even having to leave their community. But McCarthy did not care about those consequences. Today, that kind of behavior–telling lies about others for one’s own political gain– is referred to as McCarthyism. His power started to wane as more people started to doubt him publicly, and everything collapsed around him late in 1954 after he accused the U.S. military of harboring communists.
McCarthy died a few years later of alcoholic complications, and to his dying did not understand why people were so upset with him; he said he had just been playing the game of American politics like everyone else. McCarthy wasn’t the only one accusing citizens of being communist. Such things continued to occur at the national level, under the leadership of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), and locally at the hands of fiercely nationalistic groups like the John Birch Society and the American Legion.
But such accusations seemed too far-fetched to a growing number of citizens, who began to see accusers like McCarthy as guilty of fanatical behavior. As a result, one of the unforeseen consequences of McCarthyism was that people began to doubt that there were many communist spies and infiltrators in the U.S. This was unfortunate, because it turns out that the Soviet Union did have agents living in the United States, just not on the scale that the anti-communist fanatics claimed.
Another unforeseen consequence was that more citizens began to harbor doubts about their government, and whether it was being honest. But mostly, the McCarthy Era worried many people in the U.S. because merely the accusation of being communist was enough to ruin one’s life. As a result, the nation’s citizens conformed to national norms in dress, religion, behavior, diet, and otherwise, so as to not stand out from the pack and potentially be labeled a “commie.”
The Cold War also changed American family life. Families started moving out of cities and into the suburbs, and instead of renting they purchased their own homes. The marriage rate increased while the divorce rate went down, and couples started marrying much earlier, as young adults or even just out of high school.
Contraception started to play a much larger role in family planning, and couples tended to have all their children very early in the marriage instead of spacing out births over time. This was the era of the Nuclear Family, a term that has nothing to do with the Cold War, but instead refers to the new focus on the nucleus of a family: mother, father, and children, instead of the extended family. With all these changes, the birth rate increased dramatically, giving rise to the Baby Boomer generation.
Separate Spheres played a major part in Cold War conformity, as gender roles were further reinforced by government propaganda and the American media in general. The ideal woman was the homemaker, who received just enough education to be the best wife and mother possible. The message that women were inferior to men physically and mentally was reinforced constantly.
On the other hand, men were to be the sole breadwinners, doing whatever they could to maximize their income and their family’s quality of life. In reality, that was impossible for many families, and more women than ever before joined the workforce, providing a second income so their families could afford their new middle-class lifestyles. Resistance to this gendered worldview started to galvanize in the 1960s, as more women came to resent the role forced upon them by American Cold War culture.
The threat of nuclear war was a major concern for everyone and, as understanding of the threat developed, the federal government started a program to try and convince citizens to build fallout shelters. Typically built underground, the intent of these structures was to provide a relatively safe place for people to live for several weeks in case of a nuclear attack. It would not protect against a nuclear explosion, but it would shelter people from fallout, the radioactive ash that drifts down from the sky for several weeks afterward.
The government funded construction of public shelters, most often located in major cities in the basements of government buildings. But for the suburban and rural citizens, the only option was to build their own, personal fallout shelters. Government propaganda tried to convince citizens to do so, but the program turned out to be a tremendous flop. Some 200,000 fallout shelters were built in the U.S. during the Cold War, but that was only one shelter for every 1,000 citizens.
Considering that the average fallout shelter could accommodate around a half-dozen people, 200,000 shelters were grossly inadequate. (The Soviet Union, on the other hand, successfully managed an extensive fallout shelter program, one that it maintains and today.) While the prosperity of the Cold War was enjoyed by a majority of Americans, regardless of skin color, some of the benefits of that prosperity were not shared equally.
As white middle-class families moved out of cities and into suburbs, blacks found themselves deliberately excluded from suburban living. For example, a clause in the standard lease agreement for a Levittown home stated that it could only be occupied by whites, a discriminatory policy acceptable to the Federal Housing Authority at the time.
This kind of discrimination, combined with Jim Crow racism in the South and a rise in the number of educated middle-class blacks, were important contributing factors to the rise of the modern civil rights movement in the mid-1950s.
Life in the Cold War U.S History Essay
QUALITY OF RESPONSE NO RESPONSE POOR / UNSATISFACTORY SATISFACTORY GOOD EXCELLENT Content (worth a maximum of 50% of the total points) Zero points: Student failed to submit the final paper. 20 points out of 50: The essay illustrates poor understanding of the relevant material by failing to address or incorrectly addressing the relevant content; failing to identify or inaccurately explaining/defining key concepts/ideas; ignoring or incorrectly explaining key points/claims and the reasoning behind them; and/or incorrectly or inappropriately using terminology; and elements of the response are lacking. 30 points out of 50: The essay illustrates a rudimentary understanding of the relevant material by mentioning but not full explaining the relevant content; identifying some of the key concepts/ideas though failing to fully or accurately explain many of them; using terminology, though sometimes inaccurately or inappropriately; and/or incorporating some key claims/points but failing to explain the reasoning behind them or doing so inaccurately. Elements of the required response may also be lacking. 40 points out of 50: The essay illustrates solid understanding of the relevant material by correctly addressing most of the relevant content; identifying and explaining most of the key concepts/ideas; using correct terminology; explaining the reasoning behind most of the key points/claims; and/or where necessary or useful, substantiating some points with accurate examples. The answer is complete. 50 points: The essay illustrates exemplary understanding of the relevant material by thoroughly and correctly addressing the relevant content; identifying and explaining all of the key concepts/ideas; using correct terminology explaining the reasoning behind key points/claims and substantiating, as necessary/useful, points with several accurate and illuminating examples. No aspects of the required answer are missing. Use of Sources (worth a maximum of 20% of the total points). Zero points: Student failed to include citations and/or references. Or the student failed to submit a final paper. 5 out 20 points: Sources are seldom cited to support statements and/or format of citations are not recognizable as APA 6th Edition format. There are major errors in the formation of the references and citations. And/or there is a major reliance on highly questionable. The Student fails to provide an adequate synthesis of research collected for the paper. 10 out 20 points: References to scholarly sources are occasionally given; many statements seem unsubstantiated. Frequent errors in APA 6th Edition format, leaving the reader confused about the source of the information. There are significant errors of the formation in the references and citations. And/or there is a significant use of highly questionable sources. 15 out 20 points: Credible Scholarly sources are used effectively support claims and are, for the most part, clear and fairly represented. APA 6th Edition is used with only a few minor errors. There are minor errors in reference and/or citations. And/or there is some use of questionable sources. 20 points: Credible scholarly sources are used to give compelling evidence to support claims and are clearly and fairly represented. APA 6th Edition format is used accurately and consistently. The student uses above the maximum required references in the development of the assignment. 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Structure of the Paper (worth 10% of total points) Zero points: Student failed to submit the final paper. 3 points out of 10: Student needs to develop better formatting skills. The paper omits significant structural elements required for and APA 6th edition paper. Formatting of the paper has major flaws. The paper does not conform to APA 6th edition requirements whatsoever. 5 points out of 10: Appearance of final paper demonstrates the student’s limited ability to format the paper. There are significant errors in formatting and/or the total omission of major components of an APA 6th edition paper. They can include the omission of the cover page, abstract, and page numbers. Additionally the page has major formatting issues with spacing or paragraph formation. Font size might not conform to size requirements. The student also significantly writes too large or too short of and paper 7 points out of 10: Research paper presents an above-average use of formatting skills. The paper has slight errors within the paper. This can include small errors or omissions with the cover page, abstract, page number, and headers. There could be also slight formatting issues with the document spacing or the font Additionally the paper might slightly exceed or undershoot the specific number of required written pages for the assignment. 10 points: Student provides a high-caliber, formatted paper. This includes an APA 6th edition cover page, abstract, page number, headers and is double spaced in 12’ Times Roman Font. Additionally, the paper conforms to the specific number of required written pages and neither goes over or under the specified length of the paper.
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