Changes Of The Civil Rights Movement, Economy And Presidency Of Time Between 1945 And 1970
In 1945, life was difficult. People had to work very hard in factories, making weapons for the war just to put food on the table for their families. World War II had just ended, and now the Vietnam War begins. Everyone keeps up to date on what is going on because everyone in America knew someone who was serving in the war. Women who had jobs during the war, no longer had them and they had to go back home. There was a new president in office after President Roosevelt died, this was Harry Truman. Nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki damaging many towns around them and killing over two hundred thousand people, causing the Japanese to finally surrender. In 1970, life for African Americans, Women, and homosexuals was hard because they were fighting for equality. Even now, 48 years later people are still fighting for the equality they deserve. They also loved to use pay phones, because cell phones weren’t around. Over one hundred thousand people were showing their feelings about the Vietnam war in Washington D.C. Also, Richard Nixon is president. There were many changes that occured in the amount of time between 1945 and 1970 that I only briefly touched on. Some of the bigger changes were in the civil rights movement, that went on for almost this entire time period. The changes in presidency in this time is also a huge change. Also, the economy had changed a lot in these years, and I will be talking about these three very important things today.
In 1945, the economy was not very good, in what was called “Postwar America”. After the war ended in September and Japan had surrendered, many people lost their jobs. Although, “... the United States emerged in 1945 as the world’s leading industrial and financial power [...] America’s postwar rise was an act of will, the result of economic policies that elevated the dollars, expanded America’s markets across the world, built a massive military, and justified it with an unstable mix of international humanitarianism, militant anti-Communism, and missionary capitalism.” This does not mean that the economy was great, even if we were the leading country. It was clear to most that we needed to cut costs and make military troops smaller. “The federal debt reached an all-time record, nearly $242 billion in 1945, greater than America’s entire gross domestic product that year.” In the years that followed World War II the amount of money that America could spend kept going down further and further. “The army reduced its ranks by some 7 million troops, the Navy by 2.5 million.” They had to sell and pull apart about six thousand ships because they could no longer afford to have them all. The Air Force had to cut their combat units from two hundred to fifty. Then, we had the issue of people not having jobs, even veterans. “Civilian workers-- including millions of African Americans and women who had worked for defense contractors during the war-- feared, with good reason, that they would lose their jobs during the postwar ‘reconversion’.” Even though people had more experience in their jobs than veterans did, the veterans still had priority and many women, and african americans lost their jobs. In 1970, “The annual unemployment rate only exceeded 6% twice in the 25 years between 1949 and 1973. The annual inflation rate, too, only topped 6% twice, and was actually under 2% for 14 of the 25 years in this period. The real average hourly earnings of production workers increased at an average rate of over 2% per year.” In 1971, Nixon attempted to make a quick and short term fix for the economy. “His New Economic Policy , announced in a nationally televised address in mid-August, included a 90-day federally imposed freeze on wage and price increases, a 10 percent tax on imports and the end of the policy of allowing dollars to be traded for cold on the international currency market.” This helped increase employment for jobs, but not for long. “Unemployment fell to 5.5 percent, and workers’ real earnings increased 4 percent between 1971 and 1972.” (294) Nixon ultimately did not help the economy in the long run, he only did what he had to do to in the moment because he was president.
The presidents in the time of 1945 and 1970 were not boring, to say the least. In 1945, people dealt with President Roosevelt’s death on April 12th which was hard on a lot of people. Then they had to accommodate to a new president; Harry Truman who was coming into office during the war. Truman did many good things while he was in office. “Truman used his executive power to move forward on civil rights. He cared about winning black votes but also worried about America’s international reputation”. There was also the “Truman Doctrine” made in 1947 asking for four hundred million dollars to stop communism from spreading further. He wanted to quarantine it wherever he saw it arising. He was also the man who decided to actually drop the atomic bomb to end the war. Harry introduced the Marshall Plan to the world, which would hopefully help Europe get more stability; economically and politically. Although this may have instigated our problems with the Soviet Union, it still worked very well in helping Europe the way it was intended to. The other President worth talking about is Nixon, the man himself. Nixon was not a very good president at all. “Richard Nixon had promised Americans upon his election in 1968 that he would act decisively to ‘bring us together’. This was an unlikely promise from a politician whose rise to national prominence had been based upon his willingness to create and exploit raw political division.” Nixon made promises during his election that he did not keep. He also was not a very good man and this clearly showed in his ways of leadership. “On the one side, he talked of noble aspirations to improve the world [...] on the other, he engaged in crude, petty, and vicious tactics to defeat his foes and ensure his invulnerability against those who might threaten his position.” Then you had “The Watergate Scandal” where people got caught robbing the office of the Democratic National Committee and those people were connected to Nixon’s reelection. These people were caught in the midst of wiring phones to listen to conversations and stealing important documents. 2 years after the arrests, and Nixon’s failed attempt at covering up the fact that he was part of the crime, he resigned from office. Better than getting impeached, right? In the end, the change in presidents from 1945 to 1970 was drastic and Nixon was nowhere near a better president than Harry Truman, although both had their faults.
Another big change was the impact of The Civil Rights Movement. There were millions of people fighting for their equality. Rosa Parks started this movement because she sat in the front of the bus to prove a point, and got arrested for it. Then you have Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech and everything else he did for the movement even with the abuse he went through, including his assassination. “Angry crowds stoned Martin Luther King on his marches protesting white-only neighborhoods in Chicago” People didn’t care about getting arrested or hurt, they did whatever they had to do to get what they deserve. If they got arrested, they did not care and people would sit in jail refusing bail to prove their points. “Daily marches toward downtown stores met punishing arrest and reprisal. With observers weary of bothersome protest, King’s eloquent letter from jail attracted no press coverage, and, on the verge of surrender, he weighed an extreme proposal to allow under-age marchers.” The Civil Rights Movement began as a small thing and ended, changing the lives of millions of people. Now, because of this 14 year long fight, African Americans live and coincide with everyone else and anyone who’s still mad about that needs to get over it. People went through so much blood, sweat and tears to get where they are now. There were millions of people not sleeping at night, fighting for the chance to just at least use the same bathroom or water fountain as white people. All they wanted was to be treated equally, and even now everything is not as equal as it should be. We have come a very long way from the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, where colored children couldn’t even go to the same school as white children. To the end of the movement, colored people are welcome everywhere. And even to now, where everyone is equal. Gay people, colored people, jewish people and so many others are finally starting to be accepted after a long fight with others that has been going on for over a hundred years.
There were many significant changes in the timeframe I have spoken about, but three stand out the most. In 1945, Adolf Hitler had recently committed suicide with his new wife of only one day in a bunker. And in 1970, The voting age was lowered to 18 years old. The economy, the Presidents and The Civil Rights Movement, all changed in huge ways over the course of 25 years.