1950s: The Eisenhower Years and the Fear of Communism

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  • Alger Hiss sentenced to five years in prison

    Alger Hiss sentenced to five years in prison
    In August 1948, Whittaker Chambers, a former Communist appearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee, charged that Alger Hiss was a communist spy. Hiss, a respectable State Department official, denied the convictions that he was a communist and had given away confidential documents. However, on January 25th, 1950, Hiss was convicted of perjury and sentenced to five years in prison. From this, individuals became more convinced that Communism was poisoning the American system.
  • Truman Approves the H-Bomb

    Truman Approves the H-Bomb
    On Janurary 31st, 1950, Harry S. Truman announced his decision to support the development of the hydrogen bomb, a weapon thought to be hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II. Truman's decision ultimatley stemmed from the fact that the Soviet Union had successfully detonated an atomic bomb of their own. This led Truman to support immense funding for the race to create the "superbomb."
  • The Korean War Begins

    The Korean War Begins
    On June 25, 1950, North Korean forces surprised the world by moving across the 38th parallel separating North and South Korea. Applying his containment policy to the situation in Asia, President Harry S. Truman announced that the US would stand by South Korea. In command of the US forces was General Douglass MacArthur. Truman justified US intervention by claiming it was merely "police action."
  • 22nd Ammendment

    22nd Ammendment
    After Roosevelt served four terms, the Republican-dominated congress demanded immediate change to the system. On February 27th, 1951, the constitutional ammendment limiting presidents to a maximum of two full terms in office was approved.
  • Rosenberg case

    Rosenberg case
    After the Soviets tested their first atomic bomb in 1949, many Americans grew convinced that that spies had assisted the Soviet Union. Among many of the convicted individuals were Julius and Ethel Rosenberg from New York. An FBI investigation had lead directly to the Rosenberg's. After a controversial trial in 1951, the Rosenbergs were found guilty of treason and were executed in 1953. From this case, many questioned the role of anticommunist sentiments in determining the fate of the Rosenberg's
  • First Color Television

    First Color Television
    On June 25, 1951, CBS broadcast the very first commercial color TV program. Color programs such as "Premire" and "The World is Yours!" aired all throughout the 1950s. However, it was not until the 1960s when families began purchasing color televisions for their home.
  • Election of 1952

    Election of 1952
    In 1952, the final year of Truman's presidency, individuals sought a presidential canidate that would bring relief from the Korean War and settle political unrest. The Republicans cominated Ike Eisenhower. who chose Richard Nixon as his running mate. Likewise, Adlai Stevenson was nominated to run on the democratic ticket and chose John Sparkman as his running mate. Ike Eisenhower won in a landslide with 442 electoral votes to Stevenson's 89.
  • Joseph Stalin Dies

    Joseph Stalin Dies
    On March 5th, 1953, Soviet Union ruler Joseph Stalin died and was replaced with Nikita Khrushchev. In response to Stalin's sudden death, Eisenhower called for the slowing of the arms race and proposed an "atoms for peace plan" to the United Nations in hopes of reducing Cold War tensions. The Soviets agreed to the proposal and responded by removing their troops from Austria and established peaceful relations with Greece and Turkey.
  • Army-McCarthy hearings

    Army-McCarthy hearings
    Joseph McCarthy, a Republican senator from Wisconsin, was critized throughout the 1950s for his accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without evidence. Such fear sprouted from anticommunist sentiments. By the early 1950s "McCarthyism" was well known and condemned by many. In 1954, McCarthy's radicalism was exposed on television as numerous hearings were broadcasted. McCarthy was viewed by many as a "bully." The Army-McCarthy hearings brought an end to the "witchhunt for Communists."
  • Dien Bien Phu

    Dien Bien Phu
    The Battle of Dien Bien Phu was the final battle in the First Indochina War between France and the Vietnamese revolutionary forces. At the time, France sought to control various corners of Asia. However, on May 7th, 1954, a large French army was trapped at Dien Bien Phu in Vietman and forced to surrender. France was forced to surrender Indocina, which was then divided into the independent nations of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
  • Brown V. Board of Education

    Brown V. Board of Education
    Linda Brown, a fifth grader from Topeka, Kansas, was denied adission to a white elementary school. Livid, the NAACP took up the case and similar cases in Kansas, South Caroline, Virginia, and Deleware and became detmined to instigate chance. In December, 1952, Thurgood Marshall, a black lawyer who headed the NAACP, argued all of the cases collectively. After periods of very gradual change it was decided on May 17th, 1954 that segregation in the school system was illegal.
  • First Effective Polio Vaccine

    First Effective Polio Vaccine
    In 1952, polio was the most frightening epidemic in the United States with 58, 000 cases resulting in 3,145 deaths. Consequentially, scientists frantically searched for a cure to this devastating disease. Jonas Salk, a medical researcher and virologist, began to explore the different types of polio in 1948. After seven years, Salk held an immense trial consisting of over 300,000 physicians, children, and volunteers to test his vaccine. On April 12, 1955 Salk’s successful vaccine was made public.
  • Disneyland's Debut!

    Disneyland's Debut!
    • After going to many amusement parks with his family, Walt Disney came up wit the concept of Disneyland. He had originally planned on building a tourist attraction next to his Disney Studio as a form of entertainment for his fans, but 160 acres and a year later Disneyland was complete. With only 20 attractions, Disneyland made its highly anticipated debut on July 17, 1955 in Anaheim California.
  • Montgomery Bus Boycott

    Montgomery Bus Boycott
    • The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a social campaign that had originated in Montgomery, Alabama. It was designed to challenge the city’s segregated public transit system. On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white person and was arrested.
  • Federal-Aid Highway Act

    Federal-Aid Highway Act
    • The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 began the interstate highway system. President Eisenhower had observed the use of the German autobahn during WWII, and presented the highway system to the United States to be used for national defense. If the nation were invaded by another country, the army would use the highways to move troops across the country in a more effective manner.
  • Election of 1956

    Election of 1956
    • In the election of 1956, Dwight Eisenhower ran for re-election under the Republican party. Adlai Stevenson was the opposing Democratic candidate. With majority of the electoral and popular votes, Eisenhower won over Stevenson for the second presidential election in a row.
  • Eisenhower Doctrine

    Eisenhower Doctrine
    • The Eisenhower Doctrine refers to President Eisenhower’s speech “Special Message to the Congress on the Situation in the Middle East.” This doctrine states that a country being threatened by armed aggression from another nation can receive American financial assistance or military forces. The Eisenhower Doctrine was created due to the Soviet Union’s aim to use the Sue War as a reason to enter Egypt.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1957

    Civil Rights Act of 1957
    • The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was the first civil rights legislation passed by Congress since Reconstruction. This Act safeguarded the African American vote. It guaranteed African Americans their right to vote. Senator Thurmond of South Carolina was a segregationist who was against this becoming legislation.
  • Space Race

    Space Race
    • Explorer 1 was the first satellite of the United States to be launched into space. After the Soviet Union launched two satellites, Sputnik 1 and 2, the U.S. decided to join the Cold War Space Race. The Space Race was a competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in outer space exploration.
  • First Soviet Visit to the U.S.

    First Soviet Visit to the U.S.
    • President Eisenhower hosts Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to his farm in Pennsylvania. Khrushchev was the first Soviet leader to visit the U.S. His visit led to an informal agreement with President Eisenhower that there would not be a deadline over Berlin. Instead there would be a four-power negotiation to resolve the issue of East and West Berlin.
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