The Cold War Era

By wihands
  • Dropping of an Atomic Bomb

    Dropping of an Atomic Bomb
    President Harry S. Truman, warned by some of his advisers that any attempt to invade Japan would result in horrific American casualties, ordered that the new weapon be used to bring the war to a speedy end. On August 6, 1945, the American bomber Enola Gay dropped a five-ton bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
  • Period: to

    Vietnam War

    It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union and communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States and democratic allies. It lasted some 19 years with direct U.S. involvement ending following the Paris Peace Accords. It included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, resulting in all three countries becoming communist states.
  • Greek Civil War

    Greek Civil War
    The war resulted from a highly polarized struggle between left and right ideologies. Each side targeted the power vacuum resulting from the end of German-Italian occupation during World War II. The struggle became one of the first conflicts of the Cold War and represents the first example of Cold War power involved in the internal politics of a foreign country.
  • Hungarian Rebellion

    Hungarian Rebellion
    The revolt began as a student protest, which attracted thousands as they marched through central Budapest to the Hungarian Parliament building. When the delegation's release was demanded by the protesters outside, they were fired upon from within the building by the State Security Police. The revolt spread quickly across Hungary, and the government collapsed. A new government declared its intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and pledged to re-establish free elections.
  • Molotov Plan

    Molotov Plan
    The system created by the Soviet Union in 1947 in order to provide aid to rebuild the countries in Eastern Europe that were politically and economically aligned to the Soviet Union. It was proposed by Vyacheslav Molotov as an alternative to the Marshall Plan.
  • Truman Doctrine

    Truman Doctrine
    President Harry S. Truman established that the United States would provide political, military and economic assistance to all democratic nations under threat from authoritarian forces. It effectively reoriented U.S. foreign policy away from its usual stance of withdrawal to one of possible intervention in far away conflicts.
  • Marshall Plan

    Marshall Plan
    The Marshall Plan was a U.S. program to aid Western Europe, in which the United States gave over $12 billion in economic assistance to help rebuild Western European economies after the end of World War II.
  • Berlin Airlift

    Berlin Airlift
    The Soviet Union blocked all travel to and from West Berlin, a haven of democracy in Germany as a response to the refusal to allow Soviets more say in the German economy. The U.S. was shocked by the move, and some called for a direct military response. President Harry Truman instead ordered a massive airlift of supplies into West Berlin. The planes took off from bases in England, providing food, clothing, water, medicine, and other necessities for over 2 million fearful citizens of the city.
  • Executive Order 9981

    Executive Order 9981
    Issued by President Harry S. Truman, it abolished discrimination "on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin" in the United States Armed Forces. It took several years to fully implement, but is widely credited with eventually ending discrimination in the armed forces.
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization

    North Atlantic Treaty Organization
    An international alliance that consists of 29 member states from North America and Europe. It was established at the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty, article 5 of which states that if an armed attack occurs against one of the members, other members will assist the attacked member with armed forces.
  • Soviet Atomic Research

    Soviet Atomic Research
    Leading Soviet physicists attempted to reproduce the fission experiment that resulted in the atomic bomb. They began to make measurements and calculations to determine under exactly what conditions, if any, a nuclear chain reaction would take place. It was slow and underfunded until Truman casually mentioned the U.S. atomic program to Stalin at the Potsdam Conference, after which the Soviets received increased funding. They successfully detonated on the date indicated.
  • Korean War

    Korean War
    As a product of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, Korea had been split into two sovereign states: a socialist state in the north and a capitalist state in the south. Both governments of the two new states claimed to be the sole legitimate government of all of Korea, and neither accepted the border as permanent. The conflict escalated into warfare when North Korean military forces crossed the border and advanced into South Korea, aided by China and the Soviet Union.
  • Iranian Coup

    Iranian Coup
    The overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, in favour of strengthening the monarchical rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The coup was orchestrated by the United Kingdom under the name Operation Boot and the United States under the name Operation Ajax. This was the first United States covert action to overthrow a foreign government during peacetime.
  • McCarthy's Senate Hearing

    McCarthy's Senate Hearing
    The Army accused Chief Committee Counsel Roy Cohn of pressuring the Army to give preferential treatment to G. David Schine, a former McCarthy aide and friend of Cohn's. McCarthy counter-charged that this accusation was made in bad faith and in retaliation for his recent aggressive investigations of suspected Communists and security risks in the Army.
  • Brown v. Board of Education

    Brown v. Board of Education
    A landmark Supreme Court case in which the justices ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional. It was one of the cornerstones of the civil rights movement, and helped establish the precedent that “separate-but-equal” services were not actually equal.
  • Guatemalan Coup

    Guatemalan Coup
    A covert operation carried out by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency under the name Operation PBSUCCESS. It deposed the democratically elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz and installed the military dictatorship of Carlos Castillo Armas, the first in a series of U.S.-backed authoritarian rulers in Guatemala.
  • Warsaw Pact

    Warsaw Pact
    A collective defense treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland between the Soviet Union and seven states of Central and Eastern Europe during the Cold War.
  • Interstate Highway System

    Interstate Highway System
    Launched when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act. Its purpose was to provide a high-speed, high-capacity system of highways without stoplights and with exits spaced, whenever possible, at least a mile apart. Design standards include full control of access, design speeds of 50 to 70 miles per hour (depending on type of terrain), a minimum of two travel lanes in each direction, 12-foot lane widths, 10-foot right paved shoulder, and 4-foot left paved shoulder.
  • Suez Canal Crisis

    Suez Canal Crisis
    Israeli armed forces pushed into Egypt toward the Suez Canal after Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the canal in the same year, initiating the Suez Crisis. The Israelis soon were joined by French and British forces, which nearly brought the Soviet Union into the conflict, and damaged their relationships with the United States. In the end, the British, French and Israeli governments withdrew their troops.
  • Little Rock Nine

    Little Rock Nine
    A group of black students who enrolled at an all-white school. Their attendance at the school was a test of unconstitutional segregation in public schools. On the first day of classes, Governor Orval Faubus called in the National Guard to block the students’ entry into the high school. Later that month, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to escort the students into the school.
  • Bay of Pigs

    Bay of Pigs
    Fidel Castro, a young Cuban nationalist drove his guerilla army into Havana and overthrew General Fulgencio Batista, the nation’s American-backed president. The U.S. retaliated with a full-scale invasion of Cuba by 1,400 American-trained Cubans who had fled their homes when Castro took over. However, the invasion did not go well: The invaders were badly outnumbered by Castro’s troops, and they surrendered after less than 24 hours of fighting.
  • Berlin Wall

    Berlin Wall
    American officials estimated that over 1,000 East German refugees were crossing into West Berlin each day, an economic and demographic drain that, left unchecked, would spell disaster for the East. At night, the Soviet-backed East German government, began to build a barrier between Soviet occupied East Berlin and democratic West Berlin.
  • Ole Miss Riot

    Ole Miss Riot
    Fought between Southern segregationists and federal and state forces, segregationists were protesting the enrollment of James Meredith, a black US military veteran, at the University of Mississippi. Two civilians, one a French journalist, were killed during the night, and over 300 people were injured, including one-third of the US Marshals deployed.
  • Cuban Missile Crisis

    Cuban Missile Crisis
    Leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union engaged in a political and military standoff over the installation of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles on Cuba, just 90 miles from U.S. shores. In a T.V. broadcast, President John Kennedy notified Americans about the presence of the missiles, explained his decision to enact a naval blockade around Cuba, and made it clear the U.S. was prepared to use military force if necessary to neutralize this perceived threat to national security.
  • March on Washington

    March on Washington
    A massive protest march that occurred when some 250,000 people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Also known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, it was organized by Martin Luther King, Jr. and aimed to draw attention to continuing challenges and inequalities faced by African Americans a century after emancipation. It was also the site of King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech.
  • John Kennedy Assassinated

    John Kennedy Assassinated
    While riding in a presidential motorcade, President John F. Kennedy was riding with his wife, Texas Governor John Connally, and Connally's wife when he was fatally shot by former U.S. Marine Lee Harvey Oswald firing in ambush from a nearby building. Connally was seriously wounded in the attack. The motorcade rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital where Kennedy was pronounced dead. Oswald was fatally shot later that night by a nightclub operator during live television coverage of his arrest.
  • Civil Rights Act

    Civil Rights Act
    A landmark civil rights and labor law in the United States that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools, employment, public accommodations, and other applications. Powers given to enforce the act were initially weak, but were supplemented during later years as Congress asserted its authority to legislate under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment.
  • Voting Rights Act

    Voting Rights Act
    Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, it aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment. During the civil rights movement, voting rights activists in the South were subjected to various forms of violence. One such event was when participants in a march for voting rights were met by Alabama state troopers who attacked them after they refused to turn back.
  • Miranda v. Arizona

    Miranda v. Arizona
    Cases in each of which the defendant confessed guilt after being subjected to a variety of interrogation techniques without being informed of his Fifth Amendment rights. Ernesto Miranda was arrested in his house and brought to the police station where he was questioned by police officers. After two hours, the police obtained a written confession from Miranda, which was admitted into evidence despite the fact that the police admitted they had not advised him of his right to have an attorney.
  • Tinker v. Des Moines

    Tinker v. Des Moines
    A group of students held a meeting in the home of 16-year-old Christopher Eckhardt to plan a public showing of their support for a truce in the Vietnam war. They decided to wear black armbands and fast throughout the holiday season. The principals of the Des Moines school learned of the plan and created a policy that any student wearing an armband would be asked to remove it. The students sued the school district for violating the students' right of expression.
  • Apollo Eleven

    Apollo Eleven
    The spaceflight that landed the first two people on the Moon: Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin, both American. It was launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida and was NASA's fifth crewed mission. Armstrong's first step onto the lunar surface was broadcast on live TV to a worldwide audience. It effectively ended the Space Race against the Soviets and fulfilled a national goal proposed by President John F. Kennedy.
  • Kent State Shooting

    Kent State Shooting
    Four Kent State University students were killed and nine were injured when members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a crowd gathered to protest the Vietnam War. The tragedy was a sobering moment for a nation divided by the conflict in Southeast Asia. In its immediate aftermath, a student strike forced the temporary closure of colleges and universities all across the country.
  • Nixon Visits China

    Nixon Visits China
    An important strategic and diplomatic visit that marked the culmination of Nixon's harmonious relations between the United States and China after years of diplomatic isolation. The 7-day official visit to three Chinese cities was the first time a U.S. president had visited the country; Nixon's arrival in Beijing ended 25 years of no communication or diplomatic ties between the two countries and was the key step in normalizing relations between them and gaining leverage against the Soviet Union.
  • Equal Rights Amendment

    Equal Rights Amendment
    The United States Senate passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution, which proposed banning discrimination based on sex. The amendment was then sent to the states for ratification, but it fell short of the three-fourths approval needed. It included laws that impose greater restrictions on women in business, laws that favor women in child-custody and alimony cases, and laws that deny compensation to pregnant women still able to work.
  • Watergate Scandal

    Watergate Scandal
    Several burglars were arrested in the office of the Democratic National Committee. They were connected to President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign, and they had been caught wiretapping phones and stealing documents. Nixon took aggressive steps to cover up the crime afterwards, and after his role in the conspiracy was revealed, Nixon resigned.
  • Chilean Coup

    Chilean Coup
    Following social unrest and political tension between the communist Congress of Chile and President Salvador Allende, as well as economic warfare ordered by President Richard Nixon under the name Operation Condor, Allende was overthrown by armed forces. The military deposed the government and later established a government that prevented communist and socialist activities. Army chief Augusto Pinochet rose to power, and the United States quickly recognized the new government and its leader.
  • Angola Crisis

    Angola Crisis
    After a successful military coup in Portugal, the new rulers in Lisbon wanted to separate the country from its own colonial empire. The independence of Angola led to a civil war that grew into a Cold War competition. The Angola crisis ultimately contributed to straining relations between the United States and the Soviet Union.
  • Nicaraguan Revolution

    Nicaraguan Revolution
    The campaign led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) to violently oust the Somoza dictatorship after rising opposition, and the subsequent efforts of the FSLN to govern Nicaragua until the Contra War waged between the new government of Nicaragua and the United States-backed Contras from. The revolution revealed the country as one of the major proxy war battlegrounds of the Cold War with the events in the country rising to international attention.
  • Salvadoran Civil War

    Salvadoran Civil War
    A conflict between the government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a coalition of democratic groups. A coup was followed by killings of protesters by the government and by the guerrillas, and is widely seen as the tipping point toward civil war. The war included included the targeting of civilians by death squads, the recruitment of child soldiers and other human rights infringements.
  • Iran Hostage Crisis

    Iran Hostage Crisis
    52 American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days after a group of Iranian college students who supported the Iranian Revolution took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. It stands as the longest hostage crisis in recorded history. American President Jimmy Carter called the hostage-taking an act of blackmail. In Iran it was widely seen as an act against U.S. attempts to undermine the Iranian Revolution.
  • Afghan War

    Afghan War
    The internal conflict between Muslim guerrillas and the Afghan communist government. The roots of the war lay in the overthrow of the centrist Afghanistan government by military officers, who then handed power over to the communists. Muslim insurgencies arose against the government, and these uprisings, along with internal fighting and coups between governmental factions, prompted the invasion of the country by about 30,000 Soviet troops with the aim of propping up the new communist state.
  • Evil Empire Speech

    Evil Empire Speech
    President Ronald Reagan took an aggressive, hard-line stance that favored matching and exceeding the Soviet Union's strategic and global military capabilities, calling for a rollback strategy that would hopefully end the Soviet Union. The characterization demeaned the Soviet Union, angering Soviet leaders and energizing conservatives in the United States and Europe. Through this speech, the Reagan administration used rhetoric to reshape public knowledge about and attitudes toward nuclear warfare
  • Strategic Defense Initiative

    Strategic Defense Initiative
    Also known as Star Wars, a program first initiated on under President Ronald Reagan to develop a anti-ballistic missile system in order to prevent missile attacks from the Soviet Union. It was the United States’ response to possible nuclear attacks from afar. Although the program seemed to have no negative consequences, concerns were brought up about the program violating arms limitation talks. Because of this and budgetary contstraints the Strategic Defense Initiative was ultimately set aside.
  • Iran Contra Affair

    Iran Contra Affair
    A secret U.S. arms deal that traded missiles and other arms to free some Americans held hostage by terrorists in Lebanon. It also used funds from the arms deal to support armed conflict in Nicaragua. The controversial dealmaking and the ensuing political scandal threatened to bring down the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
  • Space Shuttle Challenger

    Space Shuttle Challenger
    The tenth flight of Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members, including five NASA astronauts, one payload specialist and a civilian school teacher. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida, in front of a crowd of hundreds and resulted in a thirty-two month hiatus in space exploration.