Cold War Research Project

  • China becomes Communist

    There had been a long civil war in China. Mao Zedong led the communists in the North, and Chiang Kai-shek, the Chinese president, led the Nationalists in the South. After years and years of fighting, and the US trying to serve as a peacemaker from 1944-1947, Chiang and his followers finally had to flee to Taiwan. On October 1, 1949, Zedong declared the creation of the People’s Republic of China.
  • Part 2: China becomes Communist

    It marked a country falling to Communism. The US was shocked because containment had not worked. What had started as a political concern in Russia due to the threat of communism had turned into a proxy war in which China was pitted against itself. The US now had another communist country to worry about.
  • Soviet Launch Sputnik

    Description: The Soviet Union began what became known as the "Space Age" with Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite. Sputnik transmitted radio signals back to Earth strong enough that some radios could pick up the signal. Americans listened with awe as Sputnik (travelling 18,000 miles per hour) passed over America several times per day.
  • Part 2: Soviet Launch Sputnik

    Significance: Sputnik began the Space Race when Russia beat America to space. Soon after the launch of Sputnik, America launched its first satellite, Explorer 1. While Sputnik was launched to study Earth and the solar system, many Americans feared hidden uses of this new satellite technology.
  • Nikita Khrushchev visits the USA

    Nikita Khrushchev was the first Soviet head of state to visit the United States. At the airport, Khrushchev stated that he had arrived, "with open heart and good intentions. The Soviet people want to live in friendship with the American people."
    During the visit, he visited with Eisenhower and toured the US.
  • Part 2: Nikita Krushchev visits the USA

    Significance: Khrushchev's visit was more of a goodwill visit than an opportunity for significant negotiations,. While there were several moments filled with drama (Khrushchev got in a disagreement with the director of a Hollywood studio and was denied access to Disneyland for security reasons), this visit was seen as a peace offering and a chance at peaceful coexistance.
  • U-2 Spy Plane Controvercy (Francis Gary Powers)

    The USSR shot down an American U-2 spy plane in Russian airspace and captured the pilot Francis Gary Powers. This incident forced President Eisenhower to admit that the CIA had been spying on the Soviets for the past decade as a result of the Cold War. Francis Gary Powers was sentenced to 10 years in prison on espionage charge (he was released after 2 in a US-USSR "spy swap."
  • Part 2: U-2 Spy Plane Controversy (Francis Gary Powers)

    Significance: This event caused the USSR to lose their cordial relationship and trust of the US; many Soviets felt betrayed that the CIA had been spying on them unknowingly for so many years. This incident caused Khrushchev to believe that he could not cooperate with Eisenhower; he walked out of the Paris Summit meeting (which would discuss the status of Berlin and nuclear arms control) soon after it began. Soviet leaders also abandoned talk of nuclear disarmament the following month.
  • Nixon visits China

    Nixon visited China to try to improve the countries' relations. Nixon met with Premier Zhou Enlai where the two discussed increased US-China trade. Nixon also saw this as an opportunity to make the Soviet Union more compliant to U.S. policy requests (such as pressuring the North Vietnamese to sign a peace treaty acceptable to the United States).
  • Part 2: Nixon visits China

    This visit functioned to normalize relations between the United States and China. This meeting also encouraged progress with the USSR. Ultimately this event set the course for China's economic and diplomatic transformation. Sources:
  • Olympic Rivalry: 1972 basketball game

    Description: This Olympic game, the US vs. USSr, is one of the most controversial basketball games. Officially, the Soviets won the game 51-50. However, that victory was shrouded in controversial and biased calls. After the buzzer stopped the game, the score was 49-51; the US had won. However, the Soviet players were mysteriously given several more seconds to attempt to inbound and score. Aleksandr Belov scored, winning for the Soviets with a score of 51-50.
  • Part 2: Olympic Rivalry: 1972 basketball game

    Significance: The infamous 1972 basketball became a proxy war between two superpowers, rather than a competition for a gold medal. Many Americans believe that they had their victory taken away from them. This game caused even more tension and hatred for the Soviet Union because many people saw this as unfair manipulation for a victory.