Developments in American History from 1954-1975

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    Dwight D. Eisenhower's Presidency

    Eisenhower’s main pursuit was easing the tensions of the Cold War. He signed the Korean Armistice Agreement in his first year, and he met in the Geneva Conference with British, French, and Russian officials in 1955. He also created the Atoms for Peace initiative, which sought to educate every country about nuclear technology to channel it into constructive endeavors. He kept America from direct intervention in the Vietnam War but pumped resources in to combat the spread of Communism.
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    The Vietnam War

    Ho Chi Minh was trained by the Soviet Union and created the League for the Independence of Vietnam, also known as the Viet Minh. This group began a guerrilla war against the French colonial rule in 1949 and declared the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China began supporting the Viet Minh, and the U.S. began supporting France because of the communist threat. The war was extremely costly and led to mistrust between the U.S. government and the public.
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    The Montgomery Bus Boycott

    This year-long protest against public transport segregation is viewed as a major landmark in the Civil Rights movement because of its success and widespread effect. When Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat for the sake of a white man, tens of thousands of black individuals boycotted the bus system only four days later. The Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of Montgomery’s buses, and Martin Luther King Jr. arose as a leader of the Civil Rights movement.
  • The Warsaw Pact

    The Warsaw Pact
    This pact, which was formed mostly as a response to the formation of NATO and the remilitarization of West Germany, which the Soviets saw a threat. They responded with their own treaty that included Albania, Poland, Romania, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria. It established a policy of mutual military aid, and it created a unified military force under Soviet Marshal Ivan Konev.
  • Explorer 1

    Explorer 1
    This was the first satellite successfully launched into space by the U.S. The Space Race began 3 years prior when both the U.S. and the Soviet Union announced they would be launching satellites soon. The Soviets interpreted this similar announcement timing as a challenge, and they launched Sputnik on October 4, 1957, so Explorer 1 was spurred on by America’s determination to not be outdone by the Soviets.
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    John F. Kennedy's Presidency

    JFK was a young, popular, charming politician who also became the first Roman Catholic president. He erred on the side of diplomacy, successfully keeping peace through the Cuban Missile Crisis, and he tried unsuccessfully to fix and prop up the floundering efforts of American and South Vietnam forces in Vietnam. Although slow at first, he also committed to the civil rights movement. The nation reeled in shock when he was assassinated in Dallas on his way to a speech.
  • The Bay of Pigs Invasion

    The Bay of Pigs Invasion
    When Fidel Castro took over Cuba with his leftist revolutionary regime, many middle and upper class Cubans fled to America. The U.S. refused to recognize the new government and organized a force of the CIA and exiles for an invasion to overthrow Castro’s government. However, they did not realize that the people of Cuba would not support a coup, and the invasion failed. This was major embarrassment for the U,S, government and contributed to the Cuban Missile Crisis later on.
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis

    The Cuban Missile Crisis
    Fearing more opposition from America, Castro made an agreement with Khrushchev to construct nuclear weapons on Cuba to give them leverage. The progress of these weapons was discovered during a surveillance flight, and President Kennedy informed the public about this development on Sep. 4. By Oct. 14, they determined that the construction was continuing, and the situation dissolved into a 2-week showdown that teetered on the edge of war until both sides compromised and removed offensive missiles.
  • The Battle at Ap Bac Village

    The Battle at Ap Bac Village
    In January, after almost a decade of war, the Viet Cong insurgency group overcame a South Vietnamese force who had four times as many soldiers and U.S. aid at the village of Ap Bac. This was an early indication of how the war would eventually end; the South Vietnamese struggled in a losing battle even with the support of the U.S.
  • The Equal Pay Act

    The Equal Pay Act
    This was an amendment that JFK signed to be added to the Fair Labor Standards Act. It outlawed wage discrimination that was gender based. It was one of the major legislative steps to wiping out the inequality that women faced in the work force.
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    Lyndon B. Johnson's Presidency

    Lyndon B. Johnson revived the two goals JFK was not able to complete before his death: a civil rights bill and a tax cut. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 continues to be one of his largest achievements. Through his domestic policy “the Great Society,” he successfully enacted many bills for various societal improvement such as Medicare. He sought to resolve the enduring conflict of the Vietnam War by initiating peace talks; unfortunately, these negotiations only succeeded after his death in 1973.
  • The Tet Offensive

    The Tet Offensive
    This was a series of surprise attacks that the North Vietnamese forces launched in early 1968, and it undermined support for the war among a significant portion of the American public because it showed that North Vietnam was still capable of inflicting serious damage on the combined South Vietnamese and American forces even after years of fighting. Although the attacks were repulsed, it was a strategically beneficial endeavor for North Vietnam in the long term.
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    Richard Nixon's Presidency

    Nixon prioritized ending the conflicts of the Cold War. He withdrew America from the Vietnam war and became the first president since Hoover to visit China. He also established the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with the USSR. He began opening the doors shut by the Cold War. Unfortunately, his broad popularity was crushed in his second term by the Watergate scandal, which continued to develop as an issue as more discoveries linked it to Nixon. He became the first and only president to resign.
  • The First Man on the Moon

    The First Man on the Moon
    Apollo 11 carried Neil Armstrong to the moon and led him to be the first man to land and walk on the moon. This was a spectacle on both national and international level, considering that it was an incredible technological victory, a massive step in the space race, and a morale boost for Americans.
  • The Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty

    The Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty
    This treaty was an agreement between the US and the USSR that placed strict limits on the development of anti-ballistic missile systems, restricting the number of ground systems and banning sea, air and space systems. This helped edge the world away from the feared nuclear war because it reduced the protection that both sides had against each other’s nuclear weapons and therefore severely degrading missiles' strategic value.
  • The Oil Crisis

    The Oil Crisis
    In response to the US’s support for Israel during the Arab-Israeli War, the Arabs, who were the primary source of oil for most of the world, established an embargo on their oil. This strained the U.S. economy as oil prices rocketed. This was simultaneous with the degrading value of the U.S. dollar, and a massive economic crisis loomed in America and internationally. In 1974, enough of the tension had been resolved that the embargo was lifted, but the damage had already been done.
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    Gerald Ford's Presidency

    Ford filled Nixon’s vacant role. His presidency began with controversy as he fully pardoned Nixon to end the scandal. Unable to provide further support to South Vietnam, he had to watch it fall to Communist forces in 1975. However, he also strengthened relations with the Soviets with the Helsinki Accords. To combat inflation, he slowed down the economy, but that led to a recession that further mired America in unemployment. Ultimately, he was not elected again because of his pardon of Nixon.