The Cold War

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    Harry S. Truman's Presidency

  • The US Uses a Nuclear Weapon

    The US Uses a Nuclear Weapon
    The bombing of Hiroshima, Japan by the US was the first time a nuclear weapon was used outside of tests. The explosion instantly killed 80,000 people, and dozens of thousands more would later die from the side effects of radiation. Five square miles of Hiroshima were reduced to nothing. The bomb, called "Little Boy", was dropped from a B-29 bomber named Enola Gay flown by colonel Paul Tibbets.
  • Churchill Delivers His "Iron Curtain" Speech

    Churchill Delivers His "Iron Curtain" Speech
    Former British prime minister Winston Churchill was invited to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. There, he gave his famous "Iron Curtain" speech. He began by commending the US, and then described the threat posed by the USSR and the Soviets' plans to spread communism across the globe. The term "iron curtain", coined by Churchill, refers to the divide between the communist Eastern bloc and the rest of the free world.
  • The Marshall Plan Takes Effect

    The Marshall Plan Takes Effect
    On April 3rd, 1948, president Truman signed the Economic Recovery Act. It would soon become known as the European Recovery Program or the Marshall Plan. It set aside over 12 billion dollars to help rebuild Europe after World War 2. The US knew that communism spreads faster in places that are poor and chaotic, so the Marshall plan was enacted to prevent European countries from falling to communism.
  • The USSR starts the Berlin Blockade

    The USSR starts the Berlin Blockade
    On June 6, 1948, the USSR decided to stop all road, railway, and canal routes that led into West Berlin from the Soviet-controlled exterior. The Soviets announced that Berlin would henceforth be under their power. In response, the US initiated the Berlin airlift, where American and British planes flew about 2.3 million tons of supplies into West Berlin over the 11 months the blockade lasted. The Soviets stopped the blockade on May 12, 1949.
  • NATO Is Founded

    NATO Is Founded
    Ministers of the US, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal met in Washington DC to sign the North Atlantic Treaty. These countries (namely the US) united under NATO out of fear of an attack from communist forces. They agreed if any NATO member were to be attacked, they would all help that nation fight off the offender.
  • The USSR Tests a Nuclear Weapon

    The USSR Tests a Nuclear Weapon
    The Soviet Union first detonated an atomic bomb, named RDS-1 or "First Lightning", at Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan. The explosion was equal to 20 kilotons, which is about the same as that of the bomb detonated at the American Trinity test. Now on the same level as the USSR in regards to nuclear power, the US decided to construct the even more powerful hydrogen bomb. They succeeded, but the USSR copied them and produced their own hydrogen bomb soon after.
  • China Becomes Communist

    China Becomes Communist
    Mao Zedong announced the foundation of the People's Republic of China, ruled by a new communist government with himself as the dictator. This event put an end to the Chinese Civil War between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Nationalist Party. The US cut all ties with China soon after Mao came to power.
  • North Korea Invades South Korea

    North Korea Invades South Korea
    The Korean War began when around 75,000 North Korean soldiers invaded South Korea via the 38th parallel without warning. This was the first proxy war of the Cold War, since the US helped South Korea and the USSR helped North Korea. There were abut 5 million casualties total. The Korean War is also called "the Forgotten War" because since little propaganda for it was done in the US, few Americans found out about it.
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    Dwight D. Eisenhower's Presidency

  • Stalin Dies

    Stalin Dies
    Joseph Stalin, who had been the leader of the USSR since 1924, died in Moscow of a heart attack. He obtained 100% totalitarian control of the Soviet Union. He annexed parts of countries like Poland, Romania, and Finland; and occupied others like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. His reign was brutal: he put to death, exiled, and persecuted anyone who represented even the smallest form of foreign (especially Western) influence. Georgy Malenkov succeeded Stalin.
  • The Rosenbergs Are Executed

    The Rosenbergs Are Executed
    Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were arrested in 1950 for having shared top-secret information concerning the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. Ethel's younger brother implicated them. The Rosenbergs' trial began on March 6, 1953, and they were convicted and sentenced to death on April 5. The Rosenbergs protested their innocence all the way up to the time of their deaths. They were executed via electric chair at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York.
  • The Warsaw Pact Is Formed

    The Warsaw Pact Is Formed
    The Soviet Union, Albania, Poland, Romania, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria all signed this treaty in Warsaw. In the Warsaw Pact, the member countries promised to defend each other from other countries and gave the Soviet Union supreme control of their armed forces. The Warsaw Pact was dissolved in 1991.
  • Vietnam War Begins

    Vietnam War Begins
    The Vietnam War was a proxy war of the Cold War where the US supported South Vietnam in its battle against communist North Vietnam. Over 3 million people were killed, of which 58,000 were Americans and 1.5 million were civilians. Ho Chi Minh was the first leader of the North Vietnamese forces, known as the Viet Minh. The Viet Cong were the North Vietnam supporters in South Vietnam.
  • The Hungarians Revolt against the USSR

    The Hungarians Revolt against the USSR
    The Hungarian Uprising began when protesters flooded the streets of Hungary demanding they be liberated from the oppressive Soviet control. On November 4th of the same year, Soviet tanks and troops entered Budapest and attacked the protesters. It is estimated that 2,500 Hungarians died, and 200,000 fled the country. The USSR successfully crushed the rebellion.
  • The USSR Puts the First Satellite in Space

    The USSR Puts the First Satellite in Space
    The Soviet Union initiated the Space Age when it launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite in the world, into orbit. Sputnik was just 22" in diameter and made a complete lap around Earth once every 98 minutes. Sputnik sent radio signals back to Earth, which American radio operators could pick up and listen to its beeping with awe, outrage, and/or envy. As the Soviets predicted, Sputnik fell back towards Earth and incinerated in the atmosphere on January 4th, 1958.
  • Fidel Castro Takes Power in Cuba

    Fidel Castro Takes Power in Cuba
    The Cuban Revolution, fought between Castro's revolutionary movement and the military dictatorship of Cuban president Fulgencio Batista, finally ended on January 1, 1959 when Castro's guerillas overthrew Batista. Castro established the first communist government in the Western Hemisphere and went on to rule Cuba for nearly 50 years. In 1960, Castro nationalized all American businesses, to which the US responded by placing a trade embargo and cutting all diplomatic ties with Cuba.
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    John F. Kennedy's Presidency

  • Bay of Pigs Invasion Begins

    Bay of Pigs Invasion Begins
    Castro's communist regime posed such a large threat to the US that Kennedy launched the Bay of Pigs Invasion to oust Castro from power. On April 17, 1961, 1,400 American-trained Cubans refuged or exiled in the US invaded Cuba. The invasion was a complete failure: American radio transmissions were intercepted by Cuba, coral reefs sunk American ships, American backup landed in the wrong location... In less than 24 hours, the invaders surrendered. 114 died and over 1,100 were taken prisoner.
  • Construction of the Berlin Wall Begins

    Construction of the Berlin Wall Begins
    The East German communist government began to build a massive concrete wall between East and West Berlin. They said it was to keep the "fascists" (supposedly the Western Germans) from crossing over to East Berlin and overthrowing the communist government. In reality, the East German government wanted to stop its people from moving out of East Berlin to West Berlin, and to eliminate Western influence on East Berlin. At least 171 Germans were killed by the Soviets as they tried to cross the wall.
  • Cuban Missile Crisis Begins

    Cuban Missile Crisis Begins
    During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Cold War nearly became a hot war. President Kennedy was informed on October 16th that the assembly of Soviet missiles had been spotted on Cuba. On October 22nd, he appeared on TV to inform Americans of the situation and of the fact that the US would use military force to eliminate this threat if necessary. War was avoided when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev promised to withdraw the missiles as long as the US promised not to invade Cuba.
  • President Kennedy is Assassinated

    President Kennedy is Assassinated
    In the fall of 1963, president John F. Kennedy did a presidential campaign to win voters for the 1964 election. On November 22, 1963 at 12:30 pm, president Kennedy was fatally shot while riding in the backseat of a convertible in Dallas, Texas. The assailant was Lee Harvey Oswald. The president was driven immediately to the hospital, but was pronounced dead within half an hour.
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    Lyndon B. Johnson's Presidency

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    Richard Nixon's Presidency

  • The US Puts a Man on the Moon

    The US Puts a Man on the Moon
    The Apollo 11 mission made history when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin became the first people to land on the moon. A few hours later, Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. His descent to the moon's surface from the spacecraft was televised and viewed across America. Armstrong and Aldrin planted a US flag, took pictures, performed a few scientific experiments, and returned to the spacecraft. Apollo 11 came back to Earth and landed in the Pacific Ocean on July 24.
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    Gerald Ford's Presidency

  • Saigon Falls to North Vietnam

    Saigon Falls to North Vietnam
    By the 1970s, American support for the Vietnam War was dying out, which is why president Nixon withdrew US troops from Vietnam in 1973. As a result, communist North Vietnamese forces conquered Saigon and defeated South Vietnam in 1975. They ended the war and unified the country into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
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    Jimmy Carter's Presidency

  • The US Recognizes Red China

    The US Recognizes Red China
    On December 15, 1978, president Carter announced that the US will formally recognize the People's Republic of China as of December 1, 1979. After Mao rose to power and established a communist government in China, the US refused to recognize his power, and instead recognized the noncommunist government established in Taiwan. But by the 1970's, the US realized that fostering a good relationship with the PRC could help them make more money in exports and possibly have an ally in the Eastern bloc.
  • Period: to

    Ronald Reagan's Presidency

  • Period: to

    George H. W. Bush's Presidency

  • The Berlin Wall Falls

    The Berlin Wall Falls
    The communist government in East Berlin announced on this day that starting midnight, East Berliners would be free to cross the wall over to West Berlin. East and West Berliners crowded on either side of the wall, and fought their way across once midnight arrived. Families and friends were reunited. Over the weekend, the Germans began to tear down the wall–first with hammers and picks, then with bulldozers and heavy machinery.
  • The Soviet Union Collapses

    The Soviet Union Collapses
    On Christmas of 1991, the Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin in Moscow for the last time and replaced with the Russian tri-color flag. President Mikhail Gorbachev resigned the same morning. The fall of the USSR is largely attributed to his reforms. 14 of the 15 republics had announced their independence from the USSR. As of December 26, 1991, the USSR no longer existed. The Cold War had come to a peaceful, official, rather unceremonious end.