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The Cold War Era

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    Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Presidency

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt, commonly known as FDR, was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd President of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. He was a Democrat.
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    Yalta Conference

    In February 1945, with the war in Europe nearly over, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met at Yalta—a Soviet resort on the Black Sea—to plan the postwar world. Several agreements reached at Yalta later played an important role in causing the Cold War.
  • President Roosevelt Informed Russia

    On April 1, President Roosevelt informed the Soviets that their actions in Poland were not acceptable.
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    Harry S. Truman's Presidency

    Harry S. Truman was an American politician who served as the 33rd President of the United States, assuming the office upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt during the waning months of World War II. He was a Democrat.
  • United Nations Meet in San Fransico

    On April 25, 1945, representatives from 50 countries came to San Francisco to officially organize the United Nations and design its charter.
  • Adolf Hitler's Suicide

    Adolf Hitler was a German politician who was the leader of the Nazi Party, Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and Führer of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. On April 30, 1945 he shot himself in a bunker in Berlin Germany.
  • Germany Surrenders

    Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945, and the Allied leaders agreed to meet over the summer at Potsdam to continue the discussions that had begun at Yalta.
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    The Potsdam Conference

    In July 1945, with the war against Japan still raging, Truman finally met Stalin at Potsdam, near Berlin. Both men had come to Potsdam to work out a deal on Germany.
  • The Bombing of Hiroshima

    On August 6, 1945 the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay flew and dropped an atomic bomb called little boy on Hiroshima, Japan.
  • The Bombing of Nagasaki

    On August 9, 1945 Japan failed to surrender. The atomic bomb called the fat man was the flown and dropper on Nagasaki, Japan.
  • Japan Surrenders

    The surrender of Imperial Japan was announced on August 15. The surrender was formally signed on September 2, 1945.
  • World War II Ends

    Starting on September 1, 1939, after approximately 6 years World War II finally ended on September 2, 1945
  • George Kennan and His Long Telegram

    On February 22, 1946, diplomat George Kennan responded with what became known as the Long Telegram—a message, thousands of words long, explaining his views of the Soviets.
  • Winston Churchill's Speech on the Iron Curtain

    On March 5, 1946, in a speech delivered in Fulton, Missouri, Churchill referred to an “iron curtain” falling across Eastern Europe. The press picked up the term, and for the next 43 years, it described the Communist nations of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. With the Iron Curtain separating Eastern Europe from the West, the World War II era had come to an end. The Cold War was about to begin.
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    The Greek Civil War

    On March 30, 1946 the Greek Covil War started. In August 1946, Greek Communists launched a guerrilla war against the Greek government. The Civil War would continue for three more years. On October 16, 1949 it had ended.
  • UN Responds to World War II

    In response to the atrocities of World War II, the United Nations held a General Assembly in December 1946.
  • Britain Withdraws from The Greek Civil War

    British troops helped fight the guerrillas in Greece, but in February 1947, Britain informed the United States that it could no longer afford to help Greece due to Britain’s weakened postwar economy.
  • Truman Adresses a Speech to Congress

    Truman went before Congress to ask for $400 million to fight Communist aggression in Greece and Turkey. His speech outlined a policy that became known as the Truman Doctrine. Its goal was to aid those who worked to resist being controlled by others. In the long run, it pledged the United States to fight the spread of communism worldwide.
  • Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt Makes a Decision

    Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt chaired a UN Commission on Human Rights in 1948.
  • Truman's Inagural Address

    In his 1949 Inaugural Address, Truman proposed assistance for underdeveloped countries outside the war zone. The Point Four Program aimed to provide them with “scientific advances and industrial progress” for their improvement and growth.
  • Stalin Lifts Blockade

    The Berlin Airlift began in June 1948 and continued through the spring of 1949, bringing in more than two million tons of supplies to the city. Stalin finally lifted the blockade on May 12, 1949. The airlift symbolized American determination to contain communism and not give in to Soviet demands.
  • South Korea Gets Invaded

    As the Cold War began, talks to reunify Korea broke down. A Communist Korean government was organized in the north, while an American-backed government controlled the south. Both governments claimed authority over Korea, and border clashes were common. The Soviets provided military aid to the North Koreans, who quickly built an army. On June 25, 1950, North Korean troops invaded the south, driving back the poorly equipped South Korean forces.
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    The Korean War

    The Korean War began when North Korea invaded South Korea. The United Nations, with the United States as the principal force, came to the aid of South Korea. China came to the aid of North Korea, and the Soviet Union gave some assistance.
  • MacCarther Orders Invasion In Inchon

    On September 15, 1950, MacArthur ordered a daring invasion behind enemy lines at the port of Inchon. The Inchon landing took the North Koreans by surprise. Within weeks they were in full retreat back across the 38th parallel. Truman then gave the order to pursue the North Koreans beyond the 38th parallel. MacArthur pushed the North Koreans north to the Yalu River, the border with China.
  • The Internal Security Act/McCarren Act is Passed

    In 1950, with McCarthy and others arousing fears of Communist spies, Congress passed the Internal Security Act, also called the McCarran Act. The act made it illegal to attempt to establish a totalitarian government in the United States, and required all Communist-related organizations to publish their records and register with the United States attorney general.
  • Truman Addresses Civil Defense Conference

    MacArthur, who remained popular despite being fired, returned home to parades and a hero’s welcome. Many Americans criticized the president. Congress and military leaders, however, supported his decision and his Korean strategy. American policy in Asia remained committed to limited war—a war fought to achieve a limited objective, such as containing communism. Truman later explained his position.
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    Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower's Presidency

    Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was an American politician and decorated military general who served as the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. He was a Republican.
  • The French Get Defeated at Dien Bien Phu

    The turning point came during the Vietnam War, in the mountain town of Dien Bien Phu. By seizing the town, the French planned to cut the Vietminh’s supply lines and force them into open battle. Soon afterward, a huge Vietminh force surrounded Dien Bien Phu and began bombarding the town. On May 7, 1954, the French forces fell to the Vietminh. The defeat convinced the French to make peace and withdraw from Indochina.
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    The Vietnam War

    The Vietnam War was a war that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and the government of South Vietnam. The United States, South Korea, Australia, Thailand aided France and South Vietnam in a attempt to keep Vietnam, but North Vietnam resisted.
  • Sputnik Gets Launched into Space

    On October 4, 1957, the Soviets demonstrated this technology by launching Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth. Less than four months later, the United States launched its first satellite, Explorer 1. Determined not to be beaten by the Soviets, Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, in late 1958 to begin developing a civilian space program for the United States.
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    John F. Kennedy's Presidency

    John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, commonly referred to by his initials JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. He was a Democrat.
  • Armed Cuban Exiles Invade Bay of Pigs

    On April 17, 1961, about 1,400 armed Cuban exiles landed at the Bay of Pigs on the south coast of Cuba. The invasion was a disaster. La Brigada’s boats ran aground on coral reefs. Then Kennedy canceled their air support to keep the United States’s involvement a secret. The expected popular uprising never happened. Within two days, Castro’s forces killed or captured almost all the members of La Brigada. The incident exposed an American plot to overthrow a neighbor’s government.
  • The Cuban Missile Crises

    On October 22, Kennedy announced that the Soviet Union had placed long-range nuclear missiles in Cuba. Kennedy ordered a naval quarantine to stop the delivery of more missiles, and demanded the existing missile sites be dismantled. He warned that if attacked, the United States would respond fully against the Soviet Union. Still, work on the missile sites continued.
  • Diem is Executed and Vietnamese Generals Seiz Vietnam

    In August 1963, U.S. ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge arrived in Vietnam. He learned that several Vietnamese generals were plotting to overthrow the unpopular Diem. When Lodge expressed U.S. sympathy for their cause, the generals launched a military coup, seizing power on November 1, 1963. They executed Diem soon after. Despite his unpopularity, Diem had been a respected nationalist. After his death, South Vietnam’s government weakened.
  • John F. Kennedy Gets Assassinated

    On November 22, 1963, Kennedy and his wife traveled to Texas. As the presidential motorcade rode slowly through the crowded streets of Dallas, gunfire rang out. Someone had shot the president twice. Government officials sped Kennedy to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead moments later.
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    Lyndon Baines Johnson's Presidency

    Lyndon Baines Johnson, often referred to as LBJ, was an American politician who served as the 36th President of the United States from 1963 to 1969, assuming the office after serving as the 37th Vice President of the United States under President John F. Kennedy from 1961 to 1963. He was a Democrat.
  • Vietnam Attacks United States Ships

    On August 2, 1964, Johnson announced that North Vietnamese torpedo boats had fired on two U.S. destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. Two days later, he reported another attack. Insisting that these were unprovoked, he ordered American aircraft to attack North Vietnamese ships and naval facilities.
  • The United States Fights Back Against Vietnam

    Johnson then asked Congress for the authority to defend American forces and allies in Southeast Asia. Congress readily agreed, and on August 7, 1964, it passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. This authorized the president to “ltake all necessary measures to defend the US. Soon after, the Vietcong began to attack bases where American advisers were stationed in South Vietnam. After one particularly damaging attack, Johnson sent American aircraft to bomb North Vietnam.
  • College Students Protest and Get Arrested at Berkeley University

    On December 2, 1964, with a sit-in and powerful speech by Savio. Early the next morning, 600 police officers entered the campus and arrested more than 700 protesters. The arrests set off an even larger protest movement. Within days, a campus-wide strike had stopped classes. Many members of the faculty voiced their support for the free speech movement. In the face of this growing opposition, the administration gave in to the students’ demands.
  • The Tet Offensive Occurs

    On January 30, 1968, during Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, the Vietcong and North Vietnamese launched a massive surprise attack. In what was called the Tet Offensive, guerrilla fighters attacked most American airbases in South Vietnam and most of the South’s major cities. Vietcong even blasted their way into the American embassy in Saigon.
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    Richard Nixon's Presidency

    Richard Milhous Nixon was an American politician who served as the 37th President of the United States from 1969 until 1974, when he became the only U.S. president to resign from office. He was a Republican.
  • The Raid of The Stonewall Inn

    On June 27, 1969, New York City police raided a nightclub called the Stonewall Inn. The police had often raided the nightclub because of the sexual orientation of its patrons. Frustration among the gay and lesbian onlookers led to a riot. The Stonewall Riot marked the beginning of the gay activist movement. Soon after, organizations such as the Gay Liberation Front began efforts to increase tolerance of homosexuality.
  • The United States Launched Men into Space

    On July 16, 1969, a Saturn V lifted off in Florida, carrying three American astronauts: Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins.
  • Neil Armstrong Becomes The First Man on The Moon

    On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin boarded the lunar module, named Eagle, and headed down to the moon. Minutes later, Armstrong radioed NASA’s flight center in Texas: “Houston . . . the Eagle has landed.” Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the moon. As he set foot on the lunar surface, he announced: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” The United States had demonstrated its technological superiority over the Soviet Union.
  • Ohio National Guard Soldiers Kill Four Students at Kent State University

    In April 1970, Nixon announced that American troops had invaded Cambodia to destroy Vietcong bases there. Many believed this invasion expanded the war, which set off many protests. On May 4, Ohio National Guard soldiers armed with tear gas and rifles fired on demonstrators at Kent State University, killing four students. Days later, police killed two student demonstrators at Jackson State College in Mississippi.
  • President Nixon Goes to Moscow

    Nixon’s strategy toward the Soviet Union worked. Shortly after the public learned of American negotiations with China, the Soviets proposed an American-Soviet summit, or high-level diplomatic meeting, to be held in May 1972. On May 22, President Nixon flew to Moscow for a weeklong summit. Nixon was the first American president since World War II to visit the Soviet Union.
  • The Watergate Break in Scandel

    On June 17, 1972, a Washington Post reporter named Bob Woodward was assigned to cover a incident. Early that morning, five men had broken into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters in the city’s Watergate apartment office complex. He was asked to go to see if there was a story worth reporting. They were CIA agents. Over the next two years, he and Carl Bernstein uncovered a scandal that helped trigger a constitutional crisis and eventually forced Nixon to resign.
  • Alexander Butterfield Testifies Against Nixon

    On July 16. White House aide Alexander Butterfield testified that Nixon had ordered a taping system installed in the White House to record all conversations to help him write his memoirs after leaving office. The tapes would tell the committee what Nixon knew and when he knew it—if the president released them.
  • Nixon Resigned Due to Scandel

    The House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach Nixon, or officially charge him with misconduct. Charges included obstructing justice, misusing federal agencies to violate the rights of citizens, and defying the authority of Congress. Then new evidence emerged: a tape revealed that Nixon had ordered the CIA to stop the FBI probe into the Watergate burglary on June 23, 1972. Impeachment and conviction were inevitable. On August 9, 1974, Nixon resigned in disgrace.
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    Gerald Ford's Presidency

    Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. was an American politician who served as the 38th President of the United States from 1974 to 1977, following the resignation of Richard Nixon. He was a Republican.
  • Vice President Gerald Ford Defends Nixon

    Vice President Gerald Ford took office as president of the United States after Nixon’s resignation. He urged Americans to put the scandal behind them, saying, “Our long national nightmare is over.” On September 8, 1974, Ford announced a full pardon for Nixon. Ford’s pardon of Nixon drew public criticism and diminished his popularity.
  • President Carter Inaugural Address

    President Carter talks about his foreign policy, as his goals as president. Carter and his foreign policy team—including Andrew Young, the first African American ambassador to the United Nations—strove to achieve these goals.
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    Jimmy Carter's Presidency

    James Earl "Jimmy" Carter Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. In 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Carter Center. He's a Democrat.
  • Shocking New York City Blackout

    Conservative writer Midge Decter was appalled at the looting and arson that rocked New York City during a blackout on the night of July 13, 1977. City officials and the media blamed the events on the anger and despair of youth in neglected areas. Decter disagreed.
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    The Iran-Iraq War

    The Iran–Iraq War was an armed conflict between Iran and Iraq lasting from 22 September 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran, to August 20, 1988. It lasted for about 8 years.
  • Iran Released Americans Hostages

    Religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini and his new regime distrusted the United States. Iran took Americans hostage. The Carter administration unsuccessfully tried to negotiate the hostages’ release. In April 1980, Carter approved a daring rescue attempt that failed. Eight soldiers died in a helicopter accident. Carter’s inability to free them cost him support in the 1980 election. On January 20, 1981, the day Carter left office, Iran released the Americans, ending their 444 days in captivity.
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    Ronald Reagan's Presidency

    Ronald Wilson Reagan was an American politician and actor who was the 40th President of the United States, from 1981 to 1989. He was a Democrat.
  • The Unitd States Launched an Air Attack

    The United States tried to stop nations from supporting terrorism. After Libya backed a terrorist bombing in Berlin, the United States launched an air attack on Libya on April 14, 1986.
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    George H. W. Bush's Presidency

    George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who was the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1993 and the 43rd Vice President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. He's a Democrat.
  • East and West Germany Reunites

    Gorbachev established glasnost, or “openness,” to allow more freedom of religion and speech. Glasnost spread to Eastern Europe, and in 1989 revolutions replaced Communist rulers with democratic governments in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. At midnight on November 9, 1989, guards at the Berlin Wall opened the gates. Soon, bulldozers began leveling the symbol of Communist repression. East Germany and West Germany soon reunited.