The 1950s
Essential Questions
• What aspects of post–World War II America shaped the issues that
arose in the 1950s?
• How did the Cold War affect American foreign policy during
the decade?
• How did changing aspects of culture affect the upbringing of
children and adolescents?
• Why did rock ‘n’ roll engender wildly different reactions from
various segments of society?
• How did the modern civil rights movement evolve in the mid- and
late 1950s?
• What impact did television have on society, economics, and politics
during the 1950s?
• How did events and issues in the 1950s help lead to the cultural and
social revolutions of the 1960s?
Returning Veterans “Readjust”
• GI Bill of Rights (Servicemen’s Readjustment Act
of 1944)
• Provided vets with education, training, and low-cost
loans for businesses and homes
• Millions took advantage of benefits
• College enrollment skyrocketed
• GI Bill helped create “baby boom” of 1950s and
President Truman
Truman (center) stands with Soviet
Premier Josef Stalin (right foreground)
during the 1945 Potsdam Conference
• Became president upon
death of FDR (1945)
• Soviet aggression
in Europe
• Faced several domestic
• Won election to his own
term in 1948
• Korean War began
in 1950
Truman and Civil Rights
• Congress rejected his
civil rights legislation
• Formed President’s
Committee on Civil
• Desegregated federal
employees and
armed forces
• “Dixiecrats” split from
Democrats in 1948 due
to Truman’s policies
Truman shaking hands with
a black soldier
The Korean War: Outbreak
• June 1950: Truman sent
troops to Korea
• U.S. forces part of
larger UN force
• U.S. and UN forces
suffered major setbacks
at first
• Inchon landing helped
turn tide
Marines herding North Korean
soldiers taken prisoner, 1951
The Korean War: Stalemate
• UN forces pushed
communists to
Yalu River
• MacArthur clashed with
Truman over scope
of war
• China entered conflict;
war became a stalemate
• MacArthur fired
• Truce signed in 1953
UN and North Korean representatives
work out the details of the truce
Discussion Questions
1. How did the U.S. government assist veterans
returning from WWII? What benefits did
they receive?
2. What actions did Truman take on issues of civil
rights? How did his positions affect the
Democratic Party?
3. How did Truman and MacArthur differ on
conducting the war in Korea? Whose point of view
do you agree with? Why?
The Election of 1952
• Truman decided not to
run again
• Democrats nominated
Stevenson; Republicans
ran Eisenhower
• Eisenhower promised to
“go to Korea” if elected
• Eisenhower
won handily
Republican running-mates Eisenhower
(left) and Nixon campaigning in 1952
Dwight D. Eisenhower
• Nicknamed “Ike”
• Led troops in North
Africa, planned and
ran D-Day invasion
• President of
Columbia University
• NATO commander
• Elected president in
1952 and 1956
• Died 1969