The following deals with events, conflicts, and people during the years 1945-1952.
DISCLAIMER: This does NOT serve as a replacement for reading Chapter 36.
We kicked the Nazi-Japs’ asses! But there was a new war to be fought: the Cold War.
Because of the lack of money in the 1930s, there had been a shortage of babies. Now that all the soldier boys were returning home, it was time to get it on! Besides procreating, the GIs also got into college with the GI Bill, which gave money to the Veterans Administration as well. Right after the war, our GNP dropped big time and our prices rose. With war manufacturing jobs all but gone, many workers went on strike. The strikes were answered by the now-Republican Congress and their Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which outlawed an all-union workplace, AKA a ‘closed shop’.
The unions would eventually get back on track and reach their peak in the 1950s. Truman was selling off war factories at crazy prices. He also passed the Employment Act of 1946, which made it official gov’t policy to maximize employment, as if that makes any sense.
In 1948, the GNP finally got back on track and began to climb. In the coming decades, we would enjoy 40% of the world’s money and would pave the way for civil rights, new welfare programs (Medicare), and for our big egos. Most Americans now owned cars, washing machines, and televisions. Females were hired more than ever before and would in turn cause the great feminist revolt in the 60s.
America’s economy was something to marvel at, especially considering our nat’l defense budget. But war only meant more jobs, which meant prosperity! There was also cheap energy, mostly coming from the Middle East. We were consuming more electricity than ever before. We were working more and more and most of the kids were actually going to school.
Our nation’s agriculture exploded as the old agrarian farms were left behind for agribusiness farms. With huge machines and fertilizers, it was now easier than ever to feed the nation of the brave and the free!
In the decades after WWII, people constantly left their residences to find others. It was like a game of musical chairs on a much larger scale. Parents forgot how to raise their kids and new child-rearing advice books became all the rage. The ‘Sunbelt’ region, the coastline from Virginia to Florida to California, became heavily populated when people searched for jobs, low taxes, and some sun rays. Jobs in Cali focused on electronics, while jobs down South focused on either aerospace development or military stuff.
The cause for all these new jobs could be traced to one source: gov’t money. The South and West were getting more money then their regional counterparts. The shift of Northern dominance was forever changed. Excluding Obama, every US President since 1964 has come from a Southern or Western state. Mind blown.
Many people opted to leave behind apartments and live in actual houses. The Federal Housing Administration and the VA helped jump-start the suburban housing boom. Suburbs were pioneered by the Levitt brothers, who revolutionized house building. The ‘white flight’ into suburbs left inner-cities barren and desolate. Blacks quickly filled up the cities and became known as ‘urban’. The FHA, which regulated loans, thought it was unwise to give mortgages to blacks (as well as other minorities) and left them with no other choice. This would only deepen racial separation and fuel the fires of the civil rights fight.
Fifty million babies would be birthed by the end of the 1950s. Schools had to be built to educate the kids and would eventually leave many teachers unemployed as they graduated. As they were growing up, baby food manufacturing burst through the roof, clothes couldn’t stay on the racks, and rock music was totally fab. Once the 80s sprung, they practically killed each other for jobs. The 1990s, when we were all born, saw the second coming of the boomers, as they had children.
Harry S. Truman, deemed the ‘accidental president’, was average. Very average. But as the postwar problems expanded, he grew confidence. He had a group of close advisers called the ‘Missouri Gang’ and was very loyal to them. It was kinda like Harding and his ‘Ohio Gang’ [see Chapter 32].
At the Yalta Conference in 1945, Stalin had promised Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania would have free elections. Yeah right. Stalin also pledged his support to the effort in Japan, which he actually came through on only after being coaxed with promises of railroad control and special privileges. The Conference tamed Stalin, who could have easily overrun all of China.
We didn’t like the USSR. At first, we refused to help them fight the Nazis and after the war was over, we snubbed them a loan of $6 billion while giving money to Britain. Stalin’s plan was to secure Soviet security with a buffer of friendly governments. The sphere of influence the USSR held over Asia and East Europe was huge. Countries were now more isolated than ever. Furthermore, the USSR didn’t like us either.
Back in 1944, FDR had met with the Allies in New Hampshire to establish the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that would regulate currency exchange rates. It also set up the World Bank, which would help war-ravaged countries. The UN opened its doors on April 25, 1945 and would help settle conflicts before they even started. Unlike the League, Congress approved the US’ inception into the UN and its charter right away.
The UN brought peace and benefits to people all over the world. The Soviet delegation surprisingly wanted nuclear weapons to be outlawed. The US was extremely suspicious and wouldn’t have it. The Soviets saw their suspicion as cause for more suspicion!
After Nazi Germany was defeated, many people wanted the SOBs to pay. They did just that in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials in 1945 and 1946. Americans also wanted German factories dismantled and the Soviets wanted big time reparations. However, a healthy, stable Germany meant that Europe could be on its feet once again. Nevertheless, Germany was divided into four parts. Soon, the Allies left their three parts, while the USSR stayed behind and took over Poland and Hungary.
Lying in the middle of Soviet-controlled East Germany was Berlin. In 1948, the USSR outlawed all rail and cars going into Berlin. Later that year, we began to fly supplies into Berlin and in 1949 the two Germanies, West and East, were formed.
After the fiasco in Germany, the Cold War was in full swing. George F. Kennan, who couldn’t write sentences for the life of him, crafted a telegram that would lead to a containment stance and the Truman doctrine. Congress granted $400 million be sent to Greece and Turkey. The world was driven into two standpoints: pro-American or pro-communist.
France, Italy, and Germany were still feeling the effects of the war. Sect. of State Marshall worked out a joint plan for economic recovery, known as the Marshall Plan, which helped forge enemies into friends. We offered the same deal to the USSR with some difficult terms, and they refused assistance. The money given to the Europeans was a great success and they went on to help the Middle East, which meant cheap oil, baby! Truman also recognized Israel. Boo yeah!
In 1947, the US passed the Nat’l Security Act and created the Department of Defense. The NSC and CIA were also formed. In 1948, we reinstated the military draft and started to transmit radio broadcasts behind the iron curtain. Also in ’48, the UK, France, Holland, and Belgium signed a defensive alliance. The US would jump on the bandwagon in 1949 and the pact became known as NATO. We were getting ready for war.
Just like the USSR was making a buffer of friendly governments, so were we.
But over in Asia, it was a different story. Japanese war criminals were tired and most got off with prison sentences. Gen. MacArthur dictated the new Japanese constitution in 1946. It ensured Japan would have no military strength, treat women equally, and have democracy for once.
In China, we could only wish to be in control of their government. A huge civil war had occurred between Nationalists and Communists. We gave money to the Nationalists, but the bad guys won and 500 million people were pushed into communism. The bad news kept piling up when in 1949, the Soviets tested an atomic bomb. Not to be outdone, we created the hydrogen bomb, which was 1,000 times worse. The damn Soviets tested their own h-bomb in 1953.
The second coming of the Red Scare raptured many honest people in the US. Truman created a loyalty program in 1947 to scare out all the commies. Organizations that were found to be disloyal had no chance to defend themselves. States also became paranoid as well and made civil servants take oaths. The Committee on Un-American Activities led the chase for reds. Congressman Richard ‘Dick’ Nixon was especially popular as was Senator Joseph McCarthy. Reds could easily be identified by their lack of religion, a desire for sexual freedom, and their demand for civil rights.
Red hunters left libraries in ruins after searches for pro-communist text. Truman decided all this was getting out of hand and vetoed the McCarran Internal Security in 1950, which would have given him authority to arrest and detain anyone suspicious. The Rosenbergs, two Soviet spies who gave away atomic secrets, were tried and executed.
Not many Democrats were happy about Truman running for reelection in 1948. They had wanted Eisenhowen badly. They nominated Truman just for the hell of it. He faced sharp opposition from Thomas Dewey, the Repubs’ candidate. Truman didn’t have money or even support from his own party. He traveled the country giving crazy good speeches that criticized new Republican laws and enthused the public.
He won. Obviously. The Democrats also took control of Congress back from the Republicans. The commoners of the Mid-West liked Truman’s gutsy attitude and reelected him. In his inaugural address, he outlined his Point Four plan. In his plan, he kept people from flocking to communism by giving them aid and helped out countries in Latin America, Africa, and the East.
Truman had no originality. His new ‘fair deal’ plan, enacted in 1949, called for better housing, better jobs, and higher wages. The only triumphs came with a raised minimum wage and new public housing.
In Korea, just as in Germany, the country was split into two parts. With the help of the Soviets, North Korea began the attack on the South in 1950. Truman quickly sent troops to Korea and called for our defense budget to be quadrupled. By years end, we had pushed back the North Koreans and our defense budget was 13% of our GNP. This was pivotal in heightening the US’ militarization.
The war in Korea was going pretty good until the damn Chinese helped out the Northerners. The good guys were overrun. General MacArthur called for more troops and artillery. His requests went unanswered so he went on a tirade and denounced Truman. He was eventually fired in 1951. The war would continue until 1953, all the while Truman was painted as an appeaser of communism.