History of United State of America – USA
In addition to cross-references contained in the following account of US history, the reader is referred to the history sections of articles on the individual states and to separate articles on US presidents.
- Colonial Developments
The United States did not emerge as a nation-state until near the end of the 18th century, but national history is properly introduced with a brief survey of the chief events leading to the formation of the Union. The voyages in the last years of the 15th century of Christopher Columbus and John Cabot were the decisive initial developments.
A1. The First Settlements
The founding of St Augustine (in what is now Florida) by the Spanish in 1565 marked the beginning of European colonization within the present boundaries of the United States. At the time of this settlement, England and Spain were engaged in naval warfare, which in 1588 culminated in the virtual annihilation of the Spanish Armada. After this defeat, Spain no longer figured as a serious rival to England for possession of the Atlantic seaboard of North America. Before that time, however, these same military pressures helped inhibit English efforts at colonization.
A2. French and Dutch Activities
During the decade following the settlement of Jamestown, France and the Netherlands entered the contest for territory in North America. The French quickly recognized the importance of controlling the St Lawrence River, the best available route to the interior. In 1608, as the first step in their strategic design, they founded Quebec. The achievements of such explorers as Jacques Marquette, Louis Jolliet, and René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle brought vast areas of the interior, including the entire Mississippi valley, under nominal French ownership during the next 75 years.
A3. The New England Colonies
English colonizing activity resumed in 1620 when a party of English Separatists, a dissident sect that had previously withdrawn from the Church of England, acquired the right to settle in Virginia. Whether by accident or design, their ship, the Mayflower, entered Massachusetts Bay and dropped anchor in what is now the harbor of Province-town, Massachusetts.
A4 Proprietary Colonies
After the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the English Crown issued no more corporate charters for colonization projects in America. Beginning with Maryland, which was chartered in 1632 as a refuge for Roman Catholics and others, all the new colonies were organized according to the provisions of proprietary charters.
A5 Political Developments
The first manifestation of parliamentary authority over the colonies was the Navigation Act of 1651, which required that colonial imports and exports be shipped in English-flag vessels.
A6 The British-French Wars
The accession of William and Mary in 1689 occasioned a complete reversal of English diplomatic policy, which under Charles II and James II had been pro-French, and the English government now challenged the military power of France, its chief rival for colonial empire. The ensuing struggle, extending in successive phases for nearly a century, was fought in many parts of the world.
A7 The Rise of Colonial Resistance
The victory over France created enormous problems for the British government. The war had virtually doubled the national public debt, and the accession of half the territory in North America had vastly compounded the problems of controlling the empire. These circumstances required new revenues.
A8 The American War of Independence
Parliamentary reaction to the events in Boston was swift and harsh. By enactments adopted in March 1774, Parliament closed the port of Boston, prohibited town meetings everywhere in Massachusetts, and imposed other penalties. Intercolonial indignation over this legislation, popularly known as the Intolerable Acts, paved the way for the convocation, in September 1774, of the First Continental Congress.
B The Growth of the Nation
With the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1783), ending the war with Great Britain, the United States was confronted with new problems, chief of which was devising a form of government that would bind the 13 states into a strong and efficient union.
B1 The Articles of Confederation
From 1776 to 1781 the states had been governed by the Continental Congress, which assumed certain executive powers—such as raising an army, borrowing money from foreign countries, and concluding treaties—in order to carry on the struggle against Great Britain. These powers were codified shortly after independence in an agreement known as the Articles of Confederation. The articles were approved by the Congress in 1777 and were ratified successively by the various states, concluding with Maryland in 1781.
B2 The Lack of Central Power
Under the Articles of Confederation, the states explicitly retained their sovereign power, which meant that their individual legislatures remained supreme in matters of taxation and administration of justice, as provided by their own constitutions. Congress was a body in which only the states, not the people, were represented; it functioned as a large plural executive, not as a legislature.
B3 The Constitution
The more ardent nationalists, including Madison and Hamilton, believed that the Articles of Confederation would have to be discarded, but it was with the intention of revising them that Congress agreed in 1787 to permit a convention of delegates from all the states to propose amendments to the system. Meeting at Philadelphia from May to September, with George Washington as its president, the convention drew up the Constitution of the United States.
B4 The First Party Conflict
The financial policies of Washington’s secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, aroused opposition from those who felt his measures neglected the agricultural class and favoured the bankers and manufacturers. The debates in Congress and elsewhere in 1790 and 1791 over Hamilton’s measures revealed a distinct cleavage in the political and economic ideas of the nation, and this division was soon manifested in the formation of the first two important political parties in US history: the Federalists and the Republicans.
B5 Jefferson’s Presidency
The most important event in Jefferson’s first administration was the acquisition by the United States of the Louisiana territory, a vast area encompassing the lands between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. Ceded to Spain in 1762 during the French and Indian War, the land had been reacquired by France in 1800 through a secret treaty. The offer of Napoleon Bonaparte to sell the region for a mere $15 million was of such obvious benefit to the United States that in 1803 Jefferson concluded a treaty purchasing Louisiana from France and by this act, doubled the area of the United States. See Louisiana Purchase.
B6 The War of 1812
These acts, and similar measures taken in the administration of Jefferson’s successor—James Madison, also a Republican—failed to change the policies of Britain and France and resulted in severe financial loss to US merchants and ship-owners.
B7 Era of Good Feeling
In the decade following the War of 1812, the powers of the federal government were augmented by several important decisions of the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice John Marshall, that limited various legislative and executive powers of the states. The national territory also expanded during the decade, when Spain ceded Florida (then East Florida) to the United States in 1819; West Florida, a strip of land along the Gulf of Mexico extending westward from East Florida to the mouth of the Mississippi River, had been forcibly annexed by the United States in 1810.
B8 Westward Migration
By this time, the West, the region lying west of the Allegheny Mountains, had been settled by people from the seaboard colonies or states in two successive waves of migration. The first began after the region was secured to Britain from the French by its victory in 1763 in the French and Indian War, and then won from Britain during the American War of Independence; it continued to the end of the 18th century.
B9 Cotton and the South
The South was principally devoted to the growing of cotton on large plantations with black slave labour. In contrast to the hardy, vigorous, and crude life of the people on the western frontier, the southern planters led lives characterized by aristocratic social grace and culture. Nevertheless, the West and the South, both devoted largely to agriculture, had similar interests and leaders in the early period of sectional conflict.
B10 Manufacturing and the North-East
Stimulated by the new inventions and processes of the Industrial Revolution, the North-East became a great manufacturing center in the first two decades of the 19th century. The rapid growth of the large cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore was partly engendered by the canals and railways that were built at the time between West and East, giving the great trading centres easier access to the products of the West.
B11 The Election of 1824
The conflict between the mercantile aristocracy of the North-East, the agricultural aristocracy of the South, and the frontier democracy of the West was first manifested in the presidential election of 1824. The three principal candidates, all members of the Republican Party, were John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, representing the conservative elements of the party; Andrew Jackson, born in South Carolina but at the time a US senator from Tennessee, leader of the democratic western frontier element and the border and southern faction; and Henry Clay, born in Virginia and at the time a US representative from Kentucky and the Speaker of the House, who was Jackson’s rival for leadership of the West and South.
B12 The Tariff and Nullification
The principal controversy in the Adams administration involved the question of tariff. The North favored a protective tariff; the South, which had advocated it in 1816, now opposed it as it had no manufactures of its own that might benefit from a high tariff. Southern leaders held that the levying of such a tariff taxed the economy of one section of the nation for the benefit of another section and asserted that this procedure was unconstitutional.
B13 The Whigs and the Democrats
Jackson was an autocratic and arbitrary executive; he exercised such power over his Cabinet and Congress that the period of his administrations is sometimes referred to as the “reign” of Andrew Jackson. Between 1834 and 1836 his enemies joined to create a new political party, the Whig Party. Several years earlier, the Democratic-Republicans, led by Jackson, had dropped the second half of the party name to become the Democratic Party, still in existence today.
- The Debate Over Slavery
During the 17th century about 25,000 Africans were brought into the country, and slavery was legal in all the colonies. The demand for cheap labor to raise cotton, the principal southern crop, caused a great increase in the number of slaves in the South. The North gradually united in finding the institution of slavery obnoxious, and by the end of the 18th century all the states north of Maryland, except New Jersey, had provided for the abolition of slavery.
C1 Slavery and Western Expansion
The first serious sectional controversy over slavery took place when the Missouri Territory, in which slavery was legal, applied for statehood in 1818. Because Missouri was to be the first state lying entirely west of the Mississippi created from territory added to the Union since its formation, the northern opponents of slavery feared its admission as a slave state would serve as a precedent for admission of all future states.
C2 Texas and Oregon
Texas was a province of Mexico until 1836, when its inhabitants, for the most part settlers from the United States who had migrated there in large numbers since the beginning of the 19th century, concluded a successful revolt and established the Republic of Texas. The new nation desired annexation to the United States. The South, favoring enlargement of the national territory in which slavery was permitted, strongly advocated the annexation of Texas, where slavery was legal; the North opposed it.
C3 The Mexican-American War
The annexation of Texas brought about a dispute between the United States and Mexico, which had never recognized the independence of Texas. Feeling grew strong in both countries; each massed troops along the Rio Grande, and a raid by American troops into Mexican territory led directly to the Mexican-American War, which was won by the United States. By terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (February 2, 1848), Mexico, in return for $15 million, ceded California and New Mexico to the United States and agreed to recognize the Rio Grande as the boundary between Texas and Mexico.
C4 California and New Mexico
The next important controversy over slavery took place in 1848, when President James K. Polk urged the civil organization of California and New Mexico, which had been under US military rule since 1846. Three plans concerning slavery in these areas were advanced: to permit slavery throughout California and New Mexico; to prohibit slavery throughout the two regions; or to divide each of the two into a free and a slave section by the parallel latitude 36°30′ north, as all of the Louisiana Purchase except Missouri had been divided.
D The Preservation of the Union
In the election of 1848 the Free-Spoilers drew away a sufficient number of votes from the Democratic Party in New York State to enable General Zachary Taylor, a Whig, to win the state and the election. In the year following the election the slavery and anti-slavery groups in Congress were so evenly divided that no solution to the problem of slavery in the newly acquired regions could be reached. At this juncture Henry Clay, in January 1850, introduced legislation that proposed a series of compromises between the demands of the two groups.
D1 The Kansas-Nebraska Act
In 1854 the organization of the central part of the Louisiana Purchase arose as a pivotal issue of the slavery debate. In January, Stephen A. Douglas, a US senator from Illinois and a leader of the Democratic Party in the North, introduced the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This act provided that the central part of the Louisiana Purchase be divided into two territories, Nebraska to the north and Kansas to the south, and that the territories’ inhabitants would decide for themselves whether they desired the institution of slavery. Because this division contradicted the Missouri Compromise, provisions of that law would be repealed.
D2 The Election of 1856
The Republican Party held its first national convention in 1856 and nominated John C. Frémont of California for president. The Democratic Party chose James Buchanan of Pennsylvania; a third candidate, former President Millard Fillmore, was nominated by the American Party, whose campaign stressed Fillmore’s ability to restore sectional harmony. Buchanan carried the election, but in its first national campaign the Republican Party made a remarkably good showing.
D3 Slavery Sanctioned
Buchanan hoped to end the agitation over the slavery question, but events in his administration brought the issue to its final crisis. The South won two important victories in the controversy. The Dred Scott decision issued in 1857 by the US Supreme Court and the obiter dictum opinion of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney of Maryland sanctioned the institution of slavery by declaring that slaves were property and not citizens and that Congress had no right to prohibit slavery in the territories.
D4 Secession and War
The Republicans, with a platform hostile to slavery in the territories, won the election of 1860. Although the party declared it had no intention of interfering with slavery in the southern states, the South felt that nothing would prevent it from becoming controlled by abolitionist’s intent on eliminating slavery from the Union. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union.
E The Post-War Period
The Civil War settled the two great problems that had been agitating the nation almost since its foundation. The North’s victory assured permanent union based on the supremacy of the nation over the states. In addition, although the war was fought primarily to preserve the Union, the North also included in its war aims the abolition of slavery.
E1 Supremacy of the Republican Party
The Republican Party remained in control of both houses of Congress until 1875 and of the presidency from 1869 until 1885. The war hero Ulysses S. Grant was President from 1869 to 1877, to be followed by Rutherford B. Hayes (1877 to 1881), James A. Garfield (1881), and Chester A. Arthur (1881 to 1885). Their policies generally favored the interests of big business and, especially in the Grant administration, were tolerant of corruption.
E2 Re-Emergence of the Democratic Party
During Arthur’s administration, several off-year elections in which the Democratic Party won important state offices alerted the Republican Party to the growing dissatisfaction with its partisan policies; notable among these Democratic victories was the election of Grover Cleveland as Governor of New York. The Republicans sought to placate this dissatisfaction by passing in 1883 a civil service reform bill, but national feeling had so turned against the Republican Party by 1884 that for the first time since 1856 the Democrats won the presidency. Cleveland defeated the Republican nominee, James G.
F Domestic Affairs (1885-1920)
F1 Beginnings of the Labour Movement
Cleveland’s administration was noted for the emergence of labour as an organized economic and political force in the United States. Trade unions were formed on a national scale between 1861 and 1866, and the first attempt to unite all trade unions into one federation took place in 1866, with the organization of the National Labor Union, which was disbanded in 1872 because of internal strife. It was succeeded by the Knights of Labor, organized in 1869. By 1886 this body was a national organization with more than 700,000 members.
F2 Railway Regulation and the Tariff
In Cleveland’s administration also, much criticism was directed at the railways, which had practically a monopoly of freight transport on western routes and practised extortion and discrimination in setting freight rates. In 1887 the US Congress passed the Interstate Commerce Act to regulate railways, establishing a precedent for similar regulation of other interstate commercial enterprises.
F3 The Harrison Administration
Harrison’s administration brought a reversal of the financial policies of Cleveland. Congress disposed of the Treasury surplus by making large appropriations for pensions, naval vessels, lighthouses, coastal defenses, and other projects. It also passed the McKinley Tariff Act, which raised the already high protective duties and resulted in higher prices for many household commodities, and the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890), which declared illegal “every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade”.
F4 The Second Cleveland Administration
Cleveland’s second administration was marked by increasing conflict between the interests of the agricultural reformers, whose followers lived in the West, and those of the large bankers and manufacturers of the country, the seat of whose enterprises was generally in the East.
F5 The McKinley Administrations
The principal event of McKinley’s first administration was the Spanish-American War (1898), fought over the issue of the liberation of Cuba. In defeat, Spain relinquished Cuba and ceded to the United States the Philippine Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico.
F6 Theodore Roosevelt and Progressivism
Roosevelt’s policies, designed to secure a greater measure of social justice, were outlined in his first message to Congress. His address included demands for federal supervision and regulation of all interstate corporations; for amendment of the Interstate Commerce Act to prohibit railways from giving special rates to shippers; for the conservation of natural resources; for federal appropriations for irrigation of arid regions in the West; and for extension of the merit system in civil service.
F7 The Taft Administration
A pronounced split over the tariff questions and other issues developed in the Republican Party during Taft’s administration. On one side was the conservative element, the so-called standpatters, who wanted a high tariff and opposed the kind of reforms initiated by Roosevelt; on the other side were the so-called insurgents, later known as progressives, who denounced a high tariff as a betrayal of the promises made in the Republican platform and criticized the administration for refusing to continue the reforms begun by Roosevelt.
F8 Wilson and the New Freedom
In his inaugural address, Wilson announced his dedication to the task of improving the national life in all possible aspects. His social, economic, and political policies as a unit are sometimes known as the New Freedom, from the title of a volume he published in 1913.
G Foreign Affairs (1865-1920)
From 1865 to 1898, US foreign policy was strongly nationalistic; it did not concern itself with world issues. As a result of the Spanish-American War, however, the United States acquired territorial possessions outside its continental area, giving the nation problems of colonial government and control that, together with other factors, compelled it to assume an increasing role in world affairs.
G1 The Influence of Foreign Governments (1865-1898)
During the American Civil War, both France and Britain sought to profit by the federal government’s preoccupation with its conflict with the South. Napoleon III ignored the US Department of State’s protests when, in 1863, he made Maximilian, Archduke of Austria, the Emperor of Mexico. In 1864 French troops supported Maximilian’s invasion of Mexico, but after the close of the Civil War more vigorous US objections resulted in their withdrawal in 1867.
G2 After the Spanish-American War
The conclusion of the Spanish-American War confronted the United States with the problem of organizing and administering Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Cuba. The United States held a protectorate over Cuba until 1902, when the US occupation forces turned Cuba over to its first president, Tomás Estrada Palma. In Puerto Rico, Congress set up a civil government in 1900, and the Jones Act of 1917 granted US citizenship to Puerto Ricans.
G3 World War I
At the outbreak of the war in Europe, President Wilson formally proclaimed the neutrality of the United States. His proclamation was not sufficient, however, to prevent strong partisan feeling from arising in the country; nor could it prevent difficulties with both warring groups in respect to US neutral rights.
H The Roaring Twenties: Boom and Crash
In 1920 Republican candidate Warren G. Harding was elected President. A time of unusual prosperity followed for US industry. After Harding’s sudden death in 1923, many of the men he appointed to government office were found to be corrupt. Even so, his vice-president and successor, Calvin Coolidge, won the presidential election of 1924.
H1 Immigration and Labour
In the 1920s Congress reversed the traditional US policy of unrestricted immigration by passing two acts, one in 1921 and one in 1924, that considerably reduced European immigration. In labour circles the period 1920 to 1932 was marked by the decline of trade unionism and the growth of industrial unionism.
The most enduring controversial issue of the period 1920 to 1932 was Prohibition. The movement to prohibit the manufacture and sale of intoxicating beverages in the United States originated in the early 19th century and culminated with the ratification, in January 1919, of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.
H3 The Crash of 1929
In the first year of the Hoover administration the economic foundations of the nation were shaken by the stock market panic of 1929. During the boom after World War I, many people had developed a tendency to invest savings and earnings in speculative ventures.
H4 The Great Depression
The stock market panic preceded an economic depression that not only spread over the United States but in the early 1930s became worldwide. In the United States many factories closed, unemployment steadily increased, banks failed in growing numbers, and the prices of commodities steadily fell
H5 Foreign Affairs (1920-1932)
In foreign relations, the administrations of Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover were concerned principally with the problems of war debts due the United States, the related reparations due from Germany, and US attempts to obtain international cooperation on measures that would bring about permanent world peace.
I The New Deal
The broad economic and social policies of the Roosevelt administration were collectively known as the New Deal. The purpose of the New Deal was twofold: recovery from the economic depression that had followed the financial crash of 1929 and stabilization of the national economy to prevent severe economic crises in the future.
I1 Relief Measures
The administration at once set up several agencies to bring relief to the unemployed and needy. Relief funds for the unemployed were distributed through state and local agencies and through several federal agencies that created temporary jobs. New laws and programmers aided farmers, industry, and labor.
I2 Roosevelt Re-elected
The New Deal programmer received praise from some who believed that by modifying the US free-enterprise system it had saved the country from adopting, possibly by revolutionary means, either a socialist or fascist system. It was severely condemned by others, who saw in Roosevelt’s policies only a dangerous curtailment of the rights assured by the free-enterprise system
I3 Roosevelt’s Foreign Policy
Initially, the foreign policy of the United States during the Roosevelt administration was concerned with efforts to extend US foreign trade, especially in Latin America; with the problems created by the war between Japan and China, which began in 1937; with the outbreak of World War II in 1939; and with the entrance of the United States into the war in 1941.
I4 Roosevelt’s Third Election
In 1940 the Democratic Party nominated Roosevelt for a third term, breaking the long precedent that had held presidents to a maximum of two terms in office. The rationale behind the nomination was that changing administrations in so critical a period would be inadvisable.
J World War II and Aftermath
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese government launched an air attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands. On the following day, at the request of the president, Congress declared a state of war between the United States and Japan. On December 11 Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.
J1 Allied Conferences
President Roosevelt’s principal diplomatic efforts took the form of a series of conferences, chiefly with the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, and the Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin. In meetings with Churchill from 1941 to 1943 at Washington, Quebec, and Casablanca, Roosevelt discussed the military conduct of the war and proposed the principle of unconditional surrender by the Axis powers.
J2 Roosevelt’s Fourth Election and His Death
In the presidential campaign of 1944 Roosevelt ran for a fourth term, defeating the Republican candidate, Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York. On April 12, 1945, Roosevelt suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died. He was succeeded by Vice-President Harry S. Truman, whose first problems as President were the conclusion of the war and the establishment of world peace. On May 8, 1945, Germany formally surrendered to the Allies.
J3 Conclusion of the War
The increasing difficulties in Soviet-US relations, however, became evident at the Potsdam Conference in Germany in July, where agreements relating to the final division of Germany were reached. Some Americans, led by President Truman, had become convinced that Stalin was not living up to his agreements at Yalta to hold free elections in Romania and Bulgaria. The spirit of wartime cooperation increasingly gave way to mutual suspicion, misunderstanding, and recrimination, leading to the era of conflict known as the Cold War.
J4 Economic Affairs
Reconversion of the US economy to peacetime conditions and demobilization of the troops became the paramount issues in US domestic policies. The Truman administration formulated a 21-point programmer calling for full employment, labor-management cooperation, heavy federal housing subsidies, increased unemployment compensation, extension of price controls, federal aid to education, guarantees of civil rights, increased minimum wage, and continued foreign aid.
J5 Security Affairs
Despite these domestic problems, the United States continued its unprecedented participation in international affairs, through membership in the UN and other groups and through Allied conduct of war crimes trials. The control of atomic energy and atomic weapons became a major diplomatic question.
J6 Containing Communism
In 1947, in an effort to contain the advance of communism in Europe, and especially in Greece and Turkey, President Truman announced the policy known as the Truman Doctrine, by which the United States furnished military and economic aid to countries threatened by aggression and subversion. An important adjunct of this policy was the Marshall Plan, proposed in June 1947 by Secretary of State George C.
J7 The Berlin Airlift
The USSR responded to the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan with the formation of a new Communist International (the Coliform) and a tightening of its control of Czechoslovakia. In February 1948 a plan for the economic merger of the British and US occupation zones in West Germany went into effect following its acceptance by the Germans in those zones.
J8 Truman Wins Election
In domestic matters, Truman proposed a programmed of civil rights legislation, including laws against lynching and the abolition of the poll tax. He also issued an executive order that led to the eventual desegregation of the US armed forces.
J9 Turmoil over China
In 1951 a peace treaty ended the US occupation of Japan, and that country became the firmest US ally in Asia. In China, however, the nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek, which had been supported by the United States, was unable to withstand the advance of Communist forces under Mao Zedong. By the end of 1949 government troops had been overwhelmingly defeated, and Chiang led his forces into exile on Taiwan.
J10 The Korean War
The events in China had made the Truman administration sensitive to further Communist expansion in Asia. In June 1950, when South Korea was invaded by the forces of Communist North Korea, Truman announced that the United States would intervene to assist the South Koreans. In an unprecedented move, the UN sponsored military action.
J11 The McCarthy Era
The Korean War also led to severe psychological dislocations as concern about Communism within the United States intensified. In 1950 Congress passed the McCarran Internal Security Act, which established a permanent Subversive Activities Control Board to follow Communist activities in the United States and barred from admission into the country any person who had been a member of a Communist organization.
K The Eisenhower Era
In July 1952 the Republican Party nominated General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Senator Richard M. Nixon of California as candidates for president and vice-president. The Democrats named Governor Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois and Senator John Sparkman of Alabama. Eisenhower won easily, and the Republicans captured control of Congress
K1 The Hunt for Communists
After the elections of 1952, public attention centred increasingly on the activities of Senator McCarthy, who took advantage of the administration’s silence to augment his own power and conducted numerous investigations into alleged Communist infiltration in government agencies, notably the State Department.
K2 The Civil Rights Movement
The most urgent domestic issue of the period was the struggle of American blacks to end segregation and secure their full rights as citizens. Congress had opposed Truman’s moderate civil rights programme, and although the Eisenhower administration completed the desegregation of the government and armed forces, it was unwilling to initiate more radical programmers.
K3 Eisenhower Re-elected
Eisenhower was unable to transfer his personal popularity to the Republican Party in general, and in 1954 it lost control of Congress. In 1956, despite a heart attack, Eisenhower announced that he would run for a second term. The Democrats denominated Stevenson for the presidency and campaigned vigorously for a “new America”, for an end to the draft, and for the cessation of hydrogen bomb testing. Eisenhower carried 41 states; the Democrats, however, retained control of both houses of Congress.
K4 Foreign Affairs Under Eisenhower
In the conduct of foreign affairs, Eisenhower relied heavily on his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, who believed that the “containment policy” was too passive. He preferred the more dynamic policy of “massive retaliation” to be directed at either Moscow or Beijing in case of further Communist aggression anywhere in the world.
L The Kennedy Years
In July 1960 the Democrats nominated Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts for president; the Republicans nominated Vice-President Richard Nixon. The presidential campaign was highlighted by a series of television debates between the two candidates. Kennedy won the election, becoming the first Roman Catholic and, at the age of 43, the youngest person ever to be elected to the presidency.
L1 Economic Policies
President Kennedy’s first economic proposals were designed to counteract the effects of the recession by providing for increased federal spending and by establishing wage-price guidelines for business and labor.
L2 Civil Rights Activities
Civil rights problems were a major concern. The president’s brother, US Attorney-General Robert F. Kennedy, pressed vigorously for an end to segregation in schools and for protection of minority voting rights. A major racial incident occurred in the autumn of 1962, when the attempt of a black student, James Meredith, to register at the University of Mississippi resulted in a campus riot.
L3 External Affairs
In his foreign policies, Kennedy sought to formulate a new approach towards Communism. With the assistance of his secretary of defense, Robert S. McNamara, the president substituted a policy of “flexible response” for that of “massive retaliation”. In April 1961 Kennedy authorized what was later known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion, an attack on Cuba by anti-Castro Cuban exiles that had been planned under the Eisenhower administration.
M The Vietnam War Period
At the Vienna conference in 1961 Kennedy and Khrushchev had agreed on the establishment of a neutralist government in Laos. In South Vietnam, however, increased pressure by the Communist-dominated nationalists known as the Vietcong led Kennedy to expand US military aid for the government of Ngo Dinh Diem.
M1 Legislative Activity
On November 27 President Johnson delivered his first address before Congress, pledging his support for the established lines of foreign policy and urging speedy enactment of the civil rights and tax bills initiated by Kennedy.
M2 Johnson Elected
In the 1964 presidential campaign, Johnson amplified his vision of a “great society” for the United States. Barry M. Goldwater, the Republican nominee, urged a general reduction in the role of the federal government and advocated a strongly anti-Communist foreign policy. Johnson won the election, and the Democratic majority increased in both the Senate and the House.
M3 Domestic and Foreign Crises
In the summer of 1965 a severe race riot occurred in Watts, a predominantly black section of Los Angeles, and in 1967 there were disturbances in more than 30 cities. A commission set up to investigate the causes of these civil disturbances issued a report in 1968 that warned of the increasing racial polarization in the United States.
M4 The Vietnam Controversy
During 1964 Johnson continued Kennedy’s policy of sending military “advisers” to assist the military forces of South Vietnam but undertook no further escalation of the Vietnam War until the North Vietnamese were reported to have attacked US vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin, whereupon he sent to Congress a resolution authorizing the president to increase US military involvement in South East Asia. The measure was passed by both houses.
M5 Nixon Elected President
At the Republican national convention in August, Richard Nixon was nominated for president. The Democratic convention in Chicago was marked by vehement conflicts between supporters and critics of Johnson’s policies; Vice-President Hubert Humphrey received the presidential nomination. Nixon campaigned on a platform calling for a restoration of social stability, and won with some difficulty.
M6 The Continuing Vietnam War
Early in his administration, Nixon outlined a foreign policy based on a “low profile” and on reductions in the US role abroad. The Vietnam War, however, continued, and so did inflation, which many blamed on the war. The cost of military equipment for allies abroad, in NATO and in Asia, left money short for domestic programmers.
M7 Other Foreign Affairs
Relations with the USSR improved, at least in the opinion of some political observers. The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, begun in 1969, continued into 1972. In May, during President Nixon’s state visit to Moscow, two agreements between the United States and the USSR were signed. One limited anti-ballistic missile systems, and the other put restrictions on offensive missile launchers.
M8 The Pentagon Papers
In June 1971 the administration clashed with several major newspapers on its right to enforce “prior restraint”, or censorship, on their publication of the so-called Pentagon Papers, excerpts from a classified Defense Department history of US participation in the Vietnam War.
M9 Nixon Re-elected
On November 7, 1972, President Nixon won re-election in an overwhelming victory over the Democratic Party candidate, Senator George S. McGovern of South Dakota. As Nixon’s second term began, a ceasefire agreement was signed in Paris on January 27, 1973, making possible the withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam. For all practical purposes, the longest and most controversial war in US history was over.
N Watergate and the 1970s
Shortly after Nixon’s second inauguration in January 1973, revelations rapidly mounted concerning an illegal wire-tap and attempted burglary that had occurred during the presidential campaign on June 17, 1972, at the national headquarters of the Democratic Party in the Watergate building complex in Washington, D.C.
In foreign affairs, the policy of détente between the United States and the USSR continued. A renewed outbreak of Arab-Israeli hostilities in October 1973 caused a setback when the Kremlin supported the Arabs and the United States supported Israel (see Yom Kippur War).
N2 Nixon’s Resignation
From the autumn of 1973 to the summer of 1974, the evidence steadily mounted that President Nixon himself was implicated in the Watergate burglary and its attempted cover-up. Evidence of other lawless acts committed by the administration followed.
N3 The Ford Administration
Ford was confronted with a number of domestic and international problems. The worldwide recession was deepening, and the United States was experiencing its highest unemployment and inflation rates in decades.
N4 The Carter Administration
In July 1976 Jimmy Carter, a former governor of Georgia and a newcomer to national politics, gained the Democratic presidential nomination. In the November elections Carter and his running-mate, Senator Walter F.
O The 1980s
President Carter defeated a challenge from Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and won his party’s nomination to run for re-election in 1980. The Republicans nominated a conservative, former screen actor and governor of California, Ronald W. Reagan. The Democrats, blamed by many for the declining economy and the Iranian hostage crisis—which was not resolved until January 1981—lost in every section of the country. The Republicans won control of the Senate for the first time in nearly 30 years, and Jimmy Carter became the first elected president to lose his bid for re-election since Herbert Hoover in 1932.
O1 The Reagan Administration
President Reagan’s announced intentions were to lower taxes, to reduce government spending and regulations, and to strengthen the defense establishment. Reagan recovered fully from an assassination attempt in March 1981, and his programmer maintained momentum
O2 The Bush Administration
Among the challenges facing President Bush when he took office on January 20, 1989, were the federal trade and budget deficits, the insolvent savings and loan system, and the Soviet diplomatic offensive in Europe. Responding to the rapid political changes in Eastern Europe, Bush offered aid to Poland and Hungary during his visits there in July.
P The Clinton Administration
During President Clinton’s first months in office, he launched many initiatives for domestic change. He sought to end the ban on the rights of homosexuals to serve in the military, though this plan was modified when it met strong opposition in Congress and the Department of Defense
P1 Foreign Affairs
The United States sent troops to Somalia in 1993 to help protect food and supplies that were intended for starving civilians. However, when US soldiers came under attack from the various factions in the civil war, the US involvement became unpopular among Americans. The troops were withdrawn by March 1994, and the UN took control of the peacekeeping operation.
P2 The 1996 Election
Clinton again sought office and chose the incumbent vice-president, Al Gore, as his running-mate; Republican opposition was provided by Robert Dole with Jack Kemp as his running-mate. In the election on November 5, 1996, Clinton won 49.2 per cent of the electoral votes and claimed 31 states. During the months of campaigning he had never appeared to be in danger of losing. The Republicans kept control of both houses, however.
Q The Presidency of George W. Bush
The presidential election of 2000 was between Republican candidates George W. Bush, the governor of Texas and son of the 41st president, and incumbent Vice-President Al Gore. The issues of the campaign centered on the use of the budget surplus—Gore supporting its use in expanded government programmers while Bush advocated large tax cuts—and gun control.
Q1 Foreign Relations
The United States and Britain made an air strike on targets in Iraq in February in what was seen as a hardening of the US stance against Saddam Hussein. Bush expelled some 50 Russian diplomats from the United States in March following the arrest of Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent who was accused of spying for Moscow.
Q2 The War on Terrorism
On September 11, 2001, four US passenger airliners were hijacked from Boston, Newark, and Washington airports by suicide terrorists. Two of the aero planes were deliberately flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, causing them to collapse and burying over 3,000 victims, including emergency service personnel who had attended the scene of the disaster.
Q3 Domestic Issues
In the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington there were numerous cases of anthrax spores being sent via the postal system to government buildings, including the Capitol building, and news agencies?
Q4 Protecting the Nation
Galvanized by the attacks on New York and Washington, in November 2002 President Bush appointed former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge to a new Cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security (DHS), with the responsibility of protecting the US against acts of terrorism.
Q5 War on Iraq
In President Bush’s first State of the Union address in January 2002 he controversially advocated taking action against “an axis of evil”, three nations—Iran, Iraq, and North Korea—accused of developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Q6 The 2004 Election and Second Term Issues
In March 2004 the Democratic senator for Massachusetts, John Kerry, won the Democratic nomination to run for the presidency against Bush. Meanwhile, Bush’s standing in the polls continued to fall as the numbers of US fatalities in Iraq increased.