Chapter 38: The Eisenhower Era 1952-1960

The Advent of Eisenhower (1952):
  • Democrats nominated Adlai E. Stevenson - weakened party
  • Republicans nominated Dwight D. Ewisenhower w/ anti-Commie Nixon
  • Nixon's "slush fund" surfaced, but theatrical "Checkers speech" on TV kept him in the running
  • TV- was it commercializing politics?
  • Eisenhower won (w/ pledge to go to Korea and end the war) 442-89 electoral votes. Small Republican majority in Congress.

"Ike" Takes Command:

  • Dec. 1952, Ike flew to Korea - the war ended 7 months later after he threated atomic weapons, shaky armistice signed.
  • Korean War=50,000 Americans dead, 10s of billions dollars, returned to conditions of 1950, "contained" Communism.
  • Ike= sincere, fair, optimistic, people loved him, soothing, social harmony>social justice

The Rise and Fall of Joseph McCarthy:

  • Senator Joseph McCarthy was the most ruthless red-hunter. 1950, made compelling speech accusing SoS Acheson of hiring Commies in State Department (not true).
  • Republicans and majority public commended his efforts
  • McCarthy went after ex-Sos George Marshall. Ike secretly hated him but didn't intervene.
  • McCarthy accused US army 1954 - finally Senate condemned him, died 3 years later.

Desegregating the South:

  • Blacks in S had Jim Crow laws - segregated schools, toilets, bus seats
  • Some blacks still lynched
  • 1944 - Gunnar Myrdal - An American Dilemma - all men are created equal, but blacks are treated like this?
  • NAACP wanted legal action! 1944, Supreme Court ruled "white primary" unconstitutional. 1950 NAACP legal counsel Thurgood Marshall ruled schools for blacks' accomidations weren't equal (Sweatt v. Painter)
  • 1955 Alabama - Rosa Parks => black boycott of city busses
  • MLK Jr. - orator, nonviolent, biblical and constitutional justice

Seeds of Civil Rights Revolution:

  • 1948, Truman had ended segregation in federal civil service AND armed forces (shortages in Korea forced integration)
  • Ike and Congress weren't interested in civil rights -> judiciary
  • Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, interested in social progression (Ike against him) got much opposition.
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas - Warren ruled black schools were unequal therefore unconstitutional => integration in schools.
  • This got painful opposition from the S, and verrrrry slowly implemented.

Crisis at Little Rock:

  • 1957, Orval Faubus (gov. of Arkansas) used National Guard to prevent 9 black students from engrolling at Little Rock HS, Ike sent troops to escort kids to classes.
  • 1957 Congress passed Civil Rights Act ("mild") - established Civil Rights Commission to investigate violations of civil rights
  • MLK: Souther Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) 1957 - black churches for black rights
  • "sit-in" movement started by students => 1960 Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC "snick")

Eisenhower Republicanism at Home:

  • Ike was a moderate conservative - "bland"
  • Tried to get away from "creeping socialism" - less defense spending, control of oil fields given to states, encouraged private company to compete with TVA.
  • Operation Wetback - deported 1 million Mexican illegal immigrants - 1954.
  • Tried to reverse Indian New Deal - assimilate! Abandoned 1961
  • Kept and embraced New Deal policies like Social Security, unemployment insurance
  • Interstate Highway Act - 1956 - $27 billion. Construction jobs and suburbanization. Robbed railroads, air quality, energy consumption.
  • 1957-1958, economic downturn, 1954 Democrat majority in congress. 1955 CIO and AFL merged.

A New Look in Foreign Policy:

  • SoS John Foster Dulles: containment is not enough, we must roll back Commie gains and liberate captive peoples. But we need to cut military spending. How will that work? Dulles: 1954 - "boldness policy" - airfleet of superbombers (Strategic Air Command - SAC) with nuclear weapons.
  • Threatened Cina, 1955 tried to make peace w/ USSR (now under Khrushchev) - rejected, 1956 Hungary uprising against USSR- crushed, asked US for aid, but they now had too heavy a weapon.

The Vietnam Nightmare:

  • 1954, US was financing $1 billion/year for French colonial war in Indochina
  • Commie Ho (emphasis on ho) Chi Minh trapped French garrison 1954, Ike held back to prevent another war
  • 1955, Vietname halved at 17th parallel. N - Ho Chi Minh. S - Hgo Dinh Diem (anti-commie). US promised to aid S and did.

A False Lull in Europe:

  • W Germany joined NATO 1955 and contributed 1/2 million troops
  • E Euopre and Soviets signed Warsaw Pact - red counterweight to NATO
  • Arms-control agreements w. USSR and Soviets agreed to end occupation of Austria.
  • 1956, Hungarians revolted, brutally crushed by Sovs, US admitted 30 thousand Hungarian refugees.

Menaces in the Middle East:

  • CIA managed coup to put Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi in charge of Iran, as former gov. was resisting Western oil compaines.
  • Nasser (Egypt) needed $$ for dam, US offered, then took it back when he flirted w/ Commies (their red may have been attractive but they don't put out - Nasser should have known that before he started flirting!!). Nasser nationalized the (Brit and French owned) Suez Canal.
  • SoS Dulles said no European or Sov intervention - but France, Britain and Israel staged assualt on Egypt 1956.
  • US refused to provied allies w/ oil and supplies -> they withdrew and UN police force maintained order
  • 1957 Eisenhower Doctrine - US will send military and economic aid to coutnries in Middle East threated by Commies (really to prevent nationalism - threat to US's oil).
  • 1960 Organization of Petrolium Exporting Countries (OPEC) - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela.

Round Two for Ike:

  • 1956 Adlai vs. Eisenhower again, Ike won 457-73. Democrat Congress. Ike had fragile health and was now more laid back.
  • Labor union "Teamsters" chief Dave Beck imprisoned for embezzlement. Replacement James R. Hoffa doing some jury tampering.
  • => Landrum-Griffin Act - make labor leaders accountable for finaces and clean up labor union corruption.

The Race with the Soviets into Space:

  • 1957 - Soviets launch Sputnik and Sputnik II. America gasped! How could the comies be sceintifically ahead of us? And do they have intercontinental ballistic missiles?
  • Eisenhowerr established NASA and billions for missile development.
  • 1957 - Vanguard blew up! 1958 - first US satelite
  • Education improvement. 1958 National Defense and Education Act (NDEA) - $887 million in loans to college student and grants for teaching improvements.

The Continuing Cold War:

  • 1958 - Us and USSR suspension of developing nuclear weapons.
  • Lebanon was threated by Egypt and Commies - asked for US help - Ike sent troops to restore order (part of Eisenhower Doctrine)
  • 1959, Khrushchev met w/ Ike at Camp David, Maryland - talked about evacuating Berlin
  • 1960 American spy plane shot down in Russia -> Paris summit conference sollapsed.

Cuba's Castroism Spells Communism:

  • US hadn't given much $$ to Latin America, but intervend (CIA coup ousted leftist gov in Guatemala 1954)
  • Fidel Castro - 1959 Cuban Revolution -> Commie land-distribution program. US stopped importing Cuban sugar, Cubans fled to Florida.
  • US tried to invoke Monroe Doctrine before Soviets could set up in Cuba. Khruschev: screw dat, touch Castro and I'll missile y'all.
  • Ike proposed "Marshall Plan" for Latin America -> gave em $500 million

Kennedy Challenges Nixon for the Presidency:

  • 1960 Republicans: Nixon (stand up to Soviets) w/ Hunry Cabot Lodge Jr. (UN rep)
  • Democrats: John F. Kennedy w/ LBJ "New Fronteir"

The Presidential Issues of 1960:

  • JFK had anti-Catholic sneers and Pope fears
  • Televised Nixon-Kennedy debates (JFK looked better, Nixon had a 5 o'clock shadow, etc.)
  • JFK won 303 to 219 (workers, Catholics, blacks)
  • Democrat Congress

An Old General Fades Away:

  • Some said Ike "golfed" away his presidency, but he was very active
  • Alaska and Hawaii became states 1959
  • Ike didn't crusade for civil rights :(

Changing Economic Patterns:

  • The computer! IBM
  • Aerospace - Strategic Air Command - 1957 Boeing 707 passenger jet - Air Force One
  • 1956 white collar revolution - fading out of labor unions - women opportunities in workplace
  • 1963 - Betty Friedan - The Feminine Mystique - being a housewife is boring, women should be able to work and this should be socially acceptable

Consumer Culture in the Fifties:

  • McDonald's, Disneyland, credit card. TVs! - televangelists, sports.
  • Elvis Presley - rock and roll. Sexual-ness: Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Playboy
  • Books about consumerist lifestyles, some leftist

The Life of the Mind in Postwar America:

  • Fantastic and exaggerated war novels
  • Society books. Depressing poetry.
  • Books by blacks, southerners, Jews.