Tha history of USA
1. The Colonial Period of American History (1607-1776)
Claiming that Europeans owned land could only be done by establishing settlements of their own.
Sir Walter Raleigh landed on Roanoke Island (now N. Carolina) and named Virginia in honor of
Elizabeth but they gave up and sailed back. In 1587 he tried again. The colonists were led by John
White (an artist and mapmaker). He returned to England and when he was able to return in 3
years, nobody was there.
26 April 1607 – Virginia
Captain John Smith landed in 1607. (Pocahontas saved his life. In 1609 he returned to E.) They
named the river the James in honor of James I. On May 20, 1607, sailors reached the land they had
been searching for: Virginia. The 1st permanent E. town: Jamestown. He organized the 1st
Jamestown colonists and forced them to work.
The settlers were sent by the Virginia Company (it was a joint stock company, got a royal charter).
The Companys purpose was to set up colonies along the Atlantic coast of North America to make
profit. The Jamestown settlers were employees of this company.
By April 1608 the two third of the English died. They were destroyed by diseases, heavy storms,
starvation and wars. In 1610 it was the starving time. Of the 500 colonists living in the settlement
in October 1609, only 60 were still alive in March 1610.
So Virginia had a very bad reputation. Nobody wanted to go. The Virginia Company gathered
homeless children from the streets of London and a hundred convicts from Londons prisons and
sent them out to the colony. However, some people sailed willingly. For many English people
these early years of the 17th century were a time of hunger and suffering.
The background - Push and pull factors:
- in E. not enough land (enclosures)
- incomes were low and many people were without work, but the prices of food and clothing
climbed higher every year,
- saturated /sæt∫əritid/ markets – need new markets, grow your exports but limit your imports
- established the Church of England in 1534 (religious teaching of Calvin),
- huge land,
- new business opportunities,
- religious freedom,
In 1613 the 1st load → of Virginia tobacco → tobacco leaves marketable product → most of the
settlers were growing it, exported to England. Big plantations were established, colonies were
established on tobacco. But it is a labor intensive product.
Most of the workers were “indentured servants” from England. They promised to work for an
agreed number of years (about 7) in exchange for food and clothes. Luckier ones were given a
piece of land.
Life in Virginia continued to be hard. Not hunger was the only problem. Diseases like malaria and
wars against the Amerindians continued to kill many settlers.
The V. Company allowed a body called the House of Burgesses to be set up. The Burgesses were
elected representatives from the settlements (local area). People should have a say in decisions
about matters that concern them. They met for the first time in August, 1619.
In that same month Virginia saw another important beginning. On a small Dutch warship black
Africans arrived. The ships captain sold them to the settlers as indentured servants (their indenture
was for life).
The Virginia Company never made a profit. By 1624 it run out of money so the English
government put an end to the Company and made itself responsible for the Virginia colonists.
Puritan New England
“Pilgrims“ are people who make a journey for religious reasons. But for Americans it means a
small group of English men and women who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in the year 1620.
They went to America to find religious freedom.
A German monk named Martin Luther claimed that individual human beings did not need the
Pope or the priests of the Catholic Church to speak to God. A French lawyer named John Calvin
put forward similar ideas. Because they protested against the teachings and customs of the
Catholic Church, religious reformers were called: “Protestants“. In the 1530s the English king,
Henry VIII, formed a national church with himself as its head. They disliked the power of its
bishops. People wanted the Church of England to become more plain and simple, or “pure“
Puritans. When James I became king of England in 1603 he warned the Puritans, his bishops
began fining the Puritans and putting them in prison. To escape the persecution, a small group of
them left England and went to Holland. Holland was the only country in Europe whose
government allowed religious freedom at this time. Some of them - the Pilgrims - decided to go to
First they persuaded the Virginia Company to allow them to settle in the northern part of its
American lands. On September 16, 1620, the Pilgrims left the English port of Plymouth. The
Pilgrims’ ship was the Mayflower. On November 9, 1620, it reached Cape Cod, now the state of
The Mayflower Compact
Before landing at Plymouth they wrote out an agreement. In this document they agreed to work
together for the good of all. (They did everything to survive) It became known as the Mayflower
Compact. In the Compact the Plymouth settlers agreed to set up a government to make “just and
equal laws” for their new settlement.
Before spring came, just 50 survived. They built better houses. They learned how to fish and hunt.
Friendly Amerindians gave them seed corn and showed them how to plant it.
Every year on the 4th Thursday in November Americans celebrate Thanksgiving (celebrate
survival Am.). Eat together and to give thanks to God for enabling them to survive the hardships
of their first year in America. Without the Amerindians they wouldn’t have survived.
Other English Puritans followed the Pilgrims to America in the Boston area. These people left
England to escape the rule of a new king, Charles I. In 1691, it combined with the Plymouth
colony under the name of Massachusetts.
John Winthrop – a puritan minister. They should build an ideal community for the rest of mankind
to learn from. (This is a mission to spread democracy and freedom on the world.) They passed
laws to force people to attend church and laws to punish drunks and adulterers.
Roger Williams, a Puritan minister in a settlement called Salem objected to the fact that the same
men controlled both the church and the government. These should be separated and neither should
interfere with the other. The Puritans wanted to arrest him. But he escaped and went south to set
up a new colony called Rhode Island. Rhode Island promised its citizens complete religious
freedom and separation of church and state.
Colonial Life in America “the tidewater” period of settlement
By the year 1733 the English owned thirteen separate colonies divided into 3 main groups along
the Atlantic coast of North America.
1.; In the far north was the New England group, centered on Massachusetts. (MA, NH, CT, RI)
Most were farmers or craftsmen, governing themselves in small towns and villages (depended on
the sea: built ships, sailed to catch cod and to trade). Boston is the 2nd biggest city (after
Philadelphia). Owned much of their prosperity to the profits of the transatlantic trade they carried
on with England.
New England (made spirits – Rum)
Caribbean (molasses from sugar cane)
Africa – west coast (slaves)
Very religious colonies, puritans,
governor – council
appointed by the king of E.
Lower House - local
2.; The colonies to the south of New England were called the Middle Colonies (PA, NY, NJ,
DE). The biggest were New York and Pennsylvania.
Most of them lived by farming (cultivated the land, barley, rye, wheat).
In NY and Phil. there were growing numbers of craftsmen and merchants so they earned their
living by trade and manufacturing. (ports: trade activities).
Transatlantic trade: based exports of raw materials (animal fur, timber, cotton, tobacco) and
brought back industrial goods (tools, machines, clothes, furniture).
The inter-America trade between the colonies in N.Am. helped to produce a feeling between the
cities that they all belonged to each other. The people of the Middle Colonies were usually more
tolerant of religious and other differences than the New Englanders. Ethnic composition: Eng.,
Germans, Dutch, Swedish, Portuguese, Jewish, Am. Ind., Black Slaves,
3.; The Southern Colonies of Virginia(VA, MD, NC, SC, GA)
Monoculture: cotton and tobacco, rice (GA)
Wealthy landowners farmed large plantations. Just the richest could afford to buy houses and had
expensive furniture from Europe. They imported the plantation’s crops to England.
Most of the work in the fields was done by black slaves. Slavery was rare in the other American
In all three groups of colonies most people still lived less than fifty miles from the coast. This was
called “the tidewater“ period of settlement. During the fifty years after 1733 settlers moved
deeper into the continent. As they traveled inland they passed fewer and fewer farms and villages.
At last there were none at all. This area, where European settlement came to an end and the forest
homelands of the Amerindians began, was called the frontier.
Governors and assemblies
Each colony had its own government. At the head of this government was a governor chosen by
the English king. These governors depended upon the cooperation of assemblies elected by the
colonists. In most of the colonies, all white males who owned some land had the right to vote.
This meant that far more people had the vote in America than in England or in any other European
Causes of the War of Independence (1754-1776)
The Road to Revolution
In the 18th c. Britain and France fought several major war, went on in Europe, Asia and North
In North America, France claimed to own Canada (New France) and Louisiana (named for Louis
XIV). (It was based upon journeys by 2 famous explorers.) The French claim that Louisiana
belonged to them worried both the British government and the American colonists, because the
French would then be able to keep the colonists to the east of the Appalachian Mountains and stop
them from moving westwards.
In 1754, in N-Am. over possession.
After several wars earlier in the 18th century, in 1756 Britain and France began fighting the Seven
Years War, French and Indian War. The British sent money and soldiers to North America.
In 1758 British and colonial forces captured the French strongholds of Louisburg on the Gulf of
St. Lawrence and Fort Duquesne on the Ohio River.
In 1759 they took Quebec.
In 1760 Montreal fell to them.
The war was ended by “the Peace of Paris”, which was signed in 1763. France gave up its claim
to Canada and to all of North America east of the Mississippi River. Britain won an Empire.
Its victory led to conflict with its American colonies.
Colonists began to move over The App. Mnts. into the Ohio valley. ↔ The B. king didn’t want to
fight with Amerindian tribes, who lived in the area.
The English king, George III, issued a proclamation in 1763. The kings proclamation angered the
- It forbade colonists to settle west of the Appalachians until proper treaties had been made with
the Amerindians. (ban = westward movements)
- The war was over, the E. wanted to make money→ new economic policies → new taxes on
imports and that they must feed and shelter British soldiers in the colonies, because it had
cost a lot of money to defend the colonies during the war.
- But the merchants believed that taxes would make it difficult to trade at a profit and others
believed that would raise the costs of living. They also feared that if British troops stayed in
America they might be used to force them to obey the British government. (People should
not allow government to become too powerful.)
Until the 1760s the colonists felt that they needed the B. navy and soldiers to protect them.
Another reason the colonists accepted B. rule was that the B. government rarely interfered in
Navigation Acts (a century earlier) – they were forbidden to export to any country except England.
Robert Walpole “Let sleeping dogs lie.”
In 1764 Sugar Act, Quartering Act – taxes on (exported and imported) manufactured goods, the
colonies had to trade with the crown.
In 1765 the British Parliament passed another new law called the Stamp Act, taxes on every
document. The colonists had to buy special tax stamps.
The colonists had claimed the right to elect representatives to decide the taxes they paid. “No
taxation without representation” became their demand.
In 1765 representatives from nine colonies met in New York. They formed the “Stamp Act
Congress“ and organized opposition. All over the colonies merchants and shopkeepers refused to
sell British goods forced the British government to withdraw the Stamp Act.
The Declaratory Act, Towshend Duties (was a minister). The B. government had full power and
authority over the colonies and people of Am. in all cases.
In 1767 new taxes on: tea, paper, paint, and various other goods that the colonies imported from
abroad. A special customs office was set up in Boston to collect the new duties. Again the
colonists refused to pay. Riots broke out in Boston and the British sent soldiers to keep order.
In 1770, the British removed all the duties except for the one on tea. (But by this time, the B. King
withdraw the Townshend Duties.)
Samuel Adams was a politician and writer who organized opposition in Massachusetts to the
British tax laws. On March 5, 1770, a Boston mob began to shout insults at a group of British
soldiers. One of the crowds tried to take a soldier’s gun and the soldier shot him. More shots were
fired and three more members of the crowd fell dead. Samuel Adams used this “Boston
Massacre“ to stir up American opinion against the British. He wrote and widely distributed a
letter which inaccurately described the happening as an unprovoked attack on peaceful citizens.
In December 1773, a group of colonists in Massachusetts disguised themselves as Mohawk
Amerindians. They boarded British merchant ships in Boston harbor and threw tea into the sea.
The British reply to this “Boston Tea Party” and passed a set of laws (Intolerable Acts) to punish
Massachusetts. Boston harbor was closed.
On June 1, 1774, British warships took up position at the mouth of Boston harbor. A few months
later, in September 1774, a group of colonial leaders came together in Philadelphia. They formed
the First Continental Congress. It claimed to be loyal to the B. king but it called upon all
Americans to refuse to buy British goods. (Boycott)
Fighting for Independence (1775-1781)
On April 18, 1775, 700 British soldiers marched silently out of Boston to seize weapons and
ammunition that rebellious colonists had stored in Concord. But the colonists were warned.
In Lexington the British found 70 American militiamen, farmers and tradesmen. They were
known as “Minutemen“ (because they promised to take up arms in a minute when needed). The B.
commander ordered them to return home. They refused so 8 Minutemen were killed.
Hundreds more Minutemen gathered, they shot down 273 British soldiers who were on their way
back to Boston. A ring of armed Americans surrounded the city. The B. closed all the ports (the
colonies were depended on import!).
The next month, May 1775, a 2nd Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and began to act as
an American national government.
It set up an army of 17,000 men under the command of George Washington, who was a Virginia
landowner and he had experience (French and Indian War).
The Continental Congress also sent representatives to seek aid from friendly European nations –
especially from France. (Benjamin Franklin, Louis XVI)
By the following year the fighting had spread beyond Massachusetts. It had grown to a full-scale
On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress cut all political ties with Britain and declared that
“these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.”
Two days later, on July 4, it issued the Declaration of Independence. It was written by Thomas
Jefferson (a member, a landowner and lawyer from Virginia) combined with John Locke’s ideas
and the settlers experiences. It officially named them the United States of America.
It was a new definition of democratic government. It also set out the ideas behind the change. It
claimed that all men had a natural right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and
governments can only justly claim the right to rule of they have the agreement of those they
Governments should consist of representatives elected by people. The main reason that
government existed was to protect the rights of individual citizens. (revolutionary↔ideas
monarchies all over Europe).
3. Consequences of the War of Independence (1783-1800s)
US was born but they had to fight for their independence, to defend the Dec. of Ind.
Their soldiers weren’t well-qualified. Washington started to train his men. In September 1776,
two months after the Declaration of Independence, the British captured New York City.
After 2 years, in 1777, the 1st successful battle was at Saratoga on northern New York. The British
were put on ships and sent back to England.
Benjamin Franklin, the American ambassador to France used the victory at Saratoga to persuade
the French government to join in the struggle against Britain. In February 1778, the French king,
Louis XVI, signed an alliance with the Americans. (ships, soldiers, money)
From 1778 onwards most of the fighting took place in the southern colonies. In September 1781,
George Washington, leading a combined American and French army, surrounded 8,000 British
troops under General Cornwallis at Yorktown, on the coast of Virginia. On October 17, 1781,
Cronwallis surrendered his army to Washington.
In the Treaty of Paris, which was signed in September 1783, Britain officially recognized her
former colonies as an independent nation. The treaty granted the United States all of North
America from Canada to Florida, from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River.
Forming the New Nation
In 1783 most Americans felt more loyalty to their own state than to the new United States. Each
individual American state had its own government and behaved very much like an independent
country. During the War of Independence the states had agreed to work together in a national
Congress to which each state sent representatives. The agreement that set up this plan for the
states to cooperate with one another was called the Articles of Confederation. It had begun to
operate in 1781.
Under the Articles of Confederation the central government of the United States was very weak.
Congress could vote to set up an army, but it could only obtain soldiers by asking the states for
them. It could vote to spend money, but it had no power to collect taxes to raise the money. When,
for example, Congress needed money to pay debts owed to France, some states refused to pay.
When the War was over, individual states began to behave more and more like independent
nations. Some set up tax barriers against others. In some places states even began fighting one
another. The British felt that the American government was so weak it was not worth dealing with.
Even France, the ally of the Americans during the War, refused to recognize Congress as a real
It was clear that for the United States to survive there would have to be changes in the Articles of
Confederation. In February 1787, Congress asked each state to send delegates to a convention in
Philadelphia to talk about such changes. The smallest state, Rhode Island refused, but the other
twelve agreed. The meeting became known as the Constitutional Convention. It began in May
The original purpose of the Constitutional Convention was simply to revise the Articles of
Confederation. But the delegates did more than this. They started afresh and worked out a
completely new system of government for the United States. They set out the plan for this
government in a document called the Constitution of the United States.
The Constitution gave the US a “federal” system of government. A federal system is one in which
the power to rule is shared. The new Constitution still left the individual state governments with a
wide range of powers. But it made the federal government much stronger than before (to collect
taxes, to organized armed forces, to make treaties with foreign countries, to control trade of all
The Legislative Branch
the Executive Branch
the Judicial Branch
(Makes the Country’s Laws) (Administers the Country)(Explains/interprets
House of Representatives
Secretaries (app. by the President)
(power of judicial reviews)
and Senate (2/St.)
Vice-President- elected with the President
THE SUPREME COURT
↑ Elect THE PEOPLE ↑
↑ 9 justices
Appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate
In 1788 George Washington was elected as the first President of the US. (2 terms)
Before the new system of government set out in the Constitution could begin, it had to be
approved by a majority of the citizens in at least nine of the thirteen states. In June 1788, the
assembly of the state of New Hampshire voted to accept, or “ratify” the Constitution. It was the
ninth state to do so. The Constitution went into effect in March 1789.
In 1791 ten amendments, or additions, were made to it. Together these ten amendments are called
the Bill of Rights. The reason for the Bill of Rights was that the original Constitution had said
nothing about the rights and freedoms of the individual citizens. It promised all Americans
freedom of religion, a free press, free speech, the right to carry arms, the right to a fair trial by
jury, and protection against “cruel and unusual punishments”.
In 1801 John Adams, who in 1797 had succeeded George Washington as president of the United
States, appointed a new head of the Supreme Court. The Court’s new Chief Justice was John
Marshall. In an 1803 legal case known as Mar bury v. Madison, Marshall stated that the Supreme
Court has the power to decide whether particular American laws are according to the Constitution.
If the Supreme Court decides that any law is “repugnant to the Constitution” – that is, does not
agree with it – the Court can declare the law illegal. This power became known as the “power of
The first political parties
1787 – Parties system:
Strong central government
1st Federalist Party
individual rights and states
Bill of Rights
Dem-Rep. Pr.(just its name changed)
The Federalist Party appealed to rich people, who believed that a strong central government would
make their property safer. The Democratic Republican Party attracted the less wealthy. This was
because it supported the rights of the individual states.
G. Washington 1789-1797
J. Adams 1797-1801
Th. Jefferson 1801-1809
J. Madison 1809-1817
J. Monroe 1817-1827
(his cabinet from both parties – The Era of Good Feelings
4. “America’s Manifest Destiny”: The Westward Movement (1730’s-1890’s)
Tidewater period: people were living on the coasts
During the 50 years after 1733 settlers moved deeper into the continent. They spread westward
along the river valleys, and north from NY.
Where the forest homelands of the Amerindians began was called the frontier. Settlers pushed the
frontier westwards in their search for fertile soil. The frontier way of life helped democratic ideas
to flourish in Am.
In 1775 Daniel Boone led settlers into the App. Mts. He cut a track called the Wilderness Road, a
natural pass in the App. Mts. to move with horses, wagons, and cattle into the fertile lands.
Now there are KY and TN. Cumberland Gap – (need new fertile land, to find new land,
expansionism – the market and the economy grew)
Proclamation of 1763, 1781, 1783
What to do with the new territories? How to deal with Indians?
Years of Growth
After 1783 more and more people set off for the new territories between the Appalachian
Mountains and the Mississippi River that the Treaty of Paris had granted to the United States.
Many of new settlers moved to lands north of the Ohio River. Amerindians who already lived on
these lands saw the settlers as thieves who had come to steal their hunting grounds. The new
government of the United States tried at first to keep the peace by making treaties with the
A law of 1787 called the Northwest Ordinance said that the Amerindians’ “lands and property
shall never be taken from them without their consent“.
These arrangements for governing new territories the federal government began to organize the
new western lands for settlement. It ordered:
-the lands should be divided into square units called “townships“. (six miles by six miles in size
and each was to be further divided into smaller square units, one mile by one mile, called
-When the number of white males living in a territory reached 5,000 it could elect its own law –
making body. It could also send a representative to give its point of view in Congress.
-When the population of a territory reached 60,000 it became a new state, with the same rights
and powers as the original 13 states.
So USA was growing but it remained equal states.
1801 – Secret Treaty
Between the Miss. and Rocky Mnts the territories belonged to Spain. New Orleans was controlled
1803 – Louisiana Purchase
In 1800 the western boundary of the United States was the Mississippi River. In 1800 Louisiana
belonged to France. In 1803 Napoleon was about to go to war with Britain and needed money. For
15 million dollars he sold it to the US. Louisiana stretched north from the Gulf of Mexico to the
Canadian border and west from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains. US doubled its territories
The Louisiana Purchase was authorized by President Thomas Jefferson. Even before this Jefferson
had been planning to send an expedition to explore Louisiana. The expedition was led by
Merriwether Lewis and William Clark. They carried goods to trade with Amerindians along the
way. Lewis and Clark arrived back in St. Louis in September 1806. They brought back much
useful information about both Louisiana and the western lands that lay beyond it. These lands
were known as Oregon.
War of 1812 ( - 1814)
Between 1803 and 1815 Britain and France were at war. Both countries’ warships interfered with
American trade. They stopped American merchant ships and sometimes seized their cargoes. In
June 1812, Congress declared war on Britain. The British navy blockaded American ports.
American attempts to invade British-ruled Canada ended in disaster. British forces captured and
burned Washington, their new capital city.
In December 1814, the United States and Britain signed a treaty of peace in Europe.
1819 Florida (belonged to Spain)
The US didn’t have any ports faced to Gulf of Mexico.
Spain was week and unable to control Florida → 1819 Adams – Oni’s Treaty (the Americans not
1830’s 35,000 Americans living in Texas.
1836 They began to fight a war of independence. When the war was over, it applied to be in the
US. But the US’ govern refused. In 1845 it became part of the US.
1846-48 Mexican and American War:
1830’s Texas was ruled by Mexico. Thousands of Americans had settled in Texas. The Texas
Americans, or Texans, came to dislike Mexican rule. In October 1835, they rebelled. Led by
General Sam Houston, they defeated a much larger Mexican army in 1836, at the Battle of San
Jacinto and made Texas an independent republic. 1836-45: A lonely state. Texans wanted their
country to join the US. Eventually, the two countries reached an agreement and in 1845 Texas
became part of the US.
James Knox Polk (US President 1845-49) an expansionist (manifest destiny).
President Polk saw an opportunity to take land from Mexico and he declared war in 1846.
American soldiers invaded Mexico and defeated the Mexican army. By September 1847, they had
occupied Mexico City, the countrys capital.
The Mexican – American War was ended by a peace treaty signed in February 1848, the Treaty
of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. Mexico lost half of its territories and in the US. 6 states were borne:
today these lands form the states California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado.
In 1805 4 countries claimed Oregon. In Oregon, the British and the Americans were in the
strongest position. American political leaders persuaded Americans to start farms in Oregon.
Settlers began traveling to Oregon by land in 1832. This overland route to the Pacific coast
became known as the Oregon Trail. In 1843, “Oregon fever” came to many parts of the US.
People left their worn-out farms in the east, packed their possessions on wagons and set off for the
west. American settlers soon outnumbered the British in Oregon. American newspapers and
political leaders began to express an idea called: ”manifest destiny” (clear intention of fate).
But by 1846 the US was at war with Mexico so Polk agreed to divide Oregon with Britain in two
almost equal sections. The US and Britain specified the northern borders. The dividing line was
the 49th parallel of latitude.
5., Alaska was part of the Russia
1867 - $ 7.2 Mi / Midway islands
Since the Northwest Ordinance, in 1817, the American government changed its ideas by President
In 1830 the United States government passed a law called Indian Removal Act. The law said that
all Indians living east of the Mississippi River would be moved west to a place called Indian
The Cherokees were Amerindian people who suffered greatly from the Indian Removal policy.
Their lands lay between the state of Georgia and the Mississippi River. They had become
Christians and attended church and sent their children to school. They had a written language and
published their own newspaper in both Cherokee and English. They even wrote for themselves a
In the 1830’s Congress declared that their lands belonged to the state of Georgia and they were
divided up for sale to white settlers. The Cherokees were driven from their homes and forced to
march hundreds of miles overland to what is now the state of Oklahoma. The worst year was
1838. American soldiers drove them west. The nightmare journey lasted almost five months. By
the time it was over, a quarter of the whole Cherokee nation were dead. This episode came to be
called “The Trail of Tears“.
Samuel Slater imports the Industrial Revolution
At the end of the War of Independence the United States was mainly a land of farmers. Yet as
early as the 1790’s America’s first factory opened. In 1789 an English mechanic named Samuel
Slater took the Industrial Revolution across the Atlantic to America. Before leaving England,
Slater memorized the details of the latest English cotton spinning machines. He carried them in his
memory because it was against the law to take plans of the machines out of England. The success
of Slater’s cotton mill in Rhode Island began a process of change in the United States.
James Madison 1751-1836
As member of the Continental Congress, he played a leading role in framing the US Constitution.
He helped to found the Democratic-Republican Party; served President Jefferson as Secretary of
State; and became the fourth US President (1809-17). During his presidency war broke out
between America and Great Britain.
It taught Americans an important lesson. The British navy’s wartime blockade of United States
ports had cut off the imported European manufactured goods on which the country relied. This
forced Americans to begin making goods of their own and so gave a start to American
manufacturing industry. Thomas Jefferson saw how important it was.
5. Causes of the Civil War
North and South
In the year 1810 there were 7.2 Mi people in the US. 1.2 Mi of them was black and they were
Thomas Jefferson owned slaves himself. So did George Washington and other leaders of the
movement for American independence and freedom. Big landowners in southern states such as
Virginia defended slavery. How could they cultivate their fields of tobacco, rice and cotton
without slave workers?
In the north of the US farms were smaller and the climate was cooler. Farmers there did not need
slaves to work the land for them. Some northerners opposed slavery for moral and religious
reasons. Many were abolitionists – that is, people who wanted to end or abolish slavery by law. By
the early 19th century many northern states had passed laws abolishing slavery. In 1808 they also
persuaded Congress to make it illegal for ships to bring any new slaves from Africa.
By the 1820’s southern and northern politicians were arguing about whether slavery should be
permitted in the new territories in the West. Eventually the two sides agreed on a compromise.
Slavery would be permitted in the Missouri and Arkansas territories but banned in lands to the
west and north of Missouri. The Missouri Compromise did not end the disputes between North
By the early 1830s another angry argument was going on over important duties. A southern
political leader named John C. Calhoun claimed that a state had the right to disobey any federal
law if the state believed that the law would harm its interest. It became known as the “states’
rights doctrine“. Calhoun’s claim was strongly denied by Senator Daniel Webster of
Massachusetts. The power to decide whether the federal authorities were acting rightly or wrongly
belonged to the Supreme Court said Webster.
In the next 20 years the US grew much bigger. In 1846 it divided the Oregon territory with
Britain. In 1848 it took areas of the Southwest from Mexico. Obtaining these new lands raised
again the question: should slavery be allowed on new American territory? Once again southerners
answered yes and northerners said no.
In 1850 Congress voted in favor of another compromise. To persuade southerners to agree to these
arrangements, Congress passed a new Fugitive Slave Act. This was a law to make it easier for
southerners to recapture slaves who escaped from their masters. Slave owners offered rewards (or
“bounties“) for the return of runaway slaves. This had created groups of men called “bounty
hunters“. These men made their living by hunting down fugitive slaves in order to collect the
rewards on them.
Some northern judges refused to enforce it. Other people provided food, money, and hiding places
for fugitives. The final stop on these escape routes was Canada, where fugitives could be followed
by neither American laws nor bounty hunters. Because railroads were the most modern form of
transport at this time, this carefully organized system was called the “Underground Railroad“.
Guides who led the fugitives to freedom were called “conductors“, and hiding places were called
In 1854 a Senator named Stephen Douglas persuaded Congress to end the Missouri Compromise.
West of Missouri was a western territory called Kansas. In 1854 Congress voted to let its people
decide for themselves whether to permit slavery there. A race began to win control of Kansas.
Soon fighting and killing began.
A slave named Dred Scott had been taken by his owner to live in a free state. Scott asked the
Supreme Court to declare that this had made him legally free. But the Court refused. It said the
black slaves had no rights as American citizens. The Dred Scott decision caused great excitement
in the US.
A few years earlier opponents of slavery had formed a new political group called the Republican
Party. A Republican named Abraham Lincoln said that the spread of slavery must be stopped. He
was willing to accept slavery in the states where it existed already, but that was all. In 1860 the
Republicans chose him as their candidate in that year’s presidential election.
By now relations between North and South were close to breaking point. In 1859 John Brown
tried to start a slave rebellion in Virginia. The attack failed and Brown was captured tried for
treason and hanged.
In the presidential election of 1860 the southerners put forward a candidate of their own to oppose
Lincoln. But voters in the North supported him and he won the election. A few weeks later, in
December 1860, the state of South Carolina voted to secede from the US. It was soon joined by 10
more southern states. In February 1861 these eleven states announced that they were now an
independent nation, the Confederate States of America, known as the Confederacy.
The Civil War
On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln became the President of the US. Lincoln appealed to the
southern states to stay in the Union. But on April 12 Confederate guns opened fire on Fort
Sumter, a fortress in the harbor of Charlestown, South Carolina was occupied by US troops.
Lincoln ↔ Jefferson Davis, the newly elected President of the Confederate States
Union warships blockaded the ports of the South. They did this to prevent the Confederacy from
selling its cotton abroad and from obtaining foreign supplies.
The North was much stronger than the South. It had a population of 22 million people. The South
had only 9 million people and 3.5 million of them were slaves. The only way it could win the war
was to invade the South and occupy its land. The South had no such problem. It did not need to
conquer the North to win independence. The Confederate soldiers were defending their own
In April 1862 they captured New Orleans, the largest city in the Confederacy.
By spring 1863, the Union armies were closing in on an important Confederate stronghold on the
Mississippi called Vicksburg. On July 4, Vicksburg surrendered to a Union army. Union forces
now controlled the whole length of the Mississippi. It became impossible for western Confederate
states like Texas to send any more men and supplies to the east.
In the last week of June 1863, Lee marched his army north into Pennsylvania. At a small town
named Gettysburg a Union army blocked his way. In three days of fighting more than 50,000 men
were killed or wounded. The Confederate army had suffered a defeat.
The Gettysburg Address is a speech that Abraham Lincoln made a few month later.
By 1864 the Confederacy was running out of almost everything.
Richmond, the Confederate capital was in danger. Lee was trapped. On April 9, 1865, he met
Grant in Appomattox and surrendered his army. Grant treated the defeated Confederate soldiers
generously. After they had given up their weapons and promised never again to fight against the
US, he allowed them to go home.
The Civil War gave final answers to 2 questions:
- put an end to slavery, in 1865 this was abolished everywhere in the US by the 13th Amendment
to the Constitution.
- it decided that the US was one nation, whose parts could not be separated.
The Civil War caused terrible destruction at home. All over the South cities and farms laid in
ruins. And more Americans died in this war than before. By the time Lee surrendered to Grant at
Appomattox, the dead on both sides totaled 635,000.
6. Rebirth of the Nation: Consequences of the Civil War (1860’s-1890’s)
On the night of April 13, 1865, crowds of people were celebrating Lee’s surrender. The next day
was Good Friday. In the evening President Lincoln and his wife went to Fords Theater in
Washington. At exactly 10:13, John Wilkes Booth killed him.
Lincoln was succeeded by his Vice President, Andrew Johnson. The biggest problem he faced was
how to deal with the defeated South. He began to introduce plans to reunite the South with the rest
of the nation. When a state voted to accept the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (that
completely abolished slavery) Johnson intended that it should be accepted back in the Union as
full and equal member.
But they were horrified at the idea of giving equal rights to their former black slaves. Former
Confederate states’ assemblies passed laws to keep blacks in an inferior position. Such laws were
called “Black Codes“ (refused black the vote, said that they could not serve on juries, forbade
them to give evidence in courts against a white man). In Mississippi blacks were not allowed to
buy or rent farm land. With no land, no money and no protection from the law, it was almost as if
blacks were still slaves.
A group in Congress called Radical Republicans believed that the most important reason for
fighting the Civil War had been to free blacks.
In July 1866, despite opposition from the President, Congress passed a Civil Rights Act. It also
set up an organization called the Freedmen’s Bureau to ensure that blacks in the South were not
cheated of their rights. Congress then introduced the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. It gave
blacks full rights of citizenship, including the right to vote.
All the former Confederate states except Tennessee refused to accept the 14th Amendment. In
March 1867, Congress replied by passing the Reconstruction Act. This dismissed the white
governments of the southern states and placed them under military rule. They were told that they
could again have elected governments when the accepted the 14th Amendment.
By 1870 all the southern states had new “Reconstruction“governments.
Most white southerners supported the Democratic political party. These southern Democrats hated
the Reconstruction because it aimed to give blacks the same rights that whites had.
They organized terrorist groups to frighten black people and prevent them from claiming their
rights. The largest and most feared terrorist group was the Ku Klux Klan. (in white sheets and
wore hoods to hide their faces) Their sign was a burning wooden cross.
This use of violence and fear helped white racists to win back control of state governments all
over the South. By 1876 Republican supporters of Reconstruction held power in only three
southern states. When Congress withdrew federal troops from the South in 1877, white Democrats
won control of these, too. Reconstruction was over.
Some Southern states prevented blacks from voting by saying that only people who paid a tax on
voter – a poll tax – could do so. So they made the tax high.
“Grandfather clauses” allowed the vote only to people whose grandfathers had been qualified to
vote in 1865.
All the southern states passed laws to enforce strict racial separation, or segregation which was
enforced on trains, in parks, in schools, in restaurants, in theaters, even in cemeteries. In the
1890’s an average of 150 blacks was killed illegally by white mobs.
In the 1890’s 150 blacks a year were killed illegally – “lynched” – by white mobs.
In 1896 the Supreme Court announced its decision in a case called Plessy v. Ferguson. It ruled
that the Constitution allowed separate facilities and services for black and white people, so long
as the facilities and services were of equal quality. This decision made racial segregation a legal
part of the American way of life (until 1954).
7. The Fate of the Amerindians
Before the War of Independence, the Indians living west of the Appalachian didn’t have any
problems since the settlers couldn’t move there. However, after the war, when the migration
began, there were more and more clashes between the Indians and the settlers.
The new government at the beginning wanted to and tried to keep peace with the Indians.
According to the Northwest Ordinance, they wanted to reserve the Indian culture and wanted to
respect the Indians’ rights.
This idea soon changed.
- the settlers needed new land for their tobacco plantations.
- the Americans had a very deep racial thinking. Their racism was very important for them. As a
result, soon anti-Indian thoughts were born.
- the different thinking about land ownership developed into a central problem,
In 1817 James Monroe made a speech about this issue and said that the Indian culture had to and
should survive however, not mixed with the white culture. So, they had to be moved to those parts
of the US where nobody else lived.
To enforce this idea, in 1830 they issued the so called Indian Removal Act. It clarified that those
Indians who lived to the east of the Mississippi had to move to the west of it. An Indian territory
was named for them (it is Oklahoma today). With this act the aim on the surface was to save the
Indians, however, the real aim was to get hold of more land.
The Indians weren’t very happy about this act.
Of course, the Cherokees weren’t the only ones to resist. The Seminal Indians resisted, as well. As
a result, a war broke out in 1835, called the 2nd Seminal War. At the end, they were removed, too.
There were also smaller wars. These were dominant till the 1880’s.
In the 1840s wagon trains heading for Oregon and California began to cross the Great Plains. The
Amerindians usually let them pass without trouble. But some white people stayed on the prairies
and began to plough them. At first the Aminds tried to drive the newcomers away from their
hunting grounds. So they made treaties with the government in Washington, giving up large
pieces of their land.
In 1851 the Pawnee people signed away an area which now Nebraska.
In 1858 the Sioux gave up an area.
In the 1860s the Comanche and the Kiowa gave up lands in Kansas, Colorado and Texas.
In return the government promised to leave them in peace on the lands that remained theirs.
The Fort Laramie treaty of 1868. Between the Missouri River and the Rocky Mnts belonged to
the Sioux. It promised that it remained Sioux property. 6 years later the government wanted to buy
the Black Hills because of the gold. The Sioux refused to sell so the American government broke
the F. L. treaty.
By this time the Amerindian peoples of the Great Plains were facing another serious problem. The
buffalo was beginning to disappear. White hunters were shooting down them for their hides or for
As more settlers claimed homesteads in the West the American government needed more land for
them. So they decided to force the Aminds to give up their wandering way of life. It sent soldiers
to dive them onto “reservations.” These were areas of land that were usually so dry or rocky that
the government thought white settlers were never likely to want them. They fought back. (Sitting
Bull of the Sioux) The Aminds were outnumbered and outgunned. They won their best known
victory at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in June 1876, “Custer’s Last Stand”. More soldiers
were sent west to hunt down Custer’s killers.
By 1890 most of the American West was occupied by cattle ranchers, farmers, or miners. The
Aminds had nothing left except the reservations. There was great suffering on the reservation.
Epidemic diseases swept through them, killing them.
The Ghost Dance movement was peaceful but the movement’s leaders were arrested.
On December in 1890 a group of 350 Sioux left their reservation lead by a chief named Big Foot.
But soldiers stopped them on the way and marched them to an army post at Wounded Knee
Creek and they were ordered to give up their guns. A shot rang out and most of the Sioux were
But the Sioux, like other Aminds survived. In 1924 Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act.
This recognized them as full citizens of the US and gave them the right to vote.
In 1934 this act encouraged them to set up their own councils to run the affairs of their
In the 1970s Aminds from all over the US joined together to try to improve their position. They
formed the American Indian Movement and in 1972 “Trail of Broken Treaties” in Washington.
The Sioux demanded the return of the Black Hills. $122.5 Mi in compensation for the loss of their
land. But they wanted the sacred land itself.
8. The Gilded Age: Economy and Society at the turn of the 19th -20th c. (1860’s-1910s)
In March 1848 a group of workmen found gold in a stream in California. By the middle of the
summer, gold rush begun. By the spring of 1849, people from all over the world were rushing to
California to look for gold. In 1848 its population was 15,000 people. By 1852 the population was
more than 250,000.
By the late 1850s they were mining in the mountains of Nevada and Colorado, by the 1860s they
moved into Montana and Wyoming and by the 1870s they were digging in the Black Hills of the
Dakota country. ("mining settlements")
By 1890 the separate areas of settlement on the Pacific Coast and along the Mississippi River
moved together. The frontier disappeared.
Railroads played an important part in this “closing“ of the frontier. During the Civil War,
Congress had become anxious to join the gold-rich settlements along the Pacific Coast more
closely to the rest of the US. In 1862 it granted land and money to the Union Pacific Railroad
Company to build a railroad west from the Mississippi towards the Pacific. At the same time it
gave a similar grant to the Central Pacific Railroad Company to build eastwards from California.
Most of the workers of the Union Pacific were Irishmen or other recent immigrants from Europe.
The Central Pacific workers were mainly Chinese, who had been brought to America under
contract especially to do the job.
Finally, on May 10, 1869, the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific lines met at Promontory Point
in Utah. A golden spike fixed the last rail into position. The new railroad was quickly joined by
others. By 1844 four more major lines had crossed the continent.
Farming the Great Plains
In 1862 Union and Confederate armies were fighting some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil
War. But the same year Congress found time to pass a law that was called the Homestead Act,
which offered free farms (homesteads) in the West to settlers. Any head of a family who was at
least 21 years of age and an American citizen could claim one. So could immigrants who intended
to become citizens. All that homesteaders had to do was to move onto a piece of land, live on it for
5 years and the land became theirs (or they could by it cheap after 6 months). Transcontinental
railroad companies such as the Union Pacific also provided settlers with cheap land.
Settlers faced many difficulties (no trees, no water, hard to cultivate the land, drought, and
insects). But machines and metal tools helped them overcome the difficulties. These aids were
manufactured in big new factories in cities like Chicago. From Chicago the railroads carried them
to the Plains. The railroads also carried away the farmers’ crops.
In the last 30 years of the 19th century over-production became a big problem of American
farmers. Its cause was not only that farmers were cultivating more land. Improved agricultural
machines were also making their farms more productive.
Farmers formed political action groups to try to improve their position. They were trying to force
railroad companies to reduce the high prices that they charged to transport farmers’ crops. They
included the Patrons of Husbandry, which was formed in the 1870s, and the Populist Party of
the 1890s. Members of the Patrons of Husbandry were also known as “Grangers“. The voting
power of the Grangers caused many western states to pass “Granger laws“. Grangers also joined
together in cooperative societies. Some survive even today.
Inventors and Industries
In 1876 President Ulysses S. Grant traveled to Philadelphia to open a special exhibition. The
exhibition was called the Centennial Exposition. It had been organized to celebrate the US’s
100th birthday by showing some of its achievements.
The main attraction of the Centennial Exposition was the Machinery Hall. Inside it visitors could
see such recent American inventions as the typewriter and the telephone as well as machines for
countless other uses - for sewing, screwing, printing, pumping, etc.
At the time of the Exposition the US was still mainly a farming country. But in the years that
followed, American industries grew quickly. The production of coal and iron grew especially fast.
By 1900 ten times more coal was being produced in the US than in 1860. Railroads were very
important in this growth of manufacturing. Vast amounts of coal and iron were used to make steel
for their rails, locomotives, wagons, etc. The railroads also linked together buyers and sellers all
over the country. Without them big centers of industry like Pittsburgh and Chicago could not have
By 1890 the industries of the US were earning the country more than its farmlands. By 1913 more
than one third of the whole world’s industrial production came from the US.
The growth of American industry was organized and controlled by businessmen. By a mixture of
hard work and ability and by ignoring the rights of others they made themselves wealthy and
powerful. Their admirers called such men “captains of industry“. Their critics called them
“robber barons“ or worse.
Andrew Carnegie was one of the best known of these men. Carnegie concentrated his investments
in the iron and steel business. By 1900, his annual income was 20,000 times more than the income
of the average American. Businessmen like Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, the “king“ of the
oil industry, realized that they could greatly increase their profits by swallowing up rival firms or
driving them out of business. (The railroad “king2 was William Vanderbilt.)
The giant industrial organizations that such men created were known as “corporations“. As they
grew bigger, they often became “trusts“. By the early 20th century, trusts controlled large parts of
American industry. The biggest trusts were richer than most nations. By their power to decide
wages and prices controlled the lives of millions of people.
It seemed that the country was coming under the control of a handful of rich and powerful men
who were able to do more or less anything they wished. Some bribed politicians to pass laws
which favored them. Others hired private armies to crush any attempt by their workers to obtain
Many people came to see this matter as the most important problem facing the US in the early
years of the 20th century.
Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) He made more than a thousand original inventions. In 1878 he
formed the Edison Electric Light Company. (electric light bulb, developed dynamos to produce
the electricity, underground cables to carry it, fuse boxes to make it safe to use).
Eli Whitney, the man who had invented the cotton gin (a cotton processing machine) began to
make guns in about 1800. In his factory they made parts that were exactly alike, so that any part
would fit any gun. Whitney had worked out the main ideas of a way of manufacturing that would
later become known as the “American system“. Later this became known as “mass production“.
Henry Ford made automobiles. Model T. like Whitney’s guns. The use of identical parts in
manufacturing is called “standardization.”
The Golden Door
The Statue of Liberty was presented to the US in 1886. It was given by the people of France to
mark the 100th anniversary of the War of Independence. For millions of immigrants it was the first
sight of America.
Between 1840 and 1860 more immigrants than ever before arrived. Most came from Europe.
During the Civil War in the 1860s the federal government encouraged emigration from Europe by
offering land to immigrants who would serve as soldiers in the Union armies.
In 1889, 1890 the Union (U.S.) admitted six North – Western states. With the admission of them,
the number of states grew 48 by 1912.
Then there was a big change: more people began to arrive from the south and east of Europe.
Between 1880 and 1925 about 2 Mi Jews entered the US. To control the situation, the government
opened a special place of entry in New York harbor in 1892, called Ellis Island. For most
immigrants this new life was a hard one. Only the hardest and lowest paid jobs were open to them.
They had to work long hours in dangerous conditions and to live in overcrowded slums, places of
disease and misery.
Reformers and Progressives
By 1900 the US was the richest and most productive industrial country in the world. Men, women
and children labored for long hours in factories, mines and workshops. The workers’ homes were
dirty and overcrowded. Wages were often low. The work was often unhealthy or dangerous.
Workers tried to form trade, or labor, unions to improve the conditions of their lives. These
attempts often failed. National Labor Union – 1866
One reason for this was the competition for jobs between American-born and immigrant workers.
Another was the violent opposition unions faced from employers. Employers would dismiss union
members and put their names on a “blacklist“. If a worker’s name appeared on a blacklist, other
employers would not give him a job. Employers sometimes persuaded politicians to send soldiers
to break up strikes. At other times they hired private armies to control their workers.
Employers and the government were not the only enemies labor unions faced. The general public
was usually against them. Americans had always seen their country as a land where individuals
should be free to become rich. Such people were unlikely to favor organizations which aimed to
limit businessmens freedom.
In the early years of the 20th century a stream of books and magazine articles drew people’s
attention to a large number of national problems. Some dealt with conditions of life, some with
bribery and corruption in government, other with the dishonesty of wealthy businessmen. One of
the best-known “muckrakers“ was Upton Sinclair. In 1906 he attacked the meat-packing
industry in his novel The Jungle. This gave a horrifying description of life among immigrant
workers in the slaughter houses of Chicago.
People began to demand that the nation’s leaders should deal with other scandals exposed by the
muckrakers. This pressure brought about an important change in American economic and political
Before 1900 most Americans had believed in “laissez faire“ - the idea that governments should
interfere with business and with people’s lives as little as possible. After 1900 many Americans
became “Progressives“. A Progressive was someone who believed that, where necessary, the
government should take action to deal with the problems of society.
The Progressive movement found a leader in the Republican Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt
became President in 1901. He was particularly concerned about the power of the trusts. He wanted
to allow businessmen enough freedom, but at the same time to prevent them from taking unfair
advantage of other people.
Congress listened to Roosevelt’s advice and passed conservation laws.
Theodore Roosevelt retired as President in 1909. In 1912 he tried to regain the position, but he
was defeated by Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat. Wilson, too, supported the Progressive
movement. He introduced reforms such as laws to give workers compensation for injuries at work.
Despite Roosevelt’s attempts to control the trusts, they were even more powerful in 1913 than in
1900. Real equality of opportunity seemed in danger of disappearing in the US. Wilson believed
that only action by the federal government could halt this process.
Wilson called his policies “The New Freedom“. They were put into effect by a series of laws
passed between 1913 and 1917.
One of Wilson’s first steps was to reduce custom duties in order to encourage trade.
Then he reformed the banking system and introduced federal taxes on high incomes.
Other laws reduced the power of the trusts, gave more rights to labor unions and made it easier for
farmers to borrow money to develop their land.
Many individual states also passed progressive laws. They forbade factories to employ children,
introduced secret voting, improved safety at work, and protected natural resources.
But not all of Wilson’s reforms were accepted. A law stopping child labor in factories everywhere
was declared to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
9, „A Nation of Immigrants”: The Role of Immigration in U.S. History (1820’s-2000)
John Kennedy named America “the nation of immigrants”. People also say that the history of
America means the history of immigration.
Immigration has been and is still playing an important role in American history. Without
immigration the population of America would be decreasing. America, the “Golden Door”, as
Emma Lazarus called it in her poem that we can read in the Statue of Liberty today.
- in the 19th century Europe there were economic and political reasons forced people to leave. It
was the time of industrialization. Peasants were replaced; their lands had to be sold. They had
to move to the cities, urbanization, where not everybody could find a job. Unemployment
appeared and grew through the years. There was lack of labor and lack of opportunities. The
overpopulation led to all the difficulties.
- The other problem was a political one. There were revolutions all over the continent.
- The 3rd reason was connected with nature. Natural catastrophes like the Great Famine, floods,
volcanic irruption happened all over.
- in America there was still plenty of land available for people and there were huge numbers of
jobs waiting for the newcomers.
- Besides land and opportunities, there was religious freedom which was also very important.
Within the history of the USA there were three waves of immigration.
The three periods in American immigration history differed from each other both in volume
(number) and composition (nations). We call this mass immigration. We talk about mass
immigration when more than 100,000 people arrive in a country per year. So, the three waves are
Old Immigration: (1820-1890)
Nobody knew exactly how many people went to the USA
- northern and western Europeans (Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, Netherlands, Switzerland,
France) arrived in the biggest number.
- The root of the first immigration wave was the population boom that followed the Napoleon
Wars. With the growth of the population and the intense industrialization the economy
changed and people had to leave.
- the natural catastrophes and the political reasons that made people emigrate from Europe.
- The first mass immigrant group to leave was the Irish. This was mainly caused by the Great
Famine which made the potatoes rot and with it starvation became a very serious problem.
They settled down in the north in the big cities. They were the ones who formed the urban
proletariat of these cities.
- the second biggest group of people arriving to America was the Germans. This was dominant
till the 1890’s, because of political and economic reasons. Within this group farmers and
intellectuals were the most. They settled down in the Mid-West or in Pennsylvania and
New Immigration: (1890-1924)
In the 1890’s there were drastic changes in the immigration. During the first period of
immigration mostly homogenous groups arrived. Although they came from different countries,
they were mostly protestant Anglo-Saxon groups. This way the assimilation was easy. It was
almost like in the colonial times.
- The second wave of immigrants was totally different. They were bigger in number (in the peak
year, 1907, more than 1.8 million people arrived just in one year) and were totally different as
far as their cultural base was concerned.
- These people were arriving from the eastern and southern part of Europe. The cultural
difference between the two groups was huge. The newly arrived were mostly Catholics or
- There were plenty of jobs available; it was not the land that attracted people anymore.
- The other reason was the transportation revolution. (steam ships, round-way tickets → possible
to work for only a couple of seasons to save some money and then return to their families.
This was also called the “job migration”.
- The Italians (more than 5 million) settled down in New Jersey and along the Eastern Coast.
They created their own settlements; “Little Italy” was settled.
- The “Austro-Hungarians (more than 4 million) settled down in the Mid-West and in the
Northeast. Hungarians became famous of their works in the mines and in the construction
area. They were also called the “hunkies” because they liked drinking and having affairs with
the prettiest ladies and women. Permanent Hungarian settlings appeared only after the WWI.
- The third group was the Jews. They were mainly Russian and Polish Jews. There were about 2
million of them migrating at that time. The only difference was though; that they arrived with
their families and once settled did not want to leave. They mainly settled around the area of
New York City.
- The railroad company made contract with Chinese workers and imported them to the U.S, as
they were cheap. Severe conflicts developed between Chinese and American workers, and
Chinese were attacked and killed. The massacre resulted in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act:
ban on Chinese immigration, it gave the quota less than 2000 Chinese a year. It introduced
quota restriction. In 1920s Congress passed laws to limit all kinds of immigration.
Immigration Act of 1920 (Quota Laws):
- The end of this period is signaled by a strict Immigration Act of Reed-Johnson 1924, which
limits the number of immigrants from any country to 150.000.)
(It started after the WWII, and lasts till now. This period means a change of composition, most
immigrants arrive form Latin American. Important changes in the control of immigration:
Lyndon B. Johnson (1976) - eliminated the strict quota system, limited only the annual overall
number (not the composition) Immigration Act of 1990 passed by the Bush administration Most
sweeping changes – it increased the total number of annual limit of the immigrants (700.000
people). Increased competition for green cards, also gave an 18 months permit for Asian
The twenty years between the new immigration wave and the newest immigration wave was
characterized by the Great Depression and the World War.
In 1929 in New York a very sad and serious economic problem started, called the Great
Depression. America was not a popular destination anymore.
Even the 1930’s were characterized by the stop of immigration. The solution for the economic
problems came with the World War II. With the preparation for the war the production grew and
it led to the end of Great Depression.
However, during the war traveling became very difficult and of course dangerous, so people did
not move much. During this period of time immigration was very low.
- The newest wave was no longer white or European.
- immigrants from Latin-America and Asia. 60% of the immigrants came from these two
countries. Their reasons were the same: economy and politics.
- After the World War II the USA was a different nation. It was more open to different races, and
the Civil Rights Movements ensured that even colored people should have the same rights
as white people.
- The Latin-American immigrants looked at themselves as Americans because they lived on the
same continent; it was the same cultural area. The Hispanic culture and language are and were
also supported by the fact that there were and still are numerous TV and radio stations in
Spanish language on the American continent.
Assimilation theory: Israel Zangwill wrote a play with the title: Melting pot. It is the place where all
the race of Europe are melting and reforming. It was comforting for Americans to be told that their
country could turn the newcomers into Americans. But the US turned out to be more of a salad bowl.
Ethnic groups stayed together to keep their old identities alive. Multiculturalism, cultural pluralism: the
society was not homogenous.
10. U.S. Foreign Policy at the Turn of the 19th -20th
The US first appeared on the global stage between 1890 and 1920. Diplomacy in Europe has long
tradition. In the USA the revolution wouldn’t have succeeded without French and Spanish help, so
Americans owed a lot to foreign policy, they were committed to these and at the end of the 18th
1976 Washington’s Farewell Address: „Americans fulfilled their commitments”, so he
composed the idea of isolationism. The USA wanted to expand commercial relations, but not
political connections. It meant isolation from Europe. Isolationism was helped by real physical
distance and separation; and the belief of the original settlers that they would build a better world.
Foreign policy existed in the American continent, not with Europe.
President Roosevelt warned people in 1937. Most Americans ignored Roosevelt’s warning. They
believed that the best thing to do was to let foreigners solve their problems
themselves.(=Isolationists) Their ideas were very strong in Congress during the 1930s. ( passed a
number of laws called Neutrality Acts. (American citizens would not be allowed to sell military
equipment or lend money, to any nations at war.
American diplomats coined 3 phrases: Manifest Destiny, the Frontier and Monroe-doctrine
Monroe was a President who modified the message of Washington’s Farewell Address. It meant
that the USA would stay out from European affairs, but he warned the European powers against
further colonization in North and South America.
Social Darwinism: after Darwin’s theory of evolution Social Darwinism was developed by
Herbert Spencer. Natural selection is applied to human society. Weak, unfit failed – strong,
talented succeeded. Struggle was a natural phenomenon in human society – competitive spirit.
This theory was handy to industrialists. Law of nature + law of God
The 2nd industrial revolution brought economic extension. In 1890 the Frontier was closed.
Politicians realized if they wanted to keep industrial growth, they needed to join the European
powers for overseas markets.
The US faced a two-fold task: they had to explain the people why they wanted to expand; they
needed a strong army and a strong navy.
The 1st test came with Cuba. From 1895 onwards feelings of this kind were focused more and
more upon Cuba. But at this time Cuba was a Spanish colony. In 1895 the people of Cuba rose in
rebellion against their Spanish rulers. By 1898 many Americans felt that the US should do
something to help the Cubans. In April President McKinley demanded that Spain should withdraw
from Cuba, and a few days later Spain and the US went to war.
In 1898 Spanish-American War (The Loss of Innocence) broke out, it was the 1st event of the
new foreign policy. After long years of isolation this was the 1st time that USA interfered in
foreign affairs. It started with the explosion of the warship: Maine.
In the end of the 19th century Cuba belonged to Spain. Cuba was important for American business,
because of sugar production. There were revolutions against Spanish authority in Cuba.
The Spanish-American war was fought in two parts of the world. One was Cuba; the other was the
Philippines. The first battle was fought in the Philippines. A few weeks later American soldiers
occupied Manila, the chief city. American soldiers also landed in Cuba. Other American soldiers
occupied Puerto Rico.
Spain gave most of its overseas empire to the US - Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and a small
Pacific island called Guam. At the same time the US also annexed Hawaii.
In less than a year the US had become a colonial power. Some Americans were worried by this.
How could Americans fight against such people without being unfaithful to the most important
traditions and values of their own country? Most Americans answered this question by claiming
that they were preparing underdeveloped nations for civilization and democracy.
It was a short and victorious war. The Philippines and Puerto Rico became part of the US. In 1903
the Americans withdrew their army from Cuba, but signed the Platt Amendment: The US could
send troops to take control of Cuba any time it believed that American interests were in danger.
Before the Americans took away their soldiers in 1902 they made the Cuban government give
them land at Guantanamo Bay. They built a big American naval base there.
Jingo Press new type of journalism (Hearst, Pulitzer) convinced people about the necessity of
interfering in Cuba. They published sensational articles about the fights in Cuba. (=active role
helping the government policy.) Good means for the government to persuade the public about
1904 Roosevelt Corollary: In 1904 President Theodore Roosevelt made an addition or
“corollary” to the original Monroe Doctrine. He said that the US would intervene in Latin
America, whenever it thought necessary. Roosevelt believed that by doing this the US would be
able to ensure the internal stability of its Latin American neighbors and so remove any excuse for
Europeans to interfere in their affairs.
In the next 20 years American soldiers landed in countries like Nicaragua, Haiti and the
Dominican Republic, and took over their governments for years.
The Panama Channel: In the early 1990s the American government wanted to build a passage at
where North and South America join. It was necessary for American ships to travel quickly
between east and west coast instead of making long journey around South America. The territory
was owned by Colombia and the Columbian government refused to give permission. The solution
was a local upraise: Roosevelt sent armed forces to help the revolution and Panama became
separate state and let the US to build the Channel (1907-1914). Roosevelt’s policy was called the
Big Stick Policy: He said that in order to achieve what you want, you have to speak softly and
carry a big stick in case you need to defend yourself.
In the early 1900s President Taft favored a policy which encouraged Americans to invest in areas
that were strategically important to the United States, such as Latin America. It was called: Dollar
Diplomacy. Through economic power it is easy to gain political power.
11. The U.S. in World War I and in the Peace-making Process (1914-1920)
In 1914 the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy declared war on Serbia, Germany declared war on
Russia and France while Britain declared war on Germany, as well. The two fighting powers of
this war were the Allies (Great Britain, France, and Russia) and the Central Powers (Germany
and the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy).
The president of the US was Woodrow Wilson who was a democrat. He called on the Americans
to stay neutral according to the isolationist idea. Being impartial wasn’t very difficult since
people themselves wanted to stay out of this war, so the majority of the Americans agreed with
However, it was quite difficult to maintain complete neutrality not only because of their
economic interests in the area, but also because many people felt they had to express their
sympathy for their mother country or for the fighting powers.
Commercially, the US tried to take advantage of the war to strengthen their commercial tides. By
1915 American factories were working on full speed. (weapons, munitions, accommodates and
other products) The American banks also provided loans to European countries. These changes
resulted in a huge economical boom in the US.
German leaders were determined to stop the huge influx of American products into Europe and
introduced the so called Submarine Warfare. They said that they would sink all the merchant
ships of the Allies around Britain.
The USA only gave up its isolationist idea when the first passenger ship, the “Lusitana” was
sunk with 2000 people on board. It was hit by a torpedo from a German submarine. All of the
passengers, including 126 American citizens, died. As a result, a huge scandal broke out in
America. Americans protested and Wilson sent a strongly worded message to Germany.
However, the German submarine attacks continued and 2 other passenger ships, the “Sussex” and
the “Arabic” were sunk.
The Germans decided to stop the submarine warfare if the US decreased its commercial activity
In November of 1916 Wilson was reelected, America continued its commercial activity with
As an answer, the Germans resumed the submarine warfare, but this time they would attacked not
only British or French but neutral ships (like American ones) as well.
Wilson sent a final message on January 22nd, 1917. He asked the parties to sign a peace treaty, a
„peace without victory” and to get to an agreement about European matters. Wilson was too
idealistic. Obviously, none of the parties accepted his idea.
In March 1917, the English secret agents intercepted the secret telegram of Arthur Zimmermann
(the German secretary of state) which was sent to the Mexicans and the Germans offered an
alliance to Mexico against the Allies and the US. They promised foreign aid and German alliance
to the Mexicans in case of attacking the Southern part of US when America enters the war. They
also would have helped them to get back their territories, lost in the Mexican-American war.
Besides the German alliance, the Mexican minister should have asked the Japanese to also
become a German ally.
The telegram was given to Wilson who gave it to the newspapers. Sensational stories were made
and even the Southern states had to realize that this war is not totally out of their lives. The
Zimmermann Telegram along with the Submarine Warfare was the turning point of the WWI.
from America’s point of view. The public turned pro-war and on April 6, 1917 the USA declared
war on Germany.
Wilson’s aim was to defeat Germany and put an end to this war. By June 1917 more than a
million soldiers were trained and shipped to Europe. The AEF (American Expeditionary Force)
fought under the leadership of John J. Pershing who was the commander in chief. Later they
joined the French troops led by General Foch. In the spring of 1918 they stopped the Germans 40
miles from Paris and only six weeks later they pushed back the Germans behind the German
borders. (In the meantime Russia stepped out of the war because of their own Civil War).
In November, 1918 the so called Armistice Treaty (cease-fire) was signed.
The peacemaking process was extremely important for Wilson, he made great efforts to prevent
the world from getting involved in further wars. He even traveled to Europe to participate in the
peacemaking process. When he arrived in Europe he took a list of ideas about postwar settlement.
He called this list the Wilsonian Fourteen Points. He introduced them in January, 1918 in the
form of a speech in front of the Congress. In Europe the Germans accepted the 14 points as the
basis of peace making.
The 14 points aimed at two major objectives:
- To replace (economically and politically free world, a world without colonization - the Us had
already promised freedom to its dependencies).
- To offer an alternative to Bolshevism because it would have meant a threat for the Christian
traditions of the Western World.
The most important points were:
- He wanted the occupied territories to decide their future, where they want to belong to, by
referendum. He wanted a national self-determination, but it wasn’t accepted by the Allies
(catastrophe for Hungary).
- He demanded the adjustment of colonial claims
- He demanded freedom of the seas
- He required nations to stop making secret treaties
- He suggested the reduction of armed forces (disarmament) in every country
- He wanted to achieve free trade with one another and wanted to abolish the protective tariffs
- He called for the establishment of an international forum to settle disputes between the countries
through negotiations and not through wars. He called this establishment the League of Nations.
Before the negotiations started, he sent his ideas to the Germans who accepted them. However,
when the Paris Peace-conference started in January 1919, he was outmaneuvered by the Prime
Ministers of Britain (David Lloyd George) and France (Georges Clemenceau). They did not
agree with Wilson’s ideas. They couldn’t accept the 14 points because Clemenceau and Wilson
had totally different ideas about the punishment of the Germans and about the future peace.
Wilson only wanted to punish the leaders of Germany and not the people. He said that Germans
shouldn’t be treated unfairly because then they would like to take a revenge which would lead to
Clemenceau, on the other hand, believed that the only way to solve the future problems was to
devastate Germany. To humiliate people as much as possible to destroy their industry. So, they
would not be able to finance another fight again.
Lloyd George agreed with Clemenceau and since they were on home grounds, Wilson’s ideas
were almost totally rejected. The peace treaty in Versailles was not a real discussion. Wilson
and the US delegation did not sign it. The US signed bilateral treaties separately with the
loosing countries later, in 1921 in the Treaty of Berlin (US - Germany, US - Austria, US Hungary).
The only point that caught the attention of the European leaders was the organization of the
League of Nations. When Wilson went back to the US he wanted to make people understand that
the League of Nations was necessary. The American Senate refused it saying that the US
wouldn’t like to participate in it. As a result, in 1919 the League of Nations was established in
Europe, but without the USA.
12. The Great Depression: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the new Deal
The roaring twenties
This decade was also known as the “New Era”. The time of the twenties was a quite noisy
decade. It was the time of a new society’s birth.
The country found itself in a very favorable position after the. The US was on its way to become
a predominantly urban nation. In 1920 the number of those living in towns and cities exceeded
the number of those living in rural areas. Soon, the society became characterized by the
consumers. America became a “consumer society”.
The technological innovation also contributed to the growth of the national wealth. (chemistry,
electricity, telecommunication, automobiles, etc.) Electrical household devices like the
refrigerator, the vacuum cleaner, the iron, the stove, or the radio also appeared.
The first silent films were created at that time and Hollywood was born then, too.
Jazz became widespread.
People bought a lot of things since it was very easy. Citizens could buy almost anything they
wanted on „installment plans”, on credit. A new kind of slavery was formed starting the long
way of mass production. The world was on its way to be Americanized.
The political and social life of the roaring twenties showed a mixture of conservatism and
radicalism. Conservatives, of course, were against all these changes.
- Red Scare: the fear of bolshevism. They were afraid of the radical movements, that bolshevists
would invade the country. To protect America they persecuted radicals. A typical example of
this was the so-called „Sacco-Vanzetti case”, when two Italians were arrested and executed
for bank robbery, although there were evidences against their guiltiness.
- Ku-Klux Clan: This organization revived at that time as an anti-colored, anti-foreigner, antiCatholic organization with a peak membership of about 5 million in the early 1920s.
- Religious Fundamentalism: The movement invaded everyday life, education and other areas
of people’s lives. The best example of religious fundamentalism was the so called Scopes
trial, when a teacher was took to court because he taught Darwinist theory instead of
- Restrictions: The quota-laws have been introduced that time to stop the immigration waves.
- Prohibition Laws: These laws even became the 18th Constitutional Amendment in 1919
Prohibition laws prohibited the manufacturing, transporting and sale of alcoholic products in
the USA. The movement itself started in the 1870s, some states even declared themselves as
“dry states”. It became a federal act in 1919 meaning that nowhere in the USA could
alcohol be sold or manufactured. Illegal drinking places opened, called the “Speak Easy”.
The bootleggers made huge profit. The twenties was also characterized by the gangster wars
and famous gangsters like Al Capone.
At the same time there were some radical changes.
- New Women: The emergence of a woman organization. They were the first ones who got the
right to vote. With the spread of birth control many of the women got employed.
Unfortunately, only middle class and white women had the possibilities for these changes,
the others remained in the traditional role of women.
- New Negro: The emergence of „New Negroes”. Urbanization affected the black communities
as well. There was a steady migration from the rural areas into the cities and from the South
to the North. Urbanization did not go hand in hand with higher living standards; blacks still
mostly lived in ghettos such as Harlem in New York City.
The Great Depression
The Great Depression had many warning signs. It all started at the New York Stock Exchange on
The happenings preceding the depression were the following:
- Unprecedented speculations which is said to be the main factor
- People were poor, the wages were low, couldn’t buy products
- The government was unable to control the growing economy, it was too liberal. The high
import duties did not create the necessary real competition.
- Interest rates were very low which led to the reckless spending of people. People were
buying things on credit, there was no control to see if there was real background to the costs
- Large banks refused to cooperate with the government, this way it was unable to keep
control of economy.
The high import duties (more and more other countries introduced it) made it extremely difficult
for the USA to export. During these years the world trade fell by 40%.
But as the business opportunities, along with the world market started to decline, the American
companies made less profit, people started to sell their stocks. The greater the decline became the
greater the panic grew, there were huge stock sells and it finally led to the Wall Street Crash on
October 24th, 1929 which is also called Black Thursday. Suddenly too many people started to
sell their shares, the New York stock exchange collapsed.
Although the Great Depression itself lasted from 1929-33, it characterized the whole 30’s. These
years became known from bankruptcy, dept and suicide.
From this time on future looked unsafe and uncertain. People changed lifestyles.
- They started to save money instead of spending it. As a result, they spent less so
overproduction became even bigger.
- Banks started to ask back their loans from the European countries. However, it was also a
- very high rate of unemployment and in the US there was no social security system at that time,
so millions of people became homeless and starved. This was a huge problem!!!!
Hoover’s government was not prepared for the situation, they believed that they should not
interfere economic problems, their only measures were to raise tariff rates to keep cheap foreign
goods out of the country and to start a program which offered free food for people. As a
consequence of free food the so-called bread-lines (long queues on the streets of big cities)
appeared. Very strong actions would have been needed, but the Hoover government didn’t agree
with that saying that if the government had given aids the people would have become lazy.
The elections came in 1932 Hoover
↔ Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He said that government
needed to take actions. He believed that rapid, central governmental actions were necessary and
offered a new program for people, called the New Deal program. He was the only president
who was elected three times, from 1933 to 1945.
The New Deal Program
It aimed at achieving the redistribution of wealth through great central government measurements
since Roosevelt believed that the crisis took place because wealth was distributed unjust.
Moreover all of them set up so called government agencies, called the Alphabet Agencies which
were known by everybody.
There were two main periods of this program during which the most acts were passed, all aiming
at the relief and reconstruction.
- the First One Hundred Days (Spring 1933)
- the Second Hundred Days (Spring and Summer 1935).
The 1st one hundred days:
Emergency Acts were passed. Their most important aim was to make people trust the banks
again. On March 6 Roosevelt announced a bank holiday (everything, especially banks were
closed), then on the 9th the Congress passed the Emergency Banking Act. The major purpose
was to protect the larger banks by giving them federal aid and federal inspection before
reopening. This was the only way these banks could survive.
Next day another act was passed to cut the salaries of government employees and reducing
pensions to veterans of the WWI. It was only completed by the 21st Amendment in 1933.
Following the Emergency Acts the government opened the Alphabet Agencies which were
passing acts to deal with economic problems. The most important ones were the following:
1.) The first act was directed to agriculture. It was issued in May, 1933 and was called the
Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA). It aimed at providing relief to farmers. The act
allowed (or even made) them to establish production limits and basically to produce less. The
government was paying subsidies to them for leaving some of their lands idle or for
producing less or nothing.
2.) Industry was the backbone of the New Deal Program. The National Industrial Act (NIRA)
was passed. It was needed to control the situation of the industry, like fair wages and fair
prices. Determined a minimum wage and a maximum workweek and abolished child labor. It
also allowed the employees to bargain collectively with the employers through trade unions.
With this act they wanted to improve the situation of those who still had jobs.
3.) The New Deal also started federal involvement in regional planning which had been the task
of the individual states until then. Now it became federal responsibility. The aim was to
rehabilitate the poorest regions of the USA. The best example was the Tennessee Valley
Authority (TVA) which was established in May 1933 to provide for a comprehensive
rehabilitation of the Tennessee Valley, the poorest area of the US. The authority’s most
important measurements were to build dams on the Tennessee River to stop the floods. This
way they also got electricity which also was a positive side-affect. The project was extremely
Unemployment was still a serious question. Actions had to be taken to solve this problem.
Different administrations and associations were established.
The two most important ones were the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and
the Civil Works Administration (CWA). FERA provided cash grants to state relief agencies
while the CWA provided employment for over 4 million people at constructions of roads,
schools, hospitals, parks, etc. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) also gave jobs to the
urban youth. They usually got 1 dollar / day + food. As for the homeowners, the Home Owner’s
Loan Corporation helped refinance mortgages of more than 1 million households.
Although the measurements were successful and significant, some problems arose since these
acts proved to be inadequate to meet all the demands on one hand. On the other hand, there was a
huge opposition between the Supreme Court and Roosevelt. They said that these administrations
delegated too much power on the executive power and especially to the President. According to
the Supreme Court this shouldn’t have happened, not even in such a big crisis. This is one of the
reasons why the second hundred days were necessary.
The other reason was that the reform-minded members of the administration wished to go further
than simple relief, they wanted to establish the bases of a society with a fairer system of
The Second one hundred days:
This stage was characterized by several acts and administrations, as well.
1.) The first Social Security Act in the history of the country was born in 1935. It introduced a
system under which a payroll tax was imposed to create pension funds and the act also
provided for a system of unemployment insurance.
2.) the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was established under the leadership of Harry
Hopkins in 1935. The people employed in the program built roads, schools, airports, public
buildings, bridges, and so on. The WPA had several sub-projects like the Federal Writers
Project, the Federal Music Project, the Federal Arts Project and the Federal Theater Project
which all gave work for the artists of the country (e.g. writers were asked to write cookery
books or painters to paint public places, etc). This gave altogether 8 million jobs to people,
especially between 1935-42.
As for the evaluation of the New Deal Program people were happy with it not like politicians.
The Right Wing said that the measurements were too radical and the central intervention into the
economy shouldn’t have been allowed. Whereas the Left Wing said that the measurements were
not radical enough, no real reforms were achieved the biggest challenge came from the Supreme
Court which was the greatest opponent and found many acts unconstitutional.
The New Deal was not able to solve all the problems of the Great Depression. The only problem
they couldn’t handle was the problem of unemployment. In 1939 there were still 10 million
people without jobs, but had a long lasting impact on the American society by creating the first
pieces of „welfare” legislation, it laid the foundation of a welfare state.
13. The U.S. In World War II (1939-1945)
1938- There was the annexation of Austria (Anschluss). Following the annexation a referendum
was held where the majority of the population voted for becoming a part of Germany that is why
this political step cannot be called invasion.
1939- Czechoslovakia was annexed by Germany, Albania was occupied by Italy and in the
summer Germany was already threatening Poland.
Seeing this people of the USA got frightened. They didn’t want to get involved into another war.
Although there was no direct link between the contemporary business interests and political
decisions, public opinion demanded the Congress to take actions to avoid a newer war. As a
result a series of so called Neutrality Acts were published from 1935 (learnt from WWI). But
America was suffering from the effects of the Depression and the so-called „Cash and Carry
Policy” was added to the Neutrality Acts. It meant no open participation in the war preparation
from American side, but still helped the industry because if a foreign ship arrived and paid with
cash they could carry any goods they needed including arms. The “Cash and Carry Policy”
favored two countries, Britain and France.
However, in the summer of 1939 Germany already threatened Poland. This was a very serious
threat for the peace of the World. September 1st, 1939- Germany attacked Poland. The Second
World War broke out!!
Except for its “Cash and Carry Policy” the US remained neutral at the beginning of the war,
however, it could not be continued for a long time as the Germans scored one victory after the
other and the Allies needed more and more help. By the summer of 1940 Germany occupied all
of Western Europe. France disappeared and Britain was completely alone.
The USA had to face the fact that Hitler ruled Europe, Asia was ruled by the Japanese aggression
and in the middle of the two continent there stood the USA.
So, when Britain wanted to declare bankruptcy in February of 1941, Roosevelt introduced the so
called “Lend Lease Plan”. It changed the earlier “Cash and Carry Policy” meaning that
countries which were important for America, like Britain and later the Soviet Union, didn’t have
to pay right away for the equipment they took. It was a kind of loan for them.
The USA still didn’t intend to get involved into the war. In August 1941 the Atlantic Charter
was signed by Roosevelt and Churchill. It was a joint declaration of peace aim. It was quite
similar to Wilson’s 14 points and more and more nations accepted its principles.
In the meantime Japan, which was an ally of the Germans, carried out a very expansionist policy
in Asia and by 1937 occupied nearly all of China. In 1941 Japan overrun Indochina (which was a
French colony at that time) and Burma, and started to head towards the South-West Pacific. It
made the Americans alarmed since their interests (mainly commercial ones) in the region were
threatened. Japan looked at the Pacific Ocean with eager eyes and simply called it the “Japanese
As a result, the American-Japanese relations were getting worse. By 1941 the relationship was
deteriorated and the US decided to cut the supply of certain goods to Japan. (scrap metal, which
was important for weapon production) Secondly, America placed an embargo on oil, which was
a real disaster for Japan since 80% of its oil had come from the US.
These regulations were a real catastrophe for Japan since without supplies they couldn’t keep the
new territories and couldn’t get newer ones. They needed to find a new supplier. The Japanese
first wanted to destroy the American Pacific Fleet. The Americans knew that the Japanese wanted
to attack them, but did not know where and when. The answer came on December 7, 1941 when
the Japanese attacked the main base of the American Fleet in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu in
Pearl Harbor. Eight battleships were damaged, including four carriers, 2000 people died and
hundreds of airplanes were destroyed.
The attack on Pearl Harbor put an end to the American neutrality. On the 8th of December the
US declared war on Japan!!
Within a year the Americans rebuilt the Fleet.
The belligerent parties of the WWII were the Allies (Britain, USA, France and the Soviet Union)
and the Axis (Germany, Italy and Japan, later joined by other powers including Hungary,
Romania, Slovakia, Denmark, Finland, Bulgaria and the Japanese ruled China).
Japanese-American Relocation Centers, 1942: After the attack on Pearl Harbor white Americans
began to see every Japanese American as a potential spy or saboteur. The government took them
into prison camps and kept them there for the rest of the war. It was very unjust.
Between 1939-41 the production of the US doubled and unemployment was eliminated. Factories
stopped producing consumer goods; they started making tanks, bombers and other war supplies.
The government also spent a vast amount on a top-secret research scheme (Manhattan project).
Scientists produced and tested the world’s first atomic bomb.
1942 November – Rommel’s ‘Afrika Korps’ were defeated by the Allies.
1943 - Sicily was invaded by the Ally forces then moved to mainland Italy and Rome was freed
of Nazi army by 1944.
Churchill preferred moving to the Balkans.
1944 6th June - US interfered on the war on the French land – Normandy > The day is referred to
as D-Day (Deliverance) – the whole operation was coded as ‘Operation Overload’ – meant
huge breakthrough. Eisenhower – commander (later became President of the US). German
troops pushed back to Belgium.
The Battle of the Bulge: the last German offensive of the WWII. Germans pushed back to
The Soviet military forces started to win over the Germans. April 1945 – German military forces
defeated, the Soviet troops reached the Alps.
30 April 1945 – Hitler committed suicide, 5 May 1945 – Germany surrendered;
WWII also fought in Asia: Japanese victories, but May 1942 – The Battle of the Coral Sea –
American regained military initiative in the naval war; June 1942 – Japan suffered a worse
In the Pacific, Japanese armed forces won victories. They overran Southeast Asia and the islands of
the western Pacific. By 1943 the Pacific offensives had begun. American forces advanced towards
Japan by “island hopping” – they captured islands that were strategically important, but bypassed
1943 - America started a new strategy called ‘Three-pronged attack’ (attack came from 3
directions). The Australian forces helped the US from the direction of Hawaii and the Pacific.
By 1945 – American forces managed to secure a general supremacy on sea and in air.
June 1945 – Americans won the critical wars; these victories gave them landing, from where
they could invade the mainland of Japan.
Meanwhile Roosevelt died, Vice President, Truman became President > decided on very quick
finishing of the war in Asia > atomic bomb was used in Japan – ‘Manhattan Project’. On August
6, 1945 Americans dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima; on 9 August 1945: on Nagasaki.
President Truman ordered the atomic bomb to be used. After it the Japanese government
surrendered and the Second World War was over.
Caused a lot of changes in the US:
Positive: absolute economically recovery > full employment, production doubled/tripled;
Negative: shortage of consuming Inflation. Women took over men’s positions > changes in their
positions in society, Civil Rights Movement. Black soldiers treated more fairly in the WWII.
The US came out victorious both politically and economically. The war had a lasting effect on
Europe. It set up the two poles in the world: Western Power – SU+ satellite countries. It lasted until
the end of the ‘80s.
14. The Bipolar World: The U.S. in the Cold War (1941-1991)
The diplomacy of WWII
The roots of the Cold War can be found in the diplomacy of WWII. War time alliance wasn’t a
normal relationship neither for the USA nor for the Soviet Union. They were two totally different
systems with totally different politics and social background.
However, there were many steps before the beginning of the actual Cold War.
- The first occasion was when Churchill and Roosevelt met. This was the time when they drew
up the Atlantic Charter which was later signed in August 1941.
- The next meeting was on the turn of 1941 and 1942. This time they met in Washington D.C.,
and the meeting was called the “Washington Conference”. This was the time when
Churchill convinced Roosevelt to open the second front in the Mediterranean region and to
attack Rommell in North Africa. They agreed on these without even involving the Soviet
- In January 1943 they met outside the USA, in Casablanca, in Morocco. They stated the
unconditional surrounding of the Axis and the continuation of the war.
- The next meeting lasted from August 1943 to September 1944 in Quebec. This time they
discussed the strategic issues of the war. The Soviet Union was excluded now, too.
- In November 1943 the meeting was held in Cairo. A third member was also invited from the
American allied China, Chiang Kaishek. This time they discussed the program for the
Fareast. The Soviet Union wasn’t invited.
Obviously, they couldn’t totally exclude the Soviets, so there were conferences where they were
invited, as well.
- The first conference with the Soviet Union was in November and December of 1943. This was
the first conference of the “Big Three” (Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt). They met in
Teheran, in Iran. They decided on the exact time and place concerning the opening of the
second front (which was actually the third, since the USA had already agreed with Britain
about the second one).
Churchill didn’t like the idea and constantly worked against Stalin’s ideas. This was the time
when Stalin realized that the other two countries were not keen on helping the SU to fight in
the front. They also agreed on the idea of having an international society which would solve
the conflicts peacefully (later this will be the United Nations).
- The most important meeting was held in February 1945 in Yalta, Soviet Union. This time they
again agreed (now also with the SU) that unconditional surrender would be necessary, to
destroy nazism, to disarm the German forces, control German industry and punish war
They also defined the new boundaries of Poland.
The Soviet Union agreed to join the Asian War after the third month of the end of the
European War (actually they didn’t have to because of the atomic bomb, but they still got
some islands north of Japan). They set the so called “four division” of Germany, meaning
that they divided Germany into four occupation zones. Moreover, they not only divided
Germany, but Berlin itself. These four zones would have been controlled by France, Britain,
the USA and the Soviet Union. They also signed that they would hold free elections on the
occupied territories to let people decide where they would like to belong. The Russians
manipulated the elections because they didn’t want to lose their influence in the neighboring
countries. This is how the Communist power got into Eastern Europe. When Western Europe
realized this they said that the Soviet Union broke the spirit of Yalta, but there were no other
- The last conference of the war was in July and August of 1945 in Potsdam, Germany. They
discussed the issues of reparation. The “Big Three” set up a “Council of Foreign Ministers”
to discuss all the issues of reparation and the provisions about Japan along with the terms of
surrender (which Japan refused). The three ministers this time it was Truman, Stalin and
All these conferences along with the suspicion of Stalin about the unwillingness of help and the
atomic bomb can be seen as the beginning of the Cold War.
The Cold War
There are several ideas concerning the beginning of the Cold War, i.e. the confrontation between
the capitalist and the communist countries in the postwar years. The general consensus nowadays
is that the Cold War already started while WWII was going on. The dropping of the atomic bomb
might be regarded as the real starting point of the Cold War.
The antecedent of the Cold War was the period of WWII, between 1941 and 1945 when things
went from cooperation to confrontation.
The Cold War itself has three main periods.
1.) Classical Cold War (1947-1962)
a.) 1947-53: Truman Doctrine was published / Stalin died
b.) 1953-58: Stalin’s death / Second Berlin Crisis
c.) 1958-62: Second Berlin Crisis / Caribbean Crisis
2.) Détente / Easing of attention (1962-1979)
a.) 1962-69:Carribean Crisis / Nixon-Brandt, turning point in foreign policy
b.) 1969-75: Nixon-Brandt / Helsinki Conference, human rights and minority questions
c.) 1975-79: Helsinki Conference / Russians invade Afghanistan
3.) The Second Cold War or Little Cold War (1979-1989/91)
a.) 1979-85: Russians invade Afghanistan / Gorbachev starts his “Perestroika”
b.) 1985-89/91: “Perestroika / Collapse of the Berlin Wall or the Fall of the Soviet Union
America: After the WW2 the US was the strongest nation in the world, their industry was not
destroyed, and half of the world’s production came from the American factories. At the same
time they had the atomic secret, the biggest Navy and the biggest air force on the world.
Soviet Union: the Soviet Army became the master over the Eastern European countries and
helped the communist governments to take over the power. The Soviets kept on expanding their
interests. Between 1945-48 all of the Eastern European countries were taken over the communist
In 1946 Churchill made a famous speech in Fulton, Missouri - Fulton Speech. He was the first
who used the term „iron curtain” as a separating line between the Eastern and the Western
nations of Europe.
Stalin was suspicious of the Western countries because he knew that Britain and the US did not
approve of communism and knew about the „red-scare” in the US. At the same time feared the
atomic bomb and did everything to get the secret.
The other side, the US suspected that the „sovietisation” of Eastern Europe was just the first step
toward Soviet expansionism worldwide.
The United States changed its foreign policies when staring the Cold War. Isolationism
disappeared. The Americans committed themselves globally to defend the Western culture and
civilization from the threat of communism.
The first commitment already came during the war. At the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944
the US tried to shape the postwar international financial order of the world by creating the two
most important institutions of the world, the International Monetary Found (IMF) and the World
Bank. The Soviet Union also participated in this conference, but left because the two different
systems cannot cooperate with each other.
The second very important step was taken in 1944, at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference where a
decision was made to establish an international organization to ensure and maintain peace and
security in the world - the United Nations Organization (UNO). This was the legal successor of
the League of Nations. The organization was finally established on June 26th, 1945, in San
Francisco. The UNO had 51 members, and the two most important bodies were the General
Assembly and the Security Council (with 5 members: US, UK, France, China, SU). The American
headquarters was in New York, while the European one in Geneva.
George F. Kennan, a political scientist and advisor suggested in his famous study in 1946 that the
Soviets should be contained, namely that the Americans should stop the Soviet expansion in all
walks of life, including politics, economics, ideology, culture, propaganda, etc. This was called
the “Containment Policy”.
The Sovietization of Eastern Europe and the Communist pressure put upon the Greek and
Turkish governments finally led to the Truman Doctrine. Truman accepted the Containment
Policy and on March 12th, 1947 he pronounced it as the official foreign policy of the United
States. Isolationists believed that the US had committed itself unnecessarily, while the
conservatives argued that it was too limited and too defensive, instead of just „holding the line”,
the US should push Communism back.
It became obvious that changes were needed in the American defense policy. In the same year, in
1947 the National Security Act was passed which established an integrated Defense
Department (the Army, the Navy, etc. was integrated under one department) to create a
framework for the increased American role in the world affairs.
Two other very important institutions were immediately established, as well, the CIA (Central
Intelligence Service) with the function of carrying out espionage and counter espionage activity,
and the NSC (National Security Council) whose members were the President, the Vice President
and the Secretary of State, and had the task of supervising the CIA. The FBI (Federal Bureau of
Investigation) was established in 1908. Its role was to investigate the violations of federal laws, it
investigated federal crimes. However, upon request they might insist local police departments, as
The Containment Policy was further implemented through the Marshall Plan, based on the plan
of the contemporary Secretary of State, George Marshall, the United States gave 20 billion USD
(as a loan) for the reconstruction of Europe between 1947 and 1952. The only condition was that
these countries had to buy American products on the money. As a result, the Western European
countries were back on their feet by 1952. It could have happened to Eastern European countries,
too, if the Soviets had not ordered them to refuse it. Another role of the Marshall Plan was that
European Integration started to be shaped through it.
It organized the economic aid given to Europe and had two main functions.
- the situation in the European countries, especially in Germany, was terrible. During the winter
numerous people died, starved and lived under miserable conditions, which could have led to
rebellions, and communism could have seem to be appealing for them.
- the economic production went on in the US and foreign markets were needed to sell the
The first serious test of the American commitment in Europe was the 11 month long Berlin
crisis in 1948. Owing to the Marshall Plan new money was introduced in West Berlin
(“DeuthschMark”). However, the Soviets were not informed about it and as a revenge they
decided to block this part of the city but the US started to supply the city from the air. The project
was called Berlin Airlift. After 11 months Stalin realized that there was no point in continuing
the blockade. The West-Berliners survived.
The US also realized that military aid was equally necessary for the European countries.
Therefore, the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was established in April 1948. It
provided an integrated military, economic, and political framework for the cooperation of the US
and the West European nations. Its commander-in-chief was Dwight D. Eisenhower. Its
necessity was proved quite soon in 1949, first when the Soviet atomic bomb was exploded, and
secondly when China fell to communism under the leadership of Mao Zedong, which was a huge
setback to the American interests.
The Korean War
The first big clash between the communist and the noncommunist world took place in Korea.
Before the WWII, Korea had been ruled by Japan. When Japan surrendered in 1945, the north of
Korea was occupied by Soviet forces and the south by Americans. (South and North Korea.) The
dividing line was at the 38th parallel. After 1948 both countries left Korea, but left their own
governments there. Both these governments claimed the right to rule all of the country.
In June 1950 North Korea attacked South Korea. President Truman sent American soldiers and
warplanes from Japan to fight for the South Koreans. Then the United States turned to the UN to
support their action, and the international troops, under the leadership of General Douglas
MacArthur, pushed the North Koreans back. By this time the American aim was no longer simply
to protect South Korea. They wanted to unite all of Korea under a government friendly towards
the US. Korea has a long border with China. And at this point they met Chinese soldiers. China
stepped into the war, because Mao feared that if all Korea came under American control they
might let them use it as a base from which to attack China. So he sent hundred of thousands of
„volunteers” to the front to fight against the USA. A new and fiercer war began in Korea between
the US and China, supported by the Soviets.
The war was finally finished by the new President, Eisenhower in April of 1953. The reason for
finishing was the death of Stalin. This way Chinese didn’t have any more supply and support. On
the other hand, Eisenhower threatened people with another atomic bomb. In reality, however, the
Status Quo ante bellum took place, meaning that no change took place in the borderline, and
both parties claimed victory on their own part. The 38 parallel stayed the dividing line from this
time on, too.
The upcoming Republican administration under the presidency of Dwight David Eisenhower
affected a number of changes in American foreign policy.
John Foster Dulles became the Secretary of State, who hated communism and proposed the so
called „liberation of the captive nations” and the „rollback of Communism”.
At the same time in the filed of military strategy, he advocated the so-called massive retaliation,
the establishment of a nuclear force that would deter any attack against the US or its allies around
the world. The US refrained from moving either during the worker’s uprising in East Berlin in
June 1953 or during the Hungarian Revolution in October-November 1956.
The latter event coincided in time with the Suez crisis. This was also called the “Twin Crisis”.
The Canal was under international control, but Egypt wanted to nationalize it. The USA didn’t
want to get involved because it was election time. For the first time the Soviets and the
Americans agreed. Neither of them wanted another fight. So, they told their allies not to get
involved. In general, during the latter half of the 1950’s, after the Geneva Summit in 1955, the
Eisenhower administration moved toward a more conciliatory attitude toward the Soviets and the
last years of the decade was characterized by the emergence of the idea of „peaceful
coexistence”. This was mainly because of the fact that both countries had enough nuclear
weapons and this way neither of them could win the war.
Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962
This crisis brought the world the closest to a possible nuclear war. Its roots can be found in Fidel
Castro’s government. In 1959 a revolutionary reformer Fidel Castro, took over its government at
that time he had nothing to do with communism! As he got on power, he needed money to make
changes in Cuba, he decided to nationalize private properties, among them American ones, too.
Castro seemed to be organizing a communist state right on the doorstep of the US. Castro’s
country got into a difficult situation, so he turned to the Soviet Union for economic help. The
Americans knew that this relationship might be very dangerous. Eisenhower decided to make an
end to Castro’s Cuba and a plan was born to take away Castro’s power. Cuban refugees were
trained by the CIA to land in Cuba and instigate rebellion against Castro. The plan was carried
out under Kennedy’s presidency and was called the Bay of Pigs Invasion on April 17th, 1961.
Castro knew about it and all the refugees were killed. Castro was sure that the Americans would
try again, so turned to the SU again, but this time for military help.
In the meantime, in 1960 an American U2 spy-plane was shot above the SU, and its pilot instead
of destroying himself, let himself caught by the Soviets and confessed everything. It was a huge
scandal which led to a very tough situation. In addition, in August 1961 the Soviets built up the
Berlin Wall in Germany in order to stop emigration from East to West Germany.
When Kennedy became the President, they said that if Cuba attacked the US, it would have been
taken as a Soviet attack. In 1962, an American U-2 spy plane few over the island taking
photographs. After this he ordered ships and aircraft to set up a blockade to stop any Soviet ships
carrying more equipment to Cuba. Khruschev was ordered to take back the weapons immediately.
In return Kennedy promised to leave Cuba alone and promised not to attempt another invasion on
Cuba. This was the end of the crisis.
This crisis was necessary for the world to acknowledge the fact that a nuclear war should never
15. Domestic Policy in Cold War U.S. (1940’s-1990’s)
The McCarthy witch hunts
The late 1940s and the 1950s were anxious years for Americans. Both President Truman and
Eisenhower believed that the Soviet Union’s communist way of running a country was cruel and
wrong. They wanted to stop it from spreading to other countries. A wave of fear swept across the
US. Many Americans started to see communist plots everywhere. Some even believed that the
government itself was full of traitors plotting to betray the country to the Russians. Joseph
McCarthy used these fears to win fame and power for himself. He started the “witch hunt” – a
search for people he could blame for the supposed threats to the US. In the early 1950s he
accused all kinds of people of secretly working for the Soviet Union. He ruined hundreds of
innocent people. In 1957 he died, but “McCarthyism” did serious damage to the US’ reputation
for justice and fair play.
Space Race and The Sputnik
The race between the two superpowers started practically in 1945 when the US exploded its first
atomic bomb which was followed by the Soviet only in 1949. The next step was when the US
blew up its first H-bomb in 1952 and the Soviets did the same in 1953.
At that time the two countries were more or less balanced, until 1957, when the Soviets sent up
their first earth satellite, as they called it the Sputnik. They had to face the fact that they were
behind concerning Space science. The next step was the introducing of the ICBM-s, the
Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (Polaris missiles and Perching missiles) which brought the end
of the safety of the US, they became just as vulnerable as any other country, because it was not
necessary anymore that a ship or an airplane or anything else approach the target and carry the
weapon there. This way the superpowers (Eisenhower and Khrushchev) had to realize that no
victory is possible anymore, and the whole world could be easily destroyed by these arms. This
way the Balance of Terror developed.
The Civil Rights Movement
(The black struggle for equal treatment)
Since the Plessy vs. Ferguson case in 1896 the „separate but equal” principle was legal in the US
and this practice was followed in most of the Southern states. During the war, segregation started
to break down; at the same time in the postwar period the US was projected as the „champion of
human rights”. The civil rights organizations - especially the NAACP, National Association for
the Advancement of Colored people increasingly shifted their attention to legal actions to
The turning point came with the Brown vs. Board of Education case. It became obvious that
students were not treated equally in the schools, and the Supreme Court invalidated the decision
made in the Plessy case and declared that „separate treatment is inherently unequal”.
The 1950s and 60s were characterized by huge internal migration, millions of black people
migrated to the North East industrial towns and to the West to escape their misery and
segregation that they still had to suffer in the Southern states, and also to have job and money.
Another milestone in the history of the civil rights was the Montgomery bus boycott in 195556. One day a black lady took a seat towards the back of the bus, as blacks were supposed to do
but when the bus was full of the driver ordered her to give up her seat. She refused, so she was
arrested, as a result the blacks in Montgomery declared a boycott on local mass transit facilities.
Finally, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation on buses were unconstitutional.
The leader of this boycott was Martin Luther King Jr. a Baptist minister. It was out of this
movement that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference grew, it united the black ministers
throughout the South under the presidency of King to struggle for civil rights.
A new form of resistance was born in 1960, the „sit-in” movement was on.
In August 1963, when more than 200.000 black and white people organized a demonstration:
they marched to Washington D.C. and required full racial equality. There Martin Luther King, Jr.
delivered the most famous speech of the civil rights movement with the title „I have a dream”.
Quite a few whites supported the blacks’ movement; moreover, JFK also sympathized with them
and wished equal rights to every people living in the country. However, he could not make this
wish come true (as so many other things), because he was shot and it remained to President
Lyndon B. Johnson to make steps of solving the problems.
In 1964 the Civil Rights Act became the law of the land. 2 administrations to the civil rights,
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1968 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He introduced the
„Great Society” program, which was a real welfare program, providing aid for everybody who
needed, for example Medicare for the old, Medicaid for the poor and needy, Food-stamps for the
In 1965 an executive order was given out by Johnson, which established the Affirmative Action
Policy. It required federal employers to make special efforts to employ more women and nonwhites (the minority groups). In the 1970s it was expanded to colleges and universities, as well,
and for some time it really worked, however, by today it rather means a kind of „positive”
discrimination - against white male workers, and helps racial tensions continue, it is even
attacked by the color people, and it can even be counter-productive than useful.
The SNCC, Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee was founded in April 1960 to
coordinate the civil rights activities of the southern black college students. They broke with King
and gave out the Doctrine of Black Power which attacked the government and the political,
economic, social and cultural institutions of the country.
There were several black riots, especially in the black ghettoes of the big cities. In 1968 Martin
Luther King was shot by a white sniper.
However, in the 1970s, 80s the blacks realized that they could reach their aims more easier and
effectively through voting than radicalism, that they were actually able to influence the political
system through representation. One of them Jesse Jackson (the assistant to M. L. K.) even got
very close to become the candidate for the presidency of the Democrats.
Cold War Period on the western hemisphere
The relationship between the US and the Latin American countries had been characterized by the
dominance of the US and their agriculture and industry have been American-controlled, too. In
1933 Roosevelt promised that the US would respect the right of Latin American countries to
control their own affairs. He called this the “Good Neighbor Policy”.
From this time on reconciliation started, they even became allies of the US in WWII. During the
war there was a huge boom in the Latin American countries economy, because their territories
were very rich in raw materials which all went to the US. The most important part of their
relationship concentrated on the Caribbean region and Central America. After the war, these
countries were still needed as allies because of the Cold War.
Thus in 1947 the Rio Act was signed in Rio the Janeiro about the Treaty of Interamerican
Mutual Aid, which was a military agreement and later became the basis of NATO.
In 1948 the US established a very important institution which later based the idea of "PanAmericanism". This was the OAS (Organization for American States). Its aim was to establish
cooperation between the countries of the Hemisphere in military, economic and cultural field.
(The father of Pan-Americanism was Simon Bolivar, whose idea about an organization for the
whole American continent was established in the 1890s and embraced by the government after
the WWII.) The purpose of OAS was to improve the conditions in Latin America, since the US
was afraid that Latin American countries could turn to communism if their situation were very
At the same the “Good-Neighbor Policy” was also changed, so when the civil war broke out in
the Dominican Republic, the US interfered (in order to avoid communism). In 1965 the Johnson
Doctrine announced that apart from Cuba, no other communist country would be tolerated on the
Western Hemisphere. Since then there may not be any domestic problems without US
Moreover, “Peace Corps” were established when young American people (especially
intellectuals) as volunteers were sent to Latin American countries to help them, e.g. building
schools, hospitals, roads, etc. The US invested a huge amount of money into these countries.
As a counter-step for the Marshall Plan, the Council for Mutual Economic Aid (KGST) was
established in 1949 by the communist countries, Soviet Union and Eastern European countries,
Mongolia, Vietnam and Cuba.
The Warsaw Pact (to NATO) was also issued at that time. When Germany entered the NATO (in
1955), the communist countries established the Warsaw Pact, as a kind of military organization
for helping each other if another war breaks out.
The Wietnam War
Vietnam used to be a colony called Indo-China and was ruled by the French. But in 1954 the
French were driven out by the soldiers of a communist leader named Ho Chi Minh. Like Korea,
Vietnam was then divided in 2. Communists ruled the N. and non-communists the S. The next
step was supposed to be the election of one government for the whole country. But the election
never took place.
Ho Chi Minh set out to unite Vietnam by war. He ordered sabotage and terrorism against South
Vietnam. Americans had already helped the French against Ho.
In 1954 the Geneva Accords ended the wars by leaving Vietnam as an independent country being
divided into North and South Vietnam. The dividing line was the 17th parallel.
Laos and Cambodia were also born at that time out of Indo-China. As a next step free elections
were held to decide where these new countries would like to belong. In the South the elections
As an answer, to the denial of elections North attacked South in 1957. This meant the beginning
of the second Indo-China War. This war lasted from 1957 to 1975. America participated in it
between the period of 1964 and 73. During this war the North (Ho Shi Minh) was supported by
China and the Soviet Union while the South was supported by the USA and France.
This is the point where we have to mention the “Domino Theory” of Eisenhower. He said that if
one country fell to communism the surrounding other ones will surely follow and this is why
America had to support each country fighting against communism. That’s why they sent weapons
and advisors to Vietnam, as well. After Eisenhower, J.F. Kennedy followed him in presidency.
He agreed with the support, but didn’t want to get involved directly!!! (Was he maybe shot for
J.F.K. was followed by Lindon B. Jonhson, who was very much influenced by those who wanted
to get into the war. Finally the decision to get involved was made after the Tokin Gulf incident
when an American Surveillance ship was shot by a Vietnamese patrol boat.
Between 1964 and 1973 the Vietnam war went on with American participation. By 1968 about
half a million American soldiers fought there. It was a real guerilla war. The Americans were also
very aggressive, chemicals were used, villages were burned down, etc. However, no real results
were achieved, so in 1965 Johnson decided to carry out sustained bombarding, called Operation
Rolling Thunder. As the number of casualties increased the public opinion started to change.
Mass demonstrations were organized and Johnson had to realize that the Vietnam was a trap and
there was no chance to win it in a way they wanted to. Even the international reputation of the US
was in danger, thus bombarding was stopped and Johnson started to look for peacemaking.
The next president, Nixon promised the Americans to finish the war. During his presidency still
many anti-Vietnam War demonstrations were organized all over America, especially by students.
The most famous of them was a huge demonstration in 1970 at Kent State University where
students without permission were demonstrating and four of them were shot. It was a huge
scandal. Nixon announced his “Vietnamization” program meaning that Americans were gradually
withdrawn from Vietnam and the war was left to the Vietnamese to decide.
At the same time the Nixon doctrine announced that there would be no more American
intervention in South Asia. At the beginning of the 70s Henry Kissinger was sent to Paris to
negotiate with Vietnam. In January 1973 cease-fire was signed. All the troops were withdrawn,
yet the South Vietnamese went on fighting. The war was completely over in 1975, when the most
Southern city of Vietnam, Saigon was taken by the North Vietnamese. Altogether 58.000 and
1.600.000 Vietnamese died in this bloody war which did not bring victory for the US.
1975: Ho Chi Minh’s dream was completed because North Vietnam became reunited into a
Nixon and Kissinger were the ones, who started a kind of opening toward the Eastern Block,
mainly because of the threat of a nuclear war. The first serious negotiations were started about
arms limitations, and they also gave up their previous “bipolar“ world-view and introduced the
“Real-politic“ approach. It was necessary in order to have peace around the world. As a result,
finally the communist China was also accepted in the UN. The most important results of arms
limitation went on between 1970-72, when the continuous talk between the US and the SU,
SALTI (Strategic Arms Limitations Talks) resulted in reducing the number of ICBMs (offensive
missiles) in every country.
1972: Nixon visited Beijing and Moscow where he met with Mao and Brezsnyev. U.S. and the
Soviet Union started a closer relation. The two superpowers were also motivated to this
relationship economically. From this time human rights were guaranteed in Russia- Russian Jews
were allowed to emigrate.
Nixon was close to re-election. People believed that he could lead US out of the war.
Nickname of Nixon and Kissinger’s policy = Nixingerism. It was cruel, brutal but successful in
Nixingerism failed in the Middle East. 1973 Egypt gave a severe attack on Israel. Nixon had to
enter a deal or the OPEC countries would place an embargo if US intervene. OPEC counties were
dangerous to US.
Nixon was re-elected again.
The Watergate affair finished his career. Watergate = name of Democratic building.
The Watergate affair
On June 17, 1972, five burglars were caught in it trying to steal information about democrat
leaders. Case came to light. Journalists realized that the burglars were financed by Nixon. He
denied at first, but later couldn’t keep up denial. In February 1973, the Senate set up a committee
to look into the Watergate affair. The end came in August 1974, when a tape recording made in
Nixon’s office proved that he had known all about it. His impeachment and even imprisonment
now seemed certain. To avoid this, he resigned as President of the US.
General Ford was good hearted with Nixon, and didn’t insist on his imprisonment. Nixon’s career
as a politician was over.