What is sit-ins in history?

A form of nonviolent protest, employed during the 1960s in the civil rights movement and later in the movement against the Vietnam War. In a sit-in, demonstrators occupy a place open to the public, such as a racially segregated (see segregation) lunch counter or bus station, and then refuse to leave. Sit-ins were designed to provoke arrest and thereby gain attention for the demonstrators' cause.


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sitfast, sith, sithee, Sithole, sit-in, sit-ins, Sitka, sitkamer, Sitka spruce, sito-, sitology

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

demonstration, protest, revolt, riot, sit-down, walkout, complaint, fast, grievance, march, rally, strike, audit, demonstrate, partake, participate, replace, supplant, love-in, passive resistance

  • I watch every episode alone on my couch and I just sit there and laugh, and laugh.

  • Inside the guild, men in caps and long gowns sit in twos, weaving together in small rooms.

  • The detectives are still at it, seeking to account for a period of time when Brinsley may well have paused to sit somewhere.

  • DeCrow would come to lead a movement against this practice, suing the Hotel Syracuse in 1969 and calling for protests and sit-ins.


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Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Kyra. Kyra Wonders, “Were their times when the sit-ins and boycotts were not succesful and why?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Kyra!

When was the last time you sat in a public place? Were you in a park? Maybe a restaurant or a movie theater? Perhaps it was a coffee or ice cream shop. Did anyone come over and ask you to leave? We sure hope not! Odds are, you were probably allowed to sit there without issue. 

For many people, things weren’t always that way. During segregation, public places discriminated against people of color. Often, Black Americans weren’t allowed in the same restaurants, cafes, or theaters as White people. And if they were, they often had to use a different door. They were also made to sit in separate sections. During the Civil Rights Movement, many people protested against this practice. One way they did so was through sit-ins. 

What is a sit-in? It’s when protesters seat themselves in a strategic location to protest. It could be on a street, inside a restaurant, or in front of a government building. They stay seated until their demands are met. Often, they are taken away or arrested instead.

Sit-ins are one of the most successful forms of nonviolent protest. They stop the normal flow of business. That helps sit-ins draw attention to the protesters’ cause. If they are arrested, this has the further effect of creating sympathy for protesters.

During the Civil Rights Movement, sit-ins often took place in segregated areas. Black Americans sitting in “White only” areas helped change racist practices. Sit-ins played a part in pushing for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The history of sit-ins dates back farther than the 1960s, though.

Experts note that sit-ins took place as early as the late-1930s. For example, a Black attorney named Samuel Wilbert Tucker led a sit-in in 1939. It took place at a segregated library in Alexandria, Virginia.

One of the most famous sit-ins was on February 1, 1960. It was at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Everyone was free to shop at the Woolworth’s department store, but the lunch counter was for “Whites only.”

On that day, four Black college students took seats at the Woolworth’s lunch counter. They asked for coffee and were refused service. Instead of leaving, they sat patiently and waited. They continued to sit quietly despite threats from customers and other people in the store.

Eventually, their peaceful protest drew the attention of many people in the area. They stayed until the store closed for the day. They showed up again the next day, and even more people joined their cause. They continued their sit-in for multiple days.

The Greensboro sit-in spurred a wave of similar sit-ins in other cities across the South. The largest of the sit-ins to follow occurred in Nashville, Tennessee. The Greensboro sit-in caught the eyes of the entire nation.

Can you imagine what it would be like to take part in a sit-in? It takes a lot of courage to continue sitting despite angry threats. Without brave people taking part in sit-ins, change may have come at an even slower pace.

Standards: C3.D2.Civ.12, C3.D2.Civ.14, C3.D2.His.2, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

Students from across the country came together to form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and organize sit-ins at counters throughout the South. This front page is from the North Carolina A&T University student newspaper.

By 1960, the Civil Rights Movement had gained strong momentum. The nonviolent measures employed by Martin Luther King Jr. helped African American activists win supporters across the country and throughout the world.

On February 1, 1960, a new tactic was added to the peaceful activists' strategy. Four African American college students walked up to a whites-only lunch counter at the local Woolworth's store in Greensboro, North Carolina, and asked for coffee. When service was refused, the students sat patiently. Despite threats and intimidation, the students sat quietly and waited to be served.

The civil rights sit-in was born.

No one participated in a sit-in of this sort without seriousness of purpose. The instructions were simple: sit quietly and wait to be served. Often the participants would be jeered and threatened by local customers. Sometimes they would be pelted with food or ketchup. Angry onlookers tried to provoke fights that never came. In the event of a physical attack, the student would curl up into a ball on the floor and take the punishment. Any violent reprisal would undermine the spirit of the sit-in. When the local police came to arrest the demonstrators, another line of students would take the vacated seats.

What is sit-ins in history?

To challenge laws that kept interstate bus trips segregated, black and white students organized freedom rides through the South. The first such ride was interrupted when an angry mob attacked riders and destroyed their bus during a stop in Alabama.

Sit-in organizers believed that if the violence were only on the part of the white community, the world would see the righteousness of their cause. Before the end of the school year, over 1500 black demonstrators were arrested. But their sacrifice brought results. Slowly, but surely, restaurants throughout the South began to abandon their policies of segregation.

In April 1960, Martin Luther King Jr. sponsored a conference to discuss strategy. Students from the North and the South came together and formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Early leaders included Stokely Carmichael and Fannie Lou Hamer. The Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) was a northern group of students led by James Farmer, which also endorsed direct action. These groups became the grassroots organizers of future sit-ins at lunch counters, wade-ins at segregated swimming pools, and pray-ins at white-only churches.

What is sit-ins in history?

By sitting in protest at an all-white lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, four college students sparked national interest in the push for civil rights.

Bolstered by the success of direct action, CORE activists planned the first freedom ride in 1961. To challenge laws mandating segregated interstate transportation, busloads of integrated black and white students rode through the South. The first freedom riders left Washington, D.C., in May 1961 en route to New Orleans. Several participants were arrested in bus stations. When the buses reached Anniston, Alabama, an angry mob slashed the tires on one bus and set it aflame. The riders on the other bus were violently attacked, and the freedom riders had to complete their journey by plane.

New Attorney General Robert Kennedy ordered federal marshals to protect future freedom rides. Bowing to political and public pressure, the Interstate Commerce Commission soon banned segregation on interstate travel. Progress was slow indeed, but the wall between the races was gradually being eroded.

Page 2

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

President Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne to Little Rock, Arkansas, to ensure the integration of Central High School in 1957.

Three years after the Supreme Court declared race-based segregation illegal, a military showdown took place in Little Rock, Arkansas. On September 3, 1957, nine black students attempted to attend the all-white Central High School.

Under the pretext of maintaining order, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus mobilized the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the students, known as the Little Rock Nine, from entering the school. After a federal judge declared the action illegal, Faubus removed the troops. When the students tried to enter again on September 24, they were taken into the school through a back door. Word of this spread throughout the community, and a thousand irate citizens stormed the school grounds. The police desperately tried to keep the angry crowd under control as concerned onlookers whisked the students to safety.

The nation watched all of this on television. President Eisenhower was compelled to act.

What is sit-ins in history?

To ensure their safety, African American students were escorted to Central High School in a U.S. Army car.

Eisenhower was not a strong proponent of civil rights. He feared that the Brown decision could lead to an impasse between the federal government and the states. Now that very stalemate had come. The rest of the country seemed to side with the black students, and the Arkansas state government was defying a federal decree. The situation hearkened back to the dangerous federal-state conflicts of the 19th century that followed the end of the Civil War.

On September 25, Eisenhower ordered the troops of the 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock, marking the first time United States troops were dispatched to the South since Reconstruction. He federalized the Arkansas National Guard in order to remove the soldiers from Faubus's control. For the next few months, the African American students attended school under armed supervision.

This editorial by Jane Emery appeared in Central High student newspaper, The Tiger, on September 19, 1957.

You are being watched! Today the world is watching you, the students of Central High. They want to know what your reactions, behavior, and impulses will be concerning a matter now before us. After all, as we see it, it settles now to a matter of interpretation of law and order.

Will you be stubborn, obstinate, or refuse to listen to both sides of the question? Will your knowledge of science help you determine your action or will you let customs, superstition, or tradition determine the decision for you?

This is the chance that the youth of America has been waiting for. Through an open mind, broad outlook, wise thinking, and a careful choice you can prove that America's youth has not "gone to the dogs" that their moral, spiritual, and educational standards are not being lowered.

This is the opportunity for you as citizens of Arkansas and students of Little Rock Central High to show the world that Arkansas is a progressive thriving state of wide-awake alert people. It is a state that is rapidly growing and improving its social, health, and educational facilities. That it is a state with friendly, happy, and conscientious citizens who love and cherish their freedom.

It has been said that life is just a chain of problems. If this is true, then this experience in making up your own mind and determining right from wrong will be of great value to you in life.

The challenge is yours, as future adults of America, to prove your maturity, intelligence, and ability to make decisions by how you react, behave, and conduct yourself in this controversial question. What is your answer to this challenge?

The following year, Little Rock officials closed the schools to prevent integration. But in 1959, the schools were open again. Both black and white children were in attendance.

The tide was slowly turning in favor of those advocating civil rights for African Americans. An astonished America watched footage of brutish, white southerners mercilessly harassing clean-cut, respectful African American children trying to get an education. Television swayed public opinion toward integration.

In 1959, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, the first such measure since Reconstruction. The law created a permanent civil rights commission to assist black suffrage. The measure had little teeth and proved ineffective, but it paved the way for more powerful legislation in the years to come.

Buses and schools had come under attack. Next on the menu: a luncheonette counter.

Page 3

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

Rosa Parks rode at the front of a Montgomery, Alabama, bus on the day the Supreme Court's ban on segregation of the city's buses took effect. A year earlier, she had been arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus.

On a cold December evening in 1955, Rosa Parks quietly incited a revolution — by just sitting down.

She was tired after spending the day at work as a department store seamstress. She stepped onto the bus for the ride home and sat in the fifth row — the first row of the "Colored Section."

In Montgomery, Alabama, when a bus became full, the seats nearer the front were given to white passengers.

Montgomery bus driver James Blake ordered Parks and three other African Americans seated nearby to move ("Move y'all, I want those two seats,") to the back of the bus.

Three riders complied; Parks did not.

The following excerpt of what happened next is from Douglas Brinkley's 2000 Rosa Park's biography.

What is sit-ins in history?

"Are you going to stand up?" the driver demanded. Rosa Parks looked straight at him and said: "No." Flustered, and not quite sure what to do, Blake retorted, "Well, I'm going to have you arrested." And Parks, still sitting next to the window, replied softly, "You may do that."

What is sit-ins in history?

After Parks refused to move, she was arrested and fined $10. The chain of events triggered by her arrest changed the United States.

King, Abernathy, Boycott, and the SCLC

What is sit-ins in history?

Martin Luther King Jr. was the first president of the Mongomery Improvement Association, which organized the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955. This began a chain reaction of similar boycotts throughout the South. In 1956, the Supreme Court voted to end segregated busing.

In 1955, a little-known minister named Martin Luther King Jr. led the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery.

What is sit-ins in history?

Henry David Thoreau's work "Civil Disobedience" provided inspiration for many leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.

King studied the writings and practices of Henry David Thoreau and Mohandas Gandhi. Their teaching advocated civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance to social injustice.

A staunch devotee of nonviolence, King and his colleague Ralph Abernathy were a part of a community organization, the MONTGOMERY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION (MIA), which organized a boycott of Montgomery's buses.

The demands they made were simple: Black passengers should be treated with courtesy. Seating should be allotted on a first-come-first-serve basis, with white passengers sitting from front to back and black passengers sitting from back to front. And African American drivers should drive routes that primarily serviced African Americans. On Monday, December 5, 1955 the boycott went into effect.

In 1955, the Women's Political Council issued a leaflet calling for a boycott of Montgomery buses.

Don't ride the bus to work, to town, to school, or any place Monday, December 5.

Another Negro Woman has been arrested and put in jail because she refused to give up her bus seat.

Don't ride the buses to work to town, to school, or any where on Monday. If you work, take a cab, or share a ride, or walk.

Come to a mass meeting, Monday at 7:00 P.M. at the Holt Street Baptist Church for further instruction.

Montgomery officials stopped at nothing in attempting to sabotage the boycott. King and Abernathy were arrested. Violence began during the action and continued after its conclusion. Four churches — as well as the homes of King and Abernathy — were bombed. But the boycott continued.

What is sit-ins in history?

Together with Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy (shown here) organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and helped lead the nonviolent struggle to overturn Jim Crow laws.

The MIA had hoped for a 50 percent support rate among African Americans. To their surprise and delight, 99 percent of the city's African Americans refused to ride the buses. People walked to work or rode their bikes, and carpools were established to help the elderly. The bus company suffered thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

Finally, on November 23, 1956, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the MIA. Segregated busing was declared unconstitutional. City officials reluctantly agreed to comply with the Court Ruling. The black community of Montgomery had held firm in their resolve.

The Montgomery bus boycott triggered a firestorm in the South. Across the region, blacks resisted "moving to the back of the bus." Similar actions flared up in other cities. The boycott put Martin Luther King Jr. in the national spotlight. He became the acknowledged leader of the nascent Civil Rights Movement.

With Ralph Abernathy, King formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

This organization was dedicated to fighting Jim Crow segregation. African Americans boldly declared to the rest of the country that their movement would be peaceful, organized, and determined.

To modern eyes, getting a seat on a bus may not seem like a great feat. But in 1955, sitting down marked the first step in a revolution.

Page 4

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

Jim Crow laws existed in several southern states and served to reinforce the white authority that had been lost following Reconstruction. One such law required blacks and whites to drink from separate water fountains.

During the first half of the 20th century, the United States existed as two nations in one.

The Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) decreed that the legislation of two separate societies — one black and one white — was permitted as long as the two were equal.

States across the North and South passed laws creating schools and public facilities for each race. These regulations, known as Jim Crow laws, reestablished white authority after it had diminished during the Reconstruction era. Across the land, blacks and whites dined at separate restaurants, bathed in separate swimming pools, and drank from separate water fountains.

What is sit-ins in history?

The July 31, 1948, edition of the Chicago Defender announces President Truman's executive order ending segregation in the U.S. armed forces.

The United States had established an American brand of apartheid.

In the aftermath of World War II, America sought to demonstrate to the world the merit of free democracies over communist dictatorships. But its segregation system exposed fundamental hypocrisy. Change began brewing in the late 1940s. President Harry Truman ordered the end of segregation in the armed services, and Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play Major League Baseball. But the wall built by Jim Crow legislation seemed insurmountable.

The first major battleground was in the schools. It was very clear by mid-century that southern states had expertly enacted separate educational systems. These schools, however, were never equal. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), led by attorney Thurgood Marshall, sued public schools across the South, insisting that the "separate but equal" clause had been violated.

What is sit-ins in history?

In the summer of 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play major league baseball. After a stellar career, he became the first African American player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In no state where distinct racial education laws existed was there equality in public spending. Teachers in white schools were paid better wages, school buildings for white students were maintained more carefully, and funds for educational materials flowed more liberally into white schools. States normally spent 10 to 20 times on the education of white students as they spent on African American students.

The Supreme Court finally decided to rule on this subject in 1954 in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case.

The verdict was unanimous against segregation. "Separate facilities are inherently unequal," read Chief Justice Earl Warren's opinion. Warren worked tirelessly to achieve a 9-0 ruling. He feared any dissent might provide a legal argument for the forces against integration. The united Supreme Court sent a clear message: schools had to integrate.

What is sit-ins in history?

May 17, 1954, saw the Supreme Court — in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka — rule that segregation of public schools was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that all citizens deserve equal protection under the law.

The North and the border states quickly complied with the ruling, but the Brown decision fell on deaf ears in the South. The Court had stopped short of insisting on immediate integration, instead asking local governments to proceed "with all deliberate speed" in complying.

Ten years after Brown, fewer than ten percent of Southern public schools had integrated. Some areas achieved a zero percent compliance rate. The ruling did not address separate restrooms, bus seats, or hotel rooms, so Jim Crow laws remained intact. But cautious first steps toward an equal society had been taken.

It would take a decade of protest, legislation, and bloodshed before America neared a truer equality.

Page 5

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

The Supreme Court's 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson determined that "separate but equal" public facilities like restrooms and railroad cars were legal. The laws that resulted drove a further spike between the races in America.

In 1950, the United States operated under an apartheid-like system of legislated white supremacy.

Although the Civil War did bring an official end to slavery in the United States, it did not erase the social barriers built by that "peculiar institution."

Despite the efforts of Radical Reconstructionists, the American South emerged from the Civil War with a system of laws that undermined the freedom of African Americans and preserved many elements of white privilege. No major successful attack was launched on the segregation system until the 1950s.

What is sit-ins in history?

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.

Beginning with the Supreme Court's school integration ruling of 1954, the American legal system seemed sympathetic to African American demands that their Fourteenth Amendment civil rights be protected. Soon, a peaceful equality movement began under the unofficial leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A wave of marches, boycotts, sit-ins, and freedom rides swept the American South and even parts of the North.

Public opinion polls across the nation and the world revealed a great deal of sympathy for African Americans. The Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations gave the Civil Rights Movement at least tacit support. Although many obstacles to complete racial equity remained, by 1965 most legal forms of discrimination had been abolished.

What is sit-ins in history?

Through his paintings, Norman Rockwell challenged people to address the problem of racism in America. The Problem We All Live With, a work from the early days of desegregation, depicts a little girl being escorted to school by federal marshals.

Legal equality did not bring economic equality and social acceptance. Gains made by civil rights activists did not bring greater unity in the movement. On the contrary, as the 1960s progressed, a radical wing of the movement grew stronger and stronger. Influenced by Malcolm X, the Black Power Movement rejected the policy of nonviolence at all costs and even believed integration was not a desirable short-term goal. Black nationalists called for the establishment of a nation of African Americans dependent on each other for support without the interference or help of whites.

Race-related violence began to spread across the country. Beginning in 1964, a series of "long, hot summers" of rioting plagued urban centers. More and more individuals dedicated to African American causes became victims of assassination. Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. were a few of the more famous casualties of the tempest.

Hope and optimism gave way to alienation and despair as the 1970s began. Many realized that although changing racist laws was actually relatively simple, changing racist attitudes was a much more difficult task.

Page 6

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

Edward Hopper's Cape Cod Morning (1950) is typical of his lonely, New England scenes depicting a solitary figure. The somber tone of his paintings starkly contrasts with the typical 1950s representations of saccharine, happy-go-lucky American life.

Many in the 1950s strove for the comfort and conformity depicted on such TV shows as Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver.

But despite the emerging affluence of the new American middle class, there was poverty, racism, and alienation in America that was rarely depicted on TV.

Minorities seemed to be shut out from the emerging American Dream.

Poverty rates for African Americans were typically double those of their white counterparts. Segregation in the schools, the lack of a political voice, and longstanding racial prejudices stifled the economic advancement of many African Americans. In 1952, Ralph Ellison penned Invisible Man, which pinpointed American indifference to the plight of African Americans. "I am an invisible man," he wrote. "I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me ..."

Latino Americans languished in urban American barrios, and the Eisenhower Administration responded with a program — derisively named Operation Wetback — designed to deport millions of Mexican Americans .

What is sit-ins in history?

While writing parts of Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison lived at Gordon Parks's home. Parks, a photographer, made a series of prints that were his interpretation of events in Ellison's novel. This one is entitled Man Peeking from Manhole, Harlem (1949).

Reservation poverty increased with the Eisenhower policy of "termination," designed to end federal support for tribes. Incentives such as relocation assistance and job placement were offered to Native Americans who were willing to venture off the reservations and into the cities. Unfortunately, the government excelled at relocation but struggled with job placement, leading to the creation of Native American ghettos in many western cities.

Ethnic minorities — Jews, Italians, Asians, and many groups — all struggled to find their place in the American quilt.

The Beat Generation

In the artistic world, dozens of beat writers reviled middle-class materialism, racism, and uniformity. Other intellectuals were able to detach themselves enough from the American mainstream to review it critically.

The writers of the Beat Generation refused to submit to the conformity of the 1950s. Greenwich Village in New York City was the center of the beat universe. Epitomized by such Columbia University students such Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, the beats lived a bohemian lifestyle.

What is sit-ins in history?

In 1957, Kerouac published On the Road, the definitive Beat Generation novel. The beats were a subculture of young people dissatisfied with the blandness of American culture and its shallow, rampant consumerism.

While mainstream America seemed to ignore African American culture, the beats celebrated it by frequenting jazz clubs and romanticizing their poverty. The use of alcohol and drugs foreshadowed the counterculture of the following decade. Believing that American society was unspeakably repressed, the beats experimented with new sexual lifestyles.

In On the Road, Kerouac's hero travels around the nation, delving into America's fast-living underside. In "Howl," Allen Ginsberg assails materialism and conformity and calls for the unleashing of basic human needs and desires.

As the media helped create a single notion of an idyllic American lifestyle, a vocal minority of social critics registered their dissenting voices. The notion of the white-collar, executive-track, male employee was condemned in fiction in Sloan Wilson's The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and in commentary in William Whyte's The Organization Man.

The booming postwar defense industry came under fire in C. Wright Mills' The Power Elite. Mills feared that an alliance between military leaders and munitions manufacturers held an unhealthy proportion of power that could ultimately endanger American democracy — a sentiment echoed in President Eisenhower's Farewell Address.

And teen alienation and the neurosis of coming-of-age in postwar America was examined in J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.

What is sit-ins in history?

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them. They're nice and all — I'm not saying that — but they're also touchy as hell.

– Holden Caulfield, from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951)

What is sit-ins in history?

Painting against the Tide

What is sit-ins in history?

Jackson Pollock's 1950 painting Lavender Mist typifies "Action painting," in which he fixed his canvas to the floor, then dripped paint all over it. Pollock's unorthodox methods were heavily criticized (he was labeled "Jack the Dripper"), but his novel painting style proved that American artists were on par with their European counterparts.

American painters also took shots at conformity. Edward Hopper who had made a name for himself in earlier decades, combated the blissful images of television by showing an America full of loneliness and alienation.

In New York City, painters broke with the conventions of Western art to create abstract expressionism, widely regarded as the most significant artistic movement ever to come out of America. Abstract expressionists, such as Willem de Kooning, Hans Hoffman, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock, sought to express their subconscious and their dissatisfaction with postwar life through unique and innovative paintings. The physical act of painting was almost as important as the work itself. Jackson Pollock gained fame through "action painting" — pouring, dripping, and spattering the paint onto the canvas. Rothko covered his canvas with large rectangles, which he believed conveyed "basic human emotions."

Big Screen Rebels

What is sit-ins in history?

"Rebel without a Cause," a story of anguished middle-class juvenile delinquents, was an instant sensation when released in 1955. The film was particularly scandalous because the main characters "came from good families." James Dean played the main character, Jim Stark.

While the 1950s silver screen lit up mostly with the typical Hollywood fare of Westerns and romances, a handful of films shocked audiences by uncovering the dark side of America's youth. Marlon Brando played the leather-clad leader of a motorcycle gang that ransacks a small town. In 1953's The Wild One. The film terrified adults but fascinated kids, who emulated Brando's style. 1955 saw the release of Blackboard Jungle, a film about juvenile delinquency in an urban high school. It was the first major release to use a rock-and-roll soundtrack and was banned in many areas both for its violent take on high school life and its use of multiracial cast of lead actors.

Perhaps the most controversial and influential of these films is 1955's Rebel without a Cause. Another film about teenage delinquency (the main characters meet at the police station) Rebel is not set amid urban decay, but rather in an affluent suburb. "And they both come from 'good' families!" the film's tagline screamed. Ironically, the film made it clear that the failure of those very families was to blame for the main characters' troubles. Juvenile delinquency was no longer a problem for the lower classes; it was lurking in the supposedly perfect suburbs. Once again parents were outraged, but the message could no longer be ignored. The film earned three Academy Award nominations and propelled James Dean to posthumous but eternal stardom.

Sex Education

Puritanical sexual mores were challenged by Alfred Kinsey's successive reports Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Kinsey revealed a much greater prevalence of premarital sex, extramarital affairs, and homosexuality than mainstream public discourse would have suggested. Americans were somehow surprised to read that, according to Kinsey, women actually enjoyed sexual experiences as much as men.

Despite the clear presence of poverty, alternative literature, and social criticism, Americans on the whole turned away and enjoyed happy days during the 1950s. But happy days values were soon about to make way for the 1960s.

"You say you want a revolution?"

QUIZ TIME: The 1950s

Page 7

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

Cartoons of the unflappable Bert the Turtle warned American children everywhere during the Cold War to "duck and cover" in the event of a nuclear blast. Although these measures would have proved useless, schools vigorously pursued "duck and cover" drills in which children clambered beneath their desks.

The end of the Korean War in 1953 by no means brought an end to global hostilities.

As the British and French Empires slowly yielded to independence movements, a new Third World emerged. This became the major battleground of the Cold War as the United States and the Soviet Union struggled to bring new nations into their respective orbits. Across the Third World, the two superpowers squared off through proxy armies.

The United States's recognition of Israel in 1948 created a strong new ally, but created many enemies. Arab nations, enraged by American support for the new Jewish state, found supportive ears in the Soviet Union.

When Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser sought to strengthen ties with the Soviet bloc, the United States withdrew its pledge to help Nasser construct the all-important Aswan Dam. Nasser responded by nationalizing the Suez Canal, an action that compelled British, French, and Israeli armies to invade Egypt.

What is sit-ins in history?

Egyptian president Gamal Abder Nasser's 1956 nationalization of the Suez Canal, crippled the ability of Great Britain and France to trade internationally. As a result, the two countries allied with Israel to attack Egypt.

The Eisenhower Doctrine

The Western alliance was threatened as President Dwight Eisenhower called upon Britain and France to show restraint. With Soviet influence growing in the oil-rich region, Ike issued the Eisenhower Doctrine, which pledged American support to any governments fighting communist insurgencies in the Middle East. Making good on that promise, he sent over 5,000 marines to Lebanon to forestall an anti-Western takeover.

Asia provided more challenges for American containment policy. China was flexing its muscles on Taiwan by threatening the takeover of the Taiwanese islands of Quemoy and Matsu. United States Secretary of State John Foster Dulles chose to follow a strategy of brinkmanship. He told China that any aggressive actions toward the islands would be met by force from the United States.

In a grown-up version of the children's game of chicken, Dulles hoped to avoid war by threatening war. The Chinese shelled the islands to save face, but no takeover occurred.

To the south, communist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh successfully defeated the French colonial army to create the new nation of Vietnam. American commitment to the containment of communism led to a protracted involvement that would become the Vietnam War.

One 1950s Cold War catalyst of fear was the capture and conviction of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg for selling nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. Although the FBI advised sparing Ethel Rosenberg's life (she had two children), Judge Irving Kaufman refused to do so and sentenced her to death with her husband. The trial and sentencing were controversial, partly due to charges of anti-Semitism.

Citizens of this country who betray their fellow-countrymen can be under none of the delusions about the benignity of Soviet power that they might have been prior to World War II. The nature of Russian terrorism is now self-evident.

I consider your crime worse than murder. Plain, deliberate, contemplated murder is dwarfed in magnitude by comparison with the crime you have committed. In committing the act of murder, the criminal kills only his victim. The immediate family is brought to grief, and when justice is meted out the chapter is closed. But in your case, I believe your conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb has already caused, in my opinion, the Communist aggression in Korea, with the resultant casualties exceeding 50,000 and who knows but that millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason. Indeed, by your betrayal you undoubtedly have altered the course of history to the disadvantage of our country.

No one can say that we do not live in a constant state of tension. We have evidence of your treachery all around us every day — for the civilian defense activities throughout the nation are aimed at preparing us for an atom bomb attack. Nor can it be said in mitigation of the offense that the power which set the conspiracy in motion and profited from it was not openly hostile to the United States at the time of the conspiracy. If this was your excuse the error of your ways in setting yourselves above our properly constituted authorities and the decision of those authorities not to share the information with Russia must now be obvious ....

In the light of this, I can only conclude that the defendants entered into this most serious conspiracy against their country with full realization of its implications ....

The statute of which the defendants at the bar stand convicted is clear. I have previously stated my view that the verdict of guilty was amply justified by the evidence. In the light of the circumstances, I feel that I must pass such sentence upon the principals in this diabolical conspiracy to destroy a God-fearing nation, which will demonstrate with finality that this nation's security must remain inviolate; that traffic in military secrets, whether promoted by slavish devotion to a foreign ideology or by a desire for monetary gains, must cease.

The evidence indicated quite clearly that Julius Rosenberg was the prime mover in this conspiracy. However, let no mistake be made about the role which his wife, Ethel Rosenberg, played in this conspiracy. Instead of deterring him from pursuing his ignoble cause, she encouraged and assisted the cause. She was a mature woman — almost three years older than her husband and almost seven years older than her younger brother. She was a full-fledged partner in this crime.

Indeed, the defendants, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, placed their devotion to their cause above their own personal safety and were conscious that they were sacrificing their own children should their misdeeds be detected — all of which did not deter them from pursuing their course. Love for their cause dominated their lives — it was even greater than their love for their children.

– excerpt from Judge Kaufman's sentencing of convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, in which he sentenced them to death (April 5, 1951)

What is sit-ins in history?

The CIA was formed after World War II to monitor the potential threat of communist countries.


In the aftermath of World War II, the United States created a new weapon to assist in fighting the Cold War: the Central Intelligence Agency. In addition to gathering information on Soviet plans and maneuvers, the CIA also involved itself in covert operations designed to prevent communist dictators from rising to power.

The first such instance occurred in Iran, when Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh nationalized British Petroleum. Fearing Soviet influence in the powerful oil nation, the CIA recruited a phony mob to drive off Mossadegh and return the American-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to power.

When Jacobo Arbenz came to power in Guatemala, he promised to relieve the nation's impoverished farmers by seizing land held by the American-owned United Fruit Company and redistributing it to the peasants. With the support of American air power, a CIA-backed band of mercenaries overthrew Arbenz and established a military dictatorship.

What is sit-ins in history?

Beginning on July 4, 1956, U-2 spy planes infiltrated Soviet airspace to take photos and determine the number of bomber planes possessed by the USSR. The secret flights lasted until 1960, when a U-2 plane was shot down.

Throughout Latin America, the United States was seen as a brutal defender of thuggish autocrats at the expense of popularly elected leaders. Fidel Castro capitalized on this sentiment by overthrowing U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista from power in Cuba in January 1959.

Policy of Mass Retaliation

Relations remained icy between the United States and the Soviet Union. Relying on the knowledge that the United States had a much larger nuclear arsenal than the Soviet Union, Eisenhower and Dulles announced a policy of massive retaliation. Any attack by the Soviets on the United States or its allies would be met with nuclear force.

The Soviet crackdown on the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 further strained relations. In an effort to reduce tensions, Eisenhower offered an "open skies" proposal to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Planes from each nation would be permitted to fly over the other to inspect nuclear sites. But Khrushchev declined the offer. A summit conference between Eisenhower and Khrushchev was canceled in 1960 when the Soviets shot down an American U-2 spy plane piloted by Gary Powers.

What is sit-ins in history?

This stamp commemorates Laika, the dog that was sent into space on the second Soviet satellite, Sputnik II, in November 1957. The launch of the first Sputnik earlier that year triggered a massive American effort to catch up to Soviet space technology, culminating in 1969 with the U.S. mission to the Moon.

Despite the passing of Joseph Stalin, Americans continued to view the Soviet Union as the Great Red Menace.

When the USSR put Sputnik into orbit in 1957, panic struck the American heartland. Thousands rushed to Sears and Roebuck to purchase bomb shelter kits, and Congress responded by creating the National Aeronautical and Space Administration and by appropriating funds for science education.

What is sit-ins in history?

The mushroom cloud above was photographed in a 1956 nuclear test known as Operation Plumbbob. The possibility of nuclear war loomed over terrified Americans in the 1950s.

Not even outer space was safe from Cold War confrontation.

Page 8

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

The prosperity of the '50s allowed teenagers to spend money on records by their favorite bands and singers.

Rock and roll was everything the suburban 1950s were not. While parents of the decade were listening to Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, and big bands, their children were moving to a new beat.

In fact, to the horror of the older generation, their children were twisting, thrusting, bumping, and grinding to the sounds of rock and roll.

This generation of youth was much larger than any in recent memory, and the prosperity of the era gave them money to spend on records and phonographs. By the end of the decade, the phenomenon of rock and roll helped define the difference between youth and adulthood.

The Roots of Rock

What is sit-ins in history?

Alan Freed, the Cleveland disc jockey credited with coining the phrase "rock and roll," was the master of ceremonies at many of the first rock concerts, including his 1955 Easter Jubilee.

The roots of rock and roll lay in African American blues and gospel. As the Great Migration brought many African Americans to the cities of the north, the sounds of rhythm and blues attracted suburban teens. Due to segregation and racist attitudes, however, none of the greatest artists of the genre could get much airplay.

Disc jockey Alan Freed began a rhythm-and-blues show on a Cleveland radio station. Soon the audience grew and grew, and Freed coined the term "rock and roll."

Early attempts by white artists to cover R&B songs resulted in weaker renditions that bled the heart and soul out of the originals. Record producers saw the market potential and began to search for a white artist who could capture the African American sound.

What is sit-ins in history?

Chuck Berry's songs about girls and cars hit a nerve with American teens and sent his star rising high in the early days of rock and roll.

Sam Phillips, a Memphis record producer, found the answer in Elvis Presley. With a deep Southern sound, pouty lips, and gyrating hips, Elvis took an old style and made it his own.

From Memphis, the sound spread to other cities, and demand for Elvis records skyrocketed. Within two years, Elvis was the most popular name in the entertainment business.

After the door to rock and roll acceptance was opened, African American performers such as Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, and Little Richard began to enjoy broad success, as well. White performers such as Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis also found artistic freedom and commercial success.

Satan's Music

What is sit-ins in history?

Elvis Presley brought rock-and-roll music to the masses during the 1950s with hits such as "Love Me Tender" and "Heartbreak Hotel."

Rock and roll sent shockwaves across America. A generation of young teenagers collectively rebelled against the music their parents loved. In general, the older generation loathed rock and roll. Appalled by the new styles of dance the movement evoked, churches proclaimed it Satan's music.

Because rock and roll originated among the lower classes and a segregated ethnic group, many middle-class whites thought it was tasteless. Rock and roll records were banned from many radio stations and hundreds of schools.

But the masses spoke louder. When Elvis appeared on TV's The Ed Sullivan Show, the show's ratings soared.

What is sit-ins in history?

Rock and roll is the most brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious form of expression — lewd, sly, in plain fact, dirty — a rancid-smelling aphrodisiac and the martial music of every side-burned delinquent on the face of the earth.

– Frank Sinatra (1957)

What is sit-ins in history?

The commercial possibilities were limitless. As a generation of young adults finished military service, bought houses in suburbia, and longed for stability and conformity, their children seemed to take comfort for granted. They wanted to release the tensions that bubbled beneath the smooth surface of postwar America.

Above all, they wanted to shake, rattle, and roll.

Page 9

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

As the price of television sets dropped, the number of viewers grew. 1952 saw the arrival of the Viking Console, a Canadian set, which was popular all over North America.

Perhaps no phenomenon shaped American life in the 1950s more than television. At the end of World War II, the television was a toy for only a few thousand wealthy Americans. Just 10 years later, nearly two-thirds of American households had a television.

The biggest-selling periodical of the decade was TV Guide. In a nation once marked by strong regional differences, network television programming blurred these distinctions and helped forge a national popular culture.

Television forever changed changed politics. The first president to be televised was Harry Truman. When Estes Kefauver prosecuted mob boss Frank Costello on television, the Tennessee senator became a national hero and a vice presidential candidate.

What is sit-ins in history?

The first coast-to-coast color broadcast came on January 1, 1954, when NBC beamed the Tournament of Roses Parade across America.

It did not take long for political advertisers to understand the power of the new medium. Dwight Eisenhower's campaign staff generated sound bites — short, powerful statements from a candidate — rather than air an entire speech.

America Loves Lucy

What is sit-ins in history?

Lucille Ball's new baby brought 44 million viewers to the show and graced the cover of the first national issue of TV Guide in 1953. TV Guide soon became the most popular periodical in the country.

Americans loved situation comedies — sitcoms. In the 1950s, I Love Lucy topped the ratings charts. The show broke new ground by including a Cuban American character (Ricky Ricardo, played by bandleader Desi Arnaz) and dealing with Lucille Ball's pregnancy, though Lucy was never filmed from the waist down while she was pregnant. Forty-four million Americans tuned in to welcome her newborn son to the show.

Through shows such as Leave It to Beaver, The Donna Reed Show, and Father Knows Best, television created an idyllic view of what the perfect family life should look like, though few actual families could live up to the ideal.

Television's idea of a perfect family was a briefcase-toting professional father who left daily for work, and a pearls-wearing, nurturing housewife who raised their mischievous boys and obedient girls.

With rare exceptions (such as Desi Arnaz) members of minorities rarely appeared on television in the 1950s.

The Wild West

What is sit-ins in history?

The Lone Ranger was one of the earliest TV Westerns, making the jump from radio in 1941. The Lone Ranger and other Westerns geared toward children aired on Saturday mornings. Adult Westerns, such as Gunsmoke and Wyatt Earp aired during prime-time.

America's fascination with the Wild West was nothing new, but television brought Western heroes into American homes and turned that fascination into a love affair. Cowboys and lawmen such as Hopalong Cassidy, Wyatt Earp, and the Cisco Kid galloped across televisions every night.

The Roy Rogers Show and Rin Tin Tin brought the West to children on Saturday mornings, and Davy Crockett coonskin caps became popular fashion items. Long running horse operas, such as Bonanza and Rawhide, attracted viewers week after week.

One Western, Gunsmoke, ran for 20 years — longer than any other prime-time drama in television history. At the decade's close, 30 Westerns aired on prime time each week, and Westerns occupied 7 spots in the Nielsen Top-10.

Westerns reinforced the '50s notion that everything was OK in America. Like The Lone Ranger or Zorro, most programs of the early 1950s drew a clear line between the good guys and the bad guys. There was very little danger of injury or death, and good always triumphed in the end.

By the late '50s, though, the genre had become more complicated and the lines between good and evil was blurred. America entered the more turbulent '60s with heroes such as the black-clad mercenary Paladin and the gambling Maverick brothers who would do anything to earn a buck.

Richard Nixon was both helped and hindered by TV. His televised Checkers Speech (Checkers was his dog) successfully appealed to the public for support when financial scandals threatened to boot him from the Republican ticket. But in the 1960 televised presidential debates against John F. Kennedy, Nixon came off as sweaty and somewhat sinister.

Variety Shows: Vaudeville in American Living Rooms

What is sit-ins in history?

Ed Sullivan's variety show provided entertainment ranging from the rock and roll of the Rolling Stones to the goofy hijinks of trained animals.

Because most early television was live, the producers of major networks found their talent among people already had experience with live performance: vaudeville. Television and vaudeville combined to created the form of entertainment known as the variety show. Variety shows were made up of short acts — musical numbers, comedy sketches, animal tricks, etc. — usually centered around an engaging host. Former vaudevillians Bob Hope, Milton Berle, and Ed Wynn all hosted popular programs. The influence of vaudeville on television was so strong that television critics called the shows "Vaudeo."

Sid Caesar had two popular variety programs in '50s, Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour. These shows featured the writing talents of Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart, and Woody Allen. Nat "King" Cole became the first African American host of a television series when his variety show appeared in 1956.

But perhaps no variety program had a greater effect on American culture than The Ed Sullivan Show, which ran for 23 years beginning in 1948 and was for a while America's most popular show. Combining highbrow and popular entertainment, Sullivan's "really big shew" became a major stop for both established performers and young, up-and-coming artists. Although Elvis Presley had appeared on other shows in the past, it was his performance on The Ed Sullivan Show that grabbed the headlines. By securing rock-and-roll acts, Sullivan won the adolescent market, truly making the variety show a whole-family event.

Commercials: Selling through the Screen

What is sit-ins in history?

In 1955, the adorable cartoon characters Snap, Crackle, and Pop leapt around and sang about the joys of eating Rice Krispies. Advertisements were an integral part of television viewing then just as they are today.

With more and more American families owning televisions, manufacturers now had a new way to sell their products, and the television commercial was born. By late 1948, over 900 companies had bought television broadcast time for advertising. By 1950, sponsors were leaving radio for television at an unstoppable rate.

Television sponsors ranged from greeting cards to automobiles, but perhaps the most advertised product was tobacco. TV Guide voted Lucky Strike's "Be Happy, Go Lucky" ad commercial of the year for 1950, and Phillip Morris sponsored I Love Lucy for years, inserting cartoon cigarette packs in the show's opening animation. Cartoon characters were common in '50s commercials, representing everything from lightbulbs to beer. In 1950, Coca-Cola launched its first television ad campaign using a combination of animation and celebrity endorsement.

By 1954, television commercials were the leading advertising medium in America. The life of the American consumer would never be the same.

The New News

Most Americans still got their news from newspapers in the 1950s, but the foundations for the modern television newscast were established as early as 1951 with Edward R. Murrow's See it Now, the first coast-to-coast live show. Many consider Murrow's 1953 Person to Person interview with Joseph McCarthy to be a major step toward McCarthy's downfall.

While Murrow reported on CBS, David Brinkley and Chet Huntley were revolutionizing news broadcasting with the NBC Nightly News. Brinkley and Huntley were the first anchormen to report from two cities simultaneously, and Brinkley's simple declarative sentences became the basis for television news writing for several decades.

Two major developments in the 1950s that set up television as the news medium of the future were the establishment of coaxial cable linking the East and West coasts, which enabled footage to be moved electronically instead of physically, and the invention of videotape, which allowed the use of prerecorded footage (such as studio interviews).

What is sit-ins in history?

But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there without a book, magazine, newspaper, profit-and-loss sheet or rating book to distract you — and keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that you will observe a vast wasteland. You will see a procession of game shows, violence, audience participation shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence and cartoons. And, endlessly, commercials — many screaming, cajoling and offending. And most of all, boredom.

– Newton Minow, Chairman of the FCC and 1950s televison viewer (1961)

What is sit-ins in history?

Children's Programming

What is sit-ins in history?

The Howdy Doody Show, the first children's program to run five days a week, helped the young NBC network grow exponentially during the 1950s.

Understanding that the population of children was in greater numbers than in previous generations, television producers developed a host of children's programs. Shows such as The Mickey Mouse Club and Howdy Doody, entertained millions of American tykes.

During the 1950s, few households owned more than one television, so viewing became a shared family event. Even the American diet was transformed with the advent of the TV dinner, first introduced in 1954.

Page 10

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

Convenience and color were two hallmarks of the 1950s kitchen. Pink refrigerators and new pre-sweetened cereals such as Sugar Pops were introduced to America early in the decade.

For many generations and many decades, the American Dream has promised an egalitarian society and material prosperity. For many, the notion of prosperity remained just a dream.

But for millions of Americans in the 1950s, the American Dream became a reality. Within their reach was the chance to have a house on their own land, a car, a dog, and 2.3 kids.

Postwar affluence redefined the American Dream. Gone was the poverty borne of the Great Depression, and the years of wartime sacrifice were over.

What is sit-ins in history?

William Levitt offered five different versions of each type of home, but all had the same floor plan.

Automobiles once again rolled off the assembly lines of the Big Three: Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. The Interstate Highway Act authorized the construction of thousands of miles of high-speed roads that made living farther from work a possibility.

Families that had delayed having additional children for years no longer waited, and the nation enjoyed a postwar baby boom.


What is sit-ins in history?

William Levitt revolutionized the way Americans live and ushered in an age of suburbia by providing inexpensive housing outside the city.

Racial fears, affordable housing, and the desire to leave decaying cities were all factors that prompted many white Americans to flee to suburbia. And no individual promoted suburban growth more than William Levitt.

Contracted by the federal government during the war to quickly build housing for military personnel, Levitt applied the techniques of mass production to construction. In 1947, he set out to erect the largest planned-living community in the United States on farmland he had purchased on Long Island, New York. Levitt identified 27 different steps to build a house. Therefore, 27 different teams of builders were hired to construct the homes.

Each house had two bedrooms, one bathroom, and no basement. The kitchen was situated near the back of the house so mothers could keep an eye on their children in the backyard. Within one year, Levitt was building 36 houses per day. His assembly-line approach made the houses extremely affordable. At first, the homes were available only to veterans. Eventually, though, Levittown was open to others as well.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

With the ability to own a detached home, thousands of Americans soon surpassed the standard of living enjoyed by their parents. Nevertheless, the movement was not without its critics. Architects called Levitt's designs and emphasis on conformity an abomination.

What is sit-ins in history?

As suburbia grew, fast food restaurants began to pop up all over the country. Ray Kroc bought a single burger joint called McDonald's and paved the way for the fast food giant. Pictured above is Kroc's first new restaurant, which opened in 1955.

Because little variety was expressed in the construction, homeowners struggled to keep their communities looking uniform. Residents had to pledge to mow their lawns on a weekly basis. African Americans were excluded by practice. The irrational need to "keep up with the Joneses" was born in the American suburb.

Despite such criticism, a generation of Americans loved the chance to avoid rent and the dirtiness of the city to live in their own homes on their own land. Soon, shopping centers and fast food restaurants added to the convenience of suburban life. Thousands and thousands migrated to suburbia.

America and the American Dream would never be the same.

Page 11

What is sit-ins in history?

Senator Joe McCarthy and chief counsel Roy Cohn interrogating suspected communists.

At a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, on February 9, 1950, McCarthy proclaimed that he was aware of 205 card-carrying members of the Communist Party who worked for the United States Department of State. This speech set off an era of paranoia and accusation and propelled McCarthy into the national spotlight.

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight as we celebrate the one hundred and forty-first birthday of one of the greatest men in American history, I would like to be able to talk about what a glorious day today is in the history of the world. As we celebrate the birth of this man who with his whole heart and soul hated war, I would like to be able to speak of peace in our time, of war being outlawed, and of worldwide disarmament. These would be truly appropriate things to be able to mention as we celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln ....

Five years after a world war has been won, men's hearts should anticipate a long peace, and men's minds should be free from the heavy weight that comes with war. But this is not such a period--for this is not a period of peace. This is a time of the "Cold War." This is a time when all the world is split into two vast, increasingly hostile armed camps--a time of great armaments race ...

Six years ago, at the time of the first conference to map out the peace — Dumbarton Oaks — there was within the Soviet orbit 180,000,000 people. Lined up on the antitotalitarian side there were in the world at that time roughly 1,625,000,000 people. Today, only 6 years later, there are 800,000,000 people under the absolute domination of Soviet Russia--an increase of over 400 percent. On our side, the figure has shrunk to around 500,000,000. In other words, in less than 6 years the odds have changed from 9 to 1 in our favor to 8 to 5 against us. This indicates the swiftness of the tempo of Communist victories and American defeats in the cold war. As one of our outstanding historical figures once said, "When a great democracy is destroyed, it will not be because of enemies from without, but rather because of enemies from within."

The truth of this statement is becoming terrifyingly clear as we see this country each day losing on every front.

At war's end, we were physically the strongest nation on earth and, at least potentially, the most powerful intellectually and morally. Ours could have been the honor of being a beacon on the desert of destruction, a shining living proof that civilization was not yet ready to destroy itself. Unfortunately, we have failed miserably and tragically to arise to the opportunity.

The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because our only powerful potential enemy has sent men to invade our shores, but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have been treated so well by this Nation. It has not been the less fortunate or members of minority groups who have been selling this Nation out, but rather those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest nation on earth has had to offer--the finest homes, the finest college education, and the finest jobs in Government we can give.

This is glaringly true in the State Department. There the bright young men who are born with silver spoons in their mouths are the ones who have been the worst ...

Now I know it is very easy for anyone to condemn a particular bureau or department in general terms. Therefore, I would like to cite one rather unusual case--the case of a man who has done much to shape our foreign policy.

When Chiang Kai-shek was fighting our war, the State Department had in China a young man named John S. Service. His task, obviously, was not to work for the communization of China. Strangely, however, he sent official reports back to the State Department urging that we torpedo our ally Chiang Kai-shek and stating, in effect, that communism was the best hope of China.

Later, this man — John Service — was picked up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for turning over to the communists Secret state Department information. Strangely, however, he was never prosecuted. However, Joseph Grew, the Undersecretary of State, who insisted on his prosecution, was forced to resign. Two days after Grew's successor, Dean Acheson, took over as Undersecretary of State, this man — John Service — who had been picked up by the FBI and who had previously urged that communism was the best hope of China, was not only reinstated in the State Department but promoted. And finally, under Acheson, placed in charge of all placements and promotions.

Today, ladies and gentlemen, this man Service is on his way to represent the State Department and Acheson in Calcutta — by far and away the most important listening post in the Far East ...

Then there was a Mrs. Mary Jane Kenny, from the Board of Economic Warfare in the State Department, who was named in an FBI report and in a House committee report as a courier for the Communist Party while working for the Government. And where do you think Mrs. Kenny is — she is now an editor in the United Nations Document Bureau ...

This, ladies and gentlemen, gives you somewhat of a picture of the type of individuals who have been helping to shape our foreign policy. In my opinion the State Department, which is one of the most important government departments, is thoroughly infested with Communists.

I have in my hand 57 cases of individuals who would appear to be either card carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party, but who nevertheless are still helping to shape our foreign policy ...

This brings us down to the case of one Alger Hiss who is more important not as an individual any more, but rather because he is so representative of a group in the State Department ...

If time permitted, it might be well to go into detail about the fact that Hiss was Roosevelt's chief advisor at Yalta when Roosevelt was admittedly in ill health and tired physically and mentally ...

According to the then Secretary of State Stettinius, here are some of the things that Hiss helped to decide at Yalta. (1) The establishment of a European High Commission; (2) the treatment of Germany — this you will recall was the conference at which it was decided that we would occupy Berlin with Russia occupying an area completely circling the city, which, as you know, resulted in the Berlin airlift which cost 31 American lives; (3) the Polish question; ... (6) Iran; (7) China — here's where we gave away Manchuria; (8) Turkish Straits question; (9) international trusteeships; (10) Korea....

I know that you are saying to yourself, "Well, why doesn't the Congress do something about it?" Actually, ladies and gentlemen, one of the important reasons for the graft, the corruption, the dishonesty, the disloyalty, the treason in high Government positions--one of the most important reasons why this continues is a lack of moral uprising on the part of the 140,000,000 American people. In the light of history, however, this is not hard to explain.

It is the result of an emotional hang-over and a temporary moral lapse which follows every war. It is the apathy of evil which people who have been subjected to the tremendous evils of war feel. As the people of the world see mass murder, the destruction of defenseless and innocent people, and all of the crime and lack of morals which go with war, they become numb and apathetic. It has always been thus after war.

However, the morals of our people have not been destroyed. They still exist. This cloak of numbness and apathy has only needed a spark to rekindle them. Happily, this spark has finally been supplied.

As you know, very recently the Secretary of State proclaimed his loyalty to a man [Hiss] guilty of what has always been considered as the most abominable of all crime — of being a traitor to the people who gave him a position of great trust. The Secretary of State in attempting to justify his continued devotion to the man who sold out the Christian world to the atheistic world, referred to Christ's Sermon on the Mount as a justification and reason therefore, and the reaction of the American people to this would have made the heart of Abraham Lincoln happy.

When this pompous diplomat in striped pants, with a phony British accent, proclaimed to the American people that Christ on the Mount endorsed communism, high treason, and betrayal of a sacred trust, the blasphemy was so great that it awakened the dormant indignation of the American people.

He has lighted the spark which is resulting in a moral uprising and will end only when the whole sorry mess of twisted, warped thinkers are swept from the national scene so that we may have a new birth of national honesty and decency in government.

Page 12

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

It didn't start airing until 1974, but the television show Happy Days portrayed the carefree '50s through the antics of characters named Potsie, Chachi, and Fonzie (above).

Gonna cruise her round the town,Show everybody what I've foundRock-'n'-roll with all my friendsHopin' the music never ends.

These happy days are yours and mine.

-Happy Days, theme song

In American memory, the postwar 1950s have acquired an idyllic luster. Reruns of 1950s TV shows such as Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best leave today's viewers with an impression of unadulterated family bliss. The baby boomers look back nostalgically to these years that marked their early childhood experiences.

What is sit-ins in history?

The actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy tarnished the relaxed attitude of the 1950s. His hunt for communists working in the U.S. showcased the paranoia and fear that gripped America.

The president for many of these years was war hero Dwight Eisenhower. Ike, as he was nicknamed, walked a middle road between the two major parties. This strategy, called Modern Republicanism, simultaneously restrained Democrats from expanding the New Deal while stopping conservative Republicans from reversing popular programs such as Social Security. As a result, no major reform initiatives emerged from a decade many would describe as politically dead. Perhaps freedom from controversy was the prize most American voters were seeking after World War II and the Korean War.

Living in a Material World

What is sit-ins in history?

Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower's campaign slogan "I Like Ike" epitomized the swell spirit that defined American culture in the 1950s.

A booming economy helped shape the blissful retrospective view of the 1950s. A rebuilding Europe was hungry for American goods, fueling the consumer-oriented sector of the American economy. Conveniences that had been toys for the upper classes such as fancy refrigerators, range-top ovens, convertible automobiles, and televisions became middle-class staples.

The pent-up demand for consumer goods unleashed after the Great Depression and World War II sustained itself through the 1950s. Homes became affordable to many apartment dwellers for the first time. Consequently, the population of the suburbs exploded. The huge youth market had a music all of its own called rock and roll, complete with parent-detested icons such as Elvis Presley.

Happy Days — But Not for All

Of course, not everything was as rosy as it seemed. Beneath the pristine exterior, a small group of critics and nonconformists pointed out the flaws in a suburbia they believed had no soul, a government they believed was growing dangerously powerful, and a lifestyle they believed was fundamentally repressed. And much of America was still segregated.

Nevertheless, the notion of the 1950s as happy days lived on. Perhaps when measured against the Great Depression of the 1930s, the world war of the 1940s, the strife of the 1960s, and the malaise of the 1970s, the 1950s were indeed fabulous.

Page 13

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

The 1948 Presidential election pitted Democrat Harry Truman against Republican Thomas Dewey. The Chicago Daily Tribune was so confident Truman was headed for defeat that they printed this headline before all of the votes had been counted.

The sign on Harry Truman's desk read "the buck stops here." By buck, he meant responsibility, and the bucks ran amuck on his desk.

The end of World War II brought a series of challenges to Harry Truman. The entire economy had to be converted from a wartime economy to a consumer economy. Strikes that had been delayed during the war erupted with a frenzy across America. Inflation threatened as millions of Americans planned to spend wealth they had not enjoyed since 1929. As the soldiers returned home, they wanted their old jobs back, creating a huge labor surplus. Truman, distracted by new threats overseas, was faced with additional crises at home.

To provide relief for the veterans of World War II, and to diminish the labor surplus, Congress passed the Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944. Known as the GI Bill of Rights, this law granted government loans to veterans who wished to start a new business or build a home. It also provided money for veterans to attend school or college. Thousands took advantage, and Americans enjoyed the double bonus of relieving unemployment and investing in a more educated workforce.

What is sit-ins in history?

Harry Truman was elected in 1948, a feat that few political experts had thought possible. To bolster his chances, Truman took to the rails and ran a "whistle-stop" campaign, speaking in over 200 towns in the weeks leading up to the election.

Although Truman maintained wartime price controls for over a year after the war, he was pressured to end them by the Republican Congress in 1947. Inflation skyrocketed and workers immediately demanded pay increases. Strikes soon spread across America involving millions of American workers.

Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act, which allowed the President to declare a "cooling-off" period if a strike were to erupt. Union leaders became liable for damages in lawsuits and were required to sign noncommunist oaths. The ability of unions to contribute to political campaigns was limited. Truman vetoed this measure, but it was passed by the Congress nonetheless.

Serious issues remained. Now that nuclear power was a reality, who would control the fissionable materials? In August 1946, Truman signed the Atomic Energy Act, which gave the government a monopoly over all nuclear material. Five civilians would head the Atomic Energy Commission. They directed the peaceful uses of the atom. The President was vested with exclusive authority to launch a nuclear strike. The military was also reorganized.

The War Department was eliminated and a new Defense Department was created. The Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force were subordinate to the new Secretary of Defense. The National Security Council was created to coordinate the Departments of State and Defense. Finally, a Central Intelligence Agency was established to monitor espionage activities around the globe.

What is sit-ins in history?

Harry Truman kept this sign on his desk to make it known that he would not be "passing the buck" on to anyone else.

In 1948, Harry Truman faced reelection. Almost every political spin-doctor in the nation predicted a victory by the Republican Governor of New York, Thomas Dewey. The Democratic Party was split three ways. In addition to Truman, Henry Wallace represented the liberal wing on the Progressive Party ticket. J. Strom Thurmond ran as a "Dixiecrat" Southern candidate who thought Truman too liberal on civil rights.

Truman ran a whistle-stop train campaign across the land, hoping to win by holding onto the Solid South and retaining the support of organized labor. He also became the first candidate to campaign openly for the African American vote. Against everyone's predictions but his own, Truman prevailed on election day. He had hoped to enact a socially expansive Fair Deal, much along the lines of the New Deal of FDR, but conservative Democrats and Republicans in the Congress blocked most of his initiatives.

Of the Presidency Truman wrote, "The President — whoever he is — has to decide. He can't pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That's his job."

Page 14

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

The television show "M*A*S*H" aired from 1972-83 and used a Korean War innovation — the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital — as its setting. The show's characters, like Dr. "Hawkeye" Pierce, often addressed the tough issues of war through their interactions.

While many of us have probably seen episodes of the TV show "M*A*S*H," few of us could explain what caused the Korean War. Here's a chance to understand what "Dr. Benjamin Franklin ("Hawkeye") Pierce from Crabapple Cove, Maine, was doing in Korea.

Containment had not gone so well in Asia. When the Soviet Union entered the war against Japan, they sent troops into Japanese-occupied Korea. As American troops established a presence in the southern part of the Korean peninsula, the Soviets began cutting roads and communications at the 38th parallel. Two separate governments were emerging, as Korea began to resemble the divided Germany.

Upon the recommendation of the UN, elections were scheduled, but the North refused to participate. The South elected Syngman Rhee as president, but the Soviet-backed North was ruled by Kim Il Sung. When the United States withdrew its forces from the peninsula, trouble began.

Northern Korean armed forces crossed the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950. It took only two days for President Truman to commit the United States military to the defense of southern Korea. Truman hoped to build a broad coalition against the aggressors from the North by enlisting support from the United Nations.

What is sit-ins in history?

North Korean tanks cross the 38th Parallel, marking the opening salvo of the Korean War.

Of course, the Soviet Union could veto any proposed action by the Security Council, but this time, the Americans were in luck. The Soviets were boycotting the Security Council for refusing to admit Red China into the United Nations. As a result, the Council voted unanimously to "repel the armed attack" of North Korea. Many countries sent troops to defend the South, but forces beyond those of the United States and South Korea were nominal.

The commander of the UN forces was none other than Douglas MacArthur. He had an uphill battle to fight, as the North had overrun the entire peninsula with the exception of the small Pusan Perimeter in the South. MacArthur ordered an amphibious assault at Inchon on the western side of the peninsula on September 15.

Caught by surprise, the communist-backed northern forces reeled in retreat. American led-forces from Inchon and the Pusan Perimeter quickly pushed the northern troops to the 38th Parallel — and kept going. The United States saw an opportunity to create a complete indivisible democratic Korea and pushed the northern army up to the Yalu River, which borders China.

What is sit-ins in history?

The USS Missouri fires on Chongjin, North Korea, in October 1950. The mission of this particular engagement was to disable enemy communications systems.

With anticommunism on the rise at home, Truman relished the idea of reuniting Korea. His hopes were dashed on November 27, when over 400,000 Chinese soldiers flooded across the Yalu River. In 1949, Mao Tse-tung had established a communist dictatorship in China, the world's most populous nation. The Chinese now sought to aide the communists in northern Korea.

In no time, American troops were once again forced below the 38th Parallel. General MacArthur wanted to escalate the war. He sought to bomb the Chinese mainland and blockade their coast.

Truman disagreed. He feared escalation of the conflict could lead to World War III, especially if the now nuclear-armed Soviet Union lent assistance to China. Disgruntled, MacArthur took his case directly to the American people by openly criticizing Truman's approach. Truman promptly fired him for insubordination.

Meanwhile, the war evolved into a stalemate, with the front line corresponding more or less to the 38th Parallel. Ceasefire negotiations dragged on for two more years, beyond Truman's Presidency. Finally, on July 27, 1953, an armistice was signed at Panmunjom. North Korea remained a communist dictatorship, and South Korea remained under the control of Syngman Rhee, a military strong man. Over 37,000 Americans were killed in the conflict.

[Note: For decades after the war, the accepted figure for American Korean War deaths was 54,246. In 1993, the 50th anniversary of the end of the war, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued a statement clarifying that this figure represented all deaths of U.S. military personel worldwide during the war, and not only casualties of the war. The DoD stated that 17,730 deaths during this period were not related to the war in Korea]

Page 15

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

Many gather to watch a C-54 loaded with supplies land at Tempelhof airfield in the U.S. sector of Berlin. Over the 11 month course of the Airlift, nearly 4000 tons of goods were delivered every day.

Berlin, Germany's wartime capital was the prickliest of all issues that separated the United States and Soviet Union during the late 1940s. The city was divided into four zones of occupation like the rest of Germany. However, the entire city lay within the Soviet zone of occupation. Once the nation of East Germany was established, the Allied sections of the capital known as West Berlin became an island of democracy and capitalism behind the Iron Curtain.

In June 1948, tensions within Berlin touched off a crisis.

The Soviets decided to seal all land routes going into West Berlin. Stalin gambled that the Western powers were not willing to risk another war to protect half of Berlin. The Allies were tired, and their populations were unlikely to support a new war. A withdrawal by the United States would eliminate this democratic enclave in the Soviet zone.

What is sit-ins in history?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization celebrated an important milestone in 1999. For over 50 years now, NATO has existed as a symbol of the solidarity of Western nations.

Truman was faced with tough choices. Relinquishing Berlin to the Soviets would seriously undermine the new doctrine of containment. Any negotiated settlement would suggest that the USSR could engineer a crisis at any time to exact concessions. If Berlin were compromised, the whole of West Germany might question the American commitment to German democracy. To Harry Truman, there was no question. "We are going to stay, period, " he declared. Together, with Britain, the United States began moving massive amounts of food and supplies into West Berlin by the only path still open — the air.

What is sit-ins in history?

Flying from occupied Germany and landing a supply plane in Berlin at the rate of one every 3 minutes, the Berlin Airlift managed to supply the city with the materials needed for survival.

Truman had thrown the gauntlet at Stalin's feet. The USSR had to now choose between war and peace. He refused to give the order to shoot down the American planes. Over the next eleven months, British and American planes flew over 4000 tons of supplies daily into West Berlin. As the American public cheered "Operation Vittles," Stalin began to look bad in the eyes of the world. He was clearly willing to use innocent civilians as pawns to quench his expansionist thirst. In May 1949, the Soviets ended the blockade. The United States and Britain had flown over 250,000-supply missions.

Stalin miscalculated when he estimated the strength of western unity. To cement the cooperation that the western allies had shown during the war and immediate postwar years, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in April 1949. The pact operated on the basis of collective security. If any one of the member states were attacked, all would retaliate together. The original NATO included Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, and the United States.

NATO was the very sort of permanent alliance George Washington warned against in his Farewell Address, and represented the first such agreement since the Franco-American Alliance that helped secure victory in the American Revolution.

The United States formally shed its isolationist past and thrust itself forward as a determined superpower fighting its new rival.

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What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

This illustration from the July 16, 1948, U.S. News magazine shows the beginnings of American containment policy. The U.S. is seen sending troops, advisors and weapons to Turkey in hopes that the country will resist communism and remain democratic.

Communism was on the march.

When the Red Army marched on Germany, it quickly absorbed the nearby nations Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into the Soviet Union. Soon communist forces dominated the governments of Romania and Bulgaria. By the fall of 1945, it was clear that the Soviet-backed Lublin regime had complete control of Poland, violating the Yalta promise of free and unfettered elections there. It was only a matter of time before Hungary and Czechoslovakia fell into the Soviet orbit. Yugoslavia had an independent communist leader named Tito.

What is sit-ins in history?

When Harry Truman approved the Marshall Plan in 1948, his official statement said, "Few presidents have had the opportunity to sign legislation of such importance."

And now Stalin was ordering the creation of a communist puppet regime in the Soviet sector of occupied Germany. How many dominoes would fall? United States diplomats saw a continent ravaged by war looking for strong leadership and aid of any sort, providing a climate ripe for revolution. Would the Soviets get all of Germany? Or Italy and France? President Truman was determined to reverse this trend.

Greece and Turkey were the first nations spiraling into crisis that had not been directly occupied by the Soviet Army. Both countries were on the verge of being taken over by Soviet-backed guerrilla movements. Truman decided to draw a line in the sand. In March 1947, he asked Congress to appropriate $400 million to send to these two nations in the form of military and economic assistance. Within two years the communist threat had passed, and both nations were comfortably in the western sphere of influence.

A mid-level diplomat in the State Department named George Kennan proposed the policy of containment. Since the American people were weary from war and had no desire to send United States troops into Eastern Europe, rolling back the gains of the Red Army would have been impossible.

What is sit-ins in history?

In July 1947 a majority of the American public had never even heard of the Marshall Plan. But to win passage in Congress, the Truman administration needed strong public support, so it launched a massive public relations campaign.

But in places where communism threatened to expand, American aid might prevent a takeover. By vigorously pursuing this policy, the United States might be able to contain communism within its current borders. The policy became known as the Truman Doctrine, as the President outlined these intentions with his request for monetary aid for Greece and Turkey.

In the aftermath of WWII, Western Europe lay devastated. The war had ruined crop fields and destroyed infrastructure, leaving most of Europe in dire need. On June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George Marshall announced the European Recovery Program. To avoid antagonizing the Soviet Union, Marshall announced that the purpose of sending aid to Western Europe was completely humanitarian, and even offered aid to the communist states in the east. Congress approved Truman's request of $17 billion over four years to be sent to Great Britain, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium.

What is sit-ins in history?

In a speech to Harvard University in 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall proposed that a post-war European aid program be initiated. Less than a year later, the Marshall Plan was a reality.

The Marshall Plan created an economic miracle in Western Europe. By the target date of the program four years later, Western European industries were producing twice as much as they had been the year before war broke out. Some Americans grumbled about the costs, but the nation spent more on liquor during the years of the Marshall Plan than they sent overseas to Europe. The aid also produced record levels of trade with American firms, fueling a postwar economic boom in the United States.

Lastly and much to Truman's delight, none of these nations of western Europe faced a serious threat of communist takeover for the duration of the Cold War.

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What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

Eleanor Roosevelt became head of the UN's Commission on Human Rights in 1946. Here she holds a copy of the "Declaration of Human Rights," which she considered to be her greatest achievement.

The Allies had won the war, but would they be able to keep the peace?

An examination of the period between WWI and WWII showed a lack of commitment to the spirit of internationalism. The old League of Nations proved too weak in structure to fill this void. Perhaps a stronger international body, as envisioned by Woodrow Wilson, was necessary to keep the world powers from tearing each other apart. It was in this spirit that Franklin Roosevelt championed the creation of a United Nations.

The Big Three of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin had devoted hours of dialogue to the nature of a United Nations. After agreeing on the general principles at the Dumbarton Oaks and Yalta Conferences, delegates from around the world met in San Francisco to write a charter. With the nation still mourning the recent death of Franklin Roosevelt, his wife Eleanor addressed the delegates. Despite considerable enmity and conflicts of interest among the attending nations, a charter was ultimately approved by unanimous consent.

Despite the ideological animosity spawned by the Cold War, a new spirit of globalism was born after WWII. It was based, in part, on the widespread recognition of the failures of isolationism. The incarnation of this global sprit came to life with the establishment of the United Nations in 1945 with its headquarters in New York City.

What is sit-ins in history?

The United Nations headquarters complex, consisting of four buildings, occupies 18 acres in New York City.

How does the UN work?

The UN charter called for the establishment of a Security Council, or "upper house." The Security Council serves as the executive branch of the United Nations. The Security Council must authorize any actions, such as economic sanctions, the use of force, or the deployment of peacekeeping troops.

Each of the "Great Powers" — the United States, Great Britain, France, China, and the Soviet Union — holds a permanent seat on the Security Council. The remaining ten seats are elected to two-year terms by the General Assembly. Each permanent member holds the power of veto. No action can go forth if any one of the five objects. As the Cold War crystallized, the countervailing veto powers of the United States and the Soviet Union served often to inhibit the Security Council from taking any forceful or meaningful action.

The main body of the United Nations is called the General Assembly. Every member nation holds a seat in the General Assembly, which is often described as a town meeting for the world. The General Assembly has standing committees to address ongoing issues such as economics and finance, social, cultural and humanitarian concerns, and legal problems. The General Assembly passes resolutions and has the power to make recommendations to the Security Council, but has no power to require any action. In addition to the General Assembly, and Economic and Social Council has committees designed to address a wide array of topics from the Status of Women to the Environment.

What is sit-ins in history?

World leaders met at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., in August 1944 to formulate plans for a new organization to promote international cooperation. The general principles established there provided the foundation for the United Nations charter.

A Trusteeship Council was designed to oversee the transition of states from colonies to independent nations.

The Secretariat manages the day-to-day operations of the United Nations. An International Court of Justice was also created.

The UN can point to many solid accomplishments. Among them: sending peacekeepers to war-stricken areas, making recommendations on how to raise literacy and health rates in the Third World, and even authorizing the use of force against aggressor nations.

In 1945 as well as today the UN gives cause for believe that nations can get along together. In a world with conflicting histories, agendas, and political posturing, one international group — the United Nations — remains above the day-to-day fray.

When the Cold War ended in the 1990s, many citizens around the globe once again looked to the United Nations with renewed hope of building a safer, stronger planet.

Page 18

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

Prime Minister Churchill, President Roosevelt, and Premier Stalin meet at Yalta to discuss post-war Europe. It was at both the Yalta and Dumbarton Oaks conferences that the framework for the United Nations was devised.

In 1945, one major war ended and another began.

The Cold War lasted about 45 years. There were no direct military campaigns between the two main antagonists, the United States and the Soviet Union. Yet billions of dollars and millions of lives were lost in the fight.

The United States became the leader of the free-market capitalist world. America and its allies struggled to keep the communist, totalitarian Soviet Union from expanding into Europe, Asia, and Africa. Theaters as remote as Korea and Vietnam, Cuba and Grenada, Afghanistan and Angola, became battlegrounds between the two ideologies. One postwar pattern quickly became clear. The United States would not retreat into its former isolationist stance as long as there was a Cold War to wage.

What is sit-ins in history?

Winston Churchill's 1946 speech to Westminster University in Missouri contained the first reference to the communism of Eastern Europe as an "iron curtain."

The long-term causes of the Cold War are clear. Western democracies had always been hostile to the idea of a communist state. The United States had refused recognition to the USSR for 16 years after the Bolshevik takeover. Domestic fears of communism erupted in a Red Scare in America in the early Twenties. American business leaders had long feared the consequences of a politically driven workers' organization. World War II provided short-term causes as well.

There was hostility on the Soviet side as well. Twenty million Russian citizens perished during World War II. Stalin was enraged that the Americans and British had waited so long to open a front in France. This would have relieved pressure on the Soviet Union from the attacking Germans. Further, The United States terminated Lend-Lease aid to the Soviet Union before the war was complete. Finally, the Soviet Union believed in communism.

Stalin made promises during the war about the freedom of eastern Europe on which he blatantly reneged. At the Yalta Conference, the USSR pledged to enter the war against Japan no later than three months after the conclusion of the European war. In return, the United States awarded the Soviets territorial concessions from Japan and special rights in Chinese Manchuria.

What is sit-ins in history?

This map depicts the situation in Europe around the time of V-E Day. Soviet troops (in red) were able to secure Eastern Europe, while the other Allies worked to win the West.

What is sit-ins in history?

Europe in 1946 was becoming increasingly divided by the "iron curtain" seen in this map. Countries to the east of the orange line remained — or became — communist following World War II.

When the Soviet Union entered the war between the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States no longer needed their aid, but Stalin was there to collect on Western promises. All these factors contributed to a climate of mistrust that heightened tensions at the outbreak of the Cold War.

What is sit-ins in history?

For most of the second half of the 20th century, the USSR and the United States were engaged in a Cold War of economic and diplomatic struggles. The communist bloc, as it appeared in 1950, included countries to the west and southeast of the Soviet Union.

At Potsdam, the Allies agreed on the postwar outcome for Nazi Germany. After territorial adjustments, Germany was divided into four occupation zones with the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union each administering one. Germany was to be democratized and de-Nazified. Once the Nazi leaders were arrested and war crimes trials began, a date would be agreed upon for the election of a new German government and the withdrawal of Allied troops.

This process was executed in the zones held by the western Allies. In the eastern Soviet occupation zone, a puppet communist regime was elected. There was no promise of repatriation with the west. Soon such governments, aided by the Soviet Red Army came to power all across eastern Europe. Stalin was determined to create a buffer zone to prevent any future invasion of the Russian heartland.

Winston Churchill remarked in 1946 that an "iron curtain had descended across the continent."

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What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

When he became President upon Franklin D. Roosevelt's death in 1945, few believed in Harry Truman's ability to govern. But it was Truman's common sense approach that helped the U.S. end World War II and move on to tackle postwar challenges.


When Japan surrendered to the Allies at the end of the long summer of 1945, Americans were ecstatic. Ticker tape parades were staged in nearly every town to welcome America's returning heroes.

Unquestionably, the United States entry in World War II made the difference for the Allied cause. The American army and navy were now the most powerful in the world. Even those who did not fight could feel proud of the work Americans did in the factories to build the war machine.

The youth of America would never forget the sacrifices of wartime. From rationing food to collecting scrap to buying bonds to fighting in battle, the efforts to defeat the Axis were a product of the collective American will. News anchor, Tom Brokaw, recently labeled the Americans who came of age in World War II the "greatest generation."

What is sit-ins in history?

The euphoria that swept the nation in 1945 was captured on film by Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt. This memorable image of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square continues to be a defining image of WWII.

Unfortunately, the euphoria could not last long. Although the Soviet Union and the United States were allied in their struggle against Hitler's Germany, Americans distrusted Josef Stalin's Communist government and abhorred his takeover of Eastern European countries immediately after the war. More Soviet citizens were killed in World War II than any other nation, and Josef Stalin was determined to receive compensation for damages and guarantees that such a slaughter could never again plague the Soviet people.

For its part, the United States was unwilling to sit idle while another form of totalitarianism spread westward from Moscow. One war immediately begat another — the Cold War.

No theater of the globe was free from Cold War struggle. From Eastern Europe to China and Korea, the Truman Administration was beset with the challenge of halting the advance of communism. As the wave of decolonization washed through the southern part of the globe, each new nation would be courted by the superpowers. The independence of Israel in 1948 had Cold War implications in the Middle East. Within five years of the end of World War II, American troops were summoned to South Korea to halt the advancing communist forces of the North.

What is sit-ins in history?

The American military prepared for the Cold War by conducting tests with new atomic and nuclear technology. Here, troops watch radioactive smoke during the "Desert Rock" exercise in 1951.

No single foreign policy issue mattered more to the United States for the next 50 years as much as the Cold War. President Truman set the direction for the next eight presidents with the announcement of the containment policy. Crises in Berlin, China, and Korea forced Truman to back his words with actions. The Cold War kept defense industries humming and ultimately proved the limits of American power in Vietnam. Democracy was tested with outbreaks of Communist witch hunts.

Although the United States would emerge triumphant in the Cold War, the last half of the 1940s was marked by an uncertainty that soured the sweet taste of victory in World War II.

Page 20

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, and Josef Stalin meet at the Potsdam Conference. They discussed the post-war order and peace treaty issues.

America had the bomb. Now what?

When Harry Truman learned of the success of the Manhattan Project, he knew he was faced with a decision of unprecedented gravity. The capacity to end the war with Japan was in his hands, but it would involve unleashing the most terrible weapon ever known.

American soldiers and civilians were weary from four years of war, yet the Japanese military was refusing to give up their fight. American forces occupied Okinawa and Iwo Jima and were intensely fire bombing Japanese cities. But Japan had an army of 2 million strong stationed in the home islands guarding against invasion.

What is sit-ins in history?

A "mushroom" cloud rises over the city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, following the detonation of "Fat Man." The second atomic weapon used against Japan, this single bomb resulted in the deaths of 80,000 Japanese citizens.

For Truman, the choice whether or not to use the atomic bomb was the most difficult decision of his life.

First, an Allied demand for an immediate unconditional surrender was made to the leadership in Japan. Although the demand stated that refusal would result in total destruction, no mention of any new weapons of mass destruction was made. The Japanese military command rejected the request for unconditional surrender, but there were indications that a conditional surrender was possible.

Regardless, on August 6, 1945, a plane called the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. Instantly, 70,000 Japanese citizens were vaporized. In the months and years that followed, an additional 100,000 perished from burns and radiation sickness.

Two days later, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan. On August 9, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, where 80,000 Japanese people perished.

On August 14, 1945, the Japanese surrendered.

Critics have charged that Truman's decision was a barbaric act that brought negative long-term consequences to the United States. A new age of nuclear terror led to a dangerous arms race.

Some military analysts insist that Japan was on its knees and the bombings were simply unnecessary. The American government was accused of racism on the grounds that such a device would never have been used against white civilians.

What is sit-ins in history?

On August 6, the city of Hiroshima, Japan remembers those who lost their lives when the atomic bomb fell. Thousands attend the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony annually.

Other critics argued that American diplomats had ulterior motives. The Soviet Union had entered the war against Japan, and the atomic bomb could be read as a strong message for the Soviets to tread lightly. In this respect, Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have been the first shots of the Cold War as well as the final shots of World War II. Regardless, the United States remains the only nation in the world to have used a nuclear weapon on another nation.

Truman stated that his decision to drop the bomb was purely military. A Normandy-type amphibious landing would have cost an estimated million casualties. Truman believed that the bombs saved Japanese lives as well. Prolonging the war was not an option for the President. Over 3,500 Japanese kamikaze raids had already wrought great destruction and loss of American lives.

The President rejected a demonstration of the atomic bomb to the Japanese leadership. He knew there was no guarantee the Japanese would surrender if the test succeeded, and he felt that a failed demonstration would be worse than none at all. Even the scientific community failed to foresee the awful effects of radiation sickness. Truman saw little difference between atomic bombing Hiroshima and fire bombing Dresden or Tokyo.

The ethical debate over the decision to drop the atomic bomb will never be resolved. The bombs did, however, bring an end to the most destructive war in history. The Manhattan Project that produced it demonstrated the possibility of how a nation's resources could be mobilized.

Pandora's box was now open. The question that came flying out was, "How will the world use its nuclear capability?" It is a question still being addressed on a daily basis.

Page 21

What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

This once classified photograph features the first atomic bomb — a weapon that atomic scientists had nicknamed "Gadget." The nuclear age began on July 16, 1945, when it was detonated in the New Mexico desert.

Early in 1939, the world's scientific community discovered that German physicists had learned the secrets of splitting a uranium atom. Fears soon spread over the possibility of Nazi scientists utilizing that energy to produce a bomb capable of unspeakable destruction.

Scientists Albert Einstein, who fled Nazi persecution, and Enrico Fermi, who escaped Fascist Italy, were now living in the United States. They agreed that the President must be informed of the dangers of atomic technology in the hands of the Axis powers. Fermi traveled to Washington in March to express his concerns to government officials. But few shared his uneasiness.

What is sit-ins in history?

Leaving nothing to chance, Los Alamos atomic scientists conducted a pre-test test in May 1945 to check the monitoring instruments. A 100-ton bomb was exploded some 800 yards from the Trinity site where Gadget would be detonated a few weeks later.

Einstein penned a letter to President Roosevelt urging the development of an atomic research program later that year. Roosevelt saw neither the necessity nor the utility for such a project, but agreed to proceed slowly. In late 1941, the American effort to design and build an atomic bomb received its code name — the Manhattan Project.

At first the research was based at only a few universities — Columbia University, the University of Chicago and the University of California at Berkeley. A breakthrough occurred in December 1942 when Fermi led a group of physicists to produce the first controlled nuclear chain reaction under the grandstands of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago.

What is sit-ins in history?

Enrico Fermi, a physicist who left fascist Italy for America, encouraged the U.S. to begin atomic research. The result was the top-secret "Manhattan Project."

After this milestone, funds were allocated more freely, and the project advanced at breakneck speed. Nuclear facilities were built at Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Hanford, Washington. The main assembly plant was built at Los Alamos, New Mexico. Robert Oppenheimer was put in charge of putting the pieces together at Los Alamos. After the final bill was tallied, nearly $2 billion had been spent on research and development of the atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project employed over 120,000 Americans.

Secrecy was paramount. Neither the Germans nor the Japanese could learn of the project. Roosevelt and Churchill also agreed that Stalin would be kept in the dark. Consequently, there was no public awareness or debate. Keeping 120,000 people quiet would be impossible; therefore only a small privileged cadre of inner scientists and officials knew about the atomic bomb's development. In fact, Vice-President Truman had never heard of the Manhattan Project until he became President Truman.

Although the Axis powers remained unaware of the efforts at Los Alamos, American leaders later learned that a Soviet spy named Klaus Fuchs had penetrated the inner circle of scientists.

What is sit-ins in history?

This crater in the Nevada desert was created by a 104 kiloton nuclear bomb buried 635 feet beneath the surface. It is the result of a 1962 test investigating whether nuclear weapons could be used to excavate canals and harbors.

By the summer of 1945, Oppenheimer was ready to test the first bomb. On July 16, 1945, at Trinity Site near Alamogordo, New Mexico, scientists of the Manhattan Project readied themselves to watch the detonation of the world's first atomic bomb. The device was affixed to a 100-foot tower and discharged just before dawn. No one was properly prepared for the result.

A blinding flash visible for 200 miles lit up the morning sky. A mushroom cloud reached 40,000 feet, blowing out windows of civilian homes up to 100 miles away. When the cloud returned to earth it created a half-mile wide crater metamorphosing sand into glass. A bogus cover-up story was quickly released, explaining that a huge ammunition dump had just exploded in the desert. Soon word reached President Truman in Potsdam, Germany that the project was successful.

The world had entered the nuclear age.

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What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

Many Americans worried that citizens of Japanese ancestry would act as spies or saboteurs for the Japanese government. Fear — not evidence — drove the U.S. to place over 127,000 Japanese-Americans in concentration camps for the duration of WWII.

Over 127,000 United States citizens were imprisoned during World War II. Their crime? Being of Japanese ancestry.

Despite the lack of any concrete evidence, Japanese Americans were suspected of remaining loyal to their ancestral land. Anti-Japanese paranoia increased because of a large Japanese presence on the West Coast. In the event of a Japanese invasion of the American mainland, Japanese Americans were feared as a security risk.

Succumbing to bad advice and popular opinion, President Roosevelt signed an executive order in February 1942 ordering the relocation of all Americans of Japanese ancestry to concentration camps in the interior of the United States.

Evacuation orders were posted in Japanese-American communities giving instructions on how to comply with the executive order. Many families sold their homes, their stores, and most of their assets. They could not be certain their homes and livelihoods would still be there upon their return. Because of the mad rush to sell, properties and inventories were often sold at a fraction of their true value.

What is sit-ins in history?

After being forced from their communities, Japanese families made these military style barracks their homes.

Until the camps were completed, many of the evacuees were held in temporary centers, such as stables at local racetracks. Almost two-thirds of the interns were Nisei, or Japanese Americans born in the United States. It made no difference that many had never even been to Japan. Even Japanese-American veterans of World War I were forced to leave their homes.

Ten camps were finally completed in remote areas of seven western states. Housing was spartan, consisting mainly of tarpaper barracks. Families dined together at communal mess halls, and children were expected to attend school. Adults had the option of working for a salary of $5 per day. The United States government hoped that the interns could make the camps self-sufficient by farming to produce food. But cultivation on arid soil was quite a challenge.

What is sit-ins in history?

Most of the ten relocation camps were built in arid and semi-arid areas where life would have been harsh under even ideal conditions.

Evacuees elected representatives to meet with government officials to air grievances, often to little avail. Recreational activities were organized to pass the time. Some of the interns actually volunteered to fight in one of two all-Nisei army regiments and went on to distinguish themselves in battle.

What is sit-ins in history?

Fred Korematsu challenged the legality of Executive Order 9066 but the Supreme Court ruled the action was justified as a wartime necessity. It was not until 1988 that the U.S. government attempted to apologize to those who had been interned.

On the whole, however, life in the relocation centers was not easy. The camps were often too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. The food was mass produced army-style grub. And the interns knew that if they tried to flee, armed sentries who stood watch around the clock, would shoot them.

Fred Korematsu decided to test the government relocation action in the courts. He found little sympathy there. In Korematsu vs. the United States, the Supreme Court justified the executive order as a wartime necessity. When the order was repealed, many found they could not return to their hometowns. Hostility against Japanese Americans remained high across the West Coast into the postwar years as many villages displayed signs demanding that the evacuees never return. As a result, the interns scattered across the country.

In 1988, Congress attempted to apologize for the action by awarding each surviving intern $20,000. While the American concentration camps never reached the levels of Nazi death camps as far as atrocities are concerned, they remain a dark mark on the nation's record of respecting civil liberties and cultural differences.

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What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

Located in Arlington, Virginia, this sculpture depicts the raising of the American flag over Iwo Jima and is dedicated to all Marines who have given their life in defense of the United States.

Defeating Germany was only part of America's mission.

Pearl Harbor was only the beginning of Japanese assaults on American holdings in the Pacific. Two days after attacking Pearl Harbor, they seized Guam, and two weeks after that they captured Wake Island. Before 1941 came to a close, the Philippines came under attack.

Led by General Douglas MacArthur, the Americans were confident they could hold the islands. A fierce Japanese strike proved otherwise. After retreating to strongholds at Bataan and Corregidor, the United States had no choice but to surrender the Philippines. Before being summoned away by President Roosevelt, General MacArthur promised: "I shall return."

Before he returned however, the Japanese inflicted the Bataan Death March, a brutal 85-mile forced on American and Filipino POWs. 16,000 souls perished along the way.

What is sit-ins in history?

The map inset depicts the movements of both the Japanese and Allied forces during the Battle of Midway in June 1942.

In June 1942, Japan hoped to capture Midway Island, an American held base about 1000 miles from Hawaii. Midway could have been used as a staging point for future attacks on Pearl Harbor. The United States was still benefiting from being able to decipher Japanese radio messages. American naval commanders led by Chester Nimitz therefore knew the assault was coming.

Airplane combat decided the Battle at Midway. After the smoke had cleared, four Japanese aircraft carriers had been destroyed. The plot to capture Midway collapsed, and Japan lost much of its offensive capability in the process. After the Battle of Midway, the Japanese were forced to fall back and defend their holdings.

What is sit-ins in history?

In 1941, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was forced to surrender the Philippines, but made his famous promise of "I shall return." Three years later, he made good on his promise to liberate the islands.

Island hopping was the strategy used by the United States command. Rather than taking every Japanese fortification, the United States selectively chose a path that would move U.S. naval forces closer and closer to the Japanese mainland. In October 1944, MacArthur returned to the Philippines accompanied by a hundred ships and soon the islands were liberated. The capture of Iwo Jima and Okinawa cleared the way for an all-out assault on Japan. Despite heavy losses, the Japanese refused to surrender. They intensified the attacks on American ships with suicide mission kamikaze flights.

In April 1945, President Roosevelt died of a brain hemorrhage, and Harry Truman was unexpectedly left to decide the outcome of the war in the Pacific.

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What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

Hitler's refusal to surrender to the Allies led to "Operation Overlord" on June 6, 1944. British, Canadian, and American forces managed to take key points on the coast of Nazi-occupied France, signaling a beginning to the end of war in Europe.

The time had finally come. British and American troops had liberated North Africa and pressed on into Italy. Soviet troops had turned the tide at Stalingrad and were slowly reclaiming their territory. The English Channel was virtually free of Nazi submarines, and American and British planes were bombing German industrial centers around the clock.

Still, Hitler refused to surrender and hid behind his Atlantic Wall. Since the outbreak of war, Stalin was demanding an all-out effort to liberate France from German occupation. An invasion force greater than any in the history of the world was slowly amassing in southern Britain toward that end.

What is sit-ins in history?

D-Day troops wade into the waist-deep water and onto the shore to face the enemy in battle.

A great game of espionage soon unfolded. If the Germans could discover when and where the attack would occur, they could simply concentrate all their efforts in one area, and the operation would be doomed to failure. The Allies staged phony exercises meant to confuse German intelligence. Two-dimensional dummy tanks were arranged to distract air surveillance. There was considerable reason to believe the attack would come at Calais, where the English Channel is narrowest. In actuality, Operation Overlord was aiming for the Normandy Peninsula on the morning of June 4, 1944.

Foul weather postponed the attack for two days. Just after midnight on June 6, three airborne divisions parachuted behind enemy lines to disrupt paths of communications. As the German lookout sentries scanned the English Channel at daybreak, they saw the largest armada ever assembled in history heading toward the French shore. There were five points of attack. Gold and Sword Beaches were taken by the British, and Juno Beach was captured by Canadian forces. The American task was to capture Utah and Omaha Beaches. The troops at Omaha Beach met fierce resistance and suffered heavy casualties. Still, by nightfall a beachhead had been established. Eventually, German troops retreated.

After D-Day, the days of the German resistance were numbered. Paris was liberated in August 1944 as the Allies pushed slowly eastward. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union was moving into German territory as well. Hitler, at the Battle of the Bulge, launched a final unsuccessful counteroffensive in December 1944. Soon the Americans, British, and Free French found themselves racing the Soviets to Berlin.

What is sit-ins in history?

Following the defeat of the Nazi regime, the full extent of the Holocaust was at last revealed. These survivors of the Ebensee concentration camp were among the 250,000 liberated by Allied troops. Approximately 12,000,000 people were killed between 1933-45.

Along the way they encountered the depths of Nazi horrors when they discovered concentration camps. American soldiers saw humans that looked more like skeletons, gas chambers, crematoriums, and countless victims. Although American government officials were aware of atrocities against Jews, the sheer horror of the Holocaust of 12 million Jews, homosexuals, and anyone else Hitler had deemed deviant was unknown to its fullest extent.

When the Allies entered Berlin, they discovered that the mastermind of all the destruction — Adolf Hitler — had already died by his own hand. With little left to sustain any sort of resistance, the Germans surrendered on May 8, 1945, hereafter known as V-E (Victory in Europe) Day.

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What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

"Rosie the Riveter" served as both a symbol of women's contributions to the war effort as well as a call to others to join.

America was the largest military power in the world — in theory.

The large population, generous natural resources, advanced infrastructure, and solid capital base were all just potential. Centralization and mobilization were necessary to jump-start this unwieldy machine. Within a week of Pearl Harbor, Congress passed the War Powers Act, granting wide authority to the President to conduct the war effort. Throughout the war hundreds more alphabet agencies were created to manage the American homefront.

First the United States needed to enlarge its armed forces. Because of the peacetime draft, the United States Armed Forces boasted over 1.5 million members. By the end of the war, that number rose to 12 million. A more expansive draft and a vigorous recruitment campaign produced these results. Prodded by Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR created women's auxiliary forces for the army (WACs), navy (WAVES), air force (WASPS), and Coast Guard (SPARS). The colossal ranks of the armed services created a huge labor shortage.

Toward this end a "Work or Fight" propaganda campaign was waged. "Rosie the Riveter" posters beckoned housewives to leave the home and enter the nation's factories. About 6.5 million females entered the workforce during the war years, many for the first time. African Americans continued the Great Migration northward, filling vacated factory jobs. Mexican Americans were courted to cross the border to assist with the harvest season in the bracero guest-worker program. Thousands of retirees went back on the job, and more and more teenagers pitched in to fill the demand for new labor.

What is sit-ins in history?

Posters like this encouraged Americans to conserve energy and resources by producing their own food.

The United States government spent over twice as much money fighting World War II as it had spent on all previous programs since its creation. Tax rates were raised to generate revenue and control inflation. Some people paid 90% of what they earned toward taxes!

Still, more money was needed so the government again launched Liberty and Victory Loan Drives like those that helped finance the First World War. In addition, the size of the federal government more than tripled from about a million workers in 1940 to almost 3.5 million in 1945.

The United States managed to raise enough food and raw materials in the First World War through voluntary measures. This time, federal officials agreed that only through rationing could the demands be met. Americans were issued books of stamps for key items such as gasoline, sugar, meat, butter, canned foods, fuel oil, shoes, and rubber. No purchase of these commodities was legal without a stamp. Victory speed limits attempted to conserve fuel by requiring Americans to drive more slowly. Rotating blackouts conserved fuel to be shipped overseas. Groups such as the Boy Scouts led scrap metal drives. Consumer goods like automobiles and refrigerators simply were not produced. Women drew lines down the backs of their legs to simulate nylon stockings when there were such shortages. Backyard gardens produced about 8 million tons of food.

What is sit-ins in history?

Crooners like Bing Crosby kept America smiling during the war with hits like "Goodbye Mama, I'm Off to Yokohama."

Additionally, the Office of War Information sponsored posters and rallies to appeal to patriotic heartstrings. Songs like Bing Crosby's "Junk Will Win the War" and "Goodbye Mama, I'm Off to Yokohama" were on the lips of many Americans. Propaganda movies shot by famed directors such as Frank Capra inspired millions.

The accomplishments of the American public were nothing short of miraculous. The navy had fewer than 5,000 vessels prior to the bombing at Pearl Harbor. By 1945, they had over 90,000. In addition, over 80,000 tanks and nearly 300,000 aircraft were produced during the war years. Millions of machine guns and rifles and billions of ammunition cartridges rolled off American production lines. New industries like synthetic rubber flourished, and old ones were rejuvenated.

At tremendous cost to the American taxpayer, the American people vanquished two evils: the Axis Powers and the Great Depression.

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What is sit-ins in history?

What is sit-ins in history?

The winter of 1942 saw Russia defending Stalingrad from German capture. These German tanks aided in the battle, which ultimately left the city in ruins.

Three days after Congress declared war on Japan, Germany responded by declaring war on the United States.

Japan had an advance pledge of support from Hitler in the event of war with the United States. Now President Roosevelt faced a two-ocean war — a true world war. Despite widespread cries for revenge against Japan, the first major decision made by the President was to concentrate on Germany first. The American Pacific Fleet would do its best to contain Japanese expansion, while emphasis was placed on confronting Hitler's troops.

What is sit-ins in history?

The vast military knowledge of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel — known as "The Desert Fox" — was not enough to keep British and American forces from driving German troops from North Africa in late 1942.

Roosevelt believed that a Nazi-dominated Europe would be far more impregnable that any defenses Japan could build in the Pacific. American scientists worried that, with enough time, German scientists might develop weapons of mass destruction. Once Hitler was defeated, the combined Allied forces would concentrate on smashing Japanese ambitions.

American military leaders favored a far more aggressive approach to attacking Germany than their British counterparts. A cross-channel invasion of France from Britain would strike at the heart of Nazi strength, but the British command was dubious. Winston Churchill feared that should such an operation fail, the loss of human life, military resources, and British morale could be fatal.

Instead, Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to implement an immediate blockade of supplies to Germany and to begin bombing German cities and munitions centers. The army would attack Hitler's troops at their weakest points first and slowly advance toward German soil. The plan was known as "closing the ring." In December 1941, Roosevelt and Churchill agreed to attack German holdings in North Africa first.

That maneuver was finally executed in October 1942. Nazi troops were occupying much of the African Mediterranean coast, which had been controlled by France prior to the war. Led by British General Bernard Montgomery, British forces struck at German and Italian troops commanded by the "Desert Fox," German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, at El Alamein in Egypt. As the British forced a German retreat, Anglo-American forces landed on the west coast of Africa on November 8 to stage a simultaneous assault. Rommel fought gamely, but numbers and positioning soon forced a German surrender. The Allies had achieved their first important joint victory.

Simultaneously, the Soviets turned the tide against Nazi advances into the Soviet Union by defeating the German forces at Stalingrad. When springtime came in 1943, the Allies had indeed begun to close the ring.

What is sit-ins in history?

The first American air attack on European enemies came in August 1942. Here, a U.S. Air Force gunner uses a machine gun to fire at German planes.

Once Northern Africa was secured, the Allies took the next step toward Germany by launching invasions of Sicily and Italy. American and British leaders believed that when the Italian people faced occupation of their homeland, they would rise up and overthrow Mussolini. Fearing that the Allies would have a free road up to the border of Austria, German forces began to entrench themselves in Italy.

Despite German presence in Italy, Mussolini was arrested and the Italians surrendered to the Allies on September 3. There was no free road to Austria, however. German forces defended the peninsula ferociously, and even when the European war ended in May 1945, the Allies had failed to capture much of Italy.