The decades of the 50’s, 60’s 70’s 80’s and 90’s had many significant events that shaped America into the nation that it is today. The events of these decades shaped the United States into the nation that it is today consist of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Watergate Scandal, Reaganomics, and the end of the Cold War. 1950’s – Cold War After World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as the two new superpowers and as archrivals.
The United States wanted to keep the Soviet Union from spreading communism by force so the United States came up with a plan of containment, which was to block the Soviet Union wherever possible to contain the spread of communism therefore beginning the Cold War. (Davidson et al. , 2005) The end of World War II was also the beginning of prosperity for the middle and upper class citizens in the United States. Additionally, it was also a time of nuclear threats and scare tactics because of the Cold War. World War II had ended and the economy was flourishing with new products such as fancy cars and television sets.
People within the United States felt safe after the war was won and started spending money, having babies and buying new homes in suburban areas away from the big cities. However, a Senator from Wisconsin by the name of Joe McCarthy “entered the public spotlight by claiming that communist had “infested” the State Department, dramatically waiving a sheet of paper which purportedly contained the traitors’ names. ” (Schultz, 1999) Joe McCarthy shattered the tranquility of a nation with his statements even though he did not have any proof and the names on the list were people who had already left the State Department.
The notion of high-ranking officials within the government having communist ties sent a tide of persecution and witch hunts throughout the United States because people were afraid that the communist were trying to take over by getting communist sympathizers in the United States government. (Davidson et al. , 2005) 1960’s – Vietnam War The Vietnam War was not only a war abroad but also a war at home since many people within the United States believed that we should not be evolved in this war, especially since it was a civil war in Vietnam.
One of the main reasons for the unrest at home was due to the draft of young men who did not want to fight for a war that they did not believe in. Many young men age 18 and over were drafted but some of the young men who could afford a higher education were able to go to college and avoid the draft but once they graduated they would be in danger of being drafted so many of the college students were protesting to end the war that they did not believe in or want to go and fight in. (The Sixties, n. d. ) As the war crept along the college students protested more and even burnt their draft cards to show their disapproval of the war.
The war at home took a bad turn on May 4, 1970 when a group of college students at Kent State started protesting. The governor ordered 750 members of the National Guard to stop the demonstrators. The National Guard troops ordered the protestors to break up and when some of the protestors refused and started throwing rocks the troops fired into the crowed killing four students and injuring nine other students. (Davidson et al. , 2005) According to Wells, (1999), “The American movement against the Vietnam War was the most successful antiwar movement in U. S. history. (12) The anti-war movement helped accelerate the American troop withdrawals and seemed to cause the weakening of the soldier’s spirits and order among the soldiers in Vietnam since towards the end the soldiers were resisting their leaders in the fields. The Vietnam War was suppose to be a war that the United States won but instead the Vietnam War ended up being a war that people protested, lost their faith in the government and in the end did not win but pulled out of. 1970’s – The Watergate Scandal The Watergate Scandal of the 70’s was a big blow to the people in the United States and their faith in the government.
The Watergate Scandal began on June 1972 “when burglars entered the Democratic National Committee headquarters, located in Washington’s plush Watergate apartment complex. ” (Davidson et al. , 2005 p. 925) The burglars consisted of five people wearing suits and ties and had bugging devises. According to The History Place, (2000) “Investigations soon revealed the Watergate burglars were employed by the Committee to Re-elect President Nixon. However, a White House spokesman dismissed the incident as a “third-rate burglary attempt. (5) President Nixon informed the public that no one in the White House had been involved in the break-in but the truth soon came out when one of the burglars cracked under pressure and admitted that there were other officials within the government involved. The senate hearings of 1973 ended up taking the scandal higher into the White House, and eventually directly to the President of the United States. Soon after the President Nixon was accused of being part of the scandal, it came to light that the President recorded all phone calls and conversations.
The President blocked the tapes going public at every turn including firing the special prosecutor that had subpoenaed the tapes. Once the tapes were out President Nixon had no other choice but to resign or be the first President to be convicted of an impeachment trial. Nixon did not pay the ultimate price for abusing his power since he did not have to serve any time in jail unlike the people who worked under him. The American people lost their faith in the government and no longer trusted the government due to the abuse of power by one President. Davidson et al. , 2005) 1980’s – Reaganomics The 1980’s was a time of prosperity for the middle class and big businesses due to Reaganomics. An actor by the name of Ronald Reagan was elected as president of the United States in 1980. the election of Ronald Reagan was the beginning of prosperity for the United States. According to Niskanen, (1988) “Reaganomics was the most serious attempt to change the course of US economic policy of any administration since the New Deal” (1). President Reagan wanted to return to a smaller government with less spending.
In addition to a smaller government Reagan wanted to cut taxes so the economy could flourish because he believed in the trickle down effect, where big businesses would put the money they saved on taxes back into their companies, thus creating more jobs and more jobs would create more spending and boost the economy. The Presidents theory of the trickle down effect worked although it was one sided because the poor became poorer and ended up with jobs that were low-paying dead end jobs while the rich became richer with the middle and upper class to get jobs that were high-paying and had room for advancements.
Even thought the economy was booming “The poverty level rose from 11. 7 percent in 1980 to 15 percent by 1982. ” (Davidson et al. , 2005 p. 951) President Reagan cut spending on many policies for the poor like food stamps, school lunches and housing assistance, to name a few. These cuts truly hurt the poor people and many did without more under this new government even though there were more jobs. Reaganomics was not only about making the government smaller and lowering taxes but also about building the United States military.
Reagan wanted to build the military to the United States would have a military that could go anywhere at anytime without hesitation. President Reagan helped the economy and made the military stronger but President Reagan also hurt the poor with his spending cuts. Even though President Reagan’s policies were one sided and hurt the poor he did help the United States to become a stronger nation with a stronger military. (Davidson et al. , 2005) 1990’s – The End of the Cold War The Cold War began after World War II and lasted until the Soviet Unions collapse in the 90’s.
Throughout the years of the Cold War the United States and the Soviet Union spent trillions of dollars trying to out do each other with space exploration, better nuclear weapons, military expansion and fighting wars with smaller nations to either spread communism or to contain the spread of communism. The trillions of dollars that the Soviet Union spent to out do the United States was believed to have caused the economic problems in the Soviet Union. (Nebraska studies, 1999) Mikhail Gorbachev made the end of the Cold War possible because he saw the need for change in order for the weekend economy of the Soviet Union to survive.
Gorbachev opened talks with the United States and was honest about the problems within the Soviet Union. “In December 1987 Reagan traveled to Moscow to sign the Intermediate Nuclear Force treaty, which eliminated an entire class of intermediate-range nuclear missiles. ” (Davidson et al. , 2005 p. 956) The reform polices of Mikhail Gorbachev did help the people of the Soviet Union but the reform polices also led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Conclusion The decades of the 50’s, 60’s 70’s 80’s and 90’s had many significant events that shaped America into the nation that it is today.
The 50’s was the beginning of the Cold War while the 90’s saw the end of the cold war. The United States today is in terrible need of change and without change, I believe that we will end up being just like the Soviet Union with the collapse of our exceptional nation. The United States and the world, is fighting a war against terror that has no home to invade and who hides from the brunt force of the nations. The future now is hard to predict for the United States since we are fighting an enemy that has no home and cannot be found.
My prediction for our future though is for an economic regain and eventual stability for the future of our children. History has shown that the United States has prevailed through some of the roughest times but keeps on fighting the good fight no matter what the struggles have been and somehow ends out on top. I believe we will go through rough times throughout the future but if we want to keep freedom alive then we must fight for it. References: Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle & Stoff. (2005). Nation of Nations. Cold War America Chapter 27.
Retrieved August 24, 2008, from University of Phoenix, Week One, HIS135 Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle & Stoff. (2005). Nation of Nations. The Vietnam Era Chapter 30. Retrieved September 21, 2008, from University of Phoenix, Week Five, HIS135 Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle & Stoff. (2005). Nation of Nations. The Age Limits Chapter 31. Retrieved August 28, 2008, from University of Phoenix, Week Six, HIS135 Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle & Stoff. (2005). Nation of Nations. The Conservative Challenge Chapter 32.
Retrieved August 28, 2008, from University of Phoenix, Week Six, HIS135 Nebraska Studies, (1999) The End of The Cold War. Retrieved October 26, 2008, from http://www. nebraskastudies. org/1000/frameset_reset. html? http://www. nebraskastudies. org/1000/stories/1001_0140. html Niskanen, W. A. , (1988). Reaganomics. The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. Retrieved October 26, 2008, from http://www. econlib. org/library/Enc1/Reaganomics. html Schultz, Stanley K. (1999). American History 102 – Civil War to Present.
McCarthy, Joseph. Retrieved October 23, 2008, from http://us. history. wisc. edu/hist102/bios/31. html The History place (2000) Presidential Impeachment Proceedings Retrieved October 25, 2008, from http://www. historyplace. com/unitedstates/impeachments/nixon. htm The Sixties. (n. d. ). Anti-War Movement in the United States. Retrieved September 27, 2008, from http://www. english. uiuc. edu/maps/vietnam/antiwar. html Wells, T. , (1999). The Anti-War Movement in the United States. Retrieved September 27, 2008, from http://www. english. uiuc. edu/maps/vietnam/antiwar. html