The 1950s were a decade of post-world war ii economic prosperity, the start of the cold war, and the rise of the civil rights movement in the United States. “The former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1945 even said that the United States stands at the summit of the world”. For most Americans, the 1960s were the beginning of the golden age.
The United States is the most powerful military in the world. Its economy is booming, and the boom is producing more new cars, suburban homes, and other consumer goods than ever before. That golden age, however, never came to true in the 1960s but carried many great conflicts and the whole nation seemed to fall apart. In this essay, many phenomenons will be illustrated to depict a rough picture of 1950 to 1960s of the United States.
After world war ii, the population pattern of the United States underwent a huge shift, with large numbers of people moving from the central cities to the suburbs. As large numbers of southern blacks moved north to the big cities, whites decided to move to the suburbs in the 1950s because they thought it was safer to raise their family there. Compared with the rising crime rate and dirty urban environment, the suburb became a safe and comfortable place to live and this huge migration came to be known as the “white flight”.
It was not until 1953 that advertising and consumerism began to rise in the United States. Items such as clothing, refrigerators, automobiles, and household appliances that were not available or in short supply during the second world war are again in plentiful supply. Pent-up demand for consumer goods has driven steady growth in manufacturing. Moreover, “ the rise of the great mass into a new moneyed middle class”, and since they shared identical culture that time, “ they buy the same things—the same staples, the same appliances, the same cars, the same furniture, and much the same recreation”. The American market underwent a huge transformation at that time.
Although the 1950s were full of prosperity, they were also full of controversy and discontent. American citizens’ emotions were flooded by the fear of Communism and just at the same time, the post-cold war paranoia about The United States government spying and infiltration has taken these allegations to another level. Citizens were affected and Stand firmly against communism.
As the painting “senator McCarthy extinguishes the torch of freedom” suggests, McCarthyism obscures freedom of speech. Joseph McCarthy, for about five years, accused numerous Americans of being communists and ruining many lives. Many have lost their jobs, gone to jail, or been shunned by the public. Senator McCarthy has presided over countless speeches, investigations, and hearings. Perhaps the most important factor affecting homogeneity in the 1950s was the development of television and its emergence as a viable advertising medium.
By the 1950s, regular real-time network services reached the west coast via microwave transmitters, establishing national coverage. In the 1950s, television became affordable for the average family. “Elvis Presley”, the new sound swept the nation and carried popular trend to Americans, shaped people’s lifestyle with consensus and conformity.
The United States in the 1960s was different from the 1950s in many ways. In the 1960s, fears of the cold war faded as attention focused on social and cultural insurgencies at home. The United States was also involved in a long and hesitant war in Vietnam. In the 1960s, the Vietnam war was a bone of contention in the American mind. The country was deeply divided by the war. Although “President Lyndon Johnson made speeches before the public frequently, trying to put America in a justice place”.
However, an increasing number of Americans thought the military should leave from Vietnam. The peaceful protests grew in size, drawing activists from the civil rights movement and other political groups. Some refuse to serve, fleeing to Canada and other safe ports to escape. Returning from Vietnam, soldiers found the country in crisis and their comrades actively protested against the war.
In the 1960s, profound cultural changes changed the role of women in American society. A growing number of women are joining the paid workforce, adding to women’s dissatisfaction with the wide gender gap in pay, promotions, and sexual harassment in the workplace. “Women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States”. One of the most crucial changes is women have absolute freedom on their private life. By the late 1960s, after the federal government approved the pill in 1960, women of childbearing age were using contraception. This has saved many women from unwanted pregnancies and given them more choice and freedom in their personal lives.
In the end, the time between the 1950s to 1960s in the United States was a turbulent and exciting time. World war ii is over, but there is a new and different war – the cold war, which was also the war of ideologies, communists vs capitalists. The booming economy after war carried lots of changes in the society including immigration, new entertainments, and awareness of individual rights. Rapid changes brought benefits to its society at the same time caused chaos and turbulence. Americans were more understand themselves and the nation. At last, two decades transformed society and led the United States to freedom.
- History.com Editors. “The 1950s.”History.com, A&E Television Networks, 17 June 2010, www.history.com/topics/cold-war/1950s.