HIS 1005: Modern American History Final Exam Study Guide (exam is May 23, 2011)


Section I – Identifications

All identifications on the exam will be drawn from the list below. For each term, in 2-3 sentences identify the historical importance of the person, place, or event. Include at least mention of when and where he/she/it took place.


1) Iwo Jima – Iwo Jima refers to the Battle of Iwo Jima. In this battle the United States captured the island of Iwo Jima from Japan. It was part of the Pacific Campaign during WWII and took place in 1945.


2) NATO – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a military alliance that combined for mutual defense. It is still around today, but was created in 1949. It began with 10 countries, among them the United States. NATO was created because the Berlin blockade provided evidence that in order to stop the Soviets an alliance was needed.


3) Arms Race – The Arms Race describes a competition between two or more parties for the best armed forces. Each party competes to produce larger numbers of weapons, greater armies, or superior military technology in a technological escalation. A nuclear arms race developed during the Cold War between America and the Soviet Union. On both sides, perceived advantages of the adversary led to large spending on armaments and the stockpiling of vast nuclear arsenals. This took place during the 1940’s even up until the 1990’s.


4) Containment – Containment was a United States policy using military, economic, and diplomatic strategies to stall the spread of communism, enhance America’s security and influence abroad, and prevent a “domino effect”. A component of the Cold War, this policy was a response to a series of moves by the Soviet Union to expand communist influence in Eastern Europe, China, Korea, and Vietnam. This policy was created in 1946.


5) Marshall Plan – The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to Europe where the United States sent them monetary support to help rebuild European economies in order to combat the spread of communism. The goals of the United States were to rebuild a war-devastated region, remove trade barriers, modernize industry, and make Europe prosperous again. This plan was created in 1948.


6) Age of Affluence – The Age of Affluence was a nickname to the 1950’s in America. It was named so because of the prosperity from the wartime economy, the rise of suburbia, mass consumerism, the TV, credit cards, and the expansion of the car industry. Advertising was also a major contribution to this age.


7) McCarthyism – McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by heightened fears of communist influence on American institutions and espionage by Soviet agents. Originally coined to criticize the anti-communist pursuits of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, “McCarthyism” soon took on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts.


8) Domino theory – The domino theory was a theory during the 1950s to 1980s, promoted at times by the government of the United States, which speculated that if one state in a region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow in a domino effect. The domino theory was used by successive United States administrations during the Cold War to clarify the need for American intervention around the world.


9) Rosa Parks – Rosa Parks was an African-American civil rights activist, whom the U.S. Congress called “the first lady of civil rights”, and “the mother of the freedom movement.” On December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks, refused to obey bus driver’s order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. While her action was not the first of its kind to impact the civil rights issue, Parks’ individual action of civil disobedience created further impact by sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott.


10) Little Rock Nine – The Little Rock Nine were a group of African-American students who were enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The ensuing Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by the Arkansas governor, and then attended after the intervention of President Eisenhower, is considered to be one of the most important events in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. On their first day of school, troops from the Arkansas National Guard would not let them enter the school and they were followed by mobs making threats to lynch them.


11) Greensboro Sit-in – The Greensboro sit-ins were a series of nonviolent protests which led to the Woolworth’s department store chain reversing its policy of racial segregation in the Southern United States. They occurred in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1960. A group of black students began sitting in on the store’s lunch counter, and as many more students joined the movement, the store changed its policy.


12) Silent majority – The silent majority is an unspecified large majority of people in a country or group who do not express their opinions publicly. President Richard Nixon popularized the term in a 1969 speech. He appealed to the American people, calling on the “great silent majority” for their support as he worked for “peace with honor” in Vietnam.


13) Gulf of Tonkin incident – The Gulf of Tonkin Incident is the name given to two incidents, one disputed, involving North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964. The outcome of these two incidents was the passage by Congress of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by “communist aggression,” and served as Johnson’s legal justification for opening warfare against North Vietnam.


14) Tet Offensive – The Tet Offensive was a military campaign during the Vietnam War that began in 1968. Regular and irregular forces of the North Vietnamese Army fought against the forces of South Vietnam, the United States, and their allies. The purpose of the offensive was to spark a general uprising among the population that would then topple the Saigon government, thus ending the war in a single blow.


15) Watergate – The Watergate scandal was a political scandal during the 1970s in the United States resulting from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. Effects of the scandal eventually led to the resignation of the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, on August 9, 1974, the first and only resignation of any U.S. President. It also resulted in the indictment, trial, conviction and incarceration of several Nixon administration officials.


16) Jimmy Carter – Jimmy Carter served as the 39th President of the United States (1977–1981). As president, Carter created two new cabinet-level departments: the Department of Energy and the Department of Education. In foreign affairs, Carter pursued the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaties, the second round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II), and returned the Panama Canal Zone to Panama.


17) Ronald Reagan – Ronald Reagan was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989). As president, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives such as his supply-side economic policies, dubbed “Reaganomics.” His second term was primarily marked by foreign matters, such as the ending of the Cold War, the 1986 bombing of Libya, and the revelation of the Iran-Contra affair.


18) Berlin Wall – It was a wall to separate East Berlin from West Berlin, erected in 1961 and dismantled in 1989. It was the embodiment of what Churchill called The Iron Curtain, separating the Free Western sector of Berlin from the Communist sector. In 1948 the Soviets cut all road and rail links from West Berlin and all supplies had to be flown in around the clock for more than a year.


19) September 11 – The September 11 attacks were a series of coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States on September 11, 2001. The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and many others working in the buildings. The hijackers crashed a third airliner into The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville in rural Pennsylvania after some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington, D.C., to target either the Capitol Building or the White House. There were no survivors from any of the flights.