Happy Go Spending World


One of the most important elements of the economic growth in the beginning of the golden age sets back to the rise of residential construction and the spending on consumer goods.  The erupt demand for housing, television sets, home appliances and cars, transpired from a population shift from the cities to the suburbs. As Foner has stated, “By 1960, suburban residents of single-family homes outnumbered urban dwellers and those living in rural areas.”

The film above illustrates the cultural differences from urban and suburban residents; alluding the viewer a cherry image of suburban life with its color motion, where as, depicting the urban life with black and white motion. It also portrays the consumer culture of the time, targeting young adults that derives for the demand of a new kind of marketing. Like the film stated, it was a “happy go spending world.” Shopping malls were created in their image, building in fountains, statues, restaurants and free standing stairways. The stores also included many banks, loan offices and rental plans.


I’m late- but dinner won’t be!

With the rise of television, Americans changed their eating habits from home cooked meals to convenient TV Dinners. In 1954, Swanson introduced TV dinners that were packaged to mirrored the look of a television set, selling over 25 million dinners within their first year. As the ad suggests, it is an “oven-quick meal that taste home cooked.”  The convenience of these TV dinners attracted many Americans, creating a societal norm where Americans leisurely heat up the TV dinners and eat it while watching  TV. This common behavior became a cultural experience that all Americans across the states can share.

Below is a Swanson TV commercial:


A Ford For Everyone

During the 1950s, “the standard consumer package” [Foner 878] consisted of a home, television set and a car. The new Ford automobile opened up a new way to enjoy the many freedoms that life had to offer. The Ford symbolized a individual’s freedom and private choice that allowed him or her to travel where ever they please. With the later development of interstate highways, car owners were able to travel long distances for vacations. By the 1960s roughly 80 percent of american families owned a car and 14 percent owned two or more. This soon meant people would be able to commute to and from work everyday, regardless of the distance between them. Songs and advertisements constantly reminded car owners of the many ways to enjoy freedom with the purchase of a car.

This brought about a huge change in the car manufacturing and oil industry. The increasing demand for cars gave jobs to tens of thousands of factory workers and both the oil and auto manufacturing companies boomed. Profits soared as each year brought about a new and more advanced car that would easily go out of style that same year. The video above is just one of the many advertisements that advocated the advancement of the new Ford model car and used the theme of freedom to sell in the consumer market.


Working Women

During World War II most of the men in America went to fight for their country leaving the women behind at home. Women didn’t just stay at home tending to their children they went out working industrial jobs. Women started to work in factories or taking over work on the farm. Since women started to work the famous “Rosie the Riveter” was the symbol for the most common job for women at the time.

After World War II things changed again for women. Most women had lost their jobs in the factories but they still continued to work. The level of employment for women had increased since World War II, working part-time to help support their family. Eric Foner book says “Despite the increasing number of wage earning women, the suburban family’s breadwinner was assumed to be male, while the wife remained at home.” Even though women try hard to work films, Tv shows, and advertisement portrayed that marriage life is the dream for every women.


Extra Credit

A few people have asked recently about the extra credit assignment that you have an opportunity to complete anytime until the time of your final exam.  It is worth between 1 and 4 points on your final grade depending on the quality and depth of your report.  It is represented in the lecture slides, but very buried and not findable via a search of the site.  So, I thought I would bring it to the surface.  Here is the assignment:


1) visit a site that relates to NYC sometime during this semester (provide ticket stub or some other evidence of visit)
2) Write a 1-4 page essay connecting what you learned at the site to topics and materials covered in this course

Some recommended sites:
–Lower East Side Tenement Museum
–African Burial Ground
–Ellis Island
–Museum of the City of New York
–New-York Historical Society


Civil Rights During the Truman Era

During Truman’s presidency, he focused much of his attention on the civil rights movement in America. While this seems like a good thing, the timing was wrong. Truman’s attempts at enacting civil rights legislation did not receive much popular positive public response. This was a time during the anti-communist movement during the Cold War. Some of Truman’s civil rights movements included something called “To Secure These Rights” which was a document that called on the federal government to assume the responsibility for abolishing segregation and ensuring equal treatment in housing, employment, education, and the criminal justice system.

I think that American society would have eventually come to enact some of this legislation because eventually people would come to realize that they are not being treated fairly and begin to fight for that right. Such legislation is definitely important to me because as an Asian-American in society, which some may consider a minority. Despite the efforts put in by Truman and other presidents to provide equal rights for all minorities there are still some setbacks today that many have to face. It seems that the civil rights movement is a fight that will never end.


I Pledge Allegiance to Anti-Communism

In the midst of the Cold War, many programs were enacted to ensure American patriotism. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was established to conduct hearings  about the presence of communism in Hollywood motion pictures. In these hearings, actors, directors, and screenwriters were summoned for questioning by the committee. Of the witnesses, 10, known as the Hollywood Ten, declined to answer questions concerning their political allegiances or disclose names of those who were communist. The Hollywood Ten believed their 1st Amendment rights were infringed. As a result, the committee charged them with contempt of Congress and were sentenced to 6 months to a year in prison. Besides the Hollywood Ten, more than 200 other people were also charged with communist sympathies or the refusal to name names.

Had the HUAC never been formed during the Cold War, history might have run a different course. The aim of the HUAC was to contain and control the spread of communism beliefs and values in the movie industry. In reality, the HUAC did not find substantial evidence of individuals who hold communist sympathies. However, if the HUAC was not there to screen the individuals, those who were communist could have used the opporutnity to promote communist ideas. If those individual succeed, communism could have seeped into the minds of ordinary Americans.


What do you think?


The Red Menace was one of many anticommunist movies and media that America produced during the Cold War. These movies acted as a propaganda that criticized communism and brought a negative view of it. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, a policy called “militant liberty” was used in movie productions that inserted a theme of freedom. Militant liberty shaped many viewers’ opinions of communism and instilled a Pro-American view of the nation. This was used frequently in films during 1940s to 1950 proposing anti-Nazi and anti- communist opinions to viewers.
I am sure America would be very different today if this policy had not existed. By producing many anti-communism films, the opinion of Americans towards communism had undoubtedly become negative. If this had not happened, Americans probably would have had polarized views of communism. This would definitely hurt the nation’s unity and give communism a fight chance at changing our country today.


Korean War

During the Korean War it was a battle between South Korean and North Korea. The North wanted to take over all of Korea and change it into a communist country. Of course America would not let this go and intervened preventing North Korea to advance any further by launching a  counterattack at Inchon. This pushed the North Koreans back to the border between the North and South of Korea.
I think that if America never intervene during the Korean War the world today would be very different. Communism would have spread through all of Korea turning it into a communist country. I think that it would have caused a Domino Effect causing other counties turning communist. The way this would impact my life is that I would be in great fear. I would be afraid that communism would spread world wide and eventually hit America.


The paranoid curtain pullers

Had Churchill not declared that an “iron curtain” should be descended so as to separate the Soviet Union and it’s sphere of influence from the West many things may have turned out differently. This idea of the Iron Curtain threw the world into a state of paranoia that inevitably led to the Cold War. Furthermore, it greatly hindered the development and reconstruction of the Soviet Union by barring them from any significant trade partners leaving the Soviet Union effectively in a dark corner of the world. It would be very easy to go on and on about the possible outcomes, had the fright of Soviet Union’s strength and influence been nonexistent, but fear is a very strong player in political control and effectively led to the demise of the Soviet Union, whose struggle is still evident today.


Containing Communism

The Marshall Plan was ratified in 1947 to help rebuild Europe after WWII. This Act was also meant to prevent communism from spreading and gaining control in war torn countries. The Marshall Plan had a huge effect on Europe in which it assisted in Europe’s economic growth and recovery. This soon led to trade relations with the U.S.  If U.S had not put the Marshall Plan into effect, it may have caused a delay in Europe’s economic recovery. Another effect may be that Communism would not be contained and it might have spread and taken control over war torn countries.


The Atmosphere of Fear

The fear of communism was the driving force behind all of the social crisis during the Cold War. Citizens were constantly in fear of each others, the governmental inspection, and the invisible enemies. Whether spies actually existed or not, the common Americans were suspecting others for holding unpopular, though often harmless, ideologies or fearing their neighbors for falsely reporting them as communists. The fear of communism had caused the jailing of many screen writers, school teachers, and many other innocent citizens; the fear also powered many unnecessary spy trails and unfair jail sentences.

Perhaps if the atmosphere of fear did not exist during the cold war. The cold war could have been limited to the foreign policies instead of extending to the paranoia in the nation. If the irrational fear was not prevalent, the civil rights movements, such as NAACP, would not be as restrained; W.E.B. Du Bois, a civil rights warrior, and Paul Robeson, a prominent black actor, wouldn’t been unreasonably charged in court. Moreover, if the fear had not been so influential, the labor unions would not have been restrained by Truman’s doctrines. In many ways, the unnecessary strong fear of communism has restricted America to advance as a nation with more equality and freedom.

The influence of the atmosphere of fear is still noticeable today. For instance, although the word communism is not heavily criticized today, it nevertheless has a negative connotation. Americans are not very comfortable with communism even today. We can see that by observing the students in elementary school to high school. There are often several immature children who would unreasonably call Chinese or Russian immigrants communists as a form of mockery. The immature actions of such students can be credited to the biased American history textbooks, which often emphasize the chaotic and unpleasant communistic revolutions and de-emphasize the unjust actions of the United States.


The ending of prohibition

On March 22 1933, FDR ended one of the most controversial issues of the 1920’s, “prohibition.”  He ratified the 21st amendment to allow prohibition.  This was a muh needed amendment that gave people suffering the depression jobs, as well as bringing revenue into the cities.  The abolishion of prohibition gave Roosevelt a good name and helped him earn support from cities that supported the abolishion of prohibition.  The political cartoon above depicts a man who just opened a bar in 1933 shortly after alcohol was legalized.  Legalizing the sale of alcohol was clearly not a mistake as it has been nearly 80 years since the legalization and we rarely see protestors.  The repealing of prohibiton was one of the first efforts and a giant step to ending the depression.


FDR to the rescue.

The country was facing an economic depression and they needed to be saved from the failed national policies attempted during the Hoover administration. As if things could not get worse, three weeks into taking office, the country was hit with a banking crisis. People raced to the banks to withdraw money and slowly banks were running out of money! A national bank holiday was declared and all banks were closed to be examined. Only the financially sound banks were given money by the government to reopen.

In order to aid citizens in this time of distress, FDR implemented the New Deal. This created jobs for people building city/state infrastructure. Soon the country would get back on its two feet. In addition, a new program called Social Security helped people in old age. This program yielded benefits after retirement. Last but not least, who can forget the discomfort many Americans experienced under prohibition. Soon after taking office FDR made a beer with a low concentration of alcohol accessible and legal.


360 Degrees of Power

(Carlisle in the Atlanta Constitution)

The Artist was saying by the next voting session all of congress would be ran by the democrats. The artist wanted to illuminate that because of Republicans standing in the way of the New Deal they will all be voted out by the public.  The artist depicted this by showing the “Republican Obstruction” being kicked out the way my by the public in order to make way for “Roosevelt Reorganizational Power” as the Democratic Congress ushers the bulldozer along the way. The Bulldozer is on a path to pave the government cost rearing out of control.  This cartoon was drawn at the time of a huge expansion of the role of the Government.


Assignment due 3/21

Post an image of a political cartoon published between 1932 and 1941 on topic of the New Deal, which has not yet been posted to the blog. Include a caption that indicates the publicaton date and source of the cartoon as far as you can determine.  Write 1-2 paragraphs discussing the political argument behind the cartoon.  What do you think the artist was thinking?  What message was he/she trying to communicate?  What historical events were going on at the time the cartoon was published that explain the meaning of the cartoon (be as specific as possible).


Assignment due 3/16

A reminder that class will be held Wednesday, March 16.

The following assignment is due by class time on Wednesday:

Reading: Foner, Chapter 21.

Written: Write 2-3 comments in response to this post.  Each comment should be at least 2-3 sentences long.  At least one comment should discuss the cause of the Great Depression.  At least one additional comment should discuss the experiences of those living in America during the Great Depression.  I encourage you to build off of the comments already left by your classmates.  You can agree, disagree, or clarify their points.  Every comment should include at least one specific example (of a specific person, place, or event) from the reading that has not yet been mentioned in the conversation.