Jimmy Carter

“When during the 1976 presidential campaign Jimmy Carter spoke openly about having found Christ, it jarred a country used to more private devotion from their political leaders, with a sizable number of people unfamiliar with the idea of being “born again.” By the end of the decade , such declarations had come to seem normal, a cultural revolution, particularly outside the South, where such public professions of piety had been more common.”

Jimmy Carter was an illustration of the combination of growing individualistic ideas along with evangelistic faith. This individualism, impressed upon by the times, in addition to the sense of community that came along with born again faith resulted in “public professions of piety.” Importance in being heard was now part of being an American; it became part of the focus on self. This importance gave people the ability, or rather the justification in making known what was once private.

Debilitation of the Northeast

” A train trip in the mid -1970’s from New York to Washington would have a given a sense of their decay.”


In this quote Freeman was trying to give us a sense of how much theses cities decline, and it can be notice by traveling through these cities on  train. A lot of residents left New York between 1970 and 1980. The unemployment rate jump up to 12% and the crime rate increased because of the lack of jobs. 10 percent of New York population left due to the recession that took place during the 1970’s. Many whites migrated from the city to the surburb.  In Newark, NJ after World War 2 a lot of middle calss residents moved to the surburbs. For a city that was once known as a thriving indusrtial city, it was now known for having one abandoned factory after another. After the war Trenton, New Jersey began to decline too. Many of the forefront companies began to relocate, reduce their operations, or just shut down in all. Philadelphia suburbs flourished but the city suffered from the decline of manufacturing. Freeman is also giving you a sense of how the railroad system declined too.

Tom Wolfe

“Many observers, at the time and later, contrasted the period unfavorably with what they portrayed as a more collective and idealistic era tat proceeded it. Most famously, in the mid-1970s writer Tom Wolfe, in a self-fulfilling prophecy, declared that “the 1970’s ……. will come to be known as the Me Decade.” p. 312

Tom Wolfe was important because “he connected the narcissism of the 1970s with the enormous boost in national wealth that occurred during the thirty years after World War II. The once exclusive ability of the rich to engage in ongoing scrutiny and reinvention of the self spread through the society during the golden age of capitalism. Millions of Americans could now afford the money and time for spiritual retreats, encounter sessions, and therapy of all kinds. Economic growth had allowed the common man and woman to do “something only aristocrats (and intellectuals and artists) were supposed to do- they discovered and started doting on Me!””

He very neatly and eloquently identified a great problem within the culture. Shifting from golden age times to the harsher times of the 1970s would require a mind-state change which obviously did not occur.

Garry Marshall

Garry Marshall, producer of Happy Days and  Laverne and Shirley

“Garry Marshall said he wanted to be the ‘Normal Rockwell’ of television.”

pg 311

Garry Marshall’s wish to be the Normal Rockwell of television provides perfect evidence for Freeman’s argument about the rising nostalgia in the 70s and 80s. Seeking to comfort people with a Leave it to Beaver attitude, Films, Music, Television, and other forms of entertainment were often drenched in imaginary idealized visions of the 50’s. Uncertain about their current state and worried about the future, many Americans looked to the culture of the 50’s to feel safe. Nostalgia informed the ideas of many people who felt the country had lost its way in the past 20 years. This sentiment is possibly a large contributing factor to the success and semi-religious worship of Ronald Reagan in the 80s.

American Empire— Chapter 12

(1) John Portman, Atlanta Architect 1960s

(2) ” As it nationalized, southern culture retained a rural-or faux rural-tinge, but the urban South proved influential too. Nothing better embodied this than the buildings of Atlanta architect John Portman.” (pg. 309)

(3) John Portman was responsible for the architectural revival of downtown Atlanta during the 1960s. Similar to what Freeman was establishing in this chapter, the United States was going through a revival in many areas in terms of architecture during this time. Portman helped build the Atlanta Merchandise Mart, Peachtree Center, and even a twenty two story hotel with an atrium in downtown Atlanta as can be seen in the text. He would later build a seventy-three story Peachtree Plaza Hotel, with many upgrades including elevators and restaurants. His atrium hotel would globalize throughout the world throughout the century. He was successful in building throughout the United States and even in countries such as China. This just proved to show that the 1960s was a time of rapid modernization as can be seen in this chapter.

David Shmidt

Amtrak — The Railroad of Decline

1) Amtrak

2) Page 304 — American Empire : “The number in Philadelphia on public assistance jumped from roughly 200,000 in 1970 to nearly 340,000 in 1980. North Philadelphia so decayed that eventually Amtrak all but stopped using the stations there.

3) Freeman’s argument about the era is that it is on a slow decline and the landscape in general is changing. Everyone from the Northeast is moving south and west. The population is decreasing in major states like New York, New Jersey, and like the quote mentioned, Pennsylvania. I chose Amtrak as a significant representation of the state of the situation because the creation of Amtrak is like showing the direction the people are heading towards. Every time a new station is built, the city is starting to lose population, increase in inflation, and unemployment rate will increase.

The “Third Great Awakening”

(1)  During the 1970s the American public was disillusioned with government, and as the activism of the 60s began to decline and fade away as a unified movement  Americans began to search for their own individual answers and prosperity.

(2) “Finding that larger society could not fulfill sometimes inflated expectations of happiness… many Americans experimented in seeking it on their own…” Freeman p.314

(3)   As the 70s progressed the nation faced a serious time of economic decline for its major cities as industrialization continued to migrate South and South West. Cities in the Northeast were rapidly declining into wastelands as less revenue flowed in from industry, becoming hollow shells of what they once were. Unlike in the sixties Americans were no longer rallying together to fight the injustices that still plagued the nation. In a sense there was for a long period of time that social stagnation pervaded the American public. The economic pressures most likely made some Americans more bitter at fighting for causes as a mass movement as situations improved for some and declined for others. I think that Freeman most likely included this “great awakening” of the “me” generation because it shows where American interests now lay post-Vietnam. There was no longer  a sense of working together to achieve a goal but one of survival and personal success. This wave would influence life for Americans across the nation.

Migration and Downfall of American Spirit

“No hope could be found in the web of emotions that left the singer unable to stay and unable to leave, not wanting to cry but ‘crying anyway ’cause you’re all broke down.'” -page 310


This line really represents the spirit of Americans during the 1970’s. Industrial jobs were moving from eastern regions to the south and the western regions. People either had to move with the jobs or find a new field of work. This lead to an increase in unemployment in the eastern regions as well as high unemployment in the cities. With the high unemployment in the cities came high levels of drug use and crime which lead some of the middle class to move out to the more peaceful suburbs. When the middle class moves out of cities and the poor class losing their blue collar jobs, many cities in the eastern regions such as New York City faced financial crisis due to the loss of industries and tax income. Causing the cities to crumble under the financial crisis brought on by the loss of tax revenue. With the downfall of the eastern region, there was a movement of wealth and people into the south and Midwest which lead to an increase in the political power of those regions with an increase in population. Americans felt like their world was falling apart due to of high unemployment, increased inflation, the feeling of losing the cold war, and deregulation of its media. Film industry used to be heavily censured, but when the monopoly of the film industry broke, so did the censorship of the whole industry.  Without censorship, movies “capture(d) the downbeat sensibility of the 1970s. (Freeman, 310)” With the increase of the television, the images of violence from the war across the ocean could be brought to the homes of millions of Americans every evening. American spirit was at an all time low as they lost hope in their own country and the politicians who were running the country.

The Church of Scientology

“Anti-rational thinking seemed to be on the rise, perhaps a rational response to a moment when technocratic rationality has seemingly brought social failure on both the national and international fronts”  Pg. 314


Freeman notes on the  trend of the rise of nontraditional religions during the 1970’s in America, saying that its rise was an direct reaction to the dystopian like culture that had swept the nation during that time. The Church of Scientology offered an alternative belief system to  the classic Protestant ideology that was once so commonplace among the American public. The hard truth of the matter is that people had become desperate and destitute. They had look at the world around them, compared it the lifestyle they knew during the 1950’s, and were shocked by the decline in their nation. When the saw one system fail, many felt that they had no choice but find another. One of the mantra’s for Scientology is  “A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights, are the aims of Scientology.”

The Urbanization and Economic Growth of Southern States

” In 1980, two-thirds of southerners lived in an urban or suburban area, compared to half in the 1950. Unlike in the Northeast and Midwest, Sun Belt cities continued to grow or at least hold their own as their suburbs swelled”(pg.307).

In the 1970’s , average  income, adjusted for inflation, fell in the North but continued to grow in the South.  This change reflected the massive exodus of poor southern to the North and growth in productive capacity and wealth. Unlike the North, cities in the south  continue to grow ,doubling in thirty years . The region attracted  and generated jobs in low-wage ,labor-intensive industries, like textiles,simple garment manufacturing,food processing, and furniture making, due to companies taking advantage of low taxes, no unions, and pro-business environment promoted by the government agencies. The region also had a growth in defense and aerospace industries. Southern states benefited from the high oil prices, helping developed cities like Houston in leader in medical,legal,electronic, and aerospace center.