The late 1940s and 1950s

The late 1940s and 1950s

The Late 1940s

  • Post WWII era in the US known as the post-war economic boom or “Golden Age of Capitalism”, characterised by a rapid economic growth.
  • Truman Doctrine (1947) announced to provide military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey in order to prevent them from falling under the Soviet sphere. This policy of containment marked the start of the Cold War.
  • Marshall Plan (1948) launched to provide economic aid to Western Europe, to rebuild war-damaged infrastructures and economies and prevent communist influence.
  • NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) was established in 1949 as a collective defence among the western allied nations against Soviet aggression.

    Early 1950s

  • Red Scare picks up momentum in 1950s, largely driven by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee, with accusations of widespread communist infiltration in US government, academia and the arts.
  • Korean War (1950-1953) seen as a part of the Cold War and US’s global effort to prevent the spread of communism.
  • Election of President Dwight Eisenhower (1953), who adopts a policy of ‘brinkmanship’, taking the world to the brink of war to force the opponent to back down.

Lifestyle and Society in the 1950s

  • Birth of the ‘American Dream’, supported by a booming economy, growth of consumerism and mass advertising, and the development of suburbs.
  • Start of the Civil Rights Movement, with key events like Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat in Montgomery (Alabama) in 1955.
  • Baby boom generation leads to change in American society and culture, including rise in consumerism, car culture, and youth culture identified with rock ‘n’ roll music.
  • Television becomes a dominant mass media, influencing the fashion and culture of the time.