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POLSC301: American Political Thought

Unit 8: Post-War America and Seeds of Civil Unrest   After World War II, American culture and politics forever changed.  In the 1950s, the country went through an “age of conformity,” where many in society and politics looked to instill American ideals and values upon all citizens.  In addition, the 1950s gave rise to national and international fears of communist expansion and atomic war.  The events of the 1950s created a need for change among many in society, change that would be brought about by a new decade and new struggles.  In this unit you will explore topics that occurred in the post-war era in the United States and social and political conditions that were setting the stage for change in the 1960s.

Unit 8 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 11.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 8.1: 4 hours

☐    Subunit 8.1.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 8.1.2: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 8.1.3: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 8.2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 8.2.1: .5 hours

☐    Subunit 8.2.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 8.2.3: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 8.3: 4.5 hours

☐    Subunit 8.3.1: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 8.3.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 8.3.3: .5 hours

☐    Subunit 8.3.4: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 8.3.5: .5 hours

☐    Subunit 8.3.6: .5 hours

Unit8 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Discuss anti-Communist sentiment as expressed during the McCarthy era.
  • Describe 1950s’ political discourse on U.S.-Soviet relations.
  • Trace the continuing evolution of the burgeoning civil rights movement.
  • Discuss the Kennedy administration’s policy approaches on the major domestic and international issues of the early 1960s.

8.1 Communism and the Cold War   8.1.1 “Combating Communists at Home”: McCarthyism   - Web Media: PBS Web Media: Open Mind, “The File and McCarthyism: A Personal Odyssey” (March 7, 1984) Link: PBS Web Media: Open Mind,The File and McCarthyism: A Personal Odyssey” (March 7, 1984) (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Watch the Penn Kimball interview (28 minutes) on Open Mind with Richard Heffner.
 
Note on the Web Media: Open Mind is a Public Broadcast Station (PBS) television show that began in 1956.  In this clip, host Richard Heffner interviews author Penn Kimball about his experience in the McCarthy era and the recent release of his book, The File.  Although this show’s airdate is 1984, a great deal of the interview contextualizes the McCarthy era and American political thought in general. 
 
Terms of use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Our Document Initiative’s version of “Senate Resolution 301: Censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy” (1954) Link: The Our Document Initiative’s version of “Senate Resolution 301: Censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy” (1954)
     
    Instructions: Please begin by reading the “Document Info,” then, under the “current document” drop-down menu, click on “document transcript” to read the text of the resolution.
     
    Terms of use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.1.2 Combating Communism Abroad: Eisenhower’s Domino Theory   - Reading: President Eisenhower’s News Conference (“Domino Theory”) (April 7, 1954) Link: ** President Eisenhower’s News Conference (“Domino Theory”) (April 7, 1954) (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read the text of Eisenhower’s press conference.
 
Note on the Text: The domino theory was used by Eisenhower and successive presidents during the Cold War to clarify the need for American intervention around the world.The theory stated that the “fall” of a noncommunist state to communism would precipitate the fall of noncommunist governments in neighboring states.
 
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  • Reading: The History Guide’s version of George F. Kennan’s “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” (1947) Link: The History Guide’s version of George F. Kennan’s “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” (1947)

    Instructions: Please read the short introduction and the text of Kennan’s essay.
     
    Note on the Text: George Kennan was best known as “the father of containment” and as a key figure in the emergence of the Cold War.   Historians consider this essay to be one of the foundation texts of the Cold War policy.  How does Kennan suggest the United States deal with Soviet expansionism? Why does he favor that particular stance? Do you agree or disagree?

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8.1.3 The Arms Race   - Reading: The Our Document Initiative’s version of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Farewell Address” (1961) Link: The Our Document Initiative’s version of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Farewell Address” (1961) (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please begin by reading the “Document Info,” then, under the “current document” drop-down menu, click on “document transcript” to read the speech in which President Eisenhower famously identified the military-industrial complex, warning that the growing fusion between corporations and the armed forces posed a threat to democracy.
 
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8.2 Segregation and Race Relations   8.2.1 Desegregation of the Armed Forces   - Reading: The Our Document Initiative’s version of Harry Truman’s “Executive Order 9981” (1948) Link: The Our Document Initiative’s version of Harry Truman’s “Executive Order 9981” (1948) (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please begin by reading the “Document Info,” then, under the “current document” drop-down menu, click on “document transcript” to read the groundbreaking executive order which lifted the ban on segregation in the U.S. armed forces.
 
Terms of use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.2.2 Brown v. Board: Decision and Reaction   - Reading: The Our Document Initiative’s version of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) Link: The Our Document Initiative’s version of Brown v. Board of Education  (1954) ( (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please begin by reading the “Document Info,” then, under the “current document” drop-down menu, click on “document transcript” to read this landmark Supreme Court decision.
 
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  • Reading: “The Southern Manifesto” (1956) Link: The Southern Manifesto (1956) (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read the text of the “Southern Manifesto” from the Congressional Record, March 12, 1956.
     
    Terms of use: The material above is available in the public domain.

8.2.3 Imposing Federal Authority: The Showdown in Little Rock   - Web Media: The History Channel’s “Little Rock Nine” Link: The History Channel’s “Little Rock Nine” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Watch the 2:28 minute video clip on the Little Rock Nine to learn more about the background of the struggle to integrate Central High School in 1957.
 
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  • Reading: The Our Document Initiative’s version of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Executive Order 10730: Desegregation of Central High School” (1957) Link: The Our Document Initiative’s version of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Executive Order 10730: Desegregation of Central High School” (1957) (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read the background information about Eisenhower’s Executive Order 10730 and then click on the image to read the original text in its entirety. 
     
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8.3 The Presidency of John F. Kennedy   8.3.1 The Religion Question”: The First Catholic President   - Reading: NPR’s version of John F. Kennedy’s “Address to Protestant Ministers” (1960) Link: NPR’s version of John F. Kennedy’s “Address to Protestant Ministers” (1960) (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the transcript from Kennedy’s religion speech. You can also listen to the speech by clicking on the hyperlink at the top of the page.
 
Note on the Text:  In this speech, JFK addresses the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on the issue of his religion.  Kennedy hoped to calm the fears of many Protestant Christians who remained concerned about the prospect of a Catholic president.  He succeeded in doing so by reaffirming the separation of church and state, decrying any mixing of religion and politics, and vowing, if elected, never to let his religious views influence his decisions as president.  Why do you think the speech was so effective in allaying the fears of Protestant Christians?
 
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8.3.2 Inaugural Address: Ideals and Optimism   - Web Media: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of John F. Kennedy’s “Inaugural Address” (January 20, 1961) Link: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of John F. Kennedy’s “Inaugural Address” (January 20, 1961) (Adobe Flash)
 
Also available in:
YouTube

[Quicktime](http://web2.millercenter.org/speeches/video/mov/spe_1961_0120_kennedy.mov)  

[RealMedia](http://web2.millercenter.org/speeches/video/rm/spe_1961_0120_kennedy.rm)  

[MP3](http://web2.millercenter.org/speeches/audio/spe_1961_0120_kennedy.mp3)  
    
 Instructions: Watch this video of President Kennedy’s 1961
Inaugural Address, which is widely considered to be among the best
presidential inauguration speeches in American history.  
    
 Terms of use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

8.3.3 The Peace Corps   - Web Media: Universal News Reels: “Peace Corps, Kennedy Outlines Program, 1961/3/13” Link:  Universal News Reels: “Peace Corps, Kennedy Outlines Program, 1961/3/13

 Instructions: Watch the news reel from 1961 outlining the Peace
Corps. How does Kennedy’s support of the creation of this agency
reflect the sentiment behind the famous line from his inaugural
address (above): “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your
country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country”?  
    
 Terms of use: The video above is available in the Public Domain.

8.3.4 The Space Race   - Web Media: YouTube Video, John F. Kennedy’s “Rice Graduation Address (We Choose to Go to the Moon)” (1962) Link:  YouTube Video, John F. Kennedy’s “Rice Graduation Address (We Choose to Go to the Moon)” (1962)

 Instructions: Watch this clip of President Kennedy’s speech at Rice
University in 1962.  
    
 Note on the Web Media: The [transcript of the
speech](http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/jfk-space.htm) (HTML)
is also available for your reference.  

 Note on the Text: In 1961, President Kennedy announced the dramatic
and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the moon before
the end of the decade.  He knew it to be a very challenging
technological feat, but it was an area of space exploration in which
the United States actually had a potential lead.  Kennedy felt great
pressure to have the United States catch up to and overtake the
Soviet Union in the “space race.” Thus the Cold War is the primary
contextual lens through which many historians now view Kennedy's
speech.  
    
 Terms of use: The above material is released in the Public Domain.

8.3.5 The Arms Race Continues: The Cuban Missile Crisis   - Web Media: The Film Archives: John F. Kennedy’s “Special Presidential Address on the Cuban Missile Crisis” (October 22, 1962) Link: The Film Archives: John F. Kennedy’s “Special Presidential Address on the Cuban Missile Crisis” (October 22, 1962) (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Watch parts I and II of the video of President Kennedy’s televised presidential address on the Cuban Missile Crisis.
 
Note on the Text: In October 1962, an American U-2 spy plane secretly photographed nuclear missile sites being built by the Soviet Union on the island of Cuba.  President Kennedy did not want the Soviet Union and Cuba to know that he had discovered the missiles.  After many long and difficult meetings, Kennedy decided to place a naval blockade around Cuba.  The aim of this “quarantine” was to prevent the Soviets from bringing in more military supplies.  He demanded the removal of the missiles already there and the destruction of the sites.  On October 22, President Kennedy spoke to the nation about the crisis in a televised address.  The Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest the world ever came to nuclear war.
 
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8.3.6 The Assassination of JFK   - Web Media: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Address to Joint Session of Congress” (November 27, 1963) Link: University of Virginia: The Miller Center for Public Affairs’ version of Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Address to Joint Session of Congress” (Adobe Flash) (November 27, 1963)
 
Also available in:

[Quicktime](http://web2.millercenter.org/speeches/video/mov/spe_1963_1127_johnson.mov)  

[RealMedia](http://web2.millercenter.org/speeches/video/rm/spe_1963_1127_johnson.rm)  

[MP3](http://web2.millercenter.org/speeches/audio/spe_1963_1127_johnson.mp3)  
    
 Instructions: Watch this video of President Johnson’s address after
the assassination of President Kennedy where he talks about carrying
out the work and wishes of Kennedy and coming together as one
nation.  
    
 Terms of use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.