During the post year war, the United States embarked on one its greatest periods of economic expansion. The gross national product more than doubled, jumping from 212 billion in 1945 to 504 billion in 1960. Per capita income, the average income person increased from 1,223 dollars to 2,219 during the same
A conglomerate, a corporation made up of three or more unrelated businesses was better able to defend against economic downturns
Franchise was a business that contracts to offer certain goods and services from a larger parent company. They vary from one company to another
Television....Americans fell in love with the television in the 1950s. The technology for the television had been developed throughout the late 1920s and 1930s, but then stalled during the war. After the war the television became enourmously popular
In 1955 the average American family watched the television four to five hours a day. Children grew up with programs such as The Mickey Mouse Club House. Teenagers danced to to rock-and-roll music.
Another innovation appeared in the 1950s that would transform American life in the years to come. Wartime research led to the development of ever more powerful calculators and computers
Grace Hopper, a research fellow at the Harvard University computation laboratory, pioneered the creation of software that ran computers
She introduced the term debugging which was born when she removed a moth that had become caught in a relay switch and had caused a large computer to shut down. Today, the term means"riding a computer program of errors."
A new entirely new industry, the generation of electrical power through the use of atomic energy, resulted from the research that had produced the atomic bomb.
Advances in medicine also increased. In 1954 Dr.Thomas Francis conducted a successful field test of a vaccine to prevent one of the most feared diseases....polio. Before the vaccine the disease had killed or disabled more than 20,000 children in the United States every year.
Doctors who had served during the war saving the lives of the wounded soldiers helped usher in a new era of surgical advances
Changes in the work place also advanced. Most Americans made a living as blue-collar workers, producing goods or performing services that depended on manual labor. However, new machines assumed many jobs previously performed by people.This process is called automation
With so many people working and making a better living than ever before, the baby boom that began in the mid-1940s continued. The birthrate, which had fallen to 19 births per 1,000 people during the Depression, soared to more than 25 births per 1,000 in its peak year of 1957.
Seeking more room, growing families retreated from aging cities to the suburbs. The world war II veterans expanded their opportunities with the help of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 or GI Bill of Rights which gave them low mortgages to purchase new homes and provided them with educational stipends for college or graduate school.
Suburban growth brought with it other changes.Following their customers,some stores began to move from cities to shopping centers located at the suburbs. Many Americans, living in the suburb built beyond the reach of public transportation, depended more and more on automobiles.
Eager to cash in on the increasing number of cars on the road, gasoline companies began offering credit cards to loyal customers. These cards allowed people to charge gas purchases when they are traveling. Americans found the cards convenient and east to use.
A resurgence in religion....In the 1950s Americans who had drifted away from religion in earlier years, flocked back to their churches and synagogues. The renewed interest in religion was a response in part to the Cold War struggle against the Communism. Some looked to religion to find hope the face of the threat of nuclear war.
Men and women both had roles to play as individuals. Men were expected to go to school and then find jobs to support wives and children. Wives on the other hand were expected to play a supporting role in their husbands lives. They kept the house,cooked meals and raised the children. However, some women were reluctant to give up their jobs . In 1950, about 25% of all married American women had jobs and it later rose to 30%.
Young people also challenged the norms of the 1950s society. Some young people rejected the values of their parents and felt misunderstood and alone. Rock-and-roll came to be the coolest thing. Teenagers across the nation quickly became fans of the driving beat and simple melodies that characterized rock-and-roll. They rushed the records of their favorite performers such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Fats Domino
Many adults disliked the new music, fearing it would cause a rise in immorality. For some people it had to do with race which was an appeal to both black and white teenagers
The 1950s were conservative years-politically as well as culturally. The government felt the need to maintain the nation's newly won prosperity. Democrat Harry Truman first struggled with the problems of moving to a peacetime economy, and then fought fora reform program blocked repeatedly by the Congress
Harry Truman wanted to follow in Franklin Roosevelt's footsteps, but often appeared ill-prepared for presidency. His first priority was reconversion-the social and economic transition from wartime to peacetime .Soldiers wanted to return home and, and politicians were flooded with messages that warned, "No boats, no votes. He responded quickly and got soldiers home by 1946.
While holding in private many of the racial prejudices he had learned growing up, Truman recognized that as a President he had to take action on civil rights. Truman had publicly supported civil rights for many years. In September 1946, he met with a group of African American leaders to discuss the steps that needed to be taken to achieve their goals.In July 1948, Truman banned discrimination in the hiring of federal employees. he also ordered an end to segregation and discrimination of armed forces. Real change came slowly, however .
The election of 1948 was a shocking one because Truman was not expected to win this one. He looked forward to a chance to push further for his own legislative goals rather than those of Roosevelt. Over the next four years, however, the Fair Deal scored only occasional successes. Instances of corruption among the federal officials hurt Truman's image.
However after Truman, Eisenhower came to be president. He liked to work behind the scenes. "I am not one of those desk-pounding types that likes to stick out his jaw and look like he is bossing the show, he said.' Critics misinterpreted his apparent lack of leadership, joking about an Eisenhower doll-you wound it up and it did nothing.
In domestic matters, he was determined to slow the growth of the federal government. He also wanted to limit the power of the president and increase the authority of Congress and the courts. It included cutting spending, reducing taxes and balancing the budget. He called his approach to government "dynamic conservatism" or the Modern Republicanism.