The Cold War brought fears amongst the American people in the aftermath of the Second World War. America’s greatest fear during this time was the threat of communism in the United States and abroad, the increase of atomic weaponry, and the fear of a second depression. Although it was not easy to try and ease the hysteria in America, under the administration of Eisenhower, he was successful and effective when addressing the concerns of the American people.
Communism was a big concern of the American people because citizens were worried that if the Soviet Union were to continue and be dominate in spreading communism it would overthrow the democratic and capitalist institutions. In Dwight Eisenhower’s speech at the press conference in March 1954, he acknowledges the fact that America is in great hysteria. He even addresses the fact that distress over Communism following World War II, has even caused citizens to live in fear of one another (Doc A).
This is significant because it ties into what is known as McCarthyism. This was when the Secretary of State at the time, John Foster Dulles abused his power to make accusations that government officials and American citizens of conspiracy of communism. These baseless accusations ultimately enlarged the fear the American citizens already had for communism. In a speech by Dulles, he also addresses the spread of communism. Not only that but he believes that American citizens must intervene in countries like Guatemala and that more sacrifices must be made (Doc B).
Due to the fact that Dulles made baseless accusations, he was able to gain the support of many Americans in order to stop the threat of communism. In response to Guatemala’s situation at this time, Eisenhower sent CIA operators there to remove the newly elected Guatemalan leader. Building off of that, many other fears were arising especially the fright American citizens had due to the increase of atomic weaponry. A picture from Life Magazine that was published in May 1955 depicts a family in a bomb shelter (Doc C).
This development eased the public frenzy because despite the fact that there was a possible nuclear holocaust at hand, these shelters provided a “safety blanket” for communities in American states. Furthermore in a political cartoon, “Well, I Got That In, All Right” showcases that the missile programs is at the expense of other services and programs (Doc F). Not only that but in an image excerpt from the U. S. News and World Report it shows the prediction times of when the Soviet’s will launch their missiles (Doc E).
The purpose of this was to give the American citizens warning and give them preparation to seek safety if needed to. In the same month and year that this was created, President Eisenhower had a special message to the Congress on education. He explains the purpose of the National Defense Education Act he had signed in September. He believes that the future of the United States is in the hands of the youths and that the United States must focus on science and engineering education (Doc G).
Him signing the National Defense Education Act proves that he was not going to let important programs fall as seen in the political cartoon ‘Well, I Got That In, All Right. ” Thus showcases how he was trying to please everyone and secure programs that he knew that were crucial and beneficial to the people. Later on after Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address in 1961 explained to the people of America how the increase in the atomic weaponry within the U. S and abroad has destroyed humanity(Doc 1). He also believes that each side of this situation must try and create peace.
With that in mind this can suggest that at this time he was going to continue with the strategies the U. S have been using throughout the Cold War. While these fears and worries were still present throughout this era, many citizens were concerned with the fact a depression was going to take place. According to statistics collected by the United States Department of Commerce it shows that the economy in 1959 the U. S. economy was in a deficit of $12. 9 billion. To add to that the total government spending at the end of 1959 also was $92. 1 billion and the great jump in defense spending of 32. % to 51. 1% (Doc H).
Based on this data it can be inferred that the great jump in the defense spending was caused by the Korean War that occurred in 1951 to 1953. Additionally, it goes to show why the people of the United States had lost confidence in the U. S. economy thus fearing the chance of a second depression and the effects of the recession in 1957 to 1958. In order to gain confidence and restore the faith in the citizens, on June 29th, President Eisenhower signed the Public Law 627 which was basically a law for the establishments or highways and improvement of roads.
The author that wrote this report on this law agrees with Eisenhower’s decision and argues that it would reduce or get rid of the traffic (Doc D). This also ties into the fact that in very large dense population of cities due to overcrowding it caused many to leave. Him establishing the Public Law 627, it helped the economy. It helped the economy because since it built more highways and roads there was a need of more people to work in order to accomplish the construction. Thus creating more jobs and reducing the stress of losing jobs or as a matter of fact not enough as Eisenhower had addressed in the press conference (Doc A).
Not only was the Cold War at hand during this time period of 1947 to 1961, but the Vietnam War had also occurred from 1955 to 1975. The Vietnam War greatly damaged the United States economy, and left the democratic party divided. Moreover it had left an impact on the citizens of the United States because it made them not want to intervene and get involved with foreign affairs. While there was great negativity within the atmosphere of the U. S in this time, there was also a great baby boom and an increase in life expectancy.
Which can show how the economy was getting better and supporting how families were growing and have enough resources in order to support one as well as increase the life expectancy. In conclusion, the Cold War brought many fears to the citizens of the United States. With all of these crisis such as the fear of the spread of communism home and abroad. Not only that but the fear of a potential nuclear war and a potential second depression. Eisenhower was successful in trying to ease the hysteria and worries people had.