"After World War II, the United States grappled with prosperity and unfamiliar international responsibilities while struggling to live up to its ideals."
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Unit Overview:

Key Concepts:

  • 8.1 The United States responded to an uncertain and unstable postwar world by asserting and attempting to defend a position of global leadership, with far-reaching domestic and international consequences.
    • I. After World War II, the United States sought to stem the growth of Communist military power and ideological influence, create a stable global economy, and build an international security system.
    • II. As the United States focused on containing communism, it faced increasingly complex foreign policy issues, including decolonization, shifting international alignments and regional conflicts, and global economic and environmental changes.
    • III. Cold War policies led to continued public debates over the power of federal government, acceptable means for pursuing international and domestic goals, and proper balance between liberty and order.
  • 8.2. Liberalism, based on anticommunism abroad and a firm belief in the efficacy of governmental and especially federal power to achieve social goals at home, reached its apex in the mid 1960's and generated a variety of political and cultural responses.
    • I. Seeking to fulfill Reconstruction-era promises, civil rights activists utilized a variety of strategies -- legal challenges, direct action and nonviolent protest tactics -- to combat racial discrimination.
    • II. Stirred by a growing awareness of inequalities in American society and by the African American civil rights movement. activists also addressed issues of identity and social justice, such as gender/sexuality and ethnicity.
    • III. As many liberal principles came to dominate postwar politics and court decisions, liberalism came under attack from both the left as well as from the resurgent conservative movements.
  • 8.3. Postwar economic, demographic, and technological changes had far - reaching impact on American society, politics, and the environment.
    • I. Rapid economic and social changes in American society fostered a sense of optimism in the postwar years as well as underlying concerns about how these changes were affecting American values.
    • II. As federal programs expanded and economic growth reshaped American society, many sought greater access to prosperity even as critics began to question the burgeoning use of natural resources.
    • III. New demographic and social issues led to significant political and moral debates that sharply divided the nation.

Introductory Lecture:








Study Guide and Outline:



Activities and Exercises:

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