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History of the United States (1865-)

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The Aftermath of the Civil War and Reconstruction

The destructiveness of the Union invasion and defeat of the South, followed by exploitive economic policies in the defeated region after the war, caused lasting bitterness among Southerners toward the U.S. government. This failure of the Federal government to effectively reunite the country contributed to the government's failure for many decades to enforce the Civil Rights of the formerly enslaved African-Americans in the South.

Reconstruction was the period after the American Civil War when the southern states of the defeated Confederacy, which had seceded from the United States, were reintegrated into the Union. Abraham Lincoln had endorsed a lenient plan for reconstruction, but the immense human cost of the war and the social changes wrought by it led Congress resist readmitting the rebel states without first imposing preconditions. A series of laws, passed by the Federal government, established the conditions and procedures for reintegrating the southern states.

Much of the impetus for Reconstruction involved the question of civil rights for the freed slaves in the southern states. In response to efforts by southern states to deny civil rights to the freed slaves, Congress enacted a civil rights act in 1866 (and again in 1875). This led to conflict with President Andrew Johnson, who vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1866; however, his veto was overridden.

After solid Republican gains in the midterm elections, the first Reconstruction Act was passed on March 2, 1867; the last on March 11, 1868. The first Reconstruction Act divided ten Confederate states (all except Tennessee, which had been readmitted in 1866) into 5 military districts. Governments that had been established under Abraham Lincoln's plan were abolished; the first Reconstruction Act stated that "no legal State governments or adequate protection for life or property now exist in the rebel States".

During the period of Reconstruction there was considerable upheavel in Southern society. Northerners, known as carpetbaggers, moved south to participate in southern governments. Anti civil-rights terrorists formed the Ku Klux Klan.

Three constitutional amendments were passed in the wake of the Civil War: the thirteenth, which abolished slavery; the fourteenth, which granted civil rights to African Americans; and the fifteenth, which granted civil rights to freed citizens. The fourteenth amendment was opposed by the southern states, and as a precondition of readmission to the Union, they were required to accept it (or the fifteenth after passage of the fourteenth). All Southern states were readmitted by 1870, but Reconstruction continued until 1877, when the contentious Presidential election was decided in favor of Rutherford B. Hayes, supported by Northern states, over his opponent, Samuel J. Tilden. Some historians have argued that the election was handed to the Hayes in exchange for an end to Reconstruction; this theory characterizes the settlement of that election as the "Compromise of 1877". Not all historians agree with this theory; in any case, regardless of the circumstances, Reconstruction came to an end at this time.

The end of Reconstruction essentially signalled the end of civil rights for African Americans; as the years passed after the end of the war, the North lost interest in continuing to pursue the matter and instead turned its attention towards other concerns. The South was essentially allowed to establish a segregated society in return for accepting its integration into the Union, and the initial flurry of civil rights measures were eroded over time. In the aftermath of Reconstruction, much of the civil rights legislation was later overturned by the United States Supreme Court near the end of the 19th Century. Most notably, the court ruled in the Civil Rights Cases 109 US 3 1883 that the fourteenth amendments being binding only to the states and not to the persons, Congress could not prevent private businesses to segregate black and white citizens in public places, thus repelling the 1875 Civil Rights Act. Plessy v. Ferguson 163 US 537 1896 went even further, providing that state-mandated segregation was legal as long as it provided for "separate but equal" facilities. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka 347 US 483 1954 was one of the landmark 20th-century cases in which the Supreme Court reversed itself on segregation, but it was not until the Federal government formally struck down the concept of segregation in all public facilities in Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that Plessy was formally reversed. This act, along with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, finally paved the way to an end to officially sanctioned segregation in the United States.

The Gilded Age and the Imperial Republic

The Industrial Revolution

The U.S. economy changed during the Gilded Age. The population and the labor force have shifted dramatically away from farms to cities, from fields to factories, and, above all, to service industries. In today's economy, the providers of personal and public services far outnumber producers of agricultural and manufactured goods. As the economy has grown more complex, statistics also reveal over the last century a sharp long-term trend away from self-employment toward working for others.

American Expansionism

American expansionism had roots in domestic concerns, as in other newly industrializing nations. The United States was a newly industrializing nation, like Germany, where investments overall assisted and accelerated economic progress, aiding the creation of costly infrastructure, such as railways and other public works. However, the findings of the 1890 Census, popularized by historian Frederick Jackson Turner in his paper entitled The Significance of the Frontier in American History[?], contributed to fears of dwindling natural resources. The Panic of 1893 and the ensuing depression also led some businessmen and politicians to come to the same conclusion as statesmen such as Leopold II of Belgium, Jules Ferry, Benjamin Disraeli, Jospeh Chamberlain[?], and Francesco Crispi[?] had formulated nearly a generation earlier in Europe, which was that industry had apparently over-expanded, producing more goods than domestic consumers could buy.

Like the Long Depression[?] in Europe, which bred doubts regarding growing strength of political resistance of world capitalism, the main features of the Panic of 1893 included deflation, rural decline, and unemployment (indicative of under-consumption), which aggravated the bitter social protests of the Gilded Age[?], the Populist[?] movement, the free-silver crusade, and violent labor disputes such as the Pullman Strike. Similarly, the post-1873 in Europe period saw a reemergence of far more militant working-class organization and cycles of large strikes. In fact, the rapid turn to imperialism in the late nineteenth century can be correlated with cyclically spaced economic depressions that adversely affected many elite groups. Like the Long Depression, an era of increasing unemployment and deflated prices for manufactured goods, the Panic of 1893 contributed to fierce competition over markets in the growing "spheres of influence" of the United States, which tended to overlap with Britain's, especially in the Pacific and South America.

While Germany, the United States[?], Italy, and other more recently industrialized empires were under relatively less pressure to offload surplus capital than Britain, these nations would resort to protectionism and formal empire, once attacked by adherents to laissez-faire, to usurp Britain's unfair advantages on international markets. Some politicians, such as Henry Cabot Lodge, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt, advocated a more aggressive foreign policy to pull the United States out of the depression of the second Grover Cleveland Administration, known for a more laissez-faire approach and free trade. By World War I, the rise of US imperialism and militarism, however, would, in effect, save the Allies, the older, more established, and more liberal empires from the emergent threat of Germany.

Just as the German Reich reacted to depression with the adoption of protective tariff protection in 1879, so would the United States with the landslide election victory of William McKinley, who had risen to national prominence six years earlier with the passage of the McKinley Tariff of 1890[?]. Britain's economic threat from the United States, thus, was (at the time at least) intensified by America's rise as a great military and political power after the Civil War, its adoption of such protective tariff protection, its acquisition of a colonial empire in 1898, and its building of a powerful navy, "the Great White Fleet", under the slain McKinley's more "big stick", racist, and militarist successor, Theodore Roosevelt. This course of events paralleled a similar trend in Germany, which emerged as a potential military power after its own unification, its adoption of a tariff in 1879, its acquisition of a colonial empire in 1884-85, and its building of a powerful navy after 1898. On the Pacific, since the Meiji Restoration, Japan's development followed a similar pattern, following the Western lead in industrialization and militarism, enabling it to gain a foothold or "sphere of influence" in Qing China.

Although US capital investments within the Philippines and Puerto Rico were relatively small (figures that would seemingly detract from the broader economic implications on first glance), these colonies were strategic outposts for expanding trade with Asia, particularly China and Latin America, enabling the United States to reap the benefit of China's "Open Door" and Dollar Diplomacy under Taft in Latin America. Imperialism for the United States, however, marked by the reaffirmation of the Monroe Doctrine (formalized by the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine[?] in 1904), would thus herald the trend of the United States replacing Britain as the predominant "investor" in Latin America'a process largely completed by the end of the Great War.

The Progressive Era: The Presidencies of Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson

(not started)

Roots of Progressivism and the Progressive Presidencies

World War I

During the 20th century the U.S. was involved in two World Wars. Firmly maintaining neutrality when World War I began in 1914, the United States entered the war after the RMS Lusitania, a British ship carrying many American passengers, was sunk by German submarines. With American help, Great Britain, France and Italy won the war, and imposed severe economic penalties on Germany in the Treaty of Versailles. Despite President Woodrow Wilson's calls for agreeable terms, the economic impact of the reparations mandated by the Treaty were severe. The misery they helped produce in Germany helped Adolf Hitler to seize power in Germany in 1933. The United States Senate did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles; instead, the United States signed separate peace treaties with Germany and her allies.

Disillusioned by the failure of the war to achieve the high ideals promised by President Woodrow Wilson, the American people chose Isolationism: they turned their attention inward, away from international relations and solely toward domestic affairs.

The Interwar Years

The Roaring 20s

During most of the 1920s the United States enjoyed a period of unbalanced prosperity: prices for agricultural commodities and wages fell at the end of the war while new industries (radio, movies, automobiles, and chemicals) flourished. The unevenness was also geographic: the standard of living in rural areas fell increasingly behind that of urban and suburban areas which saw dramatic improvements in housing and urban planning. The boom was reflected by the extension of credit to a dangerous degree, including in the Stock Market, which rose to dangerously inflated levels.

In 1920, the manufacture, sale, import and export of alcohol was prohibited by an amendment[?] to the constitution in order to alleviate various social problems. It was enacted through the Volstead Act. Prohibition ended in 1933 by another change to the constitution; it is considered to have been a failure by most: consumption of alcohol did not decrease markedly while organized crime was strengthened. But it did represent the first instance of a constitutional amendment that directly regulated social activity. The 18th Amendment, then, represented the growing strength of the state in the early 20th century.

Causes of the Great Depression

The Great Depression is the period of history that followed "Black Thursday", the stock market crash of Thursday, October 24, 1929. The events in the United States triggered a world-wide depression, which led to deflation and a great increase in unemployment. On the global scale, the market crash in the USA was a final straw in an already shaky world economic situation. Germany was suffering from hyperinflation of currency, and many of the Allied victors of World War I were having serious problems paying off huge war debts. In the late 1920s the American economy at first seemed immune to the mounting troubles, but with the start of the 1930s it crashed with startling rapidity.

A fundamental misdistribution of purchasing power might have been the Depression's main contributing factor. As industrial and agricultural production increased, the proportion of the profits going to farmers, factory workers, and other potential consumers was far too small to create a market for goods that they were producing. Even in 1929, after nearly a decade of economic growth, more than half the families in America lived on the edge or below the subsistence level-too poor to share in the great consumer boom of the 1920s, too poor to buy the cars and houses and other goods the industrial economy was producing, too poor in many cases to buy even the adequate food and shelter for themselves. As long as corporations had continue to expand their capital facilities (their factories, warehouses, heavy equipment, and other investments), the economy had flourished. By the end of the 1920s, however, capital investments had created more plant space than could be profitably used, and factories were pouring out more goods than consumers could purchase.

The nation's economy had thus been showing some signs of distress for months before October 1929. Business inventories of all kinds were three times as large as they had been a year before (an indication that the public was not buying products as rapidly as in the past); and other signposts of economic health, freight carloads, industrial production, wholesale prices, were slipping downward.

There was also a serious lack of diversification in the American economy of the 1920s. Prosperity had been excessively dependent on a few basic industries, notably construction and automobiles; in the late 1920s, those industries began to decline. Between 1926 and 1929, expenditures on construction fell from $11 billion to under $9 billion. Automobile sales began to decline somewhat later, but in the first nine months of 1929 they declined by more than one third. Once these two crucial industries began to weaken, there was not enough strength in other sectors of the economy to take up the slack.

Two policies exacerbated the depression. The first is the tight money policies of the Federal Reserve which restricted the money supply. The second was the recourse to protectionism with measures such as the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act, which raised tariffs on imports in order to protect local producers who were being hurt by foreign competition. In response, many other countries also raised their tariffs, badly hurting US businesses that exported their goods. This led to a chain reaction of tariff increases which fragmented the world economy.

The limited amount of reliable economic information suggests that construction and housing stagnated after 1926, joining declines in the agriculture, mining, and petroleum industries. In all of these overproduction dragged down prices and profits. Wages did not rise fast enough to enable consumers to purchase all the new homes and home products available. Foreign trade was constrained by growing protectionism in the industrialized world. The Stock Market Crash[?] drained away remaining consumer confidence and, more importantly, the confidence of financial institutions. They were extremely reluctant to invest. Thus, the economy sank into a severe depression, referred to by Americans as the "Great Depression", marked by punishing levels of unemployment, negligible investment, and falling prices and wages.

The Great Depression and the Fall of Herbert Hoover

In the United States, Herbert Hoover was the president, and he tried to control the situation, however, he helped little. One of the major problems was that with deflation, the currency that you kept in your pocket could buy more goods as the prices went down. The other was that there had been no oversight in the stock market or other investments, and with the collapse, many of the stock and investment schemes were found to be either insolvent, or outright frauds. Unfortunately, many banks had invested in these schemes, and this precipitated a collapse of the banking system in 1932. With the banking system in shambles, and people holding on to whatever currency that they had, there was minimal cash available for any activities that would cause positive change.

In response to the depression, Congress and the Hoover administration enacted a somewhat isolationist Smoot-Hawley tariff and, with its public works acts, tried to fix prices for farmers, and enacted a public works program based on the belief that the federal government was obliged to maintain high employment levels. These efforts were unprecedented, but the Depression overwhelmed them: indices of prices, profits, production, and unemployment worsened.

In Germany unemployment increased drastically, fuelling widespread disillusionment and anger. Promising to fix the situation, Adolf Hitler took over the government there in 1933.

Likewise, many Americans were disillusioned with their system of government, believing that Hoover's policies had driven the country to ruin. (Shantytowns populated by unemployed people at the time were often dubbed "Hoovervilles" to highlight the President's fading popularity). During this period, several alternative and fringe political movements saw a considerable increase in membership. In particular, a number of high-profile figures embraced the ideals of Communism, though this would subsequently be used against them during the Red Scare of the 1950s. Radio speakers such as Father Charles Coughlin saw their listening audiences swell into the millions, as they sought for (and often found) easy scapegoats to blame the country's woes upon.

The New Deal

In 1932 the United States elected Franklin Delano Roosevelt to replace Hoover as president. With unemployment near twenty five percent of the workforce, he initiated a number of government programs to increase liquidity and provide jobs, which jointly are called the New Deal. Some believe that these actions helped bring the country out of the depression--though there is considerable controversy over the extent to which this is true--and provided some of the infrastructure, including roads that are still in use today. Roosevelt's first major action happened on his first full day in office on March 5, 1933 when he declared that a "bank holiday" would go into effect the next day that would close all United States banks and freeze all financial transactions in order to stop the run on bank deposits. When banks were finally allowed to open on March 13, depositors found that they would never again be allowed to withdraw the gold that they had deposited. This confiscation of wealth substantially reduced the rate of bank closures, and allowed the government to finance further "New Deal" programs. The United States Congress went to work on its first 100 days of enacting New Deal legislation on March 9, 1933.

With millions unemployed, political ferment and discontent greatly increased among the working classes. An unsympathetic or repressive response from the U.S. government might well have sparked a socialist uprising, but President Franklin D. Roosevelt, elected in 1932, implemented a number of fiscal policies to aid the poor and unemployed. These included a variety of make-work agencies, as well as agencies to improve the functioning of industries. For example, the Agricultural Adjustment initiated the use of federal subsides to reduce farm production and drive up prices, relieving the woebegone agricultural sector. The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) granted significant rights to labor unions and gave the federal government sweeping regulatory powers. Roosevelt skillfully improved the appeal of these programs to the American people, by refusing to label them "Socialist", or even admit that they were. He also contributed to the future stability of the economy by instituting new regulations in business, particularly banking. Over the past twenty years, historians have de-emphasized the "revolutionary" legislation of the Roosevelt administration, seeing instead a logical outgrowth of the Hoover administration.

The Supreme Court did not look favorably on the New Deal. The NIRA, for instance, was ruled unconstitutional. Roosevelt responded to this in 1937 by trying to get Congress to increase the size of the Supreme Court from the long-established number of nine to fifteen. The president would then appoint six new justices with judicial philosophies favorable to his previous actions. The scheme found few supporters, and served only to decrease the president's popularity. Also in 1937, there was a brief but severe "Roosevelt recession," which decreased economic activity to 1933 levels, but the economy soon bounced back and continued its recovery. This growth was slow, until World War II brought a new series of dramatic changes that again reshaped the economy.

It is known that Roosevelt's New Deal programs were initially struck down by the Supreme Court, so that his initial interventions in the economy were all halted. During this time the economy was on a slow improving trend. After the Court began to uphold his interventionist legislation, the economy took a sharp downward dip, which has been called a depression within a depression, from which it was only slowly recovering when the US entered WWII. Thus it is claimed by some that his intervention delayed the economic recovery that had been underway.

Because the US was still in a state of depression when it entered World War II, the New Deal's success is still debated. Much of the debate is centered around when to measure the success from or what constitutes success. Those who measure success as return to the economic levels of 1928 argue that the new deal was a failure. In 1928, the level of Gross National Product (GNP) was at 100 billion, and Consumer Goods[?] purchased was at 80 billion. By 1933, when Roosevelt took office, the economy had shrunk to a GNP of 55 billion and CGP[?] of 45 billion. Some argue, that the American economy had probably hit an economic peak around 1928, and that it would be unreasonable to return to those levels. By 1939 the US GNP had risen to 85 billion with a CGP[?] of 65 billion.

Many of these programs, including Social Security, trace their roots to the "New Deal" programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who served as the U.S. president from 1933 to 1945. Key to Roosevelt's reforms was a belief that poverty usually resulted from social and economic causes rather than from failed personal morals. This view repudiated a common notion whose roots lay in New England Puritanism that success was a sign of God's favor and failure a sign of God's displeasure. This was an important transformation in American social and economic thought. Even today, however, echoes of the older notions are still heard in debates around certain issues, especially welfare.

The New Deal marked efforts to improve government support of individuals who cannot adequately care for themselves. Social Security, established as a New Deal program, is financed by a tax on employers and employees, accounts for the largest portion of Americans' retirement income.

World War II and the end of the Great Depression

Many believe that it was government-induced World War II spending that restarted world-wide economic expansion, but this is at best only partly true. Germany and Italy had "recovered" prior to WWII by making massive military and infrastructure investments. The US moved to full employment during WWII through massive military investments, but also by shifting a very large percentage of the potential work force into the military. While this was necessary, it meant the US economy had not returned to natural market conditions, and when the war ended a period of readjustment was necessary when millions of soldiers returned home. One of the purposes of the G.I. Bill[?] was to ease this transition. In countries such as France, England and the Netherlands, of course, the war caused tremendous harm, rather than being a source of economic revival. While war is always profitable to particular businesses, it causes social and economic dislocations that outweigh any stimulus effects it might have. It is interesting to note that in a single generation popular opinion went from viewing war as the cause of the Depression to being the cure for the Depression, in both cases with dubious causality.

The End of the Great Depression

By this time, business had been reinforced by government expenditures as a consequence of depression and the war. Between 1929 and 1933 unemployment soared from 3 percent of the workforce to 25 percent, while manufacturing output collapsed by one-third. Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs tried to stimulate demand and provide work and relief for the impoverished through increased government spending. The philosophy behind this was belatedly provided by the British economist John Maynard Keynes. Between 1933 and 1939, federal expenditure tripled, and Roosevelt's critics charged that he was turning America into a socialist state. But the cost of the New Deal pales in comparison with World War II. In 1939, federal expenditure was $9 million; it had increased tenfold by 1945. And war spending financially cured the depression, pulling unemployment down from 14 percent in 1940 to less than 2 percent in 1943 as the labor force grew by ten million. The war economy was not so much a triumph of free enterprise as the result of government deficit spending stimulating economic activity.

World War II (this section not finished)

Isolationist sentiment in America had ebbed, but the United States at first declined to enter the war, limiting itself to giving supplies and weapons to Great Britain, China, and the Soviet Union. American feeling changed drastically with the sudden Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the United States quickly joined the British-Soviet alliance against Japan, Fascist Italy, and Nazi Germany, known as the "Axis Alliance". Even with American participation, it took nearly four more years to defeat Germany and Japan. Though the Soviet Union suffered far more casualties than its allies, America's active involvement in the war was vital to preventing an eventual Axis victory.

Origins of the Cold War (this section not finished)

Stalin assumed that the capitalist camp would soon resume its internal rivalry over colonies and trade. Economic advisers such as Eugen Varga predicted a postwar crisis of overproduction in capitalist countries which would culminate by 1947-1948 in another great depression.

Trends in federal expenditure in the United States reinforced Stalin's expectations. By this time, business had been reinforced by government expenditures as a consequence of depression and the war. Between 1929 and 1933 unemployment soared from 3 percent of the workforce to 25 percent, while manufacturing output collapsed by one-third. Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs tried to stimulate demand and provide work and relief for the impoverished through increased government spending. The philosophy behind this was belatedly provided by the British economist John Maynard Keynes. Between 1933 and 1939, federal expenditure tripled, and Roosevelt's critics charged that he was turning America into a socialist state. But the cost of the New Deal pales in comparison with World War II. In 1939, federal expenditure was $9 million; it had increased tenfold by 1945. And war spending financially cured the depression, pulling unemployment down from 14 percent in 1940 to less than 2 percent in 1943 as the labor force grew by ten million. The war economy was not so much a triumph of free enterprise as the result of government/business sectionalism, of government bankrolling business.

What would be the result of massive postwar demilitarization, Industrial demand, for one, would plummet. Given the trend in federal expenditure, the looked to be heading toward a precipitous contraction. Stalin thus assumed that the Americans would need to offer him economic aid, need find any outlet for massive capital investments just to maintain the wartime industrial production that brought the US out of the Great Depression. Thus, the prospects of an Anglo-American front against him seemed slim.

The Great Society (not finished)

Many other assistance programs for individuals and families, including Medicare and Medicaid, were begun in the 1960s during President Lyndon Johnson's (1963-1969) "War on Poverty." Although some of these programs encountered financial difficulties in the 1990s and various reforms were proposed, they continued to have strong support from both of the United States' major political parties. Critics argued, however, that providing welfare to unemployed but healthy individuals actually created dependency rather than solving problems. Welfare reform legislation enacted in 1996 under President Bill Clinton (1993-2001) requires people to work as a condition of receiving benefits and imposes limits on how long individuals may receive payments.

The Medicare program pays for many of the medical costs of the elderly. The Medicaid program finances medical care for low-income families. In many states, government maintains institutions for the mentally ill or people with severe disabilities. The federal government provides Food Stamps to help poor families obtain food, and the federal and state governments jointly provide welfare grants to support low-income parents with children.

Ideas about the best tools for stabilizing the economy changed substantially between the 1960s and the 1990s. In the 1960s, government had great faith in fiscal policy -- manipulation of government revenues to influence the economy. Since spending and taxes are controlled by the president and the Congress, these elected officials played a leading role in directing the economy. A period of high inflation, high unemployment, and huge government deficits weakened confidence in fiscal policy as a tool for regulating the overall pace of economic activity. Instead, monetary policy -- controlling the nation's money supply through such devices as interest rates -- assumed growing prominence. Monetary policy is directed by the nation's central bank, known as the Federal Reserve Board, with considerable independence from the president and the Congress.

The Cold War and the Vietnam Quagmire (not finished)

The Vietnam War was in many ways a direct successor to the French Indochina War, fought to maintain control of their colony in Indochina against an independence movement led by Communist Party leader Ho Chi Minh. After the Vietnamese communist forces, or Viet Minh, defeated the French colonial army at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the colony was granted independence. According to the ensuing Geneva settlement, Vietnam was partitioned, ostensibly temporarily, into a communist North and a non-Communist South.

The country was then to be unified under elections that were scheduled to take place in 1956. However the elections were never held. The RVN government of President Diem, with the support of US President Eisenhower, cancelled the elections because they feared that Ho Chi Minh would win.

In response to the failure of establishing unifying elections, the National Liberation Front (NLF or Viet Cong) was formed as a guerrilla movement in opposition to the South Vietnamese government.

American involvement in the war was a gradual process. There was never a formal declaration of war, but in 1964 the U.S. Senate did approve the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave broad support to President Johnson to escalate U.S. involvement in the war. By 1968, over 500,000 troops were stationed there, and the toll of American soldiers killed, as reported every Thursday on the evening news, was over 100 a week.

The American public's faith in the "light at the end of the tunnel" was shattered, however, in 1968, when the enemy, supposedly on the verge of collapse, mounted the Tet Offensive.

There had been a small movement of opposition to the war within certain quarters of the United States starting in 1964, especially on certain college campuses. This was happening during a time of unprecedented leftist student activism, and of the arrival at college age of the demographically significant "Baby Boomers." World War II ended in 1945, and the Korean conflict ended in 1953; thus most, if not all, of the "Baby Boomers" had never been exposed to war. In addition, the Vietnam War was unprecedented for the intensity of media coverage--it has been called the first television war--as well as for the stridency of opposition to the war by the so-called "New Left."

Some Americans opposed the war on moral grounds, seeing it as a destructive war against Vietnamese independence, or as intervention in a foreign civil war; others opposed it because they felt it lacked clear objectives and appeared to be unwinnable. Some anti-war activists were themselves Vietnam Veterans, as evidenced by the organization Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson began his reelection campaign. A member of his own party, Eugene McCarthy, ran against him for the nomination on an antiwar platform. McCarthy did not win the first primary election in New Hampshire, but he did surprisingly well against an incumbent. The resulting blow to the Johnson campaign, taken together with other factors, led the President to make a surprise announcement in a March 31 televised speech that he was pulling out of the race. He also announced the initiation of the Paris Peace Talks[?] with Vietnam in that speech.

Seizing the opportunity caused by Johnson's departure from the race, Robert Kennedy then joined in and ran for the nomination on an antiwar platform. Johnson's vice president, Hubert Humphrey, also ran for the nomination, promising to continue to support the South Vietnamese government.

Kennedy was assassinated that summer, and McCarthy was unable to overcome Humphrey's support within the party elite. Humphrey won the nomination of his party, and ran against Richard Nixon in the general election. During the campaign, Nixon claimed to have a secret plan to end the war.

Nixon was elected President and began his policy of slow disengagement from the war. The goal was to gradually build up the South Vietnamese Army so that it could fight the war on its own. This policy became the cornerstone of the so-called "Nixon Doctrine." As applied to Vietnam, the doctrine was called "Vietnamization." The goal of Vietnamization was to enable the South Vietnamese army to increasingly hold its own against the NLF and the North Vietnamese Army.

The morality of US conduct of the war continued to be an issue under the Nixon Presidency. In 1969, it came to light that Lt. William Calley, a platoon Leader in Vietnam, had led a massacre of Vietnamese civilians (including small children) at My Lai a year before. The massacre was only stopped after two American soldiers in a helicopter spotted the carnage and intervened to prevent their fellow Americans from killing any more civilians. Although many were appalled by the wholesale slaughter at My Lai, Calley was given a light sentence after his court-martial in 1970, and was later pardoned by President Nixon.

Aside from this massacre, millions of Vietnamese died as a consequence of the Vietnam War. Estimating the number killed in any conflict, however, is extremely difficult. Official records are hard to find or nonexistent and many of those killed were literally blasted to pieces by bombing. It is also difficult to say exactly what counts as a "Vietnam war casualty"; people are still being killed today by unexploded ordinance, particularly cluster bomblets. Environmental effects from chemical agents and the colossal social problems caused by a devastated country with so many dead surely caused many more lives to be shortened.

The lowest casualty estimates, based on the now-renounced North Vietnamese statements, are around 1.5 million Vietnamese killed. Vietnam released figures on April 3, 1995 that a total of one million Vietnamese combatants and four million civilians were killed in the war. The accuracy of these figures has generally not been challenged. Around 58,000 US solders also died.

The casualties inflicted by the US-backed, Khmer Rouge were even higher. Though adherents to a twisted form of Maoism, the Khmer Rouge were anti-Soviet. In 1970, Nixon ordered a military incursion into Cambodia in order to destroy Viet Cong sanctuaries bordering on South Vietnam. Many feel that the Khmer Rouge would probably not have come to power and killed so many (from 900,000 to 2 million) of their people without the destabilization of the war, particularly of the American bombing campaigns to 'clear out the sanctuaries' in Cambodia.

Although Nixon had promised South Vietnam that he would provide military support to them in the event of a crumbling military situation, Congress voted down any further funding of military actions in the region. Nixon was also fighting for his political life in the growing Watergate scandal, so none of the promised military support to defend the South Vietnamese government was forthcoming though economic aid continued although most of the aid was siphoned off by corrupt elements in the South Vietnamese government and little of it actually went to the war effort. The 94th Congress eventually voted for a total cut off of all aid to take effect at the beginning of the 1975-76 financial year (July 1, 1975).

The United States unilaterally withdrew its troops from Vietnam in 1973. In early 1975 the North invaded the South and quickly consolidated the country under its control. Saigon was captured on April 30, 1975. North Vietnam united both North and South Vietnam on July 2, 1976 to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Saigon was re-named Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the former president of North Vietnam.

The Post-Vietnam Years: Stagflation and Detente (not finished)

Perhaps most importantly, the federal government guides the overall pace of economic activity, attempting to maintain steady growth, high levels of employment, and price stability. By adjusting spending and tax rates (fiscal policy) or managing the money supply and controlling the use of credit (monetary policy), it can slow down or speed up the economy's rate of growth -- in the process, affecting the level of prices and employment.

For many years following the Great Depression of the 1930s, recessions -- periods of slow economic growth and high unemployment -- were viewed as the greatest of economic threats. When the danger of recession appeared most serious, government sought to strengthen the economy by spending heavily itself or cutting taxes so that consumers would spend more, and by fostering rapid growth in the money supply, which also encouraged more spending. In the 1970s, major price increases, particularly for energy, created a strong fear of inflation -- increases in the overall level of prices. As a result, government leaders came to concentrate more on controlling inflation than on combating recession by limiting spending, resisting tax cuts, and reining in growth in the money supply.

The Reagan Revolution (not finished)

American attitudes about regulation changed substantially during the final three decades of the 20th century. Beginning in the 1970s, policy-makers grew increasingly concerned that economic regulation protected inefficient companies at the expense of consumers in industries such as airlines and trucking. At the same time, technological changes spawned new competitors in some industries, such as telecommunications, that once were considered natural monopolies. Both developments led to a succession of laws easing regulation.

While leaders of both political parties generally favored economic deregulation during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, there was less agreement concerning regulations designed to achieve social goals. Social regulation had assumed growing importance in the years following the Depression and World War II, and again in the 1960s and 1970s. But during the presidency of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, the government relaxed rules to protect workers, consumers, and the environment, arguing that regulation interfered with free enterprise, increased the costs of doing business, and thus contributed to inflation. Still, many Americans continued to voice concerns about specific events or trends, prompting the government to issue new regulations in some areas, including environmental protection.

Post-Cold War Era (not finished)

The years 1994-2000 witnessed solid increases in real output, low inflation rates, and a drop in unemployment to below 5%. The year 2001 witnessed the end of the boom psychology and performance, with output increasing only 0.3% and unemployment and business failures rising substantially. The response to the terrorist attacks of September 11 showed the remarkable resilience of the economy. Moderate recovery is expected in 2002, with the GDP growth rate rising to 2.5% or more. A major short-term problem in first half 2002 was a sharp decline in the stock market, fueled in part by the exposure of dubious accounting practices in some major corporations.



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