Saturday, October 15, 2011


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During the 150s, American politics experienced many troubling events and underwent great changes. The Arms Race affected not just politics but the general population. It started as a foreign policy that lasted well over 40 years. Next to the Arms Race was the Red Scare. Many Americans feared that the government had been infiltrated by communists, which created great hysteria. Eventually this lead to a change of leaning towards conservatism. In addition, the 50s gave birth to the beginning of the civil rights movement. All these subsequent events greatly influenced our political system for the next four to five decades, profoundly changing our view of the world.

The end of the Civil War began a long period of Republican domination. The partys close identification with the Union victory in the war secured it the allegiance of most Northern and Midwestern farmers, while its support of protective tariffs and its accommodating attitude toward big business eventually gained it the support of many Northern urban areas and of powerful industrial and financial circles. Of the 18 presidential elections held between 1860 and 1, 14 were won by Republicans (Kallen, 6). Within the party itself, however, there were protests against the rigidity of party control and against a small, self-perpetuating, oligarchic leadership. A splinter group named the Liberal Republicans left the party in 187 in protest against the corrupt Republican administration of Pres. Ulysses S. Grant (Banard, 105).

After a number of close electoral contests with the Democrats during the 1880s and the early 0s, the Republicans won the presidency and control of both houses of Congress in the 186 elections. With the Democrats adoption of economic radicalism under the sway of free-silver and Populist advocates, the Republicans emerged as the nations majority party and managed to control both houses of Congress until 110 (Frederickson, 1).

Roosevelts death during the final stages of WW put the US in an uneasy situation. Roosevelts successor, Truman, was not an experienced leader. His lack of experience gave the nation a weary feeling about his leadership. With the war over a new problem surged between the USSR and US over political influence. The US wanted to spread capitalism, while the USSR wanted to spread communism. The rivalry grew such that during Trumans administration, the US formed a New Foreign Policy, in which the US would try to contain the spread and influence of communism (Anderson, 184).

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Ultimately, the rivalry grew in such a way, that both nations felt the need to build up huge arsenals of nuclear weapons, hence giving birth to the Arms Race. This build-up in weapons and military was supported by Truman, the nation, and following administration. Each nation tried to out do the other, and kept a constant eye out, monitoring the others activities. Both nations were always prepared and ready to retaliate in case violence broke out between the two nations. Each country poured time and effort into the race, well until the fall of the Soviet Union. The US had put such great amounts of effort and money into the arms race, that every political leader began promising different solutions towards competing and handling conflicts between the nations (Kallen, 14).

The American fear of the possible spread of communism was so strong that, common day Americans felt a sort of panic during their every day lives. They feared that any person next to them could be a soviet spy. With this type of tension in the air, Senator Joe McCarthy saw an opportunity to gain the publics support by expressing his concern over the situation, and offering a solution that included naming suspects of US sabotage (Kallen, 07). Even though he had no substantial proof of his findings, a great hysteria still grew within the nation. This situation greatly increased the size of the Red Scare.

It is during this time that many Americans lives were ruined forever. Senator McCarthey started the hysteria by blaming many government officials, including politicians, of being corrupt and communist. This brought a major downfall in the support of the Democratic Party. Many began to doubt the partys ability to handle power and justice. Their doubt gave rise to conservatism and a return to the popular support of the Republican Party (Frederickson, 17).

The Republicans regained the presidency in 10 and rode to victory in the elections of 14 and 18 on the wave of economic prosperity of the 10s. Their policies during this time were notably conservative and pro-business. The Great Depression that began in 1 had severe consequences for the party, however. The Republicans unwillingness to combat the effects of the Depression through government action led to Republican incumbent Pres. Herbert Hoovers overwhelming defeat by the Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1 election. (Banard, 04) Roosevelts three reelections, the succession of Harry S. Truman upon Roosevelts death in 145, and Trumans election in 148 kept the Republicans out of power for 0 years. During this time they generally lacked control of either house of Congress and had in effect become the minority party in the nation. For many years most Republicans vehemently opposed Roosevelts New Deal policies, but by the 150s the party had largely accepted the federal governments expanded role and regulatory powers (Herrnson, 55).

In 15 the Republican Party returned to power with the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower as president. Eisenhowers candidacy marked the dominance of the partys liberal-moderate wing, as opposed to its conservative wing led by Sen. Robert A. Taft. But the Republican platform remained a conservative one, calling for a strong anti-Communist stance in foreign affairs, a reduction of government regulation of the economy, lower taxes for the rich, and a resistant attitude toward calls for civil-rights legislation (Herrnson, 101). The party retained its longtime support among both big and small business and gained new support from growing numbers of middle-class suburbanites and, perhaps most significantly, among white Southerners who were disturbed by the integrationist stance of the Democrats during the 160s.


Banard, William D. Dixiecrats and Democrats. Birmingham, Alabama University

Of Alabama Press, 185.

Frederickson, Kari. The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, 1-168. Asheton,

North Carolina University of North Carolina Press, 001.

Herrnson, Paul S. Responsible Partisianship The Evolution of American Political Parties Since

150 (Studies in Government and Public Policy). Kansas University Press of Kansas. 00.

Anderson, Christopher J. The Us Army in Korea 150-15. New York, NY Greenhill Books,


Kallen, Stuart A. The 150s. San Diego, CA Lucent Books, Inc. 1.

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