Story of America - Achievements 9780756624576

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Story of America - Achievements

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Publishers: Sean Moore, Chuck Lang Creative Director: Tina Vaughan Art Director: Dirk Kaufman Editorial Director: Chuck Wills Production Manager: Chris Avgherinos DTP Manager: Milos Orlovic Design Intern: Melissa Chung


President: David Rubel Senior Image Researcher: Julia Rubel Image Researchers: Martha Davidson, Margaret Johnson, Joan Mathys, Carol Talbert Peters Copy Editor and Indexer: Laura Jorstad Editorial: Donna Gold, Brooke Palmer Art Direction and Production: Oxygen Design Design and Map Illustrations: Tilman Reitzle, Sherry Williams Design Intern: Juliette Vega

For photo credits, see page 202. First American edition, 2007 07 08 09 JO 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

Published in the United States by DK Publishing, Inc. 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014 © 2007 DK Publishing, Inc. Text © 2007 Allen Weinstein and David Rubel All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. DK Publishing offers special discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotions or premiums. Specific, large­ quantity needs can be met with special editions, including personalized covers, excerpts of existing guides, and corporate imprints. For more information, contact Special Markets Department, DK Publishing, Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014 Fax: 212-689-5254.

ISBN 978-0-7566-2457-6


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INTRODUCTION.................................................... 7

1 The New Deal The Hundred Days .................................................10 The Great Depression, the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the New Deal. AMERICAN PROFILE

Boxers Jim Braddock & Joe Louis by Geojf·ey C. Ward ............................................... 3 4

2 World War II The Attack on Pearl Harbor .......................................... 36 The Neutrality Acts, the Grand Alliance, and entry into the war. AMERICAN PROFILE

Politician and writer vVendell L. Willkie by Robert Dallek .................................................. 60

3 The Cold War at Home The Hiss-Chambers Case ............................................ 62 McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities Committee. The election of John F. Kennedy. AMERICAN PROFILE

Left-wing playwright Lillian Hellman by Alice Kessler-Harris .............................................82

4 Pax Americana The Cuban Missile Crisis ............................................84 The blockade of Cuba, the Berlin Wall, and U.S.-Soviet relations. AMERICAN PROFILE

Cold War policy maker George F. Kennan by Robert Dallek ............. : ................................... l08

5 The Sixties

The March on Washington ..........................................110 Rosa Parks and the Bus Boycott. Sit-ins, Freedom Rides, and Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington.



Congress\\ oman Coya Knutson by Richm·d Reeves ................................................ 142

6 The Seventies

T he Watergate Crisis ...............................................144 Nixon's presidency, the break-in of the Watergate offices and the subsequent cover-up.Nixon's impeachment and resignation. AMERICAN PROFILE

President Jimmy Carter by William E. Leuchtenburg .......... . ..................... . .. . . . . . 166

7 The End of the Cold War The Last Days of the Soviet Union .................................... 168 U.S. reaction to the coup in Russia and how Yeltsin seizes power from Gorbachev.The Iran-Contra Scandal and war in the Persian Gulf.

8 A New Millennium September 11, 2001 ................................................ 184 Clinton's presidency and the election of George W Bush. September 11-the day the world watched as planes crashed into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS ...........................-............


INDEX .......................................................... 196 PI-TOTO CREDITS •................................................ 202



oo much has happened during the course of five hundred years for all of American history to fit in the four volumes of The Story of America-Beginnings, Conflict, Expansion, and Achievements. Choices have to be made: What to include? What to omit? In order for their books to be as comprehensive as possible, textbook authors often choose a broad strategy, presenting many brief parcels of information linked together with generalizations about periodic trends. This strategy often produces a blur of names and dates that can neither be remembered nor appreciated. But The Story ofAmerica is not a textbook; rather, as its title states, it is a story. The four volumes of The Story ofAmerica are structured around twenty­ six significant episodes in American history. Each chapter describes a particular noteworthy period in American history by focusing on a single event-for example, the Boston Massacre in the case of the Revolutionary period, or Charles Lindbergh's transatlantic flight for the 1920s. Concentrating on a single event has allowed us to describe settings, characters, and the routines of daily life during unfamiliar previous ages. We have made space for these details by omitting other people and events in order to deepen the context of each chapter. If we have done our job properly, as these details accumulate, the larger patterns and themes of American history will become not only clear but vivid. Those themes to which we have paid particular attention include the struggle to expand personal, political, and religious freedoms; the response to urgent national crises, both foreign and domestic; and the redefinition of national goals and values during the five centuries since Christopher Columbus first landed on Guanahani. Because our twenty-six episodes cannot accomplish this task alone, we have integrated into each chapter enough additional information on causes, effects, and contemporary conditions to bring out the significance of each period within the totality of American history. We have also attempted to strengthen the context of our history through the use of art: contemporary photographs, maps, paintings, cartoons, books, documents, personal effects, and other memorabilia of historical


significance. These images have been obtained primarily through the research facilities of two incomparable national storehouses, the Library of Congress and the National Archives, to whose staffs we are indebted. Other items have been collected from the countless smaller institutions that perform the diligent and often thankless task of preserving the physical manifestations of our national heritage .For example, the images of Eugene V. Debs that appear in this book come from the Debs Foundation, a small nonprofit organization that maintains the Debs Home in Terre Haute, Indiana. Similarly, the photograph in The Story ofAmerica: Conflict of mid-nineteenth-century Waterloo, New York-the hamlet where Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and three other women planned the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention-is available to scholars today only through the efforts of the Waterloo Library and Historical Society, one of many unheralded local groups formed by neighbors to investigate and protect the history of their towns, villages, and localities. hy bother? What is the point of preserving and studying the past? Among the obvious reasons, of course, is that the past informs the present.In the words of historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., "History, by putting crisis in perspective, supplies the antidote to every generation's illusion that its own problems are uniquely oppressive. " The wisdom and truth of this statement is felt by all who write history because historical research inevitably leads one to identify past preoccupations in the present and present ones in the past. You will no doubt experience this yourself as you read through these pages and recognize in past events issues and situations that presently concern the nation. Learning from the past, however, is far from simple. "History is not," Henry Kissinger pointed out in his memoir The White House Years, "...a cook­ book offering pretested recipes .It teaches by analogy, not by maxims. It can illuminate the consequences of actions in comparable situations, yet each generation must discover for itself what situations are in fact comparable."

To help encourage this process of discovery, we have written The Story of America with a particular attention to storytelling nuance tl1at, we hope, helps reclaim the human quality of past events. Additionally, because there are so many different historical perspectives, we have invited a number of our colleagues to contribute to this book short biographies of individuals whom they believe merit special attention. Often, these American Profiles reflect aspects of


American history that we have otherwise regrettably had to omit. We are also grateful to Prof. Frank Otto Gatell, coauthor with Allen vVeinstein of the textbook Freedom and Crisis, once widely used but now out of print-from whose pages many of the insights and tales in this book have been drawn. The stories that we have told here are not always encouraging. A number deal with episodes of strife, brutality, and con frontation during which the human suffering has been extreme. Nevertheless, such episodes are an integral part of American history and its underlying tale of a basically optimistic people fashioning from their uneven past a hopeful if uncertain future. In this regard, the stunning and frightening events of September 1 1, 200 1-reconstructed in the final chapter of The Story ofAmerica: Achievements-fit a recurring pattern of grave national challenge followed by swiftly mobilized response. Such challenges underscore the importance of remembering that no generation's problems are singularly disheartening. In fact, readers may find surprising solace in our accounts of these episodes, especially as those accounts yield insight that can guide all of us as we move into this country's next historical epoch. ALLEN WEINSTEIN DAVID RUBEL


The Hundred Days



is fear itself," Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared in his first inaugural address. In the rest of that speech, the new president offered remarkably little to justify such a bold statement, considering the country's terrifying economic situation; yet, for the time being at least, his confidence alone proved enough to calm fears and ease panic. For reasons perhaps having to do with Roosevelt's remarkable political appeal, Americans were comforted by his words as they never had been by Herbert Hoover's. F D R's gift for inspiring confidence, in fact,became a defining attribute of his presidency-as important as any bill he proposed or executive order he issued. On the day that Roosevelt took office­ March 4, 1933-the country was in the depths of its worst financial crisis ever. Specifically, the U. S. banking system was collapsing. Four years of depression had put such pressure on American financial institutions that the weaker ones had already failed, and a chain reaction was now threatening to bring down even the strongest. Quite naturally, as Americans watched neighbor after neighbor lose a lifetime's worth of savings to bank failures, they, too, became concerned about the stability of the financial system and began withdrawing their own funds, just to be safe. Once such bank runs get started, however, they can be very difficult to stop, and in late 1932 the pace of withdrawals accelerated. By February 1933, there was widespread panic. The governor of Michigan closed all the banks in his AT LEFT: A worker inspects the interior of a scroll case at the Norris Dam, one offive dams built (and twenty improved) by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

state to prevent their immediate collapse, and other states soon joined Michigan in declaring bank holidays. By March 4, banks in thirtyeight states had been closed; the New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade had also been shut down. "We are at the end of our string," President Hoover said despairingly just before leaving office. Roosevelt's mandate was to act, so he did just that. The day after his inauguration, he proclaimed (with questionable legality) a four­ day national bank holiday, beginning March 6. He also ordered teams of examiners into the nation's banks to evaluate their soundness. Those institutions whose books passed muster would receive infusions of federal capital to help them stay solvent; those that didn't measure up would be closed, with as much money as possible returned to depositors.At the same time, the president summoned the Seventy-third Congress into special session. The banking bill that he sent up to Capitol Hill on March 9, the first day of the special session, was a rather mild measure given the circumstances, yet its provisions didn't really matter. The country was in crisis, and the voters wanted the government to do something. "The house is burning down," one leading Republican congressman declared, "and the President of the United States says this is the way to put out the fire." The Emergency Banking Act ratified the actions Roosevelt had taken on March 5, provided a mechanism for reopening the sound banks, and gave the president additional broad powers to get the system back on its feet. On March 10, some banks reopened, and on March 12, the president 11

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delivered the first of many informal rad io s peeche s that came to be called "firesid chats." In a calm and c onfident voice, he a ssured the nati on that i ts remaining banks we re sound and that there wa s n o need to pan ic. "In one week, ' column i s t Walter L ippmann marveled, "the nation, wh ich had l ost c onfidence in everything and everyb ody, has regained c onfidence in the g o vernment and in itself." With in two m onth s , in fa t, more than twelve th ousand banks-h o lding 90 percen t of the nati on's deposit s-re opened, and bankers were as tounded to find tha t dep osits t opped withdra-wals. re soluti on of the banking c risi s set a number of imp o rtant p recedent s for the New Deal, as Franklin R oosevelt's pr og ram to end the Great Depre ss i on was called . Imp or tan tly , it e stabli shed, from the very out set, public c onfidence in the new admin istra tion's effectivene ss. It al so dem on stra ted to many c on serva tive s that R oosevelt preferred to rehab i­ l itate the exist ing American ec on om ic sy stem rather than imp ose an entirely new one . Had FDR wanted to national ize the bank s , for example , a C ongress made pliant by four years of crisi s probably w ould have gone al ong . Instead, the pre sident opted fo r a m oderate solu tion tha t b ough t h im some time t o grapple with the c oun try' s other pre ss ing problem s . Many of the se he addre ssed in b ills sent up to Congress during its March 9-June 16 . special ses s i on. During this peri od of exac tly one hundred days , C ongre ss approved and the president signed m os t of the leg isla tion-experimentati on, really-tha t formed the basi s of the "first" New Deal. Frankl in R oosevel t wa s a forty- seven-year- old govern o r of New York State when the st ock marke t c ollapsed in 1929 and fifty- one years old when he became pre sident. T hu s , his idea s ab out the world were already quite well fo rmed , and there i s n o reas on t o believe tha t e ither event changed h is th inking subs tan tially, other than perhap s t o make him m ore flexible.At h i s c o re, R o osevelt remained a traditi onalist, and why not? He wa s born int o wealth and p rivilege , educa ted a t Grot on and Harvard, and enamored of hi s family' s Hud son Valley esta te , Hyde Park , at which he liked t o play the gentleman farmer.A suave , smiling , c onfident arist ocrat, Ro os evelt generally g ot what he wanted-wi th the n otable except ion of the p oli omyelit is he c ontrac ted in 192 1 , when he was thirty-nine . It was ea sy for Ro osevel t t o take the nation' s social and econ om ic instituti on s for granted-so he did .As Walter Lippmann p ointed ou t during the 1932 campai gn , "Franklin D . R oosevel t is n o cru sader. He is n o tribune of the pe ople. H e is n o enemy of entrenched privilege . He is a pleasant man who, w ith out any imp o rtant qualification s fo r the office , w ould very much like t o be presiden t ." HE SUCCESS FUL

A New York City policeman informs depositors on March 4, 1 933, that their bank has been closed. On June 1 6, the last of the Hundred Days, Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act, which established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to guarantee bank deposits up to five thousand dollars. The Glass-Steagall Act also required commercial banks within the Federal Reserve system to divest their investment banking affiliates.


[ H E I HJ N D R E D D A Y �

Yet Roosevelt's con fidence in himself born of class and personal privilege, made him comfortable with innovation because he always believed that things would vrnrk out. Furthermore, his confidence in the fundamental strength of the country's values and institutions made him w illing to consider almost any proposa l for reform as long as it didn't involve junking the system entirely. Although F D R fully appreciated the seriousness of the depression, he was nevertheless ce rtain that, sooner or later, the economy would recover. He focused, therefore, in the short term on using federal funds to generate more economic activity and in the long term on passing laws and devising regulations that would prevent the worst mistakes of the 1 92 Os from ever being repeated .

The Origins of the Great De p ression D E S P I TE THE WELL - P U BLIC I ZED


1 8 8 2 - 1 945 FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT HAD BEE T preparing himself for the presidency for many years. Although a fifth cousin of Theodore Roosevelt, he came from the Democratic side of the family and so didn't join the federal government until Woodrow Wilson's election in 1 9 1 2. He served as assistant secretary of the navy (the same job held by TR) from 1 9 1 3 until 1 92 0, when he resigned to accept his party's vice-presidential nomination. After contracting polio in 1 92 1 , he spent three years convalescing before beginning one of the most remarkable comebacks in American political history with his speech nominating Al Smith at the 1 924 Democratic national convention. Four years later, he succeeded Smith as governor of New York. During FDR's two terms in Albany, he assembled a remarkable group of academics and social policy experts that reporters nicknamed the "brain trust. " Its members, including Frances Perkins Roosevelt, propped up and Harry Hopkins, ·distrusted against a car door, poses New Era economics and during his fint believed strongly in the efficacy presidential campaign in 1 932. of social welfare programs.

prosperity of the 1920s, there were many signs-appearing long before the stock market crash-that the economy was in trouble. For one thing, the nation's wealth remained concentrated in the hands o f very few people; even with installment buying, most consumers had reached the limit of their purchasing power early in the decade. For another, the savings rate was abysmally low. The families of workers who lost their jobs or farmers who lost their crops could plunge instantly from the middle class to poverty-with no money le ft to pay for automobiles, radio sets, or anything else, even on the installment plan . T he situation on the farms was the worst. Encou raged by wartime subsidies and patriotic pleadings, U. S. farmers had increased t heir production during the late 1910s far beyond all market demand in order to feed a starving Europe.As a result, when the Great War ended and Europeans began growing their own food again, agricultural prices nose-dived. Rather than cut production, the farmers asked for additional subsidies under the McNary-Haugen farm bill. First proposed in 1924, this legislation would have supported farm income by establishing a government corporation to buy surplus grain, cotton, livestock, and tobacco at a fixed high price . T he corporation would then either store its holdings until the world market price rose or "dump " them abroad at a loss. Because McNary­ Haugen contained no production limits, it was extremely popular among


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Pres. Calvin Coolidge poses with Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon (center) and Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover (right) outside the Executive Office Building in Washington, D. C., in 1 928.

agricultural constituenc ies, whose representati es won p�ssa�e o � the bill in 1927 and again in 1928. Both ti �es, h � wcver Pres. Calvm Coo h