Cold War Era (1945-1991) Vocab


Harry Truman– US president who succeeded FDR, made the decision to drop 2 atomic bombs at the end of WWII. He also helped implement the Marshall Plan, which was crucial for recovering Western Europe’s economy.

Truman DoctrinePresident Truman’s policy of providing economic and military aid to any country threatened by communism or totalitarian ideology

Policy of Containmenta foreign policy strategy advocated by George Kennan that called for the United States to isolate the Soviet Union, “contain” its advances, and resist its encroachments by peaceful means if possible, but by force if necessary.

Kennan Long Telegramcreated by George Kennan, it advised the Truman administration that the Soviets could not be dealt with as a normal government and proposed the policy of containment

Marshall PlanIntroduced by Secretary of State George G. Marshall in 1947, he proposed massive and systematic American economic aid to Europe to revitalize the European economies after WWII and help prevent the spread of Communism.

Alger Hiss Affair– an American government official who was accused by Richard Nixon of being a Soviet spy in 1948 and convicted of perjury in connection with this charge in 1950.

NSC-68–National Security Council memo #68 US “strive for victory” in cold war, pressed for offensive,  increased ($37 billion) in defense spending, determined US foreign policy for the next 20-30 yrs

NATO1949, North Atlantic Treaty Organization; an alliance made to defend one another if they were attacked by any other country; US, England, France, Canada, Western European countries, an international organization created in 1949 by the North Atlantic Treaty for purposes of collective security.

Betty Friedan1921-2006. American feminist, activist and writer. Best known for catalyzing the “Second Wave” of feminism through the writing of her book “The Feminine Mystique”

HUACThe House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) was an investigating committee which investigated what it considered un-American propaganda. This congressional Committee investigated Communist influence inside and outside the US government after WWII. The HUAC embodied the idea of McCarthyism.

McCarthyism– term to describe the “witch hunt” to find communists in America during the Cold War.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg convicted of espionage for their role in passing atomic secrets to the Soviets during and after World War II. The husband and wife were later sentenced to death and were executed in 1953.

Brown vs. Board of Education–1954- court decision that declared state laws segregating schools to be unconstitutional. Overturned Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which had declared school segregation constitutional.

Richard Nixon–President of the United States from 1969 to 1974 who followed a foreign policy marked by détente with the Soviet Union and by the opening of diplomatic relations with China. In the face of likely impeachment for the Watergate scandal, he resigned.

Watergate ScandalWatergate was a major political scandal that occurred in the United States in the 1970s, following a break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. in 1972 and President Richard Nixon administration’s attempted cover-up of its involvement.

Berlin Blockade/Airliftairlift in 1948 that supplied food and fuel to citizens of west Berlin when the Russians closed off land access to Berlin
Churchill Iron Curtain Speech former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill condemns the Soviet Union’s policies in Europe and declared, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”

Civil Rights Timeline 1960-1969

1960: In Greensboro, NC, four black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College staged a non violent sit-in at a segregated Woolworth lunch counter. They were refused service, yet allowed to stay, which triggered many other non violent protests throughout the south, which led to the desegregation of many public facilities. Six months later, the same four students were served lunch at that lunch counter.

1960: The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was founded at Shaw University, providing black youths a role in the civil rights movement.

1961: Freedom Riders push the segregation laws on public transportation, which sparked violence from angry mobs. The program was sponsored by The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

1962: James Meredith becomes the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, and violence riots by white town members and students led to JFK sending in 5,000 federal troops to control the situation.

1963: MLK is sent to jail in Birmingham, Alabama, after leading anti-segregational protests. He wrote his famous letter “Letter from Birmingham Jail”  about how it is our duty to disobey unjust laws.
1963: 200,000 people participate in the March on Washington, where MLK delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech.

1963: 24th amendment abolishes the poll tax, which had been enforced in 11 southern states to prevent poor African Americans from voting.

1963: Freedom Summer: President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, and nationality, and makes it legal for the federal government to enforce desegregation.

1965: Bloody Sunday- African Americans marching to Montgomery are stopped by severe police brutality, the media helped gain sympathy for the civil rights movement.

1965: The Civil Rights Act, Executive Order 11246, enforces affirmative action to combat discrimination, including requiring employers to take special consideration into hiring prospective minority employees.

Class Participation: Harlem Renaissance Poems

In his poem I, Too, Langston Hughes responds to Walt Whitman’s poem  I Hear America SingingHughes’ poem opens with “I, too, sing America.” The “I” is not only Hughes, but the black population as a whole; the violence, enslavement, segregation, and the dehumanization of African Americans is a part of America’s history, albeit a dark side. The diction in the next line implies that all of America is related: “I am the darker brother.” Despite the amount of melanin in their skin, Hughes asserts African Americans are still a part of America, despite segregation. His tone is hopeful for the future, as he claims that tomorrow he will eat at the table with the company, even though today he must eat in the kitchen. Hughes asserts that change will happen, and that one day America will be ashamed for not realizing African Americans’ beauty.

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

Babylon Revisited Class Participation

F. Scott Fitzgerald criticizes the extravagant lifestyle that was lead by rich Americans before the stock market crash in 1929 in  his short story Babylon RevisitedThe moralistic tale condemns the character Charlie Wales, who returns to Paris after sobering up to regain custody of his daughter, Honoria.  While in Paris, Charlie realizes the definition of “dissipate” in the context of his life: he squandered his wealth into nothing through partying and alcoholism, losing his wife and his daughter along the way. The bubble that America was living in also dissipated with the stock market crash.  Lincoln and Marian never obtained wealth in the first place, and they resented Helen and Charlie for their lavish lifestyle. Marian blames Charlie for Helen’s death, because it is easier to place the blame on him than to admit that Helen was a flawed person whose choices contributed to her death.

Emily Dickinson Poem 124 Explication

Safe in their Alabaster Chambers-
Untouched by Morning-
And untouched by noon-
Sleep the meek members of the Resurrection,
Rafter of Satin and Roof of Stone-
Grand go the Years,
In the Crescent above them-
Worlds scoop their Arcs-
And Firmaments-row-
And Doges-surrender-
Soundless as Dots,
On a Disc of Snow.

In her 124th poem, Emily Dickinson utilizes contrasting images to describe death. Once dead, one is free from harm, as Dickinson describes the deceased as “safe.” Using anaphora, Dickinson also depicts the deceased as “untouched by Morning- / And untouched by noon-;”  a play on words for “mourning,” as well as literally referring to the the dead as being unaffected by time.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

The “M” in “Morning” is capitalized to emphasize its subtle  double meaning. Moreover, the imagery of bodies’ experience inside of their coffins resembles heaven; “Alabaster Chambers” and a “Rafter of Satin” suggest a peaceful, heavenly environment. A white, chalky alabaster chamber coincides with the Bible’s description of heaven as being cleansed from sin: white is the absence of color, as well as the absence of sin.  However, to contrast the miniature heavens inside each coffin, Dickinson describes the occupants as “meek members of the Resurrection.” The biblical definition of meek, as phrased by Samuel A Meir, is much different than the modern definition: “Meekness is an active and deliberate acceptance of undesirable circumstances that are wisely seen by the individual as only part of a larger picture.” Therefore, under this definition, the deceased are patiently awaiting resurrection without resentment, as they have no control over their situation. They have not yet reached heaven, even though their waiting in a heavenly chamber. Furthermore, the second stanza of Dickinson’s poem accounts the passage of time while the dead patiently wait for resurrection. The “Crescent above them” refers to both the arc of the earth as well as the moon; and “Worlds scoop their arcs” suggest that the world above the deceased’s graves is changing. However, the earthly changes do not disturb the dead, as the rulers changing and the magistrates surrendering (plain prose of lines 10-11) are as “Soundless as Dots, / On a Disc of Snow.” The alliteration of the final two line of the poem serve to highlight the contrast of the heavenly coffins and the events on earth: the major life-altering news only affect the living, as such matters are as minuscule and silent as a snowflake to the dead. The stark contrast between the serene description of the coffins and the tumultuous description of the earth reveal Dickinson’s romantic view of death.

Jacob Riis Photograph


A Seven-Cent Lodging House, Pell Street

A Seven-Cent Lodging House, Pell Street

In Jacob Riis’ slideshow How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York (1890),  he depicts the poverty of 19th century working class Americans in New York. The horrible living conditions and lifestyle of the lower class during the Gilded Age is evident through Riis’s photographs. In the  picture above, each of the narrow strips of cloth tied to the wood is a bed for a poor tenant. Though the “beds” are packed like sardines, another other photo in Riis’ slideshow depicts a poor man sleeping outside in an actual dump, making the indoor living situation in this photo seem almost luxurious in comparison. The living conditions and lifestyle of the lower class New Yorkers were unfathomably abysmal, with these photographs as proof.

Kay Davis, M.A., University of Virginia. “Documenting “The Other Half”: The Social Reform Photography of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine.” Documenting “The Other Half”: The Social Reform Photography of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine. University of Virginia, n.d. Web. 08 Feb. 2017. <>.

Class Participation 1/24/17: Huck and Jim’s discussion on languages

In chapter 14 of Mark Twain’s The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn, Huck and Jim engage in a discussion about different languages. Jim is perplexed on why other humans talk in such a way that neither he nor Huck can understand.

Huckleberry Finn

Huckleberry Finn

When Huck attempts to explain why Frenchmen talk in a  different language than Americans, he uses an analogy between a cat and a cow, claiming that “it’s natural and right for ’em to talk different from each other, ain’t it? (179).” Twain is using the  analogy to characterize Huck; Huck perceives slaves and free men to be as different as cats and cows. However, Jim refutes Huck’s analogy and points out that frenchmen are still men, not a completely different species. Twain is making a statement about how white people did not regard slaves as fellow humans; even Huck at this point in the story still occasionally views Jim as merely property. The argument ends with Huck throwing in the towel, deciding that “it warn’t no use wasting words—you can’t learn a nigger to argue. So I quit (179).” Huck’s thoughts reflect his feelings of superiority towards slaves; he believes that he is so much smarter that he doesn’t want to bother to “learn” Jim.

Class Participation 1/20/17: When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

The poem When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d by Walt Whitman is an elegy written about Abraham Lincoln, although the poem never explicitly mentions the recently deceased president.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

The poem follows the basic format of elegies; it develops from personal to impersonal, from grief to reconciliation. Whitman uses repetition of a few key symbols and words, such as “star,” “lilac,” and “bird.” The coffin of Abraham Lincoln was saluted by many grieving Americans as it made its way from DC to Illinois, and the only thing the author had to offer was a “sprig of lilac.” The author later wishes to give a sprig of lilac to all the dead, alluding to the heavy losses of human life sustained during the civil war, showing the shift from personal (Lincoln) to impersonal (the fallen soldiers). The idea that the dead are no longer suffering, but are “fully at rest,” is also brought up, as “the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer’d, / And the armies that remained suffer’d.” Those who are left behind, especially after the death of thousands of Americans and Lincoln, are the ones who are suffering. Whitman uses a plethora repetition throughout the elegy to emphasize key themes and phrases.

Source Evaluation 3

For my third source evaluation, I found an article titled Upholds Operating On Feeble Minded: Supreme Court Majority Finds Virginia’s Sterilization Law Valid, which was published by the New York Times in 1927.

Propaganda used to promote eugenics

Propaganda used to promote eugenics in the 1920s

The article’s bias aligns with the popular opinion of eugenics at the time. Carrie Buck, her mother, and her child are all labeled as “feeble-minded” in the article, a term that was coined to describe people with a low mental capacity. The article also labeled Buck’s child as”illegitimate,” though it failed to mention that Buck had been raped. The diction of the article distorted the facts, as “illegitimate” has negative connotations regarding a mother’s morality, when in reality that was not the case in Buck’s situation. The article also argued that “the patient’s health and society’s welfare might be promoted…by sterilization of mental defectives,” implying that Buck was mentally “defective,” and that sterilizing her would be for the greater good of society. This statement also asserts a similar claim to Henrietta Lacks‘ case, in which the violation of the rights of an individual is justified when it is for “society’s welfare.”

The evident bias in a 1927 article regarding eugenics will be crucial for my research; in order to understand why eugenics became so popular in the 1920s, it is necessary to read the articles that were distributed to Americans at that time. The one-sided information published in the media promoted eugenics, and the public supported it based on the misrepresented “facts.”

New York Times. “Upholds Operating On Feeble Minded: Supreme Court Majority Finds Virginia’s Sterilization Law Valid.” New York Times 3 May 1927: n. pag. The New York Times [ProQuest]. Web. 18 Jan. 2017.

Source Evaluation 2

Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck by Adam Cohen offers insight as to why eugenics was widely accepted in the 1920s by great minds of the time. The supreme court case Buck vs. Bell ruled that compulsory sterilization is legal, in order to “prevent our [America’s] being swamped with incompetence (2).” Those deemed “feeble-minded,” or “imbeciles,” were sterilized in order to stop them from reproducing more inferior members of society. Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes, widely considered one of the greatest legal minds in American history, wrote the majority opinion for the 8-1 ruling, claiming that “three generations of imbeciles are enough (2).” The ultimate goal of the supreme court case was to improve society; however, eugenics and forced sterilization are far from ethical.

For my paper, I will primarily be using the introduction of the book, as it gives a good summary of the history of eugenics and sterilization, and it offers an explanation as to why eugenics was so popular. The author, Adam Cohen, does a good job of delivering an unbiased narrative, as he explains why a concept so unethical could have permeated popular culture. Eugenics promised to end the birth of the “diseased or crippled or depraved (3),” which, similar to communism, sounds good in theory, but is detrimental to the well-being of society in practice.  My paper will focus on medical ethics and informed consent, both of which play a part in Carrie Buck’s story. I also will be analyzing the change in acceptable ethical medical practices, which applies to the case  Buck vs. Bell.

Cohen, Adam. Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck. New York: Penguin, 2016. Print.