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It was a time of affluence, of optimism, of faith in the promise of America.

In what ways does this statement capture the America of 1945 to 1960? In what ways does it not? During the years after World War II, America experienced a strong surge of transformation. For the first time in almost half a century, the country did not have to mobilize for conflict and send their men across the Atlantic for combat. The years between 1945 and 1960 offered affluence, optimism, and faith in the promise of America for its people. However, long embedded issues questioned the positive outlook concerning civil rights and racial segregation. One of the first waves of optimism that struck America after World War II was the movement towards greater civil rights of African Americans. In Give Me Liberty, Eric Foner reports that from 1945 and the few years to follow, eleven states instituted fair employment practices commissions and numerous cities passed laws against discrimination in access to jobs and public accommodations. Voter registration in the South increased due to boosted efforts of the NAACP. Jackie Robinson was the first black baseball player hired by a major league baseball team. The crime of lynching was finally taken seriously and for the first time, no lynches were recorded in 1952. After many state-wide measures were taken and local actions made strides, President Truman appointed a Commission on Civil Rights in 1947 and called on the federal government to assume the responsibility for abolishing segregation and ensuring equal treatment in housing, employment, education, and the criminal justice system. Truman offered an enlightened message to the American people when he recognized the importance of the United States in offering freedom to their own citizens if they were to do so to other peoples of the world. Trumans efforts to address the former hypocrisy in the United States actions in combating discrimination and oppression abroad during World War II was an important step in moving forward with American civil rights. One of the largest strides made towards an optimistic future of institutionalized freedom was the executive order desegregation the armed forces. Truman issued this order in an attempt to root out long-standing racist practices and to set a precedent concerning racial discrimination. In addition to optimism regarding civil rights advancements, the end of World War II would provide faith and affluence in the golden age of capitalism. Standards of living rose, there was a low percentage of unemployment, and prices were stable. By 1960, over half of Americans were considered to be living in the middle-class. No longer did the United States rely on industry, while salaried employees in large corporate enterprises rose by sixty percent. For the first time in American history, white-collar workers outnumbered blue-collar factory and manual laborers. A life of leisure with fresh air and open space was now attainable for those who in the past had to endure the cramped and noisy city life. In the decade following the war, the population of suburban residents of single-family homes grew enough to outnumber urban dwellers and those living in rural areas. More Americans were able to become homeowners and take part in the booming consumer culture which made life easier and left for more relaxation such as appliances and cars. Eric Foner illustrates that consumer culture demonstrated the superiority of the American way of life to communism and virtually redefined the nations historic mission to extend freedom to other countries. A reporter for House Beautiful magazine insisted that freedom was offered by washing machines and dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, automobiles, and

refrigerators. Families were able to develop their personal lives due to the lack labor formerly required to maintain a home. Affluence provided optimism and faith in the American system. Although many efforts were made during 1945 and 1960 that reflected the affluence, optimism, and promise in America, some did not prove to be so positive. The affluence created by the post-war prosperity hardened the racial lines of division in American life. Blacks moved to the northern cities, where white Americans were leaving for the suburbs. New-coming minorities into cities like New York City created ethnic tensions among groups like Puerto Ricans and Italians. Non-whites rarely were approved for home ownership and although some protested the discrimination, the problem was not overcome for a long period of time. Aside from racial issues in America, the threat of communism grew strong. Due to the uneasiness surrounding the communist enemies, President Truman established a system in which government employees were required to demonstrate their patriotism without being allowed to confront accusers or even on occasion know the charges against them. Several hundred government employees were fired from their jobs and many resigned due to the seemingly corrupt system. This program, although with intentions of battling communism, appeared to be a witch-hunt with no tangible results. The way the employees were prosecuted does not reflect a movement forward for individual civil rights. Following various prosecutions and the anticommunist crusade in the 1950s, an atmosphere of fear pervaded the country. Outside of Washington, D.C., local and private organizations pursued alleged communists for their beliefs. The hysteria surrounding communism eliminated normal protocol concerning the rights given to Americans by the constitution, namely the freedom of speech. During this phase, the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the governments methods of indictment. Between 1945 and 1960, America made several strides towards an economically fit future and opened a path for civil rights advancements. However, the growing threat of communism and historical prejudices against non-whites hindered the countrys growth in the post-war years.