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WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?

Hillary
HIST1700405
AmericanCivilization


WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?
1
WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?
The20thcenturywasabusycenturyforAmerica.Americanswentthroughwars,
depressions,assassinations,&majorsocialmovements.ThepeopleofAmericawerebusy
workinghardtoearnandgaintheirrightsandtheactualrightstousethem.The20thcenturyhas
beenusedasanidealAmericashouldstriveforwithonepresidentialcandidateusingtheslogan,
makeAmericagreatagain.Thoughdidntthestrugglesofthe20thcenturyalreadymake
Americagreat?Thesocialmovements,politicalagendasandeconomicdownturnswerethe
significantthingsthathavemadeAmericaanditspeoplewhatitistoday.
The20thcenturystartedwithabang,literally.PresidentMckinleydiedbycomplications
fromanassassinationattemptonSeptember14th,1901("Freidel,Hugh).Thispresident
workedhardforhispeople.HishardworkstartedwithleadingAmericatoavictoryinthe
SpanishAmericanWar,toraisingprotectivetariffstopromoteAmericanindustry.Thisallended
withapullofatriggerbyananarchist,apersonwhodoesntbelieveingovernmentorreallyany
socialorder.Thisunfortunateeventatthebeginningofthe20thcenturygaveusour26thand
youngestpresident,TheodoreRoosevelt.
TheodoreRooseveltwasapeoplespresident.HewasaPresidentwhoworkedhardto
createasoundforeignpolicy,evenmediatingthepeacetreatyfortheRussoJapaneseWarand
oftquotingspeaksoftlyandcarryabigstick("TheodoreRoosevelt).Healsostrongly
believedinusingexecutivepowers,inordertogettheAmericanpeoplewhattheyneed.Thisset
aprecedentformanypresidentstocome.Healsobelievedinhavingthegovernmentplayalarge
roleineconomics.Explicitlyinthelaborandcapitalismcommunity.Hewasoneofthefirst
interventionistpresidentsofthemoderntimes,againstartingaprecedentforpresidentstofollow
("TheodoreRoosevelt).


WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?
2
AmericathenelectedWoodrowWilsonasthenextpresident,WoodrowWilsons
presidencywasaccompaniedbymanyinterestingpoliticalfeatsandhealsoconsideredhimselfa
peoplespresident("WoodrowWilson.").Hewasaprogressivist,ordemocrat.Hetookaneutral
stanceonWW1,untilhedidnt,hethendecidedtodeclarewarreasoningto"maketheworld
safefordemocracy."("WoodrowWilson.").Thisisthefirstpresidenttodeclarewarinattempt
tohelpotherstatesachieveAmericasgreatnessindemocracy.Thissetsamajorprecedentfor
ourpresidentstocome,especiallyinthe21stcentury.
DuringWilsonspresidencythe16thamendmentauthorizingincometaxwasratifiedand
the17thamendmentprovidingdirectelectionforsenatorswasratified.Alsootherimportant
eventshadoccurredpolitically,oneofthemwasthecreationofthefederalreservesystemand
anotherimportanteventwasthebroadeningofsegregationincivilservice(APhistorynotes).
TheFederalreservesystemwasspurredintothoughtin1907,atthestartofanother
financialcrisis.ThisactbecamethecentralbankingsystemoftheUnitedStates,thisactalso
gaveAmericapowertoissuetheU.S.Dollar,akaFederalreservenotes(Investopedia).
TheFederalReservesystem,asstatedbefore,wasputintoplaceduringaneconomic
downturn.Thisactwasvotedintoplacetoinsureeconomicstabilityduringtheebbsandflowsof
anyeconomy.ThisFederalreservesystemplaysahugepartin21stcenturypolitics,America
hasseenitrecentlywhenthefedsthreatentoraiseinterestrates,orfurtherinthepastwhen
Americanpoliticiansvotedtobailoutlargebanks,andautomakers,afterthe2008depression.
InterventionismisawordusedtodescribetheUSforeignpolicy,itisinshort,A
nondefensive(proactive)activityundertakenbyanationstate,orothergeopoliticaljurisdiction
ofalesserorgreaternature,tomanipulateaneconomyand/orsociety(InterventionistForeign


WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?
3
Policy,Google)
.
WeseethisinterventionismstartingtotakeshapewithPresidentTheodore
RooseveltwhenhemediatedtheendoftheRussoJapanesewar,thoughwereallyseeitinaction
whenPresidentWilsonsendsAmericaintoWorldWar1tohelpensureotherpeoplegainthe
righttodemocracy.
WorldWarIstartedinJuneof1914whenArchdukeFranzFerdinandofAustriawas
assassinatedinSarajevo,Bosnia,byaSerbianNationalist.InAugustof1914theeuropean
continenthadgivenbirthtoWorldWarI.Thiswarwasfoughtbetweentwogreateuropean
powers,thecentralpowersvstheAlliedpowers("WorldWarIIHistory).Thiswarhasbeen
historicallyknowntobefullofcarnageanddeath.Americaenteredthewarin1917,asa
memberoftheAlliedpowers.InpartduetoAmericasinterventionistwaysbroughtintoaction
byPresidentRooseveltandPresidentWilson,butalsothankstogermanysinkingannon
AmericanoceanlinertheLusitania,inwhich128Americansaboarddied.
ThiswarwasnotopposedbytheAmericanpeople,Americahasbeenaculturalmixing
potsinceitscolonization.Thankstothistherewerestrongdesirestoattendtothiswarbecause
ofthetiethatAmericanpeoplefelttotheirhomelands,familyandancestors.Thisisoneofthe
firsttimespatriotismarises,wewillseemanypresidentsafterPresidentWilsoncalluponthe
patriotismoftheAmericanpeopletosupportawar,withAmericansgladlyparticipating.
Thedepressioncameafterthebooming1920s,andeveryonespenttheirmoneyonGreat
Gatsbystyleparties.Reallythe1920swereatimeinAmericaofprogressiveness,wehadpeople
challengingsocialnormsandwomanfightingfortherightstovote.Thiswasthefirstdecadeto
begivenanickname:Roaring20sorJazzAge(
Mintz,S.,&McNeil,S.
).The20swerea


WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?
4
timewhentheyoungergenerationrebelledagainstthetraditionalwaysofitselders.Americahas
seenthisrebellionagainstgenerationaltiesfornowalmost100years,just4yearsshort.
The20sbuckedanysenseoftraditionthatwasseenupuntilthen.Ontradition,
followingthelawwascompletelyputasidethankstoprohibition.Therewerepeoplegoing
behindthegovernmentwithspeakeasiesillegalsalesandpurchasesofalcohol.Somepeople
wereevenmakingalcoholintheirbathtubswithonedrinkbecomingwidelyknownduringthat
era,bathtubgin.(
Mintz,S.,&McNeil,S.
).Ontheotherhand,itwasatimeofroaring
prosperity.Manypeoplewerefinanciallycomfortableandbecomingsuccessful.Itwasatime
whenAmericabirthednewmoneytogiveoldmoneyarunforitsmoney.Italsobecameatime
inwhichAmericanslookbackto,inordertodescribewhatkindofeconomicprosperitymade
Americagreat.Americasawthiskindofprosperityin20042007.In1929,thisprosperitywas
completelywasbroughttoanabruptendonOctober24th,1929.
TheGreatDepressionwasfirstmarkedbywhatsomesaidwasanordinarydepression
("TheGreatDepression).OnthisfaithfulBlackThursdaythebubbleburst,thiswasthestartof
theworsteconomicdepressionsthewesternworldhaseverseen.("TheGreatDepression).
ThankstothegoldstandardwhichAmericaandothercountriesadoptedinthe20th
century,theAmericandepressionwasfeltacrosseurope.Bankssoonbegantofailduringthis
time.Thiswasatimemarkedbybankbailouts,asseeninthe1913sduringanotherdownturn,
exceptthistime,bankbailoutswereunsuccessful.
ThePresidentatthetime,HerbertHooverRepublicanwasvehementlyagainstthe
AmericanGovernmentdirectlyinterveningintheeconomyintermsofhelpingproviderelieffor
itscitizens.PresidentHooverhowever,believedthatthegovernmentshouldtrytokeepbanks


WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?
5
andotherlargebusinessinstitutionsafloatbyprovidinggovernmentrelief.PresidentHooverwas
thefirstRepublicanPresidentwhodecidedthatthemoneyofhisinvestorswasfarmore
importantthanthemoneyofthepeoplethathewasleading.
AswithmostRepublicanstodaywhosupportthebigbanksandinstitutions,President
Hooverwasnotreelectedandhispresidentialrebidwasendedbytheveryfamousandwell
quotedDemocrat,PresidentFranklinD.RooseveltorFDRforshort.FDRwasknownforhis
calmdemeanorandonewhoreallyworkedhardforthiscountry.Inhisfirst100daysas
presidenthebroughtaboutthenewdeallegislation.Whichwaswrittentohelpstabilizethe
agricultural,andindustrialindustries,promotejobgrowthbycreatingjobs,whichwasseenasa
waytostimulatetheeconomy("TheGreatDepression).FDRalsohelpedpassthefinancial
systemreformswiththefoundingoftheSEC,thesecuritiesandexchangecommission.Manyof
thelegislationreformsthatpresidentFDRproposedandpassedwerepartofPresidentBarack
Obama's2008platformduringhisrunforpresident.
ThedepressionthataffectedAmericawasalsoaffectingwartorneuropeinworseways.
Wesawtheriseofveryextremepoliticalmovements.Thesefascistmovementsthatcausedthe
mostupheavalwere,BenitoMussolini'sItalyandAdolfHitler'sGermany.Thesefascist
movementsweregrownoutoftheordinarypeople'sdistasteforgovernmentwhichwasunable
andsometimesunwillingtohelpitsailingcitizens(Heywood,204).HitlerandMussolinis
regimeswerebornoutoftheirpureeloquentcharismaticrhetoriconhowthey,alone,wouldhelp
theailingcitizensoftheircountries.
Hitlertookitonestepfurther.Heblamedallthehorriblethingsthathappenedto
Germanyonareligion,whichheclassifiedasarace.Hetookthisveryextremeview,andthe


WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?
6
disenchantmentoftheGermanpeople,andturnedthatnegativeenergyintoWorldWarII
(Heywood).
Thesefascistideasarenotfarfromsomepeople'sviewsinourworldtoday.Humans
wantsomethingtoblameforthemiscareofourcitizensbyourgovernmentsanditsentities.We
arecurrentlyfightingthiskindofthoughtwiththekillingsofpoliceofficers,inordertogain
somesortofreasoningfor,whatsomehavedeemed,raciallyfueledkillings.
WorldWarIIwasawarofgenocide,hate,technology,anddeath.Thiswarwasthemost
widespreadandwidelyfoughtwarinhistory,aswellasthedeadliest("WorldWarII).Thiswar
startedwhenthesociopathicleaderofGermany,AdolfHitlermarchedonPoland.TheGermans
alsosunkover100BritishvesselsusingtheirUboats,duringthefirst4monthsatwar.("World
WarIIHistory)AtthestartofthiswarUScitizenswerecallingitthenonwarduetothe
technologicaladvancesinmaritimewar,inwhichtheUScitizenscouldnotseeorcomprehend.
Duringthisearlywartime,theamericancitizenswerecomplacent,andtheamericangovernment
wastakingtheisolationistroute.ThiswasduetothedistastethatWWIleftintheAmerican
citizensmouth.AlthoughUScitizensandpoliticiansalikewereagainstinterveninginWWII,
PresidentFDRtriedandsucceededattimeswithhelpingthebritish,byprovidingweapons,
ammunitionandfoodundertheLendLeaseAct(USEntryandAlliance).
TheUSeventuallystartedtakingfurtherstepstowardsenteringtheconflictwhen
AmericanNavyandArmyAirForcesstartedtoescorttheBritishconvoyscarryingthegoodsof
theLendLeaseAct.ChurchillgregariouslyattemptedandfailedtoconvinceFDRtoenterthe
wartoaidintheBritishempire.


WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?
7
OnDecember7th,1914,theUSenteredintothewar.Churchillwasnttheonewho
convincedAmericatoenterthewar,ithadbeentheJapanesewhentheybombedPearlHarbor,
Hawaii.PatriotismensuedandwewereatwarwiththeJapaneseandtheGermans.Afterthis
pointallAmericans,exceptonesenatorJeanetteRankin,wereinsupportofAmericas
involvementinWWII.
ThisrallycryoftheAmericanpeople,andnotjusttheleadersofAmerica,issomething
weseetoday.Americahasalwaysseemedstrongerintimesofadversityagainstaforeignthreat.
WesawthisinactionduringandimmediatelyaftertheSeptember11th,2001WorldTrade
Centerterroristattacks.InsomewaysAmericaisafamilywherethereisfighting,
misunderstanding,angerandsometimeshatred.Though,ifanoutsideforceharmsthefamilythe
familywillalwaysbandtogether.
AmericanscametogetherduringWWII.Theyansweredthecallofwar,withmany
fathers,husbands,sonsbeingshippedofftofightinEuropeandthePacifictheaters.Withmen
beingsenttofight,womenpickedupmuchoftheslackofprovidingandcaringforthehome,as
wellasworkinginfactoriestomakewartimegoods.ThiswasthefirsttimeinAmericanhistory
inwhichwomenweremorethanjusthomemakers,theywerethecaretakersofAmerica.
FDRpassedawayinApril,1945andwassucceededbyHarryS.Truman.President
HarryS.Trumanwasthefirstandonlypresidenttoauthorizetheuseoftheatomicbomb.The
reasoningforusingtheatomicbombswassoundduetotheheavycasualtiessustainedinIwo
JimaandOkinawaandtheideaofhowcostlymoregroundwarwouldbeontheAmerican
people("WorldWarIIHistory).TheatomicbombsweredroppedAugust10th1945onthe


WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?
8
citiesofHiroshimaandNagasaki.ItwasoneoftheonlytimesAmericaexercisedthebigstickin
fullanditbroughtanendtoWorldWarIIbutbroughtthebeginningoftheColdWar.
The1950swerenicknamedthehappydays,thoughitwasmarkedbymanypositives
includingtheaffluenceaffordedtomostAmericansofacertainstature.Thiswasthegeneration
wheregenderrolesandidealsweresolidified.ThinkNormanRockwells,FreedomofWant
painting.Manywomenwereusheredbackintotherolesofhomemakerafterbeingoutinthe
workplaceduringWorldWarII.Menduringthiseraweremostlywhitecollarworkers,
somethingthatwasnewtoamerica.Thewhitecollarworkerinfluxcontributedtotheriseofthe
middleclassfamily.Thesefamiliesmovedtothesuburbs,ownedhomesandcommutedfor
work.Economistsattributethistimeofgrowingeconomyandaffluenceofsocietytothe
government'sheavydomesticspending.ThiseconomicincreaselastedthroughtheKoreanWar
(Brinkley).
The1950swerealsoaneraofdistrust,theColdWarwasinfullforceandmanypeople
werescaredandskepticalbecauseofthenewandrealknowledgeofwhatanatomicbombcan
do.Thiswasatimeinwhichthegovernmentandthepeopleweredisconnected,atimeinwhich
politiciansusedpublicfeartopushagendas.
The1960swereatimeofsocialchange.StartingwithJohnF.Kennedy,whohadrana
successfulcampaignasacharismaticpersonwitha1950sidyllicNormanRockwellfamilyby
hisside.Theconfidencethispresidentshowedandthegovernmentchangeshepresented,made
mostAmericansfeelatease.Therewasabeliefthatthiswouldbeadecadewithoutwaror
strife.PresidentKennedy'spoliticalagendawasawelcomeone,itwasaanagendathatsought
toeliminateinjusticeandinequalityintheUnitedStates(Brinkley).Thisdemocraticagendawas


WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?
9
meetwithmajorpushbackbythesouthernersincongress.Thesesouthernerswere,not
surprisingly,againstanyinterventionoftheU.S.Governmentontheirstategovernments.
TheCivilrightsmovementofthe1960swasatimeinwhichAmericansofAfrican
descentwerefightingfortheirrightsinmostlysouthernstates.Thesestateshadmanydifferent
lawswhichoppressedAfricanAmericans.Theywerealsoriddledwithviolenceagainstpeople
ofcolor.Thesouthernstateswerestuckintheirinabilitytoevolvesocially.Peopleofcolorcould
notusethesamerestrooms,thesameschoolsandcouldnteatoffthesamesilverwareaswhites.
TheseAmericanswerediscriminatedagainstbecauseofthecoloroftheirskinandnoother
apparentreason.Duringthistimetherewasawarinthestreets,freedomofspeechwasobscured
andpeacefulprotestswereturnedviolentbythepeople.NotjustanypeoplebuttheAmericans
whosejobwastoprotectthepeople.
Thecivilrightsmovementgaveanametosomeprominentlegislativeacts,suchasthe
VotingRightsActof1965andtheCivilRightsActof1968("CivilRightsMovement).This
wasanerainwhichAfricanAmericansandtheirsupportersusedpeacefulprotestsandpeaceful
actsofcivildisobediencesuchassittingatacounterwaitingtobeservedameal.MartinLuther
KingJr,AKADr.MartinLutherKingJr,becamethevoiceandleaderofthecivilrights
movement.Hewastheunitingvoiceofreasonduringthistime.Hewasaproponentinpeaceful
protest,arguingthatyoucannotendhatewithhate.TodaywestillseethestruggleoftheAfrican
Americancultureanditsdesiretochangethehateandstrifebroughtuponthem.Unfortunately,
thereisnoonevoiceofreasoncurrently,andashistoryhasproventherehastobeoneleaderthat
iseithergoodorbadwhocanunitethepeopleswishesinorderforatruedifferencetobemade.


WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?
10
Vietnamvet,thetwowordsseenwidelywrittenacrosscardboardonthesideofthe
streets.Thetwowords,VietnamWar,incitesanger,sadnessandthememoryofonewarthat
Americaopenlylostandisstilllosing.TheVietnamWardraftedandsentAmericansthatwere
notyetoldenoughtovote,intoharm'sway.Duringthiswar,rulesofwarfarewerecompletely
thrownoutthewindowbythevietnameseandheavyciviliancasualtiesweresustained.Itturned
intothewarthattheAmericanpeoplehated.
ThisbroughthomeathemethatAmericanswillalwayssupportawarinthebeginning
thankstothepoliticiansabilitytospewnationalistandpatrioticrhetoric,butAmericanswill
eventuallybecomedisenchantedandclaimtheywerehoodwinkedbytheU.S.government.The
VietnamWarisstillbeingfoughttodayinAmerica.TheAmericansthatfightthiswarcame
homewithverylittlesupportfromtheAmericanpeopleandtheAmericangovernment.The
VietnamVeteranhadverylittlesuccessinintegratingbackintononwarlife.TheseAmericans
whofoughthardforourcountrycanbeseenonthestreetshomelessorstrugglingfromvarious
formsofillnessesbroughtonbythechemicalsusedtofightthewar.Asonechemicalengineer
whoworkedfortheU.S.Armyduringthattimesaid,Donttrustanythingthegovernment
deemsfitforconsumption,especiallythechemicals,youveseenwhattheyhavedonetotheir
ownpeoplebyallowingsuchchemicalstobeused.A.Mohammed(directquote).
DuringtheVietnamWar,asubculturewasbornandduringthe1970stherewasadesire
forchange.Socialroleswerefoughtagainstandalsostrictlyheldinplace,andthegovernment
scandalWatergateoccurredwhichincreasedtheAmericanstodistrustthepoliticianswhowere
electedintogovernment.Thereweregreattechnologicaladvances,butalsolotsof
unemployment.Therewasacceptance,butalsolotsofdesirefromtheconservativedemographic


WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?
11
tokeeptheirconservativelivesthenorm.Thesearesimilartowhatweseeintoday's
conservativepoliticalworld.
Duringthistime,theconservativesheldthemajorityofthevotingpopulation.These
conservativesvotedintoofficePresidentRichardNixon.PresidentNixonbegantoreformthe
welfarestateinwhichtheconservativeAmericansthoughthadcausedthissocialcounter
movement.PresidentNixonwasthepresidentofthemiddleclass,hisreformswere,intodays
views,liberal.The1970sgavewaytomanyoftheculturalandsocialideasthatAmericanssee
today.Inthe1970smanyofthemiddleupperclassandmiddleclassinthesuburbsheldtightto
theirsocialrolesinthehomesandinlife.Whereaspeoplelivinginlargecitiesandpeopleof
lowerclassweremoreinclinedtoletpeoplelivehowtheywantedtolive.Americainthe70s
sawgreattechnologicaladvancessuchasthecomputer,thecigarettelighterandtheVHS.The
70sleadtofashionbecomingoneofthemostimportantformsofselfexpressionandself
identificationwhichweseetoday.Wesawdifferentpoliticalmovementsbornsuchasthe
environmentalmovement,women'srightsmovementandtheantiwarmovements(1970s).
AfterWatergate,theAmericanpoliticalsphereandtheAmericanpeoplewerevastly
divided.Americansstartedtocarelessandtakelesspartinpolitics.Duringthistimetheyused
theirhardearnedfreedomsofselfexpressiontodoastheypleased.TheNewRightevolvedfrom
theAmericanliberation,duetorisingcrime,unemploymentandissueofforeignpolicy.Ronald
ReaganthenextRepublicanpresidentwonovertheincumbentdemocraticpresidentJimmy
carter.
RonaldReaganwasapresidentwhosetouttocutbackonthefederalgovernmentandits
spending.Hewasaproponentofderegulation,freemarketsandtaxcuts.Hewasan


WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?
12
interventionistpresident,whohatedcommunism.Hepushedforgovernmentspendinginorderto
helpupendcommunistregimesinGrenada,ElSalvadorandNicaragua.Todayweseethis
ReaganDoctrineusedinsupplyingmoneyandweaponstotheMiddleEast.Reagansingle
handedlybroughtbackwhatmanyAmericanssawastraditionalsocialandpoliticalnorms.He
wasaneffectivepresident.Americanssawtheriseofpeoplewithdegreesenteringthe
workplace,thisdecadewasadecadeofpureconsumerismandmoney(1980s).Therewasalso
thegrowthofAmericanmedia,musiciansandMTV.Thiswasadecadeofverylittleturbulence
andmajorgrowth.

The1990sbroughtgreattechnologicaladvancements,greatworldpoliticalfeats,wars,

terroristattacksandapresidentialimpeachment.Theworldsawgermanyreunited,Nelson
Mandela,thecollapseofthesovietunionandsubsequentlytheendoftheColdWar.The
politicalspherewasbeingovertakenbylobbyistsanddonors.Americaagain,wenttowarfora
reasoninwhichnooneknowswhy.
Thiswasthedecadethatsetprecedentonhowtomakeapointortakeastand.Mass
shootingswererealizedwiththeColumbineshootingsandoneofthefirstterroristattacks
againsttheAmericanpublicoccurredwiththebombingsoftheWorldTradeCenter.Therewas
alsotheOklahomaCitybombingandtheCentennialOlympicParkbombingduringthe1996
summerolympics.ThiswasthefirsttimeAmericahadatasteofwhatwasturnedtobebandaids
onsocialissueswiththewoundsgrowinglarger(Rosenberg).
ThesearethepoliticalandsocialinfluencesthathaveshapedAmericanpoliticaland
socialenvironment.Americahaslongbeenacountrythatisdiverseinpoliticalthought,and
socialbeliefs.Thenewsmediaandsocialmediawehavetoday,wasintendedtobring


WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?
13
Americanstogether,hasonlymadeAmericansmorebecomemoredivided.Thisisbasedonthe
waythepoliticalandsocialenvironmenthaveonlyfixedproblemsintheshortterm,withno
longtermplanofunitingthepeopleputintoplace.Americaiswitnessinginrealtime,theshort
termsolutionstolongtermproblems.AmericaisrelivingAmericanhistory,exceptthistimeits
notwatergate,itswikileaks.Americadoesnotneedtobemadegreatagain.Americaneedsa
revolutionoftruereform,andgovernmentwithoutpolitics.


WhatWassoGreataboutAmericainthe20thcentury?
14

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