This project will outline how changes in American society were influenced after the United States involvement in major wars, with the main focus on women’s role and African American rights. As well as the United States repeated fight against isolationism and communism.
From April 1917 to November 11, 1918 the United States was involved in the first World War. World War I proposed many new challenges and changes in American society. After World War I the United States began to retreat towards isolationism. Conflicting between the idea of internationalism and isolationism the United States was divided. Some of American society wished for the United States to remain open to being involved in international affairs and policy making. While the other side of American society wished for the United States to stay out of world affairs so they could focus on the United States. This is a reason why the United States did not join the proposed League of Nations, Americans didn’t want to be known now as a military power. Another reason was that society was tired of all the bloodshed of American people and the large amounts of money being spent to partake in world affairs like World War I. A large advocate for turning the United States inward was the soon to be president, Warren Harding. “Warren Harding won the 1920 presidential election on the promise of staying out of global affairs, and by arguing that the United States needed normalcy and a focus on internal problems”. This isolationism post World War I allowed for the United States to focus on growing its domestic economy and policies. Through this, the United States began “supporting business growth, encouraging industrial expansion, imposing tariffs on imported products and limiting immigration”.1 With Harding now president, the United States cut taxes resulting in the post-war 1920s to be high in economic growth. As a result of this increase in economic growth “industry flourished, the stock market rose, technology rapidly evolved”. American society hoped that would be the result of turning inward would provide for the United States. Fast forward to 1941 and the United States are in yet another war, this time it was World War II.
On December 7th, 1941 a fleet of Japenese airforce planes attacked and bombed Pearl Harbor. The United States decided to declare war and join the Allies against the Axis powers in World War II. The United States involvement in World War II was one of the main reasons for the United States getting out of the Great Depression. This was largely due to the many jobs created by the factories making the ammunition and military weapons and vehicles. World War II helped jump-start the United States economy and bring it back to great world power once again. Therefore post World War II American society was thriving, just as it had post World War I. “The war brought the return of prosperity, and in the postwar period, the United States consolidated its position as the world’s richest country”. The United States economy saw an increase in their GNP (Gross National Product) from “about $200 thousand-million in 1940 to $300 thousand-million in 1950 to more than $500 thousand-million in 1960”. The American society loved this as many citizens could finally call themselves part of the middle class. Around this time is when the United States started to see a form of mass production of the product. Automobiles production was increased by almost quadruple and “…a housing boom stimulated in part by easily affordable mortgages for returning servicemen, fueled the expansion”. After the war, there was a shift of people who started to move out West and Southwest. “Sun Belt cities like Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona, expanded rapidly”. What followed this movement was Americans started to move out of cities and into suburbs because of the increase in larger families due to the baby boom after the war ended.
Though World War II ended, communism still threatened the United States for years to come, the Cold War was a large influence on American society. The Cold War “escalated due to antagonist values between the United States, representing capitalism and democracy, and the Soviet Union, representing communism and authoritarianism”. For the United States stopping the spread of communism was their number one goal. As communism made its way spreading countries like Cuba, Americans worried that it was soon going to make its way in the United States. This created a divide in American Society, Americans were on the lookout for potential communist spies and influencers. This paranoia worsed to the point were celebrities like John Lennon were pinned for a communist spy.
World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and Vietnam War all influenced changes in American society. Whether it was impacting Americans directly or through policy changes.