Key Events in America’s History

KEY EVENTS IN AMERICA’S HISTORY 5

KeyEvents in America’s History

KeyEvents in America’s History

Manyhistorical happenings have taken place in the United States since thecountry`s inception as a self-governing entity. However, the periodbetween 1920 and 1960 is regarded as being very crucial to thehistory of the country, particularly since it was at that time whenthe country faced the Great Depression, participated in the SecondWorld War, and made a breakthrough in the civil rights. Differentopinions have emerged regarding each of these historic events, withsome people claiming that World War 2, for instance, generated morenegative than positive impacts on the American society. Over the pastfew weeks, my colleagues and I have participated in discussionsexploring these key events. Precisely, the discussions focused onthree topics: the situation in America between 1920 and the 1930s,the Second World War, and America during the 1950s. In my opinion,these three topics are intimately connected, besides being veryuseful in understanding some of the occurrences that have shaped thecurrent American society.

Tobegin with, an interesting deduction was made from the discussionsthat life was generally pleasant in America during the 1920s.However, the way the government (and citizens) handled the positiveeconomic results actually triggered the economic depression thatstruck the country during the 1930s. Personally, I blame thegovernment of the day for responding to the economic crisis of the1930s through massive spending strategies. Although this waswell-intended, its consequences worsened an already serioussituation, making the rich richer at the expense of the poor. On adifferent note, the discussions provided me with a freshunderstanding of the connection between the interwar era and theGreat Depression. Prior to the discussion, I only had a faint idea ofthe reason why America’s economy slumped very deeply after a periodof remarkable economic growth. However, one student observed thatbecause of the focus on innovation, and especially, on luxury goodssuch as home appliances, crucial sectors such as agriculture andmanufacturing were badly affected, leading to massive unemployment.Through this report, I realized that the Depression was caused byother factors apart from a crash in the stock market.

Concerningthe connection between the Great Depression and the decade precedingit, the weekly discussions revealed several schools of thought. Forinstance, there is the perception that the economic prosperity thatwas witnessed during the 1920s actually triggered the 1930sdepression. One student remarked that a major failure of the Americangovernment was its tendency of reacting to an economic downturn byfocusing on welfare together with economic rights, instead of seekingeconomic freedom and expansion. Another student put the blame oncitizens, arguing that Americans only pressurize the government toenforce economy-stimulating policies when a crisis strikes. On top ofthis, the perception that Americans are an invincible people whichmake them unwilling to plan ahead and that is why the 1930 depressionbadly hit most of them.

Stillconcerning the Great Depression and the measures put in place by thegovernment in response to the crisis, an interesting debate emergedduring the discussions. On one side of the debate were students whostrongly felt that Roosevelt’s response to the crisis onlyreinforced capitalism. Opponents of this argument argued that in anygovernment, there are people who would reject and criticize everymove that the government made. In a way, these arguments changed myinitial view regarding the US government’s response to theDepression. To be precise, despite the fact that economic equalitiesexist in America even up to this day, the discussion made me realizethat sometimes, people accuse the government of doing nothing toimprove citizens’ welfare, whereas the truth is that such thinkingis inspired by political rivals who are looking for every possibleway to tarnish the image of the government.

Havingevaluated different opinions regarding America before and during the1930 depression, it was logical to explore the Second World War,focusing on the effects of the War on America. To me, there isperfect coherence between these two topics, especially, when it isconsidered that World War 2 began towards the end of the 1930s, whichis also the time when the US was recovering from the effects of theGreat Depression. Supporting my reasoning, one of the studentsparticipating in the discussion stated categorically that the entryof America into the Second World War was significant, because itmarked an end to the Depression, thereby mobilizing the economy. Thisstatement supports my position that the war generated more favorableoutcomes than the perceived negative ones. In my view, the war notonly created employment to hitherto marginalized groups, notablywomen it also prompted growth in the national economy in that thecountry began manufacturing supplies such as machine guns and tanks.

Eventhough it is generally held that the Second World War generated anumber of positive results to the people of America, the discussionsdisclosed that some of these benefits were short-lived. For instance,my opinion that the war created employment opportunities to women waschallenged using the argument that women lost their jobs when menreturned home at the end of the war. Similarly, a contentious pointregarding the war is that it reduced the extent of racism in the US,an important argument being that only whites were accepted in thesociety. This argument changed my thinking that the war only hadpositive effects on the society.

Thelast topic that was discussed in class explores the situation inAmerica during the 1950s. Again, this is a continuation of theprevious discussion and contains several elements that are related tothe previous topics. For example, the topic covers the growth ofcivil rights organizations in America, and the notion that peoplebelonged to separate, yet equal social classifications. My take onthe latter issue is that it is only a deceptive tactic used byprevious regimes in the US to perpetuate social and racial injusticesagainst minority groups. Similarly, my opinion regarding civil rightsorganizations is that they resulted from national leaders` efforts toprovide basic rights to African-Americans.

However,these opinions were challenged by the contributions of otherstudents. Specifically, I began to understand that the people behindthe emergence of civil rights groups were not national leaders, butcitizens who were slowly realizing that the ‘separate yet equal’concept was an untenable idea. Another significant deduction madefrom the discussions is that the interwar period (1920-1930s) may bethought as having considerable influence on the emergence of civilrights organizations. This is in light of the fact that the interwarperiod saw an increase in consumption of items such as television andradio, which educated the masses regarding the impracticality of theseparate yet equal concepts.

Inconclusion, the three topics hold relevance to contemporary Americansociety since they help in situating the developmental path throughwhich the country has traveled before achieving its present status.Additionally, the discussions about the interwar period make acomparison between government’s responses to economic crisis. Byanalyzing President Obama`s strategies and policies, the discussionillustrates that economic stability and prosperity is among the topagenda of the US government even today.