When Dwight D. Eisenhower ran for the presidency, his campaign slogan was Peace, Prosperity, and Progress. The American people liked the idea of all three, and in 1952, they showed it, when Eisenhower beat Stevens by a landslide. In actuality, Eisenhower failed to make the 1950s a decade of Peace, Prosperity, and Progress. Peace did not come till the end of fighting in the Korean War in 1953, and even then, the conflict was not resolved. Peace between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. hung in a precarious balance for a long time after Eisenhower left office. While the middle and upper-class white families felt the economic boom, minorities and lower-class families reaped no benefits from the country’s economic successes. The United States did experience much progress in technology, production of consumer goods, and military technology, but as a society, there was very little progress towards racial equality.
The Korean War was a war in which the U.S. participated in to protect their democratic interests in Japan. However, they were able to play it off as helping the people of South Korea. Although Eisenhower claimed he would bring peace to Korea, the war continued on for more than a year after he was elected president. The peace that followed was a tentative one, as the potential for war with the Soviet Union loomed in the future. While there was no actual fighting, Eisenhower made enormous increases in military spending to protect against the war that everyone thought was coming. The military budget increased more than $30 billion dollars from 1950 to 1960. While Eisenhower promised peace, he was expecting war.
The 1950s were a time when there was an economic boom in an already strong economy. World War II veterans had come back and settled down with wives in suburban areas. The already strong economy led to the ability of families to support many children, which led to even more consumers, which strengthened the economy further. This economic success was limited to the upper and middle-class white families.
Lower class families still struggled to stay afloat, while all black citizens had to constantly defend their right to an equal chance. Most of the time, black families were not allowed to purchase houses in new housing developments, regardless of how capable they were to pay for it. There was prosperity galore, but only for a select group of people, this cannot be called a decade of prosperity, when a large group of people within the U.S. did not prosper.
There is no doubt that consumer goods progressed, and that the development and mass production of goods progressed. Military technology also underwent great changes. However, as a society, we regressed. Women were once again discouraged from leaving home. Women who wanted to work were considered to be heartless towards their husbands, and bad wives. They were expected to stay at home and take care of their kids. Blacks were not regarded as real citizens of the U.S. They did not have the same rights and held a lower status.
While Eisenhower’s slogan may have won him the election, he did not follow up on his promise to America. Peace, Prosperity, and Progress is not an accurate description of the 1950s.
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