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            During the 1960’s the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was in full swing. One part of this “war” was the Space Race. In essence, it was a competition to see who could launch artificial satellites, send man into space, and land on the moon, etc. first. One of the most famous events of that time was the Apollo mission, in which the Apollo 11 spacecraft landed the first humans on the moon. This, along with the Space Race in its entirety, began to change America in such ways as the educational system and the imaginations of the people.

 Not long after the launch of Sputnik by the Russians, the event that instigated the Space Race, lawmakers and the public raised the cry for stressing the importance of math and science lessons in the nation’s schools. The government responded by putting more money into the educational system which in turn increased the courses given to students in these areas. This was a long term effect of the Space Race that can still be seen in schools today, as well as colleges that now offer extensive space programs for any who wish to learn.

The Space Race and the Apollo mission also sparked people’s imaginations for the unknown outer regions of our planet. This gave birth to science fiction and led to one of the most famous sci-fi movies ever to be produced, Star Wars. What’s more, there were considerable advances in technology due to the influence of the Space Race, such as development in avionics, telecommunications, and computers. Interest in engineering was also triggered by Apollo, which led to many physical facilities and machines being left behind from that era as testaments to the monumental effects of the Space Race and Apollo program on America.

In 1954, the civil rights movement began when the Supreme Court disposed of the tradition of segregation in public schools. This movement was an effort to secure equal rights for minority groups. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, passed by President Johnson, enforced the right of minorities to vote and banned differentiating voter registration requirements. It also barred segregation in schools, workplaces, and at facilities that served the general public. Its purpose was to ensure equal rights for blacks and other races. The long term effects of this bill were great, stretching through time to our century and across the country. It was considered a “landmark piece of legislation” because it made discrimination of any kind illegal. (Wikipedia) Of course, there were some problems that this Act did not address, such as literacy tests that were used to surreptitiously weed out blacks and poor white voters in the south, as well as overlooking the possibilities of economic retaliation, police repression, and violent actions towards colored voters. However, the main idea of the Civil Rights Act has lasted through the years to today and can be seen in the laws we abide by now.

Just before the Civil Rights Act was passed, in 1963 approximately 200,000 people marched on Washington D.C. It was representative of several different coalitions with civil rights as their banner, although each had their own various approaches and agendas. The organizers of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom were James Farmer, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, and A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, and Whitney Young Jr. The demands for ceasing the march included the passing of a civil rights bill, demolishing segregation in schools, protection from police brutality, etc. It was during this march that the now famous “I have a dream” speech was first made by Martin Luther King. Afterwards, President Kennedy backed a Civil Rights Act, but it was hindered by Congress during the summer. It did, however, eventually result in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In 1965, Congress passed another bill known as the Voting Rights Act. This bill was meant to deal with one of the problems of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the literacy tests. Whereas it had been overlooked before, this Act addressed this directly along with a few other issues. The National Voting Rights Act prohibited discrimination in voting practices and abolished the use of literacy tests. It also banned the states from enforcing any prerequisite for voting or refusing any the right to vote because of creed or color.

All of these things have largely impacted history and today’s America, shaping it into the country that we know now.

 The Reconstruction era after the Civil War was a hard time for America. Everyone in the country suffered from its effects, not just the South, although they did bear the brunt of it. Losing the war cost them a lot, however the North didn’t come away unscathed either even though you don’t hear much about that.

People began moving West during the expansion period for various reasons. Some went west for the opportunity it provided to own your own land and others, in my opinion, went for the adventure. I’m sure it seemed like fun to a lot of people despite the hardships, thanks to the romanticism of dime novels.

Intellectual development over time has been enormous, as we can see in all the technology around us today. The theory of a man named Jean Piaget tells of how people gain knowledge and how they come to obtain, shape, and use it. I am not entirely sure if his theory is completely correct though.

Industrial growth is what made America what it is today, I think. Without it, most likely we would have lost the Civil War. Industrialism is what gave us the comforts we enjoy now, like light bulbs and telephones and such, but I think that too much isn’t good for anyone. The plants and factories pollute the air we breathe and cause much sickness in cities that are over industrialized.

Progressivism was a movement among the people of America that centered around the desire for the government to pass laws concerning things like women’s rights, child labor, and alcohol. I quite agree with their wish for women to have the same rights as men and child labor should never have been acceptable in the first place, but I don’t really like the idea of the government having the power to directly intrude into people’s lives.

World War I was a large event in history, to say the least. The things happening outside of America were definitely something to think about. Such a war effected all the rest of the world as well, and not just the countries participating in it. This can be seen by the fact that America, who had managed to stay out of the war for a while, was eventually drawn in because of attacks on our ships. However, I think that it probably wasn’t a good idea to get involved in the affairs of other countries, seeing as how our men were sacrificed for another’s cause.

The Jazz Age marked a period in time in which, not only the popularity of a certain type of music soared, but also technological advances were made. The stock market was up even though traditional values were decreasing. However, I think that the increased technology development was a good thing.

The Great Depression was a terrible time in history that affected entire world, as well as America. The crash of the stock markets began the fall of the American economy, though there were other factors involved as well. I’m not sure it could have been prevented or not, but I think people should have been able to see it coming.

The New Deal helped a lot of people who were out of jobs during the Great Depression in various different fields. This was good; however it was a rather controversial issue for the politicians. Some Republicans thought the New Deal was against business and growth, while others were willing to compromise. There were merits to the New Deal, as well as drawbacks, in my opinion.

The American century is a term that is sometimes used to describe American dominance in the 20th century. World War II was won in favor of the Allied powers, due in a large part to the entrance of the United States into the war. The fear of communist domination was a sensible one and the desire to keep it from spreading was good. I think that it was only right that we stopped the expansion of Communism since it could have eventually been bad for America if the Axis powers had won.

The Cold War, although a precarious race indeed, was responsible for many of the advancements in science and technology. It included the nuclear arms race as well as technological and economical races. The precarious part was that Russia, too, was advancing rapidly.

The United States has changed much since its beginnings. The nation has grown not only physically, but also economically and technologically. The government has become more powerful since the Civil War and the desire for knowledge is unprecedented. We hold the standard for freedom and equality over all other nations and are the leading nation of the world in economy, industrialization, and technology. Our education system is also among the top facilities in the world and our business is among the best. What once started as a humble group of men wanting freedom from tyranny has become an unparalleled nation in the centuries that followed.

Works Cited

Wikipedia. 12 May 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964>.

Wikipedia. Apollo 11. 11 May 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_11>.

—. Cold War. 11 May 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_War>.

—. Jazz Age. 12 May 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz_Age>.

—. New Deal. 12 May 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Deal>.

—. Reconstruction era. 11 May 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconstruction_era_of_the_United_States>.

—. Space Race. 11 May 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Race>.

—. World War I. 11 May 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I>.

 

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