Most important person 1945-1974 in the US?Every era in American history has had notable men and women who shaped their times, for better or worse. Identify one person from this week’s reading who...

Most important person 1945-1974 in the US?

Every era in American history has had notable men and women who shaped their times, for better or worse. Identify one person from this week’s reading who you believe had a significant impact on the years from 1945 to 1974. This could include a president who introduced important policies that changed the country, a social activist who inspired reform, or someone else who had an important positive or negative impact on this era. Briefly explain who this person was, their specific “individual influence” on the times, and then discuss why you made your selection.

Asked on by cjones0333

8 Answers

carol-davis's profile pic

carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt had  to be one of the most important people in that period of time.   As president for over twelve years, his impact is still felt today.  Faced with the Great Depression and World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt, nicknamed "FDR," guided America through its greatest domestic crisis, with the exception of the Civil War, and its greatest foreign crisis.

His presidency is unparalleled in scope and in the experimental economic and social programs of the "New Deal" which helped bring about the beginnings of a national recovery. 

Under Roosevelt's leadership, the United States emerged from World War II as the world's foremost economic, political, and military power. FDR's contributions to domestic life during his presidency were just as vital. His develop of programs that attempted to solve the socio-economic problems of the United States opened opportunities for the impoverished.

1. CCC - Civilian Conservation Corps was created in 1933 by Franklin D. Roosevelt to combat unemployment.  The CCC was responsible for building many public works and created structures and trails in parks across the nation.

2. Federal Housing Administration was a government agency created to combat the housing crisis of the Great Depression. The large number of unemployed workers combined with the banking crisis created a situation in which banks recalled loans. The FHA was designed to regulate mortgages and housing conditions.

3. The Federal Security Agency established in 1939 and ending in 1953 served as the forerunner of Social Security.  Until it was abolished in 1953, it administered social security, federal education funding, and food and drug safety.

4. The Home Owner's Loan Corporation was created in 1933 to assist in the refinancing of homes.  The housing crisis created a great many foreclosures, and Roosevelt hoped this new agency would stem the tide. One million people received long term loans through the agency in two years.

5. The Public Works Administration was a program created to provide economic stimulus and jobs during the Great Depression. The PWA was designed to create public works and continued until the US ramped up wartime production for World War II. It ended in 1941.

6. The Social Security Act was designed to combat the widespread poverty among senior citizens. The government program provided income to retired wage earners. The program has become one of the most popular government programs and is funded by current wage earners and their employers.

7. The Tennessee Valley Authority was established in 1933 to develop the economy in the Tennessee Valley region which had been hit extremely hard by the Great Depression. The TVA was and is a federally owned corporation that works in this region to this day. It is the largest public provider of electricity in the United States.

8. The Works Progress Administration was the largest New Deal Agency.  The WPA impacted millions of Americans. It provided jobs across the nation. Because of it, numerous roads, buildings, and other projects were completed. It was renamed the Works Projects Administration in 1939. It officially ended in 1943.

Roosevelt developed his creed and told the American people that this is what he would strive to do in his presidency.

  • The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;
  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate to food and clothing and recreation;
  • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
  • The right of every businessman, large or small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
  • The right of every family to a decent home;
  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
  • The right to a good education.

Many of these things were accomplished during Roosevelt's time in office.

shake99's profile pic

shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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If we are taking America's international position into account, I would consider George Marshall as a strong possibility here. He helped us win World War II and then desgined the Marshall Plan, which established America's international strategy and position for the next fifty years or so.

In the late 50's Harry Truman said that Marshall was the most important man in America in the last 30 years.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I suppose that the obvious individual for this time period would be Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  King was, of course, the major figure in the Civil Rights Movement.  This movement was instrumental in changing America in a very fundamental way.  This change was arguably more important than any changes brought about by someone like Nixon or McCarthy.

bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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I would have to go with John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Kennedy gave the nation (and the rest of the planet) hope that his new ideas could change the world. Nixon showed us the dark side of politics and personal character, a trend that has continued with every U. S. President since.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Since World War II and the atomic bomb are right in the middle of this time period, I would suggest that President Truman was the most important person during this time, because he is the one that agreed to drop the bomb and changed the course of the war.

User Comments

etotheeyepi's profile pic

etotheeyepi | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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One might want to check the idea that the Tennessee Valley Authority began with the Roosevelt Administration.  A more correct answer might be that it began during the Great War when the Wilson Administration began construction of the Wilson Dam.

Very likely, nothing in the New Deal is novel or orginal.  Many cradle-to-grave nanny states have come an gone.  For example, one might consider that the first British colony in New England began as a commune.  Before that, the Greek city-state of Sparta stands out as an example.  

Prehistory must offer many examples.  The idea that the tribe must care fore its own must have been a common idea. And if the tribe must care for its own, it may sell its own to pay its debts, which could be the reason that African slaves were available to replace the Native American slaves in the Caribbean in the sixteenth century.


etotheeyepi's profile pic

etotheeyepi | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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I think that poster #1 is correct.  Martin Luther King Jr, is a good choice.  Also, we might nominate William Bradford Shockley Jr (February 13, 1910 – August 12, 1989), an American physicist and inventor, who, along with John Bardeen and Walter Houser Brattain, invented the transistor, for which all three won the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics. 

Later in his life, Shockley became a staunch advocate of eugenics, which probably disqualifies him for consideration, unless maybe we intend that the candidate is to grace the cover of Time Magazine.  In any case, we could not have this conversation without his invention.