We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

1950’s: Happy Days for American’s

The whole doc is available only for registered users

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

The 1950’s were the Happy Days for American’s because of the improvements in technology, cultural changes, booming economy, racial advancement, but also the baby boom. President Dwight Eisenhower who was elected in 1952 had a major impact on America’s economy. During his term he lowered taxes, but also managed to balance the federal government which allowed for consumerism to thrive and government spending to allow for the feeling of security in the economy. He also maintained many of FDR’s social programs such as Social Security and the Interstate Highway System. In the 1950’s, two thirds of America’s population made it into the middle class. Having a great economy at that period of time was quite extraordinary and distant. After the Great Depression, and the two World Wars, having an outragous economy basically introduced a new life to American’s. They were able to afford new and better houses, cars, and all kinds of goods, that were inaccessible to them during the Depression or the World War II.

While Europe and Asia were still recovering from World War II, America was rising to the top in economy, but also technology (Economy in the 1950s), (Bruccoli), (Madaras). Besides all of the great changes that occured at that time the 50’s also had it’s disadvantages. Citizens of the United States were terriffied of the Soviets, their spread of communism, and their new technology inventions such as the atomic bomb or the satellite called Sputnik. The Cold War, which was not an actual war, but a political and economic tension betweet the two nations, was a huge issue. Even though the Soviet Union was extremely powerful and controlled many countries in Europe and Asia, President Eisenhower made sure that communism would not reach America. He created specific laws and policies for communists to forbid them into entering United States, but he also joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949 “in order to contain the spread of communism”. Eisenhower tried his best to prevent from starting another war with the Soviet Union and he succeeded (Madaras).

One reason why I believe that the 1950’s were America’s Happy Days is because of their booming economy and the new inventions. United States had the largest and strongest economy in the world at that time. During the war American’s saved around $140 billion, which now they were able to spend on all of the new goods, that weren’t available to them during the Great Depression or the War. The national gross product in 1950 was $284.6 billion, and at the end of that decade it increased to $482.7 billion. From 1945 until 1960 the average wage earner increased it’s earnings by 22%. The average family income in 1947 was around $3,000 a year and by 1959 the income raised to about $5,400 a year. The top 1% of the population owned 19% of the nation’s wealth in 1949 and by 1960 it raised to 33%. The unemployment precentage in the middle of the decade only reached to about 4.5% which was extremely low (Madaras), (Bruccoli).

The Baby Boom, which was an enormous birth rate increase, caused adults and families to purchase new and bigger households. The creation of the suburbs which were residential communities near the cities, became an increadible success. During the 50’s America had the highest rate of people living in the suburbs, beating Canada and New Zeland. In 1948 only 18 million familes in United States owned their own home. In 1953 though the number rose by 7 more million America’s, which brought the number to 25 million people and families owning their own house. Since many people lived in suburbs instead of the cities, they needed a way of transportation to get to their jobs. There was about 60 million cars and other types of transportations in United States alone during the 50’s. Because of the creation of credit cards, people had no issue affording a new vehicle as well as a new home (Bruccoli), (1950’s).

Another very popular product that everyone was willing to buy besides a car was the television. In 1946 only 7,000 television sets were available in America. The number dramatically rose by the end of 1950’s to about 50 million televion sets in the whole country. Television was one of the products that everyone wanted to own along with the radio. Even though there were color television sets in 1954, the black and white small screens outsold them until 1968 (Bruccoli).

The biggest use of television besides spreading the news was the advertisement. Since everyone watched television, advertisers used that as a advantage to show commercials. People believed that everything that was said on the television was true and everything they promoted was good. Even though people did not need certain products they still bought it to compete with one another. Robert Sarnoff once said – “The reason we have such a high standard of living is because advertising has created an American frame of mind that makes people want more things, better things, and newer things”. Advertisers spend $5.7 billion in 1950 on advertisment and in 1960 that number increased to $12 billion. Their most advertised products were cigarettes. Since people did not know yet how much cigarettes affect their health, every person held a cigerette in their hand. For children it was the Hula Hoop (Bruccoli).

The creation of the calculator, and the formation of new businesses like McDonald’s, Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream, or even the Gerber Baby Foods, was a massive success. Because of the Interstate Highway System, American’s were able to travel much farther and faster. Many hotels were going bankrupt because motels which were built right next to the highways were beginning to become more popular. Also McDonald’s was one of the new fast food businesses that was located near the highways which brought in many customers. It’s advantage was not only the close distance to the highways but also the fast pace. It took about 30 seconds to 2 minutes to finish with one customer. (Bruccoli).

Second reason why i believe that the 1950’s were America’s Happy Day’s is because even if there was a gigantic spread of communism all over the world, President Dwight Eisenhower prevent it from reaching America. Communism is a system in which the government controls all your actions, but also the idea of communism is that everyone should be equal economicly. Josef Stalin who was the Premier of the Soviet Union at that time, invaded many countries in Europe and Asia to spread communism. Such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, or even China. It was believed that Stalin tried to start a revolution. Communism brought poverty into those countries and even if the Soviet Union did not own them, it did control them.When USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic) managed to create a nuclear weapon right after America, many people were frightened that it might cause World War III. America was also competing with the Soviet Union about who will be the first one to send out the orbit into the space. Unfortunetely Russia was quicker and their first orbit named Sputnik was send out into the space in October 1957. A month later in November, Russia send out another orbit named Sputnik 2. This time the orbit carried a dog inside named Laika. It died within hours inside the orbit (Madaras).

There were about 50,000 out of 150,000,000 people in American that belonged to the Communist Party. The issue was that many of these people lost their jobs because they believed in communism. For example, teachers who believed in communism or were accused of beliving in it, were not allowed to share their political views, and or beliefs to their students. To make sure they would not convince any of the young adults to believe in communism, they were fired. America joined NATO in 1949, which was an organization that was supposed to prevent from the spread of communism. The main idea was that if one country that was a part of the organization got attacked, the rest of the nations that signed the treaty would come together as one and help out that nation. When the Soviet Union tried to join as well, it was automatically rejected. Would these conflicts with the Soviet Union consider America having the Happy Days? Yes, i believe so. America was one of the only countries in the 1950’s who was not communist. Even thought many America’s lived in fear that communism might reach United States, it did not. Eisenhower took care of that and did his best to prevent communism from spreading in his country. America had a great economy that many other countires did not. The great economy had it’s own way of distracting American’s from the issues with the Sovites (Madaras).

The third reason why i believe that the 1950’s were America’s Happy Day’s is because of the racial advancement and cultural changes. The Civil Rights Movement organization first began to take action in the 1950’s. That is when Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, John Lewis and many more African American’s began to fight for their rights. They used non-violence in the fight they had with the American Government and the whites. They organized marches, sit- ins, and freedom riders. One of the most famous speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. was “I have a dream”. That began a huge change in America.

One of the main issues was the education. “During the fifties, American education underwent dramatic and, for some, world shattering changes. Until 1954, an official policy of “separate but equal ” educational opportunities for blacks had been determined to be the correct method to insure that all children in America received an adequate and equal education in the public schools of the nation. In 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren and other members of the Supreme Court wrote in Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas that separate facilities for blacks did not make those facilities equal according to the Constitution.”(Riesman). The first integration of black students into a white school occured in the 1957. The 8 African-American students integrated Central High School in the Little Rock, Arkansas. The black students had to overcome many difficulties. President Eisenhower was even forced to send troops to the high school to protect the 8 students. The accomplishments of the blacks though first began to show results a decade later in the 1960’s.

The culture in the 1950’s was going through many changes. The American Dream for a perfect family was to marry young, have 3 children, a dog, and live in a cutout house in the suburbs. The woman was supposed to be a housewife and the man was sopposed to be a hard working father. The house had to have a small television set, little kitchen, well cut yard, and a white fence (1950’s). “The girls wore bobbi socks with white skirts to their knees, poiny tails and make up to please”. The boys had their hair slicked back and wore jeans. The biggest hit for the teenagers though was the coke and the french fries.

Rock & Roll became extremely popular in the 50’s. One of the most known singers was Elvis Presley. He was very handsome, had an amazing voice, and knew how to dance. Girls all over the country listened to his songs and were dying to go to his concerts. Because of the invention of television he became famous in a really short period of time. There were also other great celebrites in the 1950’s like; Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Jane Russell. Marilyn Monroe was an actress, model, but also a singer. She was known as a sex symbol. She played in the best 50’s movies such as, How to Marry a Millionaire, Don’t Bother to Knock, or The Seven Year Itch. One of her most popular images was a shot of a skirt-blowing key scene from The Seven Year Itch. Unfortunetely she became suicide at the age of 36 in 1962. Another super star James Dean was another famous icon of hollywood. His most famous movie was the Rebel Without a Cause. It was in that movie that he first wore jeans and that was when all of the teenagers followed his steps. And finally Jane Russell, an acress but also a sex symbol. She stared in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1953 next to Marilyn Monroe (Riesman).

Were the 1950’s really America’s Happy Day’s? Many people might argue that they were not, but if you compare all of the other decades to the fifties, they will turn out the best. The booming economy, all of the new inventions, racial advencement, the baby boom, or the cultural changes were all highlights of the fifties. People all over the globe were dying to buy America’s products. The sign “Made in the U.S.A.” was most wanted all over the world. United States had a great value of it’s goods and they were constantly coming up with new items that everyone was willing to buy, like the television or all of the new improved vehicles. Because of the tremendous spread of communism, and the lack of money in many countries, many nations were not able to afford any of America’s goods. But even though they could not afford the products, they were the most wanted.

The fifties for the African America’s were one of the best decades as well. Besides all of the difficulties they had to overcome to reach their goals, it was in the fifties that they first began to fight for their rights. With the help of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and John Lewis, African American’s are now able to live a normal life. The cultural changes that occured in the fifties also turned out for the best. The baby boom was another great thing. Because of the high birth rate in the fifties it speed up economy later on. Also the Social Security and the Highway System created in the 1940’s and 1950’s are still used today. Even if America was extremely fearful of the Soviets in the 50’s, they turned out to have the best decade in the history.

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59