Americans in the 20th century

Автор работы: Пользователь скрыл имя, 22 Сентября 2013 в 13:00, курсовая работа

Описание работы

The United States of America (commonly abbreviated to the United States, the U.S., the USA, America, and the States) is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district. The country is situated mostly in central North America, where its forty-eight contiguous states and Washington, D.C., the capital district, lie between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south.

Содержание работы



1.1. Living standards of America in the first half of the 20th century 6

1.2. Foreign policy of the USA. The Great Depression 13


2.1. The “Best Years” of the 20th century 27

2.2. Nixon`s America 34

2.3. The close of the century 44



Файлы: 1 файл


— 167.00 Кб (Скачать файл)



Федеральное государственное бюджетное

образовательное учреждение

высшего профессионального  образования

«Чувашский государственный  университет имени И.Н. Ульянова»



Факультет иностранных  языков

Кафедра романо-германских языков








по дисциплине: История Великобритании                                                                                                                                                        и США

на тему: Americans in the 20th century







студентка группы 1Б-11

Косарева Ксения Робертовна

Научный руководитель

к.ф.н., доцент Абрамова А.Г.





г. Чебоксары – 2012 г.






INTRODUCTION                                                                                                     3           


CHAPTER 1. GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FIST HALF OF THE 20th CENTURY IN AMERICA                                                                                 6


1.1. Living standards of America in the first half of the 20th century                      6


1.2. Foreign policy of the USA. The Great Depression                                        13


CHAPTER 2. THE SECOND HALF OF THE 20th CENTURY                            27


2.1. The “Best Years” of the 20th century                                                              27


2.2. Nixon`s America                                                                                             34


2.3. The close of the century                                                                                    44


CONCLUSION                                                                                                       49


BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                                                                  52                                                             










    The United States of America (commonly abbreviated to the United States, the U.S., the USA, America, and the States) is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district. The country is situated mostly in central North America, where its forty-eight contiguous states and Washington, D.C., the capital district, lie between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent, with Canada to the east and Russia to the west, across the Bering Strait. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also possesses several territories in the Pacific and Caribbean.

    At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) and with over 312 million people, the United States is the third or fourth largest country by total area, and the third largest by both land area and population. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. The U.S. economy is the world's largest national economy, with an estimated 2011 GDP of $15.1 trillion (22% of nominal global GDP and over 19% of global GDP at purchasing-power parity). Per capita income is the world's sixth-highest.

    Indigenous peoples descended from forebears who migrated from Asia have inhabited what is now the mainland United States for many thousands of years. This Native American population was greatly reduced by disease and warfare after European contact. The United States was founded by thirteen British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard. On July 4, 1776, they issued the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed their right to self-determination and their establishment of a cooperative union. The rebellious states defeated the British Empire in the American Revolution, the first successful colonial war of independence. The current United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787; its ratification the following year made the states part of a single republic with a stronger central government. The Bill of Rights, comprising ten constitutional amendments guaranteeing many fundamental civil rights and freedoms, was ratified in 1791.

    Through the 19th century, the United States displaced native tribes, acquired the Louisiana territory from France, Florida from Spain, part of the Oregon Country from the United Kingdom, Alta California and New Mexico from Mexico, and Alaska from Russia, and annexed the Republic of Texas and the Republic of Hawaii. Disputes between the agrarian South and industrial North over the expansion of the institution of slavery and states' rights provoked the Civil War of the 1860s. The North's victory prevented a permanent split of the country and led to the end of legal slavery in the United States. By the 1870s, its national economy was the world's largest. The Spanish-American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a military power. It emerged from World War II as the first country with nuclear weapons and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union left the United States as the sole superpower. The country accounts for 41% of global military spending, and is a leading economic, political, and cultural force in the world.

    Americans, or American people, are the citizens of the United States. The United States is home to people of different national origins. As a result, Americans do not equate their nationality with ethnicity, but with citizenship. Aside from the Native American population, nearly all Americans or their ancestors immigrated within the past five centuries.

    Despite its multi-ethnic composition, the culture held in common by most Americans is referred to as mainstream American culture, a Western culture largely derived from the traditions of Western European immigrants. It also includes influences of African American culture. Westward expansion integrated the Creoles and Cajuns of Louisiana and the Hispanos of the Southwest and brought close contact with the culture of Mexico. Large-scale immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries from Southern and Eastern Europe introduced a variety of elements. Immigration from Asia, Africa, and Latin America has also had impact. A cultural melting pot, or pluralistic salad bowl, describes the way in which generations of Americans have celebrated and exchanged distinctive cultural characteristics.

    In addition to the United States, Americans and people of American descent can be found internationally. As many as 4 million Americans are estimated to be living abroad. 

   The object is the foreign policy of the USA in the 20th century. The subject of this course paper is actual deals with living standards in the 20th century.

  The aim of this coursework is to study American wave living and a policy in the 20th century. To achieve this goal, we put forward the following tasks:

  1. to observe living standards of America in the first half of the 20th century;   
  2. to analyze the foreign policy and economy of this time;
  3. to characterize  the “Best years” of the 20th century:
  4. to find out what changes America has undergone in Nixon`s time;
  5. to describe the economy and policy of the end of the century and make some conclusion to the 20th century.

    In order to solve these tasks we have used methods of studying and analysis of theoretical literature and authentic texts of legal documents on the problem.

    The practical significance of our research is in possible application of its results in practice by people who are interested in history of the USA, their way of life, their living standards of the 20th century. It can also be of an interest for people who fond of history and policy of America. The results of the research can be useful for students and teachers and historians. 

    Structurally the course paper consists of introduction, two chapters and conclusion. The first chapter touches the first half of the 20th century especially economy and social spheres of American’s life. The second chapter touches the second half of the 20th century.




1.1. Living standards of America in first half of 20th century



"Americans are wonderful people - 
They always make the right choice 
previously tried all the others." 
Winston Churchill


    For all of the optimism, prosperity, power, and scientific, technological, and educational advances, however, much of American life at the turn of the century was unworthy of celebration. Everywhere one could see glaring examples of exploitation, corruption, and injustice, and much of the fear, ugliness, and pain was directly related to industrialization, urbanization, and the other new developments that were generally associated with progress. Increasingly, men and women were becoming sensitive to the nation’s social and economic problems and were challenging the assumptions that dominated American life and thought. Indeed, a powerful age of reform was on the horizon.

        As early as 1877 Rockefeller was earning approximately $720 an hour-more as the annual salary of most of his employees. Surveys revealed that by the 1890s there were more than 4,000 millionaires in the country, up from few hundred several decades earlier. In 1900 Andrew Carnegie’s personal income was $23 million (on which there was no income tax). One percent of the population owned more of the nation’s wealth than did the remaining 99 percent. Railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt and his family owned seven homes in the heart of New York City worth a total of $12 million. During the summer months, some of the Wealthy enjoyed incredibly lavish dinners and balls at palatial estates dotting the shores of Newport, Rhode Island. Wealthy Americans spent more money on art between 1880 and 1910 than had ever been spent by a similar group in world history.

        The instability of the nation’s rapidly expanding economy often brought panic and pain to the majority of Americans. Industrialization produced sharp, unpredictable swings between prosperity, recession, and depression. In 1900 things were booming, but people had not forgotten the seven year depression that had haunted the 1870s or the massive collapse of the economy in 1893 that within a year had caused 20 percent of the work force to be unemployed. Recessions in 1904, 1907, and 1913 - 14 lay in the immediate future. Wealthy businessmen often used economic downturns to accelerate the merger movement, to modernize plants at low cost, to purchase raw materials inexpensively, and to attract customers by low rates and prices. Most Americans simply suffered through the recessions and depressions, hoping desperately that good times would somehow return and that their hard work and virtuous living would pay off. Modern studies of socioeconomic mobility reveal that in good times or bad the rags-to-riches theme of the period was largely a myth. The wealthy came mostly from middle-class or upper-middle-class families. A small minority of people had always held most of the nation’s wealth and would continue to do so. The dream of countless Americans of rising by their abilities from the lower and blue-collar classes to become rich and famous was almost entirely illusory. Still, mobility was more  possible in the United States than anywhere else, and the hope of rising even a notch or two beyond one’s current socioeconomic level was usually enough to temper extreme discontent about the misdistribution of wealth. Socialism, anarchism, and other radical ideologies did not appeal to the vast majority of Americans-and never would.

     The life of a typical industrial worker was harsh and often brutal. A ten hour day and a six-day week were standard by 1890. Some steelworkers put in twelve-hour days, seven days a week; canners worked nearly seventy-seven hours a week. By 1900 the work week averaged 57.3 hours. Almost a million workers a year suffered industrial accidents without compensation. Between 1890 and 1917, 72,000 railroad employees were killed on the tracks, and close to 2 million were injured; an additional 158,000 were killed in the yards. In accord with the teachings of laissez faire, government failed to regulate or inspect working conditions to any meaningful degree. By 1900 more than five million women worked in industry, some in southern textile mills for wages as low as 4 cents an hour. About 1.7 million children under the age of 16 worked full-time. Children labored sixteen hours a day in some canneries. Young farm laborers often toiled twelve hours a day. Children in North Carolina mills were paid as low as 10 and 12 cents a day.

    Work was frequently monotonous as well as exhausting and dangerous. Business leaders and efficiency-minded reformers were increasingly attracted to the teachings of Frederick Winslow Taylor, chief engineer of the Midvale Steel Company and the pioneer in time and motion studies. As early as 1881 Taylor was arguing that by analyzing jobs and supervising labor more efficiently, factory owners could increase output, lower prices, and increase wages. His “scientific management” proposals contribute d to the development of the assembly line. Workers found themselves repeating a single task all day at a rapid and often agonizing pace set by “scientific” employers. The standardization of work procedures was to be a common feature of industrial America in the new century. Peter Drucker has ranked Taylor with Darwin and Freud as one of the most important thinkers of modern times.

    Labor unions were of little or no assistance to most workers. Numerous unions, containing no more than 1 or 2 percent of the labor force, had come and gone in the nineteenth century. Massive labor disturbances during the Gilded Age (there were close to 37,000 strikes between 1881 and 1905, involving 7 million workers) yielded few benefits.        

     Traditional individualism and the gospel of success undoubtedly prevented many workers from joining unions; prosperity was linked in the popular mind with personal qualities rather than collective actions. Workers also feared retaliation by their employers, who had used dismissals, lockouts, injunctions, and armed violence to break strikes, and who were soon joining organizations like the National Association of Manufacturers to crush unionization once and for all. Moreover, the craft unionism advocated by the founder of American Federation of Labor (AFL) and perennial president, Samuel Gompers, could appeal to only a small percentage of the work force. Gompers did not believe in organizing by industry and was prejudiced against women. (By 1910 there were some 8 million women working outside the home, and only 125,000 were organized.) Radicals opposed Gompers for his hostility to ideology, his frank conservatism, and his abiding concern with higher wages, shorter hours, and job security.

    Despite recent improvements, garbage piled up in the streets of some cities for days and even weeks. Drinking water was sometimes taken from the same river or lake into which sewage was poured. Factories polluted the air. Roads went unpaved. Educational and recreational facilities were extremely inadequate. City planning was still in its infancy. The cries of those who suffered in urban areas would be loud in the age of reform that was to come. [5, p.102].

    Much of the suffering, of course, was endured by the immigrants; in 1900 60 percent of the population of the nation’s twelve largest cities was the foreign-born or their children. Most of the immigrants had been recruited by business as a source of cheap labor. Once in the United States they found themselves locked into a strange and baffling world of back-breaking jobs or chronic unemployment, grinding poverty, repulsive tenements, and discrimination. Many Americans were not only hostile to the newcomers, they sought to shut off the flow of immigrants altogether. Organized labor wanted to avoid job competition; racists wished to protect “Anglo-Saxon purity”; conservatives worried about labor radicalism and the future of democracy; many Americans disliked Jews and feared the growth of Roman Catholicism. Even those who were in general sympathy with the immigrants were likely to be critical of their alliance with big city bosses.

        In exchange for their loyalty and votes, the city bosses provided immigrants with much-needed social services that were unavailable from other sources in the laissez faire years. Among other things, the bosses found jobs and places to live for newcomers, cut red tape, provided timely handouts and presents, bailed youngsters out of jail, and threw parties for slum children on hot summer days. Urban re formers discovered that immigrants often staunchly resisted efforts to curtail the power of political machines. Cleveland progressive Frederick D. Howe later lamented, “Faithfulness to the boss was the only civic idea. To the poor, politics meant bread and circuses.”Many business owners and managers, accustomed to dealing with the bosses profitably, also resisted reform.

    Despite the fact that 20 percent of all women over the age of 15 were employed outside the home in 1900, women were expected to conform to value system centering exclusively upon domestic matters. They were to be pious, modest, submissive, unintellectual, and thoroughly domestic in their tastes and activities.

    Feminists, who for decades had been working to further women’s rights, now saw the ballot as the key to the struggle for equality. In 1890 they had formed the National American Woman Suffrage Association, headed at first such veteran leaders as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Only four lightly populated western states had given women full suffrage by 1900. The strongest opponents of the movement were women themselves, fearful that sex roles might be altered and that the family might in some way be damaged. When Massachusetts voted on the suffrage issue in 1895, four times as many men were in favor of it as women.

    Some 90 percent of African Americans lived in the South at the turn of the century and were the victims of poverty, discrimination, violence, and ignorance. The high hopes of abolitionists for the future of freed slaves had been abandoned even before the official termination of Reconstruction in 1877. Throughout the country, blacks were a despised minority, believed by almost all white s to be inferior in every way and deserving of their fate. In the South, three-fourths of the black farmers were sharecroppers or tenant farmers, and the lagging price of cotton after the Civil War made land ownership increasingly difficult. While almost half of the population of Georgia was black in 1880, African Americans owned less than 2 percent of the state’s landed wealth.

     Southern blacks were subject to arrest virtually at the whim of white law enforcement officers; convicts were often “farmed out” to work on white owned farms and railroads. [10, p.31].

    African Americans were disfranchised; the number of registered black voters in Louisiana fell from 130,000 in 1896 to 1,300 in 1904. Violence against blacks was commonplace. According to the Tuskegee Institute, there were 4,733 lynchings between 1882 and 1950, nearly 90 percent of them in the South. The worst year was 1892, when there were 292. Railroads advertised special trains to the lynching scenes; ten thousand spectators gathered at one of them. Victims were also tortured in public, some of them flayed alive and slowly burned to death. In 1900 mobs took over all of New Orleans, killing and terrorizing blacks. African Americans were also rigorously segregated. The “Jim Crow” laws that had appeared in the North before the Civil War had spread and intensified throughout the South by 1900, segregating such things as railway waiting rooms, streetcars, elevators, toilets, drinking fountains, parks, doorways, and, in New Orleans, houses of prostitution.

    Much of the antiblack mood in the South was a reaction to the effort by Populists to unite poor whites and blacks against their economic and political oppressors. Conservative leaders preached racial hatred to preserve their power, and the lessons proved effective. The severe depression of the 1890s also summoned the need for a scapegoat, a role blacks had long filled in the South and elsewhere.

    In the North, America’s involvement with imperialism enhanced widely held assumptions about white supremacy. Scholars such as Louis Agassiz of Harvard assured Americans that science confirmed the innate inferiority of blacks. The United States Supreme Court sanctioned segregation in public facilities by declaring the Civil Rights Act of 1875 year.

     Throughout the North, African Americans retained their civil and political rights, but they were frequently discriminated against in public places, barred by trade unions, and forced to live in inferior, segregated housing.

Информация о работе Americans in the 20th century