A Divided Union

This topic deals with the changes that occurred in America in the last few decades, in particular focusing on women’s civil rights and black civil rights, whilst also touching on politics within America at the time to try and put the feelings of the American people in context. There are several different ways to approach these topics. Probably the simplest is to consider each aspect as a block and deal with the ideas and changes that occurred within this field.

Points of Note
America has two main political parties: the Democrats and the Republicans.
• Democrats tend to be more liberal. Leaders included Kennedy and Johnson.
• Republicans tended to be more conservative. Leaders included Nixon.

A divided union also focuses on a variety of pressure groups. These include:

CORE Congress of Racial Equality
MIA Montgomery Improvement Association
NAACP National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People
SCLC Southern Christian Leadership Conference
SNCC Student non-violent co-ordination committee
SDS Students for a democratic society
NOW National Organisation for Women
EAA Educational Amendment Act
ERA / STOP ERA Equal Rights Amendment

For GCSE history it is important for you to not only understand what happened generally within a certain time-frame, but for you to also mention and memorise dates, people and figures. These also help to impress the examiner helping you to gain more marks!


1939-45 WWII:

Society -- More workers were needed including black men and women to help with the war effort, many workers moved from rural areas to the industrial north. 7 million women joined the workforce and many joined the armed forces, but they earned 60% less than men. Congress resisted plans for equal pay introduced by Roosevelt (the president at the time).

• Shift in work patterns, more women worked after the war, however these were often in stereotypical female jobs e.g. secretaries, rather than in industry.
• Highlighted racism in USA: black men could only fight in black only units until 1944/46, they were given low level often dangerous jobs, black nurses could only tend to black men and black workers earned half of what white workers earned. By the end of the war there were only 58 black officers in the navy. After a march of 50,000 black workers in 1941 Roosevelt signed Order SS02 to end discrimination at work, but attitudes did not change, there were 47 riots during the war the worst in Detroit June-July 1943.

Discrimination against the Japanese -- after the attack on pearl harbour propaganda encouraged Americans to be aggressive towards the Japanese, US security forces rounded up 120 000 Japanese people regardless if they were Issei (immigrants) or Nisei (children of immigrants). They were forced to sell their property and transported to internment camps. In states where they were not rounded up they suffered great abuse, government used the idea of security to justify actions even though no Italian or German people were interned. In January 1943 the Japanese were allowed to serve in US army. 33 000 immediately volunteered. The all-Nisei unit was highly decorated for bravery. In 1988 the US offered an apology and offered $20000 compensation to all surviving internees.

A Japanese interment camp.

Economy -- The USA was the only country to emerge from WWII economically stronger, ½ million new businesses started during the war and many became rich due to the war, for example it allowed companies such as Coca-Cola to expand globally. The war effort ended unemployment created due to the depression and people invested in war bonds promised they would be paid back with interest. ½ of the Worlds weapon production occurred in the United States. THERE WAS RATIONING but companies exploited this, advertising that they could get goods because they were being sent to the US troops.