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Analyze the following domestic policies of Presidents Truman and Eisenhower
a. Truman's Fair Deal
b. the Taft-Hartley Act (1947)
c. Eisenhower's response to the Soviet launching of Sputnik
d. Eisenhower's civil rights record
The Little Rock Nine
For more, see
AP United States History: The 1950s
Focus Question: What were the domestic policies of Presidents Truman and Eisenhower?
announcing the dropping of the the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, August 6th, 1945.
Click here for the
Truman Presidential Library
is a list of the Executive Orders President Truman signed, starting in 1945.
President Truman’s Fair Deal
Harry S. Truman, 1945
-Expanded Social Security
-Developed a full-employment program
Executive Order 9980: Fair Employment Practices within the Federal Establishment
-Issued public housing and slum clearance legislation
Following in the footsteps FDR had taken when developing his New Deal Policies, Truman felt it was the government's job to intervene and fix things after WWII. His response was the Fair Deal, a 21-point program of proposed reforms.
Domestic program that built off of FDR's “New Deal” plan.
Harry Truman believed that the Federal government should guarantee certain rights to people, like economic opportunity and social stability.
After WW2, Truman wanted to transition the country into a peacetime economy.
With millions of soldiers returning home from war looking for jobs and homes there was a lot of unrest.
The GI Bill was passed before the end of war, which helped returning soldiers buy houses with guaranteed loans for home-buying and financial aid for university education and industrial training.
Labor unrest became a problem after the war, as the production ceased and many found themselves without jobs.
In 1946, 4.6 MILLION people went on strike, More than ever before in U.S. history, demanding labor changes.
While dealing with critical economic and social issues, Truman had a very broad approach, which brought on criticism from many, like the Republicans.
he presented Congress with a 21-point program, Less than a week after the war ended which provided:
protection against unfair employment practices
a higher minimum wage
greater unemployment reimbursement
However, this scattershot approach often left Truman's priorities unclear.
Conservative legislators, who wanted to reduce the role of government, found Truman’s ideas to be a bad idea.
As shown in the political cartoon to the left, Truman was criticized for overreaching his presidential authority by his conservative Congress.
Truman’s Fair Deal economic and social reform program helped him win the 1948 election, with the vote of farmers, workers, African Americans, over the dominating Republican party, in one of the biggest upset of American politics.
The effects of Truman’s Fair Deal plan were mixed. Some improvements were made, like an increase in the minimum wage. However, Truman’s preoccupation with Cold War affairs held back his effectiveness.
of Truman's Fair Deal speech, January 5, 1949
to read a Washington Post article about the Fair Deal from 1949.
The Taft-Hartley Act (1947)
Also called the Labor Management Relations Act
Truman vetoed the Taft-Hartley Act, but was overridden
Sponsored by U.S. Senator Robert A. Taft and Representative Fred A. Hartley.
Amendment to The National Labor Relations Act
Passed on June 23, 1947, after much resistance from labor leaders and a veto from President Truman who denounced it as a "slave-labor bill"
The Act provided the following:
Declares all closed shops, where only union members can be hired, illegal.
Allows the president to appoint a board of investigators to explore union disputes when he believes a strike would endanger national security or health, and obtain an 80-day injunction to stop the continuation of a strike.
Allows union shops only after a majority of workers vote for them.
Prohibits unions from contributing to political campaigns.
Forbids jurisdictional strikes and secondary boycotts.
Limited the power of labor unions and required union leaders to affirm they were not supporters of the Communist Party, this action was upheld by the Supreme Court in May, 1950.
Even though many people tried to repeal the act, it stayed in effect until 1959.
The Taft-Hartley Act was a response to the mounting strikes occurring during the post-World War II labor surge. With millions of soldiers returning to the work force strikes became more common and it was a problem that Congress decided to address.
Truman's Order to Integrate the Military
President's Civil Rights Message on the Armed Forces
, May 11, 1945.
For background on the integration of the military, see Desegregation of the Armed Forces: Chronology
from the Truman Presidential Library.
President Eisenhower's Key Programs
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Official Presidential Portrait
Click here for the
Eisenhower Presidential Library
Annual vehicle miles traveled on the U.S. Interstate Highway System, 1957-2008
-Expanded Social Security.
-Launched largest U.S. public works projects in history, the
Federal Highway Act of 1956
-Established a permanent wartime economy in the midst of the Cold War.
Eisenhower's Farewell Address
where he warns against the dangers of the military-industrial complex. Video segment from YouTube.
Text of the speech
from the National Archives.
Eisenhower’s response to the Soviet’s launching of
Sputnik - first artificial
to be put into
, on October 4, 1957.
At the height of the
, the launching of Sputnik caught the West totally by surprise.
This terrified Eisenhower, and a lot of the country, who were filled with Cold War uncertainties, that the U.S. was no longer number one in advanced technology.
A week later the U.S. Office of Education published a study confirming that the Soviet Union outranked the United States in every aspect of science and technology.
The only hope, in Eisenhower’s and many U.S. citizen’s minds, was to reinvigorate American education, to place more emphasis on science, to add more discipline, and to use Sputnik as a threat of thermonuclear war to get kids to focus more.
Sputnik, not only reformed U.S. education but lead to the Space Race against the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The United States launched Explorer I, Courier 1B, and Project SCORE in response to Soviet advances in the space race
Created NASA in 1958; its goal was to compete with the Soviet Union and its space program.
Sputnik's influence on America from NOVA PBS.
a CBS news story from October 6th, 1957.
for a documentary on what became known as the "Sputnik Moment."
National Defense Education Act
was signed September 2, 1958 and was in response to the S
oviets launching of the satellite Sputnik. This funded education in the United States with a focus on math, science, and foreign language which the United States was falling behind the Soviet Union in. It provided National Defense scholarships for students to pursue higher education in fields that were essential for national defense.
Click to see a timeline of the Cold War
Sputnik was considered a turning point, or a "waking up" of US complacency towards the Soviet Union.
For more about the US policies during the Cold War, see
US History II 19
Eisenhower’s Civil Rights Record
Eisenhower, and his administration, worked quietly during the 1950’s on civil rights improvements.
During his first 3 years in office (1953-1955) he presented no civil rights legislation to Congress.
Eisenhower believed that racial segregation could not easily be changed, even by U.S. Government legislation.
Eisenhower issued executive orders ending any segregationist practices that remained in the District of Columbia, in the military, and in the U.S. Government bureaucracy.
In 1958, he asked Congress to pass the
Equal Rights Amendment
. While it would fail to pass, it became a lightning rod for feminism in the decades to follow and Eisenhower was the first president to support it.
He was the first president to appoint an African American to an executive position on the White House staff, named Frederic Morrow.
He introduced the
Civil Rights Act of 1957
, aimed to guarantee that all African Americans could exercise their right to vote.
It also was aimed toward a new division within the federal Justice Department to monitor civil rights abuses and a joint report to be done by representatives of both major political parties on the issue of race relations.
His effort towards civil rights helped him gain support among black voters when he successfully ran for reelection to the presidency.
and their role in government.
The Little Rock Nine
The Little Rock Nine
In an 1957 incident known as the "Little Rock Nine," the Governor of Arkansas refused to integrate their public schools. President Eisenhower sent in a division of the military to ensure the safety of the nine black students who were to attend an all-white school. This action was done to uphold the ruling of the Brown v Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court Case.
Address On the Situation in Little Rock
was President Eisenhower's speech regarding the decision to send the 101st Airborne to enforce federal law dictated in the Supreme Court Case of Brown v. Topeka Board of Education.
The Little Rock Nine affair was highly controversial. Some believed that the South needed to take its time with adjusting to new racial policies.
At the same time, Civil Rights activists in the US lauded the Supreme Court decision, comparing it here to breaking the chain of segregation.
Little Rock Nine 50 years later
Silver Dollar Commemorating the Little Rock Nine
(issued but uncirculated, 2008)
For more information on both President Truman and President Eisenhower's domestic policies and background information, please visit:
Sample Test Question (2007)
Which of the following was an effect of the Taft-Hartley Act (1947) on labor unions?
a) It prohibited labor unions from being segregated.
b) It restricted the organizing activities of labor unions.
c) It allowed labor unions to use dues for political activity.
d) It guaranteed health benefits for members of labor unions.
CORRECT ANSWER: B
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