Welcome to this week’s blog post. We are moving into the modern era with World War II and the post-war period. By this era, the Constitution for the United States of America had endured more than 150 years – quite an accomplishment! Nevertheless, our leaders were still making changes to the “Law of the Land”. The Twenty-Second Amendment placed term limits on anyone holding the position of President, and the Twenty-Third Amendment gave residents of the Federal District a voice in electing the President and Vice President. If you have not been following this series, I highly recommend that you take the time to the beginning – our Declaration of Independence – and read through the posts. The history and commentary as well as the full text of each document may offer some new perspectives on current events.
HISTORY, 1940 to 1960
1940 saw the word at war – World War II. The United States was not involved until the Japanese attacked the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 6, 1941. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) had just been elected to his third term as President. By June of the following year, an agreement between the U.S. and Britain was signed to develop an atomic bomb. As northern factories were turned over to the war effort, hundreds of thousands of southerners streamed into northern cities to fill the need for workers. Unfortunately, these cities were not prepared to welcome them and offer the housing and other services that they needed. This led to race riots across the country in the summer of 1943. The worst was in Detroit. More and more American troops were sent into battle zones in the European and Pacific theaters. By 1944, though war weary, Americans elected FDR for a fourth term. He won the unprecedented honor but died soon after in April 1945. His Vice President, Harry Truman, succeeded him (1945-1953) and led the country through the final stages of World War II and through the early years of the Cold War, vigorously opposing Soviet expansionism in Europe and sending U.S. forces to turn back a Communist invasion during the Korean War.
An extremely significant shift in global relations occurred with the dissolution of the League of Nations on April 20, 1946. The League had been founded in January of 1920 following the Paris Peace Conference that ended WWI. It had been the first worldwide intergovernmental organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. At its greatest extent (1934-1935), it had 58 members. After some notable successes and some early failures in the 1920s, the League ultimately proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis powers in the 1930s. The credibility of the organization was weakened by the fact that the United States never joined the League and the Soviet Union joined late and was soon expelled after invading Finland. Germany withdrew from the League, as did Japan, Italy, Spain, and others. The onset of a second World War showed that the League had failed its primary purpose, which was to prevent any future world war. Because the LON had no enforcement power, many leaders began talks in the early 1940s to create a successor organization that could be more effective. These discussions ended with the creation of the United Nations in 1945. The UN was structured to include troops and enforcement, and it officially came into existence on October 24, 1945 when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and by a majority of other signatories.
As the United States and the Soviet Union struggled to reach a balance of power during the Cold War that followed World War II, Great Britain announced that it could no longer afford to aid Greece and Turkey in their recovery, despite the fact that Western governments alleged that the two countries were in danger of falling under Soviet influence. President Truman outlined what became known as the Truman Doctrine in a speech to a joint session of Congress on March 12, 1947, in which he emphasized the broader consequences of a failure to protect democracy in Greece and Turkey. He declared the need for immediate economic and military aid to the governments of Greece – threatened by communist insurrection – and Turkey, under pressure from Soviet expansion in the Mediterranean area. Congress responded to Truman’s message by promptly appropriating $400 million to support Greece and Turkey.
The Marshall Plan was a much more broad-ranging aid package that followed the same mission. Originally known as the European Recovery Program, (April 1948–December 1951), this U.S.-sponsored program was designed to rehabilitate the economies of 17 western and southern European countries in order to create stable conditions in which democratic institutions could survive and, as importantly, to contain the spread of Communism. More than $12 billion was paid out (the equivalent of more than $130 billion today), and American industry benefited in both the short run and in long-term trade relations. It was also a magnificent propaganda tool for the United States. Aid was offered to the Soviet Union, but they refused to accept it because of the (not well publicized) conditions.
President Truman tried to continue the proliferation of new 3-letter agencies and programs started under the New Deal with his own version, the Fair Deal, introduced at the beginning of his second term in 1949. This initiative was rejected especially by conservatives in Congress because they claimed it would lead to a Democratic Socialist society, and the initiative was not picked up again until Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society in the 1960s. Another reason for its lack of success was the U.S. entry into the Korean War (more below).
Following World War II, Germany was partitioned into various zones under the control of Allied nations. Berlin, the nation’s key city, was also divided into different occupation areas, despite its location deep into the Soviet sector. Tensions escalated between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, prompting the Soviets to attempt to take over control of all of Berlin. When France, Britain, and the United States agreed to introduce a new currency into their sectors in West Germany and Berlin, the Soviets declared the new currency void in the eastern partition under their control. Days later, the Soviet government closed supply lines to West Berlin. The United States Air Force and the British Royal Air Force organized a massive effort to deliver needed food, coal, and medical supplies into Berlin to thwart the Soviet blockade. The round-the-clock operation, which became known as the Berlin Airlift, sustained the residents of West Berlin for over a year (1948-1949), and secured the freedom of West Berlin from Soviet control. The famous Berlin wall was not built until 1961 and lasted until 1989.
The Berlin Airlift was the first large-scale, modern humanitarian effort that utilized airplanes as a primary means of delivery. The political effort was the first international humanitarian coalition that used military vehicles, installations, resources, personnel, and aircraft instead of relying on civilian aid organizations. Setting the precedent for future aid operations, the success of the Berlin Airlift added a new role to peace and wartime military forces. Modern wartime humanitarian relief operations, as well as nation building policies were forged as a result.
Meanwhile, Operation Paperclip had been underway for more than 3 years. Operation Paperclip was the code name for the O.S.S.–U.S. Military rescue of scientists from Nazi Germany during the final days and aftermath of World War II. In 1945, the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency was established with direct responsibility for effecting Operation Paperclip. Most of the scientists were rocketeers of the V-2 rocket service and were initially housed with their families in Landshut, Bavaria. In early August 1945, Colonel Holger N. Toftoy, chief of the Rocket Branch in the Research and Development Division of Army Ordnance, offered initial one-year contracts to the rocket scientists; 127 scientists accepted the offer. In September 1945, the first group of seven rocket scientists arrived from Germany at Fort Strong in the US: Wernher von Braun, Erich W. Neubert, Theodor A. Poppel, August Schulze, Eberhard F. M. Rees, Wilhelm Jungert and Walter Schwidetzky. Eventually the rocket scientists arrived at Fort Bliss, Texas for rocket testing at White Sands Proving Grounds as “War Department Special Employees.” In early 1950, U.S. legal residence for some “Paperclip Specialists” was arranged through the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, and the Nazi scientists legally entered the U.S from there. In later decades, the wartime activities of some scientists were investigated — Arthur Rudolph linked to the Mittelbau-Dora slave labor camp, Hubertus Strughold implicated with Nazi human experimentation. This importation of German scientists formed the underpinning of the U.S. military and space programs but also brought high level contributors with former Nazi ties into the U.S. without the knowledge of most Americans.
- Eighty-six aeronautical engineers were transferred to Wright Field, which had acquired Nazi aircraft and equipment under Operation Lusty.
- The United States Army Signal Corps employed 24 specialists — including physicists Drs. Georg Goubau, Gunter Guttwein, Georg Hass, Horst Kedesdy, and Kurt Levovec; physical chemists Professor Rudolf Brill and Drs. Ernst Baars and Eberhard Both; geophysicist Dr. Helmut Weickmann; technical optician Dr. Gerhard Schwesinger; and electronics engineers Drs. Eduard Gerber, Richard Guenther and Hans Ziegler.
- The United States Bureau of Mines employed seven German synthetic fuel scientists in a Fischer-Tropsch chemical plant in Louisiana, Missouri in 1946.
- In 1959, ninety-four Operation Paperclip men went to the U.S., including Friedwardt Winterberg and Friedrich Wigand.
- Through 1990, Operation Paperclip immigrated 1,600 Nazi personnel, with the “intellectual reparations” taken by the U.S. and the U.K. (patents and industrial processes) valued at some $10 billion dollars.
Barely had Americans returned from WWII when they were once again called upon to serve in military operations on the Korean peninsula. The Korean War had its immediate origins in the collapse of the Japanese empire at the end of World War II in September 1945. Unlike China, Manchuria, and the former Western colonies seized by Japan in 1941–42, Korea – annexed to Japan since 1910 – did not have a native government or a colonial regime waiting to return after hostilities ceased. Most claimants to power were exiles in China, Manchuria, Japan, the U.S.S.R., and the United States. In their hurried effort to disarm the Japanese army and repatriate the Japanese population in Korea (estimated at 700,000), the United States and the Soviet Union agreed in August 1945 to divide the country for administrative purposes at the 38th parallel (latitude 38° N). The two sides could not agree on a formula that would produce a unified Korea, and in 1947 U.S. President Truman persuaded the United Nations (UN) to assume responsibility for the country, though the U.S. military remained nominally in control of the South until 1948. The creation of an independent South Korea became UN policy in early 1948, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) was formed in August 1948. There were ongoing battles between the North and the South, and the army of the South was not war ready. The U.S. provided surplus light weapons and supplies. By 1950 the North Koreans enjoyed substantial advantages over the South in every category of equipment and in preparedness; and in April, Stalin approved an invasion of the South.
The fighting finally ended on July 27, 1953, after two years of negotiations. Nearly 3 million people had died, and Seoul had switched hands four times. Newly elected President Dwight D. Eisenhower (former WWII General and Supreme Allied Commander) went to Korea to find out for himself how to end it. Indian General K.S. Thimayya laid out a solution to the problem of prisoners of war, one both sides accepted. The shooting stopped that day, but the war never did. If you are interested, you can read more about the origins of the Korean War and its first years here. Another excellent description can be found here.
That brings us to President Eisenhower (1953-1961). “Ike” was extremely popular among Americans of both major political parties because of his leadership in WWII and his ability to connect with Americans of all backgrounds. In fact, he won the Electoral College in 1952 by 442 votes against 89 votes for his Democrat opponent, Adlai Stevenson; and again in 1956, 457 to 73. He was President during a period of prosperity and growth and no active wars. One of the things he has been best remembered for because of his insider familiarity with the subject is his warning against the ever-expanding reach of what he called the “military industrial complex” (the alliance between the nation’s military and the private defense industry that supplies it, seen together as a vested interest which influences public policy). I invite you to listen to his farewell address as President (given on January 17, 1961) in which he coined the phrase. He wanted us to be at peace but not at the cost of freedom and poverty. Imagine the perils we could have avoided if we had paid attention to his warnings over the past 60 years.
Operation Mockingbird was a secret campaign by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to influence media. Begun in the early 1950s, it was initially organized by Cord Meyer and Allen W. Dulles and later led by Frank Wisner after Dulles became the head of the CIA. The organization recruited leading American journalists into a network to help present the CIA’s views and funded some student and cultural organizations and magazines as fronts. As it developed, it also worked to influence foreign media and political campaigns in addition to activities by other operating units of the CIA. Over time, the propaganda campaign was – and continues to be – used on Americans especially successfully through movies and television, including mainstream and cable news outlets. The peace and prosperity of the 1950s and the great desire of most Americans to enjoy a new life of suburbs and boxed foods and lots of new household inventions, safety, and limitless hope led to little suspicion. This was the beginning of the kinds of mind control and “fake news” that we are dealing with today.
You may not know that the use of credit cards began in the 1950s! Before that, there were “layaway” and special savings accounts as well as bank loans. But the explosion of the use of credit for all manner of daily needs and wants is a relatively recent phenomenon. At first, they were more like gift cards, for use at a single store or local chain. But soon enough they could be used for all types of items in all kinds of places. This meant that consumers no longer had to live within a budget or practice delayed gratification, and this changed both habits and societal attitudes toward debt. From my perspective, this also made it much easier for the government and central banks to engage in their strategies of continuous wars, panics, and booms and busts without having to deal with the widespread unrest that had previously been the result. It became easier and easier to get credit cards and to have more than one. They literally changed the popular attitude toward debt from bad to good – or at least normal – and businesses began to rely on a person’s credit score as the key measure of fiscal worthiness.
This post began with a brief mention of the 1943 race riots. The history portion ends with an update on Jim Crow and civil rights and the relationship between the federal government and the Native tribes. As mentioned above, the coming of World War II signaled the beginning of another wave of black migration from rural areas to urban areas and from the South to the North and West. By 1960, 40% of African Americans lived in the North and West, and nearly 75% lived in cities. Here are some key events that show where things stood by 1960:
- 1941 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, which eliminated hiring discrimination in the defense industry and established the Fair Employment Practices Commission.
- Tuskegee Airmen founded – first African-American military aviators.
- 1942 – The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was founded in Chicago.
- Mid 1940s through mid 1960s – “Indian termination policy” – Federal government laws and policies passed to encourage “assimilation” and to grant Native Americans all the rights and privileges of citizenship while reducing their dependence on a bureaucracy whose mismanagement had been documented and eliminating the expense of providing services for Native people. This led to 109 tribes and bands – about 3% of the total Native population at the time – losing their land (though some of this was reversed in later years). In particular, Public Law 280, passed in 1953, gave State governments the power to assume jurisdiction over Indian reservations, which had previously been excluded from State jurisdiction. The States were unhappy because they were given extensive new responsibilities with no additional funding, and the Native tribes bristled at losing former rights and being subject to new laws.
- 1945 – By the end of World War II, approximately 1,150,000 blacks had been inducted into the military, with most serving in support units.
- Levittown – the first planned suburban communities. Built from 1947-1970, they created the white picket fence and green lawn cookie-cutter model. A house could be built in a day, and the houses were originally meant to provide an alternative to cramped city living for returning WWII veterans and their families. In order, they were built in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and 3 locations in Maryland. The glaring negative was that African-Americans were excluded as initial owners and by covenant from future purchases.
- 1950 – Gwendolyn Brooks won the Pulitzer Prize for Annie Allen, a volume of poetry. She was the first African American to win the award.
- 1952 – The Tuskegee Institute reported that 1952 was the first year with no reported lynchings since it began keeping records.
- 1953 – Malcolm X became a minister in the Nation of Islam.
- 1955 – The Maryland legislature passed a law that imprisoned any white woman who birthed a mixed-race child. The white woman would be incarcerated up to five years. The law was renewed in 1957.
- 1956 – An Alabama law barred blacks and whites from playing cards, dominoes, checkers, pool, football, baseball, basketball, or golf together. A North Carolina law required factories and plants to maintain separate bathrooms for black employees. A Louisiana law mandated that movie theaters and all places of public entertainment separate white and black patrons.
- 1958 – The Virginia legislature voted to close any school that enrolled both black and white students.
- 1959 – An Arkansas law required all state buses to designate whites-only seating areas.
Despite the wonderful life that many Americans experienced during the 1950s, you can see that the stage was set for extensive social change in the 1960s.
TEXT AND COMMENTARY
The Twenty-second Amendment limits to two the number of times a person is eligible for election to the office of President of the United States, and also sets additional eligibility conditions for presidents who succeed to the unexpired terms of their predecessors. It was one of 273 recommendations to the U.S. Congress by the Hoover Commission, created by Pres. Harry S. Truman, to reorganize and reform the federal government.
Until the amendment’s ratification, the president had not been subject to term limits, but George Washington had established a two-term tradition that many other presidents followed. In the 1940 presidential election and the 1944 presidential election, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first president to win third and fourth terms, giving rise to concerns about a president serving an unlimited number of terms. Congress approved the Twenty-second Amendment on March 21, 1947, and submitted it to the State legislatures for ratification. That process was completed on February 27, 1951.
The amendment prohibits anyone who has been elected president twice from being elected again. Under the amendment, someone who fills an unexpired presidential term lasting more than two years is also prohibited from being elected president more than once. Scholars debate whether the amendment prohibits affected individuals from succeeding to the presidency under any circumstances or whether it applies only to presidential elections.
No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.
The Twenty-Third Amendment granted the “District constituting the seat of Government of the United States” the right to have Electors for the Presidency and Vice Presidency. As you may remember from past posts, the District had been set up specifically to be the location of the federal government and NOT part of any State. As its population grew, there was increasing pressure to devise some type of “voice” in the national conversation for citizens who lived there.
Though residents of the U.S. capital pay federal taxes and are subject to the same military obligations as citizens in the states, they had historically been denied the privilege of electing federal public officials. The Twenty-third Amendment (passed by Congress June 16, 1960; ratified March 29, 1961) established a vote for District residents in presidential elections, allocating to Washington electoral votes no more than the number of the least-populous state (in effect, three). In 1970 Congress, which, per the U.S. Constitution, has exclusive jurisdiction over the federal district, established a nonvoting elected delegate to the House of Representatives, but District residents continue to be otherwise unrepresented in the U.S. Congress. Several “DC Statehood” organizations seeking to provide to the citizens of the District the full rights belonging to the citizens of any State have been established. In 1978 Congress approved an amendment that would have repealed the Twenty-third Amendment and would have given District residents those full rights. However, it failed to be ratified by the required number of states and was never adopted.
The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as Congress may direct:
A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The two decades between 1940 and 1960 saw two wars followed by a period of great peace and prosperity and the rise of government/military involvement in humanitarian aid. The period also saw the explosion of credit (really, debt) and the consolidation and expansion of a tight relationship between and control of public policy by government entities and private defense contractors. Racial tensions increased and were not addressed in most areas of society in the United States. The two Amendments ratified during these years reflected current events and concerns but have had, as is usually the case, important impacts on political events in the decades since.
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https://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/~rfrey/329termination_.htm (Indian termination policies)
https://sites.google.com/site/nativeamericanhistoryapush/1946-1960 (Native tribes history)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2QQ7u0pqnU (audio info on Operation Mockingbird)