Copyright

The Cold War in America: Effects on Everyday Life

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Cold War

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:42 Truman and the Origins of Fear
  • 1:58 House Un-American…
  • 3:07 Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
  • 3:48 America on Alert!
  • 4:39 A Resurgent Faith
  • 5:05 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adam Richards

Adam has a master's degree in history.

Fear of communism and nuclear annihilation spread throughout the United States during the Cold War. Learn about the effects of the Cold War on everyday life and the determination of Americans to prepare for and combat the communist menace.

Cold War America

The onset of the Cold War, which was a period of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union, drastically altered life for Americans. While the battle against communist subversion raged internationally throughout the 1940s and 1950s, the effects of the conflict were eventually felt on the home front. The Red Scare, which was the fear of communist subversion, caused Americans to reevaluate their daily interactions and beliefs. The possibility of nuclear annihilation also loomed after observing the tests of both nations' nuclear arsenals. As a result, a period of uncertainty and trepidation gripped millions of Americans.

Truman and the Origins of Fear

The fear of communism began with the commencement of President Harry Truman's Loyalty Program in 1947, which called for allegiance to the United States by federal employees under the penalty of immediate termination. Moreover, J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was given free rein to covertly investigate and detain anyone he suspected of being a national risk. Eventually, the Subversive Activities Control Board was created in 1950, which officially allowed authorities to investigate suspected communist-controlled organizations. This was only the beginning of the effects felt by the widespread battle against communism.

Truman's anti-communist rhetoric was first felt by labor unions, many of which had gained notoriety following the end of the Second World War. These organizations campaigned for higher wages and more power in the workplace, yet Truman viewed many of these individuals as militant supporters of communism, largely because of their post-war strikes. Even Congress became involved in stripping labor unions of their rights, which had been earned in previous decades. One aspect of the Taft-Hartley Act, passed by Congress in 1947, required labor unions to confirm that none of their leaders belonged to the Communist Party. Unions that were found guilty of an infraction lost federal protection.

House Un-American Activities Committee

The House Un-American Activities Committee, also known by its acronym HUAC, was a congressional entity developed in 1938 to seek out and eliminate suspected communist subversion within the United States. Two prominent, early Cold War cases developed during the organization's existence: the Hollywood investigations and the Alger Hiss trial.

HUAC believed that certain members of Hollywood, which included actors, actresses, writers and directors, were engaged in the Communist Party. As a result, HUAC opened investigations in 1947 into the alleged communist activity, and eventually tried and imprisoned the group known as the 'Hollywood Ten'. Additionally, HUAC created a Hollywood 'blacklist' which stigmatized those who were deemed to be supporters of communism. This action alone ruined the careers of many aspiring artists throughout the late 1940s and 1950s.

The case of Alger Hiss rose to national prominence during 1948. Hiss, who was charged with espionage and selling national security secrets to the Soviet Union during the 1930s, was tried and convicted only of perjury before Congress. The Hiss case proved to be the catalyst for future congressional hearings on communist activity, such as Senator Joseph McCarthy's witch hunts in the federal government.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Free 5-day trial

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create an account
Support