Central America, 1977–1980

Central America, 1981–1993

Reagan Doctrine, 1985

Elliot Abrams: The Reagan Doctrine in Central (America Ashbrook Center)

Sources Of The Cold War

Main focus is the rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (USSR).
Hot war==actual shooting
Cold war==hostility but either no actual shooting or war through surrogates

See also:

History Now: Cold War issue

Cold War Europe interactive


Containment of Soviets became the cornerstone of American foreign policy.

George F. Kennan

Kennan obituary (New York Times)

Great article by Richard Holbrooke about Kennan (Washington Post)

Kennan and Containment, 1947

1. Kennan's "Long telegram" 1946

a. American diplomat in Moscow.
b. Soviet fanaticism made even a temporary understanding impossible.
c. His report played into a growing belief among American officials that only toughness would work with the Soviets.

Here is the complete text of the 8,000-word "long telegram" (National Security Archive)

2. Kennan's "Mr. X" article.

a. The article, titled the Sources of Soviet Conduct and based on the "long telegram," was published in the prestigious Foreign Affairs magazine.
b. Author (Kennan) advocated a policy of firm containment of the Soviets.
c. "Confront the Soviets with unalterable counterforce at every point where they show signs of encroaching on the interests of a peaceful and stable world."

Here is the text of the article:

"Mr. X" article appears in Foreign Affairs ( This Day in History | 7/1/1947)

Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech (1946)

March 5, 1946 | Winston Churchill Warns of Soviet "Iron Curtain" (New York Times)

Churchill's Iron Curtain speech (New York Times)

Churchill Delivers Iron Curtain Speech (Finding Dulcinea: On This Day)

Churchill Iron Curtain Speech Assails Soviet Policy
1. Warned that a Soviet "iron curtain" had cut off Eastern European countries from the West.
2. Called for an Anglo–American partnership to resist the communist menace.

Map: After World War II. Iron Curtain

President Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman
Miller Center (University of Virginia)
My Website Spotlight blog post

President Truman obituary (New York Times)

Truman Doctrine (1947)

The Truman Doctrine, 1947

Finding Dulcinea: On This Day: President Truman Establishes Truman Doctrine

Truman Doctrine (New York Times)

1. British had no money to continue to help Greece and Turkey.

2. British claimed that Communists threatened both countries.

3. Congress approved $400 million economic aid to Greece & Turkey.

4. Truman doctrine: "U.S. policy to support free peoples who are resisting attempted takeover by (a) armed minorities or (b) outside pressure."

Marshall Plan (1948)

Marshall Plan, 1948

1. War damage and dislocation in Europe invited communist influence:

a. Food was scarce; workers were demoralized; winter of 1947 was the worst in 50 years

Truman Calls on U.S. citizens to save food for Europe 1947

b. Communist voting strength was growing in France and Italy

2. U.S. offered economic aid to all European countries (including Soviets)

3. Soviets declined: fearing aid might defeat their control of Eastern Europe

Soviet Union rejects Marshall Plan assistance ( This Day in History | 7/2/1947)

4. U.S. gave $17 billion in aid over four years.

5. That aid helped rebuild Europe. It was also good for American business.

Israel Became a Separate Country

Arthur Balfour obituary (New York Times)

Palestine Partition 1947 (New York Times)

UN Votes to Partition Palestine (On This Day, Finding Dulcinea)

Zionists Proclaim New State of Israel (New York Times)

Israel Becomes a Nation (On This Day, Finding Dulcinea)

Creation of Israel, 1948

Book Review - The Balfour Declaration - By Jonathan Schneer

Formation of Israel section
Theodor Herzl

May 14, 1948 | Israel Declares Independence (New York Times)

Berlin blockade and airlift (1948–49)

Berlin Airlift (American Experience)
My Website Spotlight blog post

The Berlin Airlift, 1948–1949

Finding Dulcinea: On This Day: Soviet Union Ends Berlin Blockade

1. Soviets blocked land access to Berlin.

2. U.S. airlifted food and fuel for 2 million West Berliners lasting ten months.

3. Flights of 1,000 planes a day (every 3 minutes) for ten months.

4. Soviets finally called off blockade.

Berlin Airlift: Static Map

Berlin Airlift: Interactive Map
Click through the four sections

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) (1949)

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), 1949

History of NATO (NATO website)

1. Established to defend Europe against a Soviet invasion.

2. U.S. foreign policy change: not since French–American alliance (1778)

3. Members pledged to treat an attack against one as an attack on all.

4. Dwight Eisenhower named initial NATO commander.

5. Four U.S. divisions stationed in Europe to evidence American support.

6. Soviets later formed Warsaw Pact in response.

Issue in 2012: what use is NATO? Who should be a member?


Anti–communist hysteria
Named for Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin)

Here are some of the key names and major events associated with McCarthyism:

1. J.Edgar Hoover (head of the FBI): fear of internal subversion by Communist spies became intertwined with fear of external attack by the Soviet Union.

J. Edgar Hoover obituary (New York Times)

2. Spy revelations gave people cause to be alarmed

3. People began pointing accusing fingers at each other. Red-baiting.

4. "Hollywood Ten" (screenwriters and directors) jailed for contempt of Congress.

They refused to provide names of alleged Communists.
Others were blacklisted—even if only accused.
Those who did provide names (Elia Kazan) suffer to this day

FBI report names Hollywood figures as communists (

Finding Dulcinea: On This Day: “Hollywood Ten” Blacklisted by Movie Studios

Ronald Reagan on Communism in Hollywood
Watch at least the first 5 minutes of the 9:51 minute YouTube clip

5. Schoolteachers had to take loyalty oaths and were fired if they refused.

6. Alger Hiss case (1950)

Hiss accused by Whittaker Chambers of being a Communist spy.

Role of House of Representatives Committee on Un–American Activities (Richard Nixon a member).

Finding Dulcinea: On This Day: Alger Hiss convicted of perjury.

Two excellent websites about Alger Hiss:

a. The Alger Hiss Story

b. Alger Hiss Trial (Famous Trials)
My Website Spotlight blog post

7. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed (1953) for having supposedly spied for the Soviet Union.

a. Rosenbergs Trial (Famous Trials)
My Website Spotlight blog post

b. Story about their two children is fascinating

Rosenbergs’ Sons Accept Conclusion That Father Was a Spy (New York Times)

30 Mar 1951: Rosenbergs guilty of espionage (BBC)

8. Downfall of McCarthy

a. Eisenhower reluctance to confront McCarthy.

b. Televised hearings: Army–McCarthy.

Finding Dulcinea: On This Day: Army-McCarthy Hearings First Televised

McCarthy hunts 'army Communists' (BBC)

Welch Assails McCarthy (New York Times)

c. U.S. Senate Censures McCarthy (National Archives)

Senate Censures McCarthy (New York Times)

See also:

09 Feb 1950: McCarthy launches anti-Red crusade (BBC On This Day)

18 Feb 1954: McCarthy hunts 'Army Communists' (BBC On This Day)

02 Dec 1954: US Senate condemns McCarthy (BBC On This Day)

Reconstruction of Japan

Role of U.S. in controlling postwar Japan (Douglas MacArthur)

To help contain communism in Asia, we eventually built up Japan.

Japan turned into a formidable economic competitor.

See also:

Occupation and Reconstruction of Japan, 1945–52

Korean War and Japan’s Recovery

Japan's contradictory military might (BBC)

People's Republic of China (PRC) (1949)

The Chinese Revolution of 1949

1. Chinese Civil War (1945-1949)

War between the forces of Mao Tse-Tung's Commuists and our World War II ally, Chang Kai-Shek.

2. Mao Tse-Tung's Communists won. Establishment of the People's Republic of China.

Mao Tse-Tung obituary (New York Times)

3. Chang Kai-Shek and his supporters were forced to leave mainland China and move to the island of Taiwan (formerly called Formosa).

4. The Communist victory had a major influence on American politics.

Republicans criticized Democrats for the "loss" of China to the Communists.

A defeat for containment.

See Also:

China prepares for its 60th anniversary (Big Picture | Boston Globe)

NSC-68, 1950

Decolonization of Asia and Africa, 1945–1960

Korean War (1950-1953)

YouTube videos to check out:

The Korean "War" For Dummies - YouTube

20th Century Battlefields - Korea - YouTube

Korean War- Retreat From Hell - YouTube

Korea: The Forgotten War (20th Century) - YouTube

NSC 68 (Historian of the State Department)

The Korean War, 1950–1953

The Korean War: An Overview (BBC)

Let's spend a few minutes with this map of the Korean War

Great Korean War maps in this one!

American troops arrive in Korea to partition the country ( This Day in History | 9/8/1945)

Here is a summary of the specific events during the war:

1. North Korea attacked across 38th parallel into South Korea (25 June 1950)

25 Jun 1950: UN condemns North Korean invasion (BBC On This Day)

2. President Truman, determined to "contain" communism, committed U.S. forces to battle.

Finding Dulcinea: On This Day: MacArthur Names Commander of UN Forces

Historic Headlines | June 27, 1950: Truman Orders U.S. Forces to Fight in Korean War (New York Times)
[See how this article adds to the Finding Dulcinea approach.]

Truman Orders Air and Naval Units to Aid Korea (New York Times)

3. Pusan perimeter

a. North Koreans advanced all the way to southern tip of South Korea.

b. America feared an Asian "Dunkirk"

4. Inchon invasion. Douglas MacArthur reversed initial tide of the war.

5. U.S. moved to 38th parallel, thereby recovering all of South Korea.

6. U.S. decided to take North Korea, too. Moved north of 38th parallel.

7. U.S. forces pushed to the Yalu River (North Korea's border with PRC)

8. Chinese troops entered the Korean War.

9. U.S. embarrassed militarily, particularly at the Chosin Reservoir

10. MacArthur now looked like a chump.

11. Civilian control of the military became a hot issue.

12. MacArthur: wanted to expand the war to the Chinese mainland; use nuclear weapons

13. Truman: wanted to keep conflict limited; not risk Soviet entry and a possible World War Three

14. President Truman fired General MacArthur

Truman Relieves MacArthur of Command in Korea (New York Times)

Truman and MacArthur (Stanford History Education Group)

Douglas MacArthur: Farewell Address to Congress (1951) (Milestone Documents)

15. War's results. U.S. casualties: 34,000 dead.

16. Sometimes called the "Forgotten War": frustrating; no clear victory.

17. Issues today: U.S. troops in South Korea; North Korea threat to peace

See also:

U.S. Tests Hydrogen Bomb at Enewitok 1952 [note the date: during the Korean War] (New York Times)

Korean War in Photos (Boston Globe | Big Picture)

Photos: Korean War 60th Anniversary (Denver Post Photo Blog)

The Korean War on Its 60th Anniversary (New York Times)

Recognition finally for a warrior priest's Korean heroics (BBC News)

Revisiting the Korean War (National Archives magazine)

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

American Experience: The Presidents series

Dwight D. Eisenhower (Miller Center, University of Virginia)

President Eisenhower obituary (New York Times)

John Foster Dulles obituary (New York Times)

1952 Presidential Election

Check out this great web site for campaign commercials.
1952 election campaign commercials

1956 Presidential Election

1956 election campaign commercials

Sputnik (1957)

Soviets launched a satellite that scared America and put them ahead (temporarily) in the space race.

Sputnik, 1957

Sputnik 1957 (New York Times)

04 Oct 1957: Sputnik satellite blasts into space (BBC On This Day))

On This Day: Sputnik Satellite Launched Into Orbit (On This Day, Finding Dulcinea)

YouTube - 1957 Sputnik I (Universal News)

U–2 incident (1960)

U-2 Overflights and the Capture of Francis Gary Powers, 1960

U–2 spy plane carrying high–powered cameras crashed 1,200 miles inside the Soviet Union.

After denying presence of such a spy plane, President Eisenhower (Ike) accepted the blame.

See also:

U-2 Shot Down (New York Times)

Soviet Downs American Plane; U.S. Says It Was Weather Craft; Khrushchev Sees Summit Blow (New York Times)

Feb. 10, 1962 | U-2 Pilot Francis Gary Powers Released from Soviet Custody (New York Times)
Nice comparison to U.S. drone shot down recently by Iran.

See also:

17 May 1960: East-West summit in tatters after U-2 spy plane incident (BBC On This Day)

19 Aug 1960: Moscow jails American U-2 spy plane pilot Gary Powers (BBC On This Day)

29 Sep 1960: Khrushchev's anger erupts at UN (BBC On This Day)

President John F. Kennedy

I. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum

a. JFK in History

b. Interactive Exhibits

II. John F. Kennedy
Miller Center (University of Virginia)
My Website Spotlight blog post

See also:

Sixty Years Later, the Story of PT-109 still captivates (National Archives)

Check out these pictures of President Kennedy (Big Picture | Boston Globe)

JFK Assassinated (New York Times)

John F. Kennedy obituary (New York Times)

1960 Presidential Election

Kennedy-Nixon Debates (Today in History, Library of Congress)

Finding Dulcinea: On This Day: Nixon and Kennedy Hold First Ever Presidential Debate

September 26, 1960 | First Televised Presidential Debate (New York Times)

1960 Election campaign commercials

Photos from The Atlantic magazine In Focus:

The World in 1961

The World in 1962

Peace Corps

Peace Corps (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum)

Alliance for Progress and Peace Corps, 1961–1969

President Kennedy signs Peace Corps legislation ( This Day in History | 9/22/1961)

Great image collage about Peace Corps (Washington Post)

Executive Order 10924: Peace Corps (1961) (Milestone Documents)

Berlin Wall (August 1961)

The Berlin Crisis, 1958–1961

Soviets built a wall to keep people from fleeing East Berlin.

Berlin Wall Begun 1961 (New York Times)

Deconstructing the Wall (New York Times)

The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall - Photo Essays (TIME)
The first 5 pictures are the most relevant for us.,29307,1631993_1383208,00.html

See also:

Berlin (Historian of the State Department)

Berliners Awake to a Divided City (BBC On This Day)

East German Troops Seal Border (New York Times)

The Berlin Wall (BBC archive)

The Berlin Wall Through Time - Interactive Feature (New York Times)

Remembering the Berlin Wall (The Big Picture | Boston Globe)

The Berlin Wall, 20 years gone (The Big Picture | Boston Globe)

Photos: The 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

President Kennedy's Speech at the Berlin Wall (June 1963)

Finding Dulcinea: On This Day [26 June 1963]: President Kennedy Declares “Ich bin ein Berliner”

Ich Bin Ein Berliner Speech (New York Times)

26 Jun 1963: Kennedy: 'Ich bin ein Berliner' speech (BBC On This Day)

The Speech Itself (American Rhetoric)

Cuba and Castro

1. Fidel Castro ousted American–backed dictator Fulgencio Batista (1959)

Finding Dulcinea: On This Day: Batista Flees Cuba and Castro Takes Power

Fidel Castro (American Experience)
My Website Spotlight blog post

2. Castro's Cuba became an ally of the Soviet Union.

3. America freaked. President Eisenhower (Ike) broke diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Finding Dulcinea: On This Day: Eisenhower Places Embargo on Exports to Cuba

4. Ike ordered CIA to use Cuban exiles to try to overthrow Castro.

Bay of Pigs invasion (April 1961)

The Bay of Pigs Invasion and its Aftermath, April 1961–October 1962

Bay of Pigs (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum)

Finding Dulcinea: On This Day: Bay of Pigs Invasion Embarrasses US

Bay of Pigs (New York Times)

April 17, 1961 | The Bay of Pigs Invasion Against Castro (New York Times)

1. Kennedy approved the Eisenhower-initiated plan to topple Castro.

2. The 1,500 man invasion force was unsuccessful.

3. No uprising against Castro occurred.

4. Kennedy took all the blame. His poll ratings went up! Kennedy in his first Hundred Days.

See also:

Remembering the Bay of Pigs invasion (CNN)

Cuban missile crisis (October 1962)

Cuban Missile Crisis (my very first blog post in this Website Spotlight series!)

The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962

Cuban Missile Crisis (John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum)

Beginning of Cuban Missile Crisis (New York Times)

Finding Dulcinea: On This Day: Cuban Missile Crisis Begins

1. Soviet's secretly installed offensive missiles in Cuba.
Check out these photos.

2. Kennedy (JFK) learned from his mistakes earlier at Bay of Pigs. Laid out a range of options.

3. JFK chose a naval blockade (quarantine) of Cuba.

Cuban Missile Crisis Address to the Nation (American Rhetoric)

4. Soviets ships eventually turned back before they got to U.S blockade.

28 Oct 1962: World relief as Cuban missile crisis ends (BBC On This Day)

Nikita Khrushchev obituary (New York Times)

See also:

50 Years Ago: The Cuban Missile Crisis (Alan Taylor/The Atlantic) [26 photos]

Thirteen Days. (book and movie)

Cuban Missile Crisis
Interactive exhibit from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
World on the Brink: Thirteen Days in October 1962
Go to
1. Click on "Begin The Thirteen Days"
2. Click your way through each of the thirteen days.
3. Read what is on each screen. You can click on each visual to enlarge it.