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Liberty and Justice for All?

Liberty and Justice for All?: Rethinking Politics in Cold War America

Edited by Kathleen G. Donohue
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Liberty and Justice for All?
    Book Description:

    From the congressional debate over the “fall of China” to the drama of the Army–McCarthy hearings to the kitchen faceoff between Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev, the political history of the early Cold War was long dominated by studies of presidential administrations, anticommunism, and foreign policy. In Liberty and Justice for All? a group of distinguished historians representing a variety of disciplinary perspectives—social history, cultural history, intellectual history, labor history, urban history, women’s history, African American studies, and media studies—expand on the political history of the early Cold War by rethinking the relationship between politics and culture. How, for example, did folk music help to keep movement culture alive throughout the 1950s? How did the new medium of television change fundamental assumptions about politics and the electorate? How did American experiences with religion in the 1950s strengthen the separation of church and state? How did race, class, and gender influence the relationship between citizens and the state? These are just some of the questions addressed in this wideranging set of essays. In addition to volume editor Kathleen G. Donohue, contributors include Howard Brick, Kari Frederickson, Andrea Friedman, David Greenberg, Grace Elizabeth Hale, Jennifer Klein, Laura McEnaney, Kevin M. Schultz, Jason Scott Smith, Landon R. Y. Storrs, and Jessica Weiss.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-193-9
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)
    Kathleen G. Donohue

    A handful of events and images capture the political history of the post–World War II years—General Douglas MacArthur telling a joint session of Congress that “old soldiers never die, they just fade away” … airplanes swooping into Berlin, bringing much-needed supplies to the beleaguered city … Richard Nixon announcing that his family was going to keep their dog Checkers no matter what anyone said about it … Dwight D. Eisenhower appointing “eight millionaires and a plumber” to his cabinet … Nixon again, this time facing off against Nikita Khrushchev during the Kitchen Debates … and, above all, Joseph McCarthy,...

  4. Part I: Rethinking McCarthyism and Cold War Anticommunism

    • Access Denied: Anticommunism and the Public’s Right to Know
      (pp. 21-50)
      Kathleen G. Donohue

      In July, 1946, as Congress was debating whether control of the nation’s atomic energy program should be in civilian or military hands, an Atomic Energy Commission employee wrote to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) suggesting that HUAC “demand Dr. Condon’s record of the FBI. It would be enlightening.” The Condon in question was atomic physicist Edward Condon who had worked on the Manhatt an Project and had served as associate director of the Los Alamos laboratory from 1943 until 1945. In November 1945, President Truman had appointed him director of the National Bureau of Standards. Both Condon’s previous government positions and...

    • Red Scare Politics and the Suppression of Left-Feminism: The Loyalty Investigation of Mary Dublin Keyserling
      (pp. 51-90)
      Landon R. Y. Storrs

      On february 9, 1952, speaking at a Lincoln’s Day dinner in Wheeling, West Virginia, where two years earlier to the day he had dramatically launched his campaign against Communists in government, Senator Joseph McCarthy attacked President Harry S. Truman’s chief economic adviser, Leon Keyserling, and his wife, Mary Dublin Keyserling, who worked in the Department of Commerce. Not only had an informant remembered Leon as sympathetic to the Communist program, McCarthy announced, but Mary once belonged to ten “Communist front” groups. Leon Keyserling, who had helped draft major pieces of the New Deal before becoming Truman’s adviser, brushed off the...

    • The Strange Career of Annie Lee Moss: Rethinking Race, Gender, and McCarthyism
      (pp. 91-123)
      Andrea Friedman

      Annie Lee Moss is hardly a household name. She had her fifteen minutes (or so) of fame in March 1954, when Edward R. Murrow dedicated an episode of his television news show,See It Now, to her appearance before Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. McCarthy had charged that Moss, an African American civilian Pentagon employee who allegedly had access to top-secret coded messages, was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party (CP). Murrow’s broadcast went a longway toward discrediting those claims; ultimately, Moss remained an army clerk, laboring in obscurity until her retirement in 1975, at age sixty-nine....

    • “Fraud of Femininity”: Domesticity, Selflessness, and Individualism in Responses to Betty Friedan
      (pp. 124-154)
      Jessica Weiss

      When the home falls apart, it isn’t long until the nation falls apart. Let[’]s keep the wife and mother as the ‘heart’ of the home,” wrote an angry California housewife who disagreed with an article by Betty Friedan inMcCall’smagazine published to coincide with the release ofThe Feminine Mystique. The excerpt, “The Fraud of Femininity,” introduced many Americans to Friedan and her “new life plan for women.” While Betty Friedan’s bestselling book generated a flood of fan mail, a torrent of critical correspondence also greeted theMcCall’sexcerpt. Concern about Friedan’s description of and prescription for postwar women,...

  5. Part II: Rethinking the Politics of Cold War Culture

    • The Disenchantment of America: Radical Echoes in 1950s Political Criticism
      (pp. 157-184)
      Howard Brick

      An enduring image in American memory casts the 1950s as an age of consensus. Whether the term means a strong agreement on political principles limiting the conflict of parties, or a wider harmony uniting all of American social and cultural life as one, 1950s consensus often appears in hindsight as either a lost virtue or a suffocating conformism. In popular culture, the placid image of middle-American television families provides a target for gentle or bitter mockery. Among today’s historians, pejorative connotations of “consensus” usually hold. Some fifty years ago, John Higham aimed to draw the curtain on the 1950s and...

    • A New Way of Campaigning: Eisenhower, Stevenson, and the Anxieties of Television Politics
      (pp. 185-212)
      David Greenberg

      On September 11, 1952, one of America’s leading advertising men, Rosser Reeves of the Ted Bates Agency, sat down with two of his associates and a portable typewriter at the studio of Transfilm in Manhattan. Reeves was something of a prodigy in the advertising world, having created several celebrated TV commercials including one for Anacin that showed cartoon hammers pounding away at the inside of a man’s head—spots that viewers claimed to find maddening, yet somehow did wonders for sales. The Anacin spot, Reeves proudly told a reporter, cost $8,400 to produce and “made more money in seven years...

    • The Irony of the Postwar Religious Revival: Catholics, Jews, and the Creation of the Naked Public Square
      (pp. 213-242)
      Kevin M. Schultz

      During the first few years after the Second World War, Americans vigorously debated how much religion should be allowed in the public sphere. Could public schools allow religious prayer during school time? Could they provide students with copies of the King James (Protestant) Bible? Could Catholic parochial schools receive benefits from taxpayers in the same way public schools could? Can a city display a nativity scene on a public lawn during Christmas? Can children be taught Christmas carols in a state-funded public school?

      Today, the wall of separation between church and state in the United States is pretty high, and...

    • The Union of Folk Music and Left Politics: Pete Seeger in Cold War America
      (pp. 243-278)
      Grace Elizabeth Hale

      Pete Seeger was not the best folk singer. He was not the most talented five-string banjo player. He was not the most important collector or field-recorder or musicologist or filmmaker. He was not even the most handsome musician, a quality that can be a good enough substitute for talent. On stage in the 1950s and 1960s, he looked lean and spindly and a bit too long in the limbs. When he sang, his sharp Adam’s apple bobbed up and down to the tune. His elbows stuck out at odd angles. He did not radiate ease. But no one played an...

  6. Part III: Rethinking the Cold War State and Economy

    • The Transformation of the Cold War State: From Welfare to Security
      (pp. 281-301)
      Jason Scott Smith

      In late 1938, public opinion polling found Americans divided about the New Deal. Asked to name the “worst thing the Roosevelt administration has done” as well as its “greatest accomplishment,” Americans responded with the same answer to each question: the Works Progress Administration. This widespread public division only begins to hint at the tremendous—and controversial—presence that the New Deal’s public works programs had assumed in the nation’s social and political life, and in its political culture. During the Great Depression, these works programs put millions of unemployed people back to work while building socially useful infrastructure in nearly every...

    • Nightmares on Elm Street: Demobilization in Chicago and the Politics of “Peace,” 1945–1953
      (pp. 302-333)
      Laura McEnaney

      This is a story about the “greatest generation” that has not been told. It is not a story about homeowners in the suburbs but about renters in the city. It is not primarily about male veterans, although they are in here, as they should be. This story is about city dwellers as they lived and worked in Chicago in the years following World War II. It is about ordinary people who faced big challenges, like making a decent life for themselves—only one family per apartment now, maybe a television set—and their smaller but still serious trials, like sharing...

    • The Politics of Economic Security after World War II
      (pp. 334-360)
      Jennifer Klein

      In 1950, after General Motors and the United Auto Workers signed their first landmark contract providing health insurance, pensions, and other “employee benefits,” Charles Wilson, GM’s president, claimed to have achieved “an American solution for the relations of labor and industry.”¹ Just over a half century later, GM filed for bankruptcy and became a ward of the federal government, but Americans’ insistence on this model of social provision hadn’t much changed.

      During the summer of 2009, Americans again entered into the debate over access to health care and health insurance that seems to erupt every fifteen or twenty years. With...

    • Corporate Culture, the Cold War, and the American South in the 1950s and 1960s
      (pp. 361-382)
      Kari Frederickson

      In 1956, William Faulkner lamented that agriculture no longer stood at the center of the southern economy. “Our economy,” he remarked, “is the Federal Government.”¹ Beginning in the immediate post-World War II era, the region that once had been dominated by cotton fields, tenant shacks, and textile mill villages was rapidly giving way to defense installations, aerospace engineering facilities, and suburbs. Within three decades, federal spending changed the South’s economic base and demographics to such a degree that by the early 1980s the region that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had once identified as “the nation’s number one economic problem” had...

  7. Contributors
    (pp. 383-386)
  8. Index
    (pp. 387-392)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 393-393)