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PinkMonkey Study Guide - American History

11. 1 Conditions at Home

When Roosevelt died in April 12, 1945, the mantle of Presidency fell on 61-year old Harry Truman. As President, Truman faced the most complicated problems, both domestic and international, after the 2nd World War.

The most important task before the President was to bring the countryís economy to back to normal. Several economists had predicted that after the war, there would be large-scale unemployment. In America, this never really happened. The government succeeded in bringing the nationís economy back on the peacetime track.

Another problem faced by the Truman administration was the question of inflation. There was a possibility of a sharp rise in prices in a situation where several Americans had a great amount of purchasing power. Coupled with the short supply of many necessary items. Aware of this danger, the Truman government wanted to continue the O.P.A. or the Office of Price Administration, till the supply of necessary goods caught up with increasing demand. The President wished to keep wartime control on price, rent and wages until the reconversion program was over. But the National Association of Manufacturers demanded an end to wartime controls. They believed that production would get an impetus, if controls of price were put to an end. Thus, although the Congress extended the price control Act for another year, it reduced the powers of the O.P.A. considerably. But the President vetoed the Act and the prices shot up immediately. Elections in November went against the Truman administration. Taking this as a cue, the President abandoned all controls except on rents. In other words, Trumanís attempts to prevent inflation failed.

The Reconversion program was further complicated due to frequent labor-management disputes. Labor wanted higher wages up to 30 per cent as prices had shot up by 33 per cent since 1944. The management refused to accept the demand. Once the war came to an end, management did not reduce wages, but did away with overtime. The misery of the labor class was heightened due to the sharp rise in the cost of living. This was one of the major reasons for strikes in railroad, motorcar and coal industries. Two major strikes in 1946, i.e. the coal strike and the railroad strike shook the entire country. After a series of strikes which affected production, a wage settlement was agreed upon, which increased wages by 18 1\2 cents per hour. The administration, by instituting a fact-finding committee, played a key role in the settlements.

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Table of Contents

11.0 - Chronology of Major Events in this Period
11.1 - Conditions at Home
11.2 - The Employment Act
11.3 - The Taft-Hartley Labor Management Relations Act
11.4 - The Truman's Civil Rights Program
11.5 - The McCarthy Period
11.6 - The Cold War Abroad
11.7 - The Korean War
11.8 - The Eisenhower Administration
11.9 - The Civil Rights movement and the question of Desegregation
11.10 - The Labor Reform act
11.11 - The Budget
11.12 - The Economy in the 60s
11.13 - The Communist Threat Abroad
11.14 - The Threat of Nuclear War
11.15 - The Exploration of Outer Space
11.16 - The Geneve Conference on Disarmament
11.17 - Our WorldToday


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