Essay Questions: (Choose one theme only and answer all of the prompts)
Theme 1: Civil Rights
• How did World War II affect race relations in the United States? Why was there a renewed spirit for civil rights movements after the war?
• In the decades following World War II, in what ways did judicial system affect the struggle for civil rights? (specifically cite court cases in your answer)
• In what ways did the other two branches of the federal government (excluding the Supreme Court) affect the struggle for civil rights in the decades following World War II?
• Explain the roles of the grassroots civil rights groups and of those focused on the court system? Why were both important to the major civil rights successes of the 1950s and 1960s?
• How and why did many civil rights groups “radicalize” in the second half of the 1960s, and in what ways did that radicalization affect the success of the broader civil rights movement?
• How has the Federal government continued to struggle with civil rights/equality since the 1970’s? Identify relevant court cases and policy programs.
Theme 2: World War II (Foreign and Domestic Policy)
• How and why did Fascism spread across Europe in the 1920s and 1930s? Why did it concern Roosevelt?
• Compare and Contrast the ways in which Congress promoted neutrality, while the President promoted intervention from 1936-1941. Do you think Roosevelt’s efforts were justified?
• Explain why the United States’ relationship with Japan had become strained by the late 1930s? Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor in 1941?
• Explain the importance of American military forces, leaders, industry, and technology in the defeat of the Axis powers in World War II.
• How was the American home front affected by World War II? How did the government promote the war effort? How and why did the government restrict civil liberties? How and why were racial and ethnic tensions exacerbated by the war? How did the war affect the economy?
• How do the experiences of World War II continue to shape American society and foreign policy?
Theme 2: Early Cold War (Foreign and Domestic Policy)
• Identify and discuss the events leading into the Cold War. What was the Cold War (1945-1991) and why was it given that title?
• How did the National Security Act of 1947 reshape U.S. military, intelligence, and foreign policy for the Cold War era?
• Explain the basic idea of “Containment” as described by George Kennan in his “Long Telegram” (located in the Course Reader). Compare and contrast the implementation of Containment policies by the Truman administration and the Eisenhower administration.
• What was the Second Red Scare? How did it affect American society? How does fear remain relevant in modern politics?
• What are the major lessons of the Cold War? How are those lessons impacting foreign policy decisions today? Provide a few examples citing current events.
• What lessons have not been taken into account in modern American foreign policy decisions? What risks are associated with repeating the mistakes of the past?