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Post-War Era Timeline, Digital History ID 2943


March: Speaking in Fulton, Mo., Winston Churchill announces that "an iron curtain has descended across the Continent" of Europe.


Financier Bernard Baruch declares that "We are in the midst of a cold war."

28-year-old Jackie Robinson becomes the first African American in baseball's major leagues.

March 22: President Truman orders loyalty investigations of all federal employees.

October 14: Air Force Captain Charles Yeager becomes the first pilot to exceed the speed of sound.


March 8: Congress authorizes the Marshall Plan.

May: The United States formally recognizes the state of Israel.

June 24: Berlin Blockade. After Joseph Stalin imposes a land blockade on West Berlin, President Truman mounts an airlift; 277,000 flights carry over 2.5 million tons of supplies to the city.


April 4: The United States joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and pledges to resist aggression against member nations.

October 1: Mao Tse-tung proclaims the People's Republic of China. On December 8, China's Nationalist government flees to Taiwan.

October 21: Eleven U.S. Communist party leaders are sentenced to five years in prison and fined $10,000.


U.S. population: 150,697,361.

Sen. Joseph McCarthy (Rep. Wisc.) tells Wheeling, W. Va.'s Women's Republican Club: "I have here in my hand a list of 205...names that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Dept."

May: A special Senate committee, chaired by Sen. Estes Kefauver, conducts televised hearings on organized crime.

June 25: The Korean War begins when North Korean forces cross the 38th parallel into South Korea. President Truman wins a UN mandate to drive communist forces from South Korea because the Soviet delegation is absent.

September 15: UN forces land behind enemy lines at Inchon, while other UN troops drive northward up the Korean peninsula.

September 23: The McCarran Internal Security Act requires Communist-front organizations to register with the Subversive Activities Control Board.

October 7: U.S. forces cross the 38th parallel into North Korea.

November 29: After UN forces approach the Yalu River, Chinese troops intervene,, pushing the U.S. and its allies out of North Korea.


February 26: The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution stipulates that no person may be elected president more than two times.

April 5: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are sentenced to death for their alleged role in passing U.S. atomic secrets to the Soviet Union.

April 11: President Truman dismisses Gen. Douglas MacArthur for publicly challenging the policies of his civilian superiors. MacArthur had advocated an invasion of China.


September 23: Checkers Speech. On nationwide television, Richard M. Nixon, the Republican vice presidential candidate, explains that an $18,000 private fund set up by wealthy backers was for "necessary political expenses" and "exposing communism." He added that he had received another gift, a cocker spaniel that his daughters had named Checkers.


June 19: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg become the only American civilians executed for espionage.

July 27: An armistice formally ends the Korean War, which killed three million people and cost the U.S. 54,000 lives and $22 billion.

August 19: The CIA engineers a coup overthrowing Iran's Prime Minister Mohammed Mossaegh and placing the Shah in power.


March 1: Five members of Congress are shot on the floor of the House of Representatives by Puerto Rican nationalists.

April 22: The Army-McCarthy hearings begin. Sen. McCarthy had charged that the Secretary of the Army had interfered with his investigations of communists in the military. The Army counter charged that McCarthy had sought favors for an aide who was in the service. In December, the Senate censured McCarthy 67-22.

May 8: The French garrison at Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam falls to insurgent forces, the Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh.

May 17: In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court rules unanimously that segregated schools were unconstitutional. Chief Justice Earl Warren writes: "We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate education facilities are inherently unequal."

June 18: The CIA sponsors a coup in Guatemala overthrowing the government of Jacobo Arbenz, which had nationalized property owned by the United Fruit Company.


The United States provides $216 million in aid to South Vietnam.

August 28: Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American from Chicago, was kidnapped from his uncle's home in LeFlore County, Miss. His mutilated body was recovered four days later from the Tallahatchie River. Till had been accused of acting disrespectfully toward a white woman. An all-white jury acquired the two men accused of the crime.

December 1: Seamstress Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., city bus to a white man, leading to a year-long black bus boycott.

December 5: The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merge.


October: Soviet troops crush a revolt in Hungary.

October 30: Israeli forces invade the Sinai Peninsula after Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal and excludes Israeli shipping. The next day, Britain and France begin to bomb Egypt.


The Senate's McClellan Committee investigates corrupt union practices. The committee's counsel was Robert F. Kennedy.

September 24: President Eisenhower sends a thousand army paratroopers to Little Rock, Arkansas's Central High School, to permit nine black children to enroll in the previously all-white school.

October 4: The Soviet Union launches Sputnik, the first artificial satellite.


January 1: Fidel Castro marches into Havana, having defeated the regime of Fulgencio Batista in Cuba.