APUSH Essay Prep Unit X: Late 1900s

Due to it being the last unit of the year, our teacher gave us a choice on which prompts we have to prepare for so here are the three I chose to do.

(1) In what ways did the Great Society resemble the New Deal in its origins, goals and social and political legacy. Use specific programs and policies to support your argument.

Synthesis: The Affordable Care Act

Contextualisation: Civil Rights Movement


  • Origins and Goals
    • Both were passed in a situation where Congress would be hard-pressed to fail them
    • Helped the poor and unfortunate.
    • New Deal
      • Response to Great Depression
      • Expanded federal power dramatically (usually not something appreciated)
        • supported by the fact that Hoover did nothing about the situation
      • Provided jobs, made farming somewhat profitable again, stabilised prices
      • Advocated for by Roosevelt in his Fireside chats
      • The promise of it was so popular that FDR carried all but 6 states
    • Great Society
      • “War on Poverty” and also racial inequality (with the various 1960s movements in full swing, especially civil rights)
      • LBJ used Kennedy’s name to provide sympathy for his cause
      • LBJ’s insider status in Congress
      • Democratic majorities in both chambers
    • Both were made when their president was insanely popular, the national situation wasn’t so good and their presidents were really good at manipulating the public in favor of their programs.
  • Social Legacies
    • FDR and New Deal
      • 1st female cabinet member, Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins as well as more than 100 women in other federal positions
      • FDR’s Black Cabinet
      • As a result of ND, by 1935, 25% of blacks were provided assistance
      • By 1936, 90% of black voters were voting Democrat, opposite from before
      • Indian Reorganisation Act(‘34)- collective land ownership for Indian tribes
      • TVA-targeted poor areas for improvement
    • LBJ and Great Society
      • Apps Development Act- like TVA
      • Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Act of 1966
        • Similar to TVA except for urban areas
      • Medicare (‘65) for the elderly
      • Economic Opportunities Act (‘64)- to provide education and eliminate poverty by giving people the opportunity to get better jobs
      • Although not really part of the GS, the Civil Rights Act (‘64 and ‘68) and the Voting Rights Act (‘65) both expanded civilian rights for minorities
    • Both tried to improve the lives of minorities and the poor
    • LBJ actively wanted to leave the GS as his legacy and wanted to mirror FDR’s ND, becoming the next FDR
  • Political Legacies
    • In both, the federal gov’t expanded its power over the economy considerably
      • Both FDR and LBJ ran up the deficit by their spending on new programs
      • GS expanded on and continued ND’s healthcare legacy (not very successful as both the Wagner National Health Act of 1939 and the Wagner-Murray-Dingell Bill died in committee) with Medicaid and Medicare, making the GS one of the only successes in US history in getting healthcare legislation passed (does SS count? It’s not exclusively reserved for medical purposes so…)
    • The failure of either of them to keep their influence is an ever continuing fight even to today between progressivism, war and conservatism
      • Like I said with the Wagner healthcare legislations I mentioned above)
      • Conservative Supreme Court vs New Deal
      • Vietnam eating into Great Society
    • Even through the failures, though, both expanded what the gov’t is capable of and could provide the precedent for future attempts and social and economic reforms like Obamacare 

(2) Describe and account for changes in the American Presidency between 1960 and 1975, as symbolized by Kennedy’s “Camelot”, Johnson’s “Great Society” and Nixon’s “Imperial Presidency”. Address powers of the presidency and the role of the media in your answer.

Synthesis: Jefferson and Hamilton’s view of what America should be like. As widespread media wasn’t available back then, what people heard were only local news and both sides depending on their geographical location would be convinced that the other side would betray the nation’s foundation

Contextualization: TV was becoming more popular in the meantime and its importance could be seen in the Kennedy v Nixon debate. Fun fact: Was probably what convinced politicians to start getting body language coaching.


  • Kennedy
    • Power of president increased under Kennedy
      • Cold War required a strong leader (Castro in Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam)
      • Increased size of federal gov’t (continuation of prior legislation like New Deal as well as his own New Frontier)
      • Democratic majorities in Congress allowed for easier passage of laws
    • Media strengthened Kennedy’s image
      • Appeared youthful, energetic and “glamorous” on TV (can be seen in the post-debate polls in 1960)
      • The image of the “perfect Kennedy family”
      • His death was used to cement his legacy by the media (and Johnson)
  • Johnson
    • Presidential power peaked but then declined
      • Good at “twisting arms” in Congress to get what he wants passed
      • Continuation of Cold War, again, strong leader needed
      • However, backlash came from people who didn’t like his policies (civil rights, GS, Vietnam etc) and his power declined after that
    • LBJ less successful than Kennedy in maintaining his public image
      • Not as good-looking on TV
      • Loss of trust due to credibility gap between his report of Vietnam War vs what the media reported
      • Bad atmosphere (riots and domestic disturbances) in the 60s and extensive coverage of it showed Johnson as someone ineffectual and out-of-touch
  • Nixon
    • Contrary to his “Imperial Presidency”, presidential power actually decreased
      • Democratic control of Congress made it hard for him to fulfill his agenda
      • Slow to disengage from Vietnam when anti-war sentiments were high
      • Used executive action against his enemies, real or perceived (his enemy list)
      • Watergate… Oh, Watergate. Pretty much all of it was propagated by the media (Woodward and Bernstein) and “…I am not a crook.”
      • Increased Congressional oversight of president through the investigation of Watergate
    • Media and Nixon administration hostile towards each other
      • His appeal to the “silent majority” saw his 50% approval rating go up to the 80s
      • Vietnam (invasion of Cambodia, 1970) and unrest at home (Kent State, also 1970) covered by media, bad for Nixon
      • His paranoia about his enemies put the media on the list when they started digging into Watergate and only made suspicions worse

(3) Explain the causes and consequences of immigration and ONE of the following population movements to the United States in the United States during the period 1945–1985 (2011).

Suburbanization    The growth of the Sun Belt

Synthesis: 1916 Great Migration

Contextualization: Sun Belt– jobs, good climate, cheaper land, lots of people moved here, increased pop.



  • Causes:
    • Lifting of restrictive immigration laws pre-WWII
    • Refugees from the War, Korean, Vietnam, Cuba etc
    • Immigration Act (‘65)- opened immigration quotas to non-Europeans
    • Post-war prosperity
    • BRACERO program
    • Influx of immigrants led to:
    • Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (McCarran–Walter Immigration Act)
      • Reestablished national origins quotas
      • Repealed Chinese Exclusion Act
      • Barred LGBT and other “subversive persons” from entering the country
    • Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
      • Abolished national origins quotas
      • Preferred immigration of professionals and skilled workers
    • Refugees Act of 1980- limit of 270K immigrants
    • Decreases in the cost of travel also contributed to the increase in immigration
  • Consequences:
    • Before the 60s, mostly white immigration– by 80s, more than three-quarters were from Latin America or Asia
    • Post-WWII immigrants include more women and skilled workers
    • Steady increase of immigrants since 45
    • Public concern about amount of immigrants (the classic stuff)
      • Anti-Immigrant sentiments build, especially against Latinos because of illegal immigration
      • Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (Simpson–Rodino):
        • Granted amnesty to illegal immigrants arriving before 1982.
        • Penalised employers for hiring illegal immigrants.   
    • Added to cultural diversity of US


  • Causes:
    • 1944: GI Bill (loans for houses to veterans)
      • Also the need to build houses to house returning veterans
    • Demographic Trends: Marriage, Childbirth, ”the perfect family” (TV shows)
    • Levittown!!
    • Riots due to racial tensions increased white exodus from the cities
      • An unintended consequence of Brown v Board
    • Housing Acts of ‘49 and ’54
    • Federal Highway Act of 1956 boosted suburban growth
    • 1965: Department of Housing and Urban Development created.
    • Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured mortgage loans
  • Consequences:
    • FHA policies led to discrimination against racially and economically mixed communities
    • A majority of middle-class Americans moved to suburbs within a generation
    • Loss of population in cities led to loss of business and public institutions
      • Due to lower tax base -> cities became poorer
    • Federal Highway Act of 1956 accelerated the decline of mass transit in older cities
    • Suburbs encouraged individual car use leading to things like drive-in theaters and drive-throughs
    • Gentrification of old urban parts by remaining high-income families (outed the poor)
    • Post-WWII conformity
      • People wanted to have the perfect family as shown in TV shows
      • focus on middle-class ideals
      • Reinvigoration of religion
    • More mobility=more house-moving
    • New Infrastructure like malls, parks, new schools etc for suburbs

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