Period 8 Notes (1945-1980) – Kaplan Test Prep (2024)

SixThings to Know about AP US HistoryPeriod 8

  1. The United States positioned itself as a global leader. The Cold War, an escalating struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, defined this period. Fearing the expansion of communism, the United States got involved in two major military engagements in Korea and Vietnam.
  2. Initially, there was major American support for an anticommunist foreign policy. As the war in Vietnam dragged on, however, mass antiwar protests broke out across the United States. Passionate debates over war in southeast Asia, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the power of the executive branch were all central to the politics of this period.
  3. Civil rights activists energized a new nationwide movement for racial progress. Martin Luther King Jr. used the strategies of nonviolent protests, direct action, and legal battles. The landmark Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) was a significant achievement for civil rights activists, but progress was slow and resistance was high.
  4. Spurred by the civil rights movement, other social movements advocated their causes. Debates raged over issues such as sexuality, gender, the environment, and economic equality, and the counterculture of the 1960s emerged.
  5. In the 1960s, President Johnson’s Great Society program attempted to use the power of the federal government to eliminate poverty, end racial discrimination, and promote social justice. Fearing a cultural and moral decline, conservatives challenged such actions and sought to limit the role of the federal government.
  6. In the 1970s, the public grew increasingly distrustful of the government’s ability to solve problems. This distrust reached a peak with the Watergate scandal, the stalemate in Vietnam, and President Nixon’s resignation from office.

Remember that the APUS History exam tests you on the depth of your knowledge, not just your ability to recall facts. While we have provided brief definitions here, you will need to know these terms in even more depth for the APUS History exam, including how terms connect to broader historical themes and understandings.

The Truman Administrations

  • Harry S. Truman: Thirty-third President. Served 1945–1953. Desegregated the U.S. military. Help found the United Nations and pushed for the Marshall Plan. Reformed U.S. foreign policy toward internationalism, with a focus on containment of communism. Oversaw early Cold War conflicts, like the Berlin Airlift and the Korean War. Ordered the use of atomic weapons on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Narrowly won reelection in a 1952 upset.
  • George Marshall: Former Army Chief of Staff (1939–1945). Secretary of State (1947–1949) and Secretary of Defense (1950–1951) under Truman. A five-star general, he is credited with the Marshall Plan, a foreign aid package that helped Western Europe rebuild after World War II.
  • Marshall Plan: A program proposed by George Marshall in 1947. Supplied $13 billion to Western Europe, enabling its postwar economic boom and ending the threat of mass starvation.
  • Berlin Airlift: A major crisis in the early Cold War. From June 1948 to May 1949, the Soviet Union blockaded the West’s land access to Berlin. President Truman responded by airlifting in supplies around the clock, putting the onus for starting WWIII on the Soviets.
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): A military alliance formed by the Western Allies of World War II to deter Soviet aggression. It guarantees collective defense under the rule that an attack on one member is an attack on all members.
  • Warsaw Pact: A collective defense arrangement similar to NATO, to protect the Eastern bloc from Western aggression. It also served to solidify Soviet control over Eastern Europe. Dissolved in 1991.
  • National Security Act: A landmark 1947 act that restructured the U.S. government’s military and national security agencies. Established the National Security Council, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, and an independent U.S. Air Force.
  • Department of Defense: Formerly known as the War Department, it was reorganized by the National Security Act of 1947 into the DoD. A cabinet-level office. Military officers are forbidden from serving as the Secretary of Defense until seven years after their retirement, barring a waiver from Congress, in order to ensure civilian control over the military.
  • National Security Council: It coordinates national security and foreign policy among multiple agencies and departments. It also advises the President. Its membership includes the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, and State; the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and other advisors.
  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA): The CIA is a foreign intelligence service founded in 1947. It is the successor of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). In the mid 1970s, the Church Committee investigated the CIA for a string of abuses; as a result, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was formed to oversee the CIA.

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Period 8 Notes (1945-1980) – Kaplan Test Prep (2024)


What happened during 1945 to 1980? ›

The period also saw the growth of the U.S.'s global leadership during the Cold War, and involvement in the Vietnam War. The end of World War II ushered in a period of economic growth and stability in the United States that led to the gr...

What is the period 8 of AP U.S. history notes? ›

The eighth period covered on the AP U.S. history exam took place between the years 1945-1980 and is referred to as “Redefining Democracy in the Era of Cold War and Liberal Ascendancy.” In the post–World War II period, the United States assumed a position of global leadership and experienced unprecedented prosperity.

Why is 1980 a pivotal year for APUSH? ›

President Reagan's victory in 1980 was a defining moment for the new conservative movement that had gained strength in the 1970s. Led by Reagan, conservatives promoted tax cuts and the deregulation of many private industries.

What APUSH period is the Cold War? ›

Cold War Definition

The Cold War was a period of political, military, economic, and ideological tension between Western democratic nations led by the US and Eastern communist countries led by the Soviet Union (USSR) from around 1947 to 1991.

What major event occurred on May 8 1945? ›

On May 8, 1945 - known as Victory in Europe Day or V-E Day - celebrations erupted around the world to mark the end of World War II in Europe. The war had been raging for almost five years when U.S. and Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944.

What was one event or development in the period 1945 to 1980? ›

With the Marshall Plan, the U.S. helped aid recovery in Western Europe and Asia, but the underlying goal, to stop Communist expansion, led to an arms race with the Soviet Union and culminated, in 1962, in an event that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war — the Cuban Missile Crisis.

What period is most on the APUSH exam? ›

These are shown below. Period one and period nine will each account for five percent of the APUSH Exam. The period from 1607-1877 will count for 45 percent of the exam and the period from 1865 to 1980 for another 45 percent of the exam.

What were the environmental issues in period 8 APUSH? ›

Period 8 (1945-1980)

Environmental disasters, such as nuclear accidents, waste spills, and other contamination led to a growing environmental movement, exemplified by author Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring that led to a new “green” movement aimed at curbing pollution and preserving natural resources.

How should I take notes for AP U.S. history? ›

  1. (1) Use Cornell-style notes. ...
  2. (2) Write the main idea and use bullets. ...
  3. (3) Highlight/underline/circle important vocabulary within the time period. ...
  4. (4) Form connections with the text by relating it to events, people, or objects you're familiar with! ...
  5. (5) Summarize the chapter without referring back to your notes.

What are the most important turning points or challenges in the period 1980 present? ›

9.3: The end of the Cold War and new challenges to U.S. leadership forced the nation to redefine its foreign policy and role in the world. The end of the Cold War and new challenges to U.S. leadership forced the nation to redefine its foreign policy and role in the world.

What important political events happened in 1980 in America? ›

November 4 – 1980 United States presidential election: Republican challenger and former Governor Ronald Reagan of California defeats incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter, exactly one year after the beginning of the Iran hostage crisis.

What happened in 1980 in the US economy? ›

During the brief 1980 recession (January through July), goods-producing industries lost 1.4 million jobs, while the service sector gained 310,000 jobs. This movement yielded a net loss of 1.1 million jobs, or 1.2 percent of employment in all industries.

What happens in period 8 of Apush? ›

The Cold War, an escalating struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, defined this period. Fearing the expansion of communism, the United States got involved in two major military engagements in Korea and Vietnam. Initially, there was major American support for an anticommunist foreign policy.

Why is the period from 1945 1990 or so referred to as the Cold War? ›

The term cold war is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two superpowers, but they each supported opposing sides in major regional conflicts known as proxy wars.

What major events happened in 1945? ›

On May 8, 1945, Germany surrendered. After the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945, and the Second World War came to an end.

What happened from 1945 to 1970? ›

Three important political events define the period between the end of World War II in 1945 and 1970: the Cold War, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War.

What happened between 1945 and 1989? ›

Major conflicts of this period include the Chinese Civil War in Asia, the Greek Civil War in Europe, the Colombian civil war known as La Violencia in South America, the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia, the Ethiopian Civil War in Africa, and the Guatemalan Civil War in North America.

What war was from 1945 to 1990? ›

Cold War, the open yet restricted rivalry that developed after World War II between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies. The Cold War was waged on political, economic, and propaganda fronts and had only limited recourse to weapons.

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