Nixon’s vice president, Gerald Ford (appointed to replace Agnew), was an unpretentious man who had spent most of his public life in Con- gress . His first priority was to restore trust in the government . However,

feeling it necessary to head off the spectacle of a possible prosecution of Nixon, he issued a blanket pardon to his predecessor . Although it was per- haps necessary, the move was none- theless unpopular .

In public policy, Ford followed the course Nixon had set . Economic problems remained serious, as infla- tion and unemployment continued to rise . Ford first tried to reassure the public, much as Herbert Hoover had done in 1929 . When that failed, he imposed measures to curb in- flation, which sent unemployment above 8 percent . A tax cut, coupled with higher unemployment ben- efits, helped a bit but the economy remained weak .

In foreign policy, Ford adopted Nixon’s strategy of détente . Perhaps its major manifestation was the Helsinki Accords of 1975, in which the United States and Western Euro- pean nations effectively recognized Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe in return for Soviet affirmation of human rights . The agreement had little immediate significance, but over the long run may have made maintenance of the Sovi- et empire more difficult . Western nations effectively used periodic “Helsinki review meetings” to call attention to various abuses of hu- man rights by Communist regimes of the Eastern bloc .


Jimmy Carter, former Democratic governor of Georgia, won the presi-

dency in 1976 . Portraying himself during the campaign as an outsider to Washington politics, he promised a fresh approach to governing, but his lack of experience at the national level complicated his tenure from the start . A naval officer and engineer by training, he often appeared to be a technocrat, when Americans want- ed someone more visionary to lead them through troubled times .

In economic affairs, Carter at first permitted a policy of defi- cit spending . Inflation rose to 10 percent a year when the Federal Reserve Board, responsible for set- ting monetary policy, increased the money supply to cover deficits . Carter responded by cutting the budget, but cuts affected social pro- grams at the heart of Democratic domestic policy . In mid-1979, anger in the financial community prac- tically forced him to appoint Paul Volcker as chairman of the Federal Reserve . Volcker was an “inflation hawk” who increased interest rates in an attempt to halt price increases, at the cost of negative consequences for the economy .

Carter also faced criticism for his failure to secure passage of an ef- fective energy policy . He presented a comprehensive program, aimed at reducing dependence on foreign oil, that he called the “moral equiv- alent of war .” Opponents thwarted it in Congress .

Though Carter called himself a populist, his political priorities were never wholly clear . He endorsed government’s protective role, but

then began the process of dereg- ulation, the removal of govern- mental controls in economic life . Arguing that some restrictions over the course of the past century lim- ited competition and increased con- sumer costs, he favored decontrol in the oil, airline, railroad, and truck- ing industries .

Carter’s political efforts failed to gain either public or congressional support . By the end of his term, his disapproval rating reached 77 per- cent, and Americans began to look toward the Republican Party again .

Carter’s greatest foreign policy accomplishment was the negotiation of a peace settlement between Egypt, under President Anwar al-Sadat, and Israel, under Prime Minister Men- achem Begin . Acting as both medi- ator and participant, he persuaded the two leaders to end a 30-year state of war . The subsequent peace treaty was signed at the White House in March 1979 .

After protracted and often emo- tional debate, Carter also secured Senate ratification of treaties ced- ing the Panama Canal to Panama by the year 2000 . Going a step farther than Nixon, he extended formal dip- lomatic recognition to the People’s Republic of China .

But Carter enjoyed less success with the Soviet Union . Though he assumed office with détente at high tide and declared that the United States had escaped its “inordinate fear of Communism,” his insistence that “our commitment to human rights must be absolute” antagonized the Soviet government . A SALT II agreement further limiting nuclear stockpiles was signed, but not rati- fied by the U .S . Senate, many of whose members felt the treaty was unbalanced . The 1979 Soviet inva- sion of Afghanistan killed the treaty and triggered a Carter defense build- up that paved the way for the huge expenditures of the 1980s .

Carter’s most serious foreign pol- icy challenge came in Iran . After an Islamic fundamentalist revolution led by Shiite Muslim leader Ayatol- lah Ruhollah Khomeini replaced a corrupt but friendly regime, Carter admitted the deposed shah to the United States for medical treatment . Angry Iranian militants, supported by the Islamic regime, seized the American embassy in Tehran and held 53 American hostages for more than a year . The long-running hos- tage crisis dominated the final year of his presidency and greatly dam- aged his chances for re-election . 9

The first years of the new century unleashed a new threat to peace and democracy: international terrorist attacks that killed and

maimed thousands in the United States and around the world. Just as it has with earlier dangers, the United States took up this formidable challenge in unison with its allies. At the same time,

it coped with changes sparked by globalization, fast-paced technological developments, and new waves of immigration that

have made American society more diverse than in the past. The country sought to build upon the achievements of its history,

and to honor those who have sacrificed for its cause.


The digital revolution of the past decade has transformed the economy and the way Americans live, influencing work; interactions with colleagues, family, and friends; access to

information; even shopping and leisure-time habits.



Malalai Joya, one of about 100 women delegates to the constitutional council in Afghanistan, speaks to the council in Kabul, December 17, 2003. Afghanistan has its first democratically elected government as a result of the U.S., allied, and Northern Alliance military action in 2001 that toppled the Taliban for sheltering Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.

President George W. Bush (center) meets with British Prime Minister Tony Blair (left), National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Secretary of State Colin Powell (right) at the White House during his first term. Great Britain has been a key U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wave goodbye from Gardermoen Airport outside Oslo, Norway. President Obama was in Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2009.



Top, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates talks with Antwoinette Hayes, a participant in a Microsoft initiative to provide technology access to children and teens. Above, Apple founder and chief executive officer Steve Jobs with his company’s iPod mini. Gates and Jobs are seen as the most powerful symbols of the creative and commercial talent that shaped the digital era.

Cable News Network (CNN) report from Moscow: The combination of hundreds of cable television channels and 24-hour news services like CNN gives an unprecedented impact and immediacy to news developments around the world.

Combine youth, rock and hip hop music, and 24-hour television, and you get MTV, a television network whose influence extends beyond music videos to fashion, advertising, and sales.


Bales of sorted recyclables are stacked for processing at the Rumpke recycling center in Columbus, Ohio. Growing environmental consciousness in the United States has led to huge recycling efforts for materials such as glass, paper, steel, and aluminum.


The massive AIDS quilt, with each square commemorating an individual who has died of the disease. The United States is a leading contributor to the fight against this global pandemic.


Americans’ love affair with the automobile continues, resulting in increased traffic congestion as well as considerable efforts by government and industry to reduce air pollution.


Iraqis queuing to vote for a Transitional National Assembly at a polling station in the center of Az Zubayr, Iraq, January 30, 2005. More than 8.5 million Iraqis braved threats of violence and terrorist attacks to participate in the elections. The vote followed the 2003 war, led by the United States and other coalition members, which rid Iraq of dictator Saddam Hussein.


A new generation peers into its future.

With husbands and wives in the typical family both working outside the home, daycare centers for children are commonplace throughout the United States.

Place Your Order Here!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *