American Flag

8th Grade Overview

  • Chapter 15 - Crash and Depression

    When the economy of the high-flying 1920s crashed in 1929, the bleak years of the Great Depression began. Behind the headlines and photos of stock-buying-and-selling frenzy and destitution grew a debate that cut to the very political, social and economic fiber of the country and changed forever how Americans look at government.

    Chapter 16 - The New Deal

    President Roosevelt's New Deal - the name given to the vast collection of programs and policies formulated to combat the Depression - proved to be only partially successful at ending the nation's misery. But though critics were quick to point to the New Deal's many failures, it did bring hope to a weary nation. Moreover, the New Deal influenced the social, political, and cultural life and attitudes of Americans in ways that are still apparent today.

    Chapter 17 - World War II: The Road to War (1931-1941)

    Economic conditions in Europe and Russia following the end of World War I and the Russian Revolution were devastating. Conditions were ripe for the rise to power of new leaders, totalitarian in approach, who promised to relieve countries of poverty and chaos. Joseph Stalin in Russia, Adolf Hitler in Germany, and Benito Mussolini in Italy each took actions, ostensibly to revitalize their countries, which would result in further devastation and vast destruction.  The prevailing mood in the United States during the 1930s was isolationist as Americans coped with the economic crisis of the depression. But when Japanese forces struck Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, the United States could remain neutral no longer.

    Chapter 18 - World War II: Americans at War (1941 - 1945)

    "The peace, freedom, and security of 90 percent of the world is being jeopardized by the remaining 10 percent..." said President Roosevelt about the war raging in Europe. Many Americans, opposed to intervention, were convinced only after the attack on Pearl Harbor that the United States should be involved in the war.  With the American entry into World War II, there was no longer any question about the role of the United States in world affairs.

    Chapter 19 - The Cold War (1945 - 1960)

    American foreign policy after World War II remained consistent with the nation's wartime activities: force would be used to oppose authoritarian regimes that the United States considered a threat to the free world. At home the federal government would use strong, and sometimes questionable, measures to counter what it perceived to be threats to the nation's internal security.

    Chapter 20 - The Postwar Years at Home (1945 - 1960)

    As the United States emerged from World War II, the American Dream of having a secure job and owning a house came within reach for many Americans.  Fueled by the postwar baby boom, the economy rocketed forward in the late 1940s and 1950s.

    Chapter 21 - The Civil Rights Movement (1950 - 1968)

    The 1950s and 1960s were a time of great progress and great frustration for African Americans. Through nonviolent protests and an extremely focused civil rights struggle, African Americans ended institutional segregation and secured voting rights in the South. Lack of progress on economic issues, especially in urban areas, however drove some to vent their anger through bitter violence.

    Chapter 22 - The Kennedy and Johnson Years (1961 - 1969)

    The contrast between the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson is striking. While Kennedy articulated plans for domestic reform, few of his programs actually advanced through Congress, perhaps because of his preoccupation with foreign affairs. When Johnson took office after Kennedy's death, he used his legislative skills to push through Congress some of the most significant social programs in the nation's history.

    Chapter 23 - An Era of Activism (1960 - 1975)

    Inspired by the civil rights movement, women, Latinos, and Native Americans struggled to achieve equality in the 1960s and 1970s through protests. The movement for social change affected almost every aspect of American society, from the environment to consumer awareness.

    Chapter 24 - The Vietnam War (1954 - 1975)

    The 1960s and 1970s were decades of deep division and turmoil in the United States. Under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, the country became increasingly involved in trying to stop a Communist takeover in Vietnam. As the war continued to cost more and more lives and money while achieving little apparent success, many Americans began to question their government's role there. At the same time, a youthful counterculture arose that was critical of the traditional values of many Americans.

    Chapter 25 - Nixon, Ford, Carter (1969 - 1981)

    The election of President Nixon in 1968 led to a 24-year period of almost uninterrupted Republican control of the White House. The new President's domestic and foreign policies marked a shift in national politics. But Nixon's leadership style led to scandal and his own eventual downfall. Gerald Ford tried to heal the nation after the scandal, but the country's trust in its highest office was severely shaken. It was no surprise, then, when a Washington outsider, Jimmy Carter, was elected to the White House in 1976.

    Chapter 26 - The Conservative Revolution (1980 - 1992)

    After the political, social, and cultural upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s, many Americans felt change had gone too far and wanted to return to smaller government and more conservative ideas.  The policies of Ronald Reagan and his successor, George H.W. Bush, carried out the social and economic goals of "New Right" conservatives.

    Chapter 27 - Entering a New Era (1992 to the Present)

    Sweeping changes in world affairs in the early 1990s changed the face of world politics. Although the Cold War was over, these developments offered new challenges to the United States, now the only superpower, and to the President. The United States also faced challenging issues at home, as immigration and an aging population changed the demographics of American society.