United States and American History: 1954

About the history of the United States in 1954, Thoreau's Walden is communist, I love Lucy, first Hydrogen bomb, Army-McCarthy hearings, Puerto Ricans shoot congressman, Brown v. Board of Education.


--Henry David Thoreau's Walden was banned from U.S. Information Service libraries and categorized "downright socialistic."

--I Love Lucy, starring Lucille Ball as a comical housewife and Desi Arnaz as her Cuban bandleader husband, was the most popular television show.

Feb. 2 The 1st hydrogen bomb explosion was announced by President Eisenhower.

--"The bomb's brilliant gleam reminds me of the brilliant gleam Beacon Wax gives to floors. It's a science marvel!" read an ad in the Pittsburgh Press.

Mar. 1 Five congressmen were shot on the floor of the House of Representatives by Puerto Rican nationalists seeking the independence of their country.

Apr. 22 The Army-McCarthy hearings began. Sen. Joseph McCarthy had charged that the Secretary of the Army was interfering with McCarthy's investigation of communists in the Army; the Army had countercharged that McCarthy had sought favors for an aide who was in the service. The daily hearings became the most dramatic TV show of the decade. After 36 days of bitter wrangling and 2 million words of testimony, McCarthy was totally discredited. Shortly after, the U.S. Senate, which set out to censure him, merely "condemned" him by a vote of 67-22.

May 8 The French garrison at Dien Bien Phu fell to the popular insurgent forces, the Viet Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh. Vice-President Nixon urged direct American intervention.

May 17 The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka that segregated education was illegal. Chief Justice Earl Warren: "We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate education facilities are inherently unequal."

May 24 The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Internal Security Act, thus making membership in the Communist party sufficient grounds for the deportation of aliens.

June 18 A right-wing coup in Guatemala, financed by the CIA, overthrew the popularly elected Government of Jacobo Arbenz, which had nationalized the property of the United Fruit Company. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles's law firm had written the United Fruit contracts with Guatemala in the '30s; Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, John Moors Cabot, was a major United Fruit shareholder; CIA director Allen Dulles had been president of United Fruit; and Allen Dulles's predecessor as CIA director, Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, became a United Fruit vice-president in 1955.

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