National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1947-1954: We struggle to preserve freedom in a dangerous world

After World War II, America could not lay down the responsibilities it had shouldered in defense freedom. As America confronted communist aggression in Korea and elsewhere abroad, fears of communist influence at home disturbed domestic tranquility. Trying to root out security risks, politicians launched investigations into communist influence in labor unions, the media, and the government, inquiries that soon threatened civil liberties. All the while, the demands of African Americans for equal rights grew louder. In 1954, the Supreme Court sounded the death knell of legally enforced racial discrimination. In Brown v. Board of Education the Court ruled that government-enforced racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional.

   
  April 15, 1947
On this day Jackie Robinson becomes first black player in major league baseball
  June 5, 1947
On this day Secretary of State announces Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe
  July 25, 1947
On this day Congress passes National Security Act
  November 24, 1947
On this day “Hollywood Ten” – ten movie industry figures alleged to have Communist affiliations – found guilty of contempt of Congress and sentenced to jail
  May 3, 1948
On this day Supreme Court, in Shelley v. Kraemer, rules unenforceable restrictive covenants denying blacks access to housing in white neighborhoods
July 26, 1948
Truman ends segregation in the military
August 3, 1948
Ex-Communist Whittaker Chambers testifies against Alger Hiss of State Department
  April 4, 1949
On this day North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) founded
  October 1, 1949
On this day Communists seize control in China
1950
Does the fight against Communism compromise our civil liberties?
1950
The world and its governments have changed greatly since 1787
  February 9, 1950
On this day Senator Joseph McCarthy begins investigations of Communists and Communist sympathizers in government
  June 27, 1950
On this day Without securing formal congressional approval, President Truman sends U.S. troops to Korea as part of United Nations “police action”
February 27, 1951
Ratification of 22nd Amendment limits presidents to two terms
April 11, 1951
Truman fires MacArthur, reasserts civilian control of the military
  June 4, 1951
On this day Supreme Court, in Dennis v. U.S., sustains leading communists’ convictions under Smith Act of 1940
  April 8, 1952
On this day President Truman seizes control of steel industry to avert strike during Korean War
June 2, 1952
Truman says, “Seize the mills.” The Court says “No!”
  February 20, 1953
On this day Dwight D. Eisenhower inaugurated as president
  February 27, 1953
On this day Korean War ends
  October 5, 1953
On this day Earl Warren becomes Chief Justice of the U.S.
May 17, 1954
The Supreme Court rules – in schools, separate is not equal
November 2, 1954
Strom Thurmond becomes first Senator ever elected on write-in
December 2, 1954
The Senate condemns McCarthy and defends free speech

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