College Essay


Consider these late twentieth century topics in United States history (80s-90s) or another topic of your own choosing: Middle-east policy; immigration reform; energy policy; nuclear arms reduction; confronting terrorism; domestic economic change; fate of organized labor, supply side/trickle-down economics, Iran-Contra, etc. Try to narrow your topic as much as possible.

Select primary documents as reference that are relevant toward understanding one of these topics. Introduce your chosen topic and then answer the following:

What conditions in the period made this issue prominent in that time?

How did twentieth century Americans react to the issue?

Why is an investigation of this issue relevant to our understanding of American historical development?

Be sure to use specific examples from the documents to illustrate your points and support your responses. Your paper should be two to three pages (500-750 words) in length and typed and double-spaced. Assignment is due in class by 2pm on Wednesday, May 4, 2016.


U.S. Economic Recession of the Early 1980s

Throughout 1982, the United States went through an economic recession. Many citizens suffered numerous bankruptcies, farmers encountered many challenges due to a decline in agricultural export trade, and crop prices fell, and interest rates increased. At this time, the government tried to stabilize economy by seeking to maintain interest rates at 5 percent. This essay is going to examine issues relating to the domestic economic changes that occurred in the United States during the early 1980s. It will also look at the issues that affected the policies that helped to shape the country’s economy and how Americans reacted to them.

To begin, Ronald Reagan was elected president at a time when the American people were unhappy with the country’s economic trend. The economic recovery that they were expecting to see did not come as fast as they thought it would. At the time, many people were struggling to make a living. The most severely hit people were small-scale farmers. Some parts of the nation had been hit by a serious drought followed by extensive floods particularly in the Midwest states. At the same time, many banks had adopted bad practices especially those relating to savings and loans. The federal government was also in the limelight following the closure of many institutions and the move to pay off depositors using taxpayers’ money.

The economic problems came at a time when American was locked in Cold-War hostilities with the Soviet Union. In fact, the country’s preoccupation with the Cold War may have greatly contributed to the economic neglect that had culminated to a full-blown crisis. In essence, the efforts that were being put in place to deal with the economic malaise in America were far from satisfactory. At that time, the country was going through trade deficits which led to the sale of many co-operation entities and the restructuring of numerous companies. Poorly performing firms slimmed down thus pushing millions of people out of work.


Americans reacted to this economic crisis first and foremost by offsetting the old liberal order (Hayward 106). They elected a new president who ran for office on a platform of economic change. By so doing, they were seeking new leadership capable of providing lasting economic solutions to the prevailing economic problems. Following the high rate of inflation, President Ronald Regan introduced a new tax/fiscal policy that turned out to be one the most successful economic policies in the world to date. Unemployment had risen to double-digit figures and crime rates in the country had increased as unemployed breadwinners sought to provide for their families through unscrupulous means. At the same time, government leaders were deeply involved in the implementation of policies and programs as a way of aided in the resurgence of country’s economy. In this case, focus was mostly on anti-war programs and anti-poverty initiatives.

An investigation of this economic crisis is of outmost importance because provides information on the economic failures and success of the country and how its people risen above prevailing challenges to restore their dominant economic position in the world. Moreover, it provides evidence of the extent to which America has undergone many domestic economic challenges and how the efforts successive federal governments have made to shape the country’s economic environment during the late twentieth Century.

Works Cited

Hayward, Steven F. The Age of Reagan, 1964-1980: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order. New York: Crown Forum, 2001. Print.

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