Portal:1940s

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1940s

The 1940s (pronounced "nineteen-forties" and commonly abbreviated as the "Forties") was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1940 and ended on December 31, 1949.

Most of World War II took place in the first half of the decade, which had a profound effect on most countries and people in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. The consequences of the war lingered well into the second half of the decade, with a war-weary Europe divided between the jostling spheres of influence of the Western world and the Soviet Union, leading to the beginning of the Cold War. To some degree internal and external tensions in the post-war era were managed by new institutions, including the United Nations, the welfare state, and the Bretton Woods system, facilitating the post–World War II boom, which lasted well into the 1970s. However, the conditions of the post-war world encouraged decolonialization and emergence of new states and governments, with India, Pakistan, Israel, Vietnam, and others declaring independence, although rarely without bloodshed. The decade also witnessed the early beginnings of new technologies (such as computers, nuclear power, and jet propulsion), often first developed in tandem with the war effort, and later adapted and improved upon in the post-war era.

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Trinity Test of the Manhattan Project

The Manhattan Project was a research and development project that produced the first atomic bombs during World War II. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army Corps of Engineers. It began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$2 billion (the equivalent of about $26 billion now). Although it operated under a tight blanket of security, it was penetrated by Soviet atomic spies. The first device ever detonated was an implosion-type nuclear weapon in the Trinity test (pictured), conducted at New Mexico's Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range on 16 July 1945. Project personnel participated in the Alsos Mission in Europe, and in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the war the Manhattan Project conducted weapons testing in Operation Crossroads, developed new weapons, established the network of national laboratories, supported medical research into radiology, and laid the foundations for a nuclear navy. It was replaced by the Atomic Energy Commission and the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project in 1947. (Read more...)

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Photo by Leon A. Perski, 1944

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 – April 12, 1945), commonly known as FDR, was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd President of the United States, from 1933 to 1945. A Democrat, he won a record four presidential elections and dominated his party after 1932 as a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic depression and total war. His program for relief, recovery and reform, known as the New Deal, involved a great expansion of the role of the federal government in the economy. As a dominant leader of the Democratic Party, he built the New Deal Coalition that brought together and united labor unions, big city machines, white ethnics, African Americans, and rural white Southerners in support of the party. The Coalition significantly realigned American politics after 1932, creating the Fifth Party System and defining American liberalism throughout the middle third of the 20th century. (Read more...)

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