The nineteen seventies was a decade that experienced economic crisis, political struggle, feminism, and a rise of subcultures such as the hippies. These events reflected the rising power of baby boomers, which are babies who were born during the post WWII years, who have become adults and made up the majority of the population. Because of this, the decade became a reflection of baby boomers’ power that set the latest trends and influenced every aspect of the society.
During the nineteen seventies, there were many events that took place. One major event that took place in 1973 was the oil crisis. It was caused by Arab members of OPEC (organization of the petroleum exporting countries) who announced that they would no longer ship petroleum to the United States and its allies in West Europe and that the price of oil would increase drastically. Because the U.S was now dependent on oil and the prices quadrupled the need for rations, our country went into a recession and suffered massive inflation. (People History par.1) This was a very stressful time for our country because the cost of living had highly increased in such a short amount of time. It was also a reason for prices increasing as much as they have in the present day. Not only did the oil crisis occur, but 1973 was also the year the United States withdrew from the Vietnam War. This was an important time for our country because it had been almost ten years that we had troops in Vietnam and everyone was eager to finally have peace again.
Another significant factor of the nineteen seventies was the growth of feminism. Women gained the right to choose when, where, and if they wanted to have children. They gained this right through the famous case of Roe versus Wade, which centered around legalizing abortion (Drucker 77). Women also expanded their involvement in politics and even surpassed men in college enrollment in 1979 (American par.1). Because of this, not only did women become more independent, but this change in society led to higher divorce rates, causing some to go into poverty. So, it is easy to see that feminism in the nineteen seventies had both positive and negative effects on people’s lives.
Included in the category of events are also scandals. Many people might remember, or know about, the Watergate scandal involving President Nixon. He and some of his supporters were part of a campaign that tried to tarnish the reputation of the Democratic Party, which included breaking in to the Watergate Hotel and tampering with official files. Of course, he tried to cover it up when it was discovered, but tapes were found of some of his “private” conversations with people involved and were ordered to be released. In mid-1974, he ended up resigning before he was impeached. (Watergate par.9-14) This is a good example of corruption in politics and how people will sometimes do anything to keep their power. I think that this event had a lasting effect on all the presidents after him and raised the standards for loyalty and honesty to the people.
Finally, in the nineteen seventies was the beginning of a digital revolution. Companies now found ways to use technology which caused a drastic growth in smaller, powerful, and cheaper products such as calculators and televisions (People History par.2). Because of integrated circuits invented in the nineteen sixties and the invention of the home computer, companies were able to also invent products such as the first video game system, the Atari. Air travel also began booming due to the use of jumbo jets. (People History par.3) This became very useful because it helped to transport people overseas much faster and in larger quantities. Other inventions in the seventies include the following: floppy disks, barcodes, E-mail, genetic engineering, ink jet and laser printers, microprocessors, and MRI scanners. These inventions have been very useful to us in the twenty first century. Some are not used as much anymore, such as the floppy disk and the Atari, but they have served as the foundation of newer, modern technology.
Through many examples shown, I believe that I have proved that the nineteen seventies was a decade that was full of many significant and long lasting major events. It was also a time when many scientific, medical, and technological breakthroughs occurred. From oil crisis to wars to scandals to feminism, the seventies have proved to be an important part of history for our country, and with the baby boomers leading us through this time, the United States has prospered and grown ever since then.
American Cultural History 1970-1979. 1999. Kingwood College Library. 25 February
Drucker, Dan. “Abortion Rights for Women: Roe v. Wade.” The 1970s. ed. Mark Ray
Schmidt. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 2000.
Milan Bobek ed.Decades of the 20th Century:1970s. 9 vols. Prescott: Eldorado Inc. 2005.
The People History: 1970s. 2008. The People History. 25 February 2009.
The Watergate Files. 1998. Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum. 24 February 2009.