• America the Great? The New Reality of the 1970s

    The Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal left Americans feeling discouraged and battered. No longer was America the country with all the answers. Some problems couldn’t be solved, and the challenges weren’t over. Through the 1970s, the country encountered one struggle after another.

    Fun Facts:

    • In the 1960s, America started importing oil from other countries to fuel its growing energy needs.
    • By the 1970s, most of America’s oil came from countries in the Middle East – members of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. In 1973, OPEC countries stopped shipping oil to America. OPEC leaders were angry that America was supporting Israel in a war against Egypt and Syria.
    • In 1979, OPEC raised oil prices by 60 percent in response to a global oil shortage. In America, gas prices; gas stations often ran out of gas. Cars waited in long lines outside of gas stations to get gas. People had to pay more to heat their homes. Americans responded by buying smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, carpooling, and turning down their heaters.
    • Jimmy Carter took office in 1976. He hoped to promote peace and improve human rights conditions around the world.
    • The economy grew slowly. People lost their jobs while at the same time, their expenses grew. The prosperity of the 1950s and 1960s was over.
    • The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to prop up a pro-Soviet government. In response, President Carter placed an embargo on shipments of grain to the Soviet Union. The U.S. also boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics, which were held in Moscow.
    • In 1979, the Shah of Iran was overthrown in a revolution. The Shah, who was dying, came to the U.S. for medical treatment. In retaliation, Iranian revolutionaries took 52 Americans hostage at the U.S. embassy in Iran. They wanted the Shah returned to Iran for trial. The Shah died in America but the revolutionaries continued to hold the hostages. They were finally released on January 31, 1981, the day Ronald Reagan took office as president. They had been held hostage for 444 days.


    1. Import: to buy from another country
    2. Embargo: an official ban on trade
    3. Boycott: to limit or sever a political or social relationship as a form of protest

    Questions and Answers:

    Question: Could an energy crisis happen again?

    Answer: The energy crisis of the 1970s made Americans more aware of the danger of relying too much on other countries for oil. Since then, scientists have been working hard to develop new technologies and find energy resources, such as wind and solar energy, here in the U.S. These technologies are expensive and take time to develop. We are still a long way off from being energy efficient. At the same time, we have to balance our need for more energy with maintaining a healthy environment.

    Learn More

    Visit Energy Star Kids to play some conservation games and learn more about energy.


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Declan, Tobin. " American in The 1970's - Educational Facts ." American History for Kids, Sep 2023. Web. 30 Sep 2023. < https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/america-great-new-reality-1970s/ >.

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Tobin, Declan. (2023). American in The 1970's - Educational Facts. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/america-great-new-reality-1970s/

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