A Year In History: 1948

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A new world order began to emerge in 1948. The U.S. announced the Marshall Plan to help rebuild Europe, while a group of European nations formed an alliance that would evolve into NATO. The Berlin Blockade escalated tensions between the emerging superpowers. Israel became a Jewish state, and Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated less than a year after his country won independence from Great Britain. President Truman desegregated America’s military, while 42-year-old Negro League star Satchel Paige became Major League Baseball’s oldest rookie.

January 30

Gandhi assassinated

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, is assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu extremist on January 30, 1948. Born the son of an Indian official in 1869, Gandhi’s Vaishnava mother was deeply religious and early on exposed her son to Jainism, a morally rigorous Indian religion that […]

February 21

NASCAR founded

On February 21, 1948, the National Association for Stock Car Racing—or NASCAR, as it will come to be widely known—is officially incorporated. NASCAR racing will go on to become one of America’s most popular spectator sports, as well as a multi-billion-dollar industry. The driving force behind the establishment of NASCAR was William “Bill” France Sr. […]

February 25

Communists take power in Czechoslovakia

Under pressure from the Czechoslovakian Communist Party, President Edvard Benes allows a communist-dominated government to be organized. Although the Soviet Union did not physically intervene (as it would in 1968), Western observers decried the virtually bloodless communist coup as an example of Soviet expansion into Eastern Europe. The political scene in Czechoslovakia following World War […]

March 10

Czech diplomat Jan Masaryk dies under strange circumstances

The communist-controlled government of Czechoslovakia reports that Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk has died by suicide. The story of the noncommunist Masaryk’s death was greeted with skepticism in the West. Masaryk was born in 1886, the son of Czechoslovakia’s first president. After World War I, he served as foreign minister in the new Czech government. Later […]

March 30

Henry Wallace criticizes Truman’s Cold War policies

Henry Wallace, former vice president and Progressive Party presidential candidate, lashes out at the Cold War policies of President Harry S. Truman. Wallace and his supporters were among the few Americans who actively voiced criticisms of America’s Cold War mindset during the late-1940s and 1950s. Widely admired for his intelligence and integrity, Henry Wallace had […]

April 3

“The Louisiana Hayride” radio program premieres on KWKH-AM Shreveport

“The Lousiana Hayride,” a country radio program broadcast out of Shreveport, Louisiana, premieres. The show would launch the careers not only of several country music giants, but also of a young, genre-crossing singer named Elvis Presley, the future King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Even the most ardent non-fans of country music can probably name the […]

May 3

U.S. Supreme Court decides Paramount antitrust case

On May 3, 1948, the U.S. Supreme Court issues a decision in U.S. v. Paramount Pictures, et al., the government’s long-running antitrust lawsuit against Paramount Pictures and seven other major Hollywood movie studios. The forerunner of the case was a 1928 antitrust lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission against the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation (the forerunner […]

May 4

Norman Mailer’s first novel, “The Naked and the Dead,” is published

Twenty-five-year-old Norman Mailer’s first novel, The Naked and the Dead, is published on May 4, 1948. The book is critically acclaimed and widely considered one of the best novels to come out of World War II. Mailer was born in New Jersey in 1923 and raised in Brooklyn. He attended Harvard and joined the Army […]

May 15

A three-year-old’s brutal murder begins an unusual investigation

On May 15, 1948, 3-year-old June Devaney, recovering from pneumonia at Queen’s Park Hospital in Blackburn, England, is kidnapped from her bed. Nurses discovered her missing at 1:20 a.m. the next day, and police were immediately summoned to investigate. Two hours later, her body was found with multiple skull fractures. The medical examiner determined that […]

July 26

President Truman ends segregation in the military

On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signs Executive Order 9981, banning racial discrimination in the military. Truman’s order ended a long-standing practice of segregating Black soldiers and relegating them to more menial jobs. African Americans had been serving in the United States military since the Revolutionary War, but were deployed in their largest numbers […]

August 5

Vicki Draves and Sammy Lee become the first Asian Americans to win an Olympic gold medal for the U.S.

On August 3, 1948, American diver Vicki Draves wins gold at the London Olympics. Two days later, on August 5, her good friend and fellow diver Sammy Lee takes gold as well, making them the first Asian Americans to win Olympic gold medals for the United States. Draves was the daughter of an English maid […]