During World War II, from 1941 to 1945, the Dow rose to 174. Peacetime spurred it even higher, helped by a baby boom and a desire to spend after years of rationing. The U.S. became the world's powerhouse economy because the economies of Europe and Japan were wrecked by the war.
After a late '40s bear, the Dow went on a bull market run that lasted from 1949 to 1961, its longest ever.
On Dec. 13, 1961, the Dow finally peaked at 734.91, and then it languished. In the spring of 1962, President John F. Kennedy's fight with Big Steel over the industry's price increases made businesses nervous about how they'd fare under his tenure. Their apprehension deepened when Kennedy famously said, "My father always told me that all businessmen were sons of bitches, but I never believed it til now!" (He said later that he didn't mean to refer to the entire business community.)
By June 26, 1962, the index had fallen 27 percent from the previous year's record, to 535.76.â¿¿RECORD BREAKER: Sept. 5, 1963. The Dow breaks the record that had stood since 1961, closing at 737.98. â¿¿RISE CONTINUES: It keeps rising for almost two and a half years, gains 35 percent and peaks at 995.15 on Feb. 9, 1966. The Dow bounced back from its so-called "Kennedy Crash," and on Sept. 5, 1963, it set a new all-time high, up 38 percent from its low in June 1962. President Kennedy had taken pains to reach out to businesses and promised lower taxes. The standoff with the Soviet Union in October 1962, a fight that came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis, ended without war, which gave the market license to rise again. On February 9, 1966, the Dow hit 995.15 and stopped rising. Investors went from planning Dow 1,000 celebrations to worrying that inflation was about to creep up and that the Vietnam War would drag on.