Other activism of the 1960’s and 1970’s: 1962: Silent Spring launches the modern environmental movement
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan launched the modern Women’s Rights Movement Friedan also helped establish NOW – the National Organization for Women formed in 1966. Gloria Steinem founded Ms magazine in 1972: to foster feminist ideas
Ralph Nader’s 1964 exposé of the automobile industry sparked a consumer movement Cesar Chavez organized migrant farm workers to fight for better wages and labor conditions.
Politics: 1960 - 1968 Two presidents, both Democrats, in this period: John F. Kennedy (JFK) and Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ)
Kennedy’s domestic agenda was called the New Frontier. It included civil rights, anti-poverty programs, and urban renewal. Very little of the New Frontier was passed before Kennedy died. Kennedy also established the Peace Corps and challenged NASA to land a man on the moon before the decade ended. Kennedy was assassinated in November, 1963.
The assassination was investigated by a government committee known a the Warren Commission. The Commission concluded that the assassin was Lee Harvey Oswald, that he had acted alone with no involvement by any other persons or groups. That conclusion has not satisfied many citizens. Many conspiracy theories emerged.
Lyndon Johnson assumed the presidency upon the death of Kennedy. Johnson won the election of 1964.
Johnson’s administration was extremely successful from the standpoint of legislation. Landmark civil rights laws were passed. In this second term, Johnson focused on an agenda called the Great Society. The Great Society created the modern “welfare state,” with programs like Food Stamps, Aid to Families With Dependent Children, Medicaid and Medicare.
Johnson wanted his legacy to be the Great Society, but, ironically, it would be Vietnam. Vietnam drained money from social programs and undermined Johnson’s public support…. And may have destroyed him personally. Johnson declined to run again in 1968.
The United States became involved in Vietnam after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 by Vietnamese communists
The Geneva Accords divided French Indochina into three nations with Vietnam further divided into North and South. The 17 th parallel divided the communist North from the non- communist Sout.
The United States pledged to protect South Vietnam. The purpose was to contain communism and prevent a “Domino Effect” in Southeast Asia.
Initially, the US supplied only military “advisors” to South Vietnam. During the Kennedy years, the number of US Advisors in Vietnam rose from about 900 to 16,000.
The Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 led Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The resolution authorized President Johnson to use combat forces in Vietnam.
US presence in Vietnam escalated rapidly after that. US troop levels in Vietnam were highest in 1968.
An anti-war movement began to gain momentum by about 1967. It accelerated after 1968.
The Tet Offensive of January 1968 made it seem as thought the United States was losing the war.
The My Lai Massacre turned many Americans against the war. March 16, 1968 Death toll: 347 (US official count) 504 (Vietnamese official count)
Richard Nixon won the election of 1968. He promised Vietnamization: to turn the war increasingly over to the South Vietnamese and begin US withdrawal. When he seemed to be expanding the war into Cambodia instead, more protests… and four students shot by National Guard soldiers at Kent State University in 1970.
The Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1973 and US troops left Vietnam. South Vietnam soon fell to an invasion by North Vietnam. The US goal in Vietnam – to contain communism – had failed.