LSU HIST 2057 - Dissent and Discontent in the 1960s and 1970s

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Dissent and Discontent in the 1960s and 1970sDissent and discontent in the 1960s- Civil rights movement not only dissent in the 1960so Challenges, changes over decade- 1960s began with optimism- John F. Kennedy elected in 1960o Democrat, WWII Navy, US Congresso Well-connected, wealthyo Young, idealistic, glamorous- Narrowly defeated Richard Nixon - Promised leadership and service at inauguration- Kennedy inspired Americans, especially the young- Concerned about poverty in US o 1962, got $2 billion in aid for urban renewal, job trainingo Summer 1963, began plans for broader agenda on povertyo Proposed huge tax cut in 1963 tooo JFK reasoned a good economy benefitted all Americans Made US competitive in world, with Soviet Uniono Tax cut passed in February 1964 Contributed to major economic boom Unemployment dropped to 4.1%- Overall, JFK’s domestic record unremarkable - Failed to get anything done on education and health care - Resisted dealing with civil rights until 1963o Asked aides to prepare civil rights bill in summer 1963- Unknown if 1963 marked shift in his agenda o Assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963 o Stunned the nation o Placed Lyndon Johnson into the presidential seat Johnson becomes president - Johnson had extensive political experienceo From Texas, served in congress from 1937 to 1960o Senate majority leader in 1955o Coarse wit, lacked eloquence of JFKo Extremely effective behind the scenes  Signed tax cut proposal in 1964 Signed Civil Rights Act 1964, Voting Rights Act 1965 o 1964, announced “war on poverty” Passed laws to fund job training, work study in college, business loans Established legal services for poor Programs expanded help to Americans - 1964, faced Barry Goldwater for electiono Americans generally favorable of Johnsono Goldwater did manage to win 5 southern states o Johnson won 61% of popular voteo Democrats won huge majorities in congresso Goldwater’s campaign generated grassroots appeal Contributed to the rise of conservatism in later years - Second term, Johnson announced plans for a “Great Society” o Extremely successful in passing legislation o Laws on discrimination, poverty, medical care, environmental protection o Also, immigration reform, support for the arts - Johnson’s programs succeeded in reducing povertyo From 20% in 1959 to around 13% in 1968o Not all Americans benefitted equally Elderly; male-headed households rose from poverty faster Female-headed households worsened Whites rose faster, while minorities struggled  African Americans made up 1/3 of impoverished citizens in 1970s o Programs did provide job training, food assistance Built roads, new housingo But funding depended on economic growth, not taxes  Problem because not enough spent to claim “victory” on povertyo Conservatives very critical of “handouts” and government initiatives - Johnson’s domestic record overshadowed by foreign policy - Both Kennedy and Johnson pursued containment- Both continued to build up nuclear arsenalo JFK did sign limited test bad treaty in 1963- Both escalated US involvement overseaso Kennedy sent advisors, money to Vietnamo Johnson continued to do the same  August 1964, used incident in Gulf of Tonkin to expand US activity Said US ships had been fired on  Got congress to approve “all necessary measure” to protect US forces - Johnson continued to escalate US involvement in 1965o Focused tactics on bombing campaigns Pilots dropped 3.2 million tons of explosives o US measured success in “body counts” o Average age of soldiers was 19 in Vietnam Most were poor or working class o About 10,000 women served o Soldiers face difficult conditions and confusion about who the enemy iso Vietnamese suffered deaths, dislocation By 1968, about 30% of population are refugees - Opposition to war grew after 1965o Vietnam first “living-room war” o College students initiated first mass protests Protested on college campuses, Washington DC Angry about the draft, violenceo Mainstream press became criticalNew York Times, Wall Street Journal, Lifeo Goals of anti-war protesters were diverse Totally withdrawal; end to bombing campaigns o Americans who supported war angry at protests  Cold War consensus began to break down - 1968 saw major tensionso January 30, 1968—Tet Offensive launched Communists launched surprise attack on major cities, bases  Not successful—lost 30,000 men o Not successful but showed credibility gap in US rhetoric  Johnson said the US had been winning, but this incident shows the truth that they aren’t winning o March 1968, Johnson announced US would scale down bombing  Would rely more on South Vietnamese to stop communism  Johnson also announced he wouldn’t seek re-election o Assassinations of MLK, Robert Kennedy also shocked the nation  American in major turmoil going into 1968 election 1968 election- Democrats nominated Hubert Humphrey- Republicans nominated Richard Nixon- Nixon won with 301 electoral voteso Democrats lost seats but still controlled congress- Election signaled the fracturing of the New Deal Coalitiono Southerners flocked toward Nixono Union workers also broke ranks to vote for Nixono Issues of civil rights, poverty relief, and Vietnam factored in o Economy also beginning to struggle by 1968Into the 1970s- Nixon promised to end Vietnam war with honoro Determined to keep communism out of South Vietnam though Believed failure undermined American credibilityo Did begin to scale down troop numbers Down from 543,000 in 1968 to 140,000 in 1971 Supported growth of army in South Vietnam Relied heavily on bombing campaigns- Secretly bombed Cambodia for over a year to weaken North Vietnam o Public outraged when Nixon ordered invasion of Cambodia in 1970 Sparked mass protests across the country  Veterans became more heavily involved - Nixon continued heavy bombing through 1972- January 27, 1973, US and Vietnamese governments signed dealo US troops had to leave, POWs returnedo Essentially a face-saving accord for US- Fighting resumed in Vietnamo South Vietnam fell in May 1975o Communism spread to Cambodia and Laos o Did not spread to other parts of Asia - In response to war, congress passed War Powers Act in 1973o President had to notify congress about troop deploymento Approval required to keep troops engaged beyond 60 days o Meant to limit the ability of the president to


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LSU HIST 2057 - Dissent and Discontent in the 1960s and 1970s

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