Anti-Vietnam Movement in the U.S.
The antiwar movement against Vietnam in the US from 1965-1971
was the most significant movement of its kind in the nation's history.
The United States first became directly involved in Vietnam in 1950
when President Harry Truman started to underwrite the costs of
France's war against the Viet Minh. Later, the presidencies of Dwight
Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy increased the US's political, economic,
and military commitments steadily throughout the fifties and early
sixties in the Indochina region. Prominent senators had already begun
criticizing American involvement in Vietnam during the summer of
1964, which led to the mass antiwar movement that was to appear in the
summer of 1965. This antiwar movement had a great impact on policy and
practically forced the US out of Vietnam.
Starting with teach-ins during the spring of 1965, the massive
antiwar efforts centered on the colleges, with the students playing
leading roles. These teach-ins were mass public demonstrations,
usually held in the spring and fall seasons. By 1968, protesters
numbered almost seven million with more than half being white youths
in the college. The teach-in movement was at first, a gentle approach
to the antiwar activity. Although, it faded when the college students
went home during the summer of 1965, other types of protest that grew
through 1971 soon replaced it. All of these movements captured the
attention of the White House, especially when 25,000 people marched on
Washington Avenue. And at times these movements attracted the interest
of all the big decision-makers and their advisors (Gettleman, 54).
The teach-ins began at the University of Michigan on March 24,
1965, and spread to other campuses, including Wisconsin on April 1.
These protests at some of America's finest universities captured
public attention. The Demonstrations were one form of attempting to go
beyond mere words and research and reason, and to put direct pressure
on those who were conducting policy in apparent disdain for the will
expressed by the voters (Spector, 30-31). Within the US government,
some saw these teach-ins as an important development that might slow
down on further escalation in Vietnam. Although several hundred
colleges experienced teach-ins, most campuses were untouched by this
Nevertheless, the teach-ins did concern the administration and
contributed to President Johnson's decision to present a major Vietnam
address at Johns Hopkins University on April 7, 1965. The address
tried to respond to the teach-ins campus protest activity. The Johns
Hopkins speech was the first major example of the impact of antiwar.
Johnson was trying to stabilize public opinion while the campuses were
bothering the government.
In 1965, the US started strategically bombing parts of
Northern Vietnam, catalyzing the antiwar movement public opinion of
what was going on in Indochina. These bombings spawned the antiwar
movement and sustained it, especially as the North Vietnamese leader
Ho Chi Minh refused to listen to American demands (VN History and
Politics). The antiwar movement would have emerged alone by the
bombings, and the growing cost of American lives coming home in body
bags only intensified public opposition to the war (VN H. and P.).
This movement against the Northern bombings, and domestic critics in
general, played a role in the decision to announce a bombing pause
from May 12 to the 17, of 1965.
Antiwar activists carried on through the pause with their own
programs, and the scattered teach-ins had become more of a problem for
President Johnson when their organizers joined in an unofficial group,
the Inter-University Committee for a...
Bibliography: Brown, McAfee, et al. Vietnam: Crisis of Conscience. New York:
Association Press, 1967
Gaullucci, Robert L. Neither Peace Nor Honor. Baltimore: The Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1975.
Gettleman, Marvin E. Vietnam and America: A documented history. New
York: Grove Press, 1985.
Lewis, Lloyd B. The Tainted War. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood
Meyerson, Joel D. Images of a Lengthy War. Washington, DC: Library of
Congress Cataloging in Publication Data, 1986.
Schlight, John. Indochina War Symposium. Washington DC: US Government
Printing Office, 1986.
Small, Melvin. Johnson, Nixon, and the Doves. New Brunswick: Rutgers
University Press, 1988.
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