A nation divided
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A Nation Divided. Mr. White’s US History 2. Main Idea and Objectives. Main idea – An antiwar movement in the U.S. pitted supporters of the government’s war policy against those who opposed it. We should be able to:

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A nation divided

A Nation Divided

Mr. White’s US History 2


Main idea and objectives

Main Idea and Objectives

  • Main idea – An antiwar movement in the U.S. pitted supporters of the government’s war policy against those who opposed it.

  • We should be able to:

    • Explain the draft policies that led to the Vietnam war becoming a working-class war

    • Trace the roots of opposition to the war

    • Describe the antiwar movement and the growing divisions in U.S. public opinion about the war


The draft

The Draft

  • Most soldiers in the Vietnam war were called up using the Selective Service Act – draft

  • All males had to register with their local draft boards when they turned 18 – still today

  • Men could be called to serve from the ages of 18 to 26


Manipulation of the draft

Manipulation of the Draft

  • Many young men looked for ways to avoid the draft, which was very easy to manipulate

    • Sympathetic doctors – would grant medical exemptions

    • Some changed where they lived to go to a different, more lenient draft board

    • Some joined National Guard or Coast Guard


College deferment

College Deferment

  • If a young man was enrolled in a university or college, they could put off their military service

  • University students in the 1960s tended to be white and financially well-off

  • Many of the men who fought in Vietnam were those who couldn’t afford college – lower class whites and blacks


African americans in vietnam

African-Americans in Vietnam

  • Served in much larger numbers than most groups as ground combat troops – most hazardous place to be

  • Blacks accounted for over 20% of U.S. combat deaths, even though they were only 10% of the U.S. population

  • Martin Luther King spoke out against the injustice of blacks fighting for freedom in another country, when theirs did not grant them freedom

  • Racism in military units led to lower troop morale


Women in the military

Women in the Military

  • Women were still not allowed to serve in combat roles

  • Over 10,000 women did serve, mostly as nurses

  • Also served in the USO and Red Cross

    • USO – provided hospitality and entertainment

    • Red Cross


Roots of opposition new left

Roots of Opposition – New Left

  • In the 1960s, there was a growing youth movement known as the New Left

  • Followers demanded sweeping changes in American society

  • Students for a Democratic Society

    • Charged that corporations and government had taken over America

    • Wanted more “participatory government” and greater freedom

  • Free Speech Movement – focused criticism on the American “machine” – business and government


Campus activism

Campus Activism

  • SDS and FSM ideas spread across campuses of colleges and universities

    • Protested dress codes

    • Curfews

    • Campus issues

  • Students started joining together in protest against these issues, but would later protest the Vietnam War


The protest movement emerges

The Protest Movement Emerges

  • April, 1965 – SDS helped organize a march on Washington, D.C., by 20,000 protesters, other marches followed

  • Johnson changed college deferment rules, requiring students to be in good academic standing

  • Protests erupted after this – SDS calls for civil disobedience at campuses


Opposition to the war

Opposition to the War

  • Youths opposed the war for many different reasons:

    • Most common belief was that the war in Vietnam was a civil war, and the U.S. had no business there

    • Some said Diem’s South Vietnamese government wasn’t any better than North Vietnam

    • Some thought war was draining America’s strength

    • Some just saw the war as morally unjust


The movement grows

The Movement Grows

  • Movement grew beyond college campuses

    • Returning veterans

    • Folk singers

  • “Eve of Destruction,” a protest song by Barry McGuire, talked about the wrongs of the Vietnam war


Protest to resistance

Protest to Resistance

  • 1967 – antiwar movement had intensified

  • Spring of 1967 – protesters marched on New York City’s Central Park - many people burned their draft cards

  • Draft resistance continued up until President Nixon phased it out in the early 1970s

  • Some Americans had fled to Canada to avoid the draft


March on the pentagon

March on the Pentagon

  • In October of 1967, a demonstration at the Lincoln Memorial drew 75,000 protesters

  • About 30,000 demonstrators marched on the Pentagon to “disrupt the center of the American war machine.”

  • Protesters were turned back with tear gas and clubs – about 700 arrested


War divides the nation

War Divides the Nation

  • Americans were increasingly divided into two camps:

    • Doves – those who were opposed to the war and thought it should end

    • Hawks – felt America should use its military might to win the war

  • Some believed that the protests were acts of disloyalty


Johnson remains determined

Johnson Remains Determined

  • Johnson remained firm

    • Doves attacked him for continuing the war

    • Hawks attacked him for not increasing military power

  • Johnson continued his policy of slow escalation

  • Johnson’s own administration started to doubt the war – Robert McNamara resigns


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