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10 th American History Unit V – A Nation Facing Challenges Chapter 19 – Section 3 – 1968: A Turning Point. Hey, Hey, LBJ (03:41). 1968: A Turning Point. The Main Idea As the Vietnam War dragged on and increasingly appeared to be unwinnable, deep divisions developed in American society.

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10 th american history unit v a nation facing challenges chapter 19 section 3 1968 a turning point
10th American History

Unit V – A Nation Facing Challenges

Chapter 19 – Section 3 – 1968: A Turning Point.

1968 a turning point
1968: A Turning Point
  • The Main Idea
  • As the Vietnam War dragged on and increasingly appeared to be unwinnable, deep divisions developed in American society.
  • Reading Focus
  • What was the Tet Offensive?
  • What were the effects of the Tet Offensive?
  • How did President Johnson try to find a solution to the war?
  • How did the election of 1968 illustrate divisions in American society?
the tet offensive
The Tet Offensive
  • A series of massive coordinated attacks throughout South Vietnam

Tet Offensive

  • In January 1968 thousands of NVA and Vietcong troops attacked a U.S. military base in Khe Sanh.
  • This and other rural attacks were diversions to draw U.S. and ARVN forces away from urban areas.

Khe Sanh

  • Main Communist offensive began on January 30, 1968, at the start of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year.
  • Some 84,000 Communist soldiers attacked 12 U.S. military bases and more than 100 cities across South Vietnam.

The Main


1968 tet offensive
1968- Tet Offensive
  • January- “Tet” lunar new year.
  • Gen. Westmoreland tells the country how the war is being won.
  • The Vietcong and North Vietnamese 84,000, attacked 36 of 44 provincial towns in addition to 5 of 6 autonomous cities, 72 of 245 district towns, and many military bases and airfields on the same day. They even attack the U.S. embassy.
  • All is retaken in few difficult weeks.
  • NLF, Vietcong, are crushed as a fighting force.
  • Westmoreland wants 206,000 more troops and more fighter squadrons.
  • Graphic film footage of the fighting reinforced concerns about casualties, and the fact the offensive took place undermined the White House's claims that victory had been in sight.
  • Did we really win the Tet Offensive?
the tet offensive1
The Tet Offensive
  • What was the Tet Offensive?
  • Recall – What took place in Khe Sanh in 1968?
  • Analyze – What was the purpose of the attack on Khe Sanh?
the tet offensive2
The Tet Offensive
  • Recall – What happened when the U.S. Embassy in Siagon was attacked at the beginning of the Tet Offensive?
  • Make Judgments – Do you believe, as did General Westmoreland, that the Tet Offensive was a defeat for the Communists?
effects of the tet offensive
Effects of the Tet Offensive
  • General Westmoreland called the Tet Offensive a decisive defeat for the Communists.
    • The cities taken by the Communists were retaken.
    • About 45,000 enemy soldiers were killed. About 1,100 Americans and 2,300 ARVN troops also died.
    • The Communists showed that they were determined to keep on fighting.
  • The Tet Offensive showed that no part of South Vietnam was safe from attack.
  • The Tet Offensive caused many Americans to question whether or not the war in Vietnam could be won.
  • President Johnson announced that he would not seek reelection.
effects of the tet offensive1
Growing Doubts

Walter Cronkite broadcast a television report in which he gave his personal assessment of the situation in Vietnam.

Major national magazines such as Time and Newsweek also expressed doubts about the war and began to call for its end.

Public criticism of the government’s policies grew louder and more intense.

Leaders within Johnson’s administration began to criticize Johnson’s policies.

Robert S. McNamara began to seek ways to end the war.

Democratic Challengers

Roughly 3 out of 4 Americans opposed his policies in Vietnam.

Minnesota senator Eugene McCarthy challenged Johnson for the Democratic Party’s nomination.

New York senator Robert Kennedy entered the race.

Shaken by the divisions within his party, Johnson announced that he would not seek nor accept the office of the presidency.

Effects of the Tet Offensive
effects of the tet offensive2
Effects of the Tet Offensive
  • What were the effects of the Tet Offensive?
  • Recall – Who was Walter Cronkite?
  • Explain – How did the Tet Offensive cause many Americans to doubt that the U.S. would soon win the war?
effects of the tet offensive3
Effects of the Tet Offensive
  • Analyze – How did Robert S. McNamara’s position on the war change?
  • Evaluate – What role did electoral politics play in Johnson’s deciding not to run in 1968?
credibility gap
Credibility Gap
  • Johnson did not tell Congress his intention to escalate the war.
  • He did tell Congress how much it will cost.
  • He was worried the the full truth would hurt the Great Society plans.
  • He wanted to be a leader in war and a leader of peace.
  • Credibility Gap- between what the President wanted people to believe and what was really believable.
  • People began to doubt what their President would tell them.
searching for solutions
Searching for Solutions

President Johnson denied General Westmoreland’s request for 206,000 more ground soldiers.

Johnson’s advisors could not come up with the best course for the war strategy.

Robert McNamara suggested limiting the air strikes and reversing the escalation of the war.

Johnson decided to negotiate with the North Vietnamese.

The Paris peace talks stalled over two issues: the United States wanted all NVA troops out of South Vietnam, and North Vietnam would not accept a temporary South Vietnam government that included a U.S.-backed president.

fall of lbj
Fall of LBJ
  • Anti-War activists challenged LBJ for the Democratic nomination for President in 1968- Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy
  • LBJ’s advisors and other world leaders thought the war was being handled badly and the U.S. should get out.
  • Mar. 31, 1968- LBJ resticts bombing and calls for peace talks.
  • “I shall not seek, and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”
  • Peace Talks begin in May of 1968 and drag on for months without success. Our longest war.
johnson seeks a solution
Johnson Seeks a Solution
  • How did President Johnson try to find a solution to the war?
  • Explain – Why did Westmoreland request additional troops?
  • Elaborate – Why were many Americans outraged by Westmoreland’s request?
johnson seeks a solution1
Johnson Seeks a Solution
  • Recall – What alterations to President Johnson’s policies in Vietnam did McNamara suggest?
  • Analyze – Why did peace talks between the U.S. and North Vietnam stall so quickly?
the election of 1968
The Election of 1968

The Democratic Primary Fight

  • Vice President Hubert Humphrey entered the race and defended the administration’s policies in Vietnam.
  • Senator Eugene McCarthy called for a rapid end to the war.
  • Senator Robert Kennedy also called for an end to the war and won primaries in Indiana, Nebraska, and California.
    • Kennedy was shot leaving a Las Vegas hotel by Sirhan Sirhan, a Jordanian immigrant who didn’t like Kennedy’s support for Israel.
the democratic convention
The Democratic Convention

Delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago debated between McCarthy and Humphrey.

Outside the convention, protesters from around the country demanded an immediate end to the war.

Chicago mayor Richard Daley sent troops to maintain order but violence soon broke out.

Television crews captured violent scenes between protesters and police.

The chaos was one symptom of a growing “generation gap” over government, politics, and the Vietnam War.

rebellion and the democratic convention of 1968
Rebellion and the Democratic Convention of 1968
  • Before the convention- King assassinated, RFK assassinated, and countless anti-war demonstrations.
  • For the Democratic party, Chicago '68 doomed the candidacy of Hubert Humphrey and set off shock waves of reform.
  • For the Left (antiwar), Chicago '68 hastened the demise of SDS and intensified the revolutionary fervor that would spawn street violence and bombings.
  • Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman- leaders of the Youth International Party (YIPPIES) came to Chicago
  • For the media, Chicago '68 created a deep suspicion of the state and its minions.
  • For Chicago, Chicago '68 weakened support for the last of the big-city bosses and fanned the flames of political reform.
  • In the end 8 police charged and 8 civilians charged (“Chicago 8”- later the “Chicago 7”
other contenders in 1968
Richard Nixon


Won the nomination at the Republican National Convention

Chose Spiro Agnew as his running mate

Appealed to the patriotism of mainstream Americans

Promised “law and order”

Claimed to have a secret plan to end the war “with honor”

George Wallace


Former Alabama governor

Nominated by the American Independent Party

Opposed the civil rights movement and school desegregation and war protesters

Appealed to conservative Democratic white southerners and working class whites

Other Contenders in 1968
the election of 19681
The Campaign

Nixon led the polls for most of the campaign.

Humphrey made gains when he said the bombing in Vietnam should be stopped and that the South Vietnamese should shoulder more of the war’s responsibilities.

The peace talks in Paris made some progress when the North Vietnamese agreed to include South Vietnamese representatives.

Johnson announced an end to the bombing in Vietnam a few days before the election.

The Results

The election was very close—just 510,000 votes separated Nixon and Humphrey.

Nixon won 43.4 percent of the votes cast to Humphrey’s 42.7 percent.

Nixon won 301 electoral votes to Humphrey’s 191.

Wallace was one of the most successful third party candidates in U.S. history (46 electoral votes and 13.5 percent of the popular vote).

Nixon’s electoral margin provided him with a mandate to rule that allowed him to escalate the war in Vietnam.

The Election of 1968
election of 1968
Election of 1968
  • How did the election of 1968 illustrate divisions in American society?
  • Identify – Who was Hubert Humphrey?
  • Contrast – How did the policies of McCarthy, Kennedy, and Humphrey differ?
election of 19681
Election of 1968
  • Identify – Who was Richard Daley?
  • Explain – Why did protestors gather outside the Democratic National Convention?
  • Predict – If Kennedy had not been assassinated, how might the election of 1968 turned out differently?