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Anti-Veitnam War Mvmt

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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 Public Hearing on Vietnam. This

new committee began planning a nationwide teach-in to be conducted on

television and radio, of which would be a debate between protesters

and administrators of the government. The antiwar movement, through

the national teach-in, contributed to the resignations of many

government officials, including the resignation of McGeorge Bundy in

early 1966. This well-publicized debate made the antiwar effort more


As supporters of the war found themselves more popular, they

were driven increasingly to rely on equating their position with

"support for our boys in Vietnam." (Brown, 34). The antiwar movement




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