US History/Kennedy and Johnson

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Kennedy and His Advisers[edit]

As a Democrat, John F. Kennedy inherited the New Deal Commitment to America’s Social Welfare System. He generally cast liberal votes in line with the pro-labor sentiments of his low-income, blue collar constituents. Kennedy’s rhetoric and style captured the imagination of many Americans. Another attribute that made him more appealing was the fact that his advisers were mostly young and intellectual as well. Unfortunately though, Kennedy avoided controversial issues such as civil rights and the censure of Joseph McCarthy. From the beginning, Kennedy gave top priority to waging the Cold War. In the campaign he had criticized Eisenhower’s foreign policy as unimaginative, accusing him of missing chances to reduce the threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union and of weakening America’s standing in the Third World. Kennedy’s advisers had one thing going for them, and that was confidence. Kennedy, along with his advisers were firm in the sense that they were going to change things, and by doing so, they developed a multi-million dollar Alliance for Progress in 1961 to spur economic development in Latin America. In that same year the Peace Corps was also created. Critics later dismissed the Alliance and Peace Corps as Cold War tools by which Kennedy sought to counter anti-Americanism and defeat communism in the developing world. The programs didn’t have those aims, but both were recognized as being born of genuine humanitarianism. [1]

Kennedy and Soviet-American Tensions[edit]

Kennedy had little if any success in establishing relations with the Soviet Union. He met with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961. The meeting went poorly with both leaders; due to the fact that they were disagreeing over the preconditions for peace and stability in the world. Consequently, the administration’s first year witnessed little movement on controlling the nuclear arms race of even getting a superpower ban on testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere or underground. Instead, both superpowers continued testing and accelerated their arms production. In 1961, the U.S. military budget shot up 15%; by mid-1964, U.S. nuclear weapons had increased by 150%. Government advice to citizens was to build fallout shelters in their backyards and this only resulted in intensified public fear of devastating war. If war occurred, many believed it would be over the persistent problem of Berlin. In mid-1961, Khrushchev ratcheted up the tension by demanding an end to Western occupation of West Berlin and the reunification of East and West Germany. Kennedy stood his ground and remained committed to West Berlin and West Germany. In August the Soviets, at the urging of the East German Regime, erected a concrete and barbed wire barricade across the divided city to halt the exodus of East Germans into more prosperous and politically free West Berlin. The Berlin Wall inspired protests throughout the non-communist world, but Kennedy proclaimed that, “a wall is a hell of a lot better than a war.” The ugly barrier shut off the flow of refugees, and crisis passed. [2]

The Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis[edit]

John F. Kennedy

On April 17, 1961, President John F. Kennedy launched an attack on Cuba, using 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles. The exiles were to invade Cuba through the Bay of Pigs in southwestern Cuba. The forces made many mistakes, and at the last moment, Kennedy was advised not to send air support, and he did not. The invasion was a complete failure and within days, Cuban forces crushed the U.S. troops. Kennedy never trusted military or intelligence advice again, and the Soviet Union concluded that Kennedy was a weak leader. The invasion also angered many Latin-American nations.

In 1962, the Soviet Union was desperately behind the United States in the arms race. Soviet missiles were only powerful enough to be launched against Europe but U.S. missiles were capable of striking the entire Soviet Union (missiles were located in Turkey). In late April 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conceived the idea of placing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba. A deployment in Cuba would double the Soviet strategic arsenal and provide a real deterrent to a potential U.S. attack against the Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro was looking for a way to defend his island nation from an attack by the U.S. Ever since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, Castro felt a second attack was inevitable. Consequently, he approved of Khrushchev's plan to place missiles on the island. In the summer of 1962 the Soviet Union worked quickly and secretly to build its missile installations in Cuba.

The crisis began on October 15, 1962 when U-2 reconnaissance photographs revealed Soviet missiles under construction in Cuba. The next morning, Kennedy was informed of the missile installations. Immediately the executive committee (EX-COMM) made up of twelve of his most important advisers was formed to handle the crisis. After seven days of guarded and intense debate, EX-COMM concluded that it had to impose a naval quarantine around Cuba, which would prevent the arrival of more Soviet offensive weapons on the island.

On October 22, Kennedy announced the discovery of the missile installations to the public and his decision to quarantine the island. He also proclaimed that any nuclear missile launched from Cuba would be regarded as an attack on the United States by the Soviet Union and demanded that the Soviets remove all of their offensive weapons from Cuba. It was at this time that the United States had warships that were on the Caribbean Sea and also had B-52's that were ready to with nuclear bombs flying in the sky.[3]

On the 25th Kennedy pulled the quarantine line back and raised military readiness to DEFCON 2.

On the 26th EX-COMM heard from Khrushchev in an impassioned letter. He proposed the removing of Soviet missiles and personnel if the U.S. would guarantee not to invade Cuba.

October 27 was the worst day of the crisis. A U-2 was shot down over Cuba and EX-COMM received a second letter from Khrushchev demanding the removal of U.S. missiles in Turkey in exchange for Soviet missiles in Cuba. Attorney General Robert Kennedy suggested ignoring the second letter and contacted Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin to tell him of the U.S. agreement with the first.

Tensions finally began to ease on October 28 when Khrushchev announced that he would dismantle the installations and return the missiles to the Soviet Union, expressing his trust that the United States would not invade Cuba. Further negotiations were held to implement the October 28 agreement, including a United States demand that Soviet light bombers be removed from Cuba, and specifying the exact form and conditions of United States assurances not to invade Cuba.

NASA[edit]

NASA is a branch of the United States government, established by the National Aeronautics and Space Act on July 29, 1958, during the Cold War, as a replacement of its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), as an instrument of geopolitics, responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

The USSR was ahead of the United States in the space race, in presence and technology. After the launch of Sputnik and the success of Yuri Gagarin, America was behind in the Space Race. The United States would not allow this, and decided to implement their own space program. Eventually the United States became successful and landed two men on the moon. In May 1961, Alan Shepard Jr. became the first American to make a space flight. Kennedy lobbied for increased funding for space research. In an address to congress on May 25, 1961, Kennedy said, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."

NASA's first high-profile human spaceflight program was Project Mercury, an effort to learn if humans could survive the rigors of spaceflight. On May 5, 1961, Alan B. Shepard, Jr. became the first American to fly into space, when he rode his Mercury capsule on a 15-minute suborbital mission. He launched from Complex 5 at Cape Canaveral aboard a Redstone rocket. His Freedom 7 capsule reached an altitude of 116 miles during this suborbital flight and splashed down some 304 miles out into the Atlantic. The six flights in the Mercury program concluded with Gordon Cooper's launch on May 15, 1963. John H. Glenn, Jr. became the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth on February 20, 1962. With six flights, Project Mercury achieved its goal of putting piloted spacecraft into Earth orbit and retrieving the astronauts safely.

August 12, 1961, NASA announced that it intends to expand the Cape Canaveral facilities for manned lunar flight and other missions requiring advanced Saturn and Nova boosters by acquiring 80,000 acres of land north and west of the Air Force Missile Test Center facilities at the Cape. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was designated to act as real estate acquisition agent for NASA, and the Lands Division of the Justice Department was designated to handle the legal aspects.

July 1, 1962, Dr. Kurt H. Debus was named director of the Launch Operations Center which later became the John F. Kennedy Space Center. Having supervised the development and construction of launch facilities at Cape Canaveral from 1952 to 1960 for the U.S. Army, he was the natural choice to direct the design, development and construction of NASA's Apollo/Saturn V facilities at KSC. He retired in November 1974, having been responsible for the launches conducted during the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Skylab programs. With the American space race against the Soviets came a lot of funding which then later brought jobs. America was in high pursuit to be the first country to reach the moon. Billions of dollars were spent on hiring many research workers and engineers to be able to put a man on the moon. The NASA program not necessarily helped the lower class people find work but for those who where educated it was quite a beneficial program.

American Tragedy[edit]

On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was at a campaign rally in Dallas, Texas. Kennedy and his wife rode through the streets in an open car, turning into Dealy Plaza at Houston and Elm, and suddenly several shots rang out. Kennedy fell against his wife. The car sped to the nearest hospital, Parkland Memorial, but it was too late; the beloved President was dead. Tears ran down the cheeks of CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite as he told the nation their president was dead. The word spread quickly, in whispered messages to classroom teachers, by somber announcements in factories and offices. The nation was stunned. Shortly after, while on Air Force One, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of office as President.

Although many "conspiracy theories" exist concerning this assassination, the rough consensus is that Kennedy's assailant, a young drifter and loner named Lee Harvey Oswald with left-wing sympathies, shot the President acting alone. Lee Harvey Oswald was charged for the murders of Kennedy and Roy Truly a Dallas police officer. Owsald was first spotted three miles from the plaza in which he was called to the squad car of officer Trully, where he then panicked and shot Trully four times. Oswald was later arrested forty minutes later in a near by theater, and just two days later Oswald was shot dead in full view of millions of TV viewers. Kennedy was pronounced dead at 1 pm.

Americans in Vietnam[edit]

Like Eisenhower, Kennedy had viewed Vietnam as a crucial battle in the fight against communism. He sent many special forces troops to South Vietnam to train South Vietnamese troops. Kennedy also put pressure on South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem to make political and economic reforms that would prevent communism from taking root in South Vietnam. After Diem refused to comply and restricted the rights of Buddhists (the majority religion in South Vietnam), he lost support, and a political coup ensued. Diem was assassinated on November 1, 1963.

In the month of February 1965, President Johnson ordered Operation Rolling Thunder to take place. It was ordered due to the Vietcong Attacks on American installations in South Vietnam which was responsible for the deaths of thirty-two Americans. Operation Rolling Thunder was a bombing program that started in 1965 and continued on until October 1968.[4]

At the end of November, the United States had almost 15,000 troops in Vietnam as advisers. The U.S. sent the Secretary of Defense on a fact-finding mission to find if involvement was still needed in Vietnam. He concluded that the South Vietnamese could not hold off the Vietcong, or Vietnamese communists, without more American backing. In 1964, Johnson claimed that North Vietnamese patrol ships attacked American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin, and Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave the President broad control over troops in Vietnam.

In 1965, Johnson gradually built up the involvement of America in Vietnam. At the end of 1965, about 180,000 troops were in Vietnam. By 1967, there were over 500,000. The U.S. also began a bombing campaign in North Vietnam, and by 1968, more bombs had been dropped than the U.S. had dropped in World War II.

The Vietnam War became “Americanized” and the troop increase and Operation Rolling Thunder played part in doing so. Instead of the war being a civil war between North and South Vietnam it ended up becoming an American war against the communist government in Vietnam.[5]


As Americans fought the war, frustration mounted. Soldiers had to fight through dense jungles and muddy land. It also seemed that for every Vietcong or North Vietnamese killed, many more would be replacements. The bombing campaign in the North actually heightened the morale of the North Vietnamese rather than lowering it, and the United States' losses increased. By the end of the decade, many outraged American citizens angrily opposed and protested the war. Opposition to the war was growing in the capital, too. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara no longer believed that the war could be won.

At home, protesters, especially college students, became increasingly bitter about the war. Others who tended to be older and more conservative, defended the war and sought to suppress the "traitors." This division between the young and the old became known as the generation gap. Officials at the University of California tried to limit recruiting efforts of protesters, and students were outraged. They held a protest that stopped the school for days. This type of protest spread across the nation, and many related ideas and activists became known collectively as the New Left.

Many of those who made up the New Left also made up the counterculture, a movement that questioned basic American values and social customs. Parents found themselves increasingly disagreeing with their children. The counterculture was also expressed in pop culture, with many icons expressing the need for peace and reform.

Eventually, some adults came to resent the war. As adults began to disagree about the war more, they were called doves (those who wanted peace) and hawks (those who supported the war). Students also had a major gripe about the war: if the legal age to be drafted to go to war was eighteen, why was the legal voting age as high as twenty-one? Eventually, the twenty sixth amendment was passed in 1971, which met the demands of the students and lowered the legal voting age to 18.

Division in the country about the war became increasingly harsh and bitter. In October 1967, 50,000 people opposed to the war marched to the Pentagon in Washington D.C. to protest. Many students stuck flowers or other symbols of peace in the barrels of the guns held by those who guarded the pentagon. By the beginning of 1969, well over fifty percent of the nation opposed the war.

President John F. Kennedy 1961-1963[edit]

John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States. Of Irish descent, John was born May 29, 1917 in Brookline Massachusetts. John was married to Jacqueline Lee Kennedy. They had four children Arabella, Caroline, John Jr., and Patrick. President Kennedy took office January 20, 1961 and served till he was assassinated in November 22, 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald. He was 46 when he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Kennedy is the only Catholic President we have ever had in the United States. President Kennedy was a Democratic and served in the United States House of Representatives before becoming President. Graduating from Harvard in 1940, before becoming elected into the House of Representatives John Kennedy served in World War Two in the Navy. In 1943, when his PT boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer, Kennedy, despite grave injuries, led the survivors through perilous waters to safety. After serving in the House of Representatives where he served three terms as a representative for Boston, Kennedy then became elected into the Senate in 1952. In 1955, while recuperating from a back operation, he wrote Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history. In 1956 Kennedy almost gained the Democratic nomination for Vice President, and four years later was a first-ballot nominee for President. Millions watched his television debates with the Republican candidate, Richard M. Nixon. Winning by a narrow margin in the popular vote.[6]

Before President Kennedy left to fight in WWII he studied at Harvard University. He wrote a thesis in 1940 called Why England Slept which became a best seller. President Kennedy wrote again in 1956 and the piece was called Profiles in Courage which won the Pulitzer Prize.[7]

Lyndon B. Johnson[edit]

Lyndon Baines Johnson (August 27, 1908 – January 22, 1973), often referred to as LBJ, was a US politician who served as the 36th President of the United States (1963-1969) after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States (1961-1963). He is one of four people who served in all four elected federal offices of the United States: Representative, Senator, Vice President and President. Johnson, a Democrat, served as a United States Representative from Texas, from 1937–1949 and as United States Senator from 1949–1961, including six years as United States Senate Majority Leader, two as Senate Minority Leader and two as Senate Majority Whip. After campaigning unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 1960, Johnson was asked by John F. Kennedy to be his running mate for the 1960 presidential election.

The "Great Society" and Civil Rights Under Lyndon B. Johnson[edit]

In January 1964, the new President Johnson made a series of proposals which he called the "Great Society" and began a "war on poverty." He signed many programs into law that helped Americans in poverty, that is, those who do not make enough money to survive. During this time two of the most important programs signed into law were Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare provided cheap health insurance to senior citizens and Medicaid provided health insurance for the poor.The War on Poverty made much difference to the poor people living in America. It helped change and improve the way poor people were living in homes as well as changing and improving the health care that was being offered to them.[8] Cities and school also received boosts with the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the signing of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

President Johnson's “Great Society” really helped change things in America during the 1960's. During his presidency Johnson took 45 domestic social programs and transformed that number to 435 programs. “The Great Society” was designed to help the people in America and it did just that; the poverty number in America changed from 22 percent of the population to 13 percent. [9]

Equal Rights[edit]

Protests were growing in the 1960s. Blacks and whites in high schools and colleges in the South and the North staged sit-ins, protests that are accomplished by sitting down and not being productive or letting people pass.

Another kind of protest was growing in the South. In 1961, groups of African Americans began riding buses from Washington D.C. that were bound for New Orleans to make sure that the Rosa Parks Supreme Court decision was being enforced. These bus riders were known as freedom riders. The rides went smoothly until the buses reached Alabama, where the freedom riders would be greeted with violence from angry whites.

In the spring of 1963, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and Martin Luther King Jr. targeted Birmingham, Alabama for segregation protests. Birmingham, a city in the deep South, was a hotbed for racism and segregation. City police arrested hundreds of protesters, as well as King himself, but protests continued. National television showed snarling dogs being set on the unarmed protesters and children being washed away on the impact of the water from fire hoses. As the nation watched in horror, President Kennedy announced a civil rights bill that would outlaw segregation nationwide.

On August 28, 1963, nationwide support for the civil rights bill boiled over. Over 200,000 people of all races and colors came to Washington D.C. to participate in a massive march organized by the SCLC and Mr. King. There, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King read the words that would become one of history's greatest speeches:

" I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'...I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character...When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing...'Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!' "

After Kennedy's death, Johnson, a firm believer in equal rights, promised that the bill would be signed into law. In the first July of Johnson's term, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law made discrimination illegal against African Americans in employment, public accommodations, and voting. The act not only protected African Americans, but it also prohibited discrimination by sex, religion, and ethnicity. It was followed in 1965 with the Voting Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act eliminated poll tax which is the 24th Amendment to the constitution, and literacy tests, therefore helping not just blacks, but all Americans gain equal rights. A very big tragedy stood out during the sixties. On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was killed. Malcolm, who had to deal with watching his house burn to the ground as a child, later spoke out against the inequality against the blacks of this nation. He soon appealed to both black and white, as he continued to speak out against racial inequality. He continued to speak out until he was shot and killed, but no one knew who killed him, It may have possibly been the work of other black Muslims.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a very influential person during the sixties, maybe the most influential. He had preached on non-violent protest and had developed many followers, both black and white. He was put in jail several times, but managed to continue his preaching by writing a book. Martin Luther King Jr. was president of the Southern Christian Leadership Council. He and his followers organized numerous marches, rallies, and strikes to call attention to the systematic discrimination against minorities that was endemic in American society. His belief was in nonviolent confrontation with the authorities and a prodding of the conscience of the white majority to effect social change. He convinced President John F. Kennedy and later President Lyndon B. Johnson to push for legislation to end discrimination and was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1964. Although the deaths of Kennedy and Malcolm X were a huge deal, there was another huge tragedy in the sixties. On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. He was shot on the balcony of his motel room that he was staying at in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Nation of Islam[edit]

The Nation of Islam ("NOI") was founded in Detroit, Michigan, by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad in July 1930. He set out to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of the Black men and women of America. From 1934-1975, the NOI was led by Elijah Muhammad, who established businesses, large real estate holdings, armed forces and schools.[1] the Nation of Islam made lasting effects on blacks in the 1950’s and beyond. Their outspoken activist, Malcolm X,became a prominent minister and leader in the NOI. Before his assassination in 1965, he had moved to non-separatism and orthodox Sunni Islam after his experience of having made Hajj to Mecca. The Nation of Islam, referred to as Black Muslims, took factors of orthodox Islam to form a new sect. Originally the Nation preached segregation and hate towards white people. They said that the white man was cursed for eternity by Allah. Malcolm X often suggested complete separation of blacks and whites and thought that blacks should have their own land to live on separate from all whites. Under Malcolm X’s leadership the Nation grew from 500 members to as many as 30,000 to over 100,000 members in the early 60’s. They converted many famous black figures, most notably Muhammad Ali. The Nation offered a much more radical and less subservient message to oppressed blacks than Martin Luther King, Jr. did. Malcolm X’s most infamous words were “By any means necessary.” Just as the Nation of Islam had risen with the help of Malcolm X, so did they fall. In 1963, when Malcolm X found out about the morality problems of his prophet and idol, Elijah Muhammad, they began to separate. Malcolm X took notice of Elijah’s sexual relations with as many as six females of the Nation, an act which the Koran directly forbids. After Malcolm X made a highly criticized statement about John Kennedy’s death, Elijah took his opportunity to silence X. After this Malcolm X converted to orthodox Islam and parted ties with the Nation of Islam, crippling the amount of influence the Nation had on the world.

A Second Tragedy[edit]

On the morning of April 4, 1968, King was preparing to lead a march from the balcony of a hotel when shots rang out. Friends inside rushed outside to find King shot in the jaw. The shooter was a sniper. Martin Luther King, Jr. was pronounced dead a few hours later. The nation was in complete shock. There were many riots that happened throughout the country. There were at least 110 cities throughout the United States that had violence the following day. The worst riots happened in Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. This was the largest domestic civil disturbance that has happened in the United States. About 22,000 federal troops and 34,000 national guards were sent out.[10] Shortly thereafter, rioting plagued America's streets as a profound sadness and anger gripped the nation. This would be one of many assassinations that would befall the country, including those of, Dr. Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy, and Malcolm X.

Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21st, 1965 in Manhattans Audubon Ballroom. It all started when a man ran up to Malcolm and shot him with a sawed off shotgun. After that two other men charged Malcolm and shot him with pistols about sixteen times. All three men were eventually caught and charged with murder.

Pop Culture in the '60s[edit]

While wars were being fought over race and democracy, a group of people in America stayed relatively unaffected by it: the rich. The 1960’s provided a peak in American culture with movies, music, art and literature. Possibly the climax of pop culture in the 1960’s was author Truman Capote’s Black and White Masquerade Party.

Truman Capote was a critically acclaimed author and good friend to all the stars and socialites of the time. Capote kept enough friends to fill an entire phone book, and almost all of them were rich, famous, and intriguing. In 1966, coming off the success of his book, In Cold Blood, about a Kansas murder, Capote decided to throw a masquerade party. Capote planned the party for over a year and developed one of the most select and exclusive guest lists. With everyone wanting an invitation, Capote only handed out 500 invites to guests. Guests were not allowed to bring uninvited escorts, so only the “who’s who” of people were allowed to attend. Many stars felt spurned when they did not receive invitations.

On November 28th, 1966 the ball took place. The guest list included Frank Sinatra, Andy Warhol, and Norman Mailer. The party was a complete success. The publicity that the ball received before the event was somehow exceeded by the publicity it received after. It was immediately declared the party of the century, and all the stars raved about it. In the years that followed the ball Capote’s popularity disintegrated, and posthumously he is remembered as much for the Black and White Ball itself as he is his writing career.

The Stonewall Riots[edit]

Perhaps aided by the Civil Rights Movement, or at least motivated by it, the Gay Rights Movement largely got its start in the early 1970s. The first sign of gay people fighting for their rights as human beings started with the Stonewall Riots of 1969. In New York City, after a gay bar was raided by the police, over a thousand gay people took a stand and began to revolt against the police. It is not clear how the riot first started. According to a veteran gay activist, the incident just involved a lot of people who all got angry at the same time. The cops went into the bars and asked everyone for their identification. Many people were being pushed out of the bars and into a paddy wagon. Not sure how it started, the stonewall riot worked like a domino effect. However it started, it ignited many others to fight for their rights against the police.[11] Like many racial humans, the gays would go around and chant “gay power” throughout the streets.[12] Throwing rocks and bottles at the police officers, the crowd chanted for gay rights. After news of the riot spread, riots began happening across the nation for three days. The Stonewall Riots are known as one of the most significant moments at the start of the Gay Rights Movement.

Fact's and Figure in the '60s[edit]

The sixties were an age of youth, as 70 million children from the baby boom became teenagers and young adults. Trends shifted away from the conservative fifties and resulted in revolutionary ways of thinking and real changes in the cultural foundation of American life. Young people wanted change and the changes affected education, values, lifestyles, laws, and entertainment. All of the changes mentioned above were a major factor in the figures below.

  • Population 177,830,000
  • Unemployment 3,852,000
  • National Debt 286.3 Billion
  • Average Salary $4,743
  • Teacher's Salary $5,174
  • Minimum Wage $1.00
  • Life Expectancy: Males 66.6 years, Females 73.1 years
  • Auto deaths 21.3 per 100,000

An estimated 850,000 "war baby" freshmen enter college; emergency living quarters are set up in dorm lounges, hotels and trailer camps.

In the 1960’s several music songs came into popularity like: “Cathy’s Clown,” “Spanish Harlem,” “Only the Lonely,” “Moon River,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Louie Louie,” “Hello Dolly,” “Satisfaction,” “Stop in the Name of Love,” “California Dreamin,” “Respect,” “Mrs. Robinson,” and “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.”


Also, as times advanced throughout the 1960’s so did technology and numerous TV Shows: The Super Bowls, Star Trek, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, Sesame Street (premieres on PBS in 1969), The Smothers Brothers, and The Dick Van Dyke Show.


In the 1960s in the post war era automobiles production was increased a great deal. Of the cars that were produced among the most popular during the decade: Volkswagen bug, ’64 Ford Mustang, ’63 Corvette Sting Ray, Chevy Bel Air, ’64 Plymouth Barracuda, and ‘64 Pontiac GTO.


Also, during the 1960’s the society as a whole had a very free spirit way of thinking, and several fads broke in that included: face painting, wearing flowers in one’s hair, the Twist (hair-do), the jerk (dance), lava lamps, waterbeds, Day-Glo and black light, posters, and flashing the peace sign.

Elections of the 1960s[edit]

The presidential election of 1960 featured a race of John F. Kennedy (Democrat) vs. Richard M. Nixon (Republican). Both candidates had similar political stances in believing they wanted a strong military front and both supported funding numerous welfare programs for the poor. Kennedy promised to lead Americans to a New Frontier. Kennedy ultimately won the election over Nixon by a narrow margin of electoral votes 303 to 219.

The presidential election of 1964 featured a race of Lyndon B. Johnson (Democrat) and Barry Goldwater (Arizona). Goldwater's brand of politics scared many Americans. He opposed civil rights, legislation, wanted to make Social Security voluntary, and proposed deep cuts in social programs. Johnson's slogan for the campaign was "All the way with LBJ." Johnson won in a landslide of votes 486-52.

The Women's Movement[edit]

In the year 1963, Betty Friedan fueled the fire for women's rights when she wrote her book called "The Feminine Mystique." This book became unexpectedly popular among women. Friedan decided to tackle the problem that she called "the problem with no name." This problem was the lack of education that middle-class wives and mothers received. These women looked at their homes and their lives and wondered if that was all life had to offer. Women across the country became more and more dissatisfied with their stay-at-home life. Friedan's approach was different than the typical argument for a women's movement, however, because she blamed the women for being unable to adjust to their role in the home rather than blaming society for creating that role for women.

The women's movement began an organized liberal group in 1966 called National Organization for Women, also known as NOW. This group was mainly comprised of educated and professional women. Since the EEOC was more focused on racial rights and discrimination, they did not pay much attention to gender discrimination. Because the rights of women was being ignored, NOW made it one of their main purposes to pressure the EEOC into hearing them out and enforcing their rights that were given to them in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Unfortunately, the EEOC basically considered NOW and the idea of women's rights to be a joke and even went as far as laughing at the idea when asked about it by a reporter. This made women in the work force that had to deal with discrimination, very angry. By 1970, NOW had more than 3,000 members across the nation.

Women at this time craved social change and justice and became more radical. More and more women were noticing and getting fed up with being treated as second-class citizens. These women began to look beyond the roles that they were being forced into and looked at the roles that they willingly put themselves into. In 1968, a large group of women went to protest the Miss America Pageant that was being held in Atlantic City. These women were against “degrading mindless-boob girlie symbol” that the beauty pageant represents and promotes. The women would take “enslavement” items such as: girdles, bras, high heels, and curlers, into the “Freedom Trashcan.” Even though nothing was actually burned, feminists of this time were consequently received the demeaning nickname “bra-burners.”

The women who firmly believed in feminism and fought for women’s rights never really had a firm set of beliefs and many times used arguments on the opposite side of the board. On one side they argued that women were more sensitive than men and that this sensitivity would greatly improve every aspect of America including foreign diplomacy, government, businesses, and alike. They argued that men could not bring this quality to the table. However, on the other side, women argued that women and men were equal and therefore deserved equal treatment and that socially imposed roles were unfair. Charlotte Bunch, a feminist author, writes that “there is no private domain of a person’s life that is not political, and there is no political issue that is not ultimately personal.” They called this “personal politics” and many radical feminists jumped onboard with this idea very quickly. Women began “consciousness-raising” groups in order to discuss the fact that in their everyday lives, at work, and in the home, they were subordinated by men and how they lived in a highly patriarchal society. Women all across the country began these groups everywhere, in college dorms, churches, and suburban kitchens to discuss the topics of male dominance in work, healthcare, romance, marriage, sexuality, abortion, and family. [13]

References[edit]

  1. Mary Beth Norton et al., “A People and A Nation: A History of the United States; The Tumultuous Sixties; 1960-1968,” ed. Mary Beth Norton et al. (Boston: Cenage Learning 2009).
  2. Mary Beth Norton et al., “A People and A Nation: A History of the United States; The Tumultuous Sixites:1960-1968,” ed. Mary Beth Norton et al. (Boston: Cenage Learning 2009).
  3. A People and A Nation
  4. A People and A Nation
  5. A People and A Nation
  6. A People and A Nation Eight Edition
  7. "Kennedy, John F(itzgerald), (29 May 1917 – 22 Nov 1963)." The Crystal Reference Encyclopedia. West Chiltington: Crystal Semantics, 2005. Credo Reference. Web. 16 April 2011.
  8. A People and A Nation Eighth Edition
  9. "Great Society." The American Economy: A Historical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2003. Credo Reference. Web. 16 April 2011.
  10. http://www.jofreeman.com/photos/Kingfuneral.html
  11. http://socialistalternative.org/literature/stonewall.html
  12. http://socialistalternative.org/literature/stonewall.html
  13. Mary Beth Norton, et al, "A People and A Nation:Eighth Edition", 901-902

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