Vietnam War was fought in Vietnam from 1959 to 1975. The war was between North Vietnamese and the National Liberation Front (NLF) versus the United States and the South Vietnamese army. It eventually divided into two parts, North and South Vietnam. The United States was incorporated with the south. The United States became involved in the Vietnam war because it believed that if all the country fell under the Communist government, Communism would spread throughout Southeast Asia and beyond. This belief was known as the domino theory . The US therefor supported the South Vietnamese because there beliefs where non-communism.
The government they set up was failing so in 1965 the United States send in troops to prevent collapse of it. During the conflict nearly four million Vietnamese on both sides were killed, in addition to another two million Lao and Cambodians were drawn into the war. Over 58,000 Americans died also. Before the Vietnam many things happened to trigger it. From the 1880s until World War II, France governed Vietnam as part of French Indochina, which also included Cambodia and Laos. The country was under nominal control of emperor Boa Dai. In 1940 Japanese troops invaded and occupied French Indochina.
In December of that year, Vietnamese nationalists established the League for the Independence of Vietnam (Viet Minh), seeing the chaos of war as an opportunity for the resistance to French colonial War. The United States demanded that Japan leave Indochina, threatening them with military use. The Vietnamese began guerilla warfare against the Japanese and enter an effective alliance with the United States. Vietnam troops rescued downed U. S. pilots, located Japanese prison camps, helped United States prisoners to escape, and provided valuable intelligence to the Office of Strategic Services.
Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the Vietnamese was even mad a special Office of Strategic Services agent. When the Japanese surrendered on September 2, 1945. Ho Chi Minh used this occasion to declare the independence of Vietnam, which he called the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). While emperor Boa Dai had abdicated the throne a week before, the French refused to recognize Vietnams independence. Later that year the French drove the Vietnamese into the northern part of the country. Ho wrote eight letters to U. S. president Harry Truman, imploring him to recognize Vietnams independence.
Many Office of Strategic Services agents informed the United States administration that despite Ho being a Communist, he was not a part of the Communist Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and that he could potentially become a valued ally in Asia. Tensions between the United States and the USSR were high and was called the Cold War. The foreign policy of the US during the Cold War was driven by a fear of the spread of Communism. Easter Europe was under the domination of Communism and Communists ruled China. United States politicians felt they could not afford to lose Southeast Asia as well to the Communists.
The United States therefor condemned Ho Chi Minhs as an agent of international Communism and offered to assist the French in recapturing Vietnam. In 1946 the United States helped carry elite French troops to Vietnam, where they regained major citys, while the Vietnamese controlled the contryside. The Vietnamese only had 2000 troops at the time Vietnams independence was declared, but recruiting increased after the arrival of French troops. By the late 1940s, the Vietnamese had hundreds of thousands of soldier and fought the French to a draw.
In 1949 the French set up a government to compete with Ho Chi Minhs, making Bao Dai as head of state. The French then lost at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in northwestern Vietnam. It was the most humiliating defeat in the history of the French military. Then France asked other world powers to help draw up a plan for French withdrawal from the region and for the future of Vietnam. At a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland from May 8 to July 21, 1954, diplomats from France, the United Kingdom, the USSR, China, and the United States, as well as representatives from Vietnam, Laos, and Combadia, drafted a set of agreements called the Geneva Accords.
The United States refused to sign the accords, because it did not want to allow the possibility of Communist control over Vietnam. These agreements set the French in the south Vietnam in the north. Elections were to be held in 1956 throughout north and south and to be supervised by an International Control Commission that had been appointed at Geneva. Whoever won this election would reunite Vietnam under the government chosen by popular vote. The United States government established SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization), a regional alliance that promised protection to South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in case of Communism rule.
SEATO came into force in 1955. It became the mechanism by which Washington justified its support for South Vietnam. This support became direct involvement of U. S. troops. Also in 1955, the United states picked Ngo Dinh Diem to replace Bao Dai as head of the anti-Communist regime in South Vietnam. With U. S. encouragement, Diem refused to participate in the planned national elections, which Ho Chi Minh and the Lao Dong, or Workers party were favored to win. Diem won the elections with 98. 2 percent of the vote. Diem the declared South Vietnam to be an independent nation called the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, with Saigon as its capitol.
Most Vietnamese saw this the creation of the RVN as an effort by the United States to interfere with the independence promised at Geneva. The horrible tactics of the Diem government eventually led to increasingly organized opposition within South Vietnam. Diems government represented a minority of Vietnamese who were mostly businessmen, Roman Catholics, large landowners, and others who had fought with the French against the Vietnamese. The United States first backed the Southern Vietnams government with military advisers and financial assistance, but more involvement was needed to keep it from collapsing.
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave President Johnson permission to escalate the war in Vietnam. When Vietnam was divided in 1954, many Viet Minh who had been born in the southern part of the country returned to their native villages to await the 1956 elections and the reunification of their nation. When the elections did not take place as planned, these Viet Minh immediately formed the core of opposition to Diem’s government and sought its overthrow. The Viet Minh were greatly aided in their efforts to organize resistance in the countryside by Diem’s own policies, which alienated many peasants.
Starting in 1955, the United States created the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) in South Vietnam. Using these troops, Diem took land away from peasants and returned it to former landlords, reversing the land redistribution program implemented by the Viet Minh. He also forcibly moved many villagers from their ancestral lands to controlled settlements in an attempt to prevent Communist activity, and he drafted their sons into the ARVN. Diem sought to discredit the Viet Minh by contemptuously referring to them as “Viet Cong” (the Vietnamese equivalent of calling them “Commies”), yet their influence continued to grow.
Most southern Viet Minh were members of the Lao Dong and were still committed to its program of national liberation, reunification of Vietnam, and reconstruction of society along socialist principles. By the late 1950s they were anxious to begin full-scale armed struggle against Diem but were held in check by the northern branch of the party, which feared that this would invite the entry of U. S. armed forces. By 1959, however, opposition to Diem was so widespread in rural areas that the southern Communists formed the National Liberation Front (NLF), and in 1960 the North Vietnamese government gave its formal sanction to the organization.
The NLF began to train and equip guerrillas, known as the People’s Liberation Armed Forces (PLAF). Diem’s support was concentrated mainly in the cities. Although he had been a nationalist opposed to French rule, he welcomed into his government those Vietnamese who had collaborated with the French, and many of these became ARVN officers. Catholics were a minority throughout Vietnam, amounting to no more than 10 percent of the population, but they predominated in government positions because Diem himself was Catholic.
Between 1954 and 1955, operatives paid by the CIA spread rumors in northern Vietnam that Communists were going to launch a persecution of Catholics, which caused nearly 1 million Catholics to flee to the south. Their resettlement uprooted Buddhists who already deeply resented Diem’s rule because of his severe discrimination against them. President John F. Kennedy still believed that the ARVN could become effective. Some of his advisers advocated the commitment of U. S. combat forces, but Kennedy decided to try to increase support for the ARVN among the people of Vietnam through counterinsurgency.
United States Special Forces (Green Berets) would work with ARVN troops directly in the villages in an effort to match NLF political organizing and to win over the South Vietnamese people. To support the U. S. effort, the Diem government developed a “strategic hamlet” program that was essentially an extension of Diem’s earlier relocation practices. Aimed at cutting the links between villagers and the NLF, the program removed peasants from their traditional villages, often at gunpoint, and resettled them in new hamlets fortified to keep the NLF out.
Administration was left up to Diem’s brother Nhu, a corrupt official who charged villagers for building materials that had been donated by the United States. In many cases peasants were forbidden to leave the hamlets, but many of the young men quickly left anyway and joined the NLF. Young men who were drafted into the ARVN often also worked secretly for the NLF. The Kennedy administration concluded that Diem’s policies were alienating the peasantry and contributing significantly to NLF recruitment. The number of U. S. advisers assigned to the ARVN rose steadily.
In January 1961, when Kennedy took office, there were 800 U. S. advisers in Vietnam; by November 1963 there were 16,700. American air power was assigned to support ARVN operations; this included the aerial spraying of herbicides such as Agent Orange, which was intended to deprive the NLF of food and jungle cover. Despite these measures, the ARVN continued to lose ground. As the military situation deteriorated in South Vietnam, the United States sought to blame it on Diem’s incompetence and hoped that changes in his administration would improve the situation.
Nhu’s corruption became a principal focus, and Diem was urged to remove his brother. Many in Diem’s military were especially dissatisfied and hoped for increased U. S. aid. General Duong Van Minh informed the CIA and U. S. ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge of a plot to conduct a coup d’tat against Diem. After much discussion, Kennedy approved support for the coup. He was reportedly dismayed, however, when the coup resulted in the murder of both Diem and Nhu on November 1, 1963. Far from stabilizing South Vietnam, the assassination of Diem ushered in ten successive governments within 18 months.
Meanwhile, the CIA was forced to admit that the strength of the NLF was continuing to grow. Succeeding to the presidency after Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, Lyndon B. Johnson felt he had to take a forceful stance on Vietnam so that other Communist countries would not think that the United States lacked resolve. Kennedy had begun to consider the possibility of withdrawal from Vietnam and had even ordered the removal of 1000 advisers shortly before he was assassinated, but Johnson increased the number of U. S. visers to 27,000 by mid-1964. Even though intelligence reports clearly stated that most of the support for the NLF came from the south, Johnson, like his predecessors, continued to insist that North Vietnam was orchestrating the southern rebellion. He was determined that he would not be held responsible for allowing Vietnam to fall to the Communists. Johnson believed that the key to success in the war in South Vietnam was to frighten North Vietnam’s leaders with the possibility of full-scale U. S. military intervention.
In January 1964 he approved top-secret, covert attacks against North Vietnamese territory, including commando raids against bridges, railways, and coastal installations. Johnson also ordered the U. S. Navy to conduct surveillance missions along the North Vietnamese coast. He increased the secret bombing of territory in Laos along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a growing network of paths and roads used by the NLF and the North Vietnamese to transport supplies into South Vietnam. Hanoi concluded that the United States was preparing to occupy South Vietnam and indicated that it, too, was preparing for full-scale war.
On August 2, 1964, North Vietnamese coastal gunboats fired on the destroyer USS Maddox, which had penetrated North Vietnam’s territorial boundaries in the Gulf of Tonkin. Johnson ordered more ships to the area, and on August 4 both the Maddox and the USS Turner Joy reported that North Vietnamese patrol boats had fired on them. Johnson then ordered the first air strikes against North Vietnamese territory and went on television to seek approval from the U. S. public. (Subsequent congressional investigations would conclude that the August 4 attack almost certainly had never occurred.
The U. S. Congress overwhelmingly passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which effectively handed over war-making powers to Johnson until such time as “peace and security” had returned to Vietnam. After the Gulf of Tonkin incident Johnson steadily escalated U. S. bombing of North Vietnam, which began to dispatch well-trained units of its People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) into the south. The NLF guerrillas coordinated their attacks with PAVN forces. Between February 7 and February 10, 1965, the NLF launched surprise attacks on the U. S. r base at Pleiku, killing 8 Americans, wounding 126, and destroying 10 aircraft; they struck again at Qui Nhon, killing 23 U. S. servicemen and wounding 21. Johnson responded by bombing Hanoi at a time when Soviet premier Aleksey Kosygin was visiting, thus pushing the USSR closer to North Vietnam and ensuring future Soviet arms deliveries to Southeast Asia. Johnson’s advisers, chiefly Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, declared that a full-scale air war against North Vietnam would depress the morale of the NLF.
The bombing did just the opposite, however. The inability of the ARVN to protect U. S. air bases led Johnson’s senior planners to the consensus that U. S. combat forces would be required. On March 8, 1965, 3500 U. S. Marines landed at Nang. By the end of April, 56,000 other combat troops had joined them; by June the number had risen to 74,000. When some of the soldiers of the U. S. 9th Marine Regiment landed in Da Nang in March 1965, their orders were to protect the U. S. air base, but the mission was quickly escalated to include search-and-destroy patrols of the area around the base.
This corresponded in miniature to the larger strategy of General William Westmoreland. Westmoreland, who took over the Military Assistance Command in Vietnam (MACV) in 1964, advocated establishing a large American force and then unleashing it in big sweeps. His strategy was that of attritioneliminating or wearing down the enemy by inflicting the highest death toll possible. There were 80,000 U. S. troops in Vietnam by the end of 1965; by 1969 a peak of 543,000 troops would be reached. Having easily pushed aside the ARVN, both the North Vietnamese and the NLF had anticipated the U. S. escalation.
With full-scale movement of U. S. troops onto South Vietnamese territory, the Communists claimed that the Saigon regime had become a puppet, not unlike the colonial collaborators with the French. Both the North Vietnamese and NLF appealed to the nationalism of the Vietnamese to rise up and drive this new foreign army from their land. Unable to cross the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at the 17th parallel separating North from South Vietnam, PAVN regulars moved into South Vietnam along the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos and Cambodia.
In use since 1957, the trail was originally a series of footpaths; by the late 1960s it would become a network of paved highways that enabled the motor transport of people and equipment. The NLF guerrillas and North Vietnamese troops were poorly armed compared to the Americans, so once they were in South Vietnam they avoided open combat. Instead they developed hit-and-run tactics designed to cause steady casualties among the U. S. troops and to wear down popular support for the war in the United States. The United States was more disorganized than any other war partys.
In June 1964 retired general Maxwell Taylor replaced Henry Cabot Lodge as ambassador to South Vietnam. A former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the military advisory group to the president, Taylor at first opposed the introduction of American combat troops, believing that this would make the ARVN quit fighting altogether. By 1965 he agreed to the request of General Westmoreland for combat forces. Taylor initially advocated an enclave strategy, where U. S. forces would seek to preserve areas already considered to be under Saigon’s control.
This quickly proved impossible, since NLF strength was considerable virtually everywhere in South Vietnam. In October 1965 the newly arrived 1st Cavalry Division of the U. S. Army fought one of the largest battles of the Vietnam War in the Ia Drang Valley, inflicting a serious defeat on North Vietnamese forces. The North Vietnamese and NLF forces changed their tactics as a result of the battle. From then on both would fight at times of their choosing, hitting rapidly, with surprise if possible, and then withdrawing just as quickly to avoid the impact of American firepower.
The success of the American campaign in the Ia Drang Valley convinced Westmoreland that his strategy of attrition was the key to U. S. victory. He ordered the largest search-and-destroy operations of the war in the “Iron Triangle,” the Communist stronghold northeast of Saigon. This operation was intended to find and destroy North Vietnam and NLF military headquarters, but the campaign failed to wipe out Communist forces from the area. By 1967 the ground war had reached a stalemate, which led Johnson and McNamara to increase the ferocity of the air war.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff had been pressing for this for some time, but there was already some indication that intensified bombing would not produce the desired results. In 1966 the bombing of North Vietnam’s oil facilities had destroyed 70 percent of their fuel reserves, but the DRV’s ability to wage the war had not been affected. Planners wished to avoid populated areas, but when 150,000 sorties per year were being flown by U. S. warplanes, civilian casualties were inevitable. These casualties provoked revulsion both in the United States and internationally.
In 1967 the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle Wheeler, declared that no more “major military targets” were left. Unable to widen the bombing to population centers for fear of Chinese and Soviet reactions in support of North Vietnam, the U. S. Department of Defense had to admit stalemate in the air war as well. The damage that had already been inflicted on Vietnam’s population was enormous. In 1967 North Vietnam and the NLF decided the time had come to mount an all-out offensive aimed at inflicting serious losses on both the ARVN and U. S. forces.
They planned the Tet Offensive with the hope that this would significantly affect the public mood in the United States. In December 1967 North Vietnamese troops attacked and surrounded the U. S. Marine base at Khe Sanh, placing it under siege. Westmoreland ordered the outpost held at all costs. To prevent the Communists from overrunning the base, about 50,000 U. S. Marines and Army troops were called into the area, thus weakening positions further south. During the Tet Offensive, the imperial capital of Hue witnessed the bloodiest fighting of the entire war.
South Vietnamese were assassinated by Communists for collaborating with Americans; then when the ARVN returned, NLF sympathizers were murdered. United States Marines and paratroopers were ordered to go from house to house to find North Vietnamese and NLF soldiers. Virtually indiscriminate shelling was what killed most civilians, however, and the architectural treasures of Hue were laid to waste. More than 100,000 residents of the city were left homeless. The Tet Offensive as a whole lasted into the fall of 1968, and when it was over the North Vietnamese and the NLF had suffered acute losses.
The U. S. Department of Defense estimated that a total of 45,000 North Vietnamese and NLF soldiers had been killed, most of them NLF fighters. Although it was covered up for more than a year, one horrifying event during the Tet Offensive would indelibly affect America’s psyche. In March 1968 elements of the U. S. Army’s Americal Division wiped out an entire hamlet called My Lai, killing 500 unarmed civilians, mostly women and children. After Tet, Westmoreland said that the enemy was almost conquered and requested 206,000 more troops to finish the job.
Told by succeeding administrations since 1955 that there was “light at the end of the tunnel,” that victory in Vietnam was near, the American public had reached a psychological breaking point. The success of the NLF in coordinating the Tet Offensive demonstrated both how deeply rooted the Communist resistance was and how costly it would be for the United States to remain in Vietnam. After Tet a majority of Americans wanted some closure to the war, with some favoring an immediate withdrawal while others held out for a negotiated peace.
President Johnson rejected Westmoreland’s request for more troops and replaced him as the commander of U. S. forces in Vietnam with Westmoreland’s deputy, General Creighton Abrams. Johnson himself decided not to seek reelection in 1968. Republican Richard Nixon ran for the presidency declaring that he would bring “peace with honor” if elected. Promising an end to the war in Vietnam, Richard Nixon won a narrow victory in the election of 1968. Slightly more than 30,000 young Americans had been killed in the war when Nixon took office in January 1969.
The new president retained his predecessor’s goal of a non-Communist South Vietnam, however, and this could not be ensured without continuing the war. Nixon’s most pressing problem was how to make peace and war at the same time. His answer was a policy called “Vietnamization. ” Under this policy, he would withdraw American troops and the South Vietnamese army would take over the fighting. During his campaign for the presidency, Nixon announced that he had a secret plan to end the war. In July 1969, after he had become president, he issued what came to be known as the Nixon doctrine, which stated that U.
S. troops would no longer be directly involved in Asian wars. He ordered the withdrawal of 25,000 troops, to be followed by more, and he lowered draft calls. On the other hand, Nixon also stepped up the Phoenix Program, a secret CIA operation that resulted in the assassination of 20,000 suspected NLF guerrillas, many of whom were innocent civilians. The operation increased funding for the ARVN and intensified the bombing of North Vietnam. Nixon reasoned that to keep the Communists at bay during the U. S. ithdrawal, it was also necessary to bomb their sanctuaries in Cambodia and to increase air strikes against Laos. The success of Vietnamization seemed highly doubtful, since the Communist forces showed that the new ARVN could be defeated. Instead of inhibiting the Communist Pathet Lao, the U. S. attacks on Laos promoted their rise. In 1958 the Pathet Lao had the support of one-third of the population; by 1973 a majority denied the legitimacy of the U. S. -supported Royal Lao Government.
By 1975 a Communist government was established in Laos. In the spring of 1972, with only 6000 U. S. ombat troops remaining in South Vietnam, the DRV leadership decided the time had come to crush the ARVN. On March 30 over 30,000 North Vietnamese troops crossed the Demilitarized Zone, along with another 150,000 PRG fighters, and attacked Quang Tri Province, easily scattering ARVN defenders. The attack, known as the Easter Offensive, could not have come at a worse time for Nixon and his National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. A military defeat of the ARVN would leave the United States in a weak position at the Paris peace talks and would compromise its strategic position globally.
On January 27, 1973, all four parties to the Vietnam conflictthe United States, South Vietnam, the PRG, and North Vietnamsigned the Treaty of Paris. The final terms provided for the release of all American prisoners of war from North Vietnam; the withdrawal of all U. S. orces from South Vietnam; the end of all foreign military operations in Laos and Cambodia; a cease-fire between North and South Vietnam; the formation of a National Council of Reconciliation to help South Vietnam form a new government; and continued U. S. military and economic aid to South Vietnam.
In a secret addition to the treaty Nixon also promised $3. 25 billion in reparations for the reconstruction of ravaged North Vietnam, an agreement that Congress ultimately refused to uphold. On March 29, 1973, the last U. S. troops left Vietnam. The withdrawal of U. S. ersonnel had resulted in a collapsing economy throughout South Vietnam. Millions had depended on the money spent by Americans in Vietnam. Thieu’s government was ill-equipped to treat the mass unemployment and deepening poverty that resulted from the U. S. withdrawal.
The ARVN still received $700 million from the U. S. Congress and was twice the size of the Communist forces, but morale was collapsing. Over 200,000 ARVN soldiers deserted in 1974 in order to be with their families. Having no faith that the Paris treaty would be set the North Vietnamese set 1975 as the year to mount their final offensive. They believed it would take at least two years; the rapid collapse of the ARVN was therefore a surprise even to them. After the initial attack by the North Vietnamese in the Central Highlands northeast of Saigon on January 7, the ARVN immediately began to fall apart.
On March 25 the ancient imperial city of Hue fell; then on March 29, Da Nang, the former U. S. Marine headquarters, was overtaken. On April 20 Thieu resigned, accusing the United States of betrayal. His successor was Duong Van Minh, who had been among those who overthrew Diem in 1963. On April 30 Minh issued his unconditional surrender to the PRG. Almost 30 years after Ho Chi Minh’s declaration of independence, Vietnam was finally unified. Although equipped with high-tech weaponry that far exceeded the fire power available to its enemies, the ARVN was poorly led and failed most of the time to check its opponents’ actions.
United States troops came to dislike and mistrust many ARVN units, accusing them of abandoning the battlefield. The ARVN also suffered from internal corruption. Numerous commanders would claim nonexistent troopers and then pocket the pay intended for those troopers; this practice made some units dangerously understaffed. Many ARVN soldiers were secretly working for the NLF, providing information that undermined the U. S. effort. At various times, battles verging on civil war broke out between troops within the ARVN.
Internal disunity on this scale was never an issue among the North Vietnamese troops or the NLF guerrillas. The armed forces of the United States serving in Vietnam began to suffer from internal dissension and low morale as well. Racism against the Vietnamese troubled many soldiers, particularly those who had experienced racism directed against themselves in the United States. In Vietnam, Americans routinely referred to all Vietnamese, both friend and foe, as “gooks. ” This process of dehumanizing the Vietnamese led to many atrocities, including the massacre at My Lai, and it provoked profound misgivings among U. S. troops.
The injustice of the Selective Service system also turned soldiers against the war. By 1968 coffeehouses run by soldiers had sprung up at 26 U. S. bases, serving as forums for antiwar activities. At least 250 underground antiwar newspapers were published by active-duty soldiers. Opposition to the war in the United States developed immediately after the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, chiefly among traditional pacifists, such as the American Friends Service Committee and antinuclear activists.
Early protests were organized around questions about the morality of U. S. military involvement in Vietnam. Virtually every key event of the war, including the Tet Offensive and the invasion of Cambodia, contributed to a steady rise in antiwar sentiment. The revelation of the My Lai Massacre in 1969 caused a dramatic turn against the war in national polls. Students and professors began to organize “teach-ins” on the war in early 1965 at the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of California at Berkeley. The teach-ins were large forums for discussion of the war between students and faculty members.
Eventually, virtually no college or university was without an organized student movement, often spearheaded by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The first major student-led demonstration against the war was organized by SDS in April 1965 and stunned observers by mobilizing about 20,000 participants. Another important organization was the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which denounced the war as racist as early as 1965. Students also joined The Resistance, an organization that urged its student members to refuse to register for the draft, or if drafted to refuse to serve.
While law enforcement authorities usually blamed student radicals for the violence that took place on campuses, often it was police themselves who initiated bloodshed as they cleared out students occupying campus buildings during “sit-ins” or street demonstrations. As antiwar sentiment mounted in intensity from 1965 to 1970 so did violence, culminating in the killings of four students at Kent State in Ohio and of two at Jackson State College in Mississippi. Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X, and other black leaders denounced the U. S. presence in Vietnam as evidence of American imperialism.
Martin Luther King, Jr. , had grown increasingly concerned about the racist nature of the war, toward both the Vietnamese and the disproportionately large numbers of young blacks who were sent to fight for the United States in Vietnam. In 1967 King delivered a major address at New York’s Riverside Church in which he condemned the war, calling the United States “the world’s greatest purveyor of violence. ” On October 15, 1969, citizens across the United States participated in The Moratorium, the largest one-day demonstration against the war.
Millions of people stayed home from work to mark their opposition to the war; college and high school students demonstrated on hundreds of campuses. A Baltimore judge even interrupted court proceedings for a moment of reflection on the war. In Vietnam, troops wore black armbands in honor of the home-front protest. Nixon claimed there was a “great silent majority” who supported the war and he called on them to back his policies. Polls showed, however, that at that time half of all Americans felt that the war was “morally indefensible,” while 60 percent admitted that it was a mistake.
In November 1969 students from all over the country headed for Washington, D. C. , for the Mobilization Against the War. Over 40,000 participated in a March Against Death from Arlington National Cemetery to the White House, each carrying a placard with the name of a young person killed in Vietnam. Opposition existed even among conservatives and business leaders, for primarily economic reasons. The government was spending more than $2 billion per month on the war by 1967. Some U. S. corporations, ranging from beer distributors to manufacturers of jet aircraft, benefited greatly from this money i