Campaign Spot: Convention (1968)

Campaign Spot: Convention (1968)



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For his second run for the presidency, Nixon hired filmmaker Eugene Jones to produce ads that captured the turbulence and unrest in the nation at the time. Convention was one in a series -- mimicking the uneasy mood and tension in the US, suggesting that Nixon was the only man to bring the country together again.


Contents

In the election of 1964, incumbent Democratic United States President Lyndon B. Johnson won the largest popular vote landslide in U.S. presidential election history over Republican United States Senator Barry Goldwater. During the presidential term that followed, Johnson was able to achieve many political successes, including passage of his Great Society domestic programs (including "War on Poverty" legislation), landmark civil rights legislation, and the continued exploration of space. Despite these significant achievements, Johnson's popular support would be short-lived. Even as Johnson scored legislative victories, the country endured large-scale race riots in the streets of its larger cities, along with a generational revolt of young people and violent debates over foreign policy. The emergence of the hippie counterculture, the rise of New Left activism, and the emergence of the Black Power movement exacerbated social and cultural clashes between classes, generations, and races. Adding to the national crisis, on April 4, 1968, civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, igniting riots of grief and anger across the country. In Washington, D.C. rioting took place within a few blocks of the White House, and the government stationed soldiers with machine guns on the Capitol steps to protect it. [5] [6]

The Vietnam War was the primary reason for the precipitous decline of President Lyndon B. Johnson's popularity. He had greatly escalated U.S. commitment: By late 1967, over 500,000 American soldiers were fighting in Vietnam. Draftees made up 42 percent of the military in Vietnam, but suffered 58% of the casualties, as nearly 1000 Americans a month were killed and many more were injured. [7] But resistance to the war rose as success seemed ever out of reach. The national news media began to focus on the high costs and ambiguous results of escalation, despite Johnson's repeated efforts to downplay the seriousness of the situation.

In early January 1968, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara said the war would be winding down, claiming that the North Vietnamese were losing their will to fight. But, shortly thereafter, they launched the Tet Offensive, in which they and Communist Vietcong forces undertook simultaneous attacks on all government strongholds across South Vietnam. Though the uprising ended in a U.S. military victory, the scale of the Tet offensive led many Americans to question whether the war could be "won", or was worth the costs to the US. In addition, voters began to mistrust the government's assessment and reporting of the war effort. The Pentagon called for sending several hundred thousand more soldiers to Vietnam. Johnson's approval ratings fell below 35%. The Secret Service refused to let the president visit American colleges and universities, and prevented him from appearing at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois, because it could not guarantee his safety. [8]

Other major candidates Edit

The following candidates were frequently interviewed by major broadcast networks, were listed in publicly published national polls, or ran a campaign that extended beyond their flying home delegation in the case of favorite sons.

Nixon received 1,679,443 votes in the primaries.

Primaries Edit

The front-runner for the Republican nomination was former Vice President Richard Nixon, who formally began campaigning in January 1968. [9] Nixon had worked tirelessly behind the scenes and was instrumental in Republican gains in Congress and governorships in the 1966 midterm elections. Thus, the party machinery and many of the new congressmen and governors supported him. Still, there was wariness in the Republican ranks over Nixon, who had lost the 1960 election and then lost the 1962 California gubernatorial election. Some hoped a more "electable" candidate would emerge. The story of the 1968 Republican primary campaign and nomination may be seen as one Nixon opponent after another entering the race and then dropping out. Nixon was the front runner throughout the contest because of his superior organization, and he easily defeated the rest of the field.

Nixon's first challenger was Michigan Governor George W. Romney. A Gallup poll in mid-1967 showed Nixon with 39%, followed by Romney with 25%. After a fact-finding trip to Vietnam, Romney told Detroit talk show host Lou Gordon that he had been "brainwashed" by the military and the diplomatic corps into supporting the Vietnam War the remark led to weeks of ridicule in the national news media. Turning against American involvement in Vietnam, Romney planned to run as the anti-war Republican version of Eugene McCarthy. [10] But, following his "brainwashing" comment, Romney's support faded steadily with polls showing him far behind Nixon, he withdrew from the race on February 28, 1968. [11]

United States Senator Charles Percy was considered another potential threat to Nixon, and had planned on waging an active campaign after securing a role as Illinois's favorite son. Later, however, Percy declined to have his name listed on the ballot for the Illinois presidential primary. He no longer sought the presidential nomination. [12]

Nixon won a resounding victory in the important New Hampshire primary on March 12, with 78% of the vote. Anti-war Republicans wrote in the name of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, the leader of the Republican Party's liberal wing, who received 11% of the vote and became Nixon's new challenger. Rockefeller had not originally intended to run, having discounted a campaign for the nomination in 1965, and planned to make United States Senator Jacob Javits, the favorite son, either in preparation of a presidential campaign or to secure him the second spot on the ticket. As Rockefeller warmed to the idea of entering the race, Javits shifted his effort to seeking a third term in the Senate. [13] Nixon led Rockefeller in the polls throughout the primary campaign, and though Rockefeller defeated Nixon and Governor John Volpe from Massachusetts primary on April 30, he otherwise fared poorly in state primaries and conventions. He had declared too late to get his name placed on state primary ballots.

By early spring, California Governor Ronald Reagan, the leader of the Republican Party's conservative wing, had become Nixon's chief rival. In the Nebraska primary on May 14, Nixon won with 70% of the vote to 21% for Reagan and 5% for Rockefeller. While this was a wide margin for Nixon, Reagan remained Nixon's leading challenger. Nixon won the next primary of importance, Oregon, on May 15 with 65% of the vote, and won all the following primaries except for California (June 4), where only Reagan appeared on the ballot. Reagan's victory in California gave him a plurality of the nationwide primary vote, but his poor showing in most other state primaries left him far behind Nixon in the delegate count.

    : 1,696,632 (37.93%) : 1,679,443 (37.54%) : 614,492 (13.74%) : 164,340 (3.67%)
  • Unpledged: 140,639 (3.14%) (write-in): 44,520 (1.00%) : 31,655 (0.71%) : 31,465 (0.70%)
  • Others: 21,456 (0.51%) (write-in): 15,291 (0.34%)
    (write-in): 14,524 (0.33%) (write-in): 5,698 (0.13) (write-in): 4,824 (0.11%) : 4,447 (0.10%) : 1,223 (0.03%) : 724 (0.02%) : 689 (0.02%) : 598 (0.01%) : 591 (0.01%)

Republican Convention Edit

As the 1968 Republican National Convention opened on August 5 in Miami Beach, Florida, the Associated Press estimated that Nixon had 656 delegate votes – 11 short of the number he needed to win the nomination. Reagan and Rockefeller were his only remaining opponents and they planned to unite their forces in a "stop-Nixon" movement.

Because Goldwater had done well in the Deep South, delegates to the 1968 Republican National Convention included more Southern conservatives than in past conventions. There seemed potential for the conservative Reagan to be nominated if no victor emerged on the first ballot. Nixon narrowly secured the nomination on the first ballot, with the aid of South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, who had switched parties in 1964. [14] [ page needed ] He selected dark horse Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew as his running mate, a choice which Nixon believed would unite the party, appealing to both Northern moderates and Southerners disaffected with the Democrats. [15] Nixon's first choice for running mate was reportedly his longtime friend and ally Robert Finch, who was the Lieutenant Governor of California at the time. Finch declined that offer, but accepted an appointment as the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in Nixon's administration. With Vietnam a key issue, Nixon had strongly considered tapping his 1960 running mate, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., a former U.S. senator, ambassador to the UN, and ambassador twice to South Vietnam.

Candidates for the Vice-Presidential nomination:

    , Governor of Maryland , U.S. senator from Tennessee , former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, two-time ambassador to South Vietnam, and 1960 GOP VP nominee. , U.S. senator from Massachusetts , U.S. representative from Texas , Governor of New Mexico , Governor of Rhode Island , Governor of Washington
  • Robert H. Finch, Lieutenant Governor of California , U.S. senator from Oregon , U.S. senator from New York , Governor of Wisconsin
The Republican Convention Tally [16]
President (before switches) (after switches) Vice President Vice-Presidential votes
Richard M. Nixon 692 1238 Spiro T. Agnew 1119
Nelson Rockefeller 277 93 George Romney 186
Ronald Reagan 182 2 John V. Lindsay 10
Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes 55 Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke 1
Michigan Governor George Romney 50 James A. Rhodes 1
New Jersey Senator Clifford Case 22 Not Voting 16
Kansas Senator Frank Carlson 20
Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller 18
Hawaii Senator Hiram Fong 14
Harold Stassen 2
New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay 1

As of the 2020 presidential election, 1968 was the last time that two siblings (Nelson and Winthrop Rockefeller) ran against each other in a Presidential primary.

Other major candidates Edit

The following candidates were frequently interviewed by major broadcast networks, were listed in publicly published national polls, or ran a campaign that extended beyond their home delegation in the case of favorite sons.

Humphrey received 166,463 votes in the primaries.

Enter Eugene McCarthy Edit

Because Lyndon B. Johnson had been elected to the presidency only once, in 1964, and had served less than two full years of the term before that, the 22nd Amendment did not disqualify him from running for another term. [17] [18] As a result, it was widely assumed when 1968 began that President Johnson would run for another term, and that he would have little trouble winning the Democratic nomination.

Despite growing opposition to Johnson's policies in Vietnam, it appeared that no prominent Democratic candidate would run against a sitting president of his own party. It was also accepted at the beginning of the year that Johnson's record of domestic accomplishments would overshadow public opposition to the Vietnam War and that he would easily boost his public image after he started campaigning. [19] Even United States Senator Robert F. Kennedy from New York, an outspoken critic of Johnson's policies with a large base of support, publicly declined to run against Johnson in the primaries. Poll numbers also suggested that a large share of Americans who opposed the Vietnam War felt the growth of the anti-war hippie movement among younger Americans and violent unrest on college campuses was not helping their cause. [19] On January 30, however, claims by the Johnson administration that a recent troop surge would soon bring an end to the war were severely discredited when the Tet Offensive broke out. Although the American military was eventually able to fend off the attacks, and also inflict heavy losses among the communist opposition, the ability of the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong to launch large scale attacks during the Tet Offensive's long duration greatly weakened American support for the military draft and further combat operations in Vietnam. [20] A recorded phone conversation which Johnson had with Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley on January 27 revealed that both men had become aware of Kennedy's private intention to enter the Democratic presidential primaries and that Johnson was willing to accept Daley's offer to run as Humphrey's vice president if he were to end his re-election campaign. [21] Daley, whose city would host the 1968 Democratic National Convention, also preferred either Johnson or Humphrey over any other candidate and stated that Kennedy had met him the week before, and that he was unsuccessful in his attempt to win over Daley's support. [21]

In time, only United States Senator Eugene McCarthy from Minnesota proved willing to challenge Johnson openly. Running as an anti-war candidate in the New Hampshire primary, McCarthy hoped to pressure the Democrats into publicly opposing the Vietnam War. Since New Hampshire was the first presidential primary of 1968, McCarthy poured most of his limited resources into the state. He was boosted by thousands of young college students led by youth coordinator Sam Brown, [22] who shaved their beards and cut their hair to be "Clean for Gene". These students organized get-out-the-vote drives, rang doorbells, distributed McCarthy buttons and leaflets, and worked hard in New Hampshire for McCarthy. On March 12, McCarthy won 42 percent of the primary vote to Johnson's 49 percent, a shockingly strong showing against an incumbent president, which was even more impressive because Johnson had more than 24 supporters running for the Democratic National Convention delegate slots to be filled in the election, while McCarthy's campaign organized more strategically, McCarthy won 20 of the 24 delegates. This gave McCarthy's campaign legitimacy and momentum.

Sensing Johnson's vulnerability, Senator Robert F. Kennedy announced his candidacy four days after the New Hampshire primary. Thereafter, McCarthy and Kennedy engaged in a series of state primaries. Despite Kennedy's high profile, McCarthy won most of the early primaries, including Kennedy's native state of Massachusetts and some primaries in which he and Kennedy were in direct competition. [23] [24] Following his victory in the key battleground state of Oregon, it was assumed that McCarthy was the preferred choice among the young voters. [25]

Johnson withdraws Edit

On March 31, 1968, following the New Hampshire primary and Kennedy's entry into the election, the president made a televised speech to the nation and said that he was suspending all bombing of North Vietnam in favor of peace talks. After concluding his speech, Johnson announced,

"With America's sons in the fields far away, with America's future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office—the presidency of your country. Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President."

Not discussed publicly at the time was Johnson's concern that he might not survive another term—Johnson's health was poor, and he had already suffered a serious heart attack in 1955. He died on January 22, 1973, two days after the end of the new presidential term. Bleak political forecasts also contributed to Johnson's withdrawal internal polling by Johnson's campaign in Wisconsin, the next state to hold a primary election, showed the President trailing badly. [26]

Historians have debated why Johnson quit a few days after his weak showing in New Hampshire. Jeff Shesol says Johnson wanted out of the White House but also wanted vindication when the indicators turned negative, he decided to leave. [27] Lewis L. Gould says that Johnson had neglected the Democratic party, was hurting it by his Vietnam policies, and underestimated McCarthy's strength until the last minute, when it was too late for Johnson to recover. [28] Randall Bennett Woods said Johnson realized he needed to leave in order for the nation to heal. [29] Robert Dallek writes that Johnson had no further domestic goals, and realized that his personality had eroded his popularity. His health was poor, and he was preoccupied with the Kennedy campaign his wife was pressing for his retirement and his base of support continued to shrink. Leaving the race would allow him to pose as a peacemaker. [30] Anthony J. Bennett, however, said Johnson "had been forced out of a re-election race in 1968 by outrage over his policy in Southeast Asia". [31]

In 2009 an AP reporter said that Johnson decided to end his re-election bid after CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, who was influential, turned against the president's policy in Vietnam. During a CBS News editorial which aired on February 27, Cronkite recommended the US pursue peace negotiations. [32] [33] After watching Cronkite's editorial, Johnson allegedly exclaimed "if I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America." [32] This quote by Johnson has been disputed for accuracy. [34] Johnson was attending Texas Governor John Connally's birthday gala in Austin, Texas, when Cronkite's editorial aired and did not see the original broadcast. [34] But, Cronkite and CBS News correspondent Bob Schieffer defended reports that the remark had been made. They said that members of Johnson's inner circle, who had watched the editorial with the president, including presidential aide George Christian and journalist Bill Moyers, later confirmed the accuracy of the quote to them. [35] [36] Schieffer, who was a reporter for the Star-Telegram's WBAP television station in Fort Worth, Texas, when Cronkite's editorial aired, acknowledged reports that the president saw the editorial's original broadcast were inaccurate, [36] but claimed the president was able to watch a taping of it the morning after it aired and then made the remark. [36] However, Johnson's January 27, 1968 phone conversion with Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley revealed that the two were trying to feed Robert Kennedy's ego so he would stay in the race, convincing him that the Democratic Party was undergoing a "revolution." [21] They suggested he might earn a spot as vice president. [21]

After Johnson's withdrawal, the Democratic Party quickly split into four factions.

  • The first faction consisted of labor unions and big-city party bosses (led by Mayor Richard J. Daley). This group had traditionally controlled the Democratic Party since the days of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and they feared loss of their control over the party. After Johnson's withdrawal this group rallied to support Hubert Humphrey, Johnson's vice-president it was also believed that President Johnson himself was covertly supporting Humphrey, despite his public claims of neutrality.
  • The second faction, which rallied behind Senator Eugene McCarthy, was composed of college students, intellectuals, and upper-middle-class whites who had been the early activists against the war in Vietnam they perceived themselves as the future of the Democratic Party.
  • The third group was primarily composed of black people, Chicanos, and other minorities, as well as several anti-war groups these groups rallied behind Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
  • The fourth group consisted of white Southern Democrats. Some older voters, remembering the New Deal's positive impact upon the rural South, supported Vice-President Humphrey. Many would rally behind the third-party campaign of former Alabama Governor George Wallace as a "law and order" candidate.

Since the Vietnam War had become the major issue that was dividing the Democratic Party, and Johnson had come to symbolize the war for many liberal Democrats, Johnson believed that he could not win the nomination without a major struggle, and that he would probably lose the election in November to the Republicans. However, by withdrawing from the race he could avoid the stigma of defeat, and he could keep control of the party machinery by giving the nomination to Humphrey, who had been a loyal vice-president. [37] Milne (2011) argues that, in terms of foreign-policy in the Vietnam War, Johnson at the end wanted Nixon to be president rather than Humphrey, since Johnson agreed with Nixon, rather than Humphrey, on the need to defend South Vietnam from communism. [38] However, Johnson's telephone calls show that Johnson believed the Nixon camp was deliberately sabotaging the Paris peace talks. He told Humphrey, who refused to use allegations based on illegal wiretaps of a presidential candidate. Nixon himself called Johnson and denied the allegations. Dallek concludes that Nixon's advice to Saigon made no difference, and that Humphrey was so closely identified with Johnson's unpopular policies that no last-minute deal with Hanoi could have affected the election. [39]

Contest Edit

After Johnson's withdrawal, Vice President Hubert Humphrey announced his candidacy. Kennedy was successful in four state primaries (Indiana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and California) and McCarthy won six (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Oregon, New Jersey, and Illinois). However, in primaries where they campaigned directly against one another, Kennedy won three primaries (Indiana, Nebraska, and California) and McCarthy won one (Oregon). [40] Humphrey did not compete in the primaries, leaving that job to favorite sons who were his surrogates, notably United States Senator George A. Smathers from Florida, United States Senator Stephen M. Young from Ohio, and Governor Roger D. Branigin of Indiana. Instead, Humphrey concentrated on winning the delegates in non-primary states, where party leaders such as Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley controlled the delegate votes in their states. Kennedy defeated Branigin and McCarthy in the Indiana primary, and then defeated McCarthy in the Nebraska primary. However, McCarthy upset Kennedy in the Oregon primary.

After Kennedy's defeat in Oregon, the California primary was seen as crucial to both Kennedy and McCarthy. McCarthy stumped the state's many colleges and universities, where he was treated as a hero for being the first presidential candidate to oppose the war. Kennedy campaigned in the ghettos and barrios of the state's larger cities, where he was mobbed by enthusiastic supporters. Kennedy and McCarthy engaged in a television debate a few days before the primary it was generally considered a draw. On June 4, Kennedy narrowly defeated McCarthy in California, 46%–42%. However, McCarthy refused to withdraw from the race and made it clear that he would contest Kennedy in the upcoming New York primary, where McCarthy had much support from anti-war activists in New York City. The New York primary quickly became a moot point, however, for Kennedy was assassinated shortly after midnight on June 5 he died twenty-six hours later at Good Samaritan Hospital. Kennedy had just given his victory speech in a crowded ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles he and his aides then entered a narrow kitchen pantry on their way to a banquet room to meet with reporters. In the pantry Kennedy and five others were shot by Sirhan Sirhan, a 24-year-old Rosicrucian Palestinian of Christian background and Jordanian citizenship, who hated Kennedy because of his support for Israel. Sirhan admitted his guilt, was convicted of murder, and is still in prison. [41] In recent years some have cast doubt on Sirhan's guilt, including Sirhan himself, who said he was "brainwashed" into killing Kennedy and was a patsy. [42]

Political historians still debate whether Kennedy could have won the Democratic nomination had he lived. Some historians, such as Theodore H. White and Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., have argued that Kennedy's broad appeal and famed charisma would have convinced the party bosses at the Democratic Convention to give him the nomination. Jack Newfield, author of RFK: A Memoir, stated in a 1998 interview that on the night he was assassinated, "[Kennedy] had a phone conversation with Mayor Daley of Chicago, and Mayor Daley all but promised to throw the Illinois delegates to Bobby at the convention in August 1968. I think he said to me, and Pete Hamill, 'Daley is the ball game, and I think we have Daley. ' " [43] However, other writers such as Tom Wicker, who covered the Kennedy campaign for The New York Times, believe that Humphrey's large lead in delegate votes from non-primary states, combined with Senator McCarthy's refusal to quit the race, would have prevented Kennedy from ever winning a majority at the Democratic Convention, and that Humphrey would have been the Democratic nominee even if Kennedy had lived. The journalist Richard Reeves and historian Michael Beschloss have both written that Humphrey was the likely nominee, and future Democratic National Committee chairman Larry O'Brien wrote in his memoirs that Kennedy's chances of winning the nomination had been slim, even after his win in California.

At the moment of RFK's death, the delegate totals were:

  • Unpledged: 161,143 (2.14%) : 128,899 (1.71%) : 34,489 (0.46%) (write-in): 13,610 (0.18%) (write-in): 5,309 (0.07%) : 4,052 (0.05%) : 506 (0.01%) : 186 (0.00%)

Democratic Convention and antiwar protests Edit

Robert Kennedy's death altered the dynamics of the race. Although Humphrey appeared the presumptive favorite for the nomination, thanks to his support from the traditional power blocs of the party, he was an unpopular choice with many of the anti-war elements within the party, who identified him with Johnson's controversial position on the Vietnam War. However, Kennedy's delegates failed to unite behind a single candidate who could have prevented Humphrey from getting the nomination. Some of Kennedy's support went to McCarthy, but many of Kennedy's delegates, remembering their bitter primary battles with McCarthy, refused to vote for him. Instead, these delegates rallied around the late-starting candidacy of Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, a Kennedy supporter in the spring primaries who had presidential ambitions himself. This division of the anti-war votes at the Democratic Convention made it easier for Humphrey to gather the delegates he needed to win the nomination.

When the 1968 Democratic National Convention opened in Chicago, thousands of young activists from around the nation gathered in the city to protest the Vietnam War. On the evening of August 28, in a clash which was covered on live television, Americans were shocked to see Chicago police brutally beating anti-war protesters in the streets of Chicago in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel. While the protesters chanted "the whole world is watching", the police used clubs and tear gas to beat back or arrest the protesters, leaving many of them bloody and dazed. The tear gas wafted into numerous hotel suites in one of them Vice President Humphrey was watching the proceedings on television. The police said that their actions were justified because numerous police officers were being injured by bottles, rocks, and broken glass that were being thrown at them by the protestors. The protestors had also yelled insults at the police, calling them "pigs" and other epithets. The anti-war and police riot divided the Democratic Party's base: some supported the protestors and felt that the police were being heavy-handed, but others disapproved of the violence and supported the police. Meanwhile, the convention itself was marred by the strong-arm tactics of Chicago's mayor Richard J. Daley (who was seen on television angrily cursing Senator Abraham Ribicoff from Connecticut, who made a speech at the convention denouncing the excesses of the Chicago police). In the end, the nomination itself was anti-climactic, with Vice-President Humphrey handily beating McCarthy and McGovern on the first ballot.

After the delegates nominated Humphrey, the convention then turned to selecting a vice-presidential nominee. The main candidates for this position were Senators Edward M. Kennedy from Massachusetts, Edmund Muskie from Maine, and Fred R. Harris from Oklahoma Governors Richard Hughes of New Jersey and Terry Sanford of North Carolina Mayor Joseph Alioto of San Francisco, California former Deputy Secretary of Defense Cyrus Vance and Ambassador Sargent Shriver from Maryland. Another idea floated was to tap Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York, one of the most liberal Republicans. Ted Kennedy was Humphrey's first choice, but the senator turned him down. After narrowing it down to Senator Muskie and Senator Harris, Vice-President Humphrey chose Muskie, a moderate and environmentalist from Maine, for the nomination. The convention complied with the request and nominated Senator Muskie as Humphrey's running mate.

The publicity from the anti-war riots crippled Humphrey's campaign from the start, and it never fully recovered. [45] Before 1968 the city of Chicago had been a frequent host for the political conventions of both parties since 1968 only one national convention has been held there (the Democratic convention of 1996, which nominated Bill Clinton for a second term).

Balloting
Presidential tally Vice Presidential tally
Hubert Humphrey 1759.25 Edmund S. Muskie 1942.5
Eugene McCarthy 601 Not Voting 604.25
George S. McGovern 146.5 Julian Bond 48.5
Channing Phillips 67.5 David Hoeh 4
Daniel K. Moore 17.5 Edward M. Kennedy 3.5
Edward M. Kennedy 12.75 Eugene McCarthy 3.0
Paul W. "Bear" Bryant 1.5 Others 16.25
James H. Gray 0.5
George Wallace 0.5

Source: Keating Holland, "All the Votes. Really," CNN [46]

Endorsements Edit

  • Senator Abraham Ribicoff from Connecticut[44]
  • Senator George McGovern from South Dakota[47]
  • Governor Harold E. Hughes of Iowa[48]
  • Senator Vance Hartke from Indiana[44]
  • Labor Leader Cesar Chavez[44]
  • Writer Truman Capote[49]
  • Writer Norman Mailer[44]
  • Actress Shirley MacLaine[49]
  • Actress Stefanie Powers
  • Actor Robert Vaughn[50]
  • Actor Peter Lawford
  • Singer Bobby Darin[51]

George McGovern (during convention)

The American Independent Party, which was established in 1967 by Bill and Eileen Shearer, nominated former Alabama Governor George Wallace – whose pro-racial segregation policies had been rejected by the mainstream of the Democratic Party – as the party's candidate for president. The impact of the Wallace campaign was substantial, winning the electoral votes of several states in the Deep South. He appeared on the ballot in all fifty states, but not the District of Columbia. Although he did not come close to winning any states outside the South, Wallace was the most popular 1968 presidential candidate among young men. [53] Wallace also proved to be popular among blue-collar workers in the North and Midwest, and he took many votes which might have gone to Humphrey. [54]

Wallace was not expected to win the election – his strategy was to prevent either major party candidate from winning a preliminary majority in the Electoral College. Although Wallace put considerable effort into mounting a serious general election campaign, his presidential bid was also a continuation of Southern efforts to elect unpledged electors that had taken place in every election from 1956 – he had his electors promise to vote not necessarily for him but rather for whomever he directed them to support – his objective was not to move the election into the U.S. House of Representatives where he would have had little influence, but rather to give himself the bargaining power to determine the winner. Wallace's running mate was retired four star General Curtis LeMay.

Prior to deciding on LeMay, Wallace gave serious consideration to former U.S. senator, governor, and Baseball Commissioner A.B. Happy Chandler of Kentucky as his running mate. [55] Chandler and Wallace met a number of times however, Chandler said that he and Wallace were unable to come to an agreement regarding their positions on racial matters. Paradoxically, Chandler supported the segregationist Dixiecrats in the 1948 presidential elections. However, after being reelected Governor of Kentucky in 1955, he used National Guard troops to enforce school integration. [56]

LeMay embarrassed Wallace's campaign in the fall by suggesting that nuclear weapons could be used in Vietnam.

Other parties and candidates Edit

Also on the ballot in two or more states were black activist Eldridge Cleaver (who was ineligible to take office, as he would have only been 33 years of age on January 20, 1969) for the Peace and Freedom Party Henning Blomen for the Socialist Labor Party Fred Halstead for the Socialist Workers Party E. Harold Munn for the Prohibition Party and Charlene Mitchell – the first African-American woman to run for president, and the first woman to receive valid votes in a general election – for the Communist Party. Comedians Dick Gregory and Pat Paulsen were notable write-in candidates. A facetious presidential candidate for 1968 was a pig named Pigasus, as a political statement by the Yippies, to illustrate their premise that "one pig's as good as any other." [57] [ page needed ]

Campaign strategies Edit

Nixon developed a "Southern strategy" that was designed to appeal to conservative white southerners, who had traditionally voted Democratic, but were opposed to Johnson and Humphrey's support for the civil rights movement, as well as the rioting that had broken out in the ghettos of most large cities. Wallace, however, won over many of the voters Nixon targeted, effectively splitting that voting bloc. Indeed, Wallace deliberately targeted many states he had little chance of carrying himself in the hope that by splitting as many votes with Nixon as possible he would give competitive states to Humphrey and, by extension, boost his own chances of denying both opponents an Electoral College majority. [58]

Since he was well behind Nixon in the polls as the campaign began, Humphrey opted for a slashing, fighting campaign style. He repeatedly – and unsuccessfully – challenged Nixon to a televised debate, and he often compared his campaign to the successful underdog effort of President Harry Truman, another Democrat who had trailed in the polls, in the 1948 presidential election. Humphrey predicted that he, like Truman, would surprise the experts and win an upset victory. [59]

Campaign themes Edit

Nixon campaigned on a theme to restore "law and order," [60] which appealed to many voters angry with the hundreds of violent riots that had taken place across the country in the previous few years. Following the murder of Martin Luther King in April 1968, there was massive rioting in inner city areas. The police were overwhelmed and President Johnson had to call out the U.S. Army. Nixon also opposed forced busing to desegregate schools. [61] Proclaiming himself a supporter of civil rights, he recommended education as the solution rather than militancy. During the campaign, Nixon proposed government tax incentives to African Americans for small businesses and home improvements in their existing neighborhoods. [62]

During the campaign, Nixon also used as a theme his opposition to the decisions of Chief Justice Earl Warren. Many conservatives were critical of Chief Justice Warren for using the Supreme Court to promote liberal policies in the fields of civil rights, civil liberties, and the separation of church and state. Nixon promised that if he were elected president, he would appoint justices who would take a less-active role in creating social policy. [63] In another campaign promise, he pledged to end the draft. [64] During the 1960s, Nixon had been impressed by a paper he had read by Professor Martin Anderson of Columbia University. Anderson had argued in the paper for an end to the draft and the creation of an all-volunteer army. [65] Nixon also saw ending the draft as an effective way to undermine the anti-Vietnam war movement, since he believed affluent college-age youths would stop protesting the war once their own possibility of having to fight in it was gone. [66]

Humphrey, meanwhile, promised to continue and expand the Great Society welfare programs started by President Johnson, and to continue the Johnson Administration's "War on Poverty." He also promised to continue the efforts of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, and the Supreme Court, in promoting the expansion of civil rights and civil liberties for minority groups. However, Humphrey also felt constrained for most of his campaign in voicing any opposition to the Vietnam War policies of President Johnson, due to his fear that Johnson would reject any peace proposals he made and undermine his campaign. As a result, early in his campaign Humphrey often found himself the target of anti-war protestors, some of whom heckled and disrupted his campaign rallies.

Humphrey's comeback and the October surprise Edit

After the Democratic Convention in late August, Humphrey trailed Nixon by double digits in most polls, and his chances seemed hopeless. Many within Humphrey's campaign saw their real goal as avoiding the potential humiliation of finishing behind Wallace in the electoral college vote (if not necessarily the popular vote), rather than having any serious chance of defeating Nixon. According to Time magazine, "The old Democratic coalition was disintegrating, with untold numbers of blue-collar workers responding to Wallace's blandishments, Negroes threatening to sit out the election, liberals disaffected over the Vietnam War, the South lost. The war chest was almost empty, and the party's machinery, neglected by Lyndon Johnson, creaked in disrepair." [67] Calling for "the politics of joy," and using the still-powerful labor unions as his base, Humphrey fought back. In order to distance himself from Johnson and to take advantage of the Democratic plurality in voter registration, Humphrey stopped being identified in ads as "Vice-President Hubert Humphrey," instead being labelled "Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey." Humphrey attacked Wallace as a racist bigot who appealed to the darker impulses of Americans. Wallace had been rising in the polls, and peaked at 21% in September, but his momentum stopped after he selected Curtis LeMay as his running mate. Curtis LeMay's suggestion of tactical nuclear weapons being used in Vietnam conjured up memories of the 1964 Goldwater campaign. [14] Labor unions also undertook a major effort to win back union members who were supporting Wallace, with substantial success. Polls that showed Wallace winning almost one-half of union members in the summer of 1968 showed a sharp decline in his union support as the campaign progressed. As election day approached and Wallace's support in the North and Midwest began to wane, Humphrey finally began to climb in the polls.

In October, Humphrey—who was rising sharply in the polls due to the collapse of the Wallace vote—began to distance himself publicly from the Johnson administration on the Vietnam War, calling for a bombing halt. The key turning point for Humphrey's campaign came when President Johnson officially announced a bombing halt, and even a possible peace deal, the weekend before the election. The "Halloween Peace" gave Humphrey's campaign a badly needed boost. In addition, Senator Eugene McCarthy finally endorsed Humphrey in late October after previously refusing to do so, and by election day the polls were reporting a dead heat. [68]

Nixon campaign sabotage of peace talks Edit

The Nixon campaign had anticipated a possible "October surprise," a peace agreement produced by the Paris negotiations as such an agreement would be a boost to Humphrey, Nixon thwarted any last-minute chances of a "Halloween Peace." Nixon told campaign aide and his future White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman to put a "monkey wrench" into an early end to the war. [69] Johnson was enraged and said that Nixon had "blood on his hands" and that Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen agreed with Johnson that such action was "treason." [70] [71] Defense Secretary Clark Clifford considered the moves an illegal violation of the Logan Act. [72] A former director of the Nixon Library called it a "covert action" which "laid the skulduggery of his presidency." [69]

Bryce Harlow, former Eisenhower White House staff member, claimed to have "a double agent working in the White House. I kept Nixon informed." Harlow and Nixon's future National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who was friendly with both campaigns and guaranteed a job in either a Humphrey or Nixon administration, separately predicted Johnson's "bombing halt": "The word is out that we are making an effort to throw the election to Humphrey. Nixon has been told of it," Democratic senator George Smathers informed Johnson. [73]

Nixon asked Anna Chennault to be his "channel to Mr. Thieu" in order to advise him to refuse participation in the talks, in what is sometimes described as the "Anna Chennault Affair." [74] Thieu was promised a better deal under a Nixon administration. [75] [74] Chennault agreed and periodically reported to John Mitchell that Thieu had no intention of attending a peace conference. On November 2, Chennault informed the South Vietnamese ambassador: "I have just heard from my boss in Albuquerque who says his boss [Nixon] is going to win. And you tell your boss [Thieu] to hold on a while longer." In 1997, Chennault admitted that "I was constantly in touch with Nixon and Mitchell." [76] The effort also involved Texas Senator John Tower and Kissinger, who traveled to Paris on behalf of the Nixon campaign. William Bundy stated that Kissinger obtained "no useful inside information" from his trip to Paris, and "almost any experienced Hanoi watcher might have come to the same conclusion". While Kissinger may have "hinted that his advice was based on contacts with the Paris delegation," this sort of "self-promotion. is at worst a minor and not uncommon practice, quite different from getting and reporting real secrets." [77]

Johnson learned of the Nixon-Chennault effort because the NSA was intercepting communications in Vietnam. [78] In response, Johnson ordered NSA surveillance of Chennault and wire-tapped the South Vietnamese embassy and members of the Nixon campaign. [79] He did not leak the information to the public because he did not want to "shock America" with the revelation, [80] nor reveal that the NSA was intercepting communications in Vietnam. [81] Johnson did make information available to Humphrey, but at this point Humphrey thought he was going to win the election, so he did not reveal the information to the public. Humphrey later regretted this as a mistake. [82] The South Vietnamese government withdrew from peace negotiations, and Nixon publicly offered to go to Saigon to help the negotiations. [83] A promising "peace bump" ended up in "shambles" for the Democratic Party. [81]

Election Edit

The election on November 5, 1968, proved to be extremely close, and it was not until the following morning that the television news networks were able to declare Nixon the winner. The key states proved to be California, Ohio, and Illinois, all of which Nixon won by three percentage points or less. Had Humphrey carried all three of these states, he would have won the election. Had he carried only two of them or just California among them, George Wallace would have succeeded in his aim of preventing an electoral college majority for any candidate, and the decision would have been given to the House of Representatives, at the time controlled by the Democratic Party. Nixon won the popular vote with a plurality of 512,000 votes, or a victory margin of about one percentage point. In the electoral college Nixon's victory was larger, as he carried 32 states with 301 electoral votes, compared to Humphrey's 13 states and 191 electoral votes and Wallace's five states and 46 electoral votes. [84]

Out of all the states that Nixon had previously carried in 1960, Maine and Washington were the only two states that did not vote for him again Nixon carried them during his re-election campaign in 1972. He also carried eight states that voted for John F. Kennedy in 1960: Illinois, New Jersey, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada and Delaware. This was the last time until 1988 that the state of Washington voted Democratic and until 1992 that Connecticut, Maine, and Michigan voted Democratic in the general election. Nixon was also the last Republican candidate to win a presidential election without carrying Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. This is the first time which the Republican candidate captured the White House without carrying Michigan, Minnesota, Maine and Pennsylvania. He would be the last Republican candidate to carry Minnesota (four years later, in 1972), as of 2020. [2] This is also the first time since 1916 that Minnesota voted for the candidate who did not eventually win. [85]

Remarkably, Nixon won the election despite winning only two of the six states (Arizona and South Carolina) won by Republican Barry Goldwater four years earlier. He remains the only presidential candidate to win in spite of defending such a low number of his own party's states. All of the remaining four States carried by Goldwater were carried by Wallace in 1968. They would be won by Nixon in 1972. [84] [2]

Of the 3,130 counties/districts/independent cities making returns, Nixon won in 1,859 (59.39%) while Humphrey carried 693 (22.14%). Wallace was victorious in 578 counties (18.47%), all of which (with one exception of Pemiscot County, Missouri) were located in the South. [84]

Nixon said that Humphrey left a gracious message congratulating him, noting, "I know exactly how he felt. I know how it feels to lose a close one." [86]


Campaign collateral from the 1960 and 1964 presidential elections

Recent news of state and local elected officials stepping up their campaigns for the 2014 November elections brings to mind the fascinating array of campaign material housed in the museum's Division of Political History. My research for a display on the early 1960s for the museum's 50 th anniversary this year required delving into the division's collection of memorabilia from the 1960 and 1964 Presidential campaigns.

For years political parties have used parades and rallies, slogans, songs, and signs to not only promote their favorite candidates but to disparage their opponents as well. An abundant amount of campaign trade material such as buttons, stickers, hats, postcards, playing cards, coasters, match books, and more was and continues to be produced.

During the 1960 Presidential campaign the young democratic Senator from Massachusetts John F. Kennedy was pitted against the experienced republican Vice-President Richard M. Nixon. Kennedy pledged to "get the country moving again." Emphasis was on finding new ways to deal with domestic problems of poverty and inequality and focusing on new challenges such as space exploration.

Hats like the one pictured below were worn by delegates and supporters of the Kennedy/Johnson presidential ticket at the 1960 Democratic convention in Los Angeles.

A woman's Kennedy/Johnson campaign hat

Richard Nixon campaigned as the more responsible and experienced candidate in both domestic and foreign policies and promised to continue the peace and prosperity of the previous eight years of the Eisenhower administration in which he played a part as Vice-President.

Nixon campaign bumper sticker

Nixon campaign sheet music

Defining moments of the 1960 campaign were the debates between the nominees which were televised for the first time in history and watched by millions of viewers.

First televised Kennedy-Nixon debate

Evidence of the popularity of these debates is this handmade community sign, with political buttons of the candidates attached, urging citizens to gather together to watch the fourth and last Kennedy-Nixon televised debate.

Handmade sign from 1960 urging voters to watch the Nixon-Kennedy debate

The election was very close as JFK barely edged Nixon in popular votes however the electoral votes gave him the lead. John F. Kennedy was on his way to the White House as he became the nation's youngest President and first Catholic ever elected to office.

In contrast to the narrow margin of victory in the 1960 Presidential election, the 1964 election was a landslide. Much had occurred during the previous four years. In November, 1963, before he could complete his dream of a "New Frontier," President Kennedy was assassinated and Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as President. Johnson carried on the policies and goals of JFK under the slogan "Great Society." His proposals included civil rights legislation, education aid, and medical care for the elderly.

Comic book featuring Lyndon Johnson and the "Great Society"

However, many southerners, including some elected democratic officials, were not pleased when President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act and it threatened to split the party. Just four weeks before the election first lady Claudia "Lady Bird" Johnson, born and raised in the south, embarked on a four-day whistle-stop tour throughout rural areas of the south to gather support for her husband's campaign and defend the idea of civil rights. To publicize the event postcards like the one below were sent from aboard the "Lady Bird Special" as the first lady traveled to 47 towns making 47 speeches from a platform on the back of the train.

Postcard for the Lyndon Johnson campaign's Lady Bird Special train

Johnson's opponent in the 1964 campaign was Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. Conservative Goldwater was outspoken and often controversial in his views. He proposed limiting Federal Government involvement in activities such as welfare and medical care and was a strong advocate against communism. At one point in the campaign, he suggested using nuclear weapons as a means of dealing with the conflict in Vietnam. In his acceptance speech at the Republican convention he stated, "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."

Both sides of a fan supporting the Goldwater campaign

The campaign was heated as Johnson and Goldwater conflicted over every issue. The Republicans focused on Johnson's overspending and recklessness with the economy while Goldwater claimed the country was in "moral decay" with "violence in the streets" under Johnson's administration. The Democrats called Goldwater irresponsible and extreme in his views, especially on the use of nuclear weapons. Though Goldwater's supporters officially coined the slogan "In Your Heart You Know He's Right," the un-official slogan of his opponents became "In Your Guts You Know He's Nuts."

Political parties often distributed satirical material to discredit their opponents such as this "Bettor Deal Certificate" emphasizing Johnson and the Democratic Party's undesirable policies and this cartoon book that the Democratic National Committee used to decorate their office displaying Goldwater as a radical buffoonish character.

Johnson "Funny Money" certificate

The candidates toned down their rhetoric later in the campaign but it was "LBJ All the Way" and Johnson went on to win the election with 486 of the 538 electoral votes and by a margin of more than 16 million popular votes.


A Colorful, Historical Look at The Republican National Convention

A worker prepared a barrage of balloons at the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida.

Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Written By: Erin Livingston

The 2020 Republican National Convention has become a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, just as the Democratic Convention had the week before. Here LIFE dips into its archives for a colorful look at what the GOP event was like when people could safely convene.

LIFE’s first major coverage of a Republican National Convention was in its issue of June 24, 1940. At that gathering in Philadelphia, the Republicans nominated Wendell Willkie for the tough and ultimately futile task of challenging the popular Franklin D. Roosevelt in the general election.

The Philadelphia Convention Hall teemed during the 1940 Republican National Convention.

(William C. Shrout/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Later years of LIFE’s coverage featured color photography that presented the delegates, their costumes and the spectacle in all their exuberance.

A crowd posed with a baby elephant during the 1956 Republican National Convention in San Francisco.

Leonard McCombe/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation.

The Cow Palace outside San Francisco hosted the 1956 Republican National Convention.

Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Vice President Richard Nixon made his way through a crowd of supporters during the 1956 Republican National Convention.

(Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon at the 1956 Republican National Convention in San Francisco, where they accepted their party’s re-nomination.

Nat Farbman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

The 1956 Republican National Convention, which took place at the Cow Palace just outside San Francisco, re-nominated incumbent President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon. It was the first RNC to take place after that year’s Democratic National Convention, rather than before. After 1956, it became an informal tradition that the party holding the White House held their convention second.

Vice President Richard Nixon with his wife, Pat Nixon, at the 1956 Republican National Convention.

Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

An Eisenhower “Bandwagon” at the 1956 Republican National Convention.

Nat Farbman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Vice President Richard Nixon waved to crowds at the 1956 Republican National Convention.

Leonard McCombe/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

A ‘welcome’ motorcade passed through San Francisco’s Chinatown for the 1956 Republican National Convention.

Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Women shook their pom-poms at the 1956 Republican National Convention.

Leonard McCombe/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Many of the color photographs taken during the 1956 RNC were shot by LIFE staff photographer Leonard McCombe. His beautiful frames imparted elegance to the sometimes-gimmicky qualities of a party convention.

LIFE photographer Leonard McCombe looked for captivating images at the 1956 Republican Convention in San Francisco.

Hank Walker/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

This boy’s suit was festooned with campaign buttons at the 1956 Republican National Convention.

Leonard McCombe/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

This woman’s “I Like Ike” sunglasses honored the star of the 1956 Republican National Convention in San Francisco.

Photo by Leonard McCombe/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

These ‘Ike’ dresses honored President Dwight Eisenhower at the 1956 Republican National Convention.

Leonard McCombe/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Women waved red pom-poms at the 1956 Republican National Convention.

Leonard McCombe/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

A delegate at the 1956 Republican National Convention in San Francisco.

Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

These ladies supported President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the 1956 Republican National Convention.

Ed Clark/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

This elephant let you know whose party it was at the 1956 Republican National Convention in San Francisco.

Leonard McCombe/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Eisenhower and Nixon went on to win the 1956 election, easily defeating Adlai Stevenson. Four years later Vice President Nixon stepped up to lead the Republican ticket, and he had no opponents for the 1960 nomination.

The LIFE cover from August 8, 1960, featured Richard and Pat Nixon at the Republican National Convention in Chicago.

Stan Wayman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

The 1960 Republican National Convention in Chicago nominated Richard Nixon for president and former Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts for vice president. It was the 14th time Chicago hosted the RNC, more times than any other city.

Presidential nominee Richard Nixon greeted a supporter at the 1960 Republican National Convention.

Stan Wayman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Outgoing President Dwight Eisenhower (with his wife Mamie) delivered a speech during the 1960 Republican National Convention.

Stan Wayman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

During the convention Nixon promised in his acceptance speech that he would visit every state during his campaign.

“I announce to you tonight, and I pledge to you, that I, personally, will carry this campaign into every one of the fifty states of this Nation between now and November the eighth.”

These Nixon supporters wore matching dresses for the 1960 Republican National Convention in Chicago.

Stan Wayman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

The 1960 presidential election was closely contested, and Nixon lost to the Democratic nominee, Senator John F. Kennedy. Some believed that Nixon’s convention promise of visiting every state—while Kennedy focussed on popular swing states—was one of the reasons that Nixon lost.

The July 24, 1964 cover of LIFE featuring Barry Goldwater with his wife Peggy at the 1964 Republican National Convention.

Bill Ray/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

The 1964 Republican National Convention was held in the same location as the 1956 RNC, the Cow Palace Arena outside San Francisco. The Republican primaries pitted liberal Nelson Rockefeller of New York against Conservative Barry Goldwater of Arizona. Goldwater secured the nomination for president, and New York representative William Miller received the nomination for vice president.

Goldwater’s winning of the nomination meant a change for the party, as described by LIFE in its July 24th, 1964 issue, with Goldwater on the cover:

In a crescendo that thrust Barry Goldwater into control, the Republican changed both its course and its nature. In flashes of anger and pathos, of bitterness and exultation – captured on these pages by the color cameras of LIFE photographers – the G.O.P. was seized by its unyielding right wing.

Gold coins rained down on delegates after Goldwater won the presidential nomination at the 1964 Republican National Convention at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.

John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Barry Goldwater and his wife Peggy received the presidential nomination during the 1964 Republican National Convention.

(John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

The Cow Palace Arena hosted the 1964 Republican National Convention.

Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

The 1964 gathering was the first in which a woman was entered for nomination at a major party convention. Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith, a moderate Republican, placed fifth in the initial balloting.

Delegates at the 1964 Republican National Convention held signs supporting the candidacy of Senator Margaret Chase Smith for president she placed fifth on the first ballot.

John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

The ‘Goldwater Girls’ waved signs during the 1964 Republican National Convention.

John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

This hat recognized the Arizona roots of nominee Barry Goldwater.

John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Barry Goldwater and his wife waved to attendees at the 1964 Republican National Convention.

John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Delegates and balloons filled the Cow Palace during the 1964 Republican National Convention.

(Photo Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Goldwater was an outspoken conservative and an opponent of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Goldwater’s candidacy fueled several days of protests outside the 1964 RNC.

Marchers dressed as KKK members to condemn Barry Goldwater outside the 1964 Republican National Convention.

John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

The March for Equality took place outside the 1964 Republican National Convention.

John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

The March for Equality protested Barry Goldwater’s nomination outside the 1964 Republican National Convention.

John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Goldwater lost the general election to incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson in a landslide, but his nomination contributed to the Republican party’s modern conservative movement.

Presidential nominee Richard Nixon (right) and Vice Presidential nominee Spiro Agnew shared the podium during the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach.

Mark Kauffman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

The LIFE cover from August 16, 1968, featured nominees Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew after their convention win.

Arthur Schatz/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

The 1968 Republican National Convention took place in the Miami Beach convention center in Florida. As they had eight years before, Republicans nominated former Vice President Richard Nixon for president, and Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew was chosen for vice president.

An enthusiastic crowd greeted Richard Nixon standing at the 1968 Republican National Convention, Miami Beach, Florida.

Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

The release of balloons celebrated the nomination of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, who took in the scene from the podium at the 1968 Republican Convention.

Photo by Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Though Nixon was the frontrunner during the convention, California Governor Ronald Reagan and New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller also received several hundred votes. LIFE’s coverage of the Miami Beach RNC was the most colorful yet. An article written by Paul O’Neil in the August 16, 1968 issue of LIFE details go-go music, ‘gaudy’ headgear, costumes, and even a Rockefeller showboat that moved up and down a river by the convention’s hotels.

A Rockefeller supporter on a showboat waved to a Nixon boat during the 1968 Republican National Convention, Miami Beach, Florida.

Lynn Pelham/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed autographs for supporters at the 1968 Republican National Convention, Miami Beach, Florida.

Lynn Pelham/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

California Governor Ronald Reagan was a rising star at the 1968 Republican National Convention, Miami Beach, Florida.

Lynn Pelham/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

This supporter of Nelson Rockefeller made sure to get noticed at the 1968 Republican National Convention, Miami Beach, Florida.

Photo by Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Despite enthusiastic fans, “Rocky” didn’t pull off the upset at the 1968 Republican National Convention, Miami Beach, Florida.

Photo by Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Uncle Sam stood tall on stilts during the 1968 Republican National Convention, Miami, Florida.

Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Republicans worked on their platform at the 1968 Republican National Convention, Miami Beach, Florida.

Photo by Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

These glasses featured a popular Nixon slogan at the 1968 Republican National Convention.

Lynn Pelham/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Leftover signs and trash in Miami Beach Convention Hall from the 1968 Republican National Convention.

Mark Kauffman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

A friendly elephant carried the GOP message at the 1968 Republican National Convention, Miami Beach, Florida.

Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

A worker prepared a barrage of balloons at the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida.

Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Supporters of Ronald Reagan, who would win the presidency in 1980, at the 1968 Republican National Convention.

Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture © Meredith Corporation

This elephant gained elevation during the 1968 Republican National Convention.

Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

The Miami Beach convention hall hosted the 1968 Republican National Convention.

Grey Villet/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Ladies wore woven floral and grass hats at the 1968 Republican National Convention, Miami Beach, Florida.

Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Delegates at the 1968 Republican National Convention cheered for nominee Richard Nixon, Miami Beach, Florida.

Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Nixon defeated Democratic nominee, Herbert Humphrey, in the the 1968 presidential election. The election year was chaotic, marked by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, and widespread opposition to the Vietnam war. Nixon ran on a platform to “restore law and order.”

President Richard Nixon accepted a renomination at the 1972 Republican National Convention, Miami Beach, Florida.

Bill Eppridge/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

The 1972 Republican National Convention was supposed to take place in San Diego, but because of labor costs and scandals, the GOP changed course three months beforehand and decided to return to Miami Beach to re-nominate Richard Nixon for president.

The 1972 RNC set a new standard for party conventions, as it was a scripted media event with a schedule of speeches, setting the stage for the modern party convention.

First Lady Patricia Nixon spoke at the 1972 Republican National Convention, Miami Beach, Florida.

Bill Eppridge/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Supporters outside the 1972 Republican National Convention, Miami Beach, Florida.

Bill Eppridge/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation

Richard Nixon’s daughters and their spouses— from left to right, Edward Cox, Tricia Nixon Cox, Julie Nixon Eisenhower and David Eisenhower—joined the party at the 1972 Republican National Convention.

Bill Eppridge/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation


Recap of the Primary season

At the end of the Democratic primary season in 1968, the party was well along the process towards nominating a candidate. The primaries had been primarily a contest between U.S. Senator Eugene J. McCarthy MN and U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy NY, though Kennedy was assassinated near the end of the primary season. In the background, however, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey had been collecting delegates from state caucuses. The New York Times reported on 6/16/1968 that Humphrey had 1,600 delegates, or 61% of the total. His nomination appeared certain.

McCarthy appealed to the Democratic leaders to listen to the voters, who overwhelmingly opposed President Johnson's Vietnam policy. His goal was to find some way to open the door to the nomination of an anti-war candidate. On 6/15/1968, McCarthy recommended that he and Humphrey address the convention prior to the balloting. [New York Times 6/16/1968] McCarthy's runaway win in the New York State Democratic primary on 6/18/1968 underscored Humphrey's weakness among the party faithful. Kennedy's delegates mostly remained uncommitted, not ready to make amends with McCarthy and not willing to join the Humphrey bandwagon. As the final event in a complicated pre-convention season, Sen. George S. McGovern SD announced his candidacy on 8/10/1968 and appealed to the Kennedy delegates. [NYT 8/11/1968]

Meanwhile, Humphrey used the last weeks before the convention to consider potential VP running mates. Just days before the convention, Humphrey narrowed the choices to Sen. Edmund S. Muskie ME (who released his delegates to Humphrey on 8/21/1968 [NYT 8/22/1968]), Mayor Joseph L. Alioto of San Francisco, and former Gov. J. Terry Sanford NC. Humphrey had not yet ruled out his campaign manager in the primaries, Sen. Fred R. Harris, or Gov. Richard J. Hughes NJ, or R. Sergent Shriver. [NYT 8/27/1968]

Democratic National Convention

The 35th Democratic National Convention assembled in the International Amphitheatre in Chicago IL and met from 8/26-29/1968. There were 2,622 delegates representing the 50 states, DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Canal Zone.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley welcomed the delegates on the opening day of the convention. He vowed "as long as I am mayor of this town, there will be law and order in Chicago." Daley brought 7,500 men from the U.S. Army and 7,500 men from the Illinois National Guard to assist the 11,900 policemen on the Chicago force. He expected a massive anti-war protest during the convention and wanted to be prepared.

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye was the keynote speaker. A disabled World War II veteran, Inouye warned that the use of force would have to be resisted as long as evil men resorted to it.

The first major item of business was the appointment of a committee to codify the rules of the DNC. Included in this initial decision was the repeal of the Unit Rule used by some states to guarantee a unanimous vote on roll calls.

Credentials contests presented the first challenge for the delegates, as 17 states had at least one challenge. CA Assembly speaker Jesse Unruh moved that the vote on the challenges be postponed, but he was overruled by a vote of 1,691.5 to 832. There upon, the credentials committee recommended, and the convention acceded, to the seating of the "loyal" Democratic delegates from MS. The committee's recommendations in WA, PA, MN, and CT were also seated. The convention voted to seat the "regular" Democrats in TX, where the unit rule was used in the state convention to minimize black and Mexican participation. A complicated situation emerged in GA the credentials committee recommended seating half of the "party regulars" and half of the "loyal national Democrats." Herman Badillo moved that the "loyal national Democrats be seated when his motion lost 1,413 to 1,041.5, the convention adjourned (2:45 a.m.).

In the evening of the second day of the convention, the credentials challenges continued. The convention approved, in a voice vote, to divide the GA delegation. The state party chairman, James H. Gray (who had worked for Goldwater in 1964) stormed off the convention floor another bolting delegate attempted to leave with the state banner but was escorted out by guards. [Dan Rather was injured when he tried to interview this GA bolter.] The convention then voted to seat any "regular" Democrat from AL who would pledge to the eventual presidential nominee, instead of two alternate delegations of "national" Democrats. The convention seated three challenged McCarthy delegates from WI and dismissed challenges to the delegations from NC, TN, and LA. Humphrey delegates were seated in challenges in MI and IN. As part of the credentials committee report, a committee was appointed to study the delegate selection process and plan for the 1972 convention.

The Rules Committee report was challenged for its failure to recommend the elimination of the unit rule. The convention voted 1,350 to 1,206 to end the unit rule.

As the discussion of the platform began, information about the treatment of anti-war protesters outside the convention hall began to spread. A rumor that Edward M. Kennedy was ready to enter the race also made its rounds. The platform debate began at 1:04 a.m., but soon thereafter the convention adjourned for the night.

On the third day of the convention, the platform was adopted. The major issue was the Vietnam plank. An attempt to draft a compromise plank failed, and the platform praised the Johnson administration's policies. Sen. Muskie felt that the two positions were more similar than had been described but felt that the proposed plank kept more options open for the South Vietnamese. The debate was impassioned on both sides. Speaking for the proposed plank were Sen. Gale W. McGee WY, Gov. Warren Hearnes MO, and U.S. Rep. Wayne L. Hays OH, whose rhetoric started a "stop the war" chant in the CA delegation which continued in fits and starts throughout the remainder of the convention. Delegates arguing for bringing the US involvement to a close were U.S. Rep. Phillip Burton CA, Paul O'Dwyer NY, Kenneth P. O'Donnell MA, and former U.S. Sen. Pierre Salinger CA. John J. Gilligan OH, who participated in the futile attempt to draft a compromise plank, regretted that "we went to Vietnam to help, but now we remain to destroy." The minority plank on Vietnam lost by a vote of 1,041.25 to 1,567.75 thereupon, the remainder of the platform was adopted by a voice vote.

When the time to make nominations began, Carl Albert read telegrams from President Johnson and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy declining to run if nominated. The most violent street demonstrations erupted during the nominating speeches. Television coverage alternated between the speeches and the clash between the protesters and the police. The volume of tear gas used against the protesters was considered extreme, and VP Humphrey could smell it from his suite nearby.

Several candidates were placed in nomination for President. The NC delegation offered Daniel K. Moore. Gov. Harold E. Hughes IA nominated McCarthy, and Alioto nominated VP Humphrey. Sen. Abraham A. Ribicoff CT placed Sen. McGovern in nomination, including a statement against the "gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago" - upon which Mayor Daley started to scream at him. Philip M. Stern placed Channing Phillips in nomination, being the first black man ever placed in nomination for president at a major party convention. The NH and WI delegations registered additional protests against the treatment of protesters outside, and the roll call began.

Humphrey was nominated on the first ballot, as shown below. Illinois moved that his nomination be made unanimous, followed immediately by the benediction and adjournment.

Presidential Balloting, DNC 1968
Candidate1st ballot
Hubert H. Humphrey MN1,759.25
Eugene J. McCarthy MN601
George S. McGovern SD146.5
Channing E. Phillips DC67.5
Daniel K. Moore NC 17.5
Not voting15
Edward M. Kennedy MA12.75
Scattering2.5

Delegates from states holding presidential primaries voted Humphrey 53%, McCarthy 35%, others 12%. Delegates from other states voted Humphrey 80%, McCarthy 13%, others 7%.

When the convention assembled again, a short tribute to Sen. Robert Kennedy was shown. A 20-minute ovation ensued, broken only because of shortness of time and the need to begin a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

The vice presidential selection was the next order of business. Fred Harris nominated Muskie as Humphrey's official choice. Julian Bond was placed in nomination, though too young to run. Muskie was nominated with 1,942.5 votes to Bond's 48.5 and 26.75 scattering. Several states, with 604 delegate votes, had passed initially and never cast their votes.

Muskie gave his acceptance speech first, making a plea for national unity in a time of crisis.

In his acceptance speech, Humphrey was critical of the violence outside the convention hall: "May America tonight resolve that never, never again shall we see what we have seen." He felt that the convention "has literally laid the foundations of a new Democratic Party structure in America." He called for a new day of peace in Vietnam, peace in the cities, and national unity. He would do everything in his power to end the Vietnam War.


The Weathermen Launched a Terror Campaign in the 1960s and 1970s

In June 1969, the SDS held a convention, and the organization became divided. The Weathermen and the Progressive Labor Party split the SDS. Oughton and Ayers both followed The Weathermen, which was the more radical and violent of the two.

Oughton actively passed out pamphlets to high school students about her strong opinions in Flint, Michigan, which led to one of her many arrests. In Chicago, Oughton participated in the &ldquodays of rage&rdquo in which The Weathermen went on raids against the police.

In October 1969, the extreme Weathermen group gathered in Chicago. They organized a protest against what had happened there a year before during the Democratic National Convention of 1968, where police publicly beat thousands of Vietnam War protestors.

It was labeled as a police riot by the government. Young Americans viewed televised pictures of city officers clubbing demonstrators, which angered them enough to respond to the police brutality. Some of them fought violence with violence. After the Democratic National Convention of 1968, a poll revealed that an overwhelming 368,000 young citizens considered themselves revolutionaries. The Weathermen desired to &ldquobring the war back home.&rdquo

Although massive crowds marched for the defendants&rsquo protest, The Weathermen simply could not mobilize the young Chicagoans. Ultimately, more of The Weatherman suffered from injuries and financial damage than their targets, and 200 of the members were arrested that day. As the American people welcomed a new decade, the violent words and actions of The Weathermen continued to frighten them. Oughton and the others held a secret meeting in Flint, Michigan and planned a wave of terrorist bombings.

From 1970 to 1972, the passionate group took credit for eight bombings including the New York City police headquarters, part of the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, and the Army&rsquos mathematics lab center in Madison, Wisconsin. Oughton was never officially accused of conspiracy to plot a bombing or the action bombing itself.

On March 6, 1970, Oughton and four other members of The Weathermen were working in a townhouse basement in Greenwich Village in New York City. The location was specifically used as a bomb factory. The 11th Street house accidentally blew up and killed three people. After discovering a severed finger, 28-year-old Diana Oughton was identified as one of the victims.

Aftermath of the explosion in Greenwich Village. Free Republic

A Shift in Power

After all of the arrests, bombings, and deaths, the violent organization was forced to go underground. With hardly any support left, the members scattered some assumed fake identities, while others connected with the Black Panther Party.

The group became known as The Weather Underground and announced a &ldquoDeclaration of War&rdquo against the U.S. They still desired to persuade young Americans, especially white people &ldquointo armed revolution,&rdquo which was required to stop the injustice against African-Americans and other minorities both at home and overseas in the Vietnam War. By 1976, the organization mostly dissolved. That did not stop a few members from randomly robbing banks and bombing buildings in the name of The Weather Underground until 1985.

The radical group once had good intentions rooted in the SDS, full of ethos and compassion, but after a militant feature was added, and the belief that violence was required for change, more people were hurt than helped, including Diana Oughton.


Poor People's Campaign

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Poor People’s Campaign, also called Poor People’s March, political campaign that culminated in a demonstration held in Washington, D.C., in 1968, in which participants demanded that the government formulate a plan to help redress the employment and housing problems of the poor throughout the United States.

In November 1967 civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) met and decided to launch a Poor People’s Campaign to highlight and find solutions to many of the problems facing the country’s poor. The campaign would lead up to a Poor People’s March on the country’s capital.

King and the SCLC were excited about the prospect of this campaign following the victories of the civil rights legislation of previous years, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The SCLC’s aim for the Poor People’s Campaign was to address broadly economic inequalities with nonviolent direct action. The SCLC’s vision was that the campaign would be the most sustainable, massive, and widespread effort of civil disobedience undertaken by any social movement in U.S. history.

The plan for the march was that protestors—consisting of poor African Americans, whites, Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans from different urban and rural areas—would come together in Washington, D.C., and demonstrate daily from May 14 to June 24, 1968. It was hoped that this would persuade Congress and the federal executive branch to take serious and adequate actions on jobs and incomes. The campaign would culminate in a massive march on Washington, where demonstrators would demand a $12 billion Economic Bill of Rights guaranteeing employment to those able to work, income to those unable to work, and an end to discrimination in housing.

The Poor People’s Campaign was still in the planning stages when King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, in April 1968. Nevertheless, the Poor People’s March took place on June 19, 1968, led by Ralph Abernathy, a longtime friend of King who had been promoted to president of the SCLC from his post of vice president.

The Poor People’s March was on a much smaller scale than King and others had originally imagined, with an estimated 50,000 demonstrators participating. The marchers walked from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, where they listened to speeches by Vice President Hubert Humphrey Democratic presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy King’s widow, Coretta Scott King and Abernathy.

Just five days after the march, authorities closed Resurrection City, the temporary camp that demonstrators had erected on a 16-acre site near the Lincoln Monument to use during the course of the campaign. More than 100 residents were arrested when they refused to leave the site. Other residents, including Abernathy, were arrested during a demonstration at the U.S. Capitol building. National guardsmen were mobilized to stop disturbances.

The Poor People’s Campaign fell short of its goal to win significant antipoverty legislation. It did, however, mark a change of the civil rights movement from advocating a platform of only racial equality to one that incorporated interracial class issues and economic goals.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.


Hubert Humphrey 1968 presidential campaign

The Hubert Humphrey presidential campaign of 1968 began when Vice President of the United States Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota decided to seek the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States following President Lyndon B. Johnson's announcement ending his own bid for the nomination. Johnson withdrew after an unexpectedly strong challenge from anti-Vietnam War presidential candidate, Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota, in the early Democratic primaries. McCarthy, along with Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York, became Humphrey's main opponents for the nomination. Their "new politics" contrasted with Humphrey's "old politics" as the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War intensified.

Hubert Humphrey for President
CampaignU.S. presidential election, 1968
CandidateHubert Humphrey
38th Vice President of the United States
(1965–1969)
Edmund Muskie
U.S. Senator from Maine
(1959–1980)
AffiliationDemocratic Party
StatusAnnounced: April 27, 1968
Nominated: August 29, 1968
Lost election: November 5, 1968
SloganSome People Talk Change, Others Cause It
Humphrey-Muskie, Two You Can Trust [1]

Humphrey entered the race too late to participate in the Democratic primaries. He relied on "favorite son" candidates to win delegates and lobbied for endorsements from powerful bosses to obtain slates of delegates. The other candidates, who strove to win the nomination through popular support, criticized Humphrey's traditional approach. The June 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy left McCarthy as Humphrey's only major opponent. That changed at the 1968 Democratic National Convention when Senator George McGovern of South Dakota entered the race as the successor of Kennedy. Humphrey won the party's nomination at the Convention on the first ballot, amid riots in Chicago. He selected little-known Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine as his running mate.

During the general election, Humphrey faced former Vice President Richard Nixon of California, the Republican Party nominee, and Governor of Alabama George Wallace, the American Independent Party nominee. Nixon led in most polls throughout the campaign, and successfully criticized Humphrey's role in the Vietnam War, connecting him to the unpopular president and the general disorder in the nation. Humphrey experienced a surge in the polls in the days prior to the election, largely due to incremental progress in the peace process in Vietnam and a break with the Johnson war policy. On Election Day, Humphrey narrowly fell short of Nixon in the popular vote, but lost, by a large margin, in the Electoral College.


American Politics and the 1968 Presidential Campaign

From International Socialist Review, Vol.29 No.1, January-February 1968, pp.19-38.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

The continuing and widening war in Vietnam is the central issue in both national and world politics today. The genocidal intervention against the liberation struggle in the south and against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north are direct by-products of the global imperialist aims of the capitalist ruling class of the United States. Every socialist, everyone who stands for democratic rights and national self-determination, is duty bound to oppose and combat this criminal war. Every political tendency in this country is being tested by its response to this challenge.

Washington’s escalation of the war in Vietnam is another “police action” in a long series undertaken by American capitalism since the end of World War II. Their purpose has been to uphold the world capitalist system, to stabilize it and to extend it at the expense of the workers states. It is part of the policy of containing and rolling back the Russian revolution and its extensions in Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, North Vietnam and Cuba of blocking the colonial revolution either by smashing it or diverting it from its tendency to break through the limits of private property. The interlocking network of alliances, including NATO, SEATO, CENTO, and the OAS, are designed to advance the military side of this imperialist foreign policy, constituting part of the preparations for what could be a third and final world war.

This twenty-year period has been marked by two main trends.

The first is displacement by the United States of the older imperialist powers (Britain, France, Holland, Belgium) from their uppermost positions in the colonial world. Among the capitalist countries, the US, with its collossal wealth and nuclear stockpile, has become the chief exploiter and principal military gendarme of the colonial areas.

The second is direct intervention in the internal affairs of other countries, either through CIA operations or open use of troops, whenever capitalist power and property is seriously threatened. Some outstanding examples since Korea have been Iran, Guatemala, Cuba, the Congo, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam and the Middle East. The mask of liberalism is dropped and the most barbarous terror is used and encouraged whenever the indigenous ruling class proves unequal to the situation.

Despite all these efforts, however, the central goal of the American rulers has eluded them. The past twenty years have been marked not by the stabilization of world capitalism but by extreme political instability.

Governments have been continually upset by forces eluding the control of either the US or the USSR, whose conservative bureaucratic regime favors maintaining the status quo. These forces are constantly set in motion by the very conditions required to perpetuate the world capitalist system. They are under the control of no leader or groups of leaders. Thus the search for capitalist stability, like the search for “peaceful coexistence” between classes and countries with opposing social systems, is in the long run a fundamentally hopeless objective. The Pax Americana sought by Washington is undermined by ever renewed intensification of the class struggle and the strenuous efforts to contain anti-imperialist and anticapitalist aspirations by harsh police efforts and preventive coups d’état merely defer the settlements and make them more explosive. This can be seen in a whole series of countries, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Ghana, Greece and Nigeria constituting outstanding examples.

The imperialist policy has proved most successful on the economic level, reestablishing the war-shattered economies of Western Europe and Japan and paving the way for genuine booms. But the success has not been unalloyed. It has signified far-reaching American financial penetration of the rest of the capitalist world and, along with it, intensification of international monetary instability. What happens to one sector of the world capitalist system now more readily affects the system as a whole. While a recession in one sector may be cushioned by a boom in other sectors, the development of concurrent recessions in the major capitalist nations would have devastating consequences. The fading of the European and Japanese economic “miracles” thus cause the American imperialists to watch the state of health of their own economy with all the greater anxiety.

At the same time, the gap in productivity levels and living conditions between the highly industrialized countries and the colonial world continues to widen. World trade conferences, international monetary agreements and further investments, ballyhooed as a means of lessening the gap, actually serve only to accentuate it.

Imperialism’s incapacity to solve the elementary economic and social needs of the colonial peoples breeds permanent unrest. This results in repeated eruptions seeking to break the imperialist grip. Although the imperialists have managed to beat these back again and again, the colonial masses, inspired by successes such as the Chinese and Cuban revolutions and the great example of the swift rise of the Soviet Union to the second world power, have displayed remarkable capacity to recover from defeat and to renew their struggles. Their tenacity and determination to fight over a long period despite formidable odds, and periodic setbacks reached heroic heights in both Algeria and in Vietnam.

Johnson’s escalation of aggression against the Vietnamese revolution takes place in this context. It is part and parcel of the basic postwar drive of US imperialism toward world domination. Johnson’s “escalation” is a continuation of Truman’s “cold war,” Eisenhower’s “containment,” and Kennedy’s “showdown.” The Republican and Democratic parties share equal responsibility for this foreign policy of blockades, blood and napalm, and flirtation with a nuclear conflagration.

The escalation of US intervention in the Vietnamese civil war unfolded during the favorable domestic economic conjuncture of the first six years of the 1960s. After a slowdown at the close of the Eisenhower administration, the American economy experienced the longest “peacetime” boom in its history. This provided the economic springboard for an aggressive and sustained counter-offensive abroad after the 1959-60 victory of the Cuban revolution. US capitalism has roamed the globe from Western Europe to South Africa seeking out new areas for investment. Between 1960 and 1965 the gross national product in the US increased by 34.2 per cent, corporate profits by 50.3 per cent, and direct foreign investments by 45 per cent. The expansive “New Economics” of the Kennedy-Johnson administrations has been imperialist economics par excellence.

This expansion has been facilitated by the successive, severe setbacks for the world revolution in the Congo, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Algeria, Indonesia, Greece and the Middle East.

The deepening divisions among the workers states, particularly the USSR and China, and their incapacity to join forces at a governmental level for a common defensive effort or counter-thrust, have further encouraged the imperialist offensive.

On the domestic level, the sustained economic prosperity has acted as a damper upon social and political opposition by the organized working class.

Washington’s policy has been to take all possible advantage of the openings provided and to press forward as far as possible. This is seen clearly in Vietnam where the paralysis of Moscow and Peking is most glaring. The net effect has been to greatly heighten the danger of drifting into a nuclear confrontation.

The “East of Suez” role, formerly assumed by the European powers, has been taken over by the US It has installed its own formidable military bases in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries in preparation for widening the war there. Meanwhile the conflict in Vietnam has been more and more Americanized as the forces of Saigon have eroded and near collapse. Unlike the Korean adventure, the Vietnamese war is being waged without military support from the major satellite powers of the US and without the cover of the United Nations flag. Strains in the NATO alliance have been increased because of the widespread popular disapproval in Europe of Johnson’s course.

The escalation of American involvement finds a grim reflection in the war statistics. Casualties among the US troops have increasingly tended to rise above those of the Saigon forces. More US troops have been committed to Vietnam than at the high point of the Korean conflict and, despite the periodic promises of an early victory, the Pentagon continually presses its demands for more GIs.

As the troops, the costs and the casualties continue to mount, Johnson’s aim of achieving a military victory before the 1968 election is seen to be less and less likely in face of the resistance of the Vietnamese people. At the same time, the effort to break their will by raining more and more napalm and high explosives on them and by stepped up measures to “cut off the avenues of flow of military supplies” increases the risk of a direct military collision with China. The “controlled” escalation tends to become increasingly uncontrolled.

This pattern is ominous but not new. America’s rulers have pushed ahead upon this risky path several times in the postwar period. And each time the American imperialists have been checked and slowed down, not by any incapacity to understand or promote their global interests, but by their recognition of the real relationship of forces between the contending camps on an international scale as verified by repeated reconnoiters.

Each time they were stopped from advancing, and even forced to retreat and postpone their schedule of engaging in a major conflict, because of a combination of factors unfavorable to their designs. The most weighty of these have been:

  1. an upsurge in the colonial revolution
  2. instability in Europe and Japan
  3. a strong showing by the Soviet Union as in the swift recovery from the devastation of World War II and the early development of nuclear weaponry and
  4. anti-war sentiment inside the US

Recent shifts have occurred in these four main areas which the American imperialists must take into consideration in calculating their aggressive moves in the direction of war.

The colonial revolution has undergone a series of defeats which though temporary are substantial and demoralizing. The defeats have served to encourage the strategists of American imperialism.

While the war is unpopular in Europe and Japan the degree of economic and political instability in these areas is not yet so great as to constitute a major deterrent.

The Kremlin’s response to the escalation of the war has been to escalate the diplomacy of “peaceful coexistence.” Far from winning “understanding” from the Johnson administration, this has been taken as an invitation to proceed further along military lines, since the Kremlin’s diplomacy amounts to a virtual guarantee of lowcost victories so far as the hazards of any significant response are concerned. Peking’s policy of rejecting a united front with Moscow in confronting imperialism plays into the hands of the latter day Khrushchevists, assisting them in their policy of avoiding any effective countermeasures to the American military aggression against the Vietnamese workers state. What is now notably significant in the situation is the deep-going resistance inside the United States, unique in the twentieth century. For the first time since 1946, domestic resistance is keeping pace with opposition in other sectors of the world, inspiring and linking up with it. This promises to be a major element in staying the hand of the capitalist rulers and reinforcing the international opposition to them.
 

On the Domestic Front

In addition to the planned escalation in Vietnam, the US capitalist rulers must be prepared to keep putting down similar uprisings in other places. Fresh upsurges in the colonial wo rid, the prospect of two, three, many Vietnams as heralded by Che Guevara, flows inevitably from the historic crisis in which capitalism finds itself.

The entire coming period will take place under the sign of war and continued militarization of American life. The war budget tends to become an ever greater determinant in the state of the economy.

The Vietnam war will be more and more used to exact and justify “sacrifices” from labor, Afro-Americans and student youth. It will cut into and reverse the promises of the “great society,” the “war on poverty,” social reforms, civil-rights legislation and concessions, the right to strike and the right to dissent.

This will widen awareness of the implications of imperialist war, the class character of the government that pursues it, and increase opposition to it.

Social tensions will grow even if relative economic prosperity is maintained.

Due to mounting costs of the war, it becomes increasingly difficult for the ruling class to grant concessions to labor. The workers are thereby compelled to put up greater resistance in order to maintain their standards of living, job conditions and basic rights. The same holds even more for the black masses in their fight to control their own lives and future and for the -youth in the high schools and colleges who want a society that measures up to their needs and ideals.

The Vietnam war has been accompanied by the development of an open schism in the officialdom of the American unions and the beginnings of a new spirit of militancy in the ranks.

Reuther’s description of the AFL-CIO as “arteriosclerotic” is his way of calling attention to the stagnation and erosion of the American labor movement. He, of course, does not acknowledge that this is the result of its subordination to the Democratic Party machine and its support of the reactionary bipartisan foreign policy of the Democrats and Republicans which he has been vigorously upholding. This sad state is the culmination of decades of service which the labor lieutenants have performed for the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency. It is the result of their long years of ultrachauvinism, of cold-war-inspired expulsions of “Communists” and the unions influenced by them from the AFL-CIO topped by the ousting of the Teamsters. These moves have gone hand in hand with failure to lead the ranks in struggle against the corporations or to extend the benefits of unionism to the unorganized.

This policy, which has been substituted for any sustained efforts to undertake solving the crucial problems facing American society, has entailed a loss of influence and prestige for both the labor movement and its official leaders and has won them growing contempt from the best militants and the youth within as well as outside the working class. The loss in standing finally induced Reuther, the representative of the social democratic elements in the AFL-CIO bureaucracy, to dissociate himself from Meany’s crudities, although not from the basic class collaborationist policies they hammered out together.

The deepening dissatisfaction in the ranks was evidenced in earlier replacements of entrenched leaderships in the United Steel Workers, the International Union of Electrical Workers, and the United Rubber Workers. The boom of the past few years has brought about a significant influx of youth into basic industry and into the unions. When Reuther says these youth did not build the unions and must be educated, he means they have not been tamed to a point acceptable to the official leadership.

Rank-and-file rejections of contracts negotiated by union leaders is an important sign of the changing mood in the membership. Younger workers don’t want labor “statesmanship” from the leaderships of the International Unions they want bigger checks and protection against inflation instead of fringe benefit packages. They want concrete gains and are willing to resort to militant action to get them regardless of how this may upset routine negotiations.

With the biggest “peacetime” war budget in US history – more than $70 billion for fiscal 1968 – congressional estimates place the budget deficit in fiscal 1968 at up to $25 billion. This would be the biggest postwar deficit, measured either absolutely or as a percentage of the gross national product.

The restiveness of the workers is heightened by the effects of this mounting war budget. Federal deficits swollen with war costs increase inflation, thereby increasing pressure on real wages while maintaining corporation profits. These inflationary pressures stoked by escalating budget deficits are especially important. Even when a downturn in the business cycle has occurred, such as the one beginning in the middle of 1966, the inflationary spiral continues.

Under inflationary conditions, and with the rising demand for military goods by the ruling class, the Johnson administration must eventually try to impose on the unions, through federal intervention and action, an austerity program designed to transfer more of the costs of the war to the workers. Johnson’s policy is to keep the rise in money wages small enough and the tax level high enough so that in the face of rising prices, real wages can be reduced.

A series of militant strikes which included rank and file insistence on a just settlement before contract approval, began with the New York transit and airline mechanics strikes in 1966. These destroyed Johnson’s wage-price guidelines, the first step by the new administration to hold the line on real wages.

New attempts to undermine the ability of the unions to exercise their independent powers and fresh efforts to prevent the ranks from utilizing their democratic rights is in the offing.

To the corporations, rank-and-file rejection of contracts approved by official union leaders is akin to anarchy. This accounts for demands in Congress and the press to amend the Kennedy-Landrum-Griffin Act to restrict the right of workers to vote on their own contracts. The capitalists see the right of workers to reject recommended settlements as an “abuse” of democracy.

The Johnson administration is preparing to go beyond the use of injunctions to prevent strikes. New legislative proposals will be introduced to more sharply curtail the right to strike. The logical culmination of the structural shift of the economy onto a war basis is some form of wage control and compulsory arbitration.
 

The Role of Public Workers

Public workers are the fastest growing sector of the labor force. In the last five years they increased in total number by one-third. They are also the fastest growing sector of organized labor. Today there are more than 1,500,000 unionized public workers.

Their rise in militancy can be judged from the following figures. In 1962 they engaged in 28 strikes. In 1965 the figure rose to 42. In 1966 there were 150 strikes and from January to May of 1967 more than 150 had already occurred.

These strikes have a special character.

First, they are directed against the government as both employer and strikebreaker. Secondly, they have usually been carried out in the face of existing antistrike legislation directed against them in particular. Thirdly, they are faced directly and immediately with the problem of political parties, since these run the government which employs them. The experiences gained and tactics used in these struggles have had a Sharply political edge. They are forerunners of the battles that will face the heavy battalions of American labor as they fight to maintain their living standards.

The public workers’ unions are an important link between labor and the younger generation undergoing increasing radicalization. Young people make up a large portion of this section of the work force, especially among the teachers. It is not only one of the most youthful sectors of the work force, but also includes a high percentage of women. It is an area where many young recruits to socialism are gaining their first union experiences and it is also an area where the question of the war in Vietnam has first been brought into the unions.

The militancy of teachers affects the thinking of their students on the character of unionism and labor solidarity when they see their teachers joining unions and striking to get better pay and working conditions.

The struggles of the public workers undermine the idea that the government stands impartially above the boss-worker conflict, thus bringing into question the whole strike-breaking structure constructed and maintained by the ruling class through its government.

Up to now, the struggles engaged in by the American working class have been defensive in character, conducted by traditional union means. They promis to become intensified by inflation and other war pressures and attempts by the government to use the Vietnam war as an excuse to break strikes.

Rising discontent in the ranks, coupled with strike action do not yet amount to a political radicalization of the working class. This will come only as recognition spreads among the most conscious sectors of the workers that the bosses are using the Vietnam war to depress their standard of living in face of large corporate profits and that struggles against management can be won only if the government stays out or is kept out. It is this realization that can lead to going beyond job actions to a broader struggle hi the form of a political offensive.
 

Present Stage of Black Nationalism

The struggle of the black millions against inequality and racism continues to mount in intensity. Opposition to the imperialist war in Vietnam has accelerated the process of radicalization stemming from the lack of progress in the fight for freedom in America. This radicalism is expressed by the deepening identification with black nationalism.

While the roots of the struggle of Afro-Americans and their radicalization both predate the Vietnam war, the war has added new dimensions to the struggle. Black people are forced by American capitalist society to assume the heaviest burdens in financing and fighting the war. A disproportionate number of black youths, few of whom are able to obtain student or other deferments, are drafted by lilly-white draft boards. Due to increased draft calls and the alteration of qualifications determined by educational opportunities, the draft rate for black people was increased in 1967. The draft is not the only area where Afro-Americans face greater odds. Once in the army, a higher percentage are thrown into combat and killed.

Black people are also hardest hit by the domestic consequences of the war, by rising prices and cutbacks in social welfare programs.

The immediate enemy faced by those fighting for black progress is not an individual boss but the state, the executive agency of the capitalist class. Thus the responsibility for the lack of progress and growing economic inequities is placed by more and more black people squarely on the national government. This, along with the Vietnam war and the repression of black people through the use of antiriot laws and police terror, is helping to pose the question of political action. Fewer and fewer believe that reliance on civil-rights laws and gandhian forms of direct action will substantially or sufficiently change this racist society.

The war and the radicalization of new layers of black people have deepened the schism between the conservative and militant wings of the Afro-American movement. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) continue to grope for a consistent program and an organizational vehicle which can weld the black masses into a more unified and powerful force. As of now, their radicalism consists of a mood of militant opposition to the “system” and government policies rather than a thought-out and effective alternative to reliance on the government and the two capitalist parties.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Urban League back the government on all important questions. The Johnson administration is turning more and more to leaders like Roy Wilkins and Senator Brooke as shields against criticism in an attempt to give the federal government a “pro-Negro” image.

Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) maintains a vacillating and mediating position between the more militant black radicals and the conservatives of the NAACP and the Urban League. While the SCLC rejects the nationalism and radicalism of the black power tendencies, the pressure of the black masses and the continuation of the Vietnam war pushes its leadership into opposition to the US role in the conflict and toward support for militant mass action. This often puts them at odds with the government and the more conservative organizations and leaders of the black community.

As the focal point of the struggle has shifted from the rural South to the urban ghettos, rebellions following the prototype of the Watts uprising are becoming a permanent feature of black resistance to the economic and social degradation that marks America’s racist society. These explosions have no program or organized leadership. They are elemental explosions against one of the central features of American capitalism – white control of the black community. The mortgage holders and landlords, merchants and bosses, teachers and curriculum, social workers and cops are overwhelmingly white. These are the immediately identifiable agents of the total subordination of the national minority of Afro-Americans.

In the first half of 1967 alone, nine cities experienced major rebellions – Nashville, Jackson, Houston, Cincinnati, Dayton, Boston, Tampa, Atlanta and Buffalo. The youth spearhead and are the main participants in these ghetto revolts. They take the risks and provide the spark, just as they did in the sit-ins and freedom rides of the early 1960s. These youth are the hardest hit by unemployment, the draft and inferior black schools, and face the bleakest outlook for the future.

The ghetto rebellions signify rejection of reliance on moral appeals to the government and “love your enemy as adequate vehicles for changing society. They reflect the belief that racist violence must be resisted and that black people can earn respect and make gains only by defending themselves – aggressively. These ghetto rebellions carry on the finest American traditions of mass struggle by any means necessary, traditions set by the rebels of 1776, the black and white Abolitionists in the struggle against slavery, and the militants who manned the picket lines that built the CIO.

It is noteworthy that the first three explosions of 1967 – Nashville, Houston, and Jackson – were large-scale confrontations between black college students and the police. These battles, provoked by the cops, are indicative of the growing militancy of black students even in the traditionally conservative middleclass Afro-American colleges. They express the shift of politically conscious black students who are today reading Frantz Fanon and Malcolm X more than Albert Camus and Mahatma Gandhi, away from the liberal ideology of the civil-rights movement toward identification with black nationalism and the proletarian masses of the black ghettos.

The Vietnam war has deepened this student radicalism and strengthened the internationalist aspect of black nationalism. The nationalist students and radicals are the most vehement opponents of the war. They are acutely aware of the racist overtones of American imperialism’s inhuman brutalization of non-white peoples. They more and more speak of the common bond between black people and the Vietnamese in their parallel struggles for self-determination. Jim Crow was institutionalized during the rise of American imperialism and it, in turn, was subtly used to justify the dehumanization of colonial exploitation. The heroic struggles and victories of the colonial masses, non-white in their overwhelming majority, are sources of pride and self-confidence for black nationalists.

Black students are starting to organize on the basis of their new nationalist consciousness by forming Afro-American campus organizations many of which are opposed to the war and the draft, as well as by organizing in black communities where their colleges are located. From their ranks will come new cadres to give sorely needed leadership for the struggle.

As long as no alternative to the capitalist parties exists, reformist alternatives such as a “third force” within the capitalist framework and black Democratic Party politicians will sap and disorient the radicalism of the black masses. The political vacuum also gives undue room for “undergroundism” and other ultra-left substitutes for the open propaganda and education required in the long and hard task of gathering together the cadres and organizers of an independent black political party. Tactics of frustrated ultra-left groups lead to demoralization or victimization by police provocation, not to black control of the black community.

The organization and unification of black people and the development of a leadership have lagged behind the increase in number of people ready to fight back against the racism of American capitalism. The next stage of the struggle of Afro-Americans to control their own destiny demands a leadership and a program to develop a black political party which can organize and lead the struggle in all areas, including the electoral arena, and by any means necessary.
 

Student Radicalization and the Vietnam War

Anti-war sentiment is at present expressed more among the youth than in any other sector of the population. The student milieu was already sensitized by a previous radicalization that began to develop around the end of the 1950s in response to certain aspects of the colonial revolution and the Afro-American struggle in the US This earlier radicalization was expressed in support to the sit-ins, the freedom rides, in solidarity with the Cuban revolution, the formation of the now defunct Student Peace Union and demonstrations for campus reforms. Opposition to US involvement in Vietnam brought into political activity a wave of new and previously unaffected students many times the number of existing radical youth.

This student radicalization has special features and limits. Although it originated in response to events in the class struggle, it has not unfolded along class lines or developed a socialist or Marxist understanding of the world conflicts in progress. Developing in a period of relative quiescence of the labor movement and in the absence of a mass or influential socialist party, it has remained primarily a movement of militant moral protest in reaction to the hypocrisy and brutality of world capitalism.

The student radicals challenge the entire fabric of the present social system, questioning the truthfulness of its rulers and the legitimacy of their policies on issues ranging from the explanation of the Kennedy assassination to war crimes in Vietnam.

The character and conduct of the war cut across all the liberal bourgeois values which democratic-minded and idealistic youth have been taught to believe in. The government betrayals and lies, the genocidal aspects of the war and the crimes committed there under the Johnson administration have incited the strongest reactions. Most of those over twenty-one, who tried to vote for peace by supporting Johnson against Goldwater in the 1964 elections, felt they had been betrayed by the bombing of North Vietnam early in 1965. The moral revulsion and the political level of the student radicals is voiced in the popular chant: “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today”?

While there has been a growing shift towards political sympathy with the struggles of the workers and peasants around the world, moral indignation remains the central element around which these students mobilize and around which new waves of reinforcements for the anti-war movement are won.
 

The New Anti-war Movement

The new movement based on the anitwar sentiment of broad sectors of the population grew directly out of student circles and is still marked by these origins. It was initiated early in the spring of 1965 with the organization of the April March on Washington called by the Students for a Democratic Society, coinciding with the chain of campus-based teach-ins across the country.

During the period of organizing for the 1965 March on Washington the nonexclusive character of the anti-war coalition was established in a fight with some leaders of the Socialist Party and League for Industrial Democracy. Since that time the Social Democrats and their allies have played a minor and peripheral role in the anti-war movement. This first big action not only cut across the stifling legacy of the past two decades of red baiting but set the example for periodic large-scale local and national street actions. These periodic actions have been the kind of independent political action in opposition to the imperialists in Washington that can be utilized by a massive but diversified milieu, not led by any dominant party or established mass organization.

Many of the features and resulting tactical problems of the anti-war movement have been unprecedented.

For the first time in American history a visible and vocal mass opposition expanded and was intensified during the opening stages of an imperialist war. The struggle involving this opposition has been conducted and hundreds of thousands have been mobilized for action without the existence of a mass labor or socialist party and outside the existing mass organizations.

The entire anti-war movement has developed and grown prior to a general labor radicalization. It has seen a split in the ranks of the pacifists that resulted in the emergence of a radical wing that has consistently opposed an imperialist war, not only before it broke out, but even more militantly while it is being fought.

The fact that no existing strong mass organization has become part of the anti-war struggle has reinforced the concept of the majority of anti-war radicals that no significant mass forces will move in an anti-capitalist direction. This has led to confusion over perspectives, especially the perspective for a mass alternative to the capitalist political parties and capitalist rule and to a groping search for effective tactics and forms of opposition to the war. The problem of widening and deepening the opposition to the war has to be seen within this context.

The students have strengthened the left wing of the anti-war forces and continually pressured the conservative wing into more radical actions. Unlike the left-bourgeois liberals, the students by and large are not inclined to be patient or halfway critics of imperialist policies. The students pressed for a non-exclusive united front of all tendencies and organizations, which was actually constituted around periodic national protests and which has been the main organizational vehicle of the anti-war movement.

They played the central role in the fight to win the anti-war movement over to what has become the pivotal political demand: “Withdraw the US troops.”

Most importantly, the students from the first originated and pushed for mass mobilizations as the main mode of action against the imperialist warmakers. They were the key element both in terms of their own numbers and the work done to organize others. These mass demonstrations are the principal form of independent political action available to the anti-war movement in the absence of a mass working-class political party that might open up another line of action.

The anti-war movement has been the arena of continual struggle between the thrust of the student radicals and their revolutionary allies toward actions and organization independent of the capitalist political parties, and the class-collaborationist forces headed by the Communist Party and the bourgeois liberals who want to keep the anti-war movement tied to and ultimately used as a pressure group within the Democratic Party.

Organized into local and national coalitions, the anti-war “movemenf is an ever-shifting sum of political tendencies, organizations and individuals. The components are widely differentiated so that the anti-war movement as such has no general political program. Each tendency and aggregation of tendencies has to be judged separately and on its own account.

The actions in the streets, which have been carried on by these broad united fronts, are wholly progressive and objectively anti-imperialist in character. That is why the issue of mass action has been the central dividing line in the movement. Opposition from the liberals, the Social Democrats and often the leaders of the Communist Party has had to be overridden before the anti-war movement could call for and carry out mass mobilizations against the belligerency of the Johnson administration in Vietnam. It has taken unremitting efforts to prevent class-collaborationist politics or impatient adventurist projects from being substituted for or diverting these mass actions.

The two-year series of mass mobilizations culminated on April 15, 1967, when the largest anti-war demonstrations in US history were organized in New York and San Francisco right in the midst of an imperialist war. The success of the April 15 mobilization in drawing in new forces from the organizations of the black community and even a few trade-union figures, and the growth of the trade union division of SANE indicate the openings that are becoming available to the anti-war movement to reach broader layers of the population.

The few reformist leaders who have been brought into the anti-war movement and those that can be expected to follow them play a dual and contradictory role. While they add weight to the right wing, they at the same time open up new possibilities for reaching out with anti-war propaganda and agitation to greater components of the mass movement. This advantage outweighs the danger represented by their moderating influence, provided the movement continues to expand and to engage in mass confrontations.

As the anti-war sentiment grows among the people, it will be increasingly difficult for leaders of mass organizations to stand aloof from anti-war protests. In adapting demagogically to the anti-war sentiment they will counterpose anew the issue of withdrawal versus the “negotiations” line which they espouse they will attempt to reverse the non-exclusion policy of the anti-war movement in order to isolate the most militant sectors and the “Communists,” and they will attempt to channel the movement behind pro-capitalist “peace” candidates.

At the same time they cannot avoid providing new and important openings in the labor movement and black community for anti-war appeals. Some young anti-war activists make the mistake of thinking that the mass of the working-class Americans will respond to nothing but “bread and butter” questions. They do initially express their lack of support to the war indirectly and when they act in large numbers they do so through their existing mass organizations. However, many of the same reactions and responses that move the student youth into action occur among the working people, black and white. Mothers and fathers, wives and friends, see their sons and men of their generation drafted and sent abroad to fight and die in a dirty colonial war. Johnson’s course in Vietnam and the opposition to it are bound to further advance the politicalization of the labor movement and black community. The major contribution of the anti-war movement has been to make visible to the entire population the active presence of opposition to this war. This has helped create an atmosphere in which the mass movement itself can carry on struggles for gains in spite of the war.

Over the past two and a half years, the anti-war movement has provided a first-rate arena for training young militants. Those coming to socialism in the sixties have been given their first opportunity to learn how to do revolutionary work within a mass movement. They are learning through concrete experience how to withstand opportunist pressures as well as avoid the formalism and ultimatism of the ultra-left sectarians. The anti-war movement has been a school for applying the concepts of a transitional program designed to meet the issues as they exist while promoting anticapitalist consciousness and an anti-capitalist program and leadership.

The anti-war movement has also provided fresh object lessons on the power of cadres of the revolutionary party within a situation developing in a radical direction. The progress of a mass movement, it has been shown once again comes in no small measure from the conscious intervention of the ideas and proposals of the Marxist vanguard.

The struggle for decisive influence among the anti-war forces is an essential part of the preparation for leadership of future mass movements on a much broader and more highly advanced political basis, especially in competition with the line of “peaceful coexistence” with capitalism promoted by the Communist Party.

Since the November 1965 convention in Washington called by the National Coordinating Committee to End the War in Vietnam, the debate and struggle over policies within the anti-war movement has underscored and reinforced all these lessons. At that convention the NCC sought to impose class-collaborationist policies on the anti-war movement. As against this, the most militant sector of the left wing advanced the slogan of withdraw the troops and the line of building a broad united front to initiate mass actions. The successful outcome of this struggle turned out to be the major determining factor in the subsequent evolution of the anti-war movement.

Since its formation in December 1966, the Student Mobilization Committee, has been the most advanced expression of student radicalism in the anti-war movement. One of the initiators of the April 15 mass actions in New York and San Francisco, its program has three central planks – Bring the Troops Home Now, Abolish the Draft, and No Campus Complicity with the War Effort. As it draws into its ranks a significant number of the thousands of students who demonstrate a-round these very demands it will become the largest and most influential wing of the anti-war movement. It will also be a bulwark, as the 1968 elections approach, against the anti-war movement’s substituting various class-collaborationist schemes around the Democratic Party for militant and mass actions against the war.
 

The 1968 Presidential Elections

Between the 1964 presidential elections and the 1966 congressional elections, the most important development in American politics was the erosion of the “consensus” around the Johnson-Humphrey ticket. Part of this process was the rapid crumbling of pro-Johnson sentiment on his left flank.

The new stage of escalation of the Vietnam conflict generated splits over this issue not only in the labor movement and among the major organizations of the black community but also within the ruling class. These disagreements at the top are not fundamental none of them yet propose to get out of Vietnam. But spokesmen for the contending groupings clash over how best to promote the imperialist interests of the United States under the given conditions.

On one side these openly expressed differences within the ruling class have facilitated the development of the anti-war movement while that division in turn has been deepened as the anti-war mobilizations have grown and clearly represent a vast sentiment. This could be seen when congressional critics of the war reacted sharply after April 15 against McCarthy-like attacks on the anti-war movement and those in the bourgeois camp opposing further escalation of the war. They responded to General Westmoreland’s verbal tirade against the anti-war movement by defending the right to dissent, particularly their own. At the same time, these “doves” joined the “hawks” in approving the biggest war budget in US “peacetime” history.

The differences that have appeared and are growing in the ruling class over tactics in Vietnam are reflected in the jockeying around prospective candidates for the 1968 presidential campaign. This campaign will rapidly become the focal center for the debate over Vietnam. In this sense the 1968 presidential campaign was off to an early start for the ruling class, the anti-war movement, the mass organizations and the radical vanguard.

The strategy and tactics of those in the two capitalist parties who are hesitant about the war will be worked out with two possibilities in mind:

  1. blocking Johnson’s renomination by the Democratic Party
  2. nominating a Republican “peace” candidate.

Neither alternative seems likely.

The Communist Party is faced with a serious problem. After working for three decades in the Democratic Party it is difficult for them to shift over to support of a “lesser evil” Republican, should the Democrats renominate Johnson. Thus they incline to favor a national campaign in 1968 on the model of Wallace’s Progressive Party in 1948. But conditions are very different today. They can scarcely aspire to setting up even a third peace ticket under their own steam with any semblance of broadness. But they do look yearningly to a “third ticket” coming out of the “peace movement” which would give them an anti-Johnson cover and yet permit continued political activities in the Democratic Party.

Under the impact of the Vietnam war, bids have been made to organize some kind of electoral activity to the left of the Democratic Party on the issues of war, racism and inflation. To a certain degree these reflect praiseworthy attempts by the more advanced sectors of the American people to break the capitalist monopoly in the electoral field. However, formations like the National Conference for New Politics (NCNP), under an inveterate reformist leadership, seek to exploit this sentiment and deliberately channel it towards class-collaborationist politics. Their initial attempt to field a “third peace ticker ended in an utter fiasco at the NCNP September 1967 Chicago convention. The majority of the delegates, many of them young activists from the student movement, rejected by a narrow majority the formation of a national presidential slate. This set back the timetable of the Communist Party especially, which was banking on an NCNP decision to field a peace ticket.

The gamut of tactics now under consideration by these “new politicians” includes the election of “anti-LBJ” delegates to the Democratic convention, a third “peace and freedom” ticket, the defeat of LBJ in at least one presidential primary, local grassroots organizing for both Democratic primaries and independent campaigns, and support for those “dove” Democratic and Republican congressmen who have been marked out for defeat by right-wing forces.
 

1968 SWP Presidential Campaign

To whatever form of class-collaborationist politics that emerges from pseudo-independent political circles, “new” or “old,” the Socialist Workers Party will counterpose its class-struggle national election campaign.

The 1968 campaign takes place within the context of a continuing radicalization. It is important to note the specific characteristics of this radicalization which differs from that of the 1944-46 period both in its initial form and in its prospective political evolution.

In 1944-46, labor took the lead, pulling the movement for civil rights and the middle class along. Today the radicalized students and the anti-war and black freedom movements are in the vanguard with labor lagging far behind. During the freeze of the cold war, general prosperity and political reaction, all labor radicalization was shut off and cut off. The civil rights movement was contained by illusory hopes in legal reforms like the 1954 school desegregation decision and the student movement remained relatively passive throughout the fifties. Today a thaw has begun.

The main difference between the union-led militancy of the 1944-46 period and today’s emerging radicalization will be its tendency to move onto a political level. This gives exceptional importance to the 1968 presidential campaign of the Socialist Workers Party. Since there is no immediate prospect for a labor party based on the unions, the class character of the incipient political radicalization can be expressed in 1968 only through a socialist campaign on a national level. The single available electoral avenue for identifying with the perspective of working-class struggle against capitalism is through support of the candidates and platform of the vanguard of the working class, the Socialist Workers Party. This in turn should hold out increased possibilities for direct recruitment to the American Trotskyist movement.

The political weakness of today’s student radicals is not due simply to their numbers nor to their middleclass background. In fact they are much more numerous than previous generations of students and a far higher and growing percentage come from working class families. Their political weakness is primarily due to the fact that they are familiar with only an uncombative labor movement and see in practice no working class alternative to the ruling class parties. They are deterred from accepting a Marxist outlook by the numerical weakness of American socialism, the repellent legacy of Stalinism, and the small size of the revolutionary party. These circumstances lead them to reject the concept of the working class as the prime agent of social change. Groping for answers and possible alternatives, they are highly susceptible to political formulas that offer seemingly plausible substitutes such as “independent” formations and militant “third forces” that stand above the classes.

The labor movement is inherently capable of building a labor party just as the black community is inherently capable of building a black party. But the students and middleclass radicals do not themselves constitute a social base upon which can be built a viable student or “new leff party. To fight effectively against capitalism, they must be won over politically to the working class. At this stage that means support to the program of its revolutionary party. This program offers the alternative of independent working-class political action and support for an independent political party of Afro-Americans, differentiated from all forms of class-collaborationist “independent” new politics.

If both the openings and the limitations are kept in mind, the 1968 presidential campaign offers the Socialist Workers Party its most favorable opportunity in two decades to recruit new members and to increase the influence of its class struggle program in opposition to the class-collaborationist lines of other radical groupings, particularly the Communist Party with its Khrushchevist orientation of “peaceful coexistence.” For all members of the Socialist Workers Party this campaign must be the central focus of activity from now through November 1968.

To the American people the following message will be urgently conveyed:

“This is not your war. The Democratic and Republican Parties are not your parties. Your enemy is not the people of Vietnam but the capitalist rulers in Washington. Stop the war abolish the capitalist draft release all draftees bring the troops home now!”

The Socialist Workers candidates and campaigners will be leading activists in the actions of the anti-war movement – from the referenda campaigns to the mass street demonstrations. The battle for correct political leadership within the anti-war movement will be carried to a higher level as the Socialist Workers Party explains and expounds its electoral platform. The anti-war militants will be urged to organize and reach out to the mass movement, to the trade unions, the black people, the GIs and the youth, thereby broadening and deepening the opposition to the war and multiplying their effectiveness.

The only uncompromising and principled “peace ticket” in the field will be the slate nominated by the Socialist Workers Party. The Socialist Workers Party will solicit support, contributions and aid on the basis of its clear anti-war stand.

The Socialist Workers Party will campaign to popularize a program of uncompromising and independent struggle by the mass of Americans for their basic needs. It is a program that points toward a complete break from collaboration with the capitalist rulers, in everything from day-to-day struggles to electoral action. When black people, and workers as a whole, cease supporting the Democratic and Republican Parties and organize parties of their own, a gigantic step forward will have been taken in the struggle against capitalism.

The Socialist Workers Party will campaign to:

Support the black people’s fight for freedom, justice, and equality through black power:

  • Black people have the unconditional right to control their own communities. The black communities should have control over their schools and city, state and federal funds should be made available to them in whatever amounts needed to overcome years of deprivation in education.
     
  • Appropriate whatever funds are necessary to provide jobs for every unemployed Afro-American, with preferential hiring and upgrading to equalize opportunities in apprenticeship programs, skilled trades, and higher paying technical and supervisory occupations.
     
  • In place of price-gouging merchants and landlords preying on the black community, black nonprofit cooperative shops and housing projects should be set up with federal financial aid. Price committees elected by the community should police prices.
     
  • It is the right of Afro-Americans to keep arms and organize themselves for self-defense against attacks from any quarter.
     
  • Keep the troops and racist cops out of the black community, and replace them with deputized, elected representatives of the community. As an immediate step, organize genuine review boards, elected by the black community, to control the cops.
     
  • For an independent black political party to organize and lead the struggle for black power on all fronts and by any means necessary.

Support labor’s fight against inflation and government control:

  • No freeze on wages. For union escalator clauses to offset rises in the cost of living. The trade unions should take the lead in setting up general committees of consumers to regulate prices.
     
  • Repeal all anti-labor laws. Defense of the unconditional right to strike. Complete union independence from government control and interference. Rank-and-file control over all union affairs.
     
  • A reduced work week with no cut in pay, and unemployment compensation at the union wage scale for all jobless persons 18 and over, whether or not they have been previously employed.
     
  • For a crash program of public housing and other public works. Take the billions spent on war and use them to build decent, low-rent homes for the working millions who need them, and to build schools and hospitals instead of bombs.
     
  • Equal rights in the union and on the job for black workers and for members of other minorities, and full union support to the Afro-American struggle for equality.
     
  • For an independent labor party based on the trade unions, to defend the rights of all working people against the parties of the bosses, and to fight for a workers government.

Support the demands of America’s youth:

  • The right to vote at 18.
     
  • Free public education through the university level, with adequate pay for all students who need it. Student participation in all university decisions and functioning.
     
  • Support to young people’s rejection of the sterile cultural values of our decaying capitalist order.

For a planned, democratic socialist America:

  • Nationalize the major corporations and banks under the control of democratically elected workers committees. Plan the economy democratically for the benefit of all instead of for the profit of the few.

A socialist America will be an America of peace and prosperity, without poverty or slums or unemployment, and without wars like that in Vietnam. It will forever end the threat of imperialist war with its nightmare specter of a nuclear conflagration. It will put an end to racism and, for the first time after over 400 years of oppression, guarantee unconditionally, the right of self-determination for black Americans. It will signal an unparalleled growth in culture, freedom and in the development of the individual.

The Socialist Workers Party expects a number of direct gains from the 1968 presidential campaign.

Foremost will be the recruitment of young militants opposed to the war on one or another ground. The extent and the quality of this recruitment will provide a fresh guage of the point reached in the process of radicalization underway in the United States as well as a measure of the timeliness and correctness of the program of the Socialist Workers Party and its capacity to swing into action.

Beyond this, the campaign will bring the voice of revolutionary socialism to hundreds of thousands of people who will be influenced to one degree or another. It will see the dissemination of socialist literature on a broad scale at a time when political attention is turned receptively toward the electoral arena.

Finally, the Socialist Workers Party will stand out with greater prominence as a revolutionary socialist grouping noted for its principled program, its capacity for struggle and sacrifice, its ability to renew its ranks, and its unyielding devotion to the struggle for a socialist America in a socialist world.


It was a violent year. Liberals reeled, a war dragged on and protests raged. People got all their news from radio, TV and newspapers. But what if they’d had phones vibrating with modern news alerts?

By JACEY FORTIN and MAGGIE ASTOR JAN. 15, 2018

It was freezing on New Year’s Eve in Manhattan.

A fresh layer of snow blanketed the ground on the night of Dec. 31, 1967, and revelers in Times Square and Central Park seemed to look to the future with some hope. “World Bids Adieu to a Violent Year” was the Jan. 1 headline in The New York Times.

But 1968 would be tumultuous, too.

Even from the distance of a half-century, the moment feels familiar. From January to December, people demonstrated against racial injustice and economic inequality. Abroad, the United States military slogged through a seemingly interminable war. And after two terms with a Democrat in the White House, a Republican presidential candidate campaigned on a promise of law and order, and won.

It was the year between the Summer of Love and the summer of Woodstock, and some men grew their hair long while others were drafted to fight in Vietnam. “The country was bitterly divided: hawks and doves,” said Marc Leepson, an author, historian and Vietnam veteran.

January to April 1968
NYTIMES
April 4

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was slain in Memphis by a white gunman

NYTIMES
March 31

President Johnson will not run for re-election: “I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party”

NYTIMES
March 16

Senator Robert F. Kennedy said he would seek the Democratic presidential nomination, denouncing “disastrous, divisive policies” in Vietnam

NYTIMES
March 12

President Johnson narrowly defeated Eugene McCarthy, the antiwar candidate, in the New Hampshire primary

NYTIMES
Feb. 8

Police gunfire killed two black college students and wounded more than 40 in a fourth straight night of violence in Orangeburg, S.C.

NYTIMES
Feb. 7

Armed with Soviet-made tanks, North Vietnam overtook an American camp near the Marine stronghold at Khe Sanh

NYTIMES
Feb. 2

The Vietnamese national police chief calmly executed a prisoner in the middle of a Saigon street as President Johnson vowed, “We Americans will never yield”

NYTIMES
Jan. 30

The Viet Cong launched major attacks on seven cities on Tet, the Vietnamese new year

NYTIMES
Jan. 23

North Korea seized an American surveillance ship, the Pueblo, in a move Congress called an “act of war”

NYTIMES
Jan. 14

Green Bay beat Oakland, 33-14, to win Super Bowl II

It was also the year of the Tet offensive, an enormous attack by North Vietnamese forces, and of more than 16,000 American deaths in the Vietnam War, more than in any other year. Domestic support for the war effort faltered as antiwar protests exploded, most notably the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, to which the police responded with tear gas. Demonstrators, journalists and even some delegates were beaten and arrested.

Mr. Leepson spent almost all of 1968 serving at a base near the coastal city of Qui Nhon, Vietnam, and he returned home that December to a country that seemed vastly different from the one he had left.

“The enormity of everything, individually and cumulatively, didn’t hit me until I was in my parents’ living room in Hillside, N.J., watching year-end roundups on the news,” he said in a phone interview. (He eventually joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War and grew his hair past his shoulders.)

While Mr. Leepson was overseas, a different sort of battle had been brewing in the United States. The civil rights movement had been underway for years, achieving landmark federal laws and Supreme Court decisions that struck down legalized segregation and discrimination.

April to May 1968
NYTIMES
May 14

Hundreds of thousands of French students and workers joined extraordinary protests against “police repression” and President Charles de Gaulle

NYTIMES
April 29

A thousand police officers stormed the Columbia University campus in the middle of the night to oust student protesters from five buildings

NYTIMES
April 24

Columbia University closed its campus after student demonstrators seized the president’s office and three buildings

NYTIMES
April 11

American troops in Vietnam will be capped at 549,500, Defense Secretary Clark M. Clifford said, signaling a larger role for Saigon

NYTIMES
April 11

President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, pleading for calm after a week of unrest

NYTIMES
April 10

“In the Heat of the Night” won best film at the Academy Awards. The top acting honors went to Rod Steiger and Katharine Hepburn.

NYTIMES
April 6

16 were killed and more than 100 wounded in an explosion that tore through two blocks of Richmond, Ind.

NYTIMES
April 5

North Vietnam’s 76-day siege of the Marine base at Khe Sanh has been lifted

NYTIMES
April 5

Riots exploded in Washington, Chicago and elsewhere after the killing of Dr. King. The National Guard was called out in seven cities.

NYTIMES
April 4

In a television address, President Johnson urged Americans to “reject the blind violence that has struck Dr. King”

But vast inequality persisted, and on April 4, the movement lost a leader: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis.

In the following days, protests and riots erupted in major cities across the country. Properties were destroyed, and dozens of people lost their lives.

“His death unleashed this feeling that we were suppressed,” Sharlene Sinegal-DeCuir, a civil rights historian and an assistant professor at Xavier University of Louisiana, said of Dr. King. “Minority groups in America felt that they could now release all that and show the majority: This is our pain, and we have been telling you this for years and years.”

That message seemed to fall on deaf ears, she added, and demonstrations calling for racial justice have never stopped. �ults need to really have an open mind and listen to the younger generation, and to their grievances,” she said. “I think that was not done in 1968.”

Instead, political opinion seemed to swing the other way. It was a presidential election year, and in March, Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, said he would not run for president again, adding that there was 𠇍ivision in the American house.”

May to August 1968
NYTIMES
Aug. 28

The Democratic Party nominated Hubert H. Humphrey for president. Outside the convention hall, the police and National Guard battled thousands of protesters with tear gas.

NYTIMES
Aug. 21

The Russians have invaded Czechoslovakia. Tanks are on the streets of Prague, firing on crowds, as the Soviet Union overthrows a reformist government

NYTIMES
Aug. 8

The Republican Party nominated Richard M. Nixon for president at its convention in Miami Beach

NYTIMES
July 29

Pope Paul VI upheld the Roman Catholic Church’s prohibition on all artificial means of contraception, including birth control pills and condoms

NYTIMES
July 23

Eight people are dead, including three officers, after a gunfight between the police and black snipers in Cleveland

NYTIMES
June 8

James Earl Ray, the suspect in the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was arrested in London

NYTIMES
June 6

Senator Kennedy has died from his wounds. A suspect, Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, is in custody.

NYTIMES
June 5

Senator Robert F. Kennedy was critically wounded by a gunman after winning the California primary

NYTIMES
May 17

Nine antiwar activists, including the Catholic priests Philip and Daniel Berrigan, raided a draft board office in Maryland and burned hundreds of files

NYTIMES
May 16

Tornadoes ripped through Arkansas, Iowa and Illinois, killing 72 and wounding 1,000

As the year went on, candidates found that appeals to “law and order” were polling particularly well. Richard M. Nixon did it best, eking out a Republican victory in November against Hubert H. Humphrey, a Democrat. (George Wallace, a third-party candidate who supported segregation, won millions of votes and five states.)

That election brought the end of the Johnson administration and the so-called Warren Court — the period when the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Earl Warren, presided over a series of liberal rulings, most notably the 1954 decision striking down segregation in public schools. (Earlier in 1968, Chief Justice Warren told Johnson that he would retire, wrongly hoping the president could appoint a replacement before the winner of the election, whom Chief Justice Warren thought might be Nixon, took office.)

“It’s just a tremendously important moment in Supreme Court history,” Mary L. Dudziak, an author, historian and professor of law at Emory University, said of 1968. “It’s the beginning of that turn away from this era of expansive liberalism.”

August to December 1968
NYTIMES
Dec. 24

Three men flew around the moon, completing Apollo 8’s mission

NYTIMES
Dec. 23

The 82 surviving crew members of the Pueblo surveillance ship are free after 11 months of captivity

NYTIMES
Nov. 24

A Pan American jet carrying 103 people from New York to Puerto Rico was commandeered to Cuba, the second such hijacking in 18 hours

NYTIMES
Nov. 5

By a thin margin, Richard Milhous Nixon was elected the 37th president of the United States

NYTIMES
Oct. 31

President Johnson ordered a complete halt to American air, naval and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam

NYTIMES
Oct. 10

Detroit won the World Series in Game 7 with a 4-1 victory over St. Louis, completing an unlikely comeback

NYTIMES
Oct. 7

Londonderry erupted in the worst violence in decades between Northern Ireland’s Protestants and Roman Catholics

NYTIMES
Oct. 2

With rifles and machine guns, government troops opened fire on student protesters in Mexico City just days before the Summer Olympics

NYTIMES
Sept. 7

100 women picketed the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, throwing girdles, bras, hair curlers and false eyelashes into a “freedom trash can”

NYTIMES
Aug. 29

More than 150 people, including nine delegates, were arrested in Chicago after the National Guard halted a 3,000-person march to the Democratic convention

But the big-picture changes were hard to recognize at the time all year, major events made headlines at a breakneck pace. In April, a gas leak caused a huge explosion in Richmond, Ind., killing dozens of people and destroying numerous buildings. In June, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, a presidential hopeful, was fatally shot at a campaign event in California. Abroad, France was shaken by widespread protests and general strikes. A brutal civil war was unfolding in Nigeria. Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia. And the death toll kept rising in Vietnam.

When 1968 came to a close, Time magazine highlighted some good news. For its Men of the Year, it chose three who had just returned from very far away: the Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, James A. Lovell Jr. and William A. Anders, the first people to travel around the moon and back. The journey of half a million miles went smoothly, and the men splashed down in the Pacific Ocean before returning to Houston in December. “We had a wonderful trip,” Mr. Lovell said.

New Year’s Eve was two days later. It was drizzling when the ball dropped in Manhattan and 1969 began.


Watch the video: Gov. Wallace Defends Segregation on TV In 1968