1968 in the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Flag of the United States.svg
the United States

See also:

1968 in the United States was marked by several major historical events. It is often considered to be one of the most turbulent and traumatic years of the 20th century in the United States.[1]

The year began with relative peace until January 21 when the North Vietnamese Army PAVN attacked the Marine base at Khe Sanh Combat Base Quang Tri Province, Vietnam. This was the beginning of the Battle of Khe Sanh and the attack focused US command on Khe Sanh near the DMZ. The initial attack was followed by the North Vietnamese country-wide launch of the Tet Offensive on January 30, 1968, resulting in a South Vietnamese-US victory, eliminating the Viet Cong as an effective fighting force. The attack included a North Vietnamese assassination attempt on South Vietnam's president Nguyễn Văn Thiệu which failed. North Vietnam premised the attack on a South Vietnamese uprising against South Vietnam and US forces but this uprising did not occur as the South Vietnamese populace did not rally to the North. Also, on January 23 the North Korean government seized USS Pueblo and its crew of eighty-three in an attempt to divert attention from a failed January 21 assassination attempt on South Korean President Park Chung-hee known as the Blue House raid. In Greenland a B-52 bomber on a Cold War mission known as Operation Chrome Dome crashed with four nuclear bombs on board. One airman was killed. The cleanup operation was informally known as Operation Freezelove, a play on words on the movie Dr. Strangelove.

Four to six thousand citizens of the city of Huế, Vietnam, deemed political enemies, were either clubbed to death or buried alive by the North Vietnamese Army. This was known as the Massacre at Hue.

The year also saw the highest level of US troop commitment when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation that increased the maximum number of United States troops active on the ground to five hundred and forty-nine thousand and five hundred (549,500). This did not count US forces in the South China Sea, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, North Vietnam, and China with reserves in the Philippines, Okinawa, Japan, Korea, Guam, Hawaii, the United States, and worldwide totaling over three million (3,000,000). South Vietnam in the same year fielded a total force of eight hundred and twenty thousand troops (820,000). It was also the most expensive year of the war, with a cost of $77.4 billion. The support of the United States for South Vietnam was at its peak. Antiwar sentiment continued to grow as an increasing number of Americans questioned United States involvement in Vietnam, as the United States was drafting young men to fight for South Vietnam while South Vietnam did not have a draft for its own citizens; however, the war continued despite changing US public opinion.

North Vietnam benefited politically from the Tet Offensive when Walter Cronkite, a respected television newscaster, swayed many Americans and President Johnson, by giving his personal opinion on a national prime time editorial: "It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could." This may have marked a transition in journalism where a news reporter became a news and policy maker. President Johnson cited Walter Cronkite's changed opinion as a factor as well as Johnson's poor New Hampshire primary numbers in his decision to stop seeking reelection, stating to his advisers: "If I have lost Cronkite I have lost middle America." President Johnson later died on January 22, 1973, at age 64 from heart problems.

On April 4, civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The United States erupted in violent riots, the most severe of which occurred in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Baltimore. Extensive areas of these and many other cities were looted, burned, and destroyed by the rioters and more than 40 people were killed during the month of protest, which led to greater racial tensions between Americans. Despite this, a landmark piece of legislation, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which was President John F. Kennedy's legacy, was passed by the expertise of President Johnson in April. This legislation was passed with bipartisan Congressional support and effectively prohibited housing discrimination based on race.

The 1968 United States Presidential election became a referendum on the Vietnam War. A peace candidate had previously emerged in the Democratic Party when Senator Eugene McCarthy challenged the Vietnam War policies of President Johnson, who had refused to seek or accept another nomination for president and had endorsed his vice president, Hubert Humphrey, for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Senator McCarthy's support came primarily from young people, most of whom were subject to the draft or were in deferred status. This divided the country by age as older citizens, a so-called silent majority, tended to support or not actively oppose government policies. This division of the populace encouraged Senator Robert F. Kennedy to seek the Democratic Presidential nomination. Senator Kennedy was assassinated after winning the California primary and defeating Senator Eugene McCarthy. The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in June led to uncertainty in the race for the Democratic nomination for the presidency. After Vice President Humphrey won the Democratic nomination at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, another wave of violent protests emerged, this time between the mostly young antiwar demonstrators and police. The uncertainty within the Democratic Party benefited Richard Nixon, a Republican and former vice president, as he successfully won the presidential race by appealing to the "Silent Majority" under the promise "Peace with Honor". Nixon, a staunch anti-communist, had gained the voters' trust. A particularly strong showing by segregationist George Wallace of the American Independent Party in 1968's presidential election highlighted the strong element of racial division that continued to persist across the country.

In popular culture, 2001: A Space Odyssey was the most profitable film of the year, earning $56.7 million, while Oliver! won the Academy Award for Best Picture. "Hey Jude" by the Beatles was the hottest single of 1968 in the U.S. according to Billboard, demonstrating the continued popularity of bands associated with the British Invasion that began in 1964.


Federal Government[edit]





March 16: My Lai Massacre














See also[edit]


  1. ^ McLaughlin, Katie (July 31, 2014). "Eight unforgettable ways 1968 made history". CNN.
  2. ^ Lyndon B. Johnson (March 11, 1968). Memorandum Approving the Adoption by the Federal Government of a Standard Code for Information Interchange. The American Presidency Project. Accessed 2008-04-14.
  3. ^ Mitchell K. Hall (2008). "Chronology". Historical Dictionary of the Nixon-Ford Era. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-6410-8.
  4. ^ Pickrell, John (September 4, 2006). "Timeline: HIV & AIDS". New Scientist.
  5. ^ "Molly Ringwald Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved March 15, 2021.
  6. ^ Maxine Block; Anna Herthe Rothe; Marjorie Dent Candee (2004). Current Biography Yearbook. H.W. Wilson. p. 73.
  7. ^ "A Year of Mourning : Gravestone for Ron Goldman Unveiled". Los Angeles Times. May 29, 1995.
  8. ^ "Julia Turner Obituary - Marietta, GA". Dignity Memorial.
  9. ^ R. Baird Shuman (2002). Great American Writers: Twentieth Century. Marshall Cavendish. p. 503. ISBN 978-0-7614-7240-7.

External links[edit]