“The Vietnam War profoundly influenced domestic politics. Moreover, it poisoned many Americans’ perceptions of their government and its role in the world. And yet, while the antiwar demonstrations attracted considerable media attention and stand today as a hallmark of the sixties counterculture, many Americans nevertheless continued to regard the war as just.”  —American Yawp, chapter 28, section II

Vietnam Timeline

  • 1963 // Assassination of Diem
  • 1964 // Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
  • 1965-68 // Escalation
  • 1968 // Tet Offensive
  • 1970 // Invasion of Cambodia and Kent State protests
  • 1971 // Pentagon Papers & trial of Lt. William Calley (My Lai)
  • 1972 // China opening, Easter offensive, Detente (SALT / ABM)
  • 1973 // Paris peace accords  (Vietnam agreement)
  • 1975 // Fall of Saigon

1968 –The Worst Year in American History?


Here are video clips of Walter Cronkite’s original February 27, 1968 CBS Evening News Broadcast on the Tet Offensive, illustrating a turning point in the “living room war.”


Understanding My Lai (From Maria Villotti’s website):

CalleyOn March 16, 1968, American soldiers entered the Vietnamese hamlet known as My Lai expecting to enter into a fire fight with members of the Viet Cong’s 48th Local Force Battalion. However, they found no Viet Cong and instead killed and sometimes raped somewhere between 300 and 500 Vietnamese civilians. The story would remain largely unknown until one soldier began to speak out a year later in 1969…As a result of his trial, Lieutenant William Calley was found guilty on March 29, 1971, of murdering at least 22 Vietnamese civilians (down from the original charge of 109) three years earlier at My Lai.



Here is a video of Kennedy’s speech in Indianapolis on April 4, 1968, where he revealed the sad news of Martin Luther King’s killing to a stunned crowd.  Kennedy himself was murdered at the beginning of June.



Protestors and police clash outside Democratic National Convention in Chicago

Richard Nixon (Rep), “Vietnam” (1968)

Nixon ad


Richard Nixon (Rep), “Crime” (1968)












The Nixon campaign was not the only one playing to the fears and resentments of American voters in 1968.  Independent candidate and Alabama governor George Wallace offered his own version of right-wing populism (“law and order”) to help stoke support.

George Wallace, (Ind) “Law and Order” (1968)

Wallace ad