A Nation Divided
– The Working Class Goes to War
• A “Manipulatable” Draft
– The draft or selective service system—all males had to register with their
local draft boards when they turned 18, they were screen for exclusion,
and if needed, those between the ages of 18 and 26 may be called to
– As America’s doubts about the war grew, some tried to find ways around
» Find a sympathetic doctor to get a medical exclusion
» Change residences to find a more lenient draft board
» Some joined the Coast Guard or National Guard
» Enroll in college and receive a deferment
– Most of these methods were not accessible to African Americans, so
their ranks in the military soared.
– African Americans in Vietnam
» During the first several years of the war, African Americans
accounted for almost 20% of the deaths in Vietnam, while only
comprising 10% of the American population.
» To address this, the military started the draft lottery system in 1969.
» Racial tension in the units also contributed to low morale.
• Women Join the Ranks
– Not able to serve in combat, over 10,000 women did serve in
other areas of the war:
» Most of them were military nurses
» Many worked for the United Services Organization (USO)
and the American Red Cross.
• Roots of Opposition
– The New Left
» The growing youth movement against the war became
known as he New Left
» Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), founded in 1960 by
Tom Hayden and Al Haber, the group charged that
corporations and large government institutions (military) had
taken over America and that participatory government and
greater individual freedoms should be restored.
» The Free Speech Movement (FSM) gained popularity at the
University of California at Berkeley was prompted by a clash
between students and administration over freedom of speech
• Campus Activism
– Activism spread quickly to many campuses around the country.
Protesting dress codes, curfews, dormitory regulations, and
mandatory ROTC programs. This activism brought together
– The Protest Movement Emerges
– Forgetting about his Great Society, many now criticized his war
• The Movement Grows
– Marches on Washington were just a few ways students
protested. Johnson’s administration changed college deferments
only for those in “good academic standing”.
– People protested the war for several reasons:
» It was basically a civil war in Vietnam, therefore none of our
» The South Vietnamese government was no better than the
» It was too draining on American resources
» It was just morally unjust
• From Protest to Resistance
– Many realized that the protests were having little or no effect on
American policy in Vietnam. So they shifted from protests to resistance.
» Many would burn their draft cards in public
» Others would evade the draft by leaving the country, many to
– Protests continued, during one such protest at the Lincoln Memorial,
military police used tear gas and clubs, about 1,500 demonstrators were
injured and at least 700 were arrested.
• War Divides the Nation
– By 1967, Americans increasingly found themselves divided into two
camps regarding the war. Those who strongly opposed the war and
believed the United States should withdraw were known as doves.
Feeling just as strongly that America should unleash much of its greater
military force to win the war were the hawks.
• Johnson Remains Determined
– While Johnson stayed true to the course he had set, some of his
advisors weren’t so sure. McNamara’s frustration caused him to resign.
– That same year, 1968, would be one of the most turbulent in American