October 21

This Day in History

Cold War

Oct 21, 1967:

Thousands protest the war in Vietnam

In Washington, D.C. nearly 100,000 people gather to protest the American war effort in Vietnam. More than 50,000 of the protesters marched to the Pentagon to ask for an end to the conflict. The protest was the most dramatic sign of waning U.S. support for President Lyndon Johnson's war in Vietnam. Polls taken in the summer of 1967 revealed that, for the first time, American support for the war had fallen below 50 percent.

When the Johnson administration announced that it would ask for a 10 percent increase in taxes to fund the war, the public's skepticism increased. The peace movement began to push harder for an end to the war—the march on Washington was the most powerful sign of their commitment to this cause. The Johnson administration responded by launching a vigorous propaganda campaign to restore public confidence in its handling of the war. The president even went so far as to call General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, back to the United States to address Congress and the public. The effort was somewhat successful in tempering criticisms of the war. However, the Tet Offensive of early 1968 destroyed much of the Johnson Administration's credibility concerning the Vietnam War.

The protest was also important in suggesting that the domestic Cold War consensus was beginning to fracture. Many of the protesters were not simply questioning America's conduct in Vietnam, but very basis of the nation's Cold War foreign policy.

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