Year
1972

Democratic candidate McGovern attacks Nixon policy in Vietnam

Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern attacks U.S. pacification techniques of applying “massive firepower and free-fire zones and [clearing] 6 million people out of their homes.” McGovern, a senator from South Dakota, had long been an outspoken opponent of the war in Southeast Asia and had begun calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops in early 1965. In 1972, he campaigned on a liberal reform platform, callling for an immediate end to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He also advocated making the Democratic party more responsive to youth, women, and minorities. Despite McGovern’s attempt to appear more “mainstream,” his opponent, incumbent President Richard Nixon, effectively portrayed McGovern as a radical and was able to draw moderate Democrats to the Republican camp. In addition, many of McGovern’s domestic reform ideas alienated many old-line Democrats who also switched their support to Nixon. McGovern’s campaign was further damaged when his first cho!

ice for running mate, Thomas Eagleton, admitted that he had been treated for mental illness. His second choice, Sargent Shriver, added very little to the ticket. Badly split, the Democrats suffered one of the worst defeats in U.S. political history when Nixon and Spiro T. Agnew won in a landslide.

Also on this day: In South Vietnam, the Nguyen Hue Offensive continues with major fighting near the northern district capital Que Son and neighboring Fire Base Ross. After a heavy bombardment, the North Vietnamese captured both the town and the base, giving the Communist control of most of Quang Nam province.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Bill Clinton born

On this day in 1946, William Jefferson Blythe III is born in Hope, Arkansas. His father died in a car accident before he was born, and young Bill later took the last name of his stepfather, Roger Clinton. In 1992, Bill Clinton would be elected as the 42nd president of the United ...read more

Old Ironsides earns its name

During the War of 1812, the U.S. Navy frigate Constitution defeats the British frigate Guerrière in a furious engagement off the coast of Nova Scotia. Witnesses claimed that the British shot merely bounced off the Constitution‘s sides, as if the ship were made of iron rather than ...read more

Allies raid Dieppe

During World War II, an Allied force of 7,000 men carry out a large daytime raid against German positions at the French seaport of Dieppe. Aided by tanks and aircraft, the commando force–made up of approximately 5,000 Canadians, 2,000 British soldiers, and a handful of American ...read more

Many Americans against a bombing halt

A Harris survey indicates that 61 percent of those polled are against calling a halt to the bombing in Vietnam. President Johnson, in a major speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Detroit, challenged Hanoi to respond to the limitations of the bombing campaign that ...read more

Little person makes big league debut

On this day in 1951, little person Eddie Gaedel makes his big league baseball debut with the St. Louis Browns, and is walked on four pitches in his one at-bat. Gaedel was the lead character in the most famous stunt ever devised by legendary owner and showman Bill Veeck. Bill ...read more

John Wesley Hardin killed in Texas

John Wesley Hardin, one of the bloodiest killers of the Old West, is murdered by an off-duty policeman in a saloon in El Paso, Texas. Born in central Texas on May 26, 1853, Hardin killed his first man when he was only 15 during the violent period of post-Civil War reconstruction. ...read more

Fire on Saudi jet kills 301

On this day in 1980, a fire aboard a plane bound for Saudi Arabia forces an emergency landing. The Saudi Airlines flight began in Karachi, Pakistan, headed for Jidda, Saudi Arabia, with a stopover in Riyadh. The first leg of the flight was uneventful, and the Lockheed L-1011 took ...read more

A Jewish youth is killed by a mob

Yankel Rosenbaum, a visiting student from Australia, is stabbed to death by an angry mob in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York. The crowd, consisting of young black men, had been intent on seeking revenge against Jewish people for the death of seven-year-old Gavin ...read more