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1968

Dr. Spock convicted for aiding draft resisters

A Federal District Court jury in Boston convicts Dr. Benjamin Spock and three others, including Yale University Chaplain William Sloane Coffin, Jr., of conspiring to aid, abet, and counsel draft registrants to violate the Selective Service Act.

During the Johnson administration, Spock, a physician and the famous author of The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, was a ubiquitous figure at antiwar demonstrations. In April 1967, Spock, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and entertainer Harry Belafonte led an estimated 300,000 people on a march to the United Nations headquarters in New York City, the largest antiwar demonstration to date. Spock was one of the original signers of A Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority, published in September 1967, which supported draft resistance and the right of servicemen to refuse to obey “illegal and immoral orders.”

The 1968 convictions were overturned in 1969. In November of that year, Spock joined a Washington, D.C., antiwar demonstration of more than 250,000 people, sponsored by the New Mobilization Committee, a group organized by Spock and others on July 4. In 1969, Spock was arrested several times, but he continued his antiwar activities. On November 27, a new left-wing antiwar movement, the People’s Party, nominated Spock as its candidate for president in the 1972 presidential election. Though he did not win the election, Spock remained a prominent antiwar activist until the U.S. withdrew from Southeast Asia.

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