United States and American History: 1975

About the history of the United States in 1975, Watergate convictions, high unemployment, Catfish Hunter picks a team, U.S. defense contractors train Saudis, last troops leave Vietnam, South Vietnam immediately collapses, Smokey the Bear retires.


Jan. 1 After a 13-week trial in Washington, D.C., a jury found 4 major Nixon Administration officials guilty in the Watergate cover-up case. Mr. Nixon's 2 closest aides, H. R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman, as well as former Attorney General John N. Mitchell and assistant Robert C. Mardian, were the defendants found Guilty. All 4 said they would appeal. Mr. Nixon, in seclusion at his 5-acre "St. Helena" in California, said he was "deeply anguished" by what Watergate had done to these men and their families.

Jan. 3 The U.S. Army announced that its course on human sexuality-the 1st such initiated in military history-was a huge success. At Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Tex., 270 soldiers completed the course, taught a la Masters-and-Johnson by a major and his wife.

Jan. 4 Unemployment in the U.S. reached 6.5 million, the highest number in 13 years.

Jan. 5 After intense bidding by 23 baseball clubs, Jim "Catfish" Hunter signed a new 5-year contract with the New York Yankees for $3.75 million. Formerly the ace pitcher for the World Series champion Oakland Athletics, Hunter had been declared a free agent after team-owner Charles O. Finley defaulted on Hunter's contract. Hunter, a North Carolina boy, claimed "we'd had better offers but New York was closer to home and they played on regular grass."

Jan. 9 Rabbi Baruch M. Korff, a Nixon defender and his unofficial spokesman, visited the former President on his 62nd birthday and found him too thin-"his bones are sticking out." Korff indignantly announced that the Government in Washington was "illegally" holding some of Nixon's prized personal effects-among them his favorite fountain pen, his cartoon collection, his elephant collection, and Julie Nixon Eisenhower's wedding dress.

Jan. 16 In a landmark decision, the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., awarded $12 million in damages for false arrest and infringement of rights to 1,200 protestors who had been jailed in the May Day antiwar demonstration of 1971. Each of the 1,200 protestors was expected to receive an average sum of $10,000. The successful suit had been filed by the ACLU against the District of Columbia. It was, the Los Angeles Times reported, "probably the largest amount ever awarded in a civil suit in which no large corporations were involved... It was also the 1st time damages have been awarded to persons who cited violation of their rights under the U.S. Constitution-in this case the 1st and 8th amendments-rather than citing civil rights legislation."

Jan. The Vinnell Corporation of Los Angeles received a $77 million U.S. Dept. of Defense contract to train Saudi Arabian troops to protect their oil fields. It was the 1st time that a private American company had been given Government authorization to train a foreign army.

Apr. 12 On the eve of the take-over of all Cambodia by the Communist Khmer Rouge insurgents, the official U.S. presence in that nation came to an end. Four Marine helicopters landed in the capital city of Phnom Penh and evacuated 276 persons-a handful of Cambodians and the rest Americans-including U.S. Ambassador John Gunther Dean and 50 members of his Embassy staff, as well as 40 journalists (3 newsmen chose to remain behind).

Apr. 19 The U.S. began its official Bicentennial celebration with reenactments of the battles of Lexington and Concord. Over 160,000 people showed up, including 20,000 demonstrators who booed President Ford's portrayal of the U.S. as a military power which "stands in the front lines of the free world."

Apr. 30 An emergency helicopter evacuation removed the last 1,000 Americans from South Vietnam, ending over 2 decades of U.S. military involvement. A few hours later, the South Vietnamese Government surrendered, and soldiers representing the Communist-led Provisional Revolutionary Government occupied Saigon, renaming it Ho Chi Minh City. The war cost the U.S. 56,555 lives, 303,654 wounded, and, in the last 14 years alone, $141 billion. The total Vietnamese fatalities came to over 1,250,000. Advisers, bombers, napalm, antipersonnel weapons, laser-guided "smart bombs," automated battlefields, free fire zones, body counts-finished at last-at least in Vietnam.

May 1 After 25 years on the Government payroll, Smokey the Bear retired from public service. Bear and his mate, Goldie, moved to Carson National Forest in his native New Mexico and turned over their responsibilities to their 6-year-old adopted son.

May 5 Bishop Frederick Freking issued personal interdicts to farm woman Mary Ann Van Hoof and 6 of her followers in Necedah, Wis. Interdict is a rarely used Catholic punishment which excludes the accused from all sacraments except confession. Mary Ann Van Hoof claimed that the Virgin Mary had been appearing before her in visions since 1949. Crowds of up to 100,000 had converged on Necedah to join in vigils with Van Hoof.

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