United States and American History: Early 1965

About the history of the United States in early 1965, Vietnam escalates, Malcolm X shot, Civil rights battle continues, U.S. aids Dominican Republic.


Feb. 7-8 The U.S. bombed North Vietnam in retaliation for a National Liberation Front (NLF) attack on U.S. ground troops in South Vietnam. On February 11, the U.S. announced a general policy of bombing North Vietnam to punish "aggression" against South Vietnam. Said President Johnson: "The people of South Vietnam have chosen to resist this threat. At their request the U.S. has taken its place beside them in this struggle."

Feb. 21 Malcolm X, leading spokesman among "black nationalists," was shot and killed while speaking in New York City. (See also: Assassinations, Chap. 9.)

Mar. 2 One hundred and sixty U.S. planes bombed North Vietnam.

Mar. 8-9 The 1st U.S. combat troops (3,500 Marines) landed at Da Nang.

Mar. On March 7, black marchers leaving Selma, Ala., for the State capital at Montgomery were attacked by 200 State police with tear gas, nightsticks, and whips. For over a month, blacks in Selma had been trying to register to vote with little success. Over 2,000 had been arrested in demonstrations and on registration lines. President Johnson met with Governor Wallace in hopes of improving the situation. Wallace, however, considered marches (and black votes) "a threat" and later accused the Federal judge who approved a new Selma-Montgomery march of "prostituting our law in favor of mob rule while hypocritically wearing the robes." Wallace refused to provide protection for the 2nd march, claiming that he didn't have enough police and that mobilizing the National Guard was too expensive; so President Johnson sent 3,000 federalized National Guardsmen and military police. The 5-day Selma to Montgomery march began March 21 and over 25,000 attended the final rally at the State capital. That day, a white woman driving a black passenger was killed by 4 Ku Klux Klan members outside Montgomery.

Apr. 28 The U.S. sent 405 marines to the Dominican Republic in the midst of a rebellion, presumably to protect and evacuate American citizens. By May 5, there were 20,000 marines occupying much of the Dominican capital with a new purpose: "to help prevent another communist state in this hemisphere." Later, the Government admitted that they hadn't had any proof that leftists were taking over the rebellion, but that the threat of their doing so existed. U.S. forces remained in the Dominican Republic for several months and fought some small engagements with the rebels (20 U.S. dead).

May 15 A "teach-in" opposing the Vietnam War was broadcast to over 100 colleges.

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