United States and American History: Early 1968

About the history of the United States in 1968, first super bowl, the Pueblo incident, the Tet Offensive, J. Edgar Hoover against blacks, Martin Luther King is shot, Johnson bows out.


--In 1967, 9,419 Americans died in Vietnam, more than in all previous years combined. U.S. troop strength reached 486,000. On January 5, the U.S. lost its 10,000th plane over Vietnam.

Jan. 14 The Green Bay Packers (NFL) beat the Oakland Raiders (AFL) 33-14 in the 1st Super Bowl game.

Jan. 23 The U.S. intelligence ship Pueblo with 83 crew members was captured by North Korea somewhere just inside or outside North Korean waters. Pueblo crew members signed admission of "aggression" during captivity, but claimed later they were coerced. On December 22, North Korea released the Pueblo crew after a strange ceremony in which U.S. General Woodward signed a statement of apology and verbally repudiated it at the same time.

Jan. 30 The NLF and North Vietnam launched the "Tet Offensive" against all major cities in South Vietnam, including an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. While U.S. troops drove them out and General Westmoreland called it a "go-for-broke effort" that failed, the Tet Offensive shattered any belief in an approaching U.S. military victory in Vietnam among most politicians and the public.

Feb. 8 Alabama Governor Wallace announced he would run for President on the newly formed American Independent party ticket, declaring he would keep peace in the streets with "30,000 troops with 2'-long bayonets" if necessary and repeal "so-called civil rights laws."

Mar. 3 FBI director J. Edgar Hoover issued a memo to FBI offices concerning the goals of a "Counter-intelligence Program" against "Black Nationalist-Hate Groups":

1. Prevent the coalition of militant black nationalist groups. In unity there is strength; a truism that is no less valid for its triteness. An effective coalition of black nationalist groups might be the 1st step toward a real "Mau Mau" in America, the beginning of a true black revolution.

2. Prevent the rise of a "messiah" who could unify, and electrify the militant black nationalist movement. Malcolm X might have been such a "messiah"; he is the martyr of the movement today....King could be a very real contender for this position should he abandon his supposed "obedience" to "white, liberal doctrines" (nonviolence) and embrace black nationalism....

Mar. 16 U.S. soldiers lined up between 300 and 500 old men, women, and children in a ditch in the Vietnamese village of My Lai and shot them. This massacre was covered up by the Army until November, 1969. On August 8-10, the U.S. killed 72 Vietnamese civilians in an "accidental" attack on a friendly Mekong Delta village. Estimates of the number of civilians killed in the Vietnamese conflict, mostly by U.S. ground fire and bombing of "free fire zones," generally exceed one million.

Mar. 31 President Johnson announced he would not seek reelection as President. This came after Sen. Eugene McCarthy's strong showing as a peace candidate in Democratic primaries, Sen. Robert Kennedy's decision to enter the Democratic race, and Johnson's own Tet-engendered doubts about his Vietnam policy. Johnson also ordered a halt to U.S. bombing of most of North Vietnam, excluding its southern 170 mi., and called for negotiations. On April 3, North Vietnam agreed to direct talks with the U.S. which began May 10 in Paris.

Apr. 4 Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis while supporting a civil sanitation workers' strike. His death led to riots in 125 cities with 46 deaths, 21,270 arrests, and 55,000 Federal troops and National Guard used in riot control, the biggest in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Baltimore, and Kansas City. Although escaped convict James Earl Ray was convicted of murdering Dr. King, there is still widespread doubt about his guilt.

Apr. 23-24 Students at Columbia University seized 5 buildings in protest against Columbia's plan to build a new gymnasium in an adjacent ghetto area and to the university's connections with the Pentagon-sponsored Institute of Defense Analysis. Duke, Oregon, and several other large universities also had student protests against their administrations' policies during the spring.

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