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Becca Boulton

Period 3

A nation divided

As the U.S. continued to support the war in Vietnam an anti-

war movement was bound to start up. Many young Americans were

proud to leave their home and fight in Vietnam but on the other

hand there were those who chose to avoid being drafted and those

who were completely against the governments and military actions.

This growing opinion was what began the division of the nation with

those who were for the war standing together and those who

opposed the war.

Young American men from the age of 18 to 26 were all

capable of being drafted into the war in Vietnam. For those who

wanted to avoid the draft there were ways found such as having a

false doctors note of a sickness or some left the country and

changed residencies. Some boys joined the national guard or coast

guard which would secure them from the draft as well but the most

popular way of avoiding the draft was to enroll in college. Any

student was able to postpone their draft into the army.

Movements of opposition of the war began with the SDS,

Students for a Democratic Society. SDS was founded in 1960 by

Tom Hayden and Al Haber. They believed that corporations and

large government institutions had taken over America and their

objective was to restore a participatory democracy.


Next was FSM, the Free Speech Movement that came from a

group of students that clashed with teachers over free speech rights

at UC Berkeley. They opposed the American ‘machine’ which they

said was the nations powerful business and government institutions.

These movements began to spread across the country, specifically

college campus’ where students expressed their discontent with

their human rights limitations.

As the movements continued to grow school administrations

changed deferment policies for students requiring students to be in

a good academic standing in order to be granted deferment. This

caused uproar amongst the students who opposed the system and

the SDS called for civil disobedience at Selective Service Centers

and openly counseled students to flee the country to Canada or

Sweden to avoid being drafted.

The students who opposed the war mostly did so because

they believed the conflict in Vietnam was a civil war that the U.S.

should not be militarily involved in and that they thought the South

Vietnamese were no better than the communist side it was fighting.

Lastly, most students simply believed the war was morally unjust.

The opposing war movements soon spread further than students

and onto past war veterans and some folk singers who used their

music for propaganda against the war.

Draft resistance continued from 1967 until President Nixon

ended the draft in the 1970’s. During this time 4,000 draft resisters
were imprisoned and 10,000 American’s fled to Canada after

200,000 men were accused of draft offenses. All of which continued

to add up to the division of the nation.

By 1967, those who strongly opposed the war and

believed the U.S. should withdraw were known as ‘doves’. Those

who strongly felt that America should unleash much of its greater

military force to win the war were known as the ‘hawks’. In this

stage the majority of Americans still remained for the war and those

who did not have such a strong opinion were still against the anti

war citizens who spoke so critically of their own people dying and

fighting for their country. A poll was taken and it was shown that 70

percent of Americans believed that anti war protests were seen as

acts of disloyalty. In the middle of all of this chaos was President

Johnson, who remained firm was attacked by the doves for not

withdrawing from Vietnam and attacked by the hawks for not

rapidly increasing military power. At this point it was safe to say

there was a clear division amongst the nation and it was bound to

only get worse.