The 1960s and 1970s

The 1960s and 1970s

The Early 1960s

  • Election of John F. Kennedy (1960), offering a new hope and vigour with his New Frontier Program, a series of domestic and foreign policy initiatives.
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) brings the world to the brink of nuclear war, resulting in the establishment of the Moscow-Washington hotline and leading to a period of détente.
  • Key civil rights milestones include the March on Washington (1963) where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream” speech.
  • Assassination of John F. Kennedy (1963) shocks the nation and brings Lyndon B. Johnson to presidency.

The Mid to Late 1960s

  • Johnson’s Great Society policies (1964-1965) aimed at eliminating poverty and racial injustice. This included the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
  • Massive escalation of the Vietnam War under Johnson’s presidency provokes nationwide anti-war protests.
  • Civil Rights Act (1964) and Voting Rights Act (1965) pass, ending racial segregation and discrimination.
  • Riots in major cities and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 marked a violent period for the Civil Rights Movement.

The 1970s

  • Election of Richard Nixon (1969), promising to restore law and order and to end the war in Vietnam.
  • Reach of détente in the early ’70s led to Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) and agreements, marking a thaw in the Cold War.
  • Watergate scandal (1972-1974) leads to the resignation of Nixon, the only president to ever resign.
  • After Nixon’s resignation, Gerald Ford becomes president, issuing a controversial pardon to Nixon.
  • Election of Jimmy Carter (1976), focusing on human rights in his foreign policy.
  • Economic troubles of the ’70s, including stagflation and an energy crisis, challenge the American dream.