United states history


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In 1962 the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) issued the Port Huron Statement which outlined their vision of a just society.  Part of the statement appears below:

    In a participatory democracy, the political life would be based on several root principles: That decision-making of basic social consequence be carried on by public groupings; that politics be seen positively as the art of collectively creating an acceptable pattern of social relations; that politics has the function of bringing people out of isolation and into community, this being a necessary, but not sufficient, way of finding meaning in personal life; that the political order should serve to clarify problems in a way instrumental to their solution; it should provide outlets for the expression of personal grievance and aspiration; opposing views should be organized so as to illuminate choices and facilitate the attainment of goals; channels should be commonly available to relate men to knowledge and to power so that private problems from bad recreation facilities to personal alienation are formulated as general issues.

    The economic sphere would have as its basis the principles: That work should involve incentives worthier than money or survival.  It should be educative, not stultifying; creative, not mechanical; self-direct, not manipulated; encouraging independence, a respect for others, a sense of dignity and a willingness to accept social responsibility, since it is this experience that has crucial influence on habits, perceptions and individual ethics;

    That the economic experience is so personally decisive that the individual must share in its full determination;

    That the economy itself is of such social importance that its major resources and means of production should be open to democratic participation and subject to democratic social regulation...

Source: Jack Newfield, A Prophetic Minority (New York, 1966), pp. 125-126.



In 1960 ninety college students from 24 states, representing 44 colleges and universities met at the estate of William F. Buckley, Jr., in Sharon, Connecticut to form the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF).  Their founding statement appears below.

In this time of moral and political crisis, it is the responsibility of the youth of America to affirm certain eternal truths.

    We, as young conservatives believe:

    That foremost among the transcendent values is the individual's use of his God-given free will, whence derives his right to be free from the restrictions of arbitrary force.;

    That liberty is indivisible, and that political freedom cannot long exist without economic freedom;

    That the purposes of government are to protect these freedoms through the preservation of internal order, the provision of national defense, and the administration of justice;

    That when government ventures beyond these rightful functions, it accumulates power which tends to diminish order and liberty;

    That the Constitution of the United States is the best arrangement yet devised for empowering government to fulfill its proper role, while restraining it from the concentration and abuse of power;

    That the genius of the Constitution--the division of powers--is summed up in the clause which reserves primacy to the several states, or to the people, in those spheres not specifically delegated to the Federal Government;

    That the market economy, allocating resources by the free play of supply and demand, is the single economic system compatible with the requirements of personal freedom and constitutional government, and that it is at the same time the most productive supplier of human needs;

    That when government interferes with the work of the market economy, it tends to reduce the moral and physical strength of the nation; that when it takes from one man to bestow on another, it diminishes the incentive of the first, the integrity of the second, and the moral autonomy of both;

    That we will be free only so long as the national sovereignty of the United States is secure; that history show periods of freedom are rare, and can exist only when free citizens concertedly defend their rights against all enemies;

    That the forces of international Communism are, at present, the greatest single threat to these liberties;

    That the United States should stress victory over, rather than coexistence with, this menace; and

    That American foreign policy must be judged by this criterion; does it serve the just interests of the United States?

Source: Gregory L. Schneider, ed., Conservatism in America Since 1930 (New York, 2003), pp. 229-230



In the passage below, Walt Crowley recalls the first protest march in Seattle against the War in Vietnam.  The march took place on October 16, 1965, and involved 350 demonstrators who gathered in front of the Federal Court House and proceeded to the Westlake Mall.  In contrast marches the day before in Oakland and New York City involved 10,000 protestors in each city.

    On October 16, Seattle experience its first antiwar march led by the UW SDS and "Seattle Committee to End the War in Vietnam" (SCEWV).  I was among the nervous 350 or so who gathered in front of the Federal Court House that morning.  We marched down two lanes of Fourth Avenue, herded by motorcycle police and taunted as Communists and traitors by passing motorists, to a noon rally beneath the old Monorail station at Westlake Mall. Our every move was photographed by men with crew cuts who aimed cameras at us from doorways and rooftops.

    An ugly crowd surrounded us at Westlake, and they tried to drown out our speakers by singing the Mickey Mouse Club anthem.  When UW Professor Paul Brass began his remarks, a man rushed up and doused him with red paint.  He later identified himself to the press as, paradoxically, "Joe Freedom."  He turned out to be one of Brass's students.  There were a few scuffles when the rally broke up, but all of us got home with our skin, if not our nerves, intact.

    The press coverage was nasty and the public response was hostile.  Both the P-I and the Times editorialized that students were allowing themselves to be duped and exploited by Communists.  The Seattle Jaycees urged everyone to turn their lights on during the day to endorse the war and 10,000 pro-war anti-protestors marched in New York City.

    Americans were also dying: 240 fell in a single week in November [1965], more than had died in the previous year.  [Defense Secretary Robert] McNamara boasted, if that is the right word, that "we have stopped losing the war," but Senator Edward Kennedy, passing through Seattle warned, "We are deluding ourselves to think there is going to be a quick solution in Vietnam."

    On December 20, B-52s began bombing North Vietnam's primary seaport at Haiphong.  Three days later, President Johnson halted all bombing in the north as a "gesture of peace."  On Christmas Day Tom Hayden and Quaker activist Staughton Lynd arrived in Hanoi on the first of many such pilgrimages. 

    The year ended with 184,000 U.S. troops deployed in Vietnam, and a combat death toll of 1,350 accumulated since the U.S. started counting in 1961.  Most had fallen in the past six months.  Everyone knew much worse was to come.  The national mood was summed up by the surprise hit song of 1965, written by P. F. Sloan and intoned in urgent, rasping tones by Barry McGuire: "And tell me over and over again, my friend, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction."

Source: Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle, 1995), pp. 45-46.



The following are excerpts from Betty Freidan's 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique.

    The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women.  It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States.  Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay besides her husband at night--she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question--"Is this all?"

    For over fifteen years there was no word of this yearning in the millions of words written about women, for women, in all the columns, books and articles by experts telling women their role was to seek fulfillment as wives and mothers...Experts told them how to catch a man and keep him, how to breastfeed children and handle their toilet training, how to cope with sibling rivalry and adolescent rebellion; how to buy a dishwasher, bake break, cook gourmet snails, and build a swimming pool with their own hands; how to dress, look, and act more feminine and make marriage more exciting...  They were taught to pity the neurotic, unfeminine, unhappy women who wanted to be poets or physicists or presidents.  They learned that truly feminine women do not want careers, higher education, political rights--the independence and opportunities that old fashioned feminists fought for...  A thousand expert voices applauded their femininity, their adjustment, their new maturity.  All they had to do was devote their lives from earliest girlhood to finding a husband and bearing children.

    The suburban housewife--she was the dream image of the young American woman and the envy, it was said, of women all over the world.  The American housewife--freed by science and labor-saving appliances from drudgery, the dangers of childbirth and the illnesses of her grandmother. She was healthy, beautiful, educated, concerned only about heir husband, her children, her home.  She had found true feminine fulfillment.  As a housewife and mother, she was respected as a full and equal partner to man in his world.  She was free to choose automobiles, clothes, appliances, supermarkets; she had everything that women ever dreamed of...

    If a woman had a problem in the 1950s and 1960s she knew that something must be wrong with her marriage or herself.  Other women were satisfied with their lives, she thought.  What kind of woman was she if she did not feel this mysterious fulfillment waxing the kitchen floor.  She was so ashamed to admit her dissatisfaction that she never know how many other women shared it.  If she tried to tell her husband, he didn't understand what she was talking about.  She did not really understand it herself... "There's nothing wrong really," they kept telling themselves. "There isn't any problem..."

    Gradually I came to realize that the problem that has no name was shared by countless women in America.  As a magazine writer I often interviewed women about problems with their children, or their marriages, or their houses, or their communities... Sometimes I sensed the problem not as a reporter, but as a suburban housewife, for during this time I was also bringing up my own three children in Rockland County, New York.  I heard echoes of the problem in college dormitories and semi-private maternity wards, at PTA meetings and luncheons of the League of Women Voters...in station wagons waiting for trains...  The groping words I heard from other women, on quiet afternoons when children were at school or on quiet evenings when husbands worked late, I think I understood first as a woman long before I understood their larger social and psychological implications.

    Just what was this problem with no name?  What were the words women used when they tried to express it?  Sometimes a woman would say "I feel empty somehow...incomplete."  Or she would say, "I feel as if I don't exist."  Sometimes she blotted out the feeling with a tranquilizer.  Sometimes she thought the problem was with her husband, or her children, or that what she really needed was to redecorate her house, or move to a better neighborhood, or have an affair, or another baby...  Most [women] adjusted to their role and suffered or ignored the problem that has no name.  It can be less painful for a woman, not to hear their strange, dissatisfied voice stirring within her.

    It is no longer possible to ignore that voice, to dismiss the desperation of so many American women.  This is not what being a woman means no matter what the experts say...  I do not accept the answer that there is no problem because American women have luxuries that women in other times and lands never dreamed of; part of the strange newness of this problem is that it cannot be understood in terms of the age-old material problems of man: poverty, sickness, hunger, cold.  The women who suffer this problem has a hunger that food cannot fulfill.  It persists in women whose husbands are struggling interns and law clerks, or prosperous doctors and lawyers; in wives of workers and executives who make $5,000 a year or $50,000...

    It is no longer possible to blame the problem on loss of femininity; to say that education and independence and equality with men have made American women unfeminine...the problem cannot be understood in the generally accepted terms by which scientists have studies women, doctors have treated them, counselors have advised them, and writers have written about them.  Women who suffer this problem, in whom the voice is stirring, have lived their whole lives in the pursuit of feminine fulfillment.  They are not career women (although career women may have other problems); they are women whose greatest ambition has been marriage and children.  For the oldest of these women, these daughters of the American middle class, no other dream was possible.  The ones in their forties and fifties who once had other dreams gave them up and threw themselves joyously into life as housewives.  For the youngest, the new wives and mothers, this was the only dream.  They are the ones who quit high school and college to marry, or marked time in some job in which they had no real interest until they married.  These women are very "feminine" in the usual sense, and yet they still suffer the problem.

    If I am right, the problem that has no name stirring in the minds of so many American women today...is far more important than anyone recognizes.  It is the key to...problems which have been torturing women and their husbands and children, and puzzling their doctors and educators for years.  It may well be the key to our future as a nation and a culture.  We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: "I want something more than my husband and my children and my home."

Source: The Feminine Mystique (New York, 1963), pp. 11-16, 21-22, 27



The National Organization of Women was organized in 1966 to campaign for women's rights.  Here are excerpts from the founding statement of the organization. 

            WE, men and women who hereby constitute ourselves as the National Organization for Women, believe that the time has come for a new movement toward true equality for all women in America, and toward a fully equal partnership of the sexes, as part of the world wide revolution of human rights now taking place within and beyond our national borders.

            The purpose of NOW is to take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men...

            There is no civil rights movement to speak for women, as there has been for Negroes and other victims of discrimination.  The National Organization for Women must therefore begin to speak...

            WE BELIEVE that the power of American law, and the protection guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution to the civil rights of all individuals, must be effectively applied and enforced to isolate and remove patterns of sex discrimination, to ensure equality of opportunity in employment and education, and equality of civil and political rights and responsibilities on behalf of women, as well as for Negroes and other deprived groups...

            WE DO NOT ACCEPT the token appointment of a few women to high level positions in government and industry as a substitute for a serious continuing effort to recruit and advance women according to their individual abilities.

            WE BELIEVE that this nation has a capacity at least as great as other nations, to innovate new social institutions which will enable women to enjoy true equality of opportunity and responsibility in society, without conflict with their responsibilities as mothers and homemakers.      

            WE BELIEVE that it is as essential for every girl to be educated to her full potential of human ability as it is for every boy  with the knowledge that such education is the key to effective participation in today's economy...     

            WE REJECT the current assumption that a man must carry the sole burden of supporting himself, his wife, and family, and that a woman is automatically entitled to lifelong support by a man upon her marriage, or that marriage, home and family are primarily woman's world and responsibility  hers, to dominate, his to support.

            WE BELIEVE that women must now exercise their political rights and responsibilities as American citizens.  They must refuse to be segregated on the basis of sex into separate and not equal ladies' auxiliaries in the political parties....

            IN THE INTERESTS OF THE HUMAN DIGNITY OF WOMEN, we will protest and endeavor to change the false image of women now prevalent in the mass media, and in the texts, ceremonies, laws, and practices of our major social institutions.

            WE BELIEVE THAT women will do most to create a new image of women by acting now, and by speaking out in behalf of their own equality, freedom, and human dignity. 

Source: Mary Beth Norton, Major Problems in American Women's History Lexington, Mass: D.C. Heath and Company, 1989), pp. 397 400.   



Two measures in the 1970s, the Equal Rights Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court Decision on abortion in Roe v. Wade, have come to symbolize the complex issues raised by the feminist movement and reflect the deep divisions among women and men as to the implications of sexual equality.  The ERA is reprinted below as well as excerpts from the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. 

The Equal Rights Amendment, 1972  

Section 1: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged    by the United States or by any State on account of sex. 

Section 2: The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. 

Section 3: This Amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification. 

*   *    *

            Roe v. Wade:  We forthwith acknowledge our awareness of the sensitive and emotional nature of the abortion controversy, of the vigorous opposing views, even among physicians, and of the deep and seemingly absolute convictions that the subject inspires.  One's philosophy...religious training...attitude toward life and family and their values, and the moral standards one establishes... are all likely to influence and to color one's thinking and conclusions about abortion.

            In addition, population growth, pollution, poverty, and racial overtones tend to complicate and not to simplify the problem.

            It perhaps is not generally appreciated that the restrictive criminal abortion laws in effect in a majority of States today are of relatively recent vintage... They derive from statutory changes effected, for the most part, in the latter half of the 19th Century...

            The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy.  In a line of decisions, however, the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy, does exist under the Constitution... This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action...or in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.

            The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a "person" within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment...  The Constitution does not define "person" in so many words...  But in nearly all of the instances the use of the word is such that it has application only postnatally.  None indicates, with any assurance, that it has any possible prenatal application... 

Source: Mary Beth Norton, Main Problems in American Women's History (Lexington, Mass: D.C. Heath, 1989), pp. 422, 425 427. 



In the passage below historians Roger Waldinger and Mehdi Bozorgmehr describe the impact of the 1965 Immigration Act on the United States with particular reference to Los Angeles, the destination for the largest number of newcomers.  

            Passage of the Hart-Celler Act in 1965 provided the conventional date for the onset of the new immigration the United States.  The 1965 reform transformed the immigration system with a few bold strokes.  First, it abolished the old country-of-origins quotas, which allotted small quotas to southern and eastern Europe and still smaller--almost prohibitively small--quotas to Asia.  Second, it established two principal criteria for admission to the United States: family ties to citizens or permanent residents or possession of scarce and needed skills.  Third, it increased the total numbers of immigrants to be admitted to the United States...

            The reformers thought that the new act would keep immigration to modest proportions.  But for various reasons the numbers quickly spiraled; 7.3 million new immigrants arrived into the United States during the 1980s, an influx second only to the peak of 8.8 million newcomers recorded during the first decade of the 20th Century.  To be sure, at 8%, the immigrants constituted a far more modest share of the nation's population in 1990 than was true in 1910, when fifteen of every hundred Americans were foreign-born.  Still, the 1990 level represented a substantial increase over the 5% level recorded when the foreign-born share of the U.S. population hit its historic nadir in 1970.

            A second unexpected twist concerned the act's beneficiaries.  The 1965 legislation was principally targeted at eastern and southern Europeans, the groups hardest hit by the nativist legislation of the 1920s.  By the 1960s, however, workers from Italy or Yugoslavia had fallen out of the orbit of trans-Atlantic migration.  Instead, the newcomers who took advantage of the newly liberalized system came from Asia, Latin American and the countries of the Caribbean.

            What no one expected in 1965 was the burgeoning of Asian immigration... The 1965 reforms created opportunities for immigrants whose skills--as engineers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists--were in short supply.  Along with students already living in the United States, who enjoyed easy access to American employers, these professionals made up the first wave of new immigrants, in turn creating the basis for the kinship migration of less-well educated relatives.  The system was sufficiently flexible for longer-established groups, like the Chinese, to renew migration streams while also allowing entirely new groups--most notably Koreans and Asian Indians--to put a nucleus in place and then quickly expand.

            Political developments added momentum to the migrant flow across the Pacific...  Unexpected pressures repeatedly forced the United States to expand greatly its admission of refugees.  The collapse of the U.S.-supported regime in South Vietnam, followed by Communist takeovers in Cambodia and Laos, triggered a sudden, massive outflow of refugees, many of whom settled on the West Coast... By the 1980s, Asia emerged as the number two source area of the foreign-born, accounting for 37% of all newcomers...

            Asian immigrants passed through the front door opened by the 1965 reforms... Mexican and later on Central Americans were more likely to come through the back door of unauthorized migration.  The immediate roots of Mexican unauthorized migration lie in the Bracero Program begun during the Second Word War to eliminated the shortage of agricultural workers.  Ostensibly, the Bracero Program was destined for a short existence, and the workers it imported were supposed to head back to Mexico after a short stint of temporary labor in the U.S.  But the influence of agribusiness kept the Bracero Program alive until 1963, and with time, an increasing number of migrants dropped out of the bracero stream, heading for better jobs in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other urban areas.  By 1964...networks between the United States and villages throughout Mexico's central plateau were already in place, providing all the information and connections needed to keep the migrants coming, whether or not they had legal documents.

            While Mexicans were drawn by the inducements of American employers, the Salvadorans and Guatemalans who headed for the U.S. border in increasing numbers in the late 1970s and afterwards were responding to different factors.  Like the Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians, the Central Americans were escaping political unrest, but unlike their Asian counterparts, the Central Americans had the bad fortune to be fleeing right-wing regimes propped up with U.S. government support.  Hence, these newcomers mainly moved across the border as unauthorized migrants...

            Just how many newcomers have arrived without authorization has long been a matter of dispute; wildly disparate estimates...ranging from 2 to 12 million are stock-in-trade... [The best estimate] suggests about 2 to 4 million residing in the United States as of 1980, of whom over half had come from Mexico...

            Given the many circumstances of migration, it should be no surprise that the newcomers of the post-1965 years are an extraordinarily diverse lot...  The extraordinary educational differences among various immigrant groups suggest that skill levels have gone up and down.  Highly educated professionals and managers dominate some streams, most notably those from the Middle East, Africa, South and Southeast Asia; among many of these groups, median levels of schooling leave America's native white workers far behind.  Manual workers with little schooling predominate among other groups--Mexicans are the most conspicuous example--and the contribution of low-skilled workers to America's immigrant pool has risen substantially in recent years... 

Source: Roger Waldinger and Mehdi Bozorgmehr, Ethnic Los Angeles, (New York, 1996) pp. 9-12. 


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