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The 1970’s

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  • © 2007 Jupiterimages Corporation70s.jpg

    The 1970's were a time of both turmoil and change in the United States. Many things happened that affected the lives of people all over the nation.

    Major milestones of the 1970's:

    • The Vietnam War Ends
    • Protests/Kent State/Pentagon Papers
    • Watergate
    • Title IX
    • Energy Crisis
    • Hostages in Iran


    Vietnam War Ends

    The Vietnam War, a war that spanned three decades, affected so many Americans that it still remains fresh in their hearts. Americans either supported or protested this lengthy war. The main focus of the war in Vietnam was to prevent Communism from spreading from North Vietnam into South Vietnam.

    Protest/Kent State/Pentagon Papers

    Many people in the 1970s protested the war in Vietnam. They felt a small country so far away could not affect Americans. The people protesting the war called themselves " Doves." They wanted peace. The " Hawks " were those supporting the war. They supported the United States' involvement in Vietnam. The longer the war lasted, the more people began to protest the war. One major protest took place at Kent State University, Ohio in 1970. During this major protest, four students were killed by national guardsmen. Tension in the United States steadily grew after this tragic event. The Kent State anti-war protest was not the only anti-war protest. There were protests on many other college campuses and in many cities around the nation.

    © 2007 Jupiterimages Corporation70s2.jpg

    In fact, protests increased after the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers. These papers revealed the United States government purposely deceived the American people about the extent of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. To find out more about the court case between the United States and The New York Times visit The Pentagon Papers Case from the Electronic Journal of the U.S. Information Agency.


    Watergate is a term used to describe a scandalous time in United States history. It is named after the Watergate Office building in Washington, D.C., which housed the Democratic Party headquarters. In 1972, two reporters for The Washington Post uncovered the fact that five men hired by President Nixon's Republican re-election staff members had been caught breaking into the Democratic National Party headquarters. They also found that some of Nixon's advisors offered to pay these five robbers to keep their mouths shut regarding this ordeal. With much research and sleuthing, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, from The Washington Post, traced the entire scandal back to the White House.

    Nixon continually denied any involvement in both the break-in, the cover-up, and many other illegal activities. In a crime completely separate from this incident, Vice President Spiro Agnew confessed to having filed improper tax returns. In 1973, Vice President Agnew resigned and Gerald Ford became Vice President.

    After Nixon was forced by the Supreme Court to release White House tape recordings showing he plotted to obstruct the investigation of the Watergate break-in, he faced certain impeachment. President Nixon resigned as President of the United States in August of 1974. Vice President Ford then became President of the United States. In September of 1974, he pardoned Richard Nixon for any federal crimes. This was certainly not a popular decision with many Americans, but Ford felt this would help put an end to the turmoil in Washington.

    Title IX

    Title IX (Title Nine) was passed in 1972. It is an educational amendment Congress passed to allow women and girls to participate in a wider range of activities. Girls were given equal opportunity and access to programs, sports, and activities in school. Before 1972, very few schools even offered sports programs for girls. After Title IX passed, girls' sports were more readily available. This was passed to help schools become equal for each gender. Title IX states the following:

    No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

    Energy Crisis

    Long lines at the gas pump were not uncommon in the 1970s. High fuel prices were also not uncommon. The United States imported much of its oil from Arab countries located in the Middle East. In 1973, many Arab nations attacked Israel. Because the United States was a major ally of Israel, OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), which was run by the oil-rich Arab nations, refused to ship oil to the United States.

    Cars in the 1970s were big and used a lot of gas. This energy crisis affected Americans in a way many had never experienced. Americans had to do without! Lines for gas at service stations were so long that violence erupted and the nerves of the American people were tested.

    In 1974, OPEC resumed sending fuel to the United States, but this crisis made many Americans think about conserving energy or finding new energy sources.

    Hostages in Iran

    Another crisis developed at the end of the 1970s. The American Embassy in Tehran, Iran was invaded and nearly 70 American citizens were taken hostage. Iranian students did this in retaliation for the United States' support of the ousted Shah of Iran. The Shah had been overthrown by the Islamic religious leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, who hated the United States. The President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, vowed to free these hostages, but that, unfortunately, did not happen in the 1970s.

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