WAR AT HOME
Until the late 1960s most Americans supported the war in Vietnam. From the beginning, though, there were those who opposed it, and ultimately the antiwar movement became the largest protest movement in U.S. history.
Beginning with members of traditional anti-nuclear peace groups, the movement grew as bombing and troop levels increased after the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. On college campuses, students demonstrated, burned draft cards, and participated in teach-ins, and the Students for a Democratic Society radicalized the rhetoric of peace.
By 1968, the movement had become a constantly shifting and fragmenting coalition of Old Left, New Left, civil rights, religious groups, students, hippies, business leaders, physicians, even veterans - each group with its own goals and strategies. But failure to sway the vast middle and to influence government policy led to conflicts within and among the various factions and weakened - even paralyzed - the movement. Public reaction to the 1968 Tet offensive spurred renewed activity but further fragmentation.
From 1969 to the war's end, the movement broadened. A great many Americans now considered the war a mistake even as they disapproved of movement tactics. Nixon's decision to bomb Cambodia in 1970 led to some of the era's largest and most violent demonstrations, including the protest at Kent State University where four young people were shot by National Guardsmen.