From the end of the second world war to the death of Stalin

At the end of the war, the first disagreements between the two superpowers appeared over Germany. Stalin wished to turn it into a disarmed and de-industrialised state.

Futhermore, the Soviets imposed their influence on the countries they had freed. US President Truman reacted and developed his « Containment » doctrine. The Truman doctrine presented the Marshall Plan. It is a financial and material aid for European countries.

The Soviets replied with the Zhdanov Doctrine which denounced the « imperialist camp » and established Cominform. Meanwhile, the Communists took power in the countries that had been liberated by the Red Army.

« The peoples of a number of countries of the world have recently had totalitarian regimes forced upon them against their will. The Government of the United States has made frequent protests against coercion and intimidation, in violation of the Yalta agreement, in Poland, Rumania, and Bulgaria. […] At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one. One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio; fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms. I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. […]I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes. […] The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want. […] »

Harry Truman (1884-1972), Speech to the US Congress, March 12th, 1947.


  1. According to Truman, what ideological alternatives were opposed in the world ? What were their main characteristics ?
  2. What parts of the Yalta agreements had been breached?
  3. What did Truman’s proposal consist of?
  4. What were the Europeans’ reactions?

« The principal driving force of the imperialist camp is the U.S.A.  Allied with it are Great Britain and France. […]The imperialist camp is also supported by colony-owning countries, such as Belgium and Holland. […]The cardinal purpose of the imperialist camp is to strengthen imperialism, to hatch a new imperialist war, to combat socialism and democracy, and to support reactionary and anti-democratic pro-fascist regimes and movements everywhere. […] The anti-imperialist and anti-fascist forces comprise the second camp.  This camp is based on the U.S.S.R. and the new democracies [of Eastern Europe].  It also includes countries that have broken with imperialism and have firmly set foot on the path of democratic development, such as Rumania, Hungary and Finland.  Indonesia and Vietnam are associated with it; it has the sympathy of India, Egypt and Syria.  The anti-imperialist camp is backed by the labor and democratic movement and by the fraternal Communist parties in all countries, by the fighters for national liberation in the colonies and dependencies, by all progressive and democratic forces in every country.  The purpose of this camp is to resist the threat of new wars and imperialist expansion, to strengthen democracy and to extirpate the vestiges of fascism. .. »

Speech by Andrei Zhdanov (member of the Soviet Politburo) at the founding of the Cominform (a Communist International Organization) in September 1947

  1. Which is the imperialist camp according Zhdanov?
  2. Contextually define the term imperialism.
  3. Explain the sentence « by the fighters for national liberation in the colonies and dependencies ».
  4. Explain why these two doctrines are propaganda.

In 1948, the Communists brutally seized power in Czechoslovakia. The allies announced their decision to form a single state out of their three occupation zones.

Stalin hit back by ordering the blockade of Berlin in June 1948. The Allies organised an airlift to fuel West Berlin for a year. Stalin decided to lift the blockade one year later. The Allies create the Federal Republic of Germany and the Soviets established the German Democratic Republic. The same year the US and their western Allies signed the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).



  1. What did the USSR blame the Marshall Plan for ?
  2. Why did the cartoonist only refer to the Western countries ?

Use the words to comment

a tariff barrier, a bludgeon, a fence, a road sign, US currency, a pot-bellied man, a pocket gold watch, a stetson hat, americanisation, protectionism#free market


  1. Why was West-Berlin’s situation tricky ?
  2. How did the USSR implement the blockade ?
  3. Why did it fail ?

Use the words to comment

an airlift, GDR, FRG, an enclave, vital supplies, air freight, a stifling sensation/a feeling of isolation, to besieged, to surrender#to resist, to hold out against the Western occupation zone (later the FRG).


The Korean War

In 1949, the Communists led by Mao Zedong took power in Beijing. The following year, the Communist People’s Republic of Korea invaded American-backed South Korea. President Truman ordered American troops to be sent push back the North Koreans. However, the North Koreans were supported by China. Stalin’s death on March 5th 1953 paved the way for armistice.

From peaceful coexistence to the Cuban Missile crisis.

When Nikita KHRUSHCHEV came to power a « thaw » (dégel) was installed between the USA and the USSR.

Khrushchev developed his peaceful co-existence doctrine and the two superpowers appeared to agree to live together in order to avoid the risk of unwinnable nuclear war. By the beginning of the 1960s, the theory of « gradual retaliation » had replaced « massive retaliation » in the US.

When the Soviets put down (dans le sens en français mettre à terre) the Hungarian uprising in 1956, the american president Einsenhower did not intervene. The same year, the Americans dissuaded their franco-british allies from continuing their military intervention in EGYPT– under soviet pressure.

Nevertheless, the two powers continued to engage in arms race, and the two military blocs were reinforced. In 1955, the FRG was integrated in NATO and the Soviets created just after the Warsaw Pact, an alliance between the USSR and the seven people’s Democracies.

In 1961, the building of Berlin Wall was condemned by the West.


a) Place the documents in their historical context.

b) Talk about the situation in Germany and in Berlin.

c) Present the author and sum up his arguments

d) Comment on the photograph

e) Branch out

In 1962, the Soviets set up missiles on the island of Cuba. President Kennedy ordered a military blockade of the island as Soviet ships were approaching. Khrushchev gave in (to give in = a cédé) at the last moment and the crisis was overcome through negotiation.

This event was the summit of the Cold War. Indeed, the Soviets set up missiles on the island of Cuba, which is situated 150 kilometers from Florida. Kennedy declared that any agression coming fom Cuba and directed against the US and their allies would result in retaliation against the USSR. Khrushchev gave in at the last moment and ordered the Soviet fleet to turn back. Soviets missiles were withdrawn from Cuba, while the Americans evacuated their missiles in Turkey. The two countries avoided military confontration.


a) Place the documents in their historical context

b) Talk about the situation in Cuba when the crisis broke out

c) Talk about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Use the two documents.

d) Talk about the outcome of the crisis.

The « hotline » became the major symbol of the Detente. It was a direct line between the White House and the Kremlin.


From the late 1800s until World War II, France ruled most of Indochina, including Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. French colonists, who built plantations on peasant land and extracted rice and rubber for their own profit, encountered growing unrest among the Vietnamese peasants. French rulers reacted harshly by restricting freedom of speech and assembly and by jailing many Vietnamese nationalists. These measures failed to curb all dissent, and opposition continued to grow.

France, however, had no intention of relinquishing (renoncer) its former colony. French troops moved back into Vietnam by the end of 1945, eventually regaining control of the cities and the country’s southern half. Ho Chi Minh vowed to fight from the North to liberate
the South from French control. In 1950, President Truman sent $15 million in economic aid to France.

Upon entering the White House in 1953, President Eisenhower continued the policy of supplying aid to the French war effort. By this time, the United States had settled for a stalemate (impasse) with the communists in Korea, which only stiffened (se raidir ici renforcer) America’s resolve to halt the spread of communism elsewhere. During a news conference in 1954, Eisenhower explained the domino theory

Despite massive U.S. aid, however, the French could not retake Vietnam. They were forced to surrender in May of 1954, when the Vietminh overran the French outpost at Dien Bien Phu, in northwestern Vietnam.

The Geneva Accords temporarily divided Vietnam along the 17th parallel.

The Communists and their leader, Ho
Chi Minh, controlled North Vietnam from the capital of Hanoi. The anticommunist nationalists controlled South Vietnam from the capital and southern port city of Saigon. An election to unify the country was called for in 1956.

The Eisenhower and the Kennedy administrations provided economic and military aid to South Vietnam’s non-Communist.

Recognizing Ho Chi Minh’s widespread popularity, South Vietnam’s president, Ngo Dinh Diem a strong anti-Communist, refused to take part in the countrywide election of 1956.

By 1957, a Communist opposition group in the South, known as the Vietcong, had begun attacks on the Diem government, assassinating thousands of South Vietnamese government officials. Although the political arm of the group would later be called the National Liberation Front (NLF), the United States continued to refer to the fighters as the Vietcong.

Ho Chi Minh supported the group, and in 1959 began supplying arms to the Vietcong via a network of paths along the borders of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia that became known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The Kennedy administration, which entered the White House in 1961, also chose initially to “swim” with Diem. Wary of accusations that Democrats were “soft” on communism, President Kennedy increased financial aid to Diem’s teetering regime and sent thousands of military advisers to help train South Vietnamese troops. By the end of 1963, 16,000 U.S military personnel were in South Vietnam.

Diem also intensified his attack on Buddhism. Fed up with continuing Buddhist demonstrations, the South Vietnamese ruler imprisoned and killed hundreds of Buddhist clerics and destroyed their temples. To protest, several Buddhist monks and nuns publicly burned themselves to death. Horrified, American officials urged Diem to stop the persecutions, but Diem refused. It had become clear that for South Vietnam to remain stable, Diem would have to go. On November 1, 1963, a U.S.-supported military coup toppled Diem’s regime. Against Kennedy’s wishes, Diem was assassinated. A few weeks later, Kennedy, too, fell to an assassin’s bullet. The United States presidency—along with the growing crisis in Vietnam—now belonged to Lyndon B. Johnson.


Lyndon Johnson escalated the nation’s role in Vietnam and eventually began what would become America’s longest war.

Diem’s death brought more chaos to South Vietnam. A string of military leaders attempted to lead the country, but each regime was more unstable and inefficient than Diem’s had been. Meanwhile, the Vietcong’s influence in the countryside steadily grew. President Johnson believed that a communist takeover of South Vietnam would be disastrous.

On August 2, 1964, a North Vietnamese patrol boat fired a torpedo at an American destroyer, the USS Maddox, which was patrolling in the Gulf of Tonkin off the North Vietnamese coast. The torpedo missed its target, but the Maddox returned fire and inflicted heavy damage on the patrol boat.

The alleged attack on the U.S. ships prompted President Johnson to launch bombing strikes on North Vietnam. He asked Congress for powers to take “all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.” Congress approved Johnson’s request, with only two senators voting against it, and adopted the Tonkin Gulf Resolution
on August 7. While not a declaration of war, it granted Johnson broad military powers in Vietnam. Johnson did not tell Congress or the American people that the United States had been leading secret raids against North Vietnam. The Maddox had been in the Gulf of Tonkin to collect information for these raids. Furthermore, Johnson had prepared the resolution months beforehand and was only waiting for the chance to push it through Congress.

In February of 1965, President Johnson used his newly granted powers. In response to a Vietcong attack that killed eight Americans, Johnson unleashed “Operation Rolling Thunder,” the first sustained bombing of North Vietnam. In March of that year the first American combat troops began arriving in South Vietnam. By June, more than 50,000 U.S. soldiers were battling the Vietcong. The Vietnam War had become Americanized.

Why did the Americans become increasingly involved in vietnam war

  • Domino theory
  • Containtment
  • american politics
  • The military industrialo-complex.

Take one and explain.

  1. Comment the graph
  2. in under which american administration did the war begin ? how ?
  3. what happened under Johnson administration ?
  4. what process did Nixon administration accomplish ?

By the end of 1965, the U.S. government had sent more than 180,000 Americans to Vietnam. The American commander in South Vietnam, General William Westmoreland, continued to request more troops. Westmoreland, a West Point graduate who had served in World War II and Korea, was less than impressed with the fighting ability of the South Vietnamese Army, or the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). The ARVN “cannot stand up to this pressure without substantial U.S. combat support on the ground,” the general reported. “The only possible response is the aggressive deployment of U.S. troops.” Throughout the early years of the war, the Johnson administration complied with Westmoreland’s requests; by 1967, the number of U.S. troops in Vietnam had climbed to about 500,000. Fatal error.

Despite the strength early in 1968, The Vietcong launched the Tet Offensive, attacking over 100 cities and even the US embassy in Saigon. Although US and South Vietnamese troops rapidly retook every towns lost, the Tet Offensive was a huge shock to Americans who all knew that the american army won the war easily. The Tet offensive undermined the support for the war at home and called into question the military strategy in Vietnam.

Why did the soldiers suffer from :

In 1965 Vietnam seemed like just another foreign war, but it wasn’t
It was different in many ways, and so were those who did the fighting
In World War II the average age of the combat soldier was 26…
In Vietnam he was 19

In Vietnam the combat soldier typically served a twelve month tour of duty but was exposed to hostile fire almost everyday

A soldier said « You’re eighteen years old and you’re wearing somebodies brains around on your shirt, because they got their heads blown off right next to you.. and that’s not suppose to affect you »
« I could never understand »
« What would scare me?… is that we were to send a group of eighteen year olds 12.000 miles away, and subject them to in a year of that obsanity, and have them not be affected… « 
« That’s what would frighten me »

All those who remember the war
They won’t forget what they’ve seen…
Destruction of men in their prime

none of them received the hero’s welcome

According to a Veteran’s Administration study
Half of the Vietnam combat veterans suffered from what Psychiatrists call a Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder
Many vets complain of alienation, rage, or guilt
Some succumb to suicidal thoughts
Eight to Ten years after coming home almost eight-hundred-thousand men are still fighting
The Vietnam War

            « The breathing is difficult. It seems that there is nothing I can do to bring more air to my lungs. The sweat drains on my head and forms a gutter on my nose. I gave up to dry it. I ignore the leaves, plenty of insects that touch my face making me uncomfortable. My knapsack on my back is heavy and my clothes are wet with sweat. Each step is painful. We just left a small road forty five minutes ago and I already find it difficult to follow the others. The sensation is similar to running in a sauna with an obstructed nose. At each step my boots sink in the mud of the forest, full of material in decomposition. My slack legs are covered with wet leaves and some small spiders. Big vines are everywhere while hundreds of thorns just wait for my hands on the surrounded trees. Sometimes the terrain goes up and other times it goes down. The terrain is only flat near the river. Some blue dots above show that the sky is still over us, but that is all I can see, besides, all the green. My energy is almost expended and my respiration is difficult. I feel a pain on my back and I am dizzy. I stop and drink many gulps of water. I am in the hell.« 

This was a scene related by a soldier which must carry out a combat mission in spite of the very hard limitations imposed on human life in this environment known as jungle in Vietnam.

The soldiers suffered from

  • heat and moisture,
  • fear every day during one year,
  • ambushes,
  • rainfalls,
  • unexpected conditions in the jungle. Describe in reading the text above the conditions which met the soldiers in the jungle?

“ You do some thinking. You hallucinate. You look ahead a few paces and wonder what your legs will resemble if there is more to the earth
in that spot than silicates and nitrogen. Will the pain be unbearable? Will you scream and fall silent? Will you be afraid to look at your own
body, afraid of the sight of your own red flesh and white bone? . . . It is not easy to fight this sort of self-defeating fear, but you try. You decide to be ultra-careful—the hard-nosed realistic approach. You try to second-guess the mine. Should you put your foot to that flat rock or the clump of weeds to its rear? Paddy dike or water? You wish you were Tarzan, able to swing on the vines. You trace the footprints of the men to your front. You give up when he curses you for following too closely; better one man dead than two.”—quoted in A Life in a Year: The American Infantryman in Vietnam 1965–1972

Try to understand what felt this soldier during his duty

The American reaction was vigorous: bombing on the North (500,000 t of bombs from February 1965 to April 1968), direct intervention in the South from March 1965. The South Vietnamese army grew to 700,000 regulars and 200,000 militiamen. American troops reached 536,000 in 1968. As for the Vietcong, they went from 135,000 men at the beginning of 1965 to more than 300,000 in 1968.
In 1966, operations were concentrated around the 17th parallel, then, in 1967, further south, around Da Nang, Quang Tri and even in Cochinchine, northwest of Saigon, capital of the South. The bombing of the Ho Chi Minh trails remains without effect.

In the United States, public opinion is sensitized by the sending to Vietnam of «GI» and by the images broadcast on television. In front of the American impotence to obtain a quick victory, the protest flourishes on university campuses and wins the whole country. Struggling with a worsening budget deficit, President L. B. Johnson alternates intensive bombing on the North and proposals for a conditional truce.
Although heavily hit, the North Vietnam did not give in. It has assets of growing importance: the bad conscience of the West, the support of the brother communist parties and the neutralist currents, the material assistance of the USSR and China, which allows the Vietnamese People’s Army The European Community has a duty to ensure that it finally acquires a modern and standardised armament.

Tet offensive

The widespread communist offensive, known as the «Tet offensive» (January 30, 1968), threatened Hue, south of the 17th parallel, as well as Saigon. Khe Sanh base, harassed since November 1967, was attacked in force in mid-February and suffered a 77-day siege. The Tet offensive was ultimately a military failure for the Vietcong, but the American army was put in difficulty.
The impact is great in American public opinion. L. B. Johnson relinquished a new mandate and decided to unconditionally stop the bombing in the North (May 1968). Preliminary negotiations led to the official opening of the Paris Conference (January 1969).


Richard Nixon’s “Vietnamization” policy, which succeeded L. B. Johnson in early 1969, aimed at a total withdrawal of American ground forces after strengthening South Vietnamese armies. On the other hand, the naval and air forces benefit from a significant increase.
From 1969 to 1972, military and diplomatic events were closely linked. But the surge of American and South Vietnamese forces in Cambodia (30 April 1970), intended to undermine the logistical support of the Ho Chi Minh trails, led to the removal by the US Congress of the president’s special powers concerning the Vietnam War.

Taking advantage of the unilateral withdrawal of the United States, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam carried out another widespread attack on 30 March 1972. The Americans reacted by flying in the ports of arrival of Soviet and Chinese cargo ships; the South Vietnamese army managed to clear An Lôc, Kontum and the road to Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia.

As anti-war demonstrations in the United States increased, President Nixon paved the way for an agreement by accepting the full repatriation of American troops in the event of a ceasefire and by refusing to demand the evacuation of the South by popular forces.
After a final resistance by Southern President Nguyên Van Thiêu, who refused to maintain communist forces on his territory, and a suspension of talks by Hanoi, a ceasefire agreement was signed in Paris on 27 January 1973.

South Vietnam Nam and Communist North Vietnam are now face to face. It soon became clear that the National Council of Concord and Reconciliation planned in Paris pending elections was a sham. To the intransigence of General Thiêu, who launched a call to combat, Hanoi’s determination to reunite the country by force. As early as October 1974, the North officially considered the Paris Agreements to have lapsed and began preparations for the invasion. The conditions seem favorable: despite large numbers and some elite corps, the Southern army is morally fragile, like a tired civilian population, hostile to a corrupt power and suffering from chronic poverty. As for the United States, it is losing interest in its former protected people, to whom it is reducing its aid.

In March 1975, the communists launched a new major offensive. Quang Tri, Huê, Da Nang were abandoned almost without combat. Thiêu leaves power (21 April). North Vietnamese tanks put an end to the attempts at negotiations by entering Saigon on 30 April 1975.
The new state, unified, takes the name of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, whose constitution is that of the former North Vietnam, on 2 July 1976. But reunification was not accompanied by the promised reconciliation, and the submission of the South to the rule of the North resulted in the dramas of re-education and emigration of boat people. The failure of the United States, which was the first lost conflict in its history, was the most significant in the Cold War.

The Vietnam War exacted a terrible price from its participants. In all, 58,000 Americans were killed and some 303,000 were wounded. North and South Vietnamese deaths topped 2 million. While families welcomed home their sons and daughters, the nation as a whole extended a cold hand to its returning Vietnam veterans. There were no brass bands, no victory parades, no cheering crowds. Instead, many veterans faced indifference or even hostility from an America still torn and bitter about the war.

Lily Jean Lee Adams, who served as an army nurse in Vietnam, recalled arriving in America in 1970 while still in uniform

“ In the bus terminal, people were staring at me and giving me dirty looks. I expected the people to smile, like, ‘Wow, she was in Vietnam, doing something for her country—wonderful.’ I felt like I had walked into another country, not my country. So I went into the ladies’ room and changed.”
—quoted in A Piece of My Heart

a) What is the reaction of people when the soldiers came back from VIETNAM ? Why ?

b) Why the return from this war for the soldiers was so different than the WWII ?

c) What does she feel ?

d) Why is so unfair for the soldiers and how they felt disgusted ?

e) What do they suffer when the soldiers return home ?

The 68 year

Many events happened during this year. The year 1968 remains one of the most tumultuous single years in history


In Czechoslovakia, Alexander Dubcek was elected as the first secretary of the country’s Communist Party over the Stalinist Antonin Novotny, a victory that marked a brief period of liberalization and reform known as the Prague Spring. But the Soviet Army invaded the country to repress the reformists.


Some 15 years after the Korean War, the still-tenuous relations between North Korea and the United States gave way to crisis after North Korea captured the Navy intelligence vessel USS Pueblo and its crew. U.S. authorities claimed the ship had been in international waters in the Tsushima Strait, but North Korea disagreed, and held the 83 crew members in a POW camp before the two countries could negotiate their release.


In Vietnam because of the TET OFFENSIVE.IN JANUARY 1968, North Vietnamese communists launch the Tet Offensive. In January 30-31: The assault contradicts the Johnson administration’s claims that the communist forces are weak and the U.S.-backed south is winning the war. The american people felt the war is lost. It became more and more unpopular all around the world, in America but in Europe too.


Indeed, the vice president of the US is received in all the capitals in Europe whereas the demonstators protested against the american intervention in Vietnam and the escalation.

In February 18: The U.S. State Department announced the highest U.S. casualty toll of the Vietnam War, with 543 Americans killed in action and 2,547 wounded during the previous week.


March 12: In the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, Eugene McCarthy comes within 230 votes of defeating the sitting president, Lyndon B. Johnson. McCarthy had announced his candidacy in November 1967 as the antiwar alternative to Johnson, who was at the time expected to win the Democratic nomination handily. Over the months to come, however, LBJ’s administration had become increasingly unpopular, along with growing opposition to U.S. involvement in Vietnam, student demonstrations and urban unrest.


April : While in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers in that city, the civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a sermon in which he told listeners: “I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.” The following evening, Martin Luther King was assassinated while he was standing on the balcony outside his room at a Memphis motel. As news of King’s murder sparked rioting in dozens of cities across the country, an international manhunt for his shooter, James Earl Ray, ended in his capture in London. Ray was convicted, and died in prison in 1998.


Several hundred students gathered on the campus of Columbia University in New York City to protest the Vietnam War. Policemen broke up the demonstration, beating and arresting hundreds of protesters.

May 6: The protests at Columbia exemplified the wave of student activism that swept the globe in 1968, including mass demonstrations in Poland, West Germany, Mexico City, Paris, Italy and elsewhere. On May 6, known as “Bloody Monday,” students and police clashed in Paris’ Latin Quarter, resulting in hundreds of injuries. As the protests continued, millions of French workers began striking in sympathy with the students, eventually leading President Charles de Gaulle to dissolve the National Assembly, call for immediate elections and threaten military intervention.


June 5: On the night of the California primary (which he won, putting him in reach of securing the Democratic presidential nomination), Robert F. Kennedy was leaving the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after addressing a large crowd of supporters when he was shot by the young Jordanian immigrant Sirhan Sirhan. Born in Jerusalem, Sirhan later said he assassinated Kennedy out of concern for the Palestinian cause, and had felt betrayed by the senator’s support for Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967.


October 16: After being awarded gold and bronze medals, respectively, in the 200-meter sprint event in the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, U.S. athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads and raised their black-gloved fists in a recognized salute to the Black Power movement during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Smith and Carlos were thrown off the U.S. Olympic team, but were seen as heroes in the black community, and their silent protest against racial discrimination lives on as one of the most iconic images in sports history.



November 5: As the self-proclaimed champion of what he would later dub the “silent majority”—those Americans who rejected the radical, liberal and rebellious spirit of the time—the Republican Richard Nixon led in the polls for most of the general election season. The race tightened in the last weeks after Johnson halted air attacks on North Vietnam, which benefited Humphrey. But Nixon triumphed on Election Day with a comfortable electoral college lead (despite a razor-thin margin of victory in the popular vote). The third-party candidate George Wallace, a former Alabama governor, captured 13.5 percent of the popular vote and five southern states.

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