Ellsberg was a Harvard-trained economist, a former marine officer, employed by the RAND Corporation, which did special, often secret research for the U.
Ellsberg helped write the Department of Defense history of the war in Vietnam, and then decided to make the top- secret document public, with the aid of his friend, Anthony Russo, a former RAND Corporation man. The two had met in Saigon, where both had been affected, in different experiences, by direct sight of the war, and had become powerfully indignant at what the United States was doing to the people of Vietnam.
Ellsberg and Russo spent night after night, after hours, at a friend's advertising agency, duplicating the 7,page document.
In June the Times began printing selections from what came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. It created a national sensation. The Nixon administration tried to get the Supreme Court to stop further publication, but the Court said this was "prior restraint" of the freedom of the press and thus unconstitutional The government then indicted Ellsberg and Russo for violating the Espionage Act by releasing classified documents to unauthorized people ; they faced long terms in prison if convicted. The judge, however, called off the trial during the jury deliberations, because the Watergate events unfolding at the time revealed unfair practices by the prosecution.
Ellsberg, by his bold act, had broken with the usual tactic of dissidents inside the government who bided their time and kept their opinions to themselves, hoping for small changes in policy. A colleague urged him not to leave the government because there he had "access," saying, "Don't cut yourself off. Don't cut your throat. The antiwar movement, early in its growth, found a strange, new constituency: priests and nuns of the Catholic Church.
Some of them had been aroused by the civil rights movement, others by their experiences in Latin America, where they saw poverty and injustice under governments supported by the United States. In the fall of , Father Philip Berrigan a Josephite priest who was a veteran of World War II , joined by artist Tom Lewis and friends David Eberhardt and James Mengel, went to the office of a draft board in Baltimore, Maryland, drenched the draft records with blood, and waited to be arrested.
They were put on trial and sentenced to prison terms of two to six years. The following May, Philip Berrigan-out on bail in the Baltimore case-was joined in a second action by his brother Daniel, a Jesuit priest who had visited North Vietnam and seen the effects of U. They and seven other people went into a draft board office in Catonsville, Maryland, removed records, and set them afire outside in the presence of reporters and onlookers.
They were convicted and sentenced to prison, and became famous as the "Catonsville Nine. When his appeals had been exhausted, and he was supposed to go to prison, Daniel Berrigan disappeared.
With dozens of FBI men looking for him in the crowd, he suddenly appeared on stage. Then the lights went out, he hid inside a giant figure of the Bread and Puppet Theatre which was on stage, was carried out to a truck, and escaped to a nearby farmhouse. He stayed underground for four months, writing poems, issuing statements, giving secret interviews, appearing suddenly in a Philadelphia church to give a sermon and then disappearing again, baffling the FBI, until an informer's interception of a letter disclosed his whereabouts and he was captured and imprisoned.
She was never found. Writing from underground, she reflected on her experience and how she came to it:. I was sleeping between two of these women, and every morning I'd wake up and they'd be leaning on their elbows watching me. They'd say, "You slept all night. They were good.
We had good times I suppose the political turning point in my life came while I was in Uganda. I was there when American planes were bombing the Congo, and we were very close to the Congo border. The planes came over and bombed two villages in Uganda.. Where the hell did the American planes come in? The American Embassy sent out letters saying that no Americans were to be on the street, because this was a dirty Communist leader; but I decided this was a man who was making history and I wanted to see him When I came home from Africa I moved to Washington, and had to deal with the scene there and the insanity and brutality of the cops and the type of life that was led by most of the citizens of that city—70 percent black.
At the time of Catonsville, going to jail made sense to me, partially because of the black scene-so many blacks forever filling the jails.. I don't think it's a valid tactic anymore I don't want to see people marching off to jail with smiles on their faces. I just don't want them going. The Seventies are going to be very difficult, and I don't want to waste the sisters and brothers we have by marching them off to jail and having mystical experiences or whatever they're going to have The effect of the war and of the bold action of some priests and nuns was to crack the traditional conservatism of the Catholic community.
On Moratorium Day , at the Newton College of the Sacred Heart near Boston, a sanctuary of bucolic quiet and political silence, the great front door of the college displayed a huge painted red fist. At Boston College, a Catholic institution, six thousand people gathered that evening in the gymnasium to denounce the war. Students were heavily involved in the early protests against the war.
A survey by the Urban Research Corporation, for the first six months of only, and for only of the nations two thousand institutions of higher education, showed that at least , students had participated in campus protests, that 3, had been arrested, that had been suspended or expelled. Even in the high schools, in the late sixties, there were five hundred underground newspapers. At the Brown University commencement in , two-thirds of the graduating class turned their backs when Henry Kissinger stood up to address them. The climax of protest came in the spring of when President Nixon ordered the invasion of Cambodia.
At Kent State University in Ohio, on May 4, when students gathered to demonstrate against the war, National Guardsmen fired into the crowd. Four students were killed. One was paralyzed for life. Students at four hundred colleges and universities went on strike in protest. It was the first general student strike in the history of the United States.
During that school year of , the FBI listed 1, student demonstrations, including the occupation of buildings. The commencement day ceremonies after the Kent State killings were unlike any the nation had ever seen. From Amherst, Massachusetts, came this newspaper report:.
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The roll of the funeral drum set the beat for young men and women marching "in fear, in despair and in frustration. Red fists of protest, white peace symbols, and blue doves were stenciled on black academic gowns, and nearly every other senior wore an armband representing a plea for peace.
Student protests against the ROTC Reserve Officers Training Program resulted in the canceling of those programs in over forty colleges and universities. In , , college students enrolled in ROTC. By , the number was 72, One army official said: "I just hope we don't get into another war, because if we do, I doubt we could fight it. The publicity given to the student protests created the impression that the opposition to the war came mostly from middle-class intellectuals.
When some construction workers in New York attacked student demonstrators, the news was played up in the national media. However, a number of elections in American cities, including those where mostly blue-collar workers lived, showed that antiwar sentiment was strong in the working classes. For instance, in Dearborn, Michigan, an automobile manufacturing town, a poll as early as showed 41 percent of the population favored withdrawal from the Vietnam war.
In , in two counties in California where petitioners placed the issue on the ballot—San Francisco County and Marin County—referenda asking withdrawal of the U. In late , when a Gallup poll presented the statement: "The United States should withdraw all troops from Vietnam by the end of next year," 65 percent of those questioned said, "Yes.
But the most surprising data were in a survey made by the University of Michigan. This showed that, throughout the Vietnam war, Americans with only a grade school education were much stronger for withdrawal from the war than Americans with a college education. In June , of people with a college education, 27 percent were for immediate withdrawal from Vietnam; of people with only a grade school education, 41 percent were for immediate withdrawal.
By September , both groups were more antiwar: 47 percent of the college-educated were for withdrawal, and 61 percent of grade school graduates. There is more evidence of the same kind. Hamilton found in his survey of public opinion: "Preferences for 'tough' policy alternatives are most frequent among the following groups, the highly educated, high status occupations, those with high incomes, younger persons, and those paying much attention to newspapers and magazines. He also found that the regular polls, based on samplings, underestimated the opposition to the war among lower-class people.
All this was part of a general change in the entire population of the country. In August of , 61 percent of the population thought the American involvement in Vietnam was not wrong. By May it was exactly reversed; 61 percent thought our involvement was wrong. Bruce Andrews, a Harvard student of public opinion, found that the people most opposed to the war were people over fifty, blacks, and women.