Moratorium: Oct. 1969
The largest demonstration against the Vietnam War took place during the October 15, 1969 Moratorium when upwards of two million people in over 200 cities across the U.S. took part in some form of protest.

The Moratorium was organized by liberal Democratic Party activists as a soft approach to a nationwide strike against the war.

In the greater Washington, D.C. area, events were held at campuses and churches across the area during the day. In the evening a crowd estimated at 15-20,000 people led by Coretta Scott King carried candles from the Washington Monument to the White House.

Following the October Moratorium, President Richard M. Nixon gave a speech that called for U.S. troops to continue fighting while eventually training South Vietnamese troops (Vietnamization) to fight against the forces of the South Vietnamese National Liberation Front and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam). He also called on America’s “Silent Majority” to back him.

The antiwar movement responded with the largest demonstration to date in November. While the massive outpouring was mostly peaceful, sustained fighting broke out during an attempted march by 10,000 people on the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnamese) embassy near Dupont Circle during the evening of November 14.

Police eventually suppressed the demonstration through the use of tear gas, mace and un-holstered weapons but not before thousands of residents in the area were saturated with gas.

Fighting broke out again on November 15 when a large contingent broke away from the main demonstration to march on the U.S. Justice Department at 9th & Constitution Ave. NW. Once again sustained fighting between police and protesters broke out before police were able to suppress and scatter the breakaway march.

The Moratorium demonstrations signaled that the antiwar movement was gaining strength and would not dissipate. The war and large-scale demonstrations continued through Nixon’s second Inauguration in January 1973 before the Paris Peace Accords were signed shortly afterward. Nixon’s Vietnamization policy failed in 1976 when the forces of the DRV and NLF overran South Vietnam.
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