Chapter 38 13 Themes

Chapter 38

The Stormy Sixties

Big ideas matter. Here are the most important themes for this chapter.

The over-arching theme of chapter 38 is that the 1960s were a decade of upheaval. Abroad, the Vietnam War drug throughout the decade; at home, cultural changes were staggering.

  1. John Kennedy bumbled over foreign policy with his failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba; then redeemed himself by standing up to the U.S.S.R. in the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  2. JFK also sent U.S. “advisors” to South Vietnam. The goal was to prevent communist North Vietnam from taking over non-communist South Vietnam.
  3. The Civil Rights Movement gained steam and reached full boil with Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech.” The Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were large steps forward toward ending discrimination.
  4. Lyndon Baines Johnson fought two “wars”: (a) at home, he started the “Great Society” in attempt to make America the place everyone had dreamt it would be, (b) he significantly escalated the U.S. presence in Vietnam after the Tonkin Gulf Incident.
  5. Culturally, young people rebelled against the conformity of the 50s. In the 60s, the norm for some became to not follow the norm. This was seen mostly in the hippies, in music, in drug use, and in the idea of “questioning authority.”

Back to the themes index.

Except for the 11th edition American History pages, the content of this site is copyright © 2010 by and may not be copied or redistributed. It is protected at