Years Adrift: 1974-1980 (Group F)

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I. Ford's Presidency
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President Ford came into office after Nixon resigned from office.

Ford Pardons Nixon
Ford received criticisms starting his first month in office by granting Nixon a full pardon even before any indictment was made by the court. Americans accused Ford of making a “corrupt bargain” with Nixon. However, Ford said he pardoned Nixon to terminate the ongoing “national nightmare.”

During Ford’s presidency, the CIA continued to search and figure out corruption and abuses in the execute branch. The CIA was accused of planning the assassination of foreign leaders. Ford appointed future president, George H. Bush to reform the agency.

Failure of US Policy in Southeast Asia
President Ford failed to persuade Congress to get additional funds for the South Vietnamese.

Fall of Saigon
Saigon, South Vietnam’s capital, fell under rule of the North Vietnmese Communist government in Hanoi. Although the United States was able to move 150,000 South Vietnamese who supported the United States, America lost its reputation abroad and confidence at home.

Genocide in Cambodia
Again, in 1975, the US-supported government of Cambodia fell to the Khmer Rouge, a Communist regime. In order to compensate for the failure of US policy in Vietnam, Ford ordered an attack on a Cambodian naval base. The attack freed 39 crewmen, but 38 marines died.

Future of Southeast Asia

Although many Souteast Asian countries fell towards Communism, some nations called the “little tigers,” such as Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia remained. As a result, some say the United States’ support of South Vietnam was not a waste, since it gave time for some nations time to resist Communism stronger.

Economic and Domestic Policies
Ford’s main motive at home was to bring inflation under control. He encourage businesses and consumers on voluntary measures, including the wearing of WIN buttons (Whip Inflation Now). The inflation still continued, but most importantly, the economy sank into a recession, with unemployment ratings of over 9 percent. Ford eventually gave in to a Democratic package to stimulate the economy, but he vetoed 39 other Democratic bills.

II. Carter's Presidency

In the election of 1976, President Gerald Ford was challenged by a little-known Democrat who was the former governor of Georgia, James Earl (Jimmy) Carter. Despite being an ‘unknown’, he had success running as an outsider because he was against the corruption in Washington. He ended up winning a very close election (287 electoral votes to Ford’s 241 votes), having carried most of the South and getting about 97% of African American votes.Carter was already different from previous presidents, being an ‘outsider’ from Georgia who aimed to end the imperial presidency. Instead of riding the presidential limousine to the White House on his inaugural day, Carter chose to walk with his luggage down Pennsylvania Avenue, impressing many of the average Americans. In the eyes of the veteran members of Congress, however, they always saw Carter as someone who did not belong in their ‘elite group’.

Foreign Policy
In foreign policy, Carter had little experience in foreign policy, and stated he would not be affected by the fear of communism and wanted to be more focused on human rights. He appointed African American Andrew Young to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, championing the cause of human rights by denouncing the oppression of black majority in South African and Zimbabwe.
Carter attempted to correct the problems of the original Panama Canal Treaty by having the Senate ratify a second treaty in 1978. This new treaty stated that there would be a gradual transfer of operation and control of the Panama Canal from the United States to the Panamaians, and Carter’s opponents would see this treaty as a “give away” of the canal in the 1980 election.

Perhaps the biggest achievement during Carter’s presidency was the Camp David Accords (1978), when the President arranged for a peace settlement between Egypt and Israel. A treaty did emerge in the end, with Egypt becoming the first Arabian nation to recognize Israel and Israel withdrawing troops from the Sinai territory they had taken from Egypt. However, this did not mean tensions between the two nations vanished; it only lowered the dispute between Egypt and Israel and also bound the two to the United States through Carter’s promise of economic aid. Carter and the United States were put to the test in January 1979.

And the olympics to be a pure sporting event- not an opportunity for the western news media to lionize dissidents and play politics
And the olympics to be a pure sporting event- not an opportunity for the western news media to lionize dissidents and play politics
In the Middle East, Iranian fundamentalists overthrew the shah’s dictatorial government, signaling a massive rejection of U.S. influence. In November, the Iranians then went on to seize the U.S. embassy in Tehran, holding 66 American staff members as hostages and prisoners. This clearly showed the impotence Americans had in dealing with foreign policy, as Carter’s rescue mission he announced in April 1980 ultimately failed. This unsuccessful attempt to rescue the hostages became a symbol of Carter’s failed presidency.

Carter’s presidency continued to gain a bad reputation with the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan in December of 1979. The president originally attempted to maintain Nixon and Ford’s policy of détente with China and the Soviets, but the Soviet’s invasion ended the decade of improving U.S.-Soviet relations. They feared that this invasion would then lead to a Soviet move to control the oil-rich Persian Gulf, so Carter placed an embargo on grain exports and the sale of high technology to the Soviets and boycotting the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. He had also tried to pass a second SALT treaty in 1979, which called for limiting the size of each superpower’s power nuclear delivery system, yet it was withdrawn, and the Cold War continued.

Domestic Policy

The biggest of Carter’s domestic problems was the economy, mainly due to the increasing inflation rates. Working with congress, Carter tried to conserve oil energy to lower the inflation. Congress failed to check the inflation, letting it reach to 13%. Soon enough, businesses and buyers could no longer afford interest rates or to buy much at all. Industries started laying off workers to overcome the inflation. A taxpayer’s revolt took place. This is because the inflation increased the amount of money each person had, but decreased the amount of the dollar, thus, many middle class families were pushed into the upper class tax brackets, forcing them to pay higher taxes. The economy was so bad the federal defecit was 60 billion dollars!(thats ten zeros!) The economic crisis lowered President Carter’s popularity, especially after he blamed it on the American people.

III. Immigration
General Statistics
Few Europeans
Many Asians and Latin Americans
Many refugees from Communist countries

Immigration Act of 1965

Ended the immigration quotas of the 1920s.

Illegal Immigrants

There was an increase in the numbers of illegal aliens from Asia and Latin America. They were not deterred by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which penalized employers who hired illegal immigrants yet granted amnesty to immigrants who had come before 1982.

immigration from over the years
immigration from over the years

IV. Minority and Environmental Rights/Issues

Hispanic Americans

Prior to World War II Hispanic Americans lived in the southwestern states and Mexican workers suffered from deportation during the Great Depression. In the Post-War 1960’s Era however, The East and the Midwest soon filled up with Hispanics from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and south and Central America.

Mexican Americans or Chicanos

In the 1950s and 60s Chicanos were encouraged to take on low-paying agricultural jobs. Boycotts led by Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Organization brought about collective bargaining rights to these farmers. Chicano activists also succeeded in the establishment of bilingual schools for Hispanic children. In 2000, Hispanic Americans were recorded as the largest minority in America.

Native Americans

In 1968, the AIM (American Indian Movement) was founded for self-determination and the revival of tribal traditions. Some of the AIM’s bolder movements were the takeover of Alcatraz Island in 1969 and the takeover of Wounded Knee in 1973. Movements such as these and other less militant led to the passing of the Indian Self-Determination Act of 1975 which granted control over education, internal programs, and law enforcement over to the tribal leaders at reservations and the passing of the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act of 1978 which improved education, building industries and brought gambling casinos to the reservations.

Asian Americans

The growth of Asian Communities occurred in the 1980s. They consisted of Asians with Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Indian, Korean, and Vietnamese ancestry. Many Asians fit in at the best colleges and universities but they still suffered from discrimination.

Gay Rights

The gay rights movement started in a 1969 police raid at a gay bar in New York City called the Stonewall Inn. By the mid-1970s and into the 1990s, homosexuals started opening up more with their identities and by 1993 President Clinton tried to rid homosexual discrimination in the military but kept the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy.
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Environmental issues

The public was growing more concerned about pollution and the environment with incidents such as the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill in Alaska; the Three Mile Island power plant accident in Pennsylvania; and the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion in the Soviet Union.
Movements to solve these issues included : the first Earth Day in 1970 which brought about much public awareness of needed to be done; the Environmental Protection Agency started in 1970 by congress which passed the Clean Air and the Clean water Act.

sources cited: LEP, AMSCO,