1969 was a very interesting year for US politics and legal issues. was an interesting year for government and politics. Learn which law, government and political events made the list as 1969 milestones.
Nixon's First Inauguration
On January 20, 1969, Richard Milhous Nixon was sworn in as 37th president of the United States. A former U.S. congressman, senator and vice president, Nixon lost his first presidential bid to John F. Kennedy in 1960 by a narrow margin. In 1968, he made a political comeback, defeating both Democrat Hubert Humphrey and Independent candidate George Wallace to win the White House. Nixon was re-elected in 1972, but victory was short-lived. Following the Watergate scandal, Nixon resigned in 1974 to avoid impeachment—the first U.S. president ever to resign the office. A month later, his successor and former vice president, U.S. President Gerald Ford, granted Nixon a "full, free, and absolute pardon" so he wouldn't have to face criminal charges.
Give Peace a Chance
The Paris Peace talks began in 1968 in an effort to find a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Vietnam. The talks quickly broke down, but resumed in 1969, along with secret negotiations between U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, chief negotiator for North Vietnam. The Paris Peace Talks eventually ended direct U.S. involvement in Vietnam (beginning in 1973). Kissinger and Le Duc Tho were jointly awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts, although Le Duc Tho declined the honor.
The First Vietnam-Era Draft Lottery
On December 1, 1969, the U.S. Selective Service held the first since 1942 to determine which young American men would be drafted to fight in Vietnam. The lottery applied to all eligible U.S. men born between January 1, 1944, and December 31, 1950. Every date on the calendar was written on a slip of paper, placed in a blue plastic capsule, dumped into a deep glass cylinder, and drawn out one at a time. Men were assigned a number and drafted based on the order in which their birth dates were chosen. Those born on the first 195 dates drawn in the 1969 lottery were called to serve. The 1970 lottery applied to men born in 1951; 1971 applied to men born in 1952. The numbers in four other lotteries weren't used because the draft ended in 1973.
The Birth of the Gay Rights Movement
The Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in New York's Greenwich Village was a rundown gay bar owned by the Mafia. At 1:20 a.m. on June 28, 1969, New York City Police raided the bar—homosexuals were still heavily persecuted and treated as criminals in 1969—but gay patrons resisted and fought back. That initial conflict sparked a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations over the next few days that gave rise to the Gay Rights Movement. A year later, on June 28, 1970, the first Gay Pride Parades were held in New York and Los Angeles to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
Some of the events surrounding the death of Mary Jo Kopechne on the night of July 18, 1969 remain as murky as the tidal pond where she died after the car driven by U.S. Sen. Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy plunged through a guard rail and into the water. Kennedy pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury and received a suspended sentence of two months—the statutory minimum. The controversy surrounding Kopechne's death probably ended any presidential ambitions Kennedy had, but he continued to serve as a respected member of the U.S. Senate until his death in 2009.
The Chicago Seven
The Chicago Seven were originally The Chicago Eight—eight defendants who were indicted for conspiracy, inciting to riot and other charges arising from protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois—but the judge later ordered a separate trial for Black Panther Co-Founder Bobby Seale. The trial of the Chicago Seven became a bigger news event than the protests that led to the arrests of activists such as Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman and Tom Hayden, as the defendants insulted the judge, challenged the authority of the court, and generally used the trial to continue to their protest of government repression and the war in Vietnam.