History Timeline 1970's

Photo above: President Richard Nixon. Courtesy National Archives. Right: Statue of Secretariat at Belmont Park, 2014, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.


U.S. Timeline - The 1970s

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  • Timeline

  • 1970 - Detail

    February 18, 1970 - Five members of the Chicago 7 are convicted of crossing state lines to incite riots during the 1968 Democratic Presidential Convention in Chicago.

    Democratic Convention 1968

    It involved protests that turned into riots in a political year that put almost all to shame. Seven defendents, or eight depending on your point of view, would be known as the Chicago Seven, or Conspiracy Eight, as the masterminds of the havoc that ensued at the Democratic Convention in Chicago from August 26 to 29, 1968. Yes, the convention that would eventually lead to a ticket of Humbert Humphrey and Senator Edmund Muskie, but in history's gaze, is more know for the unrest in the nation, from the assasinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy to the riots in Chicago.

    The convention itself would pit anti-war candidates, who received the most votes in the primaries, and the traditional party activists in the President Lyndon B. Johnson wing. Johnson had pulled from the race in March, and with the Kennedy assasinations leaving his delegates uncommitted, the race for the nomination and the political unrest of the uncertainty would lead to protests within the city. Mayor Richard Daley, an ally of the Johnson/Humphrey wing, and the Chicago police force, assisted by the Illinois National Guard, would end up being pitted against "Festival of Life" Yippie anti-war protesters. Daley had 23,000 police; the protesters 10,000. On August 28, a protest rally in Grant Park moved through the city, becoming violent, then suppressed by Daley's force. The demonstrators thought their cause, and what they perceived as over the top police brutality would rally the anti-war sentiment across the country and elect an anti-war President. In actuality, the Democrats nominated Humphrey, of the Johnson/Daley wing, and the Republican, Richard Nixon, won the Presidency anyway.

    The Chicago Seven Influence

    David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, and Tom Hayden met in Lake Villa, Illinois, on March 23 with other peace activists and planned coordinated protests. Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman coordinated a Youth Festival for Chicago, tried to get a permit, but when denied, came anyway. Conflict began between the police and protesters when the police tried to evict them from areas where they were not permitted to be as the protesters attempted to march to the Convention Center. In the end, there were five hundred and eight-nine arrests, one hundred and nineteen police injured, and one hundred protester injured.

    On September 9, 1968, a federal grand jury was charged with investigating the riots, eventually settling on eight protesters; Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner, and Bobby Seale. Seale's trial would be separated from the rest, leaving the Conspiracy Eight with seven defendents. They were indicted on March 20, 1969 under the Civil Rights Act of 1968 on the federal crime of crossing state lines to incite a riot. The grand jury also indicted eight police officers for their role.

    The trial began on September 24, 1969. It ended on February 18, 1970 with acquittal of all seven on charges of conspiracy, but conviction on crossing state lines to incite a riot to all by Froines and Weiner. Two days later, the five were sentenced to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

    The Chicago Seven After Conviction

    On November 21, 1972, all five were exonerated on appeal on the federal crime and contempt charges by the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Seventh Circuit, who cited bias of the original judge. The inciting riot charges were never retried. Some of the contempt charges were retried and four of the five were found guilty. No fines or jail time were awarded. Bobby Seale, segmented from the original eight, a member of the Black Panther Party, was found guilty of contempt of court, and sentenced to four years in prison.

    Presidential Election After Convention

    Richard Nixon defeated the Democratic ticket easily, winning 301 Electoral votes to 191 for Humphrey, and 46 for Third Party candidate George Wallace. The protests in Chicago, which the anti-war faction thought would lead to victory for their candidates, actually pushed the electorate toward the Republican candidate, who ran on a law and order platform, plus a new direction in the Vietnam War, but not peace. Nixon won the state of Illinois. The Vietnam War would last until 1975.

    Photo above: Illinois delegates at the 1968 Democratic Convention, Warren K. Leffler, 1968. Courtesy Library of Congress. Photo below: Street protest prior to Convention, August 10, 1968, David Wilson. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Source info: Wikipedia Commons, CNN.com.

    Chicago Protests 1968

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