1st Edition

The "Silent Majority" Speech Richard Nixon, the Vietnam War, and the Origins of the New Right

By Scott Laderman Copyright 2020
    194 Pages
    by Routledge

    194 Pages
    by Routledge

    The "Silent Majority" Speech treats Richard Nixon’s address of November 3, 1969, as a lens through which to examine the latter years of the Vietnam War and their significance to U.S. global power and American domestic life.

    The book uses Nixon’s speech – which introduced the policy of "Vietnamization" and cited the so-called bloodbath theory as a justification for continued U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia – as a fascinating moment around which to build an analysis of the last years of the war. For Nixon’s strategy to be successful, he requested the support of what he called the "great silent majority," a term that continues to resonate in American political culture. Scott Laderman moves beyond the war’s final years to address the administration’s hypocritical exploitation of moral rhetoric and its stoking of social divisiveness to achieve policy aims. Laderman explores the antiwar and pro-war movements, the shattering of the liberal consensus, and the stirrings of the right-wing resurgence that would come to define American politics.

    Supplemental primary sources make this book an ideal tool for introducing students to historical research. The "Silent Majority" Speech is critical reading for those studying American political history and U.S.–Asian/Southeast Asian relations.

    Series Introduction

    List of Figures


    A Brief Note on Language


    Part One:

    Introduction. Toward "Peace"

    1. Richard Nixon, the Cold War, and Southeast Asia

    2. Vietnamization and the Illusion of Peace

    3. Nixon and the Bloodbath Theory

    4. The "Great Silent Majority" and Right-Wing Revanchism

    Epilogue. Conjuring Nixon in the Twenty-First Century

    Part Two: Documents

    1. Richard Nixon, "Address to the Nation on the War in Vietnam," November 3, 1969

    2. Mrs. Dennis W. Harrison to Richard Nixon, November 4, 1969

    3. Commentary by George Salem, KWGN Television, November 5, 1969

    4. Editors, "President on Solid Ground in Search for Vietnam Peace," Orlando

    Sentinel, November 5, 1969

    5. Robert T. Park, et al., to Richard M. Nixon, November 17, 1969

    6. Excerpt from Colonel Robert D. Heinl, Jr., "The Collapse of the Armed

    Forces," Armed Forces Journal (June 7, 1971)

    7. Excerpt from George McT. Kahin, "History and the Bloodbath Theory in Vietnam," New

    York Times, December 6, 1969

    8. Richard Nixon, "Address to the Nation on the Situation in Southeast

    Asia," April 30, 1970



    Scott Laderman is a professor of history at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. His previous books include Tours of Vietnam: War, Travel Guides, and Memory (2009) and Empire in Waves: A Political History of Surfing (2014).

    "In his concise analysis of President Richard Nixon’s 'Silent Majority' speech, Scott Laderman elucidates how Nixon used his policy of 'positive polarization' to pursue his effort toward victory in Vietnam, and demonstrates how President Nixon’s speech helped bring forth the rise of the political right. An excellent examination of the beginnings of the political discourse that have shaped post-Vietnam War America."

    David F. Schmitz, Robert Allen Skotheim Chair of History, Whitman College, USA