The "Silent Majority" Speech

Richard Nixon, the Vietnam War, and the Origins of the New Right, 1st Edition

By Scott Laderman


176 pages

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Paperback: 9780415347495
pub: 2019-10-01
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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.

Table of Contents

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


About the Author

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).

About the Series

Critical Moments in American History

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / United States / 20th Century
HISTORY / Social History