The Silent Majority

President Nixon garnered approval with his "Silent Majority" speech in November 1969.

Transcript

Narrator: The fate of Lyndon Johnson did haunt Richard Nixon. He felt he had to demonstrate that most Americans still supported him and that it would not benefit Hanoi to stall peace negotiations. "Don't get rattled. Don't waver. Don't react," he told himself as he went to work on a speech to respond to the protests. Insisting on writing it himself, he distinguished his supporters, "the forgotten Americans," from the vocal minority in the streets, with a new catch phrase.

President Nixon (Archival, November 3, 1969): To you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans, I ask for your support, for the more divided we are at home, the less likely the enemy is to negotiate at Paris.

Let us be united for peace. Let us also be united against defeat because let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.

Narrator: It was the most effective speech of Nixon's presidency. Eighty thousand telegrams and letters arrived at the White House. Nearly all supported him. His approval rating soared. But the war continued and with it, the protests.

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  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH

  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH