Public Opinion and the Vietnam War
Video Summary: "In order to win a war, you must win the hearts and minds of the people." With this quote, Liz Morrison introduces her students to the Vietnam War, the controversy over U.S. involvement in the war, and the trajectory of public opinion over the course of the war.
Using data cards and a timeline of the war's key events, Ms. Morrison begins the lesson by asking students to predict public opinion at different points during the war on an approval/disapproval continuum. Then students study the events of the war more closely by interviewing people who lived through the war and watching evening news footage that was aired at the time. Students also examine public opinion by analyzing Gallup Polls conducted between December 1965 and February 1968. Students look for trends in polling data -- for example, in President Johnson's approval ratings and in the percentage of Americans who believed the United States was making a mistake by sending its troops to Vietnam. Finally, Ms. Morrison plays music that was written in response to the war and asks students to interpret the lyrics and consider the influence popular music has on public opinion. As the lesson concludes, students compare what they've learned about the war to their initial predictions of public approval and disapproval.