Year 11

Support for the war

I can explain why some groups supported the war.

Year 11

Support for the war

I can explain why some groups supported the war.

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Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. After anti-war protests, Nixon called on the ‘Silent Majority’ of Americans to support his methods of ending the war.
  2. Nixon’s popularity increased greatly after this speech.
  3. People supported the war because of their patriotism and fear of communism.
  4. Blue-collar workers in favour of US involvement in Vietnam held their own rallies and attacked anti-war protesters.

Common misconception

Large-scale protests must mean that most people are against something.

A majority of people rarely, if ever, get involved in public protests, so we cannot draw absolute conclusions about what the majority thinks.


  • Patriotism - patriotism is a great love for one’s own country

  • Hard hat - a hard hat is a rigid, protective helmet, as worn by factory and construction workers

  • Blue-collar worker - a blue-collar worker is someone who works in manual labour, such as manufacturing, agriculture, construction or mining

For Task C 1), you could introduce other groups and ask students how they might feel about Nixon's actions in supporting the Hard Hats. Other possible groups could include black civil rights leaders, Vietnam veterans, and the women's lib movement.
Teacher tip


Content guidance

  • Contains conflict or violence.


Adult supervision suggested.


This content is © Oak National Academy Limited (2024), licensed on Open Government Licence version 3.0 except where otherwise stated. See Oak's terms & conditions (Collection 2).



6 Questions

Roughly how much did the US spend on the Vietnam War in total?
$500 million
$32 billion
$73 billion
Correct answer: $167 billion
What happened in My Lai in March 1968?
the assassination of a high-ranking US general
the first use of napalm
Correct answer: a massacre of unarmed civilians
a collision between two US fighter jets
Complete the sentence: the Students for a Society was an anti-war group that had roughly 30 000 members across 300 colleges.
Correct Answer: Democractic, democratic
Match the form of protest to the definition.
Correct Answer:sit-in,demonstrators occupy a place by refusing to move

demonstrators occupy a place by refusing to move

Correct Answer:teach-in,an extended meeting usually held on a college campus

an extended meeting usually held on a college campus

Correct Answer:march,a group of people walking from an assembly point to a specific place

a group of people walking from an assembly point to a specific place

What was the term used for someone who refused the draft?
Correct Answer: Draft dodger, draft dodger, Draft-dodger, draft-dodger, Draft-Dodger
Place these events in chronological order.
1 - initial small-scale protests against US involvement in Vietnam
2 - chemical weapons such as Agent Orange and napalm authorised to be used
3 - My Lai Massacre
4 - 500 000 people attend the Vietnam War Moratorium march in Washington D.C.

6 Questions

What term did Nixon use to refer to the people who supported him and the war effort?
The Vocal Minority
Correct answer: The Silent Majority
The Willing Few
The Unwashed Masses
What is meant by the term 'blue-collar worker'?
Correct answer: someone who works in manual labour
someone who works in management
someone who works in government
someone who does not work
Pick two ways that Americans displayed their patriotism.
Every American was able to recite the Constitution.
Every home owned a copy of the Constitution.
Correct answer: They pledged allegiance to their flag every morning in school.
They saluted their flag whenever they saw it flying.
Correct answer: They sang the national anthem before every sporting event.
Complete the sentence: four students were killed and nine more injured by national guardsmen at State University, Ohio, on 4th May 1970.
What was the nickname given to construction workers who supported Nixon?
Correct Answer: Hard Hats, The Hard Hats, Hard hats, hard hats
How did Nixon respond to the Hard Hat Riot?
ordered the National Guard into New York
Correct answer: invited the leaders to the White House
imprisoned the worst offenders
made a speech publicly supporting the riot

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