Moratorium Movement Essay Topics

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Lead Story


Mata Hari executed

Mata Hari, the archetype of the seductive female spy, is executed for espionage by a French firing squad at Vincennes outside of Paris. She first came to Paris in 1905 and found fame as a performer of exotic Asian-inspired dances. She soon began touring all over Europe, telling the story of...

American Revolution


British retreat from Middleburgh

A combined force of 1,000 British regulars, Hessians, Loyalists and Indians, led by Loyalist Sir John Johnson and Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant, attempts an unsuccessful attack upon Middleburgh (or Middle Fort), New York, on this day in 1780. Only 200 Continental soldiers under Major Melanchthon Woolsey were defending the fort, and...



“Funeral coaches” exempted from car-seat law

On this day in 2004, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rules that hearse manufacturers no longer have to install anchors for child-safety seats in their vehicles. In 1999, to prevent parents from incorrectly installing the seats using only their cars’ seat belts, the agency had required all carmakers to...

Civil War


C.S.S. Hunley sinks during tests

On this day in 1863, the C.S.S. Hunley, the world’s firstsuccessful combat submarine, sinks during a test run, killing its inventor and seven crewmembers. Horace Lawson Hunley developed the 40-foot submarine from a cylinder boiler. It was operated by a crew of eight—one person steered while the other seven turned a...

Cold War


Mikhail Gorbachev wins Nobel Peace Prize

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev wins the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in ending Cold War tensions. Since coming to power in 1988, Gorbachev had undertaken to concentrate more effort and funds on his domestic reform plans by going to extraordinary lengths to reach foreign policy understandings with the...



A murderous husband is executed

Arthur Eggers, who was convicted of killing his wife, Dorothy, because of her alleged promiscuity, is executed in the gas chamber at San Quentin Prison. He probably would have gotten away with the crime had the investigators not received a few lucky breaks. In January 1946, hikers came across a woman’s...



Hurricane Hazel hits the Carolinas and Ontario

Hurricane Hazel, the fourth major hurricane of 1954, hammers southern Ontario, Canada, on this day in 1954. Hazel hit hard from Jamaica to Canada, killing more than 400 people and causing over $1 billion in damages. On October 5 hurricane hunters spotted Hurricane Hazel about 50 miles east of the island...

General Interest


Vichy leader executed for treason

Pierre Laval, the puppet leader of Nazi-occupied Vichy France, is executed by firing squad for treason against France. Laval, originally a deputy and senator of pacifist tendencies, shifted to the right in the 1930s while serving as minister of foreign affairs and twice as the French premier. A staunch anti-communist, he...


Gretzky breaks scoring record

During a game against his old team, the Edmonton Oilers, Canadian ice hockey great Wayne Gretzky breaks Gordie Howe’s National Hockey League career scoring record of 1,850 points.Gretzky dominated professional hockey during the 1980s, setting numerous records and leading the Oilers to four Stanley Cup victories. In 1988, the “Great...


Thomas confirmed to the Supreme Court

After a bitter confirmation hearing, the U.S. Senate votes 52 to 48 to confirm Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. In July 1991, Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to sit on the Supreme Court, announced his retirement after 34 years. President George Bush quickly nominated Clarence Thomas, a 43-year-old...



Drew Carey debuts as new host of The Price is Right

On this day in 2007, the comedian and actor Drew Carey takes over hosting duties on The Price is Right, the longest-running daytime game show in television history. Carey replaced Bob Barker, who retired at the age of 83 after hosting the show for 35 years. Barker, who was born on...



P.G. Wodehouse is born

Comic novelist P.G. Wodehouse, creator of Jeeves the butler, is born on this day in Surrey, England. Wodehouse attended Dulwich College in London, then went to work as a humor columnist for the London Globe. He also worked as a freelance writer. After 1909, he spent extended periods of time in...


Moneyball author Michael Lewis is born

On this day in 1960, Michael Lewis, author of such nonfiction best-sellers as “Moneyball” and “The Blind Side,” is born in New Orleans. Lewis studied art history at Princeton University, graduating in 1982, and earned a degree from the London School of Economics. He went on to work as a...



Duke Ellington records his first big hit, “Mood Indigo”

The legendary composer and bandleader Duke Ellington was so famous for his poise and charm that it should be no surprise that he had a pithy story at the ready whenever he was asked about one of his most famous and enduring works, “Mood Indigo.” Of the song he and...

Old West


Chiricahua Apache leader Victorio is killed south of El Paso, Texas

The warrior Victorio, one of the greatest Apache military strategists of all time, dies this day, in 1880, in the Tres Castillos Mountains south of El Paso, Texas. Born in New Mexico around 1809, Victorio grew up during a period of intense hostility between the native Apache Indians of the southwest...



Gerald Ford marries Elizabeth Bloomer

On this day in 1948, future President Gerald Ford marries Elizabeth Anne (“Betty”) Bloomer. The handsome, blonde, blue-eyed Ford grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and went on to play football at the University of Michigan, where he was voted the team’s most valuable player in his senior year. He then...



Wayne Gretzky breaks NHL points record

On October 15, 1989, 28-year-old Los Angeles King Wayne Gretzky breaks Gordie Howe’s points record (1,850) in the final period of a game against the Edmonton Oilers. Gretzky’s record-setting goal tied the game; in overtime he scored another, and the Kings won 5-4. Gretzky had entered the game with 1,849 points....

Vietnam War


First draft card burned

In a demonstration staged by the student-run National Coordinating Committee to End the War in Vietnam, the first public burning of a draft card in the United States takes place. These demonstrations drew 100,000 people in 40 cities across the country. In New York, David Miller, a young Catholic pacifist,...


Operation Attleboro continues in Tay Ninh Province

U.S. troops move into Tay Ninh Province near the Cambodian border, about 50 miles north of Saigon, and sweep the area in search of Viet Cong as part of Operation Attleboro, which had begun in September. The purpose of this operation was to find and eliminate all enemy troops west of...

World War I


Mata Hari is executed

On this day in 1917, the exotic dancer Mata Hari is executed by a French firing squad at Vincennes, outside of Paris, for the crime of espionage. Born Margueretha Gertruida Zelle in a small town in northern Holland and formerly married to a captain in the Dutch army, Mata Hari had...

World War II


Herman Goering dies

On this day in 1946, Herman Goering, commander in chief of the Luftwaffe, president of the Reichstag, head of the Gestapo, prime minister of Prussia, chief forester of the Reich, chief liquidator of sequestered estates, supreme head of the National Weather Bureau, and Hitler’s designated successor dies by his own...

By 1970, the Vietnam War was the longest military engagement Australia had ever participated in and many ordinary Australians were opposed to it. Following the success of moratorium rallies held in American cities in 1969, citizen groups joined forces to stage something similar in Australia. They hoped to force a withdrawal of Australian and other foreign troops from Vietnam and to repeal the National Service Act (1964). The first moratorium took place in May 1970. Across Australia, over 200,000 people took part, with an estimated 100,000 turning out in Melbourne for a peaceful occupation of the city on May 8. A second moratorium was held in September 1970, and a third in June 1971. In the lead up to the 1972 federal election, a promise to end conscription was part of the Labor campaign. The newly elected Whitlam Government immediately abolished conscription and released from prison those who had resisted it. The first step in the Australian withdrawal from troops from Vietnam had actually occured just before the first moratorium. By December 1972 only 179 Australian troops remained in Vietnam and Whitlam ordered them home.

This unexpurgated report from the frontline of the Melbourne moratorium takes us right into the centre of the march and captures the variety of people showing their support for the cause - as well as some who disapprove. For the 80 Days project this remarkable footage was liberated from its dusty old film can and digitised for the first time. Look out for cameo appearances from Graeme Blundell and the La Mama theatre troupe. Moratorium mastermind Jim Cairns can be seen amongst those linking arms behind the reporter at the front of the march.

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