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When Jimmy Carter became president, he declared an amnesty program for all those who...

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nurse2007 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted June 15, 2013 at 5:22 PM via web

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When Jimmy Carter became president, he declared an amnesty program for all those who had avoided the draft illegally. This was a popular move at the time. How did the average American citizen feel about those that avoided the draft while the war was still ongoing?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 15, 2013 at 5:48 PM (Answer #1)

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I am not aware of any polling on this question that was done at various times during the Vietnam War.  Therefore, an answer to this question will have to consist of speculation.  In general, the attitudes of Americans would have been very different at different times in the war.  The opinion of the average American turned more and more against the war as the war moved along.

When the United States first became deeply involved in the war, support for the war was still quite strong.  At that time, the US had not yet sent huge numbers of draftees to Vietnam and so the issue would not have been foremost in many people’s minds.  However, we can assume that people would have had negative attitudes towards draft evaders since they had a positive attitude towards the war.  By the late 1960s and early 1970, however, there was very little support for the war in the United States.  It is likely that the average American would have approved of draft dodging to some degree at a time when 60% of Americans felt that the war was a mistake and only 30% said it had not been a mistake.

Thus, we can infer that sentiment with regard to draft dodgers became more and more positive as time went by, but I am not aware of any polling on this exact question.

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