Change versus Consolidation.
During the 1960s major changes took place in American attitudes toward and about the law. At the same time the law itself was consolidating a trend in the direction of individual rights that had begun twenty-five years before. Three notorious criminal cases—the Richard Hickock and Perry Smith "In Cold Blood" murders, the Charles Manson case, and the trial of the Chicago Seven—one at the beginning and two at the end of the decade, and a series of legislative enactments and court decisions in the area of civil rights illustrate these developments.
The Legacy of World War II.
At the beginning of the decade, America was only fifteen years past the end of World War II. That conflict had been the greatest collective effort in the nation's history. By the early 1960s a large part of the men who had served in the war and the women who had maintained the home front were entering their most economically productive and socially influential years. The war effort had imbued in them a spirit of obedience to rules which carried over into their attitudes about the law. There was a strong social consensus about what was right and what was wrong. So pervasive was this agreement about the law and its supporting morality that even people who committed horrible crimes acknowledged that they had done the wrong thing....
(The entire section is 1444 words.)
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