The early 1970s were a transformative time politically, economically, and socially. The previous decade had been a turbulent time of liberal reform and counter-culture movements. The 1970s saw a conservative response to this. Consequently, this period experienced the rise of the so-called New Right. This movement promoted the free-market economy...
The early 1970s were a transformative time politically, economically, and socially. The previous decade had been a turbulent time of liberal reform and counter-culture movements. The 1970s saw a conservative response to this. Consequently, this period experienced the rise of the so-called New Right. This movement promoted the free-market economy and advocated a return to "family values." Overall, the New Right wanted to remove what it saw as a government taking an overactive approach to private affairs. This meant limiting taxes and rolling back environmental protections.
In spite of this, the environmental movement really took off in the early 1970s. The first year of the decade saw the establishment of the EPA and the creation of Earth Day. The Clean Water Act was passed into law in 1972. Conservation became a major issue and people from various parts of society got involved in grassroots environmental protection efforts.
This was also a time of action for the women's rights movement. 1972 saw the opening of the first shelter for battered women. The Roe v Wade decision of 1973 protected abortion rights throughout the country.
Inflation became a serious concern in the early 1970s. In 1971, inflation rates hit a high of 6 percent. Three years later it reached 10 percent. This resulted in government-instituted price and wage controls. At the same time, faith in the power of the dollar dwindled, which led to a depletion of the country's gold reserves.
The 1973-1974 oil embargo by OPEC created an energy crisis in the United States. This led to a reduction in production and severely damaged the country's economic power.
As the Vietnam War raged on and Nixon seemed unable to implement his plan for victory that he had promised during his campaign, the anti-war movement gathered steam. The invasion of Cambodia in 1970 further galvanized this movement and led to protests across the country. The Kent State shooting on May 4, 1970, further deepened the social and political divide in the United States. Eventually, popular opinion against United States military involvement in Southeast Asia led to the withdrawal of US forces in 1973.
Perhaps the most emblematic event of the early 1970s was the Watergate break-in and the ensuing scandal. This led many to question the integrity of their elected officials. This erosion of public trust had long-lasting impacts.