Alternate History

Timeline (For Want of Sobriety)

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  • At a party for a group of women who had served on Robert F. Kennedy's presidential campaign, Senator Ted Kennedy is interrupted by John Crimmins, Kennedy's part-time driver who graciously volunteers to drive Mary Jo Kopechene to the island's nearby fairy, so she can return to the Massachusetts mainland. The rest of the party remains relatively uneventful.
  • Days later, the lunar module Eagle lands on the lunar surface. An estimated 500 million people worldwide watch in awe as Buzz Aldrin takes his historic first steps on the Moon at 02:56 UTC, the largest television audience for a live broadcast at the time.
  • U.S. President Richard Nixon declares the Nixon Doctrine, stating that the United States now expects its Asian allies to take care of their own military defense. This begins the "Vietnamization" of the war. Meanwhile, at the apartment of French intermediary Jean Sainteny in Paris, U.S. representative Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese representative Xuan Thuy begin secret peace negotiations.
  • Cult leader Charles Manson and several of his followers are arrested upon attempting a break and enter in the home of famed director Roman Polanski.
  • Conflict erupts between opposing forces along the Soviet-Chinese border. 68 Soviet soldiers are killed. President Nixon immediately responds, urging for an end to conflict.
  • The Woodstock Festival is held in upstate New York, featuring some of the top rock musicians of the era. Most memorable of all is a last minute unexpected appearance by the Beatles.
  • A coup in Libya ousts King Idris, and brings Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi to power.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people take part in antiwar demonstrations across the United States. Democratic leaders in Congress call for an end to conflict in Vietnam, urging Nixon to speed up withdrawal. Notable among them is Senator Ted Kennedy, who blasts President Nixon for a perceived intent to escalate the conflict in South East Asia, calling the President's actions "in direct violation of the promises he made to get elected."

"Nixon's backtrack on Vietnam did little to surprise me. What did, was the strength and ferocity amongst America's youth, whose unrelenting resistance to bloodshed inspired my hopes for what we could do to get back in the White House."

-Ted Kennedy Interviewed for The Tenacity of Progress (2003)

  • Willy Brandt becomes Chancellor of West Germany.
  • U.S. President Richard M. Nixon addresses the nation on television and radio, asking the "silent majority" to join him in solidarity with the Vietnam War effort, and to support his policies. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew denounces the President's critics as 'an effete corps of impudent snobs' and 'nattering nabobs of negativism'.

"It was my address to the nation that I came to see as a watershed moment in my Presidency, a point in which I put my faith in the American people, who I trusted would do the right thing. I hoped Americans would stand up to the brats and the snobs who constantly denounced what what the real America was fighting for, and I knew I sure as hell wasn't going to back down."

-From RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon (1979)

  • Independent investigative journalist Seymour Hersh breaks the My Lai story, revealing the atrocities committed by American troops, who killed hundreds of South Vietnamese civilians. Immediately, there is widespread outrage as domestic support for the war dips further. Across the United States, anti-war protests break out with thousands of found people taking to the streets. In San Francisco demonstrators clash with police as scenes of civil unrest are broadcast throughout the nation. California Governor Ronald Reagan calls protestors "destructive, malicious and misguided." Across Europe, similar mass demonstrations are seen for weeks. President Nixon quickly announces that he had no knowledge of the incident.

"The revelation of what went on at My Lai was to say the least disturbing. If there was any single event that proved we shouldn't be in Vietnam it was that. A single crime that shouted out loud that this conflict must end."

-From True Compass: The Memoirs of Ted Kennedy (1993)

  • Negotiators from the Soviet Union and the United States meet in Helsinki, to begin the SALT I negotiations aimed at limiting the number of strategic weapons on both sides
  • The United States Senate votes down the Supreme Court nomination of Clement Haynsworth, the first such rejection since 1930.

"Clement Haynsworth is a living, breathing danger to the success of African Americans in this country, and I am glad to stop him at all costs."

-Ted Kennedy Interviewed 1969

  • U.S. President Richard Nixon and Japanese Premier Eisaku Sato agree in Washington, D.C. to the return of Okinawa to Japanese control in 1972. Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. retains rights to military bases on the island, but they must be nuclear-free.The first ARPANET link is established (the progenitor of the global Internet).
  • The Piazza Fontana bombing in Italy (Strage di Piazza Fontana) takes place.



An earthquake (Richter Scale 7.7 magnitude) at Yunnan, China kills at least 15,621.


Senator Ted Kennedy attends an official ceremony marking the first flight to leave John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.


Fresh Tensions Over Vietnam As Kennedy Hits President Hard

-From The Boston Globe


While attending a fundraiser for his reelection campaign in Boston, Ted Kennedy chastises the President calling him "a politician first and an American second" Kennedy goes on to state "President Nixon has no desire to end the war as long it will damage his popularity" Nixon responds, disregarding Kennedy's statements as "the work of one seeking higher office."


Rhodesia Becomes A "Britain Free" Republic

-From The Economist


Rhodesia severs its last tie with the United Kingdom, declaring itself a republic.


Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty goes into effect.


The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty goes into effect, after ratification by 56 nations.


22 Officials Face Incarceration



The United States Army charges 22 officers with suppressing information related to the My Lai incident.

"I believe all military officials charged in this case will receive a fair trial, whether or not the allegations against American soldiers are true, I cannot say."

-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Interviewed 1970

"The charges against American soldiers that emerged in the aftermath of My Lai were astonishing. It was a symbolic slap in the face to the US military and a complete invalidation of America's War in Vietnam"

-From In the Midst of Service: The Trials and Tribulations of John Kerry (2008)

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