Significant National Events: 1971-1976
U.S. President Nixon initially expanded the Viet Nam War into Cambodia and Laos. But he changed course and in late 1973 announced the end of the war. For the people of Viet Nam, however, the war didn't end until the fall of Saigon in 1975. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in 1970. It became the agency responsible for enforcing the 1970 expansion of the Clean Air Act and the 1972 Clean Water Act. A constitutional amendment to lower the voting age to 18 from 21 was ratified in 1971. The Education Amendments of 1972 included the U.S. federal civil rights law Title IX which states that, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” This law and the Civil Rights Act of 1974 recognized and promoted women’s rights at MSU and schools across the country.
In 1972, President Nixon was re-elected by a large margin over Democratic candidate George McGovern. However, in August, 1974, the Watergate scandal led to Nixon's resignation and Vice-President Gerald Ford became President until January, 1977, when President Jimmy Carter was inaugurated. The U.S. experienced a major stock market crash that lasted for the two years of 1973-74. Beginning in 1973, and well into the 1990s, real earnings for all but the very wealthiest Americans remained flat, or declined. An energy crisis began in 1973 and lasted through the decade. It was precipitated by fluctuations of oil production in the Middle East and panic gas hoarding in the U.S.
The student loan system was changed in 1973 when the U.S. Congress created the Student Loan Marketing Association (“Sallie Mae”). It sold student loans, with federal guarantees and without bankruptcy protection for loan recipients, on the secondary market. The use of student loans increased when state governments, including Montana, decided to fund a smaller portion of the cost of higher education and to pass a greater share of expenses to students. Four decades later student indebtedness nationally reached $1.3 trillion and became a major financial burden on the population of college graduates.
The U.S. bicentennial occurred in 1976 and on July 4, there was a nation-wide celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The Viking 1 spacecraft successfully landed on Mars that year and sent back the first close-up color photos of the planet's surface.
Microsoft was founded in 1975 and Apple Computer was founded in 1976. The first mass-consumer desktop computers, like the Apple II, the Commodore PET, and RadioShack's TRS-80, appeared in 1977.
Last revised: 2020-06-20