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Articles
Alice's Restaurant
Altamont Music Festival
Art Movements
Biafran War
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Flower Children
Mercury Space Program
Photocopying
The Pill

Other Elements
Index
Table of Contents

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The Twenties in America
Flappers, prohibition, jazz, the
    Lost Generation and the Marx
    Brothers.

The Thirties in America
Bonnie & Clyde, The Dust Bow, The
    New Deal, Al Capone, Black Holes,
    Gershwin, Jesse Owens.

The Forties in America
World War II, Citizen Kane, The
    Jitterbug, Sinatra, Polaroid,
    Nuremburg, Ben Hogan.

The Fifties in America
I Love Lucy, 3-D, Flying Saucers,
    Nixon's Checkers Speech, and
    Brown v. Board of Education.

The Sixties in America
Alice's Restaurant, Altamont,
    Biafra, Flower Children, the Pill,
    & the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Seventies in America
Bellbottoms, Nixon, Fonda, Jaws
    & the Equal Rights Amendment.

The Eighties in America
Reagan, AIDS, the Challenger
    MTV, Yuppies, "Who Shot J.R.?"

The Nineties in America
The Gulf War, dot-coms, Y2K
    impeachment, grunge


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The Sixties in America

Editor: Carl Singleton
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List Price: $364

March 1999 · 3 volumes · 941 pages · 8"x10"

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The Sixties in America
Biafran War

Unsuccessful war of secession in Nigeria. The war highlighted the tensions in U.S. foreign policy between stability of sovereign countries and the rights of peoples to self-determination against dictatorial governments.

The Biafran war was a civil war in which Biafra, a southeastern state dominated by Ibos, attempted to separate from Nigeria. The first incident in the war was a January 15, 1966, coup attempt. The civilian government had traditionally been controlled by the mostly Islamic Hausa and Fulani of northern Nigeria. Although the conspirators failed, the new military leadership took steps to change Nigeria from a regional federal system to a more unitary government. Northerners perceived this as a plot against them and launched a counter-coup in July, 1966. This coup succeeded, except in the Ibo-dominated Eastern Region.

A series of ethnic massacres later in 1966, mostly by northerners against the Ibo, foreclosed the possibility of reunification between the southeast, led by Lieutenant Colonel Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwo, and the rest of Nigeria, led by General Jakubo Gowon. Over one million Ibos fled other parts of Nigeria for the Eastern Region, and media throughout Nigeria fanned ethnic resentments. In May, 1967, Gowon announced the reorganization of Nigeria from four large geographic regions to twelve ethnic states: The Ibo section of the east would be in a different state from the oil-rich eastern coast. Having already appropriated most of the region's revenue and begun arming a regional army, Ojukwo declared independence for Biafra on June 1. After some brief success in taking the war toward Lagos, the Nigerian capital, the Ibo regions of Biafra were surrounded by federal troops and besieged. Biafra mostly failed in achieving international recognition: The official position of the Organization of African Unity was to support the retention of the original colonial boundaries and to not intervene in members' internal conflicts. The British and Soviets supplied the central government with arms; France provided less-open aid to Biafra. This, and a stream of humanitarian aid, helped maintain a yearlong stalemate beginning in late 1968. Nigeria, fearing further secession, would not concede national unity, especially in the light of its military advantage. Biafra, fearing genocide, refused to surrender. Biafran resistance collapsed in January, 1970. Estimates of Biafran casualties range between five hundred thousand and two million, mostly as a result of the siege. The feared postwar genocide did not materialize.

Impact
The humanitarian aspect of the crisis in Biafra, with thousands of people dying daily from 1968 on, held the greatest attention in the United States. Media reports and photographs of ill and starving children and adults filled American newspapers and television screens. Groups such as the American Committee to Keep Biafra sent funds and supplies to Biafra, although the U.S. government maintained an arms embargo on both sides of the conflict. President Lyndon B. Johnson was pressed by opponents, including Eugene McCarthy and Richard M. Nixon, to do more for Biafra; Nixon's policy as president was not markedly different from Johnson's. In the radical atmosphere of the late 1960's, the United States policy of nonintervention was vulnerable to criticism. The sentiments and dilemmas presented by the Biafran crisis have since been revisited in other countries such as Bangladesh, Somalia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Additional Information
John de St. Jorre, a war correspondent with the London Observer, has written a detailed account of the war and its broader significance in The Brothers' War: Biafra and Nigeria (1972).

Thomas S. Mowle

See Also
Johnson, Lyndon B.; McCarthy, Eugene.


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