Timeline: 1966

Jan 1  In the Central African Republic a military coup ousts its first president, David Dacko, who had established a one-party state and enjoyed the support of France. Dacko is replaced by Colonel Jean-Bédel Bokassa and imprisoned.

Jan 2  According to the New York Times, President Johnson's greatest personal disappointment for the year just ended is the failure of the United States to convince Hanoi and Beijing of the sincerity of its desire for peace in Vietnam.

Jan 4  Upper Volta (Burkina Faso) has been a single-party state since independence in 1960. In response to student, labor, civil service unrest and a general strike, a military coup ousts its first president, Maurice Yaméogo. In agreement with demonstrators, General Sangoué Lamizana takes power as head of a "provisional military government."

Jan 7 In Hanoi, a high level delegation from the Soviet Union expresses unity with North Vietnam and its wishes for an early Communist triumph over the United States forces in the South.

Jan 8  In Vietnam, the US launches its largest operation yet – Operation Crimp – with 8,000 troops and tanks. The purpose is to clear away the Viet Cong and capture their base near the district of Chu Chi, just north of Saigon. The area is razed and no Viet Cong base found.

Jan 9  In Nigeria, ethnic and regional differences mixed with unhappiness over recent elections has created unrest. There is rioting, looting and the burning alive of political rivals.

Julian Bond

Julian Bond

Jan 10  In the US, a duly elected young black, Julian Bond, is denied his seat in Georgia's legislature because of his opposition to the war in Vietnam.

Jan 10  In the Soviet Union, the Pakistani-Indian peace negotiations to resolve the Kashmir dispute has ended in an agreement. Pakistan and India sign a treaty. Signing for India is Prime Minister Shastri.

Jan 11 Prime Minister Shastri of India dies of a heart attack.

Jan 11 A journalist, Clyde Petit, has interviewed a couple hundred US servicemen in Vietnam. He passes along a statement from an officer that reads: "If there is a god, and he is very kind to us, and given a million men and five years and a miracle in making the South Vietnamese people like us, we stand an outside chance of a stalemate."

Jan 15 The Federal Prime Minister of Nigeria is kidnapped and two of the country's regional prime ministers are killed in a military coup.

Jan 16  Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi announces that he has accepted an invitation by the Council of Ministers to head a provisional federal military government for the purpose of maintaining law and order.

Jan 22 Ghana's President-for-Life, Kwame Nkrumah, officially opens his great dam on the Volta River.

Jan 24  In India, Indira Gandhi is sworn in as prime minister.

Jan 31  Responding to its displeasure with Ian Smith in Southern Rhodesia, Britain ceases all trade with what Smith calls Rhodesia.

Feb 6  Fidel Castro faults China for trying to spread hostility toward the Soviet Union among Cuban soldiers.

Feb 23  In Syria a group of army officers take power in Syria. The coup leaders describe their move as a "rectification" of Ba'ath Party principles.

Feb 24  Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana is visiting China. Nkrumah is allowing only a single political party. In Ghana, the army and police overthrow of his rule. It is an internally driven operation -- with support from the United States, via the CIA. The new regime cites Nkrumah's abuse of individual rights and liberties, corruption, dictatorial practices and the country's deteriorating Marxist-oriented economy.

Mar 2 Kwame Nkrumah arrives in Guinea and is granted political asylum.

John Lennon, 1966

John Lennon, 1966

Mar 4  John Lennon is annoyed and says, "We [Beatles] are more popular than Jesus." Some believe he is bragging and move to boycott Beatles music.

Mar 11 In Indonesia, Sukarno signs an order that transfers his presidential powers to General Suharto, while keeping his title as president.

Mar 22 General Motors President James M. Roche appears before a US Senate subcommittee and apologizes to consumer advocate Ralph Nader for the company's campaign of intimidation and harassment against him.

Mar 27 In South Vietnam, 20,000 Buddhists march in demonstrations against Saigon regime policies.

Mar 29 A Gallop poll for the past week has 54 percent approving President Johnson's handling of the Vietnam war and 31 percent opposed.

Apr 21 US Senator J William Fulbright, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is critical of President Johnson's efforts in Vietnam. He makes his "Arrogance of Power" speech at John Hopkins University and says that "Unlike the Republic of South Korea, South Vietnam has an army which [is] without notable success and a weak, dictatorial government which does not command the loyalty of the South Vietnamese People."

Apr 21  President Sukarno admonished his ministers not to view him "as a puppet."

Apr 29  US troops in Vietnam total 250,000.

May 4  Fiat signs a contract with the Soviet government to build a car factory in the Soviet Union.

May 6  The California Senate releases a report that describes the U.C. Berkeley campus as a haven for Communists.

May 12 In California, Ronald Reagan is running for republican nomination for governor. He has been listening to people complaining about wasteful government programs and "welfare chiselers," rising taxes, government regulation, arrogant bureaucrats and the unruly students at Berkeley. Reagan calls for the dismissal of those who contributed to the "degradation" of the university. He demands a legislative investigation of Communism and sexual misconduct at UC Berkeley, and he blames turmoil on the Berkeley campus on "a small group of beatniks, radicals, and filthy speech advocates."

May 13  In Berkeley, students are hard at work studying. It is spring and sometime around now I pass a little house a couple blocks from campus where a party has spilled onto the front lawn. Berkeley is still a friendly place and with few outsiders to detract from it being a student community, where people trust each other. I'm welcomed to the party where people are dancing, eating cheese and sipping wine. Maybe it was a birthday party. But the friendliness is about to change. Pot smoking is just beginning. Front doors have not yet closed. People are talking to each other at parties. Telegraph Avenue is still overwhelming filled with students going to and from campus. Outsiders have not yet flocked to Berkeley in significant numbers in response to media news and Berkeley's notoriety. People along Telegraph Avenue are still open, friendly and easy to meet. There is a sense of community. But this is about to change.

May 16  In China, an angry Mao Zedong has emerged from a semi-retirement and is still a venerated figure. He charges that a "bureaucratic class" is oppressing the workers and peasants. He has seen what he believes are counterrevolutionary expressions in art. His wife, Jiang Qing, has spoken of "poisonous weeds." Mao delivers a report to the Communist Party's Central Committee charging that "representatives of the bourgeoisie" have infiltrated the Communist Party at all levels. "Persons like Khrushchev, for example," says Mao "are still nestling beside us."

May 21-27 This week the American Council on Education names U.C. Berkeley the "best-balanced distinguished university in the country." Harvard is named as second.

May 24  The Nigerian government forbids all political activity in the country, a prohibition to last until 1969.

May 26  Guyana achieves independence from the United Kingdom.

Jun 1 Mao sides with a student rebellion at Beijing University. His wife, Jiang Qing, distributes armbands to the students and declares that they are a new vanguard of the revolution.

Jun 2  In the Republic of the Congo, four former cabinet ministers have been accused of plotting to assassinate President Mobutu. They are executed.

Jun 6  Civil rights activist James Meredith is shot while on his "March against Fear" from Memphis Tennessee, heading to Jackson, Mississippi. The march will continue, joined by an angry young activist Stokely Carmichael, Martin Luther King Jr. and many others.

Jun 13  The US Supreme Court, in Miranda v Arizona, rules that police must inform criminal suspects of their right to consult with an attorney and of their right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police.

Jun 14 The Vatican abolishes the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (index of banned books).

June 18  In China, a decree postpones university entrance exams for six months in order to refashion the education system. Middle schools and universities throughout the country are closed as students devote their time to Red Guard activities.

Jun 19  The Senate Internal Security subcommittee charges that Communists have played a key role in organizing campus demonstrations against the war in Vietnam.

Jun 28  In Argentina, Peronist gains in local elections and worker unrest concern the military. Another of Argentina's military coups deposes president Arturo Umberto Illia. The new military junta appoints General Juan Carlos Ongania as its leader.

June 29  US planes begin bombing Hanoi and Haiphong.

Jun-Jul ? Jacqueline Kennedy beats the chest of a friend from the days of the Kennedy administration, Robert S. McNamara, still Secretary of Defense, and asks him to "do something to stop the slaughter" in Vietnam.

Jul 4  North Vietnam declares general mobilization.

Jul 14  Richard Speck murders eight student nurses in their Chicago dormitory.

Jul 18-23  Days of violence in Cleveland's predominately black neighborhoods include arson destroying several blocks of homes and businesses. There are 275 arrests. Four people are killed and 30 critically injured. The Ohio National Guard reestablishes order.

Jul 28  Stokely Carmichael delivers a "black power" speech – a lecture to other blacks. Previously an integrationist allied with Dr. King's movement, Carmichael has turned separatist. He attacks whites helping the civil rights movement as "nothing but treacherous enemies." He says that what the "white press" has been calling riots are "rebellions not riots."

Jul 28 President Johnson announces that to meet" mounting aggression" in Vietnam he is increasing "our fighting strength from 75,000 to 125,000 men almost immediately." In month ago a Gallup poll showed disapproval of his handling of the war at 44 percent and approval at only 38 percent. Now his approval rating will leap back into the lead with 43 percent against 38 percent disapproving.

Jul 29  A power struggle continues in Nigeria. Another military coup, by northern officers, puts Lieutentant-General Yakubu Gowon in power. Thousands of the Igbo tribe flee from massacres in the north. The previous coup leader, Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, an Igbo, and his host, Lietuenant-Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, are stripped, flogged, beaten and then machine-gunned to death.

Aug 1  At the University of Texas at Austin, a sniper, Charles Whitman, kills thirteen.

Aug 1  Mao Zedong supports the Red Guards in a speech to the 11th plenum of the eighth CCP Congress.

Aug 5  Martin Luther King Jr. leads a march into Cicero, Illinois, where whites live next to a black community to their south and fear integration. The march finds hostility from bystanders, and King is struck by a rock.

Aug 5 In Beijing, Bian Zhongyun, principal of a Girls' Middle School, is beaten to death by "Red Guard" students.

Aug 6  University students in West Germany begin to take interest in political activism.

Aug 6  In Bolivia, the popular Rene Barrientos takes office as president. He is helped by his fluency in Quechua and his oratory. He describes himself as a staunch Christian and appears to some as a revolutionary and to others as a law-and-order conservative.

Aug 9  In Lansing, Michigan, 200 or 300 black youths have rampaged for the second night. Governor George Romney denounces advocates of "black power" and threatens action.

Aug15  Syrian and Israeli troops clash for three hours on their border at the Sea of Galilee, otherwise known as Lake Genesaret.

Aug 21 Seven men are sentenced to death in Egypt for anti-Nasser agitation.

Aug 30  Following riots in French Somaliland, France promises the colony independence.

Aug 31  In China, Red Guards are traveling around the country, using free transportation and accusing local authorities of bourgeois transgressions. The Red Guards have begun a campaign to destroy "old ideals, old culture, old customs and old habits." Street names are to be changed, books burned and temples razed.

Sep 3  In China, Lin Biao rides the Maoist bandwagon and urges students to criticize those party officials who have been influenced by the ideas of Nikita Khrushchev. 

Sep 6  In Cape Town, South Africa, Prime Minister Verwoerd is stabbed to death by Dimitri Tsafendas, who will be certified insane. Tsafendas, whose father was Greek and mother black, was classified as white but is said to have been shunned because of his dark skin.

Sep 9  In his campaign for Governor of California, Ronald Reagan lashes out at appeasement of campus malcontents by the California university system president, Clark Kerr, and appeasement by his opponent, Governor Pat Brown. He calls for keeping the university "isolated from political influence."

Sep 30  Botswana acquires independence from British rule. 

Oct 27 Southwest Africa, a League of Nations mandate territory taken from the Germans after World War I, is ruled by South Africa. The United Nations calls on South Africa to withdraw from the territory.

Photo of Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Nov 7 The Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko opens a six-week tour in the United States.

Nov 7 At Harvard University, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara receives courteous treatment until he is set upon by around 800 organized by the Harvard chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society. Twenty-five of them get under his car to prevent his get away. The crowd jeers, screams and calls him a fascist and a murderer.

Nov 7 In California the campaign for governor ends. Reagan has heard Governor Pat Brown ridicule him for being an actor. Reagan has been campaigning against students who want to rebel rather than just study, against high taxes, wasteful welfare spending, air and water pollution and Governor Brown believing in "throwing money" at problems.

Nov 8  Ronald Reagan is elected Governor of California. In Massachusetts, Edward Brooke becomes the first African American elected to the United States Senate since Reconstruction.

Nov 13  The American Civil Liberties Union appeals to the nation's college and university presidents to block efforts by the House Committee on Un-American Activities to obtain membership lists of campus organizations critical of American policy in Vietnam.

Dec 7  The Caribbean Island of Barbados achieves complete independence from Britain.

Dec 16  The U.N. Security Council approves an oil embargo against Rhodesia.

Dec 31 There are now 385,000 US troops in Vietnam. There, 5,008 US military personnel died in action 1966, an average of more than 13 per day. Another 1,045 died from "non-hostile" occurrences. 

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