1961: First Earth orbit
- Budget deficit: $3.3 billion (0.6% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $289 billion (51.4% of GDP)
In April, Soviet Air Forces Pilot Yuri Gagarin became the first person to go into outer space, and orbit the Earth. The same year, President Kennedy established the Peace Corps and announced his goal to put a man on the moon.
1962: Cuban Missile Crisis
- Budget deficit: $7.1 billion (1.2% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $298.2 billion (49.4% of GDP)
When Soviet missile bases were found in Cuba, a tense confrontation began between the United States and Soviet Union, dubbed the Cuban Missile Crisis. It marked a time when many believed the two superpowers were closest to a nuclear conflict.
1963: JFK assassinated
- Budget deficit: $4.8 billion (0.7% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $305.9 billion (48% of GDP)
In an event that shocked the nation, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated during a motorcade in Dallas, on Nov. 22. Two days later, his alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was shot and killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.
1964: Civil Rights Act
- Budget deficit: $5.9 billion (0.9% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $311.7 billion (45.5% of GDP)
Proposed by President Kennedy, and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 brought an end to segregation of public spaces and banned employment discrimination based on religion, color, sex, race, or national origin. In February of the same year, The Beatles appeared for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show.
1965: Voting Rights Act
- Budget deficit: $1.4 billion (0.2% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $317.3 billion (42.7% of GDP)
Signed into law on Aug. 6 by President Johnson, the Voting Rights Act was put in place to remove the barriers at state and local levels that had been preventing African Americans from voting. Protests against the Vietnam War gained momentum.
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1966: Anti-Vietnam War protests
- Budget deficit: $3.7 billion (0.5% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $319.9 billion (39.3% of GDP)
Protests against the Vietnam War expanded, as cities across the United States held multi-day gatherings to demonstrate against the war. Meanwhile, U.S. planes bombed Hanoi and Haiphong in Vietnam.
1967: Summer of love
- Budget deficit: $8.6 billion (1% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $326.2 billion (37.9% of GDP)
More than 100,000 young people converged on the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, in a celebration of love, sex, drugs, and music.
1968: Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated
- Budget deficit: $25.2 billion (2.7% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $347.6 billion (37% of GDP)
U.S. civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, by James Earl Ray. A week later, President Johnson signed the 1968 Civil Rights Act.
1969: Moon landing
- Budget surplus: $3.2 billion (0.3% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $353.7 billion (34.8% of GDP)
Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first to walk on the moon during the Apollo 11 moon landing in July. The same year, the first “request for comments,” or RFC, signaled the birth of the internet on April 7.
1970: Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act
- Budget deficit: $2.8 billion (0.3% of GDP)
- Total U.S. debt: $370.9 billion (34.6% of GDP)
Cigarette television ads were banned when President Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act into law. The same year, the first Earth Day was celebrated in the United States, and a devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Tonghai County, China, killing more than 10,000 people.
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