The Williams CRC (Civil Rights Committee) is formed shortly after Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks on the campus. This move is considered progressive at the traditionally conservative college.

1964 Steve Block forms another political organization, the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), but the group is found to be more interested in the domestic policies of the day, rather than foreign issues.

February- General Maxwell Taylor, the military advisor to President Nixon, gives a lecture on the Williams campus. His lecture verged on propaganda, and his "elusive" answers to the questions of students cause outrage within the student body.


April- The Committee against the War in Vietnam sends 150 students to join a rally in New York City .

1968 After being replaced by another political organization and then revived again, the SDS begins to hold many pickets and polls in protest to the war in Vietnam. The tension on the campus increases after a Williamstown citizen tears polls from a student's hands but is not stopped by the police.
1969 President Richard Nixon is inaugurated into his first term
  October- The October Moratorium takes place, and students participate in different activities around the town and campus. The students also join with the faculty to compose a letter to President Nixon, showing their commitment to end the war. President John E. Sawyer of Williams is one of the administrative leaders from several educational institutions who urges for troop withdrawal from Southeast Asia. Several Williams College professors create the peace organization, Pause for Peace.

November 3- President Nixon delivers his "Silent Majority" speech, a speech in which he claims that he will not base his presidency around the demands of the "idealistic" young people, but asks for their support. Nixon's comments within this speech enrage and provoke many protestors. In polls of America's college students, it is found that 69% of students describe themselves as leftist, in comparison to the 30% of 1967.


May 1- At Kent State University in Ohio , students gather and burn down an R.O.T.C building on campus. At Yale, three Williams students attend a "Free Bobby Seale" Black Panther rally. The students discuss the possibility of a strike at Williams on the ride home.

  May 3- Colleges around the country begin to strike. The Williams College radio station, WCFM, begins its hourly strike coverage.
  May 4- At Kent State, the National Guard kills four protesting students. That night, students pack into Chapin Hall to vote in favor of a strike. The students have support of the faculty and President Sawyer.

May 5- In a leaflet, the Williams College Adviser announces the strike. A letter is sent out to college Alumni asking for monetary support for strike efforts, but few positive responses are received. Around the country many colleges are on strike or have suspended classes for forums and discussion, especially in Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut . Some schools enlist the help of Williams students to form their own rallies.


May 6- The faculty at Williams creates a resolution, showing their support of the student activities. The faculty also creates a resolution on class work for the remainder of the year and reads it at another campus meeting. Williams has been kept up to date on all the latest strike developments through constant updates from the Seeley House, or as it will come to be known, Williams Strike Central.


May 7- Meal skipping is announced so that students may take only one meal a day and allow the rest of their meal money to go to the strike fund. A "Songs for Peace" concert is held as a benefit on the Williams College campus.

  May 8- President Nixon says that the plans for troop withdrawal will go on as expected and not any earlier.

May 9- Several Williams students take a trip to Washington , D.C for a rally against Nixon's Cambodian decision. They have been warned to bring gas masks and $50 in case of imprisonment.


May 14- The strike efforts at Williams College have died down and many of the students have gone home. Pause for Peace, and organization co-founded by Williams professors, closes down after two weeks of hard work. Remnants of the strike virtually disappear from the campus and graduation activities go on as planned.


Williams Strike Central Records, 1969-1970, n.d

Historical Chronology
Scope and Content Note
Contents List