Port Huron Statement Analysis

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In 1962 America was going through a tough period, marked by the Cold War, against USSR and its communism. This was also the time of the Vietnam War and the Arms Race, with the possession of the nuclear weapon, and the president of the time, John F. Kennedy was a fervent believer in the “Domino Theory” and intended to contain communism. This situation was one of the elements that would lead to people’s dissatisfaction and fear, and to many contestations through popular means, like music, for example, with Jimi Hendrix. The Port Huron Statement written in 1962 is one of those movements raised to show this disillusionment many people were feeling in the 1960’s. It is the manifesto of the American activist movement Students for a Democratic Society, which was written in Port Huron, Michigan, at a meeting of Students for a Democratic Society. One of the most important students behind this manifesto was Tom Hayden, a student at the University of Michigan who came from a working-class family, and who primarily wrote this document. It is about the fundamental problems of American society at that time and proposes a vision for a better future, stressing race and alienation as the two major points of focus. In the part of this manifesto about the values of the Students for a Democratic Society, is defined a conception of human beings according to which man is endowed with innate capacities that make him able to make decisions for himself. Yet, not only is this excerpt about defining man, it is also about explaining how American students got to feel “uncomfortable”, a word that is stressed at the very beginning of the document, contrasted with “modest comfort”.

This excerpt before defining “men”, hints at “basic principles” (line 7). Indeed, this manifesto provides a moral definition of the human being: “We regard men as infinitely precious and possessed of unfulfilled capacities for reason, freedom, and love.” (lines 9 and 10). This can be seen as a reference...
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