A Dialogue About History: The 1960’s, Tumultuous Events

Student Question

How was Lambertville affected by the tumultuous events of the 60’s? These events which include, but are not limited to: The Cuban missile crisis, the assassinations of JFK, MLK, RFK, as well as riots (Newark et al.) and protests throughout the state and country related to racial injustice and the Vietnam war.

Residents’ Answers

  • During the early 60’s – mid 70’s, I was either in school or in the service so I can’t comment on the effect these events had on Lambertville. My personal experience with the Newark riots was that in 1967 prior to my entering into the military I was taking the bar exam in the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark New Jersey in the middle of the riots. I recall while studying during the three-day period you could hear machine gun and rifle fire in the streets. Upon conclusion of the exam I recall leaving the hotel and going out to vacant streets and having to walk to the train stations because there were no taxi cabs.
  • A huge question. Saddened by all these events.
  • Not much so far as I observed. Crushed when JFK shot. The rest of the bad news just an add-on to the news each night on tv when you would get the war reports and body count.
  • Most in town know exactly where they were when each of these events happened but we were not caught up in it.

Student Response

It has been an enlightening experience working on the Lambertville Historical Society scholarship project. Gaining the perspective of Lambertville residents who lived during this time helps to understand how these impactful events shaped the town and its citizens. Clearly based on the responses given even events that were not specific to the city, like the assassinations of American political and social leaders, the Vietnam war, and the Watergate scandal, had an effect on this community. There were so many terrible events in a ten to fifteen-year period that the residents became almost callused to them because of their frequency. It is somewhat similar to today, how mass shootings have become commonplace and the shock of such incidents is diminished. On the political side, especially in relation to Nixon’s resignation and with today’s political climate, those types of national events can heighten political discourse even in a local community…

After reviewing the responses from the Historical Society, it was not shocking that national events did not have a large impact on day to day life in Lambertville. A similar response would probably be given by residents of the city today about the happenings around the country and world…