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1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1968th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 968th year of the 2nd millennium, the 68th year of the 20th century, and the 9th year of the 1960s decade.
The year was defined by protests and other unrests that occurred worldwide.
- March 1 United Kingdom Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968 receives Royal assent.
- March 2 – Baggeridge Colliery closes marking the end of over 300 years of coal mining in the Black Country of England.
- March 6 – Un-recognized Rhodesia executes 3 black citizens, the first executions since UDI, prompting international condemnation.
- March 7 – Vietnam War: The First Battle of Saigon ends.
- March 8
- March 10–11 – Vietnam War: Battle of Lima Site 85, the largest single ground combat loss of United States Air Force members (12) during the (at this time) secret war later known as the Laotian Civil War.
- March 11 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson mandates that all computers purchased by the federal government support the ASCII character encoding.
- March 12
- March 13 – The first Rotaract club is chartered in North Charlotte, North Carolina.
- March 14 – Nerve gas leaks from the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground near Skull Valley, Utah.
- March 15 – British Foreign Secretary George Brown resigns.
- March 16
- March 17 – A demonstration in London's Grosvenor Square against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War leads to violence; 91 people are injured, 200 demonstrators arrested.
- March 18 – Gold standard: The United States Congress repeals the requirement for a gold reserve to back U.S. currency.
- March 19–23 – Afrocentrism, Black Power, Vietnam War: Students at Howard University in Washington, D.C., signal a new era of militant student activism on college campuses in the U.S. Students stage rallies, protests and a 5-day sit-in, laying siege to the administration building, shutting down the university in protest over its ROTC program and the Vietnam War, and demanding a more Afrocentric curriculum.
- March 22 – Daniel Cohn-Bendit ("Danny the Red") and 7 other students occupy the administrative offices of the University of Nanterre, setting in motion a chain of events that lead France to the brink of revolution in May.
- March 24 – Aer Lingus Flight 712 crashes en route from Cork to London near Tuskar Rock, Wexford, killing 61 passengers and crew.
- March 28 – Brazilian high school student Edson Luís de Lima Souto is shot by the police in a protest for cheaper meals at a restaurant for low-income students. The aftermath of his death is one of the first major events against the military dictatorship.
- March 30 – Paradiso in Amsterdam opened its doors under the name 'Cosmic Relaxation Centre Paradiso'
- March 31 – U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announces he will not seek re-election.
- April 2
- April 3
- April 4
- April 6
- April 7 – British racing driver Jim Clark is killed in a Formula 2 race at Hockenheim.
- April 8 – The Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (under Department of Justice) (BNDD) is created.
- April 10 – The ferry TEV Wahine strikes a reef at the mouth of Wellington Harbour, New Zealand, with the loss of 53 lives, in Cyclone Giselle, which has created the windiest conditions ever recorded in New Zealand.
- April 11
- April 18 – John Rennie's 1831 New London Bridge is sold to Arizona entrepreneur Robert P. McCulloch and is rebuilt in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, reopening on October 5, 1971.
- April 20
- April 23
- President Mobutu releases captured mercenaries in the Congo.
- Surgeons at the Hôpital de la Pitié, Paris, perform Europe's first heart transplant, on Clovis Roblain.
- The United Methodist Church is created by the union of the former Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren churches.
- April 23–30 – Vietnam War: Columbia University protests of 1968 – Student protesters at Columbia University in New York City take over administration buildings and shut down the university.
- April 26 – The nuclear weapon "Boxcar" is tested at the Nevada Test Site in the biggest detonation of Operation Crosstie.
- April 29 – The musical Hair officially opens on Broadway.
- May 2 – The Israel Broadcasting Authority commences television broadcasts.
- May 3 – Braniff Flight 352 crashes near Dawson, Texas, killing all 85 people on board.
- May 11 – The Montreal Canadiens defeat the St. Louis Blues in a four-game sweep to win the Stanley Cup.
- May 13 – Paris student riots: One million march through the streets of Paris.
- May 13 – Manchester City wins the by 2 clear points, over club rivals Manchester United
- May 14 – The Beatles announce the creation of Apple Records in a New York press conference.
- May 15 – An outbreak of severe thunderstorms produces tornadoes, causing massive damage and heavy casualties in Charles City, Iowa, Oelwein, Iowa, and Jonesboro, Arkansas.
- May 16 – Ronan Point, a 23 floor tower block in Canning Town, east London, partially collapses after a gas explosion, killing 5.
- May 17 – The Catonsville Nine enter the Selective Service offices in Catonsville, Maryland, take dozens of selective service draft records, and burn them with napalm as a protest against the Vietnam War.
- May 18
- May 19
- A general election is held in Italy.
- Nigerian forces capture Port Harcourt and form a ring around the Biafrans. This contributes to a humanitarian disaster as the surrounded population already suffers from hunger and starvation.
- May 22 – The U.S. nuclear-powered submarine Scorpion sinks with 99 men aboard, 400 miles southwest of the Azores.
- May 29 – Manchester United wins the European Cup Final, becoming the first English team to do so.
- May 30 – Bobby Unser wins the Indianapolis 500.
- July 1
- July 4 – Yachtsman Alec Rose, 59, receives a hero's welcome as he sails into Portsmouth, England after his 354-day round-the-world trip.
- July 15 – The soap opera One Life to Live premieres on ABC television in the United States.
- July 17 – Saddam Hussein becomes Vice Chairman of the Revolutionary Council in Iraq after a coup d'état.
- July 18 – The semiconductor company Intel is founded.
- July 20 – The first International Special Olympics Summer Games are held at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill, with about 1,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities.
- July 23–28 – Black militants led by Fred (Ahmed) Evans engage in a fierce gunfight with police in the Glenville Shootout of Cleveland, Ohio, in the United States.
- July 25 – Pope Paul VI publishes the encyclical entitled Humanae vitae, on birth control.
- July 26 – Vietnam War: South Vietnamese opposition leader Trương Đình Dzu is sentenced to 5 years hard labor, for advocating the formation of a coalition government as a way to move toward an end to the war.
- July 29 – Arenal Volcano erupts in Costa Rica for the first time in centuries.
- July 30 – Thames Television starts transmission in London.
- July 31 – BBC television sitcom Dad's Army is broadcast for the first time in the UK.
- August 2 – The 7.6 Mw Casiguran earthquake affects the Aurora province in the Philippines with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent), killing at least 207 and injuring 261.
- August 5–8 – The Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida nominates Richard Nixon for U.S. President and Spiro Agnew for Vice President.
- August 11 – The last steam passenger train service runs in Britain. A selection of British Railways steam locomotives make the 120-mile journey from Liverpool to Carlisle and return to Liverpool – the journey is known as the Fifteen Guinea Special.
- August 18 – Two charter buses are forced into the Hida River on National Highway Route 41 in Japan in an accident caused by heavy rain; 104 are killed.
- August 20–21 – Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia: The 'Prague Spring' of political liberalization ends, as 750,000 Warsaw Pact troops and 6,500 tanks with 800 aircraft invade Czechoslovakia, the largest military operation in Europe since the end of World War II.
- August 21 – The Medal of Honor is posthumously awarded to James Anderson Jr.; he is the first black U.S. Marine to be given this award.
- August 24 – Canopus (nuclear test): France explodes its first hydrogen bomb in a test at Fangataufa atoll in French Polynesia.
- August 22–30 – Police clash with anti-war protesters in Chicago outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which nominates Hubert Humphrey for U.S. President and Edmund Muskie for Vice President. The riots and subsequent trials are an essential part of the activism of the Youth International Party.
- August 28 – John Gordon Mein, U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala, is assassinated on the streets of Guatemala City, the first U.S. Ambassador assassinated in the line of duty.
- August 29 – Crown Prince Harald of Norway marries Sonja Haraldsen, the commoner he has dated for 9 years.
- September 6 – Swaziland becomes independent.
- September 7 – 150 women (members of New York Radical Women) arrive in Atlantic City, New Jersey to protest against the Miss America Pageant, as exploitative of women. Led by activist and author Robin Morgan, it is one of the first large demonstrations of Second Wave Feminism as Women's Liberation begins to gather much media attention.
- The crash of Air France Flight 1611 kills 95 people, including French Army General René Cogny as the Caravelle jetliner plunges into the Mediterranean Sea while making its approach to Nice following its departure from the island of Corsica.
- The International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) is founded.
- September 13
- September 14 – Detroit Tiger Denny McLain becomes the first baseball pitcher to win 30 games in a season since 1934. He remains the last player to accomplish the feat.
- September 17 – The D'Oliveira affair: The Marylebone Cricket Club tour of South Africa is cancelled when the South Africans refuse to accept the presence of Basil D'Oliveira, a Cape Coloured, in the side.
- September 18 – Popular Canadian band Rush is formed.
- September 20 – Hawaii Five-O debuts on CBS, and eventually becomes the longest-running crime show in television history, until Law & Order overtakes it in 2003.
- September 21 – The Soviet's Zond 5 unmanned lunar flyby mission returns to earth, with its first-of-a-kind biological payload intact.
- September 23 – Vietnam War: The Tet Offensive comes to an end in South Vietnam.
- September 24 – 60 Minutes debuts on CBS and is still on the air as of 2018.
- September 27 – Marcelo Caetano becomes prime minister of Portugal.
- September 29 – A referendum in Greece gives more power to the military junta.
- September 30 – Boeing introduces its largest passenger aircraft up to that time, the Boeing 747 at a public event at Paine Field, near Everett, Washington.
- October 1 – Night of the Living Dead premieres in the United States.
- October 2 – Tlatelolco massacre: A student demonstration ends in bloodbath at La Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco, Mexico City, Mexico, 10 days before the inauguration of the 1968 Summer Olympics. 300-400 are estimated to have been killed.
- October 3 – In Peru, Juan Velasco Alvarado takes power in a revolution.
- October 5 – Police baton civil rights demonstrators in Derry, Northern Ireland, marking the beginning of The Troubles.
- October 7 – At the height of protests against the Vietnam War, José Feliciano performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Tiger Stadium in Detroit during Game 5 pre-game ceremonies of the 1968 World Series between the Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals. His personalized, slow, Latin jazz performance proved highly controversial, opening the door for later interpretations of the national anthem.
- October 8 – Vietnam War – Operation Sealords: United States and South Vietnamese forces launch a new operation in the Mekong Delta.
- October 10 – 1968 World Series: The Detroit Tigers defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in the best of 7 series (4 games to 3) after being down 3 games to 1, completing an unlikely comeback against the heavily favored Cardinals led by the overpowering right-handed pitcher Bob Gibson. The final score of Game 7 is 4-1.
- October 11
- October 12–27 – The Games of the XIX Olympiad are held in Mexico City, Mexico.
- October 12 – Equatorial Guinea receives its independence from Spain.
- October 14 – Vietnam War: The United States Department of Defense announces that the United States Army and United States Marines will send about 24,000 troops back to Vietnam for involuntary second tours.
- October 16
- October 18 – US athlete Bob Beamon breaks the long jump world record by 55 cm / 21¾ ins at the Olympics in Mexico City. His record stands for 23 years, and is still the second longest jump in history.
- October 20 – Former U.S. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy marries Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis on the Greek island of Skorpios.
- October 22 – The Gun Control Act of 1968 is enacted.
- October 25 – Led Zeppelin makes their first live performance, at Surrey University in England
- October 31 – Vietnam War: Citing progress in the Paris peace talks, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announces to the nation that he has ordered a complete cessation of "all air, naval, and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam" effective November 1.
Richard Nixon (pictured) is elected United States President.
- November 5
- November 11 – A second republic is declared in the Maldives.
- November 14 – Yale University announces it is going to admit women.
- November 15 – Vietnam War: Operation Commando Hunt is initiated to interdict men and supplies on the Ho Chi Minh trail, through Laos into South Vietnam. By the end of the operation, 3 million tons of bombs are dropped on Laos, slowing but not seriously disrupting trail operations.
- November 17 – The Heidi Game: NBC cuts off the final 1:05 of an Oakland Raiders–New York Jets football game to broadcast the pre-scheduled Heidi. Fans are unable to see Oakland (which had been trailing 32–29) score 2 late touchdowns to win 43–32; as a result, thousands of outraged football fans flood the NBC switchboards to protest.
- November 17 - British European Airways introduces the BAC One-Eleven into commercial service.
- November 19 – In Mali, President Modibo Keïta's regime is overthrown in a bloodless military coup led by Moussa Traoré.
- November 20 – The Farmington Mine disaster in Farmington, West Virginia, kills seventy-eight men.
- November 22
- November 24 – 4 men hijack Pan Am Flight 281 from JFK International Airport, New York to Havana, Cuba.
- November 26 – Vietnam War: United States Air Force First Lieutenant and Bell UH-1F helicopter pilot James P. Fleming rescues an Army Special Forces unit pinned down by Viet Cong fire, earning a Medal of Honor for his bravery.
- December 3 – The videotaped NBC television special Singer Presents...ELVIS (sponsored by The Singer Company, the American sewing machine manufacturer) marks the comeback of Elvis Presley after the legendary musician had been away from singing.
- December 6 – The Rolling Stones release Beggars Banquet, which contains the classic song "Sympathy for the Devil."
- December 9 – Douglas Engelbart publicly demonstrates his pioneering hypertext system, NLS, in San Francisco, together with the computer mouse, at what becomes retrospectively known as "The Mother of All Demos".
- December 10 – Japan's biggest heist, the never-solved "300 million yen robbery", occurs in Tokyo.
- December 11
- December 13 – Prompted by growing unrest and a perceived proliferation of "pro-communist" violent actions, Brazilian president Artur da Costa e Silva enacts the so-called AI-5, the fifth of a series of non-constitutional emergency decrees allegedly to help "stabilize" the country after the turmoils of the early 1960s.
- December 17 – In England, Mary Bell, aged 11, is found guilty of murdering two small boys and sentenced to life in detention, but is later released from prison in 1980 and granted anonymity.
- December 20 – The Zodiac Killer is believed to have shot Betty Lou Jensen and David Faraday on Lake Herman Road, Benicia, San Francisco Bay, California.
- December 22
- December 24 – Apollo program: The manned U.S. spacecraft Apollo 8 enters orbit around the Moon. Astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William A. Anders become the first humans to see the far side of the Moon and planet Earth as a whole, as well as having traveled further away from Earth than any people in history. Anders photographs Earthrise. The crew also reads from Genesis.
- December 26 – Led Zeppelin make their American debut in Denver.
- December 28 – Israeli forces fly into Lebanese airspace, launching an attack on the airport in Beirut and destroying more than a dozen aircraft.