Vietnam and the Vote

Vietnam and the Vote
Lady Bird Johnson: Religion, Social Issues and Reform

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: Three to four class periods


During the time of the Vietnam War men and women were being drafted at the age of 18 but were not permitted to vote until they turned 21.  Many protestors and others were asking the question, “We are considered mature enough to die for our country in war, but not mature enough to vote?”  It was argued that if a young man could work, pay taxes, and go to war for his country, he ought to have the right to vote for those in the federal, state, and local positions making the decisions about the war and issues about taxes.


Students will research political aspects of the Vietnam War.
Students will understand the rationale for changing the voting age.
Students will know what the 26th Amendment means.

Materials Required:

Computer with Internet access, printer, library, large 3-ring binder and inserts for scrapbook, and copies of the "Do you have the right?" worksheet.


  1. Introduce the lesson by allowing students time to complete the “Do you have the right?” worksheet.
  2. Have a discussion with the class about the questions on the worksheet. 
  3. Have students explain what a “right” is and what document provides our rights as Americans.
  4. Explain the 26th Amendment and the history of how the Amendment came into being.
  5. Students then need to research the time period including the Vietnam War, Constitution of the United States with a focus on the 26th Amendment, and the history of how voting has changed.  (Use web links below and other library resources.)
  6. Explain to students that they will be creating a scrapbook of the events during this time period concerning the issues listed in # 5.  Have students find images, newspaper and magazine articles about the Engle vs. Vitale court case, protesting, the Vietnam War, Congress, and the Supreme Court Judges to create a class scrapbook to tell the story.
  7. Next, have the students write a letter to the President and First Lady persuading them to change the voting age to 18.  The students should include three to five reasons to support the idea of changing the voting age to 18.
  8. Add a section to the scrapbook called “Letters of Protest” to place students letters to the President and First Lady. 

Extending the Lesson:

  • Ask students if there is something they would like to see changed in our current society.  Then have the students write letters or e-mails to the President about the issue.

Sources & Resources:

This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University