Norman Mailer and the Anti-War Movement during the Vietnam War


The document featured here is the Judgment
and Commitment form for defendant Norman Mailer who was arrested on October 22,
1967 for disorderly conduct for failing to leave the Pentagon after the
designated time when the protest against America’s involvement in the Vietnam
War was scheduled to end.

Today, October 21, 2017, marks the 50th
anniversary of the famous anti-war protest march on the Pentagon during the
height of the Vietnam War. The march on the Pentagon represented a major
escalation in the anti-war movement against America’s involvement in the
Vietnam War. The march was the first of many such protests that grew larger and
(sometimes) bloodier in the months and years that followed.

Renowned author Norman Mailer took part in
the march on the Pentagon and was arrested along 650 other protesters. Mailer
was tried before the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia; and, as the featured
document clearly states, Norman Mailer pled no contest to the charges and was
fined $500 and given a 30 day prison sentence (of which 25 days were to be
suspended) and requiring Mailer to serve five days imprisonment. Mailer
appealed the conviction to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and, finally, to
the U.S. Supreme Court. Both courts upheld the conviction and, as page two of
the document shows, Norman Mailer eventually served two days in jail and was
released on May 7, 1970. Mailer would later write the book The Armies of the Night recounting the events of the march and his

Norman Mailer was born in 1923 in Northern
New Jersey and was raised in Brooklyn, NY. Mailer served in the U.S. Army and
was stationed overseas in the Philippines during World War Two. After the war Norman
Mailer published the novel The Naked and
the Dead
which remains a critically acclaimed novel. For the remainder of
his life Mailer was a renowned prolific author of fiction and non-fiction, an essayist,
social commentator, and a political and social activist. He died on November
10, 2007.

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Today’s post was written by Matthew DiBiase,
Archives Specialist at the National Archives at Philadelphia.

Citation: Judgment and Commitment Form
from Criminal Case File 4591, Criminal Case Files, 1872-1996, Box 166, Record
Group 21: Records of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of
Virginia-Alexandria Division, National Archives at Philadelphia, (Record Entry
ID: PH-964) (NAID Identifier 571616).