Northern Passage by John Hagan
American Vietnam War Resisters in Canada

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Synopsis

More than 50,000 draft-age American men and women migrated to Canada during the Vietnam War, the largest political exodus from the United States since the American Revolution. How are we to understand this migration three decades later? Was their action simply a marginal, highly individualized spin-off of the American antiwar movement, or did it have its own lasting collective meaning?

John Hagan, himself a member of the exodus, searched declassified government files, consulted previously unopened resistance organization archives and contemporary oral histories, and interviewed American war resisters settled in Toronto to learn how they made the momentous decision. Canadian immigration officials at first blocked the entry of some resisters; then, under pressure from Canadian church and civil liberties groups, they fully opened the border, providing these Americans with the legal opportunity to oppose the Vietnam draft and military mobilization while beginning new lives in Canada. It was a turning point for Canada as well, an assertion of sovereignty in its post-World War II relationship with the United States. Hagan describes the resisters' absorption through Toronto's emerging American ghetto in the late 1960s. For these Americans, the move was an intense and transformative experience. While some struggled for a comprehensive amnesty in the United States, others dedicated their lives to engagement with social and political issues in Canada. More than half of the draft and military resisters who fled to Canada thirty years ago remain there today. Most lead successful lives, have lost their sense of Americanness, and overwhelmingly identify themselves as Canadians.

 

About John Hagan

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John Hagan is John D. MacArthur Professor of Sociology and Law at Northwestern University. and University Professor of Law and Sociology at the University of Toronto.
 
Published May 31, 2001 by Harvard University Press. 288 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction

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Here, he concentrates on the Toronto community around Baldwin Street and the Amex war resisters’ organization, interviewing activists to get a sense of their specific motivations (which ranged from a desire to flee a country that appeared to be unraveling as it ate its young to pointed acts of pr...

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From the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964 to the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Vietnam War was at the molten center of American politics and dominated the American psyche.

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