1972 in the United States
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Events from the year 1972 in the United States.
- President: Richard Nixon (R-California)
- Vice President: Spiro Agnew (R-Maryland)
- Chief Justice: Warren E. Burger (Minnesota)
- Speaker of the House of Representatives: Carl Albert (D-Oklahoma)
- Senate Majority Leader: Mike Mansfield (D-Montana)
- Congress: 92nd
- January 2 – Pierre Hotel Robbery: Six men rob the safety deposit boxes of The Pierre Hotel in New York City of at least $4 million.
- January 5 – U.S. President Richard Nixon orders the development of a space shuttle program.
- January 16 – Super Bowl VI: The Dallas Cowboys defeat the Miami Dolphins 24–3.
- January 24 – Japanese soldier Shoichi Yokoi is discovered in Guam; he had spent 28 years in the jungle and becomes the third-to-last Japanese soldier to surrender after World War II.
- January 25 – Shirley Chisholm, the first African American Congresswoman, announces her candidacy for President.
- February 4 – Mariner 9 sends pictures from Mars.
- February 5 – Bob Douglas becomes the first African American elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
- February 15 – Phonorecords are granted U.S. federal copyright protection for the first time.
- February 18 – The California Supreme Court voids the state's death penalty, commuting all death sentences to life in prison.
- February 21–28 – U.S. President Richard M. Nixon makes an unprecedented 8-day visit to the People's Republic of China and meets with Mao Zedong.
- February 23 – Angela Davis is released from jail. A Caruthers, California farmer, Rodger McAfee, helps her make bail.
- February 24 – North Vietnamese negotiators walk out of the Paris Peace Talks to protest U.S. air raids.
- February 26 – A coal sludge spill kills 125 people in Buffalo Creek, West Virginia.
- March 2 – The Pioneer 10 spacecraft is launched from Cape Kennedy, to be the first man-made satellite to leave the Solar System.
- March 3 – Sculpted figures of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson are completed at Stone Mountain, Georgia.
- March 13 – Clifford Irving admits to a New York court that he had fabricated Howard Hughes' "autobiography".
- March 22 – The 92nd U.S. Congress votes to send the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the states for ratification.
- March 24 – The Godfather is released in cinemas in the United States.
- April 10
- April 16 – Vietnam War – Nguyen Hue Offensive: Prompted by the North Vietnamese offensive, the United States resumes bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong.
- April 29 – The fourth anniversary of the Broadway musical Hair is celebrated with a free concert at a Central Park bandshell, followed by dinner at the Four Seasons. There, 13 Black Panther protesters and the show's co-author, Jim Rado, are arrested for disturbing the peace and for using marijuana.
- May 2 – Fire in the Sunshine Mine in northern Idaho kills 91.
- May 8 – U.S. President Richard Nixon orders the mining of Haiphong Harbor in Vietnam.
- May 15
- May 16 – The first financial derivatives exchange, the International Monetary Market (IMM), opens on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
- May 24 – A Red Army Faction bomb explodes in the Campbell Barracks of the U.S. Army Supreme European Command in Heidelberg, West Germany; 3 U.S. soldiers (Clyde Bonner, Ronald Woodard and Charles Peck) are killed.
- May 26
- Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev sign the SALT I treaty in Moscow, as well as the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and other agreements.
- The Watergate first break-in, the "Ameritas dinner", fails.
- Wernher von Braun retires from NASA, frustrated by the agency's unwillingness to pursue a manned trans-orbital space program.
- May 27
- June 3 – Sally Priesand becomes the first female U.S. rabbi.
- June 9 – The Black Hills flood kills 238 in South Dakota.
- June 14–23 – Hurricane Agnes kills 117 on the U.S. East Coast.
- June 15–18 – The first U.S. Libertarian Party National Convention is held in Denver, Colorado.
- June 17
- June 23 – Watergate scandal: U.S. President Richard M. Nixon and White House chief of staff H. R. Haldeman are taped talking about using the C.I.A. to obstruct the F.B.I.'s investigation into the Watergate break-ins.
- June 28 – U.S. President Richard Nixon announces that no new draftees will be sent to Vietnam.
- June 29 – Furman v. Georgia: The Supreme Court of the United States rules that the death penalty is unconstitutional.
- July – U.S. actress Jane Fonda tours North Vietnam, during which she is photographed sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun.
- July 1 – Ms. magazine begins publication.
- July 1 – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms becomes independent from the IRS.
- July 4 – The first Rainbow Gathering is held in Colorado.
- July 8 – The U.S. sells grain to the Soviet Union for $750 million.
- July 10–14 – The Democratic National Convention meets in Miami Beach. Senator George McGovern, who backs the immediate and complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam, is nominated for President. He names fellow Senator Thomas Eagleton as his running mate.
- July 15 – The Pruitt–Igoe housing development is demolished in Saint Louis, Missouri.
- July 21 – Comedian George Carlin is arrested by Milwaukee, Wisconsin police for public obscenity, for reciting his "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" at Summerfest.
- July 23 – The United States launches Landsat 1, the first Earth-resources satellite.
- July 25 – U.S. health officials admit that African Americans were used as guinea pigs in the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.
- August 1 – U.S. Senator Thomas Eagleton, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, withdraws from the race after revealing he suffered from depression and had been hospitalized three times for its treatment.
- August 4 – A huge solar flare (one of the largest ever recorded) knocks out cable lines in U.S. It begins with the appearance of sunspots on August 2; an August 4 flare kicks off high levels of activity until August 10.
- August 10 – A brilliant, daytime meteor skips off the Earth's atmosphere due to an Apollo asteroid streaking over the western US into Canada.
- August 12 – The last U.S. ground troops are withdrawn from Vietnam.
- August 20 – One hundred thousand people attended the legendary Wattstax Black music concert in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in California.
- August 21 – The Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida renominates U.S. President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew for a second term.
- August 22 – John Wojtowicz, 27, and Sal Naturile, 18, hold several Chase Manhattan Bank employees hostage for 17 hours in Gravesend, Brooklyn, N.Y, an event later dramatized in the film Dog Day Afternoon.
- September 1 – Bobby Fischer defeats Boris Spassky in a chess match at Reykjavík, Iceland, becoming the first American chess champion (see Match of the Century).
- September 4 – The first episode of The Price Is Right is hosted on CBS by Bob Barker. Gambit and The Joker's Wild also premiere.
- September 24 – An F-86 fighter aircraft leaving an air show at Sacramento Executive Airport fails to become airborne and crashes into a Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor, killing 12 children and 11 adults.
- October 8 – R. Sargent Shriver is chosen to replace Thomas Eagleton as the U.S. vice-presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.
- October 12 – USS Kitty Hawk riot: En route to the Gulf of Tonkin, a racial brawl involving more than 100 sailors breaks out aboard the United States Navy aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk; nearly 50 sailors are injured.
- October 15 – Baker v. Nelson is decided in the Minnesota Supreme Court, affirming that state law preventing same-sex marriage is constitutional.
- October 16
- A plane carrying U.S. Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana and 3 other men vanishes in Alaska. The wreckage is never found, despite a massive search at the time.
- Country singer Loretta Lynn makes history becoming the first female ever to win the coveted Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year Award. Her signature song, "Coal Miner's Daughter" is pivotal in earning her this award.
- October 22 - The Oakland Athletics defeat the Cincinnati Reds, 4 games to 3, to win their 6th World Series Title in baseball.
- October 25 – The first female FBI agents are hired.
- October 26 – Following a visit to South Vietnam, U.S. National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger suggests that "peace is at hand."
- October 30
- U.S. President Richard Nixon approves legislation to increase Social Security spending by US$5.3 billion.
- 1972 Chicago commuter rail crash: The accidental tripping of a signal at 27th Street station on the Metra Electric system in Chicago causes an IC Electric express train to telescope another, killing 45 and injuring over 300.
- November – At a scientific meeting in Honolulu, Herbert Boyer and Stanley N. Cohen conceive the concept of recombinant DNA. They publish their results in November 1973 in PNAS. Separately in 1972, Paul Berg also recombines DNA in a test tube. Recombinant DNA technology has dramatically changed the field of biological sciences, especially biotechnology, and opened the door to genetically modified organisms.
- November 7 – U.S. presidential election, 1972: Republican incumbent Richard Nixon defeats Democratic Senator George McGovern in a landslide (the election had the lowest voter turnout since 1948, with only 55 percent of the electorate voting).
- November 8 – HBO begins operating as a pay television service.
- November 11 – Vietnam War – Vietnamization: The United States Army turns over the massive Long Binh military base to South Vietnam.
- November 14 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 1,000 (1,003.16) for the first time.
- November 22 – Vietnam War: The United States loses its first B-52 Stratofortress of the war.
- November 30 – Vietnam War: White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler tells the press that there will be no more public announcements concerning United States troop withdrawals from Vietnam because troop levels are now down to 27,000.
- December 8
- December 14 – Apollo program: Eugene Cernan is the last person to walk on the Moon, after he and Harrison Schmitt complete the third and final Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) of Apollo 17. This is the last manned mission to the Moon of the 20th century.
- December 19 – Apollo program: Apollo 17 returns to Earth, concluding the program of lunar exploration.
- December 22 – A peace delegation that includes singer-activist Joan Baez and human rights attorney Telford Taylor visit Hanoi to deliver Christmas mail to American prisoners of war (they will be caught in the Christmas bombing of North Vietnam).
- December 23 – The Pittsburgh Steelers win their first ever postseason NFL game, defeating the Oakland Raiders 13–7, on a last-second play that becomes known as the Immaculate Reception.
- December 24 – Swedish Prime minister Olof Palme compares the American bombings of North Vietnam to Nazi massacres. The U.S. breaks diplomatic contact with Sweden.
- December 25 – The Christmas bombing of North Vietnam causes widespread criticism of the U.S. and President Richard Nixon.
- December 26 – Former President Harry Truman dies in Kansas City, Missouri.
- December 29 – Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 crashes into the Everglades in Florida, killing 101 of 176 on board.
- December 31 – Baseball player Roberto Clemente dies in a plane crash off the coast of Puerto Rico while en route to deliver aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims.
- The first women are admitted to Dartmouth College.
- Women are allowed to compete in the Boston Marathon for the first time.
- The Environmental Protection Agency bans the use of the pesticide DDT.
- Cold War (1947–1991)
- Space Race (1957–1975)
- Vietnam War, U.S. involvement (1964–1973)
- Détente (c. 1969–1979)
- Watergate scandal (1972–1974)
- Capital punishment suspended by Furman v. Georgia (1972–1976)
- DOCUMERICA photography project (1972-1977)
- January 1
- January 11 – Amanda Peet, screen actress
- January 19
- January 20 – Nikki Haley, born Nimrata Randhawa, 29th United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2017 to 2018
- February 5 – Kristopher Carter, composer
- February 7 – Robyn Lively, screen actress
- February 9 – Crispin Freeman, voice actor
- February 17
- February 26 – Keith Ferguson, voice actor
- March 6
- March 13
- March 18 – Dane Cook, comedian and film actor
- March 26 – Leslie Mann, film actress
- March 31 – Evan Williams, Internet entrepreneur
- April 8 – Sung Kang, actor
- April 17 – Jennifer Garner, screen actress
- April 20 – Carmen Electra, born Tara Leigh Patrick, singer and screen actress
- May 1 – Julie Benz, screen actress
- May 2 – Dwayne Johnson, actor and wrestler
- May 11 – Amanda Freitag, chef
- May 16
- May 21 – The Notorious B.I.G., born Christopher Wallace, rapper (died 1997)
- May 22 – Alison Eastwood, fashion designer and actress
- May 25 – Octavia Spencer, actress and author
- June 1 – Rick Gomez, actor
- June 2
- June 3 – Matt Pike, singer-songwriter and guitarist
- June 16 – John Cho, actor
- June 17 – C. H. Greenblatt, animator
- June 22 – David Rees, cartoonist and critic
- July 27 – Maya Rudolph, actress
- July 29 – Wil Wheaton, actor
- August 1 – D-Von Dudley, born Devon Hughes, wrestler
- August 15 – Ben Affleck, film actor, director, screenwriter and producer
- August 27 – Jimmy Pop, born James Franks, rock performer and rapper
- August 30 – Cameron Diaz, actress and model
- September 15 – Stephen Glass, disgraced journalist known for fabricating numerous stories
- September 19 – Cheryl B, born Cheryl Burke, poet and performance artist
- September 26 – Beto O'Rourke, politician
- September 27 – Gwyneth Paltrow, actress, singer and food writer
- September 28 – Dita Von Teese, born Heather Sweet, burlesque dancer
- October 8 – Melanie McGuire, mariticide
- October 17 – Eminem, Marshall Bruce Mathers III, rapper
- October 20 – Brian Schatz, U.S. Senator from Hawaii from 2012
- October 29 – Gabrielle Union, screen actress
- November 1 – Jenny McCarthy, television performer
- November 6 – Rebecca Romijn, screen actress
- November 9 – Eric Dane, born Eric T. Melvin, television actor
- November 14
- November 16 – Missi Pyle, actress and singer
- December 19
- December 21
- January 16 – Ross Bagdasarian, Sr., actor, pianist, singer, songwriter and record producer, creator of Alvin and the Chipmunks (born 1919)
- January 27 – Mahalia Jackson, gospel singer (born 1911)
- February 2 – Jessie Royce Landis, actress (born 1896)
- February 3 – John Litel, screen actor (born 1892)
- February 4 – Orlando Ward, general (born 1891)
- February 5 – Marianne Moore, poet (born 1887)
- February 7
- February 20 – Walter Winchell, American journalist (born 1897)
- February 22
- February 27 – Pat Brady, screen actor (born 1914)
- March 11
- March 13 – Len Ford, American football player (Cleveland Browns) (born 1926)
- March 16 – Pie Traynor, baseball player (Pittsburgh Pirates) (born 1898)
- March 20 – Marilyn Maxwell, actress and entertainer (born 1921)
- April 2 – Gil Hodges, baseball player and manager (born 1924)
- April 3 – Ferde Grofé, composer (born 1892)
- April 4 – Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., politician (born 1908)
- May 2 – J. Edgar Hoover, first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (born 1895)
- May 3 – Bruce Cabot, film actor (born 1904)
- May 4 – Edward Calvin Kendall, chemist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (born 1886)
- May 5
- May 11 – Michael Blassie, U.S. Air Force lieutenant (born 1948; killed in action)
- June 8 – Mary van Kleeck, labor activist (born 1883)
- June 20 – Howard Deering Johnson, businessman, founder of Howard Johnson's (born 1897)
- July 27 – Allen J. Ellender, U.S. Senator from Louisiana; President pro tempore during the 92nd Congress (born 1890)
- August 11 – Max Theiler, virologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (born 1899 in South Africa)
- September 8 – Warren Kealoha, Olympic swimmer (born 1904)
- September 25 – Max Fleischer, animator (born 1883 in Poland)
- October 16 – Hale Boggs, U.S. Representative from Louisiana's 2nd congressional district and Majority Leader during the 92nd Congress (born 1914)
- October 24 – Jackie Robinson, first African-American in Major League Baseball (born 1919)
- November 1 – Ezra Pound, poet (born 1885)
- November 14 – Martin Dies, Jr., lawyer and politician (born 1900)
- November 17 – Thomas C. Kinkaid, admiral (born 1888)
- December 3 – Bill Johnson, African American dixieland jazz double-bassist (born 1872)
- December 12 – Thomas H. Robbins, Jr., admiral (born 1900)
- December 26 – Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States from 1945 to 1953, 34th Vice President of the United States from January to April 1945 (born 1884)
- December 31 – Roberto Clemente, baseball player (Pittsburgh Pirates) (born 1934)
- Mitchell K. Hall (2008). "Chronology". Historical Dictionary of the Nixon-Ford Era. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-6410-8.
- Observation of Meteoroid Impacts by Space-Based Sensors Archived 2007-10-20 at the Wayback Machine astrosociety.org, 1998, 'Apollo asteroid about ten meters in diameter'
- The Summer Of Music Documentaries: 'Wattstax' National Public Radio, 2010-07-16.
- "Crash at Farrell's". Archived from the original on March 20, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
- US EPA, OCSPP (2014-01-07). "DDT - A Brief History and Status". US EPA. Retrieved 2020-01-23.
- 'Suitcase killer' seeks review of evidence.