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)
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.
Bob Douglas becomes the first African American elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
U.S. airlines begin mandatory inspection of passengers and baggage.
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.
The U.S. and the Soviet Union join some 70 nations in signing the Biological Weapons Convention, an agreement to ban biological warfare.
The 44th Annual Academy Awards are held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.
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.
Okinawa is returned to Japan after 27 years of United States Military occupation.
Governor George C. Wallace of Alabama is shot by Arthur Herman Bremer at a Laurel, Maryland political rally.
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.
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.
Mark Donohue wins the Indianapolis 500 in the Penske Racing McLaren-Offenhauser.
A second Watergate break-in attempt fails.
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.
Watergate scandal: Five White House operatives are arrested for burglarizing the offices of the Democratic National Committee.
The United States returns Okinawa, occupied and governed since the Battle of Okinawa, back to Japan.
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 was once treated for mental illness.
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 – 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 16 – A plane carrying U.S. Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana and 3 other men vanishes in Alaska. The wreckage has never been found, despite a massive search at the time.
October 16 - 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 was pivotal in earning her this award.
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."
U.S. President Richard Nixon approves legislation to increase Social Security spending by US$5.3 billion.
A commuter train collision in Chicago kills 45, injures hundreds.
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 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.
United Airlines Boeing 737 from Washington National to Chicago Midway crashes short of the runway, killing 43 of 61 onboard and 2 on the ground.
Over $10,000 cash is found in the purse of Watergate conspirator Howard Hunt's wife.
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 post-season 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 29 – Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 crashes into the Everglades in Florida, killing 101 of 176 on board.
December 31 – 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.
Cold War (1945–1991)
Space Race (1957–1975)
Vietnam War, U.S. involvement (1962–1973)
Détente (c. 1969–1979)
Watergate scandal (1972–1974)
Capital punishment suspended by Furman v. Georgia (1972–1976)
DOCUMERICA photography project (1972-1977)
February 17 – Ralphie May, comedian and actor
May 2 – Dwayne Johnson, actor and wrestler.
May 11 – Amanda Freitag, chef
May 21 – The Notorious B.I.G., rapper (died 1997)
August 15 – Ben Affleck, actor, film director, screenwriter, and producer.
August 30 – Cameron Diaz, actress and former model.
September 19 – Cheryl B, poet and performance artist.
September 27 – Gwyneth Paltrow, actress, singer, and food writer.
October 20 – Brian Schatz, United States Senator from Hawaii since 2012.
November 14 – Aaron Taylor, American football player and sportscaster
LaTroy Hawkins, baseball player
Dustin Hermanson, baseball player
January 16 - Ross Bagdasarian, Sr., actor, pianist, singer, songwriter, record producer and creator of Alvin and the Chipmunks (born 1919)
April 2 - Gil Hodges, baseball player and manager (born 1924)
May 11 - Michael Blassie, U.S. Air Force lieutenant (born 1948; killed in action)
November 14 - Martin Dies, Jr., lawyer and politician (born 1900)
December 3 – Bill Johnson, African American dixieland jazz double-bassist (born 1872)
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 March 1945 (born 1884)
1972 in the United States Wikipedia
Events from the year 1972 in the United States.