How did America become involved in the Vietnam War?

1954: President Eisenhower Pledges Support to South Vietnam

  1. After the dividing of Vietnam, President Dwight D. Eisenhower pledged American support of South Vietnam's Ngo Dinh Diem in an attempt to enfore the containment policy and stop the spread of communism.
  2. By 1960, about 675 U.S. military advisors were in South Vietnam to assist in South Vietnam's struggle against Communist North Vietnam.
  3. Thus, the U.S. became involved in the affairs of Vietnam.

President Dwight Eisenhower

1960: President Kennedy Pledges Support to South Vietnam

  1. After his election in 1960, President John F. Kennedy pledged American support to the South Vietnamese.

1963: The Assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem

  1. Ngo Dinh Diem, the democratic leader of South Vietnam, lacked support in his own country as he imprisoned people who criticized his government, filled many government positions with members of his won family, and persecuted Buddhists.
  2. As a result, Diem was assassinated in 1963.
  3. With Ngo Dinh Diem no longer in control, the Vietcong, who were Communist guerilla fighters in the South gained control of more territory in South Vietnam and earned the loyalty of an increasing number of the South Vienamese people.
  4. Ho Chi Minh and the North Vietnamese aided the Vietcong throughout.burning_monk.jpg
Buddhist monk burning himself in the streets of Saigon in protest of Ngo Dinh Diem, 1963.

1964: The Gulf of Tonkin Incident and Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

  1. After Kennedy's assassination in 1963, Lyndon B. Johnson became President and, like Kennedy, he was determined to carry out the Containment policy and stop the spread of communims by supporting South Vietnam.
  2. Gulf of Tonkin Incident - Statement issued by Johnson in 1964 in which he said U.S. destroyer ships had been sunk by North Vietnamese torpedoes in the Gulf of Tonkin, a body of water located 30 miles off the coast of Vietnam.
    1. The attack was made up and not true, but it deepened U.S. interest in the war.
  3. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution - Gave Johnson the authority to "take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression."
    1. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution basically gave Johnson complete control over what the U.S. did in Vietnam.
U.S. destoyer said to have been sunk in the Gulf of Tonkin

1964: President Johnson increases aid to South Vietnam

  1. After winning the election of 1964, President Johnson began a gradual escalation of the Vietnam war effort.
  2. Johnson provided more troops and money to South Vietnam to fight the Vietcong.
  3. At the beginning of 1965, American troops in South Vietnam numbered 25,000. By the end of 1965, American troops in South Vietnam numbered 184,000.
  4. By the end of 1968, more than 536,000 American troops were in Vietnam.