Vietnam War Timeline_AP United States History_Sridhar


Emergence of Ho Chi Minh

1945 - 1969

Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh, had tried to appeal personally to President Woodrow Wilson in Paris in 1919. He wanted to support self-determination for the peoples of Southeast Asia. After the Cold War, Ho Chi Minh became increasingly anticommunist. After the French received a lot of aid from the US, they still followed Ho Chi Minh nationalist guerrilla forces, called the Viet Minh, in order to fight for Vietnamese independence. Japan occupied French Indochina in 1940 and collaborated with French officials loyal to France's Vichy regime. Ho, meanwhile, made contact with the Allies and aided operations against the Japanese in South China. In 1945, Japan finally surrendered to their allies and Minh proclaimed Vietnam independent. He created a strong sense of nationalism within Vietnam and supported what the people wanted.

First Indochina War/U.S. role in War

1946 - 1954

The First Indochina War fought between French forces and Viet Minh opponents took place in Northern Vietnam. The war was fought, because following the reoccupation of Indochina by the French following the end of World War II, the area having fallen to the Japanese; the Viet Minh launched a rebellion against the French authority governing the colonies of French Indochina. United States involvement came along when the US armed weapons to French in the war. The United States and Great Britain supporting the French side, while the Soviet Union and China supported the rebels with equipment and training. After the Communist victory in China in 1949, the Vietnamese rebels were allowed the use of southern China as a staging point for attacks into northern Vietnam.

Eisenhower and "Domino Theory"

April 7, 1954

President Dwight D. Eisenhower coins one of the most famous Cold War phrases when he suggests the fall of French Indochina to the communists could create a "domino" effect in Southeast Asia. The so-called "domino theory" dominated U.S. thinking about Vietnam for the next decade. Eisenhower's words had little direct immediate impact--a month later, Dien Bien Phu fell to the communists, and an agreement was reached at the Geneva Conference that left Ho's forces in control of northern Vietnam. In the long run, however, Eisenhower's announcement of the "domino theory" laid the foundation for U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Poor People's March on Washington


The 1963 March on Washington attracted an estimated 250,000 people for a peaceful demonstration to promote Civil Rights and economic equality for African Americans. Participants walked down Constitution and Independence avenues, then — 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed — gathered before the Lincoln Monument for speeches, songs, and prayer. The Poor people who marched were protesting for rights of Civil Liberties in the nation and inspired imitators in the antiwar demonstrations. As an impact, it produced ionic images most Americans remember it for. As the high point of the Civil Rights movement, the march and the integrationist, non-violent, liberal form of protest it stood for radical and militant approaches. On August 28 the marchers arrived. By 11 o'clock in the morning, more than 200,000 had gathered by the Washington Monument, where the march was to begin. It was a diverse crowd: black and white, rich and poor, young and old, Hollywood stars and everyday people. Despite the fears that had prompted extraordinary precautions (including pre-signed executive orders authorizing military intervention in the case of rioting), those assembled marched peacefully. The March on Washington was a success. It had been powerful, yet peaceful and orderly beyond anyone's expectations. It was, according to most historians, the high tide of that phase of the Civil Rights Movement.

Kennedy and Problems with Ngo Dinh Diem

November 1, 1963

Kennedy’s advisors said they would aid the Civil War taking place in South Vietnam in order to keep the status in check. Kennedy's chief military adviser, Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, and Special Assistant for National Security Affairs Walt W. Rostow had just returned from a fact-finding trip to Saigon and urged the president to increase U.S. economic and military advisory support to Diem. The military support was to include intensive training of local self-defense troops by American military advisers. The problems Diem presented problems of managing his people and foreign policy. Kennedy requested that Diem liberalize his regime and institute land reform and other measures to win the support of his people. Diem refused, but after being threatened, he accepted. His people exemplified hatred towards him and were murdered by a coup by his own generals in November 1963. Kennedy sent 16,000 US advisors to South Vietnam.

Freedom Summer


During the summer of 1964, hundreds of Northern college students traveled to Mississippi to help register black voters and encourage participation in the Civil Rights movement. Under the direction of the Council of Federated Organizations, the predominantly white students organized health clinics, established "freedom schools" to educate black school children, and sponsored voter registration drives throughout the state. The significance of the event is that student volunteers helped to establish the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), which attempted to unseat the state's all-white regular delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City.

Civil Rights Act of 1964


This act was a benchmark civil rights legislation. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Passage of the Act ended the direct application of “Jim Crow” laws, which had been upheld by the Supreme Court case in 1896. The impact of the act is that it eventually expanded by Congress to strengthen enforcement of these fundamental civil rights. The powers of the act were initially weak, but were supplemented during later years. Congress put its authority to different parts of the Constitution. Johnson, who would later sign the landmark Voting Rights Act into law, acted the law.

Murder of Medgar Evers

June 12, 1964

African American civil rights leader Medgar Evers was shot to death by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith. Evers volunteered in WW II for the US army and participated in the Normady invasion. In 1952, he joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. As a field worker for the NAACP, Evers traveled through his home state encouraging poor African Americans to vote. They recruited them in the Civil Rights movement. He was a key person who brought attention to the Emmitt Till murder case, which brought national attention to the plight of African Americans in the South. On June 12, 1963, Evers was killed. He is buried in military honors at Arlington Nation Cemetery in Virginia. Kennedy condemned the killing and later Beckwith was found guilty of murder. The unrepentant white supremacist, aged 73 was sentenced to life imprisonment. Evers was significant because he brought civil rights movements all over the national and fought for the US, although discriminated against.

Gulf of Tonkin Incident/Resolution

August 2, 1964 - August 4, 1964

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident took place on August 2 &4, 1964, and helped lead the US involvement in the Vietnam War. The resolution gave Johnson the power to use military force in the region without requiring a declaration of war. Johnson used the resolution to quickly escalate American involvement in the Vietnam War. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave the US the power to intervene with military forces, without the approval of Congress, and authorized military action in Southeast Asia. In the incident, Northern Vietnamese boats in the Gulf of Tonkin were alleged to have attacked without provocation US destroyers that were reporting intelligence information to South Vietnam. President Johnson and his advisers sent immediate air attacks on North Vietnam in retaliation; he also asked Congress for a mandate on future military intervention. Congress then passed the Resolution, which let all necessary measures to repel attacks against US forces and all steps necessary for the defense of US allies in Southeast Asia. Nixon used this later in history as well, to justify military action in Southeast Asia

Summer of 1965 Decision Making/Escalation of the War


Johnson was drawn into the conflict of Vietnam in order to stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. Johnson feared that communist forces would gain control of all of Vietnam. The non-communist government of Vietnam was fairly weak, so the US was drawn into conflict because Johnson felt it was crucial to contain communism. The four options Johnson was consulted with to deal with the Vietnam as the conflict escalated was to Americanize the war, and fight to win, escalate slowly and control risks, limit our involvement and negotiate withdrawal, or unilateral withdrawal, which means to pull out immediately. Option 2 escalates slowly and control risks is the option that Johnson finally chose because it gave the most honors and credibility to the United States as well as was the most effective measure to convince the North Vietnamese to not take control of the South. From the summer of 1965 to the beginning of 1968, the Vietnam War became America’s War. US troops strength in South Vietnam steadily increased, peaking at 536,100 men in early 1968. The bombing campaign against North Vietnamese and Vietcong bases and supply routes in the south intensified.

Voting Rights Act of 1965


This act grew out of both public protest and private political negotiation. Starting in 1961, nonviolent demonstrations in Georgia and Birmingham fired up. They hoped to attract national media attention and pressure the US government to protect Black’s constitutional rights. African Americans finally got their opportunity to go to polls and vote. The impact of this Act is that it sparked 600 peaceful marches in the nation as well as well as allowed local residents and visiting volunteers to hold a series of marches for equal rights. The law's effects were wide and powerful. By 1968, nearly 60 percent of eligible African Americans were registered to vote in Mississippi, and other southern states showed similar improvement. Between 1965 and 1990, the number of black state legislators and members of Congress rose from two to 160.

Malcolm X, Black Nationalism, & Assassination

February 21, 1965

Malcolm X was an activist and outspoken public voice of the Black Muslim faith who challenged mainstream civil rights movements and the nonviolent pursuit of integration championed by Martin Luther King Jr. He urged followers to defend themselves against white racism and aggression. He became an influential leader of Nation of Islam, which combined Islam with Black Nationalism and sought to encourage and enfranchise disadvantaged young blacks searching for confidence in segregated America. He was later assassinated because of his great advocacy in 1965, and his autobiography about the Black pride that we are born with flourished. He popularized his ideas among black youth and laid a foundation for the Black Power movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. He was one of the first African Americans to make a large impact of that type of society and appealed to all types of people.

"Bloody Sunday" & Selma to Montgomery Marches

March 7, 1965

Early in 1965, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Leadership Conference made Selma, Alabama, the focus of its efforts to register black voter in the South. That March, protesters attempting to march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery were met with a violent resistance by state and local governments. The protest, under the protection of the National Guard troops finally achieved their goals, walking around the clock for three days to reach Montgomery. The historic march, and King’s participation in it, greatly helped raise awareness of the difficult faced by blacks in the South. The need for a Voting Rights Act was passed later. The march was organized to promote black voter registration and to protest the killing of a young black man, Jimmie Lee Jackson, by a state trooper during a Feb. 18 voter registration march in a nearby city. The police asked them to move, but when the protesters refused to listen, they charged at them. The police fired and 50 demonstrators were injured. The day of violence, which became known as Bloody Sunday, was covered in newspapers across the country and broadcast on national news, outraging many Americans. The impact of this event is that blacks gained pride in them and were devastated by the anti-black feelings, which accumulated in the nation.

Watts Riots

August 11, 1965

The Watts Riot, which raged for six days and resulted in more than forty million dollars worth of property damage, was both the largest and costliest urban rebellion of the Civil Rights era. The riot spurred from an incident on August 11, 1965 when Marquette Frye, a young African American motorist, was pulled over and arrested by Lee W. Minikus, a white California Highway Patrolman. The outbreak of violence that followed Frye's arrest immediately touched off a large-scale riot centered in the commercial section of Watts, a deeply impoverished African American neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles. For several days, rioters overturned and burned automobiles and looted and damaged grocery stores, liquor stores, department stores, and pawnshops. Over the course of the six-day riot, over 14,000 California National Guard troops were mobilized in South Los Angeles and a curfew zone encompassing over forty-five miles was established in an attempt to restore public order. All told, the rioting claimed the lives of thirty-four people, resulted in more than one thousand reported injuries, and almost four thousand arrests before order was restored on August 17. The impact and significance of this event is that it brought national attention to growing discontent and high unemployment rates for African Americans living in the Watts Community.

Black Panthers formation and Rallies

1966 - 1982

The Black Panthers were formed in California in 1966 and they played a short but important part in the civil rights movement. The Black Panthers believed that the non-violent campaign of Martin Luther King had failed and any promised changes to their lifestyle via the 'traditional' civil rights movement, would take too long to be implemented or simply not introduced. The two founders of the Black Panther Party were Huey Percy Newton and Bobby Seale. They preached for a "revolutionary war" but though they considered themselves an African-American party, they were willing to speak out for all those who were oppressed from whatever minority group. They were willing to use violence to get what they wanted. The goals of the Black Panthers were quality in education, housing, employment, and civil rights. They had a ten point desired plan and rallied all around California to bring National attention. The significance is that they were one of several groups who tried to rally for equality of specifically race in the US.

Tet Offensive/Impact on Perception of War and Johnson's Presidency

January 31, 1968

By the last 1967, General William Westmoreland, the chief of US military operations in Vietnam, predicted that the forces of the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese army would soon buckle under the growing military pressure. After Westmoreland’s optimistic forecast, The Viet Cong launched a large-scale attack against cities in South Vietnam. The Tet Offensive produced one of the heaviest fighting of the war. In Saigon, the Viet Cong, unit briefly held the compound of the US embassy. The communists out of the city center drove South Vietnamese forces. This impacted perception because politically and psychologically, however, the Tat offensive had delivered a serious blow to the American war effort. Although President Johnson publically tried to minimize the significance of the attack, privately he and other top US officials were stunned. They had believed army assessments that the communists were nearing the breaking point. Suddenly, they were faced with the respect of a bloodier war. It marked the turning point of the Vietnam War. This forced General Westmoreland to recognize that the US would have to increase its military presence in Vietnam to overcome the communists. He called on Johnson to send more troops to Vietnam. Clifford, who found that his task required him to perform a balancing act of his own, and called for Johnson’s resignation.

MLK Assassination & Riots

April 4, 1968

As a result of the controversial issues that MLK advocated for and as one of the most well known civil rights leaders, he was assassinated. In Chicago and across the nation, rioting was breaking out in response to the new that King had been gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee. He was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39. King was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:05PM that evening. James Earl Ray, a fugitive from the Missouri State Penitentiary, was arrested in London at Heathrow Airport, extradited to the United States, and charged with the crime. Riots broke out all around the country due to a strong sense of Black Nationalism and the feeling of violation of Civil Rights. MLK died surprisingly and was not able to accomplish all that the people hoped he would be able to. The significance of the event is that MLK was a key activist during the time period, and so it aroused the most anger in the nation and symbolized the destruction of the entire Civil Rights movement in the nation.

MLK Assassination & Riots

April 4, 1968

As a result of the controversial issues that MLK advocated for and as one of the most well known civil rights leaders, he was assassinated. In Chicago and across the nation, rioting was breaking out in response to the new that King had been gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee. He was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39. King was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:05PM that evening. James Earl Ray, a fugitive from the Missouri State Penitentiary, was arrested in London at Heathrow Airport, extradited to the United States, and charged with the crime. Riots broke out all around the country due to a strong sense of Black Nationalism and the feeling of violation of Civil Rights. MLK died surprisingly and was not able to accomplish all that the people hoped he would be able to. The significance of the event is that MLK was a key activist during the time period, and so it aroused the most anger in the nation and symbolized the destruction of the entire Civil Rights movement in the nation.

Robert Kennedy Assassination

June 6, 1968

Robert F. Kennedy, who had made many enemies during his time on the Washington scene, was well aware of the dangers he faced in trying to reclaim the Presidency lost in 1963 when his brother was killed in Dallas. Fate befell him just after midnight on June 5, 1968, moments after declaring victory in the California Democratic primary. Escorted through a kitchen pantry in the Ambassador Hotel, RFK was assailed by Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan firing a .22 pistol. Kennedy was shot multiple times, and five others were wounded by gunfire. While bodyguards and others wrestled with Sirhan, who continued to shoot wildly, Kennedy collapsed in a pool of blood. He died the following day. The significance of the event is that it is evidence tying the alleged assassins to the case was circumstantial and almost too neat.

Nixon and Vietnamization & Anti-War Protests

November 3, 1969

In November of 1969, President Nixon too office, and more than 30,000 Americans died In Vietnam. Nixon hopes to find a middle way out of Vietnam. He rejected plans to pursue a military. He opposed calls for settlement “that would amount to a disguised American defeat,” in the war zones of South Vietnam, communist forces were quick to test Nixon’s resolve. Nixon’s main initiative focused on turning the war effort to South Vietnam, called Vietnamization. In July 1969, he took out 25,000 soldiers, since the start of the conflict. His policy of Vietnamization won public support and anti-war movement nonetheless gained speed. Protesters held large, well-organized anti-war demonstrations in several major cities. In DC, the protestors called for an immediate US withdrawal from Vietnam. He resented the anti-war movement and argued that protestors undermined US position in the war. He frequently addressed the country over national television and wanted his main policy to be heard in Vietnam

Kent State Shootings

May 4, 1970

On April 30, 1970, President Richard M. Nixon appeared on national television to announce the invasion of Cambodia by the United States and the need to draft 150,000 more soldiers for an expansion of the Vietnam War effort. This provoked massive protests on campuses throughout the country. At Kent State University in Ohio, protesters launched a demonstration that included setting fire to the ROTC building, prompting the governor of Ohio to dispatch 900 National Guardsmen to the campus. The significance of the event was that students died in the event and this arose National attention on the issue of protesting and the dangers of it. It reflected Nixon in a bad light and showed how strict he was about war policies in Vietnam during this time period.

Geneva Peace Conference and the Geneva Accords


The Geneva Accords states that Vietnam was to become an Independent Nation. Elections were held on July 1956, internationally, in order to choose and elect the government of Vietnam. The country was split into North and South Vietnam, as the dividing line chosen at the 17th parallel. The U.S. supported South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. He agreement fixed a provisional demarcation line roughly along the 17th parallel (which would eventually be called the Demilitarized Zone), pending countrywide elections to be held in July 1956. No longer able to use the elections as a means to reunify Vietnam, the communists turned to force of arms to defeat South Vietnam. The impact of the Geneva Accords, is that is ended the war between the French and Viet Minh When Diem, realizing the strength of Ho Chi Minh's support in South Vietnam, blocked the elections that were called for in the accords, the United States, citing alleged North Vietnamese truce violation, supported him.

Airstrikes -Nixon & “Peace with Honor”-

January 23, 1973

On April 4, 1972 - In a further response to Eastertide, President Nixon authorizes a massive bombing campaign targeting all NVA troops invading South Vietnam along with B-52 air strikes against North Vietnam. Nixon was only elected as a candidate for advertising for peace with honor. "Peace with Honor" was a phrase U.S. President Richard M. Nixon used in a speech on January 23, 1973 to describe the Paris Peace Accord to end the Vietnam War. The treaty specified that a ceasefire would take place four days later. According to the plan, within sixty days of the ceasefire, the North Vietnamese would release all U.S. prisoners, and all U.S. troops would withdraw from South Vietnam. On March 29, the last U.S. soldier left Vietnam. In April 1975, Saigon fell to North Vietnamese troops.