Vietnam War

  • Last independence again

    Vietnam again lost its independence during a surge of European imperialism in the mid-1800s. This time the invaders were French. Despite the stubborn resistance of the Vietnamese, French military power ultimately won out.
  • Grant France Complete control

    The Vietnamese were forced to grant France complete control of the country. France later combined Vietnam with Laos and Cambodia to form French Indochina, one of its richest colonial possessions.
  • Ho

    During the 1920s and 1930s Ho lived in China and the Soviet Union while working for Vietnamese independence.
  • Japanse army occupied all of Indochina

    In 1940 the Japanese army occupied all of Indochina and threatened the rest of Southeast Asia.
  • Resistance Movement

    After 30 years away from home, Ho secretly returned to Vietnam in early 1941. He organized a resistance movement called the League for the Independence of Vietnam, or Vietminh (vee-ET-MIN).

    When the Japanese withdrew from Indochina after surrendering to the Allied Powers in August 1945, the Vietminh declared independence.
  • Independence Celebration

    In Hanoi on September 2, 1945, more than 500,000 people gathered at an independence celebration to hear Ho speak. In an effort to gain U.S. support, Ho echoed the language of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in his speech.
  • France VS. Vietnamese

    French and the Vietnamese were once again locked in battle. President Truman ignored Ho's pleas for assistance and threw U.S. support behind France. Truman viewed France as a vital ally in the struggle against the spread of communism in postwar Europe. He also was unwilling to back the Vietminh because of Ho's Communist Party connections.
  • Determination to succeed

    In 1946 Ho Chi Minh had expressed to an American journalist his people's determination to succeed. Ho characterized the fight as "a war between an elephant"—the French—"and a tiger"—the Vietnamese.
  • Communism Fear Engulfing Asia

    Presidential advisers feared that communism would engulf Asia. This fear was reinforced in 1949 when Mao Zedong's Communists took over China—Asia's most populous country and a former U.S. ally
  • U.S. tries to stop N.K. from Invading S.K.

    United States was caught up in a bloody ground war, trying to turn back communist North Korea's invasion of South Korea. Meanwhile, Communist-led nationalist revolts rocked Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaya.
  • U.S. pays war effort

    By 1954 the United States was paying much of the cost of France's war effort. Even with massive aid, however, the French suffered defeat after defeat.
  • New President (Diem)

    In 1955 Diem became president of the newly established Republic of Vietnam, or South Vietnam, in an election that was obviously rigged.
  • U.S refuses to support General Elections agreement.

    General elections to reunify the country were scheduled for July 1956. Fearing that the Communists would win a nationwide election, the United States refused to support the agreement.
  • Geneva Conference

    when the July 1956 date set by the Geneva Conference rolled around, Diem refused to call an election in the south.
  • Military assistance from north to south Vietminh

    military assistance began flowing from the north to the Vietminh who had stayed in the south.
  • Period: to


    In December 1960 there were some 900 U.S. military advisers in South Vietnam training Diem's Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). During the next few years, Kennedy increased that number to more than 16,000. As Vietcong attacks mounted, Kennedy authorized U.S. forces to engage in direct combat. As a result, the number of Americans killed or wounded climbed from 14 in 1961 to nearly 500 in 1963.
  • Diems assassination

    Plotters struck in early November 1963, murdering both Diem and his brother. Diem's assassination upset U.S. advisers, who had been prepared to fly Diem out of the country.
  • President Johnson's Escalation

    President Johnson soon called for an escalation, or buildup, of U.S. military forces in Vietnam. He ordered the Selective Service, the agency charged with carrying out the military draft, to call up more young men to serve in the armed forces. In April 1965 the Selective Service notified 13,700 draftees.
  • The troops

    During the war more than 2 million Americans served in Vietnam. In the beginning most were professional soldiers who were already enlisted in the armed forces. As the demand for troops grew, however, more and more draftees were shipped to Vietnam.
  • The Tet Offensive

    marked the start of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year.In past years the holiday had been honored by a lull in fighting. However, late that night, as most South Vietnamese and their U.S. allies slept, Vietcong guerrillas and North Vietnamese troops struck. They crept from their jungle camps and city hideouts to execute a carefully planned strike. Within hours countless villages, more than 100 cities, and 12 U.S. military bases came under attack from nearly 84,000 communist soldiers.
  • Nixon in Office-Battle

    Secretly, Nixon planned to expand the war into neutral Cambodia to cut off the North Vietnamese supply lines along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Early in 1969 Nixon ordered the widespread bombing of Cambodia. He wanted to show Hanoi that the United States was still willing to use force, and even expand the war, in pursuit of his goal of "peace with honor." Nixon and Kissinger concealed the Cambodian air strikes from the American people, Congress, and key military leaders.
  • Nixon-Troops Withdrawal-Vietnaminzation

    Slow troop withdrawal, Part of this plan was called Vietnamization, which involved turning over the fighting to the South Vietnamese while gradually pulling out U.S. troops. This strategy, said Nixon, would bring "peace with honor." At best, Nixon hoped that Vietnamization might produce a stable anticommunist South Vietnam. At worst, it would delay a collapse long enough to spare the United States the humiliation of outright defeat.
  • Homefront-Kent Station Shootings

    National Guard troops that had been sent to control demonstrators shot randomly into a large group of students. They killed four and injured nine others. Some of the students were merely walking across campus. The Kent State shootings shocked the nation.
  • Tonkin Gulf Resolution-Homefront

    Members of Congress were also upset by the Cambodian invasion. In response, Congress repealed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in December 1970. Nixon insisted, however, that this action did not affect his authority to carry on the war. Congressional leaders soon developed plans to stop the war by cutting off funding once U.S. troops were withdrawn.
  • Homefront-Pentagon Papers

    The New York Times began publishing a collection of secret government documents relating to the war. Known as the Pentagon Papers, these documents revealed that the government had frequently misled the American people about the course of the war. The documents had been leaked to the press by Daniel Ellsberg, a former Department of Defense official. Ellsberg had strongly supported the war until he spent time in Vietnam studying the war's effects.
  • Cease-fire

    the negotiators in Paris announced a cease-fire. The plan differed little from the one agreed to in October, but minor changes allowed each side to claim a victory. The United States pledged to withdraw its remaining forces from South Vietnam and to help rebuild Vietnam.
  • Event (North v. South Vietnam)

    North Vietnamese troops overran the northern part of South Vietnam. As South Vietnamese troops retreated in panic, new waves of refugees poured into Saigon.
  • Surrender

    South Vietnam surrendered unconditionally.