Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

(1964)

Approved by the U.S. Congress on August 7, 1964, by an almost unanimous vote, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution marked the beginning of the Vietnam War, authorizing American military intervention “to promote the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia.” Thus, after years of providing indirect help to the South Vietnamese government against the Vietcong—Communist rebels supported by the North Vietnamese regime of Ho Chi Minh—the United States directly entered the conflict. The military escalation that followed the approval of the resolution led America into its longest armed conflict, in which the world's most powerful nation would fail to curb the resistance of a peasant people in spite of the enormous losses those people suffered.

President Lyndon B. Johnson and his administration managed to push the resolution through Congress with virtually no debate following two alleged North Vietnamese attacks against the American destroyer Maddox; the second...

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The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (National Archives and Records Administration)

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