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U.S. Involvement In Vietnam: Teaching the Gulf of Tonkin with Primary Sources

Robert McNamara delivers a press briefing on the Tonkin Gulf

Click to Enlarge U.S. Involvement In Vietnam: Teaching the Gulf of Tonkin with Primary Sources

August 2019 marks the 55th anniversary of the Tonkin Gulf incident, in which the United States and North Vietnam confronted each other through air strikes, ultimately presenting a turning point for U.S. involvement in the region. In response to North Vietnam's attacks, Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution on August 10, 1964, granting President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to assist any South Asian nation against communist aggression. In effect, this resolution gave Johnson full authority to wage war in Vietnam, which he did by authorizing a series of retaliatory air strikes against the North Vietnamese that continued until October 31, 1968.

How did the events surrounding the Tonkin Gulf incidents lead to the escalation of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War?

Use this driving key question paired with our curated primary and secondary resources to explore the controversy surrounding the Tonkin Gulf incidents and subsequent U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Students can more easily understand this important part of U.S. history within the context of its political and social climate. Help your class engage with the complexities of these events through primary sources (videos, recordings of secret conversations, and documents) that will map out the major players, and their decisions, in their own words. Contextualize the history-making actions of these figures through vetted scholarly articles—overviews of events and essays on such key concepts as "containment" and "domino theory." The Using the Evidence and Instruction sections provide classroom-ready tools you can use in the library or classroom to take students deeper into these resources.


Entry ID: 2200945

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