Historical Context


The U.S. became involved in the Vietnam War in 1954, but the conflict had been going on years before that. There was a treaty created in 1954 to separate Vietnam into two parts, North Vietnam, ruled by Ho Chi Minh, and South Vietnam, ruled by the last emperor of Vietnam, Bao Dai. A man named Ngo Dinh Diem pushed Bao out of his place in 1955, and the U.S. – being strongly anti-communist – formed an alliance with the South. In 1960, many people in South Vietnam began to create an organization to oppose Diem called the National Liberation Front. Those who fought against the South and for communism were called the Viet Cong. The U.S. adhered to something called the “Domino Theory,” where if one country falls to communism, then the ones around them will also fall to communism; therefore, the U.S. remained involved in the war by supporting the South with military weapons and economic support.

In 1964 the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed in order for the United States to be able to attack North Vietnam directly under President Johnson’s jurisdiction. During Johnson’s presidency, the US fought fervently for Vietnam’s freedom from communism. Throughout this war, however, Americans participated in anti-war protests because of US military violence in Vietnam, especially the My Lai massacre, which killed over 400 unarmed people.

In 1973, the war between the U.S. and North Vietnam negotiated a peace agreement and the US withdrew troops, although the war continued between North and South Vietnam. In 1975, the city of Saigon fell to communism and was renamed Ho Chi Minh City. The country was reunited under the control of the the North.

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Sabrina Pierce 2020

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