Us history Chapter 29 Notes The War Develops The Main Idea

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US History Chapter 29 Notes

The War Develops

The Main Idea

  • Concern about the spread of communism led the United States to become increasingly violent in Vietnam.

Reading Focus

  • How did Southeast Asia’s colonial history produce increased tensions in Vietnam?

  • What policies did Presidents Truman and Eisenhower pursue in Vietnam after World War II?

  • What events and conditions caused growing conflicts between North Vietnam and South Vietnam?

  • Why did Presidents Kennedy and Johnson increase U.S. involvement in Vietnam?

Southeast Asia’s Colonial History

  • The French combined Vietnam with Laos and Cambodia to form French Indochina.

  • Ho Chi Minh led a growing nationalist movement in Vietnam.

  • During World War II, the Japanese army occupied French Indochina.

  • A group called the League for the Independence of Vietnam, or the Vietminh, fought the Japanese.

Colonial Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh

  • Real name is Nguyen That Thanh; Ho Chi Minh means “He Who Enlightens.”

  • Joined the French Communist Party.

  • Believed that a Communist revolution was a way Vietnam could be free of foreign rulers.

World War II

  • Japan occupied French Indochina.

  • Ho Chi Minh organized the Vietminh during WWII to resist the Japanese occupation.

  • Japan surrendered to the Allies in 1945, and the Vietminh declared Vietnam to be independent.

  • The French controlled Vietnam during World War II.

What policies did Presidents Truman and Eisenhower pursue in Vietnam after WW II?


  • Saw Vietnam in terms of the Cold War struggle against communism


  • Communist North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950.

  • Communist-led revolts in Indonesia, Malaya, and the Philippines


  • Believed in the domino theory

  • Sent arms, ammunition, supplies, and money to the French forces in Vietnam.

Vietnam after World War II

The Domino Theory

  • Domino theory—the belief that communism would spread to neighboring countries if Vietnam fell to communism

  • To avoid this, the United States supported the French during the Vietnam War.

  • The French continued to lose battle after battle.

France Defeated

  • French forces hoped for a U.S. rescue, but Eisenhower did not want to send U.S. soldiers to Asia so soon after Korea.

  • After eight years of fighting, the two sides had lost nearly 300,000 soldiers.

  • The Vietminh had learned how to fight a guerilla war against an enemy with superior weapons and technology

The Geneva Conference

  • The goal of the Geneva Conference was to work out a peace agreement and arrange for Indochina’s future.

  • According to the Geneva Accords, Vietnam was temporarily divided at the 17th parallel.

  • Vietminh forces controlled the North and the French would withdraw from the country

  • General elections were to be held in July 1956 and would reunify the country under one government.

Conflict between North Vietnam and South Vietnam

  • President Eisenhower hoped to prevent communism from spreading to South Vietnam.

  • South Vietnam’s leader was Ngo Dinh Diem.

  • North Vietnam’s leader was Ho Chi Mihn.

  • And by 1960, Ho Chi Minh expanded the effort to unify North and South Vietnam under a Communist government.

Growing Conflict in Vietnam

Vietnam’s Leaders

  • Ngo Dinh Diem became the president of South Vietnam in 1954.

  • Diem’s government was corrupt, brutal, and unpopular from the start.

  • Ho Chi Minh’s leadership in North Vietnam was totalitarian and repressive.

  • He won support in North Vietnam by redistributing land from large estates to peasants

A Civil War

  • Diem’s opponents in South Vietnam began to revolt.

  • North Vietnam supplied weapons to Vietminh rebels in South Vietnam.

  • Ngo Dinh Diems' repressive regime and support from leaders in North Vietnam led to the founding of the Vietcong.

  • In 1960 Ho Chi Minh sent the North Vietnamese Army into the country to fight with the Vietcong

U.S. Involvement in Vietnam


  • Began sending money and weapons to South Vietnam

  • Military advisors sent to train South Vietnamese army


  • Believed in the Domino Theory

  • Increased the number of military advisers and army special forces, or Green Berets

  • Advisers and aid were sent to Vietnam in part to overthrow Ngo Dinh Diem


  • Believed an expanded U.S. effort was the only way to prevent a Communist victory in Vietnam

  • Asked Congress to pass the Tonkin Gulf Resolution

Increasing U.S. Involvement

Diem’s Overthrow

  • Diem arrested and killed Buddhist protesters.

  • U.S. leaders said they would withdraw support if Diem did not change his ways.

  • Diem refused to change his stand against Buddhists, and the United States began to support a plot to overthrow Diem.

  • In November 1963 the South Vietnamese plotters murdered Diem.

Tonkin Gulf Resolution

  • To increase the war in Vietnam, Johnson needed authority from Congress.

  • Johnson asked Congress for this authority claiming that the USS Maddox was attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin.

  • Johnson claimed this attack was unprovoked, but really the Maddox was on a spying mission and had fired first.

  • Congress approved the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1964 because Lyndon Johnson misled them

U.S. Support of the War at Home and Abroad

The Main Idea

  • As the United States sent increasing numbers of troops to defend South Vietnam, some Americans began to question the war.

Reading Focus

  • Why did U.S. superiority in the air war fail to win quickly in Vietnam?

  • What made the ground war in Vietnam so difficult to fight?

  • How were U.S. forces mobilized for the war?

  • How and why did public opinion about the war gradually change?

Why did U.S. superiority in the air war fail to win quickly in Vietnam?

Operation Rolling Thunder

  • A bombing campaign over North Vietnam

  • Bombed military targets—army bases and airfields—as well as bridges, roads, railways, and power plants

  • Main target was the Ho Chi Minh Trail

Weapons of the Air War

  • Agent Orange—defoliant, or chemical, that destroys vegetation

  • Napalm—jellied form of gasoline used to create firebombs

  • “Cluster bombs”—sprayed sharp metal fragments when exploded

The Air War

  • Bombing did not succeed

  • Flow of goods from North to South Vietnam actually increased

  • Vietcong repaired bridges, had bunkers underground, and used weapons from the Soviet Union and China

Difficult Ground War in Vietnam

  • U.S. strategy called for ground forces to go on search-and-destroy missions.

    • General William Westmoreland commanded the U.S. ground troops in South Vietnam.

    • Ground troops located the enemy and called for air strikes.

  • U.S. forces implemented a program of pacification to “win the hearts and minds” of the South Vietnamese people.

    • Nonmilitary pacification involved construction projects.

    • Military pacification involved moving people out of their villages when Vietcong were nearby.

    • Pacification failed because civilians resented being moved off their land and having their homes destroyed.

Declining Troop Morale

  • American forces in Vietnam faced many challenges.

    • Vietcong struck and then melted back into the jungle

    • Vietcong knew the local geography.

    • The ground war in Vietnam was so difficult to fight was that civilians often joint the Vietcong and U.S. Soldiers often could not identify the enemy

  • Enormous casualties inflicted upon the Communist forces did not lead to victory.

    • With the aid of the Soviet Union and China, North Vietnam sent a steady stream of supplies and soldiers to the South.

    • Vietcong continued to refill their ranks with civilians.

    • U.S. air strikes and the pacification program turned many peasants into Vietcong fighters.

U.S. Forces Mobilize for the War

  • More than 2.5 million Americans served in the Vietnam War.

  • On average, the soldiers who served in Vietnam were

  • slightly younger than the U.S. troops who fought in Korea and World War II, and

  • not as well educated.

  • At the start of the war, most American troops were professional soldiers—volunteers who enlisted in the armed forces.

  • However, the U.S. government came to depend on drafted soldiers

U.S. Forces Mobilize

The Draft

  • 25 percent were excused for health reasons; 30 percent received deferments, or postponements of service.

  • College students did not have to serve. This created an enrollment rise early in the war.

  • A high percentage of combat soldiers were African Americans.

  • 3 percent of eligible men escaped the draft by either refusing to register or by leaving the United States

Non-combat Positions

  • Most Americans in Vietnam served in non-combat positions—administration, communications, engineering, medical care, and transportation.

  • About 10,000 American military women served.

  • Some 20,000 to 45,000 more women worked in civilian capacities, many as volunteers for the Red Cross or other humanitarian relief organizations.

Public Opinion Regarding the Vietnam War

Media’s Impact

  • Television brought scenes of firefights and burning villages into America’s living rooms.

  • Media coverage of the war was most influential in turning American public opinion against the war

Hawks and Doves

  • Doves—people opposed to the war

  • Hawks—people who supported the war’s goals

  • Both criticized the war effort.

  • Hawks wanted more troops and bombing.

  • Doves opposed the war for many reasons

Antiwar Movement

  • Movement attracted a broad range of participants

  • Much antiwar activity took place on college campuses.

  • Most vocal group—Students for a Democratic Society.

Reasons that Doves Opposed the War

  • Argued that Vietnam was not crucial to American national security (Ex. George Kennan)

  • Argued that the United States was fighting against the wishes of a majority of Vietnamese (Ex. Dr. Benjamin Spock)

  • Argued that the war was draining needed resources from Great Society programs (Ex. Martin Luther King Jr.)

  • Argued that it was unfair for African Americans to fight for democracy in a foreign land when discrimination continued at home (Ex. Civil rights activists)

  • Argued that Johnson’s policies were too extreme (Ex. J. William Fulbright)

1968: A Turning Point

The Main Idea

  • As the Vietnam War dragged on and increasingly appeared to be unwinnable, deep divisions developed in American society.

Reading Focus

  • What was the Tet Offensive?

  • What were the effects of the Tet Offensive?

  • How did President Johnson try to find a solution to the war?

  • How did the election of 1968 illustrate divisions in American society

The Tet Offensive

Tet Offensive

  • A series of massive coordinated attacks throughout South Vietnam in urban areas

Khe Sanh

  • In January 1968 thousands of NVA and Vietcong troops attacked a U.S. military base in Khe Sanh.

  • U.S. And South Vietnamese troops were unprepared for the Tet Offensive because they believed the attack on Khe Sanh explained the heightened military preparedness of the North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong troops

The Main Attacks

  • Some 84,000 Communist soldiers attacked 12 U.S. military bases and more than 100 cities across South Vietnam.

Effects of the Tet Offensive

  • General Westmoreland called the Tet Offensive a decisive defeat for the Communists.

    • About 45,000 enemy soldiers were killed. About 1,100 Americans and 2,300 ARVN troops also died.

    • The Communists showed that they were determined to keep on fighting.

  • The Tet Offensive caused many Americans to question whether or not the war in Vietnam could be won

Effects of the Tet Offensive

Growing Doubts

  • Major national magazines such as Time and Newsweek also expressed doubts about the war and began to call for its end.

  • Public criticism of the government’s policies grew louder and more intense.

  • Robert S. McNamara began to seek ways to end the war

Democratic Challengers

  • Minnesota senator Eugene McCarthy challenged Johnson for the Democratic Party’s nomination.

  • New York senator Robert Kennedy entered the race.

  • Shaken by the divisions within his party, Johnson announced that he would not seek nor accept the office of the presidency.

Searching for Solutions

  • President Johnson denied General Westmoreland’s request for 206,000 more ground soldiers.

  • Johnson’s advisors could not come up with the best course for the war strategy.

  • Johnson decided to negotiate with the North Vietnamese.

  • The Paris peace talks stalled over two issues: the United States wanted all NVA troops out of South Vietnam, and North Vietnam would not accept a temporary South Vietnam government that included a U.S.-backed president

The Election of 1968

The Democratic Primary Fight

  • Vice President Hubert Humphrey entered the race and defended the administration’s policies in Vietnam.

  • Senator Eugene McCarthy called for a rapid end to the war.

  • Senator Robert Kennedy also called for an end to the war and won primaries in Indiana, Nebraska, and California.

The Democratic Convention

  • Delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago debated between McCarthy and Humphrey.

  • Outside the convention, protesters from around the country demanded an immediate end to the war.

  • Television crews captured violent scenes between protesters and police.

  • The chaos was one symptom of a growing “generation gap” over government, politics, and the Vietnam War

Other Contenders in 1968

Richard Nixon

  • Republican

  • Won the nomination at the Republican National Convention

  • Chose Spiro Agnew as his running mate

  • Appealed to the patriotism of mainstream Americans

  • Claimed to have a secret plan to end the war “with honor

George Wallace

  • Independent

  • Nominated by the American Independent Party

  • Opposed the civil rights movement and school desegregation and war protesters

  • Appealed to conservative Democratic white southerners and working class whites

The Election of 1968

The Campaign

  • Nixon led the polls for most of the campaign.

  • Humphrey made gains when he said the bombing in Vietnam should be stopped and that the South Vietnamese should shoulder more of the war’s responsibilities.

  • The peace talks in Paris made some progress when the North Vietnamese agreed to include South Vietnamese representatives.

The Results

  • The election was very close—just 510,000 votes separated Nixon and Humphrey.

  • Nixon won 43.4 percent of the votes cast to Humphrey’s 42.7 percent.

  • Nixon won 301 electoral votes to Humphrey’s 191.

  • George Wallace became an important factor as an independent candidate

The War Ends

The Main Idea

  • President Nixon eventually ended U.S. involvement in Vietnam, but the war had lasting effects on the United States and in Southeast Asia.

Reading Focus

  • How did President Nixon’s policies widen U.S. involvement in the war?

  • How and why did protests against the war increase?

  • How did Nixon achieve an end to U.S. involvement in Vietnam?

  • What was the war’s legacy in the United States and in Vietnam?

How did President Nixon’s policies widen U.S. involvement in the war?

  • During his 1968 campaign, Nixon pledged to end the war in Vietnam.

  • Nixon and his National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger devised plans to end the war.

  • In 1969 Kissinger began secret peace negotiations in Paris with North Vietnamese revolutionary Le Duc Tho.

  • The U.S. strategy aimed at achieving “peace with honor.”

    • Vietnamization

    • Laos and Cambodia

Widening the War


  • Strategy of turning over more of the fighting in Vietnam to the South Vietnamese while gradually bringing U.S. ground troops home

  • Nixon hoped this would give South Vietnamese leaders time to create a stable, non-Communist government.

  • Nixon began to slowly withdraw U.S. forces from South Vietnam.

  • Nixon believed he had the backing of the silent majority of Americans

Laos and Cambodia

  • At the same time, Nixon was secretly expanding the war.

  • He ordered the bombing of Cambodia to disrupt the flow of supplies on the Ho Chi Minh trail.

  • Concealed the air strikes from the American people—including members of Congress

  • Nixon hoped to force North Vietnam to seek peace

War Protests

  • In 1970 Nixon announced that he had ordered troops into Cambodia.

  • Antiwar protests intensified—especially on college campuses.

  • Antiwar protests erupted into violence.

  • Nixon believed that antiwar protesters represented only a minority of Americans.

  • More and more Americans began to oppose the war when they learned about the My Lai massacre and the Pentagon Papers.

Increasing Protests

Campus Violence

  • Kent State University in Ohio

    • 4 students were killed and 9 injured

  • Jackson State College in Mississippi

    • 2 students were killed and 9 wounded

Antiwar Movement

  • Polls showed that fifty percent of Americans opposed the war.

  • Coalition of clergy, trade unionists, and veterans established a nationwide day of protest called Moratorium Day.

  • 250,000 protesters made up the largest antiwar demonstration in U.S. history

Radical Protests

  • Some antiwar groups turned to violent measures.

  • The Weathermen set off more than 5,000 bombs and carried out the Days of Rage.

  • Most antiwar protesters did not support extremist groups or terrorist measures.

Increasing Protests

My Lai Massacre

  • Troops under Lieutenant William Calley killed at least 450 men, women, and children in the village of My Lai while on a search-and-destroy mission.

  • The My Lai massacre was kept quiet at first, but former soldiers began talking about it.

  • Calley was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison; he was paroled in 1974

Pentagon Papers

  • A collection of secret government documents that traced the history of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam since the Truman years

  • Revealed that government officials had been misleading the American people about the war for years

  • Daniel Ellsberg leaked the papers to the press.

U.S. Involvement in Vietnam Ends

George McGovern

26th Amendment

  • Lowered the voting age from 21 to 18

  • McGovern hoped the ratification of this amendment would boost his election chances.

1972 Election

  • Nixon stressed law and order at home and told voters he would end the war.

  • Kissinger announced a breakthrough in the peace talks just weeks before the election.

  • The announcement helped Nixon win by a landslide

A Peace Agreement

  • Nixon tried to force North Vietnam to make peace concessions by ordering the so-called Christmas bombing. It failed to work.

  • Officials from North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the United States finally reached an agreement in January 1973.

  • The United States agreed to withdraw all of its troops and help rebuild Vietnam. Both sides agreed to release all prisoners of war.

  • The agreement did not settle the political future of South Vietnam—the key issue behind the war from the start

The Vietnam War’s Legacy

  • Two years after U.S. troops were withdrawn, North Vietnamese troops invaded South Vietnam.

  • After a short amount of fighting, South Vietnam surrendered.

    • The U.S. military rushed to evacuate Americans still working in Saigon.

    • Some 130,000 South Vietnamese were also evacuated and flown to the United States.

  • After two decades of “temporary” division, Vietnam was reunited under a Communist government.

  • In 1975, Communist forces called the Khmer Rouge gained control of Cambodia.

    • Vietnam forces invaded Cambodia in 1979, overthrew the Khmer Rouge, and occupied the country till 1989.

The Legacy of the War

Southeast Asia

  • 635,000 South Vietnamese died; Vietcong and NVA war dead equaled 1 million

  • Severe environmental damage from bombs and defoliants

  • More than 1.5 million South Vietnamese fled the country after the fall of Saigon.


  • 58,000 Americans were killed; 600 were held as POWs; 2,500 soldiers reported MIA; 300,000 wounded

  • Experienced a negative reception upon return

  • Trouble readjusting to civilian life (post-traumatic stress disorder

Political Impact

  • United States failed to prevent Communists from taking over South Vietnam.

  • Spent more than $150 billion on the war

  • Changed how many Americans viewed government

  • Congress passed the War Powers Act in 1973

Section 1 Vocab

Ho Chi Minh leader of the drive for Vietnamese independence; leader of North Vietnam

Vietminh Vietnamese group that resisted the Japanese occupation in World War II

domino theory theory that if one Southeast Asian country fell to communism, others

would follow

Dien Bien Phu site of France’s last stand to keep Vietnam a French colony

Geneva Conference conference to work out a peace agreement for Indochina

Ngo Dinh Diem corrupt and brutal South Vietnamese leader

Vietcong military forces in South Vietnam who united to overthrow Diem

Tonkin Gulf Resolution resolution that enabled President Johnson to use “all necessary

measures to repel any armed attack”

Section 2 Vocab

Operation Rolling Thunder bombing campaign in North Vietnam in 1965

Ho Chi Minh Trail network of paths and tunnels that began in North Vietnam and ended

in South Vietnam

William Westmoreland commander of U.S. ground troops in South Vietnam

pacification U.S. policy aimed at winning the support of the South Vietnamese people

doves people who opposed the war

hawks people who supported the war

J. William Fulbright head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who criticized the

war openly

Section 3 Vocab

Tet Offensive a series of massive, coordinated attacks by the Vietcong across South


Robert S. McNamara secretary of defense for both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson

Eugene McCarthy candidate for Democratic presidential nomination in 1968

Hubert Humphrey Democratic nominee for president in 1968

George Wallace independent candidate for president in 1968
Section 4 Vocab

Henry Kissinger President Nixon’s national security adviser

Vietnamization policy of turning over the fighting to the South Vietnamese

silent majority people who disapproved of the protesters and generally supported the war

My Lai massacre the killing of at least 450 civilians by U.S. soldiers in Vietnam

Pentagon Papers secret documents that revealed that the government had been

misleading the American people

George McGovern Democratic nominee for president in 1972; opposed the war

Twenty-sixth Amendment amendment reducing the voting age from 21 to 18

Khmer Rouge brutal Communist group that controlled Cambodia for four years

War Powers Act U.S. law limiting the president’s war-making abilities

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