U.S. Presidents During the Vietnam War

Who were U.S Presidents during the Vietnam War?

There were 5 U.S. Presidents during its involvement in the Vietnam War. They were:

1. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)

After the Geneva Accords were signed between the French and Communist Viet Minh leading to a partition of Vietnam, Eisenhower decided to create the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) with the purpose of stopping communist influence in South East Asia. SEATO was used as a cover for Eisenhower to build a new nation in the South fighting against the Communists in the North. In 1955, the Republic of Vietnam was born with Ngo Dinh Diem as its first President.

2. John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)

Kennedy pledged extra aid to Diem regime when he was in office in 1961. In fact, more advisers and machinery but not troops were sent to South Vietnam. However, in 1963 Kennedy tacitly approved a coup to overthrow Diem just 3 weeks before his assassination.

3. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963 – 1969)

In 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred and its resolution gave Johnson more powers to wage the war in Vietnam. He was the President who ordered the bombing campaign called Operation Rolling Thunder and sent the first combat troops to South Vietnam in March 1965 after an attack of Viet Cong on U.S. air base in Pleiku. The draft was instituted soon after that and caused many anti-war protests nationwide especially inside campuses.

4. Richard Nixon (1969 -1974)

Nixon started the so-called “Vietnamization” policy in 1969. During his years in office, he escalated the war into Laos and Cambodia in an attempt to destroy Communist food, weapons and manpower supply through the Ho Chi Minh Trail to South Vietnam.

Nixon ordered the “Christmas Bombing” in 1972 to keep North Vietnam at the negotiating table as well as to convince South Vietnam to sign the peace treaty. In January 1973, the Paris Peace Accords were signed ending the American direct involvement in Vietnam, which subsequently led to the end of the war. Nixon became the first U.S. President ever to resign after the Watergate scandal in 1974.

5. Gerald R. Ford (1974 – 1977)

Aid funds for South Vietnam was significantly cut off during his years. Although it had been promised by the Nixon administration, Congress forbade further U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia even when North Vietnamese forces blatantly violated the settlement in 1975.

On April 23, 1975, Ford declared the Vietnam war ended “as far as America is concerned”. Seven days later, Saigon was captured and South Vietnam fell to the North Communists.


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