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Today in History: Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

gulfoftonkinOn August 4, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson calls on Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which would give him broad powers in dealing with reported North Vietnamese attacks on United States forces.

“As president and commander in chief, it is my duty to the American people to report that renewed hostile actions against the United States ships on the high seas in the Gulf of Tonkin have today required me to order the military forces of the United States to take action in reply. The initial attack on the destroyer Maddox on August 2nd was repeated today by a number of hostile vessels attacking two U.S. destroyers with torpedoes....Repeated acts of violence against the armed forces of the United States must be met not only with alert defense, but with positive reply. That reply is being given as I speak to you tonight.....The determination of all Americas to carry out our full commitment to the people and to the government of South Vietnam will be redoubled by this outrage.

Yet our response for the present will be limited and fitting. We Americans know -- although other appear to forget -- the risks of spreading conflict. We still seek no wider war....I have today met with the leaders of both parties and the Congress of the United States and I have informed them that I shall immediately request the Congress to pass a resolution making it clear that our government is united in its determination to take all necessary measures in support of freedom and in the defense of peace in Southeast Asia.”

Thanks to WNYC Archivist Andy Lanset

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