Chronology of the Vietnam War and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement in the U.S.

 

Adapted from Appendix A, from Vietnam and America: A Documented History, by Marvin E. Gettleman, Jane Franklin, Marilyn B. Young and H. Bruce Franklin. New York: Grove Press. 1998.
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208 B.C.
The kingdom of Nam-Việt is found.
111 B.C.
Nam-Việt is incorporated into the Chinese empire, where it remains for more than a thousand years despite frequent rebellions.
A.D. 40-43
The Trưng sisters lead an insurrection against China that is successful for three years.
A.D. 544-791
Insurrections take place but fail to oust the Chinese.
A.D. 939
Vietnamese take advantage of the fall of the T'ang dynasty in China to end direct Chinese rule.
1010
Hanoi (then Thăng-Long) becomes capital of the country.
1257
The first invasion of Vietnam by the Mongolian armies of Kublai Khan, who had conquered China and much of Europe. The invaders reach the capital but are driven out.
1284
Kublai Khan launches half a million men against Vietnam, but the invasion is defeated.
1287-1288
A new Mongolian invasion is defeated by the Vietnamese.
1407-1427
Invasion and occupation by China.
1418-1427
Chinese defeated and driven out by a war led by Lê Lợi; establishment of the Later Lê dynasty.
1535-1540
Portuguese establish trading port near Đà Nẵng.
1616
Jesuits build first mission in Vietnam.
1680
First French trading post established.
1545-1787
Intermittent warfare between two feudal houses, the Trịnh, who control the north, and the Nguyễn, who control the south; both continue to recognize the Lê dynasty as the sole legitimate rule of Vietnam.
1771-1802
The Tây Sơn movement overthrows both the Trịnh and the Nguyễn feudal regimes, introduces major reforms, defeats Chinese invasion, and reunifies the country.
1802
Tây Sơn overthrown by Nguyễn Ánh (Emperor Gia Long), who establishes Vietnam's last dynasty, the Nguyễn.
1804
The name Việt Nam is officially adopted.
1850
The French navy attacks Đà Nẵng, beginning the colonial conquest of Vietnam.
1883
France declares the name of Vietnam extinct and divides the country into Cochin China (southern), Annam (central), and Tonkin (northern).
1890
Hồ Chí Minh is born. He leaves Vietnam in 1911 as a cabin boy on a merchant vessel.
1914-1919
World War I.
1917
Russian Revolution.
1919
During the Versailles Conference (France) ending World War I, Hồ Chí Minh appeals to the Wilson Administration for aid in securing legal and political rights.
1920
At the French Socialist Party congress, Hồ Chí Minh votes with the majority that splits to form the French Communist Party.
1930
Formation of the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP). Major uprisings in Tonkin and Annam.
1932
The French install Bảo Đại as Emperor.
1939
November—The Communist Party decides on revolutionary struggle during the war and preparation for a general insurrection.
1940
France falls to Germany. The Japanese invade Indochina. Frances pro-Nazi Vichy government turns French Indochina over to Japan but continues colonial administration in collaboration with the Japanese until 1945. Two million Vietnamese are starved to death as their rice is used to supply Japanese armies throughout Southeast Asia.
1941
June—Founding of the Revolutionary League for the Independence of Vietnam (Độc Lập Đồng Minh Hội, known as the Việt Minh), which leads the resistance war against the French colonialists and the Japanese occupiers.
1945
March—With the Việt Minh gaining strength, Japan unilaterally ends French rule in Indochina and establishes independent Vietnam under Emperor Bảo Đại.
April 12—President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies; Harry Truman becomes President.
July-August—At the Postdam Conference, the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union decide that Britain will occupy Vietnam and disarm Japanese troops south of the 16th parallel, and China will do the same north of the 16th parallel.
August 15—Japan surrenders.
August 18-28—Việt Minh leads August Revolution; insurrections throughout Vietnam.
August 30—Bảo Đại abdicates in favor of the Viet Minh government.
1945
September 2—Proclamation of Independence; founding of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). In mid-September, British General Douglas Gracey lands, re-arms Japanese and French colonial forces, and begins restoring French control south of the 16th parallel.
September 22—French troops arrive in Saigon; struggle in south begins.
October—Hồ Chí Minh appeals to President Harry Truman to support Vietnamese independence.
1946
January—DRV holds elections for the first National Assembly.
March 6—The French sign agreement with Hồ Chí Minh recognizing his government and semi-independence of Vietnam as a Free State in the French Union. The DRVs purpose is to dislodge Chinese forces. Hồ Chí Minh explains: It is better to sniff French dung for a while than eat China's all our lives.
November—The French, using US ships, bombard Haiphong, killing 6,000 civilians. They invade Haiphong and Hanoi.
December 19—Việt Minh attack French forces; the war between France and the DRV has begun.
1948
The Truman Administration begins funding the French war.
1949
March—The Élysée Agreement between France and the State of Vietnam declares Vietnam's independence as an associate state within the French Union.
April—The French install Bảo Đại as head of state.
October—The Chinese Communists proclaim the establishment of the People's Republic of China.
1950
China and the Soviet Union recognize the Democratic Republic of Vietnam headed by Hồ Chí Minh. The United States recognizes the Bao Dai regime. Both Vietnamese governments claim sovereignty over all of Vietnam. The US Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) is sent to Vietnam by the Truman Administration. US advisers and eventually some 250 US pilots participate with the French forces in the fighting, and the United States ends up providing 80 percent of the financing of the French war.
1954
March 13—Battle of Điện Biên Phủ begins.
April 16—Vice-President Richard Nixon publicly proposes sending US troops to Vietnam.
May 7—Fall of Diện Biên Phủ to DRV army.
1954
May 8-July 21—Geneva Conference, which ends with the Geneva Agreement that all foreign forces will be withdrawn from Vietnam; the 17th parallel set as the temporary demarcation line between forces of the French Union and those of the DRV; Vietnam to hold internationally supervised elections in 1956 to choose the government of the entire country.
June 1—Colonel Edward Lansdale arrives in Saigon to set up the Saigon Military Mission and coordinate covert attacks on the DRV.
June 16—Bảo Đại, as head of the State of Vietnam, appoints Ngô Đình Diệm as his premier.
July 1—Ngô Đình Diệm arrives in Saigon.
September 8—The United States arranges the creation of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), consisting of the United States, Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Thailand, and the Philippines and mandating the collective defense of Laos, Cambodia, and the State of Vietnam.
October 23—President Eisenhower pledges to Ngô Đình Diệm that the United States will support his regime as the Government of Vietnam (that is, the entire country).
1955-1956
Ngô Đình Diệm gains control over Saigon, rejects national elections guaranteed by the Geneva Accords, defeats Bao Dai in a rigged election in the south, proclaims the Republic of Vietnam with himself as president, and begins repression of those who had fought with the Viet Minh. The United States finances his government and trains and equips his security police and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN).
1956-1959
Terror campaign extends Saigons rule over the countryside. Creation of agrovilles or strategic hamlets.
1957
January—The DRV announces a policy of building socialism in one country.
1959
Ngô Đình Diệm's Law 10/59 legitimizes massive repression. Scattered resistance breaks out.
1960
March—Nam Bộ (South Vietnam) Veterans of Resistance proclaim rebellion.
April 17—140 African-American students form Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Raleigh, NC.
December—Formation of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF), which Saigon and Washington call the Viet Cong. NLF begins full-scale revolution against the Saigon regime.
1961
President John F. Kennedy approves secret military plan for Vietnam and Laos, including covert war against North Vietnam and Special Forces covert operations in Laos and South Vietnam. The United States begins chemical defoliation in South Vietnam (Operation Hades, later Operation Ranch Hand). US military personnel increased to more than 3,000.
1962
Establishment of US Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV). US military personnel increased to more than 11,000.
1963
May-August—Buddhist demonstrations violently repressed by the Saigon government.
August-October—US Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge plans with Washington and ARVN generals to overthrow Ngô Đình Diệm.
August 28—More than 250,000 people march in civil rights demonstration now known as March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his famous I Have a Dream speech.
September 21—War Resisters League (WRL) holds first U.S. demonstration against American war in Vietnam.
November 1—Generals stage coup, assassinating Ngô Đình Diệm and his brother Ngô Đình Nhu, head of the secret police.
November 22—Assassination of President Kennedy; Lyndon B. Johnson becomes President.
November 26—President Johnson issues NSAM 273, secret plan for a full-scale US war in Vietnam. US military personnel now between 16,000 and 19,000.
1964
February 1—US Operations Plan 34A (Oplan 34-A) is implemented, including raids by mercenaries and Saigon commandos on North Vietnamese coastal installations.
June—General William Westmoreland becomes head of MACV; General Maxwell Taylor replaces Lodge as ambassador.
August 2—US destroyer Maddox fires on North Vietnamese PT boats responding to an Oplan 34-A raid on coastal islands.
August 4—US claims, despite a lack of evidence, that the destroyers Maddox and C. Turner Joy were attacked on the high seas for four hours by North Vietnamese PT boats. President Johnson orders retaliatory aerial bombing of North Vietnam.
August 7—Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving the president virtually unlimited power to conduct war in Southeast Asia. The only dissenting votes are cast by Senator Wayne Morse (Oregon) and Senator Ernest Gruening (Alaska).
September-November—President Johnson, successfully campaigning to be elected president, repeatedly promises that he will never send American boys to fight in Vietnam.
December—US military personnel number more than 23,000.
1965
February 6—NLF attacks US forces at Pleiku.
February 7—Retaliatory bombing of North Vietnam (Operation Flaming Dart).
February 27—US White Paper alleges that war in South Vietnam is not indigenous but is a North Vietnam campaign of aggression.
March-June—Antiwar teach-ins on many US campuses.
March 2—Operation Rolling Thunder, the sustained US bombing of North Vietnam, begins; it continues until October 31, 1968.
March 8—US Marines, the first officially acknowledged combat units, go ashore at Da Nang to join the 24,000 US military advisers already in Vietnam.
April 17—In Washington, 25,000 people march against the war.
June—The eighth military government since the overthrow of Ngô Đình Diệm comes to power in Saigon, headed by Air Vice Marshall Nguyễn Cao Kỳ and General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu.
October-November—Large antiwar demonstrations in Washington and other US cities.
December—US military personnel number more than 184,000.
1966
January—Senator J. William Fulbright held Foreign Relations Committee hearings about the war.
By the year end, General Westmoreland commands over 1 million troops, including 362,000 Americans. During 1966, more than 5,000 Americans are killed and more than 30,000 are wounded.
September 22—800 Puerto Rican men pledge to refuse US Vietnam era draft, part of the colonial subjugation of our country, in Lares, Puerto Rico.
1967
Throughout the year, there are huge antiwar demonstrations. More than 9,000 American are killed in Vietnam and close to 100,000 are wounded. By the fall, US troop strength is close to 500,000, and the forces under US command number more than 1.3 million.
April 4—Martin Luther King, Jr., denounces the war and calls the US government the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today; and this war is a blasphemy against all that America stands for.
November 21—General Westmoreland, called back home to engage in public relations, tells the nation that the enemys hopes are bankrupt, his forces are declining at a steady rate, and soon the South Vietnamese army will take charge of the final mopping up of the Vietcong.
End of 1967—The U.S. troop casualties rose to 16,021.
1968
January 30-February 24—The Tet Offensive: NLF launches simultaneous attacks on all US military bases in Vietnam and 110 cities and towns in South Vietnam.
March 1—The frenzied buying of gold, which breaks through the thirty-five-dollar-an-ounce price held since 1934.
March 12—Antiwar Senator Eugene McCarthy comes close to beating incumbent President Johnson in the New Hampshire Democratic primary.
March 16—Antiwar Senator Robert Kennedy enters the presidential race.
March 16—US soldiers massacre hundreds of villagers in the hamlet of My Lai.
March 22—Announcement is made that General Westmoreland is being relieved of his command.
March 31—President Johnson announces a partial halt of the bombing of North Vietnam and withdraws from the presidential race.
April 4—Martin Luther King, Jr., is assassinated.
April 4-11—Riots and rebellions in 125 US cities; Army reserves are called-up.
April 11—The Civil Rights Act.
May 10—Peace talks between US and DRV open in Paris.
June 4—Robert Kennedy wins the Democratic primary in California, with 88 percent of the votes going to him and rival antiwar candidate McCarthy. That night Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles.
July 5—US Marines, proclaiming a major victory, withdraw under fire from the besieged base of Khe Sanh.
August 5-8—Republican National Convention in Miami Beach nominates Richard Nixon, who pledges that he will end the Vietnam War as soon as he takes office. A line of tanks has sealed off Miami Beach from the riots taking place in Miami.
August 26-29—Democratic National Convention in Chicago nominates Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, although he has won only 2.2 percent of the delegates in the state primaries, which were swept by McCarthy and Kennedy. Outside, police battle antiwar demonstrators.
End of 1968—The U.S. troop casualties double in one year to 30,160.
1969
January—The NLF and the Saigon government join the peace talks.
January-June—President Nixon and H. Ross Perot secretly plan a massive POW/MIA campaign to build support for continuing the war.
February—US troops participate in Operation Dewey Canyon I in Laos.
March—US forces in Vietnam peak at more than 540,000.
May 8—The NLF puts forward its ten-point position at the Paris negotiations.
May 14—President Nixon in a televised speech presents his Administrations eight-point negotiation position and announces the withdrawal of 25,000 US troops.
June 25—The Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam (PRG) is announced.
September 2—Hồ Chí Minh dies.
October 15—Millions of Americans participate in the antiwar Moratorium.
November 15—During the antiwar Mobilization, a million protesters march in Washington and San Francisco while many GIs in Vietnam, including entire units, stage antiwar demonstrations.
1970
February—Henry Kissinger and Lê Đức Thọ begin secret peace talks in Paris.
April 29—US and ARVN troops invade eastern Cambodia.
May 4—Nationwide protest demonstrations erupt, during which four students are shot to death and 13 wounded by soldiers at Kent State University.
May 14—Two African-American students killed and 30 wounded by police at Jackson State College, Jackson, MS.
June 24—Senate repeals the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.
August 29—25,000 Chicanos protest Vietnam war in streets of Los Angeles.
December—Congress bans US combat troops in Laos and Cambodia.
1971
January 10—Peoples Peace Treaty between peoples of the United States and Vietnam, endorsed by 130 organizations and million of north Americans later.
February-March—Dewey Canyon II: The invasion of Laos by ARVN troops with US air support turns into a debacle.
April—As part of a massive antiwar demonstration in Washington, Vietnam veterans stage Dewey Canyon III, during which several hundred throw their medals and ribbons at the Capitol.
May 3—May Day Action Against Viet Nam War results in largest mass arrests in U.S. history. 14,000 people shut down shut down war machine for 3 days. Washington, DC.
June—The New York Times begins serial publication of The Pentagon Papers, the top-secret Pentagon history of the Vietnam War, stolen by Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo.
October—Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, running unopposed, is elected president of South Vietnam.
December 26—15 members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) capture the Statue of Liberty for 43 hours (New York).
1972
February—President Nixon visits China.
March-May—Major offensive by insurgent forces in South Vietnam.
May—Nixon orders mining of Haiphong harbor.
June—Nixons Plumbers apprehended during burglary of the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate apartment and office complex.
October—Kissinger and Lê Đức Thọ reach agreement on peace terms; Nixon announces that peace is at hand; Nguyễn Văn Thiệu rejects terms.
November—Nixon wins re-election in a landslide.
December 13—Peace talks break down when Lê Đức Thọ rejects changes in the agreement demanded by Nguyễn Văn Thiệu.
December 18-31—Operation Linebackers II: the massive Christmas bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong, during which many B-52s and other planes are shot down.
December 26—Peace talks resume, leading essentially to reinstatement of the October agreement by January 18, 1973.
1973
January 27—Peace agreement, signed by US, DRV, ARVN, and PRG, basically implements the terms of the 1969 NLF ten-point position.
February 1—In a secret letter to Hanois Prime Minister Phạm Văn Đồng, Nixon pledges over $4 billion in US aid to North Vietnam.
March—The last US combat troops are withdrawn from Vietnam. The last US prisoners of war are released; they are made the heroes of the war in the Nixon Administrations Operation Homecoming. US draft ended.
July 1—Congress passes a law forbidding the use of any funds for combat in, over, or off the shores of Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam, and South Vietnam as of August 15, 1973.
November—Congress passes the War Power Act over presidential veto.
1974
January-May—Cease-fire breaks down, and Saigon launches major offensive.
May—House Judiciary Committee begin impeachment hearings.
August-September—Nixon resigns. He is replaced by Gerald Ford, whom he had appointed vice-president after Vice-President Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973 while being indicted for several felonies, for which he was later convicted. President Ford pardons Nixon for any and all crimes he may have committed while president.
1975
January-April—Major offensive by NLF and army of the DRV. Saigons army collapses. Nguyễn Văn Thiệu resigns.
April 30—Saigon surrenders to the revolutionary forces. Last US personnel leave in an emergency helicopter airlift from the roof of the US Embassy.
May 16—The United States imposes a trade embargo on Vietnam.
1976
Vietnam unifies as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) with Hanoi as its capital. After fifteen months of hearings and investigations, the House Select Committee on Missing Persons in Southeast Asia reports that there is no credible evidence that any US POWs are being held against their will in Vietnam.
1977
Khmer Rouge, now rulers of Kampuchea (Cambodia), launch attacks on Vietnamese villages in Tay Ninh province. Vietnam is admitted to the United Nations. Vietnam counterattacks Khmer Rouge forces.
1978
November—Vietnam signs friendship pact with the Soviet Union.
December—President Jimmy Carter normalizes relations with China. Vietnam, allied with dissident Khmer Rouge forces, invades Cambodia.
1979
January—Vietnamese forces defeat Khmer Rouge and help install a friendly government in Cambodia.
February—China invades northern Vietnam but is defeated by mid-March.
1981
President Ronald Reagans Administration sets up covert operations in Laos, Thailand, and the United States to promote the POW/MIA issue.
1982
Vietnam Veterans Memorial is unveiled in Washington. President Reagan sets up POW/MIA Interagency Group with leading POW/MIA activists in key positions.
1983
January 23—President Reagan declares that from now on, the POW/MIA issue will be the highest national priority.
1989
After eight years of fomenting the POW/MIA issue, the Reagan Administrations final report on the question admits that it has found no reliable evidence of any US POWs alive in Southeast Asia. The last Vietnamese troops are withdrawn from Cambodia.
The first year Vietnam is self-sufficient in food over 150 years.
1991
April 9—President George Bush announces a road map for full normalization of relations with Vietnam in two years.
July—Phony pictures of alleged US POWs in Vietnam unleash POW/MIA media blitz.
August 2—Creation of the Senate Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, which begins eighteen months of hearings.
1993
January—Senate Committee on POW/MIA Affairs releases an inconclusive final report.
July—President Bill Clintons Administration announces that it will no longer block International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans to Vietnam.
September—Clinton Administration maintains the US trade embargo against Vietnam that has been in effect since 1975, but allows US companies to begin bidding on future contracts for projects in Vietnam funded by international development agencies.
1994
February 3—President Clinton announces that he is lifting the trade embargo on Vietnam because of one factor and one factor only: This will help achieve the fullest possible accounting for our prisoners of war and our missing in action.
1995
April 9—We were terribly wrong, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on Vietnam.
July 11—The United States normalizes relations with Vietnam.
2000
February 28—Vietnam announces for the first time that it will pay compensation for soldiers (1961-1975) and their children (about 2 millions) affected by Agent Orange during the war with the United States.
March 30—The Air Force (Ranch Hand Study) has found the strongest evidence to date that exposure to Agent Orange is linked to diabetes.
April 19—South Korean veterans (of the U.S. allied forces) admit to many cases of massacre of civilians in Vietnam in 1966. South Korea sent 320,000 troops to support the U.S. in Vietnam during the period of 1965-19734,960 killed and 11,000 injured.