tonkin gulf

Off the coast of Vietnam. Tonkin Gulf. July 29, 1967. Navy crewmen try to put out a fire aboard the USS Forrestal after an F-4 Phantom accidentally fired a zuni rocket into an A-4 Skyhawk, which caused massive explosions on the aft end of the flight deck. This tragic accidental launch damaged the aircraft and claimed the lives of 134 crewmen.

Photograph: AP

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August 2nd 1964: Gulf of Tonkin incident

On this day in 1964, North Vietnamese gunboats allegedly fired on American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. The incident was used by the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson to demonstrate the aggression of the North Vietnamese communists, and to justify an escalated US military presence in the country. In the wake of the incident, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Joint Resolution which authorised the President to intervene in Vietnam to counter “communist aggression”. Thus, Johnson was authorised - in what was essentially a blank cheque from Congress - to send troops into Vietnam to fight the communist North and aid the South; there was no formal declaration of war by Congress. It was later confirmed that the USS Maddox in fact fired first on the North Vietnamese, and that the incident was twisted for the purposes of the Johnson administration.

Less than a hundred years from now the official narratives from many of these events will seem silly and contentious with the historical data or context, just as the Lusitania, The Maine, and the Gulf of Tonkin incident are today

Mr. Townson's Top Thirty

Mr. Townson, the wonderful APUSH god who has a history of 100% pass rates, has given the gospel of APUSH to his people. Here are Townson’s top 30 things that will certainly be on the test (some of these are more than one thing, but they’re related topics), followed by his top picks for what the essays will be.

  1. Spanish, French, English Exploration and Settlement
  2. Bacon’s Rebellion
  3. Half-Way Covenant & First Great Awakening
  4. Proclamation of 1763
  5. Articles of Confederation & Shay’s Rebellion
  6. Compromises in the Constitution
  7. Washington’s Farewell Address
  8. Alexander Hamilton’s Financial Plan
  9. Marbury vs. Madison
  10. Missouri Compromise
  11. Nullification Crisis
  12. William Lloyd Garrison
  13. Manifest Destiny
  14. Compromise of 1850
  15. Kansas-Nebraska Act
  16. Radical Reconstruction
  17. The Gilded Age
  18. Populism
  19. Imperialism
  20. Progressivism
  21. The Lost Generation
  22. The New Deal & Court Packing
  23. The Cold War
  24. McCarthyism
  25. Conformity in the 1950s and Levittown, NJ
  26. Civil Rights Leaders
  27. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
  28. Nixon Doctrine/Vietnamization
  29. Camp David Accords
  30. Reganomics

Townson’s Top Essay Picks

  • Early America (pre-American Revolution)
  • Progressivism
  • Imperialism
  • Jacksonian Democracy
  • Reconstruction

Exam tip: every year there is a question about African Americans or women.

There is 1 DBQ. Everyone does the same one of that. 

There are 4 choices for the FRQs. You write 2. You must write an essay from the first category, which is pre-1900, and you must write an essay from the second category, which will be from the 1900s or later.

It is YOUR job to research and know these topics, their related facts, and their implications. I’m not going to do that for you. It won’t help you in the long run. Study well, study strong. I’m probably going to keep posting a bunch of review questions on here. Look them over, but in general, STAY OFF OF TUMBLR! You should be studying.

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January 3rd 1901: Ngô Ðình Diệm born

On this day in 1901, the future South Vietnamese President Ngô Ðình Diệm was born in Quang Binh. Born to a staunchly Catholic noble family, his eminent ancestry secured him a spot in the imperial ministry. However, he left politics due to frustrations with French colonial rule, and went into self-imposed exile for many years, during which time he travelled to the United States. Diệm returned in 1954 to lead the government of the newly independent Vietnam, and, after defeating the emperor in a referendum in which his supporters intimidated voters, made himself the sole president of South Vietnam. He quickly established an autocratic rule, flouting requirements for free elections in 1956 and imprisoning dissenters. Diệm was fiercely opposed to the communist control of North Vietnam, and therefore received military and economic support from the United States, who feared the fall of Vietnam to communism would lead to a ‘domino effect’ in the region. The Catholic Diệm pursued an aggressive policy towards the Buddhist majority in South Vietnam, which led to a high level of protests in Vietnam and defections to communism. These protests included self-immolation by Buddhist monks, captured by Malcom Browne in one of the most iconic images of the twentieth century - the self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc. The United States withdrew their support for South Vietnam amid the protests, and, in November 1963, Diệm was assassinated in a military coup. In 1964, after the Tonkin Gulf Incident, the United States became fully engaged in the war effort against Ho Chi Minh’s communist forces, thus beginning America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Diệm was a major force in Vietnamese politics during the troubled years after independence, and his brutal suppression of his own people exacerbated the tensions which erupted in one of the major wars of the twentieth century.

Conspiracy Theories

by  Saṃsāran

The internet is rife with conspiracy theories. Stories about Flat Earth, fake moon landings, Illuminati, the Trilateral Commission, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, 9/11, the Freemasons, Area 51, the assassination of President Kennedy, Roswell and others. All of these subjects make for interesting study and many genuine questions are raised.

People have plenty of reasons to suspect conspiracies involving business and government. The United States government DID secretly infect African American men with syphilis, it DID administer LSD secretly to American citizens, it DID fabricate the Gulf of Tonkin incident and lie about it to get public support for what became the Vietnam War, it DID engage in a cover-up with respect to the Kennedy assassination by down playing Oswald’s connection to the Soviet Union out of fear that the public would demand armed retaliation, it DID engage in an entire campaign of falsehood during the Vietnam war, it did harass and intimidate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. illegally bugging his hotel room, blackmailing him and even trying to convince him to commit suicide, it DID during J. Edgar Hoover’s tenure at the FBI routinely blackmail political figures, celebrities and others, it DID engage in the covert other throw of democratically elected regimes to ensure profits for American business interests and lie about it to the American people. Big oil DID kill the electric car and the mass transit industry in the U.S.

The list goes on and on. However, all of the conspiracies outlined above have been proven with facts. Many of the facts coming from whistle blowers within the organizations. You see, people cannot keep secrets especially if there is a buck to be made by spilling the beans.  Conspiracy theories which rely upon the assumption of a vast network of conspirators and which none have ever come forward just fly in the face of human nature and common sense.


Why in the world would the Illuminati or the Freemasons plant “secret messages” in things like the currency or the National seal? If you want to have a secret society wouldn’t it be best, you know, to keep it secret? When it comes to conspiracy theories what I need is good hard facts.  Not allegations. Not speculation. Not hearsay. Facts with supporting back up documentation. Facts which stand up to Occam’s razor. Motives which are believable. In a word, give me real evidence and I will consider any theory. Give me unsubstantiated allegations and I will dismiss them. Call me a “sheep” or tell me that I am being “duped by the establishment” for so doing and I will dismiss you.

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January 27th 1973: Paris Peace Accords

On this day in 1973, the Paris Peace Accords were signed in the French capital, ending U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. American involvement in the country went back to the 1950s, with Cold War fears of the region falling to communism leading a series of presidents to steadily increase the presence of American advisers in Vietnam. Vietnam successfully achieved independence from the colonial French in 1954, which also resulted in the division of the country between the communist North under Ho Chi Minh, and the South under U.S.-backed Ngo Dinh Diem. The two sections soon broke out in fighting, and in August 1964 the United States fully committed to the war after the Gulf of Tonkin incident. This was when the North Vietnamese allegedly fired on American ships in the gulf, which resulted in Congress passing a resolution allowing the President to intervene in the war to counter the communists. The high casualty rates of American soldiers, and tales of horrific acts of violence like the My Lai massacre in 1968, prompted mass protests against the war in the United States. This increased opposition to the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, who declined to run for another term in 1968 and was succeeded by Richard Nixon. Nixon initially expanded the war into neighboring Laos and Cambodia, but then began to gradually withdraw troops from the war that had reached an unwinnable and bloody stalemate. The 1973 settlement, known as ‘An Agreement Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam’, included a cease-fire throughout Vietnam, as well as the withdrawal of U.S. forces. U.S. Representative Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese Le Duc Tho were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in Paris, though the latter refused the award. However, the fighting in Vietnam continued until 1975, when Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese Army, and the nation was united under communist rule.

U.S. Navy pilot Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Denny Earl of attack squadron VA-163 Saints, Carrier Air Wing Sixteen (CVW-16), with both legs shattered by North Vietnamese anti-aircraft fire, successfully lands his Douglas A-4E Skyhawk attack plane aboard the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CVA-34) in the Gulf of Tonkin, 20 October 1967. The nylon emergency barrier assures the wounded pilot that he will not have to make more than one attempt to land his plane.

On Saturday July 29, 1967, in the Gulf of Tonkin, the USS Forrestal (CVA 59) is preparing for a strike against targets in North Vietnam when a missile is accidentally fired across the flight deck, hitting an A-4 Skyhawk that is fully loaded with fuel and ordinance. Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Gerald Farrier grabs a fire extinguisher and rushes towards the trapped pilots. As Farrier and two fire parties rush to the scene, two 1,000 pound bombs engulfed in a pool of burning fuel explode and kill all the Sailors combating the fire, allowing burning fuel to enter into three additional levels of the ship and one of the hangar bays.

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January 27th 1973: Paris Peace Accords

On this day in 1973, the Paris Peace Accords were signed in the French capital, ending U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. American involvement in the country went back to the 1950s, with Cold War fears of the region falling to communism leading a series of Presidents to steadily increase the presence of American advisers in Vietnam. Vietnam successfully achieved independence from the colonial French in 1954, which also resulted in the division of the country between the communist North under Ho Chi Minh, and the South under U.S.-backed Ngo Dinh Diem. The two sections soon broke out in fighting, and in August 1964 the United States fully committed to the war after the Gulf of Tonkin incident. This was when the North Vietnamese allegedly fired on American ships in the gulf, which resulted in Congress passing a resolution allowing the President to intervene in the war to counter the communists. The high casualty rates of American soldiers, and tales of horrific acts of violence like the My Lai massacre in 1968, prompted mass protests against the war in the United States. This increased opposition to the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, who declined to run for another term in 1968 and was succeeded by Richard Nixon. Nixon initially expanded the war into neighboring Laos and Cambodia, but then began to gradually withdraw troops from the war that had reached an unwinnable and bloody stalemate. The 1973 settlement, known as ‘An Agreement Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam’, included a cease-fire throughout Vietnam, as well as the withdrawal of U.S. forces. U.S. Representative Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese Le Duc Tho were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in Paris, though the latter refused the award. However the fighting in Vietnam continued until 1975, when Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese Army, and the nation was united under communist rule.

Cable to Joint Chiefs of Staff Reporting First Gulf of Tonkin Attack, 08/02/1964

The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident:

Fifty years ago the USS Maddox was attacked by 3 North Vietnamese patrol boats on August 2, 1964.  The incident would ultimately lead to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave President Lyndon B. Johnson advance approval to respond to military aggression in Southeast Asia without congressional consultation, and leading to an escalation of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Read more at Prologue: Pieces of History » On exhibit: Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

The original Gulf of Tonkin Resolution is on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building from July 15 to August 7, 2014.

On 2 August 1964 three North Vietnamese PT boats attacked destroyer USS Maddox (DD 731) in international waters in the Gulf of Tonkin. Maddox sunk one. A few days later, the U.S. Congess passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which gave the Government authorization for what eventually became a full-scale war in Southeast Asia. This oil on canvas by Commander E.J. Fitzgerald depicts the fight. NHHC image KN-11060.

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The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Incident:

Fifty years ago on August 2, 1964, three North Vietnamese patrol boats attacked the USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin. The Maddox and aircraft from the USS Ticonderoga damaged all three hostile boats, almost sinking one. Following reports of a second alleged incident two days later, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave President Lyndon B. Johnson advance approval to respond to military aggression in Southeast Asia without congressional consultation, and leading to an escalation of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Read more at Prologue: Pieces of History » On exhibit: Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

The original Gulf of Tonkin Resolution is on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building from July 15 to August 7, 2014.