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This joint resolution of Congress (H.J. RES 1145) dated August 7, 1964, gave President Lyndon Johnson authority to increase U.S. involvement in the war between North and South Vietnam.
On August 4, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson announced that two days earlier, U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin had been attacked by the North Vietnamese. Johnson dispatched U.S. planes against the attackers and asked Congress to pass a resolution to support his actions. The joint resolutionto promote the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asi passed on August 7, with only two Senators (Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening) dissenting, and became the subject of great political controversy in the course of the undeclared war that followed.
The Tonkin Gulf Resolution stated thatCongress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repeal any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent any further aggression As a result, President Johnson, and later President Nixon, relied on the resolution as the legal basis for their military policies in Vietnam.
As public resistance to the war heightened, the resolution was repealed by Congress in January 1971.
Citation: Tonkin Gulf Resolution; Public Law 88-408, 88th Congress, August 7, 1964; General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives. Tonkin Gulf Resolution, Senate roll call tally sheet, 08/07/1964; SEN 88A-M1, Misc Roll Calls, 88th Congress, 2nd Session; Record Group 46, Records of the U. S. Senate; National Archives.
To promote the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia.
Whereas naval units of the Communist regime in Vietnam, in violation of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law, have deliberately and repeatedly attacked United States naval vessels lawfully present in international waters, and have thereby created a serious threat to international peace; and
Whereas theses attacks are part of a deliberate and systematic campaign of aggression that the Communist regime in North Vietnam has been waging against its neighbors and the nations joined with them in the collective defense of their freedom; and
Whereas the United States is assisting the peoples of southeast Asia to protect their freedom and has no territorial, military or political ambitions in that area, but desires only that these peoples should be left in peace to work out their own destinies in their own way: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That the Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.
Sec. 2. The United States regards as vital to its national interest and to world peace the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia. Consonant with the Constitution of the United States and the Charter of the United Nations and in accordance with its obligations under the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, the United States is, therefore, prepared, as the President determines, to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom.
Sec. 3. This resolution shall expire when the President shall determine that the peace and security of the area is reasonably assured by international conditions created by action of the United Nations or otherwise, except that it may be terminated earlier by concurrent resolution of the Congress.
Lesson Plan: Download this excellent packet on the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution This packet includes the text of the Resolutionm worksheets, an image of the document, political cartoons, and more.
Source: Illinois State Board of Education
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