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On exhibit: Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Joint Resolution for the Maintenance of Peace and Security in Southeast Asia, also known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, August 10, 1964. (National Archives Identifier 2803448)

Joint Resolution for the Maintenance of International Peace and Security in Southeast Asia, also known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, August 10, 1964. (National Archives Identifier 2803448)

Today’s post comes from Darlene McClurkin, National Archives Exhibits staff member.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The original resolution is on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building from July 15 to August 7, 2014.

Fifty years ago, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution marked a major turning point in the Cold War struggle for Southeast Asia. Passage of the resolution gave President Lyndon B. Johnson authority to expand the scope of U.S. involvement in Vietnam without a declaration of war.

By 1964, Vietnam had been torn by international and civil war for decades. U.S. military support for South Vietnam had grown to some 15,000 military advisers, while the North received military and financial aid from China and the Soviet Union.

"Midnight Address" on Gulf of Tonkin incidents in Vietnam, 08/04/1964. (Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives)

President Johnson’s “Midnight Address” on Gulf of Tonkin incidents in Vietnam, 08/04/1964. (Lyndon Baines Johnson Library)

In a late-night televised address on August 4, 1964, President Johnson announced that he had ordered retaliatory air strikes on the North Vietnamese in response to reports of their attacks earlier on U.S. Navy ships in the Gulf of Tonkin.

He then asked Congress to pass a resolution stressing that “our Government is united in its determination to take all necessary measures in support of freedom and in defense of peace in southeast Asia.”

The resolution stated that “Congress 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 further aggression” in Southeast Asia, thereby providing a legal foundation for President Johnson’s escalation of the war.

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed Congress quickly on August 7, with only two dissenting votes in the Senate. President Johnson signed the resolution on August 10, 1964.

President Johnson signs the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in the White House East Room as congressional leaders look on, August 10, 1964 (National Archives Identifier 192483)

President Johnson signs the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in the White House East Room as congressional leaders look on, August 10, 1964 (National Archives Identifier 192483)

After political controversy and a growing public resistance to the war, Congress repealed the resolution in January 1971.

Across the Pond

Today’s post comes from James Zeender, Senior Registrar. 

Earlier this year, the National Archives signed an agreement with the British Library to allow the Delaware ratification of the Bill of Rights to be shown alongside four original Magna Carta parchments for the Great Charter’s 800th birthday. The exhibition opens March 13, 2015, and runs through September 1, 2015. This will be the first time this wonderful national treasure has traveled outside the United States.

Our own David M. Rubenstein Gallery in the National Archives Building features a 1297 copy of the Magna Carta in the Records of Rights exhibit, which opened last December.

Delaware’s ratification of the Bill of Rights, 01/28/1790. (General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives).

Delaware’s ratification of the Bill of Rights, 01/28/1790. (General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives).

In September 1789, the First Congress passed 12 resolutions to amend the Constitution (collectively known as the Bill of Rights). Afterwards, a clerk in the House of Representatives prepared 14 copies on large sheets of parchment with iron gall ink. All were signed by Vice President John Adams, Speaker of the House Frederick Muhlenberg, Secretary of the Senate Samuel Otis, and Clerk of the House John Beckley.

President George Washington then sent copies to the 11 states which had ratified the Constitution as well as to North Carolina and Rhode Island, which had not yet done so. The President kept the 14th as the Federal Government’s record copy. This is the version that has been on display in the National Archives Rotunda in Washington, DC, since 1952 (except during the 2001–2003 renovation).

While most states notified the Federal Government of their ratifications of the amendments (or some of them) on a separate document, Delaware chose to apply its certificate of ratification and the state seal directly on the parchment they had received from the President, thereby making it a Federal record. The Delaware ratification was transferred to the National Archives in the 1930s from the State Department, along with other state ratifications.

In 2003, then-Archivist of the United States John Carlin signed a 25-year agreement with the Governor of Delaware that made possible the periodic display (subject to rigid lighting restrictions) of the Delaware ratification of the Bill of Rights at the Delaware State Archives in Dover. When the British Library approached us about its availability, Archivist of the United States David Ferriero made a call to Delaware State Archivist Steven Marz, who confirmed Delaware had no plans to exhibit the document in 2015, thus clearing the way for a loan to our British colleagues.

For more information about the British Library’s Magna Carta exhibition, see To read more about the 14 original copies of the Bill of Rights:

Sleepover at the National Archives!

Feeling adventurous? Sign up for the Sleepover at the National Archives on August 2 and explore some of history’s most exciting frontiers!

The event is co-hosted by the National Archives and the Foundation for the National Archives.

It’s not too late to sign up for the Rotunda sleepover on August 2! “Explorers Night” will feature activities that take campers to the Arctic, Outer Space, and the American West.

It’s not too late to sign up for the Rotunda sleepover on August 2! “Explorers Night” will feature activities that take campers to the Arctic, Outer Space, and the American West.

Building off of our “History, Heroes, and Treasures” theme, this summer’s sleepover turns the spotlight on ”Explorers Night.” The sleepover will feature hands-on activities to help young explorers investigate—through scavenger hunts, dress-up, music, and more—some of the greatest adventures of all time. Campers will journey to the Arctic, visit Outer Space, and discover the American West as they explore the National Archives Museum’s treasured records in a unique after-hours experience.

Young explorers will have the opportunity to chat with famous pioneers like Matthew Henson, Meriwether Lewis, and Louise Arner Boyd about their incredible voyages into uncharted territory. They will also get the chance to learn about the life of an astronaut through artifacts straight from the National Air and Space Museum—like the “space toilet” and “living and working in space” discovery stations—and engage in fun activities with NASM staff members. The night will feature music from the Lewis and Clark era with special performances by David & Ginger Hildebrand from the Colonial Music Institute.

These events are open to children 8-12 years old, with at least one adult per group of four children. Guests will be treated to movies in the William G. McGowan Theater before turning in for the night, and will enjoy a pancake breakfast (flipped by our very own Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero!) in the morning.

Tickets are $125 per participant or $100 for Foundation members, NARA employees, and contractors.

We hope to see you at the sleepover on August 2—and don’t forget to bring your sense of adventure!


The National Archives Communications Office is pleased to introduce our Diversity and Inclusion Intern, Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales. Ortiz will be working on a pilot project to help our social media expand to Spanish-speaking audiences.

After English, Spanish is the second-most-used language in the United States. According to a 2012 survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by 38.3 million people. The development of the digital press and rise of social media has expanded the way Spanish speakers access news stories through laptops and mobile devices. This pilot project is a way to introduce National Archives holdings, services, and events to a larger audience.

This summer, Ortiz will be helping us expand Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram into bilingual platforms. She will also be writing articles for the Pieces of History blog pertaining to Spanish and Latin American documents found in our holdings.

“By doing this, we will be able to present all the exhibits and public activities that are happening in or in collaboration with the museum, and give a historical overview of our archives collection to the Hispanic community,” Ortiz explained. “I will also work on a project preparing Spanish-language communications featuring our archival holdings and public exhibits for future use during Hispanic Heritage Month in September.”

Ortiz is from Guayama, Puerto Rico, and is studying Comparative Literature at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus. She is fluent in both English and Spanish and comes to us with a wide variety of writing, editing, and social media skills. Currently, Ortiz manages the University of Puerto Rico’s Student Association for Comparative Literature Facebook page. She’s also published short stories in the English department’s bilingual magazine Tonguas, and edited and published online short stories in “El Pergamino” (The Parchment). Her previous internship was at the Univision Television Network in Washington, DC, where she published, edited video, and wrote news pieces in Spanish as part of the local and national crew.

“I am very excited to be a part of the National Archives, and I hope I can do as much as I can for this new project to be a success,” Ortiz said. “Thank you so much for this opportunity, and I look forward to working with you all.”

In Spanish:

La oficina de Comunicaciones de los Archivos Nacionales tiene el placer de presentar a nuestra interna de Diversidad e Inclusión Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales. La señorita Ortiz estará trabajando en un proyecto piloto que ayudara a expandir nuestros medios de comunicación social a las audiencias de habla hispana.

Después del inglés, el español es el segundo idioma más utilizado en los Estados Unidos. Según una encuesta realizada por la Oficina del Censo de los Estados Unidos en el 2012, el español es el idioma principal que se habla en los hogares de más de 38.3 millones de personas. El desarrollo de la prensa digital y el auge por los medios sociales ha expandido la manera en que los hispanos tienen acceso a las noticias, por ejemplo, a través de sus computadoras y celulares. Este proyecto piloto es una manera de poder introducir los servicios, actividades y eventos especiales de los Archivos Nacionales a un público más amplio.

Este verano, Idaliz  nos estarán ayudando a expandir, mediante una plataforma bilingüe, nuestras paginas de Facebook, Instagram y Twitter. De igual forma, estará redactando artículos, relacionados con los documentos de herencia hispana que se encuentran en nuestros archivos, para el blog “Pieces of History”.

“Al hacer esto, vamos a tener la oportunidad de presentar todas las exposiciones y actividades públicas que están ocurriendo dentro o en colaboración con el museo y dar una visión histórica de nuestra colección a la comunidad hispana”, explicó Idaliz. “También voy a trabajar en un proyecto  en el que voy a preparar los comunicados en español. Estos comunicados son para el uso futuro durante el Mes de la Hispanidad en septiembre donde se presentarán nuestras colecciones en los archivos y las exposiciones públicas que habrán dentro del museo.

Idaliz es de Guayama, Puerto Rico y estudia Literatura Comparada en la Universidad de Puerto Rico Recinto de Río Piedras. Habla con fluidez tanto el Inglés como el Español y llega a nosotros con una amplía capacidad para la escritura, la edición y los medios sociales. Actualmente, Idaliz administra la página de la Asociación de Literatura Comparada (Comparada ¿Con que?) de la Universidad de Puerto Rico. También ha publicado cuentos cortos en la revista bilingüe Tonguas del Departamento de Ingles de su universidad. También ha editado y publicado cuentos cortos para la página en línea “El Pergamino”. Su ultimo internado fue con la cadena de televisión Univision en Washington D.C., donde publicó, edito videos y escribió piezas de noticias diarias en español como parte del equipo local y nacional.

“Estoy muy emocionada de ser parte de los Archivos Nacionales y espero hacer todo lo que pueda para que este proyecto sea un éxito”, dijo Idaliz. “Muchas gracias por esta oportunidad y espero con gran interés el poder trabajar con todos ustedes en las distintas partes de este proyecto”.

Join the Fourth of July Conversation on Social Media

Every year, Independence Day at the National Archives is an exciting and celebratory day.

In addition to signing a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence, hearing “America the Beautiful” performed by an international champion whistler, and mingling with Thomas Jefferson and Abigail Adams, you can join us this year in tweeting, Instagram-ing, and sharing on Facebook.

Whether you are celebrating the Fourth of July near or far, you’re invited to join our conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the #ArchivesJuly4 hashtag.  In addition to our live conversations about the program on the steps of the National Archives, you can also participate in two  exciting social media projects!

What’s a #ColonialSelfie?

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Snap a #ColonialSelfie and share it with us on Twitter.

Inspired by a certain celebrity group shot at the Oscars, we invite you to post a #ColonialSelfie on Twitter! While out enjoying your Fourth of July, snap a picture with a Founding Father and show us on Twitter. If you don’t run into Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin, be creative; your #ColonialSelfie can be with anything that was in fashion in 1776! Don’t forget to use the #ColonialSelfie hashtag, and send it to us on Twitter at @USNatArchives.


Play Instagram Bingo!

Instagram Bingo

What will your Instagram #BINGO look like?

Join in the celebration by playing Instagram Bingo with the National Archives! As you’re out enjoying parades, picnics, and cookouts, see if you can find nine of our Fourth of July–themed scenes. Once you have nine, create a collage, and post it on Instagram with the#BINGO and #ArchivesJuly4 hashtags, and your photo will be reshared by @USNatArchives on Instagram!

Can you find these Fourth of July scenes? You don’t have to be with us in Washington, DC, to participate; we can’t wait to see how everyone celebrates America’s Birthday across the country!

Find nine scenes and share your collage on Instagram:

American flag

patriotic pet

Uncle Sam

parade balloons

Declaration of Independence

town crier

parade crowds

National Archives temporary tattoo

parade dancers

Revolutionary War uniform

marching band

stars and/or stripes

Color guard

fire truck

red, white, and/or blue

fife and drums

military on parade

patriotic picnics

Thomas Jefferson

kids on parade

parade transportation (like motorcycles, vintage cars, horses, bikes)

red wagon

It’s hot—hydrate!



A separate app must be downloaded to create a nine-photo collage, and there are several apps available (most are free) in smartphone app stores. If you are an iPhone user, you can try PicStitchYourMoments, and Pic Collage. Android users can also find PicStitchInstaFrame Maker, and Pic Collage on Google Play. If you have a Windows phone, PicStitch or Cool Collage can be used.

After the festivities are through on the Fourth, we’ll be posting a recap of the day on Tumblr, Facebook, and Flickr.  To read more information about social media at the Fourth of July celebration at the National Archives, visit