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.
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 … [ Read all ]
Mark K. Updegrove is Director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.
The first time a sitting President came to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library was on May 21, 1971, when President Richard Nixon boarded Air Force One and journeyed to the campus of the University of Texas at Austin to help former President Johnson dedicate the library to the American people.
It had been a little more than two years since Johnson had yielded the Oval Office to Nixon, and Johnson’s place in history was very much in the balance.
The war in Vietnam that Johnson had escalated and that continued to divide the nation hung balefully over his legacy. This, despite the profusion of landmark laws LBJ left in his wake, including the passage of a triumvirate of seminal civil rights legislation: the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
As library’s inauguration played out, the voices of 2,100 Vietnam protesters rumbled in the distance, their chants of “No more war!” carried by 25-mile-an-hour winds that swirled throughout the day.
On April 10, 2014, when Barack Obama became the second sitting President to visit the LBJ Library, the weather, which topped out at 88 degrees, was far less tempestuous—and Lyndon Johnson’s legacy had become far clearer.
The President had come to … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on May 8, 2014, under - Civil Rights, - Presidents, National Archives Near You, News and Events.
Tags: Austin, Bush, Carter, Clinton, LBJ, Mark Updegrove, Nixon, Obama, vietnam
Cast your vote for the 26th Amendment to be displayed first in the new “Records of Rights” gallery. Polls close on November 15!
Congress can move quickly. The 26th Amendment was ratified in 100 days, faster than any other amendment.
In April 1970, Congress controversially lowered the voting age to 18 as part of legislation to extend the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Many people, including President Richard Nixon, believed that it was the right of the states, not the federal government, to set the voting age. President Nixon, nevertheless, signed the act, which was to go into effect January 1, 1971.
The effort to lower the voting age to 18 had begun three decades earlier. “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote,” a slogan first heard during World War II, was adopted by student activists during the Vietnam War.
In 1942, the slogan prompted Congressman Jennings Randolph of West Virginia to propose an amendment to the Constitution lowering the voting age to 18. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson both championed the cause. Activists during the Vietnam War increased pressure on Congress to change the voting age, and in 1971, when Senator Randolph reintroduced his original proposal, it passed overwhelmingly.
On December 21, 1970, the Supreme Court ruled that the government had indeed overstepped its legislative bounds in lowering … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on November 13, 2013, under - Civil Rights, - Constitution, - World War II, News and Events.
Tags: amendment, Congress, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Records of Rights, supreme court, vietnam, voting, voting age
We are continuing to celebrate American Archives Month by showcasing the work of our Presidential Libraries archivists. This edition takes us to Austin, TX.
Name: Regina Borders Greenwell
Occupation: Senior Archivist at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum
How long have you worked at this library?
Thirty-seven years, since March 1976. Prior to coming to the library, I worked at NARA for an additional two years. I’ll have my 40th anniversary this December.
How/why did you decide to go into the archival field?
I’ve always had a love of history, and particularly presidential history. As a 13-year-old, I persuaded my parents to let me go downtown and see President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade when he came to Dallas on November 22, 1963. I saw him just minutes before the assassination.
I later majored in history at the University of Texas. When my husband got an engineering job in Washington, DC, after graduation, I learned that the Archives was gearing up for a new declassification effort headed up by Alan Thompson. I was lucky enough to get the job, and worked with some great collections covering Army intelligence. Later, I was detailed to work with the Watergate Special Prosecutor’s Office with Nixon materials, which was a fascinating experience. That led to a job with the Johnson Library when we moved back to Austin, and I’ve been here ever since.
What are some of … [ Read all ]
Gerald Ford called April of 1975 the “cruelest month.”
Having inherited a Presidency and the closing act of an unpopular war, Gerald Ford convened his National Security Council in April 1975 to discuss the final evacuation of Saigon. The North Vietnamese were on the outskirts of the city. While there were once over 500,000 troops in Vietnam, now there were only a handful of civilian personnel, and the time had come to leave.
The decisions that brought America’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict to a close were tough, calibrated decisions, and few documents highlight this more than the minutes of that fateful National Security Council meeting on April 28, 1975. Forty-eight hours later, the last American would leave Vietnam.
These documents are part of the Gerald Ford Presidential Library. You can also view them here. The message mentioned in the minutes, and later sent by Secretary of State Kissinger to Ambassador Graham Martin, follows.… [ Read all ]
Posted by Rob Crotty on September 1, 2010, under - The 1960s.
Tags: american history, embassy saigon, evacuate saigon, gerald ford, graham martin, kissinger, leaving war, NARA, national archives, National archives and records administration, national security council minutes, odd history, Pieces of History, prologue blog, Prologue magazine, random history, rockefeller, vietnam, weird US history