Vietnam: Turning Points of the War

Vietnam: Turning Points of the War
LBJ Library photo by Jay Godwin 04/13/2016

April 14-June 26
Great Hall, LBJ Presidential Library

Why did the United States get involved in Vietnam?

Over the years, many historians and scholars have offered a myriad of reasons why the United States became involved in that small country in Southeast Asia. Since the fall of Saigon in April 1975, thousands of books and articles have been published about the Vietnam War. Many of these have tackled this question and explored the military, political, social, and personal histories of America's involvement in Vietnam.

Vietnam: Turning Points of the War takes a brief look at this complex history through the lens of presidential decision-making. The choices made by six American presidents—Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford—played a major role in the establishment, the stability, and ultimately, the fall of South Vietnam. Grounded in the Cold War mentality that the United States must stop the expansion of communism at any price, these men, each in his own way, fundamentally changed the course of American and Vietnamese history.

Exhibit highlights:

  • Ho Chi Minh Letter to President Truman, Jan. 18, 1946
  • Telegram from Saigon to the Kennedy Administration, reporting the death of Ngo Dinh Diem and Ngo Dinh Nhu, on Nov. 2, 1963
  • Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, signed Aug. 10, 1964
  • Letter from President Johnson to Ho Chi Minh, sent on Feb. 7, 1967
  • President Richard Nixon's reading copy of "Address to the Nation on Plan Peace in Vietnam," Jan. 25, 1972, explaining his strategy of Vietnamization
  • The last message sent from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon to the Secretary of State on April 29, 1975