Tonkin 1964

"Good Lord"

Transcript+Audio Clip
Date: 
Participants: Lyndon Johnson, James Rowe                  
Introduction:

While keeping tabs on an impending congressional resolution authorizing the use of force in Southeast Asia, President Johnson also had to manage the flow of information about the events precipitating the resolution itself. In this conversation, Johnson asks long-time Democratic hand James Rowe to counsel Minnesota senator Hubert H. Humphrey--Johnson's pending running-mate in the upcoming November election--about Humphrey's recent verbal indiscretions.

"As Far As We Can Tell"

Transcript+Audio Clip
Date: 
Participants: Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp, General David Burchinal                  
Introduction:

As real-time information flowed in to the Pentagon from the Maddox and the Turner Joy, the story became more and more confused. Admiral U.S. Grant "Oley" Sharp, commander of the Pacific Fleet, fed reports to Washington as soon as he received them. In this phone call, Sharp briefed Air Force General David Burchinal, of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the latest information. This telephone call was recorded at the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon.

Preparing a Response

Transcript+Audio Clip
Date: 
Participants: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara                  
Introduction:

Roughly two days after a North Vietnamese attack on the U.S.S. Maddox off the Gulf of Tonkin, President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara consider their options for responding to a second such attack.

"These Covert Operations"

Transcript+Audio Clip
Date: 
Participants: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara                  
Introduction:

Following an attack on the U.S.S. Maddox in the Tonkin Gulf, President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara strategize on how best to inform Congress of the circumstances surrounding the attack.

Larry O'Brien's Secret to Legislative Success

Transcript+Audio Clip
Date: 
Participants: Lyndon Johnson, Larry O'Brien                  
Introduction:

With a vote imminent in the House of Representatives on the signature legislation of the War on Poverty, Special Assistant to the President for Congressional Affairs (and Johnson's 1964 campaign director) Larry O'Brien revealed his secret to legislative success: "if we can just keep the boys that should be sober, sober, and the ones that should be drinking, drinking, that's our job for the afternoon."

The House had just passed the Southeast Asia Resolution (also known as the Tonkin Gulf Resolution) by 414-0.

Gulf of Tonkin, 1964: Perspectives from the Lyndon Johnson and National Military Command Center Tapes

In August 1964 , Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution—or Southeast Asia Resolution, as it is officially known—the congressional decree that gave Johnson a broad mandate to wage war in Vietnam. Its passage was a pivotal moment in the war and arguably the tipping point for the disaster that followed. The Resolution, passed by Congress on August 7, 1964, and signed into law on August 10, capped a series of events which remain controversial.

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