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HIST212: Introduction to United States History - Reconstruction to the Present

Unit 9: The Vietnam Era   During the 1950s and 1960s, many American officials firmly believed in the Domino Theory, which held that a Communist revolution in one nation would eventually lead to Communist revolutions in surrounding countries, meaning that an entire region would fall to the Soviet Union like a row of dominos. Guided by this theory, the U.S. government sent troops to South Vietnam, a small Southeast Asian nation involved in a guerrilla war with North Vietnam, its Communist neighbor. Direct U.S. military involvement in Vietnam began when President Dwight Eisenhower sent small numbers of military advisors to aid the South Vietnamese military in the 1950s. By the mid-1960s, President Lyndon Johnson made the decision to escalate America’s involvement in this conflict and sent a large number of U.S. combat troops to the area. Between 1965 and 1973, American troops engaged in a bloody jungle war against Viet Cong guerillas and North Vietnamese Army troops across much of South Vietnam as well as in the neighboring countries of Laos and Cambodia.*
 
*We will now examine how the U.S. became involved in the Vietnam War and why the country finally chose to withdraw troops in 1972. We will also look at the impact of the war on American society and examine the activities of the vocal Anti-War Movement that developed in the United States during the conflict. Our study of the Vietnam Era will show that the war had a profound and lasting effect on the United States. 

Unit 9 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take you approximately 13 hours.

☐    Subunit 9.1: 3.25 hours

☐    Subunit 9.2: 3.25 hours

☐    Subunit 9.3: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 9.4: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 9.5: 1.5 hours

☐    Unit 9 Assessment: 1 hour
            

Unit9 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • identify the origins of American military involvement in Vietnam and assess how the war led to social, political, and economic turmoil throughout the United States in the 1960s and 1970s;
  • analyze and interpret primary source documents from the twentieth century, using historical research methods;
  • identify the key individuals and groups involved in the anti-war movement; and
  • define counterculture, and assess its impact on American culture and society.

  • Reading: America.gov’s Outline of U.S. History: “Chapter 13: Decades of Change—1960-1980” Link: America.gov’s Outline of U.S. History: “Chapter 13: Decades of Change—1960-1980” (PDF)

    Instructions: Read Chapter 13 beginning with the fifth section titled “The Counterculture” and ending with the next-to-last section titled “The Ford Interlude.”
     
    Note on the Text: This chapter focuses on the domestic and international challenges that the America leaders faced during the 1960s and early 1970s. It also addresses important changes in American society during this era.

    Reading this chapter should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: The material above is available in the public domain. 

9.1 Kennedy: Cold Warrior   Note: This topic is also covered by the video in subunit 6.3.

  • Lecture: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Vietnam Era: International Impact” presentation Link: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Vietnam Era: International Impact presentation (YouTube)

    Instructions: Watch this video.

    Watching this lecture should take approximately 35 minutes.

9.1.1 Foreign Policy   Note: This topic is also covered by the video in subunit 6.3.

  • Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 75—JFK” presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: ** “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 75—JFK” presentation (Flash)
     
    Instructions: Click “Start Lesson” to launch the video. Watch all three sections of the presentation, and read the accompanying text.  

    Note on the Media: This presentation focuses on the presidential career of John F. Kennedy. The first and third sections discuss Kennedy’s domestic political agenda and the second section addresses his foreign policy objectives.

    Reading the text and watching the video should take approximately 1 hour.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.1.2 The Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis   Note: This topic is also covered by the video in subunit 6.3.

  • Web Media: YouTube: Khan Academy’s “Bay of Pigs Invasion” Link: YouTube: Khan Academy’s “Bay of Pigs Invasion (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Watch this video on the unsuccessful action by Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba, with support and encouragement from the United States, in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro.  

    Watching this video and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. It is attributed to the Khan Academy and the original version can be found here.

  • Web Media: YouTube: Khan Academy’s “Cuban Missile Crisis” Link: YouTube: Khan Academy’s “Cuban Missile Crisis” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Watch this video which discusses the 13-day confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba, and the United States off the shores of Cuba in 1962. This was one of the major confrontations of the Cold War and is generally regarded as the moment in which the Cold War came closest to turning into a nuclear conflict. 

    Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. It is attributed to the Khan Academy and the original version can be found here.

  • Reading: Sage American History: Henry J. Sage’s “The Kennedy Years” Link: Sage American History: Henry J. Sage’s “The Kennedy Years” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read the section on the Kennedy years. Note that this webpage focuses on Kennedy’s efforts to overthrow Fidel Castro’s Communist regime in Cuba and the subsequent confrontation with the Soviet Union over the presence on nuclear-tipped, medium-range missiles on the island.

    Reading this section should take approximately 10 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.
     

9.1.3 Vietnam   Note: This topic is also covered by the video in subunit 6.3.

  • Reading: Sage American History: Henry J. Sage’s “Cold War in Asia: The American Experience in Vietnam” Link: Sage American History: Henry J. Sage’s  “Cold War in Asia: The American Experience in Vietnam” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this webpage down to the section “Escalation.” Note that this webpage focuses on the origins of the anti-colonial war in Vietnam in the 1940s and America’s growing involvement in the conflict during Eisenhower’s presidency in the 1950s and JFK’s presidency in the early 1960s.

    Reading this webpage should take approximately 25 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.
     

  • Web Media: YouTube: Khan Academy’s “Vietnam War” Link: YouTube: Khan Academy’s “Vietnam War” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Watch this video on the Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1955 to the fall of Saigon in 1975. 

    Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take approximately 30 minutes.

    Terms of Use: This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. It is attributed to the Khan Academy and the original version can be found here.

9.2 Lyndon Johnson: “Guns and Butter”   9.2.1 Johnson’s Domestic Agenda   - Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 76—LBJ” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 76—LBJ” Presentation (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on the “Start Lesson” button to launch the video. Watch sections 1 (“Great Society”) and 3 (“Urban Unrest”) of the presentation. You may fast-forward to the third section by clicking on the circle above the title at the top of the webpage. Be sure to read the accompanying text. 
 
Note on the Media: Sections one and three of the presentation focus on President Lyndon Johnson’s domestic challenges and accomplishments during his terms in office.

 Reading the text and watching the video should take approximately 1
hour.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

9.2.2 American Intervention in Vietnam   Note: This topic is also covered by the video in subunit 6.3.

  • Reading: Sage American History: Henry J. Sage’s “Cold War in Asia: The American Experience in Vietnam” Link: Sage American History: Henry J. Sage’s “Cold War in Asia: The American Experience in Vietnam” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Scroll down to the section titled “Escalation” and read the rest of the webpage. This reading concerns America’s conduct throughout this conflict.

    Reading this resource should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Ashbook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University’s TeachingAmericanHistory.org: Lyndon Johnson’s “Message to Congress” Link: Ashbook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University’s TeachingAmericanHistory.org: Lyndon Johnson’s “Message to Congress” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Read the primary-source document on the webpage. 
     
    Note on the Text: In his August 5, 1964 message to Congress, President Lyndon Johnson summarizes American policy on Communist aggression in Southeast Asia and seeks Congressional approval for an escalation of the American military involvement in South Vietnam in response to North Vietnamese threats against American military forces. After reading this document, consider the following questions: On what grounds did President Johnson ask Congress to authorize the president in a resolution to use military force in this region? How does this message to Congress compare and contrast with the earlier messages to Congress by President Eisenhower in 1957 (see section 7.1.6) and President Truman in 1947 (see section 7.1.2)?

    Reading this primary-source document should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: The material above is available in the public domain. 

  • Web Media: YouTube: Khan Academy’s “Pattern of US Cold War Interventions” Link: YouTube: Khan Academy’s “Pattern of US Cold War Interventions (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Watch this video which compares and contrasts the patterns of U.S. Cold War interventions in Korea, Cuba and Vietnam. While watching the video, think about what factors made these interventions similar. 

    Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: This video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. It is attributed to the Khan Academy and the original version can be found here.
     

9.2.3 The Fighting on the Ground   Note: This topic is also covered by the video in subunit 6.3

9.3 Military Stalemate and the War at Home   Note: This topic is also covered by the video in subunit 6.3

  • Lecture: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Vietnam Era: Domestic Impact” presentation Link: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Vietnam Era: Domestic Impact presentation (YouTube)

    Instructions: Watch this video.

    Watching this lecture should take approximately 30 minutes. 

9.3.1 The Tet Offensive   Note: This topic is also covered by the video in subunit 6.3

  • Web Media: Archive.org’s “1968 Revolution Rewind Moment – Tet Offensive” Link: Archive.org’s “1968 Revolution Rewind Moment – Tet Offensive” (mp3)
     
    Instructions: Listen to this reporter’s eye-witness account of the 1968 Tet Offensive. American reporters such as Walter Cronkite shaped public opinion concerning the Vietnam War and LBJ’s handling of this conflict.

    Listening to this eye-witness account should take approximately 5 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: This video is licensed under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. It is attributed to Pacifica Radio Archives, and the original can be found here.

9.3.2 The Counterculture and the Anti-War Movement   Note: This topic is also covered by the video in subunit 6.3

  • Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 76—LBJ” presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 76—LBJ” presentation (Flash)
     
    Instructions: Click on “Start Lesson” to launch the video. Watch section two of the presentation titled “Counterculture.” You can skip to this section by clicking on the circle above the section’s title at the top of the webpage. Be sure to read the accompanying text.
     
    Note on the Media: This section of the presentation examines the emergence of a youth movement in the United States that challenged mainstream social and political values and demanded greater personal freedom for individuals.

    Reading the text and watching the video should take approximately 25 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.3.3 1968: A Year of Chaos   - Reading: European Journal of American Studies: Patrick Hagopian’s “The ‘Frustrated Hawks’, Tet 1968, and the Transformation of American Politics” Link: European Journal of American Studies: Patrick Hagopian’s “The ‘Frustrated Hawks’, Tet 1968, and the Transformation of American Politics” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the remainder of this article, starting from section 2 on the Presidential Election of 1968, through to the end. Note that this article concerns the political and social events of 1968, the turbulent election year in which both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated and in which Lyndon Johnson announced that he would not run for reelection as president. 

 Reading this article should take approximately 30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.  
  

9.4 Nixon: “Peace with Honor”   9.4.1 Election   Note: This topic is also covered by the video in subunit 6.3

  • Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 77—Nixon and Foreign Policy” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: ** “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 77—Nixon and Foreign Policy” Presentation (Flash)
     
    Instructions: Click on “Start Lesson” to launch the video presentation. Watch the first section (“Election of 1968”) of the presentation and read the accompanying text. 
     
    Note on the Media: Section 1 of the presentation focuses on Richard Nixon’s election as president in 1968. Nixon appealed to middle-class voters who had grown weary of the social upheavals of the 1960s. He promised to end the war in Vietnam and restore America’s international standing.

    Reading this text and watching the video should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.4.2 Expansion of the War and Withdrawal   Note: This topic is also covered by the video in subunit 6.3

  • Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 77—Nixon and Foreign Policy” Presentation University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 77—Nixon and Foreign Policy” Presentation (Flash)
     
    Instructions: Click on “Start Lesson” to launch the video. Watch the second section of the presentation titled “Vietnam.” You may skip to this section by clicking on the circle above the title at the top of the webpage. Be sure to read the accompanying text.
     
    Note on the Media: Section two of the presentation focuses on Richard Nixon’s Vietnam policies and his efforts to end the war through diplomacy and military action. 

    Reading this text should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.4.3 Fall of South Vietnam and the War’s Toll   Note: This topic is also covered by the video in subunit 6.3

  • Reading: Historylink.org: David Wilma’s “Fall of Saigon to Communists Troops Marks the End of the Vietnam War on April 30, 1975” Link: Historylink.org: David Wilma’s “Fall of Saigon to Communists Troops Marks the End of the Vietnam War on April 30, 1975” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this article. Note that this article discusses the fall of South Vietnam to the Communist North in 1975 following American military withdrawal two years earlier. 

    Reading this article should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

9.5 The 1970s   - Lecture: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “The 1970s: An Age of Crisis” Link: YouTube: The Saylor Foundation’s “The 1970s: An Age of Crisis (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Watch this video.

 Watching this video should take approximately 40 minutes. 

9.5.1 Nixon and American International Relations   - Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 77—Nixon and Foreign Policy” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 77—Nixon and Foreign Policy” Presentation (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on “Start Lesson” to launch the video presentation. Focus on section 3 of the presentation titled “Foreign Affairs.” You may skip to this section by clicking on the circle above the section’s title at the top of the webpage. 
 
Note on the Media: Section three discusses President Nixon’s foreign policy decisions during his presidency. It addresses his efforts to establish diplomatic relations with Communist China and achieve détente with the Soviet Union.

 Reading this text and watching the video should take approximately
20 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

9.5.2 Nixon’s Domestic Agenda and the Watergate Scandal   - Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 78—Nixon and Domestic Issues” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 78—Nixon and Domestic Issues” Presentation (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on the “Start Lesson” button to launch the video. Watch this video presentation and read the accompanying text. In the first section titled “The Supreme Court,” click and read the accompanying text, “Roe v. Wade.” This Supreme Court decision was heralded as a great victory by feminists (see section 8.4.1). In section 3, “Watergate,” click and read “Watergate: The “Smoking Gun” and listen or read the transcript from the White House tapes that incriminated President Richard Nixon in a “cover-up” of the Watergate break-in. 

 Note on the Media: This presentation focuses on Richard Nixon's
domestic political agenda and discusses his downfall from the
presidency due to the Watergate Scandal.  

 Reading the text and watching the video should take approximately 1
hour and 15 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Authentic History’s “Watergate Scandal Timeline” Link: Authentic History’s “Watergate Scandal Timeline” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this webpage and learn about how this political scandal unfolded.

    Reading this webpage should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.5.3 Gerald Fords Presidency   - Web Media: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 79—Ford, Carter, and Reagan” Presentation Link: University of California College Prep’s US History Course: “Unit 11: Toward a New Century, Chapter 26: Imperial Presidency, Lesson 79—Ford, Carter, and Reagan” Presentation (Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on “Start Lesson” to launch the video presentation. Watch section 1 of the presentation titled “Gerald Ford” and read the accompanying text.
 
Note on the Media: Section one discusses the presidency of Gerald Ford. Ford’s time as president after Nixon’s resignation was marked by political conflict and economic turmoil. The public’s confidence in his abilities declined markedly and Ford failed to win the 1976 election.

 Reading this article and watching the video should take
approximately 20 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

Unit 9 Assessment   - Assignment: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam Era” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam Era (PDF)

 Instructions: Complete this written assignment. When you are
finished, check your work against this [“Guide to
Responding](http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/HIST212-Guide-to-Responding-Units89.FINAL_.pdf)[”](http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/HIST212-Guide-to-Responding-Units89.FINAL_.pdf)
(PDF).  

 Completing this assessment should take approximately 1 hour.