The Vietnam Conflict

The war in Vietnam began long before Lyndon Johnson's Presidency and ended in 1975, years after he left office. But for many Americans, it is the event most closely associated with Johnson's years in the White House. Of the millions of files, thousands of photos and recordings, and hundreds of films housed in our library, a substantial number relate to America's presence in Vietnam. Click on the first photograph to view the entire slideshow.

Watch and listen as Harry Middleton, speechwriter for President Johnson and the first director of the LBJ Library, introduces our exhibit on the war in Vietnam:

Online resources on the LBJ Library website pertaining to Vietnam

The images, speeches, letters and videos in this online exhibit provide an overview of President Johnson's perspective on the Vietnam conflict. Researchers who need additional resources will find guidelines for more extensive inquiry here.

Lyndon Johnson's Daily Diary

Lyndon Johnson’s secretaries began compiling the Daily Diary in 1959, when he was the Senate Majority Leader. As meetings and telephone calls occurred, the secretary “working” the Diary would note them. White House staff who worked closely with the President frequently entered the Oval Office without the visit being noted in the Diary. The secretaries frequently included their own observations in the Diary, and entries may include brief quotes from the President's conversations, narratives describing the President's trips and activities at the LBJ Ranch, anecdotal information, and descriptions of the President's reactions to people and events. Our website features an Interactive Daily Diary, a Daily Diary exhibit of 50 significant days in the Johnson administration, and the complete Daily Diary from 1959-1969:

  • The Interactive Daily Diary entry on Tuesday, August 4, 1964 features links to documents, photos, video, and telephone recordings for the day of the second alleged North Vietnamese attacks of U.S. ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. 
  • The LBJ Library staff selected fifty significant days in the Johnson administration for this exhibit of the President’s Daily Diary. Those include the days of the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, the President’s visits to Vietnam in 1966 and 1967, days he visited US troops in the United States in February 1967, and March 31, 1968, the day he announced he would not seek re-election. You can view the exhibit here.
  • To access the entire Daily Diary, from 1959 through January 20, 1969, click here. It is searchable by keyword or by date. References to Vietnam can be found throughout the Diary.  

Presidential Timeline

The Presidential Timeline is an interactive web resource for exploring the U.S. Presidents from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush. It includes audio and video clips, photos, original documents, and curriculum materials for teachers. The Timeline for President Johnson includes a number of events about Vietnam and a multimedia exhibit on the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964.  

Selected Speeches

Excerpt from the President's Address at Johns Hopkins University: "Peace Without Conquest," April 7, 1965:

The President's Address on Vietnam Before the National Legislative Conference, September 29, 1967

The President's Address to the Nation Announcing Steps To Limit the War in Vietnam and Reporting His Decision Not To Seek Reelection, March 31, 1968

The President's Address to the Nation Upon Announcing His Decision To Halt the Bombing of North Vietnam, October 31, 1968

Additional resources available on the LBJ Library website

Telephone Conversations

President Johnson recorded thousands of telephone conversations during his years in the White House.  The recordings were made available beginning in 1993, and they include many conversations about Vietnam.  You can find more information about the recordings, including lists of highlighted conversations, here. You can listen to the recordings at the Miller Center website.

Photographs

The LBJ Library online photo archives contains 145 images related to Vietnam. After accessing the page, chose "Vietnam" from the list of topics. Then use the drop down box to narrow your search.

Oral History Collection

There are over 45 million pages of documents in the LBJ Library, but even that many pages don’t tell the whole story of Lyndon Johnson and his times. The library’s oral history program was created to flesh out that story—to record the memories of the men and women who took part in those times and to tell what went on behind the scenes. Interviews with individuals whose oral histories include commentary about Vietnam are available for research. Learn more.


Then & Now

Did You Know…

President Lyndon B. Johnson's visited Cam Ranh Bay, South Vietnam in October of 1966. Here he awards the Distinguished Service Cross to First Lieutenant Marty A. Hammer. [LBJ Library photo #C3598-22 by Yoichi Okamoto.]

Topic Talk