US HISTORY: VIETNAM WAR DBQ
PROMPT: Analyze the ways in which the Vietnam War heightened tensions in the United States
between 1960 and 1975. Discuss each of following as the focus of your body paragraphs: Social
tensions, Political tensions, and Economic tensions. It must be 5 paragraphs, submitted on Turnitin by
Tuesday, May 7th. Don’t forget to reference the documents!
Document 1: Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, 1964
“Whereas the United States is assisting the peoples of southeast Asia to protect their freedom and has no
territorial, military or political ambitions in that area, but desires only that these people should be left in peace to
work out their destinies in their own way: Now, therefore be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
That the Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all
necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further
Document 2: Muhammad Ali press conference, 1966
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on
Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple
human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to
continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over… The real enemy of my
people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are
fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality
to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing
up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”
Document 3: Martin Luther King, speech, 1967
“. . . it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It
was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and die in extraordinarily high proportions
relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society
and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in
southwest Georgia and East Harlem.”
Document 4: LBJ Economic Cartoon & Nixon Economic Speech
Document 5: Richard Nixon Address to the Nation Outlining a New Economic Policy: “The Challenge of
“One of the cruelest legacies of the artificial prosperity produced by war is inflation. Inflation robs every
American, every one of you. The 20 million who are retired and living on fixed incomes–they are particularly
hard hit. Homemakers find it harder than ever to balance the family budget. And 80 million American wage
earners have been on a treadmill. For example, in the 4 war years between 1965 and 1969, your wage increases
were completely eaten up by price increases. Your paychecks were higher, but you were no better off.
We have made progress against the rise in the cost of living. From the high point of 6 percent a year in 1969, the
rise in consumer prices has been cut to 4 percent in the first half of 1971. But just as is the case in our fight
against unemployment, we can and we must do better than that.
The time has come for decisive action-action that will break the vicious circle of spiraling prices and costs…I am
today ordering a freeze on all prices and wages throughout the United States for a period of 90 days.
I call upon corporations to extend the wage-price freeze to all dividends.”
Document 6: Nixon & Ho Chi Minh Letters, 1969
President Richard Nixon’s letter to Ho Chi Minh, July 15, 1969.
Dear Mr. President:
“I realize that it is difficult to communicate meaningfully across the gulf of four years of war. But precisely
because of this gulf, I wanted to take this opportunity to reaffirm in all solemnity my desire to work for a just
peace. I deeply believe that the war in Vietnam has gone on too long and delay in bringing it to an end can
benefit no one—least of all the people of Vietnam. My speech on May 14 laid out a proposal which I believe is
fair to all parties.”
Source: President Ho Chi Minh’s letter to Richard Nixon, Hanoi, August 25, 1969.
“Mr. President: . . .
The war of aggression of the United States against our people, violating our fundamental national rights, still
continues in South Vietnam. The United States continues to intensify military operations, the B-52 bombings and
the use of toxic chemical products multiply the crimes against the Vietnamese people. . .
Our Vietnamese people are deeply devoted to peace, a real peace with independence and real freedom. They are
determined to fight to the end . . .
In your letter you have expressed the desire to act for a just peace. For this theUnited States must cease the war
of aggression and withdraw their troops fromSouth Vietnam, respect the right of the population of the South
and of the Vietnamese nation to dispose of themselves, without foreign influence
Document 7: Statements by John Kerry, 1971
Source: John Kerry, of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations, April 23, 1971.
I would like to talk on behalf of all those veterans, In our opinion and from our experience, there is nothing in
South Vietnam which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America. And to
attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos by linking such loss to the
preservation of freedom. . .is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel
has torn this country apart. . .
We found most people [in Vietnam] didn’t even know the difference between communism and
democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing [repeatedly attacking] them
and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart. . . .
We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. . . .We learned the meaning of free fire zones,
shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of Orientals. . .
Each day . . . someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn’t have to admit something that the
entire world already knows, so that we can’t say that we have made a mistake. Someone has to die so that
President Nixon won’t be, and these are his words, “the first President to lose a war.”
We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in
Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? We wish that a merciful God could
wipe away our own memories of that service as easily as this administration has wiped away their memories of