THE VIETNAM WAR

AN INHERITED WAR

When Lyndon B. Johnson stepped into office in 1963, he inherited tensions that were brewing with Vietnam since the Truman administration. Knowing increased involvement in Vietnam would not be a smart political move, LBJ instead chose to focus on the 1964 presidential election, relying on advisers from the Kennedy administration for foreign policy and military expertise. However after gaining reelection, LBJ would soon learn war with Vietnam could not be avoided.

AWARENESS & UNREST

Unprecedented media coverage of the war elevated Americans’ awareness of just what was happening in Vietnam. Already unhappy because of the draft, many Americans increasingly opposed the Vietnam War for moral reasons as they tuned-in for news reports straight from the battlefield. By 1968, more than half the country found itself questioning why America was at war.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MOVEMENT?

THINK ABOUT THIS:

"As it was 189 years ago, so today the cause of America is a revolutionary cause. And I am proud this morning to salute you as fellow revolutionaries. Neither you nor I are willing to accept the tyranny of poverty, nor the dictatorship of ignorance, nor the despotism of ill health, nor the oppression of bias and prejudice and bigotry.

We want change. We want progress. We want it both abroad and at home—and we aim to get it."

– Lyndon B. Johnson

LBJ’S ACHILLES’ HEEL

After gaining reelection in 1964, LBJ continued to downplay the Vietnam War, hoping to further his Great Society agenda. Though extremely skilled at pushing through domestic policy, Johnson would find his Achilles’ heel in foreign affairs. LBJ believed by demonstrating America’s strength he could pressure Vietnam to negotiate the end of the war. However this would prove unsuccessful, and by 1968, with much of his presidency overshadowed by a war he could not end, Johnson would choose not to seek reelection.

Copyright Alley Theatre Education & Community Engagement 2015.