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Series XXII. Vietnam War

Scope and Content Notes:

Vietnamese Communists initiated armed struggle against the French colonialists in 1929. Although largely driven underground during the 1930s, they maintained armed militias that began to fight the Japanese military after the 1940 Japanese occupation. These became the seed for the army of the Viet Minh, The League for the Independence of Viet Nam, a Communist led organization that incorporated other nationalists. The Viet Minh did not attempt large scale engagements against the Japanese army but did have de facto control of parts of the countryside by 1945 when they staged an uprising in Hanoi a few weeks after the Japanese surrender in World War 2. They declared a provisional government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

When the French attempted to reassert control in 1946 war ensued until their defeat at Dien Ben Phu in 1954. By the later stage of this French-Vietnamese War, French troops had essentially become a mercenary army for the U.S. Motivated by Cold War concerns of Communist advance in SE Asia U.S. policy makers decided to pay for most of the cost of the French military effort.

Under an armistice agreement the Viet Minh troops withdrew north of the 17th parallel and an international conference in Geneva negotiated peace accords and proposed a 1956 election to determine the government for Vietnam. The election was never held in part because the U.S. feared a Communist victory. Thereafter a Communist government controlled North Vietnam and a regime allied with the U.S. controlled South Vietnam.

The South Vietnamese government was controlled by unpopular elites, many of them Catholic and French speaking and viewed by some of their population as former collaborators with the French colonialists. Fighting broke out in the late 1950s between peasant veterans of the Viet Minh in South Vietnam and troops of the South Vietnamese government. Initially the North Vietnamese were reluctant to support the guerilla movement in the South, in part because of pressure from Soviet leaders seeking détente with the U.S., but the guerilla war escalated into full scale war between the governments of North and South Vietnam by the early 1960s.

Since 1956 the U.S. had provided the South Vietnamese government with arms and financial aid and small contingents of U.S. military advisors. As the war went badly for the South Vietnamese government, these commitments ratcheted steadily upward with the number of U.S. “advisors” reaching 16,000 by 1963.

By the following year the South Vietnamese government approached military collapse, and the Johnson administration decided on a full scale military commitment to prevent Communist victory in Vietnam. U.S. troops strength peaked at more than 500,000, augmented by the most massive commitment of airpower in global military history. The U.S. dropped more tons of bombs on Vietnam than all combatants had dropped during World War 2.

The last U.S. troops withdrew in 1975. Over 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam. Vietnamese casualty figures are subject to debate, but the Vietnamese government claims more than one million Vietnamese military casualties and more than two million additional civilian casualties.

American Communists and some non-Communist peace activists occasionally published accounts critical of the US supported French war in Vietnam and the US support of the South Vietnamese government after 1956, but these attracted little notice before the escalation of US military involvement. Small demonstrations against the war occurred in 1963 and 1964, but the first large scale protest against US involvement in Vietnam was an anti war march in Washington sponsored by SDS in April 1965. Thereafter the scale and intensity of antiwar protest paralleled the expansion of US military action. The movement peaked in 1970 shortly after the Nixon administration admitted expanding US military action into neighboring Cambodia (such incursions had occurred before but on a smaller scale and not publicly acknowledged). For the first time since the beginning of the US military effort, a majority in national opinion polls declared the war a mistake and said the US should withdraw.

The long war in Vietnam fueled the expansion of the New Left in the United States more than any other cause or event. The anti-Vietnam War items in the collection were produced by a diverse array of national organizations and local ad hoc action groups. As expected, a majority of the material is from the period between 1967 though 1973.


Box 12
Folder 25 "March on Washington April 24" Flyer
Folder 26 "...Stop the War and Proceed to Deal With the Problems of America..." Pamphlet
Folder 27 People's Coalition for Peace & Justice Pamphlet
Folder 28 "SMC's Antiwar Guide to Penn" Flyer
Folder 29 In The Teeth of War, Photographic Documentary of the March 26th, 1966 New York City Demonstration Against the War in Vietnam, Text by: Dave Dellinger, A.J. Muste, Donald Duncan, Norman Mailer and others, 1967
Folder 30 Assorted Photographs of Vietnam Protestors and Soldiers in Berkeley, CA.
Folder 31 "10,000 GIs Killed Since the Peace Talks Started May 1968" Flyer, April 1969
Folder 32 "The War Is On!" Flyer, April 1972
Folder 33 "Support the Vets" Flyer, February 2 1972
Folder 34 "We Refuse to Serve" Flyer, ca. 1967
Folder 35 "Black G.I. Framed on Frag Rap FREE BILLY SMITH" Flyer, 1971
Folder 36 "Strike Against the War November 14th, March on Washington November 15th" Flyer October 1969
Folder 37 "Return to Fort Dix May 16 -- Armed Forces Day" Flyer, May 1970
Folder 38 "Statewide Action in Detroit! MARCH! OCTOBER 31" Flyer, October 1970
Folder 39 "Join the Conspiracy" Flyer, September 23 1969
Folder 40 "All Out April 15! Bring All the Troops Home!" Flyer
Folder 41 "Statement: the Boston Eight" Newsletter, November 1969
Folder 42 "Stop the Bombing" Protest Photograph
Folder 43 Protester on Car, Photograph
Folder 44 Anti-War Protests, Shattuck Pharmacy
Folder 45 Anti-War Protestor
Folder 46 Anti-War Protest, Police Cruiser
Folder 47 Anti-War March Photograph
Folder 48 "Peace in Vietnam" Protest Photo
Folder 49 "Why?" Protest Photograph
Folder 50 "Don't Fight. Go To Prison!" Protest Photograph
Folder 51 "Don't Hurt Those Children in Vietnam" Protest Photograph
Folder 52 Anti-War Silent Protest
Folder 53 "Vietnam Day committee" Protest Photograph
Folder 54 "Flower Hat" Protest Photograph
Folder 55 "Spring Offensive To End The War" Flyer Washington D.C., April 24-May 5, 1971
Folder 56 "Join the GI Rebellion!" Flyer
Folder 57 From Our Own Backyard, Old Wars Never Fade Away Pamphlet
Folder 58 Anti-War Paraphernalia
Folder 59 Bring Them Home Now!
Folder 60 Assorted Flyers
Folder 61 Assorted March for Peace Flyers
Folder 62 "Release Us From Bondage", Six Days in Vietnamese Prison, July, 1974
Folder 63 "Treaty of Peace and Solidarity"
Folder 64 Letter from the National Committee to Defend the Rights of South Vietnamese Students, June 8, 1972
Folder 65 "South Vietnam in Struggle"
Folder 66 Flyer for the McGovern-Shriver Campaign
Folder 67 A Peoples Peace Treaty- Indochina Peace Campaign Flyer with Attached Letter
Folder 68 "Saigon's Prisoners", An Indochina Peace Campaign Report
Folder 69 "Don Duncan Speaks Out"
Folder 70 Various loose memorabilia

Box 14
Folder 74 "The United States' War in Vietnam", February 1965
Folder 75 Free Student Newspaper
Folder 76 "People's Peace Treaty" Flyer
Folder 77 Free Billy Smith
Folder 78 Demonstrate Against the War
Folder 79 Stop the Mines, the Bombs, the War Now
Folder 80 Some Facts About Vietnam
Folder 81 Send Nixon a Message Block Traffic Friday Morning
Folder 82 October 14 March and Rally Against the War
Folder 83 Bring the Troops Home Now
Folder 84 Women for Peace Letter, April 21, 1972
Folder 85 Winter Soldier
Folder 86 The People Will Make the Peace
Folder 87 A War Ship Can Be Stopped November 1971
Folder 88 Support G.I. Resistance, May 22, 1972
Folder 89 We Too Resist, May 20 1968
Folder 90 ...and now Laos, 1970
Folder 91 "U.S. Bombing Of Vietnamese Dikes Shocks The World", 1972
Folder 92 "They've Had Enough Haven't You?", April 24 1971
Folder 93 Strike! Flyer
Folder 94 Washington D.C. Protest Flyer, November 13-15 1969
Folder 95 On to Miami! GOP National Convention Protest Flyer, August 20-23 1968
Folder 96 Support G.I. Resistance! Flyer
Folder 97 Up Against the Wall Street Journal, February 11, 1970
Folder 98 Assorted Flyers and other Anti-Vietnam War Documents
Folder 99 "March Against the Pentagon" Flyer, March 27, 1981
Folder 100 Vietnam Notes