Beginning more than sixty years ago, speechmaking supported the U.S. commitment to South Vietnam. Rhetoric helped send more than a half-million troops to defend the Vietnamese government the United States had yet sponsored; that policy led to dissent, and ultimately, Congress forcing the executive branch to terminate U.S. involvement. The fourteen key speeches collected in this volume, from Ho Chi Minh's "Declaration of the Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam" in 1945 to John Kerry's "Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee" in 1971, express the entire range of positions on the war, which contributed to the political and societal developments that ordained its course and outcome. They span the most volatile years of that period, framed in the words that shaped an era. These speeches include: Ho Chi Minh: "Declaration of Independence", September 2, 1945; John F. Kennedy: "America's Stake in Vietnam", June 1, 1956; Michael J. Mansfield: "Interests and Policies in Southeast Asia", June 10, 1962; Lyndon B.
Johnson: "Peace Without Conquest", April 7, 1965; Paul Potter: "Speech to the March on Washington", April 17, 1965; George Aiken: "Vietnam Analysis - Present and Future", October 19, 1966; Robert F. Kennedy: "On Viet Nam", March 2, 1967; Martin Luther King Jr.: "Beyond Vietnam", April 4, 1967; Gen. William C. Westmoreland: "Vietnam: The Situation Today", April 28, 1967; Walter Cronkite: "We Are Mired in Stalemate", February 27, 1968; Lyndon B. Johnson, "The President's Address to the Nation", March 31, 1968; Richard M. Nixon: "Address to the Nation", November 3, 1969; Richard M. Nixon: "Address to the Nation", April 30, 1970; and, John Kerry: "Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee", April 22, 1971.
GREGORY ALLEN OLSON is a professor of communication at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.