Vietnamese War and the American Revolution
A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteedOrder Now
Freedom is something Americans strive to provide and maintain. It has become a necessary part of our culture and even now when people think of America, they automatically think of freedom and equality. The American Revolution and the Vietnam War were two products of this ideal. Both wars had similar beginnings as far as revolutions are concerned. The original thirteen colonies had been occupied by England, and Vietnam was occupied by France. At first it seemed as though the stronger nation in each of these wars would win the war, however these opinions changed after years and years of fierce combat. Although these two wars have their similarities, they also have various differences.
J.R. Pole states in his book, The Pursuit of Equality in American History, that the American Revolution plays an extremely important role in the history of equality in American society. “The American Revolution in all its aspects constituted an upheaval which was also a point of departure and reference for all subsequent definitions of equality; it was a major event in the ideology and rhetoric of world history.” The mismanagement of the colonies, the taxation policies that violated the colonist rights, the distractions of foreign wars and politics in England had also played a role in the outbreak of the revolution. England passed many Acts that were despised by the colonies. The most hated of these Acts were the Stamp Acts. Lord Grenville enacted the Stamp Act which forced the colonists to pay for stamps on printed documents . Besides, taxation without representation other major events also created ill feeling towards Britain. The Boston Massacre was an event that occurred on 1770.
Tensions caused by the military occupation of Boston increased as soldiers fired into a crowd of civilians. Five Americans died and six more were injured in this massacre. Another major event, the Boston Tea Party where angered Bostonians dressed as Indians boarded three tea ships and dumped it all into Boston Harbor. The Boston Tea party led to another unpopular act know as the intolerable act. This didn’t go over well in Boston because both the innocent and the guilty were being punished equally. At this time, hatred of British rule escalted to the decision for independence. The Second Continental Congress met at Philadelphia in 1775 and developed the Olive Branch Petition, which was harshly rejected by King George III. In respnse to King George’s rjection came the Declaration of Independence in 1776 drafted and written by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson had brought out the reasons for the revolution within this document. He wrote that every human had the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Declaration of Indpendence also blamed George III for a “long train of abuses and usurpation.”
The British had many advantages in the war, including a large, well-trained army and navy and many Loyalists who supported the British empire. However, due to excellent leadership from George Washington, aid from France, and nationalism, the U.S. were able to beat all odds and came out victorious against one of the most powerful world powers in the 19th century. Major victories at Trenton and Princeton, N.J., in late 1776 and early 1777 restored patriot hopes, and victory at Saratoga, N.Y., which halted a British advance from Canada, all contributed to Britain’s eventual defeat. In 1781, the last major battle fought between American and French forces defeat the British at the Battle of Yorktown. The revolutionary war finally ends in 1782 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which granted the U.S. their independence.
After the revolution the fouding fathers of America emphazied greatly on freedom and equality. The revolution also had other resounding effects. For the first time in the world, a democratic government is formed in the Articles of Confederation. From 1781 to 1789 the Articles of Confederation not provided the United States with an in-effective government, some auguring it gave too much power to Congress. Congress was given jurisdiction over foreign relations with the authority to make treaties and alliances; it could make war and peace, maintain an army and navy, coin money, establish a postal service, and manage Indian affairs; it could establish admiralty courts; and it would serve as the last resort on appeal of disputes between the states. This, however, did not go well with the states, and caused lack of support for the government.
Under these articles, Congress could not tax the states and had no control over commerce, creating even more chaos in the newly found nation. Efforts were made to improve and ratify the Articles of Confederation, but soon a whole new document emerged to fill the void. The framework of the nation was the Consutition and the Bill of Rights which emphazied on individual rights and freedoms. Equality was found in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War. Pole states that during the time of the Revolutionary War, was hard to believe in any single event, no matter how important it seems, “the proclamation of the ideal of natural rights equality as the general principle of the American people. Yet that is what happened in the American Revolution.” Before the United States of America was founded, the world consisted of only monarchies, ruled by one. The United States was the first of it kind, a revolutionary government which was a shinning example to others.
The Vietnam War is the largest and one of the most destructive wars in American history. It was never officially declared a war (Knowll, 3). It had no official beginning or an official end. It was fought over 10,000 miles away in a virtually unknown country. The United States had become involved for a few reasons: to aid the French allies, the domino theoy, and the unwillingness of the U.S. to lose. Failure to stop communism in Vietnam would be a disaster in terms of public opinion and chances of reelection. The Vietnam War was a product of the cold war. Fear of communism was widespread throughout the U.S. After World War II America eventually would view Vietnam as a “strong point” of America’s containment policy. The Domino theory suggests that if Vietnam fell to communism other nations around it would follow. As the cold war took center stage in Europe, America considered it vital to strengthen European allies.
Support of French control in Vietnam would strengthen France and in turn strengthen France from communism. Truman, therefore, didn’t support Ho Chi Minh’s revolution. By the time Eisenhower came to the presidency the problem in Vietnam had escalated immensely. The Geneva accords had divided Vietnam in half at the 17th parallel and Dienbienphu marked the end of French involvement in Vietnam. The U.S. was now solely responsible for the well-being of South Vietnam. The democratic Kennedy administration believed that “when we go, we must go to win, but it will be better to change our minds then fail. ” Millions of dollars were being spent on a war many felt they could not have won. President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Kennedy died not solving much in Vietnam, rejecting proposals of negations over and over. When London B. Johnson took office, he was determined to show the might of the U.S. military. President Johnson got the chance when a small Vietnamese patrol boat had an encounter with a United States war ship in the Gulf of Tonkin. Gunfire was exchanged, and, in the end, President Johnson agreed to allow aggressive retaliation.
This led to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which allowed the president to escalate the war as needed without declaring war. This led to the strategic bombing of the North known as “Rolling Thunder” on February 6, 1965 marking the unofficial start of the Vietnam War (Winthrop, 853-861). The major turning point of the Vietnam War came in 1968, now referred to as the Tet Offensive. Tet is the Vietnamese new year and is commonly accepted as a cease-fire. However, during this day the North Vietnamese launched a surprise attack on most U.S. controlled major cities. Included in the cities were Saigon, capital of South Vietnam and home to the United States Embassy. Although, the Tet Offensive is generally accepted as a failure for North Vietnam where large portion of North Vietnam troops were killed, and it had not accomplish anything, it came during the worst possible time for President Johnson, which was election year.
At the conclusion of the Vietnam War we hadn’t achieved anything we set out to do. In 1972 the United States left Vietnam, and in 1975 the North Vietnamese over took Saigon, renaming it Ho Chi Mien City after their leader. At this time the United States Embassy had surrendered, marking the end of the war (Winthrop, 861-865). The use of technology throughout the war such as Napalm and Defoliants like Agent Orange caused many civilian deaths. The difficulty in determining whom the enemy was led to the death of innocent women and children. Many U.S. soldiers became maimed and handicapped causing problems once they returned home. The soldiers also seen as ruthless killers, due to events such as the My Lai Massacre, in which the Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, under the leadership of twenty-four year old 2nd Lt. William L. Calley Jr. became responsible for the execution of over 300 Vietnamese civilians, mostly old men, women, and children. When the war was finally showing signs of ending, the Vietnamese returned to a newly unified communist country, while the U.S. retuned to be shunned by other nations. The war that spread out across 4 presidencies had finally ended, at the cost of an estimated 58,000 U.S. soldiers and 3 million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians alike.
The Vietnam and the American Revolution were two different wars fought in two different eras against different foes. The American Revolution was fought on American soil, whereas the Vietnam War was fought on foreign soil. There was never an official declaration of war against the Vietnamese government. America was also fighting for different reasons in these two wars. In the Vietnam War we mobilized against North Vietnamese due to our fear of communism. With the cold war just ended, the U.S. was paranoid that communism would spread and eventually divide the world in two. President Johnson once said, “Their objective is not fulfillment of Vietnamese nationalism; it is to erode and to discredit America’s ability to help prevent Chinese domination over all of Asia. ” The main goal in our war with Vietnam was to prevent the spread of communism by Ho Chi Mihn. The American Revolution was fight for a completely different reason. We had sought independence from Britain’s harsh rule.
The colonies had felt like their rights were being confiscated. The unpopular acts, produced by Britain’s parliament had only added fuel to the heat of war. Another key difference in these two wars was that America loses in the Vietnam War. We had not achieved our objective of crushing communism in North Vietnam. Although, different these two wars were also similar in that the seemingly weaker nation wins against the stronger one. The U.S. had lost the Vietnam War even though we were superior in every aspect militarily. However, because Americans were widely unpopular throughout the Vietnamese population we lost the war. This situation also held true for the American Revolution. England was the major world power in the 1800s. Their naval forces were unmatched and their military was far superior in equipment and in training. Yet, in the end America comes out victorious. Foreign interference is another theme that remains constant in these two conflicts. During the fight against England, our ally France helped us tremendously with troops and supplies. In the Vietnam War we aided the South Vietnamese with troops and equipment as well.
The American Revolution and the Vietnam War had its similarities and its differences. These two wars were similar in that a weaker nation was victorious over a larger nation. Foreign interferences, nationalism, and other factors also contributed to each nation’s victory. The differences between these two conflicts were that the American Revolution was mostly about overthrowing a foreign ruler, England. While, in Vietnam we tried to prevent the presumed threat of communism.
Begleiter, Ralph 1997. Aging leaders return to Vietnam to discuss missteps of war [online]. Available from
world wide website: http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9706/18/vietnam.advancer/
Higginbotham, Don. The war of American independence: Military attitudes, policies, and practice, 1763-
1789. Easton Press; Collector’s ed edition, 1993.
Kaiser, David E. American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson, and the Origins of the Vietnam War.
Cambridge Harvard U Press, 2000.
Pole, J.R. The Pursuit of Equality in America. University of California, 1979.