World History 1964

About the history of the world in 1964, the Warren Report on the Kennedy assassination is released, the U.S. involvement in Vietnma increases.

TWO CENTURIES OF WORLD HISTORY: 1778-1978

1964

Aug. 2 The U.S. announced that North Vietnamese torpedo boats had attacked the U.S. destroyer Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin some 30 mi. off the North Vietnamese coast. It was later learned that the Maddox had been escorting South Vietnamese ships to within 10 mi. of the North Vietnamese shore for the purpose of shelling naval installations there. But this was unknown at the time, and when Pres. Lyndon Johnson learned of another attack on the Maddox and the C. Turner Joy on Aug. 4 (although recent evidence suggests that this second attack may never have occurred), he sent 64 bombers on a retaliatory air strike over North Vietnam. LBJ went on TV to explain: "Aggression by terror against the peaceful villages of South Vietnam has now been joined by open aggression on the high seas against the United States of America. . . . Yet our response, for the present, will be limited and fitting. We Americans know--although others appear to forget--the risk of spreading conflict. We still seek no wider war." Not to be outflanked by Sen. Barry Goldwater, his Republican opponent in this, an election year, LBJ pressed Congress for an open-ended resolution approving his air strike against North Vietnam and authorizing him "to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression." After eight hours' debate in the Senate and just 40 minutes' deliberation in the House, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, 502-2. Only Senators Wayne Morse of Oregon and Ernest Gruening of Alaska, later to be considered granddaddies of the peace movement, voted against it. When critics later blasted LBJ for escalating the Vietnam conflict into a full-blown war without a formal declaration from Congress, the President would point to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution as the constitutional underpinning of his policy.

Sept. 27 The commission set up by President Johnson to investigate the assassination of President Kennedy announced its findings. The 880-page Warren Report, so named for the commission chairman, Chief Justice Earl Warren, concluded that JFK died at the hands of a lone assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Later buttressing its findings with 26 volumes of transcribed testimony and exhibits, 10 million words covering some 20,000 pages, the commission at first managed to quell the seemingly wild conspiracy theories then raging. Nevertheless, 2/3 of Americans polled did not believe Oswald had acted alone. With subsequent release of a private film of the assassination showing JFK's body lurching in opposite directions at the impact of successive shots, and with revelations of U.S. plots to kill Castro, many have come to doubt the single-assassin theory.

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