The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolultion:
Joint Resolution for the Maintenance of International Peace and Security in Southeast Asia, (Public Law 88-408, House Joint Resolution 1145), also known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, August 10, 1964
National Archives, General Records of the U.S. Government
In a late-night televised address on August 4, 1964, President Johnson announced that he had ordered retaliatory air strikes on the North Vietnamese in response to reports of their attacks earlier on U.S. Navy ships in the Gulf of Tonkin.
He then asked Congress to pass a resolution stressing that “our Government is united in its determination to take all necessary measures in support of freedom and in defense of peace in southeast Asia.”
The resolution stated that “Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repeal any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression” in Southeast Asia, thereby providing a legal foundation for President Johnson’s escalation of the war.
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed Congress quickly on August 7, with only two dissenting votes in the Senate. President Johnson signed the resolution on August 10, 1964.
(The original Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was on display at the National Archives Building from July 15 to August 7, 2014. )