September 12

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Sep 12, 1959:

Situation deteriorates in South Vietnam

North Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Dong tells the French Consul: "You must remember we will be in Saigon tomorrow." In November, he would tell the Canadian Commissioner: "We will drive the Americans into the sea." The U.S. Embassy in Saigon eventually passed these remarks along to Washington as evidence of the deteriorating situation in South Vietnam. The United States had taken over from the French in the effort to stem the tide of communism in Southeast Asia. When President John F. Kennedy took office in 1961, he was faced with a dilemma in Laos and Vietnam. He decided that the line against communism had to be drawn in Vietnam and therefore he increased the number of military advisers to President Ngo Dinh Diem's government in Saigon. By the time of his assassination in November 1963, there would be more than 16,000 U.S. advisers in South Vietnam. Under his successor, Lyndon Johnson, there would be a steady escalation of the war that ultimately resulted in the commitment of more than half a million U.S. troops in South Vietnam.

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