August 2nd 1964: Gulf of Tonkin incident
On this day in 1964, North Vietnamese gunboats allegedly fired on US destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. The incident was used by the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson to show the aggression of the North Vietnamese communists. Congress then passed the Gulf of Tonkin Joint Resolution which authorised the President to intervene in Vietnam to counter “communist aggression”. Thus, Johnson was authorised to send troops into Vietnam to fight the communist North and help the South. There was no formal declaration of war by Congress. It was later confirmed that the USS Maddox in fact fired first on the North Vietnamese.