HomeVisitMuseum ExhibitsFact SheetsDisplay

Tonkin Gulf Resolution: Authority for War

Copy of H.J. Res. 1145: The Tonkin Gulf Resolution.(U.S. Air Force image)

Copy of H.J. Res. 1145: The Tonkin Gulf Resolution.(U.S. Air Force image)

The Tonkin Gulf Resolution was Congress' permission for the president to use force in response to North Vietnamese hostile action. It became a turning point in American involvement in Southeast Asia.

On Aug. 2, 1964, three North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked the destroyer USS Maddox 28 miles off the North Vietnamese coast in the Gulf of Tonkin. Two nights later, attacks were reported against the Maddox and the USS C. Turner Joy. In response, President Lyndon Johnson ordered U.S. Navy planes to bomb the torpedo boat bases and an oil storage depot.

On Aug. 7, Congress adopted the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, giving President Johnson authority to use armed force to assist South Vietnam. The Tonkin Gulf Resolution and continuing attacks on Americans in South Vietnam marked the beginning of a dramatic increase in U.S. participation in the war in Southeast Asia.

Click here to return to the Southeast Asia War Introduction.

Please note Springfield Street, the road that leads to the museum’s entrance, is undergoing construction through the beginning of September. Expect lane reductions and some delays. Please follow the signs and instructions provided by the road crews.

Featured Links

Plan Your Visit button
E-newsletter Sign-up button
Explore Museum Exhibits button
Browse Photos button
Visit Press Room button
Become a Volunteer button
Air Force Museum Foundation button
Donate an item button