At the center of these events stands President Lyndon B. Johnson, who inherited the White House following the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The circumstances of Johnson’s ascendance to the Oval Office left him little choice but to implement several unrealized Kennedy initiatives, particularly in the fields of economic policy and civil rights. But LBJ was equally committed to winning the fight against the Communist insurgency in Vietnam—a fight that Kennedy had joined during his thousand days in office. While Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower had committed significant American resources to counter the Communist-led Viet Minh in its struggle against France following the Second World War, it was Kennedy who had deepened and expanded that commitment, increasing the number of U.S. military advisers in Vietnam from just under seven hundred in 1961 to over sixteen thousand by the fall of 1963. Kennedy’s largesse would also extend to the broader provision of foreign aid, as his administration increased the amount of combined military and economic assistance from $223 million in FY1961 to $471 million by FY1963.


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