The first protest by Americans against the U.S. war against Vietnam
I'm currently reading Joe Allen's, "Vietnam: the (last) war the U.S. lost". He reminds me of an amazing incident that isn't taught often.
So before I provide some links, when do you think the first protest by U.S. citizens against the U.S. war in Vietnam may have occurred?
Did you guess 1968, the year the movement burst into the mainstream media?
Did you guess 1965, when Julian Bond and SNCC came out against the war?
Perhaps you recall 1960, when the anti-nuclear group SANE and Quakers spoke out against American forays into the country?
That would be pretty early, wouldn't it?
The truth: 1945.
And who were these suspicious antiwar activists?
The Merchant Marines.
Vietnam declared its independence in September of 1945 after the defeat of the Japanese colonizers. The U.S. and the nationalist movement of Vietnam, the Viet Minh, had fought together against Japan and the French Vichy occupiers. But only a few months later, the U.S. government switched positions and began supplying arms to the French colonizers.
Here's a bit from the BBC:
Within two months, at least eight US troopships were diverted from their mission of bringing American troops home from World War II. These ships were used to transport French troops and Foreign Legionnaires from France into Vietnam, to begin a recolonization process. ... The entire crews of four of these ships, all members of the US Merchant Marine, prepared a resolution condemning the US government for its use of US ships to transport troops 'to subjugate the native population' of Vietnam.
Here's more from the Chronicle of Higher Education:
At least 8 and possibly 12 U.S. troopships were diverted from their task of bringing American troops home from World War II and instead began transporting U.S.-armed French troops and Foreign Legionnaires from France to recolonize Vietnam. The enlisted crewmen of these ships, all members of the U.S. Merchant Marine, immediately began organized protests. On arriving in Vietnam, for example, the entire crews of four troopships met together in Saigon and drew up a resolution condemning the U.S. government for using American ships to transport troops "to subjugate the native population" of Vietnam.