Title page for ETD etd-0115103-183313

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Carson, Mark David
Author's Email Address mcarso1@lsu.edu
URN etd-0115103-183313
Title Beyond the Solid South: Southern Members of Congress and the Vietnam War
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Gaines M. Foster Committee Chair
Charles Shindo Committee Member
Leonard Moore Committee Member
William Cooper Committee Member
Joseph G. Kronick Dean's Representative
  • indochina
  • russell long
  • albert gore
  • dwight d. eisenhower
  • politics
  • richard nixon
  • harry truman
  • john f. kennedy
  • lyndon johnson
  • ho chi minh
  • diplomatic history
  • cold war
  • war
  • richard russell
  • john stennis
  • william fulbright
  • democrat
  • south
  • american south
  • foreign policy
  • vietnam war
  • vietnam
  • congress
  • u.s. history
  • solid south
  • ngo dinh diem
  • nguyen van thieu
Date of Defense 2002-12-02
Availability unrestricted
From the beginning of America's involvement in Vietnam in 1943 to its disastrous end in 1975, southern members of Congress exerted a significant influence on and expressed divergent opinions about Cold War foreign policy. In part because of an enormous increase in military spending in the South fueled by prominent membership on military committees, congressional hawks were more inclined to support military aid for countries fighting communism and accept military over civilian advice in prosecuting the Cold War. Hawkish southerners embraced containment wholeheartedly, exhibited an intense patriotism, and concerned themselves with upholding personal and national honor. Therefore, with some prominent exceptions initially, hawks were more inclined to accept military solutions to contain communist aggression. When America became involved in Vietnam, southern congressional hawks advocated fighting a war without limits for a total victory.

On the other hand, the southern doves were much smaller in number but still extremely influential. They did not abandon internationalism until very late, and preferred economic aid and multilateral solutions to Cold War problems. The leading doves, Senators William Fulbright of Arkansas, Albert Gore of Tennessee, and John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky, after enabling the United States to deepen its commitment in Vietnam, mounted a spirited dissent that legitimized protest and eventually helped end the war. They rejected American interference in smaller and weaker countries and also upheld a version of Southern honor that demanded that America admit its mistake in Vietnam. Therefore, the South, though "solid" on Civil Rights and other domestic issues, did not speak with one voice on Vietnam.

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