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21 Jul 54
The Geneva Accords divide Vietnam in half at the 17th parallel, with Ho Chi Minh's Communists ceded the North, while Bao Dai's regime is granted the South. The accords also provide for elections to be held in all of Vietnam within two years to reunify the country. The U.S. opposes the unifying elections, fearing a likely victory by Ho Chi Minh.
21 Jul 54
U.S. Won't Defend Line
21 Jul 54
Communists to Get Northern Vietnam, 12 Million People
Oct 54
Following the French departure from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh returns after spending eight years hiding in the jungle and formally takes control of North Vietnam
Oct 54

In the South, Bao Dai installs Ngo Dinh Diem as his prime minister. The U.S. now pins its hopes on anti-Communist Diem for a democratic South Vietnam. It is Diem, however, who predicts "another more deadly war" will erupt over the future of Vietnam. Diem, a Roman Catholic in an overwhelmingly Buddhist country, encourages Vietnamese Catholics living in Communist North Vietnam to flee south. Nearly one million leave. At the same time, some 90,000 Communists in the south go north, although nearly 10,000 Viet Minh fighters are instructed by Hanoi to quietly remain behind.

12 Oct 54
President Dwight D. Eisenhower advises Diem that the US will provide assistance directly to South Vietnam, instead of channeling it through French authorities.
1 Jan 55
Direct US aid to South Vietnam begins. The first direct shipment of U.S. military aid to Saigon arrives. The U.S. also offers to train the fledgling South Vietnam Army.
12 Feb 55
US advisers begin training South Vietnamese troops.
29 Mar 55
Diem launches his successful campaign against the Binh Xuyen and the religious sects. US Ambassador Collins advises Washington to consider a change of leadership. Bao Dai, from Paris accuses President Diem of "selling the blood of Vietnamese". Diem is advised by the CIA to conduct a plebiscite and let the people decide. Diem is warned by the Lansdale(CIA) "not to rig the elections", "... I don't want to suddenly read that you have won by 99.99%"
Diem holds the plebiscite and wins by 98%. CIA knows the plebiscite was rigged. President Diem places family members in key positions.
10 May 55
South Vietnam formally requests US instructors for Armed Forces.
16 May 55
The United States agrees to furnish military aid to Cambodia, which becomes an independent state on 25 September.
May 55
Prime Minister Diem wages a violent crackdown against the Binh Xuyen organized crime group based in Saigon which operates casinos, brothels and opium dens.
Jun 55
Hanoi asks for formal talks to prepare for the international supervised elections scheduled for October 1955.
Jul 55
Ho Chi Minh visits Moscow and agrees to accept Soviet aid.
20 Jul 55
South Vietnam refuses to take part in the all-Vietnam elections called for by the Geneva Agreements, charging that free elections are impossible in the Communist North.
23 Oct 55
Bao Dai is ousted from power, defeated by Prime Minister Diem in a U.S.-backed plebiscite which was rigged. Diem is advised on consolidating power by U.S. Air Force Col. Edward G. Lansdale, who is attached to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
26 Oct 55
The Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) was declared with Ngo Dinh Diem as President. It was recognized by more than 100 countries.The Republic of South Vietnam is proclaimed with Diem as its first president. In America, President Eisenhower pledges his support for the new government and offers military aid. Diem assigns most high level government positions to close friends and family members including his younger brother Ngo Dinh Nhu who will be his chief advisor. Diem's style of leadership, aloof and autocratic, will create future political problems for him despite the best efforts of his American advisors to popularize him via American-style political rallies and tours of the countryside
Dec 55

In North Vietnam, radical land reforms by Communists result in land owners being hauled before "people's tribunals." Thousands are executed or sent to forced labor camps during this period of ideological cleansing by Ho Chi Minh.

Dec 55
In South Vietnam, President Diem rewards his Catholic supporters by giving them land seized from Buddhist peasants, arousing their anger and eroding his support among them. Diem also allows big land owners to retain their holdings, disappointing peasants hoping for land reform.
Jan 56
Diem launches a brutal crackdown against Viet Minh suspects in the countryside. Those arrested are denied counsel and hauled before "security committees" with many suspects tortured or executed under the guise of 'shot while attempting escape.'
18 Feb 56
While visiting Peking, Cambodia's Prince Norodom Sihanouk renounces SEATO protection for his nation.
31 Mar 56
Prince Souvanna Phouma becomes Prime Minister in Laos.
28 April 56
An American Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) takes over the training of South Vietnamese forces. The French Military High Command disbands and French troops leave South Vietnam.
28 Apr 56
The last French soldier leaves South Vietnam. The French High Command for Indochina is then dissolved.
Jul 56
The deadline passes for the unifying elections set by the Geneva Conference. Diem, backed by the U.S., had refused to participate.
5 Aug 56
Souvanna Phouma and the Communist Prince Souphanouvong agree to a coalition government in Laos.

Hanoi implements unpopular land "reforms" in North Vietnam. Hoang Van Chi and others claim the Hanoi regime executed some 50,000 people during the land reforms.

Nov 56

Peasant unrest in North Vietnam resulting from oppressive land reforms is put down by Communists with more than 6,000 killed or deported.

Jan 57
The Soviet Union proposes permanent division of Vietnam into North and South, with the two nations admitted separately to the United Nations. The U.S. rejects the proposal, unwilling to recognize Communist North Vietnam.
3 Jan 57
The International Control Commission declares that neither North Vietnam nor South Vietnam has carried out the Geneva Agreements.
8 May 57 - 18 May 57

Diem pays a state visit to Washington where President Eisenhower labels him the "miracle man" of Asia and reaffirms U.S. commitment. Diem's government, however, with its main focus on security, spends little on schools, medical care or other badly needed social services in the countryside. Communist guerrillas and propagandists in the countryside capitalize on this by making simple promises of land reform and a better standard of living to gain popular support among peasants.

29 May 57
Communist Pathet Lao attempt to seize power in Laos.
Jun 57
The last French training missions leave South Vietnam.
Sep 57
Diem is successful in South Vietnamese general election.
Oct 57
Viet Minh guerrillas begin a widespread campaign of terror in South Vietnam including bombings and assassinations. By year's end, over 400 South Vietnamese officials are killed.
Jan 58
Communist guerrillas attack a plantation north of Saigon.
7 Mar 58
President Diem receives a letter from North Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Van Dong proposing a discussion on troop reductions and trade relations as a renewed step towards reunification.
26 Apr 58
President Diem rejects any discussion until North Vietnam has established "democratic liberties" similar to those in the South.
Apr 58
President Sukarno of Indonesia survives a CIA backed rebellion.
Jun 58
A coordinated command structure is formed by Communists in the Mekong Delta where 37 armed companies are being organized.
Mar 59
The armed revolution begins as Ho Chi Minh declares a People's War to unite all of Vietnam under his leadership. His Politburo now orders a changeover to an all-out military struggle. Thus begins the Second Indochina War.
Apr 59
A branch of the Lao Dong (Worker's Party of Vietnam), of which Ho Chi Minh became Secretary-General in 1956, is formed in the South, and Communist underground activity increases.
May 59
The US Commander in Chief, Pacific, begins sending the military advisers requested by the South Vietnamese government.
May 59
North Vietnamese establish the Central Office of South Vietnam (COSVN) to oversee the coming war in the South. Construction of the Ho Chi Minh trail begins. The trail will eventually comprise a 1500 mile-long network of jungle and mountain passes extending from North Vietnam's coast along Vietnam's western border through Laos, parts of Cambodia, funneling a constant stream of soldiers and supplies into the highlands of South Vietnam. In 1959, it takes six months to make the journey; by 1968 it will take only six weeks due to road improvements by North Vietnamese laborers, many of whom are women. In the 1970s a parallel fuel pipeline will be added.
6 May 59
President Diem SVN passes oppressive laws on his countrymen.
June-July 1959
Communist Pathet Lao forces attempt to gain control over northern Laos, receiving some Vietnamese Communist assistance.
Jul 59
4,000 Viet Minh guerrillas, originally born in the South, are sent from North Vietnam to infiltrate South Vietnam.
8 Jul 59
Two U.S. military advisors, Maj. Dale Buis and Sgt. Chester Ovnand, are killed by Viet Minh guerrillas at Bien Hoa, South Vietnam. They are the first American deaths in the Second Indochina War which Americans will come to know simply as The Vietnam War.
10 Jul 59
2 Americans Killed By Saigon Terrorists
31 Dec 59
General Phoumir Nosavan seizes control in Laos.
In China the Great Leap Forward program was an evident failure with food shortages and peasant resistance: under the program, cooperatives merged into government controlled Communes which stressed human labor over technology.
Apr 60
North Vietnam imposes universal military conscription (i.e., draft) with an indefinite tour of duty.
Apr 60
Eighteen distinguished nationalists in South Vietnam send a petition to President Diem advocating that he reform his rigid, family-run, and increasingly corrupt, government. Diem ignores their advice and instead closes several opposition newspapers and arrests journalists and intellectuals.
5 May 60
MAAG strength is increased from 327 to 6,850 personnel.
9 Aug 60
Captain Kong Le occupies Vientiane and urges restoration of a neutral Laos under Prince Souvanna Phouma.
Aug 60
Malayan Emergency ends.
11-12 Nov 60
A failed coup against President Diem by disgruntled South Vietnamese Army officers brings a harsh crackdown against all perceived 'enemies of the state.' Over 50,000 are arrested by police controlled by Diem's brother Nhu with many innocent civilians tortured then executed. This results in further erosion of popular support for Diem. Thousands who fear arrest flee to North Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh will later send many back to infiltrate South Vietnam as part of his People's Liberation Armed Forces. Called Viet Cong by Diem, meaning Communist Vietnamese, Ho's guerrillas blend into the countryside, indistinguishable from South Vietnamese, while working to undermine Diem's government.
16 Dec 60
The forces of Phoumi Nosavan capture Vientiane.
20 Dec 60
The National Liberation Front (NLF) is established by Hanoi as its Communist political organization for Viet Cong guerrillas in South Vietnam.


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