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March 16–31: De-escalation and the March 31 Speech


132. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S. Top Secret; Immediate. Drafted and approved by Rusk.


133. Letter From the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Nitze) to President Johnson

Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Nitze Papers, Vietnam War-Miscellaneous Materials 1968. No classification marking.


134. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files, POL 27 VIET S. Top Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Received at 7:28 a.m.


135. Telegram From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson in Texas

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC History of the March 31st Speech, Vol. 4, Tabs N–Z and AA–KK. Top Secret. The notation “ps” on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.


136. Telegram From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wheeler) to the Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (Westmoreland)

Source: U.S. Army Center of Military History, William C. Westmoreland Papers, Eyes Only Message Files, 1 Mar-31 Mar 1968. Secret. Repeated to Admiral Sharp and General Johnson. In JCSM–159–68 to Clifford, March 15, Wheeler recommended obtaining authority to call up individual reservists, the retention of personnel currently on duty, and increases in end-strength. (Washington National Records Center, Department of Defense, OSD Files: FRC 330 72 A 1499, 320.2 Vietnam, 121–370.5 1968)


137. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Vietnam

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S. Top Secret; Priority; Nodis. Drafted by Bundy and approved by Rusk.


138. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated to CINCPAC for POLAD.


139. Memorandum of Conversation

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S-AH Files: Lot 71 D 461, Lions. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Davidson. The meeting was held in the Secretary's office. Raimondi also saw Harriman the previous week at the time Rusk was testifying before Congress. (Memorandum from Harriman to Rusk, March 12; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Harriman Papers, Special Files, Public Service, Kennedy-Johnson, General-March 1968)


140. Memorandum for the Record

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 1 EE (3), 3/16–31/68, Post-Tet Political Activity. Secret; Nodis. Prepared by Jorden on March 19. Rostow supplied talking points for the meeting in a memorandum to the President, March 18, 1:25 p.m. (Ibid.)


141. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (Bundy) to Secretary of State Rusk

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S. Secret; Nodis. A copy was sent to Katzenbach.


142. Notes of Meeting

Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson's Notes of Meetings. Top Secret. The meeting was held in the White House. Those attending were the President, Rusk, Clifford, Helms, Wheeler, Rostow, Fortas, Jones, Christian, and Tom Johnson; the Vice President joined the meeting at 1:30 p.m. and McPherson at 2:30 p.m. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary)


143. Memorandum for the 303 Committee

Source: National Security Council, 303 Committee Files, Vietnam 1965–1968. Secret; Eyes Only. A handwritten note reads: “303 Committee approved on 10 April 1968.”


144. Memorandum From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Wheeler) to Secretary of Defense Clifford

Source: Johnson Library, Clark M. Clifford Papers, Memos on Vietnam: February–March 1968. Top Secret; Sensitive. Received at OSD at 10:53 a.m. on March 21. There is a notation that Clifford saw the memorandum. That same day, Clifford also received a memorandum from Enthoven in which the U.S. position vis-a-vis the air war was likened to the NVA/VC position in the ground war; namely, that both sides could control the rate of losses in these respective arenas. (Ibid., Alain Enthoven Papers, Strategy)


145. Telegram From the Embassy in Vietnam to the Department of State

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 VIET S. Top Secret; Priority; Nodis. Received at 7:32 a.m.


146. Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Clifford

Source: Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Clifford, March 20, 1968, 8:44 a.m., Tape F6805.02, PNO 5. No classification marking. This transcript was prepared specifically for this volume in the Office of the Historian.


147. Notes of Meeting

Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson's Notes of Meetings. No classification marking. Transcribed by Jorden on February 13, 1970, from Tom Johnson's handwritten notes. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room. McPherson also took notes of the meeting; his handwritten notes are mistakenly dated March 19. (Ibid., Meeting Notes File)


148. Information Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, March 19, 1970, Memo to the President, Decision to Halt the Bombing, 1967, 1968, [I]. Top Secret; Sensitive; Literally Eyes Only.


149. Notes of Meeting

Source: Johnson Library, Meeting Notes File. Top Secret. Drafted by Christian. This luncheon meeting lasted from 2:10 to 5:20 p.m. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary)


150. Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and Senator Richard Russell

Source: Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation Between Johnson and Russell, March 22, 1968, 4:49 p.m., Tape F6803.02, PNO 8. No classification marking. This transcript was prepared specifically for this volume in the Office of the Historian.


152. Memorandum From the President's Counsel (McPherson) to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, 6 G (2), 2/68–3/68, Talks with Hanoi. No classification marking. A handwritten note on the memorandum by the President reads: “Walt—For Rostow, Rusk, Clifford, comments at once.”


153. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC History of the March 31st Speech, Vol. 4, Tabs LL–ZZ and a-k. Top Secret. In an attached covering note to the President transmitting Rusk's memorandum and attachments, March 25, 2:25 p.m., Rostow wrote: “As you can see, Sec. Rusk was already rolling when Harry McPherson's suggestion arrived. I had earlier this morning transmitted your desire for a positive proposal. As background to this proposal, you should be aware that the enemy forces are maneuvering into position for simultaneous attacks in the western highlands, Hue, Quang Tri, as well as Khe Sanh. Moreover there is very heavy movement of men and materiel on the infiltration trails. If the offer came before they had launched their attacks, you would, in effect, be giving them a chance to draw back. If, as we suspect, they do not draw back, we would be in a position to fight the unfought battle against the major North Vietnamese units, flat out. The next natural moment for initiative would come, as I have suggested, in May.” The notation “ps” on the covering memorandum indicates that the President saw it and the attachments.


154. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vietnam, March 19, 1970, Memo to the President, Decision to Halt the Bombing, 1967, 1968 [I]. Secret.


156. Notes of Meeting

Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson's Notes of Meetings. Top Secret. The meeting took place in the family dining room of the White House. Tom Johnson joined the meeting at 10:45 a.m. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary)


157. Notes of Meeting

Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson's Notes of Meetings. Top Secret. The meeting was held in the White House. Those attending were the President, Clifford, Rusk, Taylor, Rostow, Goldberg, Bradley, Dillon, Lodge, Bundy, Acheson, Vance, Ridgway, Ball, Dean, Murphy, Wheeler, Abrams, Harriman, Jones, Christian, and Tom Johnson. Fortas entered the meeting at 2:50 p.m. and the Vice President at 3:07 p.m. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary)


158. Notes of Meeting

Source: Johnson Library, Tom Johnson's Notes of Meetings. No classification marking. Those attending the meeting, which lasted from 3:15 to 4:32 p.m., were the President, the Vice President, Clifford, Rusk, Taylor, Rostow, Goldberg, Bradley, Dillon, Lodge, Bundy, Acheson, Vance, Ridgway, Ball, Dean, Murphy, Fortas, Wheeler, Abrams, Harriman, Jones, Christian, and Tom Johnson. (Ibid., President's Daily Diary)


161. Memorandum From the Postmaster General (O'Brien) to President Johnson

Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Walt Rostow, O'Brien, Lawrence—Vietnam. Confidential. The President wrote on the memorandum: “Rostow—ask Rusk to get Larry over here at once & explain.”