On this day in 1977 President Jimmy Carter pardoned nearly all American Vietnam War draft evaders who had immigrated to places like Canada.
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era proxy war that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from December 1956to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam—supported by the Soviet Union, China and other communist allies—and the government of South Vietnam—supported by the United States and other anti-communist countries. The Viet Cong, a lightly armed South Vietnamese communist common front directed by the North, fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region. The People’s Army of Vietnam (a.k.a. the North Vietnamese Army) engaged in a more conventional war, at times committing large units into battle. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery, and airstrikes.
The U.S. government viewed American involvement in the war as a way to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam. This was part of their wider strategy of containment, which aimed to stop the spread of communism. The North Vietnamese government and the Viet Cong were fighting to reunify Vietnam under communist rule. They viewed the conflict as a colonial war, fought initially against France, then against America as France was backed by the U.S., and later against South Vietnam, which it regarded as a U.S. puppet state.Beginning in 1950, American military advisors arrived in what was then French Indochina. U.S. involvement escalated in the early 1960s, with troop levels tripling in 1961 and again in 1962. Regular U.S. combat units were deployed beginning in 1965. Operations crossed international borders, with Laos and Cambodia heavily bombed by the U.S. American involvement in the war peaked in 1968, at the time of the Tet Offensive. After this, U.S. ground forces were gradually withdrawn as part of a policy known as Vietnamization, which aimed to end American involvement in the war. Despite the Paris Peace Accords, which was signed by all parties in January 1973, the fighting continued.