Date of Award

Fall 1986

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 1986 Alison Campbell. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


History Department


Campbell examines the internal mechanizations of the Kennedy administration in regard to its policies on Vietnam. Utilizing a combination of government documents, newspaper articles, and a synthesis of secondary sources, Campbell provides a narrative detailing the events and attitudes that made the administration’s escalation of American involvement inevitable. Despite their outward presentation of a “new generation,” the administration failed to question prior assumptions about the necessity of an independent, anti-Communist regime in South Vietnam. As a result, the conflict was viewed as a struggle to preserve American prestige; this, combined with a failure to enact long-term strategies for victory, led inevitably to the later escalation American involvement.