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The President's Daily Diary: August 4, 1964

On August 4, 1964, President Johnson's day began with a Congressional leadership breakfast to discuss his legislative program. At mid-morning, while meeting with Congressman George Mahon about the Poverty Bill, he received word that American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin were under attack, presumably from the North Vietnamese. The President discussed the reported attack at a previously scheduled National Security Council meeting on Cyprus and at lunch with his senior foreign policy advisors where the decision was reached to respond with a forceful limited air attack. After clarifying conflicting reports about the attack, he met once again with the National Security Council and with the Congressional leadership about the Vietnam situation and the need for a Congressional resolution on the subject. During that meeting, the President received a call from Assistant FBI Director, Cartha "Deke" Deloach, informing him that the bodies of the three Mississippi civil rights workers missing since June had been found. Later in the evening, he telephoned Barry Goldwater, his Republican opponent in the Presidential campaign, about the attack. Shortly after 11:30 p.m., on live television, the President issued a statement to the American public regarding Vietnam.

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