Roots of the Vietnam War: Learning Objectives & Activities

Instructor: Jessica Lyons
Use the lessons in this chapter to learn about the start of the Vietnam War. Learning objectives, key questions and related activities will help you identify important parts of what you've learned.

What's This Chapter About?

This chapter guides you through the factors that led to the Vietnam War, setting the foundation for understanding the war. The lessons will take you through the history of Indochina, major people involved in the fight for independence and attempts to create peace in Vietnam.

Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, you'll be able to:

  • Analyze how Indochina's history impacted the Vietnam War
  • Explain Ho Chi Minh's role in Vietnam
  • Compare the positions of various American presidents
  • Explain how the Vietnam War began
  • Outline the roles of various countries in the Vietnam War

People to Know

  • Bao Dai - he was made the ruler of the Empire of Vietnam, formerly Indochina, after the Japanese declared it a free state in 1945.
  • Ho Chi Minh - a Vietnamese nationalist who led opposition movements and eventually became the leader of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
  • President Woodrow Wilson - he denied a request from Ho Chi Minh to give Vietnam its independence.
  • President Harry Truman - he followed a containment policy when it came to Vietnam and eventually agreed to French involvement in Indochina.
  • General Vo Nguyen Giap - he led the Viet Minh as it fought France.
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower - once in office, he approved American war assistance for France.

Vocabulary to Know

  • Viet Minh - also known as the League for the Independence of Vietnam, this group encouraged a revolution in Vietnam.
  • French Communist Party - an organization created by Ho Chi Minh in 1920.
  • Battle of Dien Bien Phu - a battle that took place in May of 1954 and resulted in Ho and the Viet Minh beating France.
  • Elysee Agreement - created Vietnam as a non-communist state that was led by Bao Dai.
  • Geneva Conference - this was organized to discuss peace in Indochina.

Key Questions

Once you've completed the lessons in this chapter, answer the below questions to apply your new knowledge.

  • How did conditions in Indochina contribute to the Vietnam War?
  • What was Ho Chi Minh's role in the Vietnam War?
  • What was President Harry Truman's approach to the Vietnam War?
  • What led to the start of the First Indochina War?
  • What was the outcome and impact of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu?
  • What were key points of the Geneva Conference?

Build on Your Learning

After completing the lessons in the Roots of the Vietnam War chapter, use the following activities to apply what you've learned.


Had President Franklin D. Roosevelt not died, an international trusteeship may have been created for Indochina. This would have given nationals the opportunity to lead the country while other countries oversaw the leadership and provided assistance. How could this have changed what happened in Vietnam?

Do you think the people of Vietnam would have fought for independence if Ho Chi Minh hadn't been involved and helped organize people?


President Harry Truman took a containment approach to Vietnam because of Ho Chi Minh's communist background. Do you think this was the right approach? Why or why not?


Imagine yourself as a leader at the Geneva Conference. What are accords that you would have created to help with the situation in Vietnam? Create your own Geneva Conference accords and explain the impact they'd have.

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