The Democratic Republic of Vietnam Declares its Independence

As the League for the Independence of Vietnam (Vietnam Doc Lap Dong Minh Hoi), better known as the Viet Minh, Vietnamese nationalists had fought against the Japanese invaders as well as the defeated French colonial authorities.

With the support of rich and poor peasants, workers, businessmen, landlords, students, and intellectuals, the Viet Minh (led by Ho Chi Minh) had expanded throughout northern Vietnam where it established new local governments, redistributed some lands, and opened granaries to alleviate the famine. On September 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh square. The first lines of his speech repeated verbatim the famous second paragraph of America’s 1776 Declaration of Independence.

Looking for recognition from the United States and other Western countries, Ho and his colleagues proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on September 2, 1945. Instead of supporting the Republic, the West recognized French claims. The first Indo-China War was fought with the French from 1946 to 1954 and resulted in the division of Vietnam in South and North Vietnam. By the mid 1960s, France, weakened also by its colonial war in Algeria, was no longer a force in the region and the United States, already a supporter of South Vietnam, became the chief backer of the southern Republic of Vietnam. The situation was not stable, and eventually resulted in the Second Indo-China War, known in the US as the "Vietnam War".

Vietnam became part of French Indochina in 1887 and was administered by the pro-German Vichy government during World War II. In 1940-1945, French Indochina was occupied by Japan, which used the colony as a base from which to conduct military operations further south. Soon after the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II, the Vietminh entered Hanoi and Hồ proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on September 2, 1945.