Hearts and Minds (Vietnam)

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Hearts and Minds refers to a campaign by the United States military during the Vietnam War intended to win the popular support of the Vietnamese people.


The term "hearts and minds", which was used as a method to bring a population on side, was first used during the Malayan Emergency by the British who employed practices to keep the Malayans' trust and reduce a tendency to side with ethnic Chinese communists, in this case, by giving medical and food aid to the Malays and indigenous tribes.[1]

The program was inspired by President Lyndon Baines Johnson. He used some version of the phrase "hearts and minds" a total of 28 times. In ten of these instances, Johnson inverted the words and used the phrase "minds and hearts." The first time he used the phrase in his presidency was on 16 January 1964, and the last time was 19 August 1968. In his usage he addressed very different audiences, including heads of state, congressmen, and the American people. Also, Johnson referred to the "hearts and minds" of disparate groups, including the above-mentioned audiences and even humanity as a whole. His use of the phrase is most commonly taken from the speech "Remarks at a Dinner Meeting of the Texas Electric Cooperatives, Inc." on 4 May 1965. On that evening he said, "So we must be ready to fight in Vietnam, but the ultimate victory will depend upon the hearts and the minds of the people who actually live out there. By helping to bring them hope and electricity you are also striking a very important blow for the cause of freedom throughout the world."[2]

Johnson’s use of the phrase is most likely based on a quote of John Adams, the American Revolutionary War patriot and second president of the United States, who wrote in a letter dated 13 February 1818: "The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations…. This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution".[3] There was however an earlier use of the phrase, albeit rarely acknowledged in this context. John Adams was an educated man who had gone to Harvard and graduated in 1755 with an A.B., and in 1758 with an A.M., what are today known as Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts respectively.[4] It is therefore a reasonable assumption to believe that he was familiar with Shakespeare's use of the term as part of Mark Antony's speech to the crowd, just after Brutus's. Mark Antony says thus - "O masters, if I were disposed to stir your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage..."[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Elizabeth Dickinson (2009). "A Bright Shining Slogan: How "hearts and minds" came to be". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "Lyndon B. Johnson: Remarks at a Dinner Meeting of the Texas Electric Cooperatives, Inc.". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Bernard Bailyn (1992). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Harvard University Press. p. 160. ISBN 9780674443020. Retrieved 20 January 2013. 
  4. ^ John Adams
  5. ^ http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/julius_3_2.html


External links[edit]

  • www.americanpresidency.org - The text of President Johnson's speeches. This website features the Public Papers of Presidents Hoover through George W. Bush. It is searchable by date as well as by keyword.
  • Winning hearts and minds in Vietnam by Martin Bell. BBC News, October 30, 2008
  • The Heart and Mind of USAID's Vietnam Mission by Marc Leepson. American Foreign Service Association, 2000
  • CHIEU HOI: THE SURRENDER PROGRAM OF VIETNAM by Garry D. Brewer. Air and Space Power Journal, November 10, 1966
  • Hearts, minds and bodybags by James Fox. guardian.com.uk, April 5, 2003
  • THE CHIEU HOI PROGRAM OF VIETNAM by SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.) Psychological Operations
  • [1] by Hearts and Minds Network, Inc. Hearts & Minds- Information for Change, 1997–2010
  • Malayan Emergency Knowledgerush, 2009
  • [2] by Andrew Koch. Jane's An IHS Company, March 17, 2003
  • Jones, Sydney, Saunders, Joseph, Smarts, Malcolm, Human Rights Watch. "Hearts and Minds." Represson of Montagnards: Conflicts over Land and Religion in Vietnam's Central Highlands. 122-123. Google Books. Google, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2010. [3]
  • [4] by Ed Ward, "'Next Stop is Vietnam': The War In Music" on NPR. January 26, 2011.
  • [5] by Ron Breeding, "Arkansas Vet Featured In New CD Box Set Of Songs About Vietnam" KUAR Public Radio website. January 27, 2011.