Letters from Ho Chi Minh
Letter to Secretary of State
Robert Lansing in Paris, June 18, 1919
We take the liberty of setting fourth the claims of the Annamite
on the occasion of the Allied victory. We count on your great
to honor our appeal by your support... Since the victory of the
all subject peoples are frantic with hope at the prospect of an era
right and justice which should begin for them... in the struggle of
civilization against barbarism.
In France, December 26, 1920
You all have known that French imperialism entered Indochina half a
century ago. In its selfish interests, it conquered our country with
bayonets. Since then we have not only been oppressed and exploited
shamelessly, but also tortured and poisoned pitilessly. Plainly
speaking, we have been poisoned with opium, alcohol, etc. I cannot,
some minutes, reveal all the atrocities inflicted on Indochina.
outnumber schools and are always overcrowded with detainees. Natives
are arrested and sometimes murdered without trial. Vietnamese are
discriminated against. We have neither freedom of press nor freedom
speech. Even freedom of assembly and freedom of association do not
exist. We have no right to live in other countries or to go abroad
tourists. We are forced to live in utter ignorance and obscurity
because we have no right to study. In Indochina the colonialists
all ways and means to force us to smoke opium and drink alcohol to
poison and beset us. Thousands of Vietnamese have been led to a slow
death or massacred to protect other people's interests. Such is the
treatment inflicted upon more that 20 million Vietnamese, that is
then half the population of France. And they are said to be under
Letter to President Harry
February 16, 1945. The letter was never answered and was not
declassified until 1972
DEAR MR. PRESIDENT:
Our VIETNAM people, as early as 1941, stood by the Allies' side and
fought against the Japanese and their associates, the French
From 1941 to 1945 we fought bitterly, sustained by the patriotism,
our fellow-countrymen and by the promises made by the Allies at
SAN FRANCISCO and POTSDAM.
When the Japanese were defeated in August 1945, the whole Vietnam
territory was united under a Provisional Republican Government,
immediately set out to work. In five months, peace and order were
restored, a democratic republic was established on legal bases, and
adequate help was given to the Allies in the carrying out of their
But the French Colonialists, who betrayed in wartime both the Allies
and the Vietnamese, have come back, and are waging on us a murderous
and pitiless war in order reestablish their domination. Their
has extended to South Vietnam and is menacing us in North Vietnam.
would take volumes to give even an abbreviated report of the crisis
assassinations they are committing everyday in this fighting area.
This aggression is contrary to all principles of international law
the pledge made by the Allies during World War II. It is a challenge
the noble attitude shown before, during, and after the war by the
United States Government and People. It violently contrasts with the
firm stand you have taken in your twelve point declaration, and with
the idealistic loftiness and generosity expressed by your delegates
the United Nations Assembly, MM. BYRNES, STETTINIUS, AND J.F.
The French aggression on a peace-loving people is a direct menace to
world security. It implies the complicity, or at least the
of the Great Democracies. The United Nations ought to keep their
They ought to interfere to stop this unjust war, and to show that
mean to carry out in peacetime the principles for which they fought
Our Vietnamese people, after so many years of spoliation and
devastation, is just beginning its building-up work. It needs
and freedom, first to achieve internal prosperity and welfare, and
later to bring its small contribution to world-reconstruction.
These security and freedom can only be guaranteed by our
from any colonial power, and our free cooperation with all other
powers. It is with this firm conviction that we request of the
Sates as guardians and champions of World Justice to take a decisive
step in support of our independence.
What we ask has been graciously granted to the Philippines. Like the
Philippines our goal is full independence and full cooperation with
UNITED STATES. We will do our best to make this independence and
cooperation profitable to the whole world.
I am Dear Mr. PRESIDENT,
(Signed) Ho Chi Minh
Letter to Secretary of State
Byrnes, November 1, 1945
[Could I Send] to the United States of America a delegation of about
Vietnam youths with a view to establish friendly cultural relations
with American youth on the one hand, and carrying on further studies
Engineering, Agriculture, as well as other lines of specialization
the other. They have been all these years keenly interested in
American and earnestly desirous to get in touch with American people
whose fine stand for the noble ideals of international Justice and
Humanity, and whose modern technical achievements have so strongly
appealed to them.
Vietnamese Declaration of
Independance, September 2, 1945
"All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the
pursuit of Happiness."
This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence
the United States of America in 1776. In a broader sense, this
All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples
a right to live, to be happy and free.
The Declaration of The French Revolution made in 1791 on the Rights
Man and the Citizen also states: "All men are born free and with
rights, and must always remain free and have equal rights."
Those are undeniable truths.
Nevertheless, for more than eighty years, the French imperialists,
abusing the standard of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, have
violated our Fatherland and oppressed our fellow citizens. The have
acted contrary to the ideals of humanity and justice.
In the field of politics, they have deprived our people of every
They have enforced inhuman laws; they have set up three distinct
political regimes in the North, the Center, and the South of
in order to wreck our national unity and prevent our people from
They have built more prisons than schools. They have mercilessly
our patriots; they have drowned our uprisings in rivers of blood.
They have fettered public opinion; they have practiced obscurantism
against our people.
To weaken our race they have forced us to use opium and alcohol.
In the field of economics, they have fleeced us to the backbone,
impoverished our people and devastated our land.
They have robbed us of our rice fields, our mines, our forests, our
materials. They have monopolized the issuing of bank notes and the
They have invented numerous unjustifiable taxes and reduced people,
especially our peasantry, to a state of extreme poverty.
They have hampered the prospering of our national bourgeoisie, they
have mercilessly exploited our workers.
In the autumn of 1940, when the Japanese fascists violated
territory to establish new bases in their fight against the Allies,
French imperialists went down on their bended knees and handed over
country to them.
Thus, from that date, our people were subjected to the double yoke
the French and the Japanese. Their sufferings and miseries
The result was that, from the end of last year to the beginning of
year, from Quang Tri Province to the North of Viet-Nam, more than
million of our fellow citizens died from starvation. 9 March 1945,
French troops were disarmed by the Japanese. The French colonialists
either fled or surrendered, showing that not only were they
of "protecting" us, but that, in the span five years, they had twice
sold our country to the Japanese.
On several occasions before 9 March, the Viet Minh League urged the
French to ally themselves with it against the Japanese. Instead of
agreeing to this proposal, the French colonialists so intensified
terrorist activities against the Viet Minh members that before
they massacred a great number of our political prisoners detained at
Yen Bay and Cao Bang.
Notwithstanding all this, our fellow citizens have always manifested
toward the French a tolerant and humane attitude. Even after the
Japanese Putsch of March, 1945, the Viet Minh League helped many
Frenchmen to cross the frontier, rescued some of them from Japanese
jails, and protected French lives and property.
From the autumn of 1940, our country had in fact ceased to be a
colony and had become a Japanese possession.
After the Japanese had surrendered to the Allies, our whole people
to regain our national sovereignty and to found the Democratic
The truth is that we have wrested our independence from the Japanese
and not from the French.
The French have fled, the Japanese have capitulated, Emperor Bao Dai
has abdicated. Our people have broken the chains which for nearly a
century have fettered them and have won independence for the
Fatherland. Our people at the same time have overthrown the
regime that has reigned supreme for dozens of centuries. In its
has been established the present Democratic Republic.
For these reasons, we, members of the Provisional Government,
representing the whole Vietnamese people, declare that from now on
break off all relations of a colonial character with France; we
all the international obligation that France has so far subscribed
on behalf of Viet-Nam, and we abolish all the special rights the
have unlawfully acquired in our Fatherland.
The whole Vietnamese people, animated by a common purpose, are
determined to fight to the bitter end against any attempt by the
colonialists to reconquer their country.
We are convinced that the Allied nations, which at Teheran and San
Francisco have acknowledged the principles of self-determination and
equality of nations, will not refuse to acknowledge the independence
A people who have courageously opposed French domination for more
eighty years, a people who have fought side by side with the Allies
against the fascists during these last years, such a people must be
free and independent.
For these reasons, we, members of the Provisional Government of the
Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam, solemnly declare to the world that
Viet-Nam has the right to be a free and independent country and in
it is so already. The entire Vietnamese people are determined to
mobilize all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their
lives and property in order to safeguard their independence and
Ho Chi Minh quoted by Rene J.
Defourneaux, August 9, 1966
I have always been impressed with your country's treatment of the
Philippines. You kicked the Spanish out and let the Filipinos
their own country. You were not looking for real estate, and I
you for that. I have a government that is organized and ready to go.
Your statesmen make eloquent speeches about helping those with
self-determination. We are self-determined. Why not help us? Am I
different from Nehru, Quezon- even your own George Washington? I,
want to set my people free.