From the Annals of the Undeclared Wars – In 1964, Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson first began to come under pressure for his plan to escalate the undeclared war in Vietnam. Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin) began to speak out against preparation for additional troops in Vietnam. Nelson claimed that Congress did not intend the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to endorse escalation into a full scale war in Vietnam.
The GOTR had been passed on August 7 in response to North Vietnamese patrol boats allegedly firing on U.S. warships in the waters off North Vietnam on August 2 and 4. Whether there was an attack and if so, whether it was provoked has been much debated, but the incident prompted Congress to pass the GOTR with only two dissenting votes in the Senate. The GOTR gave Johnson power to “take all necessary measures to repel an armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.” Johnson apparently viewed the resolution as giving him a free hand and began a major escalation of the conflict which ultimately cost the U.S. 58,220 lives and achieved nothing.