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Ho’s Letter to President Truman in September 1945

Less than four weeks after the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence, Colonel Peter Dewey became the first American to die in Vietnam. In a letter about Dewey’s death, written to President Truman, Ho expressed his sorrow at the death of an American in Vietnam and explained that Vietnamese hoped to work with Americans in the pursuit of liberty.


Ho Chi Minh to Truman
Col. Peter Dewey
29 September 1945
Hanoi to Washington, D.C.

Hanoi, Sept. 29, 1945
The President of the Provisional Government of the

Dear Mr President:

A radio-broadcast from Saigon, on Sept. 27, reported that Colonel PETER DEWEY, of the U.S. army, was killed in the course of the French-instigated clash between French aggressors and Vietnamese nationalists in Cochinchina. It is impossible to investigate into the matter now, Saigon being still in the hands of the franco-british troops.

We sincerely hope that this report is not true.

Be it true, the incident may have been provoked by the British of [sic] the French, or it may be due to some confusion owing to darkness or other unfortunate circumstances.

Whatever the case may be we are deeply moved by such a news and promise that nothing will be omitted on our part to find out the culprits and severely punish them.

For the time being we can only assure you that we are touched by the death of any American resident in this country as much as by the death of our dearest relatives.

Measures are being taken to prevent the return of such incidents.

We only request of your representatives in this country to be more cautious in the trespassing of fighting areas, and to inform us of the displacements of your nationals in advance. In this way, not only accidents can be averted, but spontaneous welcome demonstrations may expect them which bring our two peoples still closer.

Allow me to take this opportunity to assure you that the sentiments of friendship and of admiration which our people feel towards the American people and for its representatives here, and which have found enthusiastic expressions on various occasions, do come straight from the bottom of our hearts. That such friendly feelings have not only been shown to the American [sic] themselves but also to imposters [sic] wearing American uniforms is the evidence that America's fine stand for peace and international justice on all occasions is not only appreciated by our governing spheres but also by the whole Vietnamese nation.

In my personal name and in the name of my people I address here to you, Mr President, and to the people of the U.S.A, the expression of our great admiration and respect.