President Richard Nixon's plan to end the Vietnam War combined exploratory negotiations with a fierce military campaign to drive the North Vietnamese to the peace table, if not actually to win the war. In addition, to help quell domestic unrest about the draft and casualty rate, a campaign began in which ground fighting was gradually to be taken over by the South Vietnamese. After fractious negotiations between the United States, North Vietnam, and South Vietnam, and against the backdrop of fierce fighting, the Paris Accords, which combined American withdrawal with democratic elections in South Vietnam, were signed on January 27, 1973. However, military conflict continued unabated until April 1975, when a concerted North Vietnamese offensive overthrew the South Vietnamese government. On April 28, President Gerald Ford ordered the withdrawal of all American personnel; the Saigon government surrendered two days later.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine