Ho Chi Minh, born in 1880 into the family of a poor country scholar as Nguyen Sinh Cung (also called Nguyen Tat Thanh or Nguyen Ai Quoc) attended grammar school in Hue, taught school in Phan Thiet, and was apprenticed at a technical institute in Saigon.


In 1911 Ho became a cook on a French steamer and visited African and American ports as a seaman for several years. From 1915-1917, he lived in London, then moved to France where he worked for six years as a gardener, sweeper, waiter, photo retoucher, and oven stoker.


In France (1917–23) he became a socialist using the name Nguyen Ai Quoc (Nguyen the Patriot). In 1919 Ho’s demands for equal rights among Indochinese subjects and their French Colonial rulers was disregarded by great power representatives at the Versailles Peace Conference.


Ho later joined the Communist Party and helped establish the Indochinese Communist Party in 1930 and the League for the Independence of Vietnam (Viet Minh) in 1941. At the end of WWII the Viet Minh seized Hanoi and declared a Democratic Republic of Vietnam in North Vietnam.


During WWII the United States supported the Viet Minh in resistance against the Japanese and American President Roosevelt was adamant that French colonialism should not recur after the war. However, with the death of FDR and the rapid onset of the Cold War, a Communist regime in Vietnam became unacceptable to Western powers.


Ho Chi Minh served as president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam for 25 years throughout prolonged conflict–first with the colonial forces of French Indochina and later with the anti-Communist regime of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, or South Vietnam) which was aligned with the strongly anti-Communist United States.