Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson

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Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) dreamed of "A Great Society" for the American people. In his first years as president he won passage of one of the most far-reaching legislative agendas in the nation's history. Maintaining collective security, he carried on the rapidly growing struggle to restrain communist encroachment in South Vietnam.Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, in central Texas, not far from Johnson City, which his family helped to settle. He lived the pain of rural poverty as he grew up, working his way through Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now known as Texas State University at San Marcos). He learned compassion for others when he taught poor students.In 1937, Johnson campaigned successfully for the House of Representatives on a New Deal platform, effectively aided by his wife, the former Claudia "Lady Bird" Taylor, whom he had married in 1934.During World War II Johnson served briefly in the Navy as a lieutenant commander, winning a Silver Star in the South Pacific. With canny ability, he gained passage of key Eisenhower measures.In the 1960 campaign, Johnson, as John F. Kennedy's running mate, was elected vice president. When Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, Johnson was sworn in as president.First he obtained enactment of the measures President Kennedy had been urging near the time of his death: a new civil rights bill and a tax cut. Next he urged the nation " build a great society, a place where the meaning of man's life matches the marvels of man's labor." In 1964, Johnson won the presidency with 61 percent of the vote and had the widest popular margin in American history — more than 15,000,000 votes.The Great Society program became Johnson's agenda for Congress in January 1965:

  • aid to education,
  • attack on disease,
  • Medicare,
  • urban renewal,
  • beautification,
  • conservation,
  • development of depressed regions and a wide-scale fight against poverty,
  • control and prevention of crime and delinquency, and
  • removal of barriers to the right to vote.
  • Congress, at times augmenting or amending, rapidly enacted Johnson's recommendations. Millions of elderly people found succor through the 1965 Medicare amendment to the Social Security Act.Under Johnson's administration, NASA accomplished spectacular explorations of space in a program he had championed since its start. When three astronauts successfully orbited the moon in December 1968, Johnson congratulated them: "You've taken ... all of us, all over the world, into a new era. ."Nevertheless, two overriding crises had been gaining momentum since 1965.Despite the beginning of new antipoverty and anti-discrimination programs, unrest and rioting in black ghettos troubled the nation. President Johnson steadily exerted his influence against segregation and on behalf of law and order, but there was no early solution.The other crisis arose from Vietnam. Despite Johnson's efforts to end Communist aggression and achieve a settlement, fighting continued. Controversy at home over the war had become acute by the end of March 1968, when he limited the bombing of North Vietnam in order to initiate negotiations with that country. At the same time, he startled the world by withdrawing as a candidate for re-election so that he might devote his full efforts, unimpeded by politics, to the quest for peace.When Johnson left office, peace talks were under way; he did not live to see them succeed. LBJ died suddenly of a heart attack at his Texas ranch on January 22, 1973.For more information about President Johnson, visit The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum.

    "All the World is Welcome Here"

    Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park tells the story of our 36th President beginning with his ancestors until his final resting place on his beloved LBJ Ranch. This entire "circle of life" gives the visitor a unique perspective into one of America's most noteworthy citizens by providing the most complete picture of any American president. Read More

    Touring the LBJ Ranch

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    Lyndon Johnson

    Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973) was the 36th president of the United States, taking office after the assassination of John F. Kennedy until his retirement in 1968. He is best known for approving American military escalation in the Vietnam War.

    Born in rural Texas, Johnson trained as a teacher then worked for a time in a one-room schoolhouse. His experiences with poor minorities left Johnson with an interest in social reform, particularly in the areas of poverty, education and racial equality.

    Previously involved in student politics, Johnson ran for Congress as a Democrat, winning a seat in the House of Representatives in 1937. He later moved to the Senate (1948) and became majority leader there (1954).

    During his time in Congress, Johnson became a champion of domestic reform. He hoped to forge what he later called the “Great Society”, where government provided education, healthcare and support to the poor and marginalised. Johnson’s attention to social reform was typified by two Civil Rights Acts, passed in 1957 and 1960, both championed by Johnson.

    Vice-president to president

    John F. Kennedy chose Johnson as his running mate for the 1960 presidential election, due to Johnson’s Senate leadership, his reformist agenda and his popularity in Texas. Johnson became Kennedy’s vice president in January 1961. Among other roles, he was given oversight of the US space program, with a view to overtaking the Soviet Union in this area.

    Johnson was thrust into the presidency after Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963. Like the presidents before him, Lyndon Johnson was a strong advocate for containment and the Domino Theory. He was not well versed in foreign policy, so relied heavily on advice from his military chiefs and White House staff.

    The Cold War loomed large during Johnson’s presidency but the pressing issue was America’s involvement in Vietnam. Johnson came to see Vietnam as a national challenge. To withdraw from South Vietnam and surrender it to the communists would undermine America’s authority and capacity to lead the Cold War. During 1964 Johnson strengthened America’s military presence in South Vietnam and appointed General William Westmoreland and Maxwell Taylor to significant roles there. The president privately consented to military action against North Vietnam and the Viet Cong, though he preferred to wait until after the 1964 presidential election.

    Involvement in Vietnam

    In late 1964, Johnson used the Gulf of Tonkin incident (August 1964) as a pretext for American military intervention. Johnson sought and obtained a sweeping resolution from Congress, which became his ‘blank cheque’ for waging war in Vietnam. American air strikes against North Vietnam were expanded and intensified, followed by the first landings of US combat troops in March 1965.

    Under Johnson, America’s military commitment to Vietnam steadily increased so too did the numbers of American deaths and casualties. Johnson himself spoke optimistically of the war in Vietnam, telling the American people that progress had been made and that the enemy was weakening. Privately, however, he often expressed frustrations, doubts and misgivings about the Vietnam conflict.

    Johnson made numerous attempts to build a working peace with North Vietnam. Some of these attempts were made privately and others publicly a pause or cessation of US bombing was often held out as an incentive to Hanoi.

    Escalation and growing unpopularity

    By 1968, the Johnson administration was approaching a state of crisis. American military strategy in Vietnam had failed to achieve much except thousands of US casualties. The political and economic costs of the Vietnam War had crippled Johnson’s program of social reforms and caused the budget deficit to almost triple in the space of a year.

    The Tet Offensive (January 1968) prompted Johnson to order an analysis and reevaluation of the situation in Vietnam. This was followed by a shift in policy and the replacement of Westmoreland as the commander of US forces in South Vietnam.

    Johnson’s approval rating had also declined rapidly through 1967 and it appeared he may lose the Democratic nomination to Robert F. Kennedy. On March 31st 1968, Johnson addressed the nation, declaring that bombing runs against North Vietnam would be suspended – and that he would not seek or accept reelection as president in November that year.

    Johnson retired in January 1969. His memoirs and subsequent interviews revealed a man still troubled by the Vietnam War and how it was handled. Lyndon Johnson died at his Texas home in January 1973.

    1. Lyndon Baines Johnson was the 36th president of the United States, serving from the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963 until his retirement in January 1969.

    2. Johnson was born in rural Texas and spent his early years working as a teacher in poor communities. This gave him a lifelong interest in social reform and welfare policies.

    3. On becoming vice president in January 1961 Johnson was given oversight of the US space program. He became president after Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas in November 1963.

    4. Johnson was an advocate of containment and the Domino Theory. The pressing issue of his time was Vietnam, which Johnson was determined not to lose to the communists.

    5. Following his advisors, Johnson approved American military escalation in Vietnam. The human and financial costs of the Vietnam War were disastrous, however, and Johnson’s approval rating plummeted. In March 1968 he announced that he would not seek re-election in that year’s presidential election.


    The library is situated on a 30-acre site on The University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas. The building is on a promontory-like plaza adjoining Sid Richardson Hall and the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

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    Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. Partner-in-charge: Gordon Bunshaft

    Brooks, Barr, Graeber, and White. Partner-in-charge: R. Max Brooks

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    Why Lyndon Johnson, a truly awful man, is my political hero

    I wish I had a normal hero from history. Maybe Frederick Douglass, or Rosa Parks, or the person who set the video of Richard Spencer getting punched to the tune of Never Gonna Give You Up. But I don’t. I have an irrational fascination with Lyndon B Johnson, the 36th president of the United States. He is my ultimate problematic fave: obnoxious, crude, responsible for the escalation of the Vietnam war and the death of thousands of innocent civilians – and yet also the architect of so much of the modern (now crumbling) American welfare state. Johnson died 45 years ago today, and it’s hard to know what reaction is appropriate – commemoration, condemnation, or something in between.

    The first thing to appreciate about LBJ’s presidency is the sheer amount of stuff that happened during it. From the fallout of JF Kennedy’s assassination to the passage of the Civil Rights Act to Vietnam, the subsequent protests and the Watts riots in LA – it was like the news fell asleep during the 1950s and was trying to make up for lost time. As a result, Johnson’s legacy is hazy: is he the patronising face of white America stopping progress in the civil rights movement? Is he a warmonger desperate for American dominance around the world? Is he the man who killed Kennedy with the help of the CIA because he didn’t like how JFK and Bobby made fun of his accent as vice-president (an upsettingly genuine conspiracy theory)?

    Johnson can be portrayed as an accident – the rootin’ tootin’ southerner who fell into the presidency at the worst possible time, was in office during the disastrous war in Vietnam and resigned to let in the most corrupt president of all time (pre-2017, at least). This narrative can be tempting, but it ignores the fact that Johnson had been planning for this job his entire life. LBJ had been a congressman, a senator, a Senate minority and majority leader and vice-president before ascending to the presidency, and he transformed the scope of the federal government, pushing through social security acts that created Medicare and Medicaid, the first civil rights acts since reconstruction, the 1965 Voting Rights Act that tackled racial discrimination in southern polling centres, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, and the Higher Education Act of 1965.

    These are not forgotten, discarded relics. Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start and the Food Stamp Act – all fundamental parts of LBJ’s Great Society legislation - serve tens of millions of eligible Americans to this day. The modern Republican party – or at least the part that is southern-facing, anti-big government and obsessed with “law and order” – was born as a direct response to LBJ’s own expansive and moralistic attitude towards the presidency: that the immense power of the country could be used to improve the lot of the poor.

    Having said all that, it’s impossible to get away from the fact that Lyndon B Johnson was also a truly awful man. Anyone who nicknames his penis Jumbo and whirls it around whenever he’s in the john, shouting “Woo-eee, have you ever seen anything as big as this”, should probably be disqualified from any great man of history awards. In Joseph Califano’s brilliant The Triumph & Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson, the president spends a distressing amount of the book naked. If Johnson were president today, the sheer number of sexual assault allegations against him would be so high that he would have no choice but to … actually, no, that’s a bad example. Let’s say that if he were playing a president in a Netflix series, he would be quietly written out and replaced by Robin Wright.

    Johnson was also famously crude: his line about difficult politicians – that it’s better to have them inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in – isn’t even close to the worst thing he said. That award goes to the extremely graphic description he gave of the mating season of his bulls and cows, again in Joseph Califano’s book, which is so disgusting I can’t actually repeat it here (my mother reads these articles). Just imagine hardcore bovine erotica written by Yosemite Sam.

    Johnson’s reputation was ruined by 1968 – the disastrous Tet offensive in Vietnam, riots throughout the US, and the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King contributed to the idea that the country was falling apart, as demonstrated by a haunting Richard Nixon attack ad. Johnson didn’t seek re-election, and instead retreated back to his Texan ranch. He survived just four years after leaving the White House, dying on 22 January 1973, at 64 years old.

    In today’s climate, where politics is portrayed as a game of winners and losers and not as a system designed to benefit the actual population, there’s something inspirational about Lyndon Johnson. That’s not to say that he didn’t care about optics. He was an incessantly vain man, constantly measuring his achievements against those of former presidents, and feeling inferior. Indeed, there is something tragically ironic that a man as thirsty for glory as Johnson could achieve as much as he did and yet still be a relative unknown in popular culture compared with Kennedy, Eisenhower and even Nixon.

    The Presidential Penis: A Short History

    Every American president has had a penis. The possession of a generative member is, in fact, the one trait they all share. Some have been Whigs, some Democrats, and some Republicans. There have been slave-owning presidents and abolitionists, bearded presidents and clean-shaven ones, Easterners and Southerners. Almost all have been white, but at least one has been black. Yet all have been men.

    With the prospect of Hillary Clinton becoming the first penis-free president, it’s not surprising that her Republican rivals want to remind the world that their genital anatomy is the traditional norm.

    Stephen Jaffe/Getty Images

    Donald Trump’s claim during the Republican debate in Detroit that he was amply endowed might have shocked many, but it belongs to a venerable history. Structurally, the president occupies the same position in American politics as kings and queens do in monarchies. The monarch’s body is, traditionally, the microcosm of the state, hence closely monitored. It’s not just of prurient interest to know whether the king is sleeping with the queen (or a consort). It’s a fact upon which the fate of the realm, and the royal lineage, hangs. Hence the ancient tradition of royal gossip, which in the American republic has been replaced by a concern for the presidential penis.

    It’s not an accident that during the vicious presidential campaign of 1800 Thomas Jefferson accused John Adams of having a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.” Hermaphrodites are, of course, defined by their sexual organs.

    The Founding Fathers created a framework for American politics that resulted in a repeated focus on the the penises of aspiring presidents and presidents alike. Was Abraham Lincoln interested in sleeping with black women, as Stephen Douglas alleged? Did Grover Cleveland have a child outside of wedlock? Did John F. Kennedy have more mistresses than there are stars in the sky? Such questions have been the very fabric of American public life.

    Lyndon Johnson was always eager to let those around him know that he had an unusually large penis. Reviewing a biography of Johnson in the New York Review of Books, historian Marshall Frady noted:

    He early became fabled for a Rabelaisian earthiness, urinating in the parking lot of the House Office Building as the urge took him if a colleague came into a Capitol bathroom as he was finishing at the urinal there, he would sometimes swing around still holding his member, which he liked to call “Jumbo,” hooting once, “Have you ever seen anything as big as this?,” and shaking it in almost a brandishing manner as he began discoursing about some pending legislation. At the same time, he would oblige aides to take dictation standing in the door of his office bathroom while he went about emptying his bowels, as if in some alpha-male ritual assertion of his primacy. Even on the floors of the House and Senate, he would extravagantly rummage away at his groin, sometimes reaching his hand through a pocket and leaning with half-lifted leg for more thorough access.

    The December 2000 issue of Esquire.

    Thanks to various sex scandals, we have detailed descriptions of Bill Clinton’s penis. According to Robert Bennet, Clinton’s lawyer in the Paula Jones case, “In terms of size, shape, direction, whatever the devious mind wants to concoct, the president is a normal man. There are no blemishes, there are no moles, there are no growths.” The Independent offered a more prosaic account: “His erect penis is about five inches long, has the circumference of a quarter . and heads off at an angle, presumably rather like a finger bent at the joint.”

    Americans might be cringing at Marco Rubio’s nudge-nudge-wink-wink comment about Trump having “small hands” and Trump’s reassurances that both his hands and penis are in good shape. Yet this locker-room banter belongs to an old tradition running from Adams to Bill Clinton. The only way to stop American presidents from alluding to their penises is to elect a woman, which is likely to happen in November.


    Johnson represented Texas in the United States Senate from 1949 to 1961, and served as the Democratic leader in the Senate beginning in 1953. [1] He sought the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination, but was defeated by John F. Kennedy. Hoping to shore up support in the South and West, Kennedy asked Johnson to serve as his running mate, and Johnson agreed to join the ticket. In the 1960 presidential election, the Kennedy-Johnson ticket narrowly defeated the Republican ticket led by Vice President Richard Nixon. [2] Johnson played a frustrating role as a powerless vice president, rarely consulted except specific issues such as the space program. [3]

    Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, while riding in a presidential motorcade through Dallas. [4] Later that day, Johnson took the presidential oath of office aboard Air Force One. [5] Johnson was convinced of the need to make an immediate show of transition of power after the assassination to provide stability to a grieving nation. He and the Secret Service, not knowing whether the assassin acted alone or as part of a broader conspiracy, felt compelled to return rapidly to Washington, D.C. Johnson's rush to return to Washington was greeted by some with assertions that he was in too much haste to assume power. [4]

    Taking up Kennedy's legacy, Johnson declared that "no memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy's memory than the earliest possible passage of the Civil Rights Bill for which he fought so long." [6] The wave of national grief following the assassination gave enormous momentum to Johnson's legislative agenda. On November 29, 1963, Johnson issued an executive order renaming NASA's Launch Operations Center at Merritt Island, Florida, as the Kennedy Space Center, and the nearby launch facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as Cape Kennedy. [7]

    In response to the public demand for answers and the growing number of conspiracy theories, Johnson established a commission headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, known as the Warren Commission, to investigate Kennedy's assassination. [8] The commission conducted extensive research and hearings and unanimously concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination. [9] Since the commission's official report was released in September 1964, other federal and municipal investigations have been conducted, most of which support the conclusions reached in the Warren Commission report. Nonetheless, a significant percentage of Americans polled still indicate a belief in some sort of conspiracy. [10] [11]

    The Johnson Cabinet
    PresidentLyndon B. Johnson1963–1969
    Vice Presidentnone1963–1965
    Hubert Humphrey1965–1969
    Secretary of StateDean Rusk1963–1969
    Secretary of the TreasuryC. Douglas Dillon1963–1965
    Henry H. Fowler1965–1968
    Joseph W. Barr1968–1969
    Secretary of DefenseRobert McNamara1963–1968
    Clark Clifford1968–1969
    Attorney GeneralRobert F. Kennedy1963–1964
    Nicholas Katzenbach1964–1966
    Ramsey Clark1966–1969
    Postmaster GeneralJohn A. Gronouski1963–1965
    Larry O'Brien1965–1968
    W. Marvin Watson1968–1969
    Secretary of the InteriorStewart Udall1963–1969
    Secretary of AgricultureOrville Freeman1963–1969
    Secretary of CommerceLuther H. Hodges1963–1965
    John T. Connor1965–1967
    Alexander Trowbridge1967–1968
    C. R. Smith1968–1969
    Secretary of LaborW. Willard Wirtz1963–1969
    Secretary of Health,
    Education, and Welfare
    Anthony J. Celebrezze1963–1965
    John W. Gardner1965–1968
    Wilbur J. Cohen1968–1969
    Secretary of Housing and
    Urban Development
    Robert C. Weaver1966–1968
    Robert Coldwell Wood1969
    Secretary of TransportationAlan S. Boyd1967–1969
    Ambassador to the United NationsAdlai Stevenson II1963–1965
    Arthur Goldberg1965–1968
    George Ball1968
    James Russell Wiggins1968–1969

    When Johnson assumed office following President Kennedy's death, he asked the existing Cabinet to remain in office. [12] Despite his notoriously poor relationship with the new president, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy stayed on as Attorney General until September 1964, when he resigned to run for the U.S. Senate. [13] Four of the Kennedy cabinet members Johnson inherited—Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, Secretary of Agriculture Orville L. Freeman, and Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz—served until the end of Johnson's presidency. [14] Other Kennedy holdovers, including Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, left office during Johnson's tenure. After the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1965, Johnson appointed Robert C. Weaver as the head of that department, making Weaver the first African-American cabinet secretary in U.S. history. [15]

    Johnson concentrated decision-making in his greatly expanded White House staff. [16] [17] [18] Many of the most prominent Kennedy staff appointees, including Ted Sorensen and Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., left soon after Kennedy's death. Other Kennedy staffers, including National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy and Larry O'Brien, played important roles in the Johnson administration. [19] Johnson did not have an official White House Chief of Staff. Initially, his long-time administrative assistant Walter Jenkins presided over the day-to-day operations at the White House. [20] Bill Moyers, the youngest member of Johnson's staff, was hired at the outset of Johnson's presidency. Moyers quickly rose into the front ranks of the president's aides and acted informally as the president's chief of staff after the departure of Jenkins. [21] George Reedy, another long-serving aide, assumed the post of White House Press Secretary, [22] while Horace Busby, a valued aide to Johnson at various points in his political career, served primarily as a speech writer and political analyst. [23] Other notable Johnson staffers include Jack Valenti, George Christian, Joseph A. Califano Jr., Richard N. Goodwin, and W. Marvin Watson. [24]

    Vice presidency Edit

    The office of vice president remained vacant during Johnson's first (425-day partial) term, as at the time there was no way to fill a vacancy in the vice presidency. Johnson selected Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, a leading liberal, as his running mate in the 1964 election, and Humphrey served as vice president throughout Johnson's second term. [25]

    Led by Senator Birch Bayh and Representative Emanuel Celler, Congress, on July 5, 1965, approved an amendment to the Constitution addressing succession to the presidency and establishing procedures both for filling a vacancy in the office of the vice president, and for responding to presidential disabilities. It was ratified by the requisite number of states on February 10, 1967, becoming the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. [26]

    Johnson made two appointments to the Supreme Court while in office. Anticipating court challenges to his legislative measures, Johnson thought it would be advantageous to have a close confidant on the Supreme Court who could provide him with inside information, and chose prominent attorney and close friend Abe Fortas to fill that role. He created an opening on the court by convincing Justice Goldberg to become United States Ambassador to the United Nations. [27] When a second vacancy arose in 1967, Johnson appointed Solicitor General Thurgood Marshall to the Court, and Marshall became the first African American Supreme Court justice in U.S. history. [28] In 1968, Johnson nominated Fortas to succeed retiring Chief Justice Earl Warren and nominated Homer Thornberry to succeed Fortas as an associate justice. Fortas's nomination was defeated by senators opposed to his liberal views and close association with the president. [29] Marshall would be a consistent liberal voice on the Court until his retirement in 1991, but Fortas stepped down from the Supreme Court in 1969. [30]

    In addition to his Supreme Court appointments, Johnson appointed 40 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals, and 126 judges to the United States district courts. Here too he had a number of judicial appointment controversies, with one appellate and three district court nominees not being confirmed by the U.S. Senate before his presidency ended.

    Great Society domestic program Edit

    Despite his political prowess and previous service as Senate Majority Leader, Johnson had largely been sidelined in the Kennedy administration. He took office determined to secure the passage of Kennedy's unfinished domestic agenda, which, for the most part, had remained bottled-up in various congressional committees. [31] [32] Many of the liberal initiatives favored by Kennedy and Johnson had been blocked for decades by a conservative coalition of Republicans and Southern Democrats on the night Johnson became president, he asked an aide, "do you realize that every issue that is on my desk tonight was on my desk when I came to Congress in 1937?" [33] By early 1964, Johnson had begun to use the name "Great Society" to describe his domestic program the term was coined by Richard Goodwin, and drawn from Eric Goldman's observation that the title of Walter Lippman's book The Good Society best captured the totality of president's agenda. Johnson's Great Society program encompassed movements of urban renewal, modern transportation, clean environment, anti-poverty, healthcare reform, crime control, and educational reform. [34] To ensure the passage of his programs, Johnson placed an unprecedented emphasis on relations with Congress. [35]

    Taxation and budget Edit

    Federal finances and GDP during Johnson's presidency [36]
    Receipts Outlays Surplus/
    GDP Debt as a %
    of GDP [37]
    1964 112.6 118.5 –5.9 661.7 38.8
    1965 116.8 118.2 –1.4 709.3 36.8
    1966 130.8 134.5 –3.7 780.5 33.8
    1967 148.8 157.5 –8.6 836.5 31.9
    1968 153.0 178.1 –25.2 897.6 32.3
    1969 186.9 183.6 3.2 980.3 28.4
    Ref. [38] [39] [40]

    Influenced by the Keynesian school of economics, Kennedy had proposed a tax cut designed to stimulate consumer demand and lower unemployment. [41] Kennedy's bill was passed by the House, but faced opposition from Harry Byrd, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. [42] After Johnson took office and agreed to decrease the total federal budget to under $100 billion, Byrd dropped his opposition, clearing the way for the passage of the Revenue Act of 1964. [43] Signed into law on February 26, 1964, the act cut individual income tax rates across the board by approximately 20 percent, cut the top marginal tax rate from 91 to 70 percent, and slightly reduced corporate tax rates. [44] Passage of the long-stalled tax cut facilitated efforts to move ahead on civil rights legislation. [45]

    Despite a period of strong economic growth, [46] heavy spending on the Vietnam War and on domestic programs contributed to a rising budget deficit, as well as a period of inflation that would continue into the 1970s. [47] Between fiscal years 1966 and 1967, the budget deficit more than doubled to $8.6 billion, and it continued to grow in fiscal year 1968. [48] To counter this growing budget deficit, Johnson reluctantly signed a second tax bill, the Revenue and Expenditure Control Act of 1968, which included a mix of tax increases and spending cuts, producing a budget surplus for fiscal year 1969. [49] [50]

    Civil rights Edit

    Civil Rights Act of 1964 Edit

    Though a product of the South and a protege of segregationist Senator Richard Russell Jr., Johnson had long been personally sympathetic to the Civil Rights Movement. [51] By the time he took office as president, he had come to favor passage of the first major civil rights bill since the Reconstruction Era. [52] Kennedy had submitted a major civil rights bill that would ban segregation in public institutions, but it remained before Congress when Johnson assumed the presidency. [53] Johnson sought not only to win passage of the bill, but also to prevent Congress from stripping the most important provisions of the bill and passing another watered-down civil rights bill, as it had done in the 1950s. [54] He opened his January 8, 1964, State of the Union address with a public challenge to Congress, stating, "let this session of Congress be known as the session which did more for civil rights than the last hundred sessions combined." [42] Biographer Randall B. Woods writes that Johnson effectively used appeals to Judeo-Christian ethics to garner support for the civil rights law, stating that "LBJ wrapped white America in a moral straight jacket. How could individuals who fervently, continuously, and overwhelmingly identified themselves with a merciful and just God continue to condone racial discrimination, police brutality, and segregation?" [55]

    In order for Johnson's civil rights bill to reach the House floor for a vote, the president needed to find a way to circumvent Representative Howard W. Smith, the chairman of the House Rules Committee. Johnson and his allies convinced uncommitted Republicans and Democrats to support a discharge petition, which would force the bill onto the House floor. [42] [56] Facing the possibility of being bypassed by a discharge petition, the House Rules Committee approved the civil rights bill and moved it to the floor of the full House. [57] Possibly in an attempt to derail the bill, [58] Smith added an amendment to the bill that would ban gender discrimination in employment. [59] Despite the inclusion of the gender discrimination provision, the House passed the civil rights bill by a vote of 290–110 on February 10, 1964. [60] 152 Democrats and 136 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, while the majority of the opposition came from 88 Democrats representing states that had seceded during the Civil War. [61]

    Johnson convinced Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield to put the House bill directly into consideration by the full Senate, bypassing the Senate Judiciary Committee and its segregationist chairman James Eastland. [62] Since bottling up the civil rights bill in a committee was no longer an option, the anti-civil rights senators were left with the filibuster as their only remaining tool. Overcoming the filibuster required the support of at least 20 Republicans, who were growing less supportive of the bill due to the fact that the party's leading presidential contender, Senator Barry Goldwater, opposed the bill. [63] Johnson and the conservative Dirksen reached a compromise in which Dirksen agreed to support the bill, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's enforcement powers were weakened. [64] After months of debate, the Senate voted for closure in a 71–29 vote, narrowly clearing the 67-vote threshold then required to break filibusters. [65] Though most of the opposition came from Southern Democrats, Senator Goldwater and five other Republicans also voted against ending the filibuster. [65] On June 19, the Senate voted to 73–27 in favor of the bill, sending it to the president. [66]

    Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law on July 2. The act banned racial segregation in public accommodations, banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or religion, [a] and strengthened the federal government's power to investigate racial and gender employment discrimination. [67] Legend has it that, while signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Johnson told an aide, "We have lost the South for a generation," as he anticipated coming backlash from Southern whites against the Democratic Party. [68] The Civil Rights Act was later upheld by the Supreme Court in cases such as Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States. [42]

    Voting Rights Act Edit

    After the end of Reconstruction, most Southern states enacted laws designed to disenfranchise and marginalize black citizens from politics so far as practicable without violating the Fifteenth Amendment. Even with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the January 1964 ratification of the 24th Amendment, which banned poll taxes, many states continued to effectively disenfranchise African-Americans through mechanisms such as "white primaries" and literacy tests. [69] [70] Shortly after the 1964 elections, Johnson privately instructed Attorney General Katzenbach to draft "the goddamndest, toughest voting rights act that you can." [71] He did not, however, publicly push for the legislation at that time his advisers warned him of political costs for vigorously pursuing a voting rights bill so soon after Congress had passed the Civil Rights Act, and Johnson was concerned that championing voting rights would endanger his other Great Society reforms by angering Southern Democrats in Congress. [71]

    Soon after the 1964 election, civil rights organizations such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) began a push for federal action to protect the voting rights of racial minorities. [70] On March 7, 1965, these organizations began the Selma to Montgomery marches in which Selma residents proceeded to march to Alabama's capital, Montgomery, to highlight voting rights issues and present Governor George Wallace with their grievances. On the first march, demonstrators were stopped by state and county police, who shot tear gas into the crowd and trampled protesters. Televised footage of the scene, which became known as "Bloody Sunday", generated outrage across the country. [72] In response to the rapidly increasing political pressure upon him, Johnson decided to immediately send voting rights legislation to Congress, and to address the American people in a speech before a Joint session of Congress. He began:

    I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy. I urge every member of both parties, Americans of all religions and of all colors, from every section of this country, to join me in that cause. . Rarely in any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself. Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, or our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, and should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation. For, with a country as with a person, 'what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' [72] [73]

    Johnson and Dirksen established a strong bipartisan alliance in favor of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, precluding the possibility of a Senate filibuster defeating the bill. In August 1965, the House approved the bill by a vote of 333 to 85, and Senate passed the bill by a vote of 79 to 18. [74] The landmark legislation, which Johnson signed into law on August 6, 1965, outlawed discrimination in voting, thus allowing millions of Southern blacks to vote for the first time. In accordance with the act, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia were subjected to the procedure of preclearance in 1965. [75] The results were significant between the years of 1968 and 1980, the number of Southern black elected state and federal officeholders nearly doubled. [73] In Mississippi, the voter registration rate of African Americans rose from 6.7 percent to 59.8 percent between 1964 and 1967, a reflection of a broader increase in African-American voter registration rates. [76]

    Civil Rights Act of 1968 Edit

    In April 1966, Johnson submitted a bill to Congress that barred house owners from refusing to enter into agreements on the basis of race the bill immediately garnered opposition from many of the Northerners who had supported the last two major civil rights bills. [77] Though a version of the bill passed the House, it failed to win Senate approval, marking Johnson's first major legislative defeat. [78] The law gained new impetus after the April 4, 1968, assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and the civil unrest across the country following King's death. [79] With newly urgent attention from the Johnson administration and Democratic Speaker of the House John William McCormack, the bill passed Congress on April 10 and was quickly signed into law by Johnson. [79] [80] The Fair Housing Act, a component of the bill, outlawed several forms of housing discrimination and effectively allowed many African Americans to move to the suburbs. [81]

    War on Poverty Edit

    The 1962 publication of The Other America had helped to raise the profile of poverty as a public issue, and the Kennedy administration had begun formulating an anti-poverty initiative. [82] Johnson built on this initiative, and in his 1964 State of the Union Address stated, "this administration today, here and now, declares an unconditional war on poverty in America." [83] In April 1964, Johnson proposed the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which would create the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to oversee local Community Action Agencies charged with dispensing aid to those in poverty. [84] The act would also create the Job Corps, a work-training program, and AmeriCorps VISTA, a domestic version of the Peace Corps. [85] The bill reflected Johnson's belief that the government could best help the impoverished by providing them with economic opportunities. [86] Johnson was able to win the support of enough conservative Democrats to pass the bill, which he signed on August 20, 1964. [87] Under the leadership of Sargent Shriver, the OEO developed programs like Head Start and Neighborhood Legal Services. [88] Johnson also convinced Congress to approve the Food Stamp Act of 1964, which made permanent the food stamp pilot programs that had been initiated by President Kennedy. [89]

    In August 1965, Johnson signed the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 into law. The legislation, which he called "the single most important breakthrough" in federal housing policy since the 1920s, greatly expanded funding for existing federal housing programs, and added new programs to provide rent subsidies for the elderly and disabled housing rehabilitation grants to poor homeowners provisions for veterans to make very low down-payments to obtain mortgages new authority for families qualifying for public housing to be placed in empty private housing (along with subsidies to landlords) and matching grants to localities for the construction of water and sewer facilities, construction of community centers in low-income areas, and urban beautification. [90] [91] Four weeks later, on September 9, the president signed legislation establishing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. [92]

    Johnson took an additional step in the War on Poverty with an urban renewal effort, presenting to Congress in January 1966 the "Demonstration Cities Program." To be eligible a city would need to demonstrate its readiness to "arrest blight and decay and make substantial impact on the development of its entire city." Johnson requested an investment of $400 million per year totaling $2.4 billion. In late 1966, Congress passed a substantially reduced program costing $900 million, which Johnson later called the Model Cities Program. [93] In August 1968, Johnson passed an even larger funding package, designed for expanding aid to cities, the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968. The program extended upon the 1965 legislation, but created two new housing finance programs designed for moderate-income families, Section 235 and 236, and vastly expanded support for public housing and urban renewal.

    As a result of Johnson's War on Poverty, as well as a strong economy, the nationwide poverty rate fell from 20 percent in 1964 to 12 percent in 1974. [46] In the long run, statistical analysis shows that the Official Poverty Rate fell from 19.5 percent in 1963 to 12.3 percent in 2017. However, using a broader definition that includes cash income, taxes, and major in-kind transfers and inflation rates, the "Full-income Poverty Rate" based on President Johnson's standards fell from 19.5 percent to 2.3 percent over that period. [94]

    Education Edit

    Johnson, whose own ticket out of poverty was a public education in Texas, fervently believed that education was a cure for ignorance and poverty. [95] [ page range too broad ] Education funding in the 1960s was especially tight due to the demographic challenges posed by the large Baby Boomer generation, but Congress had repeatedly rejected increased federal financing for public schools. [96] Buoyed by his landslide victory in the 1964 election, in early 1965 Johnson proposed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which would double federal spending on education from $4 billion to $8 billion. [97] The bill quickly passed both houses of Congress by wide margins. [98] ESEA increased funding to all school districts, but directed more money going to districts that had large proportions of students from poor families. [99] The bill offered funding to parochial schools indirectly, but prevented school districts that practiced segregation from receiving federal funding. The federal share of education spending rose from 3 percent in 1958 to 10 percent in 1965, and continued to grow after 1965. [100] The act also contributed to a major increase in the pace of desegregation, as the share of Southern African-American students attending integrated schools rose from two percent in 1964 to 32 percent in 1968. [101]

    Johnson's second major education program was the Higher Education Act of 1965, which focused on funding for lower income students, including grants, work-study money, and government loans. College graduation rates boomed after the passage of the act, with the percentage of college graduates tripling from 1964 to 2013. [81] Johnson also signed a third important education bill in 1965, establishing the Head Start program to provide grants for preschools. [102]

    Medicare and Medicaid Edit

    Since 1957, many Democrats had advocated for the government to cover the cost of hospital visits for seniors, but the American Medical Association and fiscal conservatives opposed a government role in health insurance. [103] By 1965, half of Americans over the age of 65 did not have health insurance. [104] Johnson supported the passage of the King-Anderson Bill, which would establish a Medicare program for older patients administered by the Social Security Administration and financed by payroll taxes. [105] Wilbur Mills, chairman of the key House Ways and Means Committee, had long opposed such reforms, but the election of 1964 had defeated many allies of the AMA and shown that the public supported some version of public medical care. [106]

    Mills and Johnson administration official Wilbur J. Cohen crafted a three-part healthcare bill consisting of Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, and Medicaid. Medicare Part A covered up to ninety days of hospitalization (minus a deductible) for all Social Security recipients, Medicare Part B provided voluntary medical insurance to seniors for physician visits, and Medicaid established a program of state-provided health insurance for indigents. [107] The bill quickly won the approval of both houses of Congress, and Johnson signed the Social Security Amendments of 1965 into law on July 30, 1965. [108] Johnson gave the first two Medicare cards to former President Harry S. Truman and his wife Bess after signing the Medicare bill at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. [109] Although some doctors attempted to prevent the implementation of Medicare by boycotting it, it eventually became a widely accepted program. [110] By 1976, Medicare and Medicaid covered one-fifth of the population, but large segments of the United States still did not have medical insurance. [111]

    Environment Edit

    The 1962 publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson brought new attention to environmentalism and the danger that pollution posed to public health. [112] Johnson retained Kennedy's staunchly pro-environment Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, and signed into law numerous bills designed to protect the environment. [113] He signed into law the Clean Air Act of 1963, which had been proposed by Kennedy. The Clean Air Act set emission standards for stationary emitters of air pollutants and directed federal funding to air quality research. [114] In 1965, the act was amended by the Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act, which directed the federal government to establish and enforce national standards for controlling the emission of pollutants from new motor vehicles and engines. [115] In 1967, Johnson and Senator Senator Edmund Muskie led passage of the Air Quality Act of 1967, which increased federal subsidies for state and local pollution control programs. [116]

    In September 1964, Johnson signed a law establishing the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which aids the purchase of land used for federal and state parks. That same month, he signed the Wilderness Act, which established the National Wilderness Preservation System. [117] In 1965, First Lady Lady Bird Johnson took the lead in calling for passage of the Highway Beautification Act. [118] That same year, Muskie led passage of the Water Quality Act of 1965, though conservatives stripped a provision of the act that would have given the federal government the authority to set clean water standards. [119]

    Immigration Edit

    Johnson himself did not rank immigration as a high priority, but congressional Democrats, led by Emanuel Celler, passed the sweeping Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. The act repealed the National Origins Formula, which had restricted emigration from countries outside of Western Europe and the Western Hemisphere. The law did not greatly increase the number of immigrants who would be allowed into the country each year (approximately 300,000), but it did provide for a family reunification provision that allowed for some immigrants to enter the country regardless of the overall number of immigrants. Largely because of the family reunification provision, the overall level of immigration increased far above what had been expected. Those who wrote the law expected that it would lead to more immigration from Southern Europe and Eastern Europe, as well as relatively minor upticks in immigration from Asia and Africa. Contrary to these expectations, the main source of immigrants shifted away from Europe by 1976, more than half of legal immigrants came from Mexico, the Philippines, Korea, Cuba, Taiwan, India, or the Dominican Republic. [120] The percentage of foreign-born in the United States increased from 5 percent in 1965 to 14 percent in 2016. [121] Johnson also signed the Cuban Adjustment Act, which granted Cuban refugees an easier path to permanent residency and citizenship. [122]

    Transportation Edit

    During the mid-1960s, various consumer protection activists and safety experts began making the case to Congress and the American people that more needed to be done to make roads less dangerous and vehicles more safe. [123] This sentiment crystallized into conviction following the 1965 publication of Unsafe at Any Speed by Ralph Nader. Early in the following year, Congress held a series of highly publicized hearings regarding highway safety, and ultimately approved two bills—the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (NTMVSA) and the Highway Safety Act (HSA)—which the president signed into law on September 9, thus making the federal government responsible for setting and enforcing auto and road safety standards. [123] The HSA required each state to implement a safety program supporting driver education and improved licensing and auto inspection it also strengthened the existing National Driver Register operated by the Bureau of Public Roads. [124] The NTMVSA set federal motor vehicle safety standards, requiring safety features such as seat belts for every passenger, impact-absorbing steering wheels, rupture-resistant fuel tanks, and side-view mirrors. [123]

    In March 1966, Johnson asked Congress to establish a Cabinet-level department that would coordinate and manage federal transportation programs, provide leadership in the resolution of transportation problems, and develop national transportation policies and programs. [125] This new transportation department would bring together the Commerce Department's Office of Transportation, the Bureau of Public Roads, the Federal Aviation Agency, the Coast Guard, the Maritime Administration, the Civil Aeronautics Board, and the Interstate Commerce Commission. The bill passed both houses of Congress after some negotiation over navigation projects and maritime interests, and Johnson signed the Department of Transportation Act into law on October 15, 1966. [126] Altogether, 31 previously scattered agencies were brought under the Department of Transportation, in what was the biggest reorganization of the federal government since the National Security Act of 1947. [125]

    Domestic unrest Edit

    Anti-Vietnam War movement Edit

    The American public was generally supportive of the Johnson administration's rapid escalation of U.S. military involvement in South Vietnam in late 1964. [127] Johnson closely watched the public opinion polls, [128] which after 1964 generally showed that the public was consistently 40–50 percent hawkish (in favor of stronger military measures) and 10–25 percent dovish (in favor of negotiation and disengagement). Johnson quickly found himself pressed between hawks and doves as his aides told him, "both hawks and doves [are frustrated with the war] . and take it out on you." [129] Many anti-war activists identified as members of the "New Left," a broad political movement that distrusted both contemporary mainstream liberalism and Marxism. [130] Although other groups and individuals attacked the Vietnam War for various reasons, student activists emerged as the most vocal component of the anti-war movement. Membership of Students for a Democratic Society, a major New Left student group opposed to Johnson's foreign policy, tripled during 1965. [131]

    Despite campus protests, the war remained generally popular throughout 1965 and 1966. [132] Following the January 1967 publication of a photo-essay by William F. Pepper depicting some of the injuries inflicted on Vietnamese children by the U.S. bombing campaign, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out against the war publicly for the first time. [133] King and New Left activist Benjamin Spock led an Anti-Vietnam War march on April 15, 1967, in which 400,000 people walked from New York City's Central Park to the headquarters of the United Nations. [134] On June 23, 1967, while the president was addressing a Democratic fundraiser at The Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, police forcibly dispersed about 10,000 peaceful Vietnam War demonstrators marching in front of the hotel. [135] A Gallup poll in July 1967 showed that 52 percent of the country disapproved of Johnson's handling of the war, [136] and Johnson rarely campaigned in public after the Century Plaza Hotel incident. [137] Convinced that Communists had infiltrated the anti-war movement, Johnson authorized what became known as Operation CHAOS, an illegal CIA domestic spying operation, but the CIA did not find evidence of Communist influence in the anti-war movement. [138]

    Urban riots Edit

    The nation experienced a series of "long hot summers" of civil unrest during the Johnson years. They started in 1964 with riots in Harlem and the Watts district of Los Angeles both of which were fueled by accusations of police brutality against minority residents. [139] In 1967, in what is known as the "Long hot summer of 1967," 159 riots erupted across the United States. The 1967 Newark riots left 26 dead and 1,500 injured, while the 1967 Detroit riot resulted in 43 deaths, 2250 injuries, 4,000 arrests, and millions of dollars worth of property damage. [140] Whites and blacks took part in the riots, but most of the rioters were African Americans who objected to discrimination in housing, employment, and education. [141]

    The riots confounded many civil rights activists of both races due to the recent passage of major civil rights legislation. They also caused a backlash among Northern whites, many of whom stopped supporting civil rights causes. [142] Johnson formed an advisory commission, informally known as the Kerner Commission, to explore the causes behind the recurring outbreaks of urban civil disorder. [143] The commission's 1968 report suggested legislative measures to promote racial integration and alleviate poverty and concluded that the nation was "moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal." [144] The president, fixated on the Vietnam War and keenly aware of budgetary constraints, barely acknowledged the report. [140]

    One month after the release of the Kerner Commission's report, the April 4, 1968, assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. sparked another wave of violent protests in more than 130 cities across the country. [145] A few days later, in a candid comment made to press secretary George Christian concerning the endemic social unrest in the nation's cities, Johnson remarked, "What did you expect? I don't know why we're so surprised. When you put your foot on a man's neck and hold him down for three hundred years, and then you let him up, what's he going to do? He's going to knock your block off." [146] Congress, meanwhile, passed the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, which increased funding for law enforcement agencies and authorized wiretapping in certain situations. Johnson considered vetoing the bill, but the apparent popularity of the bill convinced him to sign it. [147]

    Other issues Edit

    Cultural initiatives Edit

    Johnson created a new role for the federal government in supporting the arts, humanities, and public broadcasting. To support humanists and artists, his administration set up the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. [148] In 1967, Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act to create educational television programs. [149] The government had set aside radio bands for educational non-profits in the 1950s, and the Federal Communications Commission under President Kennedy had awarded the first federal grants to educational television stations, but Johnson sought to create a vibrant public television that would promote local diversity as well as educational programs. [149] The legislation, which was based on the findings of the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television, created a decentralized network of public television stations. [149]

    Space program Edit

    While Johnson was in office, NASA conducted the Gemini manned space program, developed the Saturn V rocket, and prepared to make the first manned Apollo program flights. On January 27, 1967, the nation was stunned when the entire crew of Apollo 1—Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee—died in a cabin fire during a spacecraft test on the launch pad, stopping the program in its tracks. Rather than appointing another Warren-style commission, Johnson accepted Administrator James E. Webb's request that NASA be permitted to conduct its own investigation, holding itself accountable to Congress and the president. [150] The agency convened the Apollo 204 Accident Review Board to determine the cause of the fire, and both houses of Congress conducted their own committee inquiries scrutinizing NASA's investigation. Through it all, the president's support for NASA never wavered. [151] The program rebounded, and by the end of Johnson's term, two manned missions, Apollo 7 and Apollo 8 (the first to orbit the Moon), had been successfully completed. Six months after leaving office, Johnson attended the launch of Apollo 11, the first Moon landing mission. [152]

    Gun control Edit

    Following the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as mass shootings such as the one perpetrated by Charles Whitman, Johnson pushed for a major gun control law. [153] On October 22, 1968, Lyndon Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968, one of the largest and farthest-reaching federal gun control laws in American history. The measure prohibited convicted felons, drug users, and the mentally ill from purchasing handguns and raised record-keeping and licensing requirements. [154] Johnson had sought to require the licensing of gun owners and the registration of all firearms, but could not convince Congress to pass a stronger bill. [155]

    Tobacco advertising Edit

    In January 1964, Surgeon General Luther Terry issued a detailed report on smoking and lung cancer. The report "hit the country like a bombshell," Terry later said, becoming "front page news and a lead story on every radio and television station in the United States and many abroad." Terry's report prompted Congress to pass the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act in July 1965, requiring cigarette manufacturers to place a warning label on the side of cigarette packs stating: "Caution: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health." [156] [157]

    Johnson's key foreign policy advisors were Dean Rusk, George Ball, McGeorge Bundy, Walt Rostow, Robert McNamara and (at the end) Clark Clifford. [158] According to historian David Fromkin:

    Johnson was not a "hidden hand" president like Eisenhower, who appeared to let his cabinet make policy while in fact doing so him self. L.B.J. was what he seemed at the time: a president ill at ease in foreign policy who chose to rely on the judgment of the Kennedy team he inherited. When his advisers disagreed, would try to split the difference between them. He acted as a majority leader, reconciling diverse points of view within his own camp rather than making decisions on the merits of the issue. He wanted to quell dissent, and he was a master at it. [159]

    All historians agree that Vietnam dominated the administration's foreign policy and all agree the policy was a political disaster on the home front. Most agree that it was a diplomatic disaster, although some say that it was successful in avoiding the loss of more allies. Unexpectedly, North Vietnam after it conquered the South became a major adversary of China, stopping China's expansion to the south in the way that Washington had hoped in vain that South Vietnam would do. [160] In other areas the achievements were limited. Historian Jonathan Colman says that was because Vietnam dominated the attention the USSR was gaining military parity Washington's allies more becoming more independent (e.g. France) or were getting weaker (Britain) and the American economy was unable to meet Johnson's demands that it supply both guns and butter. [161]

    Cold War Edit

    Johnson took office during the Cold War, a prolonged state of very heavily armed tension between the United States and its allies on the one side and the Soviet Union and its allies on the other. Johnson was committed to containment policy that called upon the U.S. to block Communist expansion of the sort that was taking place in Vietnam, but he lacked Kennedy's knowledge and enthusiasm for foreign policy, and prioritized domestic reforms over major initiatives in foreign affairs. [162]

    Though actively engaged in containment in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, Johnson made it a priority to seek arms control deals with Moscow. [163] The Soviet Union also sought closer relations to the United States during the mid-to-late 1960s, partly due to the increasingly worse Sino-Soviet split. Johnson attempted to reduce tensions with China by easing restrictions on trade, but the beginning of China's Cultural Revolution ended hopes of a greater rapprochement. [164] Johnson was concerned with averting the possibility of nuclear war, and he sought to reduce tensions in Europe. [165] The Johnson administration pursued arms control agreements with the Soviet Union, signing the Outer Space Treaty and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and laid the foundation for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. [163] Johnson held a largely amicable meeting with Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin at the Glassboro Summit Conference in 1967, and in July 1968 the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in which each signatory agreed not to help other countries develop or acquire nuclear weapons. A planned nuclear disarmament summit between the United States and the Soviet Union was scuttled after Soviet forces violently suppressed the Prague Spring, an attempted democratization of Czechoslovakia. [166]

    Vietnam Edit

    Background and Gulf of Tonkin Resolution Edit

    After World War II, Vietnamese revolutionaries under Communist leader Ho Chi Minh sought to gain independence from France. The 1954 Geneva Agreements had partitioned French Indochina into the Kingdom of Laos, the Kingdom of Cambodia, South Vietnam, and North Vietnam, the latter of which was controlled by the Communist Viet Minh. The Vietnam War began in 1955 as North Vietnamese forces, with the support of the Soviet Union, China, and other Communist governments, sought to reunify Vietnam by taking control of South Vietnam. Under President Eisenhower, who sought to prevent the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia, the United States replaced France as the key patron of South Vietnam. [167] Eisenhower and Kennedy both dispatched U.S. military advisers to South Vietnam, and by the time Johnson took office, there were approximately 16,700 American military personnel in South Vietnam. [168] Despite some misgivings, Johnson ultimately came to support escalation of the U.S. role in Vietnam. [169] He feared that the fall of Vietnam would hurt Democratic credibility on national security issues, [170] [171] and he also wanted to carry on what he saw as Kennedy's policies. [172] Finally, like the vast majority of U.S. political leaders in the mid-1960s, he was determined to prevent the spread of Communism. [173]

    In August 1964, allegations arose from the U.S. military that two U.S. destroyers had been attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats in international waters 40 miles (64 km) from the Vietnamese coast in the Gulf of Tonkin naval communications and reports of the attack were contradictory. Although Johnson very much wanted to keep discussions about Vietnam out of the 1964 election campaign, he felt forced to respond to the supposed aggression by the Vietnamese, so he sought and obtained from the Congress the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7. The resolution gave congressional approval for use of military force by the commander-in-chief to repel future attacks and also to assist members of SEATO requesting assistance. Johnson later in the campaign expressed assurance that the primary U.S. goal remained the preservation of South Vietnamese independence through material and advice, as opposed to any U.S. offensive posture. [174]

    1965–1966 Edit

    Rejecting the advice of those who favored an immediate and dramatic escalation of the U.S. role in Vietnam, Johnson waited until early 1965 before authorizing a major bombing campaign of North Vietnam. [175] The subsequent eight-week bombing campaign had little apparent effect on the overall course of the war. [176] In a campaign known as Operation Rolling Thunder the U.S. would continue to bomb North Vietnam until late 1968, dropping approximately 800 tons of bombs over three and a half years. Operation Rolling Thunder [177] In March, McGeorge Bundy began to urge the escalation of U.S. ground forces, arguing that American air operations alone would not stop Hanoi's aggression against the South. Johnson responded by approving an increase in soldiers stationed in Vietnam and, most importantly, a change in mission from defensive to offensive operations. Even so, he defiantly continued to insist that this was not to be publicly represented as a change in existing policy. [178]

    In late July, Secretary of Defense McNamara proposed to increase the number of U.S. soldiers in Vietnam from 75,000 to over 200,000 in order to convince North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh to seek a negotiated peace. Bundy, Secretary of State Rusk, Ambassador Maxwell D. Taylor, General William Westmoreland, and General Earle Wheeler, the president's key advisers on Vietnam, all agreed with McNamara's recommendation. [179] After consulting with his principals, Johnson, desirous of a low profile, chose to announce at a press conference an increase to 125,000 troops, with additional forces to be sent later upon request. Privately, Johnson described himself at the time as boxed in by unpalatable choices. If he sent additional troops he would be attacked as an interventionist, and if he did not, he thought he risked being impeached. [180] Under the command of General Westmoreland, U.S. forces increasingly engaged in search and destroy operations against Communists operating in South Vietnam. [181] By October 1965, there were over 200,000 troops deployed in Vietnam. [182] Most of these soldiers were drafted after graduating from high school, and disproportionately came from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds. [183]

    Throughout 1965, few members of Congress or the administration openly criticized Johnson's handling of the war, though some, like George Ball, warned against expanding the U.S. presence in Vietnam. [184] In early 1966, Robert Kennedy harshly criticized Johnson's bombing campaign, stating that the U.S. may be headed "on a road from which there is no turning back, a road that leads to catastrophe for all mankind." [185] Soon thereafter, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Senator James William Fulbright, held televised hearings examining the administration's Vietnam policy. [186] Impatience with the president and doubts about his war strategy continued to grow on Capitol Hill. In June 1966, Senator Richard Russell, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, reflecting the coarsening of the national mood, declared it was time to "get it over or get out." [187]

    By late 1966, multiple sources began to report progress was being made against the North Vietnamese logistics and infrastructure Johnson was urged from every corner to begin peace discussions. The gap with Hanoi, however, was an unbridgeable demand on both sides for a unilateral end to bombing and withdrawal of forces. Westmoreland and McNamara then recommended a concerted program to promote pacification Johnson formally placed this effort under military control in October. [188] During this time Johnson grew more and more anxious about justifying war casualties, and talked of the need for decisive victory, despite the unpopularity of the cause. [189] By the end of 1966, it was clear that the air campaign and the pacification effort had both been ineffectual, and Johnson agreed to McNamara's new recommendation to add 70,000 troops in 1967 to the 400,000 previously committed. Heeding the CIA's recommendations, Johnson also increased bombings against North Vietnam. [190] The bombing escalation ended secret talks being held with North Vietnam, but U.S. leaders did not consider North Vietnamese intentions in those talks to be genuine. [191]

    1967 and the Tet Offensive Edit

    By the middle of 1967 nearly 70,000 Americans had been killed or wounded in the war, which was being commonly described in the news media and elsewhere as a "stalemate." [192] Nonetheless, Johnson agreed to an increase of 55,000 troops, bringing the total to 525,000. [193] In August, Johnson, with the Joint Chiefs' support, decided to expand the air campaign and exempted only Hanoi, Haiphong and a buffer zone with China from the target list. [194] Later that month McNamara told a Senate subcommittee that an expanded air campaign would not bring Hanoi to the peace table. The Joint Chiefs were astounded, and threatened mass resignation McNamara was summoned to the White House for a three-hour dressing down nevertheless, Johnson had received reports from the CIA confirming McNamara's analysis at least in part. In the meantime an election establishing a constitutional government in the South was concluded and provided hope for peace talks. [195]

    With the war arguably in a stalemate and in light of the widespread disapproval of the conflict, Johnson convened a group of veteran government foreign policy experts, informally known as "the Wise Men": Dean Acheson, Gen. Omar Bradley, George Ball, Mac Bundy, Arthur Dean, Douglas Dillon, Abe Fortas, Averell Harriman, Henry Cabot Lodge, Robert Murphy and Max Taylor. [196] They unanimously opposed leaving Vietnam, and encouraged Johnson to "stay the course." [197] Afterward, on November 17, in a nationally televised address, the president assured the American public, "We are inflicting greater losses than we're taking. We are making progress." Less than two weeks later, an emotional Robert McNamara announced his resignation as Defense Secretary. Behind closed doors, he had begun regularly expressing doubts over Johnson's war strategy, angering the president. He joined a growing list of Johnson's top aides who resigned over the war, including Bill Moyers, McGeorge Bundy, and George Ball. [185] [198]

    On January 30, 1968, the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese began the Tet offensive against South Vietnam's five largest cities. While the Tet offensive failed militarily, it was a psychological victory, definitively turning American public opinion against the war effort. In February 1968, influential news anchor Walter Cronkite expressed on the air that the conflict was deadlocked and that additional fighting would change nothing. Johnson reacted, saying "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America". [199] Indeed, demoralization about the war was everywhere 26 percent then approved of Johnson's handling of Vietnam, while 63 percent disapproved. [200]

    Post-Tet Offensive Edit

    The Tet Offensive convinced senior leaders of the Johnson administration, including the "Wise Men" and new Defense Secretary Clark Clifford, that further escalation of troop levels would not help bring an end to the war. Johnson was initially reluctant to follow this advice, but ultimately agreed to allow a partial bombing halt and to signal his willingness to engage in peace talks. [201] On March 31, 1968, Johnson announced that he would halt the bombing in North Vietnam, while at the same time announcing that he would not seek re-election. [202] He also escalated U.S. military operations in South Vietnam in order to consolidate control of as much of the countryside as possible before the onset of serious peace talks. [203] Talks began in Paris in May, but failed to yield any results. [204] Two of the major obstacles in negotiations were the unwillingness of the United States to allow the Viet Cong to take part in the South Vietnamese government, and the unwillingness of North Vietnam to recognize the legitimacy of South Vietnam. [205] In October 1968, when the parties came close to an agreement on a bombing halt, Republican presidential nominee Richard Nixon intervened with the South Vietnamese, promising better terms so as to delay a settlement on the issue until after the election. [206] Johnson sought a continuation of talks after the 1968 election, but the North Vietnamese argued about procedural matters until after Nixon took office. [207]

    Johnson once summed up his perspective of the Vietnam War as follows:

    I knew from the start that I was bound to be crucified either way I moved. If I left the woman I really loved‍—‌the Great Society‍—‌in order to get involved in that bitch of a war on the other side of the world, then I would lose everything at home. All my programs. But if I left that war and let the Communists take over South Vietnam, then I would be seen as a coward and my nation would be seen as an appeaser and we would both find it impossible to accomplish anything for anybody anywhere on the entire globe. [208]

    Middle East Edit

    Johnson's Middle Eastern policy relied on the "three pillars" of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. In the mid-1960s, concerns about the Israeli nuclear weapons program led to increasing tension between Israel and neighboring Arab states, especially Egypt. At the same time, the Palestine Liberation Organization launched terrorist attacks against Israel from bases in the West Bank and the Golan Heights. The Johnson administration attempted to mediate the conflict, but communicated through Fortas and others that it would not oppose Israeli military action. On June 5, 1967, Israel launched an attack on Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, beginning the Six-Day War. Israel quickly seized control of Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Sinai Peninsula. On June 8, the Israeli military attacked a U.S. vessel in what became known as the USS Liberty incident the reason for the attacks remains the subject of controversy, but the United States accepted an indemnity and an official apology from Israel for the attack. As Israeli forces closed in on the Syrian capital of Damascus, the Soviet Union threatened war if Israel did not agree to a cease fire. Johnson pressured the Israeli government into accepting a cease fire, and the war ended on June 11. In the aftermath of the war, the United States and Britain sponsored UN Resolution 242, which called on Israel to release the territory it conquered in the war. [209]

    Latin America Edit

    Under the direction of Assistant Secretary of State Thomas C. Mann, the United States placed an emphasis on Kennedy's Alliance for Progress, which provided economic aid to Latin America. Like Kennedy, Johnson sought to isolate Cuba, which was under the rule of the Soviet-aligned Fidel Castro. In 1965, the Dominican Civil War broke out between the government of President Donald Reid Cabral and supporters of former President Juan Bosch. [210] On the advice of Abe Fortas, Johnson dispatched over 20,000 Marines to the Dominican Republic. [211] Their role was not take sides but to evacuate American citizens and restore order. The U.S. also helped arrange an agreement providing for new elections. Johnson's use of force in ending the civil war alienated many in Latin America, and the region's importance to the administration receded as Johnson's foreign policy became increasingly dominated by the Vietnam War. [210]

    Britain and Western Europe Edit

    Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister from 1964 to 1970, believed in a strong "Special Relationship" with the United States and wanted to highlight his dealings with the White House to strengthen his own prestige as a statesman. President Lyndon Johnson disliked Wilson, and ignored any "special" relationship. [212] Johnson needed and asked for help to maintain American prestige, but Wilson offered only lukewarm verbal support for the Vietnam War. [213] Wilson and Johnson also differed sharply on British economic weakness and its declining status as a world power. Historian Jonathan Colman concludes it made for the most unsatisfactory "special" relationship in the 20th century. [214]

    As the economies of Western Europe recovered, European leaders increasingly sought to recast the alliance as a partnership of equals. This trend, along with Johnson's conciliatory policy towards the Soviet Union and his escalation of the Vietnam War, led to fractures within NATO. Johnson's request that NATO leaders send even token forces to South Vietnam were denied by leaders who lacked a strategic interest in the region. West Germany and especially France pursued independent foreign policies, and in 1966 French President Charles de Gaulle withdrew France from NATO. The withdrawal of France, along with West German and British defense cuts, substantially weakened NATO, but the alliance remained intact. Johnson refrained from criticizing de Gaulle and he resisted calls to reduce U.S. troop levels on the continent. [215]

    South Asia Edit

    Since 1954, the American alliance with Pakistan had caused India to move closer to the Soviet Union. Johnson hoped that a more evenhanded policy towards both countries would soften the tensions in South Asia and bring both nations closer to the United States. He ended the traditional American division of South Asia into 'allies' and 'neutrals' and sought to develop good relations with both India and Pakistan by supplying arms and money to both while maintaining neutrality in their intense border feuds. His policy pushed Pakistan closer to Communist China and India closer to the Soviet Union. [216] Johnson also started to cultivate warm personal relations with Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri of India and President Ayub Khan of Pakistan. However, he inflamed anti-American sentiments in both countries when he cancelled the visits of both leaders to Washington. [217]

    List of international trips Edit

    Johnson made eleven international trips to twenty countries during his presidency. [218] He flew 523,000 miles aboard Air Force One while in office. One of the most unusual international trips in presidential history occurred before Christmas in 1967. The President began the trip by going to the memorial service for Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt, who had disappeared in a swimming accident and was presumed drowned. The White House did not reveal in advance to the press that the President would make the first round-the-world presidential trip. The trip was 26,959 miles completed in only 112.5 hours (4.7 days). Air Force One crossed the equator twice, stopped in Travis Air Force Base, Calif., then Honolulu, Pago Pago, Canberra, Melbourne, Vietnam, Karachi and Rome.

    Dates Country Locations Details
    1 September 16, 1964 Canada Vancouver Informal visit. Met with Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in ceremonies related to the Columbia River Treaty.
    2 April 14–15, 1966 Mexico Mexico, D.F. Informal visit. Met with President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz.
    3 August 21–22, 1966 Canada Campobello Island,
    Laid cornerstone at Roosevelt Campobello International Park. Conferred informally with Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson.
    4 October 19–20, 1966 New Zealand Wellington State visit. Met with Prime Minister Keith Holyoake.
    October 20–23, 1966 Australia Canberra,
    State visit. Met with Governor-General Richard Casey and Prime Minister Harold Holt. Intended as a "thank-you" visit for the Australian government's solid support for the Vietnam War effort, the president and first lady were greeted by demonstrations from anti-war protesters. [219]
    October 24–26, 1966 Philippines Manila,
    Los Baños,
    Attended a summit with the heads of State and government of Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Vietnam, and Thailand. [220] The meeting ended with pronouncements to stand fast against communist aggression and to promote ideals of democracy and development in Vietnam and across Asia. [221]
    October 26, 1966 South Vietnam Cam Ranh Bay Visited U.S. military personnel.
    October 27–30, 1966 Thailand Bangkok State visit. Met with King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
    October 30–31, 1966 Malaysia Kuala Lumpur State visit. Met with Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman
    October 31 –
    November 2, 1966
    South Korea Seoul,
    State visit. Met with President Park Chung-hee and Prime Minister Chung Il-kwon. Addressed National Assembly.
    5 December 3, 1966 Mexico Ciudad Acuña Informal meeting with President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz. Inspected construction of Amistad Dam.
    6 April 11–14, 1967 Uruguay Punta del Este Summit meeting with Latin American heads of state.
    April 14, 1967 Suriname Paramaribo Refueling stop en route from Uruguay.
    7 April 23–26, 1967 West Germany Bonn Attended the funeral of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and conversed with various heads of state.
    8 May 25, 1967 Canada Montreal,
    Met with Governor General Roland Michener. Attended Expo 67. Conferred informally with Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson.
    9 October 28, 1967 Mexico Ciudad Juarez Attended transfer of El Chamizal from the U.S. to Mexico. Conferred with President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz.
    10 December 21–22, 1967 Australia Canberra Attended the funeral of Prime Minister Harold Holt. [219] Conferred with other attending heads of state.
    December 23, 1967 Thailand Khorat Visited U.S. military personnel.
    December 23, 1967 South Vietnam Cam Ranh Bay Visited U.S. military personnel. Addressing the troops, Johnson declares ". all the challenges have been met. The enemy is not beaten, but he knows that he has met his master in the field." [185]
    December 23, 1967 Pakistan Karachi Met with President Ayub Khan.
    December 23, 1967 Italy Rome Met with President Giuseppe Saragat and Prime Minister Aldo Moro.
    December 23, 1967 Vatican City Apostolic Palace Audience with Pope Paul VI.
    11 July 6–8, 1968 El Salvador San Salvador Attended the Conference of Presidents of the Central American Republics.
    July 8, 1968 Nicaragua Managua Informal visit. Met with President Anastasio Somoza Debayle.
    July 8, 1968 Costa Rica San José Informal visit. Met with President José Joaquín Trejos Fernández.
    July 8, 1968 Honduras San Pedro Sula Informal visit. Met with President Oswaldo López Arellano.
    July 8, 1968 Guatemala Guatemala City Informal visit. Met with President Julio César Méndez Montenegro.

    Election of 1964 Edit

    Segregationist Governor George C. Wallace entered several 1964 Democratic presidential primaries, taking a large share of the vote in several states before announcing that he would seek the presidency as an independent or member of a third party. Meanwhile, the Republican Party saw a contested series of primaries between conservative Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona and liberal Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York. Rockefeller had appeared to be the front-runner at one point, but a divorce badly damaged his candidacy. Goldwater emerged as the prohibitive favorite in June 1964, and he was formally nominated at the July 1964 Republican National Convention. After the nomination of Goldwater, Wallace heeded the requests of Southern conservatives to withdraw from the race. [222]

    The 1964 Democratic National Convention re-nominated Johnson and celebrated his accomplishments after less than one year in office. [223] Early in the campaign, Robert F. Kennedy was a widely popular choice to run as Johnson's vice presidential running mate, but Johnson and Kennedy had never liked one another. [224] Hubert Humphrey was ultimately selected as Johnson's running mate, as the Johnson campaign hoped that Humphrey would strengthen the ticket in the Midwest and industrial Northeast. [127] Johnson, knowing full well the degree of frustration inherent in the office of vice president, put Humphrey through a gauntlet of interviews to guarantee his absolute loyalty and having made the decision, he kept the announcement from the press until the last moment to maximize media speculation and coverage. [225] At the end of the Democratic Convention, polls showed Johnson in a comfortable position to obtain re-election. [226]

    Goldwater was perhaps the most conservative major party nominee since the passage of the New Deal, and Johnson and Goldwater both sought to portray the election as a choice between a liberal and a conservative. [227] Early in the 1964 presidential campaign, Goldwater had appeared to be a strong contender, as his support in the South threatened to flip Southern states to the Republican Party. However, Goldwater lost momentum as the campaign progressed. On September 7, 1964, Johnson's campaign managers broadcast the "Daisy ad," which successfully portrayed Goldwater as a dangerous warmonger. [228] The combination of an effective ad campaign, Goldwater's perceived extremism, the Goldwater campaign's poor organization, and Johnson's popularity led Democrats to a major election victory. [229] Johnson won the presidency by a landslide with 61.05 percent of the vote, the largest share of the popular vote won by any presidential candidate since the 1820 presidential election. In the Electoral College, Johnson defeated Goldwater by margin of 486 to 52. [230] Goldwater's only victories were in his home state of Arizona and five states in the Deep South. [231] In the concurrent congressional elections, the Democratic Party grew its majority in both the House and the Senate. [232] The huge election victory emboldened Johnson to propose liberal legislation in the 89th United States Congress. [233]

    Regardless of Goldwater's background (his father was born in the Judaic community but left it and became an Episcopalian), Johnson won a large majority of the Jewish vote. It was a liberal constituency that gave strong support to the Great Society. [234]

    Mid-term elections of 1966 Edit

    Johnson's coalition of big businessmen, trade unions, liberal intellectuals, white ethnic minorities, and blacks began to disintegrate before the 1966 election. Trade unions did not do as well as corporations during the Johnson years. Social welfare did poorly because Americans preferred reduction in taxes to social improvements. [ clarification needed ] The Great Society was further weakened by reactions against urban violence (by white ethnics) and against the Vietnam War (by intellectuals and students). [235] [ page range too broad ] Republicans campaigned on law and order concerns stemming from urban riots, Johnson's conduct of the Vietnam War, and on the sluggish economy they warned of looming inflation and growing federal deficits. [236]

    In the midterm elections, Democrats lost 47 seats in the House to the Republicans, and also three in the Senate. Nevertheless, the Democrats retained majority control of both House and Senate. The losses hit the party's liberal wing hardest, which in turn decreased Johnson's ability to push his agenda through Congress. [237] The elections also helped the Republicans rehabilitate their image after their disastrous 1964 campaign. [232]

    Election of 1968 Edit

    Presidential primaries Edit

    As he had served less than two years of President Kennedy's term, Johnson was constitutionally eligible for election to a second full term in the 1968 presidential election under the provisions of the 22nd Amendment. [238] [239] However, beginning in 1966, the press sensed a "credibility gap" between what Johnson was saying in press conferences and what was happening on the ground in Vietnam, which led to much less favorable coverage. [240] By year's end, the Democratic governor of Missouri, Warren E. Hearnes, warned that "frustration over Vietnam too much federal spending and. taxation no great public support for your Great Society programs and . public disenchantment with the civil rights programs" had eroded the president's standing. There were bright spots in January 1967, Johnson boasted that wages were the highest in history, unemployment was at a 13-year low, and corporate profits and farm incomes were greater than ever. Asked to explain why he was unpopular, Johnson responded, "I am a dominating personality, and when I get things done I don't always please all the people." [241]

    As the 1968 election approached, Johnson began to lose control of the Democratic Party, which was splitting into four factions. The first group consisted of Johnson and Humphrey, labor unions, and local party bosses (led by Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley). The second group consisted of antiwar students and intellectuals who coalesced behind Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota in an effort to "dump Johnson." The third group included Catholics, Hispanics and African Americans, who rallied behind Robert Kennedy. The fourth group consisted of traditionally segregationist white Southerners like George C. Wallace. [242] [ page needed ] Despite Johnson's growing unpopularity, conventional wisdom held that it would be impossible to deny re-nomination to a sitting president. [243] Nonetheless, McCarthy came in a surprisingly close second in the March 12 New Hampshire primary, the first Democratic primary in the 1968 campaign. McCarthy's victory was widely seen as indicative of the strength of the anti-war movement in the Democratic Party, and Kennedy joined the race on March 16. [128] At the end of a March 31 speech, Johnson shocked the nation when he announced he would not run for re-election by concluding with the line: "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president." [244] The next day, his approval ratings increased from 36 percent to 49 percent. [245]

    Historians have debated the factors that led to Johnson's surprise decision. Shesol says Johnson wanted out of the White House but also wanted vindication when the indicators turned negative he decided to leave. [246] Woods writes that Johnson realized he needed to leave in order for the nation to heal. [247] Dallek says that Johnson had no further domestic goals, and realized that his personality had eroded his popularity. His health was not good, and he was preoccupied with the Kennedy campaign his wife was pressing for his retirement and his base of support continued to shrink. Leaving the race would allow him to pose as a peacemaker. [248] Bennett, however, says Johnson "had been forced out of a reelection race in 1968 by outrage over his policy in Southeast Asia." [249] Johnson may also have hoped that the convention would ultimately choose to draft him back into the race. [250]

    Humphrey entered the race after Johnson's withdrawal, making the 1968 Democratic primaries a three-way contest between Humphrey, Kennedy, and McCarthy. Kennedy cut into McCarthy's liberal and anti-war base, while also winning the support of the poor and working class. He won a series of primary victories, but was assassinated in June by Sirhan Sirhan, an Arab nationalist. [251] With Johnson's support, Humphrey won the presidential nomination at the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention, held in Chicago in late August. The violent clashes in Chicago between anti-war protesters marred the convention. [252] After the convention, polls showed Humphrey losing the general election by 20 points. [253]

    General election Edit

    Humphrey faced two major opponents in the 1968 general election campaign. The Republicans nominated former Vice President Richard Nixon, and Nixon selected Governor Spiro Agnew as his running mate. Nixon attacked the Great Society and the Supreme Court, and indicated that he would bring peace in Vietnam. [254] With the support of Strom Thurmond and other Southern Republicans, Nixon pursued a Southern Strategy that focused on winning the support of Southern white voters who had been alienated by the Johnson administration's actions on civil rights. [255] Humphrey's other major challenger, George Wallace, ran as the candidate of the American Independent Party, receiving support from the Ku Klux Klan and far-right groups like the John Birch Society. Wallace's strongest backing came from pro-segregation Southerners, but he also appealed to white working class areas in the North with his "law and order" campaign. As a third party candidate, Wallace did not believe that he could win the presidency, but he hoped to win enough electoral votes to force a contingent election in the House of Representatives. [256]

    Humphrey's polling numbers improved after a September 30 speech in which he broke with Johnson's war policy, calling for an end to the bombing of North Vietnam. [253] In what was termed the October surprise, Johnson announced to the nation on October 31, 1968, that he had ordered a complete cessation of "all air, naval and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam", effective November 1, should the North Vietnamese government be willing to negotiate and citing progress with the Paris peace talks. However, Nixon won the election, narrowly edging Humphrey with a plurality of the popular vote and a majority of the electoral vote. [253] Wallace captured 13.5 percent of the popular vote and 46 electoral votes. Nixon capitalized on discontent over civil rights to break the Democratic Party's hold on the South. He also performed well in the states west of the Mississippi River, due in part to rising resentment against the federal government in those states. Both the South and the West would be important components of the GOP electoral coalition in subsequent elections. [257] Despite Nixon's victory in the 1968 presidential election, Democrats retained control of both houses of Congress. [258]

    Historians argue that Johnson's presidency marked the peak of modern liberalism in the United States after the New Deal era, and Johnson is ranked favorably by many historians. [259] [260] Johnson's presidency left a lasting mark on the United States, transforming the United States with the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid, various anti-poverty measures, environmental protections, educational funding, and other federal programs. [261] The civil rights legislation passed under Johnson are nearly-universally praised for their role in removing barriers to racial equality. [261] A 2018 poll of the American Political Science Association's Presidents and Executive Politics section ranked Johnson as the tenth best president. [262] A 2017 C-Span poll of historians also ranked Johnson as the tenth best president. [263] Johnson's handling of the Vietnam War remains broadly unpopular, and, much as it did during his tenure, often overshadows his domestic accomplishments. [264] [265] A 2006 poll of historians ranked Johnson's escalation of the Vietnam War as the third-worst mistake made by a sitting president. [266] Historian Kent Germany writes that, "the legacies of death, renewal, and opportunity attached to the Johnson administration are ironic, confusing, and uncertain. They will likely remain that way." [267] Germany explains:

    Lyndon B. Johnson - History

    President Lyndon B Johnson Biography

    President Lyndon B Johnson (LBJ) providing interesting, fun facts and info about the life biography of Lyndon B Johnson , President of the United States of America. Gain a fast overview of his life! Short biography with key dates containing his bio, information & trivia about his career, family, illnesses, major achievements and accomplishments. Perfect study guide for students, children and kids who want to learn about this famous American President. When was he born? What was his background? Who did he marry? How many children did he have? What did he look like – his physical description? When was Lyndon B Johnson inaugurated as President? What were the major events, achievements and accomplishments of the Lyndon B Johnson presidency? When did he die and what was the cause of his death? Our biography and video on Lyndon B Johnson answer the initial question – Who is Lyndon B Johnson, or who was Lyndon B Johnson?

    Lyndon B. Johnson

    “A Great Society” for the American people and their fellow men elsewhere was the vision of Lyndon B. Johnson. In his first years of office he obtained passage of one of the most extensive legislative programs in the Nation’s history. Maintaining collective security, he carried on the rapidly growing struggle to restrain Communist encroachment in Viet Nam.

    Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, in central Texas, not far from Johnson City, which his family had helped settle. He felt the pinch of rural poverty as he grew up, working his way through Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now known as Texas State University-San Marcos) he learned compassion for the poverty of others when he taught students of Mexican descent.

    In 1937 he campaigned successfully for the House of Representatives on a New Deal platform, effectively aided by his wife, the former Claudia “Lady Bird” Taylor, whom he had married in 1934.

    During World War II he served briefly in the Navy as a lieutenant commander, winning a Silver Star in the South Pacific. After six terms in the House, Johnson was elected to the Senate in 1948. In 1953, he became the youngest Minority Leader in Senate history, and the following year, when the Democrats won control, Majority Leader. With rare skill he obtained passage of a number of key Eisenhower measures.

    In the 1960 campaign, Johnson, as John F. Kennedy’s running mate, was elected Vice President. On November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson was sworn in as President.

    First he obtained enactment of the measures President Kennedy had been urging at the time of his death–a new civil rights bill and a tax cut. Next he urged the Nation “to build a great society, a place where the meaning of man’s life matches the marvels of man’s labor.” In 1964, Johnson won the Presidency with 61 percent of the vote and had the widest popular margin in American history–more than 15,000,000 votes.

    The Great Society program became Johnson’s agenda for Congress in January 1965: aid to education, attack on disease, Medicare, urban renewal, beautification, conservation, development of depressed regions, a wide-scale fight against poverty, control and prevention of crime and delinquency, removal of obstacles to the right to vote. Congress, at times augmenting or amending, rapidly enacted Johnson’s recommendations. Millions of elderly people found succor through the 1965 Medicare amendment to the Social Security Act.

    Under Johnson, the country made spectacular explorations of space in a program he had championed since its start. When three astronauts successfully orbited the moon in December 1968, Johnson congratulated them: “You’ve taken … all of us, all over the world, into a new era. . . . ”

    Nevertheless, two overriding crises had been gaining momentum since 1965. Despite the beginning of new antipoverty and anti-discrimination programs, unrest and rioting in black ghettos troubled the Nation. President Johnson steadily exerted his influence against segregation and on behalf of law and order, but there was no early solution.

    The other crisis arose from Viet Nam. Despite Johnson’s efforts to end Communist aggression and achieve a settlement, fighting continued. Controversy over the war had become acute by the end of March 1968, when he limited the bombing of North Viet Nam in order to initiate negotiations. At the same time, he startled the world by withdrawing as a candidate for re-election so that he might devote his full efforts, unimpeded by politics, to the quest for peace.

    When he left office, peace talks were under way he did not live to see them successful, but died suddenly of a heart attack at his Texas ranch on January 22, 1973.

    The Presidential biographies on are from “The Presidents of the United States of America,” by Frank Freidel and Hugh Sidey. Copyright 2006 by the White House Historical Association.

    For more information about President Johnson, please visit: Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum

    Oral histories available for download

    The files are provided in Adobe Acrobat format. In order to read these files you should download a free copy of the Adobe Acrobat Reader for your computer. Oral History transcripts are also available from the Library through the mail.

    ABELL, BESS. Assistant to Mrs. Johnson, Vice Presidential period, 1961-1963 Mrs. Johnson's Social Secretary, 1963-1969.

    ABRAM, MORRIS. Co-Chairman, Planning Session, White House Conference "To Fulfill These Rights," 1965 U.S. Representative, U.N. Commission on Human Rights, 1965-1968 Member, National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity, 1967-68 President, Field Foundation, 1965-82 President, Brandeis University, 1968-1970 Chairman, United Negro College Fund, 1970-79.

    AIKEN, GEORGE D. U.S. Senator, Vermont, 1941-1975.

    ALBERT, CARL B. U.S. Congressman, Oklahoma, 1947-1977 House Majority Whip, 1955-1962 House Majority Leader, 1962-1971 Speaker of the House, 1971-1977.

    ALBRIGHT, JACK. United States Army Commanding Officer, White House Communications Agency, 1965-1969.

    ALSOP, STEWART. Columnist Washington, D.C. Editor, Saturday Evening Post, 1962-1968 Columnist, Newsweek, 1968-1974.

    BALL, GEORGE W. Undersecretary of State, 1961-1966.

    BAYH, BIRCH. U.S. Senator from Indiana. 1963-81.

    BENTSEN, LLOYD M. U.S. Congressman, Texas, 1948-1955 Texas businessman, 1955-1971 U.S. Senate, Texas, 1971-1993 Democratic candidate for Vice President of the United States, 1988 Secretary of the Treasury, 1993-1994.

    BOGGS,HALE. U.S. Congressman, Louisiana, 1941-1942, 1947-1972 Majority Whip, U.S. House of Representatives, 1962-1971 Vice Chairman, Democratic National Committee, 1956-72 Member, President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 1963-1964.

    BRAESTRUP, PETER. Journalist Time magazine 1953-1957 New York Herald-Tribune, 1957-1959 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University 1959-1960 New York Times, 1960-1968 Saigon bureau chief, Washington Post, 1968-1973 Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 1973-1989 founded the Wilson Quarterly, 1976 Senior Editor and Director of Communications, Library of Congress, 1989-1997.

    BUNDY, McGEORGE. Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, 1961-1966.

    BUNKER, ELLSWORTH. Ambassador to the Organization of American States, 1964-1966 Ambassador-at-Large, 1964-1967 Ambassador to South Vietnam, 1967-1973.

    BUSBY, HORACE. Staff, Lyndon B. Johnson's House and Senate Offices, 1948-1950 Staff, U.S. Senate Armed Services Preparedness Subcommittee, 1950-1953 Consultant, U.S. Senate Armed Services Preparedness Subcommittee, 1957-58 Advisor to the Vice President, 1961-1963 Special Assistant to the President and Secretary of the Cabinet, 1963-1965.

    CAIN, JAMES C. President Johnson's personal physician, 1946-1973 head of section, gastroenterology and internal medicine, Mayo Clinic, 1966-1970.

    CATER, S. DOUGLASS. Educator, author and editor Special Assistant to the President, 1964-1968.

    CARPENTER, ELIZABETH Journalist, 1945-1960 Lyndon Johnson's Vice Presidential campaign staff, 1961 Administrative Assistant to Vice President Johnson, acting as speech writer and media adviser, 1961-1963 Press Secretary and Staff director to First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, 1963-1969 founder of the National Women's Political Caucus, 1970 co-chair of ERAmerica, 1975 Assistant Secretary of Education for Public Affairs under Jimmy Carter, 1979-1980.

    CHANCELLOR, JOHN. Television news journalist Host, NBC's Today Show, 1961-1962 NBC's Chief White House Correspondent, 1964-1965 Director, Voice of America, 1965-1967 Anchorman, NBC Nightly News, 1970-1982.

    CHIARODO, MARIE FEHMER. Secretary to Vice President Johnson, 1962-1963 Secretary to the President, 1963-1969.

    CHUDARS, JAMES E. Pilot of Sikorsky helicopter during Lyndon Johnson's 1948 campaign.

    CLARK, RAMSEY. U.S. Assistant Attorney General, 1961-1965 U.S. Deputy Attorney General, 1965-1966 U.S. Acting Attorney General, 1966-1967 U.S. Attorney General, 1967-1969.

    CLARK, TOM. U.S. Attorney General, 1945-1949 Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court, 1949-1967.

    CLEMENTS, EARLE C. U.S. Senator, Kentucky, 1945-1948, 1950-1957 Governor, Kentucky 1948-November 1950 Democratic Senate Whip 1953-1957 Director, United States Senate Democratic Campaign Committee 1957-1959

    CLIFFORD, CLARK M. Special Counsel to the President, 1946-1950 Senior Partner, Clifford & Miller, 1950-1968 President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, member, 1961-1968, Chairman, 1963-1968 Secretary of Defense, March 1968-January 1969 Senior Partner, Clifford & Warnke, 1969-1991.

    COLBY, WILLIAM E. First Secretary, American Embassy, Saigon, South Vietnam, 1959- 1962 Chief, Far East Division, CIA, 1962-1967 Director, Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support, South Vietnam, 1968-1971 Executive Director, CIA, 1971-1972 Deputy Director of Operations, CIA 1973 Director of Central Intelligence, 1973-1976.

    CONNALLY, JOHN. Secretary to LBJ, 1939-1941 President, General Manager and attorney for KVET radio station in Austin, 1946 Administrative Assistant to LBJ 1949 Secretary of the Navy, 1961 Governor of Texas, 1963-1968.

    DAVIS, GEORGE R. Minister, Christian Church Pastor, National City Christian Church, Washington, D.C. personal friend of President Johnson.

    DeLOACH, CARTHA D."DEKE." Assistant to the Director, FBI, 1965-1970.

    DIRKSEN, EVERETT McKINLEY. Senator, Illinois, 1951-1969 Senate Minority Leader, 1959-1969.

    EASTLAND, JAMES O. U.S. Senator, Mississippi, 1943-1979 Chairman, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 1955-1979.

    EVERS, CHARLES. Field Secretary, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 1963-1969 Mayor, Fayette, Mississippi, 1969-1981, 1985-1989.

    FARMER, JAMES. A founder and first National Chairman, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), 1942 National Chairman, CORE, 1942-1944, 1950, National Director, 1961-1966 Program Director, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 1959-1961 President, Center for Community Action Education, 1965- Assistant Secretary of Administration, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, 1969-1970.

    FISHER, ADRIAN. Deputy Director, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1961-1969.

    FORTAS, ABE. Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court, 1965-1969 long-time friend and adviser to LBJ.

    FOSTER, JOHN S., JR. Physicist Director, Defense Research and Engineering, Department of Defense, 1965-1969.

    FRANCIS, SHARON. Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior, 1961-1965 Staff Assistant for Beautification, Mrs. Johnson's staff, 1965-1969.

    FRANTZ, JOE B. History Professor, University of Texas at Austin, 1949-1986 Director, LBJ Oral History Project, 1967-1974 History Professor, Corpus Christi State University, 1986-1993.

    FREEMAN, ORVILLE. Governor of Minnesota, 1955-1961 Secretary of Agriculture, 1961-1969.

    GILPATRIC, ROSWELL L. Deputy Secretary of Defense, 1961-1964 Chairman, Task Force on Nuclear Proliferation, 1964.

    GOLDBERG, ARTHUR J. Secretary of Labor, 1961-1962 Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court, 1962-1965 U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, 1965-1968.

    GORDON, LINCOLN. U.S Ambassador to Brazil, 1961-1966 Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, 1966-1967 President, Johns Hopkins University, 1967-1971.

    GRAHAM, BILLY. Evangelist ordained to ministry, Southern Baptist Convention personal friend of President Johnson.

    HEBERT, F. EDWARD. U.S. Congressman, Louisiana, 1941-1977. Member, House Naval Affairs Committee, 1943-1946 Member, House Armed Services Committee, 1947-1977.

    HENRY, AARON E. President, Mississippi Conference of Branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 1960-1993 President, Council of Federated Organizations, Mississippi, 1962-1965 Chairman, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention which challenged the seating of the regular Mississippi delegation Member, Mississippi House of Representatives, 1980-1995.

    HIGGINBOTHAM, A. LEON, JR. Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission, 1962-1964 Judge, U.S. District Court, Eastern District, Pennsylvania, 1964-1977 Vice Chairman, National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, 1968-1969 Judge, U.S. District Court, Virgin Islands, 1969 Judge, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit, 1977-1993.

    HORNIG, DONALD F. Director, Office of Science and Technology, Executive Office of the President, 1964-1969.

    HUGHES, SARAH T. Judge, U.S. District Court, North District, Texas, 1961-1985 administered oath of office as President to Lyndon Baines Johnson on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas.

    HUMPHREY, HUBERT H., JR. U.S. Senator, Minnesota, 1949-65, 1971-1978 Vice President of the United States, 1965-1969.

    IKARD, FRANK. U.S. Congressman, Texas, 1951-1961 American Petroleum Institute, Vice President, 1961-1963, President, 1963-1979.

    JOHNSON, CLAUDIA "LADY BIRD". 2/22/1912-7/11/2007 wife of Lyndon B. Johnson 1934-1973 owner, KTBC radio and television stations 1943-1973 member of the Senate Ladies Club wife of Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson 1961-1963 First Lady of the United States 1963-1969 honorary chairman, Head Start 1965-1969 advocate for beautification and environmental issues University of Texas System Board of Regents 1971-1977 Medal of Freedom 1977 Congressional Gold Medal 1988 founder, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center author.

    JORDAN, BARBARA. First female black senator elected to the Texas State Senate State Senator, Texas Senate, 1966-1972 U.S. Congresswoman, Texas, 1973-1978.

    KATZENBACH, NICHOLAS deB. Assistant Attorney General, 1961-1962 Deputy Attorney General, 1962-1964 Acting and later U.S. Attorney General, 1964-1966 Under Secretary of State, 1966-1969.

    KRIM, ARTHUR B. Chairman, United Artists Corporation, 1951-1978 Founder and Chairman, Orion Pictures, 1978-1994 Chairman, President's Club, 1962-1968 Finance Chairman, Democratic National Finance Committee, 1966-1968 Board Member, Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, 1969-1994.

    KUCHEL, THOMAS H. U.S. Senator, California, 1953-1969 Senate Republican Whip 1959-1969.

    LEVINSON, LAWRENCE E. Attorney Counsel in the Offices of Secretary of the Air Force, 1957-1963 Special Assignments, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1963-1965 Deputy Special Counsel to the President, 1965-1968.

    LEINSDORF, ERICH. Orchestra conductor Music Director, Boston Symphony Orchestra, 1962-1969 Austrian refugee aided by Lyndon Johnson in 1938.

    MALECHEK SCOTT, JEWELL. Long time friend of the Johnsons Secretary to LBJ, 1969-1973.

    MANN, THOMAS C. U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, 1961-1963 Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, 1963-1965 Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs, 1965- 1966.

    MARSHALL, BURKE. U.S. Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice, 1961-1965 Chairman, National Advisory Commission on Selective Service, 1966-1967.

    MARSHALL, THURGOOD. Special Counsel, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 1938-1950 Director and Counsel, Legal Defense and Educational Fund, NAACP, 1940-1961 U.S. Circuit Judge for 2d Judicial Circuit, 1961-1965 U.S. Solicitor General, 1965-1967 Justice, U.S. Supreme Court, 1967-1991.

    MARTIN, LOUIS. Newspaper executive Deputy Chairman, Democratic National Committee, 1961-1969.

    MASHMAN, JOE E. Pilot of Bell helicopter in Lyndon Johnson's 1948 campaign long-time friend of President Johnson.

    McNAMARA, ROBERT S. Secretary of Defense, 1961-1968 President, World Bank, 1968-1981.

    McPHERSON, HARRY C., JR. Assistant General Counsel, Senate Democratic Policy Committee, 1956-1959 Associate Counsel, 1959-1961 General Counsel, 1961-1963 Deputy Under Secretary of the Army for International Affairs, 1963-1964 Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, 1964-1965 Special Assistant and Counsel to the President, 1965-1966 Special Counsel to the President, 1966-1969.

    MILLS, WILBUR D. U.S. Congressman, Arkansas, 1939-1977 Chairman, House Ways and Means Committee, 1958-1974.

    MITCHELL, CLARENCE M., JR. Director, Washington Bureau, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 1950-1978.

    O'BRIEN, LAWRENCE F. Director, John F. Kennedy for President Campaign, 1959-1960 Special Assistant to the President for Congressional Relations, 1961-1965 Postmaster General, 1965-1968 Chairman, Democratic National Committee, 1968, 1970-72 Commissioner, National Basketball Association, 1975-1984.

    PEARSON, DREW. Newspaper correspondent and columnist author of the nationally syndicated newspaper column, "The Washington Merry-Go-Round," 1932-1969.

    RANDOLPH, A. PHILIP. Organizer, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, 1925 President, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, 1929-1968

    READ, BENJAMIN H. Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Joseph Clark of Pennsylvania, 1958-1963 Special Assistant to the Secretary of State and Executive Secretary of the Department of State, 1963-1969.

    REEDY, GEORGE. Staff consultant, Armed Services Preparedness Subcommittee, U.S. Senate, 1951-1952 Staff Director, Minority Policy Committee, 1953-1954 Staff Director, Majority Policy Committee, 1955-1960 Special Assistant Vice President Johnson, 1961-1963 Press Secretary for President Johnson, 1964-1966 White House Aide, 1968.

    ROSENBLATT, PETER. Attorney Deputy Assistant General Counsel, Agency for International Development, 1966 White House staff, 1966-1968 U.S. Post Office Department, 1968-1969.

    ROSTOW, WALT W. Chariman, State Department Policy Planning Council, December 1961-April 1966 Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, April 1966-January 1969.

    RUSK, DEAN. Secretary of State, 1961-1969.

    SCHNEIDER, WUNIBALD W. Roman Catholic priest Pastor, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Stonewall, Texas personal friend of President Johnson.

    SMITH, BROMLEY. Executive Secretary, National Security Council, 1961-69.

    TERRITO, DOROTHY. Library of Congress employee White House Staff Assistant to President Johnson, 1963-1969 White House Special Projects, 1968 Special Assistant to the Director, LBJ Library and Museum, 1970-1976 LBJ Foundation consultant, 1976-1990

    THOMAS, HELEN. Journalist White House Press reporter, 1961-present first woman to be White House Bureau Chief for a news wire service.

    THOMAS, MRS. ALBERT (LERA). U.S. Congresswoman, Texas, March 26, 1966 to January 3, 1967 elected to Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of her husband, Albert Thomas, who served from 1937 to 1966.

    TOWER, JOHN G. U.S. Senator, Texas 1961-1985.

    UDALL, STEWART L. U.S. Congressman, Arizona, 1955-1960 Secretary of the Interior, 1961-1969.

    VANCE, CYRUS R. Special Counsel to the Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee, Senate Armed Services Committee, 1957-1960 General Counsel, Department of Defense, 1961-1962 Secretary of the Army, 1962-1963 Deputy Secretary of Defense, 1964-1967 President Johnson's representative in Detroit, Michigan, during the Detroit Riots, 1967 Special Representative of the President to Cyprus, 1967, to Korea, 1968 U.S. Negotiator, Paris Peace Talks on Vietnam, 1968-1969.

    WARREN, EARL. Chief Justice of the United States, 1953-1969 Chairman, President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy (Warren Commission), 1963-1964.

    WASSERMAN, LEW. President of MCA/Universal Studios 1946-1995 Universal Studios Chairman Emeritus, 1995-1998 Universal Studios Consultant, 1995-2002.

    WEBB, JAMES E. Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1961-1968.

    WHITE, WILLIAM S. Reporter, New York Times, 1945-1958 nationally syndicated columnist, 1958-73 awarded Pulitzer Prize in 1955 for The Taft Story, a biography of Robert Taft author of Citadel: The Story of the U.S. Senate, 1956 author of The Professional: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964.

    WILKINS, ROY. Executive Secretary, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 1955-1964 Executive Director, NAACP, 1965-1977.

    Head Start History

    In January of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared The War on Poverty in his State of the Union speech. Shortly thereafter, Sargent Shriver took the lead in assembling a panel of experts to develop a comprehensive child development program that would help communities meet the needs of disadvantaged preschool children. Among these experts were Dr. Robert Cooke, a pediatrician at John Hopkins University, and Dr. Edward Zigler, a professor of psychology and director of the Child Study Center at Yale University.

    Part of the government's thinking on poverty was influenced by new research on the effects of poverty, as well as on the impacts of education. This research indicated an obligation to help disadvantaged groups, compensating for inequality in social or economic conditions. Head Start was designed to help break the cycle of poverty, providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs. A key tenet of the program established that it be culturally responsive to the communities served, and that the communities have an investment in its success through the contribution of volunteer hours and other donations as nonfederal share.

    In the summers of 1965 and 1966, the Office of Economic Opportunity launched an eight-week Project Head Start. In 1969, under the Nixon administration, Head Start was transferred from the Office of Economic Opportunity to the Office of Child Development in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Dr. Edward Zigler, who had served on the planning committee to launch Project Head Start, was appointed Director of the Office of Child Development. In 1977, under the Carter administration, Head Start began bilingual and bicultural programs in about 21 states. Seven years later, in October 1984 under the Reagan administration, Head Start's grant budget exceeded $1 billion. In September of 1995, under the Clinton administration, the first Early Head Start grants were given and in October of 1998, Head Start was reauthorized to expand to full-day and full-year services.

    Head Start was most recently reauthorized again in 2007, under the George W. Bush administration, with several provisions to strengthen Head Start quality. These include alignment of Head Start school readiness goals with state early learning standards, higher qualifications for the Head Start teaching workforce, State Advisory Councils on Early Care and Education in every state, and increased program monitoring, including a review of child outcomes and annual financial audits. The Head Start training and technical assistance system was redesigned to support programs through six National Centers and a state-based system to ensure success.

    The statute also included a provision that regulations be promulgated to move programs from an indefinite project period to a five-year grant cycle. Programs would be required to demonstrate they are of high quality or a competitive grant opportunity would be made available within the community. In 2009, under the Obama administration, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act added more than 64,000 slots for Early Head Start and Head Start programs.

    Johnson, Lyndon B. (1908 – 1973)

    Introduction: In the 1960 campaign, Lyndon B. Johnson was elected Vice President as John F. Kennedy’s running mate. On November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson was sworn in as the 36th United States President, with a vision to build “A Great Society” for the American people. In his first years of office he obtained passage of one of the most extensive legislative programs in the Nation’s history. Maintaining collective security, he carried on the rapidly growing struggle to restrain Communist encroachment in Viet Nam.

    First he obtained enactment of the measures President Kennedy had been urging at the time of his death–a new civil rights bill and a tax cut. Next he urged the Nation “to build a great society, a place where the meaning of man’s life matches the marvels of man’s labor.” In 1964, Johnson won the Presidency with 61 percent of the vote and had the widest popular margin in American history–more than 15,000,000 votes.

    The Great Society program became Johnson’s agenda for Congress in January 1965: aid to education, attack on disease, Medicare, urban renewal, beautification, conservation, development of depressed regions, a wide-scale fight against poverty, control and prevention of crime and delinquency, removal of obstacles to the right to vote. Congress, at times augmenting or amending, rapidly enacted Johnson’s recommendations. Millions of elderly people found succor through the 1965 Medicare amendment to the Social Security Act.

    The Boyhood That Shaped LBJ

    Lyndon Baines Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, in central Texas, not far from Johnson City, which his family had helped settle. Growing up, he felt the sting of rural poverty, working his way through Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now known as Texas State University), and learning compassion for the poverty and discrimination of others when he taught students of Mexican descent in Cotulla, Texas.

    In 1937 he campaigned successfully for the House of Representatives on a New Deal platform, effectively aided by his wife, the former Claudia “Lady Bird” Taylor, whom he had married after a whirlwind courtship in 1934.

    During World War II, Lyndon Johnson served briefly in the Navy as a lieutenant commander, receiving a Silver Star in the South Pacific. After six terms in the House, he was elected to the Senate in 1948. In 1953, he became the youngest Minority Leader in Senate history, and the following year, when the Democrats won control, Majority Leader. With rare legislative skill he obtained passage of a number of measures during the Eisenhower Administration. He became, by many accounts, the most powerful Majority Leader of the twentieth century.

    In the 1960 campaign, Johnson, as John F. Kennedy’s running mate, was elected Vice President. On November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Lyndon Baines Johnson became the 36 th President.

    “Let us continue…”

    Shortly after assuming the Presidency, Johnson used his legislative prowess to pass two bills that Kennedy had endorsed but was unable to get through Congress at the time of his death: a tax cut and a civil rights act. The latter, which would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964, became the first effective civil rights law since Reconstruction, outlawing segregation and discrimination throughout American society. Next he enacted his own agenda, urging the Nation “to build a great society, a place where the meaning of man’s life matches the marvels of man’s labor.” In 1964, with Hubert Humphrey as his running mate, Johnson won the Presidency against Republican challenger, Barry Goldwater, garnering 61 percent of the vote and had the widest popular margin in American history—more than 15,000,000 votes.

    The War Against Poverty, Public Broadcasting, Medicare, and more

    President Johnson used his 1964 mandate to bring his vision for a Great Society to fruition in 1965, pushing forward a sweeping legislative agenda that would become one of the most ambitious and far-reaching in the nation’s history. Congress, at times augmenting or amending Johnson’s legislation, rapidly enacted his recommendations. As a result, his administration passed more than sixty education bills, initiated a wide-scale fight against poverty, saw federal support of the arts and humanities, championed urban renewal, environmental beautification and conservation, enabled development of depressed regions and pushed for control and prevention of crime and delinquency. Millions of elderly people were also given the means for proper medical care through the 1965 Medicare Amendment to the Social Security Act.

    Johnson’s Great Society also included the continued advancement of civil rights. He realized the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which removed poll taxes and tests that represented an obstacle to the ballot among many Americans of color, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968, preventing discrimination in housing sales and rentals. Additionally, he appointed the first African American cabinet member and U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall.

    Mankind Walks on the Moon

    Under Johnson, the U.S. also made impressive gains in its space program, which he had championed since its start. When three American astronauts successfully orbited the moon on Apollo 8 in December 1968, becoming the first to leave earth’s orbit, Johnson congratulated them: “You’ve taken…all of us, all over the world, into a new era.” The mission set the stage for the Apollo 11 mission seven months later, which saw men walk on the moon for the first time.

    Nevertheless, two overriding crises had been gaining momentum since 1965. Despite the beginning of new antipoverty and anti-discrimination programs, unrest and rioting in black ghettos troubled the Nation. President Johnson steadily exerted his influence against segregation and on behalf of law and order, but there was no early solution.

    The other crisis arose from the U.S. war in Vietnam, which the U.S. had committed to under Eisenhower and Kennedy. Despite Johnson’s efforts to end Communist aggression by increasing U.S. troop involvement to leverage a peaceful settlement, fighting continued. Controversy and protests over the war—and Johnson—had become acute by the end of March 1968, when Johnson limited the bombing of North Vietnam in order to initiate peace negotiations. At the same time, he startled the world by withdrawing as a candidate for re-election so that he might devote his full efforts, unimpeded by politics, to the quest to strike an honorable peace.

    “I want to be the President who helped to end war among the brothers of this earth.”

    When Johnson left office, peace talks were underway. He died suddenly of a heart attack at his Texas ranch on January 22, 1973. The day before his death, he had learned that peace was at hand in Vietnam.

    Today Americans continue to feel the impact of Johnson’s legislative legacy in nearly every aspect of American life.