The Six Foot Three Inches Texan

President Lyndon Baines Johnson's Time in Office

Election of Johnson

Takes Over Kennedy:
  • Sworn in quickly on airplane back to Washington with Kennedy's body following his death on November 22, 1963
  • Claimed "No memorial 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."
  • Pushed Kennedy's stalled tax bill through Congress - added provisions for billion-dollar "War on Poverty"


Election of 1964:

  • Democratic Party candidate: Lyndon Baines Johnson
  • Republican Party candidate: Barry Goldwater
  • Goldwater attacked federal income tax, Social Security, Tennessee Valley Authority, civil rights legislation, nuclear-test ban treaty, and Great Society
  • Johnson appeared statesmen by seizing upon Tonkin Gulf episode back in August
  • Great victory: 43,192,566 votes compared to 27,178,188 votes for Goldwater; 486 electoral votes to 52 for Goldwater

The Great Society

  • Vision he shared at all times
  • New Deal-style economic and social welfare actions
  • Demonstrated commitment to care for Americans
  • March 16, 1964: secret message sent to Congress to declare "war on poverty"
  • Proposed $962 million program - becomes $3 million in 1966 - to relieve poverty-stricken areas
  • Also strove for programs to provide jobs, medical assistance, education, and civil rights
  • Created Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) to provide volunteers to help underprivileged areas
  • Medicare for seniors, Medicaid for poor established
  • Head Start for preschoolers established as well as job corps
  • Initiated programs to protect consumers and safeguard environment
  • Also initiated food stamp programs
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development created
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed

24th Amendment

  • Ratified January 1964
  • Abolished poll tax in federal elections
  • Blacks joined white civil rights workers in voter-registration drive in Mississippi during "Freedom Summer" of 1964
  • Late June 1964: 1 black, 2 white civil rights workers disappeared in Mississippi
  • Bodies found badly beaten and buried in eastern dam
  • FBI arrested 21 Mississippians, including local sheriff
  • White juries refused to convict the whites in connection with the murders

Tonkin Gulf Resolution and Vietnam War

Tonkin Gulf Resolution:

  • U.S. Navy ships had been working with South Vietnamese gunboats in raids along North Vietnam
  • 2/3 American destroyers allegedly fired upon by North Vietnamese August 2 & 4
  • Johnson ordered retaliatory air raid against North Vietnamese bases, claiming he sought "no wider war"
  • Incident used to gain passage of Tonkin Gulf Resolution - it passed
  • Passed August 7, 1964


Vietnam War:

  • Expanded presence by signing secret National Security Council "findings" permitting U.S. cover operation sin North Vietnam
  • After attacks on U.S. vessels, authorized limited bombing raids on North Vietnam
  • Passed Tonkin Gulf Resolution as result on August 7, 1964
  • Given "blank check" from Congress to do whatever necessary to end war
  • First bombing raids on North Vietnam began later that year
  • End of 1965: 184,000 troops in Vietnam
  • 1966: 385,000 troops
  • Americans grew distraught with U.S. policy
  • Anti-war demonstrations, picket lines, and teach ins were demonstrated by Americans
  • 1966: Senator J. William Fullbright opens Congressional hearings to debate need of continued presence in Vietnam
  • 1967: 485,000 troops in Vietnam
  • Promise made that victory for America imminent
  • North Vietnamese siege of Khesanh and National Liberation Front's "Tet Offensive" proved U.S. far from victory
  • 1968: Bombings ended, withdraw of troops, and agreement to peace talks in Paris

Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed promptly after entering office following Kennedy which created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
  • 1965: Determined federal contractors take "affirmative action" against discrimination
  • August 1964: Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party denied seat in Democratic convention
  • Early 1965: Martin Luther King, Jr. resumed voter-registration campaign in Selma, Alabama
  • State troopers assaulted King and his demonstrators on their peaceful march to Montgomery
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965 speedily pushed through Congress and signed into law August 6

1968-A "Watershed" Year

  • January 10: 10,000 passenger U.S. airplane lost over Vietnam
  • January 17: Johnson delivers State of Union address
  • January 31: Tet Offensive launched by North Vietnam
  • March 22: Czechoslovakia Antonin Novotny resigns Czech presidency - next day leaders of Warsaw Pact meet at Dresden, East Germany
  • April 4: Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated and riots break out in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Newark, and Washington D.C.
  • June 3: Andy Warhol shot in New York City loft by struggling actress and writer, Valerie Solanis
  • October 11: Apollo 7 launched from Florida for eleven day journey to orbit Earth 163 times
  • October 31: Johnson announces total halt to U.S. bombing in North Vietnam
  • December 11: Unemployment rate is 3,3 percent-lowest in fifteen years
  • December 21; Appollo 8 is launched and begins U.S.' first mission to orbit Moon