Lyndon B. Johnson

36th president

How he became President

After the death of Kennedy-November 22, 1963 Johnson took office

Election of 1964

· Johnson was nominated by the Democrats

· Republicans nominated Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona

· Goldwater attacked-federal income tax, Social Security system, TVA, civil rights legislation, the nuclear test-ban treaty, and the Great Society

o Democrats portrayed Goldwater as a trigger cowboy who would not hesitate to wage war

· Johnson ordered a “limited” retaliatory air raid against the North Vietnamese bases

· he sought “no wider war”—the president not was given power to use further force in Southeast Asia; The Tonkin Gulf Resolution was the name given to the powers (61%)

· Johnson Won the election November 1964

· voters supported Johnson because of their fondness of the Kennedy legacy, faith in Great Society promises, and fear of Goldwater

The Great Society

Johnson’s domestic policy "Great Society" - a sweeping set of New Dealish economic and welfare measures aimed at transforming the American way of life.

· Johnson’s victory temporarily smashed the conservative congressional coalition of southern Democrats and northern Republicans

· Congress poured out a flood of legislationà promise of social reform

· Escalating the War on Povertyà Congress doubled the appropriation of the Office of Economic Opportunity to $2 billion and granted $1 to rebuild Appalachia

· Johnson created 2 new cabinet offices

1. Department of Transportation

2. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

a. Named Robert C. Weaver the cabinet secretary-first black cabinet secretary in nations history

· Established the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities->designed to lift the level of American cultural life

· Big Four Legislative achievements:

o Aid to educationàJohnson channeled educational aid to students not schools

o Medical care for elderly and indigent

o Immigration reform

o New voting rights bill

• Medicare for the elderly, and Medicaid for the poor, became a reality in 1965

• The new programs welcomed millions of older Americans with no health insurance and by the poor who could’t afford proper medical treatment—they created “entitlements”

• The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965

o abolished the “national-origins” quota system

o act doubled the number of immigrant allowed to enter annuallyà set limits on immigrants from the Western Hemisphere (120,000)

o Sources of immigration shifted heavily from Europe to Latin America and Asia

• Great Society programs came in for political attack in later years

o Conservatives said poverty couldn’t be papered over with greenbacks and that billions had been wasted

• Poverty rate declined measurably in the next decade

• Medicare made dramatic reductions in the of poverty among America’s elderly and o improved the educational performance of underprivileged youth

• Infant mortality rates fell in minority communities as general health conditions improved

The 24th Amendment

  • President Johnson realized the problem that few blacks were registered to vote.
  • The 24th Amendment, passed in 1964
  • abolished the poll tax in federal elections, yet blacks were still severely hampered from voting.

Tonkin Gulf Resolution and Vietnam War

  • August 1964 in the Gulf of Tonkin-U.S. Navy ships cooperating with South Vietnamese in raids on coast of North Vietnam.
  • August 2nd and August 4th, two U.S. ships were fired at
  • Johnson called attack "unprovoked"-->moved to make political gains out of the incident
  • He ordered a "limited" retaliatory air raid against the North Vietnamese bases
  • He used the event to spur congressional passage of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution

Vietnam War

  • April 1965, President Johnson sent 25,000 troops to the Dominican Republic -to restore order after revolt against military government

  • claimed the Dominican Republic was the target of a Castrolike coupà widely condemned for his actions.
  • February 1965, Viet Cong guerrillas attacked American air base in Pleiku, South Vietnam prompting Johnson to attack

  • March 1965, "Operation Rolling Thunder" was in full swing - bombing attacks against North Vietnam.
  • Pro-war hawks argued that if the United Sates were to leave Vietnam, other nations would doubt America's word and turn to communism
  • By 1968, Johnson had put more than 500,000 troops in Southeast Asia
  • annual cost for the war was exceeding $30 billion.

  • Antiwar demonstrations increased significantly as more and more American soldiers died in the Vietnam War.
  • By early 1968, the war had become the longest and most unpopular foreign war in the nation's history.
  • Casualties, killed, and wounded had exceeded 100,000
  • more bombs had been dropped in Vietnam than in World War II.
  • 1967, Johnson ordered the CIA to spy on domestic antiwar activists.
  • He encouraged the FBI to turn its counterintelligence program, code-named "Cointelpro," against the peace movement.

  • January 1968, the Viet Cong attacked 27 key South Vietnamese cities, including Saigon.
  • Tet Offensive ended in a military defeat for the VCàAmerican public to demand an immediate end to the war.
  • American military leaders responded to the attacks for a request of 200,000 more troops.
  • March 31, 1968, President Johnson issued an address to the nation stating that he would freeze American troop levels
  • and gradually shift more responsibility to the South Vietnamese themselves.
  • Bombing would also be scaled down.
  • He also declared that he would not be a candidate for the presidency in 1968.

Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act

  • Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • banned racial discrimination in most private facilities open to the public.
  • strengthened the federal government's power to end segregation in schools and other public places.
  • created the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)-eliminate discrimination in hiring.

  • Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • banning literacy tests and sending federal voter registers into several southern states.


• Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy assassinations

• riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago; Prague Spring; the antiwar movement and the Tet Offensive; Black Power; the generation gap; avant-garde theater; the upsurge of the women's movement; and the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union

• By 1968, Johnson could not avoid the fact that the U.S. could not win the Vietnam War.

Later that year, he agreed to stop the bombing, began withdrawing American forces, and agreed to peace talks in Paris

• On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated at a Memphis hotel by James Earl Ray-white man who resented the increasing black influence in society.

King's murder set off a new round of riots across the country

My Lai- The mass murder conducted by a unit of the U.S. Army on March 16, 1968 of hundreds of unarmed citizens in the South Vietnamese town of My Lai.

Majority of victims were women, children (including babies) and elderly people.

Lieutenant Calley, the officer who ordered the killings, was tried for murder.