President Johnson


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How Johnson became President

  • Immediately following JFK’s assassination, Vice President at the time Lyndon B. Johnson was promptly sworn as president on a waiting airplane and flown back to Washington with Kennedy’s body

  • The new president managed a dignified and efficient transition, continuing with his slain predecessor’s policies

  • Johnson’s nomination by the Democrats in 1964 was a foregone conclusion

  • The republicans nominated Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona

  • Johnson honed in on the image of a resolute statesman by seizing upon the Tonkin Gulf episode

  • Johnson portrayed his opponent as a right-wing legislator who wanted to abolish the social welfare programs

  • Johnson easily won the presidency, carrying 44 of the 50 states
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The Great Society

  • There were the Big Four legislative achievements that crowned LBJ’s Great Society program: aid to education, medical care for the elderly and indigent, immigration reform, and a new voting rights bill

  • He channeled educational aid to students, not schools, thus allowing funds to flow to hard-pressed parochial institutions

  • Medicare and medicaid were welcomed by millions of older Americans who had no health insurance and by the poor who could not afford proper medical treatment

  • Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 abolished the “national-origins” quota system

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

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24th Amendment

  • Ratified in January 1964

  • Abolished the poll tax in federal elections

  • Blacks joined hands with white civil rights workers-many of them student volunteers from the North-in a massive voter-registration drive in Mississippi during the “Freedom Summer” of 1964

Tonkin Gulf Resolution and Vietnam War

Tonkin Gulf Resolution:

  • joint resolution of the U.S. Congress passed on August 7, 1964 in direct response to a minor naval engagement known as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident.

  • the lawmakers virtually abdicated their war-declaring powers and handed the president a blank check to use further force in Southeast Asia.

  • Johnson boasted that it was “like grandma’s nightshirt—it covered everything.”

Vietnam War

  • Equally defined by the failure of his policies concerning the Vietnam War as his accomplishments on the homefront

  • He steadily escalated the U.S.’s involvement in the war

  • America could not defeat the enemy in Vietnam, which seemed obscene to some people

  • Antiwar demonstrations had taken place on college campuses

  • Thousands of draft registrants fled to Canada and others burned their cards

  • By early 1968 the brutal and futile struggle had become the longest and most unpopular foreign war in the nation’s history

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Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act

Civil Rights Act of 1964:

  • act banned racial discrimination in most private facilities open to the public, including theaters, hospitals, and restaurants

  • strengthened the federal government’s power to end segregation in schools and other places

  • created the EEOC (below) to eliminate discrimination in hiring

  • proved to be a powerful instrument of federally enforced gender equality , as well as racial equality

Voting Rights Act:

  • last of Johnson’s Big Four reforms

  • signed into law on August 6, it outlawed literacy tests and sent federal voter registrars into several southern states.


  • Tet Offensive in Vietnam affected American public opinion of the war and citizen’s views of the President started to turn in an unfortunate direction

  • Attack on a U.S. base by the Vietnam People’s Army

  • Johnson announced that he would not run for a second term

  • Martin Luther King’s assassination caused much grief throughout the country

  • Robert Kennedy was assassinated during a speech in California

  • Republican Richard Nixon won over Democrat and Vice-President Hubert Humphrey