Post by Eowyn the Forest Elf
Today’s Pick comes from our U.S. Presidents project – the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson. He was born on this day, August 27, in 1908 and is one of only four people who served in all four elected federal offices of the United States: Representative, Senator, Vice President, and President.
“The Great Society rests on abundance and liberty for all.’- LBJ
LBJ’s political career was an exciting one, coming at a time of rapid social and technology change in the US. He steered through to passage the first civil rights bill in 82 years (Civil Rights Act of 1957). As Chairman of the Senate Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee he began hearings on the Space Program. He considered the vitalization of the space program and the passage of the Civil Rights Act to be the highlights of his Senate Career. As Vice President, LBJ was considered the primary influence for President Kennedy’s decision to pursue a voyage to the moon.
LBJ is remembered in the minds of most Americans for stepping into the role of President of the United States on during one of the saddest days in our history, the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
During his inauguration speech, LBJ declared a war on poverty. He is the architect of the Great Society Program. In May of 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced Project Head Start in the White House Rose Garden. He also started the programs Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps and Work Study. In conjunction with the Civil Rights Movement, Johnson overcame southern resistance and convinced congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1965, he achieved passage of a second civil rights bill, the Voting Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination in voting, thus allowing millions of southern blacks to vote for the first time. Johnson named Thurgood Marshall, the great-grandson of a slave, to sit on the highest court in the land. LBJ’s accomplishments were soon overshadowed by his most stubborn challenge.
President Johnson was plagued by the War in Vietnam, convinced that it was crucial that South Vietnam win the war. He escalated the war following the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, increasing American military personnel in Vietnam from 16,000 advisors in non-combat roles in 1963 to 550,000 with many in combat roles in early 1968. Despite sustained bombing, the widespread use of Agent Orange and rising American casualties, no progress was made in that war. Public demonstrations followed. This along with serious rising crime problems at home contributed to a poor showing in New Hampshire’s 1968 Presidential Primary and he ended his bid for re-election.
Lyndon Johnson died at his ranch on January 22, 1973, at age 64 after suffering a massive heart attack. His death came the day before a ceasefire was signed in Vietnam.”