History Essay Paper on Lyndon Johnson’s Expectations for America and the World

Lyndon Johnson’s Expectations for America and the World


Since the birth of the US that was shepherded by America’s founding father Abraham Lincoln, the issue of racial segregation and discrimination of the African American community through acts such as slavery and forced labour, was slowly taking shape and being embedded into the fabric of the American society. Abraham Lincoln spiritedly fought the abolishment of slavery and a nation that would be built on equal rights for both the Black and White communities but was aggressively fought back by the Southern Confederate states which were primarily Democrats that led to devastating Civil War. Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. This resonated throughout America’s culture and society boiling over the Reconstruction Period of the 1860s in America. The policies that permeated this were on nurturing liberal America, abolishment of slavery and being conscious with oneself.


However, there was a thorn in the flesh and the Jim Crow laws were enacted which limited the civil rights and liberties of African-Americans’. They were restricted from voting and discriminated from enjoying services that were privileged to the White community such as adequate housing, access to banking services and enrolment in education institutions just to mention a few. Governor George Wallace who was the governor of Alabama widely encouraged and supported segregationist policies and on his presidential bid was shot by an assassin which led to him being permanently paralysed. Nevertheless, there seemed to be a light at the end of the Civil Rights Movements with the election of President John F. Kennedy in the year 1961.


The idea for a great society was coined by John F. Kennedy who was a charismatic Democrat. The influential leader rose to power through a campaign that rode on exemplifying liberal ideas and visions for the American Society as well as the world. John F. Kennedy had promised the US nation a lot as he assumed office being the youngest ever president to be elected to the oval office in the US. His liberal ideas centred around civil rights that defined the Black American struggle for equal rights and the abolishment of the Jim Crow legislation that facilitated segregation along ethnic lines in the US. Not only was he focused on the social fabric of the society but also the economic growth of the country and initiated various stimulus packages as well as social welfare programs.

John F. Kennedy however did not live to see his liberal vision for America and the world come to fruition. He was assassinated in Texas in 1963. He was viewed as an enemy to the status quo by some conservatives. His efforts towards a great society were carried on by his deputy president, Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1968, Robert F. Kennedy, the late president’s younger brother, was assassinated due to his presidential ambitions. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the voice of the Civil Rights movement was also assassinated in the same year. Johnson went ahead to initiate the reform that ensured not only economic but also political stability in the country.

Johnson was particularly weary of the incessant demonstrations by the university and college students as well as the African-American community would degenerate into chaos countrywide. He immediately initiated talks with African American leaders of that time particularly Martin Luther King, Jr. into how legislation could be enacted to ensure the African American race enjoyed equal rights with the other general population. Johnson immediately signed into law, the Civil Rights Act in the year 1964.


There were high expectations as the Kennedy administration swept into power. African-Americans wanted just and equitable laws that guaranteed them to have rights equally as the White population. Americans also expected a period of rapid and enormous economic growth that will generate wealth and jobs for the country. Americans expected enforcement of rules and regulations that could lead to protection of consumer rights, environment conservation efforts and a democratic government.


The Voting Rights Act of 1965

The Voting Rights Act was signed into law in the year 1965 to ensure that the minority ethnic groups had the right to participate in elections.

The War on Poverty

Johnson also carried forward the antipoverty policies through the enactment of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and the expansion of social welfare programs by the federal government. There was an unconditional war on poverty. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 provided incentives for firms to invest in the depressed regions of the economy as well as initiated a series of tax cuts to increase consumption spending that could accelerate the growth of the US economy.

The 24th Amendment to the Constitution

During the Kennedy administration there was the 24th Amendment of the United Constitution that tied the citizens of America to paying a poll tax in participate or vote in the government or federal elections which was ratified by the states of the US in 23rd January 1964.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

This was legislation that was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson to ensure that African-Americans’ enjoyed equal rights and access to services such as finance, education and healthcare.

Medicare and Medicaid

These were social welfare programs were aimed at expanding and increasing access to healthcare programs. Medicare and Medicaid increased the insurance coverage to individuals that enabling them to afford treatment.

Ralph Nader

There was also legislation that was aimed at protecting the environment as well as consumer rights. Ralph Nader an American of Lebanese origin played a key role in shaping the policies and views that influenced America’s legislation on consumer protection, environment conservation, humanitarian efforts and democratic governments and institutions.

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution of 1964

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution also known as the Southeast Asia revolution was a significant period in the US history as President Johnson authorized military intervention in Vietnam without the due procedure required which is declaration of War through a formal process by congress.

Lyndon B. Johnson’s March 31st 1968 Announcement

In a national address, in year 1968, President Johnson announced that there would be need for efforts by both the South East Asia countries particularly Vietnam to forge relations that would to long-lasting peace hence economic and political stability.

The Assassinations of 1968

This led to the weeding out of two of the most influential and charismatic characters from the scene and history of the US. Robert F. Kennedy, a democrat presidential candidate was assassinated while on a campaign trial. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was also assassinated for his vocal on issues pertaining to racial segregation. They both had liberal views about the society.

Governor George Wallace

He was the governor of the state of Alabama who promoted segregation policies and laws. He was a presidential candidate for the US but his bid was shuttered by a bullet from the assassin that left him permanently paralysed.


            The coming into force of the ideologies that shaped the ideals of a “Great Society” led to many pros and cons in the American society. The advantages include the increase in access to education, healthcare insurance coverage and trade unions that represented the rights of employees. There was growth of a burgeoning middle class due to increased incomes which led to increased consumption thus growth in the economy. Due to the enactment and passage of the Civil Rights Bill, the African-American have enjoyed more rights in society such as the right to vote, employment and in the political. The election of Barack Obama into the Oval office signifies the achievements of the civil rights movement that was aimed at creating an equal playground for both the White and Black communities. During this period America enjoyed rapid industrial growth due increased production and industrial activities. The disadvantages include excessive expenditure by the government on social welfare programs and on business incentives that were considered as a waste in public resources.

Multiple Choice Questions

  1. Who was the First African-American to be elected the President of the US?
  2. Barack Obama
  3. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  4. Oprah Winfrey
  5. Nelson Mandela
  6. Who led the Civil Rights Movement in the US?
  7. Barack Obama.
  8. John F. Kennedy
  9. Robert F. Kennedy
  10. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  11. Who succeeded President John F. Kennedy after he was assassinated?
  12. President Bill Clinton
  13. President Lyndon B. Johnson.
  14. Robert F. Kennedy
  15. President Richard Nixon
  16. Which rank did aspiring Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy hold in the government of his brother, John F. Kennedy while he was the President?
  17. Chief justice
  18. Attorney General
  19. Chief of Staff
  20. Chief Justice