Great Society – HISTORY

Contents Riding A Wave of Empathy War On Poverty Medicare and Medicaid Head Start and…

Great Society – HISTORY


  1. Riding A Wave of Empathy
  2. War On Poverty
  3. Medicare and Medicaid
  4. Head Start and Education Reform
  5. Urban Renewal
  6. Support for Arts and Humanities
  7. Environmental Initiatives
  8. The Great Society Backlash and Vietnam
  9. Sources

The Great Society was an ambitious series of policy initiatives, legislation and programs spearheaded by President Lyndon B. Johnson with the main goals of ending poverty, reducing crime, abolishing inequality and improving the environment. In May 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson laid out his agenda for a “Great Society” during a speech at the University of Michigan. With his eye on re-election that year, Johnson set in motion his Great Society, the largest social reform plan in modern history.

Riding A Wave of Empathy

On November 22, 1963, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as President of the United States after the killing of John F. Kennedy.

The assassination of Kennedy left American citizens reeling. They felt empathy, even sympathy for Johnson as he became president under such difficult circumstances. Johnson took advantage of this support to push through key elements of Kennedy’s legislative agenda—in particular, civil rights legislation and tax cuts.

By the time he became President, Johnson wasn’t a green politician nor a pushover. After serving stints in the U.S. House of Representative and the U.S. Senate—where he was the youngest Senate minority leader and then Senate majority leader—he’d earned a reputation as a powerful leader who knew how to get things done.

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