Lyndon Baines Johnson(When was he president? What event moved him into the position of president? What was the focus of his first address to Congress?)

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kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973) was the 36th president of the United States, serving in that office from November 22, 1963 to January 20, 1969.  A career politician who worked his way up the ranks of the United States Congress, he was, albeit reluctantly, chosen by Democratic candidate for president John F. Kennedy to run as vice president on the same ticket.  When Kennedy prevailed over Republican Richard Nixon in the 1960 election, Johnson became vice president.  He succeeded President Kennedy following the latter's assassination in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.

Once sworn-in as president following Kennedy's death, Johnson made social reform, especially in realms of civil rights and welfare, his main agenda.  His "Great Society" was comprised of a series of legislative initiatives intended to alleviate human suffering caused by poverty while redressing the centuries-old problem of racism.  While Johnson believed deeply in his domestic agenda, however, it was the war in Vietnam that would seriously damage his presidency, diverting both attention and dollars from his ambitious domestic agenda.  The war was so divisive in American society that it subsumed the president's attention.  Riots and demonstrations raged across major American cities with the Democratic Party's natural constituency carrying out the civil disturbances that culminated in the riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that helped the Republican candidate for president, Richard Nixon, defeat his Democrat Hubert Humphrey.

Unsurprisingly, Johnson's first major speech for Congress, his State of the Union address of January 4, 1965, focused overwhelmingly on the domestic issues he hoped would define his presidency.

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