How do JFK and LBJ compare as Presidents?
The 1960’s where a very turbulent period. America needed leaders
who could react to enormous public pressure and meet the challenges
of a nation moving towards a new modern era. Presidents Kennedy and
Johnson had to deal with civil rights issues, the cold war, the
Vietnam and the social upheaval of the turbulent sixties. Kennedy has
a wonderful reputation, but was he really the better President?
I. John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson
A. What types of issues did Kennedy and Johnson have
to deal with in the sixties?
1. Cold War
2. Civil Rights protests, riots
4. Social upheaval – drug culture, rebellion, rock and roll.
B. What were the significant accomplishments of the Kennedy
administration (1960 – 1963)? – The New
Frontier. Click here for more on John F. Kennedy
1. Peace Corps – Responding to Kennedy’s challenge
thousands of Americans went forth into underdeveloped countries
bringing education and medical supplies. The spirit of volunteerism
was never higher and people world wide began to develop a different
view of Americans.
2. Space Program – 1961 began America’s push to put a man on the
moon. While this was not accomplished during the Kennedy
administration it was accomplished soon thereafter. The Kennedy
Administration poured billions into NASA and the was rewarded by the
success of the Apollo Space Program.
3. Passage of the Area Redevelopment Act and the Housing Act of
- The Area Redevelopment Act provided funds to rural America’s
schools, roads and bridges.
- The Housing Act of 1961 provided funds to build low income
housing in urban America.
4. Passage of the 24th amendment that made the use of Poll Taxes
5. Leadership through the cold war, especially his courage in
facing down Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
6. Great public persona and charisma, great control of the media –
first lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and he were “American
B. What were the significant setbacks of the Kennedy
1. He was unable to get any real civil rights
legislation passed. Kennedy himself considered this a great failure.
2. He was unable to get taxes lowered.
3. The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an embarrassing failure.
1. Civil Rights Act of 1964 – This landmark piece of
legislation is still the current federal law on Civil Rights. Johnson
solidified his reputation as a political “arm twister.” He was able
to invoke the memory of Kennedy and get significant legislation
2. The War on Poverty
-Economic Opportunity Act created the Office of
Economic Opportunity (OEO)
-VISTA – Volunteers in Service to America
3. 90 out of 115 recommendations approved in 1965 —
4. Appalachian Redevelopment Act
5. Project Head Start – a program to bring Pre K education to the
6. 1965 Voting Rights Act
D. What was the significant failure of the Johnson Administration?
1. Escalated involvement in the Vietnam War. Johnson
relieved enormous public criticism for this. Protests and
demonstration racked the nation. Johnson did not run for a second
Does Kennedy deserve the reputation as a “great” president?
Does Johnson deserve the reputation as a bad one? You be the