LBJ signs the Economic Opportunity Act, 50 years ago today.
"Today for the first time in all the history of the human race, a great nation is able to make and is willing to make a commitment to eradicate poverty among its people."
-President Lyndon B. Johnson
The Act was designed to provide education, job training, health and employment counseling, and neighborhood improvements. Programs included Job Corps, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), Legal Services, Upward Bound, and Head Start.
Photo: LBJ visits a Job Corps Center. 11/8/65.
-from the LBJ Library
Today in 1965, The Voting Rights Act was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
The Act applied a nationwide prohibition of the denial or abridgment of the right to vote on account of race or color. It outlawed discriminatory literacy tests, expanded voting rights for non-English speaking Americans, and appointed Federal examiners to oversee voter registration and elections. Read More
The law had an immediate impact. By the end of 1965, a quarter of a million new African American voters had been registered, one-third by Federal examiners.
In this photo, LBJ signs the Voting Rights Act in the Capitol Rotunda, Washington, DC. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders stand behind him.
President Lyndon B. Johnson at the speaker’s podium addressing a Joint Session of Congress urging the passage of the Voting Rights Act.
LBJ handing a signing pen to Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
LBJ signs the Voting Rights Act as Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders look on.
LBJ delivering remarks in the Capitol Rotunda. A statue of Abraham Lincoln is in background.
August 6, 1965.
The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolultion:
On the evening of August 4, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson addressed the nation in a televised speech in which he stated that U.S. ships had been attacked twice in international waters in the Gulf of Tonkin near North Vietnam. The following morning, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was introduced in the Senate. Although the version shown here is the original draft resolution, the language was not amended and therefore reads the same as the final version, which was passed by both house of Congress and signed into law on August 7.
S.J. Res. 189: the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution as Introduced, 8/5/1964, Sen 88A-B2, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 2127364)
The original Gulf of Tonkin Resolution is on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building from July 15 to August 7, 2014.
Today in 1964 — The bodies of three missing civil rights workers in Mississippi are found.
In the summer of 1964, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner set out for the Mississippi Freedom Summer. They were among almost 1000 students who had signed up to further civil rights in Mississippi through community programs and voter registration.
In anticipation of hostile working conditions, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for the Freedom Summer project had requested federal assistance in early June to protect the civil rights workers and enforce their rights. A June 10 letter to LBJ stated:
"The record is full of intimidations, arrests, beatings, shootings, and even murder, inflicted upon Negro and white citizens. It is clear beyond doubt that they cannot depend upon the State of Mississippi for protection."
Less than two weeks later, Lee White, LBJ’s aide, received a phone call informing him of the disappearance of three civil rights workers in Mississippi. The next day he wrote the memo shown above.
The remains of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner were found on August 4, 1964. LBJ was at the White House, working on the passage of the poverty bill. His day was first interrupted by reports of a new attack in the Gulf of Tonkin.
During a Security Council meeting, the President received a call from Assistant FBI Director, Cartha “Deke” Deloach, informing him that the bodies, missing since June, had been found.
-from the LBJ Library
Memo to the Record, Lee White, 6/23/64, “Mississippi Summer Project Voter Registration,” Office Files of Lee White, Box 6, LBJ Library.
Memo, Alexander to White, 6/10/64, “Mississippi Summer Project Voter Registration,” Office Files of Lee White, Box 6, LBJ Library.
The Gulf of Tonkin - 50 Years Ago
The Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC) sent this cable to the Joint Chiefs reporting an attack on the USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin on August 2, 1964. The result was a spiraling escalation of violence in Vietnam.
-from the LBJ Library
LBJ Signs the Medicare Bill On This Day in 1965
When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law at the Harry S. Truman Library on July 30, 1965, he told the nation that it had “all started with the man from Independence.”
Harry S. Truman, LBJ said, had “planted the seeds of compassion and duty” that led to the enactment of Medicare, a national health insurance for the aged through an expanded Social Security system.
Truman was the first President to publicly endorse a national health insurance program. As a Senator, Truman had become alarmed at the number of draftees who had failed their induction physicals during World War II. For Truman these rejections meant that the average citizen could not afford visiting a doctor to maintain health. He stated:
“that is all wrong in my book. I am trying to fix it so the people in the middle-income bracket can live as long as the very rich and the very poor.”
Truman’s first proposal in 1945 provided for physician and hospital insurance for working-aged Americans and their families. A federal health board was to administer the program with the government retaining the right to fix fees for service, and doctors could choose whether or not to participate. This proposal was defeated after, among many factors, the American Medical Association labeled the president’s plan “socialized medicine” taking advantage of the public’s concern over communism in Russia.
Even though he was never able to create a national health care program, Truman was able to draw attention to the country’s health needs, have funds legislated to construct hospitals, expand medical aid to the needy, and provide for expanded medical research.
In honor of his continued advocacy for national health insurance, Johnson presented Truman and his wife Bess with Medicare cards number one and two in 1966.
July 28, 1967. Rostow sends this memo to President Johnson regarding growing violence in China related to the Cultural Revolution. In a memo that Rostow received from Alfred Jenkins on July 21st, Jenkins reported:
“The pace of social disintegration in China at present is even greater than it was in January and February. Evidence from many sources gives a picture of turbulence and confusion, in varying degree, but in each of the 26 provinces of China!”
—memo, Jenkins to Rostow, 7/21/67, #49, “CHICOM - Cultural Revolution, July - December 1967,” Files of Alfred Jenkins, National Security File, Box 2, LBJ Presidential Library.
—scanned document memo, Rostow to LBJ, 7/28/67, #47, “CHICOM - Cultural Revolution, July - December 1967, Files of Alfred Jenkins, National Security File, Box 2, LBJ Presidential Library.