Johnson administration

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The Johnson administration lasted from November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969.

Civil rights

Democrat Leader Lyndon Johnson told Sen. Richard Russell,
"These Negroes, they're getting pretty uppity these days and that's a problem for us since they've got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we've got to do something about this, we've got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference. For if we don't move at all, then their allies will line up against us and there'll be no way of stopping them, we'll lose the filibuster and there'll be no way of putting a brake on all sorts of wild legislation. It'll be Reconstruction all over again."[1]

The Republicans first introduced civil rights legislation with the Civil Rights Act of 1875 which included the 14th Amendment and 15th Amendment, the earlier 13th Amendment and Emancipation Proclamation, and first passed anti-lynching legislation in 1922 which Democrats killed by filibusters.[2]

President Johnson finally signed the bi-partisan Civil Rights Act of 1964, which he called "the N****r Bill."[3] In lobbying for the bill, Johnson said,
"I'll have them n*gg*rs voting Democratic for two hundred years."[4]
Democrats tried to block passage by filibustering for 75 hours, including a 14-hour and 13 minute speech by the Exalted Cyclops Sen. Robert Byrd, who later was elected Senate Democrat Leader in the Reagan era. The filibuster failed when the Senate invoked cloture for only the second time since 1927.[5] The law was intended to block Republican gains in the South and buy off Blacks with affirmative action programs. According to LBJ biographer Robert Caro, Johnson told his chauffeur:
"Let me tell you one thing, n*gg*r. As long as you are black, and you’re gonna be black till the day you die, no one’s gonna call you by your g*dd*mn name. So no matter what you are called, n*gg*r, you just let it roll off your back like water, and you’ll make it. Just pretend you’re a g*dd*mn piece of furniture."[6]
African-Americans formed an anomalous coalition with low income Democrat white racists who were dependent on New Deal and Great Society welfare programs. Both African Americans and racist Democrats opposed Republican budget cuts. The coalition gave cover to bigoted Democrats to hide their own racism, while accusing Republicans who wanted to balance the budget of prejudice. Malcolm X described it this way:
"The white Liberal differs from the white Conservative only in one way; the Liberal is more deceitful, more hypocritical, than the Conservative. Both want power, but the White Liberal is the one who has perfected the art of posing as the Negro's friend and benefactor and by winning the friendship and support of the Negro, the White Liberal is able to use the Negro as a pawn or a weapon in this political football game, that is constantly raging, between the White Liberals and the White Conservatives. The American Negro is nothing, but a political "football game" that is constantly raging between the white liberals and white conservatives.[7]

1964: Mississippi Freedom Party

The Mississippi Freedom Party was organized by African Americans to challenge the establishment Democratic Party, which allowed participation only by whites. The party ran a slate of delegates with close to 80,000 people casting ballots.[8] The party hoped to replace the Regular Democrats as the official Mississippi delegation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

At the convention the party challenged the Regular Democrats' right to be seated, claiming that the Regular Democrats were illegally elected in a segregated process that violated both party regulations and federal law.[9] The Equal Protection Clause had been on the books for nearly 100 years already. The Democratic Party referred the challenge to the credentials committee,[10] which televised its proceedings and allowed the nation to see and hear the moving testimony of several delegates and the retaliation inflicted on them by Democrats for attempting to vote.[11]

After that, most observers and pundits thought the credentials committee were ready to unseat the Regular Democrats and seat the Freedom Party delegates in their place. But some Democrats from other states threatened to leave the convention and bolt the party if the Regular Democrats were unseated. President Johnson wanted a united convention and feared losing support. To ensure his victory in November, Johnson maneuvered to prevent the Mississippi Freedom Democrats from replacing the all-white Regular Democrats.

Two future Democrat Presidential nominees, Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, denied Blacks equal protection and made a mockery of the civil rights movement.[12] Johnson held a private meeting with Humphrey, Mondale, Roy Wilkins, Andrew Young, United Auto Workers President Walter Reuther and Martin Luther King Jr. A plan was hatched to offer the Freedom Democrats two non-voting At-Large seats with observer status, rather than replace the all-white delegation which had been undemocratically and illegally elected.[13] Johnson arrogated to himself the right to pick which two, and Johnson chose one white and one black. Johnson dispatched Humphrey and Mondale and ordered them to make sure that “that illiterate woman," Fannie Lou Hamer would never be a delegate. Dr. King protested, and was told by Reuther to shut up.

The offer was rejected, but Humphrey and Mondale remained powerhouse liberals in the Democratic party for another 20 years.

War on Poverty

The War on Poverty was a set of programs instituted by President Johnson and its associated legislation passed by Congress in an effort to supposedly combat poverty. It was criticized extensively by conservatives because it expanded the welfare system and increased citizen dependency on the government. It was also reputed to have destroyed the Black family unit.

Michael Harrington is credited with inspiring the War on Poverty with his 1962 book "The Other America".[14]

Like the Vietnam war, the Democratic party led America to another defeat in the War on Poverty. The big government spending binge of the 1960s culminated in the stagflation hangover of the 1970s and the Reaganomic reforms of the 1980s.

Vietnam war

Max Boot wrote:
Numerous bits of conventional wisdom have accreted around the Vietnam War. It is commonly held that Ho Chi Minh was a Vietnamese nationalist above all, not a true communist, and that his victory was inevitable. That Ngo Dinh Diem was an unpopular and repressive reactionary. That the United States had no vital strategic interest in defending South Vietnam. That the ‘domino theory’ was a myth. That the U.S. was right not to invade North Vietnam or Laos for fear of triggering Chinese intervention. Mark Moyar, a young, bold, and iconoclastic historian, takes a sledge hammer to these hoary beliefs. [His book] is ‘revisionist’ in the best sense of the word.” [1]

Jeffrey Record contends that the military was relegated, as a result of its constitutional position, to the role of an accomplice in what Records states was the most strategically reckless American enterprise of the 20th century. He charge President Lyndon B. Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara with harshly suppressing their military advisers, with Johnson believing that his hawkish Joint Chiefs of Staff were out to destroy his Great Society by their wild-eyed schemes.[15]

Many politically correct "history books" make the My Lai Massacre into an important event of the war. In March 1968 in the hamlet of My Lai, approximately 400 civilians were killed by American troops under the command of 2nd Lt. William Calley. Many troops present that day protested and did not take part in the event. After the event, the U.S. Army conducted an investigation and concluded there had been poor training in the Laws and Rules of Engagement, poor discipline and poor leadership up to the brigade commander. Atrocities on some level occur in every war. Since the 19th century, the U.S. is one of the few nations who prosecute its soldiers for such acts when they happen. The enemy in Viet Nam "conveniently" overlooked their far more numerous acts of atrocities and used this event for propaganda.[16] This does not justify the massacre, but 3 to 5,000 civilians were killed and found in mass graves after the retaking of Hue following the Tet Offensive, a point not often noted. Other atrocities are listed in other sections of this article.

Largely because of media bias during the war as well as the anti-war movement, various returning veterans in Vietnam were treated horribly by the anti-war crowd, where they often were spat upon and denounced as "baby killers" (ironically, many of the anti-war protestors tended to support abortion).[17]


  1. Said to Senator Richard Russell, Jr. (D-GA) regarding the Civil Rights Act of 1957. As quoted in Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream (1977), by Doris Kearns Goodwin, New York: New American Library, p. 155.
  4. Said to two governors regarding the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to then-Air Force One steward Robert MacMillan as quoted in Inside the White House (1996), by Ronald Kessler, New York: Simon and Schuster, p. 33.
  5. Civil Rights Filibuster Ended. Art & History Historical Minutes. United States Senate.
  8. Freedom Ballot in MS ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans
  9. The Mississippi Movement & the MFDP ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans
  10. Branch, Taylor (1998). Pillar of Fire. Simon & Schuster. 
  11. Carmichael, Stokely, and Charles V. Hamilton. Black Power: The Politics of Liberation, (New York: Random House, 1967), p. 90.
  13. Mills, Kay, This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, (New York: Plume, 1994), p. 5.
  14. Everything you need to know about the war on poverty. Washington Post (January 8, 2014).
  15. The wrong war. Why We Lost in Vietnam, by Jeffrey Record.
  16. Dunnigan & Nofi, Dirty Little Secrets of the Vietnam War (1999)