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The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-69

3. The Great Society

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the set of domestic programs known as the ‘Great Society’, focusing in particular on: (i) the influence of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal, the series of programs, public works projects, financial reforms and regulations enacted in the wake of the Great Depression; (ii) the importance of Johnson’s own experience of poverty, both his own and that of his students while a schoolteacher in southern Texas; (iii) Johnson’s aim for the ‘Great Society’, outlined in two speeches in May 1964; (iii) healthcare reform – the creation of Medicare and Medicaid; (iv) Education reform – the Elementary and Secondary Education, Higher Education and National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Acts; (v) Johnson’s ‘War on Poverty’ – the various programs created following the Economic Opportunity Act, e.g. Job Corps, Head Start and Community Action Associations; and (vi) the extent to which the programs enacted as part of Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ were a success.


In this course, Dr Thomas Tunstall Allcock (University of Manchester) explores the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-69). The first module provides an introduction to Johnson himself, his personality and policies in comparison with the presidents that preceded and followed him – Kennedy and Nixon. In the second module, we think about four important contexts for Johnson’s presidency – three domestic, one international – before turning in the third module to consider the set of domestic reforms known as Johnson’s Great Society. In the fourth module, we consider Johnson’s record on civil rights, before turning in the fifth module to think about the importance of the Vietnam War in assessments of Johnson’s presidency. Finally, in the sixth module, we provide an overview of Johnson’s presidency, thinking about the overall arc of his administration – from early successes to later challenges – his major achievements, his failures, and his longer-term legacy.


Dr Tom Tunstall Allcock is a lecturer in American history at the University of Manchester. His research focuses on U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War, with particular interests in U.S.-Latin American relations, presidential history and diplomacy, and the cultural history of the Cold War.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Tunstall Allcock, T. (2020, January 14). The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-69 - The Great Society [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Tunstall Allcock, T. "The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-69 – The Great Society." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 14 Jan 2020,