President Lyndon Johnson's War On Poverty

By | September 7, 2021

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Johnson's state of the union focused heavily on poverty. (npr)

On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared his war on poverty. As he proclaimed during his Union address, "Our aim is not only to relieve the symptoms of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it." Depending on what side of the aisle you prefer, Johnson’s war became either “our best hopes as a people who value the dignity and potential of every human being" or "a catastrophe." Discerning who’s right grows especially difficult when you can’t even agree on how to keep score. Either way, here’s everything on the war on poverty and how either side saw it.

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Johnson knew the difficulties of poverty first hand. (NPR)

What Inspired The War On Poverty

America actually began marshaling its forces against hardship before Johnson took office. President Kennedy found his motivation thanks to two pieces of literature: Michael Harrington's 1962 "The Other America," and Dwight MacDonald's 13,000-word essay in the New Yorker. Each detail in length how poverty in America was far more prevalent than most believed. When JFK was assassinated, Johnson took up the cause with an even more personal fervor. As turned out Johnson’s hatred of poverty harkened back to his childhood.