The 1960s Government, Politics, and Law: Headline Makers
The 1960s Government, Politics, and Law: Headline MakersLyndon B. Johnson
John F. Kennedy
Martin Luther King Jr.
Richard M. Nixon
George C. Wallace
Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973) Texan Lyndon B. Johnson, a former powerhouse in Congress, became the U.S. vice president in 1961, with the swearing-in of John F. Kennedy. Upon Kennedy's assassination in 1963, Johnson was elevated to chief executive. With the federal legislation that accompanied his vision of America as a "Great Society," Johnson ambitiously tried to erase poverty and other problems of society. However, over the course of time, most of his programs failed. His decreasing popularity, stemming from the growing protests over his escalation of the war in Vietnam, led to his decision not to seek his party's presidential nomination in 1968.
John F. Kennedy (1917–1963) John F. Kennedy was the youngest man, and the first Roman Catholic, elected to the U.S. presidency. The Massachusetts Democrat won a Senate seat in 1952. He almost won his party's vice-presidential nod in 1956, before being elected as president four years later. Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, barely three years after becoming president.
Robert Kennedy (1925–1968) Robert Kennedy, the younger brother and close confidante of President John F. Kennedy, served as U.S. attorney general in the Kennedy administration. In 1964, after his brother's death, Kennedy won a New York senate seat. He quickly became one of the Democratic Party's leading liberal spokespeople, and in 1968 he mounted a campaign to win his party's presidential nomination. However, that June, after earning a victory in the California primary election, he, too, was felled by an assassin's bullet.
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968) Martin Luther King Jr. became a symbol of the outcry for equal rights that echoed throughout America during the 1950s and 1960s. A Baptist preacher, King helped form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). His shining moment came during the 1963 March on Washington, when he gave his stirring "I Have a Dream" speech. A year later, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. King emphasized nonviolent protest as a means of securing racial equality. However, in April 1968, he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had gone to support striking sanitation workers.
Eugene McCarthy (1916–) From the mid-1960s on, Democratic Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota was a leading voice in the anti-Vietnam War movement. He came to view the war as "morally unjustified," and in 1968 became a presidential candidate. McCarthy believed he had no hope of winning the nomination, let alone the election. However, his strong showing in the New Hampshire primary reflected the growing discontent over the Vietnam polices of incumbent Lyndon Johnson. During the 1968 Democratic national convention, McCarthy's supporters staged an angry, and unsuccessful, floor fight for the addition of an anti-war policy item to the party's platform.
Richard M. Nixon (1913–1994) In the 1960s, Richard M. Nixon lost the presidency in a close election against John F. Kennedy. Then in 1962, Edmund G. "Pat" Brown (1905–1996) soundly defeated him in the California governor's race. In defeat, Nixon claimed that the press no longer would "have Nixon to kick around anymore," because "this is my last press conference." However, Nixon was destined to preside over many more press conferences. He campaigned for his party's 1968 presidential nomination and ended up winning the presidential election. Nixon eventually resigned from office in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal in 1974.
George C. Wallace (1919–1998) Of all the Southern politicians who garnered national attention for their fervent opposition to integration, Alabama governor George C. Wallace was the most high-profile. It was Wallace's vow to uphold "segregation now—segregation tomorrow—and segregation forever" that earned him national headlines. After running in Democratic Party primaries during the 1964 presidential campaign, Wallace emerged as a full-fledged candidate four years later. He was a third-party candidate, and he won 13.5 percent of the vote. In May 1972, Wallace was shot and partially paralyzed by a gunman who allegedly shot him in order to become famous.