On the night of JFK’s assassination, with the nation reeling, Lyndon Johnson stayed up much of the night with two young aides, and laid out a list of legislative initiatives he proposed to pursue. In its scope, vision, and sheer audacity, the list was astonishing, affecting nearly every aspect of American public life, from health care to voting rights to education. It would be nearly six months before the agenda that LBJ mapped out that night would fully coalesce, and be officially unveiled, under the banner of the Great Society. But from day one, LBJ was off and running, determined to be not merely the keeper of the JFK flame, but a president of Rushmore level greatness — the president who picked up where FDR left off.
This first episode will look at the forces that shaped LBJ's vision and ambition, and the trajectory of his rise from the near total obscurity of the vice-presidency to the pinnacle of power. Key voices include senior aide Jack Valenti, who mapped the strategy for rolling out the Great Society vision, and Richard Goodwin, who wrote the speech that would articulate that vision to the American electorate.
With commentary and analysis from historians Joshua Zeitz and Julian Zelizer, along with archival audio from the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. Learn more at LBJsGreatSociety.org.