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FROM 1964Lyndon Baines Johnson, often referred to by his initials LBJ, was an American politician who served as the 36th president of the United States from 1963 to 1969. He became president after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, under whom he had served as vice president from 1961 to 1963.Lyndon Baines Johnson (/ˈlɪndən ˈbeɪnz/; August 27, 1908 – January 22, 1973), often referred to by his initials LBJ, was an American politician who served as the 36th president of the United States from 1963 to 1969. He became president after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, under whom he had served as vice president from 1961 to 1963. A Democrat from Texas, Johnson also served as a U.S. representative and senator.
Born in Stonewall, Texas, Johnson worked as a high school teacher and a congressional aide before winning election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1937. In 1948, he was controversially declared winner in the Democratic Party's primary for the 1948 Senate election in Texas and won the general election.[2] He became Senate majority whip in 1951, Senate Democratic leader in 1953 and majority leader in 1954. In 1960, Johnson ran for the Democratic presidential nomination. Ultimately, Senator Kennedy bested Johnson and his other rivals for the nomination before surprising many by offering to make Johnson his vice presidential running mate. The Kennedy–Johnson ticket won the general election. Vice President Johnson assumed the presidency in 1963, after President Kennedy was assassinated. The following year, Johnson was elected to the presidency in a landslide.
Johnson's Great Society was aimed at expanding civil rights, public broadcasting, access to health care, aid to education and the arts, urban and rural development, and public services. He sought to create better living conditions for low-income Americans by spearheading the war on poverty. As part of these efforts, Johnson signed the Social Security Amendments of 1965, which resulted in the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. Johnson made the Apollo program a national priority; enacted the Higher Education Act of 1965, which established federally insured student loans; and signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which laid the groundwork for U.S. immigration policy today. Johnson's opinion on the issue of civil rights put him at odds with other white, southern Democrats. His civil rights legacy was shaped by signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Johnson's presidency took place during the Cold War, thus his foreign policy prioritized containment of communism, including in the ongoing Vietnam War. He launched a full-scale military intervention in Southeast Asia, dramatically increasing the number of American military personnel deployed; casualties soared among U.S. soldiers and Vietnam civilians. In 1968, the communist Tet Offensive inflamed the anti-war movement and public opinion turned against America's involvement in the war. In Europe, Johnson maintained the postwar policies of his predecessors, by continuing to promote and foster political integration and economic cooperation among Western European nations.[3]
During his presidency, the American political landscape transformed significantly,[4][5] as white southerners who were once staunch Democrats began moving to the Republican Party[6][7] and black voters who sporadically supported the Democrats prior to 1964 began shifting towards the party in historic numbers.[8][9] Due to his domestic agenda, Johnson's presidency marked the peak of modern American liberalism in the 20th century.[10] Johnson faced further troubles with race riots in major cities and increasing crime rates. His political opponents seized the opportunity and raised demands for "law and order" policies. Johnson began his presidency with near-universal support, but his approval declined throughout his presidency as the public became frustrated with both the Vietnam War and domestic unrest. Johnson initially sought to run for re-election; however, following disappointing results in the New Hampshire primary he withdrew his candidacy. Johnson returned to his Texas ranch, where he died in 1973. Public opinion and academic assessments of his legacy have fluctuated greatly ever since. Historians and scholars rank Johnson in the upper tier for his accomplishments regarding domestic policy. His administration passed many major laws that made substantial changes in civil rights, health care, welfare, and education. Conversely, Johnson is strongly criticized for his foreign policy, namely presiding over escalated American involvement in the Vietnam War.[11][12]
Early life
Seven-year-old Johnson with his trademark cowboy hat, c. 1915Lyndon Baines Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, near Stonewall, Texas, in a small farmhouse on the Pedernales River.[13] He was the eldest of five children born to Samuel Ealy Johnson Jr. and Rebekah Baines.[14][15] Johnson had one brother, Sam Houston Johnson, and three sisters, Rebekah, Josefa, and Lucia.[16] The nearby small town of Johnson City, Texas was named after his father's cousin, James Polk Johnson,[17][18] whose forebears had moved west from Georgia.[19] Johnson had English-Irish, German, and Ulster Scots ancestry.[20] Through his mother, he was a great-grandson of pioneer Baptist clergyman George Washington Baines.[21]
Johnson's grandfather, Samuel Ealy Johnson Sr., was raised Baptist and for a time was a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In his later years, the grandfather became a Christadelphian; Johnson's father also joined the Christadelphian Church toward the end of his life.[22] Johnson was influenced in his positive attitude toward Jews by the religious beliefs that his family, especially his grandfather, had shared with him.[23]
Johnson grew up in poverty, with his father losing a great deal of money.[24] Biographer Robert Caro described him as being raised "in a land without electricity, where the soil was so rocky that it was hard to earn a living from it."[24]
In school, Johnson was a talkative youth who was elected president of his 11th-grade class. He graduated in 1924 from Johnson City High School, where he participated in public speaking, debate, and baseball.[25][26] At 15, Johnson was the youngest in his class. Pressured by his parents to attend college, he enrolled at a "sub college" of Southwest Texas State Teachers College (SWTSTC) in the summer of 1924, where students from unaccredited high schools could take the 12th-grade courses needed for admission to college. He left the school just weeks after his arrival and decided to move to southern California. He worked at his cousin's legal practice and in odd jobs before returning to Texas, where he worked as a day laborer.[27]
In 1926, Johnson enrolled at SWTSTC. He worked his way through school, participated in debate and campus politics, and edited the school newspaper, The College Star.[28] The college years refined his skills of persuasion and political organization. For nine months, from 1928 to 1929, Johnson paused his studies to teach Mexican–American children at the segregated Welhausen School in Cotulla, 90 miles (140 km) south of San Antonio. The job helped him to save money to complete his education, and he graduated in 1930 with a Bachelor of Science degree in history and his certificate of qualification as a high school teacher.[29][30] He briefly taught at Pearsall High School in Pearsall before taking a position teaching public speaking at Sam Houston High School in Houston.[31]
When he returned to San Marcos in 1965, after signing the Higher Education Act of 1965, Johnson reminisced:
I shall never forget the faces of the boys and the girls in that little Welhausen Mexican School, and I remember even yet the pain of realizing and knowing then that college was closed to practically every one of those children because they were too poor. And I think it was then that I made up my mind that this nation could never rest while the door to knowledge remained closed to any American.[32]
Entry into politicsAfter Richard M. Kleberg won a 1931 special election to represent Texas in the United States House of Representatives, he appointed Johnson as his legislative secretary. This marked Johnson's formal introduction to politics. Johnson secured the position on the recommendation of his father and that of state senator Welly Hopkins, for whom Johnson had campaigned in 1930.[33] Kleberg had little interest in performing the day-to-day duties of a Congressman, instead delegating them to Johnson.[34] After Franklin D. Roosevelt won the 1932 U.S. presidential election, Johnson became a lifelong supporter of Roosevelt's New Deal.[35] Johnson was elected speaker of the "Little Congress", a group of Congressional aides, where he cultivated Congressmen, newspapermen, and lobbyists. Johnson's friends soon included aides to President Roosevelt as well as fellow Texans such as vice president John Nance Garner and congressman Sam Rayburn.[36]
Johnson married Claudia Alta Taylor of Karnack, Texas, on November 17, 1934. He met her after he had attended Georgetown University Law Center for several months.[37] During their first date, he asked her to marry him; many dates later, she finally agreed.[38] The wedding was officiated by Arthur R. McKinstry at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in San Antonio.[39] They had two daughters: Lynda Bird in 1944 and Luci Baines in 1947. Johnson gave his children names with the LBJ initials; his dog was Little Beagle Johnson. His home was the LBJ Ranch; his initials were on his cufflinks, ashtrays, and clothes.[40] During his marriage, Lyndon Johnson had affairs with "numerous"[41] women, in particular Alice Marsh, who assisted him politically.[41]
In 1935, Johnson was appointed head of the Texas National Youth Administration, which enabled him to use the government to create education and job opportunities for young people. He resigned two years later to run for Congress. Johnson, a notoriously tough boss, often demanded long workdays and work on weekends.[42] He was described by friends, fellow politicians, and historians as motivated by lust for power and control. As Caro observes, "Johnson's ambition was uncommon – in the degree to which it was unencumbered by even the slightest excess weight of ideology, of philosophy, of principles, of beliefs."[43]
U.S. House of Representatives (1937–1949)
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Texas governor James Burr V Allred, and Johnson in 1937. Johnson later used an edited version of this photo, with Allred airbrushed out, in his 1941 senatorial campaign.[44]In 1937, after the death of thirteen-term congressman James P. Buchanan, Johnson successfully campaigned in a special election for Texas's 10th congressional district, that covered Austin and the surrounding hill country. He ran on a New Deal platform and was effectively aided by his wife. He served in the House from April 10, 1937, to January 3, 1949.[45] President Roosevelt found Johnson to be a welcome ally and conduit for information, particularly about issues concerning internal politics in Texas and the machinations of Vice President Garner and House Speaker Rayburn. Johnson was immediately appointed to the Naval Affairs Committee. He worked for rural electrification and other improvements for his district. Johnson steered the projects towards contractors he knew, such as Herman and George Brown, who would finance much of Johnson's future career.[26]
1941 U.S. Senate electionMain article: 1941 United States Senate special election in TexasIn April of 1941, incumbent Texas senator Morris Shepard died, opening up the seat to a special election. Under Texas law, a special election for a vacant Senate seat must occur within a few months after the vacancy, meaning that the election would not be held during a normal November election, giving Johnson the chance to run without forfeiting his seat in the House.[46] The election would be held without party primaries, and with no runoff, meaning that Johnson would have to compete against every Democrat—without the chance of facing the frontrunner, Governor W. Lee "Pappy" O’Daniel, in a 1-on-1 runoff election.[46] The first pre-election polls showed Johnson receiving only 5% of the vote, but Johnson ran a fierce campaign, barnstorming the state and emphasizing his close relationship with President Roosevelt.[46]
On Election Day, Johnson held a strong lead in the returns throughout the whole night, and with 96 percent of the ballots counted, Johnson held a 5,000-vote lead.[46] According to John Connally, future Governor and Johnson's campaign manager, local election officials began calling Connally's office and asking him about whether they should report the vote tallies.[46] Connally told them to report the votes, which allegedly allowed O'Daniel's political allies among the South and East Texas party bosses to know the exact number of fraudulent votes needed for O'Daniel to catch up to Johnson.[46] According to Connally,
The opposition then—Governor O'Daniel and his people—knew exactly how many votes they had to have to take the lead... They kept changing the results, and our lead got smaller and smaller and smaller. Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, we wound up on the short side of the stick and lost the election by 1,311 votes. I'm basically responsible for losing that 1941 campaign. We let them know exactly how many votes they had to have.[46]
In addition to O'Daniel's allies, state business interests aligned with former impeached and convicted Texas Governor "Pa" Ferguson had been concerned with O'Daniel's support of prohibition as Governor; they believed that he could do much less damage to their cause in the Senate.[46] The lieutenant governor, Coke Stevenson, was not in favor of prohibition, making his possible promotion to Governor a key selling point for the state's business interests in manipulating the election results.[46] In the final vote tally, Johnson fell short by just 0.23% of the vote.[47]
While Johnson's loss in the 1941 Senate race was a stinging defeat, he did not have to give up his seat in the House. In keeping his political power, Johnson maintained numerous allies, including George Berham Parr, who ran a political machine in the south Texas Rio Grande Valley.[48] Senator O'Daniel became extremely unpopular during his time in the Senate, and decided to forgo a offer for re-election in 1948,[49] so Johnson began preparing for a close Senate runoff by arranging for his supporters who controlled votes, including Parr, to withhold their final tallies until the statewide results were announced.[48] By waiting until the statewide result was in, Johnson would know the figure he had to surpass and so could add as many votes as necessary to his total.[50] It would prove consequential, as Johnson would win the Democratic primary in 1948 by just 87 votes.[51]
Active military duty (1941–1942)
Lieutenant Commander Johnson, March 1942Johnson was appointed a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve on June 21, 1940. While serving as a U.S. representative, he was called to active duty three days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. His orders were to report to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C., for instruction and training.[52] Following his training, he asked Undersecretary of the Navy James Forrestal for a job in Washington. He was sent instead to inspect shipyard facilities in Texas and on the West Coast. In the spring of 1942, President Roosevelt decided he needed better information on conditions in the Southwest Pacific, and to send a highly trusted political ally to get it. From a suggestion by Forrestal, Roosevelt assigned Johnson to a three-man survey team covering the Southwest Pacific.[53]
Johnson reported to General Douglas MacArthur in Australia. Johnson and two U.S. Army officers went to the 22nd Bomb Group base, which was assigned the high-risk mission of bombing the Japanese airbase at Lae in New Guinea. On June 9, 1942, Johnson volunteered as an observer for an airstrike on New Guinea. Reports vary on what happened to the aircraft carrying Johnson during that mission. Johnson's biographer Robert Caro accepts Johnson's account and supports it with testimony from the aircrew concerned: the aircraft was attacked, disabling one engine and it turned back before reaching its objective, under heavy fire. Others claim that it turned back because of generator trouble before encountering enemy aircraft and never came under fire; this is supported by official flight records.[54][55] Other airplanes that continued to the target came under fire near the target about the same time Johnson's plane was recorded as having landed back at the original airbase. MacArthur recommended Johnson for the Silver Star for gallantry in action, the only member of the crew to receive a decoration.[55] After it was approved by the Army, he presented the medal to Johnson, with the following citation:[54]
For gallantry in action in the vicinity of Port Moresby and Salamaua, New Guinea, on June 9, 1942. While on a mission of obtaining information in the Southwest Pacific area, Lieutenant Commander Johnson, to obtain personal knowledge of combat conditions, volunteered as an observer on a hazardous aerial combat mission over hostile positions in New Guinea. As our planes neared the target area they were intercepted by eight hostile fighters. When, at this time, the plane in which Lieutenant Commander Johnson was an observer, developed mechanical trouble and was forced to turn back alone, presenting a favorable target to the enemy fighters, he evidenced marked coolness despite the hazards involved. His gallant actions enabled him to obtain and return with valuable information.
Johnson, who had used a movie camera to record conditions,[56] reported to Roosevelt, to Navy leaders, and Congress that conditions were deplorable and unacceptable: some historians have suggested this was in exchange for MacArthur's recommendation to award the Silver Star.[55] He argued that the southwest Pacific urgently needed a higher priority and a larger share of war supplies. The warplanes sent there, for example, were "far inferior" to Japanese planes, and morale was bad. He told Forrestal that the Pacific Fleet had a "critical" need for 6,800 additional experienced men. Johnson prepared a twelve-point program to upgrade the effort in the region, stressing "greater cooperation and coordination within the various commands and between the different war theaters". Congress responded by making Johnson chairman of a high-powered subcommittee of the Naval Affairs Committee,[57] with a mission similar to that of the Truman Committee in the Senate. He probed the peacetime "business as usual" inefficiencies that permeated the naval war and demanded that admirals get the job done. Johnson went too far when he proposed a bill that would crack down on the draft exemptions of shipyard workers if they were absent from work too often; organized labor blocked the bill and denounced him. Johnson's biographer Robert Dallek concludes, "The mission was a temporary exposure to danger calculated to satisfy Johnson's personal and political wishes, but it also represented a genuine effort on his part, however misplaced, to improve the lot of America's fighting men."[58]
In addition to the Silver Star, Johnson received the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. He was released from active duty on July 17, 1942, and remained in the Navy Reserve, later promoted to commander on October 19, 1949 (effective June 2, 1948). He resigned from the Navy Reserve effective January 18, 1964.[59]
U.S. Senate (1949–1961)1948 U.S. Senate electionMain article: 1948 United States Senate election in TexasIn the 1948 elections, Johnson again ran for the Senate and won the general election after being declared winner in a highly controversial Democratic Party primary election against the well-known former governor Coke Stevenson. Johnson drew crowds to fairgrounds with his rented helicopter, dubbed "The Johnson City Windmill". He raised money to flood the state with campaign circulars and won over conservatives by casting doubts on Stevenson's support for the Taft–Hartley Act (curbing union power). Stevenson came in first in the primary but lacked a majority, so a runoff election was held; Johnson campaigned harder, while Stevenson's efforts slumped due to a lack of funds.
US presidential historian Michael Beschloss observed that Johnson "gave white supremacist speeches" during the 1948 campaign, in order to secure the white vote. This cemented his reputation as a moderate, which would enable him to pivot and further civil rights causes upon assuming the presidency.[60]
The runoff vote count, handled by the Democratic State Central Committee, took a week. Johnson was announced the winner by 87 votes out of 988,295, an extremely narrow margin. However, Johnson's victory was based on 200 "patently fraudulent"[61]: 608  ballots reported six days after the election from Box 13 in Jim Wells County, in an area dominated by political boss George Parr. The added names were in alphabetical order and written with the same pen and handwriting, at the end of the list of voters. Some of the persons in this part of the list insisted that they had not voted that day.[62] Election judge Luis Salas said in 1977 that he had certified 202 fraudulent ballots for Johnson.[63] Robert Caro made the case in his 1990 book that Johnson had stolen the election in Jim Wells County, and that there were thousands of fraudulent votes in other counties as well, including 10,000 votes switched in San Antonio.[64] The Democratic State Central Committee voted to certify Johnson's nomination by a majority of one (29–28). The state Democratic convention upheld Johnson. Stevenson went to court, eventually taking his case before the U.S. Supreme Court, but with timely help from his friend and future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas, Johnson prevailed on the basis that jurisdiction over naming a nominee rested with the party, not the federal government. Johnson soundly defeated Republican Jack Porter in the general election in November and went to Washington, permanently dubbed "Landslide Lyndon". Johnson, dismissive of his critics, happily adopted the nickname.[65]
Freshman senator to majority whip
Johnson's Senate portrait, 1950sOnce in the Senate, Johnson was known among his colleagues for his highly successful "courtships" of older senators, especially Senator Richard Russell, Democrat from Georgia, the leader of the Conservative coalition and arguably the most powerful man in the Senate. Johnson proceeded to gain Russell's favor in the same way he had "courted" Speaker Sam Rayburn and gained his crucial support in the House.
Johnson was appointed to the Senate Armed Services Committee, and in 1950 helped create the Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee. He became its chairman, and conducted investigations of defense costs and efficiency. These investigations demanded actions that were already being taken in part by the Truman administration, although it can be said that the committee's investigations reinforced the need for changes. Johnson gained national attention through his handling of the press, the efficiency with which his committee issued new reports, and the fact that he ensured that every report was endorsed unanimously by the committee. He used his political influence in the Senate to receive broadcast licenses from the Federal Communications Commission in his wife's name.[63][66] After the 1950 general elections, Johnson was chosen as Senate Majority Whip in 1951 under the new Majority Leader, Ernest McFarland of Arizona, and served from 1951 to 1953.[45]
Senate Democratic leaderIn the 1952 general election, Republicans won a majority in both the House and Senate. In January 1953, Johnson was chosen by his fellow Democrats to be Minority Leader; he became the most junior senator ever elected to this position. One of his first actions was to eliminate the seniority system in making appointments to committees while retaining it for chairmanships. In the 1954 election, Johnson was re-elected to the Senate and, since the Democrats won the majority in the Senate, then became majority leader. Johnson's duties were to schedule legislation and help pass measures favored by the Democrats. Johnson, Rayburn and President Dwight D. Eisenhower worked well together in passing Eisenhower's domestic and foreign agenda.[67]
During the Suez Crisis, Johnson tried to prevent the U.S. government from criticizing the Israeli invasion of the Sinai peninsula. Along with the rest of the nation, Johnson was appalled by the threat of possible Soviet domination of space flight implied by the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite Sputnik 1 and used his influence to ensure passage of the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act, which established the civilian space agency NASA.President Johnson giving "The Treatment" to senator Richard Russell Jr., 1963Historians Caro and Dallek consider Johnson the most effective Senate majority leader in history. He was unusually proficient at gathering information. One biographer suggests he was "the greatest intelligence gatherer Washington has ever known", discovering exactly where every senator stood on issues, his philosophy and prejudices, his strengths and weaknesses and what it took to get his vote.[68] Robert Baker claimed that Johnson would occasionally send senators on NATO trips to avoid their dissenting votes.[69] Central to Johnson's control was "The Treatment",[70] described by two journalists:
The Treatment could last ten minutes or four hours. It came, enveloping its target, at the Johnson Ranch swimming pool, in one of Johnson's offices, in the Senate cloakroom, on the floor of the Senate itself – wherever Johnson might find a fellow Senator within his reach. Its tone could be supplication, accusation, cajolery, exuberance, scorn, tears, complaint, and the hint of threat. It was all of these together. It ran the gamut of human emotions. Its velocity was breathtaking and it was all in one direction. Interjections from the target were rare. Johnson anticipated them before they could be spoken. He moved in close, his face a scant millimeter from his target, his eyes widening and narrowing, his eyebrows rising and falling. From his pockets poured clippings, memos, statistics. Mimicry, humor, and the genius of analogy made The Treatment an almost hypnotic experience and rendered the target stunned and helpless.[71]
In 1955, Johnson persuaded Oregon's Independent Wayne Morse to join the Democratic caucus.[72]
During his tenure as Majority Leader, Johnson did not sign the 1956 Southern Manifesto,[73][74] and shepherded the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 to passage—the first civil rights bills to pass Congress since the Enforcement Acts and the Civil Rights Act of 1875 during Reconstruction.[list 1]
A 60-cigarette-per-day smoker, Johnson suffered a near-fatal heart attack on July 2, 1955, at age 46. He abruptly gave up smoking. Johnson announced he would remain as his party's leader in the Senate on New Year's Eve 1955, his doctors reporting he had made "a most satisfactory recovery".[80][81]
Campaigns of 1960See also: 1960 United States presidential electionJohnson's success in the Senate rendered him a potential Democratic presidential candidate; he had been the "favorite son" candidate of the Texas delegation at the Party's national convention in 1956, and appeared to be in a strong position to run for the 1960 nomination. Jim Rowe repeatedly urged Johnson to launch a campaign in early 1959, but Johnson thought it better to wait, thinking that John Kennedy's efforts would create a division in the ranks which could then be exploited. Rowe finally joined the Humphrey campaign in frustration, another move that Johnson thought played into his own strategy.[82]
Candidacy for presidentJohnson made a late entry into the campaign in July 1960 which, coupled with a reluctance to leave Washington, allowed the rival Kennedy campaign to secure a substantial early advantage among Democratic state party officials. Johnson underestimated Kennedy's endearing qualities of charm and intelligence, as compared to his reputation as the more crude and wheeling-dealing "Landslide Lyndon".[83] Caro suggests that Johnson's hesitancy resulted from fear of failure.[84]
Johnson attempted in vain to capitalize on Kennedy's youth, poor health, and failure to take a position regarding McCarthyism.[85] He had formed a "Stop Kennedy" coalition with Adlai Stevenson, Stuart Symington, and Hubert Humphrey, but it proved a failure. Despite Johnson having the support of established Democrats and the party leadership, this did not translate into popular approval. Johnson received 409 votes on the only ballot at the Democratic convention to Kennedy's 806, and so the convention nominated Kennedy. Tip O'Neill was a representative from Kennedy's home state of Massachusetts at that time, and he recalled that Johnson approached him at the convention and said, "Tip, I know you have to support Kennedy at the start, but I'd like to have you with me on the second ballot." O'Neill replied, "Senator, there's not going to be any second ballot."[86]
Vice-presidential nominationMain article: 1960 Democratic Party vice presidential candidate selectionAccording to Kennedy's Special Counsel Myer Feldman and Kennedy himself, it is impossible to reconstruct the precise manner in which Johnson's vice-presidential nomination ultimately took place. Kennedy realized that he could not be elected without the support of traditional Southern Democrats, most of whom had backed Johnson; nevertheless, labor leaders were unanimous in their opposition to Johnson. AFL-CIO President George Meany called Johnson "the arch-foe of labor", while Illinois AFL-CIO President Reuben Soderstrom asserted Kennedy had "made chumps out of leaders of the American labor movement".[87][88] After much discussion with party leaders and others on the matter, Kennedy offered Johnson the vice-presidential nomination at the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel at 10:15 am on July 14, the morning after he was nominated, and Johnson accepted. From that point to the actual nomination that evening, the facts are in dispute in many respects. (Convention chairman LeRoy Collins' declaration of a two-thirds majority in favor by voice vote is even disputed.)[89]
Re-election to U.S. SenateAt the same time as his vice presidential run, Johnson also sought a third term in the U.S. Senate. According to Robert Caro, "Johnson won an election for both the vice presidency of the United States, on the Kennedy–Johnson ticket, and for a third term as senator (he had Texas law changed to allow him to run for both offices). When he won the vice presidency, he made arrangements to resign from the Senate, as he was required to do under federal law, as soon as it convened on January 3, 1961."[90] Johnson was re-elected senator with 1,306,605 votes (58 percent) to Republican John Tower's 927,653 (41.1 percent). Fellow Democrat William A. Blakley was appointed to replace Johnson, but lost a special election in May 1961 to Tower.
Vice presidency (1961–1963)See also: Presidency of John F. Kennedy
President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson outside the White House prior to a ceremonyAfter the election, Johnson was concerned about the traditionally ineffective nature of his new office and set about to assume authority not allotted to the position. He initially sought a transfer of the authority of Senate majority leader to the vice presidency, since that office made him president of the Senate, but faced vehement opposition from the Democratic Caucus, including members whom he had counted as his supporters.[91]
Johnson sought to increase his influence within the executive branch. He drafted an executive order for Kennedy's signature, granting Johnson "general supervision" over matters of national security, and requiring all government agencies to "cooperate fully with the vice president in the carrying out of these assignments". Kennedy's response was to sign a non-binding letter requesting Johnson to "review" national security policies instead.[92] Kennedy similarly turned down early requests from Johnson to be given an office adjacent to the Oval Office and to employ a full-time staff within the White House.[93] His lack of influence was thrown into relief later in 1961 when Kennedy appointed Johnson's friend Sarah T. Hughes to a federal judgeship, whereas Johnson had tried and failed to garner the nomination for Hughes at the beginning of his vice presidency. House Speaker Sam Rayburn wrangled the appointment from Kennedy in exchange for support of an administration bill.
Many members of the Kennedy White House were contemptuous of Johnson, including the president's brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and they ridiculed his comparatively brusque, crude manner. Congressman Tip O'Neill recalled that the Kennedy men "had a disdain for Johnson that they didn't even try to hide.... They actually took pride in snubbing him."[94]Vice President Johnson and Attorney General Robert Kennedy meeting with civil rights leaders at the White House on June 22, 1963.Kennedy made efforts to keep Johnson busy and informed, telling aides, "I can't afford to have my vice president, who knows every reporter in Washington, going around saying we're all screwed up, so we're going to keep him happy."[95] Kennedy appointed him to jobs such as the head of the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities, through which he worked with African Americans and other minorities. Kennedy may have intended this to remain a more nominal position, but Taylor Branch contends in Pillar of Fire that Johnson pushed the Kennedy administration's actions further and faster for civil rights than Kennedy originally intended to go.[citation needed]
Johnson took on numerous minor diplomatic missions, which gave him some insights into global issues, as well as opportunities for self-promotion in the name of showing the country's flag. During his visit to West Berlin on August 19–20, 1961, Johnson calmed Berliners who were outraged by the building of the Berlin Wall.[96] He also attended Cabinet and National Security Council meetings. Kennedy gave Johnson control over all presidential appointments involving Texas, and appointed him chairman of the President's Ad Hoc Committee for Science.[97]
Kennedy also appointed Johnson Chairman of the National Aeronautics and Space Council. The Soviets beat the United States with the first crewed spaceflight in April 1961, and Kennedy gave Johnson the task of evaluating the U.S. space program and recommending a project that would allow the United States to catch up or beat the Soviets.[98] Johnson recommended that the United States gain the leadership role by committing to landing an American on the Moon in the 1960s.[99][100] Kennedy assigned priority to the space program, but Johnson's appointment provided cover in case of a failure.[101]
Johnson was touched by a Senate scandal in August 1963 when Bobby Baker, the Secretary to the Majority Leader of the Senate and a protégé of Johnson's, came under investigation by the Senate Rules Committee for allegations of bribery and financial malfeasance. One witness alleged that Baker had arranged for the witness to give kickbacks for the Vice President. Baker resigned in October, and the investigation did not expand to Johnson. The negative publicity from the affair fed rumors in Washington circles that Kennedy was planning on dropping Johnson from the Democratic ticket in the 1964 presidential election. However, on October 31, 1963, a reporter asked if he intended and expected to have Johnson on the ticket. Kennedy replied, "Yes to both those questions."[102] There is little doubt that Robert Kennedy and Johnson hated each other,[103] yet John and Robert Kennedy agreed that dropping Johnson from the ticket could produce heavy losses in the South.[104][105]
Presidency (1963–1969)Main article: Presidency of Lyndon B. JohnsonFor a chronological guide, see Timeline of the Lyndon B. Johnson presidency.Further information: Foreign policy of the Lyndon B. Johnson administrationJohnson assumed the presidency amid a healthy economy with steady growth and low unemployment, and with no serious international crises. He focused his attention on domestic policy until escalation of the Vietnam War began in August 1964.
SuccessionMain article: First inauguration of Lyndon B. Johnson
LBJ is sworn in on Air Force One by Judge Sarah Hughes as Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Kennedy look on.Johnson was quickly sworn in as president on Air Force One in Dallas on November 22, 1963, just two hours and eight minutes after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, amid suspicions of a conspiracy against the government.[106] He was sworn in by U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes, a family friend.[107] In the rush, Johnson took the oath of office using a Roman Catholic missal from President Kennedy's desk,[108] despite not being Catholic,[109] due to the missal being mistaken for a Bible.[109] Cecil Stoughton's iconic photograph of Johnson taking the presidential oath of office as Mrs. Kennedy looks on is the most famous photo ever taken aboard a presidential aircraft.[109][110]
Johnson was convinced of the need to make an impression of an immediate transition of power after the assassination to provide stability to a grieving nation.[111] He and the Secret Service were concerned that he could also be a target of a conspiracy,[112] and felt compelled to rapidly return the new president to Washington.[112] This was greeted by some with assertions that Johnson was in too much haste to assume power.[113][114]
On November 27, 1963, Johnson delivered his Let Us Continue speech to a joint session of Congress, saying that "No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy's memory than the earliest possible passage of the Civil Rights Bill for which he fought so long."[115] The wave of national grief following the assassination gave enormous momentum to Johnson's promise to carry out Kennedy's plans and his policy of seizing Kennedy's legacy to give momentum to his legislative agenda.[114]
On November 29, 1963, just one week after Kennedy's assassination, Johnson issued an executive order to rename NASA's Apollo Launch Operations Center and the NASA/Air Force Cape Canaveral launch facilities as the John F. Kennedy Space Center.[116] Cape Canaveral was officially known as Cape Kennedy from 1963 until 1973.[117][118]
Also on November 29, Johnson established a panel headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, known as the Warren Commission, through executive order to investigate Kennedy's assassination and surrounding conspiracies.[119] The commission conducted extensive research and hearings and unanimously concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. However, the report remains controversial among some conspiracy theorists.[120]
Johnson retained senior Kennedy appointees, some for the full term of his presidency. He even retained Attorney General Robert Kennedy, with whom he had a notoriously difficult relationship, until Kennedy left in 1964 to run for the Senate.[121] Although Johnson had no official chief of staff, Walter Jenkins presided over the details of daily operations at the White House. George Reedy, who was Johnson's second-longest-serving aide, assumed the post of press secretary when John F. Kennedy's own Pierre Salinger left that post in March 1964.[122] Horace Busby served primarily as a speechwriter and political analyst.[123] Bill Moyers was the youngest member of Johnson's staff; he handled scheduling and speechwriting part-time.[124]
Legislative initiativesThe new president thought it advantageous to quickly pursue one of Kennedy's primary legislative goals—a tax cut. Johnson worked closely with Harry F. Byrd of Virginia to negotiate a reduction in the budget below $100 billion in exchange for what became overwhelming Senate approval of the Revenue Act of 1964. Congressional approval followed at the end of February, and facilitated efforts to follow on civil rights.[125] In late 1963, Johnson also initiated his War on Poverty, recruiting Kennedy relative Sargent Shriver, then head of the Peace Corps, to spearhead the effort. In March 1964, Johnson sent to Congress the Economic Opportunity Act, which created the Job Corps and the Community Action Program, designed to attack poverty locally. The act also created VISTA, a domestic counterpart to the Peace Corps.[126]
Civil Rights Act of 1964Main article: Civil Rights Act of 1964
Meeting with civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. (left), Whitney Young, and James Farmer in the Oval Office in 1964President Kennedy had submitted a civil rights bill to Congress in June 1963, which met with strong opposition.[127][128] Johnson renewed the effort and asked Bobby Kennedy to spearhead the undertaking on Capitol Hill. This provided adequate political cover for Johnson should the effort fail; but if it were successful, Johnson would receive ample credit.[129] Historian Robert Caro notes that the bill Kennedy had submitted was facing the same tactics that prevented the passage of civil rights bills in the past: southern congressmen and senators used congressional procedure to prevent it from coming to a vote.[130] In particular, they held up all of the major bills Kennedy had proposed and that were considered urgent, especially the tax reform bill, to force the bill's supporters to pull it.[130]
Johnson was quite familiar with the procedural tactic, as he played a role in a similar tactic against a civil rights bill that Harry Truman had submitted to Congress fifteen years earlier.[130] In that fight, a rent-control renewal bill was held up until the civil rights bill was withdrawn.[130] Believing that the Civil Rights Act would suffer the same fate, he adopted a different strategy from that of Kennedy, who had mostly removed himself from the legislative process. By tackling the tax cut first, the previous tactic was eliminated.[131]
Passing the civil rights bill in the House required getting it through the Rules Committee, which had been attempting to kill it. Johnson used a discharge petition to force it onto the House floor.[132] Facing a growing threat that they would be bypassed, the House rules committee approved the bill and moved it to the floor of the full House, which passed it shortly thereafter by a vote of 290–110.[133] In the Senate, since the tax bill had passed three days earlier, the anti-civil rights senators were left with the filibuster as their only remaining tool. Overcoming the filibuster required the support of over twenty Republicans, who were growing less supportive because their party was about to nominate for president a candidate who opposed the bill.[134] According to Caro, Johnson ultimately could convince Republican leader Everett Dirksen to support the bill that amassed the necessary Republican votes to overcome the filibuster in March 1964; after 75 hours of debate, the bill passed the Senate by a vote of 71–29.[135][136] Johnson signed the fortified Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law on July 2.[136] The following evening, Johnson told aide Bill Moyers, "I think we may have lost the south for your lifetime – and mine", anticipating a backlash from Southern whites against Johnson's Democratic Party.[137][138]
Biographer Randall B. Woods has argued that Johnson effectively used appeals to Judeo-Christian ethics to garner support for civil rights. Woods writes that Johnson undermined the Southern filibuster against the bill:
LBJ wrapped white America in a moral straitjacket. How could individuals who fervently, continuously, and overwhelmingly identified themselves with a merciful and just God continue to condone racial discrimination, police brutality, and segregation? Where in the Judeo-Christian ethic was there justification for killing young girls in a church in Alabama, denying an equal education to black children, barring fathers and mothers from competing for jobs that would feed and clothe their families? Was Jim Crow to be America's response to "Godless Communism"?[139]
Woods states that Johnson's religiosity ran deep: "At 15 he joined the Disciples of Christ, or Christian, church and would forever believe that it was the duty of the rich to care for the poor, the strong to assist the weak, and the educated to speak for the inarticulate."[140] Johnson shared the beliefs of his mentor, FDR, in that he paired liberal and religious values, believing that freedom and social justice served both God and man.[141]
The Great SocietyJohnson wanted a catchy slogan for the 1964 campaign to describe his proposed domestic agenda for 1965. Eric Goldman, who joined the White House in December of that year, thought Johnson's domestic program was best captured in the title of Walter Lippman's book, The Good Society. Richard Goodwin tweaked it to "The Great Society" and incorporated it in a speech for Johnson in May 1964 at the University of Michigan. It encompassed movements of urban renewal, modern transportation, clean environment, anti-poverty, healthcare reform, crime control, and educational reform.[142]
1964 presidential electionMain article: 1964 United States presidential electionFurther information: Lyndon B. Johnson 1964 presidential campaignIn Spring 1964, Johnson did not look optimistically on the prospect of being elected president in his own right.[143] A pivotal change took place in April when he assumed personal management of negotiations between the railroad brotherhood and the railroad industry over the issue of featherbedding. Johnson emphasized to the parties the potential impact upon the economy of a strike. After considerable horse-trading, especially with the carriers who won promises from the president for greater freedom in setting rights and more liberal depreciation allowances from the IRS, Johnson got an agreement. This substantially boosted his self-confidence and his image.[144]
Robert F. Kennedy was widely considered an impeccable choice for Johnson's vice presidential running mate but Johnson and Kennedy had never liked one another and Johnson, afraid that Kennedy would be credited with his election as president, opposed the idea at every turn.[145] Kennedy was himself undecided about the position and, knowing that the prospect rankled Johnson, was content to eliminate himself from consideration. Ultimately, Goldwater's poor polling numbers degraded any dependence Johnson might have had on Kennedy as his running mate.[146] Hubert Humphrey's selection as vice president then became a foregone conclusion and was thought to strengthen Johnson in the Midwest and industrial Northeast.[147] Johnson, knowing the degree of frustration inherent in the office of vice president, put Humphrey through a gauntlet of interviews to guarantee his loyalty. Having made the decision, he kept the announcement from the press until the last moment to maximize media speculation and coverage.[148]
In preparation for the Democratic convention, Johnson requested the FBI send thirty agents to cover convention activities; the objective of the squad was to inform the White House staff of any disruptive activities. The squad's focus narrowed upon the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) delegation, which sought to displace the white segregationist delegation regularly selected in the state. The squad's activities included wiretaps of Martin Luther King's room as well as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). From beginning to end, the squad's assignment was carefully couched in terms of the monitoring of disruptive activities that might endanger the president and other high-ranking officials.[149]1964 presidential election resultsJohnson was very concerned about potential political damage from media coverage of racial tensions exposed by a credentials fight between the MFDP and the segregationist delegation, and he assigned Humphrey to manage the problem.[150] The convention's Credentials Committee declared that two MFDP delegates in the delegation be seated as observers and agreed to "bar future delegations from states where any citizens are deprived of the right to vote because of their race or color".[151] The MFDP rejected the committee's ruling. The convention became the apparent personal triumph that Johnson craved, but a sense of betrayal caused by the marginalization of the MFDP would trigger disaffection with Johnson and the Democratic Party from the left; SNCC chairman John Lewis would call it a "turning point in the civil rights movement".[152]
Early in the 1964 presidential campaign, Barry Goldwater appeared to be a strong contender, with strong support from the South, which threatened Johnson's position as he had predicted in reaction to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. However, Goldwater lost momentum as his campaign progressed. On September 7, 1964, Johnson's campaign managers broadcast the "Daisy ad": it portrayed a little girl picking petals from a daisy, followed by a countdown and explosion of a nuclear bomb. The message conveyed was that electing Goldwater risked a nuclear war. Goldwater's campaign message was best symbolized by the bumper sticker displayed by supporters claiming "In your heart, you know he's right". Opponents captured the spirit of Johnson's campaign with bumper stickers that said "In your heart, you know he might" and "In your guts, you know he's nuts".[153] CIA Director William Colby asserted that Tracy Barnes instructed the CIA to spy on the Goldwater campaign and the Republican National Committee to provide information to Johnson's campaign.[154] Johnson won the presidency by a landslide with 61.05 percent of the vote, making it the highest ever share of the popular vote.[155] At the time, this was also the widest popular margin in the 20th century—more than 15.95 million votes—this was later surpassed by incumbent President Nixon's victory in 1972.[156] In the Electoral College, Johnson defeated Goldwater by a margin of 486 to 52. Johnson won 44 states, compared to Goldwater's six. Voters also gave Johnson the largest majorities in Congress since FDR's election in 1936—a Senate with a 68–32 majority and a House with a 295–140 Democratic margin.[157]
Voting Rights ActMain article: Voting Rights Act of 1965Johnson began his elected presidential term with similar motives as he had upon succeeding to the office, ready to "carry forward the plans and programs of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Not because of our sorrow or sympathy, but because they are right."[158] He was reticent to push southern congressmen further after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and suspected their support may have been temporarily tapped out. Nevertheless, the Selma to Montgomery marches in Alabama led by Martin Luther King ultimately led Johnson to initiate a debate on a voting rights bill in February 1965.[159]
refer to captionPresident Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., and Rosa Parks at the signing of the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965Johnson gave a congressional speech in which he said,
rarely at any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself [...] rarely are we met with the challenge [...] to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation.[160]
In 1965, he achieved passage of a second civil rights bill called the Voting Rights Act which outlawed discrimination in voting, thus allowing millions of southern blacks to vote for the first time. Under the act, several states—"eight of the eleven southern states of the former confederacy" (Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia)—were subjected to the procedure of preclearance in 1965, while Texas, then home to the largest African American population of any state, followed in 1975.[161] The Senate passed the voting rights bill by a vote of 77–19 after 2 1/2 months, and it won passage in the house in July, 333–85. The results were significant: between 1968 and 1980, the number of southern black elected state and federal officeholders nearly doubled. The act also made a large difference in the numbers of black elected officials nationally; a few hundred black officeholders in 1965 mushroomed to 6,000 in 1989.[160]
After the murder of civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo, Johnson went on television to announce the arrest of four Ku Klux Klansmen implicated in her death. He angrily denounced the Klan as a "hooded society of bigots," and warned them to "return to a decent society before it's too late". Johnson was the first President to arrest and prosecute members of the Klan since Ulysses S. Grant.[b][162] He turned to themes of Christian redemption to push for civil rights, mobilizing support from churches.[163] At the Howard University commencement address on June 4, 1965, he said that both the government and the nation needed to help achieve these goals: "To shatter forever not only the barriers of law and public practice but the walls which bound the condition of many by the color of his skin. To dissolve, as best we can, the antique enmities of the heart which diminish the holder, divide the great democracy, and do wrong—great wrong—to the children of God ..."[164]
In 1967, Johnson nominated civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall to be the first African-American justice of the Supreme Court. To head the new Department of Housing and Urban Development, Johnson appointed Robert C. Weaver, the first African-American federal cabinet secretary. In 1968, Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which provided for equal housing opportunities regardless of race, creed, or national origin. The impetus for the law's passage came from the 1966 Chicago Open Housing Movement, the April 4, 1968, assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and the civil unrest across the country following King's death.[165] On April 5, Johnson wrote to the United States House of Representatives urging passage of the Fair Housing Act.[166] With newly urgent attention from legislative director Joseph Califano and Democratic Speaker of the House John McCormack, the bill (which was previously stalled) passed the House by a wide margin on April Johnson signs the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 as Sen. Edward Kennedy, Sen. Robert Kennedy, and others look onThe sweeping Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 reformed the country's immigration system and removed all national origins quotas dating from the 1920s. The annual rate of inflow doubled between 1965 and 1970, and doubled again by 1990, with dramatic increases from Asia and Latin American countries including Mexico.[63] Scholars give Johnson little credit for the law, which was not one of his priorities; he had supported the McCarren–Walter Act of 1952 that was unpopular with reformers.[168]
Federal funding for educationFurther information: Elementary and Secondary Education ActJohnson, whose own ticket out of poverty was a public education in Texas, fervently believed that education was an essential component of the American dream, especially for minorities who endured poor facilities and tight-fisted local budgets.[169] He made education the top priority of the Great Society agenda, with an emphasis on helping poor children. After the 1964 landslide brought in many new liberal Congressmen, Johnson launched a legislative effort that took the name of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The bill sought to double federal spending on education from $4 billion to $8 billion;[170] with considerable facilitating by the White House, it passed the House by a vote of 263 to 153 on March 26, and then it remarkably passed without a change in the Senate, by 73 to 8, without going through the usual conference committee. This was a historic accomplishment by the president, with the billion-dollar bill passing as introduced just 87 days before.[171]
Although ESEA solidified Johnson's support among K-12 teachers' unions, neither the Higher Education Act nor the new endowments mollified the college professors and students growing increasingly uneasy with the war in Vietnam.[172] Johnson's second major education program was the Higher Education Act of 1965, which focused on funding for lower-income students. In 1967, Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act to create educational television programs to supplement broadcast networks.
In 1965, Johnson set up the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, to support the study of literature, history, and law, and arts such as music, painting, and sculpture (as the WPA once did).[173]
"War on Poverty" and healthcare reform
Former president Truman and wife Bess at Medicare Bill signing in 1965, as Lady Bird and Hubert Humphrey look onIn 1964, at Johnson's request, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1964 and the Economic Opportunity Act, as part of the war on poverty. Johnson set in motion legislation creating programs such as Head Start, food stamps and Work Study.[174] During Johnson's years in office, national poverty declined significantly, with the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line dropping from 23 to 12 percent.[11] Johnson took an additional step in the War on Poverty with an urban renewal effort, presenting to Congress in January 1966 the "Demonstration Cities Program". To be eligible a city would need to demonstrate its readiness to "arrest blight and decay and make a substantial impact on the development of its entire city". Johnson requested an investment of $400 million per year totaling $2.4 billion. In fall 1966 the Congress passed a substantially reduced program costing $900 million, which Johnson later called the Model Cities Program. Changing the name had little effect on the success of the bill; the New York Times wrote 22 years later that the program was largely a failure.[175]
Johnson's initial effort to improve healthcare was the creation of The Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer, and Strokes (HDCS). These diseases accounted for 71 percent of the nation's deaths in 1962.[176] To enact recommendations of the commission, Johnson asked Congress for funds to set up the Regional Medical Program (RMP), to create a network of hospitals with federally funded research and practice; Congress passed a significantly watered-down version.
As a back-up position, in 1965 Johnson turned his focus to hospital insurance for the aged under Social Security.[177] The key player in initiating this program, named Medicare, was Wilbur Mills, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. To reduce Republican opposition, Mills suggested that Medicare be fashioned as three layers: hospital insurance under Social Security; a voluntary insurance program for doctor visits; and an expanded medical welfare program for the poor, known as Medicaid.[178] The bill passed the house by a margin of 110 votes on April 8. The effort in the Senate was considerably more complicated, but the Medicare bill passed Congress on July 28.[179] Medicare now covers tens of millions of Americans.[180] Johnson gave the first two Medicare cards to former President Harry S Truman and his wife Bess after signing the Medicare bill at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri.[181]
TransportationIn March 1965, Johnson sent to Congress a transportation message which included the creation of a new Transportation Department, comprising the Commerce Department's Office of Transportation, the Bureau of Public Roads, the Federal Aviation Agency, the Coast Guard, the Maritime Administration, the Civil Aeronautics Board, and the Interstate Commerce Commission. The bill passed the Senate after some negotiation over navigation projects; in the House, passage required negotiation over maritime interests and the bill was signed October 15, 1965.[182]
Gun controlThough Johnson had already introduced a gun control bill on June 6, 1968, after the assassination of Robert Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson's press secretary Liz Carpenter, in a memo to the president, worried that the country had been "brainwashed by high drama," and that Johnson "need[ed] some quick dramatic actions" that addressed "the issue of violence." In October, Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968, but did not invoke the memory of Robert Kennedy as he had so often done with his brother–an omission historian Jeff Shesol has argued was motivated by Johnson's longstanding contempt for Robert.[183]
Space programPresident Johnson and Vice President Spiro Agnew witnessing the liftoff of Apollo 11.Former President Lyndon B. Johnson (center left) and Vice President Spiro Agnew (center right) witness the liftoff of Apollo 11.During Johnson's administration, NASA conducted the Gemini crewed space program, developed the Saturn V rocket and its launch facility, and prepared to make the first crewed Apollo program flights. On January 27, 1967, the nation was stunned when the entire crew of Apollo 1 was killed in a cabin fire during a spacecraft test on the launch pad, stopping Apollo in its tracks. Rather than appointing another Warren-style commission, Johnson accepted Administrator James E. Webb's request for NASA to do its investigation.[184] Johnson maintained his staunch support of Apollo through Congressional and press controversy, and the program recovered. The first two crewed missions, Apollo 7 and the first crewed flight to the Moon, Apollo 8, were completed by the end of Johnson's term. He congratulated the Apollo 8 crew, saying, "You've taken ... all of us, all over the world, into a new era."[185][186] On July 16, 1969, Johnson attended the launch of the first Moon landing mission Apollo 11, becoming the first former or incumbent U.S. president to witness a rocket launch.[187]
Urban riots
Aftermath from a race riot in Washington, D.C., April 1968Major riots in black neighborhoods caused a series of "long hot summers." They started with the Harlem riots in 1964, and the Watts district of Los Angeles in 1965, and extended to 1971. The momentum for the advancement of civil rights came to a sudden halt in with the riots in Watts. After 34 people were killed and $35 million (equivalent to $325.02 million in 2022) in property was damaged, the public feared an expansion of the violence to other cities, and so the appetite for additional programs in Johnson's agenda was lost.[188]
Six days of rioting in Newark in 1967 left 26 dead, 1,500 injured, and the inner city a burned-out shell. In Detroit in 1967, Governor George Romney sent in 7,400 national guard troops to quell fire bombings, looting, and attacks on businesses and police. Johnson finally sent in federal troops with tanks and machine guns. Detroit continued to burn for three more days until finally, 43 were dead, 2,250 were injured, 4,000 were arrested; property damage ranged into the hundreds of millions. The biggest wave of riots came in April 1968, in over a hundred cities after the assassination of Martin Luther King. Johnson called for even more billions to be spent in the cities and another federal civil rights law regarding housing, but this request had little Congressional support. Johnson's popularity plummeted as a massive white political backlash took shape, reinforcing the sense Johnson had lost control of the streets of major cities as well as his party.[189] Johnson created the Kerner Commission to study the problem of urban riots, headed by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner.[63] According to press secretary George Christian, Johnson was unsurprised by the riots, saying: "What did you expect? ... When you put your foot on a man's neck and hold him down for three hundred years, and then you let him up, what's he going to do? He's going to knock your block off."[190]
As a result of rioting in Washington, D.C., after the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Johnson determined that "a condition of domestic violence and disorder" existed and issued an executive order mobilizing combat-equipped troops. The New York Times reported that 4,000 regular Army and National Guard troops entered the capital "to try to end riotous looting, burglarizing and burning by roving bands of Negro youths". Some of the troops were sent to guard the Capitol and the White House.[191]
Backlash against Johnson (1966–1967)
Lady Bird Johnson and LBJ with Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos on September 12, 1966In 1966, the press sensed a "credibility gap" between what Johnson was saying in press conferences and what was happening in Vietnam, which led to much less favorable coverage.[192]
By year's end, the Democratic governor of Missouri, Warren E. Hearnes, warned that Johnson would lose the state by 100,000 votes, despite winning by a margin of 500,000 in 1964. "Frustration over Vietnam; too much federal spending and ... taxation; no great public support for your Great Society programs; and ... public disenchantment with the civil rights programs "had eroded the President's standing, the governor reported.[193] There were bright spots; in January 1967, Johnson boasted that wages were the highest in history, unemployment was at a 13-year low, and corporate profits and farm incomes were greater than ever; a 4.5 percent jump in consumer prices was worrisome, as was the rise in interest rates. Johnson asked for a temporary 6 percent surcharge in income taxes to cover the mounting deficit caused by increased spending. Johnson's approval ratings stayed below 50 percent; by January 1967, the number of his strong supporters had plunged to 16 percent, from 25 percent four months before. He ran about even with Republican George Romney in trial matchups that spring. Asked to explain why he was unpopular, Johnson responded, "I am a dominating personality, and when I get things done I don't always please all the people."[194] Johnson also blamed the press, saying they showed "complete irresponsibility and lie and misstate facts and have no one to be answerable to", and "the preachers, liberals and professors" who had turned against him.[195] In the congressional elections of 1966, the Republicans gained three seats in the Senate and 47 in the House, reinvigorating the conservative coalition and making it more difficult for Johnson to pass additional Great Society legislation. However, Congress ultimately passed almost 96 percent of the administration's Great Society programs.[196]
Vietnam WarSee also: Vietnam WarAt Kennedy's death, there were 16,000 American military personnel in Vietnam supporting South Vietnam in the war against North Vietnam.[197] Vietnam had been partitioned at the 1954 Geneva Conference, with North Vietnam led by a Communist government. Johnson subscribed to the Domino Theory and to a containment policy that required America to make a serious effort to stop all Communist expansion.[198] On taking office, Johnson immediately reversed Kennedy's order to withdraw 1,000 military personnel by the end of 1963.[199] In late summer 1964, Johnson seriously questioned the value of staying in Vietnam but, after meeting with Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Maxwell D. Taylor, declared his readiness "to do more when we had a base" or when Saigon was politically more stable.[200] He expanded the numbers and roles of the American military following the Gulf of Tonkin Incident.[citation needed]
1964In August 1964, allegations arose from the military that two U.S. destroyers had been attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats in international waters 40 miles (64 km) from the Vietnamese coast in the Gulf of Tonkin; naval communications and reports of the attack were contradictory. Although Johnson wanted to keep discussions about Vietnam out of the 1964 election campaign, he felt forced to respond, so he sought and obtained from the Congress the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7. Johnson was determined to embolden his image on foreign policy, and also wanted to prevent criticism such as Truman had received in Korea by proceeding without congressional endorsement of military action. Responding to the purported attack would also blunt campaign criticism of weakness from the hawkish Goldwater camp. The resolution gave congressional approval for use of military force by the commander-in-chief to repel future attacks and also to assist members of SEATO requesting assistance. Johnson later in the campaign expressed assurance that the primary U.S. goal remained the preservation of South Vietnamese independence through material and advice, as opposed to any offensive posture.[201] The public's reaction to the resolution at the time was positive—48 percent favored stronger measures in Vietnam and only 14 percent wanted to negotiate a settlement and leave.[147]
In the 1964 presidential campaign, Johnson restated his determination to provide measured support for Vietnam while avoiding another Korea; but privately he had a sense of foreboding, that no matter what he did things would end badly. His heart was in his Great Society agenda, and he even felt that his political opponents favored greater intervention in Vietnam to divert attention and resources away from his War on Poverty. The situation on the ground was aggravated in the fall by additional Viet Minh attacks on U.S. ships in the Tonkin Gulf, as well as an attack on Bien Hoa Air Base in South Vietnam.[202] Johnson decided against retaliatory action after consultation with the Joint Chiefs, and also after public pollster Lou Harris confirmed that his decision would not detrimentally affect him at the polls.[203] By the end of 1964, there were approximately 23,000 military personnel in South Vietnam; U.S. casualties for 1964 totaled 1,278.[197]
In the winter of 1964–1965, Johnson was pressured by the military to begin a bombing campaign to forcefully resist a communist takeover in South Vietnam; moreover, a plurality in the polls at the time was in favor of military action, with only 26 to 30 percent opposed.[204] Johnson revised his priorities, and a new preference for stronger action came at the end of January with yet another change of government in Saigon. He then agreed with Mac Bundy and McNamara that the continued passive role would only lead to defeat and humiliation. Johnson said, "Stable government or no stable government in Saigon we will do what we ought to do. I'm prepared to do that; we will move strongly. General Nguyễn Khánh [head of the new government] is our boy".[205]
1965
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and General Westmoreland in Vietnam 1965Johnson decided on a systematic bombing campaign in February after a ground report from Bundy recommending immediate U.S. action to avoid defeat; also, the Viet Cong had just killed eight U.S. advisers and wounded dozens in an attack at Pleiku Air Base. The eight-week bombing campaign became known as Operation Rolling Thunder. Johnson's instructions for public consumption were clear: there was to be no comment that the war effort had been expanded.[206] Long-term estimates of the bombing campaign ranged from an expectation that Hanoi would rein in the Viet Cong to one of provoking Hanoi and the Viet Cong into an intensification of the war. But the short-term expectations were consistent that the morale and stability of the South Vietnamese government would be bolstered. By limiting the information given out to the public, and even to Congress, Johnson maximized his flexibility to change course.[207]
In March, Bundy began to urge the use of ground forces—air operations alone, he counseled, would not stop Hanoi's aggression against the South. Johnson approved an increase in logistical troops of 18,000 to 20,000 and the deployment of two additional Marine battalions and a Marine air squadron, in addition to planning for the deployment of two more divisions. More significantly, he authorized a change in mission from defensive to offensive operations; he nevertheless insisted that this was not to be publicly represented as a policy change.[208]
By mid-June, the total U.S. ground forces in Vietnam had increased to 82,000 or by 150 percent.[209] That same month, Ambassador Taylor reported that the bombing offensive against North Vietnam had been ineffective and that the South Vietnamese army was outclassed and in danger of collapse.[210] General Westmoreland shortly thereafter recommended the president further increase ground troops to 175,000. After consulting with his principals, Johnson, desirous of a low profile, chose to announce at a press conference an increase to 125,000 troops, with additional forces to be sent later upon request. Johnson described himself at the time as boxed in by unpalatable choices: sending Americans to die in Vietnam and being attacked as an interventionist, or giving in to the communists and risking being impeached. He continued to insist that his decision "did not imply any change in policy whatsoever". Of his desire to veil the decision, Johnson jested privately, "If you have a mother-in-law with only one eye, and she has it in the center of her forehead, you don't keep her in the living room".[211] By October 1965 there were over 200,000 troops deployed in Vietnam.[212]
Johnson underwent surgery on November 8, 1965, at the Bethesda Naval Hospital to remove his gallbladder and a kidney stone. Afterward, his doctors reported that the president had come through the surgery "beautifully as expected";[213] he was able to resume his duties the next day. He met with reporters a couple of days later and reassured the nation that he was recovering well. Although Johnson was incapacitated during surgery, there was no transfer of presidential power to Vice President Humphrey, as no constitutional procedure to do so existed. The Twenty-fifth Amendment, which Congress had sent to the states for ratification four months earlier, included such provisions, but was not ratified until 1967.[214][215]
1966
Awarding a medal to a U.S. soldier during a visit to Vietnam in 1966Public and political impatience with the war began to emerge in the spring of 1966, and Johnson's approval ratings reached a new low of 41 percent. Sen. Richard Russell, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, reflected the national mood in June 1966 when he declared it was time to "get it over or get out".[216] Johnson responded by saying to the press, "we are trying to provide the maximum deterrence that we can to communist aggression with a minimum of cost."[217] In response to the intensified criticism of the war effort, Johnson raised suspicions of communist subversion in the country, and press relations became strained.[218] Johnson's primary war policy opponent in Congress was the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, James William Fulbright,[219] who convened a series of public hearings in February on the progress of the war.[220] Johnson began to seriously consider a more focused bombing campaign against petroleum, oil and lubrication facilities in North Vietnam, in hopes of accelerating victory.[221] Humphrey, Rusk, and McNamara all agreed, and the bombing began at the end of June.[222] In July, polling results indicated that Americans favored the bombing campaign by a five-to-one margin; however, in August a Defense Department study indicated that the bombing campaign had little impact on North Vietnam.[223]
In fall 1966, multiple sources reported that progress was being made against the North Vietnamese logistics and infrastructure; Johnson was urged from every corner to begin peace discussions. There was no shortage of peace initiatives; nevertheless, among protesters, English philosopher Bertrand Russell attacked Johnson's policy as "a barbaric aggressive war of conquest", and in June he initiated the International War Crimes Tribunal to condemn the American effort.[224] The gap with Hanoi was an unbridgeable demand on both sides for a unilateral end to bombing and withdrawal of forces. In August, Johnson appointed Averell Harriman "Ambassador for Peace" to promote negotiations. Westmoreland and McNamara recommended a concerted program to promote pacification; Johnson formally placed this effort under military control in October.[225] Also in October 1966, to reassure and promote his war effort, Johnson initiated a meeting with allies in Manila—the South Vietnamese, Thais, South Koreans, Filipinos, Australians, and New Zealanders.[226] The conference ended with pronouncements to stand fast against communist aggression and to promote ideals of democracy and development in Vietnam and across Asia.[227] For Johnson it was a fleeting public relations success—confirmed by a 63 percent Vietnam approval rating in November.[228] Nevertheless, in December, Johnson's Vietnam approval rating was back down in the 40s; Johnson had become anxious to justify war casualties, and talked of the need for a decisive victory, despite the unpopularity of the cause.[229] In a discussion about the war with former President Dwight Eisenhower on October 3, 1966, Johnson said he was "trying to win it just as fast as I can in every way that I know how" and later stated that he needed "all the help I can get".[230]
By year's end, it was clear that pacification efforts were ineffectual, as had been the air campaign. Johnson agreed to McNamara's new recommendation to add 70,000 troops in 1967 to the 400,000 previously committed. While McNamara recommended no increase in the level of bombing, Johnson agreed with CIA recommendations to increase them.[231] The increased bombing began despite initial secret talks being held in Saigon, Hanoi, and Warsaw. While the bombing ended the talks, North Vietnamese intentions were not considered genuine.[232]
1967In January and February 1967, probes were made to assess North Vietnamese's willingness to discuss peace, but they fell on deaf ears. Ho Chi Minh declared that the only solution was a unilateral U.S. withdrawal.[233] A Gallup poll in July 1967 showed that 52 percent of Americans disapproved of the president's handling of the war, and only 34 percent thought progress was being made.[234] Johnson's anger and frustration over the lack of a solution to Vietnam and its effect on him politically was exhibited in a statement to Robert F. Kennedy, who had become a prominent public critic of the war and loomed as a potential challenger in the 1968 presidential election.[235] Johnson had just received several reports predicting military progress by the summer, and warned Kennedy, "I'll destroy you and every one of your dove friends in six months".[236] McNamara offered Johnson a way out of Vietnam in May; the administration could declare its objective in the war—South Vietnam's self-determination—was being achieved and the upcoming September elections in South Vietnam would provide the chance for a coalition government. The United States could reasonably expect that country to then assume responsibility for the election outcome. But Johnson was reluctant, in light of some optimistic reports about the conflict that provided hope of improvement, though those were of questionable reliability. Meantime, the CIA was reporting wide food shortages in Hanoi and an unstable power grid, as well as military manpower reductions.[237]
By the middle of 1967, nearly 70,000 Americans had been killed or wounded in the war. In July, Johnson sent McNamara, Wheeler, and other officials to meet with Westmoreland and reach an agreement on plans for the immediate future. At that time the war was being commonly described by the press and others as a "stalemate". Westmoreland said such a description was pure fiction, and that "we are winning slowly but steadily and the pace can excel if we reinforce our successes".[238] Though Westmoreland sought many more, Johnson agreed to an increase of 55,000 troops bringing the total to 525,000.[239] In August Johnson, with the Joint Chiefs' support, decided to expand the air campaign and exempted only Hanoi, Haiphong and a buffer zone with China from the target list.[240] In September Ho Chi Minh and North Vietnamese premier Pham Van Dong appeared amenable to French mediation, so Johnson ceased bombing in a 10-mile zone around Hanoi. In a Texas speech, Johnson agreed to halt all bombing if Ho Chi Minh would launch productive discussions and if North Vietnam would not seek to take advantage of the halt; this was named the "San Antonio" formula. There was no response, but Johnson pursued the possibility of negotiations with such a bombing pause.[241]Vietnam War protestors march at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., on October 21, 1967. Support for the war was dropping and the anti-Vietnam War movement strengthened.With the war still arguably in a stalemate and in light of the widespread disapproval of the conflict, Johnson convened a group called the "Wise Men" for an in-depth look at the war—Dean Acheson, General Omar Bradley, George Ball, Mac Bundy, Arthur Dean, Douglas Dillon, Abe Fortas, Averell Harriman, Henry Cabot Lodge, Robert Murphy and Max Taylor.[242] At that time McNamara, reversing his position on the war, recommended that a cap of 525,000 be placed on the number of forces deployed and that the bombing be halted since he could see no success. Johnson was quite agitated by this recommendation and McNamara's resignation soon followed.[243] Except for George Ball, the "Wise Men" all agreed the administration should "press forward".[244] Johnson was confident that Hanoi would await the 1968 U.S. election results before deciding to negotiate.[245]
On June 23, 1967, Johnson traveled to Los Angeles for a Democratic fundraiser. Thousands of anti-war protesters led by a coalition of peace protestors tried to march past the hotel where he was speaking. However, a small group of Progressive Labor Party and SDS protestors activists placed themselves at the head of the march and, when they reached the hotel, staged a sit-down. Efforts by march monitors to keep the main body of the marchers moving were only partially successful. Hundreds of LAPD officers were massed at the hotel and when the march slowed an order was given to disperse the crowd. The riot act was read and 51 protestors arrested.[246][247] This was one of the first massive war protests in the United States, and the first in Los Angeles. Ending in a clash with riot police, it set a pattern for the massive protests which followed.[248] Due to the size and violence of this event, Johnson attempted no further public speeches outside military bases.[248][247]
In October, with ever-increasing public protests against the war, Johnson engaged the FBI and the CIA to investigate, monitor and undermine anti-war activists.[249] In mid-October, there was a demonstration of 100,000 at the Pentagon; Johnson and Rusk were convinced that foreign communist sources were behind the demonstration, which was refuted by CIA findings.[250]
1968
Walt Whitman Rostow shows President Lyndon B. Johnson a model of the Khe Sanh area in February 1968On January 30, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive against South Vietnam's five largest cities, including Saigon and the U.S. embassy there. While the Tet Offensive failed militarily, it was a psychological victory, definitively turning American public opinion against the war. Iconically, Walter Cronkite of CBS News, voted the nation's "most trusted person" in February, opined on the air that the conflict was deadlocked. Johnson reacted, saying "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America".[251] Indeed, demoralization about the war was everywhere; 26 percent then approved of Johnson's handling of Vietnam; 63 percent disapproved. Johnson agreed to increase the troop level by 22,000, despite a recommendation from the Joint Chiefs for ten times that number.[252] By March 1968, Johnson was secretly desperate for an honorable way out of the war. Clark Clifford, the new Defense Secretary, described the war as "a loser" and proposed to "cut losses and get out".[253] On March 31, Johnson spoke to the nation of "Steps to Limit the War in Vietnam". He then announced an immediate unilateral halt to the bombing of North Vietnam and announced his intention to seek out peace talks anywhere at any time. At the close of his speech he announced, "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President".[254]
In March, Johnson decided to restrict future bombing with the result that 75 percent of North Vietnam's territory, containing 90 percent of its population, was off-limits to bombing. In April he succeeded in opening discussions of peace talks, and after extensive negotiations over the site, Paris was agreed to and talks began in May. When the talks failed to yield any results the decision was made to resort to private discussions in Paris,[255] which after two months proved to be no more productive.[256]
As casualties mounted and success seemed further away, Johnson's popularity plummeted. College students and others protested, burned draft cards, and chanted, "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?"[198] Johnson could scarcely travel anywhere without facing protests, and was not allowed by the Secret Service to attend the 1968 Democratic National Convention, where thousands of hippies, yippies, Black Panthers and other opponents of Johnson's policies converged to protest.[257] Thus by 1968, the public was polarized, with the "hawks" rejecting Johnson's refusal to continue the war indefinitely, and the "doves" rejecting his current war policies. Support for Johnson's middle position continued to shrink until he finally rejected containment and sought a peace settlement. By late summer, he realized that Nixon was closer to his position than Humphrey. He continued to support Humphrey publicly in the election, and personally despised Nixon. One of Johnson's well-known quotes was "the Democratic party at its worst, is still better than the Republican party at its best".[258]
Despite recommendations in August from Harriman, Vance, Clifford, and Bundy to halt bombing as an incentive for Hanoi to engage in substantive peace talks, Johnson refused.[259] In October, when the parties came close to an agreement on a bombing halt, Republican presidential nominee Richard Nixon intervened with the South Vietnamese, making promises of better terms, to delay a settlement until after the election.[260] After the election, Johnson's primary focus on Vietnam was to get Saigon to join the Paris peace talks. Only after Nixon added his urging did they do so. Even then they argued about procedural matters until after Nixon took office.[261]
Surveillance of Martin Luther KingJohnson continued the FBI's wiretapping of Martin Luther King Jr. authorized by the Kennedy administration under Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.[262] Johnson also authorized the tapping of phone conversations of others, including the Vietnamese friends of a Nixon associate.[263]
International tripsFurther information: List of international trips made by the President of the United States § Lyndon B. Johnson
Countries visited by Johnson during his presidencyJohnson made eleven international trips to twenty countries during his presidency.[264] He flew five hundred twenty-three thousand miles (841,690 km) aboard Air Force One while in office. His October 1966 visit to Australia sparked demonstrations from anti-war protesters.[265] One of the most unusual international trips in presidential history occurred before Christmas 1967. The President began the trip by going to the memorial for Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt, who was presumed drowned in a swimming accident. The White House did not reveal in advance to the press that the President would make the first round-the-world presidential trip. The trip was twenty-six thousand nine hundred fifty-nine miles (43,386.3 km) completed in only 112.5 hours (4.7 days). Air Force One crossed the equator twice, stopped at Travis Air Force Base, in Honolulu, Pago Pago, Canberra, Melbourne, Vietnam, Karachi, and Rome.
1968 presidential electionMain article: 1968 United States presidential election
President Johnson meets with Republican candidate Richard Nixon in the White House, July 1968.As he had served less than 24 months of President Kennedy's term, Johnson was constitutionally permitted to run for a second full term in 1968.[266][267] Initially, no prominent Democratic candidate was prepared to run against a sitting Democratic president. Only Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota challenged Johnson as an anti-war candidate in the New Hampshire primary, hoping to pressure the Democrats to oppose the Vietnam War. On March 12, McCarthy won 42 percent of the primary vote to Johnson's 49 percent, an amazingly strong showing for such a challenger. Four days later, Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York entered the race. Internal polling by Johnson's campaign in Wisconsin, the next state to hold a primary, showed the President trailing badly. Johnson did not leave the White House to campaign.
By this time Johnson had lost control of the Democratic Party, which was splitting into four generally antagonistic factions. The first consisted of Johnson (and Humphrey), labor unions, and local party bosses led by Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. The second consisted of students and intellectuals who were vociferously against the war and rallied behind McCarthy. The third group was Catholics, Hispanics, and African Americans, who rallied behind Robert Kennedy. The fourth group was traditionally segregationist white Southerners, who rallied behind George C. Wallace and the American Independent Party. Vietnam was one of many issues that splintered the party, and Johnson could see no way to win the war[198] or unite the party long enough to win re-election.[268]
Although it was not made public at the time, another reason Johnson decided not to seek re-election is that he was worried about his failing health and was concerned that he might not live through another four-year term. In 1967, he secretly commissioned an actuarial study that accurately predicted he would die at age 64.[269]
In early January 1968, Johnson asked former speechwriter Horace Busby to draft a withdrawal statement for his upcoming State of the Union address, but the president did not include it. Two months later, however, spurred by his health concerns and by a growing realization that his political capital was all but gone, Johnson again considered withdrawing, discussing the possibility with Joseph Califano and Harry McPherson on March 28.[270] Three days later, he announced he would not run for re-election by concluding with the line: "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President."[271] The next day, the president's approval ratings increased from 36 percent to 49 percent.[272]
After Robert Kennedy's assassination, Johnson rallied the party bosses and unions to nominate Humphrey at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Personal correspondences between the President and some in the Republican Party suggested Johnson tacitly supported Nelson Rockefeller's campaign. He reportedly said that if Rockefeller became the Republican nominee, he would not campaign against him (and would not campaign for Humphrey).[273] In what was termed the October surprise, Johnson announced to the nation on October 31, 1968, that he had ordered a complete cessation of "all air, naval and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam", effective November 1, should the Hanoi Government be willing to negotiate and citing progress with the Paris peace talks. In the end, Democrats did not fully unite behind Humphrey, enabling Republican candidate Richard Nixon to win the election.
Judicial appointmentsSee also: Lyndon B. Johnson judicial appointments and Lyndon B. Johnson judicial appointment controversies
Johnson appointed Thurgood Marshall, the first African American justice, to the Supreme Court.Johnson appointed Justices Abe Fortas (1965) and Thurgood Marshall (1967) to the Supreme Court of the United States. Johnson anticipated court challenges to his legislative measures in 1965 and thought it advantageous to have a "mole" in the Supreme Court to provide him with inside information, as he was able to get from the legislative branch. Abe Fortas in particular Johnson thought could fill the bill. The opportunity arose when an opening occurred for ambassador to the UN, with Adlai Stevenson's death; Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg accepted Johnson's offer to transfer to the UN position. Johnson insisted on Fortas assuming Goldberg's seat, over Fortas's wife's objection that it was too early in his career. She expressed disapproval to Johnson personally afterward.[274] When Earl Warren announced his retirement in 1968, Johnson nominated Fortas to succeed him as Chief Justice of the United States, and nominated Homer Thornberry to succeed Fortas as associate justice. However, Fortas's nomination was filibustered by senators, and neither nominee was voted upon by the full Senate.
Post-presidency (1969–1973)
Johnson with longer hair during an interview in August 1972, five months before his deathOn Inauguration Day (January 20, 1969), Johnson saw Nixon sworn in, then got on the plane to fly back to Texas. When the front door of the plane closed, Johnson pulled out a cigarette—his first cigarette he had smoked since his heart attack in 1955. One of his daughters pulled it out of his mouth and said, "Daddy, what are you doing? You're going to kill yourself." He took it back and said, "I've now raised you, girls. I've now been President. Now it's my time!" From that point on, he went into a very self-destructive spiral.
— Historian Michael Beschloss[275]After leaving the presidency in January 1969, Johnson went home to his ranch in Stonewall, Texas, accompanied by former aide and speechwriter Harry J. Middleton, who would draft Johnson's first book, The Choices We Face, and work with him on his memoirs, The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963–1969, published in 1971.[276] That year, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum opened on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. He donated his Texas ranch in his will to the public to form the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, with the provision that the ranch "remain a working ranch and not become a sterile relic of the past".[277]
Johnson gave Nixon high grades in foreign policy but worried that his successor was being pressured into removing U.S. forces from South Vietnam before the South Vietnamese were able to defend themselves. "If the South falls to the Communists, we can have a serious backlash here at home," he warned.[278]
During the 1972 presidential election, Johnson reluctantly endorsed Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern, a senator from South Dakota; McGovern had long opposed Johnson's foreign and defense policies. The McGovern nomination and platform dismayed him. Nixon could be defeated, Johnson insisted, "if only the Democrats don't go too far left".[269] Johnson felt Edmund Muskie would be more likely to defeat Nixon; however, he declined an invitation to try to stop McGovern receiving the nomination as he felt his unpopularity within the Democratic Party was such that anything he said was more likely to help McGovern. Johnson's protégé John Connally had served as President Nixon's Secretary of the Treasury and then stepped down to head "Democrats for Nixon", a group funded by Republicans. It was the first time that Connally and Johnson were on opposite sides of a general election campaign.[279]
Heart issues
Johnson wearing a cowboy hat at his ranch in Texas, 1972In March 1970, Johnson suffered an attack of angina and was taken to Brooke Army General Hospital in San Antonio. He had gained more than 25 pounds (11 kg) since leaving the White House; he now weighed around 235 pounds (107 kg) and was urged to lose considerable weight. Johnson had also resumed smoking after abstaining for nearly 15 years. The following summer, again gripped by chronic chest pains, he lost 15 pounds (6.8 kg) in less than a month on a crash diet.
In April 1972, Johnson had a second heart attack while visiting his daughter, Lynda, in Virginia. "I'm hurting real bad",[269] he confided to friends. The chest pains returned nearly every afternoon‍—‌sharp, jolting pains that left him frightened and breathless. A portable oxygen tank was kept by his bed, and he periodically interrupted what he was doing to lie down and don the mask. He continued to smoke heavily and, although nominally on a low-calorie, low-cholesterol diet, kept to it only intermittently. Meanwhile, he began to experience severe abdominal pains, diagnosed as diverticulosis. His heart condition rapidly worsened and surgery was recommended. Johnson flew to Houston to consult with heart specialist Dr. Michael DeBakey, where he learned his condition was terminal. DeBakey found Johnson's heart to be in such poor condition that despite two of Johnson's coronary arteries being in urgent need of coronary bypass, Johnson likely would have died in surgery.[278]
Death and funeral
Johnson's graveJohnson recorded an hour-long television interview with newsman Walter Cronkite at his ranch on January 12, 1973, in which he discussed his legacy, particularly about the civil rights movement. He was still smoking heavily, and told Cronkite that it was better for his heart "to smoke than to be nervous".[280]
Ten days later, at approximately 3:39 p.m. Central Time on January 22, 1973, Johnson suffered his third and final heart attack in his bedroom. He managed to telephone the Secret Service agents on the ranch, who found him still holding the telephone receiver, unconscious and not breathing. Johnson was airlifted in one of his planes to San Antonio and taken to Brooke Army Medical Center, where cardiologist and Army colonel George McGranahan pronounced him dead on arrival. He was 64.[281]
The news of Johnson's death was dramatically communicated on CBS Evening News by Walter Cronkite, on live television, as he spoke with Tom Johnson, Lyndon B. Johnson's press secretary.[282] Nixon mentioned Johnson's death in a speech he gave the day after Johnson died, announcing the peace agreement to end the Vietnam War.[283][284]
After lying in repose at his presidential library, Johnson was honored with a state funeral in which Texas Congressman J. J. Pickle and former Secretary of State Dean Rusk eulogized him when he lay in state at the Capitol.[285][286] The funeral took place on January 25 at the National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C., where he had often worshiped as president. The service was presided over by President Richard Nixon and attended by foreign dignitaries, led by Eisaku Satō, who had served as Japanese prime minister during Johnson's presidency.[287] Eulogies were given by George Davis, the church's pastor, and W. Marvin Watson, former postmaster general.[288]
Johnson was buried in his family's private cemetery a few yards from the house in which he was born. Eulogies were given by former Texas governor Connally and Billy Graham, the minister who officiated at the burial rites. The state funeral, the last for a president until Richard Nixon's in 1994, was part of an unexpectedly busy week in Washington, beginning with Richard Nixon's second inauguration following the 1972 election.[289] As Johnson died only two days after the inauguration,[286][289] the remainder of the ceremonies surrounding the inauguration were cancelled to allow for a full state funeral,[289] and many of the military men who participated in the inauguration took part in the funeral.[289] It also meant that Johnson's casket traveled the entire length of the Capitol, entering through the Senate wing when taken into the Rotunda to lie in state and exiting through the House wing steps due to inauguration construction on the East Front steps.[286]
Personality and public imageAccording to biographer Randall Woods, Johnson posed in many different roles:
"Johnson the Son of the Tenant Farmer, Johnson the Great Compromiser, Johnson the All-Knowing, Johnson the Humble, Johnson the Warrior, Johnson the Dove, Johnson the Romantic, Johnson the Hard-Headed Pragmatist, Johnson the Preserver of Traditions, Johnson the Crusader for Social Justice, Johnson the Magnanimous, Johnson the Vindictive or Johnson the Uncouth, LBJ the Hick, Lyndon the Satyr, and Johnson the Usurper".[290]
Johnson was often seen as an ambitious, tireless, and imposing figure who was ruthlessly effective at getting legislation passed. He worked 18- to 20-hour days without break and had no leisure activities. "There was no more powerful majority leader in American history," biographer Robert Dallek writes. Dallek stated that Johnson had biographies on all the senators, knew what their ambitions, hopes, and tastes were and used it to his advantage in securing votes. Another Johnson biographer noted, "He could get up every day and learn what their fears, their desires, their wishes, their wants were and he could then manipulate, dominate, persuade and cajole them." As president, Johnson vetoed 30 bills; no other president in history vetoed so many bills and never had a single one overridden by Congress. At 6 feet 3.5 inches (1.918 m) tall,[291][292][293] Johnson had his particular brand of persuasion, known as "The Johnson Treatment".[294] A contemporary writes, "It was an incredible blend of badgering, cajolery, reminders of past favors, promises of future favors, predictions of gloom if something doesn't happen. When that man started to work on you, all of a sudden, you just felt that you were standing under a waterfall and the stuff was pouring on you."[294]
Johnson's cowboy hat and boots reflected his Texas roots and love of the rural hill country. From 250 acres (100 ha) of land that he was given by an aunt in 1951, he created a 2,700-acre (1,100 ha) working ranch with 400 cattle. The National Park Service keeps a herd descended from Johnson's and maintains the ranch property.[295]
Biographer Randall Woods argues that Social Gospel themes Johnson learned from childhood allowed him to transform social problems into moral problems. This helps explain his longtime commitment to social justice, as exemplified by the Great Society and his commitment to racial equality. The Social Gospel explicitly inspired his foreign-policy approach to Christian internationalism and nation-building. For example, in a 1966 speech he quoted at length from the Social Creed of the Methodist Church, adding "It would be very hard for me to write a more perfect description of the American ideal."[296]
Legacy
Front view of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum located on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin, TexasScholars have viewed Johnson both through the lens of his historic legislative achievements, and his lack of success in the Vietnam War. His overall rating among historians has remained relatively steady, and his average ranking is higher than any of the eight presidents who followed him, although similar to Reagan and Clinton.[297]
Historian Kent Germany explains Johnson's evolving public legacy:
The man who was elected to the White House by one of the widest margins in U.S. history and pushed through as much legislation as any other American politician now seems to be remembered best by the public for succeeding an assassinated hero, steering the country into a quagmire in Vietnam, cheating on his saintly wife, exposing his stitched-up belly, using profanity, picking up dogs by their ears, swimming naked with advisers in the White House pool, and emptying his bowels while conducting official business. Of all those issues, Johnson's reputation suffers the most from his management of the Vietnam War, something that has overshadowed his civil rights and domestic policy accomplishments and caused Johnson himself to regret his handling of "the woman I really loved—the Great Society."[298]
MemorialsSee also: List of memorials to Lyndon B. JohnsonThe Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1973,[299] and the United States Department of Education headquarters was named after Johnson in 2007.[300] The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin was named in his honor, as is the Lyndon B. Johnson National Grassland. Also named for him are schools in Austin and Laredo, Texas; Melbourne, Florida; and Jackson, Kentucky. Interstate 635 in Dallas, Texas, is named the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway. The Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove on the Potomac was dedicated in 1976.
Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1980.[301] Texas created a state holiday on August 27 to mark Johnson's birthday, known as Lyndon Baines Johnson Day.[302]
Major legislation signed1963: Clean Air Act[303]1963: Higher Education Facilities Act[304][305]1963: Vocational Education Act[306]1964: Civil Rights Act1964: Urban Mass Transportation Act1964: Wilderness Act1964: Nurse Training Act[307]1964: Food Stamp Act1964: Economic Opportunity Act1964: Housing Act of[308]1965: Higher Education Act1965: Older Americans Act1965: Coinage Act1965: Social Security Act1965: Voting Rights Act1965: Immigration and Nationality Services Act1966: Animal Welfare Act1966: Freedom of Information Act1967: Age Discrimination in Employment Act[309]1967: Public Broadcasting Act1968: Architectural Barriers Act1968: Bilingual Education Act1968: Civil Rights Act1968: Gun Control ActSignificant regulatory changes1968: FCC creates national emergency number 9-1-1WorksNational Aeronautics and Space Act (1962)[310]Choices We Face (1969)[311]The Vantage Point (1971)[312]See alsoBox 13 scandalFamily of Lyndon B. JohnsonElectoral history of Lyndon B. JohnsonHistory of the United States (1945–1964)History of the United States (1964–1980)Holocaust Museum HoustonJohnson DoctrineList of presidents of the United StatesList of presidents of the United States by previous experienceLyndon B. Johnson School of Public AffairsLyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum on the campus of the University of Texas in AustinLyndon B. Johnson in popular culturePresidents of the United States on U.S. postage stampsZephyr WrightNotes
The president of the United States (POTUS)[A] is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.
The power of the presidency has grown substantially[11] since the first president, George Washington, took office in 1789.[6] While presidential power has ebbed and flowed over time, the presidency has played an increasingly significant role in American political life since the beginning of the 20th century, with notable expansion during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. In modern times, the president is one of the world's most powerful political figures – the leader of the only remaining global superpower.[12][13][14][15] As the leader of the nation with the largest economy by nominal GDP, the president possesses significant domestic and international hard and soft power.
Article II of the Constitution establishes the executive branch of the federal government and vests executive power in the president. The power includes the execution and enforcement of federal law and the responsibility to appoint federal executive, diplomatic, regulatory, and judicial officers. Based on constitutional provisions empowering the president to appoint and receive ambassadors and conclude treaties with foreign powers, and on subsequent laws enacted by Congress, the modern presidency has primary responsibility for conducting U.S. foreign policy. The role includes responsibility for directing the world's most expensive military, which has the second largest nuclear arsenal.
The president also plays a leading role in federal legislation and domestic policymaking. As part of the system of separation of powers, Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution gives the president the power to sign or veto federal legislation. Since modern presidents are typically viewed as leaders of their political parties, major policymaking is significantly shaped by the outcome of presidential elections, with presidents taking an active role in promoting their policy priorities to members of Congress who are often electorally dependent on the president.[16] In recent decades, presidents have also made increasing use of executive orders, agency regulations, and judicial appointments to shape domestic policy.
The president is elected indirectly through the Electoral College to a four-year term, along with the vice president. Under the Twenty-second Amendment, ratified in 1951, no person who has been elected to two presidential terms may be elected to a third. In addition, nine vice presidents have become president by virtue of a president's intra-term death or resignation.[B] In all, 45 individuals have served 46 presidencies spanning 58 four-year terms.[C] Joe offeren is the 46th and current president of the United States, having assumed office on January 20, 2021.
History and developmentOriginsIn July 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, the Thirteen Colonies, acting jointly through the Second Continental Congress, declared themselves to be 13 independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule.[18] Recognizing the necessity of closely coordinating their efforts against the British,[19] the Continental Congress simultaneously began the process of drafting a constitution that would bind the states together. There were long debates on a number of issues, including representation and voting, and the exact powers to be given the central government.[20] Congress finished work on the Articles of Confederation to establish a perpetual union between the states in November 1777 and sent it to the states for ratification.[18]
Under the Articles, which took effect on March 1, 1781, the Congress of the Confederation was a central political authority without any legislative power. It could make its own resolutions, determinations, and regulations, but not any laws, and could not impose any taxes or enforce local commercial regulations upon its citizens.[19] This institutional design reflected how Americans believed the deposed British system of Crown and Parliament ought to have functioned with respect to the royal dominion: a superintending body for matters that concerned the entire empire.[19] The states were out from under any monarchy and assigned some formerly royal prerogatives (e.g., making war, receiving ambassadors, etc.) to Congress; the remaining prerogatives were lodged within their own respective state governments. The members of Congress elected a president of the United States in Congress Assembled to preside over its deliberation as a neutral discussion moderator. Unrelated to and quite dissimilar from the later office of president of the United States, it was a largely ceremonial position without much influence.[21]
In 1783, the Treaty of Paris secured independence for each of the former colonies. With peace at hand, the states each turned toward their own internal affairs.[18] By 1786, Americans found their continental borders besieged and weak and their respective economies in crises as neighboring states agitated trade rivalries with one another. They witnessed their hard currency pouring into foreign markets to pay for imports, their Mediterranean commerce preyed upon by North African pirates, and their foreign-financed Revolutionary War debts unpaid and accruing interest.[18] Civil and political unrest loomed. Events such as the Newburgh Conspiracy and Shays' Rebellion demonstrated that the Articles of Confederation were not working.
Following the successful resolution of commercial and fishing disputes between Virginia and Maryland at the Mount Vernon Conference in 1785, Virginia called for a trade conference between all the states, set for September 1786 in Annapolis, Maryland, with an aim toward resolving further-reaching interstate commercial antagonisms. When the convention failed for lack of attendance due to suspicions among most of the other states, Alexander Hamilton led the Annapolis delegates in a call for a convention to offer revisions to the Articles, to be held the next spring in Philadelphia. Prospects for the next convention appeared bleak until James Madison and Edmund Randolph succeeded in securing George Washington's attendance to Philadelphia as a delegate for Virginia.[18][22]
When the Constitutional Convention convened in May 1787, the 12 state delegations in attendance (Rhode Island did not send delegates) brought with them an accumulated experience over a diverse set of institutional arrangements between legislative and executive branches from within their respective state governments. Most states maintained a weak executive without veto or appointment powers, elected annually by the legislature to a single term only, sharing power with an executive council, and countered by a strong legislature.[18] New York offered the greatest exception, having a strong, unitary governor with veto and appointment power elected to a three-year term, and eligible for reelection to an indefinite number of terms thereafter.[18] It was through the closed-door negotiations at Philadelphia that the presidency framed in the U.S. Constitution emerged.
1789–1933
George Washington, the first president of the United StatesAs the nation's first president, George Washington established many norms that would come to define the office.[23][24] His decision to retire after two terms helped address fears that the nation would devolve into monarchy,[25] and established a precedent that would not be broken until 1940 and would eventually be made permanent by the Twenty-Second Amendment. By the end of his presidency, political parties had developed,[26] with John Adams defeating Thomas Jefferson in 1796, the first truly contested presidential election.[27] After Jefferson defeated Adams in 1800, he and his fellow Virginians James Madison and James Monroe would each serve two terms, eventually dominating the nation's politics during the Era of Good Feelings until Adams' son John Quincy Adams won election in 1824 after the Democratic-Republican Party split.
The election of Andrew Jackson in 1828 was a significant milestone, as Jackson was not part of the Virginia and Massachusetts elite that had held the presidency for its first 40 years.[28] Jacksonian democracy sought to strengthen the presidency at the expense of Congress, while broadening public participation as the nation rapidly expanded westward. However, his successor, Martin Van Buren, became unpopular after the Panic of 1837,[29] and the death of William Henry Harrison and subsequent poor relations between John Tyler and Congress led to further weakening of the office.[30] Including Van Buren, in the 24 years between 1837 and 1861, six presidential terms would be filled by eight different men, with none serving two terms.[31] The Senate played an important role during this period, with the Great Triumvirate of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun playing key roles in shaping national policy in the 1830s and 1840s until debates over slavery began pulling the nation apart in the 1850s.[32][33]
Abraham Lincoln's leadership during the Civil War has led historians to regard him as one of the nation's greatest presidents.[D] The circumstances of the war and Republican domination of Congress made the office very powerful,[34][35] and Lincoln's re-election in 1864 was the first time a president had been re-elected since Jackson in 1832. After Lincoln's assassination, his successor Andrew Johnson lost all political support[36] and was nearly removed from office,[37] with Congress remaining powerful during the two-term presidency of Civil War general Ulysses S. Grant. After the end of Reconstruction, Grover Cleveland would eventually become the first Democratic president elected since before the war, running in three consecutive elections (1884, 1888, 1892) and winning twice. In 1900, William McKinley became the first incumbent to win re-election since Grant in 1872.
After McKinley's assassination, Theodore Roosevelt became a dominant figure in American politics.[38] Historians believe Roosevelt permanently changed the political system by strengthening the presidency,[39] with some key accomplishments including breaking up trusts, conservationism, labor reforms, making personal character as important as the issues, and hand-picking his successor, William Howard Taft. The following decade, Woodrow Wilson led the nation to victory during World War I, although Wilson's proposal for the League of Nations was rejected by the Senate.[40] Warren Harding, while popular in office, would see his legacy tarnished by scandals, especially Teapot Dome,[41] and Herbert Hoover quickly became very unpopular after failing to alleviate the Great Depression.[42]
Imperial presidencyMain article: Imperial presidency
President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers a radio address in 1933.The ascendancy of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 led further toward what historians now describe as the Imperial presidency.[43] Backed by enormous Democratic majorities in Congress and public support for major change, Roosevelt's New Deal dramatically increased the size and scope of the federal government, including more executive agencies.[44]: 211–12  The traditionally small presidential staff was greatly expanded, with the Executive Office of the President being created in 1939, none of whom require Senate confirmation.[44]: 229–231  Roosevelt's unprecedented re-election to a third and fourth term, the victory of the United States in World War II, and the nation's growing economy all helped established the office as a position of global leadership.[44]: 269  His successors, Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, each served two terms as the Cold War led the presidency to be viewed as the "leader of the free world",[45] while John F. Kennedy was a youthful and popular leader who benefitted from the rise of television in the 1960s.[46][47]
After Lyndon B. Johnson lost popular support due to the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon's presidency collapsed in the Watergate scandal, Congress enacted a series of reforms intended to reassert itself.[48][49] These included the War Powers Resolution, enacted over Nixon's veto in 1973,[50][51] and the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 that sought to strengthen congressional fiscal powers.[52] By 1976, Gerald Ford conceded that "the historic pendulum" had swung toward Congress, raising the possibility of a "disruptive" erosion of his ability to govern.[53] Ford failed to win election to a full term and his successor, Jimmy Carter, failed to win re-election. Ronald Reagan, who had been an actor before beginning his political career, used his talent as a communicator to help re-shape the American agenda away from New Deal policies toward more conservative ideology.[54][55]
With the Cold War ending and the United States becoming the world's undisputed leading power,[56] Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama each served two terms as president. Meanwhile, Congress and the nation gradually became more politically polarized, especially following the 1994 mid-term elections that saw Republicans control the House for the first time in 40 years, and the rise of routine filibusters in the Senate in recent decades.[57] Recent presidents have thus increasingly focused on executive orders, agency regulations, and judicial appointments to implement major policies, at the expense of legislation and congressional power.[58] Presidential elections in the 21st century have reflected this continuing polarization, with no candidate except Obama in 2008 winning by more than five percent of the popular vote and two — George W. Bush and Donald Trump — winning in the Electoral College while losing the popular vote.[E] Both Clinton and Trump were impeached by a House controlled by the opposition party, but the impeachments did not appear to have long-term effects on their political standing.[59][60]
Critics of presidency's evolutionThe nation's Founding Fathers expected the Congress—which was the first branch of government described in the Constitution—to be the dominant branch of government; they did not expect a strong executive department.[61] However, presidential power has shifted over time, which has resulted in claims that the modern presidency has become too powerful,[62][63] unchecked, unbalanced,[64] and "monarchist" in nature.[65] In 2008 professor Dana D. Nelson expressed belief that presidents over the previous thirty years worked towards "undivided presidential control of the executive branch and its agencies".[66] She criticized proponents of the Unitary executive theory for expanding "the many existing uncheckable executive powers—such as executive orders, decrees, memorandums, proclamations, national security directives and legislative signing statements—that already allow presidents to enact a good deal of foreign and domestic policy without aid, interference or consent from Congress".[66] Bill Wilson, board member of Americans for Limited Government, opined that the expanded presidency was "the greatest threat ever to individual freedom and democratic rule".[67]
Legislative powersArticle I, Section 1 of the Constitution vests all lawmaking power in Congress's hands, and Article 1, Section 6, Clause 2 prevents the president (and all other executive branch officers) from simultaneously being a member of Congress. Nevertheless, the modern presidency exerts significant power over legislation, both due to constitutional provisions and historical developments over time.
Signing and vetoing bills
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the White House as Martin Luther King Jr. and others look on.The president's most significant legislative power derives from the Presentment Clause, which gives the president the power to veto any bill passed by Congress. While Congress can override a presidential veto, it requires a two-thirds vote of both houses, which is usually very difficult to achieve except for widely supported bipartisan legislation. The framers of the Constitution feared that Congress would seek to increase its power and enable a "tyranny of the majority," so giving the indirectly elected president a veto was viewed as an important check on the legislative power. While George Washington believed the veto should only be used in cases where a bill was unconstitutional, it is now routinely used in cases where presidents have policy disagreements with a bill. The veto – or threat of a veto – has thus evolved to make the modern presidency a central part of the American legislative process.
Specifically, under the Presentment Clause, once a bill has been presented by Congress, the president has three options:
Sign the legislation within ten days, excluding Sundays—the bill becomes law.Veto the legislation within the above timeframe and return it to the house of Congress from which it originated, expressing any objections—the bill does not become law, unless both houses of Congress vote to override the veto by a two-thirds vote.Take no action on the legislation within the above timeframe—the bill becomes law, as if the president had signed it, unless Congress is adjourned at the time, in which case it does not become law (a pocket veto).In 1996, Congress attempted to enhance the president's veto power with the Line Item Veto Act. The legislation empowered the president to sign any spending bill into law while simultaneously striking certain spending items within the bill, particularly any new spending, any amount of discretionary spending, or any new limited tax benefit. Congress could then repass that particular item. If the president then vetoed the new legislation, Congress could override the veto by its ordinary means, a two-thirds vote in both houses. In Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled such a legislative alteration of the veto power to be unconstitutional.
Setting the agenda
President Barack Obama delivers the 2015 State of the Union Address with Vice President Joe offeren and Speaker of the House John Boehner in the background (on right).For most of American history, candidates for president have sought election on the basis of a promised legislative agenda. Formally, Article II, Section 3, Clause 2 requires the president to recommend such measures to Congress which the president deems "necessary and expedient". This is done through the constitutionally-based State of the Union address, which usually outlines the president's legislative proposals for the coming year, and through other formal and informal communications with Congress.
The president can be involved in crafting legislation by suggesting, requesting, or even insisting that Congress enact laws he believes are needed. Additionally, he can attempt to shape legislation during the legislative process by exerting influence on individual members of Congress.[68] Presidents possess this power because the Constitution is silent about who can write legislation, but the power is limited because only members of Congress can introduce legislation.[69]
The president or other officials of the executive branch may draft legislation and then ask senators or representatives to introduce these drafts into Congress. Additionally, the president may attempt to have Congress alter proposed legislation by threatening to veto that legislation unless requested changes are made.[70]
Promulgating regulationsMany laws enacted by Congress do not address every possible detail, and either explicitly or implicitly delegate powers of implementation to an appropriate federal agency. As the head of the executive branch, presidents control a vast array of agencies that can issue regulations with little oversight from Congress.
In the 20th century, critics charged that too many legislative and budgetary powers that should have belonged to Congress had slid into the hands of presidents. One critic charged that presidents could appoint a "virtual army of 'czars'—each wholly unaccountable to Congress yet tasked with spearheading major policy efforts for the White House".[71] Presidents have been criticized for making signing statements when signing congressional legislation about how they understand a bill or plan to execute it.[72] This practice has been criticized by the American Bar Association as unconstitutional.[73] Conservative commentator George Will wrote of an "increasingly swollen executive branch" and "the eclipse of Congress".[74]
Convening and adjourning CongressTo allow the government to act quickly in case of a major domestic or international crisis arising when Congress is not in session, the president is empowered by Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution to call a special session of one or both houses of Congress. Since John Adams first did so in 1797, the president has called the full Congress to convene for a special session on 27 occasions. Harry S. Truman was the most recent to do so in July 1948 (the so-called "Turnip Day Session"). In addition, prior to ratification of the Twentieth Amendment in 1933, which brought forward the date on which Congress convenes from December to January, newly inaugurated presidents would routinely call the Senate to meet to confirm nominations or ratify treaties. In practice, the power has fallen into disuse in the modern era as Congress now formally remains in session year-round, convening pro forma sessions every three days even when ostensibly in recess. Correspondingly, the president is authorized to adjourn Congress if the House and Senate cannot agree on the time of adjournment; no president has ever had to exercise this power.[75][76]
Executive powersMain article: Powers of the president of the United StatesSuffice it to say that the President is made the sole repository of the executive powers of the United States, and the powers entrusted to him as well as the duties imposed upon him are awesome indeed.
Nixon v. General Services Administration, 433 U.S. 425 (1977) (Rehnquist, J., dissenting)The president is head of the executive branch of the federal government and is constitutionally obligated to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed".[77] The executive branch has over four million employees, including the military.[78]
Administrative powersPresidents make political appointments. An incoming president may make up to 4,000 upon taking office, 1200 of which must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Ambassadors, members of the Cabinet, and various officers, are among the positions filled by presidential appointment with Senate confirmation.[79][80]
The power of a president to fire executive officials has long been a contentious political issue. Generally, a president may remove executive officials at will.[81] However, Congress can curtail and constrain a president's authority to fire commissioners of independent regulatory agencies and certain inferior executive officers by statute.[82]
To manage the growing federal bureaucracy, presidents have gradually surrounded themselves with many layers of staff, who were eventually organized into the Executive Office of the President of the United States. Within the Executive Office, the president's innermost layer of aides (and their assistants) are located in the White House Office.
The president also possesses the power to manage operations of the federal government by issuing various types of directives, such as presidential proclamation and executive orders. When the president is lawfully exercising one of the constitutionally conferred presidential responsibilities, the scope of this power is broad.[83] Even so, these directives are subject to judicial review by U.S. federal courts, which can find them to be unconstitutional. Moreover, Congress can overturn an executive order via legislation (e.g., Congressional Review Act).
Foreign affairs
President George H. W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev sign the 1990 Chemical Weapons Accord at the White House.Article II, Section 3, Clause 4 requires the president to "receive Ambassadors." This clause, known as the Reception Clause, has been interpreted to imply that the president possesses broad power over matters of foreign policy,[84] and to provide support for the president's exclusive authority to grant recognition to a foreign government.[85] The Constitution also empowers the president to appoint United States ambassadors, and to propose and chiefly negotiate agreements between the United States and other countries. Such agreements, upon receiving the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate (by a two-thirds majority vote), become binding with the force of federal law.
While foreign affairs has always been a significant element of presidential responsibilities, advances in technology since the Constitution's adoption have increased presidential power. Where formerly ambassadors were vested with significant power to independently negotiate on behalf of the United States, presidents now routinely meet directly with leaders of foreign Lincoln, the 16th president who successfully preserved the Union during the American Civil War, with Union Army general George B. McClellan and soldiers at Antietam on October 3, 1862One of the most important of executive powers is the president's role as commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces. The power to declare war is constitutionally vested in Congress, but the president has ultimate responsibility for the direction and disposition of the military. The exact degree of authority that the Constitution grants to the president as commander-in-chief has been the subject of much debate throughout history, with Congress at various times granting the president wide authority and at others attempting to restrict that authority.[86] The framers of the Constitution took care to limit the president's powers regarding the military; Alexander Hamilton explained this in Federalist No. 69:The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. ... It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces ... while that [the power] of the British king extends to the DECLARING of war and to the RAISING and REGULATING of fleets and armies, all [of] which ... would appertain to the legislature.[87] [Emphasis in the original.]
In the modern era, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution, Congress must authorize any troop deployments longer than 60 days, although that process relies on triggering mechanisms that have never been employed, rendering it ineffectual.[88] Additionally, Congress provides a check to presidential military power through its control over military spending and regulation. Presidents have historically initiated the process for going to war,[89][90] but critics have charged that there have been several conflicts in which presidents did not get official declarations, including Theodore Roosevelt's military move into Panama in 1903,[89] the Korean War,[89] the Vietnam War,[89] and the invasions of Grenada in 1983[91] and Panama in 1989.[92]
The amount of military detail handled personally by the president in wartime has varied greatly.[93] George Washington, the first U.S. president, firmly established military subordination under civilian authority. In 1794, Washington used his constitutional powers to assemble 12,000 militia to quell the Whiskey Rebellion, a conflict in Western Pennsylvania involving armed farmers and distillers who refused to pay an excise tax on spirits. According to historian Joseph Ellis, this was the "first and only time a sitting American president led troops in the field", though James Madison briefly took control of artillery units in defense of Washington, D.C., during the War of 1812.[94] Abraham Lincoln was deeply involved in overall strategy and in day-to-day operations during the American Civil War, 1861–1865; historians have given Lincoln high praise for his strategic sense and his ability to select and encourage commanders such as Ulysses S. Grant.[95]
The present-day operational command of the Armed Forces is delegated to the Department of Defense and is normally exercised through the secretary of defense. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Combatant Commands assist with the operation as outlined in the presidentially approved Unified Command Plan (UCP).[96][97][98]
Juridical powers and privilegesFurther information: List of people pardoned or granted clemency by the president of the United States
President Joe offeren with his Supreme Court appointee Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and (in background) Vice President Kamala Harris following Brown Jackson's 2022 United States Senate confirmationThe president has the power to nominate federal judges, including members of the United States courts of appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States. However, these nominations require Senate confirmation before they may take office. Securing Senate approval can provide a major obstacle for presidents who wish to orient the federal judiciary toward a particular ideological stance. When nominating judges to U.S. district courts, presidents often respect the long-standing tradition of senatorial courtesy. Presidents may also grant pardons and reprieves. Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon a month after taking office. Presidents often grant pardons shortly before leaving office, like when Bill Clinton pardoned Patty Hearst on his last day in office; this is often controversial.[99][100][101]
Two doctrines concerning executive power have developed that enable the president to exercise executive power with a degree of autonomy. The first is executive privilege, which allows the president to withhold from disclosure any communications made directly to the president in the performance of executive duties. George Washington first claimed the privilege when Congress requested to see Chief Justice John Jay's notes from an unpopular treaty negotiation with Great Britain. While not enshrined in the Constitution or any other law, Washington's action created the precedent for the privilege. When Nixon tried to use executive privilege as a reason for not turning over subpoenaed evidence to Congress during the Watergate scandal, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974), that executive privilege did not apply in cases where a president was attempting to avoid criminal prosecution. When Bill Clinton attempted to use executive privilege regarding the Lewinsky scandal, the Supreme Court ruled in Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997), that the privilege also could not be used in civil suits. These cases established the legal precedent that executive privilege is valid, although the exact extent of the privilege has yet to be clearly defined. Additionally, federal courts have allowed this privilege to radiate outward and protect other executive branch employees, but have weakened that protection for those executive branch communications that do not involve the president.[102]
The state secrets privilege allows the president and the executive branch to withhold information or documents from discovery in legal proceedings if such release would harm national security. Precedent for the privilege arose early in the 19th century when Thomas Jefferson refused to release military documents in the treason trial of Aaron Burr and again in Totten v. United States 92 U.S. 105 (1876), when the Supreme Court dismissed a case brought by a former Union spy.[103] However, the privilege was not formally recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court until United States v. Reynolds 345 U.S. 1 (1953), where it was held to be a common law evidentiary privilege.[104] Before the September 11 attacks, use of the privilege had been rare, but increasing in frequency.[105] Since 2001, the government has asserted the privilege in more cases and at earlier stages of the litigation, thus in some instances causing dismissal of the suits before reaching the merits of the claims, as in the Ninth Circuit's ruling in Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc.[104][106][107] Critics of the privilege claim its use has become a tool for the government to cover up illegal or embarrassing government actions.[108][109]
The degree to which the president personally has absolute immunity from court cases is contested and has been the subject of several Supreme Court decisions. Nixon v. Fitzgerald (1982) dismissed a civil lawsuit against by-then former president Richard Nixon based on his official actions. Clinton v. Jones (1997) decided that a president has no immunity against civil suits for actions taken before becoming president, and ruled that a sexual harassment suit could proceed without delay, even against a sitting president. The 2019 Mueller report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election detailed evidence of possible obstruction of justice, but investigators declined to refer Donald Trump for prosecution based on a United States Department of Justice policy against indicting an incumbent president. The report noted that impeachment by Congress was available as a remedy. As of October 2019, a case was pending in the federal courts regarding access to personal tax returns in a criminal case brought against Donald Trump by the New York County District Attorney alleging violations of New York state law.[110]
Leadership rolesHead of state
Four ruffles and flourishes and 'Hail to the Chief' (long version)1:00Problems playing this file? See media help.As head of state, the president represents the United States government to its own people, and represents the nation to the rest of the world. For example, during a state visit by a foreign head of state, the president typically hosts a State Arrival Ceremony held on the South Lawn, a custom was begun by John F. Kennedy in 1961.[111] This is followed by a state dinner given by the president which is held in the State Dining Room later in the evening.[112]President Woodrow Wilson throws out the ceremonial first ball on Opening Day in 1916.
President Bill Clinton reviews honor guards at Buckingham Palace during a 1995 state visit to the UK.As a national leader, the president also fulfills many less formal ceremonial duties. For example, William Howard Taft started the tradition of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in 1910 at Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C., on the Washington Senators's Opening Day. Every president since Taft, except for Jimmy Carter, threw out at least one ceremonial first ball or pitch for Opening Day, the All-Star Game, or the World Series, usually with much fanfare.[113] Every president since Theodore Roosevelt has served as honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America.[114]
Other presidential traditions are associated with American holidays. Rutherford B. Hayes began in 1878 the first White House egg rolling for local children.[115] Beginning in 1947, during the Harry S. Truman administration, every Thanksgiving the president is presented with a live domestic turkey during the annual National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation held at the White House. Since 1989, when the custom of "pardoning" the turkey was formalized by George H. W. Bush, the turkey has been taken to a farm where it will live out the rest of its natural life.[116]
Presidential traditions also involve the president's role as head of government. Many outgoing presidents since James Buchanan traditionally give advice to their successor during the presidential transition.[117] Ronald Reagan and his successors have also left a private message on the desk of the Oval Office on Inauguration Day for the incoming president.[118]
The modern presidency holds the president as one of the nation's premier celebrities. Some argue that images of the presidency have a tendency to be manipulated by administration public relations officials as well as by presidents themselves. One critic described the presidency as "propagandized leadership" which has a "mesmerizing power surrounding the office".[119] Administration public relations managers staged carefully crafted photo-ops of smiling presidents with smiling crowds for television cameras.[120] One critic wrote the image of John F. Kennedy was described as carefully framed "in rich detail" which "drew on the power of myth" regarding the incident of PT 109[121] and wrote that Kennedy understood how to use images to further his presidential ambitions.[122] As a result, some political commentators have opined that American voters have unrealistic expectations of presidents: voters expect a president to "drive the economy, vanquish enemies, lead the free world, comfort tornado victims, heal the national soul and protect borrowers from hidden credit-card fees".[123]
Head of partyThe president is typically considered to be the head of their political party. Since the entire House of Representatives and at least one-third of the Senate is elected simultaneously with the president, candidates from a political party inevitably have their electoral success intertwined with the performance of the party's presidential candidate. The coattail effect, or lack thereof, will also often impact a party's candidates at state and local levels of government as well. However, there are often tensions between a president and others in the party, with presidents who lose significant support from their party's caucus in Congress generally viewed to be weaker and less effective.
Global leaderWith the rise of the United States as a superpower in the 20th century, and the United States having the world's largest economy into the 21st century, the president is typically viewed as a global leader, and at times the world's most powerful political figure. The position of the United States as the leading member of NATO, and the country's strong relationships with other wealthy or democratic nations like those comprising the European Union, have led to the moniker that the president is the "leader of the free world."
Selection processEligibilityArticle II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution sets three qualifications for holding the presidency. To serve as president, one must:
be a natural-born citizen of the United States;be at least 35 years old;be a resident in the United States for at least 14 years.[124]A person who meets the above qualifications would, however, still be disqualified from holding the office of president under any of the following conditions:
Under Article I, Section 3, Clause 7, having been impeached, convicted and disqualified from holding further public office, although there is some legal debate as to whether the disqualification clause also includes the presidential office: the only previous persons disqualified under this clause were three federal judges.[125][126]Under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, no person who swore an oath to support the Constitution, and later rebelled against the United States, is eligible to hold any office. However, this disqualification can be lifted by a two-thirds vote of each house of Congress.[127] There is, again, some debate as to whether the clause as written allows disqualification from the presidential position, or whether it would first require litigation outside of Congress, although there is precedent for use of this amendment outside of the original intended purpose of excluding Confederates from public office after the Civil War.[128]Under the Twenty-second Amendment, no person can be elected president more than twice. The amendment also specifies that if any eligible person serves as president or acting president for more than two years of a term for which some other eligible person was elected president, the former can only be elected president once.[129][130]Campaigns and nominationMain articles: United States presidential primary and United States presidential nominating conventionSee also: United States presidential debates
President Jimmy Carter (left) debates Republican nominee Ronald Reagan on October 28, 1980, during the 1980 U.S. presidential campaign.The modern presidential campaign begins before the primary elections, which the two major political parties use to clear the field of candidates before their national nominating conventions, where the most successful candidate is made the party's presidential nominee. Typically, the party's presidential candidate chooses a vice presidential nominee, and this choice is rubber-stamped by the convention. The most common previous profession of presidents is lawyer.[131]
Nominees participate in nationally televised debates, and while the debates are usually restricted to the Democratic and Republican nominees, third party candidates may be invited, such as Ross Perot in the 1992 debates. Nominees campaign across the country to explain their views, convince voters and solicit contributions. Much of the modern electoral process is concerned with winning swing states through frequent visits and mass media advertising drives.
ElectionMain article: United States presidential electionSee also: United States Electoral College
Map of the United States showing the number of electoral votes allocated to each state and the District of Columbia following the 2010 census for the 2012, 2016, and 2020 presidential elections; Maine and Nebraska distribute electors by way of the congressional district method. Of the 538 electoral votes possible, at least 270 votes are required for a majority.The president is elected indirectly by the voters of each state and the District of Columbia through the Electoral College, a body of electors formed every four years for the sole purpose of electing the president and vice president to concurrent four-year terms. As prescribed by Article II, Section 1, Clause 2, each state is entitled to a number of electors equal to the size of its total delegation in both houses of Congress. Additionally, the Twenty-third Amendment provides that the District of Columbia is entitled to the number it would have if it were a state, but in no case more than that of the least populous state.[132] Currently, all states and the District of Columbia select their electors based on a popular election.[133] In all but two states, the party whose presidential–vice presidential ticket receives a plurality of popular votes in the state has its entire slate of elector nominees chosen as the state's electors.[134] Maine and Nebraska deviate from this winner-take-all practice, awarding two electors to the statewide winner and one to the winner in each congressional district.[135][136]
On the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, about six weeks after the election, the electors convene in their respective state capitals (and in Washington, D.C.) to vote for president and, on a separate ballot, for vice president. They typically vote for the candidates of the party that nominated them. While there is no constitutional mandate or federal law requiring them to do so, the District of Columbia and 32 states have laws requiring that their electors vote for the candidates to whom they are pledged.[137][138] The constitutionality of these laws was upheld in Chiafalo v. Washington (2020).[139] Following the vote, each state then sends a certified record of their electoral votes to Congress. The votes of the electors are opened and counted during a joint session of Congress, held in the first week of January. If a candidate has received an absolute majority of electoral votes for president (currently 270 of 538), that person is declared the winner. Otherwise, the House of Representatives must meet to elect a president using a contingent election procedure in which representatives, voting by state delegation, with each state casting a single vote, choose between the top three electoral vote-getters for president. To win the presidency, a Candidate must receive the votes of an absolute majority of states (currently 26 of 50).[133]
There have been two contingent presidential elections in the nation's history. A 73–73 electoral vote tie between Thomas Jefferson and fellow Democratic-Republican Aaron Burr in the election of 1800 necessitated the first. Conducted under the original procedure established by Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 of the Constitution, which stipulates that if two or three persons received a majority vote and an equal vote, the House of Representatives would choose one of them for president; the runner-up would become vice president.[140] On February 17, 1801, Jefferson was elected president on the 36th ballot, and Burr elected vice president. Afterward, the system was overhauled through the Twelfth Amendment in time to be used in the 1804 election.[141] A quarter-century later, the choice for president again devolved to the House when no candidate won an absolute majority of electoral votes (131 of 261) in the election of 1824. Under the Twelfth Amendment, the House was required to choose a president from among the top three electoral vote recipients: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and William H. Crawford. Held February 9, 1825, this second and most recent contingent election resulted in John Quincy Adams being elected president on the first ballot.[142]
InaugurationMain article: United States presidential inaugurationPursuant to the Twentieth Amendment, the four-year term of office for both the president and the vice president begins at noon on January 20.[143] The first presidential and vice presidential terms to begin on this date, known as Inauguration Day, were the second terms of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Vice President John Nance Garner in 1937.[144] Previously, Inauguration Day was on March 4. As a result of the date change, the first term (1933–37) of both men had been shortened by 43 days.[145]
Before executing the powers of the office, a president is required to recite the presidential Oath of Office, found in Article II, Section 1, Clause 8 of the Constitution. This is the only component in the inauguration ceremony mandated by the Constitution:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.[146]
Presidents have traditionally placed one hand upon a Bible while taking the oath, and have added "So help me God" to the end of the oath.[147][148] Although the oath may be administered by any person authorized by law to administer oaths, presidents are traditionally sworn in by the chief justice of the United States.[146]
IncumbencyTerm limit
Franklin D. Roosevelt won a record four presidential elections in 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944 before the 22nd amendment instituted a two-term limit in 1951.When the first president, George Washington, announced in his Farewell Address that he was not running for a third term, he established a "two terms then out" precedent. Precedent became tradition after Thomas Jefferson publicly embraced the principle a decade later during his second term, as did his two immediate successors, James Madison and James Monroe.[149] In spite of the strong two-term tradition, Ulysses S. Grant sought nomination at the 1880 Republican National Convention for a non-consecutive third term, but was unsuccessful.[150]
In 1940, after leading the nation through the Great Depression and focused on supporting U.S. allied nations at war with the Axis powers, Franklin Roosevelt was elected to a third term, breaking the long-standing precedent. Four years later, with the U.S. engaged in World War II, he was re-elected again despite his declining physical health; he died 82 days into his fourth term on April 12, 1945.[151]
In response to the unprecedented length of Roosevelt's presidency, the Twenty-second Amendment was adopted in 1951. The amendment bars anyone from being elected president more than twice, or once if that person served more than two years (24 months) of another president's four-year term. Harry S. Truman, the president at the time it was submitted to the states by the Congress, was exempted from its limitations, and briefly sought a second full term—to which he would have otherwise been ineligible for re-election, as he had been president for more than two years of Roosevelt's fourth term—before he withdrew from the 1952 election.[151] Since becoming operative in 1951, the amendment has been applicable to six twice-elected presidents: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
Vacancies and succession
President William McKinley and his vice president and presidential successor, Theodore Roosevelt, c. 1880Under Section 1 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, ratified in 1967, the vice president becomes president upon the removal from office, death, or resignation of the president. Deaths have occurred a number of times, resignation has occurred only once, and removal from office has never occurred.
The original Constitution, in Article II, Section 1, Clause 6, stated only that the vice president assumes the "powers and duties" of the presidency in the event of a president's removal, death, resignation, or inability.[152] Under this clause, there was ambiguity about whether the vice president would actually become president in the event of a vacancy, or simply act as president,[153] potentially resulting in a special election. Upon the death of William Henry Harrison in 1841, Vice President John Tyler declared that he had succeeded to the office itself, refusing to accept any papers addressed to the "Acting President", and Congress ultimately accepted it. This established a precedent for future successions, although it was not formally clarified until the Twenty-fifth Amendment was ratified.
In the event of a double vacancy, Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 also authorizes Congress to declare who shall become acting president in the "Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the president and vice president".[153] The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (codified as 3 U.S.C. § 19) provides that if both the president and vice president have left office or are both otherwise unavailable to serve during their terms of office, the presidential line of succession follows the order of: speaker of the House, then, if necessary, the president pro tempore of the Senate, and then if necessary, the eligible heads of federal executive departments who form the president's cabinet. The cabinet currently has 15 members, of which the secretary of state is first in line; the other Cabinet secretaries follow in the order in which their department (or the department of which their department is the successor) was created. Those individuals who are constitutionally ineligible to be elected to the presidency are also disqualified from assuming the powers and duties of the presidency through succession. No statutory successor has yet been called upon to act as president.[154]
Declarations of inabilityMain article: Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States ConstitutionUnder the Twenty-fifth Amendment, the president may temporarily transfer the presidential powers and duties to the vice president, who then becomes acting president, by transmitting to the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate a statement that he is unable to discharge his duties. The president resumes his or her powers upon transmitting a second declaration stating that he is again able. The mechanism has been used by Ronald Reagan (once), George W. Bush (twice), and Joe offeren (once), each in anticipation of surgery.[155][156]
The Twenty-fifth Amendment also provides that the vice president, together with a majority of certain members of the Cabinet, may transfer the presidential powers and duties to the vice president by transmitting a written declaration, to the speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate, to the effect that the president is unable to discharge his or her powers and duties. If the president then declares that no such inability exist, he or she resumes the presidential powers unless the vice president and Cabinet make a second declaration of presidential inability, in which case Congress decides the question.
RemovalMain articles: United States presidential impeachment, Federal impeachment in the United States, and Federal impeachment trial in the United StatesArticle II, Section 4 of the Constitution allows for the removal of high federal officials, including the president, from office for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors". Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 authorizes the House of Representatives to serve as a "grand jury" with the power to impeach said officials by a majority vote.[157] Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 authorizes the Senate to serve as a court with the power to remove impeached officials from office, by a two-thirds vote to convict.[158]
Three presidents have been impeached by the House of Representatives: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1998, and Donald Trump in 2019 and 2021; none have been convicted by the Senate. Additionally, the House Judiciary Committee conducted an impeachment inquiry against Richard Nixon in 1973–74 and reported three articles of impeachment to the House of Representatives for final action; however, he resigned from office before the House voted on them.[157]
Circumvention of authorityControversial measures have sometimes been taken short of removal to deal with perceived recklessness on the part of the President, or with a long-term disability. In some cases, staff have intentionally failed to deliver messages to or from the President, typically to avoid executing or promoting the President to write certain orders. This has ranged from Richard Nixon's Chief of Staff not transmitting orders to the Cabinet due to the President's heavy drinking, to staff removing memos from Donald Trump's desk.[159] Decades before the Twenty-fifth Amendment, in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson had a stroke that left him partly incapacitated. First lady Edith Wilson kept this condition a secret from the public for a while, and controversially became the sole gatekeeper for access to the President (aside from his doctor), assisting him with paperwork and deciding which information was "important" enough to share with him.
CompensationPresidential pay historyYearestablished Salary Salary in2021 USD1789 $25,000 $568,6251873 $50,000 $1,130,9721909 $75,000 $2,261,9441949 $100,000 $1,138,8811969 $200,000 $1,477,8582001 $400,000 $612,141Sources:[160][161]Since 2001, the president's annual salary has been $400,000, along with a: $50,000 expense allowance; $100,000 nontaxable travel account, and $19,000 entertainment[clarification needed] account. The president's salary is set by Congress, and under Article II, Section 1, Clause 7 of the Constitution, any increase or reduction in presidential salary cannot take effect before the next presidential term of office.[162][163]
ResidenceFor the official residences in which President Washington resided, see Presidency of George Washington § Residences. For the private residences of the various U.S. presidents, see List of residences of presidents of the United States.The White House in Washington, D.C. is the official residence of the president. The site was selected by George Washington, and the cornerstone was laid in 1792. Every president since John Adams (in 1800) has lived there. At various times in U.S. history, it has been known as the "President's Palace", the "President's House", and the "Executive Mansion". Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its current name in 1901.[164] The federal government pays for state dinners and other official functions, but the president pays for personal, family, and guest dry cleaning and food.[165]
Camp David, officially titled Naval Support Facility Thurmont, a mountain-based military camp in Frederick County, Maryland, is the president's country residence. A place of solitude and tranquility, the site has been used extensively to host foreign dignitaries since the 1940s.[166]
President's Guest House, located next to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House Complex and Lafayette Park, serves as the president's official guest house and as a secondary residence for the president if needed. Four interconnected, 19th-century houses—Blair House, Lee House, and 700 and 704 Jackson Place—with a combined floor space exceeding 70,000 square feet (6,500 m2) comprise the property.[167]
Presidential residencesWhite House, the official residenceWhite House, the official residence
Camp David in Frederick County, Maryland, the official retreatCamp David in Frederick County, Maryland, the official retreat
Blair House, the official guest houseBlair House, the official guest house
TravelMain article: Transportation of the president of the United StatesThe primary means of long-distance air travel for the president is one of two identical Boeing VC-25 aircraft, which are extensively modified Boeing 747 airliners and are referred to as Air Force One while the president is on board (although any U.S. Air Force aircraft the president is aboard is designated as "Air Force One" for the duration of the flight). In-country trips are typically handled with just one of the two planes, while overseas trips are handled with both, one primary and one backup. The president also has access to smaller Air Force aircraft, most notably the Boeing C-32, which are used when the president must travel to airports that cannot support a jumbo jet. Any civilian aircraft the president is aboard is designated Executive One for the flight.[168][169]
For short-distance air travel, the president has access to a fleet of U.S. Marine Corps helicopters of varying models, designated Marine One when the president is aboard any particular one in the fleet. Flights are typically handled with as many as five helicopters all flying together and frequently swapping positions as to disguise which helicopter the president is actually aboard to any would-be threats.
For ground travel, the president uses the presidential state car, which is an armored limousine designed to look like a Cadillac sedan, but built on a truck chassis.[170][171] The U.S. Secret Service operates and maintains the fleet of several limousines. The president also has access to two armored motorcoaches, which are primarily used for touring trips.[172]
Presidential transportationThe presidential limousine, dubbed "The Beast"The presidential limousine, dubbed "The Beast"
The presidential plane, called Air Force One when the president is on boardThe presidential plane, called Air Force One when the president is on board
The presidential helicopter, known as Marine One when the president is aboardThe presidential helicopter, known as Marine One when the president is aboard
ProtectionMain article: United States Secret Service
President Ronald Reagan waves following his inauguration as the nation's 40th president on January 20, 1981.The U.S. Secret Service is charged with protecting the president and the first family. As part of their protection, presidents, first ladies, their children and other immediate family members, and other prominent persons and locations are assigned Secret Service codenames.[173] The use of such names was originally for security purposes and dates to a time when sensitive electronic communications were not routinely encrypted; today, the names simply serve for purposes of brevity, clarity, and left to right: Presidents George H. W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office on January 7, 2009; Obama formally took office thirteen days later.ActivitiesSome former presidents have had significant careers after leaving office. Prominent examples include William Howard Taft's tenure as chief justice of the United States and Herbert Hoover's work on government reorganization after World War II. Grover Cleveland, whose offer for reelection failed in 1888, was elected president again four years later in 1892. Two former presidents served in Congress after leaving the White House: John Quincy Adams was elected to the House of Representatives, serving there for 17 years, and Andrew Johnson returned to the Senate in 1875, though he died soon after. Some ex-presidents were very active, especially in international affairs, most notably Theodore Roosevelt;[175] Herbert Hoover;[176] Richard Nixon;[177] and Jimmy Carter.[178][179]
Presidents may use their predecessors as emissaries to deliver private messages to other nations or as official representatives of the United States to state funerals and other important foreign events.[180][181] Richard Nixon made multiple foreign trips to countries including China and Russia and was lauded as an elder statesman.[182] Jimmy Carter has become a global human rights campaigner, international arbiter, and election monitor, as well as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Bill Clinton has also worked as an informal ambassador, most recently in the negotiations that led to the release of two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, from North Korea. During his presidency, George W. Bush called on former Presidents Bush and Clinton to assist with humanitarian efforts after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. President Obama followed suit by asking Presidents Clinton and Bush to lead efforts to aid Haiti after an earthquake devastated that country in 2010.
Clinton was active politically since his presidential term ended, working with his wife Hillary on her 2008 and 2016 presidential offers and President Obama on his 2012 reelection campaign. Obama was also active politically since his presidential term ended, having worked with his former vice president Joe offeren on his 2020 election campaign. Trump has continued to make appearances in the media and at conventions and rallies since leaving office.
Pension and other benefitsThe Former Presidents Act (FPA), enacted in 1958, grants lifetime benefits to former presidents and their widows, including a monthly pension, medical care in military facilities, health insurance, and Secret Service protection; also provided is funding for a certain number of staff and for office expenses. The act has been amended several times to provide increases in presidential pensions and in the allowances for office staff. The FPA excludes any president who was removed from office by impeachment.[183]
According to a 2008 report by the Congressional Research Service:[183]
Chief executives leaving office prior to 1958 often entered retirement pursuing various occupations and received no federal assistance. When industrialist Andrew Carnegie announced a plan in 1912 to offer $25,000 annual pensions to former Presidents, many Members of Congress deemed it inappropriate that such a pension would be provided by a private corporation executive. That same year, legislation was first introduced to create presidential pensions, but it was not enacted. In 1955, such legislation was considered by Congress because of former President Harry S. Truman's financial limitations in hiring an office staff
The pension has increased numerous times with congressional approval. Retired presidents receive a pension based on the salary of the current administration's cabinet secretaries, which was $199,700 per year in 2012.[184] Former presidents who served in Congress may also collect congressional pensions.[185] The act also provides former presidents with travel funds and franking privileges.
Prior to 1997, all former presidents, their spouses, and their children until age 16 were protected by the Secret Service until the president's death.[186][187] In 1997, Congress passed legislation limiting Secret Service protection to no more than 10 years from the date a president leaves office.[188] On January 10, 2013, President Obama signed legislation reinstating lifetime Secret Service protection for him, George W. Bush, and all subsequent presidents.[189] A first spouse who remarries is no longer eligible for Secret Service protection.[188]
Presidential librariesMain article: Presidential library system
From left to right: Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas in 2013Every president since Herbert Hoover has created a repository known as a presidential library for preserving and making available his papers, records, and other documents and materials. Completed libraries are deeded to and maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); the initial funding for building and equipping each library must come from private, non-federal sources.[190] There are currently thirteen presidential libraries in the NARA system. There are also presidential libraries maintained by state governments and private foundations and Universities of Higher Education, including:
the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, which is run by the State of Illinois;the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, which is run by Southern Methodist University;the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, which is run by Texas A&M University; andthe Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, which is run by the University of Texas at Austin.Several former presidents have overseen the building and opening of their own presidential libraries. Some even made arrangements for their own burial at the site. Several presidential libraries contain the graves of the president they document:
the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri;the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home in Abilene, Kansas;the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California; andthe Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California.These gravesites are open to the general public.
Political affiliationPolitical parties have dominated American politics for most of the nation's history. Though the Founding Fathers generally spurned political parties as divisive and disruptive, and their rise had not been anticipated when the U.S. Constitution was drafted in 1787, organized political parties developed in the U.S. in the mid-1790s nonetheless. They evolved from political factions, which began to appear almost immediately after the Federal government came into existence. Those who supported the Washington administration were referred to as "pro-administration" and would eventually form the Federalist Party, while those in opposition joined the emerging Democratic-Republican Party.[191]
Greatly concerned about the very real capacity of political parties to destroy the fragile unity holding the nation together, Washington remained unaffiliated with any political faction or party throughout his eight-year presidency. He was, and remains, the only U.S. president never to be affiliated with a political party.[192][193] Since Washington, every U.S. president has been affiliated with a political party at the time of assuming office.[194][195]
The number of presidents per political party by their affiliation at the time they were first sworn into office (alphabetical, by last name) are:
Party # Name(s)Republican 19 Chester A. Arthur, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, James A. Garfield, Ulysses S. Grant, Warren G. Harding, Benjamin Harrison, Rutherford B. Hayes, Herbert Hoover, Abraham Lincoln,[F] William McKinley, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Donald TrumpDemocratic 15 Joe offeren (incumbent), James Buchanan, Jimmy Carter, Grover Cleveland, Bill Clinton, Andrew Jackson, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, Franklin Pierce, James K. Polk, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Martin Van Buren, and Woodrow WilsonDemocratic-Republican 4 John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James MonroeWhig 4 Millard Fillmore, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, and John Tyler[G]Federalist 1 John AdamsNational Union 1 Andrew Johnson[H]None 1 George WashingtonTimeline of presidentsSee also: List of presidents of the United StatesThe following timeline depicts the progression of the presidents and their political affiliation at the time of assuming office.See alsoflag United States portalicon Politics portalOutline of American politicsNotesThe informal term POTUS originated in the Phillips Code, a shorthand method created in 1879 by Walter P. Phillips for the rapid transmission of press reports by telegraph.[10]The nine vice presidents who succeeded to the presidency upon their predecessor's death or resignation and served for the remainder of his term are: John Tyler (1841); Millard Fillmore (1850); Andrew Johnson (1865); Chester A. Arthur (1881); Theodore Roosevelt (1901); Calvin Coolidge (1923); Harry S. Truman (1945); Lyndon B. Johnson (1963); and Gerald Ford (1974).Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, so he is counted twice, as both the 22nd and 24th president.[17]Nearly all scholars rank Lincoln among the nation's top three presidents, with many placing him first. See Historical rankings of presidents of the United States for a collection of survey results.See List of United States presidential elections by popular vote margin.Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected for a second term as part of the National Union Party ticket with Democrat Andrew Johnson in 1864.Former Democrat John Tyler was elected vice president on the Whig Party ticket with Harrison in 1840. Tyler's policy priorities as president soon proved to be opposed to most of the Whig agenda, and he was expelled from the party in September 1841.Democrat Andrew Johnson was elected vice president on the National Union Party ticket with Republican Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Later, while president, Johnson tried and failed to build a party of loyalists under the National Union banner. Near the end of his presidency, Johnson rejoined the Democratic Party.
In the 1960 campaign, Lyndon B. Johnson was elected Vice President as John F. Kennedy’s running mate. On November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson was sworn in as the 36th United States President, with a vision to build “A Great Society” for the American people.
“A Great Society” for the American people and their fellow men elsewhere was the vision of Lyndon B. Johnson. In his first years of office he obtained passage of one of the most extensive legislative programs in the Nation’s history. Maintaining collective security, he carried on the rapidly growing struggle to restrain Communist encroachment in Vietnam.
Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, in central Texas, not far from Johnson City, which his family had helped settle. He felt the pinch of rural poverty as he grew up, working his way through Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now known as Texas State University-San Marcos); he learned compassion for the poverty of others when he taught students of Mexican descent.
In 1937 he campaigned successfully for the House of Representatives on a New Deal platform, effectively aided by his wife, the former Claudia “Lady Bird” Taylor, whom he had married in 1934.
During World War II he served briefly in the Navy as a lieutenant commander, winning a Silver Star in the South Pacific. After six terms in the House, Johnson was elected to the Senate in 1948. In 1953, he became the youngest Minority Leader in Senate history, and the following year, when the Democrats won control, Majority Leader. With rare skill he obtained passage of a number of key Eisenhower measures.
In the 1960 campaign, Johnson, as John F. Kennedy’s running mate, was elected Vice President. On November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson was sworn in as President.
First he obtained enactment of the measures President Kennedy had been urging at the time of his death–a new civil rights bill and a tax cut. Next he urged the Nation “to build a great society, a place where the meaning of man’s life matches the marvels of man’s labor.” In 1964, Johnson won the Presidency with 61 percent of the vote and had the widest popular margin in American history–more than 15,000,000 votes.
The Great Society program became Johnson’s agenda for Congress in January 1965: aid to education, attack on disease, Medicare, urban renewal, beautification, conservation, development of depressed regions, a wide-scale fight against poverty, control and prevention of crime and delinquency, removal of obstacles to the right to vote. Congress, at times augmenting or amending, rapidly enacted Johnson’s recommendations. Millions of elderly people found succor through the 1965 Medicare amendment to the Social Security Act.
Under Johnson, the country made spectacular explorations of space in a program he had championed since its start. When three astronauts successfully orbited the moon in December 1968, Johnson congratulated them: “You’ve taken … all of us, all over the world, into a new era. . . . ”
Nevertheless, two overriding crises had been gaining momentum since 1965. Despite the beginning of new antipoverty and anti-discrimination programs, unrest and rioting in black ghettos troubled the Nation. President Johnson steadily exerted his influence against segregation and on behalf of law and order, but there was no early solution.
The other crisis arose from Viet Nam. Despite Johnson’s efforts to end Communist aggression and achieve a settlement, fighting continued. Controversy over the war had become acute by the end of March 1968, when he limited the bombing of North Vietnam in order to initiate negotiations. At the same time, he startled the world by withdrawing as a candidate for re-election so that he might devote his full efforts, unimpeded by politics, to the quest for peace.
When he left office, peace talks were under way; he did not live to see them successful, but died suddenly of a heart attack at his Texas ranch on January 22, 1973.
Lyndon B. Johnson counted on history to make the final assessment. "I hope it may be said, 100 years from now," he told the Congress as he departed Washington in 1969, "that we helped to make this country more just. That's what I hope. But I believe that at least it will be said that we tried."
The century he set for evaluation is still a long way off. But this year affords another opportunity. It is the centennial of LBJ's birth, an appropriate occasion to reflect on the life of the man who once loomed so large on the national stage—to reflect particularly on the five years of his presidency.
"History should make no mistake," Joseph Califano, one of his chief lieutenants of those days says of him. "Lyndon Johnson was a revolutionary and what he let loose in this country was a true revolution." Johnson was "the man who fundamentally reshaped the role of government in the United States," says historian David Bennett of Syracuse University. Barbara Jordan, in the last year of her life, gave her assessment of what that reshaping amounted to: "He stripped the government of its neutrality, and made it an agent on behalf of the people."
His legacy—his revolution, if indeed that is what it should be called—was an avalanche of legislation.
When Johnson was majority leader in the Senate, reporters started calling him powerful. His reaction was that the only power he had was the power to persuade—which prompted another senator to observe, "Good God Almighty, that's like saying the only wind we have is a hurricane." It was legendary, but it was real, and it was a power Johnson carried with him into the White House. John F. Kennedy had had an ambitious agenda, but he had faced a Congress that was often hostile and almost always reluctant to move. So many of the Kennedy initiatives were still stalled in committees.
Aboard Air Force One, with Jacqueline Kennedy at his side, Lyndon Johnson is sworn in as President EnlargeAboard Air Force One, with Jacqueline Kennedy at his side, Lyndon Johnson is sworn in as President by Judge Sarah T. Hughes after the assassination of President Kennedy. (LBJ Library)
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In virtually no time, Johnson—catapulted into the presidency after Kennedy's assassination—changed that condition. Along with his ability to bring reluctant senators to his side of a proposition, he skillfully exploited the trauma the nation experienced in the wake of Kennedy's murder—a sense that the country wanted to feel that something important and worthwhile was being accomplished in the midst of tragedy. The result was the outpouring of legislation that would continue—although encountering significant speed bumps caused by the war in Vietnam—right on to the end of his administration five years later.
The list of those legislative achievements was staggering, because his vision was large, and his reach was wide.
There were programs designed to reduce the conditions of poverty in which too many Americans were trapped. He stunned many of his old constituents by declaring war on poverty in the early days of his presidency. Although he had begun his career in Congress as a staunch supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the Senate, representing an entire conservative state, he had tacked to the right. And now he was committing his power to the cause of the poor. "Before I am through," he said, "no community in America will be able ever again to ignore the poverty in its midst."
There were several programs to provide new educational opportunities for America's youth. Education was the real road out of poverty, Johnson believed, and he wanted to be the Education President. To dramatize his commitment to the cause, he went to the one-room schoolhouse where he had attended first grade and signed the breakthrough law that committed federal funds to shoring up the deteriorating educational system for grade- and high-school students. He brought his first-grade teacher out of retirement to sit beside him. Then a year later he went to the campus of his alma mater in nearby San Marcos to sign the law opening the doors of college to millions of new students with student loans and scholarships and other programs.
There was medical insurance for the elderly. President Harry S. Truman had tried in his time to get some form of medical insurance for older citizens, but he had been beaten down by the medical lobby. Johnson took the legislation creating Medicare to Independence, Missouri, to sign it in Truman's presence.
President Johnson signs the Medicare billEnlargePresident Johnson signs the Medicare bill in the presence of Harry Truman, who had tried to get medical insurance for the elderly when he was President. (LBJ Library)
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There was liberalized immigration, which he signed in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. There were laws to protect the environment—small steps, but the first. "We trotted the subject out on the stage," Lady Bird said. She herself was the inspiration and guiding force behind the effort to remove or screen ugly junkyards bordering American highways, and remove the billboards that were destroying the traveler's view of his homeland.
There were laws to protect the consumer in the market place, and for the first time, a commitment by the federal government to bring art and music and theater to all parts of the country and to promote the study of the humanities.
Of all his accomplishments, those with the most immediate—and at the same time, the most far-reaching—effect were the civil rights acts of the 1960s.
Kennedy had proposed a law that would have outlawed discrimination in public accommodations, but it never got to the floor of either the House or Senate. Johnson urged Congress to pass it as a memorial to the fallen leader, and he put the full muscle of his administration behind his plea.
"We have talked long enough in this country about civil rights," he told Congress in his first speech as President. "We have talked for one hundred years or more. It is now time to write the next chapter and write it in the books of law." Eventually, the key to passing the measure was Senator Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader from Illinois. Only Dirksen had the clout to persuade his fellow Republicans to vote to break a filibuster being staged by opposition Southerners. Dirksen was not known for any particular interest in civil rights—but he was known to be highly susceptible to flattery. So Johnson—at his persuasive best, or his shameless worst, depending on how you look at it—went to work. And the Texas President assured the Illinois senator that if he would take the leadership in getting the bill passed, Illinois school children would hereafter know only two names to honor—Abraham Lincoln and Everett Dirksen. Finally, Dirksen announced his recognition of an idea whose time had come. The bill passed. That was in 1964.
President Lyndon Johnson and Senator Everett DirksenEnlargeJohnson makes a point with Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, March 31, 1966. (LBJ Library)
In 1965, the issue was voting rights. Many southern states had routinely been denying blacks, through a series of subterfuges, their constitutional rights. And now black determination and white southern resistance were at a flash point.
Johnson went before Congress to ask for legislation that would put the force of law behind those constitutional rights, appropriating the words of the civil rights movement itself, "We Shall Overcome" the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. It was the most impassioned speech of his career. When the measure passed, Johnson was asked by reporters how he squared his new concern for civil rights with the fact that he had voted against civil rights proposals when he was in the Congress.
"I did not have the responsibility then that I have now," he answered, "and I did not feel its importance as I now do. But I am going to do everything I can to right the wrongs of the past, no matter how many mistakes I may once have made."
At the end of his administration, his cabinet gave him a desk blotter on which were inscribed the titles of 300 major laws passed under his leadership. And those were just the tip of the iceberg. In all, there were a thousand laws of the Great Society.
But when he left office, his thoughts were on work still to be done. He spoke of it often in the last years of his life. He expressed his conviction that every boy and girl in this country had the right to as much education as he or she could take. He believed that good medical care was a constitutional right "from the cradle to the grave."
In concluding remarks at a conference on civil rights the month before he died, he warned: "Let no one deceive himself that the work is finished." He thought government had done all in its power, but now it was the responsibility and challenge of the universities, the churches, and the business community to assure, at long last, that black and white citizens stand on equal ground.
Johnson laughs with Abe Fortas a day after nominating him to the Supreme CourtEnlargeJohnson laughs with Abe Fortas a day after nominating him to the Supreme Court, July 29, 1965. (LBJ Library)
He had in many ways equaled—and in others surpassed—Roosevelt's record. He accepted that distinction with pride. But, although his agenda had clearly been a liberal agenda, he did not care for the designation of liberal himself. Liberals had given him a hard time throughout his Senate years, and even in the White House, despite what he was achieving, they distrusted him. He returned the favor. "The difference between Liberals and cannibals," he said, "is that cannibals eat only their enemies."
Many of the laws of Johnson's Great Society are still on the books, having been kept alive through succeeding administrations, Republicans and Democrats alike. And a generation later it can fairly be said that his revolution has changed the way we live in America.
Johnson's domestic achievements were only part of his legacy, of course. There is also the elephant in the room named Vietnam.
The overwhelming preponderance of scholarly work on Vietnam today—an estimated 90 percent—holds that the American involvement in that war was a mistake. Historians in the future may redress that balance, but in this centennial year we are faced with history as it is written and revealed now.
Johnson inherited the war in Vietnam, and the commitments of the two Presidents who preceded him to assist South Vietnam defend itself against the efforts of the Communist North to take it over. He was as much a Cold Warrior as Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy—and indeed the nation at large—were. He believed as fervently as most of his countrymen did in the danger of falling dominoes. But Johnson also—we know this because of his once-secret telephone conversations—revealed early in his presidency his fears of getting trapped in a war that couldn't be won.
Yet it was Johnson who changed the course of the war—Americanized it, in effect—by sending in U.S. forces to fight and not just advise the South Vietnamese, which had been the American mission. From this there was no turning back. Tensions grew. Protests rocked and then divided the country.
That critical decision was made by Johnson in the spring of 1965, when the war was steadily being lost. The only hope of "turning the tide," said his secretary of defense, secretary of state, national security adviser, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was to commit combat troops.
At Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, President Johnson visits wounded troopsAt Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, President Johnson visits wounded troops, October 21, 1965. (LBJ Library)
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"A President's hardest job," Johnson said many times, in office and out, "is not doing what's right, but knowing what's right." He added that sometimes the only way to know is to "listen to the best advice you can get and to your own gut."
He heard voices of caution. "I don't believe we can win under these conditions," Undersecretary of State George Ball said. Clark Clifford, an old and trusted friend who would eventually become secretary of defense, warned, "I can't see anything but catastrophe." Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield predicted, "We are going deeper into [a] war [that] we cannot expect our people to support."
This advice weighed heavily, but it was trumped by the voices urging action. And the strongest and most sobering of those was Dean Rusk's: "The integrity of the U.S. commitment is the principal pillar of peace throughout the world. If that commitment becomes unreliable, the communist world would draw conclusions that would lead to our ruin and almost certainly to a catastrophic war."
Robert McNamara, who came eventually to doubt the wisdom of the war he had helped to shape, cited that warning of Rusk's as the basic reason for his, the President's, and the other advisers' decision for action: "I cannot overstate the impact our generation's experiences had on . . . all of us. We had lived through the years of war that resulted from the western powers not stopping the advance of Hitler when there still was time."
That was it: the lesson of Munich. World War II could have been prevented if only we had had the wit, the wisdom, and the fortitude to stop Hitler while there still was time. The relevance of that lesson was obvious: to avoid another war, communism, the new aggressive force bent on world domination, had to be stopped wherever it showed its aggressive face—and that face was clearly visible in Vietnam.
That's how a generation of leaders saw it. That's how Johnson saw it. He heard it from his trusted advisers, and he heard it from his gut. "I was staring at World War III."
President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara attend a Cabinet meeting on February 7, 1968, the beginning of Johnson s turbulent last year.President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara attend a Cabinet meeting on February 7, 1968, the beginning of Johnson s turbulent last year. (LBJ Library)
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All these years later, it's hard for a new generation to recapture—or perhaps even understand—that belief. All of Vietnam is under communist control today—but the dominoes did not fall; the juggernaut did not sweep through Southeast Asia, or endanger our security.
Did our stand in Vietnam count for anything? Did it contribute in any way to the ending of the Cold War? I don't pretend to know the answer, as once I thought I did. But I do know that Johnson died believing he had done what he had to do to prevent war, and that history would understand that. I hope it will.
The Presidential library, on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin, that houses his papers and bears his name is also part of his legacy. "It's all here, the story of our time, with the bark off," he said at the library's dedication, "for friend and foe alike to judge."
He meant it. He wanted all the papers opened for research as quickly as possible. He was impatient with the general if unspoken rule at the time that it took at least five years for the first group to be opened. "Let's cut that in half," he ordered.
And he was not at all sympathetic with the general rules for keeping papers closed. "You're being much too cautious," he said when he saw some of the candidates for closing. "I said [referring to his dedication speech] the bark's off. Now you're going to have me pick up the New York Times and read, 'Well, Johnson's got the bark still on.'" When he thought he saw signs we intended to go easy on him, he told me, "Good men have been trying to protect my reputation for 40 years, and not a damn one has succeeded. What makes you think you can?"
President Johnson listens to Gen. Creighton Abrams, then U.S. military commander in Vietnam, during a National Security Council meetingEnlargePresident Johnson listens to Gen. Creighton Abrams, then U.S. military commander in Vietnam, during a National Security Council meeting in March 1968, four days before announcing his decision to not run for reelection. (LBJ Library)
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He insisted that there be a prominent exhibit in the museum on the controversies of the time, and he made his own contribution to it—a postcard from a man in California. He found it by plowing through a box of unfriendly correspondence himself. It read: "I demand that you as a gutless son-of-a-bitch resign as President of the United States."
All of this was at some variance with the reputation for secrecy and thin-skinnedness he had achieved as President. But it was real, and we took him at his word and began to build the library's reputation on that word.
We violated his instructions when we opened his telephone conversations. Those instructions from the grave were that the tapes be kept closed for 50 years after his death. With Lady Bird's support, we cut that short by about three decades. But we would not have done it had we not been so impressed by his early instruction to open everything immediately. As it happened, the release of the telephone conversations has had a decided effect—positive—on his reputation. Had he anticipated that, I doubt he would have imposed that 50-year restriction—or any restriction at all, for that matter.
When I left the directorship of the library after 30 years, following my time with him in the White House, I was asked by a reporter if I would miss standing in the shadow of a great man after so many years.
And now he's back. He's been gone 35 years—40 out of power—as he returns for the centennial observance when his record, in all its controversy and glory, will be spread out in programs and activities that try to capture him anew.
For me, for all of us still standing in his shadow, it's as if he had never left.
"This is my country, the hill country of Texas. And through the years when time would permit, here is where I would always return, to the Pedernales River, the scenes of my childhood.” - LBJ
Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th president of the United States, loved the beautiful, rugged country along the Pedernales River in central Texas. His roots ran deep here. The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park preserves his grandfather’s first ranch house and part of the small town of Johnson City, which his family founded. The park also includes the places where he was born; grew up; began his long political career; returned again and again during his years in Washington as congressman, senator, vice-president, and president; retired; died; and lies buried. The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park contains two distinct areas, Johnson City and the LBJ Ranch, that together, along with the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site, interpret President Johnson’s story.
Johnson’s term as president was one of the most complex and poignant in the 20th century. Sworn into office with the nation still reeling from John F. Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, Johnson successfully pushed many of Kennedy’s and his own legislative proposals through Congress. Personally committed to liberal social policies and civil rights, he used all of his considerable skill at political negotiation to get an unprecedented number of important pieces of legislation passed. His administration ultimately foundered on two crises, the Vietnam War and the explosive urban riots of the mid-to-late 1960s. In March 1968, he announced he would not seek re-election. He retired to his Texas ranch at the end of his term of office and died there four years later.
The Johnson family lived in this area dating back before 1867. Newly married to Eliza Bunton Johnson, Lyndon’s grandfather, Sam E. Johnson Sr. established an open range ranch in the area in 1867. The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park restored Sam Johnson Sr.’s small log dogtrot house to the period when he lived there. Sam Johnson’s nephew, James Polk Johnson, bought the property in 1872, when the ranch operation collapsed. James Polk Johnson improved the property and founded Johnson City.
Lyndon Johnson was born August 27, 1908, in another small dogtrot house on the land that belonged to his grandfather. He was the first of five children of Rebekah Baines and Sam E. Johnson, Jr. An open central passage, or "dogtrot," separated the two main rooms of the one-story frame house. President and Mrs. Johnson constructed, on the site of the original birthplace, a guesthouse similar to the house in which he was born. Thus, the LBJ Birthplace has the distinction of being the only presidential birthplace replica constructed, furnished, and interpreted by an incumbent chief executive. The home is a five-room, Texas dogtrot house, typical of the late 19th century with stone foundation, frame construction, board-and-batten siding, and a wood-shingle roof. An open central hallway runs between two large rooms on the east and west sides. In the outer wall of each room is a stone fireplace with wooden mantel. A partially enclosed wooden porch extends across the front of the building with a nursery room extending out from the porch. An ell to the rear of the western room contains a dining room, an old kitchen, and a modern kitchen. To the east of the dining room are a back porch, a shed room, and a modern bath. Johnson family items and period pieces furnish the home.
Lyndon B. Johnson Boyhood HomeLyndon B. Johnson Boyhood HomeNational Park Service
Sam E. Johnson, Jr. moved his family to Johnson City in 1913, when Lyndon was five years old. The Johnsons purchased a handsome, one-story home the following year. The house consisted of the original five-room house built in 1901, plus a west wing addition with two more bedrooms and a “tubroom,” containing a tub and possibly a washstand. The house also had two L-shaped porches on the front, a screened porch in the back, and another open porch behind the west wing. Many people in Johnson City thought this was one of the nicest houses in town. Lyndon Johnson grew up in this house until he went away to college. It was his home from the age of five until he married at the age of 26, except for two years between 1920 and 1922 when the family returned to their farm. In 1934, Johnson married Claudia “Lady Bird” Alta Taylor. By this time, he had already embarked on his political career. In 1931, he went to Washington, DC as secretary to Democratic Congressman Richard Kleberg and by 1935, was a successful administrator for the National Youth Administration in Texas. When Congressman Joseph Buchanan died unexpectedly, Johnson decided to run for his seat. He returned to the front porch of his boyhood home to make his first political campaign speech in 1937.
Reelected five times, Johnson served in the House until 1948; in 1941 he unsuccesfully ran for the Senate. He became a master of the legislative process and attracted the attention of powerful House Speaker Sam Rayburn, another Texan, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He served in the Navy during the early days of World War II, until the president called all congressmen back from active duty to Washington, DC. In 1948, his second run for the Senate was successful. He soon became known as the “Master of the Senate,” and by 1953 was the youngest minority leader in history. When the Democrats took control of Congress the following year, he became majority leader. He and Republican President Eisenhower worked together to secure passage of a number of important bills, including the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960, the first such legislation in over 80 years.
Amphicars on display at the RanchAmphicars on display at the RanchNational Park ServiceAs his political career flourished, Johnson spent much of his time in Washington, DC, but returned to Texas as often as he could. In 1951, he bought a 1,500-acre ranch, 15 miles west of Johnson City, near Stonewall, Texas, from his widowed aunt. The ranch and its comfortable house were his home until his death 22 years later. Everyone in the country soon came to know the “LBJ Ranch.” Johnson and his wife remodeled and added onto the existing house, which faces south towards the Pedernales River. The two-story frame house, painted white with green shutters, eventually grew to 28 rooms. The Johnsons also added swimming pools and carports for their Lincoln Continentals.
Johnson actively sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1960, but ultimately agreed to accept the position of vice president. His campaigning in the South played an important role in Kennedy’s election, and he was an unusually active vice president. Sworn in as president just hours after Kennedy’s assassination, Johnson moved quickly to break the logjam in Congress that was blocking many Kennedy initiatives. He also began to develop his own “Great Society” reform program. During his first two years in office, he signed a record number of important pieces of legislation including increases in foreign aid, reductions in taxes, and laws supporting wildlife preservation and mass transit systems. When he ran for president in his own right in 1964, he overwhelmed Republican Barry Goldwater.
President Johnson worked closely with black leaders to gain passage of two pieces of landmark civil rights legislation. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited segregation in public accommodations and strengthened fair employment regulations in industry. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed the restrictions that blocked African Americans in the South from exercising the rights granted them almost a century before with the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution. He began the food stamp system, established the Job Corps to train unemployed youth, and created community action agencies to improve health services such as Medicare and Medicaid. He formed the Office of Economic Opportunity to coordinate the new programs and initiated the War on Poverty. He also is also responsible for a number of important environmental laws and initiatives, such as the National Historic Preservation Act, which he signed in 1966. President Johnson has more education legislation to his credit than any other president, before his time or since.
Visitors at the Texas White HouseVisitors at the Texas White HouseNational Park ServiceDespite his many accomplishments, Johnson faced mounting difficulties at home and abroad. Fiercely committed to fighting communist expansion in Southeast Asia, he steadily expanded the American presence in Vietnam that the Eisenhower administration initiated. Bombing of North Vietnam began in 1965. As the draft took increasing numbers of young men and casualties grew, antiwar demonstrations began to take place all over the country, and Johnson became the focal point of much of the controversy. In the late 1960s, the cities of America exploded, as African Americans vented their frustration in a series of violent and destructive riots.
During these difficult years, President Johnson often sought refuge in the serenity of the “Texas White House,” far from the shouts of “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” and the smoke of burning buildings in Washington, DC’s segregated black neighborhoods. Altogether, he spent a total of 490 days at the ranch, about a quarter of his presidential term. Use of the house as the “Texas White House” required many changes to the complex. Communications facilities kept Johnson abreast of developments in Washington and the world. Secret Service guard stations and barracks protected him from the threat of assassination that was in everyone’s mind after Kennedy’s death. An airstrip made it easy for the president to move between the “Texas White House” and the White House in Washington, DC.
Pedernales River at the ranchPedernales River at the ranchNational Park ServiceIn March 1968, Johnson suddenly announced a halt in the bombing of North Vietnam, invited the communists to negotiate, and stunned the nation by saying that he would not run for reelection. Retiring in 1969, Johnson returned to the LBJ Ranch in Texas, where he concentrated on running his registered Hereford cattle operations and wrote his memoirs. He died there in 1973 and lies buried in the family graveyard on the ranch along with his parents, grandparents, and great-grandmother. Lady Bird Johnson, who died in 2007, rests beside her husband.
The National Historic Site consists of two parts: the Johnson City District and the Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch Unit. The Johnson City District contains the Boyhood Home, restored to the period of the late 1920s; the Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Hospital, built in 1968 and now serves as a Visitor Center; and a number of other historic Johnson City buildings. The Johnson Settlement Complex, about one-half mile away from the Boyhood Home, includes the Sam Johnson, Sr. Log House, restored to the 1869 to 1872 period, and a number of related farm outbuildings. The LBJ Ranch House or “Texas White House” is the centerpiece of the LBJ Ranch Unit, about 14 miles from the Johnson City District. The reconstructed birthplace is located on the ranch about three-quarters of a mile away from the Ranch House. The Secret Service Compound lies behind the house. The Show Barn Complex highlights the importance of the Hereford cattle operation, in which Johnson was actively involved, even when he was in Washington, DC. The airplane hangar, painted "LBJ-green" the customary color for outbuildings throughout the ranch, is northwest of the Ranch House. The hangar not only housed the presidential plane but also was a place to watch movies and hold parties and press conferences. The Junction School, which four-year old Lyndon attended for a year, and the family cemetery are also part of the LBJ Ranch Unit.The Great Society was a set of domestic programs in the United States launched by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 and 1965. The term was first referenced during a 1964 speech by Johnson at Ohio University,[1] then later formally presented at the University of Michigan, and came to represent his domestic agenda.[2] The main goal was the total elimination of poverty and racial injustice.
New major federal programs that addressed education, medical care, urban problems, rural poverty, and transportation were launched during this period. The program and its initiatives were subsequently promoted by him and fellow Democrats in Congress in the 1960s. The Great Society in scope and sweep resembled the 1930s New Deal domestic agenda of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Some Great Society initiatives were derived from earlier stalled Kennedy administration New Frontier proposals.[3] Johnson's success depended on his skills of persuasion, coupled with the Democratic landslide victory in the 1964 elections that brought in many new liberals to Congress, making the House of Representatives in 1965 the most liberal House since 1938.[4][3] In the 88th Congress it was estimated that there were 56 liberals and 44 conservatives in the Senate, and 224 liberals and 211 conservatives in the House. In the 89th Congress, by contrast, it was estimated that there were 59 liberals and 41 conservatives in the Senate, and 267 liberals and 168 conservatives in the House.[5]
Anti-war Democrats complained that spending on the Vietnam War choked off the Great Society. While some of the programs have been eliminated or had their funding reduced, many of them, including Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans Act and federal education funding, continue to the present. The Great Society's programs expanded under the administrations of Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.[6]
Economic and social conditionsJohnson's Great Society initiatives came during a period of rapid economic growth in the U.S., unlike the New Deal three decades earlier, which was a response to a severe financial and economic calamity. Kennedy proposed an across-the-board tax cut lowering the top marginal income tax rate in the United States by 20%, from 91% to 71%, which was enacted in February 1964, three months after Kennedy's assassination, under Johnson. The tax cut also significantly reduced marginal rates in the lower brackets as well as for corporations. The gross national product rose 10% in the first year of the tax cut, and economic growth averaged a rate of 4.5% from 1961 to 1968.[7]
GNP increased by 7% in 1964, 8% in 1965, and 9% in 1966. The unemployment rate fell below 5%, and by 1966 the number of families with incomes of $7,000 a year or more had reached 55%, compared with 22% in 1950. In 1968, when John Kenneth Galbraith published a new edition of The Affluent Society, the average income of the American family stood at $8,000, double what it had been a decade earlier.[8]
Johnson's speeches in Ohio and MichiganJohnson's first public reference to the "Great Society" took place during a speech to students on May 7, 1964, on Ohio University's historic College Green in Athens, Ohio:
And with your courage and with your compassion and your desire, we will build a Great Society. It is a society where no child will go unfed, and no youngster will go unschooled.[9]
He later formally presented his specific goals for the Great Society in another speech at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on May 22, 1964.
We are going to assemble the best thought and broadest knowledge from all over the world to find these answers. I intend to establish working groups to prepare a series of conferences and meetings—on the cities, on natural beauty, on the quality of education, and on other emerging challenges. From these studies, we will begin to set our course toward the Great Society.[10]
Presidential task forcesAlmost immediately after the Ann Arbor speech, 14 separate task forces began studying nearly all major aspects of United States society under the guidance of presidential assistants Bill Moyers and Richard N. Goodwin.[11] In his use of task forces to provide expert advice on policy, Johnson was following Kennedy's example, but unlike Kennedy, Johnson directed his task forces to work in secret.[11] His intent was to prevent his program from being derailed by public criticism of proposals that had not yet been reviewed.[12] The average task force had five to seven members and generally was composed of governmental experts and academics.[13]
After the task force reports were submitted to the White House, Moyers began a second round of review. The recommendations were circulated among the agencies concerned, and strategies were developed for getting the proposed legislation through Congress.[14] On January 4, 1965, Johnson announced much of his proposed program in his State of the Union Address.
The election of 1964With the exception of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,[15] the Great Society agenda was not a widely discussed issue during the 1964 presidential election campaign. Johnson won the election with 61% of the vote, and he carried all but six states. Democrats gained enough seats to control more than two-thirds of each chamber in the Eighty-ninth Congress, with a 68–32 margin in the Senate and a 295–140 margin in the House of Representatives.[8]
Johnson won a large majority of the Jewish vote, a liberal constituency that gave strong support to the Great Society.[16]
The two sessions of the Eighty-Ninth CongressThe political realignment allowed House leaders to alter rules that had allowed Southern Democrats to kill New Frontier and civil rights legislation in committee, which aided efforts to pass Great Society legislation. In 1965, the first session of the Eighty-Ninth Congress created the core of the Great Society. It began by enacting long-stalled legislation such as Medicare and federal aid to education and then moved into other areas, including high-speed mass transit, rental supplements, truth in packaging, environmental safety legislation, new provisions for mental health facilities, the Teacher Corps, manpower training, the Head Start program, aid to urban mass transit, a demonstration cities program, a housing act that included rental subsidies, and an act for higher education.[8] The Johnson Administration submitted 87 bills to Congress, and Johnson signed 84, or 96%, arguably the most successful legislative agenda in US congressional history.[17]
The major policy areasPrivacyThe Naked Society is a 1964 book on privacy by Vance Packard. The book argues that changes in technology are encroaching on privacy and could create a society in the future with radically different privacy standards. Packard criticized advertisers' unfettered use of private information to create marketing schemes. He compared a recent Great Society initiative by then-president Lyndon B. Johnson, the National Data Bank, to the use of information by advertisers and argued for increased data privacy measures to ensure that information did not find its way into the wrong hands. The essay led Congress to create the Special Subcommittee on the Invasion of Privacy and inspired privacy advocates such as Neil Gallagher and Sam Ervin to fight what they perceived as Johnson's flagrant disregard for consumer privacy. Ervin criticized Johnson's domestic agenda as invasive and claimed that the unfiltered database of consumers' information as a sign of presidential abuse of power. Ervin warned that "The computer never forgets".[18] Jerry M. Rosenberg dedicated a chapter of his 1969 book The Death of Privacy to the National Data Bank.[19]
Civil rights
President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965.Historian Alan Brinkley has suggested that the most important domestic achievement of the Great Society may have been its success in translating some of the demands of the civil rights movement into law.[20] Four civil rights acts were passed, including three laws in the first two years of Johnson's presidency. The Civil Rights Act of 1964[15] forbade job discrimination and the segregation of public accommodations.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 assured minority registration and voting. It suspended use of literacy or other voter-qualification tests that had sometimes served to keep African-Americans off voting lists and provided for federal court lawsuits to stop discriminatory poll taxes. It also reinforced the Civil Rights Act of 1964[15] by authorizing the appointment of federal voting examiners in areas that did not meet voter-participation requirements. The Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965 abolished the national-origin quotas in immigration law. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 banned housing discrimination and extended constitutional protections to Native Americans on reservations.
Johnson recognized the benefits and costs of passing civil rights legislation. His support for the 1964 Civil Rights Act was despite his personal opinions on racial matters, as Johnson regularly articulated thoughts and disparaging language against racial minorities, including against African-Americans and Asians.[21] Scholar and biographer Robert Caro suggested that Johnson used racially charged language to appease legislators in an effort to pass civil rights laws, including adapting how he said the word 'negro' based upon where the legislator's district was located.[21]
The "War On Poverty"Main article: War on Poverty
The August 1964 signing of the Poverty BillThe most ambitious and controversial part of the Great Society was its initiative to end poverty. The Kennedy Administration had been contemplating a federal effort against poverty. Johnson, who, as a teacher, had observed extreme poverty in Texas among Mexican-Americans, launched an "unconditional war on poverty" in the first months of his presidency with the goal of eliminating hunger, illiteracy, and unemployment from American life. The centerpiece of the War on Poverty was the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which created an Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to oversee a variety of community-based antipoverty programs.
Federal funds were provided for special education schemes in slum areas, including help in paying for books and transport, while financial aid was also provided for slum clearances and rebuilding city areas. In addition, the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965 created jobs in one of the most impoverished regions of the country.[citation needed] The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 provided various methods through which young people from poor homes could receive job training and higher education.[22]
The OEO reflected a fragile consensus among policymakers that the best way to deal with poverty was not simply to raise the incomes of the poor but to help them better themselves through education, job training, and community development. Central to its mission was the idea of "community action", the participation of the poor in framing and administering the programs designed to help them.
ProgramsThe War on Poverty began with a $1 billion appropriation in 1964 and spent another $2 billion in the following two years. It gave rise to dozens of programs, among them the Job Corps, whose purpose was to help disadvantaged youth develop marketable skills; the Neighborhood Youth Corps, established to give poor urban youths work experience and to encourage them to stay in school; Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), a domestic version of the Peace Corps, which placed concerned citizens with community-based agencies to work towards empowerment of the poor; the Model Cities Program for urban redevelopment; Upward Bound, which assisted poor high school students entering college; legal services for the poor; and the Food Stamp Act of 1964 (which expanded the federal food stamp program).[23]
Programs included the Community Action Program, which initiated local Community Action Agencies charged with helping the poor become self-sufficient; and Project Head Start, which offered preschool education for poor children. In addition, funding was provided for the establishment of community health centers to expand access to health care,[24] while major amendments were made to Social Security in 1965 and 1967 which significantly increased benefits, expanded coverage, and established new programs to combat poverty and raise living standards.[25] In addition, average AFDC payments were 35% higher in 1968 than in 1960, but remained insufficient and uneven.[26]
EducationThe most important educational component of the Great Society was the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, designed by Commissioner of Education Francis Keppel. It was signed into law on April 11, 1965, less than three months after it was introduced. It ended a long-standing political taboo by providing significant federal aid to public education, initially allocating more than $1 billion to help schools purchase materials and start special education programs to schools with a high concentration of low-income children. During its first year of operation, the Act authorized a $1.1 billion program of grants to states, for allocations to school districts with large numbers of children of low-income families, funds to use community facilities for education within the entire community, funds to improve educational research and to strengthen state departments of education, and grants for the purchase of books and library materials.[27] The Act also established Head Start, which had originally been started by the Office of Economic Opportunity as an eight-week summer program, as a permanent program.
The Higher Education Facilities Act of 1963, which was signed into law by Johnson a month after becoming president,[28] authorized several times more college aid within a five-year period than had been appropriated under the Land Grant College in a century. It provided better college libraries, ten to twenty new graduate centers, several new technical institutes, classrooms for several hundred thousand students, and twenty-five to thirty new community colleges a year.[29]
This major piece of legislation was followed by the Higher Education Act of 1965, which increased federal money given to universities, created scholarships and low-interest loans for students, and established a national Teacher Corps to provide teachers to poverty-stricken areas of the United States. The Act also began a transition from federally funded institutional assistance to individual student aid.
In 1964, basic improvements in the National Defense Education Act were achieved, and total funds available to educational institutions were increased. The yearly limit on loans to graduate and professional students was raised from $1,000 to $2,500, and the aggregate limit was raised from $5,000 to $10,000. The program was extended to include geography, history, reading, English, and civics, and guidance and counseling programs were extended to elementary and public junior high schools.[23]
The Bilingual Education Act of 1968 offered federal aid to local school districts in assisting them to address the needs of children with limited English-speaking ability until it expired in 2002.[30]
The Great Society programs also provided support for postgraduate clinical training for both nurses and physicians committed to work with disadvantaged patients in rural and urban health clinics.[31]
HealthMedicareMain article: Medicare (United States)
President Johnson signs the Social Security Act of 1965.On August 31, 1964, an amendment to the proposed Social Security Amendments of 1964, which further increased the proposed level of Social Security benefits and added hospital insurance to the program, was passed in the Senate by a vote of 49 to 44. The following day the entire bill passed the Senate by 60 to 28 votes. Following this vote, as noted by one study, “Seeking to ensure that the health insurance proposal emerge from the conference committee as part of the report, the administration flirted with an effort to have the full House of Representatives vote to instruct the conference to yield to the Senate version. Though the health insurance provision appeared to have majority support in the House, the tactic did not, and the idea was dropped. Sure enough, the House conferees voted 3 to 2 against the Senate health provision; the Senate conferees voted 4 to 3 to accept a bill only if Medicare were included.”[32] Medicare finally came about with the Social Security Act of 1965 which authorized Medicare and provided federal funding for many of the medical costs of older Americans.[33] The legislation overcame the bitter resistance, particularly from the American Medical Association, to the idea of publicly funded health care or "socialized medicine" by making its benefits available to everyone over sixty-five, regardless of need, and by linking payments to the existing private insurance system.
MedicaidMain article: MedicaidIn 1966 welfare recipients of all ages received medical care through the Medicaid program. Medicaid was created on July 30, 1965, under Title XIX of the Social Security Act of 1965. Each state administers its own Medicaid program while the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) monitors the state-run programs and establishes requirements for service delivery, quality, funding, and eligibility standards.
Neighborhood health centersUnder the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964's Community Action Program, as noted by one study, "hospitals, medical schools, community groups, and health departments received grants to plan and administer neighbourhood health centers in low-income areas." One hundred neighborhood health centers had been set up under the Economic Opportunity Act by 1971.[34]
WelfareA number of changes were made to the Social Security program in terms of both coverage and adequacy of benefits. The Tax Adjustment Act of 1966 included a provision for special payments under the social security program to certain uninsured individuals aged 72 and over. The Social Security Amendments of 1965 included a 7% increase in cash benefits, a liberalization of the definition of disability, a liberalization of the amount a person can earn and still get full benefits (the so-called retirement test), payment of benefits to eligible children aged 18–21 who are attending school, payment of benefits to widows at age 60 on an actuarially reduced basis, coverage of self-employed physicians, coverage of tips as wages, liberalization of insured-status requirements for persons already aged 72 or over, an increase to $6,600 the amount of earnings counted for contribution and benefit purposes (the contribution and benefit base), and an increase in the contribution rate schedule.[25]
The Social Security Amendments of 1967 included a 13% increase in old-age, survivors, and disability insurance benefits, with a minimum monthly benefit of $55 for a person retiring at or after age-65 (or receiving disability benefits), an increase from $35 to $40 in the special age-72 payments, an increase from $1,500 to $1,680 in the amount a person may earn in a year and still get full benefits for that year, monthly cash benefits for disabled widows and disabled dependent widowers at age 50 at reduced rates, a liberalization of the eligibility requirements for benefits for dependents and Survivors of women workers, and an alternative insured-status test for workers disabled before age 31.[25]
Additionally, new guidelines for determining eligibility for disability insurance benefits, additional non-contributory wage credits for servicemen, broadened coverage of clergy and members of religious orders who have not taken a vow of poverty, and an increase in the contribution and benefit base from $6,600 to $7,800, beginning in 1968. In addition, the Social Security Amendments of 1967 provided the first major amendments of Medicare. These social security amendments extended the coverage of the program to include certain services previously excluded, simplified reimbursement procedures under both the hospital and medical insurance plans, and facilitated the administrative procedures concerning general enrollment periods.[25]
The Food Stamp Act of 1964 made the program permanent, while the Social Security Amendments of 1967 specified that at least 6% of monies for maternal and child health should be spent on family planning. By 1967, the federal government began requiring state health departments to make contraceptives available to all adults who were poor. Meal programs for low-income senior citizens began in 1965, with the federal government providing funding for "congregate meals" and "home-delivered meals."[35] The Child Nutrition Act, passed in 1966, made improvements to nutritional assistance to children such as in the introduction of the School Breakfast Program.[36]
The arts and cultural institutionsJohnson promoted the arts in terms of social betterment, not artistic creativity. He typically emphasized qualitative and quantitative goals, especially the power of the arts to improve the quality of life of ordinary Americans and to reduce the inequalities between the haves and the have-nots. Karen Patricia Heath observes that, "Johnson personally was not much interested in the acquisition of knowledge, cultural or otherwise, for its own sake, nor did he have time for art appreciation or meeting with artists."[37]
National Endowments for the arts and the humanitiesIn September 1965, Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act into law, creating both the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities as separate, independent agencies. Lobbying for federally funded arts and humanities support began during the Kennedy Administration. In 1963 three scholarly and educational organizations—the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Council of Graduate Schools in America, and the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa—joined together to establish the National Commission on the Humanities. In June 1964, the commission released a report that suggested that the emphasis placed on science endangered the study of the humanities from elementary schools through postgraduate programs. In order to correct the balance, it recommended "the establishment by the President and the Congress of the United States of a National Humanities Foundation."[38]
In August 1964, Representative William S. Moorhead of Pennsylvania proposed legislation to implement the commission's recommendations. Support from the White House followed in September, when Johnson lent his endorsement during a speech at Brown University. In March 1965, the White House proposed the establishment of a National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities and requested $20 million in start-up funds. The commission's report had generated other proposals, but the White House's approach eclipsed them. The administration's plan, which called for the creation of two separate agencies each advised by a governing body, was the version that the Congress approved. Richard Nixon dramatically expanded funding for NEH and NEA.[38]
Public broadcastingMain article: Public Broadcasting ServiceAfter the First National Conference on Long-Range Financing of Educational Television Stations in December 1964 called for a study of the role of noncommercial education television in society, the Carnegie Corporation agreed to finance the work of a 15-member national commission. Its landmark report, Public Television: A Program for Action, published on January 26, 1967, popularized the phrase "public television" and assisted the legislative campaign for federal aid. The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, enacted less than 10 months later, chartered the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as a private, non-profit corporation.[citation needed]
The law initiated federal aid through the CPB for the operation, as opposed to the funding of capital facilities, of public broadcasting. The CPB initially collaborated with the pre-existing National Educational Television system, but in 1969 decided to start the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). A public radio study commissioned by the CPB and the Ford Foundation and conducted from 1968 to 1969 led to the establishment of National Public Radio, a public radio system under the terms of the amended Public Broadcasting Act.[citation needed]
Cultural centersTwo long-planned national cultural and arts facilities received federal funding that would allow for their completion through Great Society legislation. A National Cultural Center, suggested during the Franklin Roosevelt Administration and created by a bipartisan law signed by Dwight Eisenhower, was transformed into the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a living memorial to the assassinated president. Fundraising for the original cultural center had been poor prior to legislation creating the Kennedy Center, which passed two months after the president's death and provided $23 million for construction. The Kennedy Center opened in 1971.[39]
In the late 1930s the U.S. Congress mandated a Smithsonian Institution art museum for the National Mall, and a design by Eliel Saarinen was unveiled in 1939, but plans were shelved during World War II. A 1966 act of the U.S. Congress established the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden as part of the Smithsonian Institution with a focus on modern art, in contrast to the existing National Art Gallery. The museum was primarily federally funded, although New York financier Joseph Hirshhorn later contributed $1 million toward building construction, which began in 1969. The Hirshhorn opened in initiatives started during President Johnson's term in office included the consolidation of transportation agencies into a cabinet-level position under the Department of Transportation.[41] The department was authorized by Congress on October 15, 1966 and began operations on April 1, 1967. Congress passed a variety of legislation to support improvements in transportation including The Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 which provided $375 million for large-scale urban public or private rail projects in the form of matching funds to cities and states and created the Urban Mass Transit Administration (now the Federal Transit Administration), High Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965 which resulted in the creation of high-speed rail between New York and Washington, and the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966—a bill largely taken credit for by Ralph Nader, whose book Unsafe at Any Speed he claims helped inspire the legislation.
Consumer protectionIn 1964, Johnson named Assistant Secretary of Labor Esther Peterson to be the first presidential assistant for consumer affairs.
The Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965 required packages to carry warning labels. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 set standards through creation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act requires products identify manufacturer, address, clearly mark quantity and servings. The statute also authorized the HEW and the FTC to establish and define voluntary standard sizes. The original would have mandated uniform standards of size and weight for comparison shopping, but the final law only outlawed exaggerated size claims.
The Child Safety Act of 1966 prohibited any chemical so dangerous that no warning can make it safe. The Flammable Fabrics Act of 1967 set standards for children's sleepwear, but not baby blankets.[citation needed]
The Wholesome Meat Act of 1967 required inspection of meat which must meet federal standards. The Truth-in-Lending Act of 1968 required lenders and credit providers to disclose the full cost of finance charges in both dollars and annual percentage rates, on installment loan and sales. The Wholesome Poultry Products Act of 1968 required inspection of poultry which must meet federal standards. The Land Sales Disclosure Act of 1968 provided safeguards against fraudulent practices in the sale of land. The Radiation Safety Act of 1968 provided standards and recalls for defective electronic products.[citation needed]
The environmentJoseph A. Califano, Jr. has suggested that the Great Society's main contribution to the environment was an extension of protections beyond those aimed at the conservation of untouched resources.[42] In a message he transmitted to Congress, President Johnson said:
The air we breathe, our water, our soil and wildlife, are being blighted by poisons and chemicals which are the by-products of technology and industry. The society that receives the rewards of technology, must, as a cooperating whole, take responsibility for [their] control. To deal with these new problems will require a new conservation. We must not only protect the countryside and save it from destruction, we must restore what has been destroyed and salvage the beauty and charm of our cities. Our conservation must be not just the classic conservation of protection [against] development, but a creative conservation of restoration and innovation.
— Special Message to the Congress on Conservation and Restoration of Natural Beauty; February 8, 1965[43]At the behest of Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, the Great Society included several new environmental laws to protect air and water. Environmental legislation enacted included:
Water Quality Act of 1965Clean Air Act of 1963Wilderness Act of 1964Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966National Trails System Act of 1968Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act of 1965National Historic Preservation Act of 1966National Environmental Policy Act of 1969HousingUnder the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 loans were authorized “to low income farm families for small farm improvements and nonfarm enterprises that would add to family income.”[44] That same year the quality of the housing program was improved by requiring minimum standards of code enforcement, providing assistance to dislocated families and small businesses and authorizing below market interest loans for rehabilitating housing in urban renewal areas.[23][45]Housing Act 1964 [46][47] In 1965, the rural housing program was converted to one largely funded on an insured-loan basis, which opened the way “for a great increase in volume of the program and expanded the loan program for rural waste systems to a loan and grant program for water and waste disposal systems, raising the maximum population of rural towns served to 5,500 and maximum financing per project to $4 million. In addition, the annual ceiling on insured loans for community facilities and farm ownership was increased from $200 million to $450 million. New housing legislation in 1966 removed a 62-year age minimum “on tenants of low income rural rent housing financed through the agency, and on borrowers obtaining individual housing loans on the basis of cosigners. It also authorized FmHa to finance purchase of newly-constructed homes.”[48]
The Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 included important elements such as rent subsidies for low-income families, rehabilitation grants to enable low-income homeowners in urban renewal areas to improve their homes instead of relocating elsewhere, and improved and extended benefits for relocation payments.[27] The Demonstration Cities Act of 1966 established a new program for comprehensive neighborhood renewal, with an emphasis on strategic investments in housing renovation, urban services, neighborhood facilities, and job creation activities.[49][50]
Rural developmentA number of measures were introduced to improve socio-economic conditions in rural areas. Under Title III of the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act, Special Programs to Combat Rural Poverty, the Office for Economic Opportunity was authorized to act as a lender of last resort for rural families who needed money to help them permanently increase their earning capacity. Loans could be made to purchase land, improve the operation of family farms, allow participation in cooperative ventures, and finance non-agricultural business enterprises, while local cooperatives which served low-income rural families could apply for another category of loans for similar purposes.[51]
Title III also made loans and grants available to local groups to improve housing, education, and child care services for migrant farm workers, while Titles I and II also included potentially important programs for rural development. Title I established the Job Corps which enrolled school dropouts in community service projects: 40% of the corpsmen were to work in a Youth Conservation Corps to carry out resource conservation, beautification, and development projects in the National Forests and countryside. Arguably more important for rural areas were the Community Action Programs authorized by Title II. Federal money was allocated to States according to their needs for job training, housing, health, and welfare assistance, and the States were then to distribute their shares of the Community Action grants on the basis of proposals from local public or non-profit private groups.[51]
The Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 reorganized the Areas Redevelopment Administration (ARA) into the Economic Development Administration (EDA), and authorized $3.3 billion over 5 years while specifying seven criteria for eligibility. The list included low median family income, but the 6% or higher unemployment applied to the greatest number of areas, while the Act also mentioned outmigration from rural areas as a criterion. In an attempt to go beyond what one writer described as "ARA's failed scattershot approach" of providing aid to individual counties and inspired by the European model of regional development, the EDA encouraged counties to form Economic Development Districts (EDDs) as it was recognized that individual distressed counties (called RAs or Redevelopment Areas) lacked sufficient resources for their own development.[51]
EDDs encompassed from 5 to 15 counties and both planned and implemented development with EDA funding and technical assistance, and each EDD had a "growth center" (another concept borrowed from Europe) called a redevelopment center if it was located in an RA or development center if in another county. With the exception of the growth centers, EDD counties were ineligible for assistance unless they were RAs, but they were all expected to benefit from "coordinated districtwide development planning."[51]
LaborA number of measures concerning labor were also introduced during Johnson's presidency.[52][53][54][55] Amendments made to the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act in 1964 extended the prevailing wage provisions to cover fringe benefits,[56] while several increases were made to the federal minimum wage.[57] The Service Contract Act of 1965 provided for minimum wages and fringe benefits as well as other conditions of work for contractors under certain types of service contracts.[58] A comprehensive minimum rate hike was also signed into law that extended the coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act to about 9.1 million additional workers.[56]
Conservative oppositionIn the 1966 midterm elections, the Republicans made major gains in part through a challenge to the "War on Poverty." Large-scale civic unrest in the inner-city was escalating (reaching a climax in 1968), strengthened demand for Law and order.[59] Urban white ethnics who had been an important part of the New Deal Coalition felt abandoned by the Democratic Party's concentration on racial minorities. Republican candidates ignored more popular programs, such as Medicare or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and focused their attacks on less popular programs. Furthermore, Republicans made an effort to avoid the stigma of negativism and elitism that had dogged them since the days the New Deal, and instead proposed well-crafted alternatives—such as their "Opportunity Crusade."[60] The result was a major gain of 47 House seats for the GOP in the 1966 United States House of Representatives elections that put the conservative coalition of Republicans and Southern Democrats back in business.[61]
Despite conservatives who attacked Johnson's Great Society making major gains in Congress in the 1966 midterm elections, and with anger and frustration mounting over the Vietnam War, Johnson was still able to secure the passage of additional programs during his last two years in office. Laws were passed to extend the Food Stamp Program, to expand consumer protection, to improve safety standards, to train health professionals, to assist handicapped Americans, and to further urban programs.[62]
In 1968, a new Fair Housing Act was passed, which banned racial discrimination in housing[63] and subsidized the construction or rehabilitation of low-income housing units.[64] That same year, a new program for federally funded job retraining for the hardcore unemployed in fifty cities was introduced, together with the strongest federal gun control bill (relating to the transportation of guns across state lines) in American history up until that point.[65]
By the end of the Johnson Administration, 226 out of 252 major legislative requests (over a four-year period) had been met, federal aid to the poor had risen from $9.9 billion in 1960 to $30 billion by 1968, one million Americans had been retrained under previously non-existent federal programs, and two million children had participated in the Head Start program.
LegacyInterpretations of the War on Poverty remain controversial. The Office of Economic Opportunity was dismantled by the Nixon and Ford administrations, largely by transferring poverty programs to other government departments.[66] Funding for many of these programs was further cut in President Ronald Reagan's Gramm-Latta Budget in 1981.[citation needed]
Alan Brinkley has suggested that "the gap between the expansive intentions of the War on Poverty and its relatively modest achievements fueled later conservative arguments that government is not an appropriate vehicle for solving social problems."[20] One of Johnson's aides, Joseph A. Califano, Jr., has countered that "from 1963 when Lyndon Johnson took office until 1970 as the impact of his Great Society programs were felt, the portion of Americans living below the poverty line dropped from 22.2 percent to 12.6 percent, the most dramatic decline over such a brief period in this century."[42]
In the long run, statistical analysis shows that the Official Poverty Rate fell from 19.5 percent in 1963 to 12.3 percent in 2017. However, using a broader definition that includes cash income, taxes, and major in-kind transfers and inflation rates, the "Full-income Poverty Rate" based on President Johnson's standards fell from 19.5 percent to 2.3 percent over that period.[67][68]
The percentage of African Americans below the poverty line dropped from 55 percent in 1960 to 27 percent in 1968.[69] From 1964 to 1967, federal expenditures on education rose from $4 billion to $12 billion, while spending on health rose from $5 billion to $16 billion. By that time, the federal government was spending $4,000 per annum on each poor family of four, four times as much as in 1961.[70]
The Social Security Amendments of 1965, Pub. L. 89–97, 79 Stat. 286, enacted July 30, 1965, was legislation in the United States whose most important provisions resulted in creation of two programs: Medicare and Medicaid. The legislation initially provided federal health insurance for the elderly (over 65) and for financially challenged families.
HistoryMany politicians were involved in drafting the final bill that was introduced to the United States Congress in March 1965. On July 30, 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill into law.
The concept of national health insurance began in the early 20th century in the United States and then came to prominence during the Truman administration following World War II. Between 1958 and 1964, controversy grew and a bill was drafted. The signing of the act, as part of Johnson's Great Society, began an era with a greater emphasis on public health issues. Medicare and Medicaid became the country's first public health insurance programs. The legislation was vigorously opposed by the American Medical Association until it had been enacted, but the AMA obtained concessions and later co-operated in its implementation.
In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt included social insurance for sickness in the platform of his Progressive Party. Around 1915 the group American Association for Labor Legislation attempted to introduce a medical insurance bill to some state legislatures. The attempts were not successful, and as a result, controversy about national insurance came about. National groups supporting the idea of government health insurance included the AFL–CIO, the American Nurses Association, National Association of Social Workers, and the Socialist Party USA. The most prominent opponent of national medical insurance was the American Medical Association (AMA); others included the American Hospital Association, the United States Chamber of Commerce, and the Life Insurance Association of People.
Previous administrationsIn 1935, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, medical benefits were left out of the bill. The committee that Roosevelt appointed to study issues related to Social Security wanted to include health insurance in the bill. However, the committee was concerned that amending the bill to include health insurance would kill the entire bill.[1] Harry Truman took on the idea of national medical care and tried to integrate it into his Fair Deal program. Truman's attempts were also unsuccessful, but during his presidency, the fight for national medical care became specific to the aged population.
Once the targeted age was decided, a lengthy debate began over presenting a coherent medical care bill to Congress. The Conservative Coalition dominated the House Ways and Means Committee, which complicated attempts to pass social health programs. Wilbur Mills (D-AR), the chair of the committee, later played a role in creating the health care program that was integrated into the Social Security Act.
In 1960, the Kerr–Mills Act created the Medical Assistance for the Aged (MAA), a program that gave states the power to decide which patients needed financial assistance. The federal government would provide matching funds to the states for the program. Some states did not participate in or aoffere by the Act.[2] Another preliminary bill, the King–Anderson Bill, was introduced in 1962. Under it, some hospital and nursing home costs for patients 65 and older would have been covered. Although the bill was defeated in committee, the vote was narrow (12–11), signaling a shift in attitudes.
Johnson administrationWith the election of Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, Democrats controlled both the presidency and the Congress, claiming a 2:1 ratio to Republicans in the House and 32 more seats in the Senate. The Democrats in the House Ways and Means Committee shifted away from Southern Democrats, making the committee more sympathetic towards health insurance reform.
Those who had worked on the King-Anderson Bill drafted a new bill providing coverage of the aged, limited hospitalization and nursing home insurance benefits, and Social Security financing. Wilbur Cohen, Assistant Secretary for Legislation of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (and later Secretary), pushed the Medicare bill. Cohen convinced Johnson to give the bill high priority, and Johnson declared its importance to his Great Society program. The bill was introduced as companion bills,[3] H.R. 1 and S. 1, with the numbers being the first bills introduced in each house of a new Congress.
House of RepresentativesThe groups previously opposed to the legislation switched their focus from opposing the bill to creating new versions of it. As a result, three forms of the bill emerged: John Byrnes's, the American Medical Association's, and the administration's bill (known as Medicare). Byrnes was a Republican committee member who proposed for doctors' services and drugs to be financed; participation in coverage would be voluntary for the aged. An elderly patient who needed the help would have financing "scaled to the amounts of the participant's Social Security cash benefits," and the financing would come from the government's revenues. The AMA proposed Eldercare, which provided government financing for physician's services, surgical charges, drugs, nursing home costs, X-ray and lab services. When brought back to the Ways and Means committee, three bills were presented: Byrnes's, Eldercare, and Medicare.
When deliberations began in 1965, both AMA members and their suggestions were rejected. Wilbur Mills, the chair of the Ways and Means committee, suggested combining Byrnes's ideas and Medicare. His committee took on the task of drafting H.R. 6675, the bill that ultimately became law. In combining the two bills, Byrnes's suggestion, which included lower taxes, had to be altered as higher taxes were necessary for the program's predicted costs. The Ways and Means Committee reported favorably on the new bill to the full House of Representatives on March 29 after a straight-party committee vote of 17 to 8.[4]
During debate on the House floor, Republicans offered a substitute bill that would have made participation fully voluntary. It was narrowly defeated 236 to 191, with 128 of 138 Republicans in favor of the substitute. H.R. 6675 was passed in the House on April 8, 1965, by a vote of 313 to 115.[4]
SenateThe biggest threat to the passage of H.R. 6675 in the Senate came from liberal Democrats who were eager to expand coverage of the bill. As amended and passed in the Senate on July 19 by a vote of 68 to 21, H.R. 6675 would have cost approximately $800 million more than the House bill.[4]
Final passageThe bill went to a conference committee at which Mills worked to eliminate practically all of the Senate amendments. The bill went through more than 5// amendments before being passed by majority vote in the House (307–116) on July 27 and in the Senate on July 28 (70–24).[5]
The legislation made two amendments to the Social Security Act of 1935. Title XVIII, which became known as Medicare, includes Part A, which provides hospital insurance for the aged, and Part B, which provides supplementary medical insurance. Title XIX, which became known as Medicaid, provides for the states to finance health care for individuals who were at or close to the public assistance level with federal matching funds.
On July 30, 1965, Johnson signed the bill, making it Public Law 89–97. The signing took place in Independence, Missouri and was attended by Truman. Johnson credited Truman with "planting the seeds of compassion and duty which have today flowered into care for the sick and serenity for the fearful." Implementation of the amendments required extensive data processing and the re-configuration of hospital policies nationwide.[6]
EffectsIn the late 1960s and the early 1970s, the federal government doubled the number of physicians trained in the US from 8,000 to 16,000 a year. There was a hospital building boom that moved from inpatient wards to one- and two-patient hospital rooms.[7]
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. They ensure one's entitlement to participate in the civil and political life of society and the state.
Civil rights include the ensuring of peoples' physical and mental integrity, life, and safety; protection from discrimination on grounds such as sex, race, sexual orientation, national origin, color, age, political affiliation, ethnicity, social class, religion, and disability;[1][2][3] and individual rights such as privacy and the freedom of thought, speech, religion, press, assembly, and movement.
Political rights include natural justice (procedural fairness) in law, such as the rights of the accused, including the right to a fair trial; due process; the right to seek redress or a legal remedy; and rights of participation in civil society and politics such as freedom of association, the right to assemble, the right to petition, the right of self-defense, and the right to vote.
Civil and political rights form the original and main part of international human rights.[4] They comprise the first portion of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (with economic, social, and cultural rights comprising the second portion). The theory of three generations of human rights considers this group of rights to be "first-generation rights", and the theory of negative and positive rights considers them to be generally negative rights.
HistoryThe phrase "civil rights" is a translation of Latin jus civis (right of the citizen). Roman citizens could be either free (libertas) or servile (servitus), but they all had rights in law.[5] After the Edict of Milan in 313, these rights included the freedom of religion; however, in 380, the Edict of Thessalonica required all subjects of the Roman Empire to profess Catholic Christianity.[6] Roman legal doctrine was lost during the Middle Ages, but claims of universal rights could still be made based on Christian doctrine. According to the leaders of Kett's Rebellion (1549), "all bond men may be made free, for God made all free with his precious blood-shedding."[7]
In the 17th century, English common law judge Sir Edward Coke revived the idea of rights based on citizenship by arguing that Englishmen had historically enjoyed such rights. The Parliament of England adopted the English Bill of Rights in 1689. It was one of the influences drawn on by George Mason and James Madison when drafting the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776. The Virginia declaration is the direct ancestor and model for the U.S. Bill of Rights (1789).[citation needed]
The removal by legislation of a civil right constitutes a "civil disability". In early 19th century Britain, the phrase "civil rights" most commonly referred to the issue of such legal discrimination against Catholics. In the House of Commons support for civil rights was divided, with many politicians agreeing with the existing civil disabilities of Catholics. The Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 restored their civil rights.[citation needed]
In the United States, the term civil rights has been associated with the civil rights movement (1954–1968), which fought against racism.[citation needed]
Protection of rightsT. H. Marshall notes that civil rights were among the first to be recognized and codified, followed later by political rights and still later by social rights. In many countries, they are constitutional rights and are included in a bill of rights or similar document. They are also defined in international human rights instruments, such as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Civil and political rights need not be codified to be protected. However, most democracies worldwide do have formal written guarantees of civil and political rights. Civil rights are considered to be natural rights. Thomas Jefferson wrote in his A Summary View of the Rights of British America that "a free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate."
The question of to whom civil and political rights apply is a subject of controversy. Although in many countries citizens have greater protections against infringement of rights than non-citizens, civil and political rights are generally considered to be universal rights that apply to all persons.
According to political scientist Salvador Santino F. Regilme Jr., analyzing the causes of and lack of protection from human rights abuses in the Global South should be focusing on the interactions of domestic and international factors—an important perspective that has usually been systematically neglected in the social science literature.[8]
Other rightsCustom also plays a role. Implied or unenumerated rights are rights that courts may find to exist even though not expressly guaranteed by written law or custom; one example is the right to privacy in the United States, and the Ninth Amendment explicitly shows that there are other rights that are also protected.
The United States Declaration of Independence states that people have unalienable rights including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". It is considered by some that the sole purpose of government is the protection of life, liberty and property.[9]
Some thinkers have argued that the concepts of self-ownership and cognitive liberty affirm rights to choose the food one eats,[10][11] the medicine one takes,[12][13][14] and the habit one indulges.[15][16][17]
Social movements for civil rightsMain article: Civil rights movements
Savka Dabčević-Kučar, Croatian Spring participant; Europe's first female prime ministerCivil rights guarantee equal protection under the law. When civil and political rights are not guaranteed to all as part of equal protection of laws, or when such guarantees exist on paper but are not respected in practice, opposition, legal action and even social unrest may ensue.
Civil rights movements in the United States gathered steam by 1848 with such documents as the Declaration of Sentiment.[18][full citation needed] Consciously modeled after the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments became the founding document of the American women's movement, and it was adopted at the Seneca Falls Convention, July 19 and 20, 1848.[19][full citation needed]
Worldwide, several political movements for equality before the law occurred between approximately 1950 and 1980. These movements had a legal and constitutional aspect, and resulted in much law-making at both national and international levels. They also had an activist side, particularly in situations where violations of rights were widespread. Movements with the proclaimed aim of securing observance of civil and political rights included:
the civil rights movement in the United States, where rights of black citizens had been violated;the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, formed in 1967 following failures in this province of the United Kingdom to respect the Roman Catholic minority's rights; andmovements in many Communist countries, such as the Prague Spring and Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia and the uprisings in Hungary.Most civil rights movements relied on the technique of civil resistance, using nonviolent methods to achieve their aims.[20] In some countries, struggles for civil rights were accompanied, or followed, by civil unrest and even armed rebellion. While civil rights movements over the last sixty years have resulted in an extension of civil and political rights, the process was long and tenuous in many countries, and many of these movements did not achieve or fully achieve their objectives.
The San Francisco Examiner is a newspaper distributed in and around San Francisco, California, and published since 1863.
Once self-dubbed the "Monarch of the Dailies" by then-owner William Randolph Hearst, and flagship of the Hearst Corporation chain,[1] the Examiner converted to free distribution early in the 21st century and is owned by Clint Reilly Communications, which bought the newspaper at the end of 2020 along with the SF Weekly.[2]
HistoryFounding
First edition, June 12, 1865The Examiner was founded in 1863 as the Democratic Press, a pro-Confederacy, pro-slavery, pro-Democratic Party paper opposed to Abraham Lincoln, but after his assassination in 1865, the paper's offices were destroyed by a mob, and starting on June 12, 1865, it was called The Daily Examiner.[3][4][5]
Hearst acquisition
Announcement that William Randolph Hearst has become owner of the newspaper, March 4, 1887In 1880, mining engineer and entrepreneur George Hearst bought the Examiner. Seven years later, after being elected to the U.S. Senate, he gave it to his son, William Randolph Hearst, who was then 23 years old. The elder Hearst "was said to have received the failing paper as partial payment of a poker debt."[6]
William Randolph Hearst hired S.S. (Sam) Chamberlain, who had started the first American newspaper in Paris, as managing editor[5] and Arthur McEwen as editor, and changed the Examiner from an evening to a morning paper.[3] Under him, the paper's popularity increased greatly, with the help of such writers as Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, and the San Francisco-born Jack London.[7] It also found success through its version of yellow journalism, with ample use of foreign correspondents and splashy coverage of scandals such as two entire pages of cables from Vienna about the Mayerling Incident;[5] satire; and patriotic enthusiasm for the Spanish–American War and the 1898 annexation of the Philippines. William Randolph Hearst created the masthead with the "Hearst Eagle" and the slogan Monarch of the Dailies by 1889 at the latest.
20th centuryAfter the great earthquake and fire of 1906 destroyed much of San Francisco, the Examiner and its rivals—the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Call—brought out a joint edition. The Examiner offices were destroyed on April 18, 1906,[8] but when the city was rebuilt, a new structure, the Hearst Building, arose in its place at Third and Market streets. It opened in 1909, and in 1937 the facade, entranceway and lobby underwent an extensive remodeling designed by architect Julia Morgan.[9]
Through the middle third of the twentieth century, the Examiner was one of several dailies competing for the city's and the Bay Area's readership; the San Francisco News, the San Francisco Call-Bulletin, and the Chronicle all claimed significant circulation, but ultimately attrition left the Examiner one chief rival—the Chronicle. Strident competition prevailed between the two papers in the 1950s and 1960s; the Examiner boasted, among other writers, such columnists as veteran sportswriter Prescott Sullivan, the popular Herb Caen, who took an eight-year hiatus from the Chronicle (1950–1958), and Kenneth Rexroth, one of the best-known men of California letters and a leading San Francisco Renaissance poet, who contributed weekly impressions of the city from 1960 to 1967. Ultimately, circulation battles ended in a merging of resources between the two papers.
For 35 years starting in 1965, the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner operated under a Joint Operating Agreement whereby the Chronicle published a morning paper and the Examiner published in the afternoon. The Examiner published the Sunday paper's news sections and glossy magazine, and the Chronicle contributed the features. Circulation was approximately 100,000 on weekdays and 500,000 on Sundays. By 1995, discussion was already brewing in print media about the possible shuttering of the Examiner due to low circulation and an extremely disadvantageous revenue sharing agreement for the Chronicle.[10]
On October 31, 1969, sixty members of the Gay Liberation Front, the Committee for Homosexual Freedom (CHF), and the Gay Guerilla Theatre group staged a protest outside the offices of the Examiner in response to a series of news articles disparaging people in San Francisco's gay bars and clubs.[11][12][13][14] The peaceful protest against the Examiner turned tumultuous and was later called "Friday of the Purple Hand" and "Bloody Friday of the Purple Hand."[14][15][16][17][18][19] Examiner employees "dumped a barrel of printers' ink on the crowd from the roof of the newspaper building."[20][21] The protestors "used the ink to scrawl slogans on the building walls" and slap purple hand prints "throughout downtown [San Francisco]" resulting in "one of the most visible demonstrations of gay power" according to the Bay Area Reporter.[14][16][19] According to Larry LittleJohn, then president of Society for Individual Rights, "At that point, the tactical squad arrived – not to get the employees who dumped the ink, but to arrest the demonstrators. Somebody could have been hurt if that ink had gotten into their eyes, but the police were knocking people to the ground."[14] The accounts of police brutality included instances of women being thrown to the ground and protesters' teeth being knocked out.[14][22]
In its stylebook and by tradition, the Examiner refers to San Francisco as "The City" (capitalized), both in headlines and text of stories. San Francisco slang has traditionally referred to the newspaper in abbreviated slang form as "the Ex" (and the Chronicle as "the Chron").
San Francisco Examiner front page, Friday, February 27, 1942San Francisco Examiner front page, Friday, February 27, 1942
The Examiner, 2007The Examiner, 2007
21st centuryFang acquisition
Hearst Building, San Francisco
Ted FangWhen the Chronicle Publishing Company divested its interests, the Hearst Corporation purchased the Chronicle. To satisfy antitrust concerns, Hearst sold the Examiner to ExIn, LLC, a corporation owned by the politically connected Fang family, publishers of the San Francisco Independent and the San Mateo Independent.[23] San Francisco political consultant Clint Reilly filed a lawsuit against Hearst, charging that the deal did not ensure two competitive newspapers and was instead a generous deal designed to curry approval. However, on July 27, 2000, a federal judge approved the Fangs' assumption of the Examiner name, its archives, 35 delivery trucks, and a subsidy of $66 million, to be paid over three years.[24] From their side, the Fangs paid Hearst US$100 for the Examiner. Reilly later acquired the Examiner in 2020.[25]
On February 24, 2003, the Examiner became a free daily newspaper, printed Sunday through Friday.[citation needed]
Anschutz acquisitionOn February 19, 2004, the Fang family sold the Examiner and its printing plant, together with the two Independent newspapers, to Philip Anschutz of Denver, Colorado.[23] His new company, Clarity Media Group, launched The Washington Examiner in 2005 and published The Baltimore Examiner from 2006 to 2009. In 2006, Anschutz donated the archives of the Examiner to the University of California, Berkeley Bancroft Library, the largest gift ever given to the library.[26]
Under Clarity ownership, the Examiner pioneered a new business model[27] for the newspaper industry. Designed to be read quickly, the Examiner is presented in a compact size without story jumps. It focuses on local news, business, entertainment and sports with an emphasis on content relevant to its local readers. It is delivered free to select neighborhoods in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, and to single-copy outlets throughout San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Alameda counties.
By February 2008, the company had transformed the newspaper's examiner.com domain into a national hyperlocal brand, with local websites throughout the United States.[28]
Independent ownershipClarity Media sold the Examiner to San Francisco Newspaper Company LLC in 2011. The company's investors included then-President and Publisher Todd Vogt, Chief Financial Officer Pat Brown, and David Holmes Black.[citation needed] Early, incorrect media reports stated that the paper was purchased by Black's company Black Press.[29] In 2014, Vogt sold his shares to Black Press.[citation needed]
Present-day owners of the Examiner also own SF Weekly, an alternative weekly, and previously owned the now-shuttered San Francisco Bay Guardian.[30]
Clint Reilly acquisitionIn December 2020, Clint Reilly, under his company, Clint Reilly Communications, acquired the SF Examiner for an undisclosed sum.[31][32] The acquisition included buying the SF Weekly "like a stocking stuffer," Reilly said.[33] He also owns Gentry Magazine and the Nob Hill Gazette.
He then hired editor-in-chief Carly Schwartz in 2021.[34] Under her leadership, a broadsheet-style newspaper was re-introduced,[35] and she launched two newsletters with a nod to the rise in popularity of email marketing models such as Substack.[36] Schwartz also put the SF Weekly on hiatus "for the foreseeable future," ending a more-than-40-year tenure.[37]
In July 2022, Schwartz announced via a Facebook post that she had stepped away from the role, stating that while it was a "'dream job' on paper," it didn't give her enough time to travel. She then went to write her memoir and go to Burning Man.[38]
StaffCurrentAllen Matthews was hired as director of editorial operations in 2021.[39]FormerPhil Bronstein, editor (left Examiner in 2012)Herb Caen, columnist (1950–1958)Oscar Chopin, cartoonistC. H. Garrigues, jazz columnist (retired 1967)Howard Lachtman, literary critic (1977–1986)[40][41]Edgar Orloff, assistant managing editor (retired 1982)David Talbot, founder of the early online magazine SalonErnest Thayer, humor columnist (1886–1888)Stuart Schuffman, also known as Broke-ass Stuart, was a guest columnist.[42] In 2021, he announced that after 6+1⁄2 years, he would be moving his column to SF Weekly.[43]Al Saracevic was hired as assistant managing editor in 2021.[44] Saracevic died of a sudden heart attack in August 2022 while working on assignment for SF Examiner.[45]EditionsIn the early 20th century, an edition of the Examiner circulated in the East Bay under the Oakland Examiner masthead. Into the late 20th century, the paper circulated well beyond San Francisco. In 1982, for example, the Examiner's zoned weekly supplements within the paper were titled "City", "Peninsula", "Marin/Sonoma" and "East Bay".[citation needed] Additionally, during the late 20th century, an edition of the Examiner was made available in Nevada which, coming out in the morning rather than in the afternoon as the San Francisco edition did, would feature news content from the San Francisco edition of the day before—for instance, Tuesday's news in the Nevada edition that came out on Wednesday—but with dated non-hard news content—comic strips, feature columnists—for Wednesday.[citation needed]
See also San Francisco Bay Area portal Journalism portalSan Francisco ChronicleSan Francisco newspaper strike of 1994
San Francisco (/ˌsæn frənˈsɪskoʊ/ SAN frən-SISS-koh; Spanish for 'Saint Francis'), officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the commercial, financial, and cultural center of Northern California. The city proper is the fourth most populous city in California, with 808,437 residents, and the 17th most populous city in the United States as of 2022.[16] The city covers a land area of 46.9 square miles (121 square kilometers)[24] at the end of the San Francisco Peninsula, making it the second most densely populated large U.S. city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. Among the 91 U.S. cities proper with over 250,000 residents, San Francisco was ranked first by per capita income[25] and sixth by aggregate income as of 2021.[26] Colloquial nicknames for San Francisco include Frisco, San Fran, The City, and SF.[27][28]
San Francisco was founded on June 29, 1776, when settlers from New Spain established the Presidio of San Francisco at the Golden Gate, and the Mission San Francisco de Asís a few miles away, both named for Francis of Assisi.[4] The California Gold Rush of 1849 brought rapid growth, transforming an unimportant hamlet into a busy port, making it the largest city on the West Coast at the time; between 1870 and 1900, approximately one quarter of California's population resided in the city proper.[26] In 1856, San Francisco became a consolidated city-county.[29] After three-quarters of the city was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire,[30] it was quickly rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. In World War II, it was a major port of embarkation for naval service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater.[31] In 1945, the United Nations Charter was signed in San Francisco, establishing the United Nations before permanently relocating to Manhattan, and in 1951, the Treaty of San Francisco re-established peaceful relations between Japan and the Allied Powers.[32][33][34] After the war, the confluence of returning servicemen, significant immigration, liberalizing attitudes, the rise of the beatnik and hippie countercultures, the sexual revolution, the peace movement growing from opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War, and other factors led to the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, cementing San Francisco as a center of liberal activism in the United States.
San Francisco and the surrounding San Francisco Bay Area are a global center of economic activity and the arts and sciences,[35][36] spurred by leading universities,[37] high-tech, healthcare, finance, insurance, real estate, and professional services sectors.[38] As of 2020, the metropolitan area, with 6.7 million residents, ranked 5th by GDP ($874 billion) and 2nd by GDP per capita ($131,082) across the OECD countries, ahead of global cities like Paris, London, and Singapore.[39][40][41] San Francisco anchors the 13th most populous metropolitan statistical area in the United States with 4.6 million residents, and the fourth-largest by aggregate income and economic output, with a GDP of $669 billion in 2021.[42] The wider San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland Combined Statistical Area is the fifth most populous, with 9.5 million residents, and the third-largest by economic output, with a GDP of $1.25 trillion in 2021. In the same year, San Francisco proper had a GDP of $236.4 billion, and a GDP per capita of $289,990.[42] San Francisco was ranked fifth in the world and second in the United States on the Global Financial Centres Index as of March 2023.[43]
The city centers of both San Francisco and nearby Oakland have suffered a severe and continuing exodus of businesses, significantly accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.[44] Despite this commercial and corporate exodus, the Bay Area is still the home to four of the world's ten largest companies by market capitalization, and the city proper still houses the headquarters of numerous companies inside and outside of technology, including Wells Fargo, Salesforce, Uber, Airbnb, Twitter, Levi's, Gap, Dropbox, and Lyft.[45][46][47] However, the conservative Hoover Institution in California, in addition to various media organizations, have warned of a uniquely severe long-term doom spiral impending for San Francisco.[48] Theories advanced range from narcotics and other illicit substances, crime, and homelessness,[49] to the West Coast's and particularly San Francisco's challenge to remain a relevant center for flagship commerce and industry given its relative geographic isolation from other North American commercial centers in an era of increasingly ubiquitous e-commerce.[50][51]
With over 3.3 million visitors as of 2019, San Francisco is the fifth-most visited city in the United States after New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, and Orlando.[52] The city is known for its steep rolling hills and eclectic mix of architecture across varied neighborhoods, as well as its cool summers, fog, and landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Alcatraz, along with the Chinatown and Mission districts.[53] The city is home to a number of educational and cultural institutions, such as the University of California, San Francisco, the University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the de Young Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet, the San Francisco Opera, the SFJAZZ Center, and the California Academy of Sciences. Two major league sports teams, the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors, play their home games within San Francisco proper. San Francisco's main international airport offers flights to over 125 destinations while a light rail and bus network, in tandem with the BART and Caltrain systems, connects nearly every part of San Francisco with the wider region.[54][55]
EtymologySee also: List of San Francisco placename etymologies
The city takes its name from Mission San Francisco de Asís, founded in 1776 in honor of Saint Francis.San Francisco, which is Spanish for "Saint Francis", takes its name from Mission San Francisco de Asís, which was named after Saint Francis of Assisi. The mission received its name in 1776, when it was founded by the Spanish under the leadership of Padre Francisco Palóu. The city has officially been known as San Francisco since 1847, when Washington Allon Bartlett, then serving as the city's alcalde, renamed it from Yerba Buena (Spanish for "Good Herb"), which had been name used throughout the Spanish and Mexican eras since approximately 1776. The name Yerba Buena continues to be used in locations in the city, such as Yerba Buena Island, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and Yerba Buena Gardens.
Bay Area residents often refer to San Francisco as "the City".[1] For residents of San Francisco living in the more suburban parts of the city, "the City" generally refers to the densely populated areas around Market Street. Its use, or lack thereof, is a common way for locals to distinguish long time residents from tourists and recent arrivals (as a shibboleth).
San Francisco has several nicknames, including "The City by the Bay", "Golden Gate City",[56] "Frisco", "SF", "San Fran", and "Fog City"; as well as older ones like "The City that Knows How", "Baghdad by the Bay", or "The Paris of the West".[1] "San Fran" and "Frisco" are controversial as nicknames among San Francisco residents.[57][58][59]
HistorySee also: History of San FranciscoFor a chronological guide, see Timeline of San Francisco.Indigenous historyThe earliest archeological evidence of human habitation of the territory of the city of San Francisco dates to 3000 BC.[60] The Yelamu group of the Ohlone people resided in a few small villages when an overland Spanish exploration party arrived on November 2, 1769, the first documented European visit to San Francisco Bay.[61]
Spanish era
Juan Bautista de Anza established the Presidio of San Francisco for the Spanish Empire in 1776.
Mission San Francisco de Asís was founded by Padre Francisco Palóu on October 9, 1776.The Spanish Empire claimed San Francisco as part of Las Californias, a province of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The Spanish first arrived in what is now San Francisco on November 2, 1769, when the Portolá expedition led by Don Gaspar de Portolá and Juan Crespí arrived at San Francisco Bay. Having noted the strategic benefits of the area due to its large natural harbor, the Spanish dispatched Pedro Fages in 1770 to find a more direct route to the San Francisco Peninsula from Monterey, which would become part of the El Camino Real route. By 1774, Juan Bautista de Anza had arrived to the area to select the sites for a mission and presidio. The first European maritime presence in San Francisco Bay occurred on August 5, 1775, when the Spanish ship San Carlos, commanded by Juan Manuel de Ayala, became the first ship to anchor in the bay.[62]
Soon after, on March 28, 1776, Anza established the Presidio of San Francisco. On October 9, Mission San Francisco de Asís, also known as Mission Dolores, was founded by Padre Francisco Palóu.[4] In 1794, the Presidio established the Castillo de San Joaquín, a fortification on the southern side of the Golden Gate, which later came to be known as Fort Point.
In 1804, the province of Alta California was created, which included San Francisco. At its peak in 1810–1820, the average population at the Mission Dolores settlement was about 1,100 people.[63]
Mexican era
Juana Briones de Miranda, known as the "Founding Mother of San Francisco"[64]In 1821, the Californias were ceded to Mexico by Spain. The extensive California mission system gradually lost its influence during the period of Mexican rule. Agricultural land became largely privatized as ranchos, as was occurring in other parts of California. Coastal trade increased, including a half-dozen barques from various Atlantic ports which regularly sailed in California waters.[65][66]
Yerba Buena (after a native herb), a trading post with settlements between the Presidio and Mission grew up around the Plaza de Yerba Buena. The plaza was later renamed Portsmouth Square (now located in the city's Chinatown and Financial District). The Presidio was commanded in 1833 by Captain Mariano G. Vallejo.[65]
In 1833, Juana Briones de Miranda built her rancho near El Polín Spring, founding the first civilian household in San Francisco, which had previously only been comprised by the military settlement at the Presidio and the religious settlement at Mission Dolores.[64]
In 1834, Francisco de Haro became the first Alcalde of Yerba Buena. De Haro was a native of Mexico, from that nation's west coast city of Compostela, Nayarit. A land survey of Yerba Buena was made by the Swiss immigrant Jean Jacques Vioget as prelude to the city plan. The second Alcalde José Joaquín Estudillo was a Californio from a prominent Monterey family. In 1835, while in office, he approved the first land grant in Yerba Buena: to William Richardson, a naturalized Mexican citizen of English birth. Richardson had arrived in San Francisco aboard a whaling ship in 1822. In 1825, he married Maria Antonia Martinez, eldest daughter of the Californio Ygnacio Martínez.[67][a]The 1846 Battle of Yerba Buena was an early U.S. victory in the American conquest of California.Yerba Buena began to attract American and European settlers; an 1842 census listed 21 residents (11%) born in the United States or Europe, as well as one Filipino merchant.[68] Following the Bear Flag Revolt in Sonoma and the beginning of the U.S. Conquest of California, American forces under the command of John B. Montgomery captured Yerba Buena on July 9, 1846, with little resistance from the local Californio population. Following the capture, U.S. forces appointed both José de Jesús Noé and Washington Allon Bartlett to serve as co-alcaldes (mayors), while the conquest continued on in the rest of California. Following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, Alta California was ceded from Mexico to the United States.
Post-Conquest era
San Francisco in 1849, during the beginning of the California Gold Rush
Port of San Francisco in 1851Despite its attractive location as a port and naval base, post-Conquest San Francisco was still a small settlement with inhospitable geography.[69] Its 1847 population was said to be 459.[65]
The California Gold Rush brought a flood of treasure seekers (known as "forty-niners", as in "1849"). With their sourdough bread in tow,[70] prospectors accumulated in San Francisco over rival Benicia,[71] raising the population from 1,000 in 1848 to 25,000 by December 1849.[72] The promise of wealth was so strong that crews on arriving vessels deserted and rushed off to the gold fields, leaving behind a forest of masts in San Francisco harbor.[73] Some of these approximately 500 abandoned ships were used at times as storeships, saloons, and hotels; many were left to rot, and some were sunk to establish title to the underwater lot. By 1851, the harbor was extended out into the bay by wharves while buildings were erected on piles among the ships. By 1870, Yerba Buena Cove had been filled to create new land. Buried ships are occasionally exposed when foundations are dug for new buildings.[74]
California was quickly granted statehood in 1850, and the U.S. military built Fort Point at the Golden Gate and a fort on Alcatraz Island to secure the San Francisco Bay. San Francisco County was one of the state's 18 original counties established at California statehood in 1850.[75] Until 1856, San Francisco's city limits extended west to Divisadero Street and Castro Street, and south to 20th Street. In 1856, the California state government divided the county. A straight line was then drawn across the tip of the San Francisco Peninsula just north of San Bruno Mountain. Everything south of the line became the new San Mateo County while everything north of the line became the new consolidated City and County of San Francisco.[76]The Bank of California, established in 1863, was the first commercial bank in Western United States.[77]Entrepreneurs sought to capitalize on the wealth generated by the Gold Rush. Silver discoveries, including the Comstock Lode in Nevada in 1859, further drove rapid population growth.[78] With hordes of fortune seekers streaming through the city, lawlessness was common, and the Barbary Coast section of town gained notoriety as a haven for criminals, prostitution, bootlegging, and gambling.[79] Early winners were the banking industry, with the founding of Wells Fargo in 1852 and the Bank of California in 1864.
Development of the Port of San Francisco and the establishment in 1869 of overland access to the eastern U.S. rail system via the newly completed Pacific Railroad (the construction of which the city only reluctantly helped support[80]) helped make the Bay Area a center for trade. Catering to the needs and tastes of the growing population, Levi Strauss opened a dry goods business and Domingo Ghirardelli began manufacturing chocolate. Chinese immigrants made the city a polyglot culture, drawn to "Old Gold Mountain", creating the city's Chinatown quarter. By 1880, Chinese made up 9.3% of the population.[81]View of the city in 1878The first cable cars carried San Franciscans up Clay Street in 1873. The city's sea of Victorian houses began to take shape, and civic leaders campaigned for a spacious public park, resulting in plans for Golden Gate Park. San Franciscans built schools, churches, theaters, and all the hallmarks of civic life. The Presidio developed into the most important American military installation on the Pacific coast.[82] By 1890, San Francisco's population approached 300,000, making it the eighth-largest city in the United States at the time. Around 1901, San Francisco was a major city known for its flamboyant style, stately hotels, ostentatious mansions on Nob Hill, and a thriving arts scene.[83] The first North American plague epidemic was the San Francisco plague of 1900–1904.[84]
1906 earthquake and interwar era
The 1906 San Francisco earthquake was the deadliest earthquake in U.S. history.At 5:12 am on April 18, 1906, a major earthquake struck San Francisco and northern California. As buildings collapsed from the shaking, ruptured gas lines ignited fires that spread across the city and burned out of control for several days. With water mains out of service, the Presidio Artillery Corps attempted to contain the inferno by dynamiting blocks of buildings to create firebreaks.[85] More than three-quarters of the city lay in ruins, including almost all of the downtown core.[30] Contemporary accounts reported that 498 people died, though modern estimates put the number in the several thousands.[86] More than half of the city's population of 400,000 was left homeless.[87] Refugees settled temporarily in makeshift tent villages in Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, on the beaches, and elsewhere. Many fled permanently to the East Bay. Jack London is remembered for having famously eulogized the earthquake: "Not in history has a modern imperial city been so completely destroyed. San Francisco is gone."[88]The reconstruction of San Francisco City Hall on Civic Center Plaza, c. 1913–16Rebuilding was rapid and performed on a grand scale. Rejecting calls to completely remake the street grid, San Franciscans opted for speed.[89] Amadeo Giannini's Bank of Italy, later to become Bank of America, provided loans for many of those whose livelihoods had been devastated. The influential San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association or SPUR was founded in 1910 to address the quality of housing after the earthquake.[90] The earthquake hastened development of western neighborhoods that survived the fire, including Pacific Heights, where many of the city's wealthy rebuilt their homes.[91] In turn, the destroyed mansions of Nob Hill became grand hotels. City Hall rose again in the Beaux Arts style, and the city celebrated its rebirth at the Panama–Pacific International Exposition in 1915.[92]The Panama–Pacific Exposition, a major world's fair held in 1915, was seen as a chance to showcase the city's recovery from the earthquake.During this period, San Francisco built some of its most important infrastructure. Civil Engineer Michael O'Shaughnessy was hired by San Francisco Mayor James Rolph as chief engineer for the city in September 1912 to supervise the construction of the Twin Peaks Reservoir, the Stockton Street Tunnel, the Twin Peaks Tunnel, the San Francisco Municipal Railway, the Auxiliary Water Supply System, and new sewers. San Francisco's streetcar system, of which the J, K, L, M, and N lines survive today, was pushed to completion by O'Shaughnessy between 1915 and 1927. It was the O'Shaughnessy Dam, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, and Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct that would have the largest effect on San Francisco.[93] An abundant water supply enabled San Francisco to develop into the city it has become today.The Bay Bridge under construction on Yerba Buena Island in 1935In ensuing years, the city solidified its standing as a financial capital; in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash, not a single San Francisco-based bank failed.[94] Indeed, it was at the height of the Great Depression that San Francisco undertook two great civil engineering projects, simultaneously constructing the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, completing them in 1936 and 1937, respectively. It was in this period that the island of Alcatraz, a former military stockade, began its service as a federal maximum security prison, housing notorious inmates such as Al Capone, and Robert Franklin Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz. San Francisco later celebrated its regained grandeur with a World's fair, the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939–40, creating Treasure Island in the middle of the bay to house it.[95]
Contemporary eraSee also: San Francisco in the 1970s
The United Nations was created in San Francisco in 1945, when the United Nations Charter was signed at the San Francisco Conference.During World War II, the city-owned Sharp Park in Pacifica was used as an internment camp to detain Japanese Americans.[96] Hunters Point Naval Shipyard became a hub of activity, and Fort Mason became the primary port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater of Operations.[31] The explosion of jobs drew many people, especially African Americans from the South, to the area. After the end of the war, many military personnel returning from service abroad and civilians who had originally come to work decided to stay. The United Nations Charter creating the United Nations was drafted and signed in San Francisco in 1945 and, in 1951, the Treaty of San Francisco re-established peaceful relations between Japan and the Allied Powers.[97]
Urban planning projects in the 1950s and 1960s involved widespread destruction and redevelopment of west-side neighborhoods and the construction of new freeways, of which only a series of short segments were built before being halted by citizen-led opposition.[98] The onset of containerization made San Francisco's small piers obsolete, and cargo activity moved to the larger Port of Oakland.[99] The city began to lose industrial jobs and turned to tourism as the most important segment of its economy.[100] The suburbs experienced rapid growth, and San Francisco underwent significant demographic change, as large segments of the white population left the city, supplanted by an increasing wave of immigration from Asia and Latin America.[101][102] From 1950 to 1980, the city lost over 10 percent of its population.The Summer of Love in 1967 was an influential counterculture phenomenon with as many as 100,000 people converging in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.Over this period, San Francisco became a magnet for America's counterculture movement. Beat Generation writers fueled the San Francisco Renaissance and centered on the North Beach neighborhood in the 1950s.[103] Hippies flocked to Haight-Ashbury in the 1960s, reaching a peak with the 1967 Summer of Love.[104] In 1974, the Zebra murders left at least 16 people dead.[105] In the 1970s, the city became a center of the gay rights movement, with the emergence of The Castro as an urban gay village, the election of Harvey Milk to the Board of Supervisors, and his assassination, along with that of Mayor George Moscone, in 1978.[106]
Bank of America, now based in Charlotte, North Carolina, was founded in San Francisco; the bank completed 555 California Street in 1969. The Transamerica Pyramid was completed in 1972,[107] igniting a wave of "Manhattanization" that lasted until the late 1980s, a period of extensive high-rise development downtown.[108] The 1980s also saw a dramatic increase in the number of homeless people in the city, an issue that remains today, despite many attempts to address it.[109]Transamerica Pyramid, built in 1972, characterized the Manhattanization of the city's skyline in the 1970–80's.The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake caused destruction and loss of life throughout the Bay Area. In San Francisco, the quake severely damaged structures in the Marina and South of Market districts and precipitated the demolition of the damaged Embarcadero Freeway and much of the damaged Central Freeway, allowing the city to reclaim The Embarcadero as its historic downtown waterfront and revitalizing the Hayes Valley neighborhood.[110]
The two recent decades have seen booms driven by the internet industry. During the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, startup companies invigorated the San Francisco economy. Large numbers of entrepreneurs and computer application developers moved into the city, followed by marketing, design, and sales professionals, changing the social landscape as once poorer neighborhoods became increasingly gentrified.[111] Demand for new housing and office space ignited a second wave of high-rise development, this time in the South of Market district.[112] By 2000, the city's population reached new highs, surpassing the previous record set in 1950. When the bubble burst in 2001 and again in 2023, many of these companies folded and their employees were laid off. Yet high technology and entrepreneurship remain mainstays of the San Francisco economy. By the mid-2000s (decade), the social media boom had begun, with San Francisco becoming a popular location for tech offices and a common place to live for people employed in Silicon Valley companies such as Apple and Google.[113]
The Ferry Station Post Office Building, Armour & Co. Building, Atherton House, and YMCA Hotel are historic buildings among dozens of historical landmarks in the city according to the National Register of Historic Places listings in San view of San FranciscoSan Francisco is located on the West Coast of the United States, at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula and includes significant stretches of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay within its boundaries. Several picturesque islands—Alcatraz, Treasure Island and the adjacent Yerba Buena Island, and small portions of Alameda Island, Red Rock Island, and Angel Island—are part of the city. Also included are the uninhabited Farallon Islands, 27 miles (43 km) offshore in the Pacific Ocean. The mainland within the city limits roughly forms a "seven-by-seven-mile square", a common local colloquialism referring to the city's shape, though its total area, including water, is nearly 232 square miles (600 km2).
There are more than 50 hills within the city limits.[115] Some neighborhoods are named after the hill on which they are situated, including Nob Hill, Potrero Hill, and Russian Hill. Near the geographic center of the city, southwest of the downtown area, are a series of less densely populated hills. Twin Peaks, a pair of hills forming one of the city's highest points, forms an overlook spot. San Francisco's tallest hill, Mount Davidson, is 928 feet (283 m) high and is capped with a 103-foot (31 m) tall cross built in 1934.[116] Dominating this area is Sutro Tower, a large red and white radio and television transmission tower reaching 1,811 ft (552 m) above sea level.Lake Merced, located in southwestern San FranciscoThe nearby San Andreas and Hayward Faults are responsible for much earthquake activity, although neither physically passes through the city itself. The San Andreas Fault caused the earthquakes in 1906 and 1989. Minor earthquakes occur on a regular basis. The threat of major earthquakes plays a large role in the city's infrastructure development. The city constructed an auxiliary water supply system and has repeatedly upgraded its building codes, requiring retrofits for older buildings and higher engineering standards for new construction.[117] However, there are still thousands of smaller buildings that remain vulnerable to quake damage.[118] USGS has released the California earthquake forecast which models earthquake occurrence in California.[119]
San Francisco's shoreline has grown beyond its natural limits. Entire neighborhoods such as the Marina, Mission Bay, and Hunters Point, as well as large sections of the Embarcadero, sit on areas of landfill. Treasure Island was constructed from material dredged from the bay as well as material resulting from the excavation of the Yerba Buena Tunnel through Yerba Buena Island during the construction of the Bay Bridge. Such land tends to be unstable during earthquakes. The resulting soil liquefaction causes extensive damage to property built upon it, as was evidenced in the Marina district during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.[120] A few natural lakes and creeks (Lake Merced, Mountain Lake, Pine Lake, Lobos Creek, El Polin Spring) are within parks and remain protected in what is essentially their original form, but most of the city's natural watercourses, such as Islais Creek and Mission Creek, have been partially or completely culverted and built over. Since the 1990s, however, the Public Utilities Commission has been studying proposals to daylight or restore some creeks.[121]
NeighborhoodsMain articles: Neighborhoods in San Francisco and List of Landmarks and Historic Places in San FranciscoSee also: List of tallest buildings in San Francisco
View of the city's central districts along its northwestern coastlineThe historic center of San Francisco is the northeast quadrant of the city anchored by Market Street and the waterfront. Here the Financial District is centered, with Union Square, the principal shopping and hotel district, and the Tenderloin nearby. Cable cars carry riders up steep inclines to the summit of Nob Hill, once the home of the city's business tycoons, and down to the waterfront tourist attractions of Fisherman's Wharf, and Pier 39, where many restaurants feature Dungeness crab from a still-active fishing industry. Also in this quadrant are Russian Hill, a residential neighborhood with the famously crooked Lombard Street; North Beach, the city's Little Italy and the former center of the Beat Generation; and Telegraph Hill, which features Coit Tower. Abutting Russian Hill and North Beach is San Francisco's Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in North America.[122][123][124][125] The South of Market, which was once San Francisco's industrial core, has seen significant redevelopment following the construction of Oracle Park and an infusion of startup companies. New skyscrapers, live-work lofts, and condominiums dot the area. Further development is taking place just to the south in Mission Bay area, a former railroad yard, which now has a second campus of the University of California, San Francisco and Chase Center, which opened in 2019 as the new home of the Golden State Warriors.[126]
West of downtown, across Van Ness Avenue, lies the large Western Addition neighborhood, which became established with a large African American population after World War II. The Western Addition is usually divided into smaller neighborhoods including Hayes Valley, the Fillmore, and Japantown, which was once the largest Japantown in North America but suffered when its Japanese American residents were forcibly removed and interned during World War II. The Western Addition survived the 1906 earthquake with its Victorians largely intact, including the famous "Painted Ladies", standing alongside Alamo Square. To the south, near the geographic center of the city is Haight-Ashbury, famously associated with 1960s hippie culture.[127] The Haight is now[timeframe?] home to some expensive boutiques[128][better source needed] and a few controversial chain stores,[129] although it still retains[timeframe?][citation needed] some bohemian character.San Francisco Chinatown, the oldest in North America and one of the world's largest.North of the Western Addition is Pacific Heights, an affluent neighborhood that features the homes built by wealthy San Franciscans in the wake of the 1906 earthquake. Directly north of Pacific Heights facing the waterfront is the Marina, a neighborhood popular with young professionals that was largely built on reclaimed land from the Bay.[130]
In the southeast quadrant of the city is the Mission District—populated in the 19th century by Californios and working-class immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Scandinavia. In the 1910s, a wave of Central American immigrants settled in the Mission and, in the 1950s, immigrants from Mexico began to predominate.[131] In recent years, gentrification has changed the demographics of parts of the Mission from Latino, to twenty-something professionals. Noe Valley to the southwest and Bernal Heights to the south are both increasingly popular among young families with children. East of the Mission is the Potrero Hill neighborhood, a mostly residential neighborhood that features sweeping views of downtown San Francisco. West of the Mission, the area historically known as Eureka Valley, now popularly called the Castro, was once a working-class Scandinavian and Irish area. It has become North America's first gay village, and is now the center of gay life in the city.[132] Located near the city's southern border, the Excelsior District is one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco. The Bayview-Hunters Point in the far southeast corner of the city is one of the poorest neighborhoods, though the area has been the focus of several revitalizing and urban renewal projects.The Ferry Building, located in the Embarcadero, the city's eastern waterfront along San Francisco BayThe construction of the Twin Peaks Tunnel in 1918 connected southwest neighborhoods to downtown via streetcar, hastening the development of West Portal, and nearby affluent Forest Hill and St. Francis Wood. Further west, stretching all the way to the Pacific Ocean and north to Golden Gate Park lies the vast Sunset District, a large middle-class area with a predominantly Asian population.[133]
The northwestern quadrant of the city contains the Richmond, a mostly middle-class neighborhood north of Golden Gate Park, home to immigrants from other parts of Asia as well as many Russian and Ukrainian immigrants. Together, these areas are known as The Avenues. These two districts are each sometimes further divided into two regions: the Outer Richmond and Outer Sunset can refer to the more western portions of their respective district and the Inner Richmond and Inner Sunset can refer to the more eastern portions.
Many piers remained derelict for years until the demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway reopened the downtown waterfront, allowing for redevelopment. The centerpiece of the port, the Ferry Building, while still receiving commuter ferry traffic, has been restored and redeveloped as a gourmet marketplace.
Climate
San Francisco fog is a regular phenomenon in the summer.San Francisco has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb), characteristic of California's coast, with moist, mild winters and dry summers.[134] San Francisco's weather is strongly influenced by the cool currents of the Pacific Ocean on the west side of the city, and the water of San Francisco Bay to the north and east. This moderates temperature swings and produces a remarkably mild year-round climate with little seasonal temperature variation.[135]
Among major U.S. cities, San Francisco has the coolest daily mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures for June, July, and August.[136] During the summer, rising hot air in California's interior valleys creates a low-pressure area that draws winds from the North Pacific High through the Golden Gate, which creates the city's characteristic cool winds and fog.[137] The fog is less pronounced in eastern neighborhoods and during the late summer and early fall. As a result, the year's warmest month, on average, is September, and on average, October is warmer than July, especially in daytime.
Temperatures reach or exceed 80 °F (27 °C) on an average of only 21 and 23 days a year at downtown and San Francisco International Airport (SFO), respectively.[138] The dry period of May to October is mild to warm, with the normal monthly mean temperature peaking in September at 62.7 °F (17.1 °C).[138] The rainy period of November to April is slightly cooler, with the normal monthly mean temperature reaching its lowest in January at 51.3 °F (10.7 °C).[138] On average, there are 73 rainy days a year, and annual precipitation averages 23.65 inches (601 mm).[138] Variation in precipitation from year to year is high. Above-average rain years are often associated with warm El Niño conditions in the Pacific while dry years often occur in cold water La Niña periods. In 2013 (a "La Niña" year), a record low 5.59 in (142 mm) of rainfall was recorded at downtown San Francisco, where records have been kept since 1849.[138] Snowfall in the city is very rare, with only 10 measurable accumulations recorded since 1852, most recently in 1976 when up to 5 inches (13 cm) fell on Twin Peaks.[139][140]The Farallon Islands are located in the Gulf of the Farallones, off the Pacific coast of San Francisco.The highest recorded temperature at the official National Weather Service downtown observation station[b] was 106 °F (41 °C) on September 1, 2017.[142] During that hot spell, the warmest ever night of 71 °F (22 °C) was also recorded.[143] The lowest recorded temperature was 27 °F (−3 °C) on December 11, 1932.[144] The National Weather Service provides a helpful visual aid[145] graphing the information in the table below to display visually by month the annual typical temperatures, the past year's temperatures, and record temperatures.[importance?]
During an average year between 1991 and 2020, San Francisco recorded a warmest night at 64 °F (18 °C) and a coldest day at 49 °F (9 °C).[138] The coldest daytime high since the station's opening in 1945 was recorded in December 1972 at 37 °F (3 °C).[138]
As a coastal city, San Francisco will be heavily affected by climate change. As of 2021, sea levels are projected to rise by as much as 5 feet (1.5 m), resulting in periodic flooding, rising groundwater levels, and lowland floods from more severe storms.[146]
San Francisco falls under the USDA 10b Plant hardiness zone, though some areas, particularly downtown, border zone 11a.[147][148]
vteClimate data for San Francisco (downtown),[c] 1991–2020 normals,[d] extremes 1849–presentMonth Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec YearRecord high °F (°C) 79(26) 81(27) 87(31) 94(34) 97(36) 103(39) 99(37) 98(37) 106(41) 102(39) 86(30) 76(24) 106(41)Mean maximum °F (°C) 67.1(19.5) 71.8(22.1) 76.4(24.7) 80.7(27.1) 81.4(27.4) 84.6(29.2) 80.5(26.9) 83.4(28.6) 90.8(32.7) 87.9(31.1) 75.8(24.3) 66.4(19.1) 94.0(34.4)Average high °F (°C) 57.8(14.3) 60.4(15.8) 62.1(16.7) 63.0(17.2) 64.1(17.8) 66.5(19.2) 66.3(19.1) 67.9(19.9) 70.2(21.2) 69.8(21.0) 63.7(17.6) 57.9(14.4) 64.1(17.8)Daily mean °F (°C) 52.2(11.2) 54.2(12.3) 55.5(13.1) 56.4(13.6) 57.8(14.3) 59.7(15.4) 60.3(15.7) 61.7(16.5) 62.9(17.2) 62.1(16.7) 57.2(14.0) 52.5(11.4) 57.7(14.3)Average low °F (°C) 46.6(8.1) 47.9(8.8) 48.9(9.4) 49.7(9.8) 51.4(10.8) 53.0(11.7) 54.4(12.4) 55.5(13.1) 55.6(13.1) 54.4(12.4) 50.7(10.4) 47.0(8.3) 51.3(10.7)Mean minimum °F (°C) 40.5(4.7) 42.0(5.6) 43.7(6.5) 45.0(7.2) 48.0(8.9) 50.1(10.1) 51.6(10.9) 52.9(11.6) 52.0(11.1) 49.9(9.9) 44.9(7.2) 40.7(4.8) 38.8(3.8)Record low °F (°C) 29(−2) 31(−1) 33(1) 40(4) 42(6) 46(8) 47(8) 46(8) 47(8) 43(6) 38(3) 27(−3) 27(−3)Average precipitation inches (mm) 4.40(112) 4.37(111) 3.15(80) 1.60(41) 0.70(18) 0.20(5.1) 0.01(0.25) 0.06(1.5) 0.10(2.5) 0.94(24) 2.60(66) 4.76(121) 22.89(581)Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 11.2 10.8 10.8 6.8 4.0 1.6 0.7 1.1 1.2 3.5 7.9 11.6 71.2Average relative humidity (%) 80 77 75 72 72 71 75 75 73 71 75 78 75Mean monthly sunshine hours 185.9 207.7 269.1 309.3 325.1 311.4 313.3 287.4 271.4 247.1 173.4 160.6 3,061.7Percent possible sunshine 61 69 73 78 74 70 70 68 73 71 57 54 69Average ultraviolet index 2 3 5 7 9 10 10 9 7 5 3 2 6Source 1: NOAA (sun 1961–1974)[138][149][150][151]Source 2: Met Office (humidity)[152], Weather Atlas (UV)[153]Time Series
Graphs are temporarily unavailable due to technical issues.See or edit raw graph data.
Ecology
Aerial view of the Presidio of San Francisco and the Golden GateHistorically, tule elk were present in San Francisco County, based on archeological evidence of elk remains in at least five different Native American shellmounds: at Hunter's Point, Fort Mason, Stevenson Street, Market Street, and Yerba Buena.[154][155] Perhaps the first historical observer record was from the De Anza Expedition on March 23, 1776. Herbert Eugene Bolton wrote about the expedition camp at Mountain Lake, near the southern end of today's Presidio: "Round about were grazing deer, and scattered here and there were the antlers of large elk."[156] Also, when Richard Henry Dana Jr. visited San Francisco Bay in 1835, he wrote about vast elk herds near the Golden Gate: on December 27 "...we came to anchor near the mouth of the bay, under a high and beautifully sloping hill, upon which herds of hundreds and hundreds of red deer [note: "red deer" is the European term for "elk"], and the stag, with his high branching antlers, were bounding about...", although it is not clear whether this was the Marin side or the San Francisco side.[157]
DemographicsMain article: Demographics of San FranciscoHistorical populationYear Pop. ±%1848 1,000 — 1849 25,000 +2400.0%1852 34,776 +39.1%1860 56,802 +63.3%1870 149,473 +163.1%1880 233,959 +56.5%1890 298,997 +27.8%1900 342,782 +14.6%1910 416,912 +21.6%1920 506,676 +21.5%1930 634,394 +25.2%1940 634,536 +0.0%1950 775,357 +22.2%1960 740,316 −4.5%1970 715,674 −3.3%1980 678,974 −5.1%1990 723,959 +6.6%2000 776,733 +7.3%2010 805,235 +3.7%2020 873,965 +8.5%2022 808,437 −7.5%U.S. Decennial Census[158]2020–2022[16]The 2020 United States census showed San Francisco's population to be 873,965, an increase of 8.5% from the 2010 census.[159] With roughly one-quarter the population density of Manhattan, San Francisco is the second-most densely populated large American city, behind only New York City among cities greater than 200,000 population, and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, following only four of the five New York City boroughs.
San Francisco is part of the five-county San Francisco–Oakland–Hayward, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region of 4.7 million people (13th most populous in the U.S.), and has served as its traditional demographic focal point. It is also part of the greater 14-county San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area, whose population is over 9.6 million, making it the fifth-largest in the United States as of 2018.[160]
Race, ethnicity, religion, and languages
Ethnic origins in San FranciscoSan Francisco has a majority minority population, as non-Hispanic whites comprise less than half of the population, 41.9%, down from 92.5% in 1940.[161] As of the 2020 census, the racial makeup and population of San Francisco included: 361,382 Whites (41.3%), 296,505 Asians (33.9%), 46,725 African Americans (5.3%), 86,233 Multiracial Americans (9.9%), 6,475 Native Americans and Alaska Natives (0.7%), 3,476 Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (0.4%) and 73,169 persons of other races (8.4%). There were 136,761 Hispanics or Latinos of any race (15.6%).
In 2010, residents of Chinese ethnicity constituted the largest single ethnic minority group in San Francisco at 21% of the population; other large Asian groups include Filipinos (5%) and Vietnamese (2%), with Japanese, Koreans and many other Asian and Pacific Islander groups represented in the city.[162] The population of Chinese ancestry is most heavily concentrated in Chinatown and the Sunset and Richmond Districts. Filipinos are most concentrated in SoMa and the Crocker-Amazon; the latter neighborhood shares a border with Daly City, which has one of the highest concentrations of Filipinos in North America.[162][163] The Tenderloin District is home to a large portion of the city's Vietnamese population as well as businesses and restaurants, which is known as the city's Little Saigon.[162]
The principal Hispanic groups in the city were those of Mexican (7%) and Salvadoran (2%) ancestry. The Hispanic population is most heavily concentrated in the Mission District, Tenderloin District, and Excelsior District.[164] The city's percentage of Hispanic residents is less than half of that of the state.
African Americans constitute 6% of San Francisco's population,[161] a percentage similar to that for California as a whole.[165] The majority of the city's black population reside within the neighborhoods of Bayview-Hunters Point, Visitacion Valley, and the Fillmore District.[164] There are smaller, yet sizeable Black communities in Diamond Heights, Glen Park, and Mission District.
The city has long been home to a significant Jewish community, today Jewish Americans make up 10% (80,000) of the city's population as of 2018. The Jewish population of San Francisco is relatively young compared to many other major cities, and at 10% of the population, San Francisco has the third-largest Jewish community in terms of percentages after New York City, and Los Angeles, respectively.[166] The Jewish community is one of the largest minority groups in the city and is scattered throughout the city, but the Richmond District is home to an ethnic enclave of mostly Russian Jews.[167] The Fillmore District was formerly a mostly Jewish neighborhood from the 1920s until the 1970s, when many of its Jewish residents moved to other neighborhoods of the city as well as the suburbs of nearby Marin County.[168]
Demographic profile[169] 1860 1880 1920 1960 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020[170]Non-Hispanic White alone 90.2% 87.7% 93.5% 72.7% 52.8% 46.9% 43.5% 41.7% 39.1%Non-Hispanic Asian alone 4.6% 9.3% 2.7% 7.9% 21.3% 28.0% 30.7% 33.1% 33.7%— Chinese American 4.6% 9.3% 1.5% 5.1% 12.1% 17.6% 20.0% 19.8% 21.0%— Filipino American — — 0.2% 1.5% 5.2% 5.4% 5.0% 4.9% 4.4%Hispanic or Latino, any race(s) 3.0% 2.4% 3.4% 9.4% 12.6% 13.3% 14.2% 15.2% 15.6%— Mexican American 1.8% 1.4% 1.5% 5.1% 5.0% 5.2% 6.0% 7.5% 7.9%Non-Hispanic Black alone 2.1% 0.6% 0.4% 9.7% 12.3% 10.7% 7.6% 6.0% 5.1%Non-Hispanic Pacific Islander alone — — <0.1% — 0.2% 0.4% 0.4% 0.5% 0.3%Non-Hispanic Native American alone <0.1% <0.1% <0.1% 0.1% 0.4% 0.4% 0.3% 0.3% 0.2%Non-Hispanic other — — — 0.2% 0.4% 0.2% 0.3% 0.3% 0.8%Non-Hispanic two or more races — — — — — — 3.0% 2.9% 5.2%Foreign-born[e] 50.2% 44.5% 30.1% 20.2% 29.5% 35.4% 38.4% 38.2% 34.2%See also: Demographics of San Francisco § Historical estimatesSource: US Census and IPUMS USA[169]Map of racial distribution in San Francisco, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: ⬤ White ⬤ Black ⬤ Asian ⬤ Hispanic ⬤ OtherAccording to a 2018 study by the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Jews make up 10% (80,000) of the city's population, making Judaism the second-largest religion in San Francisco after Christianity.[166] A prior 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, the largest religious groupings in San Francisco's metropolitan area are Christians (48%), followed by those of no religion (35%), Hindus (5%), Jews (3%), Buddhists (2%), Muslims (1%) and a variety of other religions have smaller followings. According to the same study by the Pew Research Center, about 20% of residents in the area are Protestant, and 25% professing Roman Catholic beliefs. Meanwhile, 10% of the residents in metropolitan San Francisco identify as agnostics, while 5% identify as atheists.[171][172]
As of 2010, 55% (411,728) of San Francisco residents spoke only English at home, while 19% (140,302) spoke a variety of Chinese (mostly Taishanese and Cantonese[173][174]), 12% (88,147) Spanish, 3% (25,767) Tagalog, and 2% (14,017) Russian. In total, 45% (342,693) of San Francisco's population spoke a language at home other than English.[175]
Ethnic clusteringSan Francisco has several prominent Chinese, Mexican, and Filipino neighborhoods including Chinatown and the Mission District. Research collected on the immigrant clusters in the city show that more than half of the Asian population in San Francisco is either Chinese-born (40.3%) or Philippine-born (13.1%), and of the Mexican population 21% were Mexican-born, meaning these are people who recently immigrated to the United States.[176] Between the years of 1990 and 2000, the number of foreign-born residents increased from 33% to nearly 40%.[176] During this same time period, the San Francisco metropolitan area received 850,000 immigrants, ranking third in the United States after Los Angeles and New York.[176]
Education, households, and income
Sea Cliff is one of the city's most expensive neighborhoods.[177]Of all major cities in the United States, San Francisco has the second-highest percentage of residents with a college degree, second only to Seattle. Over 44% of adults have a bachelor's or higher degree.[178] San Francisco had the highest rate at 7,031 per square mile, or over 344,000 total graduates in the city's 46.7 square miles (121 km2).[179]
San Francisco has the highest estimated percentage of gay and lesbian individuals of any of the 50 largest U.S. cities, at 15%.[180] San Francisco also has the highest percentage of same-sex households of any American county, with the Bay Area having a higher concentration than any other metropolitan area.[181]
San Francisco ranks third of American cities in median household income[182] with a 2007 value of $65,519.[165] Median family income is $81,136.[165] An emigration of middle-class families has left the city with a lower proportion of children than any other large American city,[183] with the dog population cited as exceeding the child population of 115,000, in 2018.[184] The city's poverty rate is 12%, lower than the national average.[185] Homelessness has been a chronic problem for San Francisco since the early 1970s.[186] The city is believed to have the highest number of homeless inhabitants per capita of any major U.S. city.[187][188]
There are 345,811 households in the city, out of which: 133,366 households (39%) were individuals, 109,437 (32%) were opposite-sex married couples, 63,577 (18%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 21,677 (6%) were unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 10,384 (3%) were same-sex married couples or partnerships. The average household size was 2.26; the average family size was 3.11. 452,986 people (56%) lived in rental housing units, and 327,985 people (41%) lived in owner-occupied housing units. The median age of the city population is 38 years.
San Francisco declared itself a sanctuary city in 1989, and city officials strengthened the stance in 2013 with its 'Due Process for All' ordinance. The law declared local authorities could not hold immigrants for immigration offenses if they had no violent felonies on their records and did not currently face charges."[189] The city issues a Resident ID Card regardless of the applicant's immigration status.[190]
HomelessnessSee also: Homelessness in the San Francisco Bay Area
Homeless encampment under a freeway in San FranciscoHomelessness in San Francisco emerged as a major issue in the late 20th century and remains a growing problem in modern times.[191]
8,035 homeless people were counted in San Francisco's 2019 point-in-time street and shelter count. This was an increase of more than 17% over the 2017 count of 6,858 people. 5,180 of the people were living unsheltered on the streets and in parks.[192] 26% of respondents in the 2019 count identified job loss as the primary cause of their homelessness, 18% cited alcohol or drug use, and 13% cited being evicted from their residence.[192] The city of San Francisco has been dramatically increasing its spending to service the growing population homelessness crisis: spending jumped by $241 million in 2016–17 to total $275 million, compared to a budget of just $34 million the previous year. In 2017–18 the budget for combatting homelessness stood at $305 million.[193] In the 2019–2020 budget year, the city budgeted $368 million for homelessness services. In the proposed 2020–2021 budget the city budgeted $850 million for homelessness services.[194]
In January 2018 a United Nations special rapporteur on homelessness, Leilani Farha, stated that she was "completely shocked" by San Francisco's homelessness crisis during a visit to the city. She compared the "deplorable conditions" of the homeless camps she witnessed on San Francisco's streets to those she had seen in Mumbai.[193] In May 2020, San Francisco officially sanctioned homeless encampments.[195]
CrimeMain article: Crime in San Francisco
SFPD mounted police officersIn 2011, 50 murders were reported, which is 6.1 per 100,000 people.[196] There were about 134 rapes, 3,142 robberies, and about 2,139 assaults. There were about 4,469 burglaries, 25,100 thefts, and 4,210 motor vehicle thefts.[197] The Tenderloin area has the highest crime rate in San Francisco: 70% of the city's violent crimes, and around one-fourth of the city's murders, occur in this neighborhood. The Tenderloin also sees high rates of drug abuse, gang violence, and prostitution.[198] Another area with high crime rates is the Bayview-Hunters Point area. In the first six months of 2015 there were 25 murders compared to 14 in the first six months of 2014. However, the murder rate is still much lower than in past decades.[199] That rate, though, did rise again by the close of 2016. According to the San Francisco Police Department, there were 59 murders in the city in 2016, an annual total that marked a 13.5% increase in the number of homicides (52) from 2015.[200] The city has also gained a reputation for car break-ins, with over 19,000 car break-ins occurring in 2021.[201]
During the first half of 2018, human feces on San Francisco sidewalks were the second-most-frequent complaint of city residents, with about 65 calls per day. The city has formed a "poop patrol" to attempt to combat the problem.[202]SFPD parking enforcement officersSan Francisco is a center of sexual slavery.[203]
In January 2022, CBS News reported that a single suspect was "responsible for more than half of all reported hate crimes against the API community in San Francisco last year," and that he "was allowed to be out of custody despite the number of charges against him."[204]
Several street gangs have operated in the city over the decades, including MS-13,[205] the Sureños and Norteños in the Mission District.[206] In 2008, a MS-13 member killed three family members as they were arriving home in the city's Excelsior District. His victims had no relationship with him, nor did they have any known gang or street crime involvement.[207][citation needed]
African-American street gangs familiar in other cities, including the Bloods, Crips and their sets, have struggled to establish footholds in San Francisco,[208] while police and prosecutors have been accused of liberally labeling young African-American males as gang members.[209] However, gangs founded in San Francisco with majority Black memberships have made their presence in the city. Criminal gangs with shotcallers in China, including Triad groups such as the Wo Hop To, have been reported active in San Francisco.[210]
EconomySee also: List of companies based in San Francisco
San Francisco's Financial District, despite its declining importance,[211] is still considered the Wall Street of the West.According to academic Rob Wilson, San Francisco is a global city, a status that pre-dated the city's popularity during the California Gold Rush.[212] However, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the exodus of business from the downtown core of San Francisco.[45][213] In 2023, the conservative think tank Hoover Institution warned of a uniquely severe long-term economic collapse impending for San Francisco.[48] Attributed causes range from crime, drugs, and homelessness,[49] to the West Coast's and particularly San Francisco's challenge to remain relevant as a commercial center given its relative geographic isolation from other North American commercial centers in an era of increasingly ubiquitous e-commerce.[50][51]
San Francisco has a diversified service economy, with employment spread across a wide range of professional services, including tourism, financial services, and (increasingly) high technology.[214] In 2016, approximately 27% of workers were employed in professional business services; 14% in leisure and hospitality; 13% in government services; 12% in education and health care; 11% in trade, transportation, and utilities; and 8% in financial activities.[214] In 2019, GDP in the five-county San Francisco metropolitan area grew 3.8% in real terms to $592 billion.[215][216] Additionally, in 2019 the 14-county San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland combined statistical area had a GDP of $1.086 trillion,[216] ranking 3rd among CSAs, and ahead of all but 16 countries. As of 2019, San Francisco County was the 7th highest-income county in the United States (among 3,142), with a per capita personal income of $139,405.[217] Marin County, directly to the north over the Golden Gate Bridge, and San Mateo County, directly to the south on the Peninsula, were the 6th and 9th highest-income counties respectively.Skyline of South of Market (SoMa), including Salesforce Tower, the tallest building in San FranciscoThe legacy of the California Gold Rush turned San Francisco into the principal banking and finance center of the West Coast in the early twentieth century.[218] Montgomery Street in the Financial District became known as the "Wall Street of the West", home to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Wells Fargo corporate headquarters, and the site of the now-defunct Pacific Coast Stock Exchange.[218] Bank of America, a pioneer in making banking services accessible to the middle class, was founded in San Francisco and in the 1960s, built the landmark modern skyscraper at 555 California Street for its corporate headquarters. eventually moving to Charlotte, North Carolina. Many large financial institutions, multinational banks, and venture capital firms are based in or have regional headquarters in the city. With over 30 international financial institutions,[219] six Fortune 500 companies,[220] and a large supporting infrastructure of professional services—including law, public relations, architecture and design—San Francisco is designated as an Alpha(-) World City.[221] The 2017 Global Financial Centres Index ranked San Francisco as the sixth-most competitive financial center in the world.[222]
Beginning in the 1990s, San Francisco's economy diversified away from finance and tourism towards the growing fields of high tech, biotechnology, and medical research.[223] Technology jobs accounted for just 1 percent of San Francisco's economy in 1990, growing to 4 percent in 2010 and an estimated 8 percent by the end of 2013.[224] San Francisco became a center of Internet start-up companies during the dot-com bubble of the 1990s and the subsequent social media boom of the late 2000s (decade).[225] Since 2010, San Francisco proper has attracted an increasing share of venture capital investments as compared to nearby Silicon Valley, attracting 423 financings worth US$4.58 billion in 2013.[226][227][228] In 2004, the city approved a payroll tax exemption for biotechnology companies[229] to foster growth in the Mission Bay neighborhood, site of a second campus and hospital of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Mission Bay hosts the UCSF Medical Center, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, and Gladstone Institutes,[230] as well as more than 40 private-sector life sciences companies.[231]Union Square is a major retail hub for the city and for the Bay Area. However, the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States has accelerated the continuing exodus of business from Union Square and the adjacent downtown core of San Francisco.[232][44][233][51]The top employer in the city is the city government itself, employing 5.6% (31,000+ people) of the city's workforce, followed by UCSF with over 25,000 employees.[234] The largest private-sector employer is Salesforce, with 8,500 employees, as of 2018.[235] Small businesses with fewer than 10 employees and self-employed firms make up 85% of city establishments,[236] and the number of San Franciscans employed by firms of more than 1,000 employees has fallen by half since 1977.[237] The growth of national big box and formula retail chains into the city has been made intentionally difficult by political and civic consensus. In an effort to buoy small privately owned businesses in San Francisco and preserve the unique retail personality of the city, the Small Business Commission started a publicity campaign in 2004 to keep a larger share of retail dollars in the local economy,[238] and the Board of Supervisors has used the planning code to limit the neighborhoods where formula retail establishments can set up shop,[239] an effort affirmed by San Francisco voters.[240] However, by 2016, San Francisco was rated low by small businesses in a Business Friendliness Survey.[241]Ferry Building in the Embarcadero.Like many U.S. cities, San Francisco once had a significant manufacturing sector employing nearly 60,000 workers in 1969, but nearly all production left for cheaper locations by the 1980s.[242] As of 2014, San Francisco has seen a small resurgence in manufacturing, with more than 4,000 manufacturing jobs across 500 companies, doubling since 2011. The city's largest manufacturing employer is Anchor Brewing Company, and the largest by revenue is Timbuk2.[242]
As of the first quarter of 2022, the median value of homes in San Francisco County was $1,297,030. It ranked third in the US for counties with highest median home value, behind Nantucket, Massachusetts and San Mateo County, headquarters on Market St.San Francisco became a hub for technological driven economic growth during the internet boom of the 1990s, and still holds an important position in the world city network today.[176][244] Intense redevelopment towards the "new economy" makes business more technologically minded. Between the years of 1999 and 2000, the job growth rate was 4.9%, creating over 50,000 jobs in technology firms and internet content production.[176]
In the second technological boom driven by social media in the mid-2000s, San Francisco became a location for companies such as Apple, Google, Ubisoft, Facebook, and Twitter to base their tech offices and for their employees to live.[245]
Tourism and conventionsSee also: Port of San Francisco
The Fisherman's Wharf is a popular tourist attraction.Tourism is one of the city's largest private-sector industries, accounting for more than one out of seven jobs in the city.[223][246] The city's frequent portrayal in music, film, and popular culture has made the city and its landmarks recognizable worldwide. In 2016, it attracted the fifth-highest number of foreign tourists of any city in the United States.[247] More than 25 million visitors arrived in San Francisco in 2016, adding US$9.96 billion to the economy.[248] With a large hotel infrastructure and a world-class convention facility in the Moscone Center, San Francisco is a popular destination for annual conventions and conferences.[249]
Some of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco, as noted by the Travel Channel, include the Golden Gate Bridge and Alamo Square Park, home to the famous "Painted Ladies". Both of these locations were often used as landscape shots for the hit American television sitcom Full House. There is also Lombard Street, known for its "crookedness" and extensive views. Tourists also visit Pier 39, which offers dining, shopping, entertainment, and views of the bay, sunbathing California sea lions, the Aquarium of the Bay, and the famous Alcatraz Island.[250]Coit Tower on Telegraph HillSan Francisco also offers tourists cultural and unique nightlife in its neighborhoods.[251][252]
The new Terminal Project at Pier 27 opened September 25, 2014, as a replacement for the old Pier 35.[253] Itineraries from San Francisco usually include round-trip cruises to Alaska and Mexico.
A heightened interest in conventioneering in San Francisco, marked by the establishment of convention centers such as Yerba Buena, acted as a feeder into the local tourist economy and resulted in an increase in the hotel industry: "In 1959, the city had fewer than thirty-three hundred first-class hotel rooms; by 1970, the number was nine thousand; and by 1999, there were more than thirty thousand."[254] The commodification of the Castro District has contributed to San Francisco's tourist economy.[255]
Arts and cultureMain article: Culture of San FranciscoSee also: San Francisco in popular culture
The Palace of Fine Arts, originally built for the 1915 Panama–Pacific International ExpositionAlthough the Financial District, Union Square, and Fisherman's Wharf are well known around the world, San Francisco is also characterized by its numerous culturally rich streetscapes featuring mixed-use neighborhoods anchored around central commercial corridors to which residents and visitors alike can walk.[citation needed] Because of these characteristics,[original research?] San Francisco is ranked the "most walkable" city in the United States by Walkscore.com.[256] Many neighborhoods feature a mix of businesses, restaurants and venues that cater to the daily needs of local residents while also serving many visitors and tourists. Some neighborhoods are dotted with boutiques, cafés and nightlife such as Union Street in Cow Hollow, 24th Street in Noe Valley, Valencia Street in the Mission, Grant Avenue in North Beach, and Irving Street in the Inner Sunset. This approach especially has influenced the continuing South of Market neighborhood redevelopment with businesses and neighborhood services rising alongside high-rise residences.[257][failed verification]The Castro is famous as one of the first gay villages in the country.[258]Since the 1990s, the demand for skilled information technology workers from local startups and nearby Silicon Valley has attracted white-collar workers from all over the world and created a high standard of living in San Francisco.[259] Many neighborhoods that were once blue-collar, middle, and lower class have been gentrifying, as many of the city's traditional business and industrial districts have experienced a renaissance driven by the redevelopment of the Embarcadero, including the neighborhoods South Beach and Mission Bay. The city's property values and household income have risen to among the highest in the nation,[260][261][262] creating a large and upscale restaurant, retail, and entertainment scene. According to a 2014 quality of life survey of global cities, San Francisco has the highest quality of living of any U.S. city.[263] However, due to the exceptionally high cost of living, many of the city's middle and lower-class families have been leaving the city for the outer suburbs of the Bay Area, or for California's Central Valley.[264] By June 2, 2015, the median rent was reported to be as high as $4,225.[265] The high cost of living is due in part to restrictive planning laws which limit new residential construction.[266]The Mission District is the historic center of the city's Chicano/Mexican-American population and greater Hispanic and Latino community.The international character that San Francisco has enjoyed since its founding is continued today by large numbers of immigrants from Asia and Latin America. With 39% of its residents born overseas,[237] San Francisco has numerous neighborhoods filled with businesses and civic institutions catering to new arrivals. In particular, the arrival of many ethnic Chinese, which began to accelerate in the 1970s, has complemented the long-established community historically based in Chinatown throughout the city and has transformed the annual Chinese New Year Parade into the largest event of its kind on the West Coast.
With the arrival of the "beat" writers and artists of the 1950s and societal changes culminating in the Summer of Love in the Haight-Ashbury district during the 1960s, San Francisco became a center of liberal activism and of the counterculture that arose at that time. The Democrats and to a lesser extent the Green Party have dominated city politics since the late 1970s, after the last serious Republican challenger for city office lost the 1975 mayoral election by a narrow margin. San Francisco has not voted more than 20% for a Republican presidential or senatorial candidate since 1988.[267] In 2007, the city expanded its Medicaid and other indigent medical programs into the Healthy San Francisco program,[268] which subsidizes certain medical services for eligible residents.[269][270][271]The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, also known as SF MOMASince 1993, the San Francisco Department of Public Health has distributed 400,000 free syringes every month aimed at reducing HIV and other health risks for drug users, as well as providing disposal sites and services.[272][273][274]
San Francisco also has had a very active environmental community. Starting with the founding of the Sierra Club in 1892 to the establishment of the non-profit Friends of the Urban Forest in 1981, San Francisco has been at the forefront of many global discussions regarding the environment.[275][276] The 1980 San Francisco Recycling Program was one of the earliest curbside recycling programs.[277] The city's GoSolarSF incentive promotes solar installations and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is rolling out the CleanPowerSF program to sell electricity from local renewable sources.[278][279] SF Greasecycle is a program to recycle used cooking oil for conversion to biodiesel.[280]
The Sunset Reservoir Solar Project, completed in 2010, installed 24,000 solar panels on the roof of the reservoir. The 5-megawatt plant more than tripled the city's 2-megawatt solar generation capacity when it opened in December 2010.[281][282]
LGBTMain article: LGBT culture in San Francisco
San Francisco Pride is one of the oldest and largest LGBT pride events in the world.San Francisco has long had an LGBT-friendly history. It was home to the first lesbian-rights organization in the United States, Daughters of Bilitis; the first openly gay person to run for public office in the United States, José Sarria; the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, Harvey Milk; the first openly lesbian judge appointed in the U.S., Mary C. Morgan; and the first transgender police commissioner, Theresa Sparks. The city's large gay population has created and sustained a politically and culturally active community over many decades, developing a powerful presence in San Francisco's civic life.[citation needed] Survey data released in 2015 by Gallup places the proportion of LGBT adults in the San Francisco metro area at 6.2%, which is the highest proportion of the 50 most populous metropolitan areas as measured by the polling organization.[283]The gay pride flag was originally developed in San Francisco.One of the most popular destinations for gay tourists internationally, the city hosts San Francisco Pride, one of the largest and oldest pride parades. San Francisco Pride events have been held continuously since 1972. The events are themed and a new theme is created each year.[284] In 2013, over 1.5 million people attended, around 500,000 more than the previous year.[285] Pink Saturday is an annual street party held the Saturday before the pride parade, which coincides with the Dyke march.
The Folsom Street Fair (FSF) is an annual BDSM and leather subculture street fair that is held in September, endcapping San Francisco's "Leather Pride Week".[286] It started in 1984 and is California's third-largest single-day, outdoor spectator event and the world's largest leather event and showcase for BDSM products and culture.[287]
Performing artsSee also: List of theatres in San Francisco
War Memorial Opera House, part of the S.F. War Memorial & Performing Arts Center, one of the largest performing arts centers in the U.S.
Golden Gate Theatre is located in the historic Theatre DistrictSan Francisco's War Memorial and Performing Arts Center hosts some of the most enduring performing-arts companies in the country. The War Memorial Opera House houses the San Francisco Opera, the second-largest opera company in North America[288] as well as the San Francisco Ballet, while the San Francisco Symphony plays in Davies Symphony Hall. Opened in 2013, the SFJAZZ Center hosts jazz performances year round.[289]
The Fillmore is a music venue located in the Western Addition. It is the second incarnation of the historic venue that gained fame in the 1960s, housing the stage where now-famous musicians such as the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, and Jefferson Airplane first performed, fostering the San Francisco Sound.[290] It closed its doors in 1971 with a final performance by Santana and reopened in 1994 with a show by The Smashing Pumpkins.[291]
San Francisco has a large number of theaters and live performance venues. Local theater companies have been noted for risk taking and innovation.[292] The Tony Award-winning non-profit American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) is a member of the national League of Resident Theatres. Other local winners of the Regional Theatre Tony Award include the San Francisco Mime Troupe.[293] San Francisco theaters frequently host pre-Broadway engagements and tryout runs,[294] and some original San Francisco productions have later moved to Broadway.[295]
MuseumsFurther information: List of museums in San Francisco Bay Area, California § San Francisco
The California Palace of the Legion of Honor, part of the Fine Arts Museums of San FranciscoThe San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) houses 20th century and contemporary works of art. It moved to its current building in the South of Market neighborhood in 1995 and attracted more than 600,000 visitors annually.[296] SFMOMA closed for renovation and expansion in 2013. The museum reopened on May 14, 2016, with an addition, designed by Snøhetta, that has doubled the museum's size.[297]
The Palace of the Legion of Honor holds primarily European antiquities and works of art at its Lincoln Park building modeled after its Parisian namesake. The de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park features American decorative pieces and anthropological holdings from Africa, Oceania and the Americas, while Asian art is housed in the Asian Art Museum. Opposite the de Young stands the California Academy of Sciences, a natural history museum that also hosts the Morrison Planetarium and Steinhart Aquarium. Located on Pier 15 on the Embarcadero, the Exploratorium is an interactive science museum. The Contemporary Jewish Museum is a non-collecting institution that hosts a broad array of temporary exhibitions. On Nob Hill, the Cable Car Museum is a working museum featuring the cable car powerhouse, which drives the cables.[298]
SportsFurther information: Sports in the San Francisco Bay Area
Oracle Park, home of the SF GiantsMajor League Baseball's San Francisco Giants have played in San Francisco since moving from New York in 1958. The Giants play at Oracle Park, which opened in 2000.[299] The Giants won World Series titles in 2010, 2012, and in 2014. The Giants have boasted stars such as Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, and Barry Bonds (MLB's career home run leader). In 2012, San Francisco was ranked No. 1 in a study that examined which U.S. metro areas have produced the most Major Leaguers since 1920.[300]
The San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL) began play in 1946 as an All-America Football Conference (AAFC) league charter member, moved to the NFL in 1950 and into Candlestick Park in 1971. The team left the San Francisco area in 2014, moving approximately 50 miles south to Santa Clara, and began playing its home games at Levi's Stadium,[301][302] but despite the relocation did not change its name from the "San Francisco" 49ers. The 49ers won five Super Bowl titles between 1982 and 1995.The Chase Center, home of the Golden State WarriorsNBA’s Golden State Warriors have played in the San Francisco Bay Area since moving from Philadelphia in 1962. The Warriors played as the San Francisco Warriors, from 1962 to 1971, before being renamed the Golden State Warriors prior to the 1971–1972 season in an attempt to present the team as a representation of the whole state of California, which had already adopted "The Golden State" nickname.[303] The Warriors' arena, Chase Center, is located in San Francisco.[304] After winning two championships in Philadelphia, they have won five championships since moving to the San Francisco Bay Area,[305] and made five consecutive NBA Finals from 2015 to 2019, winning three of them. They won again in 2022, the franchise's first championship while residing in San Francisco proper.
At the collegiate level, the San Francisco Dons compete in NCAA Division I. Bill Russell led the Dons basketball team to NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956. There is also the San Francisco State Gators, who compete in NCAA Division II.[306] Oracle Park hosted the annual Fight Hunger Bowl college football game from 2002 through 2013 before it moved to Santa Clara.
There are a handful of lower-league soccer clubs in San Francisco playing mostly from April – June.
Club Founded Venue League Tier levelEl Farolito 1985 Boxer Stadium NPSL 4San Francisco City FC 2001 Kezar Stadium USL League Two 4San Francisco Glens SC 1961 Skyline College USL League Two 4SF Elite Metro 2017 Negoesco Stadium NISA Nation 5
Bay to Breakers is an annual foot race known for colorful costumes.The Bay to Breakers footrace, held annually since 1912, is best known for colorful costumes and a celebratory community spirit.[307] The San Francisco Marathon attracts more than 21,000 participants.[308] The Escape from Alcatraz triathlon has, since 1980, attracted 2,000 top professional and amateur triathletes for its annual race.[309] The Olympic Club, founded in 1860, is the oldest athletic club in the United States. Its private golf course has hosted the U.S. Open on five occasions. San Francisco hosted the 2013 America's Cup yacht racing competition.[310]
With an ideal climate for outdoor activities, San Francisco has ample resources and opportunities for amateur and participatory sports and recreation. There are more than 200 miles (320 km) of bicycle paths, lanes and bike routes in the city.[311] San Francisco residents have often ranked among the fittest in the country.[312] Golden Gate Park has miles of paved and unpaved running trails as well as a golf course and disc golf course. Boating, sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing are among the popular activities on San Francisco Bay, and the city maintains a yacht harbor in the Marina District.
San Francisco also has had Esports teams, such as the Overwatch League's San Francisco Shock. Established in 2017,[313] they won two back-to-back championship titles in 2019 and 2020.[314][315]
Parks and recreationSee also: List of parks in San Francisco
Golden Gate Park is the 3rd most-visited city park in the U.S., after Central Park and the National Mall.[316]Several of San Francisco's parks and nearly all of its beaches form part of the regional Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the most visited units of the National Park system in the United States with over 13 million visitors a year. Among the GGNRA's attractions within the city are Ocean Beach, which runs along the Pacific Ocean shoreline and is frequented by a vibrant surfing community, and Baker Beach, which is located in a cove west of the Golden Gate.
The Presidio of San Francisco is the former 18th century Spanish military base, which today is one of the city's largest parks and home to numerous museums and institutions. Also within the Presidio is Crissy Field, a former airfield that was restored to its natural salt marsh ecosystem. The GGNRA also administers Fort Funston, Lands End, Fort Mason, and Alcatraz. The National Park Service separately administers the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park – a fleet of historic ships and waterfront property around Aquatic Park.[citation needed]Painted Ladies on Alamo Square.
The Cliff House over Ocean BeachThere are more than 220 parks maintained by the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department.[317] The largest and best-known city park is Golden Gate Park,[318] which stretches from the center of the city west to the Pacific Ocean. Once covered in native grasses and sand dunes, the park was conceived in the 1860s and was created by the extensive planting of thousands of non-native trees and plants. The large park is rich with cultural and natural attractions such as the Conservatory of Flowers, Japanese Tea Garden and San Francisco Botanical Garden.[citation needed]
Lake Merced is a fresh-water lake surrounded by parkland[citation needed] and near the San Francisco Zoo, a city-owned park that houses more than 250 animal species, many of which are endangered.[319] The only park managed by the California State Park system located principally in San Francisco, Candlestick Point was the state's first urban recreation area.[320]
Most of San Francisco's islands are protected as parkland or nature reserves. Alcatraz Island, operated by the National Park Service, is open to the public. The Farallon Islands are protected wildlife refuges. The Seal Rocks are protected as part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Red Rock Island is the only privately-owned island in San Francisco Bay, but is uninhabited. Yerba Buena Island is largely utilized by the military.
San Francisco is the first city in the U.S. to have a park within a 10-Minute Walk of every resident.[321][322] It also ranks fifth in the U.S. for park access and quality in the 2018 ParkScore ranking of the top 100 park systems across the United States, according to the nonprofit Trust for Public Land.[323]
GovernmentMain articles: Government of San Francisco, Politics of San Francisco, and Mayors of San FranciscoSee also: San Francisco City Hall
San Francisco City Hall, built 1913–16 and designed by Arthur Brown Jr.The mayor is also the county executive, and the county Board of Supervisors acts as the city council. The government of San Francisco is a charter city and is constituted of two co-equal branches: the executive branch is headed by the mayor and includes other citywide elected and appointed officials as well as the civil service; the 11-member Board of Supervisors, the legislative branch, is headed by a president and is responsible for passing laws and budgets, though San Franciscans also make use of direct ballot initiatives to pass legislation.[324]
Because of its unique city-county status, the local government is able to exercise jurisdiction over certain property outside city limits. San Francisco International Airport, though located in San Mateo County, is owned and operated by the City and County of San Francisco. San Francisco's largest jail complex (County Jail No. 5) is located in San Mateo County, in an unincorporated area adjacent to San Bruno. San Francisco was also granted a perpetual leasehold over the Hetch Hetchy Valley and watershed in Yosemite National Park by the Raker Act in 1913.[325]The Supreme Court of California is based in the Earl Warren Building.The members of the Board of Supervisors are elected as representatives of specific districts within the city.[326] Upon the death or resignation of the mayor, the President of the Board of Supervisors becomes acting mayor until the full Board elects an interim replacement for the remainder of the term. In 1978, Dianne Feinstein assumed the office following the assassination of George Moscone and was later selected by the board to finish the term.[citation needed] In 2011, Ed Lee was selected by the board to finish the term of Gavin Newsom, who resigned to take office as Lieutenant Governor of California.[327] Lee (who won two elections to remain mayor) was temporarily replaced by San Francisco Board of Supervisors President London Breed after he died on December 12, 2017. Supervisor Mark Farrell was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to finish Lee's term on January 23, 2018.
Most local offices in San Francisco are elected using ranked choice voting.[328]San Francisco Federal BuildingSan Francisco serves as the regional hub for many arms of the federal bureaucracy, including the U.S. Court of Appeals, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the U.S. Mint. Until decommissioning in the early 1990s, the city had major military installations at the Presidio, Treasure Island, and Hunters Point—a legacy still reflected in the annual celebration of Fleet Week. The State of California uses San Francisco as the home of the state supreme court and other state agencies. Foreign governments maintain more than seventy consulates in San Francisco.[329]
The municipal budget for fiscal year 2015–16 was $8.99 billion,[330] and is one of the largest city budgets in the United States.[331] The City of San Francisco spends more per resident than any city other than Washington, D.C., over $10,000 in FY 2015–2016.[331] The city employs around 27,000 workers.[332]The historic Browning CourthouseIn the California State Senate, San Francisco is in the 11th Senate District, represented by Democrat Scott Wiener. In the California State Assembly, it is split between the 17th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Matt Haney, and the 19th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Phil Ting.[333]
In the United States House of Representatives, San Francisco is split between two congressional districts. Most of the city is in the 11th District, represented by Nancy Pelosi (D–San Francisco). A sliver in the southwest is part of the 15th District represented by Kevin Mullin (D–South San Francisco).[334] Pelosi served as the House Speaker from January 3, 2019 to January 3, 2023, a post she also held from 2007 through 2011. She has also held the post of House Minority Leader, from 2003 to 2007 and 2011 to 2019.
Education
University of San FranciscoColleges and universitiesSee also: List of colleges and universities in San FranciscoThe University of California, San Francisco is the sole campus of the University of California system entirely dedicated to graduate education in health and biomedical sciences. It is ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States[335] and operates the UCSF Medical Center, which ranks as the number one hospital in California and the number 5 in the country.[336] UCSF is a major local employer, second in size only to the city and county government.[337][338][339] A 43-acre (17 ha) Mission Bay campus was opened in 2003, complementing its original facility in Parnassus Heights. It contains research space and facilities to foster biotechnology and life sciences entrepreneurship and will double the size of UCSF's research enterprise.[340] All in all, UCSF operates more than 20 facilities across San Francisco.[341]
The University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, founded in Civic Center in 1878, is the oldest law school in California and claims more judges on the state bench than any other institution.[342] San Francisco's two University of California institutions have recently formed an official affiliation in the UCSF/UC Law SF Consortium on Law, Science & Health Policy.[343]San Francisco Art Institute is the oldest art school in the Western U.S.San Francisco State University is part of the California State University system and is located near Lake Merced.[344] The school has approximately 30,000 students and awards undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees in more than 100 disciplines.[344] The City College of San Francisco, with its main facility in the Ingleside district, is one of the largest two-year community colleges in the country. It has an enrollment of about 100,000 students and offers an extensive continuing education program.[345]University of California College of the LawFounded in 1855, the University of San Francisco, a private Jesuit university located on Lone Mountain, is the oldest institution of higher education in San Francisco and one of the oldest universities established west of the Mississippi River.[346] Golden Gate University is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational university formed in 1901 and located in the Financial District.
With an enrollment of 13,000 students, the Academy of Art University is the largest institute of art and design in the nation.[347] Founded in 1871, the San Francisco Art Institute is the oldest art school west of the Mississippi.[348] The California College of the Arts, located north of Potrero Hill, has programs in architecture, fine arts, design, and writing.[349] The San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the only independent music school on the West Coast, grants degrees in orchestral instruments, chamber music, composition, and conducting.
The California Culinary Academy, associated with the Le Cordon Bleu program, offers programs in the culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, and hospitality and restaurant management. California Institute of Integral Studies, founded in 1968, offers a variety of graduate programs in its Schools of Professional Psychology & Health, and Consciousness and Transformation.
Primary and secondary schoolsSee also: San Francisco public grammar schools and List of high schools in California § San Francisco County
The San Francisco Unified School District operates 114 schools and is the oldest school district in California.Public schools are run by the San Francisco Unified School District, which covers the entire city and county,[350] as well as the California State Board of Education for some charter schools. Lowell High School, the oldest public high school in the U.S. west of the Mississippi,[351] and the smaller School of the Arts High School are two of San Francisco's magnet schools at the secondary level. Public school students attend schools based on an assignment system rather than neighborhood proximity.[352]
Just under 30% of the city's school-age population attends one of San Francisco's more than 100 private or parochial schools, compared to a 10% rate nationwide.[353] Nearly 40 of those schools are Catholic schools managed by the Archdiocese of San Francisco.[354]
San Francisco has nearly 300 preschool programs primarily operated by Head Start, San Francisco Unified School District, private for-profit, private non-profit and family child care providers.[355] All 4-year-old children living in San Francisco are offered universal access to preschool through the Preschool for All program.[356]
MediaFurther information: Media in the San Francisco Bay Area
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San Francisco Chronicle buildingThe major daily newspaper in San Francisco is the San Francisco Chronicle, which is currently Northern California's most widely circulated newspaper.[357] The Chronicle is most famous for a former columnist, the late Herb Caen, whose daily musings attracted critical acclaim and represented the "voice of San Francisco". The San Francisco Examiner, once the cornerstone of William Randolph Hearst's media empire and the home of Ambrose Bierce, declined in circulation over the years and now takes the form of a free daily tabloid, under new ownership.[358][359]
Sing Tao Daily claims to be the largest of several Chinese language dailies that serve the Bay Area.[360] SF Weekly is the city's alternative weekly newspaper. San Francisco and 7x7 are major glossy magazines about San Francisco. The national newsmagazine Mother Jones is also based in San Francisco. San Francisco is home to online-only media publications such as SFist, and AsianWeek.The Julia Morgan-designed Hearst Building, the western headquarters of the Hearst CorporationThe San Francisco Bay Area is the sixth-largest television market.[361] It is the fourth-largest radio market after that of New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.[362] in the U.S.
All major U.S. television networks have affiliates serving the region, with most of them based in the city. CNN, MSNBC, BBC, Russia Today, and CCTV America also have regional news bureaus in San Francisco. Bloomberg West was launched in 2011 from a studio on the Embarcadero and CNBC broadcasts from One Market Plaza since 2015. ESPN uses the local ABC studio for their broadcasting. The regional sports network, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and its sister station Comcast SportsNet California, are both located in San Francisco. The Pac-12 Network is also based in San Francisco.Sutro Tower is a broadcast tower and local landmark.Public broadcasting outlets include both a television station and a radio station, both broadcasting under the call letters KQED from a facility near the Potrero Hill neighborhood. KQED-FM is the most-listened-to National Public Radio affiliate in the country.[363]
KUSF is a student-run radio station by college students from the University of San Francisco.[364] Another local broadcaster, KPOO, is an independent, African-American owned and operated noncommercial radio station established in 1971.[365] CNET, founded 1994, and Salon.com, 1995, are based in San Francisco. Sutro Tower is an important broadcast tower located between Mount Sutro and the Twin Peaks, built in 1973 for KTVU, KRON, and also: Transportation in the San Francisco Bay AreaPublic transportationSee also: San Francisco Municipal Railway
A San Francisco cable car with Alcatraz seen behindTransit is the most used form of transportation every day in San Francisco. Every weekday, more than 560,000 people travel on Muni's 69 bus routes and more than 140,000 customers ride the Muni Metro light rail system.[366] 32% of San Francisco residents use public transportation for their daily commute to work, ranking it fourth in the United States and first on the West Coast.[367] The San Francisco Municipal Railway, primarily known as Muni, is the primary public transit system of San Francisco. Muni is the seventh-largest transit system in the United States, with 210,848,310 rides in 2006.[368] The system operates a combined light rail and subway system, the Muni Metro, as well as large bus and trolley coach networks.[369] Additionally, it runs a historic streetcar line, which runs on Market Street from Castro Street to Fisherman's Wharf.[369] It also operates the famous cable cars,[369] which have been designated as a National Historic Landmark and are a major tourist attraction.[370]
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), a regional Rapid Transit system, connects San Francisco with the East Bay and San Jose through the underwater Transbay Tube. The line runs under Market Street to Civic Center where it turns south to the Mission District, the southern part of the city, and through northern San Mateo County, to the San Francisco International Airport, and Millbrae.[369]Muni Metro, run by SF MuniAnother commuter rail system, Caltrain, runs from San Francisco along the San Francisco Peninsula to San Jose.[369] Historically, trains operated by Southern Pacific Lines ran from San Francisco to Los Angeles, via Palo Alto and San Jose.
Amtrak California Thruway Motorcoach runs a shuttle bus from three locations in San Francisco to its station across the bay in Emeryville.[371] Additionally, BART offers connections to San Francisco from Amtrak's stations in Emeryville, Oakland and Richmond, and Caltrain offers connections in San Jose and Santa Clara. Thruway service also runs south to San Luis Obispo with connection to the Pacific Surfliner.
San Francisco was an early adopter of carsharing in America. The non-profit City CarShare opened in 2001[372] and Zipcar closely followed.[373]Golden Gate Ferries connect the city to North Bay communities, while San Francisco Bay Ferry connects the city to both the North and East Bay.San Francisco Bay Ferry operates from the Ferry Building and Pier 39 to points in Oakland, Alameda, Bay Farm Island, South San Francisco, Richmond, and north to Vallejo in Solano County.[374] The Golden Gate Ferry is the other ferry operator with service between San Francisco and Marin County.[375] SolTrans runs supplemental bus service between the Ferry Building and Vallejo.
To accommodate the large amount of San Francisco citizens who commute to the Silicon Valley daily, employers like Genentech, Google, and Apple have begun to provide private bus transportation for their employees, from San Francisco locations. These buses have quickly become a heated topic of debate within the city, as protesters claim they block bus lanes and delay public buses.[376]
Freeways and roadsFurther information: List of streets in San Francisco
The Bay Bridge connects the city to Oakland and the East Bay.In 2014, only 41.3% of residents commuted by driving alone or carpooling in private vehicles in San Francisco, a decline from 48.6% in 2000.[377] There are 1,088 miles of streets in San Francisco with 946 miles of these streets being surface streets, and 59 miles of freeways.[377] Due to its unique geography, and the freeway revolts of the late 1950s,[378] Interstate 80 begins at the approach to the Bay Bridge and is the only direct automobile link to the East Bay. U.S. Route 101 connects to the western terminus of Interstate 80 and provides access to the south of the city along San Francisco Bay toward Silicon Valley. Northward, the routing for U.S. 101 uses arterial streets to connect to the Golden Gate Bridge, the only direct automobile link to Marin County and the North Bay.
As part of the retrofitting of the Golden Gate Bridge and installation of a suicide barrier, starting in 2019 the railings on the west side of the pedestrian walkway were replaced with thinner, more flexible slats in order to improve the bridge's aerodynamic tolerance of high wind to 100 mph (161 km/h). Starting in June 2020, reports were received of a loud hum produced by the new railing slats, heard across the city when a strong west wind was blowing.[379]Lombard Street in Russian Hill is famed as "the most crooked street in the world".State Route 1 also enters San Francisco from the north via the Golden Gate Bridge and bisects the city as the 19th Avenue arterial thoroughfare, joining with Interstate 280 at the city's southern border. Interstate 280 continues south from San Francisco, and also turns to the east along the southern edge of the city, terminating just south of the Bay Bridge in the South of Market neighborhood. After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, city leaders demolished the Embarcadero Freeway and a portion of the Central Freeway, converting them into street-level boulevards.[378]
State Route 35 enters the city from the south as Skyline Boulevard and terminates at its intersection with Highway 1. State Route 82 enters San Francisco from the south as Mission Street, and terminates shortly thereafter at its junction with 280. The western terminus of the historic transcontinental Lincoln Highway, the first road across America, is in San Francisco's Lincoln Park.
Vision ZeroIn 2014, San Francisco committed to Vision Zero, with the goal of ending all traffic fatalities caused by motor vehicles within the city by 2024.[380] San Francisco's Vision Zero plan calls for investing in engineering, enforcement, and education, and focusing on dangerous intersections. In 2013, 25 people were killed by car and truck drivers while walking and biking in the city and 9 car drivers and passengers were killed in collisions. In 2019, 42 people were killed in traffic collisions in San Francisco.[381]
AirportsMain article: San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the worldThough located 13 miles (21 km) south of downtown in unincorporated San Mateo County, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is under the jurisdiction of the City and County of San Francisco. SFO is a hub for United Airlines[382] and Alaska Airlines.[383] SFO is a major international gateway to Asia and Europe, with the largest international terminal in North America.[384] In 2011, SFO was the eighth-busiest airport in the U.S. and the 22nd-busiest in the world, handling over 40.9 million passengers.[385]
Located in the South Bay, the San Jose International Airport (SJC) is the second-busiest airport in the Bay Area, followed by Oakland International Airport, which is a popular, low-cost alternative to SFO. Geographically, Oakland Airport is approximately the same distance from downtown San Francisco as SFO, but due to its location across San Francisco Bay, it is greater driving distance from San Francisco.[citation needed]
Cycling and walkingMain article: Cycling in San Francisco
Bay Wheels station on Market St.Cycling is a popular mode of transportation in San Francisco, with 75,000 residents commuting by bicycle each day.[386] In recent years, the city has installed better cycling infrastructure such as protected bike lanes and parking racks.[387] Bay Wheels, previously named Bay Area Bike Share at inception, launched in August 2013 with 700 bikes in downtown San Francisco, selected cities in the East Bay, and San Jose. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Bay Area Air Quality Management District are responsible for the operation with management provided by Motivate.[388] A major expansion started in 2017, along with a rebranding as Ford GoBike; the company received its current name in 2019.[389] Pedestrian traffic is also widespread. In 2015, Walk Score ranked San Francisco the second-most walkable city in the United States.[390][391][392]
San Francisco has significantly higher rates of pedestrian and bicyclist traffic deaths than the United States on average. In 2013, 21 pedestrians were killed in vehicle collisions, the highest since 2001,[393] which is 2.5 deaths per 100,000 population – 70% higher than the national average of 1.5.[394]San Francisco cycling eventCycling is becoming increasingly popular in the city. The 2010 Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) annual bicycle count showed the number of cyclists at 33 locations had increased 58% from the 2006 baseline counts.[395] In 2008, the MTA estimated that about 128,000 trips were made by bicycle each day in the city, or 6% of total trips.[396] As of 2019, 2.6% of the city's streets have protected bike lanes, with 28 miles of protected bike lanes in the city.[366] Since 2006, San Francisco has received a Bicycle Friendly Community status of "Gold" from the League of American Bicyclists.[397] In 2022 a measure on the ballot passed to protect JFK drive in Golden Gate Park as a pedestrian and biking space with 59% of voters in favor.[398]


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