President Johnson
President Johnson

War on Poverty


The War on Poverty (1964-1968) was a campaign of legislation and social services aimed at reducing or eliminating poverty in the United States of America. The term was first introduced by Lyndon B. Johnson during his State of the Union address on January 8, 1964. The legislation was designed in response to the poverty affecting over 35 million Americans. The campaign yielded the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, which was signed on August 20, 1964. On July 30, 1965 Johnson advanced the "war" by signing the Social Security Act of 1965 into law, which established Medicare and Medicaid in the United States.

Important Details

The “War on Poverty” was President Lyndon Johnson’s attempt to make a lasting mark with his term. His points on the problems of the poor were: low income, lack of low-cost credit, inadequate credit, lack of information, fraud and deception, legal exploitation, inadequate housing, lack of public and social services and, lack of transportation. The idea behind the “War on Poverty” was that if congress was able to pass laws to combat these problems, then poverty could either be greatly reduced or eliminated. In Johnson’s special message to congress to in March 16, 1964, he stated, “Because it is right, because it is wise, and because, for the first time in our history, it is possible to conquer poverty, I submit, for the consideration of the Congress and the country, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.” This was the beginning on the “War on Poverty.”


Johnson’s war was successful in bringing in a new age. This period of time purred many new organizations and laws that sought the protection of the poor. The idea of the “War on Poverty” lives on today with Medicare and other institutions like it. In connection, with the current recession, many ideas are being applied that were applied in Johnson’s war. The war may not have been won with Johnson, but it continues on today with the Government Health Plan.