Literature Study GuidesThe American Promise Speech

The American Promise Speech | Study Guide

Lyndon B. Johnson

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Course Hero. "The American Promise Speech Study Guide." July 26, 2019. Accessed August 22, 2019.


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Lyndon B. Johnson

Year Delivered



Primary Source


History, Speech

At a Glance

  • On January 20, 1965, Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908–73) took the oath of office as president of the United States for the second time and delivered his inaugural address.
  • In his speech, Johnson presents a vision of Americans living in a time of rapid and remarkable change.
  • One of Johnson's key themes is that Americans can rise to the challenges of the era, drawing on the national character and their faith in their country.
  • Johnson speaks of the American Covenant, founded on justice, liberty, and union, that attracted people from other nations to a land of opportunity.
  • He reaffirms the country's dedication to helping people in other countries achieve liberty—a veiled allusion to U.S. involvement in the ongoing war in Vietnam (1955–75).
  • He restates his promise to devote his administration to creating the Great Society, a plan to bring a better life to all Americans.
  • Johnson's landslide electoral victory in 1964, which created strong Democratic majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate, made it possible for him to proceed with his plans for the Great Society. However, the growing unpopularity of his Vietnam policy, racial tensions, and the rising costs of his social programs challenged Johnson's presidency.


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