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U.S. History/Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson


Did Lyndon B Johnson sign the Civil Rights Act for political or principle reasons?

It's always difficult to assign motives to such acts, but I'd say he signed the law out of principle.  First, he did a lot more than just sign the law.  Passage of the bill in Congress was part of a major lobbying effort by the White House.  Second, it was not clearly a political winner at the time.  The Civil Rights Act deeply divided the Democratic Party.  At the time, the South was dominated by Democratic politicians who opposed such laws.  Over the next decade or two, the Civil Rights agenda changed the South from solidly Democratic to solidly Republican.  It also caused the President to lose a number of southern states in the Presidential election later that year.

Johnson was a pragmatist.  He had opposed earlier civil rights bills in Congress and even opposed an anti-lynching bill because as a southern politician himself he saw support as political suicide.  He also believed those earlier bills had no real chance of passing.  But as President, he saw his opportunity to pass the bill.  Despite serious opposition and with great political risk, he pushed hard to get the bill passed and was able to sign it into law.

- Mike  

U.S. History

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Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question on early American History. My specialties are the American Revolution through the Civil War/Reconstruction. I also have greater expertise in matters relating to military, political or legal history.


I have lectured at George Washington University regarding the Civil War, as well as several elementary school Civil War demonstrations. I was also a member of a Civil War reenactment group for about 10 years.


J.D. University of Michigan B.A. George Washington University

Awards and Honors
Truman Scholar

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