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JFK, LBJ, and the Democratic Party

Sean J. Savage

Publication Year: 2004

JFK, LBJ, and the Democratic Party is a richly detailed, comprehensive, and provocative account of presidential party leadership in the turbulent 1960s. Using many primary sources, including resources from presidential libraries, state and national archival material, public opinion polls, and numerous interviews, Sean J. Savage reveals for the first time the influence of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson on the chairmanship, operations, structure, and finances of the Democratic National Committee. Savage further enriches his account with telephone conversations recently released from the Kennedy and Johnson presidential libraries, along with rare photos of JFK and LBJ.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series on the Presidency: Contemporary Issues


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pp. ix-x

Much has been written about the lives, presidencies, and policies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Surprisingly little has been written about JFK’s and LBJ’s individual and collective influence on the Democratic Party as presidential party leaders. No previous study of these two presidents as party leaders has thoroughly explored the relationships between their experiences in ...

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CHAPTER ONE. JFK and His Party

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pp. 1-20

According to political scientist and Kennedy biographer James MacGregor Burns, JFK’s first electoral success “left him with a disdain for routine politics and ‘party hacks’ that he would not lose for many years, if ever. He had found that the Democratic Party hardly existed as an organization in the Eleventh District; after he won office and consolidated his position, he would say, ...

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CHAPTER TWO. LBJ and His Party

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pp. 21-38

When JFK first ran for a congressional seat in 1946, he already enjoyed celebrity status among his future constituents because of the well-entrenched political fame of his middle and last names and his own highly publicized combat heroism in World War II. By contrast, LBJ’s gradual evolution from being a congressional secretary in 1931 to a controversially nominated ...

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CHAPTER THREE. The 1960 Election: Rivals and Allies

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pp. 39-90

The key policy issues, political actors, and results of the 1958 midterm elections were major influences on the initial competition and eventual cooperation between JFK and LBJ during the 1960 presidential campaign. Unlike LBJ, Kennedy proved his ability to adapt to and manipulate the political climate and forces of the late 1950s in his successful strategy to win the Democratic ...

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CHAPTER FOUR. The Party Politics of Public Policy

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pp. 91-142

In his 1942 book, Party Government, E. E. Schattschneider stated, “The vote in Congress on critical issues is the acid test of the locus of power in the parties.”1 Political scientist and Kennedy biographer James MacGregor Burns perceived the American party system to consist, in effect, of four “parties.” Within each of the two major parties, a conservative wing dominated Congress, especially its major ...


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pp. 1-30

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pp. 143-182

In studying the changes that occur in the roles of each of the two major parties’ national committee chairmen, political scientists distinguish between the “out-party” chairman and the “in-party” chairman.1 The “out-party” is the major party that does not control presidency while the “in-party” is the major party that does. Since the president is the titular national leader of his party, the ...

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CHAPTER SIX. The Politics of Consensus: 1962–1964

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pp. 183-248

The suprapartisan, centrist policy consensus that contributed to the eventual passage of the “Big Four” New Frontier bills, the initial Great Society legislation, and the landslide Democratic presidential and congressional election results of 1964 actually originated in the middle of Kennedy’s brief presidency. JFK was less likely than LBJ to explicitly and consistently dismiss ideological and...

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CHAPTER SEVEN. The Politics of Dissensus: 1966–1968

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pp. 249-330

Like most conventional politicians, LBJ assumed that any public mandate that he received from the 1964 election to make major changes in domestic policy would steadily diminish after his inauguration in 1965. Earlier, during the summer and autumn of 1964, LBJ directed the various White House policy task forces to secretly develop the large volume and extensive variety of Great Society ...

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pp. 331-332

The 1960s was a tumultuous decade for the Democratic Party. The midterm elections of 1958 indicated greater public support for more federal intervention in economics, agriculture, education, and health care. In addition to these policy areas, liberal Democrats, represented by such organizations as the DAC, UAW, and ADA, advocated and formulated a Democratic platform for...


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pp. 333-334


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pp. 335-404

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 405-412

Photographic Credits

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pp. 413-416


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pp. 417-429

E-ISBN-13: 9780791484685
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791461693
Print-ISBN-10: 0791461696

Page Count: 464
Illustrations: 30 b/w photographs
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: SUNY series on the Presidency: Contemporary Issues
Series Editor Byline: John Kenneth White See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 62386293
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Subject Headings

  • Political culture -- Massachusetts -- History -- 20th century.
  • Political culture -- Texas -- History -- 20th century.
  • Political culture -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1963-1969.
  • Massachusetts -- Politics and government -- 1951-.
  • Democratic Party (U.S.) -- History -- 20th century.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1961-1963.
  • Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973.
  • Texas -- Politics and government -- 1951-.
  • Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963.
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