Great Society

This study guide will help you analyze Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” (1964) speech. In addition to help with your analysis, you can find a summary of the text and ideas for putting it into perspective

Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973) was the 36th president of the United States. Johnson was previously vice president under John F. Kennedy and assumed the presidency of the US after Kennedy was assassinated. The “Great Society” speech was delivered on May 22, 1964, as part of Johnson’s commencement address at the University of Michigan. In his speech, Johnson presents a new vision for the American civilization. 


Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 

Rhetorical questions

Towards the end of the speech, Johnson uses several rhetorical questions meant to engage the graduates and to convince them to take part in his plan to help build a new America:

So, will you join in the battle to give every citizen the full equality which God enjoins and the law requires, whatever his belief, or race, or the color of his skin?

Will you join in the battle to give every citizen an escape from the crushing weight of poverty?

Will you join in the battle to make it possible for all nations to live in enduring peace — as neighbors and not as mortal enemies?

The series of rhetorical questions represent an...

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Great Society

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