1964 - The Year The Sixties Began

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The decisions taken in early August 1964 would reap terrible consequences: LBJ’s civil rights and antipoverty agendas derailed; families and communities were sundered; 58,000 Americans and many more Vietnamese died; and the nation was no longer confident in its ability to meet the challenges of what Henry Luce had once called the American Century.

Along with civil rights, the war would dominate the front pages of American newspapers and the evening news broadcasts for a decade to come.

Speaking to Congress on January 4, 1965, President Johnson evaluated the year that had just ended. “This, then, is the state of the Union,” he proclaimed. “Free and restless, growing and full of hope. So it was in the beginning. So it shall always be, while God is willing, and we are strong enough to keep the faith.”

The 1960s had begun.

Joshua Zeitz is the author of Flappers (Crown); he is currently working on a history of the 1970s.