What Was the War on Poverty?


Quick Answer

The "War on Poverty" is an unofficial nickname for a collection of legislation introduced by the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. The name comes from a State of the Union address given by Johnson prior to introducing this legislation, in which he declared an "unconditional war on poverty in America."

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Full Answer

Johnson's State of the Union speech was delivered on January 8, 1964. The first major initiative was the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, passed in August of that year. This act created a number of federal programs such as Job Corps, Neighborhood Youth Corps and Volunteers in Service to America. It also created work study funding for colleges and universities, grants for adult basic education, assistance for needy children, loans to low-income rural families, basic assistance for migrant agricultural workers and loans for small businesses.

This act was followed in August of that year by the Food Stamp Act, which created the nation's Food Stamp Program. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act was a major overhaul of the country's educational systems. The Social Security Act was the final major initiative of the War on Poverty. It initially guaranteed health insurance to poor families and individuals over the age of 65, and eventually led to the creation of the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

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