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Letter to Sargent Shriver on His Appointment To Direct the Program To Eliminate Poverty.

February 12, 1964

[ Released February 12, 1964. Dated February 11, 1964 ]

Dear Mr. Shriver:

I am grateful that you have agreed to accept the appointment as my Assistant for purposes of heading our program to eliminate poverty, and also to continue as Director of the Peace Corps.

As my representative, you will direct the activities of all executive departments and agencies involved in the program against poverty. You will also be my representative in presenting to the Congress the Administration's views with respect to necessary legislation.

I have called upon all departmental and agency heads and their personnel to dedicate themselves to this great task, and to exert their maximum energies and resources to assist our fellow citizens who are ill-clad, ill-fed, ill-housed or to whom the door of self-improvement and opportunity is closed.

Since this campaign against poverty will be an important part of the work of the Cabinet, I am asking you to attend its meetings.

You will also undertake the coordination and integration of the federal program with the activities of state and local governments and of private persons, including the foundations, private business and industry, labor unions, and civic groups and organizations. I ask that you invite their close cooperation; that to the extent that they desire, you integrate their efforts with our work on the federal level; and that you encourage joint planning, joint programs and joint administration, wherever feasible.

If this is done, I believe we can proceed as a total nation to solve our problem with the greatest possible speed, efficiency, and economy. A coordinated approach, closely integrating our efforts at all levels--private, local, state and federal--we will be able to utilize the maximum advantages of local participation and private enterprise and benefaction, and to avoid further centralization of functions in the federal government. I think these are important objectives for our nation.

The problem of poverty is a problem for all of us. It is so widespread that it is a federal problem; but it is not just a federal matter. It is also, and perhaps fundamentally, a problem for each citizen, for each business and labor union, each charity and foundation, our churches and our clubs. All of these must be brought together in a total national drive for total national progress against the blight of poverty.

I shall, of course, consult and work closely with you on this program.

Sincerely,

LYNDON B. JOHNSON

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to Sargent Shriver on His Appointment To Direct the Program To Eliminate Poverty. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/239897

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