Lyndon Baines Johnson
external image lbj.jpgBorn: August 27, 1908

Nickname: "LBJ"

Education: Southwest Texas State Teachers College
Georgetown Law School

Marriage: November 17, 1934 to Claudia Alta Taylor

Children: Lynda Bird (1944) and Lu
ci Baines (1947)

Career: Teacher; Public Official;
Senator of the United States (1948-1961);
Vice President of the United States (1961-1963);
36th President of the United States (1963-1969)

Political Party: Democratic Party

Writings: The Vantage Point:
Perspectives of the Presidency

Died: January 22, 1973

"I wanted power to give things to people...
especially the poor and the blacks."

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Early Life

Lyndon Baines Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, at the family farm outside of the town of Stonewall, Texas. When he was two years old, the family moved to the outskirts of Johnson City in Texas. The family home had neither indoor plumbing, nor electricity. Although his father was a farmer, he spent more time dabbling in politics than farming. His mother was well educated and wanted a better life for her children. Lyndon traveled in to the city to school each day. Ironically, when LBJ was only 12 years of age, he told his classmates, "You know, someday I'm going to be president of the United States." Acquiring the knowedge he needed was tough; the school was comprised of just one room and contained only one teacher. He was a brilliant child, but not a brilliant student. Ultimately, in 1924, Lyndon graduated at the top of his senior class, which consisted of a mere six students. After high school, LBJ began taking summer courses at Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos, but he did not do very well in these classes. Therefore, he was not permitted to attend the college in the fall. Accompanied by five friends, who all pitched in five dollars to buy a Model T car, they set out to drive to California. There, Lyndon took on odd jobs and briefly worked in a cousin's law office. He then returned to Texas and got a job building a highway with a road crew. Unfortunately he got into a few skirmishes with the law involving alcohol and drugs, which eventually led to his arrest. Following his release in 1927, Johnson refocused his goals towards education and was finally accepted to Southwest Texas State Teachers College. He left school for a year to teach at an elementary school near the Mexican border. The school had little money to spend on sports and other activities. He wanted to improve life for his students. Johnson held debates, spelling bees, and found money for sporting equipment. At this point he realized that everyone should have the right to a better life if they were willing to work for it. He returned to finish college and graduated in 1930 with a degree in Education.

Early Career
LBJ taught high school in Texas briefly until he won an appointment as an aide to a congressman and left the teaching profession. At the age of 23, he made his first trip to Washington, D.C. This experience for Lyndon was exciting and significant. He had finally found his field of interest. While working in Washington, he made a trip home to Texas where he met his soon to be wife, Claudia Alta Taylor. He proposed to her on their first date and seven weeks later the two married in Texas on November 17, 1934. Lyndon and Lady Bird (as she was nicknamed by her nanny, who said she was as pretty as a lady bird) moved to Washington.
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One year later, Johnson was appointed head of the National Youth Administration (NYA), which enabled him to use the government to create education and job opportunities for young people. After two short years, LBJ resigned when he heard there was an opening in congress. He decided to run for office as a member of the Democratic Party. He was elected to The House of Representatives. Realizing it would be years until he had enough seniority to make important decisions, he looked to move ahead by running for the Senate, but he lost the election in 1941.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. Johnson, still a member of the House was the first congressman to volunteer to serve. He was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, proved his heroism, and was awarded the third highest medal of honor, the Silver Star.

Flourishing Career
After the war, Lyndon returned to Congress and in 1948, won his first term in the Senate by winning the Democratic primary by 87 votes. His opponents, bitter about the loss, referred to LBJ as "Landslide Lyndon.". He was voted the Senate minority leader in 1953, the youngest senator ever to hold this position. The next year he was named the majority leader. He worked ceaselessly and is well-known for the **Civil Rights Act of 1957** which he helped pass. He also pushed for America's entry into what would become known as the Space Race with the Space Act of 1958. This created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

By 1960, Lyndon Johnson was a recognized leader of the Democratic Party. He decided to run for the presidency. His campaign slogan was "All the way with LBJ". The party agreed that Johnson wasn't ready and selected John F. Kennedy as their presidential candidate. Kennedy asked Johnson to run for vice president and he eagerly accepted. They won the election and in January 1961, Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as vice president of the United States. He was a very active vice president, traveling to over 34 countries talking about the president's programs. He served as chairman on the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity and the National Aeronautics and Space Council.

external image jpk-assassination.jpgIn 1963 Kennedy and Johnson were campaigning for re-election in Dallas., Texas. Tragically, President Kennedy was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, while riding in a convertible car. Johnson was riding two cars behind the president's car. LBJ, along with the rest of the country was grieved by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The entire world mourned President Kennedy's untimely death.

Just hours after the president's death on November 22, Lyndon Baines Johnson took the oath of office and became the 36th of the president of the United States. Jacqueline Kennedy, the president's widow stood by his side, still wearing the suit stained with her husband's blood. She wanted the American public to see the blood on her clothing.

The LBJ Presidency

Five days after LBJ took the oath of office, he addressed the nation on television. He vowed to carry out all of Kennedy's programs. Civil rights for all Americans was one very important goal. The Kennedy-Johnson team wanted to end discrimination against blacks and other minorities.

"Let us put an end to the teaching and
preaching of hate and evil and violence."

One of LBJ's first issues as president was a tax cut for Americans. He looked at the budget, cut wasteful spending from every department, for a total of five hundred million dollars, which justified his plan for lowering taxes. He pushed through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ending segregation laws discriminating against blacks. This made it illegal for public places such as restrooms, hotels and restaurants to be reserved for 'whites only'. Johnson was also faced with the war in Vietnam. The United States became involved in the war in an effort to stop communism from spreading throughout the world. It started long before LBJ's presidency, but came to the forefront when he asked Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Revolution, which many believe moved the U.S. into a full war in Vietnam. He sent 535,000 troops into Vietnam and made several unsuccessful attempts to end the war with peace talks.

Lyndon Johnson began his campaign for his first elected term as president in 1964. The Republican Party nominated Barry Goldwater as its candidate. Johnson won the election in a landslide. Because he was so vocal in his beliefs, his supporters came from all economic backgrounds and diverse races.

"The United States has the opportunity to move
not only toward the rich society and powerful
society, but upward to the Great Society. The Great
Society rests on abundance and liberty for all.
It demands an end to poverty and racial injustice."

Johnson was dedicated to his idea of the Great Society. In July, 1965, the first bill he signed was the Medicare bill, which gave affordable health care to all Americans over the age of 65. Remembering his own experiences of teaching in poor schools, he was able to increase funds to schools to provide better education by passing the law in just 87 days.

external image Martin_Luther_King_Jr_and_Lyndon_Johnson.jpg Racial tension was growing in the South, despite the Civil Rights Act. Martin Luther King, Jr., a civil rights leader began organizing a protest when blacks were being harassed as they entered the courthouses to register to vote. King organized a march of black and white people from Selma to the capital of Montgomery to protest this treatment. President Johnson and Alabama's Governor George Wallace decided to send government troops to protect the participants so the marchers could proceed peacefully. This civil rights struggle inspired Johnson to create a very important act, the Voting Rights Act. This ensured all Americans the right to vote, protected by government supervision. Congress passed this act in 1965.

The war in Vietnam escalated, and although many Americans agreed with Johnson at first, they grew tired of the U.S. involvement in the war and the loss of so many human lives. Americans began to protest the war in Vietnam, but President Johnson became obsessed with 'winning the war'.

As the end of his tern as president approached, he assessed his chances of re-election. Eugene McCarthy
and Robert Kennedy entered the race with antiwar messages. On March 31, 1968 Lyndon Johnson announced that he will not run for another term. He felt he needed to concentrate on ending the war, rather than running a re-election campaign.

"I shall not seek, and will not accept,
the nomination party for another term
as your president."

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Johnson still felt a commitment to end the war in Vietnam. Several days after his announcement not to seek re-election, North Vietnamese leaders said they were ready for peace talks. Despite this effort, the war would continue for five more years.

Tragedy stuck when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in 1968. That same year, Johnson passed a bill that had been stalled for over two years. It was the Civil Rights Act of 1968. This act stopped discrimination against home buyers because of their race.

After his Presidency
When Richard Nixon was became president in 1969, Lyndon Johnson dropped out of public life, retiring to the LBJ Ranch in Texas. He began to write his memoirs and spend more time with Lady Bird, their daughters and grandchildren. He suffered a heart attack in 1970 and recuperated, but on January 22, 1973 died from a fatal heart attack. He was buried on the LBJ Ranch near his birthplace, next to his parents. In the same year of his death, the Vietnam War ended.

"No president in history has been able to do
all the things that he or the people hoped he
could accomplish at the time of the election.
But that doesn't mean the job is impossible."

F u n F a c t s :
"LBJ was larger than life. He stood 6'3" tall and was described as a 'colorful' man who often wore cowboy boots. He belched loudly, ate off of other people's plates at banquets, and at dances kissed so many women he had lipstick all over his face."

named all family members (and animals) accordingly, so they could have his own initials. His daughters' names, Lynda Bird and Luci Baines are examples, and also his dog, Little Beagle Johnson.

In World War II, Johnson flew a combat mission on a tour of the southern Pacific. Before takeoff, he left the B-26 bomber, the Washbash Cannonball, to use the restroom. Upon his return, the plane had taken off without him. Therefore, he boarded a different plane, the Heckling Hare. During this mission, the Heckling Hare was called back to base, while the Washbash Cannonball crashed, killing everyone on board.

external image 2008134546.jpg Johnson loved to talk on the phone. Telephones were installed everywhere in the White House, including in cars, restrooms, on his boat. His staff needed to be reachable at all times, even during vacations. An artist commissioned to create a sculpture of LBJ could not get him to stay off the phone while she worked on the artwork, so she incorporated the phone into the sculpture.


"American President, Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973)."
Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia.

"American Presidents: Life Portraits, Lyndon B. Johnson."

Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, National Archives and Records

"The White House". Washington, D.C.

Lone Star Internet.

"American Experience: The Presidents."