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Lyndon B. Johnson

In office
November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969
Vice President None (1963–1965)
Hubert Humphrey (1965–1969)
Preceded by John F. Kennedy
Succeeded by Richard Nixon

In office
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
President John F. Kennedy
Preceded by Richard Nixon
Succeeded by Hubert Humphrey

In office
January 3, 1955 – January 3, 1961
Deputy Earle C. Clements (1955–1957)
Mike Mansfield (1957–1961
Preceded by William F. Knowland
Succeeded by Mike Mansfield

In office
January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1955
Deputy Earle C. Clements
Preceded by Styles Bridges
Succeeded by William F. Knowland

In office
January 3, 1951 – January 3, 1953
Leader Ernest McFarland
Preceded by Francis J. Myers
Succeeded by Leverett Saltonstall

In office
January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1961
Preceded by W. Lee O'Daniel
Succeeded by William Blakley

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas's 10th District
In office
April 10, 1937 – January 3, 1949
Preceded by James P. Buchanan
Succeeded by Homer Thornberry

Born August 27, 1908(1908-08-27)
Stonewall, Texas
Died January 22, 1973 (aged 64)
Stonewall, Texas
Resting place Johnson Family Cemetery
Stonewall, Texas
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lady Bird Johnson
Children Lynda Bird Johnson Robb
Luci Baines Johnson Turpin
Alma mater Southwest Texas State Teachers' College
Profession Teacher, Career politician
Religion Disciples of Christ
Military service
Allegiance United States United States
Service/branch United States Department of the Navy Seal.svg United States Navy
Years of service 1941–1942
Rank US-O4 insignia.svg Lieutenant Commander
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star
Ribbon of Presidential Medal of Freedom.png Presidential Medal of Freedom (posthumous, 1980)

Lyndon Baines Johnson (August 27, 1908 – January 22, 1973), often referred to as LBJ, served as the 36th President of the United States from 1963 to 1969 after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States from 1961 to 1963. He served in all four federal elected offices of the United States: Representative, Senator, Vice President, and President.

Johnson served as a United States Representative from Texas, from 1937–1949 and as United States Senator (as his grandfather[1] foretold when Johnson was just an infant) from 1949–1961, including six years as United States Senate Majority Leader, two as Senate Minority Leader and two as Senate Majority Whip. After campaigning unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 1960, Johnson was asked by John F. Kennedy to be his running mate for the 1960 presidential election.

Johnson, a Democrat, succeeded to the presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, completed Kennedy's term and was elected President in his own right, winning by a large margin in the 1964 Presidential election. Johnson was greatly supported by the Democratic Party and, as President, was responsible for designing the "Great Society" legislation that included laws that upheld civil rights, Public Broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, environmental protection, aid to education, and his "War on Poverty." He was renowned for his domineering personality and the "Johnson treatment," his arm twisting of powerful politicians in order to advance legislation.

Simultaneously, he greatly escalated direct American involvement in the Vietnam War. As the war dragged on, Johnson's popularity as President steadily declined. After the 1966 Congressional elections, his re-election bid in the 1968 United States presidential election collapsed as a result of turmoil within the Democratic Party related to opposition to the Vietnam War. He withdrew from the race amid growing opposition to his policy on the Vietnam War and a worse-than-expected showing in the New Hampshire primary.

Despite the failures of his foreign policy, Johnson is ranked favorably among historians due to his domestic policies.


Early years

Johnson was born near Stonewall, Texas, on August 27, 1908, in a small farmhouse on the Pedernales River. His parents, Samuel Ealy Johnson, Jr. and Rebekah Baines, had three girls and two boys: Johnson and his brother, Sam Houston Johnson (1914–1978), and sisters Rebekah (1910–1978), Josefa (1912–1961), and Lucia (1916–1997). The nearby small town of Johnson City, Texas was named after Johnson's father's cousin, James Polk Johnson, whose forebears had moved west from Georgia. The Johnsons were originally of Scots-Irish and English royal ancestry. In school, Johnson was an awkward, talkative youth and was elected president of his 11th-grade class. He graduated from Johnson City High School in 1924.[2]

Johnson was maternally descended from a pioneer Baptist clergyman, George Washington Baines, who pastored some eight churches in Texas as well as others in Arkansas and Louisiana. Baines was also the president of Baylor University during the American Civil War. George Baines was the grandfather of Johnson's mother, Rebekah Baines Johnson (1881–1958).

Johnson's grandfather Samuel Ealy Johnson, Sr. was raised as a Baptist. Subsequently, in his early adulthood, he became a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In his later years he became a Christadelphian.[3] According to Lady Bird Johnson, Johnson's father also joined the Christadelphian Church toward the end of his life.[4] Later, as a politician Johnson was influenced in his attitude towards the Jews by the religious beliefs that his family, especially his grandfather, had shared with him (see Operation Texas).[3][5]

In 1926, Johnson enrolled in Southwest Texas State Teachers' College (now Texas State University-San Marcos). He worked his way through school, participated in debate and campus politics, edited the school newspaper, dropped out of school in 1927 and returned one year later, graduating in 1930. The college years refined his skills of persuasion and political organization. In 1927 Johnson taught mostly Mexican children at the Welhausen School in Cotulla, some ninety miles south of San Antonio in La Salle County. In 1930 he taught in Pearsall High School in Pearsall, Texas and afterwards took a position as teacher of public speaking at Sam Houston High School in Houston.[6] When he returned to San Marcos in 1965, after having signed the Higher Education Act of 1965, Johnson looked back:

"I shall never forget the faces of the boys and the girls in that little Welhausen Mexican School, and I remember even yet the pain of realizing and knowing then that college was closed to practically every one of those children because they were too poor. And I think it was then that I made up my mind that this nation could never rest while the door to knowledge remained closed to any American."[7]

Early political career

Johnson briefly taught public speaking and debate in a Houston high school, then entered politics. Johnson's father had served five terms in the Texas legislature and was a close friend of one of Texas's rising political figures, Congressman Sam Rayburn. In 1930, Johnson campaigned for Texas State Senator Welly Hopkins in his run for Congress. Hopkins recommended him to Congressman Richard M. Kleberg, who appointed Johnson as Kleberg's legislative secretary. Johnson was elected speaker of the "Little Congress," a group of Congressional aides, where he cultivated Congressmen, newspapermen and lobbyists. Johnson's friends soon included aides to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as fellow Texans such as Vice President John Nance Garner. He became a surrogate son to Sam Rayburn.

President Roosevelt, Governor James Allred of Texas, and Johnson. In later campaigns, Johnson edited Governor Allred out of the picture to assist his campaign

Johnson married Claudia Alta Taylor (already nicknamed "Lady Bird") of Karnack, Texas on November 17, 1934 after having attended Georgetown University Law School for several months. They had two daughters, Lynda Bird, born in 1944, and Luci Baines, born in 1947. Johnson enjoyed giving people and animals his own initials[citation needed]; his daughters' given names are examples, as was his dog, Little Beagle Johnson.

In 1935, he was appointed head of the Texas National Youth Administration, which enabled him to use the government to create education and job opportunities for young people. He resigned two years later to run for Congress. Johnson, a notoriously tough boss throughout his career, often demanded long workdays and work on weekends.[8]

He was described by friends, fellow politicians, and historians as motivated throughout his life by an exceptional lust for power and control. As Johnson's biographer Robert Caro observes, "Johnson's ambition was uncommon—in the degree to which it was unencumbered by even the slightest excess weight of ideology, of philosophy, of principles, of beliefs."[9]

House years

In 1937 Johnson successfully contested a special election for Texas's 10th congressional district, which covered Austin and the surrounding hill country. He ran on a New Deal platform and was effectively aided by his wife. He served in the House from April 10, 1937 to January 3, 1949.[10]

President Roosevelt found Johnson to be a welcome ally and conduit for information, particularly with regard to issues concerning internal politics in Texas (Operation Texas) and the machinations of Vice President Garner and Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn. Johnson was immediately appointed to the Naval Affairs Committee. He worked for rural electrification and other improvements for his district. Johnson steered the projects towards contractors that he personally knew, such as the Brown Brothers, Herman and George, who would finance much of Johnson's future career.[11] In 1941, he ran for the U.S. Senate in a special election against the sitting Governor of Texas, radio personality W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel in an election marked by massive fraud on the part of both campaigns.[citation needed] Johnson was not expected to win against the popular governor, but he ran a strong race and was declared the winner in unofficial returns — ultimately losing due to controversial official returns.[citation needed]

War record

After America entered the war in December 1941, Johnson, still in Congress, became a commissioned officer in the Naval Reserve, then asked Undersecretary of the Navy James Forrestal for a combat assignment.[12] Instead he was sent to inspect the shipyard facilities in Texas and on the West Coast. In the spring of 1942, President Roosevelt needed his own reports on what conditions were like in the Southwest Pacific. Roosevelt felt information that flowed up the military chain of command needed to be supplemented by a highly trusted political aide. From a suggestion by Forrestal, President Roosevelt assigned Johnson to a three-man survey team of the Southwest Pacific.

Johnson reported to General Douglas MacArthur in Australia. Johnson and two Army officers went to the 22d Bomb Group base, which was assigned the high risk mission of bombing the Japanese airbase at Lae in New Guinea. A colonel took Johnson's original seat on one bomber, and it was shot down with no survivors. Reports vary on what happened to the B-26 Marauder carrying Johnson. Some accounts say it was also attacked by Japanese fighters but survived, while others, including other members of the flight crew, claim it turned back due to generator trouble before reaching the objective and before encountering enemy aircraft and never came under fire, which is supported by official flight records.[13] Other airplanes that continued to the target did come under fire near the target at about the same time that Johnson's plane was recorded as having landed back at the original airbase.[13]

MacArthur awarded Johnson the Silver Star, the military's third-highest medal, although it is notable that no other members of the flight crew were awarded medals, and it is unclear what Johnson could have done in his role purely as an "observer" to deserve the medal, even if his aircraft had seen combat. Johnson's biographer, Robert Caro, stated, "The most you can say about Lyndon Johnson and his Silver Star is that it is surely one of the most undeserved Silver Stars in history, because if you accept everything that he said, he was still in action for no more than 13 minutes and only as an observer. Men who flew many missions, brave men, never got a Silver Star."[13]

Johnson reported back to Roosevelt, to the Navy leaders, and to Congress that conditions were deplorable and unacceptable. He argued the South West Pacific urgently needed a higher priority and a larger share of war supplies. The warplanes sent there, for example, were "far inferior" to Japanese planes, and morale was bad. He told Forrestal that the Pacific Fleet had a "critical" need for 6,800 additional experienced men. Johnson prepared a twelve-point program to upgrade the effort in the region, stressing "greater cooperation and coordination within the various commands and between the different war theaters." Congress responded by making Johnson chairman of a high-powered subcommittee of the Naval Affairs committee. With a mission similar to that of the Truman Committee in the Senate, he probed into the peacetime "business as usual" inefficiencies that permeated the naval war and demanded that admirals shape up and get the job done. However, Johnson went too far when he proposed a bill that would crack down on the draft exemptions of shipyard workers if they were absent from work too often. Organized labor blocked the bill and denounced Johnson. Still, Johnson's mission had a substantial impact because it led to upgrading the South Pacific theater and aided the overall war effort immensely. Johnson's biographer concludes, "The mission was a temporary exposure to danger calculated to satisfy Johnson's personal and political wishes, but it also represented a genuine effort on his part, however misplaced, to improve the lot of America's fighting men."[14]

Senate years

1948 contested election

In 1948, Johnson again ran for the Senate and won. This election was highly controversial: a three-way Democratic Party primary saw Johnson facing a well-known former governor, Coke Stevenson; and a third candidate. Johnson drew crowds to fairgrounds with his rented helicopter dubbed "The Flying Windmill". He raised money to flood the state with campaign circulars, and won over conservatives by voting for the Taft-Hartley act (curbing union power) as well as by criticizing unions himself.

Stevenson came in first, but lacked a majority, so a runoff was held. Johnson campaigned even harder this time around, while Stevenson's efforts were surprisingly poor. As the two candidates see-sawed for the lead, the runoff count took a week. The Democratic State Central Committee (not the state, because the matter was a party primary) handled the count, and it finally announced that Johnson had won by 87 votes. By a majority of one member (29-28) the committee voted to certify Johnson's nomination, with the last vote cast on Johnson's behalf by Temple (Texas) publisher Frank W. Mayborn, who rushed back to Texas from a business trip in Nashville.

There were many allegations of fraud on both sides. Thus, one writer alleges that Johnson's campaign manager, future Texas governor John B. Connally, was connected with 202 ballots in Precinct 13 in Jim Wells County that had curiously been cast in alphabetical order and all just at the close of polling. (All of the people whose names appeared on the ballots were found to have been dead on election day.) Robert Caro argued in his 1989 book that Johnson had stolen the election in Jim Wells County, and other counties in South Texas, as well as rigging 10,000 ballots in Bexar County alone.[15] A judge, Luis Salas, said in 1977 that he had certified 202 fraudulent ballots for Johnson.[16]

The state Democratic convention upheld Johnson. Stevenson went to court, but — with timely help from his friend Abe Fortas — Johnson prevailed. Johnson was elected senator in November, and went to Washington, D.C. tagged with the ironic label "Landslide Lyndon," which he often used deprecatingly to refer to himself.

Freshman senator

Once in the Senate, Johnson was known among his colleagues for his highly successful "courtships" of older senators, especially Senator Richard Russell, patrician leader of the Conservative coalition and arguably the most powerful man in the Senate. Johnson proceeded to gain Russell's favor in the same way that he had "courted" Speaker Sam Rayburn and gained his crucial support in the House.

Johnson was appointed to the Senate Armed Services Committee, and later in 1950, he helped create the Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee. Johnson became its chairman and conducted investigations of defense costs and efficiency. These investigations tended to dig out old forgotten investigations and demand actions that were already being taken by the Truman Administration, although it can be said that the committee's investigations caused the changes. However, Johnson's brilliant handling of the press, the efficiency with which his committee issued new reports, and the fact that he ensured every report was endorsed unanimously by the committee all brought him headlines and national attention.

Johnson used his political influence in the Senate to receive broadcast licenses from the Federal Communications Commission in his wife's name.[17][18]

In 1951, Johnson was chosen as Senate Majority Whip under a new Majority Leader, Ernest McFarland of Arizona, and served from 1951 to 1953.[10]

Senate Democratic leader

Senate Desk X, used by all Democratic leaders, including Johnson, since Joseph Taylor Robinson

In the 1952 general election Republicans won a majority in both House and Senate. Among defeated Democrats that year was McFarland, who lost to then-little-known Barry Goldwater, Johnson's future presidential opponent.

In January 1953, Johnson was chosen by his fellow Democrats to be the minority leader. Thus, he became the least senior Senator ever elected to this position, and one of the least senior party leaders in the history of the Senate. The whip is usually first in line to replace party leader (e.g., most recently whip Harry Reid became Senate Minority Leader after Tom Daschle's defeat).

One of his first actions was to eliminate the seniority system in appointment to a committee, while retaining it in terms of chairmanships. In the 1954 election, Johnson was re-elected to the Senate, and since the Democrats won the majority in the Senate, Johnson became majority leader. Former majority leader, William Knowland was elected minority leader. Johnson's duties were to schedule legislation and help pass measures favored by the Democrats. Johnson, Rayburn and President Dwight D. Eisenhower worked smoothly together in passing Eisenhower's domestic and foreign agenda. As Majority Leader, Johnson was responsible for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first civil rights legislation passed by the Senate since Reconstruction.

Johnson gives "The Treatment" to 90-year-old Rhode Island Senator Theodore F. Green in 1957

Historians Caro and Dallek consider Lyndon Johnson the most effective Senate majority leader in history. He was unusually proficient at gathering information. One biographer suggests he was "the greatest intelligence gatherer Washington has ever known", discovering exactly where every Senator stood, his philosophy and prejudices, his strengths and weaknesses, and what it took to break him.[19] Robert Baker claimed that Johnson would occasionally send senators on NATO trips in order to avoid their dissenting votes.[20] Central to Johnson's control was "The Treatment",[21] described by two journalists:[22]

The Treatment could last ten minutes or four hours. It came, enveloping its target, at the Johnson Ranch swimming pool, in one of Johnson's offices, in the Senate cloakroom, on the floor of the Senate itself — wherever Johnson might find a fellow Senator within his reach.
Its tone could be supplication, accusation, cajolery, exuberance, scorn, tears, complaint and the hint of threat. It was all of these together. It ran the gamut of human emotions. Its velocity was breathtaking, and it was all in one direction. Interjections from the target were rare. Johnson anticipated them before they could be spoken. He moved in close, his face a scant millimeter from his target, his eyes widening and narrowing, his eyebrows rising and falling. From his pockets poured clippings, memos, statistics. Mimicry, humor, and the genius of analogy made The Treatment an almost hypnotic experience and rendered the target stunned and helpless.

Vice Presidency

Johnson's success in the Senate made him a possible Democratic presidential candidate. He was the "favorite son" candidate of the Texas delegation at the Party's national convention in 1956. In 1960, after the failure of the "Stop Kennedy" coalition he had formed with Adlai Stevenson, Stuart Symington, and Hubert Humphrey, Johnson received 409 votes on the only ballot at the Democratic convention, which nominated John F. Kennedy.

Tip O'Neill, then a representative from Kennedy's home state of Massachusetts, recalled that Johnson approached him at the convention and said, "Tip, I'd like to have you with me on the second ballot." O'Neill, understanding the influence of the Kennedy name, replied, "Senator, there's not going to be any second ballot."[23]

During the convention, Kennedy designated Johnson as his choice for Vice President. Some later reports (such as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.'s) say that Kennedy offered the position to Johnson as a courtesy and did not expect him to accept. Others (such as W. Marvin Watson) say that the Kennedy campaign was desperate to win the 1960 election against Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., and needed Johnson on the ticket to help carry Southern states.

According to some other sources, Kennedy did not want Johnson to be his running-mate and Vice President, and did not even want to ask him. JFK's reported choice was Symington. Johnson, however, decided to seek the Vice Presidency and with Speaker Rayburn's help pressured Kennedy to give him a spot.[24]

At the same time as his Vice Presidential run, Johnson also sought a third term in the U.S. Senate. According to Robert Caro, "On November 5, 1960, Lyndon Johnson won election for both the vice presidency of the United States, on the Kennedy-Johnson ticket, and for a third term as Senator (he had Texas law changed to allow him to run for both offices). When he won the vice presidency, he made arrangements to resign from the Senate, as he was required to do under federal law, as soon as it convened on January 3, 1961."[25] (In 1988, Lloyd Bentsen, the Vice Presidential running mate of Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, and also a Senator from Texas, took advantage of "Lyndon's law," and was able to retain his seat in the Senate despite Dukakis' loss to George H. W. Bush. The same went for Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut in 2000 after Al Gore lost to George W. Bush. In 2008, Joseph Biden was elected Vice President and was re-elected U.S. Senator, as Johnson had done in 1960.)

Johnson was re-elected Senator with 1,306,605 votes (58%) to Republican John Tower's 927,653 (41.1%). Fellow Democrat William A. Blakley was appointed to replace Johnson as Senator, but Blakley lost a special election in May 1961 to Tower.

After the election, Johnson found himself powerless. Despite Kennedy's efforts to keep Johnson busy, informed, and at the White House often, his advisors and even some of his family were more dismissive to the Texan. Kennedy appointed him to jobs such as head of the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities, through which he worked with African Americans and other minorities. Though Kennedy may have intended this to remain a more nominal position, Taylor Branch in Pillar of Fire contends that Johnson served to push the Kennedy administration's actions for civil rights further and faster than Kennedy originally intended to go. Branch notes the irony of Johnson, who the Kennedy family hoped would appeal to conservative southern voters, being the advocate for civil rights. In particular he notes Johnson's Memorial Day 1963 speech at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania as being a catalyst that led to more action.

Johnson took on numerous minor diplomatic missions, which gave him limited insights into global issues. He was allowed to observe Cabinet and National Security Council meetings. Kennedy did give Johnson control over all presidential appointments involving Texas, and he was appointed chairman of the President's Ad Hoc Committee for Science. When, in April 1961, the Soviets beat the U.S. with the first manned spaceflight, Kennedy tasked Johnson with coming up with a 'scientific bonanza' that would prove world leadership[citation needed]. Johnson knew that Project Apollo and an enlarged NASA were feasible, so he steered the recommendation towards a program for landing an American on the moon.

Presidency 1963–1969

Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in aboard Air Force One by Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes, following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. To the left of Johnson is Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of Kennedy; to the right is Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson, and sitting down near the airplane window is Jack Valenti, White House commission (later president of the MPAA). Assistant Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff, at bottom left, records the event with a dictaphone.

Two hours and eight minutes after President Kennedy was assassinated in a motorcade at Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas, Johnson was sworn in as President on Air Force One in Dallas at Love Field Airport on November 22, 1963. He was sworn in by Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes, a family friend, making him the first President sworn in by a woman. He is also the only President to have been sworn in on Texas soil. Johnson did not swear on a Bible, as there were none on Air Force One; a Roman Catholic missal was found in Kennedy's desk and was used for the swearing-in ceremony.[26]

Johnson created a panel headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, known as the Warren Commission, to investigate Kennedy's assassination. The commission conducted hearings and concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination. Not everyone agreed with the Warren Commission, however, and numerous public and private investigations continued for decades after Johnson left office.[27] The wave of national grief following the assassination gave enormous momentum to Johnson's promise to carry out Kennedy's programs. He retained senior Kennedy appointees, some for the full term of his presidency. Even the late President's brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, with whom Johnson had a notoriously difficult relationship, remained in office until leaving in 1964 to run for the Senate.[28]

1964 presidential election

On September 7, 1964, Johnson's campaign managers for the 1964 presidential election broadcast the "Daisy ad." It portrayed a little girl picking petals from a daisy, counting up to ten. Then a baritone voice took over, counted down from ten to zero and a nuclear bomb exploded. The message was that Barry Goldwater meant nuclear war. Although it only aired the one time, it escalated into a very heated election. Johnson won the presidency by a landslide with 61% of the vote and the then-widest popular margin in the 20th century — more than 15 million votes (this was later surpassed by incumbent President Nixon's defeat of Senator McGovern in 1972).[29]. Percentage-wise, Johnson's popular vote margin of over 22 percentage points is a record that stands to this day.

In the summer of 1964, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) was organized with the purpose of challenging Mississippi's all-white and anti-civil rights delegation to the Democratic National Convention of that year as not representative of all Mississippians. At the national convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey the MFDP claimed the seats for delegates for Mississippi, not on the grounds of the Party rules, but because the official Mississippi delegation had been elected by a primary conducted under Jim Crow laws in which blacks were excluded because of poll taxes, literacy tests, and even violence against black voters. The national Party’s liberal leaders supported a compromise in which the white delegation and the MFDP would have an even division of the seats; Johnson was concerned that, while the regular Democrats of Mississippi would probably vote for Goldwater anyway, if the Democratic Party rejected the regular Democrats, he would lose the Democratic Party political structure that he needed to win in the South. Eventually, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Reuther and black civil rights leaders (including Roy Wilkins, Martin Luther King, and Bayard Rustin) worked out a compromise with MFDP leaders: the MFDP would receive two non-voting seats on the floor of the Convention; the regular Mississippi delegation would be required to pledge to support the party ticket; and no future Democratic convention would accept a delegation chosen by a discriminatory poll. When the leaders took the proposal back to the 64 members who had made the bus trip to Atlantic City, they voted it down. As MFDP Vice Chair Fannie Lou Hamer said, "We didn't come all the way up here to compromise for no more than we’d gotten here. We didn't come all this way for no two seats, 'cause all of us is tired." The failure of the compromise effort allowed the rest of the Democratic Party to conclude that the MFDP was simply being unreasonable, and they lost a great deal of their liberal support. After that, the convention went smoothly for Johnson without a searing battle over civil rights.[30] Despite the landslide victory, Johnson, who carried the South as a whole in the election, lost the Deep South states of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina, the first time a Democratic candidate had done so since Reconstruction.

Johnson won the presidency by a majority of 61 percent and said he would “carry forward the plans and programs of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Not because of our sorrow or sympathy, but because they are right.” "1964 Year In Review"

Johnson and the 1963 Chicken Tax

U.S. sales of VW vans in pickup and commercial configurations were curtailed by the Chicken Tax

Johnson played a role in a historic episode during the early 1960s, known as the Chicken War. France and West Germany had placed tariffs on imports of U.S. chicken.[31] Diplomacy failed[32] and on December 4, 1963, two weeks after taking office, President Johnson imposed a 25 percent tax (almost 10 times the average U.S. tariff)[33] on potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light trucks.[33] Officially, the tax targeted items imported from Europe as approximating the value of lost American chicken sales to Europe.[34]

In retrospect, audio tapes from the Johnson White House, revealed a quid pro quo unrelated to chicken. In January 1964, President Johnson attempted to convince United Auto Workers's president Walter Reuther not to initiate a strike just prior the 1964 election and to support the president's civil rights platform. Reuther in turn wanted Johnson to respond to Volkswagen's increased shipments to the United States.[34]

The Chicken Tax directly curtailed importation of German-built Volkswagen Type 2 vans in configurations that qualified them as light trucks—that is, commercial vans and pickups.[34] "In 1964 U.S. imports of "automobile trucks" from West Germany declined to a value of $5.7 million—about one-third the value imported in the previous year. Soon after, Volkswagen cargo vans and pickup trucks, the intended targets, "practically disappeared from the U.S. market."[33]

As of 2009, the Chicken tax on light trucks remains in effect, having protected U.S. domestic automakers from foreign light truck production and reduced pressure on Detroit to introduce vehicles that polluted less or offered increased fuel economy.[34] Robert Z. Lawrence, professor of International Trade and Investment at Harvard University, contends the Chicken Tax crippled the U.S. automobile industry, by insulating it from real competition in light trucks for 40 years.[35]

Civil rights

President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Among the guests behind him is Martin Luther King, Jr.

In conjunction with the civil rights movement, Johnson overcame southern resistance and convinced Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed most forms of racial segregation. John Kennedy originally proposed the Act and had lined up the necessary votes in the House to pass his civil rights act by the time of his death in November 1963, but it was Johnson who pushed it through the Senate and signed it into law on July 2, 1964. Legend has it that, as he put down his pen, Johnson told an aide, "We have lost the South for a generation", anticipating a coming backlash from Southern whites against Johnson's Democratic Party.[36]

In 1965, he achieved passage of a second civil rights bill, the Voting Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination in voting, thus allowing millions of southern blacks to vote for the first time. In accordance with the act, several states, "seven of the eleven southern states of the former confederacy" - Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia — were subjected to the procedure of preclearance in 1965, while Texas, home to the majority of the African American population at the time, followed in 1975.[37]

President Johnson meets with Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King in the White House Cabinet Room in 1966.

After the murder of civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo, Johnson went on television to announce the arrest of four Ku Klux Klansmen implicated in her death. He angrily denounced the Klan as a "hooded society of bigots," and warned them to "return to a decent society before it's too late." Johnson was the first President to arrest and prosecute[citation needed] members of the Klan since Ulysses S. Grant about 93 years earlier. He turned the themes of Christian redemption to push for civil rights, thereby mobilizing support from churches North and South.[38]

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At the Howard University commencement address on June 4, 1965, he said that both the government and the nation needed to help achieve goals:

To shatter forever not only the barriers of law and public practice, but the walls which bound the condition of many by the color of his skin. To dissolve, as best we can, the antique enmities of the heart which diminish the holder, divide the great democracy, and do wrong — great wrong — to the children of God...[39]

In 1967, Johnson nominated civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall to be the first African American Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Great Society

The Great Society program, with its name coined from one of Johnson's speeches,[17] became Johnson's agenda for Congress in January 1965: aid to education, attack on disease, Medicare, urban renewal, beautification, conservation, development of depressed regions, a wide-scale fight against poverty, control and prevention of crime, and removal of obstacles to the right to vote.[citation needed] Congress, at times augmenting or amending, enacted many of Johnson's recommendations.

Federal funding for education

Johnson had a lifelong commitment to the belief that education was the cure for both ignorance and poverty,[citation needed] and was an essential component of the American Dream, especially for minorities who endured poor facilities and tight-fisted budgets from local taxes.[citation needed] He made education a top priority of the Great Society, with an emphasis on helping poor children. After the 1964 landslide brought in many new liberal Congressmen, he had the votes for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. For the first time, large amounts of federal money went to public schools. In practice ESEA meant helping all public school districts,[citation needed] with more money going to districts that had large proportions of students from poor families (which included all the big cities). However, for the first time private schools (most of them Catholic schools in the inner cities) received services, such as library funding, comprising about 12% of the ESEA budget. As Dallek reports, researchers soon found that poverty had more to do with family background and neighborhood conditions than the quantity of education a child received. Early studies suggested initial improvements for poor kids helped by ESEA reading and math programs, but later assessments indicated that benefits faded quickly and left students little better off than those not in the programs. Johnson’s second major education program was the Higher Education Act of 1965, which focused on funding for lower income students, including grants, work-study money, and government loans. He set up the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, to support humanists and artists (as the WPA once did). Although ESEA solidified Johnson's support among K-12 teachers' unions, neither the Higher Education Act nor the Endowments mollified the college professors and students growing increasingly uneasy with the war in Vietnam.[40] In 1967 Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act to create educational television programs to supplement the broadcast networks.

"War on poverty"

In 1964, upon Johnson's request, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1964 and the Economic Opportunity Act, which was in association with the war on poverty. Johnson set in motion bills and acts[41], creating programs such as Head Start, food stamps, work study, Medicare and Medicaid, which still exist today.

Medicare and Medicaid

The medicare program was established to offer cheaper medical services to the elderly[42], today covering tens of millions of Americans. Johnson gave the first two Medicare cards to former President Harry S. Truman and his wife Bess after signing the medicare bill at the Truman Library.

Lower income groups receive government-sponsored medical coverage through the Medicaid program.[43]

Truman (seated right) and his wife Bess (behind him) attend the signing of the Medicare Bill on July 30, 1965, by President Johnson.

Space race

During Johnson's administration, the first human spaceflight to the Moon, Apollo 8, was successfully flown by NASA in December 1968. The President congratulated the astronauts, saying, "You've taken ... all of us, all over the world, into a new era."[44][45]

Urban riots

Major riots in black neighborhoods caused a series of "long hot summers." They started with a violent disturbance in Harlem in 1964 and the Watts district of Los Angeles in 1965, and extended to 1970. The biggest wave came in April 1968, when riots occurred in over a hundred cities in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King. Newark burned in 1967, where six days of rioting left 26 dead, 1500 injured, and the inner city a burned out shell. In Detroit in 1967, Governor George Romney sent in 7400 national guard troops to quell fire bombings, looting, and attacks on businesses and on police. Johnson finally sent in federal troops with tanks and machine guns. Detroit continued to burn for three more days until finally 43 were dead, 2250 were injured, 4000 were arrested; property damage ranged into the hundreds of millions; much of inner Detroit was never rebuilt. Johnson called for even more billions to be spent in the cities and another federal civil rights law regarding housing, but his political capital had been spent, and his Great Society programs lost support. Johnson's popularity plummeted as a massive white political backlash took shape, reinforcing the sense Johnson had lost control of the streets of major cities as well as his party.[46]

President Johnson with Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt.

Johnson created the Kerner Commission to study the problem of urban riots, headed by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner.[47]

Backlash against Johnson: 1966–67

Johnson's problems began to mount in 1966. The press had sensed a "Credibility gap" between what Johnson was saying in press conferences and what was happening on the ground in Vietnam, which led to much less favorable coverage of Johnson.[48]

By year's end, the Democratic governor of Missouri warned that Johnson would lose the state by 100,000 votes, despite a half-million margin in 1964. "Frustration over Vietnam; too much federal spending and... taxation; no great public support for your Great Society programs; and ... public disenchantment with the civil rights programs" had eroded the President's standing, the governor reported. There were bright spots, however. In January 1967, Johnson boasted that wages were the highest in history, unemployment was at a 13-year low, and corporate profits and farm incomes were greater than ever; however, a 4.5% jump in consumer prices was worrisome, as well as the rise in interest rates. Johnson asked for a temporary 6% surcharge in income taxes to cover the mounting deficit caused by increased spending. Johnson's approval ratings stayed below 50%; by January 1967, the number of his strong supporters had plunged to 16%, from 25% four months before. He ran about even with Republican George Romney in trial matchups that spring. Asked to explain why he was unpopular, Johnson responded, "I am a dominating personality, and when I get things done I don't always please all the people." Johnson also blamed the press, saying they showed "complete irresponsibility and lie and misstate facts and have no one to be answerable to." He also blamed "the preachers, liberals and professors" who had turned against him.[49] In the congressional elections of 1966, the Republicans gained three seats in the Senate and 47 in the House, reinvigorating the Conservative coalition and making it impossible for Johnson to pass any additional Great Society legislation.

Vietnam War

Johnson increasingly focused on the American military effort in Vietnam. He firmly believed in the Domino Theory and that his containment policy required America to make a serious effort to stop all Communist expansion.[50] At Kennedy's death, there were 16,000 American military advisors in Vietnam. As President, Lyndon Johnson immediately reversed his predecessor's order to withdraw 1,000 military personnel by the end of 1963 with his own NSAM #273 on November 26, 1963. Johnson expanded the numbers and roles of the American military following the Gulf of Tonkin Incident (less than three weeks after the Republican Convention of 1964, which had nominated Barry Goldwater for President).

Johnson visits Shriners Hospital in Portland, Oregon, in September 1964

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave the President the exclusive right to use military force without consulting the Senate, was based on a false pretext, as Johnson later admitted.[51] It was Johnson who began America's direct involvement in the ground war in Vietnam. By 1968, over 550,000 American soldiers were inside Vietnam; in 1967 and 1968 they were being killed at the rate of over 1,000 a month.[52]

Politically, Johnson closely watched the public opinion polls. His goal was not to adjust his policies to follow opinion, but rather to adjust opinion to support his policies. Until the Tet Offensive of 1968, he systematically downplayed the war: few speeches, no rallies or parades or advertising campaigns. He feared that publicity would charge up the hawks who wanted victory, and weaken both his containment policy and his higher priorities in domestic issues. Jacobs and Shapiro conclude, "Although Johnson held a core of support for his position, the president was unable to move Americans who held hawkish and dovish positions." Polls showed that beginning in 1965, the public was consistently 40-50% hawkish and 10-25% dovish. Johnson's aides told him, "Both hawks and doves [are frustrated with the war] ... and take it out on you."[53]

Additionally, domestic issues were driving his polls down steadily from spring 1966 onward. A few analysts have theorized that "Vietnam had no independent impact on President Johnson's popularity at all after other effects, including a general overall downward trend in popularity, had been taken into account."[54] The war did, however, grow less popular and continued to split the Democratic Party. The Republican Party was not completely pro or anti-war, and Nixon managed to get support from both groups by running on a reduction in troop levels with an eye toward eventually ending the campaign.

He often privately cursed the Vietnam War, and in a conversation with Robert McNamara, Johnson assailed "the bunch of commies" running the New York Times for their articles against the war effort.[55] Johnson believed that America could not afford to lose and risk appearing weak in the eyes of the world. In a discussion about the war with former President Dwight Eisenhower, Johnson said he was "trying to win it just as fast as I can in every way that I know how" and later stated that he needed "all the help I can get."[56] Johnson escalated the war effort continuously from 1964 to 1968, and the number of American deaths rose. In two weeks in May 1968 alone American deaths numbered 1,800 with total casualties at 18,000. Alluding to the Domino Theory, he said, "If we allow Vietnam to fall, tomorrow we’ll be fighting in Hawaii, and next week in San Francisco."

Walt Whitman Rostow showing President Lyndon B. Johnson a model of the Khe Sanh area in February 1968

After the Tet offensive of January 1968, his presidency was dominated by the Vietnam War more than ever. Following evening news broadcaster Walter Cronkite's editorial report during the Tet Offensive that the war was unwinnable, Johnson is reported to have said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."[57]

As casualties mounted and success seemed further away than ever, Johnson's popularity plummeted. College students and others protested, burned draft cards, and chanted, "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?"[50] Johnson could scarcely travel anywhere without facing protests, and was not allowed by the Secret Service to attend the 1968 Democratic National Convention, where hundreds of thousands of hippies, yippies, Black Panthers and other opponents of Johnson's policies both in Vietnam and in the ghettoes converged to protest. Thus by 1968, the public was polarized, with the "hawks" rejecting Johnson's refusal to continue the war indefinitely, and the "doves" rejecting his current war policies. Support for Johnson's middle position continued to shrink until he finally rejected containment and sought a peace settlement. By late summer, however, he realized that Nixon was closer to his position than Humphrey. However, he continued to support Humphrey publicly in the election, and personally despised Nixon. One of Johnson's well known quotes was "the Democratic party at its worst, is still better than the Republican party at its best".[58]

Perhaps Johnson, himself, best summed up his involvement in the Vietnam War as President:

I knew from the start that I was bound to be crucifed either way I moved. If I left the woman I really loved — the Great Society - in order to get involved in that bitch of a war on the other side of the world, then I would lose everything at home. All my programs.... But if I left that war and let the Communists take over South Vietnam, then I would be seen as a coward and my nation would be seen as an appeaser and we would both find it impossible to accomplish anything for anybody anywhere on the entire globe.[59]

The Six Day War and Israel

In a 1993 interview for the Johnson Presidential Library oral history archives, Johnson's Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara stated that a carrier battle group, the U.S. 6th Fleet, sent on a training exercise toward Gibraltar was re-positioned back towards the eastern Mediterranean to be able to defend Israel during the Six Day War of June 1967. Given the rapid Israeli advances following their preemptive strike on Egypt, the administration "thought the situation was so tense in Israel that perhaps the Syrians, fearing Israel would attack them, or the Russians supporting the Syrians might wish to redress the balance of power and might attack Israel". The Soviets learned of this course correction and regarded it as an offensive move. In a hotline message from Moscow, Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin said, "If you want war you're going to get war." McNamara noted, "The reason this happened was a) the Israelis had knocked hell out of the Egyptians; b) the Egyptians and Jordanians believed [?] a false charge that we were bombing Cairo from a carrier, and when Hussein came in the Israelis knocked hell out of him."[60]

The Soviet Union supported its Arab allies.[61] In May 1967, the Soviets started a surge deployment of their naval forces into the East Mediterranean. Early in the crisis they began to shadow the US and British carriers with destroyers and intelligence collecting vessels. The Soviet naval squadron in the Mediterranean was sufficiently strong to act as a major restraint on the U.S. Navy.[62] In a 1983 interview with the Boston Globe, McNamara claimed that "We damn near had war". He said Kosygin was angry that "we had turned around a carrier in the Mediterranean".[63]


During his presidency, Johnson issued 1187 pardons and commutations,[64] granting over 20% of the requests.[65]

1968 presidential election

Entering the 1968 election campaign, initially, no prominent Democratic candidate was prepared to run against a sitting president of the Democratic party. Only Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota challenged Johnson as an anti-war candidate in the New Hampshire primary, hoping to pressure the Democrats to oppose the war. On March 12, McCarthy won 42% of the primary vote to Johnson's 49%, an amazingly strong showing for such a challenger. Four days later, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy of New York entered the race. Internal polling by Johnson's campaign in Wisconsin, the next state to hold a primary election, showed the President trailing badly. Johnson did not leave the White House to campaign.

President Johnson meets with candidate Richard Nixon in July 1968

Johnson had lost control of the Democratic Party, which was splitting into four factions, each of which despised the other three. The first consisted of Johnson (and Humphrey), labor unions, and local party bosses (led by Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley). The second group consisted of students and intellectuals who were vociferously against the war and rallied behind McCarthy. The third group were Catholics, Hispanics and African Americans, who rallied behind Robert Kennedy. The fourth group was traditional white Southerners, who rallied behind George C. Wallace and the American Independent Party. Vietnam was one of many issues that splintered the party, and Johnson could see no way to win Vietnam[50] and no way to unite the party long enough for him to win re-election.[66]

In addition, Johnson was concerned that he might not make it through another term.[citation needed] Therefore, at the end of a March 31 speech, he shocked the nation when he announced he would not run for re-election: "I shall not seek, nor will I accept the nomination of my party for another term as your President."[67] He did rally the party bosses and unions to give Humphrey the nomination at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. In what was termed the October surprise, Johnson announced to the nation on October 31, 1968, that he had ordered a complete cessation of "all air, naval and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam", effective November 1, should the Hanoi Government be willing to negotiate and citing progress with the Paris peace talks. In the end, the divided Democratic Party crumbled enabling Republican Richard Nixon to win the election.

Johnson was not disqualified from running for a second full term under the provisions of the 22nd Amendment; he had served less than 24 months of President Kennedy's term. Had he stayed in the race and won and served out the new term, he would have been president for 9 years and 2 months, second only to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Coincidentally, Johnson died just two days after what would have been the end of his second full term.

Administration and Cabinet

(All of the cabinet members when Johnson became President in 1963 had been serving under John F. Kennedy previously.)

Official White House portrait of Lyndon B. Johnson
The Johnson Cabinet
President Lyndon B. Johnson 1963–1969
Vice President None 1963–1965
  Hubert Humphrey 1965–1969
State Dean Rusk 1963–1969
Treasury C. Douglas Dillon 1963–1965
  Henry H. Fowler 1965–1968
  Joseph W. Barr 1968–1969
Defense Robert McNamara 1963–1968
  Clark M. Clifford 1968–1969
Justice Robert F. Kennedy 1963–1964
  Nicholas deB. Katzenbach 1964–1966
  Ramsey Clark 1966–1969
Postmaster General John A. Gronouski 1963–1965
  Larry O'Brien 1965–1968
  W. Marvin Watson 1968–1969
Interior Stewart Lee Udall 1963–1969
Agriculture Orville Lothrop Freeman 1963–1969
Commerce Luther Hartwell Hodges 1963–1965
  John Thomas Connor 1965–1967
  Alexander Buel Trowbridge 1967–1968
  Cyrus Rowlett Smith 1968–1969
Labor W. Willard Wirtz 1963–1969
HEW Anthony Celebrezze 1963–1965
  John William Gardner 1965–1968
  Wilbur Joseph Cohen 1968–1969
HUD Robert Clifton Weaver 1966–1968
  Robert Coldwell Wood 1969
Transportation Alan Stephenson Boyd 1967–1969

Judicial appointments

Supreme Court

Johnson appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:

Other courts

In addition to his Supreme Court appointments, Johnson appointed 40 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals, and 126 judges to the United States district courts. Johnson also had a small number of judicial appointment controversies, with one appellate and three district court nominees not being confirmed by the United States Senate before Johnson's presidency ended.

Scandals and controversies

During 1973 testimony before Congress, the CEO of America's largest cooperative of milk producers said that while Johnson was President, his cooperative had leased Johnson's private jet at a "plush" price, which Johnson wanted to continue once he was out of office.[16]

Johnson continued the FBI's wiretapping of Martin Luther King, Jr. that had been previously authorized by the Kennedy administration under Attorney General Robert Kennedy.[68] As a result of listening to the FBI's tapes, remarks on King's personal lifestyle were made by several prominent officials, including Johnson, who once said that King was a “hypocritical preacher.”[69] Johnson also authorized the tapping of phone conversations of others, including the Vietnamese friends of a Nixon associate.[70]

In Latin America, Johnson directly and indirectly supported the overthrow of left-wing, democratically-elected president Juan Bosch of the Dominican Republic and João Goulart of Brazil, maintaining US support for anti-communist, authoritarian Latin American regimes. American foreign policy towards Latin America remained largely static until election of Jimmy Carter to the presidency in 1977.


After leaving the presidency in 1969, Johnson went home to his ranch in Johnson City, Texas. In 1971, he published his memoirs, The Vantage Point. That year, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum opened near the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. He donated his Texas ranch in his will to the public to form the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, with the provision that the ranch "remain a working ranch and not become a sterile relic of the past".[71]

During the 1972 presidential election, Johnson supported Democratic presidential nominee George S. McGovern, a Senator from South Dakota, although McGovern had long opposed Johnson's foreign and defense policies. Johnson's protege John Connally had served as President Nixon's Secretary of the Treasury and then stepped down to head "Democrats for Nixon", a group funded by Republicans. It was the first time that Connally and Johnson were on opposite sides of a general election campaign.[72]

Death and funeral

On Inauguration Day, Johnson saw Nixon sworn in, then got on the plane to fly back to Texas. When the front door of the plane closed, Johnson pulled out a cigarette—first cigarette he had smoked since his heart attack in 1955. One of his daughters pulled it out of his mouth and said, "Daddy, what are you doing? You're going to kill yourself." He took it back and said, "I've now raised you girls. I've now been President. Now it's my time!" From that point on, he went into a very self-destructive spiral.

—Historian Michael Beschloss[73]

Lyndon Baines Johnson died at his ranch at 4:39 p.m. on January 22, 1973 at age 64, from a third heart attack. His death came two days after Nixon's second Inaugural, and on the same day that a ceasefire was signed in Vietnam and almost a month after another former president Harry S. Truman died. His health had been affected by years of drinking, heavy smoking, poor dietary habits and stress; the former president had severe heart disease. He had his first, nearly-fatal, heart attack in July 1955 and suffered a second one in April 1972, but had been unable to quit smoking after he left the oval office in 1969. He was found dead by Secret Service agents, in his bed, with a telephone in his hand. (The Age, January 23, 1973, pg 1)

The CBS Evening News was in progress that evening when Johnson's press secretary Tom Johnson (no relation) called the network. CBS News cut off a videotaped report on peace talks in Vietnam and switched back to Walter Cronkite, who was on the phone with Tom Johnson. Cronkite asked him to stand by, then reported the death of the 36th President.

A memorial wreath at President Johnson's grave in Texas

Johnson was honored with a state funeral in which Texas Congressman J. J. Pickle and former Secretary of State Dean Rusk eulogized him at the Capitol. The final services took place on January 25. The funeral was held at the National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C., where he had often worshiped as president. The service was presided over by President Richard Nixon and attended by foreign dignitaries such as former Japanese prime minister Eisaku Satō, who served as Japanese prime minister during Johnson's presidency. Eulogies were given by the Rev. Dr. George Davis, the church's pastor, and W. Marvin Watson, former postmaster general. Nixon did not speak, though he attended, as is customary for presidents during state funerals, but the eulogists turned to him and lauded him for his tributes, as Rusk did the day before.

Johnson was buried in his family cemetery (which can be viewed today by visitors to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Park in Stonewall, Texas), a few yards from the house in which he was born. Eulogies were given by John Connally and the Rev. Billy Graham, the minister who officiated the burial rites.

Impact of Presidential inauguration

The state funeral was part of an unexpectedly busy week in Washington, as the Military District of Washington (MDW) dealt with their second major task in less than a week,[74] beginning with Nixon's second inauguration.

Colonel J. Edward Melanson Jr., MDW public affairs chief, reacted: "We're finding out we're made of rubber."[74] The MDW and the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee canceled the remainder of the ceremonies surrounding the inauguration to allow for a full state funeral, as Johnson died only two days after the inauguration.


The coat of arms granted to President Johnson in 1968 by the American College of Heraldry and Arms. Description: Azure on a Saltire Gules fimbriated between four Eagles displayed a Mullet Or.

The Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas, was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, and Texas created a legal state holiday to be observed on August 27 to mark Johnson's birthday. It is known as Lyndon Baines Johnson Day. The Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove on the Potomac was dedicated on September 27, 1974.

The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs was named in his honor, as is the Lyndon B. Johnson National Grassland.

Interstate 635 in Dallas is named the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway.

Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1980.

On March 23, 2007, President George W. Bush signed legislation naming the United States Department of Education headquarters after President Johnson.[75]

Runway 17R/35L at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is known as the Lyndon B. Johnson Runway.

2008 was the celebration of the Johnson Centennial featuring special programs, events, and parties across Texas and in Washington, D.C. Johnson would have been 100 years old on August 27, 2008.

The student center at Texas State University is named after the former president.

Major legislation signed

In popular culture


  • Referenced in the anti-war song Superbird by Country Joe & the Fish, and Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation by Tom Paxton .
  • A snippet of a Johnson speech is used for the opening of "Killing Floor" by the Electric Flag.
  • English band Enjoy Destroy named a song LBJ with the chorus containing the slogan, Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?
  • Steven Stucky's work August 4, 1964 to be premiered in Dallas in celebration of the 100th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's birth. The piece focuses on two events that came to a head on August 4, 1964, events that defined Johnson's presidency and defined that time for many Americans — the discovery of the bodies of three slain civil rights workers and the bombing of North Vietnam.
  • The musical Hair Hair (musical)#Songs includes the song "Initials (L.B.J.)," which is sung by the Tribe.

Video games

  • Appears as a character in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. He is voiced by Richard McGonagle. Johnson gives the title of "Big Boss" to Naked Snake after he accomplishes "Operation Snake Eater." Otherwise his role in the story is based on the real Johnson.


  • In the popular television series Seinfeld, Lyndon B. Johnson was considered by George Costanza to be the ugliest world leader of all time. In the third season episode The Boyfriend, Kramer believes Michael and Carol's baby girl looks like Lyndon B. Johnson. In addition, after George Costanza's boss, Mr. Wilhelm, gave him orders for a special project while sitting on the toilet, Jerry stated that he had "pulled an LBJ" because, according to Jerry, Johnson was known for making his aides follow him into the bathroom so he could continue giving orders while relieving himself.
  • In the animated television series King of the Hill, Hank's boss and businessman Buck Strickland is based on Lyndon Johnson, both in appearance and personality. Hank's dog is also named Lady Bird after Johnson's wife.
  • In the sketch comedy show "The Whitest Kids U'Know" Lyndon Johnson is portrayed by Sam Brown, and is shown encouraging the assassination of John F. Kennedy
  • In the last segment of documentary The Men Who Killed Kennedy which aired on The History Channel, Lyndon B. Johnson was directly implicated as being involved in Kennedy assassination.


  • In the Odd Thomas series of novels by Dean Koontz, Lyndon B. Johnson appears as one of the famous ghosts that haunt the titular character's home town of Pico Mundo, still wearing the hospital gown he had on when he died. When Johnson realizes Odd can see him, he responds by mooning him.
  • In the short story collection Girl With Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace, the piece entitled "Lyndon" describes a large extent of Johnson's political career through his interactions with the narrator, an administrative assistant who rises to become a senior staff member and close friend of Johnson's.



Electoral history

See also


  1. ^ "LBJ Biography". Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  2. ^ Caro, Robert A. Volume I
  3. ^ a b Smallwood, James M.. "Operation Texas: Lyndon B. Johnson’s Attempt to Save Jews from the German Nazi Holocaust". Institute of Texan Cultures. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  4. ^ "Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum — Religion and President Johnson". 
  5. ^ Banta, Joseph (January 1964). "President Lyndon B. Johnson". The Christadelphian 101: 26. 
  6. ^ "President Lyndon B. Johnson's Biography." Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum.
  7. ^ "Remarks at Southwest Texas State College Upon Signing the Higher Education Act of 1965". Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. Retrieved 2006-04-11. 
  8. ^ Woods, Randall (2006), p. 131.
  9. ^ Robert A. Caro: The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The path to power, p. 275. New York 1982, Knopf. ISBN 0-394-49973-5
  10. ^ a b "JOHNSON, Lyndon Baines — Biographical Information". Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  11. ^ Caro, Robert A. (1982).
  12. ^ Hove, Duane T. (2003). American Warriors: Five Presidents in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Burd Street Press. ISBN 978-1572493070.  [1]
  13. ^ a b c " In-Depth Specials — The story behind Johnson's Silver Star". Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  14. ^ Dallek, Robert. Lone Star Rising, p. 237
  15. ^ Woods, Randall (2006), p. 217; Caro, Robert A. (1989)
  16. ^ a b Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York, New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0465041957. 
  17. ^ a b Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York, New York: Basic Books. p. 27. ISBN 0465041957. 
  18. ^ Caro, Robert A. (1989-12-18). "THE JOHNSON YEARS: BUYING AND SELLING". The New Yorker. 
  19. ^ Woods, Randall (2006), p. 262
  20. ^ Baker, Robert
  21. ^ "New York Times, The Johnson Treatment: Lyndon B. Johnson and Theodore F. Green". Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  22. ^ Rowland Evans and Robert Novak. Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of Power (1966), p. 104
  23. ^ John A. Farrell (2001). Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century: A Biography. Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-26049-5. 
  24. ^ Seymour M. Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot, 1997, Chapter 12
  25. ^ Master of the Senate, p. 1035.
  26. ^ Transcript, Lawrence F. O'Brien Oral History Interview XIII, 9/10/86, by Michael L. Gillette, Internet Copy, Johnson Library. See: Page 23 at [2]
  27. ^ The Assassination Records Review Board noted in 1998 that Johnson became skeptical of some of the Warren Commission findings. See: Final Report, chapter 1, footnote 17 at
  28. ^ Dallek, Robert (1998). Chapter 2
  29. ^ Dallek, Robert (1998). Chapter 3
  30. ^ Evans and Novak (1966), pp. 451–456; Taylor Branch. Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963–65, pp. 444–470
  31. ^ "To Outfox the Chicken Tax, Ford Strips Its Own Vans". The Wall Street Journal, Matthew Dolan, September 22, 2009. 
  32. ^ "The Big Three's Shameful Secret"., Daniel J. Ikenson, July 6, 2003. 
  33. ^ a b c "Ending the "Chicken War": The Case for Abolishing the 25 Percent Truck Tariff". The Cato Institute, by Daniel Ikenson. 
  34. ^ a b c d "Light Trucks Increase Profits But Foul Air More than Cars". The New York Times, Keith Bradsher, November 30, 1997. 
  35. ^ "Frozen Chickens Killed Detroit. Discuss.". Green Car Reports, John Voelcker, May 7, 2009. 
  36. ^ Risen, Clay (2006-03-05). "How the South was won". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-02-11. 
  37. ^ Davidson,C. & Grofman,B. (1994). Quiet Revolution In The South: The Impact Of The Voting Right Act, 1965-1990. p.3, Princeton University Press.
  38. ^ Woods, Randall (2006), pp. 759–787
  39. ^ Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965. Volume II, entry 301, pp. 635–640 (1966)
  40. ^ Woods, Randall (2006), pp. 563–68; Dallek, Robert (1988), pp. 196–202
  41. ^ Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, summary by G. David Garson]. Retrieved 2010-01-19.
  42. ^ Medicare Celebrates 35 Years of Keeping Americans Healthy. Retrieved 2010-01-19.
  43. ^ Patricia P. Martin and David A. Weaver. "Social Security: A Program and Policy History," Social Security Bulletin, volume 66, no. 1 (2005), see also online version.
  44. ^ "Lyndon B. Johnson". 1990s (specific date unknown). Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  45. ^ "Lyndon B. Johnson". Original text from the 1990s (specific date unknown). Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  46. ^ Woods, Randall (2006), pp. 790–795; Michael W. Flamm. Law And Order: Street Crime, Civil Unrest, and the Crisis of Liberalism in the 1960s (2005)
  47. ^ Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York, New York: Basic Books. p. 29. ISBN 0465041957. 
  48. ^ Rouse, Robert (March 15, 2006). "Happy Anniversary to the first scheduled presidential press conference - 93 years young!". American Chronicle. 
  49. ^ Dallek, Robert. Flawed Giant, pp. 391–396; quotes on pp. 391 and 396
  50. ^ a b c "The Sixties". Junior Scholastic. 1994-02-11. pp. 4. 
  51. ^ LBJ tape 'confirms Vietnam war error', Martin Fletcher, The Times, November 7, 2001
  52. ^
  53. ^ Lawrence R. Jacobs and Robert Y. Shapiro. "Lyndon Johnson, Vietnam, and Public Opinion: Rethinking Realist Theory of Leadership." Presidential Studies Quarterly 29#3 (1999), p. 592
  54. ^ John E. Mueller. War, Presidents and Public Opinion (1973), p. 108
  55. ^ [3]
  56. ^ "LBJ Library releases telephone conversation recordings". Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  57. ^ Wicker, Tom (January 26, 1997). "Broadcast News". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  58. ^ Lewis L. Gould (1993), p. 98
  59. ^ Goes to War 1964—1968
  60. ^ Oral History Archives. Retrieved October 8, 2005.
  61. ^ Mediterranean Eskadra
  62. ^ Hattendorf, John B. (2000). Naval Strategy and Power in the Mediterranean: Past, Present and Future. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0714680540. 
  63. ^ 'McNamara: Us Near War in '67', Boston Globe, September 16, 1983.
  64. ^ [4]
  65. ^ [5]
  66. ^ Lewis L. Gould (1993). 1968: The Election that Changed America.
  67. ^ Remarks on Decision not to Seek Re-Election (March 31, 1968) Text and audio of speech
  68. ^ Garrow, David J. (2002-07/08). "The FBI and Martin Luther King". The Atlantic Monthly. 
  69. ^ Sidey, Hugh (1975-02-10). "L.B.J., Hoover and Domestic Spying". Time.,9171,912799-2,00.html. Retrieved 2008-06-14. 
  70. ^ Sanchez, Julian (2008-03-16). "Wiretapping's true danger". The Los Angeles Times.,0,4039194.story. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  71. ^ Harris, Marvin (December 1999). "Taming the wild pecan at Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park". Park Science 19 (2).–1harris.htm. 
  72. ^ Ashman, John Connally, p. 271
  73. ^ Decisions That Shook the World, vol. 1, 38:18-47. Dir. Gerald Rafshoon. Camera Planet/Discovery Productions, 2004.
  74. ^ a b Elsen, William A. (January 25, 1973). "Ceremonial Group Had Busy 5 Weeks". The Washington Post: p. D3. 
  75. ^ "President Bush Signs H.R. 584, Designates U.S. Department of Education as the Lyndon Baines Johnson Federal Building". Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  76. ^ Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

There is no issue of States' rights or National rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.

Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-08-27 - 1973-01-22), often referred to as LBJ, was an American politician. After serving a long career in U.S. legislatures, Johnson became the Vice President under John F. Kennedy (1961–1963) and later succeeded to the 36th Presidency (1963–1969) after Kennedy's assassination.


  • This is a sad time for all people. We have suffered a loss that cannot be weighed. For me, it is a deep, personal tragedy. I know the world shares the sorrow that Mrs. Kennedy and her family bear. I will do my best; that is all I can do. I ask for your help and God's.
    • First official statement as President after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, televised live from Andrews Air Force Base (22 November 1963)
  • And I just want to tell you this — we're in favor of a lot of things and we're against mighty few.
    • Campaign statement (1964), as quoted in The Making of the President, 1964 (1966) by T. H. White, p. 413
  • At times history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man's unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama. There is no Negro problem. There is no southern problem. There is no northern problem. There is only an American problem. Many of the issues of civil rights are very complex and most difficult. But about this there can and should be no argument. Every American citizen must have the right to vote...Yet the harsh fact is that in many places in this country men and women are kept from voting simply because they are Negroes... No law that we now have on the books...can insure the right to vote when local officials are determined to deny it... There is no Constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong—deadly wrong—to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of States' rights or National rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.
  • You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: 'now, you are free to go where you want, do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.' You do not take a man who for years has been hobbled by chains, liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race, saying, "you are free to compete with all the others," and still justly believe you have been completely fair... This is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity—not just legal equity but human ability—not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.
  • We do not want an expanding struggle with consequences, that no one can perceive, nor will we bluster or bully or flaunt our power, but we will not surrender and we will not retreat, for behind our American pledge lies the determination and resources, I believe, of all of the American nation.
  • I do not find it easy to send the flower of our youth, our finest young men, into battle.
    • News Conference (28 July 1965)
I do not find it easy to send the flower of our youth, our finest young men, into battle.
  • We know that most people's intentions are good. We don't question their motives, we've never said they're unpatriotic. Although they say some pretty ugly things about us. And we believe very strongly on preserving the right to differ in this country, and the right to dissent, and if I have done a good job of anything since I've been president, it's to insure that there are plenty of dissenters.
  • It's probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.
  • Making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg. It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else.
  • Fuck your parliament and your constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. Greece is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked good ...We pay a lot of good American dollars to the Greeks, Mr. Ambassador. If your Prime Minister gives me talk about democracy, parliament and constitution, he, his parliament and his constitution may not last long...
    • Comment to the Greek ambassador to Washington, Alexander Matsas, over the Cyprus issue in June 1964. Quoted in I Should Have Died (1977) by Philip Deane, pp. 113-114
  • If the circumstances make it such that you can't fuck a man in the ass, then just peckerslap him. Better to let him know who's in charge then to let him think he's got the keys to the car.
    • Private comment, found in White House Tapes: Eavesdropping on the President (2003) edited by John Prados

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Simple English

Lyndon B. Johnson
File:Lyndon B. Johnson, photo portrait, leaning on chair, color

36th President of the United States
In office
November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969
Vice President none (19631965),
Hubert H. Humphrey (19651969)
Preceded by John F. Kennedy
Succeeded by Richard M. Nixon

In office
January 20, 1961 – 22 November, 1963
President John F. Kennedy
Preceded by Richard M. Nixon
Succeeded by Hubert H. Humphries

Born August 27, 1908
Gillespie County, Texas
Died January 22, 1973
Johnson City, Texas
Political party Democratic
Spouse Lady Bird Johnson
Profession Teacher

Lyndon B. Johnson (August 27, 1908January 22, 1973) was the 36th president of the United States. Johnson took over the presidency when President Kennedy was killed in November 1963.

Johnson declared a "war on poverty". He created the "Great Society" (a series of government program to improve the living standards of the country. These programs include public broadcasting, protecting the environment, Medicare (health care for the elderly), Medicaid (health care for the poor). He supported civil rights for African Americans and continued where Kennedy left off in giving them freedom. Compared to Kennedy's weak relationship with Congress, Johnson was able to convince politicians to support some of the same policies which they opposed under Kennedy.

Johnson got the United Stated involved in the Vietnam War. As the years passed, Johnson became more and more unpopular due to the failures of the Vietnam War. He was so unpopular, he chose not to run for re-election.

Despite the failures in the Vietnam War, Johnson is ranked favorably by historians because of his Great Society.

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