Lyndon B. Johnson
President of the United States
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson, often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States (1963–1969), a position he assumed after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States (1961–1963). He is one of only four people who served in all four elected federal offices of the United States: Representative, Senator, Vice President, and President.
Biography
Lyndon B. Johnson's personal information overview.
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News
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OPINION; If Obama Is a One-Term President
NYTimes - over 5 years
Princeton, N.J. ''I'D rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president,'' President Obama confessed to ABC News' Diane Sawyer last year. Other than the ''really good'' part, Republicans would be happy to see this wish fulfilled. With waning approval ratings and a stagnant economy, the possibility that Mr. Obama will not
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Seattle: $20 Million Grant Creates 14 "Green" Jobs - The New American
Google News - over 5 years
(In his famous October 27, 1964 speech in behalf of presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan noted that Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty" proposed job training camps "that we're going to spend each year just on room and board for each
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Penobscot Job Corps Academy Holds Student Showcase - WABI
Google News - over 5 years
On August 30, 1964 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act creating Job Corps. The Penobscot Job Corps Academy held a ceremony to highlight its programs that help shape students' lives. "It's a second chance and we really are an
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Elks, Royal Purple travel to Gander - Nanton News
Google News - over 5 years
Front row: Shelley Townrow, Bill Ward, Bernie Johnson, Gwenn Broomfield, Maureen Loven, Mel and Bev DePaoli, and Lyndon Johnson. On July 18-19, the Stavely Elks and Royal Purple travelled to Gander, Newfoundland for the national convention
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Roof collapse at Long Branch apartment building - Asbury Park Press
Google News - over 5 years
“There were no injuries,” Long Branch Lt. Lyndon Johnson said. From 10 to 12 residents were evacuated. Johnson said downed trees throughout the city has led to the closure of many roadways. A mandatory no-drive order remains in place, he said
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Democrats to celebrate LBJ birthday - Newstreamz San Marcos
Google News - over 5 years
But in a lifetime marked by the insatiable pursuit of power, Johnson also escalated the Vietnam War, stole elections and treated his wife and others with astonishing cruelty, according to “The Years of Lyndon Johnson,” an acclaimed biography by Robert
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Jackie Kennedy blamed Lyndon B Johnson for JFK Murder - Irish Central
Google News - over 5 years
ABC executives have confirmed that the revelations in the tapes are 'explosive' with Jackie Kennedy allegedly blaming President Lyndon Johnson for the death of JFK. It is believed the tapes also include the suggestion that President Kennedy was having ... -
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At Age 46, Is Medicare Ripe For A Change? - Kaiser Health News
Google News - over 5 years
Medicare, the federal entitlement program for the elderly and disabled, was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson 46 years ago this week. Changes to the program, such as raising its eligibility age or
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Feds' shortcut to closing wealth gap backfired on minority homeowners - Orlando Sentinel
Google News - over 5 years
Nearly 50 years after President Lyndon Johnson began the War on Poverty, we are as impoverished as ever. There are various reasons. But a big one is this: The federal government turned home ownership into an affirmative-action program, complete with
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Obama's day: Still waiting - USA Today (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
On this day in 1967, President Lyndon Johnson appointed the Kerner Commission to investigate the causes of racial turmoil in the USA. Today, President Obama and aides again wait for Congress to find some kind of agreement on the debt, less than a week
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Walter Reed closing its doors after 102 years - Washington Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Lyndon Johnson and Everett Dirksen. Nixon spent two weeks at Walter Reed recovering from a bacterial staph infection. (AP via Walter Reed Army Medical Center) After more than a century of treating the war's wounded and Washington's most powerful people ... -
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Tribute Day held in honor of Lady Bird Johnson - KVUE
Google News - over 5 years
It was July 26th, 1968 when President Lyndon Johnson presented Lady Bird with 50 pens he used to sign environmental bills inspired by her work. Mrs. Johnson helped pass "Lady Bird's bill," or the Highway Beautification Act of 1965
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Lyndon B. Johnson
    CHILDHOOD
  • 1973
    The Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in 1973, and Texas created a legal state holiday to be observed on August 27 to mark Johnson's birthday.
    More Details Hide Details 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. Lyndon B. Johnson High School in Austin is named after him. Lyndon B. Johnson Middle School in Melbourne, Florida, is his namesake. LBJ Elementary in Jackson, Kentucky is named for him. Interstate 635 in Dallas is named the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway.
    With his condition now diagnosed as terminal, Johnson returned home to his ranch. At approximately 3:39pm Central Time on January 22, 1973, Johnson placed a call to the ranch's Secret Service compound complaining of "massive chest pains".
    More Details Hide Details The agents rushed to the former President's bedroom, finding him unresponsive with the phone receiver still in his hand. Johnson was airlifted in one of his own airplanes to San Antonio and taken to Brooke Army General, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at the facility by cardiologist and Army colonel Dr. George McGranahan.
  • 1972
    Johnson, who died two days after Richard Nixon's second inauguration, was the second former President to die within the span of two months at the time of his death. Former President Harry S. Truman, whose death made Johnson the only living former President, died less than a month before Johnson did, on December 26, 1972.
    More Details Hide Details Johnson's death left the United States with no living former presidents; he and Truman had been the only two since Dwight Eisenhower's death in 1969. Shortly after Johnson's death, his press secretary Tom Johnson (no relation) telephoned Walter Cronkite at CBS; Cronkite was live on the air with the CBS Evening News at the time, and a report on Vietnam was cut abruptly while Cronkite was still on the line, so he could break the news. 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, led by 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, as Nixon mentioned Johnson's death in a speech he gave the day after Johnson died, announcing the peace agreement to end the Vietnam War.
    In April 1972, Johnson fell victim to a second heart attack while visiting his daughter, Lynda, in Charlottesville, Virginia. "I'm hurting real bad," he confided to friends.
    More Details Hide Details The chest pains hit him nearly every afternoon—a series of sharp, jolting pains that left him scared and breathless. A portable oxygen tank stood next to his bed, and he periodically interrupted what he was doing to lie down and don the mask to gulp air. He continued to smoke heavily, and, although placed on a low-calorie, low-cholesterol diet, kept to it only in fits and starts. Meanwhile, he began experiencing severe stomach pains. Doctors diagnosed this problem as diverticulosis, pouches forming on the intestine. His condition rapidly worsened and surgery was recommended, so Johnson flew to Houston to consult with heart specialist Dr. Michael DeBakey. DeBakey discovered that even though two of the former President's coronary arteries were critically damaged, the overall condition of his heart was so poor that even attempting a bypass surgery would likely result in fatal complications.
    During the 1972 presidential election, Johnson endorsed Democratic presidential nominee George S. McGovern, a senator from South Dakota, although McGovern had long opposed Johnson's foreign and defense policies.
    More Details Hide Details The McGovern nomination and presidential platform dismayed him. Nixon could be defeated "if only the Democrats don't go too far left," he had insisted. Johnson had felt Edmund Muskie would be more likely to defeat Nixon; however, he declined an invitation to try to stop McGovern receiving the nomination as he felt his unpopularity within the Democratic party was such that anything he said was more likely to help McGovern. Johnson's protégé 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.
    At the time, this was also the widest popular margin in the 20th century—more than 15.95 million votes—this was later surpassed by incumbent President Nixon's victory in 1972.
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  • 1970
    In March 1970, Johnson suffered an attack of angina and was taken to Brooke Army General Hospital on Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.
    More Details Hide Details He was urged to lose a considerable amount of weight. Johnson had grown dangerously heavier since leaving the White House, gaining more than and weighing around. He had also resumed smoking after nearly fifteen years without having done so, which contributed further to his health problems. The following summer, again gripped by chest pains, he embarked on a crash water diet, shedding about in less than a month.
  • 1969
    On July 16, 1969, Johnson attended the launch of the first Moon landing mission Apollo 11, becoming the first former or incumbent US president to witness a rocket launch.
    More Details Hide Details Major riots in black neighborhoods caused a series of "long hot summers." They started with a violent disturbance in the Harlem riots in 1964, and the Watts district of Los Angeles in 1965, and extended to 1971. The momentum for the advancement of civil rights came to a sudden halt in the summer of 1965, with the riots in Watts. After 34 people were killed and $35 million in property was damaged, the public feared an expansion of the violence to other cities, and so the appetite for additional programs in LBJ's agenda was lost.
    After leaving the presidency in January 1969, Johnson went home to his ranch in Stonewall, Texas, accompanied by former aide and speech writer Harry J. Middleton, who would draft Johnson's first book, The Choices We Face, and work with him on his memoirs entitled The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963–1969, published in 1971.
    More Details Hide Details That year, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum opened on 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". Johnson gave Nixon "high grades" in foreign policy, but worried that his successor was being pressured into removing U.S. forces too quickly, before the South Vietnamese were really able to defend themselves. "If the South falls to the Communists, we can have a serious backlash here at home," he warned.
    After he left office in January 1969, Johnson returned to his Texas ranch where he died of a heart attack at age 64 on January 22, 1973.
    More Details Hide Details Historians argue that Johnson's presidency marked the peak of modern liberalism in the United States after the New Deal era. Johnson is ranked favorably by some historians because of his domestic policies and the passage of many major laws, affecting civil rights, gun control, wilderness preservation, and Social Security.
  • OTHER
  • 1968
    When Earl Warren announced his retirement in 1968, Johnson nominated Fortas to succeed him as Chief Justice of the United States, and nominated Homer Thornberry to succeed Fortas as Associate Justice.
    More Details Hide Details However, Fortas's nomination was filibustered by senators and neither nominee was voted upon by the full Senate. 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. 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. As a result of listening to the FBI's tapes, remarks on King's extra-marital activities were made by several prominent officials, including Johnson, who once said that King was a "hypocritical preacher." Johnson also authorized the tapping of phone conversations of others, including the Vietnamese friends of a Nixon associate.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details In the end, Democrats did not fully unite behind Humphrey, enabling Republican candidate Richard Nixon to win the election. Johnson appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States: Johnson in 1965 anticipated court challenges to his legislative measures, and thought it advantageous to have a "mole" in the Supreme Court who he thought could provide him with inside information, as he was able to get from the legislative branch. Abe Fortas in particular was the individual that Johnson thought could fill the bill. The opportunity arose when an opening occurred for Ambassador to the UN, with Adlai Stevenson's death; Associate Justice Arthur Goldberg accepted Johnson's offer to transfer to the position. Only Johnson's insistence, as well as a slight of hand, in Fortas's assuming Goldberg's seat, could overcome Fortas's wife's objection, that it was too early in his career. Mrs. Fortas expressed unparalleled disapproval to Johnson personally afterwards.
    After Robert Kennedy's assassination, Johnson rallied the party bosses and unions to give Humphrey the nomination at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
    More Details Hide Details Personal correspondences between the President and some in the Republican Party suggested Johnson tacitly supported Nelson Rockefeller's campaign. He reportedly said that if Rockefeller became the Republican nominee, he would not campaign against him (and would not campaign for Humphrey).
    Bennett, however, says Johnson "had been forced out of a reelection race in 1968 by outrage over his policy in Southeast Asia."
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    As he had served less than 24 months of President Kennedy's term, Johnson was constitutionally permitted to run for a second full term in the 1968 presidential election under the provisions of the 22nd Amendment.
    More Details Hide Details 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 Vietnam War. On March 12, McCarthy won 42 percent of the primary vote to Johnson's 49percent, 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. By this time Johnson had lost control of the Democratic Party, which was splitting into four factions, each of which generally disliked 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 were traditionally segregationist 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 the war and no way to unite the party long enough for him to win re-election.
    The biggest wave of riots came in April 1968 in over a hundred cities after 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.
    More Details Hide Details 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. Johnson called for even more billions to be spent in the cities and another federal civil rights law regarding housing, but this fell on deaf ears. 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. Johnson created the Kerner Commission to study the problem of urban riots, headed by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner. According to press secretary George Christian, Johnson was unsurprised by the riots, saying: "What did you expect? I don't know why we're so surprised. When you put your foot on a man's neck and hold him down for three hundred years, and then you let him up, what's he going to do? He's going to knock your block off."
    Johnson agreed to increase the troop level by 22,000, despite a recommendation from the Joint Chiefs for ten times that number, By March 1968 Johnson was secretly desperate for an honorable way out of the war.
    More Details Hide Details Clark Clifford, the new Defense Secretary, described the war as "a loser" and proposed to "cut losses and get out". On March 31 Johnson spoke to the nation of "Steps to Limit the War in Vietnam". He then announced an immediate unilateral halt to the bombing of North Vietnam and announced his intention to seek out peace talks anywhere at any time. At the close of his speech he also announced, "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President". In March Johnson decided to restrict future bombing with the result that 90 percent of North Vietnam's population and 75 percent of its territory was off-limits to bombing. In April he succeeded in opening discussions of peace talks and after extensive negotiations over the site, Paris was agreed to and talks began in May. When the talks failed to yield any results the decision was made to resort to private discussions in Paris. Two months later it was apparent that private discussions proved to be no more productive. Despite recommendations in August from Harriman, Vance, Clifford and Bundy to halt bombing as an incentive for Hanoi to seriously engage in substantive peace talks, Johnson refused. In October when the parties came close to an agreement on a bombing halt, Republican presidential nominee Richard Nixon intervened with the South Vietnamese, and made promises of better terms, so as to delay a settlement on the issue until after the election.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Support for Johnson's middle position continued to shrink until he finally rejected containment and sought a peace settlement. By late summer, he realized that Nixon was closer to his position than Humphrey. 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". On January 30 came the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Tet Offensive against South Vietnam's five largest cities, including Saigon and the US embassy there and other government installations. While the Tet offensive failed militarily, it was a psychological victory, definitively turning American public opinion against the war effort. Iconically, Walter Cronkite of CBS news, voted the nation's "most trusted person" in February expressed on the air that the conflict was deadlocked and that additional fighting would change nothing. Johnson reacted, saying "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America". Indeed, demoralization about the war was everywhere; 26% then approved of Johnson's handling of Vietnam; 63% disapproved.
    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?" Johnson could scarcely travel anywhere without facing protests, and was not allowed by the Secret Service to attend the 1968 Democratic National Convention, where thousands of hippies, yippies, Black Panthers and other opponents of Johnson's policies both in Vietnam and in the ghettos converged to protest.
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    With the exception of George Ball, the "Wise Men" all agreed the administration should "press forward". Johnson was confident that Hanoi would await the 1968 US election results before deciding to negotiate.
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    In March Robert Kennedy assumed a more public opposition to the war in a Senate speech. The fact of his opposition and probable candidacy for the presidency in 1968, according to Dallek, inhibited the embattled and embittered Johnson from employing a more realistic war policy.
    More Details Hide Details Johnson's anger and frustration over the lack of a solution to Vietnam and its effect on him politically was exhibited in a statement to Kennedy. Johnson had just received several reports predicting military progress by the summer, and warned Kennedy, "I'll destroy you and every one of your dove friends in six months", he shouted. "You'll be dead politically in six months". In June a decisive 66% of the country said they had lost confidence in the President's leadership. McNamara actually offered Johnson a way out of Vietnam in May; the administration could declare its objective in the war—South Vietnam's self-determination—was being achieved and upcoming September elections in South Vietnam would provide the chance for a coalition government. The United States could reasonably expect that country to then assume responsibility for the election outcome. But Johnson was reluctant, in light of some optimistic reports, again of questionable reliability, which matched the negative assessments about the conflict and provided hope of improvement. The CIA was reporting wide food shortages in Hanoi and an unstable power grid, as well as military manpower reductions.
    The results were significant—between the years of 1968 and 1980, the number of southern black elected state and federal officeholders nearly doubled. The act also made a large difference in the numbers of black elected officials nationally—in 1965, a few hundred black office-holders mushroomed to 6,000 in 1989.
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  • 1967
    One of the most unusual international trips in presidential history occurred before Christmas in 1967.
    More Details Hide Details The President began the trip by going to the memorial service for Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt, who had disappeared in a swimming accident and was presumed drowned. The White House did not reveal in advance to the press that the President would make the first round-the-world presidential trip. The trip was 26,959 miles completed in only 112.5 hours (4.7 days). Air Force One crossed the equator twice, stopped in Travis Air Force Base, Calif., then Honolulu, Pago Pago, Canberra, Melbourne, Vietnam, Karachi and Rome.
    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 assist Israel during the Six-Day War of June 1967.
    More Details Hide Details Given the rapid Israeli advances following their strike on Egypt, the administration "thought the situation was so tense in Israel that perhaps the Syrians, fearing Israel would attack them, or the Soviets 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." The Soviet Union supported its Arab allies. 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. 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".
    By the middle of 1967 nearly 70,000 Americans had been killed or wounded in the war.
    More Details Hide Details In July, Johnson sent McNamara, Wheeler and other officials to meet with Westmoreland and reach agreement on plans for the immediate future. At that time the war was being commonly described by the press and others as a "stalemate". Westmoreland said such a description was pure fiction, and that "we are winning slowly but steadily and the pace can excel if we reinforce our successes". Though Westmoreland sought many more, Johnson agreed to an increase of 55,000 troops bringing the total to 525,000. A Gallup poll in July showed 52 percent of the country disapproving of the president's handling of the war and only 34 percent thought progress was being made. In August Johnson, with the Joint Chiefs' support, decided to expand the air campaign and exempted only Hanoi, Haiphong and a buffer zone with China from the target list. Later that month McNamara told a Senate subcommittee that an expanded air campaign would not bring Hanoi to the peace table—the Joint Chiefs were astounded, and threatened mass resignation—McNamara was summoned to the White House for a three-hour dressing down; nevertheless, Johnson had received reports from the CIA confirming McNamara's analysis at least in part. In the meantime an election establishing a constitutional government in the South was concluded and provided hope for peace talks.
    By year's end it was clear that current pacification efforts were ineffectual, as had been the air campaign. Johnson then agreed to McNamara's new recommendation to add 70,000 troops in 1967 to the 400,000 previously committed.
    More Details Hide Details While McNamara recommended no increase in the level of bombing, Johnson agreed with CIA recommendations to increase them. The increased bombing began despite initial secret talks being held in Saigon, Hanoi and Warsaw. While the bombing ended the talks, North Vietnamese intentions were not considered genuine. January and February 1967 included probes to detect North Vietnamese willingness to discuss peace, and all fell on deaf ears. Ho Chi Minh declared that the only solution was a unilateral withdrawal by the U.S. Corrected military estimates released in March indicated a greater number of enemy-initiated actions between February 1966 and 1967; this exemplified the unreliability of information coming from the ground in Vietnam; similar discrepancies existed in measuring the movement of supplies and forces from North to South and assessing Viet Cong manpower. In February Johnson nevertheless agreed to attacks on infiltration routes in Laos and fifty-four new targets in the North, as well as the mining of inland waterways to complement bombing.
    During Johnson's administration, NASA conducted the Gemini manned space program, developed the Saturn V rocket and its launch facility, and prepared to make the first manned Apollo program flights. On January 27, 1967, the nation was stunned when the entire crew of Apollo 1 was killed in a cabin fire during a spacecraft test on the launch pad, stopping Apollo in its tracks.
    More Details Hide Details Rather than appointing another Warren-style commission, Johnson accepted Administrator James E. Webb's request for NASA to do its own investigation, holding itself accountable to Congress and the President. Johnson maintained his staunch support of Apollo through Congressional and press controversy, and the program recovered. The first two manned missions, Apollo 7 and the first manned flight to the Moon, Apollo 8, were completed by the end of Johnson's term. He congratulated the Apollo 8 crew, saying, "You've taken... all of us, all over the world, into a new era."
  • 1966
    Lyndon Baines Johnson Tropical Medical Center is named after the 36th President who visited American Samoa on October 18, 1966.
    More Details Hide Details This marked the beginning of construction of the hospital located in the village of Faga'alu, American Samoa. The facility was completed in 1968. Runway 17R/35L at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is known as the Lyndon B. Johnson Runway. The student center at Texas State University is named after the former president and graduate. Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1980. A small village run by FELDA in Negeri Sembilan has been named FELDA L.B. Johnson to commemorate his visit to Malaysia in 1966. On March 23, 2007, President George W. Bush signed legislation naming the United States Department of Education headquarters after President Johnson.
    In a discussion about the war with former President Dwight Eisenhower on October 3, 1966, 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."
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    Also in October 1966, to reassure and promote his war effort, Johnson initiated a meeting with allies in Manila—the South Vietnamese, Thais, South Koreans, Filipinos, Australians and New Zealanders.
    More Details Hide Details The conference ended with pronouncements to stand fast against communist aggression and to promote ideals of democracy and development in Vietnam and across Asia. For Johnson it was a fleeting public relations success—confirmed by a 63 percent Vietnam approval rating in November. Nevertheless, in December Johnson's Vietnam approval rating was again back down in the 40s; LBJ had become anxious to justify war casualties, and talked of the need for decisive victory, despite the unpopularity of the cause.
    Richard Russell, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, reflected the national mood in June 1966, when he declared it was time to "get it over or get out".
    More Details Hide Details Johnson responded by saying to the press, "we are trying to provide the maximum deterrence that we can to communist aggression with a minimum of cost." In response to the intensified criticism of the war effort, Johnson employed the suspicion of communist subversion in the country, and press relations became strained. Johnson's primary war policy opponent in Congress included among others the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, James William Fulbright. The persistent Johnson began to seriously consider a more focused bombing campaign against petroleum, oil and lubrication facilities in North Vietnam in hopes of accelerating victory. Humphrey, Rusk and McNamara all agreed; the bombing began the end of June. In July polling results indicated that Americans favored the bombing campaign by a 5 to 1 margin; however, in August a Defense Department study indicated that the bombing campaign had little impact on North Vietnam.
    In April 1966 Johnson was encouraged by statistics that the Viet Cong had suffered greater numbers of casualties than the South Vietnamese; at the same time, despite urgings in Honolulu to strengthen his internal affairs, Prime Minister Ky's administration was increasingly vulnerable to rebel forces.
    More Details Hide Details The administration pressured Ky to hasten a transfer of power to an assembly but he demurred. Public as well as political impatience with the war began to emerge in the spring of 1966. At the time, when Johnson's approval ratings were reaching new lows of 41 percent, Sen.
    The impetus for the law's passage came from the 1966 Chicago Open Housing Movement, the April 4, 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil unrest across the country following King's death.
    More Details Hide Details On April 5, Johnson wrote a letter to the United States House of Representatives urging passage of the Fair Housing Act. With newly urgent attention from legislative director Joseph Califano and Democratic Speaker of the House John McCormack, the bill (which was previously stalled) passed the House by a wide margin on April 10.
  • 1965
    At the end of 1965 after consultation with the joint Chiefs and other advisers Johnson decided to increase troops at the rate of 15,000 per month throughout 1966 rather than increasing them at one time, in order to avoid a more publicized increase.
    More Details Hide Details At the same time there was deliberation over a bombing pause and Johnson finally agreed on December 28 to a pause and a corresponding "peace offensive"; the pause in bombing and the peace blitz ended January 31 without discernible effect. Disturbed by criticism of the war, then underscored with public hearings by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Johnson convened a second Honolulu conference, and personally attended for three days along with Ambassador Lodge, Gen. Westmoreland, the Vietnamese Chief of State Nguyen Van Thieu and Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky.
    On May 2, 1965 Johnson told congressional leaders that he wanted an additional $700 million for Vietnam and the Dominican Republic saying "each member of Congress who supports this request is voting to continue our effort to try to hold communist aggression".
    More Details Hide Details The request was approved by the House 408 to 7 and by the Senate 88 to 3. In June Ambassador Taylor reported that the bombing offensive against North Vietnam had been ineffective, and that the South Vietnamese army was outclassed and in danger of collapse. Gen. Westmoreland shortly thereafter recommended the president further increase ground troops from 82,000 to 175,000. After consulting with his principals, Johnson, desirous of a low profile, chose to announce at a press conference an increase to 125,000 troops, with additional forces to be sent later upon request. In order to mute his announcement, Johnson at the same time announced the nomination of Abe Fortas to the Supreme Court and John Chancellor as director of the Voice of America. Johnson described himself at the time as boxed in by unpalatable choices—between sending Americans to die in Vietnam and giving in to the communists. If he sent additional troops he would be attacked as an interventionist and if he did not he thought he risked being impeached. He continued to insist that his decision "did not imply any change in policy whatsoever". Of his desire to veil the decision, Johnson jested privately, "If you have a mother-in-law with only one eye, and she has it in the center of her forehead, you don't keep her in the living room". By October 1965 there were over 200,000 troops deployed in Vietnam.
    In early 1965 Johnson sent U.S. Marines to the Dominican Republic to protect the embassy there and to respond to yet another perceived communist threat by the escalating civil war.
    More Details Hide Details That spring an agreement was reached at the urging of the OAS and the US to end the uprising; this crisis reinforced Johnson's belief it was essential to convince supporters and opponents at home and abroad that he had an effective strategy to meet the communist challenge in Vietnam. After a conference of advisors in Honolulu in April 1965, by the middle of June the total US ground forces in Vietnam were increased to 82,000 or by 150 percent.
    With the passage of the sweeping Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the country's immigration system was reformed and all national origins quotas dating from the 1920s were removed.
    More Details Hide Details The annual rate of inflow doubled between 1965 and 1970, and doubled again by 1990, with dramatic increases from Asia and Mexico. Scholars give Johnson little credit for the law, which was not one of his priorities; he had supported the McCarren-Walters Act of 1952 that was unpopular with reformers. Johnson, whose own ticket out of poverty was a public education in Texas, fervently believed that education was a cure for ignorance and poverty, and was an essential component of the American dream, especially for minorities who endured poor facilities and tight-fisted budgets from local taxes. He made education the top priority of the Great Society agenda, with an emphasis on helping poor children. After the 1964 landslide brought in many new liberal Congressmen, LBJ launched a legislative effort which took the name of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The bill sought to double federal spending on education from $4 billion to $8 billion.; with considerable facilitating by the White House, it passed the House by a vote of 263 to 153 on March 26 and then it remarkably passed without change in the Senate, by 73 to 8, without going through the usual conference committee. This was an historic accomplishment by the president, with the billion dollar bill passing as introduced just 87 days before.
  • 1964
    In the winter of 1964–65 Johnson was pressured by the military to begin a bombing campaign to forcefully resist a communist takeover in South Vietnam; moreover, a plurality in the polls at the time were in favor of military action against the communists, with only 26 to 30 percent opposed.
    More Details Hide Details Johnson revised his priorities, and a new preference for stronger action came at the end of January with yet another change of government in Saigon. He then agreed with Mac Bundy and McNamara, that the continued passive role would only lead to defeat and withdrawal in humiliation. Johnson said, "Stable government or no stable government in Saigon we will do what we ought to do. I'm prepared to do that; we will move strongly. General Nguyễn Khánh (head of the new government) is our boy". Johnson decided on a systematic bombing campaign in February after a ground report from Bundy recommending immediate US action to avoid defeat; also, the Viet Cong had just killed eight US advisers and wounded dozens of others in an attack at Pleiku Air Base. The eight-week bombing campaign became known as Operation Rolling Thunder. Johnson's instructions for public consumption were clear—there was to be no comment that the war effort had been expanded. Long term estimates of the bombing campaign ranged from an expectation that Hanoi would rein in the Viet Cong to one of provoking Hanoi and the Viet Cong into an intensification of the war. But the short-term expectations were consistent - that the morale and stability of the South Vietnamese government would be bolstered. By limiting the information given out to the public and even to Congress, Johnson maximized his flexibility to change course.
    In the 1964 presidential campaign, he restated his determination to provide measured support for Vietnam while avoiding another Korea; but privately he had a sense of foreboding about Vietnam—a feeling that no matter what he did things would end badly.
    More Details Hide Details Indeed, his heart was on his Great Society agenda, and he even felt that his political opponents favored greater intervention in Vietnam in order to divert attention and resources away from his War on Poverty. The situation on the ground was aggravated in the fall by additional Viet Minh attacks on US ships in the Tonkin Gulf, as well as an attack on Bien Hoa airbase in South Vietnam. Johnson decided against retaliatory action at the time after consultation with the Joint Chiefs and also after public pollster Lou Harris confirmed that his decision would not detrimentally affect him at the polls. By the end of 1964, there were approximately 23,000 military personnel in South Vietnam. U.S. casualties for 1964 totaled 1,278.
    Johnson in late summer 1964 seriously questioned the value of staying in Vietnam but, after meeting with Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Maxwell D. Taylor, declared his readiness "to do more when we had a base" or when Saigon was politically more stable.
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    He expanded the numbers and roles of the American military following the Gulf of Tonkin Incident soon after the Republican Convention of 1964.
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    By year's end, the Democratic governor of Missouri, Warren E. Hearnes, warned that Johnson would lose the state by 100,000 votes, despite winning by a 500,000 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.
    More Details Hide Details There were bright spots; 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; a 4.5 percent jump in consumer prices was worrisome, as was the rise in interest rates. Johnson asked for a temporary 6 percent surcharge in income taxes to cover the mounting deficit caused by increased spending. Johnson's approval ratings stayed below 50 percent; by January 1967, the number of his strong supporters had plunged to 16%, from 25 percent 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. 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 more difficult for Johnson to pass any additional Great Society legislation. However, in the end Congress passed almost 96 percent of the administration's Great Society programs, which Johnson then signed into law.
    In 1964, at Johnson's request, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1964 and the Economic Opportunity Act, as part of the war on poverty.
    More Details Hide Details Johnson set in motion legislation creating programs such as Head Start, food stamps and Work Study. During Johnson's years in office, national poverty declined significantly, with the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line dropping from 23 percent to 12 percent. Johnson took an additional step in the War on Poverty with an urban renewal effort, presenting to Congress in January 1966 the "Demonstration Cities Program". To be eligible a city would need to demonstrate its readiness to "arrest blight and decay and make substantial impact on the development of its entire city." Johnson requested an investment of $400 million per year totaling $2.4 billion. In the fall of 1966 the Congress passed a substantially reduced program costing $900 million, which Johnson later called the Model Cities Program. Changing the name had little effect on the success of the bill; the New York Times wrote 22 years later that the program was for the most part a failure.
    He was reticent to push southern congressmen even further after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and suspected their support may have been temporarily tapped out.
    More Details Hide Details Nevertheless, the Selma to Montgomery marches in Alabama led by Martin Luther King ultimately led Johnson to initiate debate on a voting rights bill in February 1965. Johnson gave a congressional speech—Dallek considers it his greatest—in which he said "rarely at anytime does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself…rarely are we met with the challenge… to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation." In 1965, he achieved passage of a second civil rights bill called 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. The Senate passed the voting rights bill by a vote of 77-19 just after 2 1/2 months and won passage in the house in July, by 333–85.
    On September 7, 1964, Johnson's campaign managers broadcast the "Daisy ad".
    More Details Hide Details 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 the visual showed the explosion of a nuclear bomb. The message conveyed was that electing Goldwater president held the danger of a nuclear war. Goldwater's campaign message was best symbolized by the bumper sticker displayed by supporters claiming "In your heart, you know he's right." Opponents captured the spirit of Johnson's campaign with bumper stickers that said "In your heart, you know he might" and "In your gut, you know he's nuts". Johnson won the presidency by a landslide with 61.05 percent of the vote, making it the highest ever share of the popular vote.
    Early in the 1964 presidential campaign, Barry Goldwater appeared to be a strong contender, with strong support from the South, which threatened Johnson's position as he had predicted in reaction to the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
    More Details Hide Details However, Goldwater lost momentum as his campaign progressed.
    In Spring 1964, Johnson did not look optimistically upon the prospect of being elected president in his own right.
    More Details Hide Details A pivotal change took place in April when he assumed personal management of negotiations between the railroad brotherhood and the railroad industry over the issue of featherbedding. Johnson emphasized to the parties the potential impact upon the economy of a strike. After considerable horse trading, especially with the carriers who won promises from the president for greater freedom in setting rights and more liberal depreciation allowances by the IRS, Johnson got an agreement. This substantially boosted his self-confidence as well as his image. That same year, Robert F. Kennedy was widely considered an impeccable choice to run as Johnson's vice presidential running mate but Johnson and Kennedy however had never liked one another and Johnson, afraid that Kennedy would be credited with his election as president, abhorred the idea and opposed it at every turn. Kennedy was himself undecided about the position and, knowing that the prospect rankled Johnson, was content in refusing to eliminate himself from consideration. Ultimately, Goldwater's poor polling numbers degraded any dependence Johnson might have had on Kennedy as his running mate. Hubert Humphrey's selection as vice president then became a foregone conclusion, and was thought to strengthen Johnson in the Midwest and industrial Northeast. Johnson, knowing full well the degree of frustration inherent in the office of vice president, put Humphrey through a gauntlet of interviews to guarantee his absolute loyalty and having made the decision, he kept the announcement from the press until the last moment to maximize media speculation and coverage.
    Although Johnson very much wanted to keep discussions about Vietnam out of the 1964 election campaign, he felt forced to respond to the supposed aggression by the Vietnamese, so he sought and obtained from the Congress the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7.
    More Details Hide Details Johnson, determined to embolden his image on foreign policy, also wanted to prevent criticism such as Truman had received in Korea by proceeding without congressional endorsement of military action; a response to the purported attack as well blunted presidential campaign criticism of weakness from the hawkish Goldwater camp. The resolution gave congressional approval for use of military force by the commander-in-chief to repel future attacks and also to assist members of SEATO requesting assistance. Johnson later in the campaign expressed assurance that the primary US goal remained the preservation of South Vietnamese independence through material and advice, as opposed to any US offensive posture. The public's reaction to the resolution at the time was positive—48 percent favored stronger measures in Vietnam and only 14 percent wanted to negotiate a settlement and leave.
    Richard Goodwin tweaked it—to "The Great Society"—and incorporated this in detail as part of a speech for Johnson in May 1964 at the University of Michigan. It encompassed movements of urban renewal, modern transportation, clean environment, anti-poverty, healthcare reform, crime control, and educational reform. In August 1964, allegations arose from the military that two US destroyers had been attacked by some North Vietnamese torpedo boats in international waters from the Vietnamese coast in the Gulf of Tonkin; naval communications and reports of the attack were contradictory.
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    Johnson wanted a catchy slogan for the 1964 campaign to describe his proposed domestic agenda for 1965.
    More Details Hide Details Eric Goldman, who joined the White House in December of that year, thought Johnson's domestic program was best captured in the title of Walter Lippman's book, The Good Society.
    Johnson signed the fortified Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law on July 2.
    More Details Hide Details 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. Biographer Randall B. Woods has argued that Johnson effectively used appeals to Judeo-Christian ethics to garner support for the civil rights law. Woods writes that Johnson undermined the Southern filibuster against the bill: Woods states that Johnson's religiosity ran deep: "At 15 he joined the Disciples of Christ, or Christian, church and would forever believe that it was the duty of the rich to care for the poor, the strong to assist the weak, and the educated to speak for the inarticulate." Johnson shared the beliefs of his mentor, FDR, in that he paired liberal values to religious values, believing that freedom and social justice served both God and man.
    According to Caro, it was ultimately Johnson's ability to convince Republican leader Everett Dirksen to support the bill that amassed the necessary Republican votes to overcome the filibuster in March 1964; after 75 hours of debate, the bill passed the senate by a vote of 71–29.
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    In March 1964, LBJ sent to Congress the Economic Opportunity Act, which created the Job Corps and the Community Action Program, designed to attack poverty locally. The act also created VISTA, Volunteers in Service to America, a domestic counterpart to the Peace Corps. President Kennedy had submitted a civil-rights bill to Congress in June 1963, which was met with strong opposition.
    More Details Hide Details Johnson renewed the effort and asked Bobby Kennedy to spearhead the undertaking for the administration on Capitol Hill. This provided adequate political cover for Johnson should the effort fail; but if it were successful, Johnson would receive ample credit. Historian Robert Caro notes that the bill Kennedy had submitted was facing the same tactics that prevented the passage of civil rights bills in the past; southern congressmen and senators used congressional procedure to prevent it from coming to a vote. In particular, they held up all of the major bills Kennedy had proposed and that were considered urgent, especially the tax reform bill, in order to force the bill's supporters to pull it. Johnson was quite familiar with the procedural tactic, as he played a role in a similar tactic against the civil rights bill that Harry Truman had submitted to congress fifteen years earlier. In that fight, a rent-control renewal bill was held up until the civil-rights bill was withdrawn. Believing that the current course meant that the Civil Rights Act would suffer the same fate, he adopted a different strategy from that of Kennedy, who had mostly removed himself from the legislative process. By tackling the tax cut first, the previous tactic was eliminated.
    The new president thought it advantageous to quickly pursue one of Kennedy's primary legislative goals—a tax cut. Johnson worked closely with Harry F. Byrd of Virginia to negotiate a reduction in the budget below $100 billion in exchange for what became overwhelming Senate approval of the Revenue Act of 1964.
    More Details Hide Details Congressional approval followed at the end of February, and facilitated efforts to follow on civil rights. In late 1963 Johnson also launched the initial offensive of his War on Poverty, recruiting Kennedy relative Sargent Shriver, then head of the Peace Corps, to spearhead the effort.
    George Reedy, who was Johnson's second-longest-serving aide, assumed the post of press secretary when John F. Kennedy's own Pierre Salinger left that post in March 1964.
    More Details Hide Details Horace Busby was another "triple-threat man," as Johnson referred to his aides. He served primarily as a speech writer and political analyst. Bill Moyers was the youngest member of Johnson's staff. He handled scheduling and speechwriting part-time.
    Johnson retained senior Kennedy appointees, some for the full term of his presidency. He even retained Robert Kennedy as Attorney General, with whom he had a notoriously difficult relationship. Robert Kennedy remained in office for a few months until leaving in 1964 to run for the Senate.
    More Details Hide Details Although Johnson had no official chief of staff, Walter Jenkins was the first among a handful of equals and presided over the details of daily operations at the White House.
    The negative publicity from the affair fed rumors in Washington circles that Kennedy was planning on dropping Johnson from the Democratic ticket in the upcoming 1964 presidential election.
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    He resigned from the Navy Reserve effective January 18, 1964.
    More Details Hide Details Johnson received the Silver Star, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. Silver Star citation:
  • 1963
    On November 29, 1963 just one week after Kennedy's assassination, Johnson issued an executive order to rename NASA's Apollo Launch Operations Center and the NASA/Air Force Cape Canaveral launch facilities as the John F. Kennedy Space Center.
    More Details Hide Details Cape Canaveral was officially known as Cape Kennedy from 1963-1973. Johnson was alert to the public demand for answers. To head off snowballing speculation about such conspiracies, he immediately created a panel headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, known as the Warren Commission, to investigate Kennedy's assassination. The commission conducted extensive research and hearings and unanimously concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination. Conspiracy theorists were not satisfied and they kept active for decades.
    Johnson was quickly sworn in as President on the Air Force One plane in Dallas on November 22, 1963, just 2 hours and 8 minutes after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, amid suspicions of a conspiracy against the government.
    More Details Hide Details He was sworn in by U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes, a family friend. In the rush, a Bible was not at hand, so Johnson took the oath of office using a Roman Catholic missal from President Kennedy's desk. Cecil Stoughton's iconic photograph of Johnson taking the presidential oath of office as Mrs. Kennedy looks on is the most famous photo ever taken aboard a presidential aircraft. He was convinced of the need to make an immediate transition of power after the assassination to provide stability to a grieving nation in shock. He and the secret service were concerned that he could also be a target of a conspiracy, and felt compelled to rapidly remove the new president from Dallas and return him to Washington. This was greeted by some with assertions that Johnson was in too much haste to assume power.
    Two years and ten months later, on November 22, 1963, Johnson succeeded Kennedy as President following the latter's assassination.
    More Details Hide Details He ran for a full term in the 1964 election, winning by a landslide over Republican opponent Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. He is one of four people who have served as President and Vice President, as well as in both houses of Congress. Johnson was renowned for his domineering, sometimes abrasive, personality and the "Johnson treatment"—his aggressive coercion of powerful politicians to advance legislation. Johnson designed the "Great Society" legislation upholding civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, aid to education, the arts, urban and rural development, public services, and his "War on Poverty". Assisted in part by a growing economy, the War on Poverty helped millions of Americans rise above the poverty line during Johnson's presidency. Civil rights bills signed by Johnson banned racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce, the workplace, and housing; and the Voting Rights Act banned certain requirements in southern states used to disenfranchise African Americans. With the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the country's immigration system was reformed and all racial origin quotas were removed (replaced by national origin quotas).
    However, on October 31, 1963, a reporter asked if he intended and expected to have Johnson on the ticket the following year.
    More Details Hide Details Kennedy replied, "Yes to both those questions." There is little doubt that Robert Kennedy and Johnson hated each other, yet John and Robert Kennedy agreed that dropping Johnson from the ticket could produce heavy losses in the South in the 1964 election, and they agreed that Johnson would stay on the ticket. Johnson's presidency took place during a healthy economy, with steady growth and low unemployment. Regarding the rest of the world, there were no serious controversies with major countries. Attention therefore focused on domestic policy, and, after 1966, on the Vietnam War.
    Johnson was touched by a Senate scandal in August 1963 when Bobby Baker, the Secretary to the Majority Leader of the Senate and a protégé of Johnson's, came under investigation by the Senate Rules Committee for allegations of bribery and financial malfeasance.
    More Details Hide Details One witness alleged that Baker had arranged for the witness to give kickbacks for the Vice President. Baker resigned in October, and the investigation did not expand to Johnson.
  • 1961
    Kennedy also appointed Johnson Chairman of the National Aeronautics Space Council. The Soviets beat the US with the first manned spaceflight in April 1961, and Kennedy gave Johnson the task of evaluating the state of the US space program and recommending a project that would allow the US to catch up or beat the Soviets.
    More Details Hide Details Johnson responded with a recommendation that the US gain the leadership role by committing the resources to embark on a project to land an American on the Moon in the 1960s. Kennedy assigned priority to the space program, but Johnson's appointment provided potential cover in case of a failure.
    His lack of influence was thrown into relief later in 1961 when Kennedy appointed Johnson's friend Sarah T. Hughes to a federal judgeship, whereas Johnson had tried and failed to garner the nomination for Hughes at the beginning of his vice presidency.
    More Details Hide Details House Speaker Sam Rayburn wrangled the appointment from Kennedy in exchange for support of an administration bill. Moreover, many members of the Kennedy White House were contemptuous of Johnson, including the president's brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and they ridiculed his comparatively brusque, crude manner. Congressman Tip O'Neill recalled that the Kennedy men "had a disdain for Johnson that they didn't even try to hide.They actually took pride in snubbing him." Kennedy, however, made efforts to keep Johnson busy, informed, and at the White House often, telling aides, "I can't afford to have my vice president, who knows every reporter in Washington, going around saying we're all screwed up, so we're going to keep him happy." 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. Kennedy may have intended this to remain a more nominal position, but Taylor Branch in Pillar of Fire contends that Johnson pushed the Kennedy administration's actions further and faster for civil rights than Kennedy originally intended to go. Branch notes the irony of Johnson being the advocate for civil rights, when the Kennedy family had hoped that he would appeal to conservative southern voters. In particular, he notes Johnson's Memorial Day 1963 speech at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania as being a catalyst that led to more action.
    Fellow Democrat William A. Blakley was appointed to replace Johnson as Senator, but Blakley lost a special election in May 1961 to Tower.
    More Details Hide Details After the election, Johnson was quite concerned about the traditionally ineffective nature of his new office, and set about to assume authority not allotted to the position. He initially sought a transfer of the authority of Senate majority leader to the vice presidency, since that office made him president of the Senate, but faced vehement opposition from the Democratic Caucus, including members whom he had counted as his supporters. Johnson sought to increase his influence within the Executive Branch. He drafted an executive order for Kennedy's signature, granting Johnson "general supervision" over matters of national security, and requiring all government agencies to "cooperate fully with the vice president in the carrying out of these assignments." Kennedy's response was to sign a non-binding letter requesting Johnson to "review" national security policies instead. Kennedy similarly turned down early requests from Johnson to be given an office adjacent to the Oval Office, and to employ a full-time Vice Presidential staff within the White House.
    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." (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.)
    More Details Hide Details Johnson was re-elected Senator with 1,306,605 votes (58 percent) to Republican John Tower's 927,653 (41.1 percent).
    Johnson was sworn in as Vice President on January 20, 1961.
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  • 1960
    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 8, 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).
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    Johnson's late entry into the campaign in July 1960, coupled with a reluctance to leave Washington, allowed the rival Kennedy campaign to secure a substantial early advantage among Democratic state party officials.
    More Details Hide Details Johnson underestimated Kennedy's endearing qualities of charm and intelligence, as compared to his own reputation as the more crude and wheeling-dealing "Landslide Lyndon". Caro suggests that Johnson's hesitancy was the result of an overwhelming fear of failure. Johnson attempted in vain to capitalize on Kennedy's youth, poor health, and failure to take a position regarding Joseph McCarthy. He had formed a "Stop Kennedy" coalition with Adlai Stevenson, Stuart Symington, and Hubert Humphrey, but it proved a failure. Johnson received 409 votes on the only ballot at the Democratic convention, which nominated John F. Kennedy. Tip O'Neill was a representative from Kennedy's home state of Massachusetts at that time, and he recalled that Johnson approached him at the convention and said, "Tip, I know you have to support Kennedy at the start, but I'd like to have you with me on the second ballot." O'Neill replied, "Senator, there's not going to be any second ballot."
    Johnson ran for the Democratic nomination in the 1960 presidential election.
    More Details Hide Details Although unsuccessful, he was chosen by Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts to be his running mate. They went on to win a close election over Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge.
  • 1959
    Jim Rowe repeatedly urged Johnson to launch a campaign in early 1959, but Johnson thought it better to wait, thinking that John Kennedy's efforts would create a division in the ranks which could then be exploited.
    More Details Hide Details Rowe finally joined the Humphrey campaign in frustration, another move which Johnson thought played into his own strategy.
  • 1956
    Johnson's success in the Senate rendered him a potential Democratic presidential candidate; he had been the "favorite son" candidate of the Texas delegation at the Party's national convention in 1956, and appeared to be in a strong position to run for the 1960 nomination.
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  • 1955
    A 60-cigarette-per-day smoker, Johnson suffered a near-fatal heart attack on July 2, 1955.
    More Details Hide Details He abruptly gave up smoking as a result, with only a couple of exceptions, and did not resume the habit until he left the White House on January 20, 1969.
  • 1954
    In the 1954 election, Johnson was re-elected to the Senate, and since the Democrats won the majority in the Senate, Johnson then became majority leader.
    More Details Hide Details Former majority leader William Knowland became 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 well together in passing Eisenhower's domestic and foreign agenda. During the Suez Crisis, Johnson tried to prevent the US government from criticizing the Israeli invasion of the Sinai peninsula. Along with the rest of the nation, Johnson was appalled by the threat of possible Soviet domination of space flight implied by the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite Sputnik 1, and used his influence to ensure passage of the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act, which established the civilian space agency NASA. 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 on issues, his philosophy and prejudices, his strengths and weaknesses and what it took to get his vote. Robert Baker claimed that Johnson would occasionally send senators on NATO trips in order to avoid their dissenting votes. Central to Johnson's control was "The Treatment", described by two journalists:
  • 1953
    In January 1953, Johnson was chosen by his fellow Democrats to be the minority leader; he became the most junior Senator ever elected to this position.
    More Details Hide Details One of his first actions was to eliminate the seniority system in making appointments to committees, while retaining it for chairmanships.
  • 1950
    After the 1950 general elections, Johnson was chosen as Senate Majority Whip in 1951 under the new Majority Leader, Ernest McFarland of Arizona, and served from 1951 to 1953.
    More Details Hide Details In the 1952 general election Republicans won a majority in both the House and Senate. Among defeated Democrats that year was McFarland, who lost to upstart Barry Goldwater.
    Johnson was appointed to the Senate Armed Services Committee, and later in 1950, he helped create the Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee.
    More Details Hide Details Johnson became its chairman and conducted investigations of defense costs and efficiency. These investigations revealed old investigations and demanded actions that were already being taken in part by the Truman Administration, although it can be said that the committee's investigations reinforced the need for changes. Johnson gained headlines and national attention through his handling of the press, the efficiency with which his committee issued new reports, and the fact that he ensured that every report was endorsed unanimously by the committee. Johnson used his political influence in the Senate to receive broadcast licenses from the Federal Communications Commission in his wife's name.
  • 1948
    In the 1948 elections, Johnson again ran for the Senate and won in a highly controversial result in a three-way Democratic Party primary.
    More Details Hide Details Johnson faced a well-known former governor, Coke Stevenson, and a third candidate. Johnson drew crowds to fairgrounds with his rented helicopter dubbed "The Johnson City 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. Stevenson came in first but lacked a majority, so a runoff was held; Johnson campaigned even harder, while Stevenson's efforts slumped. The runoff count took a week, handled by the Democratic State Central Committee (because this was a party primary). Johnson was finally announced the winner by 87 votes out of 988,295 cast. The Committee voted to certify Johnson's nomination by a majority of one (29–28), with the last vote cast on Johnson's behalf by Temple, Texas, publisher Frank W. Mayborn. There were many allegations of voter fraud; 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 where the names had curiously been listed in alphabetical order with the same pen and handwriting, just at the close of polling. Some of these voters insisted that they had not voted that day. Robert Caro argued in his 1989 book that Johnson had thus stolen the election in Jim Wells County, and that 10,000 ballots were also rigged in Bexar County alone.
  • 1942
    He was released from active duty on July 17, 1942.
    More Details Hide Details He was promoted to commander on October 19, 1949 (effective June 2, 1948).
    On June 9, 1942, Johnson volunteered as an observer for an air strike mission on New Guinea by eleven B-26 bombers that included his roommate in another plane.
    More Details Hide Details While on the mission, his roommate and his crew's B-26 bomber was shot down with none of the eight men surviving the crash into the water. Reports vary on what happened to the B-26 bomber carrying Johnson during that mission. Johnson's biographer Robert Caro accepts Johnson's account, and supports it with testimony from the aircrew concerned: the aircraft was attacked, disabling one engine, and it turned back before reaching its objective, though remaining under heavy fire. Others claim that it turned back because of generator trouble before reaching the objective and before encountering enemy aircraft and never came under fire. This is said to be supported by official flight records. Other airplanes that continued to the target came under fire near the target at about the same time that Johnson's plane was recorded as having landed back at the original airbase. MacArthur recommended Johnson for the Silver Star for gallantry in action. After it was approved by the army, he personally presented the medal to Johnson.
    In the spring of 1942, President Roosevelt needed his own reports on what conditions were like in the Southwest Pacific.
    More Details Hide Details Roosevelt felt that information which flowed up the military chain of command needed to get delivered 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 U.S. Army officers went to the 22nd Bomb Group base, which was assigned the high risk mission of bombing the Japanese airbase at Lae in New Guinea. Johnson's roommate was an army second lieutenant who was a B-17 bomber pilot.
  • 1941
    While serving as a U.S. congressman, he was called to active duty three days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
    More Details Hide Details His orders were to report to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C. for instruction and training. Following his training, he asked Undersecretary of the Navy James Forrestal for a combat assignment. He was sent instead to inspect the shipyard facilities in Texas and on the West Coast.
  • 1940
    Johnson was appointed a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve on June 21, 1940.
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  • 1937
    He served in the House from April 10, 1937, to January 3, 1949.
    More Details Hide Details President Franklin D. 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 John Nance 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. In 1941, he ran for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination in a special election; his main opponent was the sitting Governor of Texas, businessman and radio personality W. Lee O'Daniel; Johnson narrowly lost the Democratic primary, which was then tantamount to election, with O'Daniel receiving 175,590 votes (30.49%), and Johnson 174,279 (30.26%).
    In 1937, Johnson successfully campaigned in a special election for Texas's 10th congressional district, that covered Austin and the surrounding hill country.
    More Details Hide Details He ran on a New Deal platform and was effectively aided by his wife.
  • 1935
    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.
    More Details Hide Details 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. He was described by friends, fellow politicians, and historians as motivated 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."
  • 1934
    Johnson married Claudia Alta Taylor, also known as "Lady Bird", of Karnack, Texas on November 17, 1934, after he attended Georgetown University Law Center for several months.
    More Details Hide Details They had two daughters, Lynda Bird, born in 1944, and Luci Baines, born in 1947. Johnson gave his children names with the LBJ initials; his dog was Little Beagle Johnson. His was the LBJ Ranch; his initials were on his cufflinks, ashtrays, and clothes.
  • 1930
    After teaching in Houston, Johnson entered politics; in 1930, he campaigned for Texas State Senator Welly Hopkins in his run for Congress.
    More Details Hide Details Hopkins recommended him to Congressman Richard M. Kleberg, who made Johnson his 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 also became a surrogate son to Sam Rayburn.
    The job helped him to save money to complete his education, and he graduated in 1930.
    More Details Hide Details He taught in Pearsall High School in Pearsall, Texas, and afterward took a position as teacher of public speaking at Sam Houston High School in Houston. When he returned to San Marcos in 1965, after signing the Higher Education Act of 1965, Johnson reminisced:
  • 1928
    For nine months, from 1928 to 1929, Johnson paused his studies to teach Mexican-American children at the segregated Welhausen School in Cotulla, some south of San Antonio in La Salle County.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1926
    In 1926, Johnson enrolled at SWTSTC (now Texas State University).
    More Details Hide Details He worked his way through school, participated in debate and campus politics, and edited the school newspaper, The College Star. The college years refined his skills of persuasion and political organization.
  • 1924
    He enrolled in Southwest Texas State Teachers College (SWTSTC) in the summer of 1924, where students from unaccredited high schools could take the 12th-grade courses needed for admission to SWTSTC at San Marcos.
    More Details Hide Details Johnson later said that he was kicked out of the school.
  • 1908
    Lyndon Baines Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, in Stonewall, Texas, in a small farmhouse on the Pedernales River, the oldest of five children born to Samuel Ealy Johnson Jr. (1877 - 1937) and Rebekah Baines (1881 - 1958).
    More Details Hide Details Johnson had one brother, Sam Houston Johnson (1914 - 78), and three sisters; Rebekah (1910 - 78), Josefa (1912 - 61), and Lucia (1916 - 97). The nearby small town of Johnson City, Texas, was named after LBJ's cousin, James Polk Johnson, whose forebears had moved west from Oglethorpe County, Georgia. Johnson had English, Ulster Scot and German ancestry. He was maternally descended from a pioneer Baptist clergyman, George Washington Baines, who pastored eight churches in Texas, as well as others in Arkansas and Louisiana. Baines, the grandfather of Johnson's mother, was also the president of Baylor University during the American Civil War. Johnson's grandfather, Samuel Ealy Johnson Sr., was raised as a Baptist, and for a time was a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In his later years the grandfather became a Christadelphian; Johnson's father also joined the Christadelphian Church toward the end of his life. Later, as a politician, Johnson was influenced in his positive attitude toward Jews by the religious beliefs that his family, especially his grandfather, had shared with him (see Operation Texas). Johnson's favorite Bible verse came from the King James Version of Isaiah 1:18. "Come now, and let us reason together "
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