Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon Johnson
37 Lyndon Johnson 3x4.jpg
Lyndon B. Johnson in March 1964
36th President of the United States
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
37th Vice President of the United States
In office
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
President John F. Kennedy
Preceded by Richard Nixon
Succeeded by Hubert Humphrey
United States Senator
from Texas
In office
January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1961
Preceded by W. Lee O'Daniel
Succeeded by William A. Blakley
Senate Majority Leader
In office
January 3, 1955 – January 3, 1961
Deputy Earle C. Clements
Mike Mansfield
Preceded by William F. Knowland
Succeeded by Mike Mansfield
Senate Minority Leader
In office
January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1955
Deputy Earle C. Clements
Preceded by Styles Bridges
Succeeded by William F. Knowland
Senate Majority Whip
In office
January 3, 1951 – January 3, 1953
Leader Ernest McFarland
Preceded by Francis J. Myers
Succeeded by Leverett Saltonstall
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
Personal details
Born Lyndon Baines Johnson
(1908-08-27)August 27, 1908
Stonewall, Texas, U.S.
Died January 22, 1973(1973-01-22) (aged 64)
Stonewall, Texas, U.S.
Resting place Johnson Family Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lady Bird Taylor (m. 1934)
Children Lynda
Education Texas State University ( BA)
Georgetown University
Civilian awards Presidential Medal of Freedom (ribbon).png Presidential Medal of Freedom (Posthumous; 1980)
Signature Cursive Signature in Ink
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch   United States Navy
Years of service 1940–1941 (Inactive)
1941–1942 (Active)
1942–1964 (Reserve)
Rank US-O5 insignia.svg Commander
Unit U.S. Naval Reserve
Battles/wars World War II
 • Salamaua-Lae campaign
Military awards Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star

Lyndon Baines Johnson ( z/; August 27, 1908 – January 22, 1973), often referred to as LBJ, was an American politician who served as the 36th President of the United States from 1963 to 1969, assuming the office after serving as the 37th Vice President of the United States from 1961 to 1963. A Democrat from Texas, he also served as a United States Representative and as the Majority Leader in the United States Senate. Johnson is one of only four people who have served in all four federal elected positions. [a]

Born in a farmhouse in Stonewall, Texas, Johnson was a high school teacher and worked as a Congressional aide before winning election to the House of Representatives in 1937. He won election to the Senate in 1948, and was appointed the position of Senate Majority Whip in 1951. He became the Senate Minority Leader in 1953 and the Senate Majority Leader in 1955. As a leader in the Senate, Johnson became known for his domineering personality and the "Johnson treatment", his aggressive coercion of powerful politicians to advance legislation. Johnson ran for the Democratic nomination in the 1960 presidential election. Although unsuccessful, he accepted the invitation of then-Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts to be his running mate. They went on to win a close election over the Republican ticket of Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., and Johnson was sworn in as Vice President on January 20, 1961. On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, and Johnson succeeded Kennedy as president. The following year, Johnson won a landslide in 1964, defeating Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona.

In domestic policy, Johnson designed the " Great Society" legislation by expanding 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 his administration. [1] Civil rights bills that he signed into law banned racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce, the workplace, and housing; the Voting Rights Act prohibited 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, encouraging greater immigration from regions other than Europe. Johnson's presidency marked the peak of modern liberalism after the New Deal era.

In foreign policy, Johnson escalated American involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted Johnson the power to use military force in Southeast Asia without having to ask for an official declaration of war. The number of American military personnel in Vietnam increased dramatically, from 16,000 advisors in non-combat roles in 1963 to 525,000 in 1967, many in combat roles. American casualties soared and the peace process bogged down. Growing unease with the war stimulated a large, angry antiwar movement based especially on university campuses.

Johnson faced further troubles when summer riots broke out in most major cities after 1965, and crime rates soared, as his opponents raised demands for "law and order" policies. While he began his presidency with widespread approval, support for Johnson declined as the public became upset with both the war and the growing violence at home. In 1968, the Democratic Party factionalized as antiwar elements denounced Johnson; he ended his bid for renomination after a disappointing finish in the New Hampshire primary. Nixon was elected to succeed him, as the New Deal coalition that had dominated presidential politics for 36 years collapsed. 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.

Johnson is ranked favorably by many historians because of his domestic policies and the passage of many major laws that affected civil rights, gun control, wilderness preservation, and Social Security. He also drew substantial criticism for his handling of the Vietnam War. [2] [3]

Early years

Seven-year-old Johnson with his trademark cowboy hat

Lyndon Baines Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, near Stonewall, Texas, in a small farmhouse on the Pedernales River. [4] He was the oldest of five children born to Samuel Ealy Johnson Jr. (1877–1937) and Rebekah Baines (1881–1958). [5] [6] Johnson had one brother, Sam Houston Johnson (1914–78), and three sisters; Rebekah (1910–78), Josefa (1912–61), and Lucia (1916–97). [7] The nearby small town of Johnson City, Texas, was named after LBJ's cousin, James Polk Johnson, [8] [9] whose forebears had moved west from Georgia. [10] Johnson had English, German, and Ulster Scots ancestry. [11] His patrilineal descent traces back to John Johnson, born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland in 1590. [12] He was maternally descended from 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. [13]

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. [14] 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). [15] Johnson's favorite Bible verse came from the King James Version of Isaiah 1:18. "Come now, and let us reason together ..." [16]

In school, Johnson was an awkward, talkative youth and was elected president of his 11th-grade class. He graduated in 1924 from Johnson City High School, where he participated in public speaking, debate, and baseball. [17] [18] At age 15, Johnson was the youngest member of his class. Pressured by his parents to attend college, he enrolled at a "subcollege" of 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 college. He left the school just weeks after his arrival, and decided to move to Southern California. He worked at his cousin's legal practice and in various odd jobs before returning to Texas, where he worked as a day laborer. [19]

In 1926, Johnson managed to enroll at SWTSTC (now Texas State University). He worked his way through school, participated in debate and campus politics, and edited the school newspaper, The College Star. [20] The college years refined his skills of persuasion and political organization. For nine months, from 1928 to 1929, Johnson paused his studies to teach Mexican-American children at the segregated Welhausen School in Cotulla, some 90 miles (140 km) south of San Antonio in La Salle County. The job helped him to save money to complete his education, and he graduated in 1930. He briefly taught at Pearsall High School before taking a position as teacher of public speaking at Sam Houston High School in Houston. [21]

When he returned to San Marcos in 1965, after signing the Higher Education Act of 1965, Johnson reminisced:

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