Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson

36th President of the United States

under the Constitution of 1787

LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON was born on August 27, 1908 near Stonewall, Gillespie County, Texas. His paternal grandfather had moved to Texas from his birthplace in Georgia and had become a cattle rancher in the Pedernales River Valley west of Austin. Johnson was the eldest of the five children of Sam Ealy Johnson, Jr. and Rebekah Baines Johnson. His father struggled on the family cattle ranch and being politically active, served five terms in the Texas legislature. In 1913, the Johnson family abandoned the family ranch and moved to Johnson City, a nearby town named for his ancestors. Johnson attended public schools in Johnson City and graduated from Johnson City High School, one of six in the class of 1924.

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Johnson decided to make his way to California with a five friends in an automobile he had purchased. There he performed odd jobs, picking fruit, washing cars and one as an elevator operator. A year later he hitchhiked home where he worked on a road construction gang. His mother had impressed the importance of a college education on him while he was growing up and in 1927 he decided to follow her advice. He enrolled in nearby Southwest Texas State Teachers College where he eventually received his B.S. after interrupting his education to teach Mexican children in the town on Cotulla in South Texas. After graduation, he accepted a teaching position at Sam Houston High School in Houston, where his uncle was chairman of the History department. In 1931, at the beginning of his second year teaching, he accepted a political appointment, going to Washington as secretary to Democratic Texas congressman, Richard M. Kleberg. He soon gained prominence in Washington Democratic political circles during the early days of Roosevelt’s administration. In 1933 he was elected speaker of an organization of congressional workers called the “Little Congress”

On a trip home to Texas, Johnson met a women he almost immediately knew was to be his wife. Two months later she agreed and on November 17, 1934, Johnson married Claudia Alta Taylor, known as “Lady Bird”, a member of a prosperous Texas family and a recent graduate of the University of Texas. The couple had two daughters, Lynda bird, born in 1944 and Luci Baines, born in 1947. 

Students and Teachers of US History this is a video of Stanley and Christopher Klos presenting America's Four United Republics Curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. The December 2015 video was an impromptu capture by a member of the audience of Penn students, professors and guests that numbered about 200.
On July 25, 1935, Johnson resigned as Secretary to Representative Kleberg and accepted Roosevelt’s appointment as the Texas Director of the National Youth Administration. At the age of 26, he was the youngest of the state directors. In 1937, the seat of the incumbent congressman James P. Buchanan in Johnson’s 10th Texas district became vacant due to the congressman’s sudden death. With $10,00 borrowed by his wife, and aided by many local friends, Johnson ran against nine opponents. On April 10, 1937, Johnson won with more than 3,000 votes than the next highest candidate. Johnson was an all out supporter of President Roosevelt and he was appointed to the House Committee on Naval Affairs at the request of the President. Johnson worked hard for public housing, rural electrification and eliminating government waste. He won reelection to each succeeding Congress until 1948.

In the spring of 1941, Senator Morris Sheppard died and Johnson announced his candidacy for the remaining term. Johnson once again ran as an enthusiastic supporter of Roosevelt’s. The election in June was very close, but Johnson lost by 1,311 votes out of nearly 600,000 cast. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Johnson was on of the first congressman to enlist, joining the Navy. He saw action in the Pacific and received the Silver Star for gallantry. He returned to Washington in July 1942 where he headed a special investigating subcommittee of the Naval Affairs Committee. The death of President Roosevelt in April 1945 was a personal loss for him, telling a reporter that the President has been his “second daddy.”

In 1948, Johnson again ran for the Senate, this time winning the primary with a final victory by a margin of 87 votes, out of nearly 900,000 cast, giving him the nickname “Landslide Lyndon”. He won easily over his Republican opponent, Jack Porter, in the election and returned to Washington and immediately became a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He advanced rapidly in the Senate, in 1951 becoming party whip, providing leadership for his party and developing his peace-making powers. In 1953, he was elected Minority Leader of the Senate and in 1955, the Majority Leader. During his tenure as Senate Majority Leader, Johnson served as Chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, Democratic Steering Committee, and Democratic Conference of the Senate. On July 2, 1955 Johnson suffered a severe heart attack and entered Bethesda Naval Hospital. He was released from the hospital and returned home to the LBJ Ranch to recuperate. He did not return to Washington until December. Johnson resumed his duties on the Hill, helping to secure the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. He was active as Chairman of the Senate Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee, beginning hearings on the American space program.

On July 13, 1960, Johnson was nominated for President at the Democratic National Convention, but he did not count on the superbly managed campaign of John F. Kennedy, loosing the first-ballot nomination to the young Senator from Massachusetts. Kennedy then surprised many people by offering Johnson the vice-presidential nomination. A surprised Johnson accepted and threw himself into he campaign, working in the South to overcome the Southern Democrats suspicion of a Roman Catholic candidate. The election was very close, with the Kennedy/Johnson ticket winning by a narrow margin over the Nixon/Lodge Republicans.

Johnson was an unusually active vice president, participating significantly in the decision-making process, and visiting 33 countries on behalf of the administration. 

1963-1964 Civil Rights

In the spring of 1963, the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Martin Luther King, Jr., launched a civil rights mass protest in Birmingham, Alabama, which King called the most segregated city in America. Initially, the demonstrations had little impact. Then, on Good Friday, King was arrested and spent a week behind bars.  While in was jail eight clergyman wrote him a letter criticizing his work as unwise and wrong. Dr. King responded to the clergymen in an open letter, written on April 16, 1963.  This "Letter From A Birmingham Jail" is now one of the most celebrated documents in United States history. The letter not only defends the strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism, but also argues that people have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws, where he wrote one of his most famous meditations on racial injustice and civil disobedience, "Letter from Birmingham Jail." 

Meanwhile, James Bevel, one of King's young lieutenants, summoned black youths to march in the streets at the beginning of May. The Birmingham City Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor used police dogs and high-pressure fire hoses to put down the demonstrations. Nearly a thousand young people were arrested. The violence was broadcast on television to the nation and the world and the "Letter from Birmingham Jail." received national media attention.  Invoking federal authority, President Kennedy sent several thousand troops to an Alabama air base, and his administration responded by speeding up the drafting of a comprehensive civil rights bill.

The National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA), the only alumni association comprised of former NBA, ABA, Harlem Globetrotter and WNBA players, is commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 150th Anniversary of the 13th Amendment  – in conjunction with the University Honors Program at Loyola University New Orleans and ELEVATE, an academic, athletic and mentoring program for inner-city teens – by issuing a one-of-a-kind limited edition print of Martin Luther King's “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” signed by Dr. King and more than 50 former NBA players. This unique, historic, limited edition print is the perfect collectible for any history and/or sports fanatic.   The 1000 special edition “Path to Freedom” prints are only available as a gift, limit one per patron, for tax-deductible donations of $100.00 or more placed at 

King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail." ignited the protest efforts of his fellow activists all across the nation, which culminated in a March on Washington For Jobs And Freedom, in Washington D.C., on August 28th, 1963, to support civil rights legislation. The march was organized by a coalition of several civil rights organizations that had different approaches and different agendas. The "Big Six" organizers were James Farmer, of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); Martin Luther King, Jr., of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); John Lewis, of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); A. Philip Randolph, of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; Roy Wilkins, of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); and Whitney Young, Jr., of the National Urban League.  The stated demands of the march were the passage of meaningful civil rights legislation; the elimination of racial segregation in public schools; protection for demonstrators against police brutality; a major public-works program to provide jobs; the passage of a law prohibiting racial discrimination in public and private hiring; a $2 an hour minimum wage; and self-government for the District of Columbia, which had a black majority.

More than 200,000 Americans of all races celebrated the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation by joining the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Key civil rights figures led the march, including A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Bayard Rustin, and Whitney Young. But the most memorable moment came when Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

In the fall, the comprehensive civil rights bill cleared several hurdles in Congress and won the endorsement of House and Senate Republican leaders. It was not passed, however, before the November 22, 1963 assassination of President Kennedy. 

President Johnson's 20 years of experience as a Texas Congressman and a US Senator enabled him to capitalize on his connections with his fellow southern white congressional leaders.  This legislative expertise, coupled with nearly 90% Republican Congressional support and the outpouring of public emotion, enabled Johnson to coral a super majority of US Senators to break the Democratic Party's filibuster against the Civil Rights Act.  

The provisions of the Civil Rights Act passed on July 2nd, 1964, included: 

  1. protecting African Americans against discrimination in voter qualification tests; 
  2. outlawing discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce; 
  3. authorizing the U.S. Attorney General's Office to file legal suits to enforce desegregation in public schools; 
  4. authorizing the withdrawal of federal funds from programs practicing discrimination; 
  5. outlawing discrimination in employment in any business exceeding 25 people and creating an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to review complaints.
The passage of the Civil Rights Act was an historic step in achieving the civil rights movement's initial goal: full legal equality for minorities.

After signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in a televised ceremony at the White House he turned ed the pressing matter of Vietnam. 

President Johnson ordered retaliatory air strikes against North Vietnam after the attacks on the USS Maddox and her escort the USS C. Turner Joy. He signed the Southeast Asia Resolution on August 10th, giving him authority to take “all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.” In November he was elected President of the United States with the greatest percentage of the total popular vote (61%) ever attained by a candidate. Hubert Humphrey was elected Vice President.

Johnson introduced his own “Great Society” program, declaring a “war on poverty” and calling for urban renewal, aid to education and Medicare for the elderly. But the situation in South Vietnam deteriorated and Johnson began enlarging the military commitment. Though never declared, the war in South Vietnam came to dominate his Presidency. It escalated steadily costing thousands of American lives and causing bitter protests at home. On March 31, 1968 Johnson announced that he would not be a candidate for another term as President.

Following the inauguration of Richard M. Nixon in January 1969, Johnson returned to the LBJ Ranch in Texas. He devoted his time to writing his presidential memoirs. He again suffered from his heart ailment and on January 22, 1973, he died at this ranch near Johnson City, Texas.


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Continental Congress of the United Colonies Presidents 
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United Colonies Continental Congress
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