Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973


Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973


Bio: Lyndon Baines Johnson was born on August 27, 1908 at Stonewall, Texas. He was the first child of Sam Ealy Johnson, Jr., and Rebekah Baines Johnson, and had three sisters and a brother: Rebekah, Josefa, Sam Houston, and Lucia. In 1913, the Johnson family moved to nearby Johnson City, named for Lyndon''s forebears, and Lyndon entered first grade. On May 24, 1924 he graduated from Johnson City High School. He decided to forego higher education and moved to California with a few friends, where he performed odd jobs. A year later he returned home where he worked on a road construction gang. In 1927, he enrolled in Southwest Texas State Teachers College at San Marcos, Texas. He earned money as a janitor and as an office helper. He dropped out of school for a year to serve as principal and teach fifth, sixth, and seventh grades at Welhausen School, a Mexican-American school. On August 19, 1930 he graduated with a B.S. degree. He taught for a few weeks at Pearsall High School, in Pearsall, Texas, then took a job teaching public speaking at Sam Houston High School in Houston, Texas.

In November 1931, U.S. Representative Richard Kleberg asked Johnson to come to Washington to work as his secretary. Johnson held the job for over three years. In the Fall of 1934, he briefly attended Georgetown University Law School, and on a trip home to Texas he met Claudia Alta Taylor, known to her friends as Lady Bird. Two months later on November 17, 1934, they were married in San Antonio, Texas. In 1935, Johnson resigned as Secretary to Representative Kleberg, to accept President Franklin Roosevelt''s appointment on July 25 as the Texas Director of the National Youth Administration (NYA), a Roosevelt program designed to provide vocational training for unemployed youth and part-time employment for needy students. At 26, he was the youngest state director. In 1937 he resigned as Texas Director of the NYA to enter the special election for the 10th Congressional District, called after the death of Representative James P. Buchanan. He won the election on April 10, and was appointed to the House Committee on Naval Affairs at the request of President Roosevelt. He was re-elected to Congress in every election up to 1948. In 1941, he ran for the remaining term of Senator Morris Sheppard upon Sheppard''s death, but he lost the race to W. Lee "Pappy" O''Daniel by 1,311 votes.

On June 21, 1940 he was appointed Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Johnson became the first member of Congress to volunteer for active duty in the armed forces, and reported for active duty on December 9, 1941. In 1942, he received the Silver Star from General Douglas MacArthur, but President Roosevelt ordered all members of Congress in the armed forces to return to their offices, so Johnson was released from active duty on July 16, 1942. On March 19, 1944, Lynda Bird Johnson was born, the first child of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. Their second daughter, Luci Baines, was born on July 2, 1947.

In November 1948, Johnson was elected to the U.S. Senate. On January 2, 1951, he was elected Majority Whip of the U.S. Senate, the youngest man ever to hold a position of Senate leadership. On January 3, 1953, he was elected Minority Leader of the Senate at the age of 44. Johnson won national attention as chairman of the Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee during the Korean War. On November 2, 1954 he was re-elected to the U.S. Senate for a second term, and in 1955 he was elected Majority Leader of the Senate, the youngest man to hold this position in either political party. During his tenure as Senate Majority Leader, he served as Chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, Democratic Steering Committee, and Democratic Conference of the Senate. On July 2, 1955, he suffered a severe heart attack and entered Bethesda Naval Hospital. On August 7, he was released from Bethesda and returned to his ranch in Texas to recuperate. He did not return to Washington until December. In 1957, he steered through to passage the Civil Rights Act of 1957. In 1958, he guided to passage the first space legislation, the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958.

On July 13, 1960, Johnson was nominated for President of the United States at the Democratic National Convention by Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn; he was nominated Vice President by acclamation on July 14. On November 6, 1960 he was elected Vice President of the United States on the ticket with John F. Kennedy, and he was re-elected to his third term in the U.S. Senate. He resigned from his position in the Senate, and on January 20, 1961, he was administered the oath of office as Vice President of the United States.

On November 22, 1963, Lyndon Baines Johnson became the 36th President of the United States following the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. On July 2, 1964, he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The far-reaching law included provisions to protect the right to vote, guarantee access to public accommodations, and withhold federal funds from programs administered in a discriminatory fashion. In August 1964, he ordered retaliatory air strikes against North Vietnam after the Golf of Tonkin incident, and sought a congressional resolution in support of his Southeast Asia policy. On August 20, 1964, he signed the Economic Opportunity Act, which established the Office of Economic Opportunity. In November 1964, Johnson was elected President of the United States on the ticket with Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

As President, his agenda included his "Great Society" program: aid to education, protection of civil rights and the right to vote, urban renewal, Medicare, conservation, beautification, control and prevention of crime and delinquency, promotion of the arts, and consumer protection. On April 11, 1965 he signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which was the first federal general aid to education law and focused on disadvantaged children in city slums and rural areas. On July 28, 1965, President Johnson announced that he had ordered U.S. military forces in Vietnam increased, and committed the United States to major combat in Vietnam. On July 30, 1965 he signed the Medicare bill to establish a medical care program for the aged under the Social Security System. On August 6, 1965, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, which he later stated was his greatest accomplishment as President.

On August 6, 1966, Luci Baines Johnson, President Johnson''s younger daughter, married Patrick J. Nugent in a ceremony at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D. C. (the Nugents divorced in August 1979.) On December 9, 1967, Lynda Bird Johnson, President Johnson''s older daughter, married Charles S. Robb in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. On March 31, 1968, in order to devote his time to seeking peace in Vietnam and at home, President Johnson announced that he would not be a candidate for another term as President of the United States. Following the inauguration of President Richard M. Nixon in January 1969, Johnson returned to Texas. On July 16, 1969 at President Nixon''s request, President Johnson attended the launching of Apollo 11 at Cape Kennedy, Florida, and on July 20, Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin became the first men to land on the moon. The flight represented the fulfillment of the goal, set in 1961 and reaffirmed by President Johnson, of reaching the moon in the late 1960s. After a short retirement, Lyndon Baines Johnson died at his ranch in Texas on January 22, 1973.


L-R: Lynda Johnson, Luci Johnson, Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, White House, Washington DC, 11/30/1963. Photo # b8626-1 by Yoichi Okamoto. White House Photo Office collection, LBJ Presidential Library, public domain.


LBJ Connection: President of the U.S., 1963-1969; Vice President, 1961-1963; U.S. Senator, Texas, 1949-1961; U.S. Congressman, Texas, 1937-1949