Miller Center

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908 – 1973)

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Life in Brief: On November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. The event thrust Lyndon Johnson into the presidency. A man widely considered to be one of the most expert and brilliant politicians of his time, Johnson would leave office a … more life in brief »

Essays about Lyndon B. Johnson

Facts about Lyndon B. Johnson

36th President of the United States (1963 – 1969)
August 27, 1908, Johnson City, Texas
Political Party
January 22, 1973
Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now Texas State University-San Marcos), graduated 1930; Georgetown Law School, attended 1934
Disciples of Christ
November 17, 1934, to Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor (1912–2007)
Lynda Bird (1944– ); Luci Baines (1947– )
Teacher, Public Official
Near Johnson City, Texas

The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency, 1963–1969 (1971)

Lyndon B. Johnson Exhibits

‘Explaining Vietnam’

In the wake of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's recent trip to South Vietnam, Johnson had pressed him to prepare a speech on the subject, as several members of Congress were beginning to suggest that the administration consider a sharp revision of its policy there. Senators Ernest Gruening and Wayne Morese, in particular, had registered pointed criticisms of the nation's Vietnam policy. With nagging questions regarding the principal rationale for U.S. intervention in Indochina and the oddly detached position of other world powers in the ongoing Vietnamese conflict, Johnson urged his defense secretary to provide clarification and, if there was one to be found, a workable defense of the nation's policy.

‘Testing Sargent Shriver: Vietnam and Assassinations’

Johnson had spent much of the day on the phone with Sargent Shriver, the Peace Corps Director. Despite Shriver's clear resistance, Johnson named him the director of the War on Poverty effort earlier today. In tone and substance, this final call of the day differed remarkably from the three earlier discussions. After having dispensed with the question of whether Shriver would accept the position as the new coordinator of a domestic War on Poverty, Johnson delved into several policy areas and even touched on the issue of Shriver being a potential running mate for the fall. Expectedly, they explored the poverty issue, but the President also reached out to him on matters involving Panama, Latin America, and Vietnam, implying at one point that Americans had been involved in the assassination of South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem.

‘LBJ and Martin Luther King, Jr., on the Republican Party’

King had called Johnson to discuss the voting rights bill. In the discussion, the President emphasized the importance of gaining Republican support, and then offered his assessment of the Grand Old Party's prospects for the future.

‘LBJ and Whitney Young on Civil Rights Appointments’

Following the trend of several calls in early January, Johnson addressed the theme of African American progress with Whitney Young, the head of the National Urban League and one of the major civil rights leaders upon whom Johnson relied. In this instance, Johnson was deliberating about making a recess appointment of two Black Americans to the federal bench, Virginia civil rights attorney Spottswood Robinson to the U.S. District Court for Washington, D. C., and Philadelphia lawyer Leon Higginbotham to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. One of the concerns that Johnson explained to Young was that President Kennedy would get credit in the Black community for these appointments-instead of Johnson-because "somebody recommended him that was with Kennedy." Young assured him that such a thing "won't happen." Later in the day, Johnson made the appointments.

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Featured video:

Speech Before Congress on Voting Rights (March 15, 1965)

Presidential Speech Archive

Citation Information

Consulting Editor

Kent Germany

Professor Germany is an assistant professor of history and African American studies at the University of South Carolina. His writings include:

New Orleans After the Promises: Poverty, Citizenship, and the Search for the Great Society (University of Georgia Press, 2007)

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