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

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

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

Lyndon B. Johnson Exhibits

‘Selma, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Lyndon Johnson Tapes’

Between November 1964 and August 1965, Johnson recorded approximately 70 telephone calls that addressed the voting rights struggle, the Selma–Montgomery events, and the legislation he eventually signed into law as the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

‘“The Greatest Man In The World”’

On May 1, 1964, the Baltimore Sun had reported that President Johnson "dressed down" Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (the Democratic floor leader on the Senate civil rights bill) for suggesting that President Johnson might be willing to accept amendments to the version of the bill passed by the House. The Sun indicated that upon hearing of Humphrey's comments, Johnson called the senator and gave him "unshirted hell." Following the call from the President, Humphrey issued a clarification in which he stated that the President "is for the House bill." Later in the day, however, Humphrey turned to the Senate press gallery, smiled, and pulled on the tops of his ears. Reporters who saw the gesture interpreted it as an imitation of a beagle being lifted by the President, a reference to a controversial incident in which Johnson had picked up his dogs by their ears at a recent White House event as well as an indication that Johnson had disciplined the civil rights floor leader for his earlier comments. In this conversation, Johnson and Humphrey discuss the source of the "unshirted hell" story. Two passages are particularly noteworthy. First, Johnson observed that in contrast to Humphrey, he had little credibility with civil rights activists as a result of his southern background. Second, Johnson attempted to convince Humphrey that he was primarily concerned with developing the senator's status and reputation, rather than demeaning him. The comments reflected not only the crucial North-South divide in the battle over the civil rights legislation, but also the President’s effort to control a senator who was already a leading candidate for the vice presidential nomination.

‘Hiring People to Hurt Him’

Johnson complained to Civil Service Commission Chairman John Macy about leaks of information related to hiring for the newly created Department of Transportation.

‘We Won!’

In this call on election evening, Johnson talks with his running mate, Hubert Humphrey. By the time of this call, it was becoming clear that the Johnson-Humphrey ticket was going to win the election handily. Johnson tells Humphrey of the physical toll the campaign had taken on him. In a previous call with Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Johnson described himself as "punch drunk." Having campaigned late into the evening in Houston and Austin, Johnson had returned to his ranch near Johnson City. Early on election day he had cast his vote at the local court house and had then returned to the ranch to recuperate before his scheduled departure for the Driskill Hotel in nearby Austin later that evening to await the election returns.

more exhibits »

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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