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

‘Troop Levels’

Sending troops into harm's way is arguably the most difficult decision a president confronts. The White House tapes of presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon capture remarkably intimate and candid behind-the-scenes views of presidents agonizing over this decision in another war fought in distant lands for complex geo-political reasons.

‘LBJ on Sargent Shriver, Politics, and the War on Poverty’

In late 1966, Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) Director (and Kennedy brother-in-law) Sargent Shriver contemplated resigning because of differences with the President over funding levels for the War on Poverty and frustration over perceptions that his effectiveness had diminished. In this conversation with Special Assistant Bill Moyers (who had recently submitted his own resignation), President Johnson expounded on the implications of a Shriver resignation, as well as on his views of the budgetary constraints on the War on Poverty, the consequences of street protests that cast the Vietnam War and the anti-poverty effort as mutually-exclusive budget items, and his difficulties with Robert F. Kennedy and other liberal Senators who supported an expanded poverty program. Near the close of this excerpt, Johnson commented on the lack of political pragmatism and reliability that he perceived among much of Shriver's staff at OEO, particularly in the still-controversial Community Action Program (CAP).

‘President Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr. on the Watts Riots’

In this conversation excerpt, Martin Luther King Jr. and President Johnson discuss the implications of the recent Watts Riots. Although the United States had experienced a series of urban revolts during 1964 and 1965, the intensity and violence of Watts had been a shock to much of the nation and to LBJ in particular. The conversation reveals much of the balance between tension and cautious respect that characterized the King-Johnson relationship, as well as both men's growing sense of desperation in addressing the problems facing the United States. While King expressed his frustration with the unresponsive white leadership in Los Angeles, President Johnson appealed for King's support in pursuing his domestic policy agenda in an increasingly hostile Congress.

‘LBJ and Gerald Ford’

That morning's Washington Post carried a front page story of several members of Congress critical of the Johnson administration's campaign to bomb the North Vietnamese supply lines in Laos. Interviewed for the radio and television program "Issues and Answers" (ABC), the new House Minority Leader, Gerald Ford (R-MI) (who had recently replaced Charles Halleck), criticized the way in which the administration informed Congress of the Laos expansion as coming in a "piecemeal" fashion. "Now that it has been disclosed piecemeal," Ford said, "I think that the Administration has a responsibility to open up, have some discussion about it, perhaps hold some hearings in the House or Senate in order that we are all better informed as to what our course, what our policies are." Senator Wayne Morse, Democrat of Oregon, was also critical, accusing the administration of following a "foreign policy of concealment in Southeast Asia." Morse claimed that neither he nor other Americans "know what the Administration is doing in Asia, to what it has committed us, what its objectives are, and how much it is risking to achieve them." ["U.S. Bombing in Laos Stirs Debate," Washington Post, January 19, 1965, p.A1.]

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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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