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

‘Johnson and Eisenhower on Vietnam II’

This exchange occurred later in the same conversation in which LBJ had read to Eisenhower the statement trying to defuse press reports of a difference of opinion on Vietnam between Johnson and Eisenhower. Sympathizing with Johnson's unfavorable position regarding the war in Vietnam, Eisenhower reassured Johnson that criticism was an inevitable part of foreign policy.

‘LBJ and Dick Russell Discuss Panama: January 11, 1964’

President Johnson and Richard Russell lament the adversarial attitude of the Panamanian public against the United States.

‘Vietnam and the Ghost of Ben Milam’

This excerpt from a lengthy conversation between President Johnson and Georgia Senator Richard Russell highlights the serious early concerns about Vietnam prevalent among Johnson and his close advisers. Russell, a longtime Johnson friend and mentor, expressed grave doubts about U.S. involvement, at one point commenting that "it isn't important a damn bit" in response to an LBJ query about the relevance of Vietnam for American interests. In this passage, Russell helped Johnson assess French proposals for regional neutralization in Southeast Asia (supported by Senator Mike Mansfield), as well as the significance of tensions between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China. Russell also took note of Johnson's reference to Texas hero Ben Milam. A soldier and trader from Kentucky, Ben Milam was a leader of the Texas independence movement in the 1830s. In December 1835, when some leaders of the rebel Texas forces wanted to delay a planned attack on a Mexican army camped at San Antonio until after the winter, Milam disagreed. Instead, he urged other members of the Texas volunteers to join him in a surprise attack: “Who will go with old Ben Milam into San Antonio?” The attack succeeded, but as Russell reminded Johnson later in the conversation, Milam was killed by a sniper’s bullet. With this reminder of Milam’s personal fate, Russell implicitly chided Johnson for his earlier bravado in discussing Mansfield’s support of neutralization.

‘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.

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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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