Miller Center

Presidential Classroom: Exhibits

Presidential Classroom exhibits give students and teachers specific historical moments with supplemental materials to delve deeper into U.S. history and government.  

Sort exhibits: by subject | by administration

Herbert Hoover

“Philosophy of Rugged Individualism”

On October 22, 1928, Herbert Hoover gave the penultimate speech of his successful presidential campaign entitled, "Principles and Ideals of the United States Government." In that speech, the self-made millionaire expressed his belief that the American system was based on "rugged individualism" and "self-reliance."

Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Some Fool Thing”

Reflecting upon a recent bellicose statement by the head of the Japanese Press Association, FDR speculated with aides about the degree to which those remarks reflected official Japanese policy.

A Japanese Ultimatum

The focus of this telephone conversation between President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull, however, is the growing conflict with Japan in the Far East and the Pacific Ocean.

African Americans and the U.S. Military

Meeting with Civil Rights leaders A. Philip Randolph and Walter White, President Roosevelt considers various options for integrating the U.S. military and preparedness efforts.

The Contingencies of War

President Roosevelt sketches out for reporters various potential developments in the European war as well as possible U.S. responses.

The G.I. Bill

On July 28, 1943, in his Fireside Chat 25, President Franklin D. Roosevelt laid out what he believed returning servicemen were entitled to when they came home from World War II. His conditions became the basis for the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act, known informally as the G.I. Bill, which Congress passed in 1944. The G.I. Bill has been amended and expanded and is still in existence today.

The Tripartite Pact

Press conference response to question on the Tripartite Pact.

Harry S. Truman

The Marshall Plan

The Marshall Plan was an extensive program that provided economic relief to Europe from 1947 to 1951 in the aftermath of World War II. The United States offered monetary aid to the infrastructure of European nations to help prevent the spread of Soviet-sponsored Communism. Secretary of State George C. Marshall first backed restoring the war-torn countries of Europe during a commencement address at Harvard University on June 5, 1947. President Harry Truman and other Western European political leaders responded favorably, and the Economic Cooperation Act, or Marshall Plan, became law on April 3, 1948.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

An Exceptional Alliance: Johnson, Eisenhower, and the Vietnam War

President Johnson, like Kennedy before him, demonstrated impressive political savvy by including Eisenhower’s advice in determining policy. Johnson forged a strong bi-partisan relationship with his predecessor, appealing to Eisenhower both as a friend and a sage.

Executive Privilege

Presidents as far back as George Washington have claimed executive privilege on the grounds that a president must be able to receive candid advice from advisors and experts in order to govern appropriately. However, after President Nixon and Watergate, executive privilege has been viewed with increasing suspicion by both Congress and the public. This exhibit reflects on executive privilege as used by George Washington, Grover Cleveland, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

John F. Kennedy

Bombs in Birmingham

On September 15, 1963, four black girls were killed in a bombing at Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church. Four days later, President Kennedy met with civil rights leaders at the White House. This tape segment begins with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. describing the situation confronting Birmingham's black residents and urging federal action to remedy their plight.

Dr. Martin Luther King, LBJ, and JFK

For Black History Month we have released some new transcripts of conversations between Dr. Martin Luther King and President Johnson from 1965.

JFK, LBJ, & the Midterm Elections of 1962 and 1966

As the 1966 election season got under way, Republicans hoped to use the occasion to undo some of the damage that had been done to the national party by the 1964 Democratic landslide.

John F. Kennedy on Politics and Public Service

In anticipation of someday writing his memoirs, John F. Kennedy periodically dictated notes on recent developments or on other issues he might one day want to include in the book.

Kennedy Meeting with White Birmingham Leaders

In the following transcript snippet are brief comments by President Kennedy at a meeting with white Birmingham leaders a few days after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. September 23, 1963.

March on Washington

Following the "March on Washington" and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech earlier in the day, President Kennedy met with civil rights leaders at the White House. The topics under discussion were the event itself. the details of civil rights legislation then moving through Congress, and strategies for empowering black Americans. The NAACP's Roy Wilkens begins this segment, offering reasons for the march's success.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy gave a televised address to the American people and announced that he would be sending a civil rights bill to Congress which would outlaw racial segregation and make employment discrimination illegal.

The Ole Miss Crisis

In the summer of 1962, James Meredith wanted to enroll in the University of Mississippi, the first black ever to do so, and the Kennedy administration was determined to make this possible. These excerpts from an all night crisis management meeting that started late on September 30 reveal the tension that gripped Kennedy and his brother, the Attorney General. September 1962.

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.

Lyndon B. Johnson

“As Far As We Can Tell”

As real-time information flowed in to the Pentagon from the Maddox and the Turner Joy, the story became more and more confused. Admiral U.S. Grant "Oley" Sharp, commander of the Pacific Fleet, fed reports to Washington as soon as he received them. In this phone call, Sharp briefed Air Force General David Burchinal, of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the latest information. This telephone call was recorded at the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon.

“Good Lord”

While keeping tabs on an impending congressional resolution authorizing the use of force in Southeast Asia, President Johnson also had to manage the flow of information about the events precipitating the resolution itself. In this conversation, Johnson asks long-time Democratic hand James Rowe to counsel Minnesota senator Hubert H. Humphrey--Johnson's pending running-mate in the upcoming November election--about Humphrey's recent verbal indiscretions.

“I Think That’s Hopeless”

In this conversation with chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee J. William Fulbright (D-AR), President Johnson considers the reasons for the appointment of Henry Cabot Lodge as ambassador to Vietnam and the prospects for replacing him.

“I Thought We Were Going to Have CCC Camps”

On August 7, 1964, one day before the final House vote on the Economic Opportunity Bill, Lyndon Johnson expressed his underlying discomfort with the anti-poverty legislation as written by his aides and with the form of the War on Poverty that would result. Speaking with Special Assistant Bill Moyers, Johnson contrasted his own initial conception of the anti-poverty program as an extension of New Deal work programs such as the Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) and National Youth Administration (NYA) with its final character as an experiment in federally-sponsored social change. Johnson began the exchange by telling Moyers that "I'm going to re-write your poverty program."

“Just the Meanest, Dirtiest, Low-Down Stuff That I’ve Ever Heard”: LBJ and Voter Intimidation

The most extreme cases of racial tension were found in the Deep South; but even in Georgia, the Carolinas, and President Johnson’s home state of Texas, white supremacists attempted to stymie the enfranchisement of the black population. In these three conversations, President Johnson expressed his outrage at their tactics

“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.

“There Ain’t No Daylight in Vietnam”

At the end of a long conversation with Senator Richard Russell about the senator's upcoming recuperative holiday in Puerto Rico -- Russell had been hospitalized in February -- Johnson reveals his pessimism about the increasing difficulty of achieving U.S. objectives in Vietnam.

“These Covert Operations”

Following an attack on the U.S.S. Maddox in the Tonkin Gulf, President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara strategize on how best to inform Congress of the circumstances surrounding the attack.

“These People Are Taking Our Jobs”

In 1942, during the early stages of U.S. involvement in World War II, the United States signed the Bracero Agreement with Mexico, granting Mexican farm workers the opportunity to work on U.S. farms. In 1951, the program fell under the framework of Public Law 78. Over the course of the program, perhaps 5 million Latino workers became part of the U.S. agricultural system. In California in 1963, 63,000 workers had been employed through the program. In late 1963, the program's renewal was the subject of controversy, and Congress agreed only to a one-year extension, expecting the program to end on December 31, 1964. One of the opponents of extension was James Farmer, who worried that it took jobs away from black workers. Farmer had registered his discontent two months earlier, but had restated his opinion a few days before Johnson's visit with Mexican president Adolfo Lupez Mateos. Farmer urged that discontinuing the Bracero arrangement was "in the interest of native farm laborers (many of them Negro) for whom poverty is a daily reality." During that visit, California officials announced that they were stopping their efforts to extend the arrangement.

“They Just Can’t Get the Americans to Do It”

President Johnson reports to Senator Spessard Holland (D-Dl) about an administration decision to approve a request from the Florida sugar industry to recruit foreign workers for the upcoming harvest season. Holland had supported the sugar growers' request. Johnson also indicated that the administration had not yet received an application for foreign workers from the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, and that the citrus industry had not yet demonstrated a clear need for such workers. Holland protested that the industry "just can't get the Americans to do it." The conversation demonstrates the process by which extra agricultural workers were admitted to the United States during the early and mid-1960s.

“This is Treason”

Aware that the presidential campaign of Richard Nixon is encouraging the South Vietnamese government to stay away from peace talks with the Americans and the North Vietnamese, President Johnson alerts Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-IL) to the campaign's interference, and asks that Dirksen urge the Nixon team to cease and desist.

A 3 A.M. Phone Call

Awakened just before 3 a.m. by the effects of a persistent cold, President Johnson was informed of a major earthquake that had struck around an Alaskan epicenter late on the previous day. Within minutes, he called Press Secretary George Reedy to discuss the matter.

A Bipartisan Transportation Bill

In this call, Johnson spells out his troubles on getting the Transportation Bill passed to a republican ally, Robert Anderson. The effort to consolidate over 30 separate agencies into one department headed by a Cabinet level official was bipartisan, having been proposed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower just before he left office in 1961; likewise, opposition to the bill was bipartisan, with Democratic congressmen from districts with shipping ports yielding to pressure from maritime unions. Robert Anderson had served as U.S. Secretary of The Treasury in the second Eisenhower administration, from 1957 through 1961. He was also a fellow Texan and had sold a Texas radio station to Johnson's wife, Lady Bird, in 1943.

Albert Thomas gets the “Johnson Treatment”

LBJ was famous for his powers of persuasion, dispensing them with what became known as "the Johnson Treatment." He used his imposing physical size and intimidating personality to emphasize his point. In this call, LBJ is in full "Johnson Treatment" mode with Representative Albert Thomas (Democrat, Texas) on the receiving end. In this call, with characteristic bluntness, President Johnson berates Representative Albert Thomas (Democrat, Texas) over a clause forcing the President to publicly report to Congress on wheat sales to the Soviet Union and argues that it would resonate poorly with the American public.

An Exceptional Alliance: Johnson, Eisenhower, and the Vietnam War

President Johnson, like Kennedy before him, demonstrated impressive political savvy by including Eisenhower’s advice in determining policy. Johnson forged a strong bi-partisan relationship with his predecessor, appealing to Eisenhower both as a friend and a sage.

An Optimistic Budget and Solid Poverty Programs

Walter Heller, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers whom Johnson had inherited from President Kennedy, was in the middle of an extended public relations effort that encompassed televised interviews and frequent meetings with print journalists who covered the nation's economic policies. Designed to tout the new administration's progressive but frugal fiscal policy, Heller's effort-along with accompanying face-to-face diplomacy undertaken by the President-were also expected to help Johnson pass the pending tax cut legislation, then bottled up in Harry Byrd's senate Finance Committee. Preparing to meet at the LBJ ranch after Christmas to begin laying out plans for what would become the War on Poverty, Heller and Johnson also discuss that proposal.

Assessing the War

In this segment, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara offers President Johnson a mixed review of the military situation in Vietnam. He also recounts for Johnson an unflattering portrait of the South Vietnamese government, provided by Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, which appeared that morning in the Washington Post.

Congratulations . . . and a Request

President Johnson places a congratulatory phone call to Rep. Gerald Ford (R-MI), who had defeated Rep. Charles Halleck (R-IN) two weeks earlier for the position of House minority leader. In this snippet, Johnson solicits Ford's involvement in discussions about Vietnam, largely as a way to establish Republican support for Johnson's position. Ford, in turn, offers general support for Johnson's approach and the prospect of a collegial working relationship.

Congressional Coordination

George Smathers, a Florida Democrat and Secretary for the Senate Democratic Conference, was a close friend of the President and his family who often had frank exchanges with Johnson. In this call, President Johnson gave Smathers a colorful analysis of the workings of Capitol Hill, voicing his concern about the parliamentary skills of fellow Democrats. Johnson was extremely upset about the Senate's handling of yesterday’s Food Stamp bill passage, particularly the Senate Democratic leadership's inability to derail Republican Jack Miller's amendment to prohibit the use of Food Stamps to purchase Australian meat. This addition to the bill meant that the legislation now had to go back to Judge Smith's House Rules Committee before it could go to the floor for concurrence. Smith kept it bottled up until August 11. The House passed it that same day. Johnson signed it into law on August 31.

Dr. Martin Luther King, LBJ, and JFK

For Black History Month we have released some new transcripts of conversations between Dr. Martin Luther King and President Johnson from 1965.

Edward R. Murrow & LBJ

Two days before Murrow's departure was official, Lyndon Johnson tracked him down in an airport as the newsman was traveling to La Jolla, California, to visit with Jonas Salk. Johnson wanted to talk to talk about Murrow's replacement, the journalist and U.S. ambassador to Finland Carl Rowan, and to express his fondness for Murrow's work.

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.

Finding Fannie Lou Chaney

Whereas a congressman had given the White House the contact information for the parents of the two missing white activists, Lee White had to depend essentially on the phone book.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara Dies

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Strange McNamara passed away on July 6, 2009. He was one of the most frequently recorded participants in the Kennedy and Johnson tapes. Of particular note are discussions recorded during the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam War. Here is a small sampling of the hundreds of recorded conversations that involved or discussed McNamara.

Gatecrashing the White House (Telephone)

Future Supreme Court justice Abe Fortas, on a secret mission to Puerto Rico at President Johnson's behest, gives the President an update on the latest efforts to bring peace and stability to the Dominican Republic. Because the calls were coming in over an unencrypted line, Fortas and Johnson used a variety of ad hoc codes in an attempt to disguise at least to some degree the topics of their conversations. Part way through, the call is gatecrashed by some uninvited guests, and Fortas tries desperately to get their attention and get them off the line.

Ground Troops and the Tonkin Gulf Resolution

In this morning telephone conversation with the secretary of defense, Johnson expresses dismay at recent proposals, prepared by his most senior civilian officials, for U.S. action in Vietnam. Speaking with Secretary McNamara about various options open to the administration, Johnson reflects on the August 1964 Tonkin∇ Gulf Resolution and its implications for an expanded American military commitment.

Gulf of Tonkin, 1964: Perspectives from the Lyndon Johnson and National Military Command Center Tape

In August 1964, Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution—or Southeast Asia Resolution, as it is officially known—the congressional decree that gave Johnson a broad mandate to wage war in Vietnam.

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.

Janet Leigh’s FBI Background Check

President Lyndon B. Johnson had ordered a background check on the popular actress Janet Leigh as a precursor to appointing her to the Peace Corps National Advisory Council and possibly as ambassador to Finland. In this secretly recorded call, President Johnson heard from his former neighbor, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, on the FBI's report. The star of such films as The Manchurian Candidate (1962, dir. John Frankenheimer) and Bye Bye Birdie (1963, dir. George Sidney), Leigh's most famous scene was from the 1960 film Psycho (dir. Alfred Hitchcock) when her character was attacked in the shower at the Bates Motel. In an ironic choice of words here, Hoover declared that Leigh was "absolutely clean."

JFK Assassination Tapes

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Below are some highlights of presidential recordings from the days immediately following the event.

JFK, LBJ, & the Midterm Elections of 1962 and 1966

As the 1966 election season got under way, Republicans hoped to use the occasion to undo some of the damage that had been done to the national party by the 1964 Democratic landslide.

Johnson and Eisenhower on Vietnam

In this conversation, President Johnson speaks with former President Dwight D. Eisenhower about the nature of America's commitment to Southeast Asia. Expressing his support for Johnson, Eisenhower points out that current conditions in Vietnam differ widely from those of 1955, necessitating an expanded U.S. military presence.

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.

Larry O’Brien’s Secret to Legislative Success

With a vote imminent in the House of Representatives on the signature legislation of the War on Poverty, Special Assistant to the President for Congressional Affairs (and Johnson's 1964 campaign director) Larry O'Brien revealed his secret to legislative success: "if we can just keep the boys that should be sober, sober, and the ones that should be drinking, drinking, that's our job for the afternoon." The House had just passed the Southeast Asia Resolution (also known as the Tonkin Gulf Resolution) by 414-0.

LBJ and Dick Russell discuss Panama

Senator Richard Russell urges an aggressive foreign policy to President Johnson in Panama, and supports the use of force if necessary in the Canal Zone.

LBJ and Dick Russell Discuss Panama

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

LBJ and Eisenhower on Bombing North Vietnam

In an effort to provide space for negotiations during the Vietnam War, Johnson ordered a cessation of air strikes against North Vietnam on December 25, 1965. After one month of failed attempts to use diplomacy to promote peace, President Johnson voiced his intentions to former President Eisenhower to proceed with offensive attacks against the North. In a telephone conversation recorded on January 25, 1966, Johnson insisted upon the impossibility of extending the bombing pause without progress in negotiations. Evoking the criticism of Senators Wayne Morse (D-OR) and J. William Fulbright (D-AR) regarding his policy decisions in Southeast Asia, the President turned to Eisenhower for counsel. The General responded by labeling Johnson's critics "overeducated Senators."

LBJ and Eugene McCarthy on the Assassination of Dgo Dinh Diem

The extent of the Kennedy administration's advance knowledge or even participation in the November 1, 1963, coup in South Vietnam and assassination of president Ngo Dinh Diem has been a hotly debated political and historical issue for many years. In this conversation, Presidnet Johnson offers his own interpretation of events to Senator Eugene McCarthy In the days prior to this telephone call, McCarthy had been widely quoted in the press for his criticism of the recent resumption of bombing. In this call, Johnson tried to convince McCarthy to tone down his criticism and had offered a special briefing from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Maxwell Taylor, reason that, "I thought that if you had the information I had, that you might be assuaged somewhat, and relieved somewhat, and at least, maybe you could suggest a better alternative or something else."

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.]

LBJ and Gerald Ford on Bombing in Vietnam

After some initial pleasantries, President Johnson discusses a bombing operation in Vietnam with House minority leader Gerald R. Ford, who takes the opportunity to ask Johnson about the use of American ground troops in the war.

LBJ and Hubert Humphrey on the Democratic Party

Six hours earlier, Johnson had met with Minnesota senator Hubert Humphrey, a man widely perceived as a front-runner for the vice-presidential nomination who had emerged as the administration's most effective defender in the upper chamber. After that early afternoon meeting, Humphrey, the Senate majority whip, gave a rousing pro-Democratic statement to the press. Now, pleased with Humphrey's response to GOP attacks on the administration, Johnson phoned him, encouraging him to continue his rhetoric and told him to "every day . . . to say, 'The Democratic Party is the one party left for America, because the other fellows don't stand for anything.'"

LBJ and John McCone on the Los Angeles Riots

McCone, former Director of Central Intelligence, had been asked to chair a commission investigating the civil disorders in Los Angeles in August 1965.

LBJ and Lady Bird on Texas life

In mid-evening on New Year's Day, President Johnson's attention turned to one of his most valued advisers in the Senate and arguably the most influential southerner in Washington, D.C., save for Johnson himself. While visiting with several Texas friends, Johnson called up Georgia senator Richard Russell, a man considered by the President as his mentor and by the President's children as "Uncle Dick." The group revisited old times, discussed the whipping that the University of Texas's national champion football team had put on Roger Staubach and the Navy Midshipmen in the Cotton Bowl, and engaged in the rituals of ribbing and bragging associated with serious deer hunting. In between those moments, Johnson explored policy toward West Germany, wheat sales to the Soviet Union, aid to Indonesia, and the defense industry in Georgia. The call lasts for over ten minutes. For this transcript and audio clip, there are three segments from that call, each offering a sampling of discussions between the President, Lady Bird, Senator Russell, and A.W. "Judge" Moursund about drinking, football, family, and deer hunting.

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 McGeorge Bundy discuss Vietnam

President Johnson and his national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy, discuss the problems in South Vietnam.

LBJ and McNamara on Vietnam

LBJ and McNamara on Vietnam

LBJ and MLK

Just a few days after taking power, President Johnson struggled with the difficulties of inheriting a presidency without warning. In this conversation with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a leading civil rights organization, Johnson continued reaching out to all the major civil rights leaders.

LBJ and Mrs. Nellie Connally

During the flight aboard Air Force One from Dallas back to Washington immediately following President Kennedy's assassination, President Johnson made some calls that were routed throught the White House. Shortly after expressing their condolences to Mrs. Rose Kennedy, the Johnsons spoke to Nellie Connally, wife of John Connally. The Texas governor, the only other person injured in the shooting at Dealey Plaza, was one of President Johnson's closest political associates, having managed Johnson's 1960 campaign for the presidency.

LBJ and Porter Hardy on the Community Action Program

In this conversation, President Johnson offered assured Virginia Congressman Porter Hardy (D) that the governors’ veto amendment to the Economic Opportunity Act would prevent the community action program from circumventing local governmental authority. For supporters of the community action principle, such circumvention had been the point of the program.

LBJ and Richard Russell on Vietnam

Just prior to 11 a.m., the President placed a call to his friend, mentor, and sometime antagonist, Senator Richard Russell of Georgia. In this conversation, Johnson reveals his deeply conflicted thinking on Vietnam, a profound sense of anxiety absent from his public remarks on the subject. The exchange offers an intimate and revealing portrait of Johnson weighing perhaps the most difficult decision he ever had to make.

LBJ and Robert Kennedy on School Integration in Alabama

LBJ and Robert Kennedy discuss school integration in Alabama.

LBJ and Senator James Eastland on Mississippi Burning Murders

On June 23, 1964, President Johnson was receiving news that three civil rights workers--Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner--were missing in Mississippi. Throughout this day and the next week, Johnson continued to follow the case closely, holding over 40 recorded conversations. In this call, Johnson reached out to Senator James O. Eastland, a staunch segregationist from the Mississippi Delta. Eastland declared the episode a publicity stunt, denied the existence of organized white supremacy groups in that part of Mississippi, and ridiculed Fannie Lou Hamer. Unknown to Johnson, the three workers had been murdered by a group of white supremacists that included local law enforcement officials. A massive manhunt turned up bodies, but not of the three workers. Only after a tip from a paid informant were they discovered--over six weeks later--in an earthen dam southwest of Philadelphia.

LBJ and Senator Richard Russell on the Community Action Program

In this conversation excerpt, President Johnson and Georgia Senator Richard Russell (R) express their shared dislike and distrust of the War on Poverty's Community Action Program.

LBJ and Senator Russell Long on Hurricane Betsy

On the evening of September 9, 1964, Hurricane Betsy came ashore near Grand Isle, Louisiana, as a Category 4 storm, with the National Weather Service reporting wind gusts near 160 mph. As the storm tracked inland, the city of New Orleans was hit with 110 mph winds, a storm surge around 10 feet, and heavy rain. Betsy devastated low-lying areas on the eastern side of the city and eventually led to the expansion of an already impressive levee system to protect a city that lay mostly below sea-level. After the storm passed, Louisiana Senator Russell Long, the son of the legendary Senator and Governor Huey Long, called President Johnson to get the President to tour the devastated areas. In Long’s unique style, he let the LBJ know that the Betsy had severely damaged his own home and had nearly killed his family. LBJ arrived in New Orleans five hours after talking to Senator Long. Reporters noted that he was shocked by the suffering and in particular by thirst of survivors in one shelter. He immediately announced that the "red tape be cut," and he took personal control of operations, which he continued—according to the Washington Post—“day and night."

LBJ and The Logic of Escalation

Five days before this call, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had given a speech in Petersburg, Virginia, to a chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. According to the New York Times, King declared that "the war in Vietnam must be stopped" and called for "a negotiated settlement even with the Vietcong." . . .

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.

LBJ Appoints Gerald Ford to the Warren Commission

Of all the congressional members on the Warren Commission, Ford was the least known to President Johnson. He had been first elected to the House in 1948, the same year Johnson won his Senate seat. Ford's first and only intensive encournter with Lyndon Johnson had occurred in 1957, when both men served on a bipartisan House-Senate committee formed to draft the legislation creating NASA.

LBJ Explains his Fiscal Policy

Having just launched an "economy drive," undertaken partly to redirect spending and to trim wasteful spending-particularly in the Department of Defense-and partly to convince senate conservatives to drop their opposition to the administration's pending tax cut proposal-introduced by President Kennedy in 1962-President Johnson underscores for Council of Economic Advisers chairman Walter Heller the philosophy behind his approach to that year's fiscal policy.

LBJ Explains His Policy Priorities To Walter Reuther

In this brief conversation excerpt, recorded a month after President Kennedy's assassination, President Johnson laid out some of his policy priorities. Johnson told Walter Reuther, the president of United Auto Workers, that that he planned to cut excess production in the nation's atomic bomb program and shift the money that would be saved to "human needs." The resulting social programs would soon become Johnson's War on Poverty. In this very early conception, the resulting anti-poverty program would be primarily about jobs and education.

LBJ on Affirmative Action

One of President Johnson's priorities in filling vacancies in the federal government was to appoint more women and minorities, which he had championed as chairman of the President's Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity while vice president. In early January 1964, he had appointed two black judges to the federal bench. Here, he spoke with one of his closest black advisers--the civil rights leader and NAACP Executive Secretary Roy Wilkins about the feasibility of moving Carl Rowan from his ambassadorship in Finland to head up the United States Information Agency in Washington. This snippet displays some of Johnson's thinking about affirmative action. The specific issue is whether leaders of African nations would oppose the appointment of a black U.S. ambassador in their countries.

LBJ on Choosing a Vice President

In this July 1964 call, about 3 weeks before the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, LBJ asks Robert Wagner, a former Democratic Senator from New York, to leak to the press that the party leaders support the President's right to choose his running mate and that a divided party is something to be avoided. LBJ suggest that he say, "that they don't want the president to be required to sleep with anybody he doesn't want to sleep with. And he ought to have a man with vice president that he trusts and likes and can work with him. We oughtn't to have a divided ticket to start, and therefore, you expect to support the man the President selects . . . I just don't think it can do us a bit of good to have a divided thing there, a divided party."

LBJ on Latin American Dictators

In this conversation, President Johnson and National Security Adviser Bundy assessed the tone that should be adopted in an official message congratulating the new Brazilian president, General Humberto Castelo Branco, on his inauguration. The difficulty for Bundy, and by extension for the administration as a whole, lay in the means by which General Branco had come to power. Formerly chief of staff of the Brazilian army, Branco had been a leader of a recent coup that ousted leftist Brazilian President João Goulart. The Brazilian Congress subsequently elected Branco to the post of provisional president. The coup, however, had involved the jailing of many Goulart supporters, and Branco's government proved to be the first in a string of hard-line military governments in Brazil. Perhaps not anticipating that the coup would lead to a virtual police-state, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Thomas Mann had described the change in Brazil's government as "the most important thing that's happened in the hemisphere in three years." Although Bundy offered a more cautious assessment of Branco, President Johnson shared Mann's belief that the coup had prevented a slide towards a Communist takeover in Brazil. In a comment that could be seen as disquieting when uttered by the most powerful individual in the non-Communist world, he half-jokingly suggested that "there's some people that need to be locked up here and there, too." The subtle difference of opinion between Johnson and Bundy highlighted broad divisions within the administration regarding the direction of U.S. policy in Latin America.

LBJ on Managing Congress and the Press

In this conversation snippet, President Johnson speaks with National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy about various foreign policy matters, including press comment on Cuba and Vietnam.

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).

LBJ on Ted Sorensen

Late in the evening, the President recorded a lengthy call of over 22 minutes with his confidants on the Bobby Baker scandal, in which an insurance salesmen had testified that he had given Johnson a kickback-a hi-fi stereo set-in exchange for Johnson purchasing a life insurance policy from him. The full conversation offers a sense of Johnson's relationship with his closest advisers, some of the ways he arrived at decisions, and his administration's complicated relationship with the press. In this edited snippet, Johnson worried that making public statements on the matter was a mistake, a sentiment echoed by Ted Sorensen. A few days earlier, Johnson had made a statement in a press conference, then left. Several reporters claimed he fled the room to avoid further questions. In the following clip, Johnson explained that Sorensen thought they were "the biggest damned fools he's ever dealt with" and that Sorensen "told me tonight he just thought I was a big, fat, cigar-puffing, potbellied numskull by following the advice to get out here in front of the press."

LBJ on the Foreign Aid budget

President Johnson complains to Jack Brooks, a Democratic congressman from Texas, about Representative Otto Passman's (Democrat, Louisiana) ability to shape the Foreign Aid budget, by appropriating 25 percent less for President Johnson than for President Kennedy.

LBJ on Women in Politics

LBJ on women in politics

LBJ Orders Some New Haggar Pants

President Johnson called the Haggar clothing company to order some new pants, providing specific (and sometimes graphic) instructions on how they should be customized for him.

LBJ Reviews US Foreign Policy

A coup in South Vietnam two days earlier encouraged criticism of Johnson's foreign policy. Irritated by reports in the press that he had not spent enough time on foreign affairs, Johnson gave a long defense of his action to Scripps Howard editor in chief and old acquaintance Walker Stone. The President provided a spirited summary of the situations in Panama, Cyprus, Indonesia, and Vietnam. He also spoke intensely about his relations with the State Department and the press. Johnson emphasized his toughness and tried to rebut the idea that he was neglecting foreign policy, and he explained some of the rationale for his emphasis on frugality in the federal budget. "I don't claim to be a great liberal," he demurred, "but I do claim that you can do a little something for people if you stop enough of this goddamned military waste and other waste." In response, Stone agreed to "set up a backfire" in the press "anytime" Johnson needed it.

LBJ Seeks Robert E. Lee for Civil Rights Commission

Johnson wanted to fill an opening on the federal Civil Rights Commission with a moderate Southerner. Here, Johnson lobbied William Mitchell, an Arkansas attorney and friend of powerful Arkansas Congressman Wilbur Mills, comparing Mitchell's choice to one faced in a previous century by Robert E. Lee.

LBJ Sells the War on Poverty

Throughout the period leading up to the passage of the Economic Opportunity Act, Lyndon Johnson frequently spoke of the War on Poverty in terms of improving the work habits of the poor and providing them with job and training opportunities. Conservatives were frequent targets of these appeals. This excerpt of a Johnson conversation with Texas Congressman George Mahon offers an example of such an effort to present the War on Poverty in terms of traditional goals and values.

LBJ’s Work Day and Agenda

In this call to Walker Stone, editor in chief of Scripps-Howard newspapers, Johnson was still bubbling over positive coverage of German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard's visit to the LBJ ranch in December and was inspired by a letter received from J. Frank Dobie, a renowned Texas folklorist, University of Texas faculty member, and guest at the ranch during the visit of Chancellor Erhard. According to his secretaries, President Johnson would carry Dobie's letter "around in his pocket" for another week. Dobie's letter praised Johnson's "start" as one that combined "nobility with effectiveness" and recommended that Johnson seek the counsel of Walker Stone because "no other newspaper man I know knows as much and thinks as soundly." Here, Johnson asked Stone to spread another glowing report. After exploring that issue, Stone asked Johnson to take things more slowly and not take health risks, to which the President complained about having his personal life restricted by the presidency. Then Johnson took the opportunity to prepare his old acquaintance for the upcoming State of the Union address. In a pithy section, Johnson defended his proposed poverty plans to this Oklahoma native by emphasizing that the programs would encourage work and improve productivity among poor African Americans, Mexicans, and Appalachians. After this call, Johnson followed up his concerns about Black Americans by taking a call from Whitney Young of the National Urban League.

LBJ, Charles Halleck, and the Passage of the Civil Rights Bill

This call of June 21, 1964, found President Johnson relishing in the triumph achieved two days earlier when the Civil Rights Bill finally passed the Senate. With a vote in the House still remaining, here Johnson urged House Minority Leader Charles Halleck to push through quick votes on several other bills pending before the House and to pass the Civil Rights Act in time to have a signing ceremony for July 4th. Johnson was worried that a delay would allow the Republicans to avoid voting before leaving for their nominating convention on July 13th.

LBJ, Governor Wallace, and Buford Ellington in Selma, Alabama

In March 1965, several men and women in Alabama tested President Lyndon Johnson’s legendary political skills. Martin Luther King, Hosea Williams, Amelia Boynton, John Lewis, and hundreds of other activists exposed the brutality of white supremacy in Selma, while Governor George Wallace was orchestrating his own responses in Montgomery.

LBJ, Lady Bird, and Mrs. Rose Kennedy

Some 30 minutes after leaving Dallas aboard Air Force One after President Kennedy's assassination, President and Mrs. Johnson placed a telephone call to the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. The Johnsons offered their condolences to Mrs. Rose Kennedy, mother of the late President. Sergeant Joseph Ayres, the steward aboard Air Force One who initially talked with Mrs. Kennedy, would later tell William Manchester that he had to check himself from saying "President" Johnson. But Rose Kennedy used the appellation without hesitation.

LBJ, Nixon, and John S. McCain, Sr., Jr., and III

John S. McCain III, currently a Republican Senator from Arizona and Republican nominee for President in the 2008 Presidential election, was a U.S. Navy pilot during the Vietnam War. In October 1967 he was shot down over North Vietnam, taken prisoner, and held captive as a prisoner of war for five and a half years. His father, Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command during much of the time his son was a POW. We've compiled transcripts of the most substantive mentions of the McCain family in the LBJ and Nixon recordings.

Lyndon Johnson and Arthur Goldberg on Immigration

In this phone call from October 1, 1965, President Johnson invites UN Ambassador (and former Supreme Court Justice) Arthur Goldberg to a signing ceremony at Ellis Island.

Lyndon Johnson and Nicholas Katzenbach on the Immigration Bill

An excerpt from a conversation between President Johnson and Attorney General Nicolas Katzenbach, August 26, 1965.

Lyndon Johnson and Wilbur Mills on South Korea and Australia

In late October and early November 1966, President Johnson completed a lengthy trip through the western Pacific region, making official visits to New Zealand, Australia, South Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and South Korea. After returning to the United States, Johnson reflected on his travels during a lengthy conversation with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Wilbur Mills of Arkansas.

Mayor Daley and the War on Poverty

In this conversation excerpt, President Johnson informs Mayor Daley that Chicago will be among the first cities to receive War on Poverty funds. The President's comments demonstrate his focus on the Job Corps as the core of the War on Poverty. In addition, it reflects an assumption by both men that the program will be controlled at the local level by the mayor's office. In practice, a provision in Title II of the Economic Opportunity Act that called for the "maximum feasible participation" of the poor in the War on Poverty's Community Action programs would lead activists to challenge such understandings in cities around the U.S.

Mayor Daley on the Community Action Program

Following a discussion of the balance between program cuts and a possible tax increase in the next budget cycle, President Johnson mentioned a protest that a group of poverty activists from Syracuse, New York had staged at his Texas ranch. Mayor Daley, who a few moments before had urged the president to focus on job creation as the core of the anti-poverty effort, vigorously objected to the idea that the poor should control the community action programs that the War on Poverty had established in many communities. The inclusion in the Economic Opportunity Act of a provision that community action should encourage the "maximum feasible participation" of the poor had produced clashes between activists and many city governments over the purpose and nature of the programs. This conversation excerpt presents a strong statement of one side of this controversy -- a perspective shared by many mayors around the U.S.

Mississippi Burning

Exactly 41 years after the murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman, the state of Mississippi obtained its first homicide conviction in the case. On Tuesday June 21, 2005, 9 white and 3 black jurors convicted 80-year-old Edgar Ray “Preacher” Killen of manslaughter for his role in orchestrating the nighttime roadside lynching, which transpired approximately a half-mile from his house. For his crime, Killen received the maximum sentence of 60 years.

More War or More Appeasement

In this discussion with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, President Johnson seemed to backtrack from both his public and private statements on Vietnam and to reconsider the wisdom of escalation. In the process, he displayed a level of assertiveness on an issue where heretofore he had deferred to his advisers or avoided discussing the broad outlines of policy. The major issue here was Johnson's criticism of the announced withdrawal of 1,000 troops from South Vietnam, a move that many commentators cite as evidence that President Kennedy would not have escalated the war in Southeast Asia.

My Head Hurts

In this call on election evening, Johnson gets an update from Washington on the situation in Vietnam from his national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy. In the process, Johnson tells Bundy of the physical toll the campaign had taken on him. In a subsequent 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.

Pierre Salinger and Oliver Hallet

Approximately 35,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean and 900 hundred miles west of Honolulu, the VIP Boeing 707 known as SAM 86972 was carrying six members of the Cabinet and Pierre Salinger to a conference in Tokyo when it received a garbled but alarming bulletin over the UPI teletype. At Dean Rusk's instruction, press secretary Pierre Salinger contacted the White House Situation Room to confirm the news about shots being fired at the President's motorcade in Dallas. Navy Commander Oliver Hallett took the inquiry from Salinger, who could not remember any code names but his own. Hallett struggled to deliver the blood-curdling confirmation dispassionately, though misstatements and his tone betrayed Hallett's own shock at the news.

Poverty, Religion, and Military Base Closures

This clipping comes from a long conversation in which President Johnson and Speaker of the House John McCormack discussed the intransigence of the House Rules Committee and the controversy surrounding possible federal funding of parochial schools under the economic opportunity bill (which provided the legislative basis for the War on Poverty). The latter issue had emerged when Representative Hugh L. Carey of New York and other northeastern Catholic Democrats offered an amendment that would have authorized direct federal support for parochial schools under the bill's community action titles. The National Education Association, the largest of the two major teachers' unions, bitterly opposed any form of federal aid to religious schools. McCormack, a Massachusetts Democrat and a Catholic, had led an attempt to secure federal aid for parochial schools during the House fight over President Kennedy’s 1961 education bill. In doing so, he had been an ally of the same Catholic congressmen who had inserted the religious issue into the War on Poverty debate in 1964. As Speaker, however, he chose not to challenge the President on such an important piece of legislation. Earlier in the conversation, Johnson had reacted angrily to an attempt by Massachusetts Democrat (and Catholic) Tip O’Neill's to trade support of the poverty bill for a guarantee that the Boston Navy Yard would remain open. In this clip, the President returned to the subject of the navy yards and touched more sympathetically on the pressing economic issue of automation and unemployment in the industrial northeast.

Preparing a Response

Roughly two days after a North Vietnamese attack on the U.S.S. Maddox off the Gulf of Tonkin, President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert S.McNamara consider their options for responding to a second such attack.

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.

President Johnson and Mrs. Nathan Schwerner

Earlier in the day, a car driven by the three missing civil rights workers--Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwerner--was found burned. Shortly before this phone call, President Johnson had received word that previous reports about the workers being inside of it were wrong. Here, he called Michael's Schwerner's mother to let her know. Three hours before the call, at 5:39 P.M., the President had met with Schwerner's father and Andrew Goodman's parents.

President Johnson Compares the War on Poverty to the Abolition of Slavery

In this brief excerpt from a call the day after his victory in the 1964 presidential election, Lyndon Johnson outlines his agenda to Pennsylvania Senator Joseph S. Clark. In a moment of particularly sweeping ambition, the president compares his poverty program to the abolition of slavery.

Presidents and Tax Policy

Over time Presidents have undertaken a variety of different approaches toward tax policy in an effort to respond to the large and often unpredictable U.S. economy. Once the Presidents decided which policy to pursue, they then had to try to rally public support. Their various speeches and campaigns to inform the public about tax policy met with varying success. 1961-2008.

Sen. Ribicoff Outlines Problems in the War on Poverty

In this conversation excerpt, Senator Abraham Ribicoff (a former governor of Connecticut and former secretary of health, education, and welfare under President Kennedy) outlines problems with the Office of Economic Opportunity's organization and operation, its process of policy formation, and its relationship with with other executive agencies and departments. Suggesting that OEO is merely an example of a broader problem, Ribicoff urges the President to undertake a general reorganization of the executive branch.

Senator Edward Kennedy and the JFK, LBJ, and Nixon White House Tapes

As part of our ongoing series of releases pulling together material from the White House tapes related to prominent figures, we have posted a collection of transcripts of conversations involving and directly related to the long Senate career of Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy.

Signing the Farm Bill

Telephoning the President to follow up with thank-you suggestions in the wake of the farm bill passage, Larry O'Brien also received instructions from Johnson on preparations for the farm bill signing ceremony, on the antipoverty program, and on the once-defeated but now revived and slightly altered government pay bill.

Swimming With Billy Graham

In this excerpt from a conversation with Representative Frank Thompson (D-NJ), President Johnson explained his administration's position about the possible funding of Catholic school programs through the War on Poverty's community action provisions. The issue had exploded into controversy after Representative Hugh Carey (D-NY) had introduced an amendment to the Economic Opportunity Act that would allow such funding. Johnson argued that the problem would be better handled by placing a passage in the committee report that would prohibit any discriminatory use of the funds. He maintained that he and Poverty Director Sargent Shriver would see that parochial schools were treated fairly. Any other approach, he argued, would inflame anti-Catholic sentiment among conservative members of the House. He also recounted a story about how he had once been swimming in the White House pool with evangelist Billy Graham when a Southern Baptist leader called to complain about alleged pro-Catholic bias. The conversation, and the underlying dispute, suggest the continuing tensions over the role of Catholicism in U.S. politics - even after the presidency of John F. Kennedy.

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.

The Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King

President Johnson's tapes provide a remarkable inside look at city, state, and federal government officials struggling to establish control over the civil unrest in large, urban cities such as Detroit, Washington DC, and Chicago in the wake of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

The Best in the Army

In this conversation snippet, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara responds to the President's question about a possible replacement for Henry Cabot Lodge as ambassador to South Vietnam. Due to his wife's declining health, Lodge was hinting at his desire to leave his post in Saigon. He departed before the end of the month. Against evident skepticism from Johsnon, McNamara touted Gen. William C. Westmoreland as Lodge's replacement. Johnson largely accepted McNamara's ringing endorsement.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964

On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy gave a televised address to the American people and announced that he would be sending a civil rights bill to Congress which would outlaw racial segregation and make employment discrimination illegal.

The Economic Opportunity Act

President Johnson and Representative Phil Landrum of Georgia (the floor leader for the Economic Opportunity Act in the House of Representatives) discuss the attempt by a group of Catholic congressmen to block the Economic Opportunity Act in the House Education and Labor Committee. The Act would remain blocked unless sections of Title II were re-written to include funding for remedial education programs in Catholic schools. Some congressmen also hoped to use the issue as a bargaining chip to prevent the closure of naval bases in their districts. Johnson indicates his willingness to cut the community action provisions of the legislation (Title II) rather than give in to the congressmen's demands - even though this component of the bill constituted one of its most important elements. Nonetheless, the President clearly indicated in this conversation that his primary interest in the antipoverty legislation lay in the Job Corps camps and training centers of Title I, rather than in the Community Action provisions of Title II. The latter programs, however, would soon define the Economic Opportunity Act in the public mind.

The Murder of Civil Rights Activist Jonathan Daniels, August 20, 1965

On August 20, 1965, Jonathan Daniels was shot in cold blood. A day after Daniels’ death, President Lyndon Johnson had a conversation with his chief civil rights aide Lee White that revealed a heart-wrenching predicament: What to do with the bodies of slain activists?

The Politics of Medicare

On the evening of May 18, 1964, President Johnson and his congressional relations liaison Larry O'Brien discussed the progress of the administration's Medicare bill, which would expand the Social Security system to include health care coverage for the elderly. O'Brien had just discussed the legislation with Wilbur Mills, the influential chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which controlled the legislation's fate in the House of Representatives. Representative Mills had fought Medicare legislation since it had first been proposed by President Kennedy in 1961, citing concerns about the consequences of increasing the Social Security payroll tax to fund the coverage, the costs that would be entailed in such a program, and the long-run fiscal soundness of the system. During the spring of 1964, however, Mills still claimed that his committee would report a package of amendments to Social Security that would include a Medicare program, but he had not yet supplied the details of such a plan. Much of the conversation between Johnson and O'Brien involved the question of whether Mills would attempt to bypass Medicare when he finally presented his plan. Mills' maneuvers would defeat the legislation in 1964, but would contribute significantly to its eventual passage in 1965.

The War on Poverty and Racial Tension in the Urban North

This conversation excerpt demonstrates how President Johnson viewed the War on Poverty as a direct solution to the problems and tensions that had begun to produce rebellions in inner cities across the urban north. After Philadelphia Democratic City Committee Chairman Francis "Frank" Smith recounts the story of a fatal police shooting of an unarmed African American teenager in the city, the President responds by urging Smith to lobby Republicans to support the War on Poverty legislation that would soon be voted on in the House of Representatives.

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.

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.

Vietnam: Getting In or Getting Out?

The newspaper baron John Knight was a regular target of Johnson's lobbying efforts, which paid their reward in the fall, when all Knight Ridder papers endorsed Johnson's reelection. Foreign policy dominated this call after Knight mentioned a column he had written about the situation in Panama, as the Panamanians had made impassioned charges that the United States had engaged in aggression in January and called for the Organization of American States (OAS) to investigate under the authority of the Rio Treaty. The two men then turned, at Johnson's request, to an even more challenging situation: Vietnam. Johnson offered Knight his assessment of his current options, none of which was good. This clip picks up at the beginning of the Vietnam discussion.

Vietnam: More War or More Appeasement

Johnson had given a speech at UCLA that accused the Vietnamese of engaging in a "deeply dangerous game" in Southeast Asia. Reaction had not been favorable. Internationally, the U.S.S.R. warned the United States against extending the war to North Vietnam. Domestically, Mansfield reiterated his public and private calls for a negotiated settlement leading to the neutralization of Southeast Asia in the face of a widespread popular impression that the United States was preparing to begin a psychological campaign against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam). In further fallout from the perceived stiffening of policy, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs Roger Hilsman announced his resignation. Although the stated reason was a desire to return to academia, the New York Daily News claimed that Hilsman departed under pressure because of his approach to Vietnam policy, a assertion that Hilsman's memoirs confirmed. In this discussion with McNamara, Johnson seemed to backtrack from both his public and private statements on Vietnam and to reconsider the wisdom of escalation. In the process, he displayed a level of assertiveness on an issue where heretofore he had deferred to his advisers or avoided discussing the broad outlines of policy. The major issue here was Johnson's criticism of the announced withdrawal of 1,000 troops from South Vietnam, a move that many commentators cite as evidence that President Kennedy would not have escalated the war in Southeast Asia.

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.

Richard Nixon

“Cap the Knife”

Caspar W. Weinberger, the Reagan-era defense secretary who died March 28, 2006, got his start in the executive branch from President Richard M. Nixon. Nixon appointed him deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget in 1970. Weinberger became known as "Cap the Knife" for resisting requests for budget increases. During this June 8, 1971, Oval Office conversation, however, Nixon made it perfectly clear that Weinberger was to spend money on creating jobs and bringing down the unemployment rate from around 6.2 percent, regardless of the impact on inflation or the budget.

A Global Enemies List

On October 25, 1971, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution introduced by the Albanian and Cuban delegations to admit mainland China to the United Nations and to expel Taiwan (Nationalist China). It was a major defeat for the Nixon administration's foreign policy. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations George H.W. Bush publicly blasted the vote as a "moment of infamy." Newspapers reported that Bush was "visibly shaken." Vice President Spiro Agnew charged that the United Nations had become a "paper tiger." It stung all the more because the Nixon administration was caught by surprise. Bush had gone into the UN debate confident that he had the numbers to defeat the measure, having been assured by a number of African nations that they would vote with the United States. At the last minute, however, a number of those delegations switched their vote in favor of the Albanian resolution or abstained. In succeeding days, US officials identified a list of seven nations that they believed had betrayed them by renegging on commitments they had given: Belgium, Cyprus, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Tunisia, and Trinidad and Tobago. A frequent source of frustration for the United States and other large nations has been that in the UN General Assembly each member nation, regardless of size or power, has one vote. The intentional effect of that is to give a voice to smaller nations, such as Botswana, and new nations, such as Qatar, which had achieved independence only a month before this conversation took place (September 3, 1971). At the time of the vote, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger was about to return from Beijing where he was laying the groundwork for Nixon's own visit. He was informed of the result enroute to Washington.

All the Incentives are Toward Less Medical Care

In this conversation excerpt, domestic policy advisor John Ehrlichman briefed President Nixon on what he viewed as the advantages of relying on Health Maintenance Organizations as a key component of the U.S. health care system, using Edgar Kaiser's Permanente as an example. True HMOs at the time had been devised by health care reformers who hoped to control costs, improve patient care, and facilitate coverage for the uninsured. For Ehrichman, however, the HMO idea represented an opportunity to develop a private sector-based, profit-driven alternative to a national health care proposal offered by Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy (D-MA). Nixon succinctly endorsed the idea in this conversation, and his administration soon made it the core of what would eventually become the Health Maintenance Organization and Resources Development Act of 1973.

Beating McGovern

On November 7, 1972, Richard M. Nixon won reelection in the biggest Republican presidential landslide of the Cold War, getting 60.7 percent of the vote compared to Democrat George McGovern's 37.5 percent. He won the electoral votes of every state except Massachusetts.

Bob Haldeman’s Audio Diary Entry on Nixon’s Plans for Withdrawal from Vietnam

In the December 21, 1970, entry of his tape recorded diary, White House Chief of Staff H.R. "Bob" Haldeman recorded how National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger tried to convince Richard Nixon out of withdrawing the last American combat troops from Vietnam by the end of 1971. Kissinger proposed delaying the withdrawal until after the 1972 presidential election.

Colson and Nixon on Howard Hunt

E. Howard Hunt, one of more than two dozen men who went to jail for their role in the Watergate scandal, died Tuesday, January 23, 2007, at the age of 88. In this July 1, 1972, oval office conversation, Charles W. "Chuck" Colson, a White House political operative, tells the president that Hunt is not motivated by money, but ideology.

Cut Off His [Thieu’s] Head

The Nixon Library's June 23, 2009, release of 150 hours of Nixon tapes from January 1973 shed light on a little-known chapter in the history of the Vietnam War. That month, Nixon was desperate to get South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu's agreement to a settlement that National Security Adviser Henry A. Kissinger had negotiated with North Vietnam. Thieu thought Nixon's settlement terms would lead to a Communist military victory, an assessment Nixon and Kissinger privately shared.

Executive Privilege

Presidents as far back as George Washington have claimed executive privilege on the grounds that a president must be able to receive candid advice from advisors and experts in order to govern appropriately. However, after President Nixon and Watergate, executive privilege has been viewed with increasing suspicion by both Congress and the public. This exhibit reflects on executive privilege as used by George Washington, Grover Cleveland, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

Former Virginia Governor Linwood Holton and the Nixon Tapes

When he assumed office in 1970, Linwood Holton became the first Republican governor of Virginia since 1874. The previous year, Richard Nixon had assumed office as the first Republican president since 1961. Below is a compilation of conversations captured on the Nixon tapes involving or mentioning Linwood Holton. 

Kicking Nixon Around

In this telephone call, the only two men to have ever beaten Richard Nixon in elections compared notes. The call took place the day after the November 6, 1962, mid-term elections. Pat Brown, a Democrat, had won re-election as Governor of California, beating Republican challenger and former Vice President, Richard M. Nixon. In publicly conceding on the morning of November 7, Nixon had blamed the press for his defeat, famously declaring to gathered reporters that "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference." Political commentators regarded Nixon's political career over.

LBJ, Nixon, and John S. McCain, Sr., Jr., and III

John S. McCain III, currently a Republican Senator from Arizona and Republican nominee for President in the 2008 Presidential election, was a U.S. Navy pilot during the Vietnam War. In October 1967 he was shot down over North Vietnam, taken prisoner, and held captive as a prisoner of war for five and a half years. His father, Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command during much of the time his son was a POW. We've compiled transcripts of the most substantive mentions of the McCain family in the LBJ and Nixon recordings.

Nixon and Billy Graham on Vietnam

During the course of this three minute phone call at 9:52 PM, the Rev. Billy Graham congratulates President Nixon on his speech to the nation and alerts the President to an upcoming op-ed of his own to appear in the New York Times. Graham lays the blame for Vietnam at the feet of President John F. Kennedy and Kennedy's decision to support the November 1963 coup against South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem.

Nixon and Bob Haldeman on Donald Rumsfeld

President Nixon and Bob Haldeman discuss Donald Rumsfeld, observing admiringly that he's "tough enough" and a "ruthless little bastard."

Nixon and Chuck Colson on John Kerry

In April 1971, as John Kerry led a demonstration of Vietnam Veterans Against the War in Washington, DC, the Nixon White House sought to discredit him. In this conversation, Nixon aide Chuck Colson told the president that in his opinion Kerry had turned against the war out of political opportunism after he returned to the United States.

Nixon and Donald Rumsfeld discuss comments by Vice President Spiro Agnew

The unscripted remarks by Vice President Spiro Agnew were a recurring problem for President Richard Nixon. Nixon was particularly unimpressed with Agnew's habit of mixing socially with the press corps, complaining: "I know the press like him. They love to say, 'He's a nice fellow, by God, he'll drink with us.' And I know I'm considered to be very stiff with these bastards. And I will continue to be. I don't believe in getting too close to them. Never let them get too close. When Nixon sat down for this discussion with Donald Rumsfeld, then a counselor to the president, he complained of recently published comments in which Agnew had unfavorably compared African-American leader to authoritarian African leaders--Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, and Joseph Mobutu of Congo. This clip became the subject of public debate at the time of Rumsfeld's confirmation hearing in January 2001 for the position of Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush.

Nixon and Haldeman on John Kerry

In this conversation, Bob Haldeman updates the President on recent press coverage of pro-administration veterans countering the anti-Vietnam War protests of John F. Kerry.

Nixon and Kissinger on South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu

Nixon and Kissinger on South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu.

Nixon and LBJ

When Richard Nixon hired diplomatic correspondent John Scali of ABC News as a special consultant, it gave him entry to the news media grapevine and allowed him to find out what his predecessor in office, Lyndon Johnson, was saying about him. In this clip, Haldeman relays information passed on by Scali about a long conversation that an ABC executive had had with Lyndon Johnson's wife, Lady Bird, during a flight from Austin, the closest major airport to the Johnson's ranch, to Washington, D.C.

Nixon and the Amchitka Nuclear Test, November 1971

On November 6, 1971, the United States conducted a controversial high-yield nuclear weapons test beneath Amchitka Island, Alaska. Earlier that day the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 4–3 vote, had declined to issue an injunction to halt the test.

Nixon on Race

In this Oval Office conversation on May 13, 1971 with his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, and chief domestic policy adviser, John D. Erlichman, President Nixon elaborated on his view of race relations.

Nixon’s Final Advice to Rehnquist

Rehnquist was nominated by President Richard Nixon in late 1971 and sworn in January 7, 1972. Rehnquist had served in the Nixon administration as Assistant Attorney General from 1969 to 1971. The 47-year-old had a reputation for being an outspoken conservative, a reputation he lived up to while on the court. He rose to Chief Justice in 1986, nominated by President Reagan. William Rehnquist's nomination to the Supreme Court in 1971 ran into trouble with the publication of a memo he had written nearly two decades earlier as a law clerk to Justice Robert Jackson. The memo, titled "Random Thought on the Segregation Case" and bearing Rehnquist's initials, urged the high court to uphold Plessy v. Freguson, notorious for the "separate but equal" doctrine that upheld racial segregation. "I know it is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position, for which I have been excoriated by 'liberal' colleagues, but I think Plessy v. Ferguson was right and should be reaffirmed," the memo stated. "Regardless of the Justice’s individual views of the merits of segregation, it quite clearly is not one of those extreme cases which commands intervention from anyone of any conviction." The memo emerged on Dec. 5, 1971, just days before the Senate was to vote on the Rehnquist nomination. Rehnquist wrote to one of his Senate backers that the memo was composed at the request of Justice Jackson and was intended as a rough draft statement of Jackson's views, not his own. There was some thought of putting off the Senate vote until the next session of Congress, but in this Dec. 10, 1971, conversation with his chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, President Richard Nixon threatened to retaliate by convening a special session of Congress that would force senators to work through the holidays. The Senate voted to confirm Rehnquist's nomination later that afternoon by a vote of 68-26. Upon hearing of the confirmation, Nixon telephoned Rehnquist from the Oval Office to congratulate him and offer some final advice.

Nixon, Kissinger, and Haldeman on John Kerry

In this Oval Office discussion, Nixon and his advisers discuss recent press coverage of the anti-war group, Vietnam Veterans Against the War. They were particularly impressed by the performance of John F. Kerry before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the previous day. Kerry's testimony had included sharp accusations of what he said were war crimes being committed on a daily basis by U.S. troops with full awareness of officers at all levels of command.

Nixon, Kissinger, and the “Decent Interval”

More than 30 years after the fall of Saigon, the most hotly debated question regarding President Richard M. Nixon's conduct of the Vietnam War remains whether he adopted a "decent interval" exit strategy. . . .

Nixon: “The Jews are Born Spies”

Conspiracy theories, as Richard Hofstadter noted, can target any demographic group. Nixon's targeted three: Jews, intellectuals, and Ivy Leaguers. Nixon privately called all three groups "arrogant" and said they placed themselves "above the law." By telling himself that Jews, intellectuals and Ivy Leaguers were immoral, even criminal, Nixon gave himself permission to do immoral, even criminal, things to any Jew, intellectual or Ivy Leaguer whom he feared could cause him political harm.

President Nixon and Bob Haldeman on Fred Malek

In June of 1971, unemployment dropped sharply from 6.2 to 5.6 percent, excellent political news for the Nixon administration. But the president was angered when Howard Goldstein, the assistant commission for labor statistics, said during congressional testimony, "How much of the total drop in unemployment is real and how much is the result of statistical factors, we can't say at this time." Nixon resolved to remove Goldstein. He did not stop there. He ordered his chief of staff, H.R. "Bob" Haldeman, to have the White House personnel chief, Fred Malek, to "see what we can do about" Jews in the federal government.

President Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford on Antiwar Demonstrations

The last massive demonstration in Washington, DC, against the Vietnam War took place in May of 1971. The "Mayday Tribe" promised to disrupt the operation of the government by stopping traffic and thus preventing federal employees from getting to work. Police arrested literally thousands of people in dragnets that captured demonstrators and bystanders alike, detaining many in a football field. The charges against many were thrown out as illegal and unconstitutional, but Nixon was pleased. A few days later he had his press secretary tell reporters that Washington would handle similar protests in a similar way. In this May 5, 1971, conversation, Nixon discusses public reaction with House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford (R-Michigan), who would succeed Nixon as president, and Attorney General John Mitchell.

Richard Nixon Reflects on Youth Today

President Nixon met with a group of student body presidents. Neither he nor his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, were impressed. None of the students, Nixon said, measured up favorably against his own time as student body president at Whittier College.

Senator Edward Kennedy and the JFK, LBJ, and Nixon White House Tapes

As part of our ongoing series of releases pulling together material from the White House tapes related to prominent figures, we have posted a collection of transcripts of conversations involving and directly related to the long Senate career of Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy.

The Future Presidents Club

Through their interactions with the White House while Congressmen, Senators, or Governors, several future presidents have been captured on the White House tapes. We have pulled together some of the recorded conversations with Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon before they moved into the Oval Office.

The Pandas Are Coming!

In this telephone call, President Nixon tells his wife, Pat, that agreement has been reached to bring some Pandas from China to Washington's National Zoo.

This Will be Forgotten

When former President Richard Nixon agreed to televised interviews with David Frost in return for $1 million, he didn't know what he was in for. Three years after Nixon resigned the presidency, the British television personality would confront him on camera with previously unpublished transcripts from his first recorded conversation with White House political operative Charles W. "Chuck" Colson following the Watergate break-in. "The real significance" of the excerpts from the June 20, 1972, conversation, wrote Frost's researcher, James Reston, Jr., in The Conviction of Richard Nixon, "lay in the chemistry of the interview. Here was Frost at the very outset of the Watergate narrative with new and highly damaging material. What else did he have? How many new tapes would he spring? How sure could Nixon be that his old lines of defense would hold?" The confrontation is memorialized in a current Broadway play, "Frost/Nixon." In the conversation Frost quoted, Nixon and Colson minimized the importance of Watergate in comparison to another scandal which in the news at the time involving IT&T and expressed the hope that the break-in would soon be forgotten. Please note that because this recordings suffers from particularly poor sound quality, we have been unable to confirm with confidence the transcript used by Frost. That original transcript is available here.

Thomas Eagleton

Thomas F. Eagleton, the Democratic vice presidential candidate for the 1972 election, was forced off the ticket after revelations that he had undergone electroshock treatment for depression. In this clip, advisor Clark MacGregor and H.R. ("Bob") Haldeman (White House Chief of Staff) discuss the situation and President Nixon's response. July 25, 1972.

Tricia Nixon’s Wedding

The first outdoor wedding at the White House occurred on June 12, 1971, when President Richard Nixon's eldest daughter, Tricia, wed Edward Cox in the Rose Garden. As Nixon killed time in the Oval Office with his chief of staff, H.R. "Bob" Haldeman, the Quaker Peace Movement bore on his mind. Five members had obtained permission to demonstrate during the wedding in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House. "There is no anticipated problem in this regard," White House lawyer John Dean had informed Haldeman, but that wasn't enough for the president, who had grown up attending a Friends Meeting with his family in Whittier, California.

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.

Watergate: They Have to be Paid

President Richard M. Nixon wanted to delay the Watergate break-in trial until after the 1972 presidential election, and on August 1, 1972, White House Chief of Staff H.R. "Bob" Haldeman informed him that he would get his wish. The lawyers involved all had heavy court calendars that would not be cleared until the end of the year, so there was little chance for a trial to begin before Election Day.

Bill Clinton

Executive Privilege

Presidents as far back as George Washington have claimed executive privilege on the grounds that a president must be able to receive candid advice from advisors and experts in order to govern appropriately. However, after President Nixon and Watergate, executive privilege has been viewed with increasing suspicion by both Congress and the public. This exhibit reflects on executive privilege as used by George Washington, Grover Cleveland, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

Presidents and Tax Policy

Over time Presidents have undertaken a variety of different approaches toward tax policy in an effort to respond to the large and often unpredictable U.S. economy. Once the Presidents decided which policy to pursue, they then had to try to rally public support. Their various speeches and campaigns to inform the public about tax policy met with varying success. 1961-2008.

George W. Bush

Executive Privilege

Presidents as far back as George Washington have claimed executive privilege on the grounds that a president must be able to receive candid advice from advisors and experts in order to govern appropriately. However, after President Nixon and Watergate, executive privilege has been viewed with increasing suspicion by both Congress and the public. This exhibit reflects on executive privilege as used by George Washington, Grover Cleveland, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

Presidents and Tax Policy

Over time Presidents have undertaken a variety of different approaches toward tax policy in an effort to respond to the large and often unpredictable U.S. economy. Once the Presidents decided which policy to pursue, they then had to try to rally public support. Their various speeches and campaigns to inform the public about tax policy met with varying success. 1961-2008.

Miscellaneous

Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara Dies

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Strange McNamara passed away on July 6, 2009. He was one of the most frequently recorded participants in the Kennedy and Johnson tapes. Of particular note are discussions recorded during the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam War. Here is a small sampling of the hundreds of recorded conversations that involved or discussed McNamara.


LBJ Orders Some New Haggar Pants

President Johnson called the Haggar clothing company to order some new pants, providing specific (and sometimes graphic) instructions on how they should be customized for him.


Lessons for 2012

Building on the Miller Center’s strength in presidential and political history and introducing a number of exciting new initiatives, “Lessons for 2012” is a Center-wide effort which puts the circumstances, challenges, and choices facing our next commander-in-chief–and our nation–in greater context.


Senator Edward Kennedy and the JFK, LBJ, and Nixon White House Tapes

As part of our ongoing series of releases pulling together material from the White House tapes related to prominent figures, we have posted a collection of transcripts of conversations involving and directly related to the long Senate career of Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy.