Lyndon Baines Johnson
(1908-1973)

Johnson was born on Aug. 27, 1908, near Johnson City, Tex., the eldest son of

Sam Ealy Johnson, Jr., and Rebekah Baines Johnson. His father, a struggling farmer and
cattle speculator in the hill country of Texas, provided only an uncertain income for his
family. Politically active, Sam Johnson served five terms in the Texas legislature. His
mother had varied cultural interests and placed high value on education; she was fiercely
ambitious for her children. Johnson attended public schools in Johnson City and received
a B.S. degree from Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos. He then
taught for a year in Houston before going to Washington in 1931 as secretary to a
democratic Texas congressman, Richard M. Kleberg. During the next 4 years Johnson
developed a wide network of political contacts in Washington, D.C. On Nov. 17, 1934,
he married Claudia Alta Taylor, known as Lady Bird. A warm, intelligent, ambitious
woman, she was a great asset to Johnson\'s career. They had two daughters, Lynda Byrd,
born in 1944, and Luci Baines, born in 1947. In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt entered the

White House. Johnson greatly admired the president, who named him, at age 27, to head
the National Youth Administration in Texas. This job, which Johnson held from 1935
to 1937, entailed helping young people obtain employment and schooling. It confirmed

Johnson\'s faith in the positive potential of government and won for him a group of
supporters in Texas.

In 1937, Johnson sought and won a Texas seat in Congress, where he championed
public works, reclamation, and public power programs. When war came to Europe he
backed Roosevelt\'s efforts to aid the Allies. During World War II he served a brief tour
of active duty with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific (1941-42) but returned to Capitol Hill
when Roosevelt recalled members of Congress from active duty. Johnson continued to
support Roosevelt\'s military and foreign-policy programs. During the 1940s, Johnson and
his wife developed profitable business ventures, including a radio station, in Texas.

In 1948 he ran for the U.S. Senate, winning the Democratic party primary by only

87 votes. (This was his second try; in 1941 he had run for the Senate and lost to a
conservative opponent.) The opposition accused him of fraud and tagged him Landslide

Lyndon. Although challenged, unsuccessfully, in the courts, he took office in 1949.

Johnson moved quickly into the Senate hierarchy. In 1953 he won the job of Senate

Democratic leader. The next year he was easily re-elected as senator and returned to

Washington as majority leader, a post he held for the next 6 years despite a serious heart
attack in 1955. The Texan proved to be a shrewd, skillful Senate leader. A consistent
opponent of civil rights legislation until 1957, he developed excellent personal
relationships with powerful conservative Southerners. A hard worker, he impressed
colleagues with his attention to the details of legislation and his willingness to
compromise.

In the late 1950s, Johnson began to think seriously of running for the presidency in

1960. His record had been fairly conservative, however. Many Democratic liberals
resented his friendly association with the Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower;
others considered him a tool of wealthy Southwestern gas and oil interests. Either to
soften this image as a conservative or in response to inner conviction, Johnson moved
slightly to the left on some domestic issues, especially on civil rights laws, which he
supported in 1957 and 1960. Although these laws proved ineffective, Johnson had
demonstrated that he was a very resourceful Senate leader.

To many northern Democrats, however, Johnson remained a sectional candidate.

The presidential nomination of 1960 went to Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Kennedy, a northern Roman Catholic, then selected Johnson as his running mate to
balance the Democratic ticket. In November 1960 the Democrats defeated the

Republican candidates, Richard M. Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, by a narrow margin.

Johnson was appointed by Kennedy to head the President\'s Committee on Equal

Employment Opportunities, a post that enabled him to work on behalf of blacks and other
minorities. As vice-president, he also undertook some missions abroad, which offered
him some limited insights into international problems.

The assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, elevated Johnson
to the White House, where he quickly proved a masterful, reassuring leader in the realm
of domestic affairs. In 1964, Congress passed a tax-reduction law that promised to
promote economic growth and the Economic Opportunity Act, which launched the
program called the War on Poverty. Johnson was especially skillful in securing a strong

Civil Rights Act in 1964. In