Lyndon B. Johnson Biography
36th President of the United States
Years Served as President: 1963-1969
Vice President: Hubert Humphrey
Age at Inauguration: 55
Home State: Texas
Date of Birth: August 27, 1908
Died: January 22, 1973
Married: Claudia Taylor
Children: Lynda, Luci
What is Lyndon B. Johnson known for?
Lyndon B. Johnson became the president after John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
His presidency is best remembered for the passage of important civil rights legislation and for the Vietnam War.
Lyndon Baines Johnson was born in 1908 close to Stonewall, Texas. He was the first of five children. His family included some of the state’s earliest settlers.
They had raised cattle, farmed cotton, and fought with the Confederacy.
His parents were Sam and Rebekah Baines Johnson. Sam was a farmer who had served five terms on the Texas legislature.
When the farm wasn’t making enough money, the family moved to Johnson City, a small town nearby.
There, Lyndon attended school in a one-room schoolhouse. When he moved up to Johnson City High School, his entire grade level had six students.
The high school was a three-mile mule ride away from his home.
Eventually, Johnson graduated from Southwest State Teachers College in San Marcos, Texas. He taught disadvantaged Mexican-American students and earned glowing reviews. He transformed the school.
Although he was a great teacher, Johnson’s teaching career was brief. He was more interested in politics. He began working as an aide for a U.S. Congressman.
He loved the work and decided to study law at Georgetown University.
Around this time, Johnson met Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor, a recent graduate of the University of Texas. The couple quickly fell in love and were married three months later.
They went on to have two children, Lynda and Luci. “Lady Bird” came from a wealthy family and was very intelligent. She was an important part of LBJ’s political success.
In 1937, Johnson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He was re-elected five times. During World War II, he served briefly in the U.S. Navy and was awarded a Silver Star.
In 1948, Johnson was elected to the Senate. Five years later, at age 44, he became the youngest person to ever serve as the minority leader of the Senate.
When the Democrats won control of Congress two years later, Johnson became the majority leader.
He became known as a brilliant politician, perhaps one of the best of his time.
He wanted to run for president in 1960, but he lost the Democratic nomination to the charismatic and handsome John F. Kennedy. Kennedy invited LBJ to be his vice-presidential running mate.
They won the election, and Johnson became the vice president of the United States.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. Soon after, Johnson was sworn in as the president.
As president, Johnson quickly declared a “War on Poverty.” He wanted to fight against unemployment and racial discrimination.
His vision was a “Great Society” where everyone would be equal and have equal opportunity.
In the 1964 presidential election, he soundly defeated his opponent, the Republican Barry Goldwater.
Johnson introduced the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which provided health insurance for elderly and poor Americans.
It also included plans to prevent crime, improve education, and reduce pollution.
He signed the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.
These laws made most forms of racial segregation illegal, and they allowed the federal government to protect the voting rights of all citizens regardless of race.
Johnson’s many achievements improved the lives of millions of U.S. citizens. His policies contributed to prosperity and economic growth.
However, Johnson is mostly remembered for the Vietnam War. Like other presidents before him, he wanted to prevent communism from spreading around the world.
Johnson continued to increase U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He sent nearly 500,000 additional troops into the conflict.
More than 58,000 U.S. soldiers died in the Vietnam War. As the number of deaths climbed, anti-war protests broke out across the country.
College campuses were especially vocal in speaking out against the war.
Johnson became extremely unpopular with both Republicans and Democrats. He announced his decision not to run for re-election.
After the Presidency
After leaving office, Johnson retired to his Texas ranch. He established his presidential library and wrote his memoirs.
He died of a heart attack at the age of 64. It was January 22, 1973, one day before the Paris Peace Accords that ended the Vietnam War were concluded.
Fun Facts About Lyndon B. Johnson
Johnson’s wife was nicknamed Ladybird, giving her the same initials as her husband (LBJ). In keeping with this pattern, they named their daughters Lynda Bird Johnson and Luci Baines Johnson.
At age 12, Johnson told classmates, “You know, one day I’m going to be the president of the United States.”
While in Congress, LBJ managed to bring electrical power to the small Texas town he grew up in. For the rest of his life, he claimed this as his greatest achievement.
At 6’3 ½ inches tall, Johnson is the second tallest president in U.S. history. Only the 6’4 Abraham Lincoln was taller.
He appointed the first African-American to the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall. Johnson said it was “the right thing to do, the right time to do it, the right man, and the right place.”