A President from the Heart of Texas

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Tony Maples Photography


Lyndon B Johnson

“LBJ,” as he was affectionately referred to, was, according to many, the most powerful and influential president in the history of the United States. He was most remembered for the war of Vietnam.

1. Early Life of Lyndon B. Johnson

Senator LBJ - PInterest

Photo: pinterest.com

Lyndon Baines Johnson was the son of Sam Ealy Johnson, Jr., a member of the Texas legislature for eleven years. Born in Stonewall Texas, his family was not wealthy, and Johnson worked throughout his youth to help support the family. He graduated from high school in 1930, then attended Georgetown University to study law from 1934-35.

While serving as a US Representative, he joined the navy to fight in World War II. He was an observer on a bombing mission where the plane’s generator went out and they had to turn around. Some accounts said there was enemy contact while others said there was none. Despite this, he was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in battle.

2. Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) was the 36th U.S. President.

Johnson Swearing In

Photo: LBJ searing In, en.wikipedia.org

Just two hours after John F. Kennedy was assassinated Johnson was sworn in on November 22, 1963 while aboard the plane with Jackie Kennedy by his side. He finished the remaining term of Kennedy’s and then he won the election of 1964 with 61% of the votes. That was the highest percent of the popular vote in our history

Johnson used his tremendous political influence to greatly expand the federal government, perhaps more than any previous president. The Great Society covered education, healthcare, urban renewal and redevelopment, beautification and conservation. It continued the War on Poverty, created new programs to prevent crime and delinquency, while increasing voting rights. It required the states to meet Federally designated minimum commitments.

3. LBJ’s Achievements While in Office

Johnson Signs Civil Rights Bill

Photo: PBS.org

LBJ is responsible for Medicare, Medicaid, Urban Renewal. and the right for minorities to vote, ride buses and go to school the same as whites. Through his “Great Society Program,” he created the National Endowment for the Arts or Humanities, Public Broadcasting, and Drivers’ Ed.

Soon after being sworn in, LBJ declared a “War on Poverty” which helped pass a significant tax cut and Civil Rights Act (1964), both originally proposed by JFK. The tax cuts and increased government spending boosted economic growth, making LBJ’s term one of the few terms without any recessions. However, the percent of families living below the poverty level wasn’t getting better. In fact, the number of children on welfare increased to 2.4 million, almost double between 1950-1960. At that time the unemployment rate was only 5.5% but for black youths it was 25%.

4. The Vietnam War

Vietnam - pinterest.com

Photo: Vietnam – pinterest.com

LBJ deployed 100,000 combat troops to Vietnam in 1965 and by 1968, increased the defense budget to support a total of 500,000 troops. American casualties were extremely high as the North Vietnamese appeared to be winning. Johnson’s strategy was to support the South Vietnamese until they could take over. He didn’t have a plan to win

LBJ faced a very strong anti-war movement and his approval rating dropped to 29%. LBJ chose not run for another term President in 1968. Johnson retired on January 20, 1969 to his ranch in Texas. He died of a heart attack in 1973, and is buried at the LBJ Ranch in the Texas Hill country.

5. “The Vantage Point” Written in Retirement

The Vantage Point

Photo: pinterest.com

After retiring, Johnson did not work in politics again. He spent some time writing his memoirs, The Vantage Point. This book provides a look and some say self justification for many of the actions he took while he was president.