Lyndon Baines Jonhson
Lyndon Baines Johnson, Thirty-sixth President (1963-1969).jpg
Mr. Johnson
Political party: Democratic
Education: Texas State University
Religion Reformed (Disciples of Christ)
Born August 27, 1908
Died January 22, 1973 (aged 64)

"Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose."- LBJ Lyndon B. Johnson was a Democratic President of the United States who took over after Kennedy's assassination.

He became Vice President in 1960, succeeded as President in 1963 and was elected in his own right in 1964, beating his opponent, Barry Goldwater in a landslide.

First he obtained enactment of the measures President Kennedy had been urging at the time of his death--a new civil rights bill and a tax cut. Next he urged the Nation "to build a great society, a place where the meaning of man's life matches the marvels of man's labor." [1]

Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, got free Medicare for elderly Americans and Medicaid for poor Americans; both were a step towards free Universal Health Care which hopefully America will get some time. LBJ declared a "War on Poverty" which he unfortunately won only partially. We could've won that war if Ronald Reagan hadn't come along and sided with poverty.

Unfortunately he mishandled the Vietnam war, allowing his military to use bombs and napalm against civilians, and of course, that's what JFK would've never done. He didn't run for re-election and Richard Nixon won the 1968 Presidential election defeating Vice President Hubert Humphrey. [2][3]

1960 election

In 1960, Senate Majority Leader Johnson sought the presidency, but he lost the nomination to Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy. In an attempt to soothe party wounds and get Southern votes, JFK announced Johnson as his running mate. His place as running mate was opposed by JFK's brother Bobby. LBJ and RFK hated each other for some reason, possibly being a North vs South prejudice feud.

Ascension to the Presidency

On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy, accompanied by his wife Jackie and Vice President Johnson, visited Dallas as part of the start of Kennedy's re-elect campaign. They were also there to soothe tensions between the liberal and conservative sections of the Democratic Party.

Johnson was riding in the limousine behind the Kennedy when Kennedy was assassinated (supposedly) by Lee Harvey Oswald, who was also assassinated two days later by Jack Ruby in the police department on November 24, 1963. The Secret Service assigned to protect Johnson covered him with their bodies until they got to the hospital. When President Kennedy died, Johnson took the oath of office on Air Force One, standing next to Jackie Kennedy, whose pink dress was still covered in her late husband's blood. He refused to take the oath of office until Kennedy's body was loaded on the plane, to make an appearance of a legitimate transfer of power.

On November 27, 1963, Johnson appeared before both houses of Congresses and asked for their assistance to carry the torch Kennedy had passed to him.

1964 election

President LBJ gives Senator Richard Russell the "Johnson Treatment".

The nation was still in mourning two months later when the 1964 election began. Also the nation was in turmoil over the struggle for the civil rights of black folks. Race riots were happening across the nation, not just the South. JFK's Civil Rights Bill was still in committee by the time he died.

Because Johnson was from Texas, he had a political history of supporting segregation previously, mostly out of political necessity. Due to him being Southern, no one thought he'd support Civil Rights. Kennedy and his brother Bobby had led the noble campaign, but people expected that from Northerners. However, now that he was in the White House, Johnson revealed he was against segregation. Johnson knew this would win favors with liberals and blacks and make his mark on American history. His aides tried to talk him out of it, arguing it would cost him the South.

In December of 1963, President Johnson met with Senator Richard Russell, leader of the Southern Democrats. Russell told Johnson that if LBJ went with Civil Rights, the Democrats would lose the South forever and Johnson would lose in 1964. Johnson responded, "Dick, if that is the price for this bill, I will gladly pay it."

On January 8, 1964, Johnson said in his first State of the Union address, "We must abolish, not some, but all racial discrimination. [...] For this is not merely economic issue, or social, political or international issue. It is a moral issue." With that speech, Johnson changed what the Democrat party was about. In 1860, the Democrats (the rich ones in power at least) seceded from the South to protect slavery. After the Civil War, they enacted harsh repression and segregation against blacks. Now, like FDR and JFK before him, he was moving the Democratic Party to the Left by changing what the Party stood for. Despite the nobility of his actions, there were big electoral risks for him. Like President John Tyler before him, he could've been kicked out of his own party or he could more likely lose the 1964 election. But he pressed forward

Johnson worked hard to get Civil Rights passed while Barry Goldwater was securing his GOP nomination. One of the ways he got people to support the bill was using "The Johnson Treatment". Being 6"3, Johnson was able to tower over people and cajole, seduce or intimidate them into submission, especially when he got right in their face (see above photo with Russell). He even told one opponent of the bill, "If you get in my way, I'm going to run you down."

On July 2, 1964, everyone across the country turned on their televisions to watch as President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This was a moment in history that will never be forgotten. A Southern white Democrat President was signing into law a bill that forever banned racial discrimination. "Let us lay aside irrelevant differences and make our nation whole," he said to commence the signing.

As one would expect, many Democrats viewed this as a betrayal. Later that night, Johnson was sullen. He knew the Civil Rights Act was going to cost him Southern votes.

Lyndon Johnson received the nomination. Johnson chose Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey as his running mate. Ironically, Humphrey, like Johnson, had run against Kennedy in the 1960 Democratic primaries.

"I ask the American people for a mandate not to preside over a finished program. I ask the American people for a mandate to Begin."

When Robert F. Kennedy was brought to the podium, the convention erupted in adulation for the brother of the late president. The applause went on for almost 16 minutes. "I first want to thank all of you delegates to this Democratic National Convention and the supporters of the Democratic party for all that you did for President John F. Kennedy," RFK said after the applause finally died down. "When there were periods of crisis, you stood beside him. When there were periods of happiness, you laughed with him. And when there were periods of sorrow, you comforted him." If RFK had been allowed to deliver that speech at the beginning of the Convention as originally planned, it might've been enough to convince the delegates to vote for him instead of Johnson.

But RFK had to throw his support behind Johnson. "The same efforts and the same energy and the same dedication that was given to President John F. Kennedy must be given to President Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey."

On September 7, 1964, the Johnson Campaign released the 'Daisy' Ad. In it, a little girl is shown counting the pedals on of daisy, followed by a nuclear countdown and a nuclear explosion. Johnson's voice over then states "These are the stakes to make a world in which all of God's children can live or to go into the Garden. We must either love each other or we must die." With the Cuban Missile Crisis having only happened two years previously, the American public was frightened over the conception of nuclear apocalypse. While the ad never mentioned Goldwater, it played on the fear of Goldwater being a dangerous man willing to use nuclear weapons, subtlety suggesting if Goldwater was elected, nuclear war would happen.

Goldwater responded that he though the American people would be better off if they sawed off the Eastern seaboard and let it float out to sea. In fact, the Johnson Campaign made an Ad where a saw literally sawed off the eastern seaboard, mocking the statement. Goldwater refused to make an attack commercial because he wanted to have a campaign of principals and not personalities.

Johnson didn't just want to win the election, he wanted to win a landslide victory. This was part of his inflated ego. Johnson started using dirty tactics. Six hours before the Goldwater campaign could announce their "Peace and Freedom and Democracy Commission", the White House/Johnson campaign announced their commission for Peace and Freedom. The Goldwater figured out they had been bugged by the CIA. The CIA had been going down in power, so to get in the good graces of the President by infiltrating the opposition campaign and help the President's campaign. They had planted a spy in the Goldwater headquarters. She made sure advanced copies of speeches were provided to a team working in the White House. The Goldwater campaign people had to make calls in payphones outside the headquarters to thwart the spy.

With the election a month away, Johnson was projected to ahead of Goldwater by 30 points. But Johnson campaigned as if he was behind Goldwater. He took Kennedy's approach to campaigning, getting up close and personal with crowds to the horror of the Secret Service and even getting on the roof of his motorcade to give Texas style speeches.

To gain back Southern votes, Johnson sent his wife and two daughters on a tour through the Southern states. The "Lady Bird Special", named after the First Lady "Lady Bird" Johnson, was the label on the train they traveled on. It went from Virginia to Louisiana. Lady Bird Johnson, using her thick Southern accent, wanted her fellow Southerners to understand the President's actions. By signing the Civil Rights Act, he had brought the South firmly into the 20th Century.

But many Southerners rejected her, even throwing tomatoes at her. Some carried signs that said "Black Bird, Fly Away Home".

On November 3, 1964, Lyndon Johnson won the election, with 486 electoral college votes (out of 270 needed to win). He carried 44 states and Washington DC (which voted for the first time in a presidential election).

Pros and Cons


  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • Medicare (should've been Medicare for All)
  • War on Poverty
  • Medicaid
  • Massive social reforms
  • Was good at handling Congress


  • Escalated Vietnam War into a catastrophe
  • Incurable case of the military-industrial complex
  • The Tonkin Gulf Resolution
  • Left office with less public trust in the government then when he entered office

See also


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