36th U.S. President: Lyndon B. Johnson

About the thirty-sixth President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson, his birth, death, biography, description, facts and quotes.

36th President


Born: August 27, 1908, in the vicinity of Johnson City, Tex.

Died: January 22, 1973, at the LBJ Ranch, the 360-acre retreat not far from his birthplace.

Career: Graduate of Southwest Texas State College, teacher of public speaking at a Houston high school, volunteer in local congressional campaign, appointed congressman's secretary, appointed Texas director of the National Youth Administration, elected to House of Representatives, unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate, volunteer navy officer during W.W. II, elected U.S. senator by questionable 87-vote margin, chosen Senate Democratic leader at age 44--and in his freshman term.

Personal Life: At age 26, he met Claudia "Lady Bird" Taylor, the shy, intelligent daughter of a well-to-do merchant. LBJ proposed to her on the 1st date and 2 months later they were married. While Lyndon concentrated on politics, Lady Bird supervised every aspect of home life, and used her inheritance and her sharp business sense to build up a multimillion-dollar communications empire. Johnson was always proud of his 2 daughters, though he was unable to spend much time with them when they were growing up. In 1968 he announced: "I'm the luckiest man alive. None of my girls drinks or smokes or takes dope and they both married fine men."

His Person: An imposing 6'3", massive bone structure, slightly paunchy in middle age. Long nose, enormous fleshy ears, and leathery skin. Liked to relax every day with Cutty Sark Scotch stirred into watery highballs. Smoked 3 packs of cigarettes a day, then quit after suffering a severe heart attack at age 47. Boundless energy; as President, he worked every day from 6:30 A.M. till one or 2 the next morning, with a brief break for a nap after lunch.

Elections: In 1960, he was John Kennedy's chief rival for the Democratic nomination, and Kennedy named Johnson as his running mate in a bid for party unity. In the year following Kennedy's assassination, LBJ managed to push most of the stalled "New Frontier" legislation through Congress, and became a heavy favorite to win a term in his own right in 1964. His success was virtually assured when the Republicans nominated outspoken conservative Barry Goldwater. In the campaign, Johnson billed himself as the peace candidate and repeatedly promised "no wider war" in Vietnam. The result was a landslide with LBJ winning an all time record of 61.1% of the popular vote. He also carried 44 States, for a total of 486 electoral votes, to Goldwater's 52.

Term of Office: November 22, 1963-January 20, 1969 (5 years, 59 days). Johnson unexpectedly withdrew from the presidential race in 1968 amid heated controversy concerning his Vietnam policy.

Little-Known Facts: After he became President, LBJ briefly considered firing FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, but eventually changed his mind. "I'd rather have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside pissing in," the President reasoned. Once, as Johnson prepared to leave an airport after a speech, an army staff sergeant noticed that the President was heading for the wrong helicopter. He came up to LBJ, pointing: "Mr. President, that is your helicopter over there." Johnson threw one of his huge arms over the sergeant's shoulders and smiled: "Son, they are all my helicopters."

Quotes from Johnson:

"Never trust a man whose eyes are too close to his nose."

"I wake up at 5 A.M. some mornings and hear the planes coming in at National Airport and I think they are bombing me."

"Just like the Alamo, somebody damn well needed to go to their aid. Well, by God, I'm going to Vietnam's aid."

"If we quit Vietnam, tomorrow we'll be fighting in Hawaii, and next week we'll have to fight in San Francisco."

"I can't trust anybody! What are you trying to do to me? Everybody is trying to cut me down, destroy me!"--To an aide, 1967

Quotes about Him:

"When all the returns are in, perhaps President Johnson will have to settle for being recognized as the greatest American President for the poor and for the Negroes, but that, as I see it, is a very great honor indeed."--Ralph Ellison

"He doesn't like cold intellectuals around him. He wants people who will cry when an old lady falls down in the street."--Jack Valenti

"Can it be that this President, so competent and masterful and overwhelming, is plagued and eaten and driven to immoderation by some inward insecurity?"--John Osborne

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