On August 27, 1908, in Stonewall, Texas, Samuel Ealy Johnson Jr. and Rebekah Baines Johnson gave birth to Lyndon Baines Johnson. The couple had five children. The Johnson family, noted for farming and ranching, had settled in Texas before the Civil War, and in the aftermath, founded the nearby town of Johnson City. Johnson’s father, a Texas representative, was better at politics than ranching, and the family farm was lost when Johnson was in his early teens due to financial difficulties.
Samuel Johnson failed to raise his two sons and three daughters after losing a substantial amount of money selling cotton. Lyndon Johnson’s mother was a compassionate lady who instilled a love of books in her children and instilled a sense of obligation and obligation in them.
Johnson had a difficult time in education but graduated from Johnson City High School in 1924. Eventually, he enrolled at Southwest Texas State Teachers College; now became Texas State University. He was involved in campus politics and debates. He briefly taught after graduation in 1930, but his political aspirations had already taken shape. Johnson moved to Washington, D.C. in 1931 after being appointed as a legislative assistant to Texas Democratic Congressman Richard M. Kleberg. He soon developed a network of congress members, newspaper journalists, lobbyists, and associates, including Roosevelt’s aides.
He traveled to and from Texas as Kleberg’s assistant, and it was on one of these travels that he met Claudia Alta Taylor, better known as “Lady Bird,” the daughter of a wealthy Texas rancher. She graduated from Baylor University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in history. On November 17, 1934, they tied the knot. Lynda Bird Johnson and Luci Baines Johnson were their two children.
Johnson fought hard for more influence in Washington, making a few enemies and not seeing any luck. He was promised a partnership in an Austin law firm if he had a law degree, so he went to Georgetown University for evening classes. But it didn’t serve him, and he dropped out after a year.
The congressman from Texas’s Tenth District died unexpectedly in 1937. Johnson ran against seven other contenders in a crowded field when a special election was held to choose a successor. The race was dominated by the twenty-eight-year-old Johnson, much to the surprise of many long-serving lawmakers. He ran for Senate in 1941 but failed by a razor-thin margin. In December of that year, he became the first member of Congress to serve in the military during WWII. He enlisted in the navy and was awarded the Silver Star in 1942 for his role in a bombing mission over New Guinea. Johnson returned to Congress after President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered all military congressmen to return to the capital in 1942.
In 1948, Johnson was elected to the Texas Senate in a tight and contentious race. He rose rapidly in the Senate and, thanks to his contacts, became the Senate’s youngest minority leader in 1953. The following year, Democrats took control of the Senate, and Johnson was elected majority leader. He had an uncanny capacity to collect intel about his peers and understood exactly where they were on political matters. Lyndon Johnson was able to “buttonhole” political allies and rivals alike with incredible persuasion abilities and an intimidating personality to persuade them of his point of view. Following that, he was able to get a lot of bills passed under President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency.
John F. Kennedy defeated Johnson for the Democratic presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in 1960, 809 votes to 409 votes, on the first ballot. He then shocked those inside and outside the party when he welcomed Kennedy’s offer to run for vice president on the Democratic ticket. Overcoming his anger at not being named to the key, he campaigned fiercely. Many people believed that without him, Kennedy would not have won Texas, Louisiana, and the Carolinas, which were crucial to his win over Republican nominee Richard M. Nixon.
As Vice President, Johnson was responsible for a variety of critical tasks. One of his responsibilities was to boost the rising U.S. space program, which Soviet Union explorations and discoveries had dominated. In terms of human rights, he shocked many opponents by placing relentless pressure on American corporations as chairman of the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. President John F. Kennedy established the committee in 1961 to enact an executive order barring discrimination in government jobs based on race.
President John F. Kennedy was killed in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. When the bullets were fired, Johnson was just two cars behind Kennedy. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th president on board Air Force One on the way back to Washington, D.C., just a few hours later. He supported the late president’s programs and introduced a few of his own into Congress during the following year.
A joint session of Congress was addressed by President Johnson five days after taking office. “We shall continue,” he said emphatically. Meeting with aides, cabinet ministers, and members of Congress around the clock, the incoming president, assisted in the passage of critical bills presented to Congress by President Kennedy but had been bottled up in numerous committees of both houses. Johnson pressed for enacting a civil rights bill that was much more powerful than those that had gone before, which Kennedy had prioritized.
President Johnson shocked the country and the world on March 31, 1968, when he announced his intent not to run for re-election to a second term as president, despite mounting pressure and a desire to end the war and initiate substantive peace talks. Johnson said that resolving the Vietnam conflict successfully was necessary that even his political future did not stand in the way.
Johnson died on January 22, 1973, at his Texas ranch after sustaining a heart attack. He heard the day before he died that peace in Vietnam was close.
Lyndon B. Johnson is known for his pioneering political achievements and his leadership in a divisive battle. Shortly after his death, his birthday became a Texas state holiday. Jimmy Carter awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1980.