Lyndon B. Johnson

president of the United States from 1963 to 1969

Lyndon Baines Johnson (August 27, 1908 – January 22, 1973), often called by his initials LBJ, was an American politician. He was the 36th president of the United States from 1963 to 1969. Before becoming president, he was the 37th vice president under John F. Kennedy from 1961 to 1963. Johnson was also a U.S. senator, U.S. representative from Texas, senate majority whip and senate majority leader of the U.S. Senate. Johnson was a member of the Democratic Party.

Lyndon B. Johnson
Office portrait, 1964
36th President of the United States
In office
November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969
Vice PresidentNone (1963–1965)
Hubert Humphrey (1965–1969)
Preceded byJohn F. Kennedy
Succeeded byRichard Nixon
37th Vice President of the United States
In office
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
PresidentJohn F. Kennedy
Preceded byRichard Nixon
Succeeded byHubert Humphrey
Senate Majority Leader
In office
January 3, 1955 – January 3, 1961
DeputyEarle Clements
Mike Mansfield
Preceded byWilliam F. Knowland
Succeeded byMike Mansfield
Senate Minority Leader
In office
January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1955
DeputyEarle Clements
Preceded byStyles Bridges
Succeeded byWilliam F. Knowland
Senate Majority Whip
In office
January 3, 1951 – January 3, 1953
LeaderErnest McFarland
Preceded byFrancis J. Myers
Succeeded byLeverett Saltonstall
United States Senator
from Texas
In office
January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1961
Preceded byW. Lee O'Daniel
Succeeded byWilliam A. Blakley
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 10th district
In office
April 10, 1937 – January 3, 1949
Preceded byJames P. Buchanan
Succeeded byHomer Thornberry
Personal details
Born(1908-08-27)August 27, 1908
Stonewall, Texas
DiedJanuary 22, 1973(1973-01-22) (aged 64)
Johnson City, Texas
Resting placeJohnson Family Cemetery
Stonewall, Texas
Political partyDemocratic
Height1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)
ChildrenLynda  • Luci
Alma materSouthwest Texas State Teachers College
Awards Silver Star
Presidential Medal of Freedom (Posthumous; 1980)
SignatureCursive Signature in Ink
Military service
AllegianceUnited States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1941–1942
Rank Lieutenant commander
Battles/warsWorld War II
 • Salamaua-Lae campaign

Johnson was born in Stonewall, Texas in 1908. Before he became a politician he was a high school teacher. In 1937, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1948, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, then became its majority leader in 1954.[1] In 1960, he ran for president, but did not win the Democratic nomination. He was then chosen to become the running mate for vice president of Senator John F. Kennedy, and the Kennedy-Johnson ticket won.

On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was killed in Dallas, Texas. Johnson then became the next president of the United States. In 1964, Johnson was elected president, defeating his opponent, Senator Barry Goldwater, in a landslide. He received 61.1% of the popular vote.

As president, Johnson created the Great Society. It was a series of programs created to help the American people. They involved expanding civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, aid to education and the arts, urban and rural development, and public services. He passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. His personal beliefs on the issue of civil rights were very different from other white, southern Democrats. He also wanted to make poor Americans' lives better by launching the "War on Poverty."[2] He continued President Kennedy's space program, making the Apollo program bigger. He also helped make into law the Higher Education Act of 1965, making federal student loans. Johnson also signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which helped make U.S. immigration policy today.

In foreign policy, Johnson's presidency wanted to stop the expansion of Marxist–Leninist governments. In 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. This made the U.S. become more involved in the Vietnam War. More American soldiers were sent to Vietnam, and as the war continued, American deaths went up along with deaths of Vietnamese civilians. In 1968, the Tet Offensive happened, which made the public start to dislike the war. Many people wanted the U.S. military to no longer be in Vietnam.

During his presidency the American political landscape changed a lot, as white southerners who supported the Democrats started to support the Republican Party and African-Americans began supporting the Democratic Party.[3][4] Because of his domestic agenda, Johnson's presidency was the peak of modern liberalism in the United States.[5] Johnson started his presidency popular, but he lost popularity because of the Vietnam War and big social problems.

In the 1968 presidential election, he ended his run for another term as president after he did not do well in the New Hampshire primary. The election was eventually won by Republican candidate Richard Nixon. Johnson went back to his Texas ranch and remained private until he died of a heart attack in 1973 at age 64 in Texas.

Historians and scholars mostly think Johnson is good compared to other presidents because of his domestic policies which helped civil rights, health care, and welfare.[6] However, he gets criticism for his role in escalating the Vietnam War, which resulted in the deaths of 58,220 American service members, dropping over 7.5 million tons of explosives over Vietnam, and the use of the noxious herbicide Agent Orange.[7][8][9][10]

Early life


Johnson was born in Texas. His father was a politician who had worked for the Texas state government. As a young adult, he was a teacher at a Hispanic-majority school where he taught Mexican-American students near the Mexico–United States border.[11][12][13]

He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1937, then to the Senate in 1948. He won the Senate election by just 87 votes.

Political career


In the Senate, Johnson very quickly became powerful and in 1955 became leader of the Senate and was the youngest to have ever held that position.[14][15] He started great programs for the public. It helped that he knew the other Senators well and could often persuade them to support his ideas. In 1960, he ran for president, but during the contest to see who the Democrats would support, he lost to John F. Kennedy. Johnson was then selected by Kennedy as the candidate Vice President. Kennedy narrowly won the election and Johnson became vice president. Like most vice presidents, Johnson did not like the job. It gave him too little power.

Lyndon B. Johnson was well known as someone who could persuade other lawmakers in Congress to pass laws. To gain more support for his ideas, he often arm-twisted other politicians (meaning he would threaten them if they didn't agree with him).

Presidency, 1963–69


Johnson took over as president after Kennedy was assassinated. He finished Kennedy's term as president then in 1964 he ran for re-election and won easily against Barry Goldwater. Johnson won 61.1% of the vote. This is the highest percentage of the vote ever won by someone running for president since 1820.

Johnson began a "war on poverty". He created the Great Society (a series of government programs intended to improve the living standards of the country). These programs include public broadcasting, protecting the environment, Medicare (health care for the elderly), Medicaid ([health care for the poor). He supported civil rights for African Americans and continued where Kennedy left off in giving them freedom. The Voting Rights Act in 1965 gave the government powers to stop them from being denied the right to vote. Compared to Kennedy's weak relationship with Congress, Johnson was able to convince politicians to support some of the same policies which they opposed under Kennedy.

At the same time, Johnson increased the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War. Johnson increased the number of soldiers in Vietnam from 16,000 to 500,000 in order to stop the Viet Cong (the Communist rebels in South Vietnam). As the years passed, Johnson became more and more unpopular as the war kept on going without an end in sight. By 1968, almost 1000 American soldiers were being killed in Vietnam every month and the enemy still had not been defeated. In March 1968, Johnson said he would not run for re-election.

Post-presidency, 1969–73


Johnson's time as president ended on January 20, 1969. He went back to Texas to live on his ranch in Stonewall. He began smoking cigarettes again for the first time since 1955, and his health quickly declined. He began suffering heart attacks which later resulted in his death.

Death, funeral and legacy


Johnson died at his ranch on January 22, 1973, at age 64 after having a heart attack. Johnson had a state funeral, and the final services took place on January 25. The funeral took place at the National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C.

Despite the disaster in Vietnam, Johnson is still thought of as being a good president by historians because of what he achieved with civil rights. In 1973, the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.


  1. "Lyndon Baines Johnson, 37th Vice President (1961-1963)". US Senate. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  2. Califano Jr., Joseph A. (October 1999). "What Was Really Great About The Great Society: The truth behind the conservative myths". Washington Monthly. Archived from the original on March 26, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  3. "George Wallace and the 1968 Election". Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  4. Brown, Frank (2004). "Nixon's "Southern Strategy" and Forces against Brown". The Journal of Negro Education. 73 (3): 191–208. doi:10.2307/4129605. ISSN 0022-2984. JSTOR 4129605.
  5. "Biographies of Presidents – Lyndon Johnson". The Presidents of the USA. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  6. Inc, Gallup (May 11, 2006). "Medicare". Retrieved May 28, 2021. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  7. "Bombing Missions of the Vietnam War". Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  8. "Vietnam War U.S. Military Fatal Casualty Statistics". National Archives. August 15, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  9. Dallek, Robert. "Presidency: How Do Historians Evaluate the Administration of Lyndon Johnson?". History News Network. Archived from the original on January 9, 2021. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
  10. "Survey of Presidential Leadership – Lyndon Johnson". C-SPAN. Archived from the original on February 9, 2011. Retrieved June 17, 2010.
  11. Van Oudekerke, Rodney (2011). Historic San Marcos: An Illustrated History. San Antonio, TX: Historical Publishing Network. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-9353-7740-5 – via Google Books.
  12. Fredericks, Janet Patricia (1982). "I". The Educational Views of Lyndon Baines Johnson Prior to His Presidency (PhD). Loyola University Chicago. p. 6.
  13. "10 fascinating facts about President Lyndon B. Johnson". Constitution Center. Retrieved March 18, 2024.
  14. "American Experience: LBJ". WGBH and PBS. 2013. Archived from the original on 10 December 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  15. "LBJ and Age: A Young Leader". PBS. Retrieved March 18, 2024.

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