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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon Baines Johnson was born August 27, 1908 in Stonewall, Texas, in a small farmhouse on the Pedernales River. He was the oldest of five children born to Samuel Ealy Johnson Jr, and Rebekah Baines.

His father was a politician who had worked for the Texas state government.

With his trademark cowboy hat‍—‌age seven

In 1926, Johnson enrolled at SWTSTC (now Texas State University). The college years refined his skills of persuasion and political organization. He graduated in 1930.

In 1928, Lyndon B. Johnson paused his studies to teach Mexican-American children, and used his own salary to buy volleyballs and softball bats for them.

Johnson taught in Pearsall High School in Pearsall, Texas, and afterward took a position as teacher of public speaking at Sam Houston High School in Houston.

Lyndon Baines Johnson married Claudia Alta Taylor, better known as "Lady Bird" on November 17, 1934.

Lady Bird Johnson was the first president's wife to have become a millionaire in her own right before her husband was elected to office.

After teaching in Houston, Johnson entered politics. He was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1937, then to the Senate in 1948. He won the Senate election by just 87 votes.

Senator Johnson

In the Senate, Johnson very quickly became powerful and following the 1954 election became leader of the Senate, the youngest to have ever held that position. Johnson's duties were to schedule legislation and help pass measures favored by the Democrats.

Johnson campaigned for the Democratic nomination in the 1960 presidential election. He was unsuccessful, but was chosen by Senator John F. Kennedy to be his running mate. They went on to win the election and Johnson was sworn in as Vice President on January 20, 1961.

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. He was elected President with 61.1% of the vote on November 3, 1964, the highest percentage of the vote ever won by someone running for President since 1820.

Johnson is sworn in on Air Force One by Judge Sarah Hughes as Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Kennedy look on.

President Lyndon Johnson struck on the idea of giving the 1965 State of the Union speech in prime time so as to maximize the television audience, rather than at the then-traditional midday time.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, on July 2, 1964, which was intended to prohibit segregation in public places. Johnson said it would "close the springs of racial poison."

Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Lyndon Johnson was famously frugal. Even as President, White House tapes recorded him asking a photographer to take his family portraits for free, saying he was a poor man living on a pay check and had a great deal of debt. In truth, Johnson was quite wealthy, but he did receive the portraits for free.

The White House press corps would make jokes at Johnson's frugality, regarding his habit of turning off all lights in the White House when the rooms were not in use.

Back in Johnson's ranch in Texas several visitors had the frightening experience of being driven by the president at close to 100 miles an hour down country roads, whilst he drunk scotch whisky from an old plastic cup. The notoriously frugal Johnson often washed and reused plastic cups.

Johnson owned an amphibious car which he would use to prank his guests by driving into a lake while screaming about brake failure.

Photo portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Oval Office, leaning on a chair.

Lyndon Johnson had a weakness for pop and had a soda tap installed in the Oval Office. He had a particular weakness for Fresca, a citrus flavored soft drink which was introduced by Coca Cola.

During his time at the White House Johnson had as a pet Yuki, a mongrel, and two beagles, Him and Her.

Johnson was a competitive womanizer, and whenever people mentioned Kennedy's many affairs, LBJ would bang the table and declare that he had more women by accident than Kennedy ever had on purpose.

Citing the growing division within the country over the Vietnam War, President Lyndon Johnson decided not to seek re-election. Once his time as president ended in January 1969, Johnson went back to Texas to live his ranch in Stonewall.

Johnson died at his ranch on January 22, 1973, at the age of 64 after having a heart attack.  The day before his death, he had learned that peace was at hand in Vietnam.

His funeral took place at the National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C.

A memorial wreath at President Johnson's grave in Texas

President Lyndon B. Johnson, his father, and his grandfather all died of heart failure at the age of 64.

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