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Who is Lyndon Johnson?

By J. Beam
Updated Mar 06, 2024
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Lyndon Johnson is the thirty-sixth President of the United States, taking over office after John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 and winning by election for a full term in 1964. Lyndon Johnson’s presidency was primarily based on what became known as the Great Society program, which was his political agenda and slogan. Under Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society agenda, congress enacted a number of programs including a department for housing and urban development, which today Americans know as HUD.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was born in Texas on August 27, 1908. He graduated from high school and then attended Southwest Texas State Teachers College where he became skilled in debate before graduating in 1931. He entered the political arena through connections of his father, who served five terms in the Texas legislature. His first significant political appointment came in 1937 when he ran for Congress in a special election for the 10th Congressional District of Texas.

By this time, Lyndon Johnson had married Claudia Alta Taylor, who was affectionately known simply as “Lady Bird,” a nickname that would become universally known by the American people. In 1960, Lyndon Johnson was offered the seat of vice-presidency when John F. Kennedy chose him as a running mate. Leaving a position of some political power within the Senate, Johnson accepted and the Kennedy – Johnson ticket won the election. Johnson served his position as Vice President well, but secretly loathed it because he lacked power to make any real changes.

On 22 November 1963, Lyndon Johnson was thrust into the leadership of the free world when President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. Stepping up from Vice-President to President, Johnson suddenly found himself in a position of power. An overwhelming majority of voters reelected Johnson in 1964 as he stood upon an already established record and his Great Society reform agenda.

Though Congress enacted many of Johnson’s proposals, including Medicare, Johnson’s position as President was considered to be less successful than that of Senate Majority Leader. His personality was viewed as brash, even crude at times and he was an authoritarian who liked control. Lady Bird Johnson shoneas a gracious compliment to Lyndon Johnson’s less than gracious demeanor.

Lyndon Johnson died of a heart attack in 1973 at the age of 64. Lady Bird outlived her husband by thirty years, dying of natural causes at the age of 94 on 11 July 2007.

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