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Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines) 1908- 1973

Lyndon Baines Johnson became the Vice President under John F. Kennedy in 1961, and later became President following Kennedy's assassination. Under Johnson US forces began military action against the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong.

Biography

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Lyndon Johnson was born in Stonewall, Texas on August 27, 1908 in a small farmhouse in a poor area on the Pedernales River. In 1927 Johnson enrolled in Southwest Texas State Teachers College. Soon after he graduated from college, Johnson taught public speaking and debate in a Houston high school. However, he soon quit his job teaching and went into the field of politics.

In 1931 Lyndon campaigned for Richard M. Kleberg and was later rewarded for his work in the campaign with an appointment to be the newly elected congressman's secretary.

As secretary, Lyndon became acquainted with people of influence, found out how they had reached their positions, and gained their respect for his abilities. Lyndon's friends soon included some of the men who worked around President Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as fellow Texans such as Vice President John Nance Garner.

During his tenure as secretary, Johnson met Claudia Alta Taylor, a young woman who was also from Texas. After only a short period of dating, the two were married on November 17, 1934.

In 1937, Johnson ran for Congress in a special election for the 10th Congressional District of Texas to represent Austin and the surrounding Hill Country. He ran on a New Deal platform and was effectively aided by his wife, Lady Bird Johnson.

President Franklin Roosevelt showed a personal interest in the young Texan from the time he entered Congress. Johnson was immediately appointed to the Naval Affairs Committee, a job that carried high importance for a freshman congressman.

In 1948, Lyndon again ran for the Senate and this time won. Johnson's success in the Senate led to his name being widely mentioned as a possible Democratic presidential candidate. He was Texas' "favorite son" candidate at the party's national convention in 1956. In 1960, Lyndon received 409 votes on the first and only ballot at the Democratic convention. However, the nomination eventually went to Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts. Later in 1960, Kennedy nominated Johnson for vice president slot on the ticket. In November 1960 the Kennedy/Johnson duo beat out Richard M. Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., by a narrow margin.

Johnson was sworn-in as President on Air Force One in Dallas at Love Field Airport after the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

The Great Society program became Johnson's agenda for Congress in January 1965: aid to education, attack on disease, Medicare, urban renewal, beautification, conservation, development of depressed regions, a wide-scale fight against poverty, control and prevention of crime and delinquency, removal of obstacles to the right to vote. Congress, at times augmenting or amending, rapidly enacted Johnson's recommendations. Millions of elderly people found succor through the 1965 Medicare amendment to the Social Security Act.

President Johnson had a distaste for the American war effort in Vietnam, which he had inherited from John Kennedy. Though he would often privately curse the war, Johnson believed that America could not afford to look weak in the eyes of the world, and so he escalated the war effort continuously from 1965–1968, which resulted in thousands of American deaths and perhaps 60 times that number of deaths of Vietnamese (estimates range from 500,000 to 4,000,000). At the same time, Johnson was afraid that too much focus on Vietnam would distract attention from his Great Society programs, so the levels of military escalation, while significant, were never significant enough to make any real headway in the war. This approach was very unpopular with both The Pentagon and America's South Vietnamese allies. Against his wishes, Johnson's presidency was soon dominated by the Vietnam War. As more and more American soldiers and civilians were killed in Vietnam, Johnson's popularity declined, particularly in the face of student protests

In March 1968, in an address to the nation, Johnson announced that he would not seek re-nomination for the presidency, citing the growing division within the country over the war. The Democratic nomination eventually went to Johnson's Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who was later defeated in the 1968 election by Richard M. Nixon. Johnson died on January 22, 1973 from a heart attack at his ranch.

Popular Documents

December 2, 1964

Stasi Report on Meetings with the KGB, 30 November-1 December 1964

Meetings between KGB Chairman Semichastny and East German Minister for State Security Mielke. Topics of discussion include Lyndon B. Johnson's recent election in the United States, Khrushchev's ouster from the Kremlin, Sino-Soviet relation, and Khrushchev's son-in-law Alexei Adzhubei.

April 20, 1965

Minutes of Conversation between Premier Zhou and Bhutto

Bhutto shares with Zhou the results of Ayub Khan's visit to the Soviet Union. He also discusses the problems that the Sino-Soviet split has created for Pakistan, Soviet military aid to India, and the Vietnam War.

January 10, 1994

Interview with Myer 'Mike' Feldman by Avner Cohen

Transcript of interview by Avner Cohen with senior Kennedy advisor Myer "Mike" Feldman. Myer Feldman, close aide to JFK and special liason to Israel, discusses the negotiations between the US and Israel regarding the Non-Proliferation treaty in this 1994 interview.

1969

Ahmad Hamrush, 'An Egyptian in Vietnam, Korea, and China' (Excerpts)

The author of the Arabic-language book from which these excerpts are derived from is Ahmad Hamrush (1921-2011). Involved in the Free Officers’ coup of July 23, 1952, Hamrush left the army in 1955, but stayed a regime insider. He became a historian who wrote a multi-volume history of the coup, among other books; he edited several journals including the army’s al-Tahrir and the famous political magazine Rose al-Yusuf; he was Secretary General of the Egyptian Committee for Afro-Asian Solidarity in the 1960s; and he was a travel writer, as this book shows. It recounts a journey in 1968 to the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, and North Vietnam.

Although in the 1950s and deep into the 1960s, African decolonization struggles had attracted much attention in the Arab world and perhaps especially in Arab North Africa, Asia was a key concern, too—in the 1960s especially Vietnam. This was of course not exceptional. As books like Quinn Slobodian’s Foreign Front: Third World Politics in Sixties West Germany (2012) have shown, Vietnam as a cause—and some Vietnamese as actors—helped midwife the German student movement in the 1960s. (In Germany, the shah’s Iran and Iranian activists mattered greatly, too, however.) To take two more examples, Vietnam as a mode and model of reference mattered to anti-Soviet Lebanese leftists in the 1960s, as Laure Guirguis’ “La référence au Vietnam et l’émergence des gauches radicales au Liban, 1962-1975” (2018) has shown, and Iranians—leftists and others—followed developments in Vietnam closely, as Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet has noted in “The Anti-Aryan Moment: Decolonization, Diplomacy, and Race in Late Pahlavi Iran” (2021).

What distinguishes this text is its timing. Hamrush reflects on a journey he made soon after the Six-Day War of June 1967. That month Israel inflicted a humiliating defeat on Arab armies, including Egypt’s, the most powerful Arab state. This drastically amplified concerns some already had had about President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s (1918-1970) regime and triggered much self-critique in books like Al-naqd al-dhati ba‘da al-hazima (1968; in 2021 translated as Self-Criticism after the Defeat) by the Syrian Marxist political thinker Sadiq Jalal al-‘Azm (1934-2016).

April 20, 1964

National Security Action Memorandum, NSAM 294, McGeorge Bundy to Secretary of State, 'US Nuclear and Strategic Delivery System Assistance to France'

Bundy explains that, according to policy, the U.S. is opposed to the development of nuclear forces by other states except those approved by NATO. Thus, the U.S. is not to aid French nuclear development, and this document calls for specific technical guidelines to be developed for the agencies in the government to prevent France from receiving any such aid.