Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Conflict Period:
World War II 2
Navy 1
27 Aug 1908 1
22 Jan 1973 1

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Personal Details

Full Name:
Lyndon Baines Johnson 3
Also known as:
Lyndon Johnson 1
Also known as: Lyndon B. Johnson 2
Social Security Number: ***-**-6128 1
27 Aug 1908 1
27 Aug 1908 3
Stonewall, TX 3
Male 3
22 Jan 1973 1
Cause: Unknown 1
22 Jan 1973 3
Stonewall, TX 3
Cause: Heart Attack 3
Burial Place: Stonewall, TX Family Plot 3
Physical Description:
Height: 6' 3 3
Weight/Build: 210 3
Mother: Rebekah Baines 3
Father: Samuel Ealy Johnson, Jr 3
Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor 3
17 Nov 1934 3
St. Mark's Episcopal Church in San Antonio, TX 3
Spouse Death Date: 11 Jul 2007 3

World War II 1

World War II 2

Navy 1
Enlistment Date:
11 Dec 1941 1
Navy 1
Organization Code:
Release Date:
15 Jul 1942 1
Representative, Senator, Vice President, and President. 3
Disciples of Christ 3
Position: President Of The United States 3
Place: Washington D.C. 3
Start Date: 22 Nov 1963 3
End Date: 1969 3
Position: Vice President Of The United States 3
Place: Washington D.C. 3
Start Date: 1961 3
End Date: 22 Nov 1963 3
Employer: United States Senate 3
Position: Senator 3
Place: Washinton D.C. 3
Start Date: 1949 3
End Date: 1961 3
Employer: House Of Representative 3
Position: Congressman 3
Place: Washington D.S. 3
Start Date: 10 Apr 1937 3
End Date: 03 Jan 1949 3
Institution: Southwest Texas State Teachers' College 3
Place: San Marcos TX 3
From: 1926 3
To: 1930 3

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Master Of The Senat




Lyndon B. Johnson
Master of the Senate

Thirty years after his death, Lyndon B. Johnson remains very much in the public consciousness. Each week his voice can be heard on C-SPAN's radio and television broadcasts of his tape-recorded telephone conversations. During the past year, Master of the Senate, the latest volume in Robert Caro's best-selling biography of Lyndon Johnson, won both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. And Johnson's name surfaces frequently in newspaper and magazine articles about Senate leadership.

Born in Texas in 1908, Lyndon Johnson attended public schools in Johnson City, graduated from the Southwest Texas Teachers College at San Marcos (now known as Texas State University–San Marcos) and taught school to Mexican American children before he came to Washington as secretary to Representative Richard M. Kleberg (D-Texas). Energetic and ambitious, he rose to attention by winning election as Speaker of the "Little Congress," a congressional staff club. In 1935, Johnson was appointed Texas director of the National Youth Administration–a New Deal agency designed to help young people get educations and jobs.

When his local congressman died in 1937, Johnson jumped into the race and won the special election to succeed him. In the House he aligned himself with the legendary Texas Representative Sam Rayburn and with President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. When the United States entered World War II, Johnson became the first member of Congress to enlist in the armed services, becoming a lieutenant commander in the Navy. His military service abruptly ended, however, when President Roosevelt ordered that members of Congress choose between serving in uniform or in Congress. Johnson resigned his active commission and returned to Capitol Hill. In 1941 he made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for the Senate. In 1948, he won a Senate seat in a hotly-contested race by a margin of 87 votes.

As senator, Johnson allied himself with Richard B. Russell, the Georgia Democrat who chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee and the powerful Southern Caucus. Known as a "senator's senator," Russell could have obtained his party's floor leadership, but he preferred to exert leadership behind the scenes in committee. Russell also strongly dissented from many of President Harry Truman's legislative initiatives, particularly on civil rights. Leadership fell instead to Senators Scott Lucas (D-Illinois) and Ernest McFarland (D-Arizona), who struggled ineffectively to maintain party unity and promote Truman's Fair Deal programs. Lucas lost his race for reelection in 1950 and McFarland in 1952, creating a vacuum in Democratic leadership.

With Russell's support, Lyndon Johnson won election as Democratic whip in 1951 and two years later, while still in his first term in the Senate, became Democratic minority leader. The Senate in 1953 was almost evenly divided: 48 Republicans, 47 Democrats, and 1 independent. Senator Wayne Morse had just resigned from the Republican Party, but he agreed to vote to allow Republicans to organize the Senate. Republican Vice President Richard Nixon also stood by to break tie votes, permitting Republicans to remain the majority party throughout the 83rd Congress. Yet nine senators died during that Congress, and enough Democrats replaced Republicans that at times the minority party held more seats than the majority.

In 1955, Senator Morse joined the Democrats and gave them a one-vote majority. Lyndon Johnson became majority leader and held that post for the next six years. Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower occupied the White House during those years and often found Johnson more cooperative than the Senate Republican leader, the independent-minded William F. Knowland of California. Particularly on foreign policy, Johnson offered bipartisan support to the president.

In leading a narrow majority, Johnson relied on his power of persuasion to keep the Democratic Conference united and round up additional votes among Republican senators. Reporters Rowland Evans and Robert Novak described the "Johnson Treatment" in their book Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of Power (1966):

Its tone could be supplication, accusation, cajolery, exuberance, scorn, tears, complaint, the hint of threat. It was all of these together. It ran the gamut of human emotions. Its velocity was breathtaking, and it was all in one direction. Interjections from the target were rare. Johnson anticipated them before they could be spoken. He moved in close, his face a scant millimeter from his target, his eyes widening and narrowing, his eyebrows rising and falling. From his pockets poured clippings, memos, statistics. Mimicry, humor, and genius of analogy made The Treatment an almost hypnotic experience and rendered the target stunned and helpless.

Johnson suffered a serious heart attack in 1955, and afterwards tried to moderate his pace. During long absences, while he was recuperating at his Texas ranch, he relied heavily on the Democratic Secretary, Bobby Baker, who maneuvered to postpone legislation until the majority leader could return to Washington. Then Johnson would call up a series of bills in a rush, passing them by unanimous consent agreement, and making it clear who was in charge.

For Johnson, civil rights loomed as the most intractable legislative problem of the decade. The Supreme Court's 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, ordering an end to segregated schools, had outraged Southern senators. They circulated a Southern Manifesto urging massive resistance to school integration, but Johnson declined to sign it. In 1957 President Eisenhower proposed a tough civil rights bill that Southerners adamantly resisted. Johnson recognized the symbolic value of enacting the first civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, but he feared that a protracted filibuster would split his party. His removal of the key enforcement provisions of the law steered it through to enactment. Not until 1964, when Johnson was president, would a strong civil rights act finally win passage.

The recession of 1958 helped Democrats win a sweeping victory in the congressional elections, increasing their number in the Senate from 49 to 65. Johnson quickly discovered that a large majority would be harder to keep unified than a narrow one. Younger liberal senators were challenging his leadership. Johnson also had higher ambitions, looking toward the Democratic presidential nomination in 1960. The nomination went instead to Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy, who surprised everyone by inviting Johnson on the ticket as his running mate. The Kennedy-Johnson victory in November promoted the majority leader to Vice President. Senator George Smathers (D-Florida) recalled in an oral history that "Johnson didn't really want to leave the Senate." The new vice president retained the office that he had used as majority leader (S-211, now called the LBJ Room). His successor as majority leader, Senator Mike Mansfield (D-Montana), proposed that the vice president also chair the Democratic Conference. Senators rose in protest over this violation of the separation of executive and legislative branches. Stunned by the reaction, Johnson rarely attended Conference meetings.


John F. Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963, thrust Lyndon Johnson into the presidency. From the White House he acted as a "super majority leader," planning legislative strategy, advising his party's leadership on Capitol Hill, twisting arms, and employing "The Treatment" to win support for the ambitious legislative program he called the Great Society. He enjoyed a landslide election as president in 1964, but the war in Vietnam eroded his popularity and he declined to stand for reelection in 1968. Johnson died at his ranch in 1973.

President Lydon Baines Johnson

 Lyndon B. Johnson 

"A Great Society" for the American people and their fellow men elsewhere was the vision of Lyndon B. Johnson. In his first years of office he obtained passage of one of the most extensive legislative programs in the Nation's history. Maintaining collective security, he carried on the rapidly growing struggle to restrain Communist encroachment in Viet Nam.

Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, in central Texas, not far from Johnson City, which his family had helped settle. He felt the pinch of rural poverty as he grew up, working his way through Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now known as Texas State University-San Marcos); he learned compassion for the poverty of others when he taught students of Mexican descent.

In 1937 he campaigned successfully for the House of Representatives on a New Deal platform, effectively aided by his wife, the former Claudia "Lady Bird" Taylor, whom he had married in 1934.

During World War II he served briefly in the Navy as a lieutenant commander, winning a Silver Star in the South Pacific. After six terms in the House, Johnson was elected to the Senate in 1948. In 1953, he became the youngest Minority Leader in Senate history, and the following year, when the Democrats won control, Majority Leader. With rare skill he obtained passage of a number of key Eisenhower measures.

In the 1960 campaign, Johnson, as John F. Kennedy's running mate, was elected Vice President. On November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson was sworn in as President.

First he obtained enactment of the measures President Kennedy had been urging at the time of his death--a new civil rights bill and a tax cut. Next he urged the Nation "to build a great society, a place where the meaning of man's life matches the marvels of man's labor." In 1964, Johnson won the Presidency with 61 percent of the vote and had the widest popular margin in American history--more than 15,000,000 votes.

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.

Under Johnson, the country made spectacular explorations of space in a program he had championed since its start. When three astronauts successfully orbited the moon in December 1968, Johnson congratulated them: "You've taken ... all of us, all over the world, into a new era. . . . "

Nevertheless, two overriding crises had been gaining momentum since 1965. Despite the beginning of new antipoverty and anti-discrimination programs, unrest and rioting in black ghettos troubled the Nation. President Johnson steadily exerted his influence against segregation and on behalf of law and order, but there was no early solution.

The other crisis arose from Viet Nam. Despite Johnson's efforts to end Communist aggression and achieve a settlement, fighting continued. Controversy over the war had become acute by the end of March 1968, when he limited the bombing of North Viet Nam in order to initiate negotiations. At the same time, he startled the world by withdrawing as a candidate for re-election so that he might devote his full efforts, unimpeded by politics, to the quest for peace.

When he left office, peace talks were under way; he did not live to see them successful, but died suddenly of a heart attack at his Texas ranch on January 22, 1973.

Lyndon Johnson, 36th President, Is Dead; Was Architect of 'Great Society' Program

SAN ANTONIO, Tex., Jan. 22--Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the United States, died today of an apparent heart attack suffered at his ranch in Johnson City, Tex.

The 64-year-old Mr. Johnson, whose history of heart illness began in 1955, was pronounced dead on arrival at 4:33 P.M. central time at San Antonio International Airport, where he had been flown in a family plane on the way to Brooke Army Medical Center here.

A spokesman at Austin said that Mr. Johnson's funeral would probably be held Thursday at the National City Christian Church in Washington. He said the body would lie in state at the Johnson Library in Austin from noon tomorrow until 8 A.M. Wednesday, with an honor guard, and then would be taken to Washington, where it will lie in state at the Capitol rotunda until the funeral. Mr. Johnson will be buried at the L.B.J. Ranch.

Death came to the nation's only surviving former President as the nation observed a period of mourning proclaimed less than a month ago for former President Harry S. Truman.

A Legacy of Progress

Although his vision of a Great Society dissolved in the morass of war in Vietnam, Mr. Johnson left to the nation a legacy of progress and innovation in civil rights, Social Security, education, housing and other programs attesting to his fundamental affection for his fellow Americans.

At Fort Sam Houston, where Brooke Army Medical Center is situated, flags were hoisted to full staff and then immediately lowered again in respect for the Texan who was thrust into the Presidency on Nov. 22, 1963, when an assassin's bullet took the life of President Kennedy in Dallas.

Ironically, Mr. Johnson died in what appeared to be the waning days of the Vietnam war. The man who won election in 1964 to a full term as President with the greatest voting majority ever accorded a candidate was transformed by that war into the leader of a divided nation.

Amid rising personal unpopularity, in the face of the lingering war and racial strife at home, Mr. Johnson surprised the nation on March 31, 1968, with a television speech in which he announced, "I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party as your President."

Stage Set for Defeat

He thus renounced an opportunity to cap with a second full term a career in public life that began in 1937 with his election to Congress as an ardent New Dealer and led to the majority leadership of the Senate and to the Vice-Presidency and the Presidency. His renunciation set the stage for Democratic defeat at the polls in 1968.

Two days before Mr. Johnson's death, Richard M. Nixon, the Republican who was elected in 1968, took the oath of office for his second term as President. Mr. Nixon telephoned Mrs. Johnson today at the hospital here to express his sympathy.

At a news briefing tonight in Austin at KTBC, the Johnson family's television and radio station, Tom Johnson, executive vice president of the station, who was also a long-time aide to Mr. Johnson, gave the following account of the former President's death:

At 3:50 P.M., while in his bedroom for his regular afternoon nap, Mr. Johnson called the ranch switchboard and asked for Mike Howard, the head of his Secret Service detail, who was out in a car.

Bill Morrow, the switchboard operator, tried to call Mr. Howard and other Secret Service agents.

The first agents he reached were Ed Nowland and Harry Harris. They raced to the bedroom with a portable oxygen unit.

They found Mr. Johnson lying beside his bed. They said later he had already turned dark blue and appeared to be dead.

Nevertheless, they began trying to revive him. Mr. Nowland administered mouth-to- mouth resuscitation.

Two physicians were telephoned, Col. George McGranahan of Brooke Hospital and Dr. David J. Abbott of nearby Johnson City.

Placed Aboard Plane

Mr. Howard reached the bedroom at 3:55 P.M. and began an external heart massage.

At 4:05 P.M., Mrs. Johnson was called while riding in a car about a block from the L.B.J. Library in Austin, where she has an office. She flew by helicopter from the library to San Antonio.

At 4:19 P.M., Mr. Johnson was placed aboard a family plane, a Beech King Air. Also aboard the twin-engined plane were Dr. Abbott; Mr. Nowland; Mr. Harris; Mrs. Dale Malechek, wife of the ranch foreman, and the pilot, Barney Hulett.

The plane arrived at 4:33 in San Antonio, where Dr. Abbott pronounced the former President dead. At 4:45 P.M., Mrs. Johnson arrived from Austin, about 70 miles away. The ranch is about 45 miles from San Antonio.

At about the same time, Colonel McGranahan arrived at the airport and confirmed the death.

Mrs. Johnson, the former Claudia Alta Taylor, known as Lady Bird, returned to Austin in the company of Mr. Howard, arriving at 6:45 P.M. local time and going to her penthouse apartment at the family broadcasting station.

A short time later, she was joined by Brig. Gen. James Cross, Air Force, retired, a family friend and former pilot of the Presidential plane, Air Force One.

The Johnsons' two daughters, Mrs. Patrick J. Nugent and Mrs. Charles S. Robb, accompanied by their husbands, later met their mother at the ranch. Also present was J. C. Kellam, the general manager of the family business interests.

While they discussed funeral plans, the body of the former President was taken from Brooke Army Medical Center to Austin by the Weed-Corley Funeral Home of Austin.

Mr. Johnson had always made it clear that he wanted to be buried on the family ranch in Johnson City, in a small, walled burial plot about 400 yards from the ranch house, where his father, mother and other relatives had been laid to rest.

Colonel McGranahan said tonight that the former President's death was apparently caused by a coronary thrombosis.

An autopsy performed by Col. L. R. Hieger, chief of pathology at Brooke General Hospital, showed that Mr. Johnson had been suffering from severe coronary arterial disease. Two of three major arteries supplying the heart were completely occluded, Colonel Heiger said, and the third artery was 60 per cent occluded. Further evaluation will be made later, he said.

At a news briefing tonight Tom Johnson said Mrs. Johnson had told him that the former President's health had not altered recently, although she mentioned that he had been quieter than usual.

One of Mr. Johnson's last formal appearances took place last Tuesday in Austin, where he attended the inauguration of Gov. Dolph Briscoe and Lieut. Gov. William P. Hobby. On the ceremonial platform outside the capitol, Mr. Johnson, looking thin, seemed to be enjoying an opportunity to see old friends and shake hands with well-wishers who flocked around him.

Later that day, he took Walter Heller, the former chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers, to Southwest Texas State University, Mrs. Johnson's alma mater, in San Marcos, for a talk to a group of students.

During the question-and-answer session, Mr. Johnson said to the audience, "Come on, now, make your questions quicker, and Walter, you make your answers shorter."

In a discussion of food and meat prices, Mr. Heller predicted a rise of 6 to 7 per cent in meat prices.

"I can tell you what's happening with cattle," Mr. Johnson said. "I paid my dealer $92 a ton for feed. The bill went to $110 a ton and now it's costing me $156 a ton for food."

Last Saturday, joining Mrs. Johnson in her beautification work, the former President went to Ranch Road 1, which runs across the Pedernales River from the L.B.J. Ranch, and planted a redbud tree, a Texas tree that blooms with red flowers. The tree was the first of 100 to be planted along the road.

On that occasion, Mr. Johnson told a friend that he was not feeling very well and said that that was why he had not gone to Washington for the inauguration of President Nixon.


FOR THE past 40 years, the story of Box 13 in tiny Alice, Texas, has stood as one of the great mysteries and richest tales in American politics. It is the story of how Lyndon Johnson stole the 1948 election and then how he sealed his theft with a brilliant manipulation of the judicial system and the state Democratic political organization.

This ground has been plowed before, but never as thoroughly as by Robert A. Caro in the second volume in his massive biography of Johnson. Caro has found no dramatic, new smoking gun in his investigation of Johnson's 87-vote victory, but he has added some important facts to the historical record. More impressively, he has masterfully spliced together events that were playing out in courtrooms, hotel ballrooms and political backrooms to create a gripping narrative that has the intensity and drama of an international thriller.

Unfortunately that isn't enough for Caro. He concludes that Johnson didn't just steal the election but pulled off a heist of historic proportions, far greater than anyone has recognized until now. Here he's stretching things. Caro's distaste for Johnson, his infatuation with Johnson's opponent and his personal revulsion for the political bossism and corruption in south Texas color his interpretation of the facts and ultimately distort his rendering of history.

First the story. With his political life on the line, Johnson runs 70,000 votes behind Coke Stevenson, a popular former Texas governor, in the 1948 Democratic primary, but forces Stevenson into a runoff. On the morning after the runoff, the Texas election bureau shows Stevenson leading Johnson by 854 votes.

There follow several days of recounts, corrections and phony vote-shifting, but by mid-day on the Friday after the runoff, Stevenson still leads by more than 150 votes. Then miraculously comes the report that in Box 13 in Alice, in the heart of the machine of boss George Parr, an additional 200 Johnson votes have been discovered. He is the winner by 87 votes out of nearly 1 million cast.

Stevenson, understanding the ways of the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas, goes to investigate, taking with him Frank Hamer, a legendary Texas Ranger who led the posse that captured and killed Bonnie and Clyde. In Alice they discover signs of fraud: The last 202 names on the rolls in Box 13 were written in a different color ink; the new names were listed in alphabetical order; the handwriting was identical; some of the new voters claim they never voted.

But Johnson, having lost the 1941 Senate race by being outstolen, is determined to preserve his victory. His lawyers find a friendly judge in Austin to issue an injunction preventing the Jim Wells County (Alice) Democratic organization from scratching out those 202 new votes and putting Stevenson back on top. The legal ploy designed as a means of delay gives Johnson the time he needs to win certification as the winner by the state Democratic executive committee (on a one-vote margin).

Stevenson counters by finding a friendly federal judge, who issues an injunction preventing Johnson's name from going on the ballot and orders an investigation into vote fraud in south Texas.

Time -- and the explosive investigations -- become Johnson's new obstacles. The candidate calls in his old friend Abe Fortas, who sizes up the situation and lays out a bold and risky legal strategy, designed to move the case through the appeals court and quickly to the Supreme Court.

As Johnson's lawyers scramble through their appeals, investigators in south Texas are closing in on the truth of what happened. Finally Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black rules that the federal government has no right to interfere in a state election, stopping the vote-fraud investigation dead and assuring Johnson's election.

Like others who have dug into the record, Caro is unable to answer a central question: Did Johnson himself go to south Texas and cut a deal with George Parr that resulted in the extra votes in Box 13? He concludes it is possible but not provable.

Failing that, he sets out to build his case that Johnson won the '48 race with "tens of thousands" of bought or stolen votes. Johnson, he writes, "received a 35,000-vote plurality from areas {south Texas} in which the voting pattern was dramatically out of keeping with the normal patterns in a democracy."

But not out of keeping with the normal patterns of south Texas, where bloc voting and boss-control were endemic and well known.

The flaw in Caro's biography is his insistence on interpreting Johnson's actions in the worst possible light and Johnson's opponents in the best possible light. When Johnson goes judge-shopping, it's devious; when Stevenson does it, it's legitimate. When Johnson gets bloc votes, he's bought or stolen them; when Stevenson get them, it's because the bosses have no choice.

Caro makes much of Johnson's margins in south Texas (in Duval County, his margin was 4,622-40), but he either overlooks or discounts the similar voting patterns in earlier elections, including ones involving Stevenson. In 1942, Stevenson carried Duval with 2,836 votes. His five opponents got 77. In another celebrated contest, one candidate won the primary in a south Texas county by 3,000-5, then got into an argument with the county boss and lost the runoff by the exact same margin.

Coke Stevenson, who as governor never challenged this corruption in south Texas, must have factored these realities into his own plan for winning in 1948.

Caro's failure to come to terms with political realities of south Texas four decades ago doesn't absolve Johnson of his theft. But an otherwise stunning job of research, reporting and storytelling is flawed by the author's willingness to exaggerate the sins of his subject. Dan Balz, a staff reporter for the National section of The Washington Post, is the paper's former Southwest correspondent based in Texas.

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