Scramblin' thru... the U.S. Presidents
Career BEFORE Presidency:
U.S. Senator, Vice President under JFK
Career AFTER Presidency:
Election of 1964
A Presidency in Review
Lyndon B. Johnson became the 36th U.S. President following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and served from 1963 to 1969. Upon taking office, "LBJ", a Texan who had served in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, launched an ambitious slate of progressive reforms aimed at alleviating poverty and creating what he called a "Great Society" for all Americans. Many of the programs, including Medicare and Head Start, greatly impacted the areas of health, education, urban renewal, conservation, and civil rights. Despite his domestic achievements, which including signing the monumental Civil Rights Act of 1964, LBJ's legacy was equally defined by his failure to get the nation out of the quagmire of the Vietnam War (1954-1975). In 1968, he declined to run for a second full-term and retired to his Texas ranch, where he passed away in 1973. Source: The History Channel
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LBJ Fun Facts
LBJ's first job was that of a teacher in Texas. His first teaching job paid $1,530 for the year.
LBJ was the only President to take the Oath of Office on an airplane and from a woman (Judge Sarah T. Hughes). LBJ took the oath aboard Air Force One following the assassination of JFK on November 22, 1963. LBJ is one of three Presidents not to use a Bible when taking the oath. J.Q. Adams broke tradition in 1825 by taking the Oath of Office on a book of constitutional law instead of the Bible. He did so to show that he was pledging himself to the U.S. Constitution. In 1901, President Teddy Roosevelt simply chose not to use one. LBJ was sworn in on a Roman Catholic missal (book of prayers and instructions for Catholic Mass). The missal was available because JFK was Catholic.
LBJ so loved the soda Fresca that he had a fountain installed in the Oval Office that would dispense it.
LBJ's favorite foods were canned green peas and tapioca.
LBJ died one mile from the same house in which he was born.
LBJ and his wife, Claudia, were married with a $2.50 wedding ring bought at Sears.
LBJ rejected his official White House portrait painting, saying it was the ugliest thing he ever saw.
LBJ met Pope Paul VI in New York on October 4, 1965. This meeting took place in the historical context of the first visit by a Pope to the U.S.
The major initiative during LBJ's Presidency was the Vietnam War. By 1968, the U.S. had 548,000 troops in Vietnam and had already lost 30,000 Americans. LBJ's approval ratings had dropped from 70% in mid-1965 to below 40% by 1967, and with it, his mastery of Congress. "I can't get out, I can't finish it with what I have got. So what the hell do I do?" he lamented to his wife, Claudia. LBJ never did figure out the answer to that question, withdrawing his candidacy for the Election of 1968.
LBJ's called on the nation to wage a "War on Poverty" due to the ongoing concern that America had not done enough to provide socioeconomic opportunities for the underclass. This was part of LBJ's ambitious domestic agenda known as "The Great Society". The legacy of LBJ's "War on Poverty" policy initiative remains in the continued existence of Federal programs like Head Start, Volunteers in Service to America, TRIO, and Job Corps.
LBJ was from the South and had grown up under the system of "Jim Crow" in which whites and blacks were segregated in all public facilities: schools, hotels and restaurants, parks and swimming pools, hospitals, and so on. Yet, even as a Senator, he had become a moderate on race issues and was part of efforts to guarantee civil rights to African-Americans. When LBJ assumed the Presidency, he was heir to the commitment of the JFK Administration to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ending segregation in public facilities. On July 2, 1964, he signed the bill into law. (Legend has it that, as he put down his pen, LBJ told an aide, "We have lost the South for a generation", anticipating a coming backlash from Southern whites against LBJ's Democratic Party.)
According to biographer Robert Dallek, at one point during his Presidency, LBJ met with a reporter who repeatedly asked him why American troops were in Vietnam. Frustrated, LBJ unzipped his pants, pulled out his "johnson", and shouted, "This is why!"
LBJ owned an amphibious car, called an Amphicar [see picture below]. He liked to use it to scare guests by driving them into lakes while screaming about brake failure.