Lyndon Johnson Essay, Research Paper
The thirty-sixth president of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson became president Nov. 22, 1963 shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He was before long elected in 1964 for a full term. Deciding not to run for a second term, he was replaced as president by Richard M. Nixon in 1969. Lyndon was born on a farm near Stonewall, Tex., Aug. 27, 1908. The first of five children of Samuel Ealy Johnson, Jr. he was born to politics both his grandfathers and his father had served in the Texas legislature. When Lyndon was five years old, his parents moved to Johnson City, Tex. He pursued his studies unwillingly, although he was elected president of his seven-member class at Johnson City High School and won the county debating championship with a friend during his senior year. He considered his education finished when he graduated from high school in 1924. He left Texas for California, where for several months he worked in the law office of his cousin, Thomas Martin. After a year of working with his cousin, he cam e homes and gave in his parents. With a $75 loan, in February 1927 he entered Southwest Texas State Teachers College at San Marcos. On campus he worked both as a janitor and as secretary to the college president. After graduation, he taught debating and public speaking at Sam Houston High School in Houston, but a year later he turned to politics. In 1937 Johnson decided to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. One of 10 candidates, Johnson at first made little headway, but finally he gained attention when he came down hard in support of the New Deal. Also giving Johnson leadway was Roosevelt’ s attempt to increase the size of the Supreme Court, which all the other major candidates opposed. Johnson won with twice as many votes as his nearest rival. On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor; and an hour after voting for a declaration of war, Johnson, who was a member of the Naval Reserve, was asked to to duty. Three days later he was a lieutenant commander, the first House member to go into uniform. Johnson was in active service until July 1942, when Roosevelt called all Congressmen in service back to their posts in Washington. Back in the House, Johnson went against waste in military manpower and war production. All the time, he was becoming an increasingly important congressional person; he became a member of the House Naval Committee, moving in 1947 to the Armed Services Committee. After the war Johnson began taking a different stance on some issues, he needed to do something drastic because it was necessary if he hoped to try again for statewide office. He also became preoccupied with a radio station his wife purchased in Austin. When the business began to flourish, he told friends he might leave public life. However, in 1948 he decided to run again for the Senate. There were 11 candidates. Johnson won it by only 87 votes, thanks to late returns from Jim Wells County, which went 202 to 1 for Johnson. In 1949 Johnson took his seat in the Senate under the nickname Landslide Lyndon, referring to his 87-vote primary win. Yet, he began a quick rise in the Senate. He developed a close friendship with Senator Richard B. Russell of Georgia, the Senate’s most powerful Democrat. In 1951, at the age of 42, and after only two years in the Senate, Johnson, by an incidental series of events, was elected majority whip, the second most important party position in the Senate. In 1953 the Republicans then gained control of the Senate, and Johnson was elected Democratic minority leader. Two years later, with the Democrats back in control, he became majority leader. In the meantime, in 1954, he had won reelection to the Senate. So at this point in time Johnson was on the rising he was gaining more power than anyone else has ever before. On July 2, 1955 Johnson suffered a massive heart attack. He slowly recuperated and returned to the Senate the following January. Continuing to build his power until 1960, when he went for the Democratic presidential nomination. He did not formally announce his candidacy until July 5, 1960, just a few days before the Democratic National Convention. Because of his identification as a Southerner and the three-year campaign for the nomination by Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Johnson was solidly defeated by Kennedy on the first ballot. Johnson did not enjoy the life of vice-president, removed as he was from the levers of power, even though President Kennedy kept Johnson informed on major policy decisions. Johnson served on the National Security Council and its executive committee. As chairman of the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, he worked for broader job opportunities for blacks. In the fall of 1963, reports began to circulate that Kennedy would select a new running mate in 1964, a rumor Kennedy denied. The reports arose primarily from never-proved suggestions that Johnson was involved in the scandal surrounding his former Senate protege, Robert G. Baker. The Senate Democratic secretary who had been forced to resign after revelations that he had used his Senate position to build a personal business fortune. But politics began to occupy Kennedy and Johnson as they looked ahead to the 1964 elections. In November 1963 they traveled together to Texas, hoping to heal the split among Texas Democrats. On November 22 Kennedy was assassinated as he rode in a motorcade through Dallas with Johnson several cars behind.Within two hours after Kennedy was officially pronounced dead, Johnson was sworn in as president aboard the presidential jet, Air Force One, at Dallas’ Love Field. When he returned to Washington that evening on the plane with the slain president’s body, Johnson embarked on a presidency that would become one of the most controversial in the nation’s history. Johnson displayed some of the same qualities acting against some of the foreign crises. His first was the January 1964 anti-American uprising in Panama that led to temporary severance of diplomatic relations. A personal appeal to the president of Panama and promise of a review of the canal situation eased the crisis. In February, Cuban Premier Fidel Castro cut off the water supply of the U.S. naval base at Guant namo, Cuba. Johnson rejected advice that he send in Marines and ordered water shipped from the U.S. mainland. Then, on May 22, 1964, in a genesis speech at the University of Michigan, Johnson displayed his vision of a Great Society. He saw the United States as a place where there would be abundance and liberty for all … which demands an end to poverty and injustice … where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and enlarge his talents … where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body but the desire for beauty and the hunger for enrichment … where man can renew contact with nature … where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods.
The actions of sending troops in to Vietnamese jungles did not begin to hurt Johnson’s popularity as the war would later. In August 1964, at the Democratic convention, Johnson was nominated without opposition for a full four-year term as president. He chose Senator Hubert H. Humphrey oas his running mate in the campaign against Senator Barry M. Goldwater and William E. Miller. In the campaign, On November 3, Johnson was elected by a margin of 15,951,000 votes, the largest in history. His 43.1 million popular votes, 61.1 percent of the total, was also a record. He lost only Goldwater’s own state of Arizona and five Southern states. Johnson’s big win also brought a 38-seat gain for the Democrats in the House of Representatives and put two seats to the already large Democratic Senate majority. In 1965 Johnson introduced twice as many bills as he had in 1964, the Congress approved about 70% of them too. The legislative pace continued into 1966, even though it had begun to slow down. Johnson obtained measures creating the Teachers Corps; a new program of rent supplements for needy families. As you can see Johnson was one of the most powerful people at the time. Johnson, the first Southerner to occupy the White House since Andrew Johnson, stayed true to his commitment to civil rights by putting the first black, Thurgood Marshall, into the Supreme Court. Johnson also appointed the first black cabinet officer.Even from all the good that was happening during his first term nothing could stand in the way of the Vietnam War. In February 1965 after raids on U.S. military installations, Johnson held bombing raids on North Vietnam. Rather than acknowledge the war had escalated, Johnson at first In April 1965 Johnson ordered U.S. troops into the Dominican Republic to prevent a feared takeover by Communists during an antigovernment revolt. Johnson, however, said he was only doing it to protect American citizens there. In his 1966 State of the Union message, Johnson insisted the growing U.S. economy could provide both guns for Vietnam and help for the Great Society. By the fall elections, however, Johnson’s popularity had fallen so greatly that many Democrats running for reelection hoped he would not campaign for them. Johnson made only a few speeches; then, in late October, he flew off on a 17-day, 31,500-mile, 7-nation trip. It took him to Vietnam, when he returned home he entered Bethesda Naval Hospital for removal of a throat polyp and a hernia operation He was hopping that the trip would benefit him well he had some disappointment. In November the Democrats lost 47 seats in the House and 3 in the Senate. They still controlled both houses of the Congress, however. By January 1967, when the president went before the new and less docile 90th Congress, he got the idea for the first time that the federal government would have to slow down on Great Society spending. In addition, he asked for a temporary tax increase a six- percent surcharge on corporate and personal income taxes. He thought that this would help finance the war and to slow down inflation. Considering the smaller Democratic majority, Johnson fared well with the 90th Congress. He got another civil rights bill, one section of which outlawed discrimination in most housing. Another one he got was a $5.4 billion housing program; an anticrime bill designed to help local police forces and a $7.3 billion bill to aid higher education. There are a few other but I will not go into detail. When the Congress finally acted, the surcharge was raised to 10 percent, and Johnson had to agree to cut federal spending in 1968 by $6 billion. To this point Johnson had not disclosed whether he would seek reelection, although indications were that he would. Johnson was not officially on the ballot in the nation’s first primary in New Hampshire. But Democratic leaders there conducted an intense campaign for a large Johnson write-in vote. As the March 12 election neared, however, McCarthy, whose campaign initially had gotten very confused, suddenly it began to surge. When the ballots were counted, McCarthy had won 42 percent of the Democratic vote to Johnson’s 48 percent and, when Republican votes were added, came within about 200 votes of defeating Johnson. As the month progressed, it became apparent that Johnson would fare even worse in the Wisconsin primary on April 2. By state law, he was on the ballot even though he was not an announced candidate. Kennedy entered too late to be on the ballot, but Johnson was again challenged by McCarthy. In mid- March, a private White House poll showed that the president would get only about 25 percent of the vote, which was what he did get. Finally, on the night of March 31, Johnson addressed the nation by television and announced that he had ordered a halt to bombing of 90 percent of the territory of North Vietnam. In exchange, he asked Hanoi to make some movement toward a peace conference. The announcement marked the most significant change in U.S. policy since Feb. 6, 1965, when Johnson initiated sustained bombing raids on North Vietnam. In his final months in office, Johnson hoped to improve relations with the Soviet Union. He had hoped to visit Moscow and begin talks about limiting missiles. But on August 20, just before preliminary talks, 200,000 Russian troops, supported by other Warsaw Pact nations, invaded Czechoslovakia. The action forced postponement of the U.S.-Soviet discussions until after Johnson left office. Immediately after Richard M. Nixon’s inauguration January 20, Johnson retired to his ranch in Texas to begin writing his memoirs, later titled The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency, 1963- 1969. He lectured occasionally at the University of Texas and in May 1971 attended the dedication of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library complex located on the University of Texas campus in Austin. Johnson died on Jan. 22, 1973, and was buried at the LBJ Ranch, in Johnson City, Texas.
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