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Wikipedia Summary for Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon Baines Johnson (August 27, 1908 – January 22, 1973), often referred to by his initials LBJ, was an American politician who served as the 36th president of the United States from 1963 to 1969, and previously as 37th vice president from 1961 to 1963. He assumed the presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A Democrat from Texas, Johnson was also a United States representative and later majority leader in the United States Senate. Johnson is one of only four people to have served, at various times, in all four federal elected positions.

Born in a farmhouse in Stonewall, Texas, Johnson worked as a high school teacher and a congressional aide before winning election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1937. Johnson won election to the United States Senate from Texas in 1948 after narrowly winning the Democratic Party's nomination. He was appointed to the position of Senate Majority Whip in 1951. He became the Senate leader of the Democrats in 1953. He became known for his domineering personality and the "Johnson treatment", his aggressive coercion of powerful politicians to advance legislation. Johnson ran for the Democratic nomination in the 1960 presidential election. Although unsuccessful, he became the running mate of the nominee Senator John F. Kennedy and they went on to win a close election. On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated and Johnson succeeded him as president. In the 1964 Presidential election, Johnson won in a landslide, defeating Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. With 61.1 percent of the popular vote, Johnson won the largest share of the popular vote of any candidate since 1820.

In domestic policy, Johnson's "Great Society" and "War on Poverty" programs led to legislation to expand civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, aid to education and the arts, urban and rural development, and public services. Assisted by a strong economy, the War on Poverty helped millions of Americans rise above the poverty line during his administration. In foreign policy, Johnson escalated American involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted Johnson the power to use military force in Southeast Asia without having to ask for an official declaration of war. The number of American military personnel in Vietnam increased dramatically, from 16,000 advisors in non-combat roles in 1963 to 525,000 in 1967, many in combat roles. American casualties soared and the peace process stagnated. Growing unease with the war stimulated a large, angry anti-war movement based chiefly among draft-age students on university campuses. Unlike the majority of southern politicians, he opposed racial segregation, signing civil rights bills to ban racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce, the workplace and housing. The Voting Rights Act ended the mass disenfranchisement of African Americans in the South, and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 permitted greater immigration from regions other than Europe. Johnson's presidency marked the peak of modern liberalism in the United States.

Johnson faced further troubles when summer riots began in major cities in 1965 and crime rates soared, as his political opponents raised demands for "law and order" policies. While Johnson began his presidency with widespread approval, support for him declined as the public became frustrated with both the war and social unrest. In 1968, he ended his bid for renomination after a disappointing result in the New Hampshire primary. He was succeeded by Richard Nixon in January 1969. Johnson returned to his Texas ranch, where he died of a heart attack four years later. Johnson is ranked favorably by many historians because of his domestic policies and the passage of many major laws that affected civil rights, gun control, wilderness preservation, and Social Security, although he has also drawn substantial criticism for his policies in the Vietnam War, and conservative criticism for the growth of the federal government and Great Society programs.

We must not only protect the countryside and save it from destruction, we must restore what has been destroyed and salvage the beauty and charm of our cities.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Longer Version:

We must not only protect the country side and save it from destruction, we must restore what has been destroyed and salvage the beauty and charm of our cities ... Once our natural splendor is destroyed, it can never be recaptured. And once man can no longer walk with beauty or wonder at nature, his spirit will wither and his sustenance be wasted.


Freedom is not enough.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Success only feeds the appetite of aggression.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

How incredible it is that in this fragile existence we should hate and destroy one another. There are possibilities enough for all who will abandon mastery over others to pursue mastery over nature. There is world enough for all to seek their happiness in their own way.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Not now, or not there, or too much, or not at all.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

I wake up 5 a.m. some mornings and hear the planes coming in at National Airport and I think they are bombing me.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Victory is no longer a truth. It is only a word to describe who is left alive in the ruins.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

The best way to begin disarming is to begin-and the United States is ready to conclude firm agreements in these areas and to consider any other reasonable proposal.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

We must open the doors of opportunity.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Longer Version:

We must open the doors of opportunity. But we must also equip our people to walk through those doors.



If a single act of folly was more responsible for this explosion than any other it was the arbitrary and dangerous announced decision that the Straits of Tiran would be closed. The right of innocent, maritime passage must be preserved for all nations.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

He's a nice guy, but he played too much football with his helmet off.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

The crotch, down where your nuts hang, is always a little too tight.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Reporters are like puppets. They simply respond to the pull of the most powerful strings.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Effective law enforcement and social justice must be pursued together, as the foundation of our efforts against crime.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Scarcely any law of our Redeemer is more openly transgressed, or more industriously evaded, than that by which he commands his followers to forgive injuries. Samuel.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Conservation is ethically sound. It is rooted in our love of the land, our respect for the rights of others, our devotion to the rule of law.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Not merely a nation but a nation of nations.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

As the House is designed to provide a reflection of the mood of the moment, the Senate is meant to reflect the continuity of the past -- to preserve the delicate balance of justice between the majority's whims and the minority's rights.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

In a thousand unseen ways we have drawn shape and strength from the land.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

It will be controlled when the people of America, through their elected representatives, demand the right to air that they and their children can breathe without fear.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

The debris of civilization litters the landscapes and spoils the beaches. Conservation's concerns now is not only for man's enjoyment-but for man's survival.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Men who have worked together to reach the stars are not likely to descend together into the depths of war and desolation.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

The experts spent a great deal of time and study working out a formula which would be fair to every State and fair to every county and fair to every child, and would put the education dollar where that dollar is needed most, now.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Light at the end of the tunnel? We don't even have a tunnel; we don't even know where the tunnel is.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Never make a speech at a country dance or a football game.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

The best fertilizer for a piece of land is the footprints of its owner.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

In 1838, Mirabeau B. Lamar, the Second President of the Republic of Texas and the Father of Texas education, declared: 'The cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy. It is the only dictator that free man acknowledges. It is the only security that free man desires.'

--Lyndon B. Johnson

The fifth freedom is freedom from ignorance.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

So here is the Great Society. It's the time -- and it's going to be soon -- when nobody in this country is poor.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

In the Great Society, work shall be an outlet for mans interests and desires. Each individual shall have full opportunity to use his capacities in employment which satisfies personally and contributes generally to the quality of the Nations life.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

For me, it is a deep personal tragedy. I know that the world shares the sorrow that Mrs. Kennedy and her family bear. I will do my best. That is all I can do. I ask for your help -- and God's.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

The great society is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goods than with the quantity of their goods.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and enlarge his talents.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

The American Indian, once proud and free, is torn now between White and tribal values; between the politics and language of the White man and his own historic culture. His problems, sharpened by years of defeat and exploitation, neglect and inadequate effort, will take many years to overcome.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

The Air Force comes in every morning and says, 'Bomb, bomb, bomb' ... And then the State Department comes in and says, 'Not now, or not there, or too much, or not at all.'

--Lyndon B. Johnson

There's something special for everyone to do. Remember, no experience is a bad experience unless you gain nothing from it.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

There are two kinds of speeches: the Mother Hubbard speech, which, like the garment, covers everything but touches nothing, and the French bathing suit speech, which covers only the essential points.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

People do not come out to vote for a United States Senator. They come out to vote for the Sheriff or the County Commissioner.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Let us close the springs of racial poison. Let us pray for wise and understanding hearts. Let us lay aside irrelevant differences and make our nation whole.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

If you're not listening, you're not learning.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

My most fervent prayer is to be a President who can make it possible for every boy in this land to grow to manhood by loving his country -- instead of dying for it.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

But if future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than with sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as God really made it, not just as it looked when we got through with it.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

All that Hubert needs over there is a gal to answer the phone and a pencil with an eraser on it.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

He's Gerald Ford a nice guy but he played too much football with his helmet off.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Americans have always built for the future. That is why we established land grant colleges and passed the Homestead Act to open our Western lands more than 100 years ago.

--Lyndon B. Johnson


I want real loyalty. I want someone who will kiss my ass in Macy's window, and say it smells like roses.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Art is a nation's most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

If we quit Vietnam, tomorrow we'll be fighting in Hawaii, and next week we'll have to fight in San Francisco.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Education is the key to opportunity in our society, and the equality of educational opportunity must be the birthright of every citizen.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

America has not always been kind to its artists and scholars. Somehow the scientists always seem to get the penthouse while the arts and humanities get the basement.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

We need to remember that the separation of church and state must never mean the separation of religious values from the lives of public servants... If we who serve free men today are to differ from the tyrants of this age, we must balance the powers in our hands with God in our hearts.

--Lyndon B. Johnson


There is nothing that exasperates people more than a display of superior ability or brilliance in conversation. They seem pleased at the time, but their envy makes them curse the conversationalist in their heart.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

When a person finds themselves predisposed to complaining about how little they are regarded by others, let them reflect how little they have contributed to the happiness of others.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

In 1790, the nation which had fought a revolution against taxation without representation discovered that some of its citizens weren't much happier about taxation with representation.

--Lyndon B. Johnson


If we are to live together in peace, we must come to know each other better.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Above the pyramid on the great seal of the United States it says in Latin: God has favored our undertaking. God will not favor everything that we do. It is rather our duty to divine His will.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

There is no issue of States' rights or National rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

No one has the right to use America's rivers and America's Waterways, that belong to all the people. as a sewer. The banks of a river may belong to one man or one industry or one State, but the waters which flow between the banks should belong to all the people.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

For the college years we will provide scholarships to high school students of the greatest promise and greatest need and guarantee low-interest loans to students continuing their college studies.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

It is happily and kindly provided that in every life there are certain pauses, and interruptions, which force consideration upon the careless, and seriousness upon the light, points of time where one course of action ends and another begins.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

But, most of all, the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place, a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

A clear stream, a long horizon, a forest wilderness and open sky -- these are man's most ancient possessions. In a modern society, they are his most priceless.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

I'll tell you what's at the bottom of it. If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

The future holds little hope for any government where the present holds no hope for the people.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

A compassionate government keeps faith with the trust of the people and cherishes the future of their children. Through compassion for the plight of one individual, government fulfills its purpose as the servant of all the people.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Emancipation was a proclamation, but not a fact.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Every man should know that his conversations, his correspondence, and his personal life are private.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

All of us realize that war requires action. What is sometimes harder for us to realize is that peace and neutrality also require action.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

We have always believed that our people can stand on no higher ground than the school ground, or can enter any more hopeful room than the classroom. We blend time and faith and knowledge in our schools -- not only to create educated citizens, but also to shape the destiny of this great Republic.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert and the unclimbed ridge. It is the star that is not reached and the harvest that is sleeping in the unplowed ground.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

It is the excitement of becoming -- always becoming, trying, probing, falling, resting, and trying again- but always trying and always gaining.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

It will help at every state along the road to learning. For the pre-school years we will help needy children become aware of the excitement of learning.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

For the primary and secondary school years, we will aid public schools serving low-income families and assist students in both public and private schools.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

We decided that our first job was to help the schools serving the children from the very lowest income groups. Those families constitute the number one burden, the number one burden in this Nation on the school systems.

--Lyndon B. Johnson


A President must call on many persons -- some to man the ramparts and to watch the far away, distant posts; others to lead us in science, medicine, education and social progress here at home.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

If we become tow people-the suburban affluent and the urban poor, each filled with mistrust and fear of the other-then we shall effectively cripple each generation to come.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

It's too bad, but the way American people are, now that they have all this capability, instead of taking advantage of it, they'll probably just piss it all away.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

This nation, this generation, in this hour has man's first chance to build a Great Society, a place where the meaning of man's life matches the marvels of man's labor.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

For every generation, there is a destiny. For some, history decides. For this generation, the choice must be our own. ... Our destiny in the midst of change will rest on the unchanged
character of our people, and on their faith.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

If one little old general in shirt sleeves can take Saigon, think about 200 million Chinese comin' down those trails. No sir, I don't want to fight them.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

Every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no reason which can excuse the denial of that right. There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to ensure that right.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

It is a truism that education is no longer a luxury. Education in this day and age is a necessity.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

I am going to build the kind of nation that President Roosevelt hoped for, President Truman worked for, and President Kennedy died for.

--Lyndon B. Johnson

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