Lyndon Baines Johnson
American President Lyndon Baines Johnson was born in 1908 in a farmhouse on the Pedernales River near Johnson City, Texas. In 1934, Johnson became the Director of the National Youth Administration in Texas.
In 1937, Johnson won a special election for a seat in the House of Representatives, representing an area around Austin, Texas. Johnson was a strong supporter of President Roosevelt.
Johnson was elected to the Senate in 1948. In the Democratic Primary, Johnson won by just 87 votes.
Johnson served on many prestigious committees in the Senate. In 1951, Johnson was elected Minority Whip of the Senate and in 1953, he became Minority Leader.
When the Democrats took control of the Senate in 1955, Johnson became Senate Majority Leader. He was 46 at the time, and was the youngest Majority Leader ever.
Johnson was a leading candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1960, but he lost to John F. Kennedy. Kennedy then chose Johnson as his running mate, and Johnson reluctantly accepted. As Vice President, he traveled extensively. In Dallas, Vice President Johnson was riding two cars behind President Kennedy when the President was assassinated.
President Johnson's Presidency will be remembered for the "Great Society" program and for the Vietnam War.
Johnson's Great Society program was designed to fight poverty in the United States. It consisted of a series of legislative acts that created the Job Corps, to provide vocational training for disadvantaged youth; Volunteers in Service of America (VISTA), a domestic Peace Corps; and Head Start, to instruct disadvantaged preschoolers, among other programs.
The other part of the Great Society program was the passage of civil rights legislation proposed by the Kennedy Administration. The laws helped protect the voting rights of minorities. In addition, the Civil Rights Law outlawed discrimination in all aspects of American society, and the Justice Department actively enforced this legislation.
During the Johnson Presidency, Medicare and Medicaid were established to provide medical care for those over 65 and those too poor to pay. It was also during Johnson's Administration that the first environmental legislation was passed.
Johnson's Presidency was dominated by the Vietnam War. Johnson received broad Congressional approval to prevent further aggression against US forces and the South Vietnamese people. After an American base was attacked, the United States responded with a sustained air attack on targets in North Vietnam that became known as "Rolling Thunder."
At that point, President Johnson dispatched American ground troops to Vietnam. Their numbers grew from 180,00 at the end of 1965 to 550,000 in 1968. In January 1968, the Communists launched the Tet offensive. The offensive was a military failure, but a tremendous psychological success for the North Vietnamese.
Anti-war demonstrations increased at home and finally, in 1968, Johnson announced that he would not seek re-election.