Lyndon Baines Johnson was the 36th President of the United States, born on the 27th of August 1908 in Stonewall Texas to parents Rebekah and Samuel and passed on the 22nd of January 1973. He is one of only four people who served in all four elected federal offices of the United States: Representative, Senator, Vice President, and President. His mother taught him to read at an early age.
He went to local public schools, graduating from high school in 1924. In his early adulthood, he became a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
In his later years the grandfather became a Christadelphian; Johnson’s father also joined the Christadelphian Church toward the end of his life. In 1926, Johnson enrolled in Southwest Texas State Teachers’ College (now Texas State University).
He worked his way through school, participated in debate and campus politics, and edited the school newspaper called The College Star, now known as The University Star.The college years refined his skills of persuasion and political organization.
Johnson’s father had served six terms in the Texas legislature and was a close friend of one of Texas’s rising political figures, Congressman Sam Rayburn. In 1930, Johnson campaigned for Texas State Senator Welly Hopkins in his run for Congress.
Hopkins recommended him to Congressman Richard M. Kleberg, who appointed Johnson as Kleberg’s legislative secretary. In 1935, he was appointed head of the Texas National Youth Administration, which enabled him to use the government to create education and job opportunities for young people.
He was a natural politician, and to many people who knew him, he seemed larger than life. He was awarded the Silver Star. In 1949, Johnson was elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming the Democratic Majority Leader in 1955.
As a President, Johnson revealed that he was even more complex and ambitious; unveiling a sweeping collection of legislative and social initiatives he called “The Great Society.” Elected in his own right by a landslide victory in 1964, he seemed unsinkable but soon floundered amid the Vietnam War.
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.
The Vietnam War turned out to be Johnson’s downfall. Under Johnson the war escalated and U.S. involvement grew. As more and more U.S. soldiers died in the war, Johnson’s popularity began to diminish.
Many people disagreed with any U.S. involvement at all and protests grew throughout the country. Johnson put his full efforts into gaining a peace settlement, but failed in the end.
Johnson created the Great Society programs which included antipoverty programs, civil rights legislation, the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, the passage of some environmental protection acts, and the creation of laws to help protect consumers.
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.