Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) was born on August 27, 1908 in a farmhouse near the Central Texas town of Stonewall. Like three other Vice Presidents in United States history, he became chief executive upon the assassination of the President.
In Johnson's long career in Washington no skill served him better than his ability to "operate" the system. One congressional associate said about young Lyndon Johnson, "Within a few months, he knew how to operate in Washington better than some who had been there for twenty years before him." At age 44, he was the youngest man either party had ever chosen as Senate leader. Skilled in the art of political give and take, Johnson would pave the way for legislation before it came to the Senate floor for a vote.
His strong support for space exploration helped establish the Senate Aeronautical and Space Committee, and made him its first chairman. He sponsored the law that created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958.
In 1961 Johnson was elected Vice President on the ticket with President John F. Kennedy. In November of 1963 President Kennedy was assassinated. Three hours after the President passed away Johnson was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States.
Highlights of the Johnson Presidency include the naming of the first black to the cabinet when he made Robert Weaver secretary of housing and urban development. He also appointed Thurgood Marshall the first black Supreme Court Justice.
By 1968 the Vietnam War was dividing the country. 'Hawks' called for sterner military action to end the war, and 'Doves' called for cutbacks and eventual withdrawal. On March 31, 1968 Johnson shocked the nation by announcing that he would not run for reelection. He said there was "division in the American House" and that he was withdrawing in the name of "national unity." After Richard Nixon was inaugurated as the 37th President on January 20, 1969 Johnson retired to his ranch in Texas.
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