Lyndon B. Johnson: Major Accomplishments
Fast Facts: Lyndon B. Johnson
Born: Lyndon Baines Johnson
Date of Birth: August 27, 1908
Place of birth: Stonewall, Texas
Death: January 22, 1978
Burial Place: Johnson Family Cemetery, Stonewall, Texas, U.S.
Parents: Sam Ealy Johnson Jr. and Rebekah Baines Johnson
Education: Johnson City High School; Texas State University (formerly Southwest State Teachers College); Georgetown University
Siblings: 4 – Sam Houston Johnson, Josefa, Lucia, and Rebekah
Spouse: Claudia “Lady Bird” Taylor (Married on November 17, 1934)
Children: Lynda and Luci
Political Party: Democrat
Offices held prior to his presidency: 37th Vice President of the United States (1961-1963); U.S. Senator from Texas (1949-1961); U.S. House of Representatives from Texas’s 10th District (1937-1949)
US Presidency: 36th President of the United States (November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969)
Predecessor: John F. Kennedy
Successor: Richard M. Nixon
Most known for: Becoming the Senate Minority Leader at age 44; passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Prior to becoming the 36th United States President, Lyndon B. Johnson was the second in command to President John F. Kennedy (35th U.S. President). His elevation to the highest office in the land came as a result of the tragic assassination of JFK on November 22, 1963. As commander in chief (1963-1969), Johnson worked to deliver on his presidential promise of making America a “Great Society”. But for his inability to draw the Vietnam War to closing end, President Johnson, also known as LBJ, would perhaps have been able to break into the Greatest U.S. presidents of all time list. Regardless, LBJ did achieve some incredible things during his time in the White House.
Served as the chief of Texas National Youth Administration (NYA)
In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) tapped him to serve as the head of the National Youth Administration in Texas. Lyndon B. Johnson, like many Democrats, had a very strong admiration of FDR and the New Deal program. In his role as the chief of the youth program in Texas, Johnson was instrumental in mitigating the dire economic problems in his state during the Great Depression.
Lyndon B. Johnson served his congressional district very well
After a couple of years at the NYA, Lyndon B. Johnson stepped up and contested for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The seat, Texas’s 10th congressional district, had being made vacant after the death of Congressman James P. Buchanan. With support from his wife, Claudia, Johnson secured the seat and went on to serve six terms in the House- from April 1937 to January, 1949. His diligence in the House won the admiration of his fellow representatives. He was also heavily involved in expanding electrification projects in his district.
Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve
After the United States was attacked by Imperial Japan in December 1941, LBJ did not hesitate to leave the comfy offices on Capitol Hill and join the brave men and women in fighting against Axis threat. Five months prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, Johnson had been promoted to Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve.
Lyndon B. Johnson won the Silver Star
In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) appointed him spy and information officer in the Southwest Pacific. In that role, he served bravery (under the command of General Douglas MacArthur) and even went on to win the Silver Star. In addition to that honor, LBJ received the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal. Upon his return to the U.S., Johnson called on his fellow representatives to increase the nation’s war supplies to the brave men and women serving in southwest Pacific. He bemoaned the deplorable nature of equipment used by the Navy and how that affected the morale of the troops in the area.
Youngest Minority Leader in the Senate
After winning a very controversial Democratic primary in 1948, LBJ defeated Republican Jack Porter in November. Similar to the tactics he used in the House, Senator LBJ quickly developed close working relationship with older senators, especially Richard Russell of Georgia. His efforts paid off and he was appointed to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
In 1953, his appointment as the Minority Leader in the Senate meant that he became the youngest senator to hold that position – he was 44. After an excellent showing by Democrats in the 1954 elections, the Democrats took the Senate and LBJ became the Majority Leader.
Supported the Legislation that created NASA
As leader of the Democrats in the Senate, he worked very well with Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower to pass some crucial bills. His popularity and influence were bolstered by his slightly aggressive nature (“The Johnson Treatment”*) in persuading Senators to support bills that he preferred, thus becoming a very influential Congressman on Capitol Hill.
As senator, LBJ helped pass the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act, which went on to establish the NASA.
*He used what politicians back then termed as “The Johnson Treatment” – a persuasive tool that bordered slightly on a bit of intimidation, pestering, hassling, coercion, and scare tactics – to great effect all throughout his political career.
37th Vice President of the United States
Needing the support of the Southern Democrats, 1960 Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kennedy (JFK) tapped Johnson to be his running mate in the 1960 presidential election. The two men had earlier competed against each other for the Democratic ticket. JFK came out tops, winning 806 to 409.
As JFK’s running mate, Johnson helped pull a lot of conservatives in the South, especially from Texas. The Democratic pair cruised to victory by defeating Richard M. Nixon and his running mate Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. of the Republican Party.
On January 20, 1961, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn into office as the 37th Vice President of the United States. As JFK’s second in command, Johnson was quite honest power hungry and looked for every bit of opportunity to increase his influence in Washington D.C. His attempts at gulping up the authority of the majority leader in the Senate failed miserably. To appease Johnson, JFK assigned the task of reviewing national security policies.
Head of the National Aeronautics and Space Council
As vice president, Johnson was in charge of the National Aeronautics and Space Council. He worked extremely hard to tip the scale in America’s favor during the Space Race of the 1960s. He championed programs that sought to beat the Soviets to the Moon. Much of the funding of the Moon landing was secured kind courtesy of Vice President Johnson’s efforts.
Accomplishments during his presidency
Following the assassination of JFK, Vice President Johnson was sworn in as the 36th president of the United States. The swearing in ceremony, which was done by Judge Sarah Hughes, took place on Air Force One on November 22, 1963.
Embarked on a plethora of programs to reduce poverty in America
Termed War on Poverty, the LBJ administration committed quite a considerable amount of resources to tackle poverty. President Johnson used the Peace Corps as well as a host of civil and social organizations to bring millions of Americans out of the poverty line. He helped get the Economic Opportunity Act and the Revenue Act of 1964 passed. The act established the Job Corps and several community projects aimed at reducing poverty in America.
His term in office saw poverty (those living below the poverty line) in the country shrink by more than half – from 23 percent to 12 percent.
Passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Following in the footstep of his predecessor JFK, President Johnson called Congress to fast track the passage of the Civil Rights Act. In order to calm the racial tension that was brewing in the country, the president had several consultations with many civil rights activists, including Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. After an extensive debate in the House, the civil rights bill saw the light of the day and got passed by a vote of 290 to 110. In the Senate, the vote was 71-29 in favor of the bill.
The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which Johnson signed into law on July 2, 1964) was an epochal moment in America’s history. It is for this reason why many historians favorably rank Johnson in the top half of the greatest U.S. Presidents in history.
- FAQs about Rosa Parks
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Won his first full term in a landslide victory
His reasonable economic and civil rights record allowed him to obliterate his Republican opponent – Barry Goldwater – in the 1964 presidential election. Johnson etched his name into history by securing the second largest landslide victory of the 20th century*. The Texas-born politician pulled a whopping 61.05 percent of the popular vote, which translated into close to 16 million more votes than the one Goldwater was able to secure. The Electoral College votes saw Johnson win 486 to 52, wining 44 states as against Goldwater’s 4.
Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Another massive win for Johnson in the civil rights movement came in 1995, when he rallied Congress to pass the voting rights bill. In the Senate, the bill received a thumb up as it was passed 77-19. What the Voting Rights Act of 1965 did was that it removed all barriers in the some southern states that prevented African Americans from voting. Armed with all those civil rights acts of the 1960s, Johnson was able to go after ultra-supremacists across the nation. This included prosecuting several KKK (Ku Klux Klan) members that were involved in killing African-Americans.
Thus Johnson became probably the first U.S. president since Ulysses S. Grant to actually go after violent KKK members. Quite impressive come to think of it.
Appointed the first African-American to the Supreme Court
His nomination of vocal civil rights activist and attorney Thurgood Marshall to the U.S. Supreme Court came in 1967. This feat of his was actually an icing on the cake in terms of the impressive civil rights results he secured during his presidency. After Congress confirmed the nomination, Marshall made history by becoming the first African American to seat on the bench of the Supreme Court.
Invested heavily in Education
President Johnson used education (public education to be precise) as a panacea to poverty. He passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The act increased federal spending on education from 4 billion USD to 8 billion USD. Much of that money went to public schools districts. It also went to private schools’ libraries.
There was also the Higher Education Act of 1965 which provided assistance to lower income students. Other educational initiatives that fell under his Great Society program included: the Public Broadcasting Act; the National Endowment for the Humanities; and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Other accomplishments by President Lyndon B. Johnson
- He passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 to grant equitable housing opportunities to all Americans regardless of race, creed, or national origin.
- LBJ passed the Fair Housing Act in 1968
- His term saw the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which removed immigration quotas that dated back to the 1910s and 1920s. The act allowed for diversity in the immigrants that came to the U.S.
- He passed Medicare in 1965 to provide insurance coverage for millions of Americans. Former President Harry S Truman and his wife Bess received the first two Medicare cards
- Following the assassinations of MLK, JFK and Robert F. Kennedy, President Johnson pushed for greater gun laws in the form of the Gun control Act of 1968.
- His tenure saw the first two manned flights to the Moon – the Apollo 7 and the Apollo 8.
*With his victory in 1972, President Nixon holds the number one position on the list of largest landslide victory (presidential elections) of the 20th century.