This Day in History… August 27, 1908

Birth of America’s 36th President 

U.S. #1503 pictures Johnson’s official White House portrait. Painted by Elizabeth Shoumatoff in 1968, Johnson personally selected it as his official portrait.

Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) was born on August 27, 1908 in Stonewall, Texas, and was the oldest of five children. He was an intelligent boy and began primary school at four years old. His grandfather predicted he would someday become a senator. But before beginning his political career, LBJ dabbled in teaching and a number of odd jobs as he pursued a college degree.

While taking some time off from school, Johnson taught at a segregated Mexican-American school in Cotulla, Texas. There, he witnessed the plight of the impoverished students, realizing not one of them would ever have an opportunity to go on to higher education. It bothered him to know that “the door to knowledge remained closed to any American.”

LBJ started his political career working as Secretary to Texas Congressman Richard Kleberg in 1931. Less than four years later, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him the Texas Director of the National Youth Administration. Within two years he was elected to the House of Representatives where he championed the fight for public housing and electricity in nonurban areas. He spent almost 12 years as a State Representative before being elected to the Senate. His Sentate election was contested in the democratic primary, but LBJ prevailed. Within three terms, he was the Senate Majority Leader, a position he held for 6 years. As the 1960 presidential election approached, LBJ was a natural candidate.

#4463005 – 1992 Lyndon B. Johnson Medal

LBJ got off to a late campaign start from which he couldn’t recover. But, when John F. Kennedy won the democratic ticket and needed a running mate, Johnson was the man for the job. LBJ was not popular with labor unions, but he had the favor of southern democrats, which Kennedy needed to win the presidency.

LBJ was appointed to oversee the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities, spearheading civil rights legislation faster than ever anticipated. After Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, LBJ pushed the Civil Rights Act through in his honor. When he was elected president the following year, LBJ passed the Voting Rights Act to further prevent discrimination. LBJ went on to set legislation in motion to fund education, fight poverty, and provide healthcare. He also made Kennedy’s U.S. space program a top priority during the 1960s, and succeeded in getting an American on the moon ahead of the Russians.

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