Lyndon B. Johnson

By: Lyndon Kelley

Early life

Lyndon Johnson was raised in extremely conservative Texan family during a period of great disparities when it came to social class and economics. He vehemently opposed the bigotry he witnessed and actually would teach students of Mexican ancestry. His father was Sam Johnson, a politician turned farmer who aspired to be more, and Lyndon also wanted a better future for himself. He had a relatively poor upbringing in which his parents could barely provide for him, and he did so poorly in school that he couldn’t get into a college until he was 21 in the year 1927. Johnson would go on to later help Richard Kleberg, a Texas congressman from Corpus Christi, with any help he needed.

Main influences

The most influential father in his early life was his father and mother. Lyndon saw his father suffering throughout his life and made it a personal goal to try and better himself. Johnson's mother taught Lyndon to appreciate the finer things in life such as education or culture and made sure to develop a close relationship with him. Lyndon Johnson’s motivation for his success was his pride. He was a passionate, tenacious man who was determined to let nothing get in his way on the path to greatness. In his early life, Johnson was heavily influenced by his family's constant state of pauperism and wanted to find solutions to discrimination and poverty as a result.

Lyndon Johnson's motivation and family

"Presidents quickly realize that while a single act might destroy the world they live in, no one single decision can make life suddenly better or can turn history around for the good."

This quote showed the stress that the prideful Johnson was under during his presidency. It highlighted the dissonance among Lyndon's constituents and his desire for their approval. He couldn't handle the breakdown of American life as Vietnam riots increased in both severity and number and would eventually turn down the Democratic nomination, believing that he would simply hurt the Democratic Party in the long run.

Looking at LBJ success during the Great Depression and WW2 (Contrast and Compare)

He would have most likely been loved during the Great Depression and WWII. Americans wanted a president who would be willing to create policies that would help alleviate the pressure of the Great Depression; Americans would have loved Lyndon Johnson's Great Society due to it addressing education, transportation, and health care issues. He’d be lauded for it because it would prove that he was a president who would side with the people who needed help the most. The war on poverty, while idealistic, would also turn out to be popular due to it specifically targeting and eliminating poverty within certain areas. LBJ would also still be just as successful in handling WWII. WWII was a peak of patriotism, and a draft would find much support among Americans who wanted to fight the Japanese and Germans. Even more significant would be the lack of modern media to show horrors in Pacific and European fronts. The reason he lost support during the Vietnam War was due to widespread coverage of the atrocities going on, but since it'd be far harder to showcase the casualties victims during this era, LBJ would have been more successful in his war effort. Still, Johnson would be a polarizing figure based on agenda on for improving the lives of African-Americans which would result in a similar outlook to what happened after the Civil Right’s Act of 1964 and 1968 due to widespread bigotry that was even worse than during the 1960's. The violent riots that occurred during Johnson's attempt to help African-Americans would have been even more violent and Johnson would still have a controversial presidency as a result.

What I'd do with Lyndon Johnson's talent

I would use his talents to become a politician. With the intelligence and creativity that Johnson possessed, I would attempt to tackle the modern day problems that the US still faces: poverty, discrimination, healthcare, and education. With the charm, pride, and near unbreakable will that Lyndon possessed, I would look for ways to pass laws that would create cheaper college tuition nationwide and expand the healthcare system so it would become available to even those of the lowest socioeconomic class. I wouldn't focus on specific groups; I'd want to try and create laws that would benefit all Americans.


Lyndon B. Johnson: The Uncivil Rights Performer by Lisa Jardine

In Lyndon Johnson’s early years, he faced economic and physical obstacles that would later affect his policies. When he began his political career, he became a staunch supporter of the policies, especially the New Deal, that Franklin Roosevelt had put in place, and Johnson tried to place himself as close to Roosevelt's policies when they were passed to build a positive reputation among the victims of the Great Depression. Johnson ran for the position of as a Texas senator and was able to become the youngest leader of the majority of the Senate. LBJ tactfully mastered the rules and organization of the Senate meaning he was able to compromise and force bills through legislation that would almost certainly not have gone through under any other circumstance which would have been especially evident with bills that related to civil rights. As his political career evolved, the turning point of Lyndon’s political career would be when he bitterly accepted John Kennedy’s offer to be his running mate. As a vice president, Johnson was extremely bitter and felt that the election of Kennedy had stunted his political clout; during vital moments of Kennedy’s presidency, specifically the Cuban Missile Crisis and after MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, Johnson was nowhere to be found. He had such little political power that he had little no effect on the outcome of these events, and there were even talks among Democrats to change Kennedy’s running mate for the next year. However, a critical moment for Johnson’s political career occurred on November 22, 1963, when JFK was assassinated, and Lyndon was sworn in as the new president. After the initial shock of the former’s death, the was apprehension for the latter among the Americans and foreigners because many were personally affected by JFK’s assassination; a handsome and charismatic leader of the free world in Kennedy was replaced with the crass, older man in Johnson. Two issues would define Johnson’s presidency: civil rights and the Vietnam War for the better and worse respectively. Johnson was considered to be a champion of civil rights for Africans Americans; with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act, he showed his unwavering support for suffrage for blacks in every corner of the country. Lyndon was also able to pass the piece of legislation with little compromise which allowed for him to dominate the 1964 election with over sixty percent of the popular vote. However, after the election, Vietnam would stain his approval and mark him as a boogeyman among the American people. After the Gulf of Tonkin incident in which an American ship was, supposedly, sunk by three Viet Cong torpedo boats, Lyndon Johnson gave orders to escalate the war and attempt to continue his policy of the “containment” of communism in Vietnam. As the intensity of the war steadily increased, Americans were beleaguered by Johnson’s aggressive and costly policies, while support among the international community deteriorated as well; the consensus among Americans and foreign governments was that Lyndon Johnson was a bully intent on stunting the growth the small, defenseless state which was Vietnam. There was a sustained anger among Americans, and as riots against the war became more severe, Johnson started to break mentally. The situation on the homefront was difficult for him to watch because he was unable to comprehend why there was nothing he could do to make a difference to stop the violence he watched and would decide to retire afterward. His health would also start to deteriorate as he began smoking and drinking, habits which he quit almost years prior. On January 22, 1964, Lyndon Johnson would suffer a third and fatal heart attack. But as time progresses, there has been a significant change in the public evaluation of LBJ. As Vietnam becomes more distant from the Americans’ memories, the opinion that Lyndon Johnson was a polarizing martinet has started to fade in favor of a one that shows him as a progressive, radical leader who deserves admiration for his contribution to civil rights and social benefits. The author’s tone teacher-like; she establishes it through the use of logos in the article. Jardine examines the public perception of Lyndon by remembering her personal experiences and the public backlash that occurred during Johnson's presidency. By using her experience and by stating facts about his LBJ's life, she quickly establishes a tone that will have as little bias possible present. Also, as Lisa Jardine is a foreigner examining the presidency of Johnson, she also has the advantage that she look at his work without American bias, and this further helps her case as a reliable author.

"No more bigotry; no more poverty; no more discrimination!"

A modern LBJ presidential campaign would look similar to this. Johnson focused on fixing inequalities that were apparent in society, especially those that had to do with race or poverty. He would appeal to voters who have a more difficult time in society and make promises to fix their issues. His campaign would be very similar to Bernie Sanders, albeit on a less extreme level.
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We Shall Overcome

At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man's unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama. There, long-suffering men and women peacefully protested the denial of their rights as Americans. Many of them were brutally assaulted. One good man--a man of God--was killed.

There is no cause for pride in what has happened in cause for self-satisfaction in the long denial of equal rights of millions of Americans…(but) there is cause for hope in our Democracy in what is happening here tonight..Our mission is right wrong, to do justice, to serve man.

There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem.

The great phrases of that purpose still sound in every American heart...: "All men are created equal." "Government by consent of the governed." "Give me liberty or give me death."...those are not just empty theories…Those words are promised to every citizen that he shall share in the dignity of man. deny a man his hopes because of his color or race or his religion or the place of his birth is not only to do injustice, it is to deny Americans and to dishonor the dead who gave their lives for American freedom….This most basic right of all was the right to choose your own leaders. The history of this country in large measure is the history of expansion of the right to all of our people.

...every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no reason which can excuse the denial of that right….Yet the harsh fact is that in many places in this country men and women are kept from voting simply because they are Negroes....The Constitution says that no person shall be kept from voting because of his race or his color….

...There is no issue of state's rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights....the last time a President sent a civil rights bill (to Congress)...That civil rights bill was passed after eight long months of debate. And when that bill came to my desk from the Congress for signature, the heart of the voting provision had been eliminated.

This time, on this issue, there must be no delay, or no hesitation, or no compromise with our purpose. We cannot, we must not, refuse to protect the right of every American to vote in every election that he may desire to participate in... (or) wait another eight months before we get a bill. We have already waited 100 years and more and the time for waiting is gone. So I ask you to join me...(in the passage of) this bill. And I don't make that request lightly, for... I recognize that from outside this chamber is the outraged conscience of a nation, the grave concern of many nations and the harsh judgment of history on our acts.

But even if we pass this bill the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it's not just Negroes, but really it's all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.

And we shall overcome.

Speaker: Lyndon B. Johnson

Occasion: It was a special message to congress at the 89th United States Congress after the horrific events that occurred a week before in Selma, Alabama

Audience: Congress members who could no longer pretend about the inequalities that the United States had.

Purpose: To introduce Medicare and Medicaid, toe introduce the voting rights act, and

Subject: Talking about domestic policies in the USA

Tone: Extremely serious, but optimistic about the future of the United States. It's a call to arms among Americans.

Most clear rhetorical strategies:

Anaphora heavily employed: Supposed to show graveness of the situation

Tautology: used for emphasis on the situation

Ethos: Invokes the Constitution, one of the strongest symbols of patriotism

Pathos: Portrays what happened in Selma, rightfully, as a terrible mistake and says a man of god was killed.

Special Message to the Congress: The American Promise [on the Voting Rights Act], 3/15/65. MP506.

What was Lyndon B. Johnson's American Experience?

Lyndon Johnson had a long, prosperous career in politics. He overcame poverty to become the most powerful man in the Western World. He passed many laws that would benefit all Americans: the Voting Rights Act, Medicaid, Medicare, and the war on poverty all benefitted the large majority of Americans. LBJ was a champion of civil rights and considered by many to be the father of the modern Democratic Party. He was a progressive hero to many people, but his American Experience was still terrible for one main reason: the Vietnam War. Johnson was a prideful man who couldn't accept criticism or lack of control. During the Vietnam War, he had to face both: he became an intensely hated figure during the war while also having to watch his constituents turn on each other during violent riots. The Vietnam War damaged his psyche and would be a central reason for him starting to drink and smoke fifteen years after he quit both habits; these would major factors to him suffering a 3 heart attacks and dying a broken, shamed man.


""And We Shall Overcome": President Lyndon B. Johnson's Special Message to Congress." "And We Shall Overcome": President Lyndon B. Johnson's Special Message to Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

Johnson, Lyndon B. The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency, 1963-1969. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971. Print.


"JOHNSON, SAMUEL EALY, JR." KELLEY, DAYTON. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

"LBJ Coming to the Stage- The Great Society." Theater Pizzazz. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

"LBJ’s Legacy." N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

"Lyndon B. Johnson." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016

Johnson, Lyndon B. The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency, 1963-1969. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971. Print.

"Miller Center." Lyndon B. Johnson: Life Before the Presidency-. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

Randall. "'LBJ: Architect of American Ambition'" The New York Times. The New York Times, 19 Aug. 2006. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

"The Presidents of the USA." USA Presidents. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

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