The President and His Early Years
Lyndon Baines Johnson was a true Texan. His humble beginnings shaped him to be a champion for the poor and a vehicle for social reform during the 1960’s. Johnson was born on August 27th, 1908 to Sam and Rebekah Baines Johnson. He was the oldest of five children. His mother was quiet and reserved while his father was a talker and a man of action. He served five terms in the Texas legislature from the age of twenty-seven until he became a farmer, a change that proved to be unsuccessful; LBJ’s father piled up enormous debts, lost the family farm, and plunged the family into a financial crisis This experience affected Johnson throughout his own life and heavily influenced his domestic policy towards improving the lot of the poor. As a boy, Johnson performed poorly in school and was denied admission to college. After a short time of doing odd jobs, he was accepted into Southwest Texas State Teachers College in 1927, where he dropped out and later re-attended to receive his degree. To Johnson, college was more than just a place to get a formal education, he saw it as an opportunity to spread his wings, and hone his skills as a politician. Johnson worked hard to gain favor with the college president and word of his aggressive, self-promoting tactics around campus earned him an accurate nickname of "Bull Johnson", an epithet that summarized his approach to politics and life.
The Road to the White House
Johnson’s rise to power began when he took a job in Washington, D.C. as the secretary of Congressman Richard Kleberg. He then ran for Congress in 1937 and won. He was reelected to the House in 1938 and 1940, and won a Senate seat in 1948 by only eighty-seven votes. Johnson thrived in the Senate where he was quickly promoted to Democratic Whip in 1951, Minority Leader in 1953, and Majority Leader in 1955. As majority leader, Johnson grew into a major political force, employing a mixture of flattery, coercion, and compromise,...