Lyndon Johnson


Lyndon Johnson led the country for five years (1963-1968) after
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy died of gunshot wounds on November 22, 1963.
He formulated many policies and carried out many others that Kennedy could not
finish. He faced many foreign problems as well, including the Vietnam War and
the Cold War. How he dealt with foreign problems put him near last if not last
in foreign affairs, when compared to other presidents. Johnson always talked to
tourists and met reporters informally. He entertained many distinguished guests
at his ranch in Texas. Also, Lyndon and his wife Claudia (Lady Bird) Johnson
held formal and informal dances at the white house. His presidency left added a
lot in the history books. If it were not for his leadership and ideas, many
parts of society today would not exist.(Peter Lisagor, 148-152)
"We have suffered a loss that cannot be weighed. For me, it is a deep
personal tragedy. I know that the world shares the sorrow that Mrs. Kennedy and
her family bear. I will do my best. That is all I can do. I ask for your help
and God\'s," quoted Lyndon Johnson after the assassination of friend, colleague,
and leader President John Fitzgerald Kennedy at one-o\'clock on November 22,
1963(Peter Lisagor, 151). Johnson took on the large role as president aboard the
presidential Air Force jet at Love Field, Dallas exactly ninety-nine minutes
after Kennedy died. Coincidentally becoming the second vice president with the
last name Johnson to succeed an assassinated president and nearly one hundred
years apart.(Hugh S. Sidey, 1-2 & Hans L. Trefousse, 1-2)
Within a short time after he became president, Johnson announced a
five hundred million-dollar budget cut and urged a strong civil rights bill.
Both of these were previously proposed by Kennedy. Also, he proposed a national
War on Poverty. This included creating new jobs and building up areas where the
economy had faltered. This was approved by Congress without a problem. A new
housing law provided five billion dollars in federal funds to help the needy buy
houses and rent apartments passed in 1968. Congress also passed a tax cut for
both individuals and corporations. (Peter Lisagor, 148-149)
Civil rights was a large part of Johnson\'s presidency. It did not take
him long to develop civil rights laws. A new civil rights law opened to Negroes
all hotels, motels, restaurants, and other businesses that serve the public. It
guaranteed equal job opportunities for all people. Also, Congress passed a
voting rights law that ensured voting rights for Negroes and outlawed literacy
tests as a voting requirement. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 ended racial
discrimination in the sale or rental of houses and apartments. To add the civil
rights developments by Johnson, he appointed the first Negro cabinet member and
first Negro Supreme Court judge. Robert C. Weaver was selected to be the
secretary of housing and urban development. (Peter Lisagor, 149-151) Thurgood
Marshall was set as the first Negro Supreme Court justice(Robert S. Summers, 2).
The Railroad Crisis, in April of 1964, plunged Johnson into on of America\'s
toughest labor disputes. After years of disputing between union workers and
train companies over work rules the companies announced new rules that resulted
in a union strike. Johnson arranged a fifteen-day delay of the strike and put
company and union leaders in a White House room and under pressure from Johnson
the dispute was settled in only twelve days.(Peter Lisagor, 149)
During his first full term he used even more policies and passed even
more laws. In May 1964 Johnson stated ". . . we have the opportunity to move not
only toward the rich society, but upward to the Great Society." The term Great
Society was used to describe many of his domestic programs. Congress passed his
Appalachia bill which improved the living standards in the Appalachian Mountain
region. It also passed his proposals for increased federal aid to education, a
cut in excise taxes, stronger automobile safety measures, and the establishment
of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of
Transportation. Lyndon Johnson also succeeded in passing his Medicare
plan.(Peter Lisagor, 150)
Johnson inherited many of the foreign affairs problems concerning the
United States. A Cold War with Russia and other Communist countries kept the
world in continual danger of a nuclear war. This problem has been around for
some of Kennedy\'s term. The first real crisis in foreign affairs for Johnson was
in early 1964 when anti-U.S. riots broke out in the Canal Zone. The tension
eased after Johnson agreed with Panama\'s president to discuss outstanding
problems.(Peter Lisagor,