Lyndon Baines Johnson - History

Lyndon Baines Johnson - History

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Lyndon Baines Johnson

1908- 1973

American Politician

American President Lyndon Baines Johnson was born in 1908 in a farmhouse on the Pedernales River near Johnson City, Texas. In 1934, Johnson became the Director of the National Youth Administration in Texas.

In 1937, Johnson won a special election for a seat in the House of Representatives, representing an area around Austin, Texas. Johnson was a strong supporter of President Roosevelt.

Johnson was elected to the Senate in 1948. In the Democratic Primary, Johnson won by just 87 votes.

Johnson served on many prestigious committees in the Senate. In 1951, Johnson was elected Minority Whip of the Senate and in 1953, he became Minority Leader.

When the Democrats took control of the Senate in 1955, Johnson became Senate Majority Leader. He was 46 at the time, and was the youngest Majority Leader ever.

Johnson was a leading candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1960, but he lost to John F. Kennedy. Kennedy then chose Johnson as his running mate, and Johnson reluctantly accepted. As Vice President, he traveled extensively. In Dallas, Vice President Johnson was riding two cars behind President Kennedy when the President was assassinated.

President Johnson's Presidency will be remembered for the "Great Society" program and for the Vietnam War.

Johnson's Great Society program was designed to fight poverty in the United States. It consisted of a series of legislative acts that created the Job Corps, to provide vocational training for disadvantaged youth; Volunteers in Service of America (VISTA), a domestic Peace Corps; and Head Start, to instruct disadvantaged preschoolers, among other programs.

The other part of the Great Society program was the passage of civil rights legislation proposed by the Kennedy Administration. The laws helped protect the voting rights of minorities. In addition, the Civil Rights Law outlawed discrimination in all aspects of American society, and the Justice Department actively enforced this legislation.

During the Johnson Presidency, Medicare and Medicaid were established to provide medical care for those over 65 and those too poor to pay. It was also during Johnson's Administration that the first environmental legislation was passed.

Johnson's Presidency was dominated by the Vietnam War. Johnson received broad Congressional approval to prevent further aggression against US forces and the South Vietnamese people. After an American base was attacked, the United States responded with a sustained air attack on targets in North Vietnam that became known as "Rolling Thunder."

At that point, President Johnson dispatched American ground troops to Vietnam. Their numbers grew from 180,00 at the end of 1965 to 550,000 in 1968. In January 1968, the Communists launched the Tet offensive. The offensive was a military failure, but a tremendous psychological success for the North Vietnamese.

Anti-war demonstrations increased at home and finally, in 1968, Johnson announced that he would not seek re-election.

Lyndon B. Johnson

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Lyndon B. Johnson, in full Lyndon Baines Johnson, also called LBJ, (born August 27, 1908, Gillespie county, Texas, U.S.—died January 22, 1973, San Antonio, Texas), 36th president of the United States (1963–69). A moderate Democrat and vigorous leader in the United States Senate, Johnson was elected vice president in 1960 and acceded to the presidency in 1963 upon the assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy. During his administration he signed into law the Civil Rights Act (1964), the most comprehensive civil rights legislation since the Reconstruction era, initiated major social service programs, and bore the brunt of national opposition to his vast expansion of American involvement in the Vietnam War.

Who was Lyndon B. Johnson?

Lyndon B. Johnson, frequently called LBJ, was an American politician and moderate Democrat who was president of the United States from 1963 to 1969. He was born on August 27, 1908, and died on January 22, 1973.

How did Lyndon B. Johnson become president?

Lyndon B. Johnson was elected vice president of the United States alongside President John F. Kennedy in 1960 and acceded to the presidency upon Kennedy's assassination in 1963. He was president from 1963 to 1969.

What did Lyndon B. Johnson do as president?

As president, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, the most comprehensive civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, into law he also greatly expanded American involvement in the Vietnam War despite national opposition.

Why didn’t Lyndon B. Johnson seek another term as president?

By 1968, Lyndon B. Johnson knew he was unlikely to win another presidential election his increase of American involvement in the Vietnam War, as well as rising American casualties in Vietnam, had made him deeply unpopular. After Senator Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy declared their candidacies for the Democratic presidential nomination, Johnson announced that he would not seek another term and would, instead, retire.

Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973) was the 36th president of the United States, taking office after the assassination of John F. Kennedy until his retirement in 1968. He is best known for approving American military escalation in the Vietnam War.

Born in rural Texas, Johnson trained as a teacher then worked for a time in a one-room schoolhouse. His experiences with poor minorities left Johnson with an interest in social reform, particularly in the areas of poverty, education and racial equality.

Previously involved in student politics, Johnson ran for Congress as a Democrat, winning a seat in the House of Representatives in 1937. He later moved to the Senate (1948) and became majority leader there (1954).

During his time in Congress, Johnson became a champion of domestic reform. He hoped to forge what he later called the “Great Society”, where government provided education, healthcare and support to the poor and marginalised. Johnson’s attention to social reform was typified by two Civil Rights Acts, passed in 1957 and 1960, both championed by Johnson.

Vice-president to president

John F. Kennedy chose Johnson as his running mate for the 1960 presidential election, due to Johnson’s Senate leadership, his reformist agenda and his popularity in Texas. Johnson became Kennedy’s vice president in January 1961. Among other roles, he was given oversight of the US space program, with a view to overtaking the Soviet Union in this area.

Johnson was thrust into the presidency after Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963. Like the presidents before him, Lyndon Johnson was a strong advocate for containment and the Domino Theory. He was not well versed in foreign policy, so relied heavily on advice from his military chiefs and White House staff.

The Cold War loomed large during Johnson’s presidency but the pressing issue was America’s involvement in Vietnam. Johnson came to see Vietnam as a national challenge. To withdraw from South Vietnam and surrender it to the communists would undermine America’s authority and capacity to lead the Cold War. During 1964 Johnson strengthened America’s military presence in South Vietnam and appointed General William Westmoreland and Maxwell Taylor to significant roles there. The president privately consented to military action against North Vietnam and the Viet Cong, though he preferred to wait until after the 1964 presidential election.

Involvement in Vietnam

In late 1964, Johnson used the Gulf of Tonkin incident (August 1964) as a pretext for American military intervention. Johnson sought and obtained a sweeping resolution from Congress, which became his ‘blank cheque’ for waging war in Vietnam. American air strikes against North Vietnam were expanded and intensified, followed by the first landings of US combat troops in March 1965.

Under Johnson, America’s military commitment to Vietnam steadily increased so too did the numbers of American deaths and casualties. Johnson himself spoke optimistically of the war in Vietnam, telling the American people that progress had been made and that the enemy was weakening. Privately, however, he often expressed frustrations, doubts and misgivings about the Vietnam conflict.

Johnson made numerous attempts to build a working peace with North Vietnam. Some of these attempts were made privately and others publicly a pause or cessation of US bombing was often held out as an incentive to Hanoi.

Escalation and growing unpopularity

By 1968, the Johnson administration was approaching a state of crisis. American military strategy in Vietnam had failed to achieve much except thousands of US casualties. The political and economic costs of the Vietnam War had crippled Johnson’s program of social reforms and caused the budget deficit to almost triple in the space of a year.

The Tet Offensive (January 1968) prompted Johnson to order an analysis and reevaluation of the situation in Vietnam. This was followed by a shift in policy and the replacement of Westmoreland as the commander of US forces in South Vietnam.

Johnson’s approval rating had also declined rapidly through 1967 and it appeared he may lose the Democratic nomination to Robert F. Kennedy. On March 31st 1968, Johnson addressed the nation, declaring that bombing runs against North Vietnam would be suspended – and that he would not seek or accept reelection as president in November that year.

Johnson retired in January 1969. His memoirs and subsequent interviews revealed a man still troubled by the Vietnam War and how it was handled. Lyndon Johnson died at his Texas home in January 1973.

1. Lyndon Baines Johnson was the 36th president of the United States, serving from the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963 until his retirement in January 1969.

2. Johnson was born in rural Texas and spent his early years working as a teacher in poor communities. This gave him a lifelong interest in social reform and welfare policies.

3. On becoming vice president in January 1961 Johnson was given oversight of the US space program. He became president after Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas in November 1963.

4. Johnson was an advocate of containment and the Domino Theory. The pressing issue of his time was Vietnam, which Johnson was determined not to lose to the communists.

5. Following his advisors, Johnson approved American military escalation in Vietnam. The human and financial costs of the Vietnam War were disastrous, however, and Johnson’s approval rating plummeted. In March 1968 he announced that he would not seek re-election in that year’s presidential election.

Lyndon B. Johnson is born

On August 27, 1908, future President Lyndon Baines Johnson is born on a farm near Stonewall, Texas. The brash, outspoken Johnson grew up in an impoverished rural area and worked his way through a teachers’ training college before entering politics.

In 1937, Johnson won a seat in the House of Representatives. His government service was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the Navy and won the Silver Star for bravery in combat in the South Pacific. After the war, he served additional terms in the House of Representatives until he was elected to the Senate in 1948. He became the Senate’s minority leader in 1953. A year later, with the Democrats in control of Congress, Johnson became the Senate’s majority leader and, in 1960, John F. Kennedy chose Johnson as his running mate. In 1963, Johnson was unexpectedly thrust into the role of president when JFK was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. “LBJ,” as he was known, was sworn in on Air Force One, while a stricken Jacqueline Kennedy looked on, on November 22, 1963.

As he finished out Kennedy’s term, Johnson strove to pass legislation that he felt would make America a “Great Society.” In 1964, Americans officially elected Johnson to the presidency by the largest popular vote in the nation’s history. Johnson used this mandate to push for improvements he believed would better the American way of life.

Under Johnson, Congress enacted sweeping legislation in the areas of civil rights, health care, education and the environment. During his State of the Union speech on January 4, 1965, Johnson laid out his agenda to fight urban decay, poverty and racism. He pushed through the creation of Medicare/Medicaid, Head Start, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the White House Conference on Natural Beauty. He also signed the National Foundation of the Arts and Humanities Act, out of which emerged the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Through the Economic Opportunity Act, Johnson fought a “War on Poverty” by implementing improvements in early childhood education and fair-employment policies. 


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Reflections on the Civil Rights Summit

But that wouldn't be true. Johnson was a man of his time, and bore those flaws as surely as he sought to lead the country past them. For two decades in Congress he was a reliable member of the Southern bloc, helping to stonewall civil rights legislation. As Caro recalls, Johnson spent the late 1940s railing against the "hordes of barbaric yellow dwarves" in East Asia. Buying into the stereotype that blacks were afraid of snakes (who isn't afraid of snakes?) he'd drive to gas stations with one in his trunk and try to trick black attendants into opening it. Once, Caro writes, the stunt nearly ended with him being beaten with a tire iron.

Nor was it the kind of immature, frat-boy racism that Johnson eventually jettisoned. Even as president, Johnson's interpersonal relationships with blacks were marred by his prejudice. As longtime Jet correspondent Simeon Booker wrote in his memoirShocks the Conscience, early in his presidency, Johnson once lectured Booker after he authored a critical article for Jet Magazine, telling Booker he should "thank" Johnson for all he'd done for black people. In Flawed Giant, Johnson biographer Robert Dallek writes that Johnson explained his decision to nominate Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court rather than a less famous black judge by saying, "when I appoint a nigger to the bench, I want everybody to know he's a nigger."

According to Caro, Robert Parker, Johnson's sometime chauffer, described in his memoir Capitol Hill in Black and White a moment when Johnson asked Parker whether he'd prefer to be referred to by his name rather than "boy," "nigger" or "chief." When Parker said he would, Johnson grew angry and said, "As long as you are black, and you’re gonna be black till the day you die, no one’s gonna call you by your goddamn name. So no matter what you are called, nigger, you just let it roll off your back like water, and you’ll make it. Just pretend you’re a goddamn piece of furniture."

That Johnson may seem hard to square with the public Johnson, the one who devoted his presidency to tearing down the "barriers of hatred and terror" between black and white.

In conservative quarters, Johnson's racism -- and the racist show he would put on for Southern segregationists -- is presented as proof of the Democratic conspiracy to somehow trap black voters with, to use Mitt Romney's terminology, "gifts" handed out through the social safety net. But if government assistance were all it took to earn the permanent loyalty of generations of voters then old white people on Medicare would be staunch Democrats.

So at best, that assessment is short sighted and at worst, it subscribes to the idea that blacks are predisposed to government dependency. That doesn't just predate Johnson, it predates emancipation. As Eric Foner recounts in Reconstruction, the Civil War wasn't yet over, but some Union generals believed blacks, having existed as a coerced labor class in America for more than a century, would nevertheless need to be taught to work "for a living rather than relying upon the government for support."

Perhaps the simple explanation, which Johnson likely understood better than most, was that there is no magic formula through which people can emancipate themselves from prejudice, no finish line that when crossed, awards a person's soul with a shining medal of purity in matters of race. All we can offer is a commitment to justice in word and deed, that must be honored but from which we will all occasionally fall short. Maybe when Johnson said "it is not just Negroes but all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry," he really meant all of us, including himself.

Nor should Johnson's racism overshadow what he did to push America toward the unfulfilled promise of its founding. When Republicans say they're the Party of Lincoln, they don't mean they're the party of deporting black people to West Africa, or the party of opposing black suffrage, or the party of allowing states the authority to bar freedmen from migrating there, all options Lincoln considered. They mean they're the party that crushed the slave empire of the Confederacy and helped free black Americans from bondage.

But we shouldn't forget Johnson's racism, either. After Johnson's death, Parker would reflect on the Johnson who championed the landmark civil rights bills that formally ended American apartheid, and write, "I loved that Lyndon Johnson." Then he remembered the president who called him a nigger, and he wrote, "I hated that Lyndon Johnson."

Rise to Senate Leadership

After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, President Roosevelt helped Johnson win a commission in the U.S. Naval Reserve as a lieutenant commander. Johnson served on a tour of the South Pacific and flew one combat mission. Not long into the mission, Johnson&aposs plane was forced to turn back due to mechanical difficulty, but he still received a Silver Star for his participation. Soon after, he returned to his legislative duties in Washington, D.C.

In a close and controversial election, Johnson was elected a Texas senator in 1948. He advanced quickly and, with his connections, became the youngest minority leader in Senate history in 1953. Democrats won control of the Senate the following year, and Johnson was elected majority leader.

Johnson had an uncanny ability to gather information on his fellow legislators and knew where each of his colleagues stood on political issues. With incredible persuasive skills and an imposing presence, he was able to "buttonhole" political allies and opponents alike to convince them of his way of thinking. Subsequently, he was able to obtain passage on a number of measures during President Dwight D. Eisenhower&aposs administration.

Johnson, Lyndon Baines (1908&ndash1973)

Lyndon Baines Johnson, president of the United States, the eldest of five children of Samuel Ealy Johnson, Jr., and Rebekah Baines Johnson, was born on August 27, 1908, on a farm in the Hill Country near Stonewall, Texas. His father had served in the Texas legislature, and young Lyndon grew up in an atmosphere that emphasized politics and public affairs. Lyndon's mother encouraged her son's ambition and sense of striving. In 1913 the Johnsons moved to nearby Johnson City. Lyndon was educated in local schools in the area and graduated from high school in Johnson City in 1924. During the next several years he tried various jobs in California and Texas without success. In 1927 he entered Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now Texas State University), where he was a history and social science major active in campus politics. He earned his elementary teacher's certificate in 1928 and for one year was a principal and teacher at Cotulla. His work with the destitute Hispanic students there had an important effect on his attitude toward poverty and the role of government. Johnson received his B.A. degree in 1930. He had already taken part in several political campaigns. Late in 1931 he became the secretary to Congressman Richard M. Kleberg of Texas. During the four years he held the position he gained valuable contacts in Washington. On November 17, 1934, he met and married Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor, daughter of Thomas Jefferson Taylor II, a prosperous planter and store owner in Marshall. Two daughters were born to the Johnsons, during the 1940s. Mrs. Johnson proved to be an effective political partner. Her business acumen was an important element in the success of the radio station that they acquired in Austin in 1943.

Johnson's first important political position was as director of the National Youth Administration in Texas from 1935 to 1937. Construction of his system of roadside parks put young Texans to work and quietly introduced the participation of African Americans in some NYA programs. When the incumbent congressman of the Tenth Congressional District died in 1937, Johnson entered the race as a devoted supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. He spent eleven years in the House and became intimately familiar with the legislative process. He was a supporter of Roosevelt's programs and policies and a close ally of majority leader (later speaker of the House) Sam Rayburn. He was the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 1940 and helped the Democrats retain control of the House. In 1941 he ran for the Senate from Texas but was narrowly defeated in a special election.

When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, Johnson joined the navy as a lieutenant commander. He saw combat during an inspection tour of the South Pacific in 1942. He left the navy in response to President Roosevelt's directive that congressmen should remain in Washington. Johnson made another race for the Senate in 1948 against popular former governor Coke Stevenson. Texas had lost its earlier affection for the New Deal, and Johnson stressed his own conservatism in the election. The runoff primary in August 1948 was very close. Amid charges of ballot-box stuffing and other fraudulent practices, Johnson was declared the Democratic nominee only after extended legal battles. He easily defeated his Republican opponent in the general election. He was an effective senator who mastered the organization and rules of the upper house. His Democratic colleagues elected him majority whip in 1951, and in 1953 he was chosen to be minority leader—the youngest such leader in the history of the Senate. Johnson won a second term in 1954. The Democrats regained control of Congress that same year, and in January 1955 he became the majority leader.

In his rush to power, however, Johnson had neglected his health. During the early summer of 1955, he had a severe heart attack. He returned to his duties in the Senate late that year. He followed a strategy of cooperation with the Republican administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower. As majority leader, Johnson was instrumental in the passage of the first civil-rights acts for more than eighty years in 1957 and 1960. He also pushed hard for an expanded United States role in space. His presidential ambitions during the 1950s shaped his attitude toward Texas politics during the decade. In 1956 he waged a heated battle against Governor R. Allan Shivers for control of the Texas delegation to the Democratic national convention, a contest in which Johnson prevailed. The Texas legislature also passed a measure to allow Johnson to run simultaneously for the presidency and reelection to the Senate in 1960. Despite these maneuvers, his bid for the White House in 1960 failed, and he settled for being John F. Kennedy's vice president. Johnson campaigned hard across the South his ability to put Texas and other Southern states in the Democratic column helped Kennedy gain his narrow victory. Johnson's elevation to the vice presidency left his Senate seat vacant in 1961, and Republican John G. Tower won a special election to succeed him.

During the vice presidential years, from 1961 to 1963, Johnson's national power faded. In Texas his former aide John B. Connally, Jr., won election as governor in 1962. Feuding between Connally and Texas senator Ralph W. Yarborough imperiled the unity of the party in the 1964 election and brought President Kennedy to Dallas in November 1963 to heal the intraparty wounds. The Kennedy assassination thrust Johnson into the White House.

On the domestic side, Johnson's presidency brought significant changes in how the government functioned, most notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Great Society program. In the 1964 election, Johnson carried Texas by an overwhelming margin, swept Senator Yarborough to reelection against the Republican candidate, George H. W. Bush, and slowed the emergence of the GOP as a serious challenge to Democratic supremacy in Texas. In foreign policy, Johnson inherited the commitment that Kennedy had made to the preservation of South Vietnam. He decided in late 1963 not to withdraw from Southeast Asia. By 1965 his escalation of the war against North Vietnam brought protests from Democrats on the left, who saw the conflict as misguided, while Republicans attacked the president for not prosecuting the war with sufficient vigor. Antiwar protests, racial unrest, and expanded government programs turned Texas voters against the Johnson administration during the mid-1960s. Senator Tower won reelection in 1966, as the political fortunes of the Johnson White House soured. By 1967 Johnson's political base had eroded. The president had difficulty in traveling around the country because of protestors who followed him. Social upheaval in the form of urban riots and racial tension became associated with the Johnson years. Within the Democratic party nationally, efforts went forward in 1967 to find an alternative to Johnson. Liberals in Texas, long unhappy with Johnson's leadership, echoed this unhappiness. Through Connally and other associates such as Austin attorney Frank C. Erwin, Jr., Johnson controlled the state Democratic party against these insurgent forces. The war in Vietnam seemed stalemated as 1967 ended. The Tet offensive, which began on January 30, 1968, was a defeat for North Vietnam militarily but a blow to Johnson's weakened standing at home. Faced with political challenges from Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy in his own party, Johnson also worried about what would happen to his own health if he ran again. On March 31, 1968, he announced that he was limiting the bombing of North Vietnam and was seeking negotiations. In a political surprise, he also announced that he would not be a candidate for reelection.

After retiring to the Johnson Ranch, Johnson wrote his memoirs, The Vantage Point: Perspective of the Presidency, 1963–1969, which were published in 1971. He also supervised the construction of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum at the University of Texas at Austin. Despite his withdrawal from national politics, Johnson exercised continued influence in Texas affairs. His friends helped Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey carry Texas in the fall of 1968 against former vice president Richard Nixon and Alabama governor George Wallace. Johnson also supported Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr., in 1970 in a race against George Bush for the United States Senate. The ailing former president offered less encouragement to the Democratic presidential candidate in 1972, Senator George S. McGovern, who lost Texas in the Nixon landslide of that year.

Lyndon Johnson was a significant force in Texas for almost four decades. His Senate race against Coke Stevenson in 1948 remains one of the most controversial episodes in the history of American elections. Johnson's relationships with such men as Sam Rayburn, John Connally, and Lloyd Bentsen affected the direction of state politics for a generation. On the other hand, Johnson's feud with Ralph Yarborough was an important factor in the relative weakness of Texas liberalism during the 1950s and 1960s. Johnson also had a large effect on the Texas economy during his political career, as he steered congressional appropriations to the state in the form of military bases, crop subsidies for farmers, government facilities, and jobs for federal workers. The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, headquarters of the NASA space program in Houston, is a large symbol of the impact of Johnson's liberal nationalism on the development of Texas and the Sunbelt in the postwar years.

Unfriendly biographers have depicted Johnson as driven only by a lust for power. His personality could be abrasive, and his methods were often crude. Nonetheless, the impulse that he displayed to improve the lives of Texans and all Americans reflected genuine conviction on his part. Despite his foreign policy failure in Vietnam, Johnson was one of the most important presidents during the period after World War II. His ambitious Great Society program embodied the expansive policies of American liberalism. The reaction to this program laid the basis for the conservative trend that followed him. The war in Vietnam called into question the ability of the United States to exercise its influence where it chose in the world. Johnson's broad concept of presidential power came under criticism because of the excesses of his White House years. He tried to be a great president and achieved some impressive results. He also demonstrated the limits of the government and the presidency to produce social change and to succeed in an activist foreign policy. No Texan has left a greater mark on the history of the United States. Johnson died on January 22, 1973, and was buried near Johnson City. See also other article titles beginning with LYNDON.

Johnson Family Cemetery

President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s life came full circle when he was laid to rest in the Johnson Family Cemetery on January 25, 1973. In our mobile society, few people--let alone prominent world leaders--have so many of their lives' significant moments occurring in one place. The cemetery is just a stone’s throw from the birthsite of Lyndon Johnson, and just down the road from the Texas White House, where our 36th President lived for over two decades. Throughout his life, President Johnson expressed his love for the Hill Country of Texas, "where people know when you are sick, love you while you are alive, and miss you when you die."

On March 31, 1968, President Johnson shocked the Nation by going on television and announcing, "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President." He served out his term then retired to the LBJ Ranch in January, 1969. Though often plagued with poor health, he spent his final years writing his memoirs and overseeing the construction of the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum on the campus of the University of Texas. He was also active in community affairs and attended numerous local events. He loved to ride around the ranch in his white convertibles overseeing the cattle operations and visiting with the many children who were growing up on the ranch. He often listened to the song "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" by B. J. Thomas while driving around the ranch in his Lincolns. President Johnson heard this song when he saw his favorite movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. On January 22, 1973, he was in his bedroom when he suffered his third heart attack and passed away. He was 64 years old.

The Johnsons sit on the rock wall surrounding the family cemetery (December 1953 or 1954)

The History of the Cemetery

Most of the people buried in the cemetery are related to Lyndon Johnson. His great grandmother, Priscilla Bunton, was the first person buried here. She passed away on April 28, 1905, during a violent storm, and her family was unable to cross the flooding river to lay her next to her husband in the Stonewall Community Cemetery. The family chose a grove of live oak trees on property belonging to Lyndon Johnson’s grandfather for Mrs. Bunton’s burial site. Her gravestone is the white Georgia marble marker with the lamb on top. In 1937, LBJ’s father, Sam Ealy Johnson, Jr., was buried in the cemetery. Sam Johnson had been a state legislator who was much admired for procuring pensions for Civil War veterans and securing passage of legislation to improve Hill Country roads. Sam had many friends and benefactors, and a large crowd came to pay their respects to him. Lyndon Johnson had just recently been elected as a U.S. congressman, so the funeral was attended by the Governor of Texas and other important dignitaries. In 1946, Frank Seaward, a rock mason from Stonewall, built the wall enclosing the cemetery. The wall was constructed to give identity to the cemetery, as well as to minimize the harmful effects of Pedernales River flooding. Repairs were made on the wall after major floods in 1952 and 1959.

The President’s Funeral

President Johnson’s body lay in state at the LBJ Library in Austin, and then in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. President Johnson’s funeral at the LBJ Ranch took place on the cold and rainy day of January 25, 1973. He once told Mrs. Johnson, "When I die I don’t just want our friends who can come in their private planes. I want the men in their pickup trucks and the women whose slips hang down below their dresses to be welcome, too. " Hundreds of people attended the funeral, which was conducted by Reverend Billy Graham.

The Scene Today

The most prominent gravestone in the cemetery is the gray one with the Martin name on it. Frank and Clarence Martin were President Johnson’s aunt and uncle. The President bought the ranch from Frank Martin in 1951. President Johnson’s gravestone is the tallest marker in the main row. To the right are his mother, Rebekah his father, Sam Ealy, Jr. and his paternal grandparents, Sam Ealy Sr. and Eliza. To the left of the President is where Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson is laid to rest. The remaining headstones belong to the President’s brother, Sam, and his three sisters, Rebekah, Josepha and Lucia. Rebekah’s husband, Oscar Bobbitt, is also buried in the main row as well as Lucia's husband, Birge Alexander.

Drawing by Diana Motiejunaite Warren 1997

The beautiful trees in the cemetery are live oaks--a predominantly Southern tree. They are unique among oaks in that they are evergreen they keep their dark green canopy year-round. After one of the trees in the cemetery died, Mrs. Johnson had a tree ring study conducted on it, and the tree was found to be almost 200 years old. The fuzzy, round plants growing on the trees are ball moss. Ball moss is closely related to the better known Spanish moss. It is not actually a moss, but rather an epiphyte, or air plant. It attaches to the trees, but it derives its nutrition from the air, thus it is non-parasitic.

Visiting the LBJ Ranch

The Texas White House (1971)

LBJ Library photo by Frank Wolfe

President Johnson had a deep attachment for place and heritage. The LBJ Ranch was where he was born, lived, died, and was buried. After the President's death in 1973, Mrs. Johnson continued to live at the Ranch part time until her death in 2007.

Visitors are now able to tour the Ranch at their own pace in their private vehicle with the ability to stop at sites along the way such as the President's birthplace, Johnson family cemetery, and the Johnson's ranch house known as the Texas White House.

Self-Guided Ranch Tours

Obtain a free driving permit at the LBJ State Park and Historic Site Visitor Center in Stonewall, Texas. You will also receive a map indicating the tour route.

The address for the LBJ State Park and Historic Site Visitor Center is:

199 State Park Road 52
Stonewall, TX 78671

A CD containing narrative audio for the tour is available for purchase in the bookstore and comes with a bonus DVD filled with videos and photos.

Official Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park app

Plan and enrich your visit with the official, free National Park Service app. Digitally explore the national park dedicated to the 36th president of the United States and find the information you need about visitor centers, events, and services throughout the park.
Download today!

Hours of Operation

  • Seven days a week. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.
  • Driving Permits are given out starting at 9:00 a.m. No Permits are given out after 4:00 p.m.
  • Ranch Entrance Gate: open 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Ranch Exit Gate: Closes at 5:30 p.m.

Driving permits are good only for the day of issue

Texas White House Tours

The President and Mrs. Johnson donated their private home to the National Park Service but retained lifetime rights to use the house. Following the death of Mrs. Johnson on July 11, 2007, preparations began to make the home available for public tours.

President Johnson's office (the west room) was opened to the public on the 100th anniversary of his birth, August 27, 2008. The living room and dining room were opened in June 2009. By December 2011 the entire first floor was opened to the public.

Texas White House Closure
On August 2, 2018 the Texas White House and adjacent Pool House were closed temporarily until further notice due to health and safety concerns arising from structural issues. As part of the self-guided Ranch Tour, you may park at the Airplane Hangar to view the exterior of theTexas White House. Read updates on the status and rehabilitation of these historic structures.