April 28, 1965. 4:40 PM. Ambassador Bennett sends this cable from Santo Domingo to the White House less than two hours after the previous one. It begins: “Regret report situation deteriorating rapidly.”
LBJ’s secretary Juanita Roberts (foreground at her desk, in 1968) hand-delivers it to the President seven minutes after it is received, interrupting a meeting with foreign policy advisors.LBJ Library, National Security File, Country File Dominican Republic, Bennett “HELP,” Box 48, #7c.
April 11, 1965. LBJ signs the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, at the Junction School in Johnson City, TX. Among the guests at the bill signing are Kate Deadrich Loney (LBJ’s first school teacher), Sen. Eugene McCarthy, and Adm. William Raborn, along with Lady Bird and Lynda.
“As a son of a tenant farmer, I know that education is the only valid passport from poverty.
“As a former teacher—and, I hope, a future one—I have great expectations of what this law will mean for all of our young people.
“As President of the United States, I believe deeply no law I have signed or will ever sign means more to the future of America.”
Today the schoolhouse is part of the LBJ National Historic Park.
March 20, 1965. LBJ holds a news conference from the LBJ Ranch to announce that he has federalized the Alabama National Guard at Governor Wallace’s request.
“I have called selected elements of the Alabama National Guard into Federal Service. Additionally, I have military police put in position at both Selma and Montgomery, Alabama. In addition, we have Federal marshals, FBI agents on duty in that area at this time….
“Over the next several days the eyes of the Nation will be upon Alabama, and the eyes of the world will be upon America. It is my prayer, a prayer in which I hope all Americans will join me earnestly today, that the march in Alabama may proceed in a manner honoring our heritage and honoring all for which America stands.”
Read the full text here.
March 7, 1966. In a rare handwritten letter to President Johnson, General de Gaulle states the reasons for his decision to withdraw France from the military aspects of NATO.
“…France considers that the changes that have occurred, or are in the process of occurring, since 1949, in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere, as well as the evolution of her own situation and her own forces, no longer justify, in so far as she is concerned, the arrangements of a military nature made after the conclusion of the Alliance, either jointly in the form of multilateral agreements, or by special agreements between the French Government and the American Government.”
This decision led to the withdrawal of American bases from France and the relocation of NATO headquarters from Paris to Brussels. To read the full translation, see the Foreign Relations of the United States Series.
We interrupt this regularly scheduled LBJ Time Machine:
To tell y’all that we have posted the 1934 love letters between LBJ and Lady Bird, available in full for the very first time, on the web. You can find them here: searchable, downloadable, and transcribed.
LBJ and Lady Bird met on September 5, 1934 and ”committed matrimony,” as Lady Bird described it, on November 17 of that same year. These 90-odd letters are their correspondence during the time of their (brief) courtship, while he was in Washington and she was in Texas. Enjoy—and Happy Valentine’s Day, from us to you.
— LBJ Presidential Library Archives Staff
Does 90 letters in 90 days in 1934 equal 5,000 text messages in 2013?
The love letters of LBJ and Lady Bird have finally been digitized and released to the public this morning. You can read them all at www.lbjlibrary.org.
Image: LBJ sent this photo to Lady Bird during their courtship. The caption reads “For Bird—A lovely girl with ideals, principles, intelligence, and refinement from her sincere admirer, Lyndon” (Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library)
On Valentine’s Day at 10 a.m. EST, we are releasing all of the 1934 love letters between Lady Bird and Lyndon from their whirlwind 10-week courtship. The letters are all digitized, transcribed, and will be available for download online via www.lbjlibrary.org.
“Lyndon, my dear, do you want me to keep on loving you? Shall we keep on writing each other every day? Shall you, (perhaps, sometimes) call me? And are you going to keep on loving me, with an eye to the now somewhat-more-distant future? I want to know. For me—I shall keep on writing you. I shall keep on loving you. I do not want anything to come between us.” (Lady Bird, 10/22/34 letter)
Image and text from the LBJ Presidential Library. Photo of Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor, 1935.
Inauguration Fact: The Constitution does not dictate where the inauguration should happen.
Washington’s first inauguration took place in New York on a second-floor balcony of Federal Hall, with a crowd assembled in the streets below. Washington’s second inauguration and John Adams’s only inauguration were held in Philadelphia.
Even when the ceremony was held in the new capital city, the location still varied. Jefferson, the first President to be inaugurated in Washington, DC, took the oath twice in the Senate Chamber of the Capitol.
Starting with Andrew Jackson in 1829, inauguration ceremonies were held on the Capitol’s East Portico, but even that was not permanent. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fourth and final inauguration was a small, wartime ceremony held on the South Portico of the White House.
In 1981, Ronald Reagan became the first President to to take the oath of office on the West Portico of the Capitol, facing out onto the Mall.
Image Lyndon Johnson takes the Oath of Office as President of the United States on January 20, 1965, Johnson Presidential Library.
Mona Lisa in Washington
For 27 days, the Mona Lisa was lent to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC for a very special one picture loan. This special exhibition was arranged by the White House and was viewed by 518,525 people in Washington before it traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from February 7-March 4, 1963.
Unveiling of the Mona Lisa. President Kennedy, Madame Malraux, French Minister of Cultural Affairs Andre Malraux, Mrs. Kennedy, Vice President Johnson. Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art., 01/08/1963
LBJ announces his plans “Towards the Great Society” on this day in history. Watch his famous speech here.
January 4, 1965. LBJ gives his State of the Union address.
“A President does not shape a new and personal vision of America.
He collects it from the scattered hopes of the American past.
It existed when the first settlers saw the coast of a new world, and when the first pioneers moved westward.
It has guided us every step of the way.
It sustains every President. But it is also your inheritance and it belongs equally to all the people that we all serve.
It must be interpreted anew by each generation for its own needs; as I have tried, in part, to do tonight.
It shall lead us as we enter the third century of the search for ‘a more perfect union.’”
Read it in full here.
1964 Presidential Campaign - Civil Rights and the South
It was October 1964, and the November Presidential election was looming as parts of the country still seethed over the Civil Rights Act President Lyndon B. Johnson had signed into law just a few months earlier.
Many white southerners and politicians considered the law an assault on their long-established way of life. Southern Democrats threatened to bolt as racial politics threatened to splinter the party and cost Johnson the election.
It was during this tumultuous time that Lady Bird Johnson embarked on perhaps her most difficult assignment as First Lady. In a four-day, 1,628-mile trip aboard a train dubbed the Lady Bird Special, the First Lady traveled through eight southern states.
This was the first time a First Lady campaigned on her own for her husband and she championed the new legislation that eliminated “Jim Crow” laws and guaranteed African Americans access to all public accommodations and the right to equal employment opportunities.
Along the way, Mrs. Johnson was met with invective that no first lady has experienced since. But the ultimate success of the trip, as she defended the need for the Civil Rights Act, was a testament to Lady Bird’s spirit and stoicism.
While she loved her role as First Lady, she wrote at the end of her tenure, “I wouldn’t trade anything for the experience. But not for anything would I pay for the price of admission again.”
Images: “Please don’t forget to vote” Postcard, 1964 ; Lady Bird Johnson on her Whistle Stop Tour. 10/6/64.
On This Day: The Medicare Bill
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Amendments of 1965 which created the Medicare program of health care benefits for those over the age of 65.
LBJ signed the Act at the Truman Library in Independence, MO. Former President Harry S. Truman had long worked towards the goals of the Act, and he participated in the ceremony.
The Trumans were of modest means, and Harry Truman described the event as a “profound personal experience for me.” Harry and Bess received Medicare registration card numbers 1 and 2 in January, 1966.
On this first day of summer, here’s a photo to inspire warm weather adventures. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson took a break from White House duties for a ride with friends in his Amphicar.
What’s an Amphicar? Why, an amphibious car, of course. In this photo, LBJ steers his land-to-water vehicle into a lake at his ranch in Stonewall, Texas. 4/11/65.
Happy Summer Solstice!
On June 19, 1964, the U.S. Senate passed what would become the Civil Rights Act by a vote of 73 to 27. Nine days prior to voting on the bill, the Senate successfully voted for cloture, thus ending debate on the legislation. The House would pass the Senate changes on July 2. President Lyndon Johnson would sign the bill into law later that day.
Roll Call on H.R. 7152, SEN 88A-M1, June 19 1964, Records of the U.S. Senate