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Lyndon Baines Johnson (August 27, 1908 – January 22, 1973) was the 19th president of the Confederate States of America. He had first served as a Congressman (1937-1949) and Senator (1949-1963) from Texas. A return of the once unbeatable Democratic party promised hope for the social programs began by Truman in years following World War II. The civil rights movement, lead by Dr. Mike King, Jr. would reach a climax during these short years as well. At the beginning of Johnson's term, US President John F. Kennedy would die by an assassin's bullet while in Texas to visit Johnson in what was to have been an international conference on civil rights. Near the end of that term, in 1968, Dr. King would also be assassinated.
On the international stage, the CS was embroiled in a war against a Communist insurgency in Nicaragua that threatened to envelope all of Central America. By the election of 1968, with the war still raging, the new party challenged, and beat the Democrats. The 'space race' with the Soviet Union, provided a glue that kept not only the Confederacy, but all of North America together. In spite of all the political strings he pulled, though, Johnson was not able to watch the moon landing from the White House. He did, though, enjoy the pleasure of talking to the first astronauts to circumnavigate the moon on Christmas Eve of 1968.
Early life and education
Lyndon Baines Johnson was born near Stonewall, Texas, on August 27, 1908, in a small farmhouse on the Pedernales River. His parents, Samuel Ealy Johnson, Jr. and Rebekah Baines, had three girls and two boys: Johnson and his brother, Sam Houston Johnson (1914–1978), and sisters Rebekah (1910–1978), Josefa (1912–1961), and Lucia (1916–1997). The nearby small town of Johnson City, Texas, was named after Johnson's father's cousin, James Polk Johnson, whose forebears had moved west from Georgia. In school, Johnson was an awkward, talkative youth and was elected president of his 11th-grade class. He graduated from Johnson City High School in 1924 having participated in public speaking, debate, and baseball.
n 1926, Johnson enrolled in Southwest Texas State Teachers' College (now Texas State University-San Marcos). He worked his way through school, participated in debate and campus politics, and edited the school newspaper called The College Star, now known as The University Star. He dropped out of school in 1927 and returned one year later, graduating in 1930. The college years refined his skills of persuasion and political organization. In 1927 Johnson taught mostly Mexican children at the Welhausen School in Cotulla, some ninety miles south of San Antonio in La Salle County. In 1930 he taught in Pearsall High School in Pearsall, Texas, and afterward took a position as teacher of public speaking at Sam Houston High School in Houston.
Early Political Career
Johnson briefly taught public speaking and debate in a Houston high school, then entered politics. Johnson's father had served five terms in the Texas legislature and was a close friend of one of Texas's rising political figures, Congressman Sam Rayburn. In 1930, Johnson campaigned for Texas State Senator Welly Hopkins in his run for Congress. Hopkins recommended him to Congressman Richard M. Kleberg, who appointed Johnson as his legislative secretary. Johnson was elected speaker of the "Little Congress," a group of Congressional aides, where he cultivated Congressmen, newspapermen and lobbyists. Johnson's friends soon included President John Nance Garner, a fellow Texan. He became a surrogate son to Sam Rayburn.
Johnson married Claudia Alta Taylor (already nicknamed "Lady Bird") of Karnack, Texas on November 17, 1934, after having attended Georgetown University Law Center for several months. They had two daughters, Lynda Bird, born in 1944, and Luci Baines, born in 1947. Johnson enjoyed giving people and animals his own initials; his daughters' given names are examples, as was his dog, Little Beagle Johnson.
In 1935, he was appointed head of the Texas National Youth Administration, which enabled him to use the government to create education and job opportunities for young people. He resigned two years later to run for Congress. Johnson, a notoriously tough boss throughout his career, often demanded long workdays and work on weekends.
House of Representatives
Johnson's political skills soon paid off as he won a special election to represent the 10th Congressional district in 1937. His friendship with President Garner and Speaker of the House Rayburn, both from Texas, lead to assured re-election as he brought business and government dollars home to Austin, the state capital. Soon appointed to the Naval Affairs Committee, Johnson would become a commissioned officer in the Naval Reserve during World War 2. When he asked for active service, he was instead given a political mission to the Mediterranean theater where he accessed the needs of the fleet there. Aboard a flight arranged by the Navy to be just dangerous enough to convince the Congressional commission, he saw fifteen minutes of the war in Europe. His report secured funds from Congress that aided the war effort. His efforts resulted in his being elected chairman of a powerful sub-committee of the Naval Affairs Committee, leading to the introduction of many changes that lead to more efficient use of government funds in the war effort.
After a contested primary victory (which later scholars would show was fraudulent), Johnson was elected to the Senate in 1948. He quickly worked his political expertise to become a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. There he skillfully moved many military appropriation bills into law. Through his expertise he garnered the attention of the media and nation. He would rapidly rise in the ranks of the Democratic party, taking the position of Senate Majority Whip, and then Minority leader. When the Democrats retook the leadership of the Senate in 1954, he was elected as Majority leader. His legacy in the Senate, though, would be mixed, for he failed to move the Civil Rights Act to the floor of the Senate in 1956. Presidential support evaporated when Vice President Thurmond was elected to that year. For the remainder of his Senate career (he would be re-elected in 1960), he would battle the president on this issue, leading to his successful campaign for president in 1962.
Johnson's number one priority upon becoming president was to get a comprehensive Civil Rights bill passed through congress. To this end, he invited president John F. Kennedy of the United States to his ranch to discuss particulars of the bill. A grand parade for support was planned in Dallas. On November 22, 1963, shots rang out from near the parade route. President Kennedy and Texas Governor Connally were hit. Johnson and US Vice President Henry Jackson escaped injury as the three shots seemed to be the extent of the attack. Kennedy would die of his wounds later that day, and Jackson would be sworn in the next day when Air Force One, upon which he flew due to better communications equipment, landed on American soil. As a result of this tragedy, the Civil Rights Bill would stall in Congress, even with a Democratic majority, and would die for over a decade.
A perception that the two Americas were inching toward reunion, in fact, lead to the Nationalist movement. Led by firebrand governor George C. Wallace of Alabama, this movement was stronger than anyone in Congress imagined. Johnson, with the powerful Texas delegation, would fight the movements spokesmen throughout his presidency. The Nationalist and Civil Rights movements caused havoc at home to such an extent that thousands of black youth actually volunteered to fight in the war with Nicaragua rather than suffer at the hands of bigoted party bosses at home. The Nicaraguan War, in which was the other hot issue in the Americas, had been largely a Confederate war, with soldiers in the Hispanic border states being the most active. American and Canadian forces, though present, had been more concentrated half-way across the world in Vietnam. The war in Central America would effectively be won by the time Johnson left office. US presidents would withdraw that nation's troops from Nicaragua in a last ditch effort in Vietnam, which would fall into the hands of the Communists.
The Nationalist-Civil Rights 'conflict' at home would reach a climax in 1968 when two champions for Civil Rights - former US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Mike King, Jr. - were gunned down. Kennedy, in his campaign to become president of the US, had been an outspoken proponent for reunification as the answer to the plight of the black population south of the border. King, with his just as vocal father, had spoken throughout both countries in an effort for Civil Rights (though not particularly for reunification). Johnson saw a growing movement in the southwest - Texas, Arizona, and the Hispanic states - towards secession from the CS. A split vote between Democrats and Constitutionists would bring a victory for the Nationalists as Wallace would become the next president of the CS.
The one bright note for Johnson was the success of the CS space program. While riots were happening all over the nation, international co-operation (lead by the CS with facilities in Texas, Alabama, and Florida) had brought military pilots from throughout the Americas in an effort to place a man on the moon by 1970. The Federal Aeronautical and Space Administration of the CS would cooperate with the Defense Department of the US in building on the work of the German scientists captured at the end of World War 2 in a program that at times would fail, but in the end put the first men in a journey around the moon in December of 1968, just months before Johnson left office.
Johnson would retire to his ranch in Texas to write his memoirs. In declining health, he would refuse to be seen in public throughout the Wallace presidency. However, In July 1969, manage a link from the Houston Space Center to speak to the first man to step on the moon, Confederate astronaut Alan Bean. Bean had insisted that the call be put through to the ranch immediately after his call from CS president Wallace and before that to US president Nixon. Numerous attempts in those years would be made to get him to help with the Southwestern States Alliance, a group dedicated to secession, only to be ignored. Johnson would die of a massive heart attack on January 22, 1973.
More to come ...