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Lyndon B. Johnson 36th U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson, often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States from 1963 to 1969, assuming the office after serving as the 37th Vice President of the United States under President John F. Kennedy, from 1961 to 1963. Born: August 27, 1908, Stonewall, TX Died: January 22, 1973, Stonewall, TX Succeeded by: Richard Nixon Spouse: Lady Bird Johnson (m. 1934–1973) Presidential term: November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969, Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-73) became the 36th president of the United States 

Following the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963). Upon taking office, Johnson, a Texan, who had served in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, launched an ambitious slate of progressive reforms aimed at alleviating poverty and creating what he called a “Great Society” for all Americans. Many of the programs he introduced–including Medicare and Head Start–made a lasting impact in the areas of health, education, urban renewal, conservation and civil rights.

Despite his impressive domestic achievements, however, Johnson’s legacy was equally defined by his failure to lead the nation out of the quagmire of the Vietnam War (1954-75). He declined to run for a second full term in office and retired to his Texas ranch after leaving the White House in January 1969. WHITE HOUSE YEARS In 1960, John F. Kennedy, the Democratic presidential nominee, invited Johnson to be his vice presidential running mate.

Johnson’s presence on the ticket attracted the support of conservative Southern Democrats and helped lift Kennedy to a narrow victory over Republican candidate Richard Nixon (1913-94). On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was shot and killed while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Johnson was sworn in as president later that day aboard Air Force One, and immediately reassured a shocked and grieving nation that he would make Kennedy’s progressive vision for America a reality. He declared a “war on poverty” and pushed Congress to pass legislation attacking illiteracy, unemployment, and discrimination. After routing Republican candidate Barry Goldwater (1909-98) by more than 15 million votes in the 1964 presidential election, Johnson introduced a slate of new reforms that he said would build a Great Society for all Americans. His ambitious legislative agenda created the Medicare and Medicaid programs to provide federal health insurance for elderly and poor Americans. It also included measures aimed at improving education, preventing crime and reducing air and water pollution.

Johnson also made great strides in attacking racial discrimination by signing the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. His wide-reaching achievements improved the lives of millions of Americans and contributed to economic growth and prosperity. UNDONE BY THE VIETNAM WAR Despite Johnson’s success in promoting his domestic reform policies, however, his presidency was equally defined by the failure of his policies toward Vietnam. Like the three presidents before him,

Johnson was determined to prevent North Vietnamese Communists from taking over the U.S.-supported government of South Vietnam. He believed that America’s national security depended on containing the spread of communism around the world. As part of this effort, Johnson steadily escalated U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War. The number of American troops in Vietnam soared from 16,000 when he first took office in 1963 to more than 500,000 in 1968, yet the conflict remained a bloody stalemate.

As the war dragged on and American and Vietnamese casualties mounted, anti-war protests rocked college campuses and cities across the U.S. Johnson’s popularity within his party plummeted as well. When it appeared that he might face a stiff challenge for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination, Johnson announced his decision not to run for re-election. “I shall not seek, nor will I accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president,” he said in a nationally televised speech on March 31, 1968. Johnson explained that he wanted to focus on the peace process and pressing domestic issues without the distraction of a political campaign.

The conflict in Vietnam, though, brought him nothing but pain and frustration during his last months in office, and U.S. military involvement in Vietnam continued for four years after his departure from Washington in January 1969. FINAL YEARS Following the inauguration of Republican President Nixon,

Johnson retired to his Texas ranch, where he spent the next few years establishing his presidential library (which opened in 1971 on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin) and writing his memoirs. He died of a heart attack at age 64 on January 22, 1973, at his ranch.