Lyndon Baines Johnson was born in 1908 in Stonewall, Texas. He grew up relatively poor and worked his way through Southwest Texas State Teacher’s College. After spending time teaching students of Mexican descent, he became interested in politics and successfully campaigned for the House of Representatives with the help of his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, in 1937. Johnson served six terms in the House of Representatives and spent time as a lieutenant commander during World War II. In 1948, he was elected to the Senate and soon became the youngest minority leader in Senate history. He then became the youngest majority leader.
Known as a master manipulator of Congress, he helped President Eisenhower gain passage of several key bills. In 1960, John F. Kennedy chose him to be his running mate in his presidential campaign. On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated, and Johnson was sworn in as America’s 36th president. Johnson successfully advocated a tax cut for the public and a new Civil Rights Bill. He also spoke to the populace of a “Great Society” in which the meaning of life and the “marvels” of man’s labor were one and the same. In 1964, Johnson was reelected by the widest margin in American history. Johnson’s next term included improvements to the education system and social security, measures to reverse widespread poverty, disease, and crime, as well as measures to facilitate foreign relations and conservation. Johnson’s second term, however, was plagued by the escalating situation in Vietnam, which soon became the Vietnam War. Despite his popularity, Johnson decided not to run for a third term as president so he could devote all of his time to establishing peace.