#36 Lyndon B. Johnson!
Lyndon Baines Johnson (/ˈlɪndən ˈbeɪnz/; August 27, 1908 – January 22, 1973), often referred to by his initials LBJ, was an American politician who served as the 36th president of the United States from 1963 to 1969, and previously as 37th vice president from 1961 to 1963. He assumed the presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A Democrat from Texas, Johnson also served as a United States Representative and as the Majority Leader in the United States Senate. Johnson is one of only four people who have served in all four federal elected positions.[b]
Born in a farmhouse in Stonewall, Texas, Johnson worked as a high school teacher and a congressional aide before winning election to the US House of Representatives in 1937. Johnson won election to the United States Senate from Texas in 1948 after narrowly winning the Democratic Party’s nomination. He was appointed to the position of Senate Majority Whip in 1951. He became the Senate leader of the Democrats in 1953. He became known for his domineering personality and the “Johnson treatment”, his aggressive coercion of powerful politicians to advance legislation. Johnson ran for the Democratic nomination in the 1960 presidential election. Although unsuccessful, he became the running mate of the nominee Senator John F. Kennedy and they went on to win a close election. On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated and Johnson succeeded him as president. The following year, Johnson won in a landslide, defeating senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. With 61.1 percent of the popular vote, Johnson won the largest share of the popular vote of any candidate since 1820.
In domestic policy, Johnson’s “Great Society” and “War on Poverty” programs led to legislation to expand civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicare, Medicaid, aid to education and the arts, urban and rural development and public services. Assisted by a strong economy, the War on Poverty helped millions of Americans rise above the poverty line during his administration. Unlike the majority of southern politicians, he opposed racial segregation, signing civil rights bills to ban racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce, the workplace and housing. The Voting Rights Act ended the mass disenfranchisement of African Americans in the South, and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 permitted greater immigration from regions other than Europe. Johnson’s presidency marked the peak of modern liberalism in the United States.
In foreign policy, Johnson escalated American involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted Johnson the power to use military force in Southeast Asia without having to ask for an official declaration of war. The number of American military personnel in Vietnam increased dramatically, from 16,000 advisors in non-combat roles in 1963 to 525,000 in 1967, many in combat roles. American casualties soared and the peace process stagnated. Growing unease with the war stimulated a large, angry anti-war movement based chiefly among draft-age students on university campuses. Johnson faced further troubles when summer riots began in major cities in 1965 and crime rates soared, as his right-wing opponents raised demands for “law and order” policies. While Johnson began his presidency with widespread approval, support for him declined as the public became frustrated with both the war and social unrest. In 1968, he ended his bid for renomination after a disappointing result in the New Hampshire primary. He was succeeded by Richard Nixon in January 1969. Johnson returned to his Texas ranch, where he died of a heart attack four years later.
Johnson is ranked favorably by many historians because of his domestic policies and the passage of many major laws that affected civil rights, gun control, wilderness preservation, and Social Security, although he has also drawn substantial criticism for his escalation of the Vietnam War.