Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973) was the thirty-sixth president of the United States. He ascended to the executive office upon the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Johnson worked as a high school teacher in Texas before becoming a legislative assistant to Representative Richard Kleberg in 1931. After two years as director of Roosevelt’s National Youth Administration in Texas, Johnson was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1937. He served as a Democratic congressman for the next twelve years, briefly leaving the House in 1941–1942 to serve as a Navy commander in World War II. In 1948 Johnson was elected to the Senate, where he remained for another twelve years. In 1960, he was elected vice president under John F. Kennedy. When Kennedy was assassinated three years later, Johnson took the presidential oath of office.

As president, Johnson pushed through the passage of Kennedy’s proposed civil rights bill. In 1964 he signed the Civil Rights Act, announced his “Great Society” domestic program, and was elected to another term as president. Johnson’s Great Society plan aimed to reduce poverty and eliminate racial injustice. His elected term saw reforms such as the Voting Rights Act and the Medical Care Act of 1965. Johnson’s domestic plans were ultimately overshadowed by the Vietnam War. In 1964, the President ordered retaliatory bombings of the North Vietnamese after an attack on US forces in the Gulf of Tonkin. He subsequently pressed for the successful passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted the president the authority to engage in acts of war against Vietnam without permission from Congress. In 1965, Johnson sent 100,000 American troops, a number that would eventually increase fivefold. The escalation of the war in Vietnam earned major public opposition, and the unpopular Johnson declined to run for re-election in 1968. After leaving office, Johnson retired to Texas, where he died in 1973.

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