Portraits: Lyndon B Johnson   9 comments

This 1967 portrait by Peter Hurd was meant to be Johnson's official White House likeness. But that plan was quickly scrapped after Johnson declared it "the ugliest thing I ever saw." Soon the pun was making the rounds in Washington that "artists should be seen around the White House-but not Hurd." This ugly thing is now in the National Portrait Gallery.

This 1967 portrait by Peter Hurd was meant to be Johnson’s official White House likeness. But that plan was quickly scrapped after Johnson declared it “the ugliest thing I ever saw.” Soon the pun was making the rounds in Washington that “artists should be seen around the White House-but not Hurd.” This ugly thing is now in the National Portrait Gallery.

Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908 – 1973)

The 36th President of the United States, 1963 – 1969

AKA: Bullshit Johnson, Landslide Lyndon, Light-Bulb Lyndon, LBJ

From: Texas

College: Texas State University – San Marcos

Married to: Claudio Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor

Children: Lynda, Luci

Party: Democratic

Previous Jobs: teacher, Congressional aide, US Navy Lieutenant Commander, US Representative, US Senator, Senate Majority Whip, Senate Minority Leader, Senate Majority Leader, Vice President

In His Words: “I shall never forget the faces of the boys and the girls in that little Welhausen Mexican School, and I remember even yet the pain of realizing and knowing then that college was closed to practically every one of those children because they were too poor. And I think it was then that I made up my mind that this nation could never rest while the door to knowledge remained closed to any American.”

“At times history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama. There is no Negro problem. There is no southern problem. There is no northern problem. There is only an American problem. Many of the issues of civil rights are very complex and most difficult. But about this there can and should be no argument. Every American citizen must have the right to vote…Yet the harsh fact is that in many places in this country men and women are kept from voting simply because they are Negroes… No law that we now have on the books…can insure the right to vote when local officials are determined to deny it… There is no Constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong—deadly wrong—to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of States’ rights or National rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.”

Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office on Air Force One two hours and eight minutes after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Judge Sarah T. Hughes became the first woman to swear in a new President.

Lyndon B. Johnson taking the oath of office on Air Force One two hours and eight minutes after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Judge Sarah T. Hughes became the first woman to swear in a new President.

“You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: ‘now, you are free to go where you want, do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.’ You do not take a man who for years has been hobbled by chains, liberate him, bring him to the starting line of a race, saying, “you are free to compete with all the others,” and still justly believe you have been completely fair… This is the next and more profound stage of the battle for civil rights. We seek not just freedom but opportunity—not just legal equity but human ability—not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.”

“I do not find it easy to send the flower of our youth, our finest young men, into battle.”

“I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”

“Making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg. It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else.”

Not true: Johnson ran for the US Senate in 1948, and the Democratic primary proved to be a career-maker for him.

Unfortunately, it appears that he stole the election. In the run-off primary between Johnson and Coke Stevenson, the Democratic Party certified that Johnson won by 87 votes, but there were widespread charges of fraud by both of the candidates. David Frum’s How We Got Here: The ’70s states that Johnson’s campaign manager and future Texas governor John B Connally, was connected with 202 ballots from Jim Wells County that were cast in alphabetical order at the close of polling.

Robert Caro’s 1989 book, The Johnson Years: A Congressman Goes To War, alleges 10,000 rigged ballots in Bexar County, alone. Further, Luis Salas, an election judge, said in 1977 that he had certified 202 fraudulent ballots for Johnson.

But Johnson was the certified winner – by one vote of the sanctioning Democratic committee – and from that victory, an exceptional political career resulted.

True: Johnson was an accomplished power broker during his 12 years in the House and 22 years in the Senate. Randall Woods, in his biography, described Johnson as the “greatest intelligence gatherer Washington has ever known.”

Johnson was the first to ride to his inauguration in an armored vehicle, and the first to take his oath of office behind a bulletproof shield.

Johnson’s Presidential agenda was at first devoted to passing Kennedy’s programs, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Lyndon B. Johnson was the first president to fly all the way around the world visiting other governments.

While in the White House, the Johnsons had beagles named Him and Her. LBJ was criticized when he was photographed picking one up by its ears.

After the 1964 election, Johnson began working to pass his “Great Society” programs, which were a far-reaching set of government programs which attacked problems as  far-ranging as the fight against poverty, beautification of the country, Medicare, aid to education and removal of obstacles to the right to vote. After his programs passed, citizens had access to need-based aid from the US government for the first time.

Johnson’s decision to expand the Viet Nam war became the decision he was most known for in the 70s, and he was broadly criticized for the war. The earlier accomplishments of his administration were forgotten as Americans became conflicted over the Viet Nam war. He chose not to run for re-election so he could work full-time on fostering peace in Viet Nam.

The Official Portrait: Johnson selected a portrait by Elizabeth Shoumatoff, done in 1968, to be his official White House Portrait. There’s a link to the transcript of an interview with her, below, where she discusses the process of painting both Lady Bird & LBJ.

Lyndon Johnson, official Presidential Portrait

Lyndon Johnson signature

More

Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: Lyndon Johnson As Visionary

Interview with Elizabeth Shoumatoff On Painting The Johnsons

9 responses to “Portraits: Lyndon B Johnson

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  1. I have a picture of Peter Hurd painting this picture. Photographer was Ken Cobean. Anyway to authenticate picture?

  2. i
    Yes, I believe we can authenticate that photo of Peter Hurd painting LBJ’s portrait. Ken Cobean, the photographer, donated a whole series of photos of that event, so we have the original prints and own the rights to the duplication of those pictures.

    Archives, Historical Center for Southeast New Mexico
    • Just want to sure I’m clear. U have this and other pictures from the event. Therefore, you would not need it donated back to you, correct? Do you sale copies of this print? Does the copy I have, have any monetary value – insurance purposes? Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Laura Yanuck

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