Tag Archives: Lyndon B. Johnson

Today in Texas History – February 9

From the Annals of the U.S. Wars of Choice –  In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent a Marine Corps Hawk air defense missile battalion to Da Nang, South Vietnam.  The troops were deployed to provide protection for the key U.S. airbase there.  This was the first deployment of U.S. combat troops to South Vietnam.  The move provoked strong reactions to an apparent new level of involvement in the Vietnamese conflict.  Communist China and the Soviet Union threatened to intervene if the U.S. continued military support of the South Vietnamese regime.  The U.S. Embassy in Moscow was attacked by demonstrators (including Vietnamese and Chinese students) in a move orchestrated by the Kremlin.  Britain and Australia supported the U.S. action, but France called for negotiations.

LBJ had little appreciation of the horrors of war as he had avoided any real combat action in WWII and he was known throughout his life as being an intense physical coward.  He showed no hesitation in sending others off to die in his foolish war. The escalation of U.S. involvement in what had been essentially a civil war was now official and the mistaken judgment of LBJ in blundering into the Vietnam War would not end until more than 58,000 U.S. servicemen and women had lost their lives in the futile struggle.

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Today in Texas History – October 5

From the Annals of the Undeclared Wars – In 1964, Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson first began to come under pressure for his plan to escalate the undeclared war in Vietnam.  Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisconsin) began to speak out against preparation for additional troops in Vietnam.  Nelson claimed that Congress did not intend the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to endorse escalation into a full scale war in Vietnam.

The GOTR had been passed on August 7 in response to North Vietnamese patrol boats allegedly firing on U.S. warships in the waters off North Vietnam on August 2 and 4.  Whether there was an attack and if so, whether it was provoked has been much debated, but the incident prompted Congress to pass the GOTR with only two dissenting votes in the Senate.  The GOTR gave Johnson power to “take all necessary measures to repel an armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.” Johnson apparently viewed the resolution as giving him a free hand and began a major escalation of the conflict which ultimately cost the U.S. 58,220 lives and achieved nothing.

Today in Texas History – September 14

From the Annals of the Authors –  In 1964, J. Frank Dobie received the Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon B. Johnson.  Dobie is most famous for his retelling of Texas folklore and vignettes of Texas history.  Born in Live Oak County on a ranch, Dobie went to school in Alice and later studied at Southwestern University in Georgetown and Columbia in New York.  He worked as a reporter, school teacher, professor and ranch manager.  While at the University of Texas, he joined the Texas Folklore Society which became a lifelong calling.  In 1929, JFD published his first book A Vaquero of the Brush Country – based on his work on his uncle’s ranch in South Texas.   The book established him as a spokesman for Texas folklore and culture of the no-longer open range.  His other books focused on similar Texas and Native American themes and included On the Open Range (1931), Tales of the Mustang (1936), The Flavor of Texas (1936), Apache Gold and Yaqui Silver (1939), and Tongues of the Monte (1947).  He is remembered mostly today for the Dobie Paisano Ranch on Barton Creek near Austin (owned by UT) which provides authors with a fellowship and a place to write.  Dobie died 4 days after receiving the award. Sadly, his books are read by almost no one anymore.

Today in Texas History – April 7

From the Annals of the Halls of Congress –  In 1913, Sam Rayburn of Windom took the oath of office as a member of the United States House of Representatives.  Mr. Sam, as he was known, was to serve in Congress from the presidency of Woodrow Wilson until that of John F. Kennedy.  Rayburn  rose to majority leader in 1937 and was elected Speaker of the House in 1940.  He remained Speaker until his death in 1961.  Rayburn was a master politician who helped negotiate the Roosevelt-Garner ticket in 1932 backing his friend John Nance Garner for Vice-President.  He worked tirelessly to pass New Deal legislation and as chairman of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee in the 1930s he oversaw legislation that established the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.   He worked closely with Senate majority leader Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1950s and Texas benefitted greatly from have the two pillars of power working in D.C.  Rayburn was married only briefly and said that his greatest regret was not have a tow-haired son to take fishing.  The Sam Rayburn Reservoir and several schools in East Texas are name after Mr. Sam.  He was the longest serving Speaker in U.S. history.

Today in Texas History – February 9

From the Annals of Warmongering –  In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent a Marine Corps Hawk air defense missile battalion to Da Nang, South Vietnam.  The troops were deployed to provide protection for the key U.S. airbase there.  This was the first deployment of U.S. combat troops to South Vietnam.  The move provoked strong reactions to an apparent new level of involvement in the Vietnamese conflict.  Communist China and the Soviet Union threatened to intervene if the U.S. continued military support of the South Vietnamese regime.  The U.S. Embassy in Moscow was attacked by demonstrators (including Vietnamese and Chinese students) in a move orchestrated by the Kremlin.  Britain and Australia supported the U.S. action, but France called for negotiations.  But the escalation of U.S. involvement in what was essentially a civil war had begun and would not end until more than 58,000 U.S. servicemen and women had lost their lives in the futile struggle.

Today in Texas History – August 26

From the Annals of All the Way with LBJ –  In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson was nominated to as the Democratic candidate for president at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, NJ.   LBJ had of course been elevated to the presidency upon the assassination of John F. Kennedy the previous November.  Shortly before his nomination, the seeds of trouble had been planted when LBJ began the escalation of the Vietnam War based on the now discredited Gulf of Tonkin incident.  Vietnam and the domestic unrest that it unleashed would be the undoing of Johnson’s presidency and he would decline to run again in 1968.

Today in Texas History – August 4

From the Annals of Mr. Texas –  In 1941, Lt. Gov. Coke Stevenson was sworn in as  Governor of Texas when Pappy O’Daniel resigned to take office as a United States senator. Stevenson’s story is rather remarkable.  He grew up in hard scrabble land of the western Hill Country and had almost no formal education.   He began work in his teens running mule teams that hauled freight between Junction and Brady. He educated himself on the trail studying history and bookkeeping at night.  He worked his way up from janitor to bank cashier and continued to study – this time tackling law under the tutelage of Judge Marvin Blackburn.   He passed the bar exam in 1913 and continued his banking career while practicing law.  Stevenson organized and became president of the First National Bank in Junction and also aspired to politics.  He was elected Kimble County Attorney and County Judge.  He later was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1928 and became Speaker of the House in a remarkable short five years.  In 1939, he was elected lieutenant governor. After succeeding Daniel he was elected governor on his own in 1942 and served until 1947.  Unfortunately, he may be most famous for his loss to Lyndon Johnson in the   1948 Democratic Primary.  It was a race filled with controversy and scandal and revealed LBJ as a politician who would stop at nothing to win.  The race and Stevenson’s own remarkable rise to power  is brilliantly chronicled in Robert Caro’s Path to Power volume of his series on LBJ.