Lyndon B. Johnson with Ham

Lyndon Johnson with Ham


NAME: Lyndon Baines Johnson. He was named after W.C. Linden, a lawyer and family friend. His mother altered the spelling to Lyndon. Baines was his mother’s maiden name. He remained unnamed for the first three months, during which he was called, simply, Baby.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Johnson stood 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighed 210 pounds on becoming president. He had brown eyes and black hair, mixed with gray, which he combed straight back. His long, lined face was dominated by a rather large nose, a strong cleft chin, and oversized protruding ears. He wore reading glasses. In 1955 he suffered a severe heart attack but after six months’ convalescence recovered to resume a full work schedule. He suffered periodically from kidney stones. While president he underwent surgery to repair a scar that had not healed properly from a previous gall bladder operation and had a polyp removed from his throat. Otherwise his health generally was sound. Johnson dressed fashionably but preferred western clothing while on the ranch in Texas.

PERSONALITY: By all accounts Johnson was a complex personality, fiercely competitive, “always in a rush,” said his wife, a man who relished power, a master manipulator ho harnessed his finely tuned political instincts to achieve lofty goals. Journalists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak said of him during his term, “He can be as gentle and solicitous as a nurse, but as ruthless and deceptive as a riverboat gambler.” The president’s brother Sam Houston Johnson and others described him as secretive ans stubborn. First Lady Lady Bird Johnson regrets that the public did not get to see the soft side of the president. “He was a warm and mellow man in so many ways, gentle, extremely loving,” she said in an interview for U.S News and World Report (December 24, 1973). “But he was not eager to get up in front of thousands or millions of people and act that way. He was that way with his neighbors, his friends and in his home.”

PRIMARY SOURCE: DeGregorio, William A. The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents. 7th ed. Fort Lee: Barricade Books, 2009.

Lyndon B. Johnson with Ham

John F. KennedyRichard Nixon