This home movie captures scenes of life in Austin for Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson in 1943. Narrated by Lady Bird some years later, images include many University of Texas campus buildings, Lake Austin, Mansfield Dam, Lake Buchanan, and Mt. Bonnell, as well as scenes of the Johnsons with their close friends. Scenes of LBJ swimming with George R. Brown, State Senator A.J. Wirtz, JC Kellam, and Speaker Sam Rayburn are included, as well as scenes of Lady Bird in a field of bluebonnets with Eugenia Boehringer Lasseter, Emily Crow, and Texas Ranger Colonel R.W. Aldrich.
Thirty-sixth president of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson, was born on a hill country farm near Stonewall, Texas on August 27, 1908, to Samuel Ealy Johnson, a former Texas legislator, and Rebekah Baines Johnson. He attended Southwest Teachers College, now Texas State University, graduating with a degree in history and social science in 1930. LBJ spent one year as principal and teacher in Cotulla, educating impoverished Hispanic elementary school students. LBJ became the secretary to Texas Congressman Richard M. Kleberg in 1931; the four-year position helped him gain influential contacts in Washington. Johnson married Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor on November 17, 1934.
LBJ acted as Director of the National Youth Administration in Texas from 1935 to 1937. Johnson won his first legislative election in 1937 for the Tenth Congressional District, a position he held for 11 years. He was a firm supporter of President Roosevelt's New Deal and in 1940 acted as Chairman of the Democratic Campaign Committee. In 1948, following his service as a Lieutenant Naval Commander during World War II, LBJ ran as the Democratic nominee for Senate. In a cloud of controversy, he narrowly defeated former Texas Governor Coke Stevens and easily beat his Republican opponent in the general election. Before winning his second senate term, LBJ was elected Majority Whip in 1951, became the youngest ever Minority Senate Leader in 1953, and was voted Majority Leader in 1954. Johnson unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1960 but was selected to be Vice President under John F. Kennedy.
Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as Commander and Chief aboard Air Force One following President Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963, and won reelection in 1964. President Johnson passed landmark legislation with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Debate over military efforts in Vietnam intensified in late 1963 when the President stated that the United States would not withdraw from Southeast Asia. Escalation of the war against North Vietnam brought disapproval from Democrats, claiming the efforts were misguided, and from Republicans who criticized the administration for not executing sufficient military vigor. Antiwar protests, urban riots, and racial tension eroded Johnson's political base by 1967, which further dissolved following the Tet Offensive in January 1968. On March 31, 1968, President Johnson announced that we would not seek a second presidential term.
After returning to Texas, Johnson oversaw the construction of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum on the University of Texas campus in Austin. Throughout his political career, LBJ was an influential figure in Texas affairs; his policies brought military bases, crop subsidies, government facilities, and federal jobs to the state. After suffering a massive heart attack, former President Johnson died at his ranch on January 22, 1973. In February of the same year, NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston was renamed the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, in honor of one of the country's most influential Texans.
Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor was born in Karnack, Texas on December 22, 1912. Lady Bird, the nickname given by nursemaid Alice Tittle, attended high school in Marshall and junior college at Dallas' St. Mary's Episcopal College for Women. In 1933 through 1934, she received a Bachelor of Arts in history and a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.
Mutual friends introduced Lady Bird to congressional aide and rising political star, Lyndon Baines Johnson. LBJ proposed on the couple's first date and the two were married a month later on November 17, 1934. Lady Bird financed her husband's first congressional campaign for Austin's Tenth District using a portion of her maternal inheritance. During World War II, Lady Bird ran the congressional office while LBJ served in the US Navy. In 1943, Lady Bird purchased Austin Radio station KTBC. The station proved an integral part of the LBJ Holding Company and became the main source of the Johnson family's fortune.
LBJ's political career gained momentum in the post war years, and in 1960, he became Vice President to John F. Kennedy. Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as Commander and Chief aboard Air Force One following President Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963. As first lady, Lady Bird initiated the Society for a More Beautiful National Capitol and worked with the American Association of Nurserymen to promote the planting of wildflowers along highways. In 1964, the first lady traveled through eight southern states aboard her train, "The Lady Bird Special," to foster support for LBJ's presidential re-election and the Civil Rights Act. She was influential in promoting the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, referred to as "Lady Bird's Bill," and the Head Start program .
Following the death of LBJ in 1973, Lady Bird turned her attention to Austin. The Town Lake Beautification Project transformed Austin's downtown lake, renamed Lady Bird Lake in 2007, into a useable recreation area. On December 22, 1982, Lady Bird and Helen Hays founded the National Wildflower Research Center outside of Austin. The Wildflower Center was established to increase awareness and research for North American flora. During her lifetime, the former first lady received the highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1977 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1988. Lady Bird died of natural causes on July 11, 2007, survived by two daughters, seven grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.
Texas congressmen and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Sam Rayburn, was born in Roane County, Tennessee on January 6, 1882. In 1887 the Rayburn family moved from Tennessee to a cotton farm near Windom, Texas. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree from East Texas Normal College (now Texas A&M University–Commerce), he taught school for two years then left to pursue a career in law. In 1906, Rayburn won a seat in the Texas House of Representatives and attended law school at the University of Texas between legislative sessions. He served in the state legislature for two more terms, serving as Speaker in 1910.
In 1912, Rayburn was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat from the Fourth Texas District. He had no Republican opponent during his congressional career and maintained one of the longest records of service in the house at 48 years. Congressman Rayburn was elected Speaker of the House in 1940 and continued as Speaker in every Democratically controlled Congress from 1940-1961, serving as minority-leader during the two Republican periods. During his congressional career, Rayburn participated in the passage of some of the most influential legislation and was a leading supporter of the New Deal. The Congressman passed the Truth in Securities Act, The Rural Electrification Act, the Public Utilities Holding Act, and the Emergency Railroad Transportation Act while chairman of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee from 1931 to 1937. Rayburn worked closely with Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson during the Eisenhower administration, supporting LBJ in his campaign for the presidency and later vice-presidency.
Respected by Republicans and Democrats alike, Rayburn's personal integrity was legendary. The Congressman refused money from lobbyists and was effective in dealing with his constituents. Rayburn's efforts brought farm-to-market roads, Lake Texoma, Lavon Lake, The Veteran Administrative Hospital in McKinney, and Perrin Field Sir Force Base to Texas's fourth district. In 1949 Rayburn was awarded the Collier's Award for Distinguished Service to the Nation, and the $10,000 award served as the basis for establishing the Sam Rayburn Library at Bonham. The library was dedicated by former President Truman in 1957 and housed Rayburn's public and private papers until they were moved to the University of Texas. Sam Rayburn died of cancer in 1961 and is buried in Bonham.