Johnson Tapes

Lyndon B. Johnson Tapes

Thurgood Marshall & LBJ: From the Johnson Tapes

Thurgood Marshall and LBJ in the Oval OfficeWith such an impressive and distinguished record, Thurgood Marshall became an ideal candidate to help with LBJ's efforts to break down racial barriers to promotion to top government positions. Johnson appointed Marshall as Solicitor General in 1965 and made it clear then that after Marshall built up more experience in that office that he hoped to be able to appoint him to the Supreme Court before the end of his presidency. But before he did so, he wanted to be sure that there could be no criticism whatsoever that Marshall did not have the necessary experience. As he told Roy Wilkins, the Executive Director of the NAACP, "I want to build him up where he's impenetrable when he becomes a Supreme Court justice."

The Presidential Recordings of Lyndon B. Johnson Digital Edition (UVA Press Rotunda) now published

Presidential Recordings of Lyndon B. Johnson Digital EditionIt is with much pleasure that we can announce that the Presidential Recordings of Lyndon B. Johnson Digital Edition has been published by the University of Virginia Press in their prestigious Rotunda digital imprint. The edition currently consists of three series: War on Poverty, 1964 (edited by Guian McKee); Civil Rights, 1964 (edited by Kent Germany); and Vietnam, 1964-65 (edited by Marc Selverstone and David Coleman). The entire edition is fully searchable, accessible via a timeline view, and each transcript page includes the original audio.

Ted Sorensen dies

Ted SorensenTed Sorensen has died. A close adviser and speechwriter for John F. Kennedy, Sorensen did not stay long into Johnson's term, but LBJ respected his advice and sought his counsel on several important matters. In this clip, LBJ describes him as "the smartest man I've met in this White House."

JFK, LBJ, & the Midterm Elections of 1962 and 1966

We've compiled some new transcripts from the 1962 and 1966 mid-term elections.

Mississippi Burning & the LBJ Tapes

Mississippi Burning, 1964, by Kent Germany and David Carter

Mayor Daley on the Community Action Program

Transcript+Audio Clip
Date: 
Participants: Lyndon Johnson, Richard Daley                  
Introduction:

Following a discussion of the balance between program cuts and a possible tax increase in the next budget cycle, President Johnson mentioned a protest that a group of poverty activists from Syracuse, New York had staged at his Texas ranch. Mayor Daley, who a few moments before had urged the president to focus on job creation as the core of the anti-poverty effort, vigorously objected to the idea that the poor should control the community action programs that the War on Poverty had established in many communities. The inclusion in the Economic Opportunity Act of a provision that community action should encourage the "maximum feasible participation" of the poor had produced clashes between activists and many city governments over the purpose and nature of the programs. This conversation excerpt presents a strong statement of one side of this controversy -- a perspective shared by many mayors around the U.S.

Assessing the War

Transcript+Audio Clip
Date: 
Participants: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara                  
Introduction:

In this segment, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara offers President Johnson a mixed review of the military situation in Vietnam. He also recounts for Johnson an unflattering portrait of the South Vietnamese government, provided by Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, which appeared that morning in the Washington Post.

LBJ and Senator Russell Long on Hurricane Betsy

Transcript+Audio Clip
Date: 
Participants: Lyndon Johnson, Russell Long                  
Introduction:

On the evening of September 9, 1964, Hurricane Betsy came ashore near Grand Isle, Louisiana, as a Category 4 storm, with the National Weather Service reporting wind gusts near 160 mph. As the storm tracked inland, the city of New Orleans was hit with 110 mph winds, a storm surge around 10 feet, and heavy rain. Betsy devastated low-lying areas on the eastern side of the city and eventually led to the expansion of an already impressive levee system to protect a city that lay mostly below sea-level. After the storm passed, Louisiana Senator Russell Long, the son of the legendary Senator and Governor Huey Long, called President Johnson to get the President to tour the devastated areas. In Long’s unique style, he let the LBJ know that the Betsy had severely damaged his own home and had nearly killed his family.

LBJ arrived in New Orleans five hours after talking to Senator Long. Reporters noted that he was shocked by the suffering and in particular by thirst of survivors in one shelter. He immediately announced that the "red tape be cut," and he took personal control of operations, which he continued—according to the Washington Post—“day and night."

President Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr. on the Watts Riots

Transcript+Audio Clip
Date: 
Participants: Lyndon Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr.                  
Introduction:

In this conversation excerpt, Martin Luther King Jr. and President Johnson discuss the implications of the recent Watts Riots. Although the United States had experienced a series of urban revolts during 1964 and 1965, the intensity and violence of Watts had been a shock to much of the nation and to LBJ in particular. The conversation reveals much of the balance between tension and cautious respect that characterized the King-Johnson relationship, as well as both men's growing sense of desperation in addressing the problems facing the United States. While King expressed his frustration with the unresponsive white leadership in Los Angeles, President Johnson appealed for King's support in pursuing his domestic policy agenda in an increasingly hostile Congress.

Sen. Ribicoff Outlines Problems in the War on Poverty

Transcript+Audio Clip
Date: 
Participants: Lyndon Johnson, Abraham Ribicoff                  
Introduction:

In this conversation excerpt, Senator Abraham Ribicoff (a former governor of Connecticut and former secretary of health, education, and welfare under President Kennedy) outlines problems with the Office of Economic Opportunity's organization and operation, its process of policy formation, and its relationship with with other executive agencies and departments. Suggesting that OEO is merely an example of a broader problem, Ribicoff urges the President to undertake a general reorganization of the executive branch.

Johnson and Eisenhower on Vietnam II

Transcript+Audio Clip
Date: 
Participants: Lyndon Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower                  
Introduction:

This exchange occurred later in the same conversation in which LBJ had read to Eisenhower the statement trying to defuse press reports of a difference of opinion on Vietnam between Johnson and Eisenhower. Sympathizing with Johnson's unfavorable position regarding the war in Vietnam, Eisenhower reassured Johnson that criticism was an inevitable part of foreign policy.

Johnson and Eisenhower on Vietnam

Transcript+Audio Clip
Date: 
Participants: Lyndon Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower                  
Introduction:

In this conversation, President Johnson speaks with former President Dwight D. Eisenhower about the nature of America's commitment to Southeast Asia. Expressing his support for Johnson, Eisenhower points out that current conditions in Vietnam differ widely from those of 1955, necessitating an expanded U.S. military presence.

Ground Troops and the Tonkin Gulf Resolution

Transcript+Audio Clip
Date: 
Participants: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara                  
Introduction:

In this morning telephone conversation with the secretary of defense, Johnson expresses dismay at recent proposals, prepared by his most senior civilian officials, for U.S. action in Vietnam. Speaking with Secretary McNamara about various options open to the administration, Johnson reflects on the August 1964 Tonkin Gulf Resolution and its implications for an expanded American military commitment.

LBJ and Gerald Ford on Bombing in Vietnam

Transcript+Audio Clip
Date: 
Participants: Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford                  
Introduction:

After some initial pleasantries, President Johnson discusses a bombing operation in Vietnam with House minority leader Gerald R. Ford, who takes the opportunity to ask Johnson about the use of American ground troops in the war.

"They Just Can't Get the Americans to Do It"

Transcript+Audio Clip
Date: 
Participants: Lyndon Johnson, Spessard Holland                  
Introduction:

President Johnson reports to Senator Spessard Holland (D-Dl) about an administration decision to approve a request from the Florida sugar industry to recruit foreign workers for the upcoming harvest season. Holland had supported the sugar growers' request. Johnson also indicated that the administration had not yet received an application for foreign workers from the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, and that the citrus industry had not yet demonstrated a clear need for such workers. Holland protested that the industry "just can't get the Americans to do it." The conversation demonstrates the process by which extra agricultural workers were admitted to the United States during the early and mid-1960s.

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