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On Anniversary of LBJ's death, Remembering the Colorful Stories

Posted 3/20/17 (Mon)

Today on Jan. 22, 1973 one of our most remarkable Presidents, Lyndon B. Johnson, died of a heart attack at 64, four years after leaving the White House.

His death meant that for only the fifth time in U.S. history, there were no former Presidents alive. Only the incumbent -- in this case, Nixon. The other times were during the Presidencies of John Adams for 15 months from 1799-1801 after Washington died; U.S. Grant for 19 months from 1875-77 after Andrew Johnson died; Theodore Roosevelt for nine months from 1908-09 after Grover Cleveland died; and Herbert Hoover for two months in 1933 after Calvin Coolidge died.

Anyone who knew LBJ had colorful stories to tell. North Dakota's Milton Young served with him in the U.S. Senate during Johnson's days as Senate Majority Leader in the 1950s. In our book, Mr. Wheat, Young tells several stories about Johnson, including this one:

"He was a ruthless politician in a way, but one of the most friendly of all. I went over to see him several times alone when he was President -- perhaps more than all the other Presidents (I visited) put together. We would talk about farm matters and he asked my views on a lot of other things. I remember that one time I was there when a farm bill was pending. It has passed the Senate and was pending in the House. He was quite interested in it and said, 'I want you to go back and make a speech in the Senate on it.' I said, 'Mr. President, it passed the Senate and is over in the House.' And he said, 'It doesn't make a damn bit of difference, I want you to go and make a speech.' So I went back and did quite a lot of work on about a 20-minute speech."

By Rick Collin 




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