Tags: Presidential History | first lady | Lady Bird Johnson | Lyndon Johnson

'Lady Bird' Johnson: The Causes That Defined President Lyndon Johnson's First Lady

By    |   Tuesday, 07 Jul 2015 06:28 PM

Lady Bird Johnson became the nation’s first lady when her husband, Lyndon Johnson, was sworn into office following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. She spent much of her time supporting her husband’s domestic programs while initiating beautification projects until the Johnsons left the White House in January 1969.

Although born Claudia Alta Taylor, her nickname stuck from childhood after a family nurse remarked that she was as “pretty as a ladybird,” Biography.com reported.

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Mrs. Johnson was a strong supporter of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and was the only woman present when President Johnson signed the bill into law, according to the National First Ladies’ Library. The law had been controversial, particularly among southern Democrats, many of whom objected to the legislation.

The first lady worked hard during the presidential campaign of 1964 to continue her support of the bill and to unify the Democratic Party during a tense period of eliminating segregation. Like her husband, the Texas native campaigned vigorously throughout the southern states to help end racial division within the party and the nation. Lyndon Johnson won the election over Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater by a landslide.

Perhaps her most popular cause was her beautification project for the country that she launched in 1965. It began with the creation of a committee to beautify the capital, which led to the planting of thousands of flowering plants, shrubs and trees near public buildings, and the redevelopment of Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House.

The beautification project expanded throughout the nation with the refurbishment and maintenance in areas around schools, recreation areas and housing projects. Many of the projects were funded through private contributions.

Mrs. Johnson met with representatives from business, labor, civic organizations, public service and other fields to promote the idea of national beautification. Her work led to such creations as the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign, which continues today, and the Highway Beautification Act, often referred to as “Lady Bird’s Bill.”

After President Johnson signed the highway bill, he ceremoniously gave the pen to Mrs. Johnson. When government funding became difficult to back public highway projects, Mrs. Johnson successfully appealed to the private sector to continue beautification projects to enhance landscaping on public lands.

She continued her work on beautification projects throughout her term as first lady, even starring in a 1966 TV special that focused on a more beautiful America.

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Lady Bird Johnson became the nation's first lady when her husband, Lyndon Johnson, was sworn into office following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.
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2015-28-07
Tuesday, 07 Jul 2015 06:28 PM
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