tv The Presidency First Ladies in Their Own Words - Lady Bird Johnson CSPAN March 25, 2022 6:04pm-6:33pm EDT
arlington. it was a long long lines of solemn respectful people. [inaudible] along, long lines of solemn, respectful people all along the hill, [inaudible] home as we went under the grave site, the grave site was covered with flowers. we've got, lyndon but the flag is down, still don't silence, and then he turned around and left. each saying our own words to the beautiful vista of washington is it they spread out below us. in our hearts, if you look around you in this jungle i find myself in, [inaudible] and you look for who is strong and intelligent and instinct,
cut prior knowledge or sentiments, makes me think that [inaudible] money is one of those. we talked about how to grieve bridge the gap between the canadian administration and the johnston administration and as lyndon would say, you had to breeds the best of the two to each other. and i tried very earnestly to express my thanks to him. >> that was lady bird johnson from her december 1st, 1963, during recording after visiting president john f. kennedy's grave. just days after his assassination, lady bird was confronting a new life as first lady of the united states. she lived in the white house from 1963 to 1969, some of this country's most tumultuous years. through the civil rights movement, vietnam, and political assassinations. you will hear her in her own voice how she experienced that time, featuring footage from c-span video library. >> wednesday, january the 8th.
state of the union. it was one of those days that you have the feeling that everything that's gone before the, last two weeks at any rate, was leading up to, working up to. so would sir hillary have felt when he last reached the top of mount everest, because it seemed like to me we had had a long, long route stretched up a high, high mounted and day-by-day we've been pulling and hauling and this, finally, was the day that we either, we came to the top and fall on our face, or stood up and planted the flag. i arrived a little bit early. and took my seat in the front row, flight on the right by luci baines and then how that i was to have roberta vinson next, and then uncle huffman baines and his wife aunt ovilee and aunt josefa. that was a sort of, well, i know that mrs. johnson would
have liked that. but on the other side, i had susan and helen, and nobody watched it with more interest than helen. behind us were the wives of the cabinet members and the wife of the supreme court. and also as our guests, were hobart taylor and jay taylor, and i noticed, tucked away on the [inaudible] step and the last little square inch was when you marcus, young and eager and ready to grab life by the fall like. i'm glad she made it inside the door. the committee room below began to fill up with the pomp and display that always takes place on these occasions. how many times i've seen it. the house was in its seat, then with a loud announcement from fishbait miller, in came the senate. then came the -- i think next comes the diplomatic corps, getting bigger all the time, and how they all finally found
room for them all, i don't know. and then the cabinet and the court, occupying the front rows. and it is and in his most pontificate voice, fishbait miller -- and how could there ever be a replacement fishbait for four -- rows and said, the president of the united states! and in walked lyndon, flanked by old friends of long-standing, and went up to the podium. right in front of speaker mccormack, and senator carl hayden, with the flag behind him. sticky mccormack, gray and craggy and white haired. senator hated, he represents arizona in the union. a charming, lively face for 85, [inaudible] . but i wonder how many people in
the chamber were struck with the thought that there was a dramatic something there that says, take care. my favorite line was actually about the first. i will be brief, for our time is necessarily short and our agenda is already long. and then there was a line about, it can be done by this summer. i want it done so that the house and the senate will look better to the nation, as much as i wanted to be done for clinton's good and the democratic party is good. by all of the most important thing to me in the speech was where he said, then that this administration here and now declares unconditional war on poverty in america. i asked this congress and all americans to join with me in that effort. he put a heavy accent on
education, on retraining, on health. i like that line, about $1,000 invest in salvaging unemployable you today can't return 40,000 or more in its lifetime. you want to listen for that one minute to [inaudible] my critic or would you watch right till the end? >> yes ma'am, i got no. >> i thought that you looked strong, firm, and like a reliable guy. your looks were splendid. the close-ups were much better than the distance ones. >> when you can't get the [inaudible] good well i will say this, there were more close-up than there were distance was. during the statement, you were a little breathless. and there was too much looking down, and i think it was a little too fast. not enough change of pace. a drop in voice at the end of sentence. there was a considerable pick up in drama and interest when
the questioning began. your voice was noticeably better and your facial expressions looked to be better. the mechanics of the room were not too good. because although i heard you well throughout every bit of it i did not hear your questioners clearly. whether questions were all talk. >> some of them you could hear, but in general, you could not hear them very well. every now and then you needed a good crisp answer for change of pace and therefore i was very glad when you answered one man, as to as noted both of your questions. i thought your answer on large was good. i thought your answer on vietnam with good. i really didn't like the answer on the goal, because i think i've heard you say enough. but i believe we actually have
said out loud that you don't believe you are to go out of the country [inaudible] so i don't think you can very well say that you will meet anytime once confided to both people. >> [inaudible] i'm not going out of this country. i didn't say where i'd go. i didn't say i'd go out of the country. >> no, i guess -- >> whatever that is i reaffirmed i wouldn't go. >> i see. then i just didn't hear, didn't get the meaning of it that everybody else did. i think the outstanding thing were things where the close-ups were excellent to. you need to learn, when you have a prepared text, you need to have the opportunity to study it a little more and to be dealt with a little more of conviction and interest and change of pace. >> well the trouble is that they criticize you for taking so much time. they want to use it all for questions. and if questions don't produce
any news, they don't get any loose, that gets you how. so my problem is trying to get through before ten minutes, and i still run tournaments today. and i took the third of it [inaudible] questions and i could have i take native [inaudible] ought to do 15 minutes. >> yeah. >> i don't know what you got. maybe i ought to cut that to various [inaudible] but i thought that [inaudible] those names dropped, it did call up [inaudible] get his name in the paper and that publicize it and help the committee. >> yeah. i mean if i'd had that choice, i would have said i use 13 minutes or 14 minutes for the state but in general i say it was a good b plus how. do you feel about it? >> i thought it was much much of the last week. >> well, i had heard last week's, fit and didn't hear all of it. and any rate i felt sort of on
safe ground. i mean, like i even thought sort of gotten over a hump psychologically and in other ways. it would be interesting to hear everybody else's reaction. and we've got, i've got, oh [inaudible] don't birds are in here waiting recently [inaudible] and you do anything you want to about getting another [inaudible] and let me know, and i love you very much. crossroads between past and future. we face many problems together. peace is one an economic prosperity is another we workable solutions in the past through this partnership. and it takes men in washington who care about the people of the south and it takes citizens here at home with a vision of the future. today many parts of the south
present one of the nations proudest pictures of progress. a democratic victory means we will face new challenges together with imagination and feel. we draw on the past by strength. but we do not plan to turn back. i have campaigned across this country. in 44 states discussing the issues learning from you i have contained across this country. in 44 states, discussing the issues, running from your views. lady bird has been my closest and most valuable campaigner. i want her to tell you something of her impression of the last few weeks. >> these have been strenuous but inspiring days for me, and
for -- together, we have been in 49 states. it was like a capsule of americana, a collapse corp course in the geography, history and people who make of this land. you're bound to come back with a closer kinship and a better understanding of the people you work for. i love campaigning beside my husband and providing companionship, and sure, instant continuity, unlike every wife, to offer suggestions as the moment requires. and occasionally i was flattered to be asked to take an assignment on my own. one colorful and picturesque time that especially stands out in my memory, the four-day whistle stop train -- with 47 stops to eight states in the south, from -- to louisiana. i know well the intent leather
faced farmers, little boys hanging off the box cars. the woman who told me she had gotten up early to milk the cows before coming to the depot. i can never forget them. that was the kind of country where i grew up. but the important thing about it was it showed content interest of the people in our government and there are many things even the campaign traveler learns. you seek out a diverse and strong and wonderful country. i know i am better from knowing it better. then you learn that for the most part these are good times in america. and we want to keep them that way. and you learned that first in the hearts of most of the citizens of this country, is a desire to keep america strong, and to keep the world at peace.
that is what americans will really be voting on tomorrow, whether they live in the south, north, the east, the west. the beautification to my mind is far more than a matter of cosmetics. to me, it describes the whole effort to bring the natural world and a man-made world into harmony. to bring usefulness and delight to our whole environment. -- out of the historic potomac, some 50 years ago, columbia island is a gift of nature and man. i am so pleased that this piece of land challenged this committee and we have concentrated much of our efforts on gifts and preparing it is a magnificent gateway -- having been there, having seen
them in yellow along the slopes of the river, having watched almost every one of those trees going to the ground and envisioned expensive life you think how it's going to look next spring. you can be sure that i shall return. >> you're watching american history tv where you are listening to lady bird johnson in her own words. in march of 1968 as a vietnam war raged on, lbj announced that he would not seek reelection. that ear, lady bird opened up the white house as had her predecessor jacqueline kennedy, to the american public via television cameras. this was recorded by the white house naval photographic center. >> many years ago, when i was the wife of a brand new texas congressman, i snapped photographs outside these aren't gates.
i never imagined that one day i would live on the other side of that fence. like many tourists, i had a distinct feeling that this house belonged, in part, to me. i think that's the feeling that everyone who visits here shutters. just like the thousands who come here each year. i was impressed by the majesty of the great state rooms on the first floor. i was proud of the stream of history that ran through each of them. what the passerby does not always realize is that there are two sides to the white house. the official side that remains in the public eye, and the private side that the public rarely sees. the living quarters for the president and his family. this is our living room.
actually, it's the west end of the long haul. it's the nerve center and crossroads of all family activities. an intimate place, and yet busy. it belongs to all the family. psychologically, when you cross that threshold, you feel that you are at home. that you are inside your own house. you can put on a robe and slippers and curl up with a good book. we gather here on climactic occasions, such as the immediate moments following the state of the union message or another major address to the nation. we usually invite those who work on the speech who had contributed to the advance, on those nights, this room has been filled. it has the same electric quality of a broadway opening. after the performance, you're anxious to hear the reviews. although we've had some
thrilling successes, and high moments of pride, there were some chilly moments to. happier painful, this is where the initial public reaction is seen by the president. this is where his family shared this experience. this room is also a listening post for the tone of the day. when we have no engagements in the evening, i come in here with some of my work that isn't so demanding and wait for lyndon to come home from his work. you can see his office from here. the lights may be on until 8:00, or maybe 9:00, or 10:00. sometimes he does not come home for dinner until after midnight. it's not very far for a minute to commute, but in terms of his responsibilities, there is a great distance from here to there. i recall being up here as
lyndon brought in latest acquisition for our old book collection, and lucy emerge from the kitchen with the pan of brownies she had made. at the same time, knowing that lyndon was down there only a few hours away, but the ten cyst nights of all where the lights on in the cabinet room and the television -- on executive avenue. perhaps it was the crisis of the middle east in june 67. sooner or later, the lights would go out, and then a few moments, i would hear an eagle voice down the hall call out, where's bird? and i'd know he's home. really home. like the living room in any american home, this room has its personal touches. bookshelves that reflect individual interests of the family. old and treasured friends.
one of the things that i am proud to leave as a reminder of our time here is the addition to the white house collection of paintings. thomas sully has portrait of fanny campbell, his sheared romans and i love it. this is a really most recent acquisition for the permanent collection. the gypsies girl. the first painting acquired during our stay at the white house was -- i saved my favorite, america sat for last. you can almost feel the love between the mother and her love for the children. look at that little girl. is she wondering with the small child is going to be to her life? it's such a deer painting. it seems to set the tone of the room.
it's where the family shared so many personal and intimate moments. where we felt we were the heart of the house. really at home. >> president lyndon baines johnson died in 1973. lady bird lived on until 2007, dying at the age of 94. you will hear now from the last part of her life as she reflected on her continuing work and on lbj's legacy. long-term histor >> what do you think, now what do you hope, but what do you think will be in long term history, lyndon johnson's legacy? >> -- >> what will people remember 50 years from now? >> i don't know. he would have liked it to be education, for instance. that's where he placed all his hopes on. he said it's the only path forward out of poverty. it is the one thing that can't
be taken away from you. it's education. i think it will probably be civil rights, and it is so particularly and appropriate, that it should've been a southern president. who managed to do that -- very painful loss of good friends from the south. i don't think -- they intended to go on forever. i think, i'm just a professional southerner. as bred as a professional texan. >> how much influence did you have on him react? >> i just think he made his own
path and decisions. i think we all knew it was going to happen someday. because and yes, it would be like a mixed master, sort of. i think it will be over top education. >> where is vietnam going to fit in? >> as a wretched obstacle along the way, which he could not solve. he couldn't escape. he couldn't shake off.
>> when did you see him at his lowest? >> during those days, i think when the bags began to come off. they would come in at night on a freight train. and i don't know whether this was good planning, but several times, i would be on my way back from my trip to new york. from somewhere and at the station is our get off. there would be freight trains and there was bags being unloaded. put on to -- i don't know what kind of vehicle. i knew what he was doing.
and i knew i couldn't help him. >> >> did you try to help in a new way? >> yes, yes, of course. >> what would you do? >> i just say you're doing the best i can, and i think a lot of those people understand it. and it really isn't, there isn't much you can do in a situation like that except to say i'm here. >> thank you for joining us on american history tv for this special look at lady bird johnson in her own words. next week, you will hear from betty ford, who was seen as a thoroughly modern and candid first lady. american history tv's first ladies series is also available as a podcast. you can find it wherever you get your podcasts. first ladies in their own words
to the 37th president's resignation. next june we will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the watergate break-in a crime of consequence that would go on next june we will combat the 50th anniversary of the watergate watergate break in, a crime the consequence that would go on to define a scandal in a critical period in 20th century history. our distinguished ea