His was a tragic presidency because he brought to the office enormous political skills and high ideals but was brought down by a few glaring flaws.
Johnson had huge ambition and mostly high ideals, combined with a more thorough knowledge of how to get legislation through the U.S. Congress than any president has ever had. He had no hobbies, and other than his own immediate family, no real interests outside politics.
He had a visceral distaste for the American war effort in Vietnam, which he had inherited from John Kennedy. But Johnson believed that America could not afford to look weak in the eyes of the world, and so he escalated the war effort continuously from 1965-1968, which resulted in thousands of American deaths and perhaps ten times the number of deaths in Vietnam.
Still, American could not control what was happening in Vietnam. In later years, Johnson's presidency was dominated by the Vietnam War. As more and more American soldiers died in Vietnam, Johnson's popularity declined, particularly in the face of student protests ("Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids have you killed today?").
As a result, in March of 1968, LBJ announced he would not seek re-election, and he retired from public life at the end of his term.
- First Lady: Claudia Taylor (Lady Bird) Johnson
- Previous President: John F. Kennedy
- Next President: Richard Nixon
- Vice President: Hubert Humphrey