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Claudia Alta (Lady Bird) Taylor Johnson

(1912 - )

First Lady from November 22, 1963 to January 20, 1969

Lady Bird Johnson

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  (Redirected from Lady Bird Taylor Johnson)
Lady Bird Johnson

The First Lady photographed in the White HouseCenter Hall before an official dinner May 6, 1968.

In office
November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969
Preceded by Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy
Succeeded by Pat Nixon

In office
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
Preceded by Pat Nixon
Succeeded by Muriel Buck Humphrey

Born December 22, 1912
Karnack, Texas,
United States
Died July 11, 2007 (aged 94)
West Lake Hills, Texas, United States
Resting place Johnson Family Cemetery
Stonewall, Texas
 
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lyndon B. Johnson
Children Lynda and Luci
Occupation First Lady of the United States,entrepreneur
Signature

Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor Johnson (December 22, 1912 – July 11, 2007)[1] was First Lady of the United States from 1963 to 1969 during the presidency of her husband Lyndon B. Johnson. Throughout her life, she was an advocate for beautification of the nation's cities and highways and conservation of natural resources and she made that her major initiative as First Lady. After leaving the White House in 1969 and her husband's death in 1973, Lady Bird became an entrepreneur, creating the $150 million LBJ Holdings Company, and was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honors.

Contents

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 Early life

A portrait of Lady Bird Taylor at about age three

The Brick House, Lady Bird Johnson's birthplace and childhood home in Karnack, Texas.

Claudia Alta Taylor was born in Karnack, Texas, a town in Harrison County, near the state's border withLouisiana.[2] Her birthplace was "The Brick House," a former slave plantation mansion on the outskirts of town, which her father had purchased shortly before her birth.[3] Nearly all of both her maternal and paternal forebears had arrived in the Virginia Colony during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Her father was a native of Alabama and primarily of English ancestry with small amounts of Welsh and Danish; her mother was also a native of Alabama and of English and Scottish descent.[4]

Though she was named for her mother's brother Claud,[5] during her infancy, her nurse, Alice Tittle,[6][7]commented, she was as "purty as a ladybird,"[8][9] which is a brightly colored beetle commonly known as a ladybug in the United States.[6] That nickname virtually replaced her actual first name for the rest of her life. Her father and siblings called her Lady,[10] though her husband called her Bird, which is the name she used on her marriage license. During her teenage years, her schoolmates had called her Bird, though mockingly, since she reportedly was not fond of the name.[10] Her father was Thomas Jefferson Taylor (August 29, 1874 – October 22, 1960), a sharecropper's son who became a wealthy businessman and the owner of 15,000 acres (61 km2) of cotton and two general stores. "My father was a very strong character, to put it mildly," his daughter once said. "He lived by his own rules. It was a whole feudal way of life, really."[7]

Her mother was the former Minnie Lee Pattillo (1874–1918), an opera lover who felt out of place in Karnack and who was often in "poor emotional and physical health."[5] When Lady Bird was five years old, Minnie, while pregnant, fell down a flight of stairs and died of complications after miscarrying.[5] In a profile of Lady Bird Johnson, Time magazine described Lady Bird's mother as "a tall, eccentric woman from an old and aristocratic Alabama family, liked to wear long white dresses and heavy veils [... and who] scandalized people for miles around by entertaining Negroes in her home, and once even started to write a book about Negro religious practices, called Bio Baptism." Her unreconstructed husband, however, tended to see blacks as "hewers of wood and drawers of water," according to his younger son.[10]

Lady Bird had two elder brothers, Thomas Jefferson Jr. (1901–1959) and Antonio, also known as Tony (1904–1986). She also had two stepmothers; the second, Ruth Scroggins, who married Thomas Taylor in 1937.[11]

She was largely raised by her aunt Effie Pattillo, who moved to Karnack after her sister's death, although Lady Bird visited her Pattillo relatives in Autauga County, Alabama, every summer until she was a young woman. As she explained, "Until I was about 20, summertime always meant Alabama to me. With Aunt Effie we would board the train in Marshall and ride to the part of the world that meant watermelon cuttings, picnics at the creek, and a lot of company every Sunday."[12] According to Lady Bird, her aunt Effie "opened my spirit to beauty, but she neglected to give me any insight into the practical matters a girl should know about, such as how to dress or choose one's friends or learning to dance."[10]

Lady Bird was a shy and quiet girl who spent much of her youth alone outdoors. "People always look back at it now and assume it was lonely," she once said about her childhood. "To me it definitely was not. [...] I spent a lot of time just walking and fishing and swimming."[13] She developed her lifelong love of the environment as a child growing up in the tall pines and bayousof East Texas and watching the wildflowers bloom each spring.[14]

 Education

Field of Bluebonnets in Texas

When it came time to enter high school,[13] Lady Bird moved away from home to live with another family during weekdays in the town of Jefferson, Texas,[15] since there was no high school in the Karnack area (her brothers had attended boarding schools in New York). Eventually she graduated third in her class at the age of 15 from Marshall Senior High School in nearby Marshall. Despite her young age, she drove herself to school in her own car, a distance of 15 miles (24 km) each way, because, she said, "it was an awful chore for my daddy to delegate some person from his business to take me in and out."[13] During her senior year, when she realized that she had the highest grades in her class, she "purposely allowed her grades to slip" so that she would not have to give the valedictorian or salutatorian speech.[6]

After graduating from high school in May 1928, Lady Bird entered the 

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