Johnson, Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor
Claudia Alta Taylor "Lady Bird" Johnson (December 22, 1912 – July 11, 2007) was First Lady of the United States (1963–69), as the wife of the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson. Autograph Card Signed, n.d. - 6 x 3 1/2 written in brown ink on heavy card stock with a portrait of their home in Stonewall, Texas. Young age-toning seen along edges that makes this Autograph card stand out. Overall, very fine condition.
Notably well-educated for a woman of her era, she proved a capable manager and a shrewd investor.
After marrying LBJ in 1934 when he was a political hopeful in Austin, Texas, she used a modest inheritance to bankroll his congressional campaign, and then ran his office while he served in the navy. Next, she bought a radio station and then a TV station, which soon made them millionaires.
As First Lady, she broke new ground by interacting directly with Congress, employing her own press secretary, and making a solo electioneering tour. Johnson was a lifelong advocate for beautifying the nation's cities and highways ("Where flowers bloom, so does hope") and the Highway Beautification Act was informally known as Lady Bird's Bill. She was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honors. She is a descendant of Rowland Taylor through his grandson Captain Thomas J. Taylor, II.
As First Lady, Johnson started a capital beautification project (Society for a More Beautiful National Capital) to improve physical conditions in Washington, D.C., for both residents and tourists by planting millions of flowers.
Her beliefs regarding the importance of national beautification can best be summarized in her statement that "where flowers bloom, so does hope." She worked extensively with American Association of Nurserymen (AAN) executive Vice President Robert F. Lederer to protect wildflowers and the planting of them along highways. Her efforts inspired similar programs throughout the country. She became the first president's wife to advocate actively for legislation when she was instrumental in promoting the Highway Beautification Act, which was nicknamed "Lady Bird's Bill" and sought to beautify the nation's highway system by limiting billboards and by planting roadside areas. She was an advocate of the Head Start program.
Johnson created the modern structure of the First Lady's office; she was the first to have a press secretary and chief of staff of her own and an outside liaison with Congress. Her press secretary from 1963 to 1969 was Liz Carpenter, a fellow University of Texas alumna. Carpenter was the first professional newswoman to become press secretary to a First Lady, and she also served as Lady Bird's staff director.
Johnson’s tenure as First Lady marked the beginning of the hiring of employees in the East Wing to work specifically for the First Lady's projects. During the 1964 election, Johnson traveled through eight Southern states in her own train to promote the Civil Rights Act, at one point giving 45 speeches over five days. It was the first solo whistlestop tour of a First Lady.
President Johnson initially proclaimed he would turn down the Democratic Party nomination for president in the election, having been despondent during his serving of Kennedy's term and believing the party did not want him. Despite aides not being able to sway him, the First Lady convinced him otherwise, reassuring his worthiness and claiming his dropping out would assure the Republicans took the White House. Johnson continued her Whistlestop Tour in October 1964.
However, this time it would be aboard a Braniff International Airways Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprop aircraft that would take her on a multi state aerial tour including the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Indiana and Kentucky. Braniff dubbed the Lockheed Electra "The Lady Bird Special" after the ground Whistlestop Tour Train. Besides the “The Lady Bird Special" script being painted on the sides of the aircraft a special route map of the tour was also painted on the lower front part of the aircraft's fuselage near the main entry airstairs.
In 1970, Johnson published A White House Diary, her intimate, behind-the-scenes account of her husband's presidency spanning November 22, 1963, to January 20, 1969.
Beginning with President Kennedy's assassination, she recorded the momentous events of her times, including the Great Society's War on Poverty, the national civil rights and social protest movements, her own activism on behalf of the environment, and the Vietnam War. Johnson was acquainted with a long span of fellow First Ladies, from Eleanor Roosevelt to Laura Bush, and was protected by the United States Secret Service for 44 years, longer than anyone else in history.