September 6, 1967. LBJ announces that he will nominate Walter Washington to be the first Mayor (Commissioner) of Washington, D.C. After advocates for home-rule for the District, including LBJ, finally won their fight, LBJ offered the mayoralty to Washington. The President enlisted the help of NYC Mayor Lindsay and Lady Bird to help Mr. Washington prepare . 
Now LBJ announces his mayoral selection—the first African-American mayor of a large U.S. city:

"Three weeks ago Congress approved a reorganization plan to bring modern government to the Nation’s Capital.
"Even this new system can be only as strong and fair as the men who will lead it….
"We have found a man who will be a strong and authentic voice for the people of the District. His name is Walter Edward Washington."

Statement by the President on His Intention To Nominate Walter E. Washington and Thomas W. Fletcher as Commissioner of the District of Columbia and Assistant to the Commissioner. September 6, 1967. 
Photo C6814-12, Washington at White House with LBJ on 10/3/67, public domain.  

September 6, 1967. LBJ announces that he will nominate Walter Washington to be the first Mayor (Commissioner) of Washington, D.C. After advocates for home-rule for the District, including LBJ, finally won their fight, LBJ offered the mayoralty to Washington. The President enlisted the help of NYC Mayor Lindsay and Lady Bird to help Mr. Washington prepare .

Now LBJ announces his mayoral selection—the first African-American mayor of a large U.S. city:

"Three weeks ago Congress approved a reorganization plan to bring modern government to the Nation’s Capital.

"Even this new system can be only as strong and fair as the men who will lead it….

"We have found a man who will be a strong and authentic voice for the people of the District. His name is Walter Edward Washington."

Statement by the President on His Intention To Nominate Walter E. Washington and Thomas W. Fletcher as Commissioner of the District of Columbia and Assistant to the Commissioner. September 6, 1967

Photo C6814-12, Washington at White House with LBJ on 10/3/67, public domain.  

August 25 and 26, 1967. LBJ spends two nights on the Presidential yacht, the USS Sequoia. On Saturday the 26th, he spends the entire day on the boat; working, getting sun, napping, and spending time with guests while cruising up and down the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers from the Washington Navy Yard to Mount Vernon, home of George Washington.

Larry O’Brien, who frequently took the yacht out himself in order to lobby Congressmen for the President’s agenda, said in his memoirs that when the boat passed Mount Vernon they always played a recording of The Star Spangled Banner while the crew and their guests stood at attention. On this trip, LBJ braved heavy rains and tornado alerts, and watched films on the upper deck (a savings bond movie, a Navy Film of the Latin Ambassadors weekend at the Ranch, and one reel of “Guide for the Married Man" starring Walter Matthau).

President Carter ordered that the yacht be auctioned off in 1977 in order to reduce the national debt. Today you can hire the Sequoia yourself: if you do, look for the bar that was put in at LBJ’s request and is still in use. 

Photos: A833-24a, from July 1965, and A1214-28a,from August 1965. LBJ Presidential Library, public domain. 

August 22, 1967. LBJ meets with Walter Washington, Chairman of the New York City Housing Authority, and LBJ’s pick for the new Mayor-Commissioner of Washington, DC. Washington will be the very first African-American Mayor of a large U.S. city. The President calls upon the Mayor of New York—and the First Lady—to help make Washington a success. According to the Daily Diary, LBJ tells Lady Bird:

 “”We talked to Walter and he says he wants to try the job, and now we’re going to see [New York] Mayor Lindsay and see if he can help make the transition easier. And then we’ll depend on you to help Walter to do it. I don’t want him on my neck. You get his wife and you all get on that crime thing.’” 

Top: Walter Washington, via Wikipedia: Bottom. Mayor Lindsay—check out his body language!—and LBJ in their meeting that day. LBJ Library photo # 6380-7, public domain. 

August 9, 1967. The House of Representatives votes down, 160-244, a resolution to disapprove LBJ’s proposed reorganization of Washington, DC. The resolution therefore stands. Republicans split, 110-64 for the resolution and against the home-rule plan, as did southern Democrats (47-39 for the resolution/against the plan). Supporters of home rule argued that denying residents of the capital, a city 65% black, was a violation of civil rights, and the majority of the House agrees. 
With the failure of the resolution, for the first time, the nation’s capital will have some measure of representative government. The President will appoint a city commissioner, to be known as Mayor, a deputy commissioner, and a nine-member council. They replace the three-member commission that previously ran the District, and affords more representation for the diversity of the city. Now the fight moves to the proportion of whites and black that LBJ will appoint, and who will hold the position of Mayor. LBJ hopes that this measure will be only an interim plan until Congress passes home rule, and residents can elect their own representatives, but this will not happen in 1967.
Congressional Quarterly Almanac, Vol. XXIII, 1967, p. 1024-1026. Photo via US Marines. 

August 9, 1967. The House of Representatives votes down, 160-244, a resolution to disapprove LBJ’s proposed reorganization of Washington, DC. The resolution therefore stands. Republicans split, 110-64 for the resolution and against the home-rule plan, as did southern Democrats (47-39 for the resolution/against the plan). Supporters of home rule argued that denying residents of the capital, a city 65% black, was a violation of civil rights, and the majority of the House agrees. 

With the failure of the resolution, for the first time, the nation’s capital will have some measure of representative government. The President will appoint a city commissioner, to be known as Mayor, a deputy commissioner, and a nine-member council. They replace the three-member commission that previously ran the District, and affords more representation for the diversity of the city. Now the fight moves to the proportion of whites and black that LBJ will appoint, and who will hold the position of Mayor. LBJ hopes that this measure will be only an interim plan until Congress passes home rule, and residents can elect their own representatives, but this will not happen in 1967.

Congressional Quarterly Almanac, Vol. XXIII, 1967, p. 1024-1026. Photo via US Marines

LBJ proposes half a loaf of self-rule for Washington, DC

June 1, 1967. LBJ submits a plan to provide for some measure of self-rule, but not full home rule, for the District of Columbia. The fight for home rule in the nation’s capital has been going on since the 1940s, and LBJ has been advocating for it since 1965. Supporters have met significant resistance, in part due to white fears of home rule in a majority-black city.

By framing it as a reorganization, the President will be able to bypass the House District Committee, on which several members oppose the bill, in favor of the friendlier Government Operations Committee. Reorganizations cannot be amended by Congress, although they can be rejected by resolution within 60 days. This approach, although it will not result in the full home rule that LBJ advocated in his 1966 State of the Union, is a good example of the President’s belief in politics as the art of the possible. 

"The proposed reorganization is in no way a substitute for home rule. As I stated in my Message on the Nation’s Capital, the plan: 

'will give the District a better organized and more efficient government … but only home rule will provide the District with a democratic government—of, by and for its citizens.'

I remain convinced more strongly than ever that Home Rule is still the truest course. We must continue to work toward that day-when the citizens of the District will have the right to frame their own laws, manage their own affairs, and choose their own leaders. Only then can we redeem that historic pledge to give the District of Columbia full membership in the American Union.”

President Johnson’s Special Message to the Congress Transmitting Reorganization Plan 3 of 1967: Government of the District of Columbia. 

March 8, 1967. Lady Bird attends the dedication of playground and playground equipment donated by Mrs. Diaz Ordaz, the First Lady of Mexico, at Hains Point, in Washington, DC. 
LBJ Library photo #C4649-30A, Sec. Stewart Udall, Lady Bird Johnson, and others. Public domain. 

March 8, 1967. Lady Bird attends the dedication of playground and playground equipment donated by Mrs. Diaz Ordaz, the First Lady of Mexico, at Hains Point, in Washington, DC. 

LBJ Library photo #C4649-30ASec. Stewart Udall, Lady Bird Johnson, and others. Public domain. 

January 5, 1967. Lady Bird lists in her diary all of the troubles facing the Johnson administration as 1967 begins: the budget, Vietnam, inflation, negative press coverage of Bill Moyers’ departure, and the brouhaha over LBJ’s rejection of Peter Hurd’s Presidential portrait, above, as “the ugliest thing I ever saw.” Check it out in person at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, D.C. 

January 5, 1967. Lady Bird lists in her diary all of the troubles facing the Johnson administration as 1967 begins: the budget, Vietnam, inflation, negative press coverage of Bill Moyers’ departure, and the brouhaha over LBJ’s rejection of Peter Hurd’s Presidential portrait, above, as “the ugliest thing I ever saw.” Check it out in person at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, D.C. 

November 3, 1966. 1:06 PM. LBJ signs the Demonstration Cities Bill and the Clean Water Restoration Bill, saying: 




"Clean streets and clear rivers—could anything really be more basic to a Great Society? Could anything really be more vital to our children?

I have signed many bills in the 3 years that I have been President. I will sign perhaps a thousand this year. But none has given me greater pleasure than the ones that we are about to sign this afternoon. For they are proud additions to the legacy of a greater America.” 



Photo of Kingman Boys and Girls Club (opened 1968) on Kingman Place, NW, Washington D.C., by rockcreek via Flickr Creative Commons. Full text of signing statement here. 

November 3, 1966. 1:06 PM. LBJ signs the Demonstration Cities Bill and the Clean Water Restoration Bill, saying: 

"Clean streets and clear rivers—could anything really be more basic to a Great Society? Could anything really be more vital to our children?

I have signed many bills in the 3 years that I have been President. I will sign perhaps a thousand this year. But none has given me greater pleasure than the ones that we are about to sign this afternoon. For they are proud additions to the legacy of a greater America.” 

Photo of Kingman Boys and Girls Club (opened 1968) on Kingman Place, NW, Washington D.C., by rockcreek via Flickr Creative Commons. Full text of signing statement here

October 10, 1966. Home rule for Washington, D.C. fails for the final time in the 89th Congress, when a cloture motion to forestall a Southern filibuster falls short by 11 votes. The nation’s capital city will continue to have no local representative government and no representation in Congress. While home rule bills passed both the House and Senate in 1965, the differences between the bills proved irreconcilable both in 1965 and in 1966. LBJ considered home rule in majority-black DC to be a civil rights issue, and he had urged the adoption of the Senate bill in his 1966 State of the Union.
The battle for home rule had launched a new activist group headed by Marion Barry, the Free D.C. Movement. Some other civil rights groups, though strong supporters of home rule, were put off by the new Movement’s aggressive tactics. Staunchly aligned against home rule were Southern Senators like LBJ’s old friend Richard Russell and some powerful local organizations like the Board of Trade. LBJ’s ardent supporter—and sometime critic —Senator Wayne Morse had attached the home rule bill to a college aid bill in a last-ditch attempt at passage, but despite the support of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, among others, home rule proponents will have to wait until the next Congress to try again.
Photo by Rob Shenk via Flickr Creative Commons.

October 10, 1966. Home rule for Washington, D.C. fails for the final time in the 89th Congress, when a cloture motion to forestall a Southern filibuster falls short by 11 votes. The nation’s capital city will continue to have no local representative government and no representation in Congress. While home rule bills passed both the House and Senate in 1965, the differences between the bills proved irreconcilable both in 1965 and in 1966. LBJ considered home rule in majority-black DC to be a civil rights issue, and he had urged the adoption of the Senate bill in his 1966 State of the Union.

The battle for home rule had launched a new activist group headed by Marion Barry, the Free D.C. Movement. Some other civil rights groups, though strong supporters of home rule, were put off by the new Movement’s aggressive tactics. Staunchly aligned against home rule were Southern Senators like LBJ’s old friend Richard Russell and some powerful local organizations like the Board of Trade. LBJ’s ardent supporter—and sometime critic —Senator Wayne Morse had attached the home rule bill to a college aid bill in a last-ditch attempt at passage, but despite the support of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, among others, home rule proponents will have to wait until the next Congress to try again.

Photo by Rob Shenk via Flickr Creative Commons.

September 18, 1966. LBJ tells a story about the night of the bombing of fuel depots in Hanoi and Haiphong: 



"Soon after the Valentis boarded the boat, the President told the story of the night of the bombing of Haiphong oil depots. He said that he was sitting in his room, and Luci came in. She told him that he looked so awful and worried. The President told her why and she said that whenever she had a problem she went to see her little monks (at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in Southwest Washington. ) The President said that he and Mrs. Johnson and Luci went to see the little monks - ‘in the hottest, stinkiest place I’ve ever seen.’ They returned to the White House, and the President said he waited up all night for the different reports. He said that he was proud of the boys, and was sorry they had received no commendation, ‘for they certainly deserved it.’ Finally, the President dropped off into a sound sleep, and at about 8:00 AM the next morning, he heard the little tap at his door (‘one that always tells me it’s one of the girls at the White House —Mrs. Johnson, Lynda, Luci or one of my secretaries—afraid they’ll find me undressed’). He awakened to find Luci at his door. She had come in to see how the monks made out. (She was on her way to the library to return some books—”I am getting married , you know,” she said.)



—The President’s Daily Diary, for Sept. 18, 1966. Photo of St Dominic’s in 2011 by Mr. T in D.C. via Flickr Creative Commons. 

September 18, 1966. LBJ tells a story about the night of the bombing of fuel depots in Hanoi and Haiphong

"Soon after the Valentis boarded the boat, the President told the story of the night of the bombing of Haiphong oil depots. He said that he was sitting in his room, and Luci came in. She told him that he looked so awful and worried. The President told her why and she said that whenever she had a problem she went to see her little monks (at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in Southwest Washington. ) The President said that he and Mrs. Johnson and Luci went to see the little monks - ‘in the hottest, stinkiest place I’ve ever seen.’ They returned to the White House, and the President said he waited up all night for the different reports. He said that he was proud of the boys, and was sorry they had received no commendation, ‘for they certainly deserved it.’ Finally, the President dropped off into a sound sleep, and at about 8:00 AM the next morning, he heard the little tap at his door (‘one that always tells me it’s one of the girls at the White House —Mrs. Johnson, Lynda, Luci or one of my secretaries—afraid they’ll find me undressed’). He awakened to find Luci at his door. She had come in to see how the monks made out. (She was on her way to the library to return some books—”I am getting married , you know,” she said.)

The President’s Daily Diary, for Sept. 18, 1966. Photo of St Dominic’s in 2011 by Mr. T in D.C. via Flickr Creative Commons. 

April 26, 1966. Lady Bird shows two young people some blooming white azaleas. She later wrote of this and other urban beautification efforts: 

"Green oases and neighborhood parks within cities offer a promise. If people in humdrum jobs, in drab buildings, surrounded by noise and confusion, know they can move out of all that into areas of serene beauty and quiet, even for a brief time each day, they can better cope with conditions that may bring them to the breaking point."

LBJ Library photograph C1754-25. Lady Bird Johnson quote from Lady Bird Johnson and Carlton B. Lees, Wildflowers Across America, New York: Abbevile Press, 1993, p. 264.

April 26, 1966. Lady Bird shows two young people some blooming white azaleas. She later wrote of this and other urban beautification efforts: 

"Green oases and neighborhood parks within cities offer a promise. If people in humdrum jobs, in drab buildings, surrounded by noise and confusion, know they can move out of all that into areas of serene beauty and quiet, even for a brief time each day, they can better cope with conditions that may bring them to the breaking point."

LBJ Library photograph C1754-25. Lady Bird Johnson quote from Lady Bird Johnson and Carlton B. Lees, Wildflowers Across America, New York: Abbevile Press, 1993, p. 264.

October, 1965. The tide begins to turn against LBJ, as he himself predicted. 

Wilbur Mills:  ’If you look at the spending performance you notice that September 1965 jumped precipitously over the level of September 1964, and it even went up sharply over than of August 1965. Add to that an additional $30 billion or more that was being spent in Asia, and you have the makings of a very serious inflationary crunch.

'I don't know if he [LBJ] realized it…. But he was getting advice from Gardner Ackley [Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers]  and others that 1966 would not be a good year.'

But Congress did not wait for 1966 to indicate that enough was enough. It rebelled that October against the District of Columbia home rule bill.”

Merle Miller, Lyndon: An Oral Biography. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1980, p 443.

April 20, 1965. An unknown White House photographer snaps this photo of the arrival ceremony for Prime Minister Aldo Moro of Italy.      

April 20, 1965. An unknown White House photographer snaps this photo of the arrival ceremony for Prime Minister Aldo Moro of Italy.      


“When I found myself in the White House it was natural—and inevitable—for me to turn to the movement we called beautification (we never could think of a better word!). Because my heart had for so long been in the environment, I began to think that in the White House I might now have the means to repay something of the debt I owed nature for the enrichment provided from my childhood onward. And since my hometown for the next few years was still to be Washington, D.C., where better to start than in the ‘nation’s front yard?’” 

—Lady Bird Johnson, in Lady Bird Johnson and Carlton B. Lees, Wildflowers Across America, New York: Abbevile Press, 1993, p. 12.
Photo by schizoform, via Flickr Creative Commons. 

“When I found myself in the White House it was natural—and inevitable—for me to turn to the movement we called beautification (we never could think of a better word!). Because my heart had for so long been in the environment, I began to think that in the White House I might now have the means to repay something of the debt I owed nature for the enrichment provided from my childhood onward. And since my hometown for the next few years was still to be Washington, D.C., where better to start than in the ‘nation’s front yard?’” 

—Lady Bird Johnson, in Lady Bird Johnson and Carlton B. Lees, Wildflowers Across America, New York: Abbevile Press, 1993, p. 12.

Photo by schizoform, via Flickr Creative Commons.