This Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of his death, but President Lyndon Johnson still looms as big a character now as he did then (in big part thanks to Robert Caro’s epic five volume series on Johnson’s life, the latest of which was released last spring). To remember his final years, PBS Newshour crafted a detailed and fascinating account of LBJ’s concerns about his legacy as he realized he was nearing the end of his life, as well as an audio file of his final conversation with Richard Nixon.
Despite suffering three major heart attacks, Johnson smoke, ate, and drank heavily until he suffered one last coronary that would kill him. His daughters begged him to quit smoking, but Johnson stubbornly refused. One quote the article incorporates is particularly telling of his mindset at the end of his life: “No, I’ve raised you girls, I’ve been president, and now it’s my time!”
Also worth reading is Notes on LBJ’s Death From His Closest Aide on the Daily Beast, a fascinating inside look at the president’s death.
Photo credit: LBJ Library (public domain)/Wikimedia Commons