Johnson’s boyhood, in retrospect, was the perfect training ground for a future liberal legislator who believed in using government to lift up the poor and disenfranchised. Those motives, of course, never precluded personal gain and the accumulation of more and more political power.
Sam Johnson was a rural farmer and former legislator whose Austin connections allowed young Lyndon to run around the halls of the state capitol, collecting gossip and political acumen. LBJ’s mother graduated from Baylor University and was known to be stern, domineering, and snobby. From his father, Lyndon inherited alcoholism and a loathing of racial prejudice; from his mother, among other things, he learned to freeze out anyone who disappointed him in the least.
Johnson worked for the college president and never failed to dish out extensive, and excessive, praise. Soon enough, he had become an indispensable aide.
After a brief stint teaching in Houston following graduation, a friend of Johnson’s father won a congressional seat and tapped LBJ as his staff director. It was 1931. Other than a two-year hiatus, Johnson would keep his feet planted in Washington for the next 37 years.