This has probably been asked before… but what was the Vice President doing in the same town as the President the day of the JFK assasination? He was apparently sworn in as the new President on Air Force One 99 minutes after the assasination. Considering he could have been attacked at the same time it doesn’t make sense. Just a coincidence?
As far as I know, Lyndon Johnson was not in Dallas at the time of JFK’s murder.
Richard Nixon was.
Yes. He was in the motorcade, riding in the third car behind Kennedy and Connally.
So they were in the same motorcade? Who would have approved that kind of security arrangement?
That question was rhetorical since the Secret Service was obviously responsible for the President’s (and Vice President’s) security.
Riding in an open top convertible, through city streets lined with hundreds of civilians? There WAS no security, at least as we understand security today.
In November 1963, the campaign for the Presidential election while still a year away was very, very tight. In Texas, Kennedy trailed the likely GOP nominee, Goldwater, but just barely.
JFK was in Texas to campaign. LBJ was an old Texas politician – from 1936 to 1960 he had held Texas elective office. Kennedy wanted Texans to like and vote for him. Having a popular Texan politician with him helped accomplish that. That was, after all, the purpose of being there in the first place. It is also the same basic reason that Connelly was riding with JFK when he was shot.
Here is a cite for how the race looked 11/22/63
The same person who approved the President riding in a parade in an open car. Some things are inconceivable until they happen. Afterwards, they appear inevitable.
Perhaps Johnson wanted a triumpent return to Dallas where in a 1960 visit he was spat upon.
In 1963, why would they NOT have approved that kind of security? The last President to have been assasinated was William McKinley. Candidate Teddy Roosevelt had been shot in 1912, and Franklin Roosevelt may or may not have been shot at (the bullet hit Chicago’s Mayor Cermak) before he took office. There had been an assasination attempt on Harry Truman at the White House itself (he wasn’t there at the time)
But overall, the idea of assasinating a President in the middle of a crowd in the middle of the day was pretty much the stuff of political thrillers. Johnson was several cars back, so there was no way a single gunman, or even a small bomb, would have gotten both men at the same time.
Sounds unthinkable until after it happens. Remember, despite a wave of assasinations and attempts worldwide in the 1960s and 70s, the Pope walked through crowds with only minimal security until John Paul II was shot in 1980.
Hey-doesn’t that mean LBJ is a suspect? How come I’ve never heard that one in all the Kennedy assassination conspiracy talk? Motive: easy advancement from ‘tie-breaking voter in the Senate’ to ‘leader of the Free World’. Opportunity: traveling with the President, knew all of the route plans and security arrangements, to transmit them to Oswald.
Must not have been listening to a lot of conspiracies. Oliver Stone, for one, did everything but claim Johnson was the second gunman in JFK.
Also, and related to that, he was trying to broker a truce between Governor Connelly and Senator Yarborough. Johnson could have helped with that, too, because Johnson was close to both Connely and Yarborough.
There’s a very famous photo of LBJ in Dallas that day. The guy in the background with a bow tie is a dead ringer for yours truly (but I was only 2 at the time…).
There had been an assasination attempt on Harry Truman at the White House itself (he wasn’t there at the time)
Actually he was upstairs at Blair House having a nap. The House did not have air conditioning at the time and when he heard the shots he leaned out the open window in his t-shirt.
Gruesome, sad day. Jimmy Carter later pardoned the killers who survived the attempt.
That famous photo of Jackie standing next to LBJ on Air Force One seems to imply that she somehow needed to be there for the swearing in of the new President. Is that really the case? Does the outgoing President and/or First Lady have to attend the swearing ceremony for some reason… or is it just customary?
It’s just customary the prior President is there. The reason Mrs. Kennedy was, was due to the circumstances. LBJ didn’t want her to return separately. His handlers wanted he to leave immeidately after JFK’s death, but he refused until Jackie was willing to go and she wouldn’t without her husband’s body.
BTW, the famous picture was taken on the plane, but the plane was still on the ground. The lady judge left the plane, and maybe some others, then it returned to Washington.
Thanks for all the good info folks! I remember vividly (I was nine years old) when it happened and I have seen the photo of LBJ and Jackie on AF-1 but it never occured to me that LBJ must have been close by when it all happened.
I don’t remember seeing any pictures of LBJ at Parkland Memorial Hospital… perhaps because he wasn’t there for security reasons. It must have been pretty tense being LBJ’s bodyguard that afternoon…
If you’re thinking of the attempt made on Truman by Peurto Rican nationalists Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola on November 1st, 1950, it wasn’t made at the White House, but at Blair House, a building across the street from the WH (and where the Truman family lived during extensive WH renovations in 1948-52). Truman was in residence at the time and at one point stepped toward a second-story window to see what all the noise was about. By this time, Collazo and Torresola had been shot by White House guards, but a Secret Service agent yelled at Truman to get back anyway, which he did.
As for Jackie standing next to LBJ on the plane, I’d just assume that the plane was crowded (including the large coffin), the situation was chaotic, and many photographs were taken and the one that got most widely published was the one with the best angle of LBJ and the widow. Note that Johnson’s own wife is also present, though relegated to the background in the famous AP photograph.
Reporter Merriman Smith’s eyewitness account of the ceremony can be found here and contains the following observations:
Johnson clearly wanted Jackie there. As a minor side note, the oath was administered by Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes of the Northern District of Texas, apparantly an old friend of the Johnsons. I believe this is the only time the Presidential oath of office was ever administered by a woman.