- Prior to beginning the class, I would ask each student to look up several men that I do not speak about in class. The names of the men are: Jake More, Dick Russell, Allen Duckworth, Sam Rayburn, Clark Clifford, J.Frank Robie, Carl Sander, Roy Roberts, Frank McKinney and Arthur Goldberg.
- Why are these men significant to both Truman and Johnson?
- I would write in the middle of the board TRUMAN. I would ask the students to brainstorm everything they know about Truman’s presidency in regards to domestic and foreign policy. Some of the vocabulary included should be: Fair Deal, Civil Rights, NATO, Truman Doctrine, Marshall Plan, Point IV, Berlin Airlift, communism, George Kennan, Korea, Vietnam, appeasement and Cold War and so on and so forth…
- I would then do the same thing for JOHNOSN. I would ask the students to brainstorm everything they knew about LBJ’s presidency in regards to domestic and foreign policy. Some of the vocabulary should include: Great Society, Civil Right, Medicare, JFK, Vietnam, Education Act, Lady Bird Johnson, Tet Offensive, Gulf of Tonkin and so on and so forth…
- PLAY AUDIO
- Have the students write down their thoughts and impressions of each conversation. What were the key points to each of the conversation?
- As a teacher I have already listened to the conversations and have written down notes…to possible help with the discussion after each conversation.
My notes look as follow
1/30/64 --- who put the call through…. What are your thoughts of the conversation? Is the conversation and dialogue between the 2 men casual or formal? Truman also offers his assistance with the reelection of 1964.
3/06/64 --- what is the tone of the conversation? LBJ compliments Truman because he did what he thought was right and he didn’t give a damn. The topic of conversation was King Paul’s funeral in Greece. LBJ can’t go and he needs Truman to take his place. Why is this significant? Lady Bird says hello to Truman. What do you think of her southern hospitality is it sincere?
3/7/64 ---- Truman asks LBJ what he needs from him and tells him that he will do anything LBJ needs. LBJ compliments Truman? Truman is very humble and can he accept the compliment? Do you think LBJ sounds quick on the phone? What are your thoughts…is it rude?
4/17/64 --- LBJ tells Truman when he comes to visit, that he could stay in the Blair House. Why is this interesting? How many times did Truman visit LBJ at the White House? Truman can hang out with his friends Allen Ducksworth and Sam Rayburn. LBJ also says if they raise too much hell LBJ will come and join them. LBJ also heard great reviews with the trip to Greece.
4/25/65 --- Truman is in Washington and would just like to go to the White House to catch up with LBJ and LBJ invites him to lunch.
5/5/64 --- LBJ has a favor, the governor of Georgia, would like Truman to come to Georgia. LBJ said that he would go as a substitute but that the governor would prefer Truman. Every conversation so far and you will notice a trend…Truman sounds so appeasing. Why do you think he sounds like this?
9/8/64 --- LBJ is concerned for Truman’s health. LBJ also tells Truman that the best men in his staff all came from Truman’s staff. LBJ says that Truman is one of the best presidents? Truman is very humble and says that there are at least 7 0r 8 presidents that were better one being LBJ. Who do you think Truman would rank better than him and why?
11/04/64 --- every call seems to start with the operator, why? There also seems to be a dead air, why do you think that is? Truman calls LBJ to congratulate him on the 1964 election. LBJ is very kind to Truman and continues to tell him that whatever Truman wants LBJ will provide…doctors, planes, and grandkids. Clark Clifford told LBJ that “Truman was the best man that ever lived” LBJ also talks to Bess Truman and this is the first time you hear her voice. What do you think? Does her voice change the impression you had of her in your head?
12/4/64 – LBJ calls and wants Truman to come to inauguration. He wants everyone to be there: Bess, Margret and all of the grandkids. They all can stay in the Blair House too. During all of these phone calls don’t you really begin to like Truman and Johnson? Yes or No and why.
12/31/64 --- Do you think it is interesting that they are having a work related conversation on New Year’s Eve? Truman is endorsing some guy name Frank. Who is Frank and why is he important? LBJ tells Truman that he is working on his state of the Union Address. There are only kind words between these 2 men.
1/8/65 --- Truman calls LBJ to tell him that he cannot come to the inauguration. His sister is in the hospital and his brother cannot use his legs. Margret would be representing the family. On the phone Truman sounds sad…this is the first time in listening to the conversation that Truman is talking with a different tone.
2/15/65 --- This is the first phone call of real content. LBJ is not doing well he is going through hell. LBJ needs advice. Truman gives him encouragement. Truman compared Vietnam to Korea. LBJ was in Senate during Korea and really admired Truman’s actions. LBJ invites Truman to DC for George Washington’s birthday. LBJ still wants to go visit Truman in Independence MO. Truman is not feeling well. He reiterates that LBJ is doing the right thing with Vietnam.
2/16/65 --- Johnson’s voice still sounds down. Truman told him that he a statement that he wanted to make public to endorse the actions that Johnson was doing…everyone should have confidence with LBJ. His doctors tell Truman that he is not allowed to leave town, but if LBJ needs him he will go to DC.
4/19//65 --- 2 months later, and LBJ is still going through hell with Vietnam, and the Berlin Wall. His mood is still very down. Truman tells LBJ that he will stand by with whatever decisions that he makes. There is a long conversation about Frank McKinney. Who is Fulbright? Why is he being so difficult towards LBJ?
6/22/65 --- LBJ is still going through hell. He invited Truman to visit him. LBJ tells Truman that he is going to stop in Independence to have breakfast with Truman on his way to San Francisco to celebrate the anniversary to the UN. Truman says yes to the invitation and will meet LBJ.
7/27/65 --- LBJ asks about Truman’s health. LBJ does not talk about Vietnam, but in his voice he still sounds very despondent.
7/5/66 ---this phone call is the following year; a lot of time has passed. Do you think that LBJ had talked to Truman in between the times of these 2 phone calls but just decided not to tape the conversation? What do you think? LBJ heard that Truman wants to go to Israel, but the doctors won’t let him go. LBJ offers his plane. He calls Truman precious. Truman thinks that LBJ is doing a good job in Vietnam. Lady Bird and Luci invite the Trumans to Luci’s wedding next month. It will be a small affair with only family and close friends invited
1/29/67 ---LBJ sounds more upbeat then in previous conversations, Truman thinks LBJ is doing a “great job”
12/25/68 --- the last conversation recorded takes place on XMAS day. It is a very thoughtful conversation. LBJ told Truman that Bess was his favorite first lady besides his wife. LBJ talks about all of these laws that are passed though Congress and how ½ the bills that were passed began during Truman’s presidency. Truman’s ideas are finally passed.
- What are the similarities and differences between these 2 men?
- Does anything of interest strike you with these conversations?
- Does your impression of the presidents change after listening to the presidents?
- There seems to be some gaps between the recordings, why do you think that is?
- Do you think the conversations would have been similar if Roosevelt, Eisenhower or Kennedy had been on the other line?
- Why are the conversations recorded start in 1964 and not in 63?
- What are your impressions of Lady Bird and Bess?
- What are your thoughts about having conversations being recorded?