Valentine’s Day History Lesson: Lyndon B. Johnson’s Love Letters To Lady Bird

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By Charles Poladian | February 14, 2013 10:13 AM EST

The modern world may have forgotten the old rituals of courtship thanks to tools like dating sites, social media, text messages, Skype and any other device romantic hopefuls may use. But just in time for Valentine’s Day, the courtship letters between Lyndon B. Johnson, long before he was president, and his wife Lady Bird have been released.

The letters offer an interesting glimpse at the courtship of a future president and the woman he wanted to date, Claudia Alta Taylor Johnson, better known as Lady Bird, when she was just 22 and LBJ was 26. Lady Bird had just graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, earning two degrees in the process, while LBJ was a congressional aide for Rep. Richard M. Kleberg.

These were carefully handwritten letters from LBJ to his love interest, not a quickly dashed out email or a message on a dating site. It was love at first sight for LBJ as he proposed to Lady Bird on their first date. She was more cautious, and the two traded 90 letters over the course of two-and-a-half months before she finally agreed to marry him.

Lady Bird called LBJ “electric,” and the two eventually married on Nov. 17, 1934. The Lyndon B. Johnson Library at UT has been doling out some excerpts from the letters on Twitter and will release the entire collection on Valentine’s Day. Some of the choice lines include Lady Bird saying, “I do miss you so. But its not a completely unpleasant feeling ‘cause I can look forward to when I see you again!” and LBJ saying in an earlier letter “I'm more positive with each day and that is what makes it so hard. Here is a big hug & kiss.”

The Associated Press reveals several other romantic details, including Lady Bird’s wonderful response to his marriage proposal: “Sort of put me on the spot, didn't it, dear? All I can say, in absolutely honesty, is — I love you, I don't know how everlastingly I love you — so I can't answer you yet.” The letters also give a glimpse at the private side of LBJ.  Claudia Anderson, LBJ Library archivist, described him as “certainly romantic in these letters in that he is wooing her, he's trying to impress her and he makes various arguments why they should get married.”

The letters are as much courtship as it as LBJ’s attempts to convince Lady Bird to marry him. The letters will be a wonderful read with the chocolates you receive on Valentine’s Day.

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