Harry McPherson

L-R: Harry McPherson, President Lyndon B. Johnson

The LBJ Library and Johnson Family Remember Harry McPherson (1929-2012)

Mar 22, 2012

Harry C. McPherson, Jr. served as special assistant and special counsel to President Lyndon Johnson and was chief speechwriter from 1966 to 1969. A native of Tyler, Texas, McPherson is a 1956 graduate of The University of Texas Law School. Following the Johnson presidency, McPherson worked as a lawyer and lobbyist in Washington, D.C. His 1972 memoir, A Political Education, recalls his experiences in government and is a valuable insight into the Johnson presidency.

Harry McPherson played a pivotal role in one of the most significant moments in political history, the speech President Lyndon Johnson gave on March 31, 1968, announcing he would not run for re-election. McPherson wrote the first part of that speech which announced a halt in the bombing in North Vietnam, a move the President hoped would lead to peace talks. McPherson was an insider at the White House, one of the President’s most trusted advisors, and among the few who knew the President was seriously considering announcing he would not run for re-election.

Quote from Luci Baines Johnson

“Harry McPherson was a ‘can do’ man with sound judgment and treasured loyalty who could be counted on by generations of Johnsons. Harry was elegant in his appearance and as a wordsmith, and we will deeply miss his talent and his friendship.” - Luci Baines Johnson

“Harry McPherson was a ‘can do’ man with sound judgment and treasured loyalty who could be counted on by generations of Johnsons. Harry was elegant in his appearance and as a wordsmith, and we will deeply miss his talent and his friendship.” - Luci Baines Johnson

Harry McPherson participated in a program at the LBJ Library on April 3, 2006. He joined Scott Busby, son of Horace Busby who was one of LBJ's speechwriters, and Harry Middleton, LBJ Library Director, to talk about the events around March 31, 1968.

Harry McPherson:
1956-1959: Assistant General Counsel, Senate Democratic Policy Committee
1959-1961: Associate Counsel
1961-1963: General Counsel
1963-1964: Deputy Undersecretary of the Army for International Affairs
1964-1965: Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs
1965-1966: Special Assistant and Counsel to the President
1966-1969: Special Counsel to the President

Oral History

Read an Oral History of McPherson’s recollection of working with President Johnson. read more

Media

Harry C. McPherson Jr., a Texas-born lawyer who as a principal adviser, speechwriter and confidant to President Lyndon B. Johnson influenced a range of policies, from civil rights to the curtailing of bombing in Vietnam, died Feb. 16 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. He was 82. read more