LBJ Library releases telephone conversation recordings

Sep 25, 2007

Listen as President Lyndon Johnson talks about using the "Hot Line" for the first time during the Six Day War, discusses the historic appointment of Thurgood Marshall to the U.S. Supreme Court, talks about working with a post-election Congress, and deals with questions about the Vietnam War.

(Austin) - At 9:00 a.m., on Tuesday, October 9, 2007, the LBJ Library will release recordings and transcripts of President Johnson's telephone conversations for 1967.

For unknown reasons, President Johnson recorded fewer conversations in 1967, but those that were recorded are especially interesting and historically significant. In addition, while nine conversations were not recorded by machine, he apparently directed staff members to take notes of those conversations, and those transcripts are included in this release.

In January 1967, President Johnson faced a new Congress and one with fewer Democrats as a result of the November 1966 election. While the Democrats still retained control of both houses, criticism of the President's policies was more pronounced. Many of the conversations concern President Johnson's dealings with this new Congress on federal spending and a possible tax increase, Senate ratification of a new Consular Convention with the Soviet Union, and questioning of the progress of the Vietnam War by both hawks and doves, especially Senators William Fulbright and Robert Kennedy.

President Johnson also discusses with Acting Attorney General Ramsey Clark the on-going trial of his one-time associate, Bobby Baker, and the historic appointment of Thurgood Marshall to the United States Supreme Court. A few conversations also deal with rioting in Detroit, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey, and with antiwar protests at the Pentagon.

The outbreak of the Six Day War in the Middle East is a major topic of the conversations in June 1967. For the first time, the "Hot Line" between the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union is put into use during a crisis. Later that month, the conversations turn to the summit meeting between President Johnson and Soviet Chairman Alexsei Kosygin at Glassboro, New Jersey. The conversation recorded between President Johnson and President Dwight Eisenhower about these events is particularly worthy of note.

While processing these recordings, the staff of the Johnson Library also identified one recording that apparently had been misfiled by the White House staff. It is an almost inaudible recording of a meeting between President Johnson and Senator Barry Goldwater in the Oval Office in July 1964, in which the two men discuss the recently passed Civil Rights Act and the upcoming 1964 presidential election. This recording will also be made available on October 9.

There are approximately 30 hours of recorded conversations from 1967: 10 hours for January 1967, 7 hours for February, 5 hours for March, 1 hours for April, 2 hours for June, 1 hour for July, 2 hours for December, and less than 1 hour each for the months of May, August, September, October, and November. Detailed information about individual conversations and a list of "Highlights" will be available in the Library's Reading Room and on the Library's web site on October 9.

Researchers may either listen to the recordings in the Reading Room beginning on October 9 or purchase copies of individual compact discs at a cost of $8.00 per disc, plus shipping and handling. The cost of the set of 33 discs, including the one disc for July 1964, is $264.00 plus shipping, handling, and Texas sales tax where applicable. We will also provide a set of copies of those transcripts of conversations that were not recorded free of charge to anyone who orders the complete set of discs.

Orders for complete sets must be placed with the Reading Room Archivist, 512-721-0212, by Friday, September 28. Once the limited number of available sets has been sold, orders will be filled once a week as staff time permits. Orders for individual discs will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis after October 9.

Copies of transcripts of those conversations that were transcribed by the President's staff may also be purchased at a cost of $ 0.30 per page by mail or $ 0.20 per page if ordered in the Reading Room. The exact page count of a complete set of transcripts will be available on October 9. Researchers should be cautioned that the transcripts are not always reliable and should not be used without checking them against the actual recordings to assure accuracy.