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The LBJ Tapes, Part II

Less than six months after taking the oath of office, President Lyndon B. Johnson was on the brink of deciding to escalate the U.S.'s involvement in Vietnam.

On June 9, 1964, Attorney General Robert Kennedy called Johnson to say that he was worried about asking Congress for a resolution authorizing the president to take offensive military action in Vietnam.

Telephone Call: Johnson and Kennedy
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Johnson Talking Bobby Thinking On The Phone

Two days after the call, Kennedy wrote Johnson, offering to serve as Ambassador to Vietnam, but the president declined, saying he feared too much for Kennedy's safety.

The Johnson-Kennedy phone call also concerned one of LBJ's greatest successes, the Civil Rights Act. The effort began when John F. Kennedy was president, but by June 1964, Johnson was close to gathering enough votes to end the two-month-long filibuster in the Senate.

Telephone Call: Johnson and Kennedy
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Robert Kennedy Johnson Listening

Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law three weeks later.

Four years later, with the nation divided over Vietnam, Johnson chose not to seek re-election and Robert Kennedy ran for president, seeking an end to the war.

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