On December 4, 2008, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library released recordings and transcripts of President Johnson’s telephone conversations for May 1968 through January 1969. With this final release, the archivists at the Library will have reviewed and released to the public approximately 642 hours of recordings of President Johnson’s telephone conversations.
1968 was a watershed year in American history. On March 31, 1968, President Johnson had announced to the nation that he would not seek re-election in order to devote his attention to the Vietnam War.
Events occurring in the months covered by these recordings include the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy in June 1968; Chief Justice Earl Warren’s intention to resign from the Supreme Court and Johnson’s ill-fated nomination of Abe Fortas as his successor; the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968; dissension and rioting at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago; and the presidential campaigns of Hubert Humphrey, Richard Nixon, and George Wallace.
The recordings also include discussions of the negotiations with the North Vietnamese at the Paris peace talks, the fight within the Democratic Party among the candidates for the presidential nomination, and the decision on October 31, 1968–just days before the presidential election–to end all bombing of North Vietnam. Soon after the bombing halt begins, the Johnson administration discovers efforts by associates of Richard Nixon to influence the South Vietnamese government not to join in the Paris peace talks until after the election.
There are approximately 42 hours of recorded conversations from May 1968 through January 1969: 3 hours for May, 4 for June, 2 for July, 5 for August, 4 for September, 11 for October, 9 for November, 3 for December and 1 for January 1969.
In addition, the Library released one conversation from June 1967, which had been dated June 1968 in error. In addition, President Johnson’s staff prepared notes of 16 telephone conversations that were not recorded.