Valentine’s Day offers a public celebration of love. So it seems only fitting that on Feb. 13 the LBJ Presidential Library announced it would release the private courtship letters of two very public figures, Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird, just in time for the romantic holiday.
To mark the release of Lyndon and Lady Bird’s love letters, the LBJ Presidential Library has created a web page that makes several items open to the public for the first time. Featured items include all correspondence between Lyndon and Lady Bird from September to mid-November 1934 and some never-before-seen photographs of Lyndon and Lady Bird from the same time period.
In its press announcement, the LBJ Presidential Library offers a brief history of the couple’s courtship, one that was nearly as brief. The library notes Johnson, then a Congressional Aide in Washington, D.C., and Lady Bird, who was living in her hometown of Karnack, Texas, met in Austin in early September 1934.
It was a whirlwind courtship by any standards, with a grand sweeping gesture that set the tone of their relationship right from the beginning. Lyndon proposed on the couple’s first day. Lady Bird found Johnson “electric” and, though cautious, she was interested.
The two exchanged approximately 90 letters and photographs over the next 2 1/2 months.
Then on Nov. 17, 1934, in what the wedding site The Knot calls an “epic elopement,” Lyndon and Lady Bird drove to San Antonio. The purpose, as Lady Bird later described the event, was to “commit matrimony.” According to Lady Bird, she still had not made up her mind to marry him as they drove to San Antonio.
Once there, however, the two went ahead with the wedding even though LBJ didn’t have a wedding band. Johnson asked his best man Dan Quill, friend and Postmaster of San Antonio, to purchase one. Quill bought a wedding band at the nearby Sears, Roebuck & Co. for $2.50.
After their wedding at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio, the Johnsons honeymooned in Xochimilco, Mexico. The two were married for 39 years.
LBJ died in 1973, and Lady Bird in 2007.
The courtship letters between Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird will be posted on the LBJ Presidential Library website at 9 a.m. CST on Feb. 14.