On November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m. (CST) President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. A few short hours later, while the world stood still, a blood-spattered Jacqueline Kennedy stood beside Lyndon Baines Johnson inside of Air Force 1 as he took the oath of office as the 36th president of the United States.
History had been changed and a restless man, a man of unknown qualities to most of the people of the nation, had been thrust into the role of chief executive. To West Texas historian and rancher J. Evetts Haley, however, LBJ’s character and personality traits were all too clear. Haley watched Johnson’s rise from the oak-covered hills of Central Texas to become state director of the National Youth Administration and eventually win election to the US House of Representatives. Haley knew of the stolen election that put Johnson in the US Senate in 1948, the political power he wielded ruthlessly, his association with Texas wheeler-dealer Billie Sol Estes and Lyndon’s unrestrained lust for the presidency.
No one had the courage to challenge Johnson’s illegitimate presidency. No one, that is, except Evetts Haley. Widely known for his biographies of early-day Texas ranchers and lawmen that read “like poetry,” Haley realized he must expose Johnson’s betrayal to the nation. He did so in 1964, as LBJ was seeking election to the Oval Office the first time.
An historian of note, Haley has authored more than 20 books and hundreds of essays. He’s been called a “salty Texas Rebel” and “America’s finest historical writer”.