Out of the 44 US Presidents who have led our great nation, three of them have called Texas their home. George W. Bush (the 43rd President), his father, George H.W. Bush (the 41st President), and Lyndon Johnson (the 36th president).
Of course, technically if you count Dwight D. Eisenhower who was born in Denison, Grayson County (1890), there have been four of them. But two years after his birth, the Eisenhower family moved back Abilene, Kansas, and that’s the place “Ike” considered his home town.
In honor of President’s Day, we’d like to point out some fun or little known facts about Texas’ three presidential sons – beginning with the most recent.
George W. Bush was the fourth president to be elected while receiving fewer popular votes nationwide than his opponent. He is also the second president to have been the son of a former president — the first being John Quincy Adams.
While George W. was born in New Haven, CT, he was raised in Midland and Houston, TX. He attended elementary school in Midland until age 7, and when his family moved to Houston, he attended the Kinkaid prep school for two years. He would later attend Yale and Harvard. He is the only U.S. President to have earned an M.B.A.
As Governor of Texas, Bush signed legislation establishing the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio. This state law requires electric retailers to buy a percentage of electricity from renewable sources. This helped Texas establish itself as the leading producer of wind powered electricity in the country.
As President, Bush twice invoked Section 3 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to temporarily transfer his Presidential powers to the Vice President Dick Cheney allowing him to become Acting President. Both times, in 2002 and in 2007, were due to sedation during routine colonoscopy exams, and each procedure lasted only a little over two hours.
George H. W. Bush was born in in 1942, in Milton, MA. He served in the US Navy during the Second World War as a pilot. He married his wife Barbara in 1945. After the war, he attended Yale, graduating in 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics. He moved his family to West Texas and entered the oil business, becoming a millionaire by the age of 40.
George H. W. flew Gruman Avenger torpedo planes in World War II. At age 18 in 1942, he joined the Navy and became the youngest Naval aviator ever. In 1944, at age 22, Lt JG. Bush flew 58 combat missions in the Pacific as a member of VT51 in USS San Jacinto (CVL30). He is the only aviator to become president. He is also the last living former President who is a veteran of World War II.
In turn, on January 8, 1992, Emperor of Japan Akihito and his son the Crown Prince Naruhito beat then President Bush and the US Ambassador at tennis. Bush had been suffering from a stomach illness.
He served two years as Ambassador to the United Nations (1971-1974) during the Nixon Administration and 14 months as Envoy to China during the Ford years. In 1978, he was a part-time professor of Administrative Science at Rice University’s Jones School of Business and said of his experience, “I loved my brief time in the world of academia. Teaching, as I discovered, has its own rewards – and it is, as I put it, a genuine service.”
On January 10, 1999, the Bushes became the longest-married Presidential couple in history. And at 70 years as of January 2015, they still hold the record.
On June 12, 2014, Bush fulfilled a long-standing promise by skydiving on his 90th birthday.
Lyndon Johnson was the only US President who was born, raised, and died in Texas. He was born in 1908 Stonewall, TX, near Johnson City. Strong willed, brash, and mindful of his humble rural-Texas roots, LBJ would become a quintessential Texas political icon.
In 1927, he borrowed $75 and enrolled in Southwest Texas State Teachers College at San Marcos, TX. He worked as a janitor and as an office helper to earn extra money.
Ironically enough, he dropped out of college for a year to serve as principal and teach fifth, sixth, and seventh grades at Welhausen School, a Mexican-American school in the South Texas town of Cotulla.
On June 21, 1940, he was appointed Lieutenant Commander in the U. S. Naval Reserve. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, Johnson became the first member of Congress to volunteer for active duty, reporting on December 9, 1941. President Roosevelt assigned Johnson to a three-man survey team of the Southwest Pacific. Johnson would later report to Roosevelt and the Congress that that US soldiers were badly supplied while facing the better equipped Japanese forces.
On November 8, 1960, Johnson was elected Vice President of the United States. He was also re-elected to his third term in the United States Senate. On January 3, 1961, he took the Oath of Office for his full six-year term as a Senator from Texas and then immediately resigned.
In 1951, he created a 2,700-acre working ranch with 400 head of registered Hereford cattle. During his presidency, Johnson signed into law almost 300 bills dealing with environmental protection and other resource conservation issues. The National Park Service keeps a herd of Hereford cattle descended from Johnson’s registered herd and maintains the ranch property.
The USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG 1002) is a Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer christened on April 16, 2012.
While Texas’ three US presidents might not have always been popular among Americans of a more “Northerly disposition”, former President George W. Bush best summed up the one true Texan trait shared by all three men: “Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called walking.