LBJ Love Letters: He Proposed on First Date

Letters between Lyndon Baines Johnson, Lady Bird released

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 14, 2013 12:34 PM CST

(Newser) – In a Valentine's Day treat, the LBJ Presidential Library released today the full set of letters exchanged by a 26-year-old Lyndon Baines Johnson and a 21-year-old Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor when they were courting in 1934. LBJ was quite taken with Lady Bird—so much so that he proposed marriage on their very first date, which took place just a day after they first met, Reuters reports. She was unsure and wanted them to get to know each other better, at one point writing, "All I can say, in absolute honesty, is—I love you, I don't know how everlastingly I love you,—so I can't answer you yet."

There are nearly 90 letters from the 10-week courtship, all of which are now posted online and will also be available for review at the library in Austin, Texas, the AP reports. The letters include salutations like "Dearly Beloved," sentiments like "I adore you," and signatures like "Devotedly, Bird." But don't expect a whole lot of romance, says the library's supervisory archivist: "I would not really call these letters sentimental. He wants a commitment from her. ... His letters express that." Of course, there is a bit of "wooing," she adds, in that "he's trying to impress her and he makes various arguments why they should get married."

The signature of Lyndon Johnson, then 26, is seen on a love letter sent to Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor, then 21, at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas, Feb. 13, 2013.
The signature of Lyndon Johnson, then 26, is seen on a love letter sent to Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor, then 21, at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas, Feb. 13, 2013.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
A love letter sent by Lyndon Johnson, then a 26-year-old congressional aide, to Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor, then 21, is seen at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas.
A love letter sent by Lyndon Johnson, then a 26-year-old congressional aide, to Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor, then 21, is seen at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
A love letter sent to Lyndon Johnson, then a 26-year-old congressional aide, by  Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor, then 21, is seen at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas.
A love letter sent to Lyndon Johnson, then a 26-year-old congressional aide, by Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor, then 21, is seen at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Archivist Claudia Anderson tpoints to the signature on a love letter from Lyndon Johnson, then a 26-year-old congressional aide, to Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor, then 21, at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas.
Archivist Claudia Anderson tpoints to the signature on a love letter from Lyndon Johnson, then a 26-year-old congressional aide, to Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor, then 21, at the LBJ Presidential Library...   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Archivist Claudia Anderson handles some of the love letters exchanged between Lyndon Johnson, then a 26-year-old congressional aide, and Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor, then 21, at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas.
Archivist Claudia Anderson handles some of the love letters exchanged between Lyndon Johnson, then a 26-year-old congressional aide, and Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor, then 21, at the LBJ Presidential...   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Archivist Claudia Anderson talks about the love letters exchanged between Lyndon Johnson, then a 26-year-old congressional aide, and Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor, then 21.
Archivist Claudia Anderson talks about the love letters exchanged between Lyndon Johnson, then a 26-year-old congressional aide, and Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor, then 21.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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