DescriptionLyndon B. Johnson Superb Early Autograph Letter Signed: The 20-year-old schoolteacher asks his college librarian for material he had promised to lend him relating to the subject of high school debating.
Signed: "Lyndon B. Johnson/Cotulla, Texas", one page, 7.25" x 10.5". On his personal Southwest Texas S.T.C. stationery, written from Cotulla, Texas, January 3, 1928 [sic, 1929]. To Ernest B. Jackson, San Marcos, Texas. In full: "Dear Mr. Jackson: You told me last summer that you would lend me some material on the H.S. debating subject. Should you be able to send me anything that you have I will be glad to pay any expenses you might incur. Thanking you in advance, I am, Your friend."
Ernest B. Jackson (1896-1965) was the librarian at Southwest Texas State College from 1925-1965. Two photographs of college president James McCrocklin and E.B. Jackson's widow at the dedication of Jackson's portrait at the library are included.
Lyndon B. Johnson graduated from Johnson City High School in 1924 and, at 16, headed out to California with friends where he performed odd jobs. Returning home, in 1927 he enrolled in Southwest Texas State Teachers College at San Marcos, Texas (now, Texas State University-San Marcos). He dropped out of college to teach elementary school in Cotulla, Texas, for the 1928-1929 academic year. In 1965, in his famous "We Shall Overcome" address to a Joint Session of Congress delivered a week after Selma to Montgomery marchers were beaten by state and local law officers as they approached Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge, President Johnson recalled his first-hand experience with prejudice. In part, "My first job after college was as a teacher in Cotulla, Texas, in a small Mexican-American school. Few of them could speak English, and I couldn't speak much Spanish. My students were poor and they often came to class without breakfast, hungry. They knew even in their youth the pain of prejudice. They never seemed to know why people disliked them. But they knew it was so, because I saw it in their eyes. I often walked home late in the afternoon, after the classes were finished, wishing there was more that I could do. But all I knew was to teach them the little that I knew, hoping that it might help them against the hardships that lay ahead. Somehow you never forget what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child. I never thought then, in 1928, that I would be standing here in 1965. It never even occurred to me in my fondest dreams that I might have the chance to help the sons and daughters of those students, and to help people like them all over this country. But now I do have that chance."
Returning to Welhausen Elementary School in Cotulla in 1966, President Johnson recalled that "thirty-eight years ago I came to Cotulla. I was still a student myself. I was working my way through the San Marcos Teachers College...I worked as a teacher for the fifth, sixth, and seventh grades. I worked as principal of five teachers. I worked as a playground supervisor. I coached the boys' baseball team. I was a debate coach." In this letter, Johnson asks the librarian at Southwest Texas State College for the "material on the H.S. debating subject" that he had promised to lend him. In 1930, Johnson graduated from Southwest Texas State Teachers College at San Marcos and taught public speaking at Sam Houston High School in Houston. In the spring of 1931, his debate team won the district championship. As Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate 25 years later, LBJ mastered the art of debate.
This letter is in extra fine condition except for two pin holes in the blank upper left corner. Autograph pioneer Charles Hamilton once said that an ALS of Lyndon B. Johnson is the rarest of all U.S. Presidents. This full page letter handwritten by 20-year-old schoolteacher Lyndon B. Johnson would be a magnificent addition to a presidential collection, envied by all who see it. From the Gary Grossman Collection.
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