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President Franklin D. Roosevelt meets a young Lyndon B. Johnson, 1937

President Franklin D. Roosevelt shaking hands with a young Lyndon Johnson in 1937.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt shakes hands with a young Lyndon B. Johnson in Galveston, Texas, on May 12, 1937. Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Gov. James Allred of Texas is documented here bookmarked by two hugely influential figures. Later coined as the ‘Galveston Handshake’, this picture displays the veteran President Franklin. D. Roosevelt (FDR) shaking the hand of a young, upcoming figure within American politics, Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ).

FDR, would combine a fishing trip to Mexico with an important rendezvous in Texas for some political championing. Fresh off the presidential yacht, Potomac, a tanned and smiley FDR greets the newly appointed Texan Congressman, Johnson. This would mark the start of a budding political relationship and ultimately pave the way for LBJ’s own successful rise to presidentiality. Gov. James Allred was a famous ‘Texan New Dealer’ and strong advocate of FDRs domestic policy of massive social change – known as the New Deal. It was Allred who would ultimately arrange the meeting between the cunning and youthful LBJ and the struggling Roosevelt. This meeting would provide an impromptu photo opportunity to provide a much needed boost to the democrats. Basically, emphasising how FDR would now promote his Texan champion, and in response, FDR would publicly endorse LBJ on his path up the political ladder.

During a time of increasing pressure on the democrats to continue success with the New Deal, FDR was rapidly losing political grip within the democratic framework. His original, strong New Deal was facing criticism in his second term, failing to provide relief in an American society which was becoming ever more fearful of the international disaster brewing in Europe. After a landslide across America during the 1966 election, Texas was a particular Democrat, or rather, FDR was, powerhousing with his campaign earning 87% of the Texan vote (whaaat? Yeah believe it or not Texas used to be a Democrat powerhouse). This meant Gov. Allred was in prime position to symbiotically back FDR, and ultimately earn himself a place in the district court in Texas. Indeed, following a similar notion the ambitious ex-teacher, LBJ, saw an opportunity to kick start his political career and succeed the long-standing Texan Congressman Buchanan. Through a staunch supporting of FDR’s New Deal, changing Court Reform and a keen interest in Naval operations, LBJ managed to earn his way into the ‘goodbooks’ of FDR.

This obvious aiding by LBJ and Gov. Allred of the failing New Deal proposals by FDR led to a strong relationship between the men. Infact, it would appear, FDRs approval of Johnson so early on would pave the way for him to eventually become the President later on in his political career. In 1944, Johnson managed to wriggle his way out of jail sentence for criminal tax fraud due to the help of his old buddy FDR – almost as shady as cropping out Gov. Allred from this picture for his senatorial campaign in 1941. Lyndon B. Johnson would later become a strong advocate of social justice, equality and anti-racism, just like his original ambassador Franklin D. Roosevelt.


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