Lyndon B. Johnson: LBJ’s stolen election tapes


The story was a blockbuster: A former Texas voting official who has been on the record details nearly three decades earlier how votes had been falsified to give the then-congressman a Lyndon B. Johnson won, placing the future president in the United States Senate.

Audio recordings from Associated Press correspondent James W. Mangan’s interviews for the 1977 story were posted this week on the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum archive website, Discover LBJ. After Mangan died in 2015 at the age of 87, his family found the labeled cassettes at their home in San Antonio and donated them last summer to the library on the University of Texas campus in Austin.

Luis Salas, a former South Texas election judge, told Mangan of the story: “Johnson didn’t win that election; it was stolen for him. And I know exactly how it was done. any.”

The story has hit front pages across the country, pulling back the razor-thin veil of victory that has raised suspicions since rural election officials in Jim Wells County announced the discovery. out uncounted ballots in a ballot box called Box 13 in the United States. days after the 1948 Democratic Senate primaries. And now, at a time when election fraud is rare, former US president Donald Trump and his allies are amplifying With baseless accusations of electoral fraud for his 2020 defeat, tapes and stories show what convincing evidence of fraud actually looks like.

Mangan’s son, Peter, said listening to the tapes was like seeing “a small window into history.”

He said, on a tape, it appeared his father was in his car, recounting what he had just been told.

Peter Mangan said: “You could hear the cars go by and he seemed a bit excited, because I think he finally got the goods.

Mark Lawrence, the library’s director, said the recordings “are deeply connected to one of the great mysteries and controversies that have dogged LBJ for decades.” In a 1984 oral history that Salas gave to the library, he said one of the reasons he finally decided to speak was because he was seriously ill.

Mangan said in an AP story in 2008 that when he persuaded Salas to keep recording, he told him, “If you die, history will never know what happened.”

Much is now known about Box 13, Lawrence said, thanks to both Manga’s 1977 story and subsequent research by LBJ biographer Robert Caro, who “fundamentally reaffirmed” the sentence. Manga story and build upon it.

“The kinds of anomalies that we can see going on in the 1948 Texas Senate race are, I think to be fair, fairly common in American history and all parts of the country at this level. to one degree or another but certainly in the South and along the Mexican border, most recently in the 1940s,” Lawrence said.

Salas told Mangan that the powerful South Texas political magnate, George B. Parr – who took control by favor and coercion – ordered about 200 more votes to be in Box 13. Then Salas. said he saw the fraudulent votes added in alphabetical order, with names coming from people who didn’t vote in the election.

The new votes gave Johnson a preliminary victory over then-Governor Coke Stevenson by 87 votes. Johnson – later nicknamed “Landslide Lyndon” – went on to easily defeat Republicans in the general election, long before Republicans became the dominant force in Texas politics.

Mr Johnson, elected to the US House of Representatives in 1937, ran for the US Senate in 1941 and lost to then governor Wilbert Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel in an election accepted by historians widely recognized as corrupt, Lawrence said.

“The standard story is told, and I think there’s a lot of horror in it, is that when LBJ’s second chance came in 1948, he was determined not to let the election get stolen from him,” Lawrence said. my hand again,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said his 1948 Senate victory “boosted” Johnson’s national attention. Johnson became vice president then John F. Kennedy and was sworn in as president on November 22, 1963, after Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Johnson was elected president in 1964. He decided not to run for re-election in 1968 and died of a heart attack in 1973 at the age of 64.

Lawrence said that while the Box 13 incident shows “the LBJ is willing to do what he has to do to maintain political power,” he is also someone who “when given the opportunity, he is inclined to act more principled.” Lawrence credits Johnson’s efforts to “ensure that everyone can vote in fair and equal elections.”

In 1965, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, which banned practices designed to disenfranchise Black voters by banning literature tests and poll taxes. The act also gave the federal government the authority to receive voter registration in counties with persistent forms of racial segregation, although that was no longer the case after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the requirement. this bridge in 2013.

James Mangan resigned from AP on January 1, 1989, after 36 years with the company that took him to cities across the United States and Europe. With each move, Peter Mangan said, his father held on to the tapes of Box 13.

“He always kept these things,” he said, “so I knew they must be very important to him.”

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