The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

the aspirations of women. Nonetheless, Hartmann concludes that Johnson's
"support for or acquiescence in policy advances for women in the areas of em-
ployment discrimination, military service, jury selection, and birth control estab-
lished a foundation for subsequent reform" (p. 75)-
Johnson's grounding in Texas politics, Lewis L. Gould explains in this anthol-
ogy's outstanding essay, also shaped LBJ's ineffective and ultimately destructive
stewardship of the national Democratic party. Noting Johnson's early career in a
state without an active two-party system and his conception of the president as a
unifying figure above party, Gould reconsiders LBJ's reputation for political ge-
nius and suggests that Johnson's maladroitness in party affairs was responsible
for the crushing defeat of Democratic liberals in the 1966 midterm elections, for
Hubert Humphrey's loss in 1968, and for the subsequent decline of the Democ-
ratic party in national elections.
The Johnson Years, Vol. 3 is a valuable addition to the scholarship on LBJ and
his America.
Boston University BRUCEJ. SCHULMAN
Dollars and Dreams: The National Youth Administratzon an Texas. By Carol A. Weisen-
berger. (New York: Peter Lang, 1994. Pp. xiv+198. Illustrations, bibliogra-
phy, index. ISBN 0-82042-280-0. $46.95.)
Carol A. Weisenberger states her thesis clearly on page four of Dollars and
Dreams: "... the Texas NYA was successfully promoting social justice by reaching
youths of underprivileged families with long-term benefits of training and educa-
tion as well as offering relief dollars. The impetus for the spirit of reform came
not from Lyndon Johnson, but from Aubrey Williams and Eleanor Roosevelt."
Weisenberger writes that Johnson showed little initiative in directing the Texas
NYA, but rather "won the admiration of the Washington office by faithfully and
tirelessly adhering to the guidelines which it handed down" (pp. 4-5).
As sole evidence that Johnson slavishly followed Williams's and Roosevelt's di-
rectives, Weisenberger cites an oral history interview with Sherman Birdwell, an
old friend of LBJ's and a Texas NYA staffer. Birdwell recalled that on many a
night in the early days of the NYA, Johnson would call a staff meeting at his
home to "read the act which created the National Youth Administration as well
as the rules and regulations ... from Washington.... Mr. Johnson wanted to go
over them, because he wanted things to be absolutely correct" (p. 62).
There are several problems with Weisenberger's thesis besides scanty substan-
tiating evidence. The regulations from Washington were purposefully vague,
and that is why Johnson wanted to make them as clear as possible to his senior
staff. Eleanor Roosevelt and the national advisers understood that conditions dif-
fered significantly from one state to another; therefore they chose to administer
a decentralized program and, within certain broad parameters, leave decisions
up to the states.
And though Aubrey Williams was much loved by his associates for his empa-
thy, integrity, and charisma, he was a terrible administrator, and everyone knew

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/. Accessed January 26, 2015.