The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993 Page: 180
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Southwestern Hzstorzcal Quarterly
stacles in that path, and a seemingly bottomless capacity for deceit, de-
ception, and betrayal in moving along it."3 While willing to concede
grudgingly that Johnson's ambition sometimes produced benefits for
his constituents, Caro argues that it was power for power's sake that
motivated the young congressman.
An examination of Lyndon Johnson's relationship between 1937 and
1939 with Tom Miller, the powerful New Deal mayor of Austin who
refused to support his bid in a special election to replace deceased in-
cumbent James P. "Buck" Buchanan, reveals a more complex and mul-
tifaceted figure than that portrayed by Caro. After his victory over a
multitude of better-known candidates, Johnson, rather than moving to
crush and punish Miller for his opposition, worked tirelessly to coop-
erate with and represent the irascible mayor and Austinites in Washing-
ton, D.C. Over the next two and one-half years he and Miller recon-
ciled and forged an alliance that would last decades despite numerous
obstacles and crises.
The young congressman, like any politician, was unquestionably in-
terested in solidifying and furthering his political position. Miller's at-
titude and actions would be important in determining how long John-
son might serve in Congress. Equally important, however, Johnson
went to remarkable lengths to work effectively with Miller because it
was necessary to serve the needs of the citizens he would represent in
Congress. So like the fiery mayor temperamentally, Johnson exercised
patience and restraint in his dealings with Miller and quickly used his
congressional position to transform life in Texas's Tenth Congressional
District. At one level, the Johnson-Miller relationship is an example of
the reconciliation process so crucial to all elected officials. At a deeper
level, it is the story of Johnson's ambition but ambition coupled with a
determination to work within the existing political system to use the
power of government to improve constituents' lives and develop the
resources of Central Texas.
While Lyndon Johnson would eventually wield more power than
Tom Miller could have ever imagined, the mayor was the more pow-
erful figure in early 1937. A life-long resident of the capital city where
he was born in 1893, he attended its public schools and briefly studied
at the University of Texas. Miller soon dropped out and joined his fa-
ther's produce and cotton business. After his father's death in 1916, he,
along with brother James and associate Freeman Taylor, parlayed $750
in capital borrowed from businessman E. H. Perry into a thriving and
constantly expanding business. Functioning initially as a cotton broker,
Miller quickly diversified. By the early 1930s when he turned to mu-
nicipal politics, the business sold leather hides to several large shoe
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993, periodical, 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/m1/224/: accessed June 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.