A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 28, 2012
“A politician ought to be born a foundling and remain a bachelor”

Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor Johnson (1912-2007) was the first lady of Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973), the 36th President of the United States (1963–1969). She so disliked the political role of first lady that she wrote in a diary on September 12, 1967:

“I remember saying once myself, when we first came to Washington, that a politician ought to be born a foundling and remain a bachelor.”

The Washington (DC) Post of November 12, 1973, describing Lady Bird Johnson’s first television appearance since her husband’s death, stated:

“She described the ideal politician as a person ‘who ought to he born a foundling and remain a bachelor.’”

“Orphan” has often replaced “foundling” in later printed versions of the quote, such as “Every politician should have been born an orphan and remain a bachelor.”

[This entry was prepared with significant contributions from the Quote Investigator.]


Wikipedia: Lady Bird Johnson
Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor Johnson (December 22, 1912 – July 11, 2007) was First Lady of the United States (1963–69) during the presidency of her husband Lyndon B. Johnson.

Notably well educated for her time, she proved a capable manager and a shrewd investor. After marrying LBJ in 1934, when he was a political hopeful in Austin, Texas, she used a modest inheritance to bankroll his congressional campaign, and then ran his office while he was serving in the Navy. Next, she bought a radio station and then a TV station, which would soon make them millionaires. As First Lady, she broke new ground by interacting directly with Congress, employing her own press secretary, and making a solo electioneering tour.

Google Books
A White House Diary
By Lady Bird Johnson
New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston
1970
Pg. 567 (Diary entry dated September 12, 1967):
In part, this had begun in my mind because I remembered what Lynda and Luci used to say when they were little. We would start out for dinner and they didn’t want us to go. “Why are you always going out, Mama?” And then once Lynda said, forlornly, “Mama, Washington is sure meant for the Congressmen and their wives, but it is not meant for their children.”
Pg. 568:
I remember saying once myself, when we first came to Washington, that a politician ought to be born a foundling and remain a bachelor.

12 November 1973, Washington (DC) Post, “Lady Bird’s Grief Over Watergate,” pg. B6:
Mrs. Johnson made her comments during her first appearance on television since her husband’s death last January. She spoke to Group W News of the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company.
(...)
She described the ideal politician as a person “who ought to he born a foundling and remain a bachelor.”

30 March 1974, Washington (DC) Post, “A Visit With Lady Bird Johnson” by Dorothy McCardle, pg. D1:
And Mrs. Johnson gives her definition of what a politician should be—“A politician ought to be born a foundling or remain a bachelor.”

Google Books
Running with God:
The New Christian Athletes

By James C. Hefley
New York, NY: Avon Books
1975
Pg. 92:
It’s so bad in politics that Lady Bird Johnson once observed: “A politician ought to be born a foundling and remain a bachelor.”

11 November 1975, Wall Street Journal, “The Unenviable Lot of the Washington Wife “by Karen Elliott House:
“A politician ought to be born a foundling and remain a bachelor,” Lady Bird Johnson says.

Google Books
Newsweek
Volume 86
1975
Pg. 172:
After five years in the White House and half a lifetime in Washington, Lady Bird Johnson once observed a bit wearily that politicians should be bom orphans — and remain bachelors.

13 August 1979, Boston (MA) Globe, “A vote for Mrs. President” by Otile McManus, pg. 11:
Year after year, the President’s wife ends up on that list of America’s Ten Most Admired Women. Even former Presidents’ wives appear with surprising regularity. Doubtless there is something to be admired about any woman fool enough to be involved with a politician—wasn’t it Lady Bird Johnson who remarked that a politician should be born an orphan and remain a bachelor?

Google Books
The Superstar Show of Government
By Roger-Gérard Schwartzenberg
Woodbury, NY: Barron’s
1980
Pg. 97:
Lady Bird Johnson has remarked that a politician should be born an orphan and stay a bachelor.

Google News Archive
27 January 1981, The Anson Record and Messenger and Intelligencer (Wadesboro, NC) , “First Ladies Have Problems” by Bennett Edwards, pg. 4, col. 3:
Even the redoubtable Lady Bird Johnson was so exasperated she said, “A politician should be born an orphan and remain a bachelor.”

Google Books
Untamed Tongues:
Wild Words from Wild Women

By Autumn Stephens
Berkeley, CA : Conari Press
1993
Pg. 34:
Every politician should have been born an orphan and remain a bachelor.
-- Lady Bird Johnson, wife of the thirty-sixth president of the United States of America

Google Books
U.S. History as Women’s History:
New Feminist Essays

Edited by Linda K. Kerber, Alice Kessler-Harris and Kathryn Kish Sklar
Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press
1995
Pg. 407:
Johnson’s actual words were: “Every politician should have been born an orphan and remain a bachelor.”

Google Books
1001 Greatest Things Ever Said About Texas
Edited by Donna Ingham
Guilford, CT: Lyons Press
2006
Pg. XI:
The final section is not so much quotations about Texas as it is quotations by famous Texans, but some are just too good to leave out: (...) Lady Bird Johnson’s “Every politician should have been born an orphan and remain a bachelor.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Friday, September 28, 2012 • Permalink