But when Lyndon went off to college in 1927, Johnson's father was in debt. After a year Lyndon had to drop out and teach in order to earn money to finish. He taught Mexican-American children in Cotulla, Texas, that year, and saw real povertyworse than anything he knew. Back at college, he got a job carrying trash and sweeping floors. A friend remembered how he was that year: "He made speeches to the walls he wiped down, he told tales of the ancients to the doormats he was shaking the dust out of."
Some people are born to be preachers and some to be teachers and some to be ballplayers. Lyndon Johnson was born to be a politician. He was twenty-nine when he was first elected to Congress, and he set out like a sprinter in a running race. He got the government to help finance slum-clearance projects and low-cost housing in Austin, the state capital. And he insisted that Mexican-Americans and blacks receive their fair share of the new houses. Money he got for the region helped farmers go from horse-and-plow farming to twentieth-century machinery. He brought electricity to the Hill Country. Twelve years after entering Congress, Lyndon Johnson was elected to the Senate. Four years after that, he was elected leader of the Democratic party in the Senate. As Kennedy's vice president, he worked hard trying to get the President's programs passed. And when he inherited the presidency, after Kennedy's death, he added his own visionextending Kennedy's New Frontier and FDR's New Deal. He called it the Great Society. It centered on a massive fight against poverty. In March 1964 he unveiled his plan, saying: "This administration, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America. It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won."