Harry Middleton, a past director of the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas, and White House aide to Johnson, told the Austin American-Statesman that on Jan. 13, 1973, LBJ told him he wanted a personal meeting with his successor, Richard Nixon, to seek declassification of the secret Vietnam War history, much of which had been leaked to the press by Daniel Ellsberg in 1971.
"I'm going to do that as soon as President Nixon is inaugurated," Middleton said Johnson told him. "I'm going to go to Washington and take it up with him."
"One week later, President Nixon was inaugurated for the second time," Middleton said. "Two days after that, President Johnson was dead."
After Johnson's death on Jan. 22, 1973, his former staff continued to press the Nixon White House.
"He felt, to get the whole story out, that everybody should have access to the papers in the LBJ Library," Middleton said.
On Monday, 40 years to the day after The New York Times began publishing the papers, researchers can examine the entire 7,000 pages at the Johnson, Kennedy and Nixon presidential libraries and the National Archives' College Park, Md., location.