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AUSTIN, Texas – Days after the congressional aide met the University of Texas history and journalism graduate in Austin, he boldly proposed marriage.

Claudia Alta Taylor, 21, the rancher’s daughter known to her friends as “Bird,” was intrigued but thought Lyndon B. Johnson’s proposal was much too impulsive. Her clearly smitten suitor, however, was persistent.

“It is an important decision,” he wrote to her in one of the nearly 90 love letters the pair exchanged during their 10-week courtship in 1934. “It isn’t being made in one night ... but your lack of decision hasn’t tempered either my affection, devotion or ability to know what I want.”

She replied that his proposal and repeated insistence “sort of put me on the spot, didn’t it, dear? All I can say, in absolutely honesty, is – I love you, I don’t know how everlastingly I love you – so I can’t answer you yet.”

The correspondence between the 26-year-old future president and the woman the world would come to know as Lady Bird are available for public review for the first time starting today – Valentine’s Day – at the LBJ Presidential Library at the University of Texas at Austin. The letters – most multiple pages – reflect a time when the handwritten note was the chief form of communication.

In one letter, Taylor defends her indecision on marriage, saying “everybody is so constantly urging” her to wait, that two months isn’t long enough to know him. “My head aches,” she writes.

“I would not really call these letters sentimental. He wants a commitment from her. ... His letters express that,” said Claudia Anderson, the library’s chief archivist. “They are fascinating.”

She said the letters reflect characteristics that would come to be synonymous with the couple: “His impatience, his passion for helping people; her interest in conservation and nature.”

He talks about getting jobs for people, his own job in Washington and complains how she doesn’t write every day. Hers progress from, “I’m not so sure about this,” to, “I adore you.”

Ten weeks after they met, Johnson showed up in November 1934 at Lady Bird’s widowed father’s home in Karnack in northeast Texas, to press for an answer. Even as they made the 350-mile drive to San Antonio, she wasn’t sure she would “commit matrimony,” as Mrs. Johnson described it later.

But the couple married Nov. 17, 1934, four days after the last letter in the collection, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio.

Johnson dispatched a friend, Dan Quill, who was postmaster in the Alamo city, to get a ring for the ceremony. It came from a Sears store and cost $2.50.

After leaving the White House in 1969, he and Lady Bird retired to their ranch and Austin. Lyndon Johnson died in 1973 and Mrs. Johnson died in 2007 at age 94.