The Nov. 29, 1963, cover of TIME
May 20, 2016 11:30 AM EDT

Just as Lyndon B. Johnson’s sudden ascension to the presidency due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was unexpected, so was the impressive productivity and success of his first year in office.

The former Democratic senator from Texas was an exceedingly adept politician, pushing through major legislation and winning an election during a tumultuous time for the country. A cunning and complicated figure, Johnson’s character still intrigues today — just look at the popularity of Robert A. Caro‘s impressively thorough series of biographies, or the Broadway play based on LBJ’s first year in office, All the Way. An adaptation of that Robert Schenkkan play premieres on Saturday on HBO.

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Before you tune in to watch Bryan Cranston as LBJ and Anthony Mackie as Martin Luther King Jr., brush up on the major moments of Johnson’s first year in office. Taken from the TIME archive, these stories give a narrative of the year that was written as it happened:

Oath of Office Here’s an account of Vice President Lyndon Johnson taking the Oath of Office aboard Air Force One, just 98 minutes after John Kennedy was declared dead, from a Nov. 29, 1963 write-up in TIME titled “The Transfer of Power“:

MORE: Bryan Cranston Talks Walter White, LBJ and His Own Political Ambitions

Hitting the Ground Running In the Dec. 13, 1963 issue, the magazine assessed the new president’s priorities:

Wheeling and Dealing By early 1964, the Revenue Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act were both moving ahead—to the surprise of many. As explained by this piece called “The Skipper & the Ship” from TIME’s Feb. 14, 1964 issue, some wondered whether Kennedy or Johnson deserved more credit:

A Shining Moment LBJ signing the Civil Rights Act into effect on July 2, 1964. TIME framed the landmark legislation with the story of 13-year-old Eugene Young getting a haircut at a barbershop that had refused him the day before:

MORE: What Martin Luther King Really Thought About Lyndon Baines Johnson

Election Elation All the while, Johnson had been campaigning against renegade Republican Barry Goldwater. In November, he clinched the presidency in his first election to the position he already held, with 61.05% of the popular vote — setting a new record. From TIME’s Nov. 4, 1964 extra election issue:

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Write to Julia Zorthian at

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