American Politician, 36th President of the United States
Lyndon Johnson, fully Lyndon Baines Johnson, aka LBJ
American Politician, 36th President of the United States
The Constitution says that no person shall be kept from voting because of his race or his color. We have all sworn an oath before God to support and to defend that Constitution. We must now act in obedience to that oath. There is no constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong-deadly wrong--to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of States fights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.
The purposeful many need not and will not bow to the willful few.
This is a sad time for all people. We have suffered a loss that cannot be weighed. For me, it is a deep, personal tragedy. I know the world shares the sorrow that Mrs. Kennedy and her family bear. I will do my best; that is all I can do. I ask for your help and God's.
Our purpose in Vietnam is to prevent the success of aggression. It is not conquest, it is not empire, it is not foreign bases, it is not domination. It is, simply put, just to prevent the forceful conquest of South Vietnam by North Vietnam.
The essence of our American tradition of State and local governments is the belief expressed by Thomas Jefferson that Government is best which is closest to the people. Yet that belief is betrayed by those State and local officials who engage in denying the right of citizens to vote. Their actions serve only to assure that their State governments and local governments shall be remote from the people, least representative of the people's will and least responsive to the people's wishes.
The Russians feared Ike. They didn't fear me.
This is not Johnson's war. This is America's war. If I drop dead tomorrow, this war will still be with you.
Our purpose is not--and shall never be-either the quest for power or the desire to punish. We seek to increase the power of the people over all their governments, not to enhance the power of the Federal Government over any of the people. For the life of this Republic, our people have zealously guarded their liberty against abuses of power by their governments. The one weapon they have used is the mightiest weapon in the arsenal of democracy--the vote. This has been enough, for as Woodrow Wilson said, "The instrument of all reform in America is the ballot."
The exercise of power in this century has meant for all of us in the United States not arrogance, but agony.
The separation of church and state is a source of strength, but the conscience of our nation does not call for separation between men of state and faith in the Supreme Being.
This is the richest and most powerful country which ever occupied the globe. The might of past empires is little compared to ours. But I do not want to be the President who built empires, or sought grandeur, or extended dominion. I want to be the President who educated young children to the wonders of their world. I want to be the President who helped to feed the hungry and to prepare them to be taxpayers instead of tax-eaters. I want to be the President who helped the poor to find their own way and who protected the right of every citizen to vote in every election. I want to be the President who helped to end hatred among his fellow men and who promoted love among the people of all races and all regions and all parties. I want to be the President who helped to end war among the brothers of this earth.
Our society is illuminated by the spiritual insights of the Hebrew prophets. America and Israel have a common love of human freedom, and they have a common faith in a democratic way of life.
The experts spent a great deal of time and study working out a formula which would be fair to every State and fair to every county and fair to every child, and would put the education dollar where that dollar is needed most, now. We decided that our first job was to help the schools serving the children from the very lowest income groups. Those families constitute the number one burden, the number one burden in this Nation on the school systems. We know that they cannot bear their share of the taxes to help pay for their education. And unless those children get a good education we know that they become dropouts and they become delinquents and they become taxeaters instead of taxpayers. We know that they will join the unemployed. That is why we put top priority on breaking the vicious cycle that today threatens the future of 5 million children in this great land of opportunity which we talk about so much.
The world has narrowed to a neighborhood before it has broadened to a brotherhood.
This law covers many pages. But the heart of the act is plain. Wherever, by clear and objective standards, States and counties are using regulations, or laws, or tests to deny the right to vote, then they will be struck down. If it is dear that State officials still intend to discriminate, then Federal examiners will be sent in to register all eligible voters. When the prospect of discrimination is gone, the examiners will be immediately withdrawn. And, under this act, if any county anywhere in this Nation does not want Federal intervention it need only open its polling places to all of its people.
Our third goal is to improve the quality of American life. We begin with learning. Every child must have the best education our Nation can provide. Thomas Jefferson said no nation can be both ignorant and free. Today no nation can be both ignorant and great. In addition to our existing programs, I will recommend a new program for schools and students with a first-year authorization of $1,500 million. It will help at every state along the road to learning. For the pre-school years we will help needy children become aware of the excitement of learning. For the primary and secondary school years, we will aid public schools serving low-income families and assist students in both public and private schools. For the college years we will provide scholarships to high school students of the greatest promise and greatest need and guarantee low-interest loans to students continuing their college studies. New laboratories and centers will help our schools lift their standards of excellence and explore new methods of teaching. These centers will provide special training for those who need and deserve special treatment.
The fact that a man is a newspaper reporter is evidence of some flaw of character.
There are no favorites in my office. I treat them all with the same general inconsideration.
This nation, this generation, in this hour has man?s first chance to build a Great Society, a place where the meaning of man?s life matches the marvels of man?s labor.
Presidents and Congresses, laws and lawsuits can open the doors to the polling places and open the doors to the wondrous rewards which await the wise use of the ballot. But only the individual Negro, and all others who have been denied the right to vote, can really walk through those doors, and can use that right, and can transform the vote into an instrument of justice and fulfillment.
The future holds little hope for any government where the present holds no hope for the people.
There can no longer be anyone too poor to vote.
This was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose. The great phrases of that purpose still sound in every American heart, North and South: "All men are created equal"--"government by consent of the governed"--"give me liberty or give me death." Well, those are not just clever words, or those are not just empty theories. In their name Americans have fought and died for two centuries, and tonight around the world they stand there as guardians of our liberty, risking their lives. Those words are a promise to every citizen that he shall share in the dignity of man. This dignity cannot be found in a man's possessions; it cannot be found in his power, or in his position. It really rests on his right to be treated as a man equal in opportunity to all others. It says that he shall share in freedom, he shall choose his leaders, educate his children, and provide for his family according to his ability and his merits as a human being.
No member of our generation who wasn't a Communist or a dropout in the thirties is worth a damn.
Of those to whom much is given, much is asked. I cannot say and no man could say that no more will be asked of us.