The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Lyndon B. Johnson
Remarks in Franklin D. Roosevelt Square, Gainesville, Georgia.
May 8, 1964

Mayor and Mrs. Ward, Governor and Mrs. Sanders, Senator Talmadge, Congressman Landrum, Congressman Vinson and other Members of the delegation, the Mayor of the suburb of Gainesville, distinguished platform guests, my relatives, ladies and gentlemen:

When I was born, my father was a tenant farmer on a small sandy land farm in Texas that produced about 8 bales of cotton a year, and he got half of them. I remember in those days that he told me about my ancestors who had lived here in Georgia. He said that grandpa told them that they could stay here and go up in the world, or they could leave and go to Texas. Some of my branch went to Texas.

I am so happy that I could come back here today and see Mrs. Miller and some of the rest of them who have gone up in the world here in Georgia.

Wherever I have gone and whatever I have done in public life I have done because of the advice and the support and the counsel of some of the great men that Georgia has produced. I do not deserve all the wonderful and generous things that my good friend Senator Talmadge had to say about me, or that Governor Sanders repeated, but I can assure you of this: no one in this large crowd of 50,000 people enjoyed hearing what either one of them had to say more than I did. I just wish that they had time to repeat

I came here to Phil Landrum's District today because I consider him at the moment one of the leading Congressmen in the United States. The Johnson administration and the people of Georgia, and the people of the United States, look to him for leadership that only Phil Landrum is capable of providing in this trying hour.

He is the author of our poverty bill that is going to make our poor people look forward with hope and faith and give them a better chance in life. He is the author of our poverty bill that is going to give new hope to new families throughout the 50 States of this Union. He is the author of the poverty bill that is going to remake this District. And I am coming back here after it is remade and I want you to get a monument over there to Phil Landrum that we can erect to put by the side of the one for Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Twenty-eight years ago last month this great city lay devastated in the wake of an unmerciful act of nature. Two years later, Gainesville had experienced a rebirth, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt came here to pay tribute to the courage and to the spirit of the people who brought their little city back to life. He went on to speak not only of Gainesville, but of the Nation, and he called the people of this city to join in a great crusade to rebuild America, and to move their country forward.

I am glad that as we wandered through the half million people that greeted us and delayed us in the suburb of Gainesville down here, between here and Atlanta--as I saw them this morning I thought of how many people in this country had hope, faith, and belief that we were, too, going to rebuild this area of Georgia. And we are going to rekindle in those people hope and faith that we can improve their lot in life.

This administration believes in doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people. So today, with Franklin Roosevelt's young son, Franklin Roosevelt, Jr., by my side, I have come back to Gainesville to say that his work and ours is not finished; his dreams and ours are not yet realized; his hopes and ours are not yet fulfilled.

As President Franklin Roosevelt did in March 1938, I ask you today to give me your hand and to give me your heart, to work for the good of the whole people and the whole Nation here in Gainesville, as your great Congressman Phil Landrum is in Washington.

You and I know that you have many problems here which must be solved. There are children here in this crowd who know the feel of hunger, and workers who know the fear of idleness. There are young people who need careers, and old people who need care.

You are meeting these needs. The new junior college, the new area vocational training school, which will be opened shortly, symbolize that the spirit which rebuilt Gainesville in the thirties, that same spirit is still alive in the sixties--and growing.

We need throughout this land of ours the same spirit that we find in Gainesville today, and we need the same spirit that Franklin Delano Roosevelt had. He said, "The only thing America has to fear is fear itself." He was the champion of the poor and of the aged. He was the champion of the forgotten farmer and the neglected worker. He was the friend of those who needed help and the advocate of those who sought hope.

So I have come to Gainesville today to tell you that the Johnson administration is never going to be frozen in indifference. Our administration is going to be a Government of compassion, compassion for the one-fifth of our people who are ill fed, compassion for the one-fifth of our people who are ill clothed, compassion and concern for the onefifth of our people who are ill housed. Thirty years ago in the State of Georgia, Franklin Roosevelt said one-third of our people are ill clad and ill fed and ill housed, and we must do something about it.

In 30 years we have moved that 30 percent down to 20 percent. In the next 10 years we are going to move that 20 percent down to 10 percent. And we are going to keep on and keep on and keep on, in our war on poverty, until we drive poverty into the face of the earth and it no longer exists in our beloved America.

For any American outside the pale of the Constitution, full participation in our society can no longer be denied to men because of their race or their religion or the region in which they live. The Constitution of the United States applies to every American, of every race, of every religion, of every region in this beloved country. If it doesn't apply to every race, to every region, to every religion, it applies to no one.

If Franklin Roosevelt were standing on this square today, he would say that America must go forward with compassion and justice for all, or it cannot go forward at all. We are going forward with a war on poverty. We are going forward to protect your rights and the rights of every American. We are going forward to create new jobs for the jobless, and new homes for the homeless, and new hope for the hopeless.

We must not for a moment lose this momentum or this conviction, for while profits are up, and income is up, and capital gains are up, our convictions must never go down.

So I have come here today to ask for your heart and your hand, to ask you to join us in a similar cause. Help us to build a better land. Help us to build a greater society. Help us to open wide the doors of opportunity and invite all to come in, for when we have done this, it will one day be said of America that she was a burning and shining light in man's journey on earth.

Thank you. God bless you.

Citation: Lyndon B. Johnson: "Remarks in Franklin D. Roosevelt Square, Gainesville, Georgia.", May 8, 1964. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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