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Address of Senator Lyndon B. Johnson Accepting the Democratic Party Nomination for the Vice Presidency of the United States - Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles

July 15, 1960

Fellow Americans, fellow Democrats:

I accept your nomination.

I accept also - with full confidence in the outcome and with high enthusiasm for a labor I love - the happy privilege of campaigning on your platform for the victory that will be won in November by a united Democratic party.

To each of you at this convention, I express again my gratitude - for the great honor you have done me and for the greater honor you have done yourselves by your conduct here.

You brought to this convention strong and honorable convictions.

Out of those convictions, ably advocated and responsibly resolved, you have forged new strength for the Democratic party and for the Nation.

At the threshold of a new era, this convention has closed the door on the things which have divided Americans in the past. We have stepped across boldly, into what I believe will be a new day of hope and harmony for all Americans - regardless of religion, race, or region.

I am proud to be a member of such a party.

What man could - what sort of man would - say "no" to any call to serve such a party and through that party render a service to his country in these times of peril?

Certainly, to such a call, I could not say, "no".

For eight years - at the call of my fellow Democrats in the Senate of the United States - I have served in a position of leadership, responsible for the success of my party in that chamber, - but responsible in a far larger sense for mustering for my country all the strength that could be drawn from our system of government.

These years have been years of divided government.

By great effort, by great patience, by a sense of overriding responsibility to the Nation on all things, Democrats have made divided government work.

But today, as our Nation moves into the times we see ahead, you know, I know, all Americans know that divided government must end, and It will end in January.

The front line of divided government has been on the Senate floor. The front line of unified government is on up ahead. In the choice between the uniform to wear or the duty to perform, there is no choice - no responsible choice - but duty. I will serve where my party asks me to serve and where my countrymen want me to serve, and that is why I gave the answer I did yesterday...

As the distracting divisions between Executive and Legislative must be ended, so must we end the divisions between our regions - the suspicions between our religions - the fears between our races - the strifes of class - the pressures and tensions of competitive groups and conflicting interests...

We must live - we must work - as responsible men.

With gentle hands we must minister to the needs of the meek among us - the young, the aged, the sick, the men and women and children of all walks, all stations of life.

At the same time, we shield the prize of freedom. We must keep the muscle in the arm of America, and with steady hands and resolute hearts hold back the aggressive forces of evil which challenge us today.

America must - to those who threaten the peace and freedom of mankind - speak with a decisive voice, speak with one voice, speak again with the voice of a government undivided, or a Nation fully united.

Small powers and great powers alike will challenge our hesitation - move against our uncertainty - attack our disunity. But no power on earth will prevail against a decisive America, confident of its strength, sure of its soul, one in its voice of determination.

This is the America we must have - and shall have.

This is the American leadership the Democratic party will provide...

I am quite certain that within the last 48 hours the plans - and hopes - of the Republican party have been undergoing one of their agonizing reappraisals.

And I will tell you why:

First, the Republicans know they are up against a winning party, a party united, a party without North or South, East or West, a party where the nominee is not afraid to fight for victory - and, I might add, not afraid to debate the issues.

But secondly, let me say, since we are meeting where we are, the Republicans know as I know and as you know that a new star has been born in the leadership skies of the Nation here at Los Angeles.

In admiration, and in envy, I want to say to you quite frankly - and I think I have the experience and maturity in this field to say it - I know when I see political genius and I have seen it in my friend John Kennedy. The Democratic party is going all the way with J.F.K. and L.B.J., and I am proud to be on the bandwagon.

But there is more - much more. My tasks in the Senate are the tasks of leadership, of knowing men, of seeing into them, knowing what they are made of. Long ago - when both of us were in the House together - I saw inside this man the steel of strength that is all too rare and I have watched with unabashed pride, as he knows, as these qualities have come forth in the Senate...

There is character here, quality here, greatness here. And if, as he said the other day, he has learned from me, I am sure that I have a very great deal to learn from him.

To him, I want to express my gratitude for his confidence in me and my humility at the compliment which is mine, to share this moment of opportunity with him. For that I am grateful. More especially, in a more personal way, I am grateful and I am proud that the bond of friendship which formed long ago was still holding fast, as I knew it would be, when we had finished our lawsuit and the jury came in. It is this quality of our American life and system I which, more than most any other, reaffirms my faith not only in the greatness of the system but in the greatness of the human race.

Wherever he wants me to go, I will go, for the party, for the Nation. I will go because I know we both want America to go up the same road toward greatness...

Wednesday night - I was confidently waiting for the second and third ballot - I learned that Mr. Kennedy took to heart my admonitions that the next President of the United States would have no second chances. As a result, I did not get out of the hotel before the convention had concluded - and did not have the opportunity to make the motion that the nomination be unanimous.

I am sure you don't mind voting one more time.

So I move that we now, by voice vote, make it unanimous for the next President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Address of Senator Lyndon B. Johnson Accepting the Democratic Party Nomination for the Vice Presidency of the United States - Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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