Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks in Cadillac Square, Detroit

September 07, 1964

Mr. Barbour, Governor and Mrs. Romney, Mayor Cavanagh, Senator Hart, Senator McNamara, Congressman Staebler, Walter Reuther, Governor Swainson, Secretary Williams, my good friends in the Michigan congressional delegation, my fellow countrymen:

This is a great day in a historic place. Here, and today, we begin to move toward new years of achievement for America.

Sixteen years ago an American President came here and he promised that America would "enter a new period of hope." That President was Harry S. Truman.

You gave him support and he gave you that hope. Four years ago another great American stood where I stand today and he said, "Give me your hand... and this country can move again." That man was John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

You reached out your hand, and America began to move.

I have come here today to pledge that if all Americans will stand united we will keep moving. This country is not going to turn its back on the future. This country is not going to turn away from the upward course of prosperity or from the urgent hopes of peace.

This country is not going to turn away from the needs of the jobless and the hungry, the poor and the oppressed. This country is not going to turn from unity to hostility, from understanding to hate.

So today I have come here in Cadillac Square to call for national unity. I plead for brotherhood among men and understanding among nations. This is not just a slogan. It is not based on empty hopes or upon remote dreams. It flows from the facts of life in 1964.

I have traveled to every section of this country. I have talked to people in every walk of life. And I have found that most of the American people are united.

There are, of course, issues which stir passion and conflicting interests. But most Americans have the same hopes for themselves and their children. They have the same desires for themselves and their country. They know that, for the most part, we no longer struggle among ourselves for a larger share of limited abundance. We labor, instead, to increase the total abundance of us all.

Responsible business knows that fair wages are essential to its prosperity. Responsible labor knows that fair profits are essential to rising employment. Farmers and city dwellers, bankers and laborers know that by strengthening each group we strengthen the Nation--by pursuing the growth of all, we advance the welfare of each.

And all of us know that we have a mortal stake in the peace of this world. And that the only real test, the only test that really counts, is what is good for America. And what is good for America is good for all of us.

I want to talk briefly today about three of the goals which are good for America, which reflect the common purpose of most Americans, which are the basis of unity in our country. These are the goal of prosperity, the goal of justice, and the goal of peace.

First, the goal of prosperity. This is the 43d month of the greatest peacetime prosperity in the history of all the United States.

The last 4 years, in Michigan alone, unemployment dropped from 10.2 percent to 5.3 percent, the average weekly earnings for manufacturing workers went up 23 percent, a new tax cut will raise personal income by $1 1/2 billion and create 90,000 new jobs.

And what is true for Michigan is true for other parts of America. As long as I am President, I will lead this country toward increased prosperity. We will continue until every man has a job, and until every family has a decent income. And this is what most Americans want.

The second part of our common purpose is justice. Justice is a country where every man has an equal chance to use his talents, to pursue his desires, and to provide for his family.

We seek to give every American, of every race and color, and without regard to how he spells his name, his full constitutional rights under our Constitution and under the law of the land. We seek to conquer the conditions which condemn millions to hopeless poverty.

We seek to find a job for every man who wants to work. We seek to care for the old through medical care under social security, the jobless with increased unemployment compensation, the oppressed with minimum wage protection. And this is what we think most Americans want.

Third among our common goals is peace. Peace is more than the absence of aggression. It is the creation of a world community in which every nation can follow its own course without fear of its neighbors. In that pursuit we have developed a threefold policy.

First, we have built a military strength greater than the world has ever known before.

Second, in Cuba and in the waters around Viet-Nam we proved that we would stand firm in the defense of freedom. And everywhere we have worked to extend the domain of liberty.

Third, we patiently labored to open new avenues to peace.

The result of these efforts since 1961 is our world of 1964. In this world in which we live today, no nation, new or old, has gone Communist since Cuba went in 1959.

In this world the solid unity of communism has begun to crack. We have worked to help the nations of Eastern Europe move toward independence. This is their people's goal and this is our people's continuing resolve.

In this world the influence and the prestige of freedom is on the rise. Hands of friendship have replaced the clenched fists of angry mobs. In this world the strength of freedom is greater and the prospects for peace are brighter.

It is not enough, I think, just to want peace or to talk peace or to hope for peace. We must constantly work for peace. And I want you to know that today your Government is working for peace.

We must heed the command to "follow after the things that make for peace."

--That is why I, as a Congressman, worked to help pass the Marshall plan.

--That is why, as a Senator during the Eisenhower administration, I went to the United Nations, at President Eisenhower's request, to urge and to invite all nations of the world to join the United States in the peaceful exploration of outer space.

--And that is why, as Vice President of the United States, I worked long and hard for the treaty banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere. We slowed down the deadly poisoning of the air we breathe, and the milk that our children drink. We do not want every mother to live in fear that her baby may be born crippled or deformed.

--And we, too, must remember that we organized the Peace Corps which started the spirit of America and carried it to remote villages on every continent of the world.

--And also that is why, as President, I ordered a cutback of unnecessary nuclear production.

--And that is why I will continue to support every realistic measure that will bring the world closer to peace without increasing the danger to freedom.

Yes, it is men that make peace.

Modern weapons are not like any other. In the first nuclear exchange, 100 million Americans and more than 100 million Russians would all be dead. And when it was over, our great cities would be in ashes, our fields would be barren, our industry would be destroyed, and our American dreams would have vanished.

As long as I am President I will bend every effort to make sure that that day never comes. I am not the first President to speak here in Cadillac Square, and I do not intend to be the last.

Make no mistake. There is no such thing as a conventional nuclear weapon.

For 19 peril-filled years no nation has loosed the atom against another. To do so now is a political decision of the highest order. And it would lead us down an uncertain path of blows and counterblows whose outcome none may know. No President of the United States of America can divest himself of the responsibility for such a decision.

Any man who shares control of such enormous power must remember that "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit is better than he that taketh a city."

These common purposes--prosperity, justice, and peace--are the foundation of American unity.

Our future is almost upon us. Man has never lived in a more exciting time. The world is changing before our eyes. Either we will move to meet these changes or they will overwhelm us. On the one hand is opportunity of shining promise; on the other is a power to destroy the world. Those nations or individuals who seek today to divide us, who preach strife and dissension, and hate and fear, and smear, strike at our hopes and strike at the hopes of all the people of the world.

When I was young, I often walked out after supper and looked up at the scattered Texas sky. As a boy, on those still nights, I wondered what those heavens had seen, what they would see, and what they might bring to me.

The world has turned many times since then, but still in the evening I sometimes walk out and look across the great Capital City where I live, and I dream the same dreams, and I ask the same questions. Just as you do, I sit and think of today's events and tomorrow's problems. I feel glad in my family and concern for my children.

It is then that I remember the men who captured my native soil from the wilderness. They endured much so that others might have much. Their dream was for the children; mine, too, is for the child, even now struggling toward birth. What will the observing skies say of the world that we have built for him?

I want all the ages of man to yield him their promise, the child will find all knowledge open to him; the growing boy will shape his spirit in a house of God and his ways in the house of his family. The young man will find reward for his work and fed pride in the product of his skills.

The man will find leisure and occasion for the closeness of family, and an opportunity for the enrichment of life. The citizen will enrich the Nation, sharing its rule, walking its streets, adding his views to its counsel, secure always from the unjust and the arbitrary power of his fellows.

The least among us will find contentment, and the best among us will find greatness, and all of us will respect the dignity of the one and admire the achievements of the other.

At the end of the journey, he will look back and say, "I have done all that a man could do, built all, shared all, experienced all." And then people shall say to people, group to group, man to man, "There on this earth as in the eyes of God walks my brother."

Well, this is my dream. It is not the grand vision of a powerful and feared nation. It concerns the simple wants of people. But this is what America is really all about. All the rest, the power and the wealth, the life of freedom and the hopes for peace, the treasured past and the uncertain future--all of this will stand or fall on this. Reality rarely matches dream, but only dreams give nobility to purpose.

This is the star that I hope to follow. This is the star which I know that most of you at some time have seen, and which I first glimpsed many, many years ago, one night out in the West.

United we stand; divided we fall. So today I say to these thousands assembled here, whose only concern is what is best for their country, let us bring the capitalist, the manager, the worker, and the Government to one table to share in the fruits of all of our dreams and all of our work. And let's leave for our children, as we enjoy for ourselves, the greatest country that any man has ever known.

Note: The President spoke just before noon in Cadillac Square in Detroit. In his opening words he referred to Al Barbour, president, Wayne County AFL-CIO, George W. Romney, Governor of Michigan, and Mrs. Romney, J. P. Cavanagh, mayor of Detroit, Philip A. Hart and Pat McNamara, U.S. Senators from Michigan, Neil Staebler, U.S. Representative from Michigan, Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers, John B. Swainson, former Governor of Michigan, and G. Mennen Williams, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks in Cadillac Square, Detroit Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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