Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks in Chicago at the Cook County Democratic Party Dinner

June 03, 1965

Mr. Chairman; my old friend, the brave and valiant Governor of Illinois, Otto Kerner; my longtime devoted friend and as great a political leader and city administrator as there is in this world, your great mayor, Dick Daley; one of my great counselors, my former colleague, the conscience of the United States Senate, who speaks not just/or Illinois but speaks for the entire United States, your fighting Marine, Senator Paul Douglas; Members of one of the Congress' most valued and effective delegations, the men who served Cook County in the House of Representatives, Congressman Bill Dawson, Congressman Bill Murphy, Congressman John Kluczynski, Congressman Frank, Annunzio, Congressman Danny Rostenkowski, Congressman Sid Yates, Congressman Roman Pucinski:

I am very proud that all of you are here tonight. I am prouder still that you stayed in Washington to pass our reorganization bill before you came.

My fellow countrymen:

I am constantly reminded that Chicago is the center of our country. When Dick Daley isn't reenforcing that thought, Otto Kerner and Paul Douglas are.

What a magnificently beautiful setting this is here tonight and how lovely, how truly lovely is this great city of Chicago which belongs to your This is a great party. Actually I really like small parties. As a matter of fact, I told Senator Everett Dirksen the other day how partial I was to small parties and I pointed out to him that his party was just about the size I like to see it.

But on this occasion, honoring the founders of our party--Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson--no words of ours could be so eloquent as their own expressions about each other. When Thomas Jefferson was asked what he thought of Jackson as a prospect for President, Jefferson replied without hesitation, "He is one of the most unfit men I know of for such a place." What "Old Hickory" said of Jefferson cannot be repeated in Cook County.

Needless to say I am glad to be here in Cook County where I am sure the Democrats never talk that way about each other.

Well, there is always a time and a place for party talk. I do not believe that this is an appropriate place tonight for partisanship. I say to you in Illinois what Woodrow Wilson said 50 years ago in Indiana: I love the Democratic Party but I love America a great deal more. And what difference does party make when mankind is involved?

Well, mankind is involved in every decision that will be waiting on my desk when I return to the White House tonight. America does not need, and I am confident Democrats do not want, a President who would ever allow those decisions to be influenced by considerations of party.

That is why I want to speak, not about partisanship or party tonight, but about what matters most to us all--the peace of mankind.

On this subject I believe there is a need now for plain speaking.

In this city of Chicago, 28 years ago, a President of these United States then described the condition of the world in these words:

"Without a declaration of war and without warning or justification of any kind, civilians, including vast numbers of women and children, are being ruthlessly murdered . . . ships are being attacked . . . without cause or without notice. Nations are fomenting and taking sides in civil warfare in nations that have never done them any harm .... Innocent peoples, innocent nations, are being cruelly sacrificed to a greed for power and supremacy which is devoid of all sense of justice and human considerations."

The world did not heed the vision or the wisdom of Franklin D. Roosevelt when he called upon all peace-loving nations to join together to quarantine the aggressors. And those who loved peace above all else, lost their peace and all else.

That history need not--and that history must not--be allowed to repeat its full course again in our time.

The peace of mankind must not, and will not, be lost again.

If similarities are many between the worlds of 1937 and 1965, the differences are far more numerous. The peace-loving nations are not weak now as they were then-not lacking in will now as they were then.

Educated in the adversity of a great war, tested in the trial of continuing danger, united in the face of ever-present peril, the peace-loving peoples have built strength in the 1960's that they never had in the 1930's.

That strength has one unmistakable meaning. For aggression there is no prize. At the end of the road of conquest, the only sure reward is sure ruin.

For 20 years we have applied what Abraham Lincoln said would be the great lesson of peace

"Teaching men that what they cannot take by an election, neither can they take by war; teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war."

But there are other differences, too, between 1937 and tonight in 1965. The people of Communist countries are somewhat wiser, too. While their leaders have chosen to close a curtain about them to keep out knowledge of the free world's peaceful intention, the people of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe really know, above all other peoples on this earth, what the cost and the catastrophe is to their homeland of 20th century warfare.

The men and women of Russia, the men and women of all the nations of Eastern Europe, I believe want peace and want the taste of its sweet fruits. And none want them to have peace more than do we, the people of the United States of America.

Between the great powers of East and West, there is no history of conflict on the battlefields of the past. Between the people of the Soviet Union and the people of the United States, there has been friendship and there can be greater understanding.

The common interests of the peoples of Russia and the peoples of the United States are many--and this I would say to the people of the Soviet Union tonight: There is no American interest in conflict with the Soviet people anywhere. And no true Soviet interest is going to be served by the support of aggression or subversion anywhere in the world. We of the United States of America stand ready tonight, as always, to go with you onto the fields of peace--to plow new furrows, to plant new seed, to tend new growth--so that we and so that all mankind may some day share together a new and a bountiful harvest of happiness and hope on this earth.

Jefferson said of Americans: "Peace is our passion."

And I say to you here in Chicago tonight-peace is our passion still.

In this Union, in this hemisphere, in every region of this world, in every forum of nations, the United States is working for peace--and that work will never cease.

But as I have spoken to Communist countries, let me also tonight speak to the free world.

I carry in my pocket--and I often read to those who visit the White House--some wise words that were written by a man of peace, the late Secretary General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjold. The words are these:

"The qualities that peace requires are those which I believe we all need today-perseverance and patience, a firm grip on realities, careful but imaginative planning, a clear awareness of the dangers--but also of the fact that fate is what we make it."

In the 1930's, we made our fate not by what we did but what we Americans failed to do. We propelled ourselves--and all mankind--toward tragedy, not by decisiveness but by vacillation, not by determination and resolution but by hesitancy and irresolution, not by action but by inaction.

The failure of free men in the 1930's was not of the sword but of the soul--and there just must be no such failure in the 1960's.

So, let us not delude ourselves again by the belief that peace can be secured by submissiveness or peace can be extended by expediency.

Let us not adopt again the arrogance that peace is less important to the peoples of less important countries because they are distant or different from our own.

Let us not return again to the impulsiveness which accepts as safe every promise of peace from the enemies of peace and rejects as dangerous every proposal for strength from its friends.

Persevering and patient, firmly gripping realities, proceeding in clear awareness of the dangers, let us proceed with the careful but the imaginative planning that is necessary to assure peace and justice and progress for all the peoples of the earth.

This is the course that we of the United States have chosen--and this is the course that we shall faithfully hold--for we believe that this course leads to peace in the world.

Let me make it clear to all here and all listening in other parts of the world, that the United States seeks dominion over no people. Everywhere in the world we, the United States, seek decency for all.

Out among the earth's peoples, Americans are working tonight--as few peoples have ever worked before--to bring learning and light and health and housing and hope to the family of man. Food from our fields is feeding 100 million people--including 70 million children. Medicine from our laboratories is saving the lives of many millions more. And I dare say there is not one citizen present here tonight who would have his country conduct its course otherwise.

George Washington once told us that we would have one option:

"Whether (to) be respectable and prosperous or contemptible and miserable as a nation?"

Today, we are prosperous, as the able Senator Douglas told you, more prosperous than any other nation in all the history of man. We have enjoyed 51 consecutive months of economic expansion--the longest ever known in any peacetime and the end is not yet in sight.

Our people are happy. They are prospering. They are moving on and on, and upward. Just last year the number of families living on less than $3,000 income decreased by 18 percent, and the number of families with more than $10,000 income per year increased by 22 percent.

But I must remind you that money is no measure of the moral force at work among Americans today.

For we are committed--by a broad and a broadening consensus--to bringing brightness into lives where darkness dwells. We are committed to opening beauty to lives that are closed over by ugliness and guaranteeing the rights that God gave them to those man had forgotten.

The consensus within America tonight is a consensus of courage--and let none abroad believe that this consensus stops at the water's edge. For there is in our beloved America a consensus--a strong and a deep and an abiding majority consensus--that the world shall not walk again the road to darkness that led mankind into the valley of war 30 years ago.

The united will of the American people is itself the ultimate and the most profound difference between 1937 and 1965, and let neither friends of peace--or foes--underestimate the meaning of that unity.

The American people want to be a part of no war. But the American people want no part of appeasement or of any aggression.

Over the years of our history our forces have gone forth into many lands, but always they returned when they are no longer needed. For the purpose of America is never to suppress liberty but always to save it. The purpose of America is never to take freedom but always to return it, never to breach peace but to bolster it, and never to seize land but always to save lives.

One month ago it became my duty to send our Marines into the Dominican Republic and I sent them for these same ends.

I have been informed tonight by the Commander in Chief of the Inter-American Forces, General Alvim, and the Deputy Commander, Lieutenant General Palmer, that conditions in the Dominican Republic now permit further reductions of our military personnel. I am therefore ordering the withdrawal of all remaining units of the United States Marine Corps totaling approximately 2,100 men.

America's purpose is--and always will be--to serve the peace of mankind.

Let me say this to you: A man does what he must--in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures-and that is the basis of all human morality.

Those words are not mine. They were written by the man whose great steps I follow-John Fitzgerald Kennedy. But I would want you to know that it is that spirit which guides me in all that I do.

For men, as for nations, the way of the peacemaker is never an easy way.

While all men hate war, they too often hate still more the discipline and the duty and the demands of acting to preserve the peace that they love. I am certain that this generation of Americans is willing to accept demands that are stern in order to enjoy a world that is safe.

For we know--as all men must know wherever they live--that after losing peace twice in this century, mankind just must not lose that peace again, and it is the united will of all the people of our beloved America that it shall not be lost.

Note: The President spoke at 9:30 p.m. at McCormick Place in Chicago. In his opening words he referred to Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois, Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago, Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois, and Representatives William L. Dawson, William T. Murphy, John C. Kluczynski, Frank Annunzio, Dan Rostenkowski, Sidney R. Yates, and Roman C. Pucinski, all of Illinois.

Later he referred to, among others, Senator Everett M. Dirksen of Illinois, General of the Army Hugo Panasco Airira of Brazil, Commander of the OAS Inter-American Force in the Dominican Republic, and Lt. Gen. Bruce Palmer, Jr., of the United States, Deputy Commander.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks in Chicago at the Cook County Democratic Party Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives