Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at a Democratic Party Dinner in Austin, Texas

June 16, 1967

After three weeks of wrestling with the Middle East, it's a real pleasure to come home to the peace and quiet of Texas politics.

In case there are any differences of opinion here, I want to make my own position clear. I am for peace, territorial integrity, political independence, and unrestricted navigation in the Houston Ship Channel.

I have had some reports of divisions among our people here, and for that reason I think it will be necessary for all the peace-loving States in the area to help heal the wounds of ancient conflict. That's why I'm glad to see good friends with us tonight from those peace-loving States of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

If we can just get a cease-fire, we may be able to bring about a real settlement. And if we can get a settlement, my list of problems will be narrowed down to international disputes, domestic difficulties--and being a grandfather.

As many of you know, that puts a few years on you automatically. Of course, you do get some compliments to go along with your seniority. Cardinal Spellman said once that there are three ages of man: youth, middle age, and "you're looking wonderful."

But that's only part of the problem of being a Presidential grandfather. Sometime this year the Census Bureau will record the birth of the 200 millionth American.

What if he--or she--turns out to have been born in Austin and is named Nugent?

That will put a real strain on the credibility gap!

Whatever his or her name is, that 200 millionth American will mark a milestone in our history.

We can look back to the time when the 100 millionth American was born--back in 1914--and see how far we have come.

That youngster in 1914 had only one chance in seven of finishing high school. Today, three out of four Americans graduate.

In 1914, the baby's father, if he was a typical industrial worker, put in 55 hours a week. Today, he works only 41 hours, under far better conditions, and with a secure retirement ahead.

Today's farmer earns more than six times as much income--in constant dollars. And today, more than 99 out of 100 farms--compared to 5 in 100 in 1914--are blessed with electricity.

The miracle of longer, healthier, better educated lives did not just happen. We made it happen--all of us--in politics, business and labor, farmers and city people, whites and Negroes, Protestants, Catholics, and Jews.

And the party that shaped the miracle, that campaigned and fought for it, that nourished it and strengthened it and carried it to our people, was this party. That is the way it has been for 35 years, and that's the way it's going to be in the years to come.

Our children's children will have reason to remember the tradition we handed on. They will know Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and John Kennedy not only as great names to be learned in history books--but as the men who gave them a chance to know the best that was in them to become.

That is the promise we have made to America. Every major proposal in my time of leadership has had one simple aim: To help the individual help himself--to allow every man to become in the words of Thomas Wolfe, "whatever thing his manhood and his vision can combine to make him."

In the past 3 1/2 years, we have passed 18 major education laws--not to control education-but to help every American boy and girl unlock his own promise.

We have passed 24 landmark health programs--not to "socialize" medicine--but to free every citizen from the fear of disease.

We have launched a War on Poverty-not to give away the taxpayer's hard-earned treasure, but to help every citizen discover the treasure of his own ability; to help him get a job and become a taxpayer, not a taxeater.

For I believe in a better deal, not a bigger dole. I believe that our people can take care of themselves--if they are given a fair chance to do so. We are working to give them that chance--not just through the social programs of government, but through wise policies that strengthen American free enterprise.

During the past 3½ years, our economy has known unparalleled prosperity.

--Total production of goods and services-in constant dollars--is up to $100 billion.

--Five million more people are at work-at the highest pay in history.

--Total profits after taxes are up 31 percent.

--Total wages and salaries have risen 29 percent.

--Farm income .per farm is up 30 percent. Across the land, American families have increased their net wealth by nearly $160 billion in these 3 ½ years.

There is good reason to take pride in these figures--and we do. But there is so much that remains undone, so many who have not been reached by prosperity or hope. Every day I realize that we still have "promises to keep-and miles to go before we sleep."

To travel those miles will demand your support and understanding--your generosity-and your leadership. It will demand your voices, calling for America to carry through with what she has begun, calling for all of us to keep the promises of the past 3 years.

I know that two arenas of conflict--Vietnam and the Middle East--are much on your minds at this hour, as they are on mine.

In the one, American lives are committed tonight. They are committed for the security and independence of the people of South Vietnam--so that they may be free to shape their own future. When that right is secure against outside attack, the need for this commitment of American lives will end.

In the Middle East, our commitment has been not of lives, but of intense political concern. The crisis became acute one month ago, with the dangerous and unjustified dosing of the Gulf of Aqaba. During 3 weeks of tension, as for many years past, we pursued a policy based on our belief:

--in the territorial integrity and political independence of all states in the area;

--in the avoidance of conflict;

--and in the right of innocent passage at sea. Our efforts to help keep the peace were intense--but they did not succeed. Conflict came to the area, and danger to the world.

After 6 hazardous days a cease-fire was achieved. This is a first long step away from peril and we played a responsible part in its achievement.

The great need now is to turn away from 20 years of combat, temporary truce, and hatred toward the building of durable peace in the area. This is a challenge to those who live there first of all, but America will do her share. The first and greatest requirement is that each nation must accept the right of its neighbors to stable and secure existence. If they turn in this direction, these peoples can count upon the friendly help of the United States.

My friends, I thank you for coming these many miles to join with me tonight. This is a time of testing. It is a time of frustration and danger--but it is also a time of opportunity for the great and prosperous people that we are. We would have less frustrations, and probably less danger, if we were not so strong; but we would have less opportunity as well. Ours is a great responsibility-and a great hope. If our courage holds, and if we are wise as well as strong, we shall see it through.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:52 p.m. at a dinner in the Civic Auditorium in Austin. During his remarks he referred to Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York. He also referred to his expected grandchild who was born on June 21 (see Item 273).

As printed above, this item follows the text released by the White House Press Office.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at a Democratic Party Dinner in Austin, Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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