John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks Intended for Delivery to the Texas Democratic State Committee in the Municipal Auditorium in Austin

November 22, 1963

One hundred and eighteen years ago last March, President John Tyler signed the Joint Resolution of Congress providing statehood for Texas. And 118 years ago this month, President James Polk declared that Texas was a part of the Union. Both Tyler and Polk were Democratic Presidents. And from that day to this, Texas and the Democratic Party have been linked in an indestructible alliance--an alliance for the promotion of prosperity, growth, and greatness for Texas and for America. Next year that alliance will sweep this State and Nation.

The historic bonds which link Texas and the Democratic Party are no temporary union of convenience. They are deeply embedded in the history and purpose of this State and party. For the Democratic Party is not a collection of diverse interests brought together only to win elections. We are united instead by a common history and heritage--by a respect for the deeds of the past and a recognition of the needs of the future. Never satisfied with today, we have always staked our fortunes on tomorrow. That is the kind of State which Texas has always been--that is the kind of vision and vitality which Texans have always possessed--and that is the reason why Texas will always be basically Democratic.

For 118 years, Texas and the Democratic Party have contributed to each other's success. This State's rise to prosperity and wealth came primarily from the policies and programs of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman. Those policies were shaped and enacted with the help of such men as the late Sam Rayburn and a host of other key Congressmen--by the former Texas Congressman and Senator who serves now as my strong right arm, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson--by your present United States Senator, Ralph Yarborough--and by an overwhelming proportion of Democratic leadership at the State and county level, led by your distinguished Governor, John Connally.

It was the policies and programs of the Democratic Party which helped bring income to your farmers, industries to your cities, employment to your workers, and the promotion and preservation of your natural resources. No one who remembers the days of 5-cent cotton and 30-cent oil will forget the ties between the success of this State and the success of our party.

Three years ago this fall I toured this State with Lyndon Johnson, Sam Rayburn, and Ralph Yarborough as your party's candidate for President. We pledged to increase America's strength against its enemies, its prestige among its friends, and the opportunities it offered to its citizens. Those pledges have been fulfilled. The words spoken in Texas have been transformed into action in Washington, and we have America moving again.

Here in Austin, I pledged in 1960 to restore world confidence in the vitality and energy of American society. That pledge has been fulfilled. We have won the respect of allies and adversaries alike through our determined stand on behalf of freedom around the world, from West Berlin to Southeast Asia--through our resistance to Communist intervention in the Congo and Communist missiles in Cuba--and through our initiative in obtaining the nuclear test ban treaty which can stop the pollution of our atmosphere and start us on the path to peace. In San Jose and Mexico City, in Bonn and West Berlin, in Rome and County Cork, I saw and heard and felt a new appreciation for an America on the move--an America which has shown that it cares about the needy of its own and other lands, an America which has shown that freedom is the way to the future, an America which is known to be first in the effort for peace as well as preparedness.

In Amarillo, I pledged in 1960 that the businessmen of this State and Nation-particularly the small businessman who is the backbone of our economy--would move ahead as our economy moved ahead. That pledge has been fulfilled. Business profits-having risen 43 percent in 2 1/2 years--now stand at a record high; and businessmen all over America are grateful for liberalized depreciation for the investment tax credit, and for our programs to increase their markets at home as well as abroad. We have proposed a massive tax reduction, with particular benefits for small business. We have stepped up the activities of the Small Business Administration, making available in the last 3 years almost $50 million to more than 1,000 Texas firms, and doubling their opportunity to share in Federal procurement contracts. Our party believes that what's good for the American people is good for American business, and the last 3 years have proven the validity of that proposition.

In Grand Prairie, I pledged in 1960 that this country would no longer tolerate the lowest rate of economic growth of any major industrialized nation in the world. That pledge has been and is being fulfilled. In less than 3 years our national output will shortly have risen by a record $100 billion-industrial production is up 22 percent, personal income is up 16 percent. And the Wall Street Journal pointed out a short time ago that the United States now leads most of Western Europe in the rate of business expansion and the margin of corporate profits. Here in Texas--where 3 years ago at the very time I was speaking, real per capita personal income was actually declining as the industrial recession spread to this State--more than 200,000 new jobs have been created, unemployment has declined, and personal income rose last year to an all-time high. This growth must go on. Those not sharing in this prosperity must be helped. And that is why we have an accelerated public works program, an area redevelopment program, and a manpower training program, to keep this and other States moving ahead. And that is why we need a tax cut of $11 billion, as an assurance of future growth and insurance against an early recession. No period of economic recovery in the peacetime history of this Nation has been characterized by both the length and strength of our present expansion--and we intend to keep it going.

In Dallas, I pledged in 1960 to step up the development of both our natural and our human resources. That pledge has been fulfilled. The policy of "no new starts" has been reversed. The Canadian River project will provide water for 11 Texas cities. The San Angelo project will irrigate some 10,000 acres. We have launched 10 new watershed projects in Texas, completed 7 others, and laid plans for 6 more. A new national park, a new wildlife preserve, and other navigation, reclamation, and natural resource projects are all under way in this State. At the same time we have sought to develop the human resources of Texas and all the Nation, granting loans to 17,500 Texas college students, making more than $17 million available to 249 school districts, and expanding or providing rural library service to 600,000 Texas readers. And if this Congress passes, as now seems likely, pending bills to build college classrooms, increase student loans, build medical schools, provide more community libraries, and assist in the creation of graduate centers, then this Congress will have done more for the cause of education than has been done by any Congress in modern history. Civilization, it was once said, is a race between education and catastrophe--and we intend to win that race for education.

In Wichita Falls, I pledged in 1960 to increase farm income and reduce the burden of farm surpluses. That pledge has been fulfilled. Net farm income today is almost a billion dollars higher than in 1960. In Texas, net income per farm consistently averaged below the $4,000 mark under the Benson regime; it is now well above it. And we have raised this income while reducing grain surpluses by one billion bushels. We have, at the same time, tackled the problem of the entire rural economy, extending more than twice as much credit to Texas farmers under the Farmers Home Administration, and making more than 100 million dollars in REA loans. We have not solved all the problems of American agriculture, but we have offered hope and a helping hand in place of Mr. Benson's indifference.

In San Antonio, I pledged in 1960 that a new administration would strive to secure for every American his full constitutional rights. That pledge has been and is being fulfilled. We have not yet secured the objectives desired or the legislation required. But we have, in the last 3 years, by working through voluntary leadership as well as legal action, opened more new doors to members of minority groups--doors to transportation, voting, education, employment, and places of public accommodation--than had been opened in any 3-year or 30-year period in this century. There is no noncontroversial way to fulfill our constitutional pledge to establish justice and promote domestic tranquillity, but we intend to fulfill those obligations because they are right.

In Houston, I pledged in 1960 that we would set before the American people the unfinished business of our society. That pledge has been fulfilled. We have undertaken the first full-scale revision of our tax laws in 10 years. We have launched a bold new attack on mental illness, emphasizing treatment in the patient's own home community instead of some vast custodial institution. We have initiated a full-scale attack on mental retardation, emphasizing prevention instead of abandonment. We have revised our public welfare programs, emphasizing family rehabilitation instead of humiliation. And we have proposed a comprehensive realignment of our national transportation policy, emphasizing equal competition instead of regulation. Our agenda is still long, but this country is moving again.

In El Paso, I pledged in 1960 that we would give the highest and earliest priority to the reestablishment of good relations with the people of Latin America. We are working to fulfill that pledge. An area long neglected has not solved all its problems. The Communist foothold which had already been established has not yet been eliminated. But the trend of Communist expansion has been reversed. The name of Fidel Castro is no longer feared or cheered by substantial numbers in every country. And contrary to the prevailing predictions of 3 years ago, not another inch of Latin American territory has fallen prey to Communist control. Meanwhile, the work of reform and reconciliation goes on. I can testify from my trips to Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Costa Rica that American officials are no longer booed and spat upon south of the border. Historic fences and friendships are being maintained. Latin America, once the forgotten stepchild of our aid programs, now receives more economic assistance per capita than any other area of the world. In short, the United States is once more identified with the needs and aspirations of the people to the south, and we intend to meet those needs and aspirations.

In Texarkana, I pledged in 1960 that our country would no longer engage in a lagging space effort. That pledge has been fulfilled. We are not yet first in every field of space endeavor, but we have regained worldwide respect for our scientists, our industry, our education, and our free initiative.

In the last 3 years, we have increased our annual space effort to a greater level than the combined total of all space activities undertaken in the 1950's. We have launched into earth orbit more than 4 times as many space vehicles as had been launched in the previous 3 years. We have focused our wide-ranging efforts around a landing on the moon in this decade. We have put valuable weather and communications satellites into actual operation. We will fire this December the most powerful rocket ever developed anywhere in the world. And we have made it clear to all that the United States of America has no intention of finishing second in outer space. Texas will play a major role in this effort. The Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston will be the cornerstone of our lunar landing project, with a billion dollars already allocated to that center this year. Even though space is an infant industry, more than 3,000 people are already employed in space activities here in Texas, more than $100 million of space contracts are now being worked on in this State, and more than 50 space-related firms have announced the opening of Texas offices. This is still a daring and dangerous frontier; and there are those who would prefer to turn back or to take a more timid stance. But Texans have stood their ground on embattled frontiers before, and I know you will help us see this battle through.

In Fort Worth, I pledged in 1960 to build a national defense which was second to none--a position I said, which is not "first, but," not "first, if," not "first, when," but first--period. That pledge has been fulfilled. In the past 3 years we have increased our defense budget by over 20 percent; increased the program for acquisition of Polaris submarines from 24 to 41; increased our Minuteman missile purchase program by more than 75 percent; doubled the number of strategic bombers and missiles on alert; doubled the number of nuclear weapons available in the strategic alert forces; increased the tactical nuclear forces deployed in Western Europe by 60 percent; added 5 combat ready divisions and 5 tactical fighter wings to our Armed Forces; increased our strategic airlift capabilities by 75 percent; and increased our special counter-insurgency forces by 600 percent. We can truly say today, with pride in our voices and peace in our hearts, that the defensive forces of the United States are, without a doubt, the most powerful and resourceful forces anywhere in the world.

Finally, I said in Lubbock in 1960, as I said in every other speech in this State, that if Lyndon Johnson and I were elected, we would get this country moving again. That pledge has been fulfilled. In nearly every field of national activity, this country is moving again--and Texas is moving with it. From public works to public health, wherever Government programs operate, the past 3 years have seen a new burst of action and progress--in Texas and all over America. We have stepped up the fight against crime and slums and poverty in our cities, against the pollution of our streams, against unemployment in our industry, and against waste in the Federal Government. We have built hospitals and clinics and nursing homes. We have launched a broad new attack on mental illness and mental retardation. We have initiated the training of more physicians and dentists. We have provided 4 times as much housing for our elderly citizens, and we have increased benefits for those on social security.

Almost everywhere we look, the story is the same. In Latin America, in Africa, in Asia, in the councils of the world and in the jungles of far-off nations, there is now renewed confidence in our country and our convictions.

For this country is moving and it must not stop. It cannot stop. For this is a time for courage and a time for challenge. Neither conformity nor complacency will do. Neither the fanatics nor the faint-hearted are needed. And our duty as a party is not to our party alone, but to the Nation, and, indeed, to all mankind. Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and freedom.

So let us not be petty when our cause is so great. Let us not quarrel amongst ourselves when our Nation's future is at stake. Let us stand together with renewed confidence in our cause--united in our heritage of the past and our hopes for the future-and determined that this land we love shall lead all mankind into new frontiers of peace and abundance.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks Intended for Delivery to the Texas Democratic State Committee in the Municipal Auditorium in Austin Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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