Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks in Madison Square Garden at a New York Democratic Gala

May 28, 1964

Mr. Krim, ladies and gentlemen:

I have been cheered and delighted and excited by the finest assembly of talent gathered together anywhere, anytime. On behalf of everyone here tonight, Mrs. Johnson, Lynda Bird, and I, I say thank you. Dick Adler, Gregory Peck, Mitzi Gaynor, your entire group--we are proud of you. And I couldn't leave without saying I love the way Allan Sherman sings. So I thank you all for a most wonderful evening.

It is a proud moment for me to stand here and meet the Democrats of this great State. The great State of New York has been a pillar of the Democratic Party from the very start--from the moment when Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, during their famous "botany expedition" called on Governor George Clinton in 1791.

One of my first recollections in politics was the Democratic convention at Houston in 1928. That convention needed only one ballot to choose its candidate for President, a great Governor of the great State of New York--Al Smith. Al Smith demonstrated that wise leadership could combine efficiency in operation with compassion in result. And tonight, your Democratic administration in Washington is showing how Government can serve the people's welfare without squandering the people's money--and that is in the spirit of Al Smith.

When I first went to Washington as a Congressman's secretary, one of the towering figures in the United States Senate was another great New Yorker--Robert F. Wagner. Bob Wagner stood above all for the expansion of well being and opportunity for the American working man. Tonight, your democratic administration in Washington is working to strengthen and enlarge our institutions of social service and progress--in the spirit of Bob Wagner.

When I first came to Washington I worked with another great New Yorker-Fiorello LaGuardia. Mayor LaGuardia was a staunch fighter for freedom and for progress. He stood above all for cleaning up our cities and reconstructing our urban life. Tonight, the Democratic administration in Washington intends to help our cities grow into free and spacious communities-in the spirit of Fiorello LaGuardia.

In later years I had the honor of serving in the United States Senate with another great New Yorker--our beloved late Herbert H. Lehman. Herbert Lehman dedicated his life to the cause of equal rights for every American, regardless of his race, or color, or how he spells his name. Tonight, your Democratic administration in Washington pledges itself to carry forward the fight for civil rights until emancipation is not just a proclamation but a fact.

One of the great experiences of my life was the privilege of serving the man who so profoundly reshaped all of our lives--Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Franklin D. Roosevelt stood for many things. But I think that nothing was really closer to his heart than his passion to end the barriers between nations and to move the world toward a just and a lasting peace. I promise that your Democratic administration in Washington will go down every road and open every door in our search for peace--in the spirit of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Tonight the Nation needs the inspiration and the leadership of New Yorkers more than it has ever needed them. And I have come here to thank you and to ask you for your help in achieving those ends which lie beyond party--the ends of justice at home and peace in the world. I ask for the support of all citizens to complete the work so nobly begun by our martyred President, John F. Kennedy.

After the majority had spoken in Los Angeles, John Kennedy asked me to stand at his side in the fight to get America moving again. I left the convention hall dedicated to carrying out the programs, the policies, and the principles of John Kennedy because I believed they were good for America. That work has already begun. It must and it will continue. With the help of God and the good people of all of this country it will succeed.

So I ask you tonight to join me and march along the road to the future, the road that leads to the Great Society, where no child will go unfed and no youngster will go unschooled; where every child has a good teacher and every teacher has good pay, and both have good classrooms; where every human being has dignity and every worker has a job; where education is blind to color and employment is unaware of race; where decency prevails and courage abounds.

This is the work of the Democratic Party. It is the work of the future. So march with me on this road. We will never stop until our goals have all been reached.

Thank you, Mr. Krim, thank all you great and generous Democrats for such a delightful evening.

Note: The President spoke at the Democratic fundraising rally, "New York's Salute to President Johnson," in Madison Square Garden in New York City. His opening words referred to Arthur B. Krim, chairman of the President's Club of New York, which sponsored the rally. The entertainment, a program with leading entertainers, was under the direction of Richard Adler, producer and composer.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks in Madison Square Garden at a New York Democratic Gala Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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