Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks in Raleigh at North Carolina State College

October 06, 1964

Governor Sanford, my fellow countrymen:

I cannot tell the good people of this great city and this wonderful State how deeply I feel in your debt for the very warm hospitality and the wonderful greeting that you have given to me and my family today.

I have much to be thankful for, and if I attempted to enumerate all those things this evening, I would ask your indulgence longer than I wish to, but I do want to say that for many years I have had a great admiration for the leadership of the State of North Carolina.

I am glad to be back here tonight in the home of my ancestors. My great grandfather, George Washington Baines, was born near Raleigh on December 29, 1809. He had the good sense to marry a beautiful Southern belle from North Carolina, Melissa Ann Butler, and for the life of me I have never been able to understand why he left North Carolina.

But I guess he just got so much religion here in the land of Billy Graham that he became a Baptist preacher in a land of Baptist preachers, and he decided to spread the good word from Alabama to Louisiana, to Arkansas, and he even went into Texas. Some say that he crossed the Jordan to get there, but one side of the family claims that he left the Promised Land to do it.

This is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in October, and it is a great Democratic night in Raleigh. Four weeks from tonight will be the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November--and that is going to be a great Democratic night in America!

I came here tonight for two reasons: First, I knew that Mrs. Johnson was going to have a pretty full day with 14 speeches, and I wanted to be here to join you in giving her a warm, Southern welcome.

The other reason is that I am starting out on a 4-day trip through America's heartland tomorrow morning on some political business, and Raleigh is as friendly a place as I know to get started.

I remember a candidate for the Presidency coming here when the going was so hard and not many people thought much of the Democratic prospects. He disagreed, and so did you, and you and he were right. That was 1948, and his name was Harry S. Truman. I talked to him last night and he asked to be remembered to every Democrat here.

When I say the business of this trip is politics, we all know what we mean.

We don't mean tearing down anybody or anything. We don't mean mudslinging or speaking unkindly of our fellow man.

Politics is the people's business, and that means it has to be the politics of responsibility. This country must have responsible government, and it is going to get a responsible campaign from Hubert Humphrey and from me.

Some of my newspaper friends have been waiting for me to label some of my adventures across the country political. Well, I am saying tonight that this campaign trip will be a report on how we have been building a better and a stronger America, and it will make clear the basic choices that all Americans are going to have to make come November.

Most important of all, this trip is going to be a report on where we go from here, on which way is up.

Let's get right to business. Let's get down, as we would say, to brass tacks here in North Carolina.

This Fourth Congressional District is one of the great agricultural areas of the entire United States. North Carolina is one of our most important farming States in the Union.

On April 11th of this year, I signed the Wheat-Cotton Act of 1964. I worked hard on that bill. I knew it was needed to help our textile mills meet foreign competition and to make cotton competitive with synthetic fibers. I know it was needed to reduce the cost to the consumers of America.

The Wheat-Cotton Act of 1964 is only one part of a program of progress during these past years that has paid off in real human dividends.

There is much more to be done, and the choice, of course, must be clear to us.

One course is offered by those who have called for "prompt and final termination of the farm subsidy program."

Do you know, have you ever thought, what it would mean to the good people of North Carolina to completely terminate the farm program?

For the Nation it would mean that our $12 billion net farm income would be reduced in half. It would drop--drop--drop by $6 billion.

One out of every five farmers would be completely bankrupt.

Cotton would sell for under 21 cents a pound, tobacco for less than 45 cents a pound.

Corn would go below 80 cents a bushel, soybeans below 12, and cattle would go to less than $17 a hundredweight.

Farmers all over the country would lose 50 cents of every dollar that they presently clear. In this great State of North Carolina this decrease would mean a loss in net income of $1,450--$1,450 for each and every farm in the great State of North Carolina. North Carolina alone would lose at least a third of a billion dollars a year, more than $333 million.

Can anyone present tonight suggest one single good reason why our tobacco program should be "promptly and finally terminated"?

Well, this is the issue, and I believe and I know that North Carolina is not going to choose to go down that path of bankruptcy. We've been there before.

The way to raise farm income is not to launch a farm depression. As long as I am your President, we are not going to plow under the family farm in this country, and we are not going to sit back in our rocking chairs, whittling, and see our small towns wither and waste away.

I am going to talk tomorrow, in Iowa and Des Moines, about a broader farm program for the future. That program will recognize the special needs in connection with certain special commodities and crops such as poultry, peanuts, feed grains, cotton, and tobacco.

All I have to say is "1939" and you will know exactly what I mean. In 1939, the year that we had no tobacco program, the people of North Carolina received 15 cents a pound for your flue-cured tobacco and 17 cents for your burley, and your total receipts from tobacco that year were only $125 million.

The tobacco program has been one of the most effective farm programs ever written for this Nation, and over and over and over again the tobacco growers of this Nation have approved it by referendum margins of 97 and 98 percent.

I realize that tobacco has some special problems, but the way to solve them is not to destroy the program. Only 2 months ago I approved an increase of $2 million for a crash program of tobacco research in the United States. Research is a way, I think, to solve these problems.

America's farm program will be only part of a whole new program of keeping the American economy at top efficiency.

The tax cut we made this year, reducing the taxes of the people of this country and the corporations of this country by $12 billion, is a part of our Democratic program. Our opponent voted "no"--"no" on that tax cut. But Congress passed it by an overwhelming majority, notwithstanding, and the results of the tax cut are already evident.

What has it given us? Again, let us get down to brass tacks.

That tax cut means that our people have $11 1/2 billion more in their pockets to buy goods with. In North Carolina alone this tax cut will mean:

--an increase of over half a billion dollars in total income, an average of over $300 for a family of four.

--37,000 new jobs will be provided in North Carolina.

--increased State and local revenues in North Carolina will amount to $52 million.

--$140 million less will be deducted for income tax payments from North Carolina's paychecks.

--an average of about $120 for a family of four. A family of four will pay $10 a month less in taxes.

Well, now, there are other issues that are important to you people.

The production of electrical energy has risen in this progressive State from 10 million kilowatt hours in 1950 to 24 million in 1963.

The rural electrification program has been an important part of this development. And I pledge you not to repeal the REA but to continue to support the REA.

You can be proud of the level of education in North Carolina. It has risen steadily since 1940. There are tonight twice as many students in your colleges and universities as there were in the colleges and universities of North Carolina only 15 years ago.

I believe that every boy and girl in this great State and in this great country has a right to all the education they can use, and as long as I am your President, I intend to work with your State and local governments to make this right a reality.

Now, most of all, our prayers and our plans are for peace on earth. We move nearer to it with each year and each month. It is a painfully slow progress. It takes courage to climb the long hill to peace. But we have that courage.

Yes, that 5-letter word--p-e-a-c-e--is the most important word in the English language. It is the most important objective of the American people.

When, in a moment of tragedy 10 months ago, I was asked to assume the terrifying responsibilities of the Presidency, I called upon men of good will in this land and in all lands to help me in that task.

For a period there was uncertainty in our land and around the world, but because I pled for peace and spoke in the name of peace, I brought to the council and Cabinet tables in the White House, men of government, men of business, men of labor, men of agriculture, men of the ministry, and, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, we reasoned together.

We talked about the awesome responsibilities in this era of nuclear power.

We reflected over the confrontation that our Nation had with the Soviet Union just a few months before in the Cuba missile crisis.

We realized that by one impulsive act you could press a button and wipe out the lives of 300 million people before the sun went down, and once done, you can never recover from it.

Could there be any greater objective for Christian people anywhere than peace or earth, good will toward men?

In those 10 months that I have been your leader I have had your hopes and your prayers, and I have called to the Capital of our Nation the heads of state from 85 countries in the world. We have exchanged viewpoints about our problems and their problems, our people and their people, our children and their children. We don't see everything alike, even in North Carolina, because if we did, we would all want the same wife. We don't see everything alike in America, as you can see from the divergent viewpoints that are being expressed between now and election day in November.

We don't see everything alike in the world, but we know that communism is on the march and freedom is on the march, and these two philosophies are at each other's throats.

I am proud to report to you tonight that I get great strength when I review the record of freedom in the world, because freedom has not lost a single nation to communism since we lost Cuba in 1959.

Oh, I hear those that are distressed and despaired. I hear those who are frantic and who sometimes are hysterical. But every day, as I go abroad in this land, I see by the hundreds of thousands, men, women, and children who love freedom and know they have it, and appreciate it, and are going to preserve it and protect it.

And don't let anyone tell you that there is not more freedom in all the countries of the world tonight than there has been in any time in your lifetime. More nations are being born. The yoke of colonialism is being torn away from more necks. More peoples are becoming independent and going on their own. And yet we hear the voice of doom and men of little faith say, "We have lost our freedom."

Well, I haven't lost my freedom, not a bit of it. I am freer tonight than I was a year ago because of the test ban treaty, because the air I breathe tonight is not as polluted as it was a year ago. I am freer tonight than I was when I was that boy's age, because we didn't have groceries on the table and we were chasing rabbits for food for our children. I haven't forgotten the restrictions of freedom that we had when we had our soup lines and 5-cent cotton, and we burned our corn and we killed our old cows and burned them.

No, this year we have the highest standard of living of any people on the face of the earth. We have more of our heads of families working than at any time in our history, 72 million profitably employed, making more than $60 billion more after taxes than they made only 4 years ago.

When you add $60 billion to your income after taxes, that doesn't sound like you have lost any freedom; it sounds like you have gained $60 billion worth. Corporation profits, after taxes, have increased 60 percent in the last 4 years, and one company alone made over $2 billion this year, or 25 percent on equity capital.

I don't say this in criticism, because if our system survives, and if freedom in the world prevails, it is going to be because our forefathers, many from the South who helped to draft that Constitution, prepared for us a better system of government than human ingenuity has ever devised.

And don't tell me that the capitalist puts his dollar out there and invests it in hope of getting a fair return, and the manager who manages that dollar and gets up at daylight and works until midnight and develops stomach ulcers running that plant, and the worker that gets in a trot and works all day long trying to produce the goods in that factory, when they all slice that pie and all get the incentive that comes from those profits--don't tell me that free men can't produce more than slaves directed by any commissar anywhere in the world.

Men of little faith, reckless people, dangerous people, would try to make you believe that America is losing, that your country no longer leads the world. Well, let me, as your Commander in Chief, say to you tonight as straight as I know how to put it on the line, America is the strongest nation in all the world, and stronger than all the rest put together.

This year we have tried in our 10 months to have a prudent Government and a progressive Government. For the first time in 9 years I reduced the annual budget by over $1 billion.

In the month of July there were 25,000 less men working for the Federal Government than were working last July. My budget went into effect June 30th of this year, and during the months of July and August--we don't have the figures yet on September--but during the months of July and August--are you listening?--we in the Federal Government spent $678 million less than we told you we would spend and less than you appropriated to us. And as long as I am your President you are going to get a dollar's worth of value for every dollar we spend.

It is getting late, you are tired, and you have been here a long time. There are a good many points I want to cover.

But first of all, I want to tell you that this is just about the most beautiful hall I have ever seen. I like the decorations and I like the Democratic enthusiasm.

And I like the kind of people that send to Washington men like Sam Ervin and Everett Jordan. And the kind of folks that select, and have selected throughout my years in Washington, one of the finest congressional House delegations of any State in the Union.

Don't let folks mislead you and tell you that you ought to change horses in the middle of a stream.

Someone asked Mr. Rayburn one time why it was that Texas had a Vice President, and Texas had a majority leader of the House, and Texas had seven chairmen of committees. They said, "How do you have that rank among your congressional delegations ? "--and one time we had the chairman of the Agriculture Committee that Harold Cooley now has for North Carolina.

Mr. Rayburn answered him in a minute. He said, "I will tell you how we got there. We pick them young, and we pick them honest, and we send them there, and we keep them there."

I have enjoyed working with your dynamic, young, progressive Governor Terry Sanford through the years. And after you go to the polls in November and vote the Democratic ticket from the courthouse to the White House, I am going to enjoy working with your own great Governor Dan Moore.

We have a job to do. We must build a land in which all men can worship God and live in peace with one another. We must all learn somehow to submerge our individual differences to the common good. There are so many more things that unite us than divide us. There are so many more people in this world that love instead of hate. And we ought to be a nation of lovers, not of haters.

Yes, we have the faith of our fathers. We believe in the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I don't know when I am going to get invited back here to North Carolina, but if I am your President again, and if I get invited, I am going to take a great deal of pride in coming here with our yardstick and pointing out to you where we were in the year of our Lord 1964, and where we are when I come back--because this State is going to move forward, as all America is going to move forward.

I had so much to say to you and so much to thank you for that I forgot a part of my speech. And if some of you have never forgotten a part of your speech, you're entitled to criticize me. But all of you that have forgotten it some time or other, you sympathize with me.

One of the best friends I have in the world and one of the men in whom I have the most confidence is Luther Hodges from North Carolina. And he sits in my Cabinet--a reasoned voice, a wise judgment, the man of seasoned intellect. And he helps me get over some of the rough spots that face me every day. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sending us a man like Luther Hodges and a good lady like his wife.

Note: The President spoke at 9:45 p.m. at the Reynolds Coliseum of the North Carolina State College, University of North Carolina, Raleigh, N.C. His opening words referred to Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina. Later he referred to the Rev. William F. (Billy) Graham, Senators Sam J. Ervin, Jr., and B. Everett Jordan, and Representative Harold D. Cooley, all of North Carolina, Dan K. Moore, Democratic candidate for Governor of North Carolina, and Luther Hodges, Secretary of Commerce, and Mrs. Hodges.

Mrs. Johnson and Lynda Bird both spoke before the President's remarks. In brief words of welcome Mrs. Johnson told the audience that after making 14 stops and 14 speeches that day she was "mighty glad" to yield her time to the real speaker of the family.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks in Raleigh at North Carolina State College Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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