Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at a Rally in Augusta, Georgia

October 26, 1964

Governor Sanders, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls:

When I come to Georgia, it is like coming home. My roots are deep in Georgia. Georgia has given me much to be proud of. Georgia has given much to this Nation's progress, and there is a great deal more yet to be done.

I have been welcomed warmly first in Macon and now in Augusta, this lovely, gracious city. One of Augusta's greatest prides, and justifiably so, is the fact that it is the hometown of one of the ablest and the brightest young men in the United States, your own Governor, Carl Sanders. He is not afraid to stand up and be counted for what is right, for you and for our country, and I am proud of him and I know you are proud of him, too.

It is good to have by my side my longtime friend and loyal colleague, the great Senator from Georgia, Herman Talmadge. He is one of the great Senators of our country and he bears a name that stands for service and duty to the people in Georgia.

You are wise to have chosen as your Congressman my friend Bob Stephens. No man works harder in the Congress to advance the cause of Augusta and the cause of Georgia than does Bob Stephens, and I salute him and congratulate him here today.

I am glad that Jack Flynt is here, too. He has been my friend and he is one of Georgia's ablest Congressmen.

I wish that my dearest friend and one of my wisest counselors, Senator Dick Russell, were here. In my days in the Senate, no man was kinder to me or gave me more help than this great Senator.

I am glad that J. B. Fuqua, your State chairman, is here. I know he is a competent chairman, and I also know from the weekend that he spent at my ranch that he is a good hunter.

Augusta is moving forward. Just last week we broke ground on a new permanent Signal School at Fort Gordon. In the last year we have put $30 million in new construction into Fort Gordon. So I am proud of the way that the Democratic administration has demonstrated its faith in the future of Fort Gordon.

This, I might add, is in sharp contrast to the way the previous administration treated Augusta, when it closed the Augusta Arsenal and put 500 Augusta families out of work.

Today I understand that you have a 4-year college on this same ground, and you know how I feel about education. I know that you know how the opposition feels about education.

We are all proud of the Savannah River plant. We welcome here this evening the great and learned and distinguished Governor, Donald Russell, of the State of South Carolina. We are proud to have my old ally and my loyal friend, the senior Senator from South Carolina, Olin Johnston, here with us tonight.

So far as the Savannah River plant is concerned, we are working now to help you convert this installation and all of its facilities into peaceful purposes so that this installation will continue to serve the United States in any crisis.

The great Clarks Hill Reservoir was built in a Democratic administration. It established flood control. It stabilized the Savannah River flow so that now you have an inland port. And the Corps of Engineers is now working on a 9-foot channel all the way from Augusta to the Atlantic Ocean. The reservoir has played an important role in bringing new industry, in bringing new jobs, in bringing more income into every home in Augusta.

The Democrats try to create jobs. The Democrats try to build business. The Democrats try not to turn back the clock to lower wages and fewer jobs.

In Augusta in the past 12 months, $100 million of new industry has been announced. This is progress. This is the positive, forward motion of a people on the move. Augusta and the great State of Georgia are sharing in the greatest and the longest span of prosperity in all the peacetime history of the United States.

For 44 months this prosperity has gone unbroken. Moreover, it was the Democratic tax cut of $12 billion that is helping fuel this business expansion, a tax cut that my opponent voted against, but thank God Democrats and Republicans alike joined to vote for the tax cut and pass it in the Congress.

Augusta has a right to be proud of its great medical school, named after the father of the great Senator from Georgia, Herman Talmadge.

One hundred years ago there lived in this city of Augusta a small boy who saw with his own eyes and felt in his own soul the awful price of the war that divided this Nation. When he was grown, he once said, "The only place in the world where nothing has to be explained to me is the South."

That small boy was the last President of the United States that was born and raised in the South--Woodrow Wilson.

So I say to all of you this evening, and I say to all of the South--and I want to say to all of the Nation--what Woodrow Wilson said then: "The only place in the world where nothing has to be explained to me is the South."

I know the burdens that the South has borne. I know the troubles that the South has seen. I know the ordeals that have tried the South through all of these years. And I want to see those burdens lifted off the South. I want the ordeals to end and the South to stand where it should stand as the full and honored part of a proud and united land.

There are 190 million people in the United States, but there are in this world more than 3 billion. So if freedom is to stand, if our hopes are to survive, if our dreams are to be fulfilled, your President, the President of all the people of the United States, must be able to win and to hold the trust and to have the respect of not only those millions here at home, but those billions around the globe. He must be able to say what the American people want the world to understand about America. The free capitals of the world must understand. The friendly capitals of this hemisphere must understand, and Moscow must understand and Peking must understand.

In our nuclear world tonight, there can be no misunderstanding of America's purposes or America's policies, or America's Presidents. Such understanding begins at home.

The American people want to make this a better land with a better life for better people, and any man who leads America must understand that Americans do not want to turn back to the past. They do not want to spend their years undoing what generations before them have done so well. They do not want to give their time to reopening old wounds or recalling the pains of old history.

Americans today want to-bind up those wounds. They want to heal that history. They want to make this Nation whole, and in the months that have been mine, this is the work that I have tried to do, and this is the work that I pledge to continue if this trust is vested in me on November 3d.

The people of America do not want a President to waste these years in stalemate with the States or with a deadlock with the Congress. I think that the people of America want, and I think the people of America expect, that the White House and the State House should work together, as your good Governor Carl Sanders and I have worked together these past 11 months.

The people of America want and expect the executive branch and the legislative branch to work together, as we have done with the help of men like your Senator Dick Russell and Herman Talmadge and Carl Vinson, and your own good Congressman Bob Stephens, and others.

The people of America want their President to work for peace. They want him to work through preparedness.

Now, this I have done, and this I will continue to do. The people of America want their President to keep his head without losing his heart. They want him to be frugal with the public funds, but they want him to be faithful to the public needs of the young and the old. They want him to be concerned with the poor and they want him to be just to the well-to-do, the workingman, and the businessman, and the farm family, and the city family alike. This I have done, and this I will continue to do.

Your support, your great sense of patriotism, has been strength for me throughout the time that I have served as your President. In this election, I do not call for a victory of party, I do not call for a victory of region. I call for a victory of all the people, a victory for all America.

In my heart I think, as I believe you think, that our country is stronger if we reason out our differences together. I think it is better to use the head and the heart than to use the tongue and the voice.

I know when you see people, as you have seen them at some conventions when they don't want other people to talk, when the Governor of a great State is not even permitted to speak to his own convention because of others who would interfere, or when the President of your own country would be stopped and interrupted while he was trying to talk to you in your own land--can you imagine what kind of leadership that would do for the world if that were practiced on other people?

Now, might does not make right, and I would imagine I would know where the might is here if we needed to do it. But I was always taught as a little boy when people didn't know any better, and when they made mistakes, and when they were rude, and when they didn't show good manners, to turn your other cheek and say, "Dear Lord, please forgive them, for they know not what they do."

And I think that is the way that the people of the 50 States are feeling. We don't feel hurt, and we don't feel angry. We just feel sorry. And I think that on November 3d they are going to feel sorry, too.

I think that--I know in my heart that this is how Georgia will vote. I was in an election campaign 4 years ago and I returned to my home State in the last days of that campaign. We went to the hotel to wash up before we went to a luncheon meeting, but the entrance was blocked and the hecklers were there. They harassed us and they hounded us and they knocked my wife's hat off. They spit on us, they called us traitors, and they called us treason artists. And they had ugly signs and they dealt not in a single issue that we were debating. They had only to talk about personalities and little petty things because they were little, petty people.

As we walked from one hotel to the other in a free American city that had never known anything but democratic leadership and democratic ways and democratic freedoms, it took us more than an hour to walk across the block because of the chants and the saliva that was running out of their mouths, and, really, some of them were diseased; they were just really upset.

The next morning I talked to a great public servant of Georgia; he called me on the phone. I believe it was about Wednesday of the week before the election on Tuesday. He said:

"I want to know where I can join your plane tomorrow, because in the State of Georgia we don't spit on people we disagree with. We don't knock the hats off of their ladies, and we do permit them to move down the street from one hotel to the other without danger. I would like to come and say to the people of America that these tactics that we have read about and that we have seen don't represent a majority of Americans. They represent a minority of poor, unfortunate souls that ought to be pitied instead of criticized."

So I think here tonight in Georgia, I think in my own heart, and I think in your heart, that all of you know how the South is going to vote. In my heart and in your heart, I think you know that this is how the Americans of all regions, of all religions, of all races, will vote on November 3d.

I want to especially thank you good people who came to listen and to learn and to try to find out about the issues. I want to tell you that 11 months ago when I took over the Presidency, I didn't have any time to go to the library or to bring in a council of advisers. In that tragic moment after Dallas, I suddenly had this awesome responsibility thrust upon me. I said with the good Lord's help and with your prayers, I would try to do my dead level best. And I have done that.

Now, under our constitutional system, next Tuesday week you will be called upon to turn me out or to select me for 4 more years, and I think I know that in your heart you know what is right.

There is only one real issue in this campaign, and it is a very important issue, and it is probably the most important issue that you will ever decide in your lifetime. That issue is peace or war. That issue is whether you have nuclear holocaust or whether you have peace.

If you move a thumb up to a button that launches a nuclear holocaust, in a matter of moments you can snuff out the existence of 300 million men and women and children. One hundred million alone, more than half the people in America, would be wiped out in a matter of moments. That is so much more important than anything else that an intelligent man can think of that that is what should occupy our time, and I think that is what will occupy your time.

You have to sit down in the quiet sanctity of your home, and with your wife and with your family, determine what leadership you think is best equipped, is best experienced, has the prudence, has the understanding, and has the training to try to pull together the people of the world instead of dividing them, to try to heal the differences that divide us and make them unite us.

There are so many more things that we agree upon than we disagree upon, but we must have a leader who loves instead of a leader who hates. We must have a leader who has faith in our country instead of a leader who has doubt in our country. We must have a leader who really is running for the Presidency instead of a leader who is running against the Presideocy all the time.

We have got to have someone who believes in the capacity of this country, the future of this country, and the potential of this country, instead of having someone who is frightened, fearful, doubtful, and constantly concerned about us going to hell in a hat.

Well, I am not going to tell you how to classify these individuals. You can do that in your own home, in your own way, and then you can go and express yourself. The only one thing I want to tell you is this: There is danger abroad in the world. We are living in a critical period. Your patriotism was never needed more.

There are parents in this crowd that took their son down to the depot to say goodby to him in World War I and World War II, and I pray they will never have to do that again. But I do hope that you take that son and go down to the polling place. I am not saying that you go there and vote for this party or vote for this man. I am saying you go there and do your duty and do your obligation, and live up to your responsibilities of citizenship just like you do when this Nation is confronted with danger in wartime. You go there and do what you think is best.

President Eisenhower was a Republican President. I voted for him in 1960 in his foreign policy and his relations with other nations 95 percent of the time. My opponent, who belongs to, or is supposed to belong to, the same party voted for him 25 percent of the time. I want to continue a bipartisan foreign policy, where the leaders of both parties will let politics stop at the water's edge.

I said when I was elected leader of the Democrats in the Senate, after Dick Russell nominated me and I was elected unanimously, when President Eisenhower was taking over the Presidency and had a majority of the Senate--the Democrats had been defeated and had been routed--I said, "Here is going to be my policy: When the Republican President, Mr. Eisenhower, is right, I am going to stand up and proudly support him, and ask my Democrats to follow me. When he is wrong, I am going to oppose him, in decency and dignity, on the basis of the issue and without regard to personality or his children or his dogs," because I believe it is every American's duty if he wants to be a good citizen, when he casts his vote either in Augusta or in the United States Senate, to vote for what he thinks is best for his country, regardless of his party.

So when they asked me what my political philosophy was, I said, "I am a free man first, I am an American second, I am a public servant third, and I am a Democrat fourth, in that order."

So if in your judgment and your wisdom you decide that after the 11 months that I have tried to do the best I could and pick up where our beloved President John Fitzgerald Kennedy left off and carry on--if you don't join the few voices that would turn me out, and you ask me to stay there for another 4 years, I pledge you that I will give you all that is within me to try to unite the world instead of divide the world, to try to have peace instead of have war, to try to have prosperity instead of have depression, to try to help lead and build a new South, but most of all, a new America that knows no North, no South, no East, no West.

Note: The President spoke at 5:38 p.m. at the Richmond-Augusta County-Municipal Building in Augusta, Ga. In his opening words he referred to Governor Carl E. Sanders of Georgia. Later he referred to Senators Herman E. Talmadge and Richard B. Russell, and Representatives Carl Vinson, Robert G. Stephens, Jr., and John J. Flynt, Jr., all of Georgia, J. B. Fuqua, chairman of the Georgia State Democratic Committee, and Governor Donald S. Russell and Senator Olin D. Johnston of South Carolina.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at a Rally in Augusta, Georgia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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