Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at a Rally in Hemming Park, Jacksonville, Fla

October 26, 1964

Senator Holland:

It is good to be in Jacksonville, the Gateway City. Your welcome is as warm and wonderful as the sun in the sky, and I am grateful for both.

This Gateway City is a vigorous and a growing community. You are adding much to the wealth and the wisdom of Florida, and, indeed, to the whole country. I am very proud to be on this platform with some of the great men that Florida has produced.

Spessard Holland, the senior Senator from Florida, is a wise man and a good man whose life has been dedicated to the service of the people of Florida and the Nation. And I know that Florida's citizens will keep him in the United States Senate where he will continue to serve all Americans.

George Smathers, my old friend, an able Member of the leadership of the Senate, your young and effective Senator. His star is rising in the Nation's Capital. He is distinguishing you by his valuable contributions to our Nation. He is one of the outstanding authorities on this hemisphere, and he does much to promote the relations between the nations in this hemisphere.

Farris Bryant, your Governor, whose record of accomplishment is well known to the whole country, has been my friend, and I have been his admirer, for many years.

Haydon Burns, your own mayor and the next Governor of Florida, has great plans, has told me of his great plans, for the continuing growth of this great State of which he will be the chief executive. So let him help you make this a greater State.

Congressman Billy Matthews and Congressman Charles Bennett are the kind of men who have helped make the Florida congressional delegation one of the most respected of all the States in the Union. Congressman Billy Matthews and Congressman Charles Bennett--Congressman Bennett has earned the gratitude of Jacksonville and his Florida neighbors especially for his work in making the cross-Florida barge canal come closer to reality.

I am glad that one of the first acts of my Presidency was to include in a budget an item to begin the cross-Florida barge canal which someday will mean so much to all the people of this great State. Charlie Bennett has been my good friend and my helpmate. And all the Members of your delegation have always been reasonable and fair in dealing with us.

The members of your State cabinet have earned my gratitude by their endorsement: Tom Adams and Ed Larson, Tom Bailey and Doyle Conner, Ray Green and Jim Kynes. And I want to say this to you: that I earnestly believe that a week from tomorrow, when the polls from all the Nation come in, and we call the roll of States, I believe the progressive and the proud and the thinking people of Florida are going to put Florida in the Democratic column with Johnson and Humphrey.

In the audience today are many municipal leaders from all over Florida. I am mighty pleased to see them. The source of America's strength emerges from the kind of leadership that we have in our cities and in our towns. Nowhere, I think, is this stronger than it is in the State of Florida.

I was thrilled to hear of the good women of this community coming out to the coffee this morning and joining with the lovely Miss Ann Sheridan, who came here, and I am happy that she is here with us today. She is visible evidence of the beauty and the charm of Texas women. I would like the press to note that at this point in my speech I also said that Texas and Florida women are among the Nation's fairest!

I take pride in welcoming to this platform Mrs. Annette Baker and Tom Fleming, and Warren Goodrich and Lacy Mahon. But most of all, I say I am glad to be here with all of you good people, my friends and my fellow Americans.

Four years ago, John Fitzgerald Kennedy came here and said in Jacksonville, "I ask you to join us in starting again to move America forward."

That promise that John Fitzgerald Kennedy made in Jacksonville has been kept by the Kennedy-Johnson administration.

I have come back here today to ask you again, 4 years later, to join with the rest of America to keep the United States on the march.

Will you be at my side in that great cause ? Do you want to work with your President to keep our prosperity rising in this country? Shall we work together to advance the cause of freedom and to bring the world closer to a lasting peace?

Well, now, these are the choices that the American people will make next week. I think that all of you should try to understand that in this year 1964 there is just one real issue before you, and you must make your decision Tuesday, a week from now.

I have not come here today to talk about personalities. I have not come here to muckrake, or to mudsling, because when you have no issues to talk, you can always resort to that.

But in this campaign, you have only one big issue, and that issue is this: Whom do you want to lead America? What party and what person do you think gives you the best opportunity and is likely to give you peace in the world ?

To understand what this election means for our future, let's just look for a moment at our past.

This country is less than 200 years old. That is a very short time in the life of nations. In that moment of time, America has created the greatest success story in the history of the world.

Our wonderful democracy has spread to dozens of other countries. Everywhere men hope for freedom. The words "Give me liberty or give me death," the words "All men are created equal," are on their lips and are in their hearts.

And this success rests on many pillars. And none more important than the fact that our great political parties have always represented varied interests and the broad, common judgment of the American people.

I have been in political life for 35 years and I have observed that neither of our parties have spent much of their time preaching hate and preaching division. They have not stood for extreme views or narrow opinions. They have never asked us to tear down the institutions and the achievements of the past.

I remember, as you must remember, the campaign of Wilson, the campaign of Harding, the campaign in more recent years of Roosevelt, and Truman, and Dewey, and Kennedy, and Nixon. But none of these men tried to split our country wide open. None of these men preached hate. None of these men preached division.

Today, for the first time since the Civil War, there is some division in our land, there is some hate in our land. For the first time, the next chapter of the American success story is in question.

For under the wild charges and the impulsive statements of the opposition is hidden a deadly intention that would initiate policies which I think would radically change the American way of life.

Our peace is at stake. Our prosperity is at stake.

In the past 4 years the income of the people of Florida has grown at twice the previous rate. You have built roads that increase tourism and commerce, and this cost $100 million last year. We helped small businessmen keep alive and thriving, and this cost $10 million last year. We made social security payments--they weren't voluntary, either--to some 600,000 older citizens of Florida, and this cost a half billion dollars last year. We helped to provide lunch and milk for a half million schoolchildren, and this cost us $10 million in Florida last year.

The story is the same for schools and hospitals and training programs. Our tax cut will boost your economy. Our fiscal policies have cut unemployment and raised production.

And today we are told that Government must abandon many of these programs and turn them out and back to the States. We are told that we must abandon education; we must make social security voluntary; we should sell the TVA and get rid of public power; we should forget our farm programs.

Well, these are the most radical proposals that have ever been made to the American people. They would destroy the foundation of Florida prosperity. They would destroy the hopes for the future growth of this State.

But even more is at stake. The peace of the world and the survival of your sons and this Nation is really what you are going to decide Tuesday week.

Our strength is not the issue. We are the mightiest, we are the strongest nation on earth.

Our determination is not the issue. We are ready to defend freedom whatever the risk.

Patriotism is not the issue. The true patriotism is that of men who work to preserve and strengthen the Nation, not those who call for reckless acts which would weaken it.

Courage does not consist in threats and bluster. Courage does not consist in rattling your rockets and bluffing with your bombs. Courage does not consist in refusing to try to lessen the danger of war, in withdrawing from all contact with those who don't agree with us. In that way lies disaster.

True courage in this nuclear age lies in the steadfast pursuit of peace, whatever the setbacks, whatever the difficulties, however long the journey.

Here again, if we throw away the tested policies of the past, the bipartisan foreign policy that Arthur Vandenberg helped Harry Truman fashion to stop the Communists in Greece and Turkey, the bipartisan foreign policy that Lyndon Johnson worked with Dwight David Eisenhower in the Strait of Formosa, the test ban treaty that Everett Dirksen worked with John Fitzgerald Kennedy to pass through the Senate--if we throw away these tested policies of the past, we place in danger your lives, the peace of the world, and the future of this Nation.

These are some of the stakes in this election. They, in my judgment, are the highest stakes ever presented to any generation of Americans.

A great American party has fallen into the hands of a narrow and an extreme group. They ask you to tear down the past. They ask you to take unnecessary risks with your future.

There is now, in my judgment, only one course: We must Tuesday week go to the polls and crush this threat to American life. We must restore the health of our two-party system. We must get on with the work of building peace in the world and peace at home.

We must stop this business of talking about each other and quarreling with each other. We must love thy neighbor as thyself. We must preach love and not hate. We must preach unity and not division. We must preach equal opportunity for all Americans and special privilege for no Americans.

We are already the mightiest nation in the world. We have a foreign policy that is tested, that has brought together most of the leaders of both parties. We have a fine space program in which Florida is leading the rest of- the Nation. You have a great cross-Florida canal that we are just starting. We have much work that is yet to be done.

Today we have more people working than we have ever had before. They are drawing better wages than they have ever drawn before. Seventy-two million people are working; $104 a week. The businessman and the laboringman are not fighting each other. They are not hating each other. They are working together.

This year we lost less time by strikes than any year in our history except in the middle of a war. We didn't even lose 1 percent of the hours worked in strike, or a half percent, or a quarter percent. We lost fourteen one-hundredths of 1 percent.

I am so glad that I sent a message just 2 or 3 days ago and General Motors and UAW have finally settled their differences and they will all be back to work soon. What does this do when we reason together, as the Good Book says, instead of divide? The corporations of the country this year made $12 billion more after taxes than they did last year. The people who worked for those companies made $60 billion more after taxes than they made last year.

So why do we want to endanger the system that has taken us 30 years to build, with unemployment compensation, with social security, with the development of our resources, with our fine space program, and let it all go down the drain in a moment of an election year? I don't think you are going to do it.

I repeat: There are just two issues--and only one real, important one, and that is peace in the world, because if we get wiped out with an atomic holocaust there won't be anybody here to have any prosperity. So what you must decide between now and next Tuesday is whose thumb do you want to be close to that nuclear button; whose hand do you want to reach over and pick up that "hot line" telephone when they say, "Moscow calling" ?

When you decide those questions, based on your judgment of what is best for you, then our country will move forward and lead the rest of the world to enjoy the peace and prosperity that is so abundant here.

I am told that this is somewhat an unusual assembly for Jacksonville. Jacksonville is the great Gateway City. It is made up of people of all political philosophies, of all religions, that belong to many churches, people of different races.

But we are all equal on election day and we are all proud we are Americans.

And when the bugle blows and when the bell rings and when you mash the button, it doesn't make any difference what church you belong to, it doesn't make any difference what section of town you live in, it doesn't make any difference how you spell your name or the color of your skin. You go out and you enlist to defend that flag and to protect that flag.

Twice in my lifetime we have taken it around the world and brought it back without a stain on it and we are going to keep the defense that will assure we can do it again.

Before I close, I want to thank and welcome some of these folks over here of another philosophy. You know, at nearly every meeting we have they send some of their children over to visit with us, and we like for them to be here where they can see happy, smiling people. We like for them to know that we have no fear in our hearts and no hate in our souls.

I am really hoping that come election day a good many of these people that have exposed themselves to happy Americans with hope and faith and trust in their country-that they will get rid of their bad feelings and come and join us because the wonderful thing about this question of peace is it doesn't make any difference whether you are Democrat or Republican, if you have a nuclear holocaust, you are gone.

And in this campaign from Maine to California, I have found 30 and 40 percent of the Republicans have come over and joined us in a program for all the people regardless of party.

I think you ought to know here, in closing, that most Americans think more of their country than they think of their party.

So I will leave you now. I haven't said anything unpleasant or critical about any personality. I want to leave you with this thought: You go to the polls November the 3d and do what you think is best for your country.

I think the people from Maine to California are going to do the same thing. I predict that there will be more votes polled in this election, I predict there will be more votes cast in this election, than any national election we have ever had.

And I also predict that we are going to need every single one of you, because we want all the world to know, we want all America to know, that we want to do what is best for our country. So you go do it.

Note: The President spoke at 12:07 p.m. at Hemming Park in Jacksonville, Fla. His opening words referred to Senator Spessard L. Holland of Florida. Later he referred to Senator George A. Smathers and Governor Farris Bryant of Florida; Mayor Haydon Burns of Jacksonville; Representatives D. R. (Billy) Matthews and Charles E. Bennett of Florida; the following members of the Florida State cabinet: Tom Adams, Secretary of State, J. Edwin Larson, Treasurer, Thomas D. Bailey, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Doyle E. Conner, Commissioner of Agriculture, Ray E. Green, Comptroller, and James Kynes, Executive Assistant to the Governor; Mrs. Annette Baker, State Democratic committeewoman; Thomas F. Fleming, State campaign coordinator; Warren Goodrich, chairman of the State Democratic Executive Committee; and Lacy Mahon, Jr., Jacksonville. He also referred to Ann Sheridan, actress, of Denton, Tex.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at a Rally in Hemming Park, Jacksonville, Fla Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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