Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks in San Francisco at a Democratic Fundraising Dinner

June 19, 1964

Governor Brown, Mayor Shelley, former Secretary and future Senator Pierre Salinger, Members of this great California congressional delegation, and all of you wonderful people who make this evening possible:

I want to confess that I was somewhat surprised when Pierre told me that he intended to run for Senator in a State more than 500 miles long. It was just a few months ago that he refused to walk even 50 miles.

The real reason Pierre decided to run has been a closely kept secret. Tonight I can let it be known: I wouldn't let him play the piano at my press conferences.

But it did take Pierre a little longer to make up his mind than you would suspect. He couldn't decide to run in California or Virginia. There is one blessing in all of this, of course: he can't smoke those cigars in the Senate Chamber. But I am very proud of you good people of California and the contribution that your voters have made to the economy drive. Since Pierre already lives there in Virginia, we won't have to pay to move him to Washington.

And by the way, Pierre, Secretary McNamara sends his regards. You know who I am talking about. You know him. McNamara. M-c-N-a-m.--

It is wonderful to be out here in this enlightened, progressive State. Thirty-two years ago Franklin Roosevelt came to San Francisco and declared that "America is new. It is in the process of change and development. It has great potentialities of youth, and particularly is this true of the great West, and of this coast, and of all of the great State of California."

Well, I think if Franklin D. Roosevelt were here tonight he would not have to change his text. America is still a young Nation. It is rich in talent, robust in energy, resplendent in the promise of a better life for all people.

And the West, this coast, the great State of California, have vindicated Franklin Roosevelt's vision of your future when he predicted it 32 years ago. You have turned what Daniel Webster once called "a wasteland" into a wonderland of opportunity.

When President Roosevelt campaigned here three decades ago, California was 6th among the States in population.

When our beloved John F. Kennedy and I campaigned here 4 years ago, you were second.

And tonight California is first--although I hope you won't tell them back in Texas that I said that.

California is not just the last frontier of an immense continent but the new frontier of an inspired civilization. For we have set America on the road to excellence--and in following that course we need the vision and the valor of the pioneers who crossed deserts and conquered mountains to turn a barren land into a bountiful life.

The path we have chosen will be hard, the perils will be great, the price will be high. But on the other side lies the Great Society-a place where a life of decency and dignity is within the reach of every man; a place where our people live in clean cities, where they breathe fresh air, where they drink pure water, where our children, all our children, study in good schools, and live in good homes, and play in good parks; and where all men know the fulfillment of personal happiness because they enjoy the freedom of personal opportunity.

We started across these frontiers 4 years ago, right here in San Francisco, when we heard a bold challenge from a brave crusader--John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

"The theme of this campaign," he said, "is going to be action. Action here at home to keep pace with our growing country . . . and action abroad to meet the challenge of Our adversaries."

Here in the city where he spoke those words, I want the record to show tonight that John F. Kennedy redeemed his pledge. He promised the Democratic Party would give this country action again, and action is what he gave it and what we are giving it. We passed the civil rights bill in the Senate today by a vote of 73 to 27.

Tonight let us look at three pledges made in California in 1960 and translated into action in 1964.

First, we took immediate action to increase our military strength to unquestionable superiority and we are determined to keep it there.

In San Diego we declared that "America must have a military strength second to none -- strength which can survive and can guarantee survival."

Since 1960 we have increased our nuclear power on alert 2 1/2 times, and the intercontinental ballistic missiles and Polaris missiles in our arsenal have been increased from less than 100 to over 1,000. We have increased our combat ready divisions by 45 percent. We have increased our special forces eightfold. We have increased our airlift capability by 75 percent. We are increasing our supporting tactical aircraft by 30 percent,. and increasing the number of tactical nuclear warheads in Western Europe by more than 60 percent.

We have used that strength not to intimidate others, but we have used it to show others that we cannot and will not be intimidated ourselves. We have used that strength not to incite our enemies but to indicate our intention to defend freedom wherever it is necessary.

There are still those in this country who, believe that we must have strength. Some think that we go too far, too fast. But I have never seen a nation too strong, provided it used that strength to keep the peace.

There are still some in the world who believe they can violate their neighbor's borders, and some who believe that they can steal their neighbor's freedom. There are still those who refuse to accept the standards and the laws which the international community has developed.

And as long as these men persist in disturbing the international peace, we must insist on preserving our national power. And as long as I am President I intend to see that America's defense can never be the object of doubt and America's strength can never be the subject of suspicion. That is number one.

Second, we took immediate action to show friend and foe alike that all America seeks in the world tonight is peace and justice.

Those of you who heard the promise of a Peace Corps in the Cow Palace in 1960 will be proud to know that around the world tonight more than 7,000 young Americans-incidentally more than 10 percent of them from the great State of California--are giving quiet witness to the best of America's ideals. From Borneo to Bolivia, from India to Tanganyika, they are translating good words into good deeds.

And I want to double the size of the Peace Corps. The nations of the world want our young people. The peoples of the world need our young people. And surely a nation rich in goods and ideals can provide young people.

You also heard the promise 4 years ago, right here in San Francisco, that we would seize the initiative in searching for ways to reduce the risks of nuclear holocaust.

Well, in 1961 we became the first nation to establish a disarmament agency in the world. And we have negotiated a limited nuclear test ban. We have established a "hot line" between Washington and Moscow, and, along with the Russians, we have cut back the production of materials used to make nuclear weapons. With each step the world has inched back from a nuclear precipice.

Through most of the years since World War II, America has been engaged in preventing conquests by communism. In the last few years the tide has turned. Tonight we are on the offensive in the pursuit of peace. We still face deadly dangers. We still face determined adversaries. But tonight we have the confidence in our strength and leadership which makes it possible for us to seek agreement without fearing the loss of our liberty. Unless our adversaries rashly mistake our intentions I predict that we will move closer to enduring peace in the coming decade than at any other time since the guns of August shattered the serenity of the earth half a century ago.

Third, we took immediate action to meet the hopes and widen the horizons of opportunity for every American.

In San Francisco, we said, "The pressure of our schools, the plight of our aged, the necessity of maintaining full employment, the necessity of expanding equal rights to all Americans--these are the things that require action."

Since 1960 we have enacted legislation and started programs to build almost 30 new public community colleges every year; to provide college classrooms for hundreds of thousands of new students; to provide loans that enable almost 100,000 additional Americans to attend college every year. But we have only just begun. In the next decade our goal is to open the door of higher education to every youngster in America who qualifies!

Since 1960 we have introduced and we have fought for a health plan to enable our older citizens to face the future without fear, and we are going to keep on fighting until that bill is the law of the land!

Since the beginning of 1961, 5 million new nonfarm jobs have been created and unemployment has been reduced by one-fifth while the labor force was growing by more than 3 million.

In California alone, more than 500,000 people have been added to the employment rolls since the beginning of 1961. More than 6,506,000 Californians--6,506,000 Californians-were working in the month of April this year--an all-time high for any April on record in our national history. And their wages were averaging better than $100 a week for every person employed.

Our tax cut will add 2 million new jobs, and we have urged Congress to pass programs that will train half a million workers a year in new skills. But as long as one American who is able to work cannot find a job, this administration and the National Democratic Party are not going to rest on our record.

We intend to work for a rapid rate of economic growth.

We are going to expand our investment in training new workers.

We are going to find ways to produce ever-better products at lower costs.

We will develop our tools of economic policy to cope with any signs of a recession.

And we will strive to remove any barriers that keep our fellow citizens from realizing their full potential.

Finally, since 1960 we have moved steadily toward full equality for all of our people. And I am proud to acknowledge that California, under the great leadership of Pat Brown and this delegation at this head table tonight, has led the march, has led the march toward the goal of decency and the goal of dignity for every American.

Today, the United States Senate passed the most comprehensive civil rights bill in 100 years. Our work is cut out for us and our job has just begun. It was 100 years ago that Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But until education is blind to color, and until employment is unaware of race, emancipation will be a proclamation but it will not be a fact.

I was leader of the Senate when we passed the first civil rights bill in more than 80 years in the Congress of the United States. It was just one step, in 1957. I was leader of the Senate when we passed the second civil rights bill in 85 years, in 1960.

I am proud that I am privileged to be President when the House and the Senate pass the greatest and best bill of them all in the year of Our Lord 1964.

Lastly and finally, this bill is a challenge, it is a challenge to men of good will in every part of the country to transform the commands of our law into the customs of our land. It is a challenge to all of us to go to work in our States, in our communities, in our homes, and, most of all, in the depths of our hearts, to eliminate the final strongholds of intolerance and hatred in our land.

It is a challenge to reach beyond the content of the bill, to conquer the barriers of poor education, poverty, squalid housing, which are an inheritance of past injustice and an impediment to future advance. Programs to improve the life of all underprivileged Americans will go far to liberate those who have suffered under the heavy weight of racial discrimination.

I want to say to you good people of California tonight that I do not underestimate for a moment the depth of the passions involved in the struggle for racial equality. But I also know that throughout this country, in every section of this land, there is a large reservoir of good will and compassion, of decency, love, and fair play, which seeks the vision of justice without violence in the streets.

If these good forces do not desert the field--and I appeal to you tonight in one of the first appeals I have made since this law was proposed--I appeal to the good people of California tonight not to desert the field. I appeal to you to come into the battle, to help us in the years of trial, m the belief that they will be a prelude to the final triumph of a land, a free land, with liberty and justice for all.

Yes, this year of our Lord 1964 is the year to reach that goal. Yes, this is the year to give every American an equal chance to send his little children to school, to give every American a chance to work, to vote, and to enjoy the benefits of a free society.

So tonight I congratulate the Senators and the Representatives of both parties who worked to make passage of that bill possible. I look forward to the day, which will not be long forthcoming, when the bill becomes law and I affix my signature. That will be a milestone in America's progress toward full justice for all of her citizens.

No single act of Congress can, by itself, eliminate discrimination and prejudice, and hatred and injustice. But this bill goes further to invest the rights of man with the protection of law than any legislation in this entire century.

First, it will provide a carefully designed code to test and enforce the right of every American to go to school, for every American to get a job, for every American to vote, and to pursue his life unhampered by the barriers of racial discrimination.

Second, it will, in itself, help educate all Americans to their responsibility to give equal treatment to their fellow citizens.

Third, it will enlist one of the most powerful moral forces of American society on the side of civil rights, the moral obligation to respect and obey the law of the land.

Fourth, and perhaps most important, this bill is a renewal and a reinforcement, a symbol and a strengthening of that abiding commitment to human dignity and the equality of man which has been the guiding purpose of the American Nation for 200 years.

This bill is the product not of any man or group of men, but of a broad, national consensus--73 to 27 in the Senate--that every person is entitled to justice, that every person is entitled to equality, and to an even chance to enjoy the blessings of liberty. It is in the highest traditions of a civilization which from the Magna Carta on has used the fabric of law for the fulfillment of liberty.

My friends, this ought to be a year of fulfillment-not of frustration. This ought to be a year of advance--not of apathy. Above all, it can be a year in which the rich promises of our past become the real performances of our present. We have come a long way in this country.

I see a friend out here in the audience, Otto Crider, who left Johnson City, Tex., with me 40 years ago. Both of us had less than $25 in our pocket. We didn't have a top on our car. It was an old "T" model. We started to follow the old philosopher's advice, Horace Greeley, and "Go West, Young Man" to seek our fortune. Well, Otto got up to Cloverdale and stayed there, and I think he is healthy and perhaps wealthy, and maybe wise. We both came here looking for a job, and I am back in the same mission tonight. You were good to me 40 years ago and you gave me that job, and I hope you love me in November as you do in June.

You have come a long way in California, but new frontiers are opening and we still have a long way to go.

In my old friend Pat Brown, here, you have a great Governor, and under his leadership and the leadership of the other State officials at this table tonight, California is moving ahead.

In Pierre Salinger you are going to have another effective Senator, he will be able to run in the White House almost as fast as he ran out. He will be taking the seat of that outstanding patriot and my beloved friend, your wonderful servant, Clair Engle.

The entire Nation and all the free world will be looking to California in the months ahead, to help us prepare and maintain our defenses on the land, in the sea, in the skies, and in outer space.

You have an outstanding congressional delegation. My old friend, George Miller, who lives not far from here, is the farsighted and able Chairman of the Space Committee of the House of Representatives, on which California relies so heavily.

I commend you for your entire Democratic congressional delegation, and I ask you, please, to enlarge it in November.

So let us resolve tonight to stand together for the programs that will give America more action and more progress for 4 more years. Let us resolve here tonight that in California and in the Nation the Democratic Party will be the party that worked for the people, will be the party that stood with the people, will be the party that believed in the people, will be the party that journeyed with the people across the New Frontiers toward a richer and better life for all human beings.

And tonight I appeal to all Americans, regardless of party, who believe in the people, who want them to have a richer and better life, to join us in our march, because we are marching.

We have not come here to condemn or to confuse, or to even criticize. We have come here to ask all good Americans to unite under one great tent to give every American a better tomorrow than yesterday, a richer and better life for himself and for his children, and his grandchildren.

Thank you and goodnight.

Note: The President spoke in the Continental Room at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco. In his opening words he referred to Edmund G. Brown, Governor of California, John F. Shelley, mayor of San Francisco, and Pierre Salinger, Democratic candidate for Senator from California and former Press Secretary to the President. During the course of his remarks the President also referred to Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense, to Senator Clair Engle and to Representative George P. Miller of California.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks in San Francisco at a Democratic Fundraising Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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