Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Convention of the International Association of Machinists, Miami Beach, Florida

September 15, 1964

President Hayes, Mr. Walker, Governor Bryant, Mayor Burns, my old friends Congressmen Pepper and Fascell, Reverend Parks, officers, executive council members, delegates and guests:

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your warm reception and for the confidence that you have already demonstrated in me.

Seventy-six years ago your union was formed. When your founders met then, they were forced to meet in secrecy and in fear. Labor had no rights, and few rewards. The laboringman and his family sat at the second table in our society. That day is gone, gone forevermore.

The America of 1964 is vastly different from the America of 1888. Sixty-hour weeks are gone. Twenty cents an hour wages are gone. Child labor and sweatshops are gone. You meet as free men ought to meet--out in the open and unafraid, your rights assured, your rewards increased, and your place secure at the first table of our Nation's success.

I am proud for you and for your president, Al Hayes. When he retires in a few months, AI Hayes can know that he spent his life participating in the greatest advance made by labor anywhere in all the history of mankind.

Now, that is the challenge that is before us. When our work is done, will we know that we, too, have advanced the cause of man? For my part, I am determined that the answer shall be "yes." I am determined that history shall rejoice in memory of our generation.

I am determined that generations to come after us shall shed no tears, or shame, or sorrow when they remember our stewardship as keepers of the flame. And that is why I come today to call you, and to call all Americans, to the works that I believe we must do, that these shall be remembered as America's proudest years.

Our trust today is very great, yours and mine. Our success, the success of all the American people, is running at the flood. In all our years, never have any other Americans known the prosperity that you know today. Old records are being surpassed every month. The August reports have just come in. I read them last night. They show this: More men and women were on nonfarm payrolls last month than ever in American history--59,250,000, up by 1,600,000 more than a year ago.

Factory employment reached the highest August level in more than 10 years--17,500,000--300,000 more than a year ago. The factory workweek reached the highest August average since 195--14 years ago--40.9 hours, and the average premium pay of 3.5 hours was the highest since statistical records began back there in 1956.

Average weekly earnings set a new record for August of $103--$4.50 more than August 1963, and $10 a week more than August 1961. This is what our late, beloved President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, talked about when he said, "We are going to get America moving again."

In these last 3 1/2 years, 3,743,000 new jobs have been added. We have been adding them at the rate of nearly 90,000 new jobs per month. In the previous 3 ½-year period, 1,596,000 jobs were added, a little less than 40,000 jobs per month. We are doing twice as well on new jobs. And on the rise in take-home dollars for the workingman we are doing 7 times better.

In the 42 months before January 1961, workers' average weekly earnings, after taxes, rose only $1 .25. But in the next 42 months they rose $8.43--let me repeat, 7 times as much. And that is adjusted to take account of price changes. For all sectors of our economy the story is the same. Whether we look through the eyes of labor or business, white collar or blue collar, farmer or professional, these are years of great success for all Americans. And we appreciate it. That success is our trust, yours and mine.

Entrusted to your care, and mine, is both the greatest success any system has ever achieved and the greatest cause that any people have ever borne. We must not lose that success or fail that cause. And I predict here today that we shall not.

If future generations are to rejoice in their memory of our generation, our great work must be that great word on the banners in this hall--we must work together all the way for "unity" of the American people and the American Nation; all the way this year and every year, because unity is our challenge.

This year, and every year, the prosperity of the many must not be sacrificed to the partisanship of the few. This year, and every year, the progress of all the people must not be victimized by the prejudices of any of the people.

These are first and basic works of unity. What we enjoy today, in our land and in our lives, we are able to enjoy because we in America and the world are at peace. I love peace, and I know you do, too. And I don't intend that it shall be lost--for your children or for mine.

I know the strength of this Nation. I know that we can live as we live now--prosperous, progressive, and unafraid--so long as we live together united, forward-looking, and undivided.

There is far too much work for Americans to do together in the future for Americans to divide today over the past. Too many Americans who want jobs still cannot find jobs. Too many of our families are too poor. Too many of our young people must end their educations too soon. Too many of our older couples must dip too deeply into their life savings to pay their hospital bills. And that is why we are working so hard, so long, to try to pass medical care under social security in this session.

And I say to you now, and I say to all Americans everywhere, if you believe in medical care for the aged under social security, now is the time to stand up and be counted.

Yes, we have much work to do in America--in our cities, in our countrysides, and in our classrooms. We are working less hours per day, less days per week, so we have more time to enjoy some of the fruits of American life, and some of the recreation that should be available to every American family. And improving our cities and our classrooms and our countryside is the work that I want you to join us in helping do, so that these years ahead of us will be worthy to be remembered as the proudest years in American history.

There is no problem at home, and there is no provocation in the world, from which we need to turn away. With patience and with perseverance, with faith in our arms and strength in our hands, and peace in our hearts, we can be the masters of our destiny and the captains of our fate.

I believe that you want your leadership and your Government, and your country, to extend their hand, but keep their guard up.

I believe, and I think that you believe, in a test ban treaty that will save us from contaminating the milk of our children.

I believe, and I think you believe, in a policy of the good neighbor that will help those who want freedom help themselves.

I believe, and I think you believe, that one of the proudest moments of our national history was when we wrote a social security bill on the law books of this Nation. And I think that you think the social security law ought to be strengthened and not weakened.

I believe, and I think you believe, that there ought to be a job for every man willing to work.

And there ought to be a classroom and a teacher for every child to get all the education they are capable of taking.

I believe, and I know you believe, because it is your sweat and your toil that has helped to prepare this Nation--I believe that we must always be prepared to defend ourselves from any attack, but also always be prepared to reason out our problems with the nations of the world.

At this time in our Nation's life as we decide our course for the years to come--and this is the year of decision for you--let us all live by the precept of that great American, Thomas Jefferson, who said, "The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and the only legitimate object of good government."

And for however long I may be permitted to lead you and to serve you, the care of human life and happiness will enjoy the highest priority, because I think, as you think, as Jefferson thought, it is the first and the only legitimate object of good government.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:40 a.m. at the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla. In his opening words he referred to Al J. Hayes, president, International Association of Machinists, Elmer E. Walker, general secretary-treasurer of the Association, Farris Bryant, Governor of Florida, Haydon Burns, mayor of Jacksonville, Fla., Claude Pepper and Dante B. Fascell, U.S. Representatives from Florida, and the Reverend A. Gene Parks of the Miami Beach Methodist Church.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Convention of the International Association of Machinists, Miami Beach, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives