Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Signing of the Bill Establishing the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

August 12, 1965

Mr. Allan Hoover, President Milton Eisenhower, Senator Miller, Senator Hickenlooper, Congressman Schmidhauser, distinguished Members of the Congress and the Cabinet, guests, and friends:

I have a wire from one of our most distinguished and beloved Americans that I would like to read on this occasion. It says:

Dear Mr. President:

For a matter of weeks I have assured many friends that I would be present at the opening of the PGA at Ligonier. Upon receipt of your kind invitation to be present at the signing of the Hoover legislation, I asked my brother to act as representative for both of us at the ceremony. And I send this telegram with my regret that I could not be present in Washington tomorrow. Appreciation for your thoughtfulness.



Last October, the Nation--and the world-were deeply saddened by the passing of Herbert Hoover, our former President, at the age of 90 years.

When he died, we felt the loss of something good and something honest and something uniquely American. And we still feel that loss.

Men of Herbert Hoover's caliber come all too seldom in public life. But today, here in the Rose Garden, we welcome the opportunity to pay to Herbert Hoover a tribute that his life most richly deserves, and that we most respectfully give.

The Congress has passed, and I shall sign today, a bill to establish the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, Iowa, the scene of his birth and the site of his burial.

This 28-acre park has been donated to the Federal Government by the Herbert Hoover Birthplace Foundation. There are the graves of the late President and his beloved wife. There also is the restored cottage in which Herbert Hoover was born. There is also a duplicate of his father's blacksmith shop, and a beautiful, modern library in which the papers of his Presidency are kept.

The visitors to this historic site will sense the essence of this land of opportunity. For out of those humble origins, this young man found his way to greatness in this land--and, yes, greatness in this world.

Herbert Hoover was truly a remarkable man. He was self-made. He was a great engineer. He was a world traveler. He was a humanitarian who helped to feed the millions of starving Europeans after two World Wars. He was a great and efficient Secretary of Commerce under two Presidents of the United States. He was the 31st President of the United States. He was adviser to two Presidents on Government reorganization, and he was adviser to a third one, yours truly, on other things, including Government reorganization.

He reminded me the last time I saw him that he didn't believe any of my Cabinet had read his reorganization reports except Secretary McNamara, and he wanted to call it to my attention and to the other members of the Cabinet. I told Secretary McNamara that and he flew to New York to talk to him and he put some of them into effect, and some of you fellows are still protesting them out there. But they saved the Government a good deal of money.

He was chairman of the Boys Clubs of America. He was a writer, a fisherman of some note, and above all, always--always-he was an American patriot, ready at any time to answer any call of his Government.

Herbert Hoover was President when I first came to Washington in 1931. In later years, one of the rich and rewarding inspirations of my life was to know him when I was Vice President, and Senator, and later as President, to visit with him, to talk to him, to sit in his apartment at the Waldorf. I shall always cherish his wisdom and his insights, but most especially I shall cherish the inspiration of his character.

I am sure that all his life, both before and after his Presidency, Herbert Hoover never had any petty instinct or never had any mean impulse to do other than place the national interest of his country above his party and above himself.

He knew--as every man knows who occupies the highest Office of this land--that once you become President you want to be President, and you should be President, of all the people. And in the rich and in the satisfying later years of his life, President Hoover answered the calls of Democratic as well as Republican Presidents.

One of the things that interested me most, when I visited Mr. Truman's Library, was to see a letter that Herbert Hoover had written him responding to his call to be of help when Mr. Truman needed him.

So, as we gather here this morning to reflect upon his career, it is to really remind ourselves that this house and this Government and this society, of which we are members, really belong to no party, because the partisan spirit is an alien spirit to America.

In my lifetime, two Presidents from the Republican Party have raised higher the standards of nonpartisanship of this office-Herbert Hoover and Dwight David Eisenhower. And to those here today, from both of our parties, may I observe that it is my hope for myself that some way, somehow, I can justly follow in their footsteps and have the same thing said of my service. And it is my hope for our country that the same can always be said for all who come here in times to come.

Public life can be a cruel life and President Hoover experienced that cruelty. But I never observed, in my associations with him, that he was ever embittered by it in the least. He took it like the great statesman that he was.

His wit and his humor seemed to grow with the years. I shall never forget the passage in his memoirs that were dealing with the 1932 Presidential election, when he wrote very simply: "You will expect me to discuss the last election. Well, as nearly as I can learn, we did not have enough votes on our side."

He was a big man, and he was a dedicated man. He was a good man and, above all, he was a devout and honest and compassionate man.

So today, I think it is quite appropriate that we set aside for posterity this memorial on the soil from which came an uncommon man and an uncommon American.

By this act, that soil from which he came, and where he returned, becomes a permanent part of our American heritage.

There were a good many regulations against doing this, and a few rules that prevented it. But when Mr. Cowles and the distinguished Governor of the State of Iowa--Mr. Gardner Cowles brought him in here one day--told me the problems they had at Interior, I said that one of the prerogatives of the President is to repeal and remove some of those obstructions--which I promptly set about to do, and it was changed somewhat, and this bill is before us.

I think we are all richer for it, just as we are richer for having had Herbert Hoover with us in this country for 90 years.

Our gratitude goes to Congressman Schmidhauser for introducing this legislation and working so tirelessly for its passage, and the entire Iowa delegation, both House and Senate.

I am especially glad that we can have with us today, not only so many members of President Hoover's party, but so many of those who were associated with him--Mr. Allan Hoover; Admiral Strauss, once his personal secretary; Mr. J. Harold Stewart, the Director of the Budget in the Hoover administration; Mr. William Anderson, former president of the Herbert Hoover Birthplace Foundation and a close personal friend; our own beloved friend of many years, a great public servant, Congressman Joe Martin.

I am also privileged to welcome many distinguished members of President Hoover's party, from both public and private life. For us all it is an honor to share together this moment of tribute to a man that we all admire and we all respect and, for those who knew him, we all had deep affection.

Note: The President spoke at 11:41 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Allan Hoover, son of former President Herbert Hoover, Milton Eisenhower, President of Johns Hopkins University and brother of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Senator Jack Miller of Iowa, Senator Bourke B. Hickenlooper of Iowa, and Representative John R. Schmidhauser of Iowa.

During his remarks the President referred to, among others, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, Gardner Cowles, President of Cowles Publications, Governor Harold E. Hughes of Iowa, Adm. Lewis L. Strauss, former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, J. Harold Stewart, Chairman of the Task Force on Budget and Accounting of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government (Hoover Commission), and Representative Joseph W. Martin, Jr., of Massachusetts.

The President signed the bill on the desk used by President Herbert Hoover while he was in the White House.

As enacted, the bill (H.R. 8111) is Public Law 89-119 (79 Stat. 510).

See also Item 414.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Signing of the Bill Establishing the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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