Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas

November 02, 1964

Governor Connally, Congressman Pickle, my old friend and your able Congressman who is making such an effective imprint in Washington:

Jake Pickle has again put me in his debt tonight by the wonderful leadership that he has given to this meeting. I want to tell you how proud all of us in Washington who love Texas are of Jake and Beryl for the fine contribution they are making in the Nation's Capital.

I can never repay, but I can always be grateful, for that dear friend, that loyal ally, through thick and thin, through right and wrong, for more than 25 years, the beloved and the able and great Governor of this State, John Connally.

I am proud that I can say to the people of my home State tonight that the senior Senator from Texas has been an unwavering supporter and a dedicated fighter for the President's program in the United States Senate from top to bottom.

I am grateful to the able Lieutenant Governor of this State for honoring me by his presence on this platform, and I appreciate his dedicated service to the people of the Lone Star State.

For many years I have enjoyed a warm personal friendship with your brilliant young Attorney General, and I thank him for coming here tonight with his charming wife to welcome us.

Mayor Palmer, I think you started something when you made this Lyndon Johnson Day in Austin and John extended it to Texas. If it is without objection from the crowd, I will just make it Lyndon Johnson Day in the entire Nation tomorrow.

One thing that distinguishes the Democratic Party, or at least did until recently, from the other party, is that we didn't always see everything alike within our party, and we reserved the right to be independent. There is no more independent delegation in the country than the Texas delegation. But when the chips are down and when you need them, and the going gets rough, and the enemy gets tough, the first ones I look to are these boys from Texas.

Old Tom O'Brien, the dean of the Chicago delegation, came over to the Senate one time and said, "I have to get a little private bill passed." And I told him how difficult it would be to pass it.

He said, "Let me tell you something. I have been in the House for 30 years. Mr. Rayburn has been sitting up there as Speaker and just when the roll call gets tight he motions that little finger and says, 'Tom, come up here to the desk.' And he leans over and whispers, 'Tom, get those Chicago fellows in line.' And I always got Chicago in line. Now, I want Texas to get in line and help us."

Well, now, once in a while I have to say to these Congressmen from Texas, "Fellows, please help us get in line here. There is a little heavy lifting to do."

I want to express 'publicly my deep appreciation for their devoted service to this State. Even though sometimes they have disagreed with me, they have always tried to be helpful and have been responsible largely for such success as I have enjoyed in the 11 months and 11 days I have been President. That is Congressman George Mahon, who has come all the way from Lubbock, the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee; my friends Bob Poage and "Tiger" Teague and John Young; and my dear daddy's friend Wright Patman, and my friend for many years.

My father told me when I went to Washington 27 years ago and caught that train down at the station, and I got up on it, the last thing he told me was, "Son, when you get ready to vote and you are in doubt, and there will be times when you are in doubt and you don't know whether to say yes or no, and they start calling the roll, just pass and wait until Wright Patman votes and then vote like he does, because I was his deskmate in the House of Representatives and he always voted for the people."

I want to particularly thank my friend Hunter McLean, who has been a devoted friend for many years and made many sacrifices for me. He used to limit himself to the Fort Worth district, but now the assignment is getting a little more difficult and he has had to take in all Texas. I don't know, if things don't go as well as we expect them to tomorrow, we may have to ask him to help us in the Nation.

I appreciate all the wives of the officials here tonight, particularly Nellie coming and lending charm and grace to this platform, and bringing back memories of many years, and the presence of Mrs. Yarborough, Mrs. Connally, Mrs. Pickle, and the others.

I came home to this city tonight. It is the city I love, and I wanted to be with the people I love on the night before. As I came up to the stage tonight, I saw a good many people that came out to my house one Sunday afternoon and asked me to run for Congress. One of them is Miller Ainsworth, from Luling, just standing here at the edge of the platform.

You are among my oldest and closest friends. I cannot say, but I think you will know, what is in my heart tonight. Whatever I am, whatever I have to offer my country, you are a part of it.

I don't think you will want and I don't think you would expect a campaign speech tonight, for the campaign is really over. I have been in 44 States, and Lady Bird, Lynda, and Luci have been in 49. Tonight I can look back with you and I hope look ahead.

If it is America's decision tomorrow that I maintain her trust, the days ahead will go forward as they have ever since I came to Austin 30 years ago.

All of these years have been in preparation for this responsibility.

It was here in Austin that I first learned that America is many people, from many countries, speaking many languages, many colors, with many different ideas, but moving always closer and closer together. And ever since, I have built my public life on the conviction that progress depends heavily on the narrowing of differences.

I do not accept Government as just the "art of the practicable." It is the business of deciding what is right and then finding the way to do it.

Usually the way is to get rid of the underbrush of misunderstanding, because most people want the same things and dream the same dreams. More and more as I have traveled in the world and as I have traveled around this land I am sure that this is as true around the globe as it was 30 years ago here in Austin. We will have peace when we can get the world's nations to understand each other as well as the people in those nations do.

It was here that I first learned with you in the days of the depression that failure is man's fault--and that he can repair that failure.

It was here, as a barefoot boy around my daddy's desk in that great hall of the House of Representatives where he served for six terms and where my grandfather served ahead of him, that I first learned that government is not an enemy of the people. It is the people.

The only attacks that I have resented in this campaign are the charges which are based on the idea that the Presidency is something apart from the people, opposed to them, against them.

I learned here, when I was the NYA administrator, that poverty and ignorance are the only basic weaknesses of a free society, and that both of them are only bad habits and can be stopped.

I learned here that the only honest government is a frugal government, and that a public servant can be both thrifty and progressive.

It is not a matter of reducing public service. It is a matter of reducing public waste.

I did not mean to speak so personally.

A very different part of history is heavy on my mind tonight. I want to complete here tonight a journey that was cut short 11 months and 11 days ago. On that tragic morning when John Kennedy was coming to Austin, he carried with him a speech that he intended to deliver here that night.

He would have said then, and so I am going to say it for him now:

"This country is moving and it must not stop. It cannot stop. For this is a time of courage and a time for challenge. Neither conformity nor complacency will do. Neither the fanatics nor the faint-hearted are needed. And our duty as a party is not to our party alone, but to the Nation, and, indeed to all mankind. Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and freedom.

"So let us not be petty when our cause is so great .... Let us stand together with renewed confidence in our cause--united in our heritage of the past and our hopes for the future--and determined that this land we love shall lead all mankind on to the frontiers of peace and abundance."

Those words were President Kennedy's words and they are etched on our minds and in our history by the acid of tragedy, and the ideals that they set forth will be that much stronger for it.

And now we look ahead. For those who look backward to the past will surely lose their future.

Tomorrow is a fateful day for our Nation and for the world.

Its prize will not be the Presidency. It will be progress for America, and it will be peace for the world.

Around the world tonight, millions watch and wait. A stillness is on the earth tonight, in London and in Moscow, in Peking and in Cuba, in humble huts and in mighty palaces around the world. Yes, millions enslaved and millions free await to hear your decision tomorrow. On that decision rests our future, and largely theirs, and the future of our children, and largely theirs.

And if it is my lot to serve my Nation further, I will say simply, as I did when I took that oath in Dallas 11 months and 11 days ago: "With God's help and yours, I will just do the best I can."

Beyond that, I want to add only that it seems to me tonight here in Austin, the great capital of this great State, that I have spent my life getting ready for this moment.

So have we all.

The rest is only dedication.

But before I say good night, and go up to the little place where I was born on the banks of the Pedernales, I want to tell you that I am thinking of many who are here tonight and thinking how rich I am in your friendship. I am thinking of many who are not here, like Governor Allred who used to be over there, Mayor Miller that used to be down there, Mr. Perry that used to be out here, Dr. Givens who used to be over there--I could spend all night reminiscing, but I won't.

But I do have the good fortune to have been blessed with the greatest family that any man could have. And I want each one of them, in case something ever happens to me, to have the friendship that I have had, because there is nothing that is as rewarding, there is nothing that is as enriching, there is nothing that gives man's life the fulfillment as the bonds of understanding that exist between you and me.

Lady Bird started out with me here in Austin 30 years ago, and 10 years later Lynda came along, and then in 3 or 4 years, Luci.

Against my advice, Lady Bird got on the train and went all through the South and made 49 speeches in 8 or 10 Southern States. She came to see the people that she was raised with, and saw the people that she loved, and she also saw some ugly signs along the route and she heard some ugly things. But she went direct to them, face to face.

Little Luci has been in 22 States and she came back the other day and said, "Daddy, I have been in the Dakotas and Nebraska this weekend and I haven't had a single free weekend since last May. Do you think that is right for a 17-year-old?" Well, she is going to have a free weekend, thank the Lord, if the good Lord is willing and the creeks don't rise, this weekend.

And Lynda has been all the way from Hawaii to New York City, and everywhere she has gone she has carried the story of Texas. She has left your footprints somewhere around the line.

So if you will just indulge us 3 or 4 more minutes, I want them to say hello to you. I will start out with Lady Bird and let her introduce the others. In the meantime, I won't be back, but God bless you and I love you all.

[At this point Mrs. Johnson spoke. "November and Austin have been for the Johnsons inseparable through the years," she said, "so there was no question in our mind when we planned where we would be spending election eve. It was sure to be right here with you." There were many there, she felt sure, who would remember "27 yearn ago when Lyndon's name first appeared on the ballot in Texas." She concluded by expressing appreciation for the faith and support of their friends over the years. Following Mrs. Johnson's remarks, daughters Lynda and Lull spoke briefly. The President then resumed speaking.]

Now let's go home and have a good night's sleep and pray for each other and get up and go vote early in the morning the Democratic ticket from the courthouse to the White House.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10 p.m. in front of the State Capitol Building in Austin, Tex. In his opening words he referred to Governor John B. Connally and Representative I. I. Pickle, of Texas. Later he referred to Mrs. I. I. (Beryl) Pickle, Senator Ralph Yarborough, senior U.S. Senator from Texas, Lieutenant Governor Preston Smith, Attorney General Waggoner Cart, Mayor Lester A. Palmer of Austin, all of Texas, and former Representative Thomas J. O'Brien of Illinois. He also referred to, among others, Representatives George H. Mahon, W. R. Poage, Olin E. Teague, John Young, and Wright Patman, of Texas, Hunter McLean, Texas State coordinator for the Johnson-Humphrey campaign, Mrs. John B. (Nellie) Connally, Mrs. Ralph Yarborough, Miller Ainsworth of Luling, Tex., James V. Allred, Governor of Texas, 1935-1939, Tom Miller, former mayor of Austin, Edgar H. Perry, and Dr. Everett Givens of Austin.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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