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Remarks at the Swearing In of John B. Connally as Secretary of the Treasury.

February 11, 1971

Ladies and gentlemen:

We are all gathered here today for the purpose of swearing in John Connally as the 61st Secretary of the Treasury of the United States.

This is an occasion which has a great deal of meaning, of course, to the Treasury Department, to the Administration, and to the American people.

I have already expressed, at the time that he was designated as the nominee for Secretary of the Treasury, my own confidence in the new Secretary. He is a man who is qualified because of his years of experience in State government, in National Government, and also in private enterprise.

Another significant point to note is that in a Republican administration, he is a Democrat. I think that has significance, not simply because there should be a Democrat in a Republican administration, or a Republican in a Democrat administration. It has significance at this time for this post because we have presented to the Nation proposals in the field of government reorganization and revenue sharing which will make greater ,changes in the structure of American Government than have been made since this Government was founded 190 years ago, and proposals that will have the effect of making government more effective; of making government, we trust, less costly; of giving the people of the United States of America, all of the people, a bigger voice in determining how much government they want, what kind of government they want, in determining how their tax dollars will be spent. Proposals of this magnitude and of this scope should not be approached as Republican proposals or Democratic proposals. They are proposals that involve the whole Nation and should be approached in a bipartisan way.

The new Secretary of the Treasury, in addition to all of his other responsibilities in that office, will have a major responsibility in presenting those proposals to the Congress and to the Nation in the spirit in which I have attempted to present them to Democrats and Republicans alike in this room, on television, and in other forums.

So, with that introduction, we will now go forward with the swearing-in ceremony. And Mr. Justice Blackmun, from Minnesota, will swear in Governor John Connally from Texas.

Incidentally, I found that while Texas has had representation in high levels of government in the long history of this country, Governor Connally is the first Texan ever to be named Secretary of the Treasury.

[At this point, the oath of office was administered by Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the Supreme Court.]

SECRETARY CONNALLY. Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon, distinguished members of the Cabinet, Members of Congress, members of my family, and friends:

Mr. President, will you permit me one big sigh? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. This is a lot easier forum than the Senate of the United States, I can assure you.

SECRETARY CONNALLY. I finally made it. Today I go on the payroll. [Laughter]

If there is justification for this levity, it is to keep me from being too serious.

Mr. President, to serve one's country under any circumstances to me is a rare privilege indeed. To serve one's country in a position of such responsibility is truly more than a challenge. It is a rare and a great opportunity. To be able to do so in the Administration of a President who is so dedicated and so committed, so sincerely doing all within his power to bring about basic changes in the structure of this Government and the delivery of services to its citizens, is an opportunity that any man would be grateful to have.

I assure you, Mr. President, in the pursuit of my duties, in the assignments which by law and by delegation are already those of the Secretary of the Treasury, and in the pursuit of those assignments which you shall give me in the future, I assure you I shall approach them with the deepest humility, and with a sense of hope that I can live up to your appointment, to your expectations, and that I might prove worthy of the trust that has been placed in me by you, by the Members of the Senate who confirmed me, by my friends who, right or wrong, have always believed in me, and, most of all, for the benefit of the people of this Nation.

Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT. Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the ceremony. And at this time, the new Secretary of the Treasury and Mrs. Connally and I will walk to the entrance to the State Dining Room. We would like to have all of you who have the time to join us there for coffee. And I understand there are some nice rolls and other things which I never try but they tell me they are very good.

Mrs. Nixon cannot join us because she has a luncheon to attend, but we will be glad to welcome all of you there.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:40 a.m. in the East Room at the White House.

Richard Nixon, Remarks at the Swearing In of John B. Connally as Secretary of the Treasury. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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