Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Swearing In of John T. Connor as Secretary of Commerce.

January 18, 1965

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE, we thank you for coming here this morning. We are sorry we were unprepared but that will be another lesson that we have learned from you.

Mr. Secretary, I understand at least one segment of American enterprise and commerce has already given you great credit for starting a boom here in the Capital City; between your relatives and friends and my relatives and friends, business ought to be booming for the taxicab business and the hotel business here in Washington.

This is a very happy week in the Nation's Capital but no event on the schedule is prouder for me than this particular occasion. It is an imposing responsibility for a President to select an individual to be head of one of what President George Washington called the great departments of this Government.

For the past 14 months I have served with and have been served by one of the finest and most exceptional Cabinets in this century. I shall always be grateful for their loyalty and their leadership. In every respect the Cabinet has reflected the vision and the brilliance of the man who selected them, President John F. Kennedy.

I am gratified that my first selection for the Cabinet is a man so worthy to sit with these colleagues. John Connor succeeded in public service before he succeeded in private life. He has that devotion to the public interest that I think represents the best of America's modern business community.

I am very proud to welcome him and his lovely wife Mary to the administration officially this morning.

The post the Secretary takes over is a vital one in our American system. Since it was created, the Office of Secretary of Commerce has been filled by many distinguished Americans, including one Republican President, one Democratic Vice President. I am sure that none have served more effectively for the country, Mr. Secretary, than your predecessor and my beloved friend Luther Hodges.

The Department of Commerce presents an important and an exciting challenge today. America's business community is in the midst of many profound changes. Revolutions are running in management, distribution, transportation and communication, and the uses of automation. Certainly no segment of our national life has a greater stake in broadening the qualities of our educational opportunity than does American business. In addition, I think the time has come when American enterprise must look outward and in the fine tradition of our forebears, trade as never before in the marketplaces of all the world.

At various times the Department of Commerce has been regarded as outside the mainstream of Washington, sometimes even the country. But as far as I am concerned that day has passed. I am looking to Jack Connor to make the Department one of the most progressive, one of the most alert, one of the most imaginative in the Government.

We are proud to have you here, Mr. Secretary. Congratulations and good luck and before you ask I might as well tell you I don't have any more tickets for the inauguration either. All I can suggest is if you find some of your business friends who do have, let's split them between your relatives and mine.

Note: The President spoke at 12:07 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. His opening words referred to Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States. During his remarks he referred to Luther Hodges, the preceding Secretary of Commerce. The text of Mr. Connor's response was also released.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Swearing In of John T. Connor as Secretary of Commerce. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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