Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Swearing In of LeRoy Collins as Under Secretary of Commerce.

July 07, 1965

Secretary Connor, Governor Collins, Senator Smathers, distinguished guests:

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the White House for this happy occasion this morning.

Judging by the holiday suntans I see, it would appear to me, Secretary Connor, your message is getting through about seeing the U.S.A. first.

In years gone by, the Fourth of July traditionally marked the beginning of a 3-months doldrums in our Capital City, when very little went on. But that is not the case this year.

This is a new season in Washington and I am confident that we are beginning a new sort of summertime--a constructive and creative time of major accomplishment. These are challenging times in which we live, as we all realize.

These are demanding times, as we all expect.

But above the challenges and above the demands, we see more clearly the opportunities of an age and a time that man has never known before.

I think it is symbolic that in only a few more days the rocket Mariner will fly by the planet Mars and man's reach will have been extended to the farthest reaches of our universe.

So our knowledge is growing each day. Our mastery of the mysteries of the ages is growing each day. Our capabilities for greatness are growing--not just American capabilities alone, but the capabilities of all the human race.

So in such times as these, I do not believe that mankind will turn--or be turned-down the forlorn and fading road of trial and tragedy which lies behind us. The opportunities which are ours now must be and shall be fulfilled in order to make life better on this earth for people who cherish freedom and who love peace in the world.

So in a real sense, Governor Collins, this ceremony today epitomizes this strong and and this new spirit in the United States of America. For too many years the Department of Commerce has been regarded narrowly by some as a dry and a dull and a lifeless organization. Now we recognize that in its work--as in the work of all of our organizations, both public and private-there is a most creative and constructive role for the Department to fill.

Secretary Connor is carrying forward the fine start made by Secretary Hodges before him. We have a new vigor, a new vitality, a new sense of purpose. A new pride, I think, is permeating the Department. And it is contagious.

When I returned the other day I said to my staff that I doubt if the Government anywhere has a better management team than has been assembled in the Department here of late. I think this forward thrust is being given momentum by the new men that Secretary Connor has brought into the Department.

So we have come here today to welcome one of those new men to that team, one of its most distinguished members--LeRoy Collins, a great public servant in the State of Florida. Governor Collins is one of our most respected citizens. On the basis of the record that he has already written at the State level and the Federal level, both public and private life, he ranks very high.

Last year--at considerable personal sacrifice-he came to the White House and agreed to pick up the unpleasant challenge of directing the Community Relations Service under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He is peculiarly equipped by training and experience and personality and soul to do that job. And his leadership there has been of the greatest value to this Nation.

I doubt that any of us, even in our greatest moments of optimism, would have ever been prone to predict that the compliance and the mediation that has been brought about as a result of his leadership would have ever reached such proportions.

So today his talents turn to the Office of the Under Secretary of the Department of Commerce. This is an appropriate reminder, I think, that in our society, social progress must rest on a basis of solid well-being for our economy--and the well-being of our enterprise rests finally on a broad base of a decent, and just, and fair society.

As I was last year, I am again this morning very grateful to Governor Collins and to all the members of his family for this unselfish demonstration and willingness to serve where he is most needed, and I think where he is most able. I predict that he will be a bright star in the new Commerce team, and I am very proud to welcome him, and to congratulate him, and to thank him for this new role of service.

Note: The President spoke at 11:15 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

In his opening words he referred to John T. Connor, Secretary of Commerce, LeRoy Collins, incoming Under Secretary of Commerce and former Governor of Florida, and George A. Smathers, Senator from Florida. Later he referred to Luther H. Hodges, former Secretary of Commerce.

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

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