Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Announcing the Nomination of Arthur J. Goldberg as U.S. Representative to the United Nations

July 20, 1965

Mr. Justice, Mr. Secretary, ladies and gentlemen:

One week ago we, and the world, lost Adlai Stevenson.

For all who knew him, and for all whose lives were touched by his rare gifts of inspiration, the world will seem forever poorer for his death. Yet we know that the world will be forever richer for his life.

None can fill the void that his passing leaves in our hearts. But the vacancy left at the council tables of the United Nations must be filled.

Our yearning for peace and for justice on this earth, and our quest for the dignity of all mankind, are not the yearning and quest of one heart but of 190 million. Where men and where nations come together to seek these goals, the voice of all America must be heard.

It is, therefore, my responsibility to select a successor to Ambassador Adlai Stevenson as the special Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations.

Since the birth of the United Nations 20 years ago, each President has faced the same responsibility. Each President has reflected the faith and the firmness of our commitment to the United Nations by always calling upon distinguished citizens of very high achievement to serve in this honored office.

As an example, President Truman called upon Senator Warren Austin of Vermont.

President Eisenhower called upon an out, standing American, who serves his country faithfully and selflessly still, Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts.

President Kennedy called upon the great Governor Adlai Stevenson of Illinois.

To assume these responsibilities now I have called upon a member of the Supreme Court of the United States, and a former member of the Cabinet--Justice Arthur Goldberg.

At the insistence of the President of his country, he has accepted this call to duty.

Justice Goldberg, like Governor Stevenson, is a son of Illinois. Where Governor Stevenson was descended from some of America's oldest settlers, Justice Goldberg was born of some of our newest. He rose from the city streets to Cabinet office, and then to the highest court in this land. His life embodies the story of our open and free society as a fulfillment of the opportunity that we want all mankind to share with us.

A counselor of the American trade union movement, Justice Goldberg won the esteem of both labor and business. His appointment to the Cabinet of the late, beloved President Kennedy drew bipartisan approval and drew praise from leaders of widely divergent philosophies. His nomination to the Supreme Court was warmly welcomed by all who knew him as a lawyer of exceptional ability, a student and a thinker of original and profound capacity, and, above all, a man of courage, and independence, and conviction, and generous humanitarian compassion.

But Justice Goldberg is a man of international reputation, too. Before entering public service he was an articulate and very forceful champion of the effort within the international labor movement to preserve and to extend the democratic institutions of the free world. In the Cabinet he represented the President on missions to Europe, and Africa, and Asia, and was continuously concerned with the affairs of the United Nations' International Labor Organization. Since becoming a member of the Supreme Court, he has traveled extensively in the world, speaking in many lands about the problems and the issues which all men share.

At different periods, over the past 20 years, we have had varying concerns in our constant and continuous efforts for world peace. But always--and really never more than now--we strive for a world where all men may live in peace with the hope of justice under the rule of law over the conduct of nations.

Committed as we are to this principle and this purpose, it is fitting that we should ask a member of our highest court to relinquish that office to speak for America before the nations of the world.

And finally, let me say that Justice Goldberg is an old and trusted friend of mine, a counselor of many years. He will sit in our Cabinet. He will always have direct and ready access to, and the full and respectful confidence of, the President of the United States and the Secretary of State. In this new office he will speak not only for an administration but he will speak for an entire Nation, firmly, earnestly, and responsibly committed to the strength and to the success of the United Nations in its works for peace around the world.

Now, if Justice Goldberg would say a word we would all be very pleased.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10:54 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Justice Goldberg and to Secretary of State Dean Rusk. Later he referred to, among others, Henry Cabot Lodge, U.S. Ambassador to South Viet-Nam.

Following the President's remarks, Justice Goldberg spoke briefly. The text of his remarks, also released, follows:

Mr. president, Mr. Secretary, Mr. Bundy, my wife, Dorothy, my son, Bob:

Mr. president, with the death of Adlai Stevenson, a great voice of America in the world has been stilled, but the message of Adlai Stevenson to the world must go on.

That message is man's ancient supplication: Grant us peace, Thy most precious gift.

What has been prayer throughout the ages is a necessity today.

Adlai Stevenson was the voice of a great and powerful nation, at once dedicated to peace and implacable in its commitment to freedom.

The eloquence of his words no more than reflected the richness of his spirit and the righteousness of his cause.

We, and the world, are different because he lived.

Of Adlai Stevenson's departure and my appointment, I can only borrow words uttered on a similar occasion by Thomas Jefferson: I succeed him. No one could replace him.

I shall not, Mr. President, conceal the pain with which I leave the Court after 3 years of service. It has been the richest and most satisfying period of my career. And I shall have more to say about this in a letter I am sending to the Chief Justice and my brethren on the Court.

Throughout my life I have been deeply committed to the rule of law. The law gives form and substance to the spirit of liberty and to mankind's sacred stir for justice.

It now comes that the President has asked me to join in the greatest adventure of man's history-the effort to bring the rule of law to govern the relations between sovereign states.

It is that or doom--and we all know it.

I have accepted, as one simply must.

In my efforts at the United Nations, I shall do my best to carry on, in my own way, the work of my distinguished predecessors. I hope to help make real and manifest the assertion of the charter that social justice and better standards of life in larger freedom are indispensable to the achievement of world peace.

I am grateful to the President for judging me capable of the effort I now commence. I am grateful to the Secretary of State, my friend and my former colleague in the Cabinet, for welcoming me so warmly to this post.

It is with great humility that I undertake the role of our Nation's advocate of peace in the council of nations.

My wife, my son, my daughter--who is in Chicago, and cannot be with us today--my mother-in-law, all join with me in asking only the prayers of the American people that we shall succeed.

Thank you.

Justice Goldberg served as Secretary of Labor from January 21, 1961, through September 24, 1962, and as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from September 28, 1962, through July 27, 1965.

See also Item 383.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Announcing the Nomination of Arthur J. Goldberg as U.S. Representative to the United Nations Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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