Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing Bill Authorizing Grants for the Publication of Historical Documentary Source Material

July 28, 1964

I appreciate very much you gentlemen coming here this morning.

I am very proud to be able to sign this valuable legislation.

Through the years Americans have been too busy making history to read it carefully or to record it, but we cannot steer a sure course to the future without a sure knowledge of the past. As has been said, people who do not know their past are doomed to repeat its mistakes.

The lessons of this century about our responsibilities at home and abroad are etched indelibly in our minds and in our memories, but it is vital and valuable for those who come after us that we preserve in orderly fashion those historic documents which recount this period and its lessons.

This bill will be a major step forward in assisting both public and private groups to preserve the records of our times.

I want to thank Congressman Brooks for suggesting that we come together today and to express appreciation to him and all those associated with the legislation for having rendered the future of our country a great service by helping to hold to our past.

Note: The President spoke in midmorning in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his closing remarks he referred to Representative Jack Brooks of Texas.

On February 5 the President wrote to the General Services Administrator, Bernard L. Boutin, concerning the bill as follows:

"I am glad to note that the bill (HR 6237) to authorize the National Historical Publications Commission to make small grants to encourage the preservation, compilation and publication of the original documents of our history is now before the Senate. I agree fully with the letter President Kennedy wrote last year in support of this project.

"America has had a proud history, and the American people are entitled to have the documentary record of our past and the papers of our great statesmen and leaders compiled and published in easily available form. Federal participation in the program will help support and stimulate our archival agencies, historical societies, research libraries and related educational institutions to share their documentary holdings with universities and colleges throughout the land and with the American people. I look forward particularly to the completion of the projects to publish the papers of the Adamses, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson and Madison.

"This bill supplements and, in the field of American history, is an essential adjunct to, the major legislation in aid of education enacted by Congress last session.

"It is my hope that the Senate will complete action on the bill early in the new session. I would like it to be in time to permit the necessary appropriations for the coming year and to allow the National Historical Publications Commission to make its plans with this in mind."

For President Kennedy's letter in support of the project see 1963 volume, this series, Item 26. See also Item 245, 1963 volume.

The bill (H.R. 6237), as enacted, is Public Law 88-383 (78 Stat. 335).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing Bill Authorizing Grants for the Publication of Historical Documentary Source Material Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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