Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing the Ratification of the Chamizal Convention.

December 20, 1963

I KNOW that I speak for all of you when I say how grateful we are to Mrs. Kennedy for the very fine job she has done in redecorating this Treaty Room where we meet today. I see in front of us the chandelier that once was in the White House during Theodore Roosevelt's administration. The story went that the President, before they had air conditioning, was troubled by the wind blowing the chandelier pieces together and the tinkling noise. So he told them to take it down to the Capitol. The butler said, "Well, what will I do with it at the Capitol?" The President said, "Give it to the Vice President. He needs something to keep him awake."

After Mrs. Kennedy had observed me for a while as Vice President, I guess she decided I no longer needed a chandelier to keep me awake, and she asked me if I would bring the chandelier back. By that time, Senator Mansfield realized that he didn't want to be charged with giving away Senate property, liquidating the Senate, so he very generously agreed to make a loan to the White House. So for the information of all of you, the chandelier that you are now viewing is on loan to the White House from the Senate.

We are glad to welcome Secretary Wirtz back this morning, and we are very happy to see the Senators who have participated in the ratification of this treaty present with us. This is a moment of which we can all be proud. We are particularly delighted to have with us the distinguished Ambassador from our neighboring country, the beloved Antonio Carrillo Flores, from Mexico.

We are taking the final step in bringing to a close a problem which has been a thorn in the side of our relations with Mexico for almost a century. The way in which the thorn has been removed is a real tribute to the good will between the people and the leaders of our two countries. It indicates that old and distasteful problems can be solved if men of honor seek to understand the other man's viewpoint.

I recall the first visit that I made to President Adolfo Lopez Mateos in Mexico before he took the oath of office as President. He raised the Chamizal question and we agreed there that we would start to work on it. Through the administrations of President Eisenhower and President Kennedy great progress was made which resulted in the Senate, under the leadership of Senator Fulbright, ratifying this treaty by an overwhelming vote.

I hope that other problems in our hemisphere, and for that matter throughout the world, will be solved with similar tolerance and trust. I think it is always good if we just put ourselves in the other man's position and try to estimate how we would feel if he were in our place and we were in his place, and then make our judgments accordingly. That is what we have done in this situation. We think great benefits will flow not only to Mexico but to the United States, and, of course, most of all, to the State of Texas where this land is located.

Mr. Ambassador, we welcome you here for this historic occasion. We say thanks to the Members of the Senate who made it possible. We express gratitude to Secretary Rusk for the leadership he has given.

We are even delighted to have the television cameras here for this informal press meeting.

While this is the Treaty Room, I would like you to also know that this is the room where President Johnson met with his Cabinet for the first time, President Andrew Johnson. This is also where President Lyndon Johnson signed his first treaty. In order to do it, I came in here the other night, and looked in the door. My daughter, Lucy, was sitting at the head of the table studying plane geometry. I asked her mother if she couldn't arrange to put a desk across the hall, to make a study room out of it, so that if we needed the Cabinet Room it would be available. So we picked up plane geometry and Macbeth and a few other things and hauled them across the hall.

Note: The President spoke at noon in the Treaty Room at the White House.

The text of the convention is published with related papers in the Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS 5515). It was proclaimed by President Johnson on January 16, 1964- Later, on April 29, 1964, the President approved the American-Mexican Chamizal Convention Act of 1964, to facilitate compliance with the convention (Public Law 88-300, 78 Stat. 184).

See also Item 596.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing the Ratification of the Chamizal Convention. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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