Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Announcing the Signing of a Resolution Establishing the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission

July 08, 1966

ONE HUNDRED and ninety years ago this week, a group of Americans issued a declaration that has become one of history's most celebrated documents.

The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776. On July 8 the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, proclaiming "Liberty throughout all the land unto all the Inhabitants thereof," summoned the people to listen to the first public reading of the document. In this historic tradition I have signed the American Revolution Bicentennial Bill on July 4, and am releasing it to the Nation on July 8.

America's Declaration of Independence was more than an assertion of political independence. It did more than spark a revolution in America. It kindled a revolution in the hearts and minds of men that continues to this day.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident," our forefathers declared, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Since those words were written two centuries ago, the forces of tyranny and despotism have been in retreat throughout the world. And where men find freedom still denied, they struggle on, inspired by the ideals expressed in those words: As Thomas Jefferson said:

"The flames kindled on the 4th of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume those engines, and all who work them."

The commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the American Revolution is, therefore, of interest and concern, not only to Americans, but to men everywhere.

Last March I requested that the Congress adopt a resolution establishing an American Revolution Bicentennial Commission to begin at once planning the observance of the 200th anniversary of our national independence. The Congress has now enthusiastically honored that request.

In my request to the Congress last March, I said some things that are especially pertinent today:

"Ours was a true revolution of liberty. It was not a revolution of tyranny. It was not a revolution of aggression. It was a revolution for the greatest cause in the affairs of man--freedom and human dignity.

"The impact of the American Revolution on the rest of the world was electric. This small, struggling Nation became the rallying point for friends of freedom throughout Western civilization.

"To these shores came great men like Lafayette, Von Steuben, Kosciuszko, and Pulaski. It was Pulaski himself who said, 'Wherever on the globe men are fighting for liberty, it is as if it were our own affair.'

"Those words have special significance for our own generation. Today, the Vietnamese people are fighting for their freedom in South Vietnam. We are carrying forward our great heritage by helping to sustain their efforts."

With this bill we are setting in motion much more than a celebration. The American Revolution Bicentennial Commission will:

--Recall to Americans and to the world the majestic significance of the Revolution;

--Provide a creative and helping hand to State, local, and private groups in their commemorations;

--Plan for celebrations at the national level;

--Increase our knowledge and appreciation of the American Revolution in our schools, universities, and general public thinking.

The American Revolution Bicentennial Commission will be composed of Members of Congress and the executive branch and of distinguished private citizens to be appointed by the President. They will give assurance that the American Revolution and the ideas for which it stands will be commemorated with all the dignity and spirit which the occasion deserves.

Note: As enacted, the joint resolution establishing the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission (S.J. Res. 162), approved July 4, 1966, is Public Law 89-491 (80 Stat. 259).

The statement was released at San Antonio, Texas.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Announcing the Signing of a Resolution Establishing the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives