Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's News Conference

April 10, 1968

THE PRESIDENT. I have a few announcements to make that I think will be of interest to you.


[1.] First of all, as you know, the civil rights bill that we submitted to the Congress some time ago will shortly become law, having been acted upon in the House of Representatives this afternoon.

Senator Mansfield1 has talked to me within the hour, informing me that they have completed action. It is now up to the House to send it to the President. We will have a signing ceremony at a very early date.2

1 Senator Mike Mansfield of Montana, Majority Leader of the Senate.

2 See Item 195.

We have passed many civil rights pieces of legislation, but none more important than this. When we first met to consider the subject of open housing, there were only two or three in the room representing government, housing groups, civil rights groups, and others, who felt that we could approach this subject in any way other than by a regulation that had doubtful legality and certainly whose coverage would be quite limited.

I took the position at that original meeting that if we really believed in open housing, equal housing, and fair treatment to all of our citizens, we should have a congressional declaration to that effect and a statute that would give us that protection.

It has been a long, tortuous, and difficult road.

There have been days of sunshine and sorrow.

But it is now a finality. I congratulate first the Members of the Senate who had the courage and the wisdom to pass the bill, and invoke cloture; and then to the Members of the House of Representatives of both parties who supported that measure.

I have a brief statement that George3 will give you as soon as it is off the typewriter. It says:

3 E. Christian, Special Assistant to the President.


"Today the Nation's Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. This is a victory for every American. The only true path of progress for a free people is the one that we will take when this legislation is made the law of the land.

"Through the process of law, we shall strike for all time the shackles of an old injustice.

"I call upon the Congress now to complete its work of hope for millions of Americans who now look to it for action."



[2.] I have received and accepted the resignation of Mr. Larry O'Brien as Postmaster General.

Larry asked to see me this morning when I returned to town. He came in and talked to me about his resignation and told me he would like to resign. I told him what I told the other members of the Cabinet the other day, that since I was not going to be a candidate for reelection, I realized the Cabinet had made many sacrifices in order to serve me and serve the country, and that now was the time for any of them to make decisions concerning their families and their future.

So Larry told me that he would present his resignation.

He has. It is accepted.

I have sent to the Senate the name of W. Marvin Watson as his successor. He is the Appointments Secretary who has served me ably--as Larry has--for a good deal of the time I have been President.

A biographical sketch will be given to you by the Press Office.

I have never been served by a more competent, more efficient, nor more likable or effective employee than Larry O'Brien. We shall miss him, but we are very happy to cooperate with him in his desire to enter private life after having given fully of himself to his country for 7-plus years.


[3.] To replace Marvin Watson, we will have Mr. Jim Jones, of Oklahoma, and Mr. Larry Temple. They both are good men. It will take at least two good men to replace what Marvin has been doing here.

Mr. Larry Temple is from Texas; former Appointments Secretary and assistant to Governor Connally. Mr. Jones is from Oklahoma and has been with us, as you know, as deputy to Mr. Watson.


[4.] I have named Admiral John McCain to succeed Admiral Sharp, as Commander in Chief of the Pacific. I did this on the recommendation of Admiral Sharp, the Joint Chiefs, and Secretary Clifford.


[5.] I have named General Abrams to succeed General Westmoreland.

Biographical sketches on all of these will be given to you when you retire.

As you know, General Abrams is the present deputy to General Westmoreland, and we think the man most competent to assume this very heavy responsibility.


[6.] To succeed General Abrams, we are naming General Andrew Goodpaster, who was with the Security Council during the Eisenhower period and is a lieutenant general. He is now head of the War College. He has been a very trusted adviser to me during the period of my Presidency.

He has also been the person I have selected to brief General Eisenhower from time to time, if that will help you in identification. He will be deputy to General Abrams.

We have discussed this with General Eisenhower. We will have General Wheeler, who has assumed this responsibility on occasions, and General Westmoreland will be our contact. Whenever General Eisenhower desires to receive a briefing, they will perform the functions previously performed by General Goodpaster, who will be out of the country.

General Abrams, General Goodpastor, and Admiral McCain have been recommended by the Joint Chiefs of the services, by Secretary Clifford, and in the case of Admiral McCain, by Admiral Sharp and the Navy service; in the case of General Goodpaster, by General Westmoreland and General Abrams, under whom he will work, as well as President Eisenhower.

We discussed this with General Eisenhower. I would not say he recommended it, but he showed pleasure in the appointment. But, I don't want to leave the impression that he was dictating it or pushing this matter. Of course, all of these nominations are based upon the recommendation of the Secretaries involved, and the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

I think that is all the announcements I have for you.


[7.] Q. Where is Admiral McCain now, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Naval Forces in Europe. He is 57 years old and has served as Commander in Chief of the Naval Forces in Europe. He is a military adviser and representative of various mutual defense alliances.


[8.] Q. Can you take us any further along the road on the exchange with Hanoi?



[9.] Q. Mr. President, Mayor Linsay 4 has said that your Civil Disorders Commission is being reconvened. Can you give us your thoughts on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not aware of it. I don't know.

4 Mayor John V. Lindsay of New York City.


[10.] Q. Did Mr. O'Brien tell you why he wanted to resign at this time?

THE PRESIDENT. No. He said he wanted to enter private life. He told me about some of his plans, but I don't think he has them definitely fixed yet. He is not exactly sure of where he is going.


[11.] Q. Mr. President, do you still plan to address a joint session of Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. I have nothing to add to what I have already told you. That has been postponed for the time being.


[12.] Q. Mr. President, there is some indication that the Vice President might declare for the Presidency. I was wondering if you felt you would have to maintain--

THE PRESIDENT. I would not get into that at all.


[13.] Q. Mr. President, on the signing of the civil rights bill, you said "early date." Could that be as early as tomorrow, or somewhere down the road?

THE PRESIDENT. Let me tell you when I know. I can't speculate because I can't tell when I will receive it.

Helen Thomas, United Press International Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Johnson's one hundred and twentythird news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4:43 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10, 1968. As printed above, this item follows the text of the Official White House Transcript.

Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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