Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's Toast at a Dinner Honoring the Vice President, the Speaker, and the Chief Justice

January 17, 1967

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Leader Mansfield, Mr. Leader Dirksen, Mr. Leader Ford, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Tonight we have come here to honor three men whom we love as well as three institutions which we cherish.

A common thread runs through the careers of all three of these men. It binds together the institutions which they represent and which they speak for. That is the love of liberty.

Each of these men has passed through many trials. Each has borne the burden of many conflicts. Each has suffered the venomous abuse which often attends good men in public life.

Yet never have they retreated. Never have they for one ,moment withdrawn from the struggle. Never have they flinched from the total commitment to freedom.

It was the richness of this American earth which made all of us powerful and affluent in this land. But it was the fidelity of men like these which really made us free.

So in these turbulent hours which are to come, filled with achievement and promise, filled with crisis and doubt, the names of Humphrey and McCormack and Warren stand for tenacity of purpose and for sureness of vision.

These three men have loved the law. They have loved the human spirit. They have strengthened the institutions of Government. They have understood the demands of change.

They have served all of their fellow men. They have been faithful to a cause which endures beyond the passing generation.

I tell you no secret when I say I am very proud that I may call each of them my friend, Republicans and Democrats.

But prouder still am I that they are the friends of all the people. They have the power today. They have the voice to speak for every man.

So tonight we express our great pleasure at the honor you do us by coming here.

I should like my fellow Americans to join me in saluting these adventurers, these pioneers, these statesmen.

We are not going to ask you to take the pledge of allegiance. But we are going to remind you that it would be good for each of us, if we could truly say, unto ourselves, one nation, indivisible, united, with equality and justice and understanding.

Finally the thing which we seek most is understanding of all men everywhere-peace in the world.

So to these statesmen who have blazed a trail for human dignity in this land, I want to ask those associated with us tonight to join in a toast to the Vice President of the United States, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and to the great Chief Justice of the United States.

Note: The President spoke at 8:20 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, Representative John W. McCormack of Massachusetts, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States, Senator Mike Mansfield of Montana, Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen of Illinois, Minority Leader of the Senate, and Representative Gerald R. Ford of Michigan, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.

Following the President's remarks, the Vice President proposed a toast as follows: Mr. President, Mrs. Johnson, Speaker and Mrs. McCormack, Chief Justice and Mrs. Warren, distinguished Members of the Congress, the Cabinet, and the many honored guests:

Mr. President, I am sure that you must know as I speak to you tonight and to your guests, how very humble and yet grateful we are for the high honor that you have paid us. You have paid honor, and honor justly deserved and earned, to the great Speaker; to a man of the law that has breathed into the law the spirit of humanity and justice, the Chief Justice; and you have made me eternally grateful for the words that you have said tonight.

I can't help but say what a magnificent evening, and what an evening of fellowship and friendship, and of fun. It seems as if we are one family here tonight.

You said, Mr. President, in your State of the Union Message, that this is a time of testing. I think in those words you truly challenge the American people--challenge them as they want to be challenged, because this is a brave people.

You know, Mr. President, more than any of us, that the burdens of world leadership are not carried easily; yet you also know, and we know with you, that they must be carried.

You, Mr. President, as a young Congressman-and I have heard you speak of those days many times, and heard you speak of them with deep meaning, affection, and concern--were moved and you were inspired by the dreams and the leadership of the man who in that day occupied this house and was your President and my President--Franklin Roosevelt.

I know that the life of Franklin Roosevelt and his works inspired you. I know that you share his vision--his vision as stated then and as known now--of a world of human opportunity in which people--all people, as you have said this evening-may live in dignity and in freedom--yes, in opportunity; but, above all, in peace.

The last words Franklin Roosevelt ever wrote, and yet never had the chance to speak, were written in another time of testing and they are words yet unspoken and yet known, and truly like the living word.

They were these: "The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today."

And then this man said, "Let us move forward with strong and active faith."

That was the challenge of a President in his time. It was the challenge left us by President Roosevelt, but it is very much the same challenge that you gave to us only a few days ago in your State of the Union Message--a message of profound thought, a message of courage, and a message of demonstrated leadership.

That challenge given to us is one that those who stand alongside of you, Mr. President, readily accept. And not only accept, but we hasten to take it up.

Tonight, Mr. President and Mrs. Johnson, Mr. Speaker and Mrs. McCormack, Chief Justice and Mrs. Warren, and others, I ask you to join me, my fellow Americans, in a toast to a man who lives at a time that we are being tested; who has been tested; who has that faith, that strong and active faith, which this Nation and this world need and reach out to accept.

I ask you to join me in a toast to the President of the United States.

[As printed above, this item follows the text released by the White House Press Office.]

Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's Toast at a Dinner Honoring the Vice President, the Speaker, and the Chief Justice Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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