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Toasts of the President and President Tombalbaye of the Republic of Chad

October 02, 1968

Mr. President, Mr. Justice Stewart, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

I have spent some very happy and productive hours today with our distinguished visitor. I have told him that we Americans understand his dreams and the impatience of his people to achieve them.

We know what you mean, Mr. President, when you go at the work of national development, as you have expressed it, with your hoe in your hand. We Americans have hoed the fields of a frontier, too. And we have felt the awe of the desert and the thrill of the mountaintops and the openness of the plains.

We know, as you know, that there is no easy way to progress, no answer in any single formula, and no progress unless educated men are willing and are anxious to get sweat on their brows in an effort to tame the harsh countryside.

We built and we endured in America as you are building and as you will endure. This is the shared experience of our peoples. This is why we take great pride in every step that you take forward.

I believe, Mr. President, that you will find basic understanding of other African issues during your visit in the United States.

Sir, this morning we spoke of the new surge of African cooperation. We acknowledged the interrelation of regional cooperation with economic growth. That, too, is a concept that Americans feel at home with.

Our Nation, a subcontinental nation, is founded on the idea of sovereign states cooperating in every conceivable way.

The United States, in a manner of speaking, comprised the first common market. We have been very active over the last 200 years in many of the other aspects of what we call regional development.

Just this very week I was quite proud to sign into law measures that will provide for the very wise development of two long interstate rivers in America--both the Colorado and the Arkansas.

This is river development that in smaller nations would require interregional cooperation.

So, Mr. President, I think you will find us both responsive and quite sympathetic to your needs and to your views, to your nation that you so ably represent, and to the continent from which you come.

Mrs. Johnson and I are delighted that you could be with us in the First House of the land tonight. I appreciate so much the time we could spend together.

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you now to raise your glasses to the distinguished President of Chad and to the brave nation which he represents.

Note: The President spoke at 10:08 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Potter Stewart, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

President Francois Tombalbaye responded in French as follows:

Mr. President, in Chad we are very much aware of the heavy responsibilities weighing upon the United States as one of the foremost world powers of today, as well as of the huge possibilities available to your country to face these enormous responsibilities which are the assuring of peace and well-being of your own people and enabling the rest of the world--powerful and weak alike--to attain this lofty objective.

Mr. President, before I continue, I want to assure you that it is with very great pleasure that I speak here tonight. And I beg your indulgence if I now refer to the history of your nation. If I do so, it is because the history of your nation has great value as an example and a symbol for our times of today.

From 1607 to 1776, you lived as a people under colonial domination. Those were the 13 colonies dependent upon Great Britain, whose trade was dominated by adventurous tradesmen seeking precious metals or growing tobacco and cotton. The exercise of sovereignty was conducted by the metropolitan power, and you had to bear with financial legislation coming directly from England drafted by civil servants specializing in colonial problems.

During the approximately 170 years, you lived under colonial domination. But thanks to the union of your people, to its courage and spirit of competition, the Second Congress of the 13 colonies adopted, on the 4th of July, 1776, the Declaration of Independence. A genuine union of the States was created to wage the war of independence culminated in the Paris Treaty of 1783 by which England recognized the independence of the 13 colonies she had considered as rebels.

After the victory of the American people over colonialism and after deciding to preserve its unity, your people gave itself a democratic Constitution in June 1788.

Mr. President, I will not claim to teach you the history of the United States, but to recall these historical facts show the very strange coincidence with the destiny of African States.

Thus, it is that in an effort to preserve its unity, the Federal Republic of Nigeria was compelled to wage a civil war.

In spite of the humanitarian aspects of this conflict, Chad condemns any kind of secession that may or might arise in new states, particularly when these states are in Africa. Africa is so sensitized by colonialization. That is the stand we took at the last conference of the Organization of African Unity held in Algiers.

I shall say that wherever our responsibilities will make it possible for us to do so, we shall defend this policy which we believe is the only one capable of promoting unity throughout Africa. That is why we are convinced that our presence here in the United States today is very dear and very clearly understandable.

Mr. President, we are also very much aware of and comforted by the fact that your relations with the other countries of the world, and in particular with our country, have always been marked by your generosity and your attachment to the great humanitarian principles of liberty, justice, and progress.

It is responding to these lofty principles that my delegation and myself have wanted to show our response by being here today, by our acceptance of the very kind invitation that we have received from you, Mr. President, a symbol of the American Nation.

But as we come here, we want to see for ourselves the enormous burdens you have assumed. We want to see together, as much as our modest means make it possible, what are the avenues of cooperation between a great power like yours and a young nation like Chad to work together for peace, liberty, justice, and progress for mankind.

It may be ambitious for a young nation like ours. But an ambition, if it is noble, will be an incentive for progress since the life of man is at stake in a national society, just as it is at stake in the international community.

We are very much aware of the fact that as I speak to you today, in spite of the efforts that we deployed individually and collectively within the organization of the United Nations, there remain many hot spots of dangerous tensions on our planet. That is a subject of deep concern for all of us.

Still, we trust in man, because we believe that reason will prevail over the ills of war. That is why we feel that for any kind of conflict there is always a way to find the beginning of an avenue which will lead to a settlement, a peaceful settlement among the parties. That is what you are doing, Mr. President, by sending a delegation of your Government to the Paris talks.

Another source of dangerous tension which is a long term danger is the difference of the level of development between the countries who have a great deal and the countries which we call developing countries; a difference which, in spite of all efforts, widens every day and justifies more and more the fear of all men of good will who have raised their voice throughout the world to convince those who do not believe in it that this is a problem which requires an urgent solution.

It seems more and more to us that peace in the world will be secure only when underdevelopment will have been overcome. We remain optimistic because the United Nations understands the problem and the United States stands in the forefront of that organization.

We are convinced that you share our worries. We are encouraged by your confidence and we are convinced that our relations, already so fruitful, will become even more harmonious.

I should like to raise my glass tonight on behalf of friendship between our two peoples and for your personal health, Mr. President, and that, of course, of Mrs. Johnson and your family.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and President Tombalbaye of the Republic of Chad Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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