Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Burnham of Guyana

July 21, 1966

Mr. Prime Minister and distinguished guests:

As the head of the oldest independent state in the hemisphere, Mr. Prime Minister, I take very special pleasure today in welcoming you to the White House as the leader of the newest.

Around this table you will find seated friends of Guyana who have watched with great excitement and admiration your wise direction in the quest of independence. They join me today in wishing you well as you now begin the arduous task of building your nation.

I am reminded that you share my favorite pastime of horseback riding. I asked Secretary Gordon, when he presented you with that Western saddle last May, to say then that I hoped you would ride tall in it.

I would convey that message personally today. It is very clear that politically speaking you are riding tall in the saddle.

You have greatly honored us by sending, as your first Ambassador to Washington, Sir John Carter. It is a double gain for us. We shall profit from his talents and we welcome home his most charming wife, a talented lady from North Carolina.

Mr. Prime Minister, we share your confidence and your hope in the future. Our desire is to make this hemisphere a shining example of what free men, working together, can accomplish together.

We want Guyana to work with us and to work with the other American States toward this objective.

You may be sure that you can count on our cooperation, our very deep interest, and always our full support.

So, my friends, I should now like to propose that we toast the health of the Queen of Great Britain; the Guyanese Government under the very able leadership of Prime Minister Burnham.

Note: The President spoke at 2:07 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House at a luncheon honoring Prime Minister Linden Forbes Burnham of Guyana. During his remarks he referred to Lincoln Gordon, Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs and U.S. Coordinator, Alliance for Progress. Mr. Gordon had presented a saddle to the Prime Minister as a personal gift from President Johnson on the occasion of the independence of Guyana, May 26, 1966.

Prime Minister Burnham responded as follows:

Mr. President, sir, distinguished guests:

My only claim to distinction is that I share the name of your President, though in typical Texas style, he has misspelled Lyndon. The proper spelling is mine, L-i-n-d-e-n.

I am most grateful for the warm welcome, the hospitality which has been so far shown me as head of the most recent independent country of the hemisphere.

As I observed earlier today, we have in the past been assured of the friendship of the United States of America and have no reason to believe that that friendship will not continue to be extended to us.

We share with the United States of America a deep devotion to the concept and ideal of democracy. Certainly we should like to see that particular plant, tender though it may be in our part of the world, flourish.

We, in Guyana, are very small, but we are as dedicated as you to a democracy. But our problem is to maintain democracy in the midst of poverty, in the midst of low standards and low productivity.

And I have good reason to believe that the assistance and friendship which the United States of America has shown in the past will continue to be shown in the future, so that we will have a fertile ground on which democracy may grow and fruit in this part of the world.

The President is a tall man, but he speaks for short time. I can do no better than emulate the President and say thank you very much for everything.

Thank you.

[As printed above, the remarks follow the text of the White House press release.]

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Burnham of Guyana Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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