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Toasts of the President and of Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home

February 13, 1964

Mr. Prime Minister, Lady Douglas-Home, Mr. foreign Secretary, Lady Butler, Mr. Ambassador, Lady Ormsby Gore:

I should like to ask those friends of ours here this evening to rise and drink a toast with me to Her Majesty, the Queen.

Mr. Prime Minister and Lady Douglas-Home, I know that I speak for all in telling you how delighted and how honored we are by your visit here in America. These have been two very enjoyable and very useful days in which both of us have been able to do a tremendous amount of very important work together.

It is not that we suffer from a lack of regular communication, because your distinguished Ambassador and his gracious Lady Ormsby Gore are in constant communication with us. They were a favorite couple of the late President Kennedy and they are beloved by the people of America. We consider ourselves most fortunate to have them with us.

As our predecessors discovered before us, Mr. Prime Minister, there is no substitute, however, for personal meetings such as those that we have been having the last few hours and which I am sure that American Presidents and British Prime Ministers will continue to have as often as they find it possible.

You might well ask how it was that the two of us hit it off so well together, one a Scots Highlander and the other a Texas rancher, but you must remember that Sir Alec and I are really countrymen, although he prefers Black Angus and I prefer Herefords, and although his countryside gets too much rain, while mine gets too little.

But there is a very special bond that connects men who have walked and worked together in the open spaces. Moreover, we are men who share the same traditions and the same ideals. It was Macaulay who said that the history of England is the history of progress. We in this country, who learned from Britain the rules of common law and the disciplines of decency, have much to admire in British progress, because your progress and our progress have been companions in history.

The kind of government we have today here in America was born on the fields of Runnymede and our system of fair play was lifted right out of the classic debates in the House of Commons. Our concepts of human rights and freedoms come from many sources, but their taproots were nourished in English soil. And so it is now our two countries together face the future undismayed and unafraid. While we work to secure our defenses, we work also to a practical disarmament; while we are prepared for war, we yearn and strive for peace. We are just two nations separate and apart, but we are allies to the end, and we are partners, and we are friends.

If I may interpolate, Mr. Prime Minister, I am sure I speak for everyone in this room when I say, may there always be a Britain and may we always love you as we do.

So on behalf of the United States of America, I should like to ask my companions this evening to join me in a toast in honor of our distinguished visitor, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and his gracious Lady, and moreover the very great people of the world that they represent.

Mr. Prime Minister.

Note: The President proposed the toast at a state dinner at the White House. Prime Minister Douglas-Home responded as follows:

"Mr. President, I would like to thank you very much, indeed, for the warm, hearty welcome which you and Mrs. Johnson have given to my wife and to myself and to the foreign Secretary and Mrs. Butler. It is very seldom that politics and pleasure go together, but we can quite truly say that from the moment that we literally dropped in on you from the air that we have felt both at ease and at home.

"I was particularly touched that you allowed me, so soon after I arrived here, to come with you to the very simple, very moving ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. He was a very wise and a very good man, and a great man. If I may adapt something that he said a hundred years ago, we cannot have a world that is half free and half slave, half poor and half rich. And if our conversations in these last 2 days have meant anything, it has been that we have tried our best on behalf of both our countries to make sure that we shall lend all our strength to those people in the world who are less fortunate than we are, to those who do not enjoy peace or order or stability, and those who do not enjoy riches.

"And, basically, I think we have felt the same, that the United States and Britain can do a great deal to make this modern world worthy of the twentieth century. You, sir, used when we met-almost the first words you spoke to me over the microphones were that you felt that our two countries were like brothers, and I have felt that more and more as the hours have gone by and we have talked together. And it is in that spirit that we shall always work with the United States.

"Occasionally we may, perhaps, send buses to Cuba, but never will anything interfere fundamentally with the friendship and delight which we feel in the company of a great ally and a great partner. But I am not sure we always felt quite so friendly to the United States. Some years ago when Dean Rusk was at Oxford, I remember a motion in the Oxford Union which read, "That this house deplores Christopher Columbus." He didn't actually, I think, put down the motion himself, but I have a son shortly going to Oxford--if he can pass the economics paper--and I will get him to expunge that particular record from the university's records.

"But, Mr. President, we are deeply grateful to you for what all you have done for us in these last 2 days. We have had the most memorable visit and all I can say is that as long as I am Prime Minister of Britain--and other people may guess how long that may be, I can't tell--as long as I am there, there need be no doubt in your mind that British policy and American policy shall be aligned and that we shall lend you all our strength and all our help and will rely on you in the full knowledge that we will all work together in the field and try and bring peace and prosperity to the world.

"So, thank you very much, and may I ask you to rise, ladies and gentlemen, and toast the health of the President of the United States and Mrs. Johnson."

In the President's opening words he referred to Britain's foreign Secretary R. A. Butler and Lady Butler, and Ambassador David Ormsby Gore and Lady Ormsby Gore.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and of Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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