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Toasts of the President and the King of Thailand

June 27, 1967

Your Majesties, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

I'm sure that you have read the story of His Majesty's remarkable address at Williams College. A speech had been prepared for his approval and for his use upon that occasion. But evidently he found it not to his liking. So he spoke extemporaneously--and the judges, I am told, would have given him the annual speaking prize if visitors had been eligible.

When His Majesty finished, someone asked if he had been able to see his wife's face and to read her reaction to his address. His Majesty is said to have replied: "Confidentially, I wasn't looking at my wife. I was watching my Minister of Foreign Affairs."

Secretary Katzenbach, I am carefully observing your reactions.

We feel a very special bond of kinship with Your Majesty, because you were born among us.

I have heard that during your early years, you used to go from Cambridge to an island off the Massachusetts coast known as Martha's Vineyard.

Some members of my Cabinet--some members of my staff--have been known to disappear into the fogs of the Vineyard for long stretches of time. Some of them even claim that the fog obscures not only land and sea, but the sound of the White House telephone.

We are delighted that you were able to find your way back from that isolated and mysterious place.

We are delighted, as well, that we have this opportunity to repay, in some small measure, the warm hospitality bestowed on us in Bangkok last October.

The world is a good deal smaller than it was when our United States President Jackson sent our first diplomatic mission across the seas to Siam--as it was then called--in 1833.

But the nearness of two countries is not measured by the flight time of jet planes. It is measured more by understanding and by shared purposes. And though we have different customs, different histories, and different religions, what we share, Your Majesty, far surpasses our differences.

Part of our common heritage is a passionate belief in man's right to decide his own destiny--a love of freedom and independence-and a determination to secure their blessings.

When I learned on my first trip to your country that "Thailand"--in your language-means "Land of the Free," I thought of those words in our national anthem: "The Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave."

The people of the United States--and the people of Thailand--have always understood that those who would remain free must first be brave.

In the past, Your Majesty, brave Thai and brave Americans have stood shoulder to shoulder in the cause of freedom.

Today, we face together another test of man's will and determination to be free. We shall meet that test, with courage and determination, until the tide of aggression recedes--and our people can live in peace once more.

Your Majesty's people have been brave in time of war. You have helped men forge a shield against the disciples of violence.

You have also been equal to the demanding tasks of peace.

You have asserted your leadership in the works of peaceful construction that always must be carried on behind that shield.

I am confident, Your Majesty, that from our mutual commitment will someday flow peace--and order--and development in prosperity for the people of a free Asia.

Tonight we are called upon to make additional sacrifices. In the days ahead, we are going to have requests made of us that are going to be difficult to honor. But we approach these requests with confidence, knowing that our allies will face them with courage and with fairness.

And those who love peace will be eternally in your debt, Your Majesty, for the contribution that you and your country have made.

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to rise and toast Their Majesties, the King and Queen of Thailand.

Note: The President proposed the toast at 10:17 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House at a dinner honoring King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit. As printed this item follows the text released by the White House Press Office.

The King responded as follows:

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen:

This time the machine came to me.

You spoke about looking at my Foreign Minister. Today I won't look at him. I will look at my text.

You mentioned my trip to Martha's Vineyard and wondered how I came back. I had nothing to do with the coming back, because I was too small. It was because my parents were very good and went home--and they took me home, also. But apart from this, there are other things that are to be said.

First, I must thank you for the kind invitation to visit this great city of Washington and for the warm welcome and hospitality which we have received during this, our second, visit to the United States.

When we came here on our first visit, we came to make friends with the people whom we had admired for their freedom, fairness, and generosity. We were received with the great warmth and cordiality that only Americans can offer.

Your visit to my country in October last, Mr. President, is still a happy memory with us and we are most gratified to be with you tonight, because we know that we are once again among friends.

We are happy to see Mrs. Johnson with us tonight. Your presence here is a good surprise. Although ourselves we are still quite far removed from having the honor and the dignity of being grandparents-not to mention the irresponsible enjoyment that accompanies such a privilege--we do understand and appreciate the thrill and anxiety of a new grandmother--and grandfather, also.

It is a source of gratification for me to hear the kind words that you have spoken and your reiteration of the friendship that the United States Government and people extend to my country and my people.

Allow me to say again that we, on our part, sincerely and wholeheartedly reciprocate the very same sentiments--the firm belief that on your part you earnestly and sincerely desire peace and a better way of life for the people of all nations.

The happy association between the United States and Thailand is to us a matter of historic pride.

You already mentioned the mission of Mr. Edmund Roberts, who was received by my august ancestor, King Rama the Third.

In spite of his pet aversion to receive foreign envoys from abroad, that was due to our past unfortunate experiences, my ancestor was somehow won over by the American honesty of purpose and decided to extend a very warm welcome to the emissary of your early predecessor, President Jackson.

Mr. Edmund Roberts arrived in Bangkok in February of 1833. Within a period of less than a month, and in spite of linguistic disadvantages-every sentence spoken by either side had to undergo four successive translations, from English to Portuguese, and from Portuguese to Chinese, from Chinese to Thai, and vice versa--in spite of all these difficulties, a treaty of friendship and commerce was agreed upon and signed on the 20th of March, 1833.

This agreement constituted the first treaty ever signed by the United States with any country in Asia. Thus my country came to be the first country in Asia to recognize and to extend the hand of friendship to the newly independent United States of America.

War--the punctuation of human history-brought a new sentence in American-Thai relationships. President Woodrow Wilson, who genuinely understood our difficulties and disadvantages in our relations with foreign countries, agreed at Versailles, after World War I, to revise the U.S.-Thai Treaty of Friendship by abrogating all obnoxious clauses containing the one-sided imposition of extraterritoriality and fiscal restrictions as contained in earlier treaties which had no terminating clause.

Other great nations, at that time, later followed the American example of justice and broad-mindedness. Thailand thus gained an improved standing.

World War II brought about another sentence in the history of American-Thai friendship. The United States has shown real concern over the security and development of Thailand--and gave not only good advice, but also several forms of aid and assistance of material nature, both in the military and in the economic sphere.

This last sentence is not completed yet. We can only hope that it may end happily for the sake of beginning another one.

We can only say that at present we are proud in the knowledge that it is being written with our mutual good will and cooperation.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I invite you all now to rise and join me in a toast to the happiness of President Johnson and Mrs. Johnson, and to the prosperity and progress of the people of the United States.

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

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