State of the Union Addresses of Lyndon B. Johnson
by Lyndon B. Johnson
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Dates of addresses by Lyndon B. Johnson in this eBook: January 8, 1964 January 4, 1965 January 12, 1966 January 10, 1967 January 17, 1968 January 14, 1969


State of the Union Address Lyndon B. Johnson January 8, 1964

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, Members of the House and Senate, my fellow Americans:

I will be brief, for our time is necessarily short and our agenda is already long.

Last year's congressional session was the longest in peacetime history. With that foundation, let us work together to make this year's session the best in the Nation's history.

Let this session of Congress be known as the session which did more for civil rights than the last hundred sessions combined; as the session which enacted the most far-reaching tax cut of our time; as the session which declared all-out war on human poverty and unemployment in these United States; as the session which finally recognized the health needs of all our older citizens; as the session which reformed our tangled transportation and transit policies; as the session which achieved the most effective, efficient foreign aid program ever; and as the session which helped to build more homes, more schools, more libraries, and more hospitals than any single session of Congress in the history of our Republic.

All this and more can and must be done. It can be done by this summer, and it can be done without any increase in spending. In fact, under the budget that I shall shortly submit, it can be done with an actual reduction in Federal expenditures and Federal employment.

We have in 1964 a unique opportunity and obligation—to prove the success of our system; to disprove those cynics and critics at home and abroad who question our purpose and our competence.

If we fail, if we fritter and fumble away our opportunity in needless, senseless quarrels between Democrats and Republicans, or between the House and the Senate, or between the South and North, or between the Congress and the administration, then history will rightfully judge us harshly. But if we succeed, if we can achieve these goals by forging in this country a greater sense of union, then, and only then, can we take full satisfaction in the State of the Union. II.

Here in the Congress you can demonstrate effective legislative leadership by discharging the public business with clarity and dispatch, voting each important proposal up, or voting it down, but at least bringing it to a fair and a final vote.

Let us carry forward the plans and programs of John Fitzgerald Kennedy—not because of our sorrow or sympathy, but because they are right.

In his memory today, I especially ask all members of my own political faith, in this election year, to put your country ahead of your party, and to always debate principles; never debate personalities.

For my part, I pledge a progressive administration which is efficient, and honest and frugal. The budget to be submitted to the Congress shortly is in full accord with this pledge.

It will cut our deficit in half—from $10 billion to $4,900 million. It will be, in proportion to our national output, the smallest budget since 1951.

It will call for a substantial reduction in Federal employment, a feat accomplished only once before in the last 10 years. While maintaining the full strength of our combat defenses, it will call for the lowest number of civilian personnel in the Department of Defense since 1950.

It will call for total expenditures of $97,900 million—compared to $98,400 million for the current year, a reduction of more than $500 million. It will call for new obligational authority of $103,800 million—a reduction of more than $4 billion below last year's request of $107,900 million.

But it is not a standstill budget, for America cannot afford to stand still. Our population is growing. Our economy is more complex. Our people's needs are expanding.

But by closing down obsolete installations, by curtailing less urgent programs, by cutting back where cutting back seems to be wise, by insisting on a dollar's worth for a dollar spent, I am able to recommend in this reduced budget the most Federal support in history for education, for health, for retraining the unemployed, and for helping the economically and the physically handicapped.

This budget, and this year's legislative program, are designed to help each and every American citizen fulfill his basic hopes—his hopes for a fair chance to make good; his hopes for fair play from the law; his hopes for a full-time job on full-time pay; his hopes for a decent home for his family in a decent community; his hopes for a good school for his children with good teachers; and his hopes for security when faced with sickness or unemployment or old age. III.

Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope—some because of their poverty, and some because of theft color, and all too many because of both. Our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity.

This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America. I urge this Congress and all Americans to join with me in that effort.

It will not be a short or easy struggle, no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we shall not rest until that war is won. The richest Nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it. One thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth today can return $40,000 or more in his lifetime.

Poverty is a national problem, requiring improved national organization and support. But this attack, to be effective, must also be organized at the State and the local level and must be supported and directed by State and local efforts.

For the war against poverty will not be won here in Washington. It must be won in the field, in every private home, in every public office, from the courthouse to the White House.

The program I shall propose will emphasize this cooperative approach to help that one-fifth of all American families with incomes too small to even meet their basic needs.

Our chief weapons in a more pinpointed attack will be better schools, and better health, and better homes, and better training, and better job opportunities to help more Americans, especially young Americans, escape from squalor and misery and unemployment rolls where other citizens help to carry them.

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

But whatever the cause, our joint Federal-local effort must pursue poverty, pursue it wherever it exists—in city slums and small towns, in sharecropper shacks or in migrant worker camps, on Indian Reservations, among whites as well as Negroes, among the young as well as the aged, in the boom towns and in the depressed areas.

Our aim is not only to relieve the symptom of poverty, but to cure it and, above all, to prevent it. No single piece of legislation, however, is going to suffice.

We will launch a special effort in the chronically distressed areas of Appalachia.

We must expand our small but our successful area redevelopment program.

We must enact youth employment legislation to put jobless, aimless, hopeless youngsters to work on useful projects.

We must distribute more food to the needy through a broader food stamp program.

We must create a National Service Corps to help the economically handicapped of our own country as the Peace Corps now helps those abroad.

We must modernize our unemployment insurance and establish a high-level commission on automation. If we have the brain power to invent these machines, we have the brain power to make certain that they are a boon and not a bane to humanity.

We must extend the coverage of our minimum wage laws to more than 2 million workers now lacking this basic protection of purchasing power.

We must, by including special school aid funds as part of our education program, improve the quality of teaching, training, and counseling in our hardest hit areas.

We must build more libraries in every area and more hospitals and nursing homes under the Hill-Burton Act, and train more nurses to staff them.

We must provide hospital insurance for our older citizens financed by every worker and his employer under Social Security, contributing no more than $1 a month during the employee's working career to protect him in his old age in a dignified manner without cost to the Treasury, against the devastating hardship of prolonged or repeated illness.

We must, as a part of a revised housing and urban renewal program, give more help to those displaced by slum clearance, provide more housing for our poor and our elderly, and seek as our ultimate goal in our free enterprise system a decent home for every American family.

We must help obtain more modern mass transit within our communities as well as low-cost transportation between them.

Above all, we must release $11 billion of tax reduction into the private spending stream to create new jobs and new markets in every area of this land. IV.

These programs are obviously not for the poor or the underprivileged alone. Every American will benefit by the extension of social security to cover the hospital costs of their aged parents. Every American community will benefit from the construction or modernization of schools, libraries, hospitals, and nursing homes, from the training of more nurses and from the improvement of urban renewal in public transit. And every individual American taxpayer and every corporate taxpayer will benefit from the earliest possible passage of the pending tax bill from both the new investment it will bring and the new jobs that it will create.

That tax bill has been thoroughly discussed for a year. Now we need action. The new budget clearly allows it. Our taxpayers surely deserve it. Our economy strongly demands it. And every month of delay dilutes its benefits in 1964 for consumption, for investment, and for employment.

For until the bill is signed, its investment incentives cannot be deemed certain, and the withholding rate cannot be reduced—and the most damaging and devastating thing you can do to any businessman in America is to keep him in doubt and to keep him guessing on what our tax policy is. And I say that we should now reduce to 14 percent instead of 15 percent our withholding rate.

I therefore urge the Congress to take final action on this bill by the first of February, if at all possible. For however proud we may be of the unprecedented progress of our free enterprise economy over the last 3 years, we should not and we cannot permit it to pause.

In 1963, for the first time in history, we crossed the 70 million job mark, but we will soon need more than 75 million jobs. In 1963 our gross national product reached the $600 billion level—$100 billion higher than when we took office. But it easily could and it should be still $30 billion higher today than it is.

Wages and profits and family income are also at their highest levels in history—but I would remind you that 4 million workers and 13 percent of our industrial capacity are still idle today.

We need a tax cut now to keep this country moving. V.

For our goal is not merely to spread the work. Our goal is to create more jobs. I believe the enactment of a 35-hour week would sharply increase costs, would invite inflation, would impair our ability to compete, and merely share instead of creating employment. But I am equally opposed to the 45- or 50-hour week in those industries where consistently excessive use of overtime causes increased unemployment.

So, therefore, I recommend legislation authorizing the creation of a tripartite industry committee to determine on an industry-by-industry basis as to where a higher penalty rate for overtime would increase job openings without unduly increasing costs, and authorizing the establishment of such higher rates. VI.

Let me make one principle of this administration abundantly clear: All of these increased opportunities—in employment, in education, in housing, and in every field—must be open to Americans of every color. As far as the writ of Federal law will run, we must abolish not some, but all racial discrimination. For this is not merely an economic issue, or a social, political, or international issue. It is a moral issue, and it must be met by the passage this session of the bill now pending in the House.

All members of the public should have equal access to facilities open to the public. All members of the public should be equally eligible for Federal benefits that are financed by the public. All members of the public should have an equal chance to vote for public officials and to send their children to good public schools and to contribute their talents to the public good.

Today, Americans of all races stand side by side in Berlin and in Viet Nam. They died side by side in Korea. Surely they can work and eat and travel side by side in their own country. VII.

We must also lift by legislation the bars of discrimination against those who seek entry into our country, particularly those who have much needed skills and those joining their families.

In establishing preferences, a nation that was built by the immigrants of all lands can ask those who now seek admission: "What can you do for our country?" But we should not be asking: "In what country were you born?" VIII.

For our ultimate goal is a world without war, a world made safe for diversity, in which all men, goods, and ideas can freely move across every border and every boundary.

We must advance toward this goal in 1964 in at least 10 different ways, not as partisans, but as patriots.

First, we must maintain—and our reduced defense budget will maintain—that margin of military safety and superiority obtained through 3 years of steadily increasing both the quality and the quantity of our strategic, our conventional, and our antiguerilla forces. In 1964 we will be better prepared than ever before to defend the cause of freedom, whether it is threatened by outright aggression or by the infiltration practiced by those in Hanoi and Havana, who ship arms and men across international borders to foment insurrection. And we must continue to use that strength as John Kennedy used it in the Cuban crisis and for the test ban treaty—to demonstrate both the futility of nuclear war and the possibilities of lasting peace.

Second, we must take new steps—and we shall make new proposals at Geneva—toward the control and the eventual abolition of arms. Even in the absence of agreement, we must not stockpile arms beyond our needs or seek an excess of military power that could be provocative as well as wasteful.

It is in this spirit that in this fiscal year we are cutting back our production of enriched uranium by 25 percent. We are shutting down four plutonium piles. We are closing many nonessential military installations. And it is in this spirit that we today call on our adversaries to do the same.

Third, we must make increased use of our food as an instrument of peace—making it available by sale or trade or loan or donation—to hungry people in all nations which tell us of their needs and accept proper conditions of distribution.

Fourth, we must assure our pre-eminence in the peaceful exploration of outer space, focusing on an expedition to the moon in this decade—in cooperation with other powers if possible, alone if necessary.

Fifth, we must expand world trade. Having recognized in the Act of 1962 that we must buy as well as sell, we now expect our trading partners to recognize that we must sell as well as buy. We are willing to give them competitive access to our market, asking only that they do the same for us.

Sixth, we must continue, through such measures as the interest equalization tax, as well as the cooperation of other nations, our recent progress toward balancing our international accounts.

This administration must and will preserve the present gold value of the dollar.

Seventh, we must become better neighbors with the free states of the Americas, working with the councils of the OAS, with a stronger Alliance for Progress, and with all the men and women of this hemisphere who really believe in liberty and justice for all.

Eighth, we must strengthen the ability of free nations everywhere to develop their independence and raise their standard of living, and thereby frustrate those who prey on poverty and chaos. To do this, the rich must help the poor—and we must do our part. We must achieve a more rigorous administration of our development assistance, with larger roles for private investors, for other industrialized nations, and for international agencies and for the recipient nations themselves.

Ninth, we must strengthen our Atlantic and Pacific partnerships, maintain our alliances and make the United Nations a more effective instrument for national independence and international order.

Tenth, and finally, we must develop with our allies new means of bridging the gap between the East and the West, facing danger boldly wherever danger exists, but being equally bold in our search for new agreements which can enlarge the hopes of all, while violating the interests of none.

In short, I would say to the Congress that we must be constantly prepared for the worst, and constantly acting for the best. We must be strong enough to win any war, and we must be wise enough to prevent one.

We shall neither act as aggressors nor tolerate acts of aggression. We intend to bury no one, and we do not intend to be buried.

We can fight, if we must, as we have fought before, but we pray that we will never have to fight again. IX.

My good friends and my fellow Americans: In these last 7 sorrowful weeks, we have learned anew that nothing is so enduring as faith, and nothing is so degrading as hate.

John Kennedy was a victim of hate, but he was also a great builder of faith—faith in our fellow Americans, whatever their creed or their color or their station in life; faith in the future of man, whatever his divisions and differences.

This faith was echoed in all parts of the world. On every continent and in every land to which Mrs. Johnson and I traveled, we found faith and hope and love toward this land of America and toward our people.

So I ask you now in the Congress and in the country to join with me in expressing and fulfilling that faith in working for a nation, a nation that is free from want and a world that is free from hate—a world of peace and justice, and freedom and abundance, for our time and for all time to come.


State of the Union Address Lyndon B. Johnson January 4, 1965

On this Hill which was my home, I am stirred by old friendships.

Though total agreement between the Executive and the Congress is impossible, total respect is important.

I am proud to be among my colleagues of the Congress whose legacy to their trust is their loyalty to their Nation.

I am not unaware of the inner emotions of the new Members of this body tonight.

Twenty-eight years ago, I felt as you do now. You will soon learn that you are among men whose first love is their country, men who try each day to do as best they can what they believe is right.

We are entering the third century of the pursuit of American union.

Two hundred years ago, in 1765, nine assembled colonies first joined together to demand freedom from arbitrary power.

For the first century we struggled to hold together the first continental union of democracy in the history of man. One hundred years ago, in 1865, following a terrible test of blood and fire, the compact of union was finally sealed.

For a second century we labored to establish a unity of purpose and interest among the many groups which make up the American community.

That struggle has often brought pain and violence. It is not yet over. But we have achieved a unity of interest among our people that is unmatched in the history of freedom.

And so tonight, now, in 1965, we begin a new quest for union. We seek the unity of man with the world that he has built—with the knowledge that can save or destroy him—with the cities which can stimulate or stifle him—with the wealth and the machines which can enrich or menace his spirit.

We seek to establish a harmony between man and society which will allow each of us to enlarge the meaning of his life and all of us to elevate the quality of our civilization. This is the search that we begin tonight.


But the unity we seek cannot realize its full promise in isolation. For today the state of the Union depends, in large measure, upon the state of the world.

Our concern and interest, compassion and vigilance, extend to every corner of a dwindling planet.

Yet, it is not merely our concern but the concern of all free men. We will not, and we should not, assume that it is the task of Americans alone to settle all the conflicts of a torn and troubled world.

Let the foes of freedom take no comfort from this. For in concert with other nations, we shall help men defend their freedom.

Our first aim remains the safety and the well-being of our own country.

We are prepared to live as good neighbors with all, but we cannot be indifferent to acts designed to injure our interests, or our citizens, or our establishments abroad. The community of nations requires mutual respect. We shall extend it—and we shall expect it.

In our relations with the world we shall follow the example of Andrew Jackson who said: "I intend to ask for nothing that is not clearly right and to submit to nothing that is wrong." And he promised, that "the honor of my country shall never be stained by an apology from me for the statement of truth or for the performance of duty." That was this Nation's policy in the 1830's and that is this Nation's policy in the 1960's.

Our own freedom and growth have never been the final goal of the American dream.

We were never meant to be an oasis of liberty and abundance in a worldwide desert of disappointed dreams. Our Nation was created to help strike away the chains of ignorance and misery and tyranny wherever they keep man less than God means him to be.

We are moving toward that destiny, never more rapidly than we have moved in the last 4 years.

In this period we have built a military power strong enough to meet any threat and destroy any adversary. And that superiority will continue to grow so long as this office is mine—and you sit on Capitol Hill.

In this period no new nation has become Communist, and the unity of the Communist empire has begun to crumble.

In this period we have resolved in friendship our disputes with our neighbors of the hemisphere, and joined in an Alliance for Progress toward economic growth and political democracy.

In this period we have taken more steps toward peace—including the test ban treaty—than at any time since the cold war began.

In this period we have relentlessly pursued our advances toward the conquest of space.

Most important of all, in this period, the United States has reemerged into the fullness of its self-confidence and purpose. No longer are we called upon to get America moving. We are moving. No longer do we doubt our strength or resolution. We are strong and we have proven our resolve.

No longer can anyone wonder whether we are in the grip of historical decay. We know that history is ours to make. And if there is great danger, there is now also the excitement of great expectations.


Yet we still live in a troubled and perilous world. There is no longer a single threat. There are many. They differ in intensity and in danger. They require different attitudes and different answers.

With the Soviet Union we seek peaceful understandings that can lessen the danger to freedom.

Last fall I asked the American people to choose that course. I will carry forward their command.

If we are to live together in peace, we must come to know each other better.

I am sure that the American people would welcome a chance to listen to the Soviet leaders on our television—as I would like the Soviet people to hear our leaders on theirs.

I hope the new Soviet leaders can visit America so they can learn about our country at firsthand.

In Eastern Europe restless nations are slowly beginning to assert their identity. Your Government, assisted by the leaders in American labor and business, is now exploring ways to increase peaceful trade with these countries and with the Soviet Union. I will report our conclusions to the Congress.

In Asia, communism wears a more aggressive face. We see that in Viet-Nam. Why are we there?

We are there, first, because a friendly nation has asked us for help against the Communist aggression. Ten years ago our President pledged our help. Three Presidents have supported that pledge. We will not break it now.

Second, our own security is tied to the peace of Asia. Twice in one generation we have had to fight against aggression in the Far East. To ignore aggression now would only increase the danger of a much larger war.

Our goal is peace in southeast Asia. That will come only when aggressors leave their neighbors in peace.

What is at stake is the cause of freedom and in that cause America will never be found wanting.


But communism is not the only source of trouble and unrest. There are older and deeper sources—in the misery of nations and in man's irrepressible ambition for liberty and a better life.

With the free Republics of Latin America I have always felt—and my country has always felt—very special ties of interest and affection. It will be the purpose of my administration to strengthen these ties. Together we share and shape the destiny of the new world. In the coming year I hope to pay a visit to Latin America. And I will steadily enlarge our commitment to the Alliance for Progress as the instrument of our war against poverty and injustice in this hemisphere.

In the Atlantic community we continue to pursue our goal of 20 years—a Europe that is growing in strength, unity, and cooperation with America. A great unfinished task is the reunification of Germany through self-determination.

This European policy is not based on any abstract design. It is based on the realities of common interests and common values, common dangers and common expectations. These realities will continue to have their way—especially, I think, in our expanding trade and especially in our common defense.

Free Americans have shaped the policies of the United States. And because we know these realities, those policies have been, and will be, in the interest of Europe.

Free Europeans must shape the course of Europe. And, for the same reasons, that course has been, and will be, in our interest and in the interest of freedom.

I found this truth confirmed in my talks with European leaders in the last year. I hope to repay these visits to some of our friends in Europe this year.

In Africa and Asia we are witnessing the turbulent unfolding of new nations and continents.

We welcome them to the society of nations.

We are committed to help those seeking to strengthen their own independence, and to work most closely with those governments dedicated to the welfare of all of their people.

We seek not fidelity to an iron faith, but a diversity of belief as varied as man himself. We seek not to extend the power of America but the progress of humanity. We seek not to dominate others but to strengthen the freedom of all people.

I will seek new ways to use our knowledge to help deal with the explosion in world population and the growing scarcity in world resources.

Finally, we renew our commitment to the continued growth and the effectiveness of the United Nations. The frustrations of the United Nations are a product of the world that we live in, and not of the institution which gives them voice. It is far better to throw these differences open to the assembly of nations than to permit them to fester in silent danger.

These are some of the goals of the American Nation in the world in which we live.

For ourselves we seek neither praise nor blame, neither gratitude nor obedience.

We seek peace.

We seek freedom.

We seek to enrich the life of man.

For that is the world in which we will flourish and that is the world that we mean for all men to ultimately have.


World affairs will continue to call upon our energy and our courage.

But today we can turn increased attention to the character of American life.

We are in the midst of the greatest upward surge of economic well-being in the history of any nation.

Our flourishing progress has been marked by price stability that is unequalled in the world. Our balance of payments deficit has declined and the soundness of our dollar is unquestioned. I pledge to keep it that way and I urge business and labor to cooperate to that end.

We worked for two centuries to climb this peak of prosperity. But we are only at the beginning of the road to the Great Society. Ahead now is a summit where freedom from the wants of the body can help fulfill the needs of the spirit.

We built this Nation to serve its people.

We want to grow and build and create, but we want progress to be the servant and not the master of man.

We do not intend to live in the midst of abundance, isolated from neighbors and nature, confined by blighted cities and bleak suburbs, stunted by a poverty of learning and an emptiness of leisure.

The Great Society asks not how much, but how good; not only how to create wealth but how to use it; not only how fast we are going, but where we are headed.

It proposes as the first test for a nation: the quality of its people.

This kind of society will not flower spontaneously from swelling riches and surging power.

It will not be the gift of government or the creation of presidents. It will require of every American, for many generations, both faith in the destination and the fortitude to make the journey.

And like freedom itself, it will always be challenge and not fulfillment. And tonight we accept that challenge.


I propose that we begin a program in education to ensure every American child the fullest development of his mind and skills.

I propose that we begin a massive attack on crippling and killing diseases.

I propose that we launch a national effort to make the American city a better and a more stimulating place to live.

I propose that we increase the beauty of America and end the poisoning of our rivers and the air that we breathe.

I propose that we carry out a new program to develop regions of our country that are now suffering from distress and depression.

I propose that we make new efforts to control and prevent crime and delinquency.

I propose that we eliminate every remaining obstacle to the right and the opportunity to vote.

I propose that we honor and support the achievements of thought and the creations of art.

I propose that we make an all-out campaign against waste and inefficiency.


Our basic task is threefold:

First, to keep our economy growing;

—to open for all Americans the opportunity that is now enjoyed by most Americans;

—and to improve the quality of life for all.

In the next 6 weeks I will submit special messages with detailed proposals for national action in each of these areas.

Tonight I would like just briefly to explain some of my major recommendations in the three main areas of national need.



First, we must keep our Nation prosperous. We seek full employment opportunity for every American citizen. I will present a budget designed to move the economy forward. More money will be left in the hands of the consumer by a substantial cut in excise taxes. We will continue along the path toward a balanced budget in a balanced economy.

I confidently predict—what every economic sign tells us tonight—the continued flourishing of the American economy.

But we must remember that fear of a recession can contribute to the fact of a recession. The knowledge that our Government will, and can, move swiftly will strengthen the confidence of investors and business.

Congress can reinforce this confidence by insuring that its procedures permit rapid action on temporary income tax cuts. And special funds for job-creating public programs should be made available for immediate use if recession threatens.

Our continued prosperity demands continued price stability. Business, labor, and the consumer all have a high stake in keeping wages and prices within the framework of the guideposts that have already served the Nation so well.

Finding new markets abroad for our goods depends on the initiative of American business. But we stand ready—with credit and other help—to assist the flow of trade which will benefit the entire Nation.


Our economy owes much to the efficiency of our farmers. We must continue to assure them the opportunity to earn a fair reward. I have instructed the Secretary of Agriculture to lead a major effort to find new approaches to reduce the heavy cost of our farm programs and to direct more of our effort to the small farmer who needs the help the most.


We can help insure continued prosperity through:

—a regional recovery program to assist the development of stricken areas left behind by our national progress;

—further efforts to provide our workers with the skills demanded by modern technology, for the laboring-man is an indispensable force in the American system;

—the extension of the minimum wage to more than 2 million unprotected workers;

—the improvement and the modernization of the unemployment compensation system.

And as pledged in our 1960 and 1964 Democratic platforms, I will propose to Congress changes in the Taft-Hartley Act including section 14(b). I will do so hoping to reduce the conflicts that for several years have divided Americans in various States of our Union.

In a country that spans a continent modern transportation is vital to continued growth.


I will recommend heavier reliance on competition in transportation and a new policy for our merchant marine.

I will ask for funds to study high-speed rail transportation between urban centers. We will begin with test projects between Washington and Boston. On high-speed trains, passengers could travel this distance in less than 4 hours.


Second, we must open opportunity to all our people.

Most Americans enjoy a good life. But far too many are still trapped in poverty and idleness and fear.

Let a just nation throw open to them the city of promise:

—to the elderly, by providing hospital care under social security and by raising benefit payments to those struggling to maintain the dignity of their later years;

—to the poor and the unfortunate, through doubling the war against poverty this year;

—to Negro Americans, through enforcement of the civil rights law and elimination of barriers to the right to vote;

—to those in other lands that are seeking the promise of America, through an immigration law based on the work a man can do and not where he was born or how he spells his name.


Our third goal is to improve the quality of American life.


We begin with learning.

Every child must have the best education that this Nation can provide.

Thomas Jefferson said that no nation can be both ignorant and free. Today no nation can be both ignorant and great.

In addition to our existing programs, I will recommend a new program for schools and students with a first year authorization of $1,500 million.

It will help at every stage along the road to learning.

For the preschool years we will help needy children become aware of the excitement of learning.

For the primary and secondary school years we will aid public schools serving low-income families and assist students in both public and private schools.

For the college years we will provide scholarships to high school students of the greatest promise and the greatest need and we will guarantee low-interest loans to students continuing their college studies.

New laboratories and centers will help our schools—help them lift their standards of excellence and explore new methods of teaching. These centers will provide special training for those who need and those who deserve special treatment.


Greatness requires not only an educated people but a healthy people.

Our goal is to match the achievements of our medicine to the afflictions of our people.

We already carry on a large program in this country for research and health.

In addition, regional medical centers can provide the most advanced diagnosis and treatment for heart disease and cancer and stroke and other major diseases.

New support for medical and dental education will provide the trained people to apply our knowledge.

Community centers can help the mentally ill and improve health care for school-age children from poor families, including services for the mentally retarded.


The City

An educated and healthy people require surroundings in harmony with their hopes. In our urban areas the central problem today is to protect and restore man's satisfaction in belonging to a community where he can find security and significance.

The first step is to break old patterns—to begin to think and work and plan for the development of the entire metropolitan areas. We will take this step with new programs of help for the basic community facilities and for neighborhood centers of health and recreation.

New and existing programs will be open to those cities which work together to develop unified long-range policies for metropolitan areas.

We must also make some very important changes in our housing programs if we are to pursue these same basic goals.

So a Department of Housing and Urban Development will be needed to spearhead this effort in our cities.

Every citizen has the right to feel secure in his home and on the streets of his community.

To help control crime, we will recommend programs:

—to train local law enforcement officers;

—to put the best techniques of modern science at their disposal;

—to discover the causes of crime and better ways to prevent it.

I will soon assemble a panel of outstanding experts of this Nation to search out answers to the national problem of crime and delinquency, and I welcome the recommendations and the constructive efforts of the Congress. The Beauty of America

For over three centuries the beauty of America has sustained our spirit and has enlarged our vision. We must act now to protect this heritage. In a fruitful new partnership with the States and the cities the next decade should be a conservation milestone. We must make a massive effort to save the countryside and to establish—as a green legacy for tomorrow—more large and small parks, more seashores and open spaces than have been created during any other period in our national history.

A new and substantial effort must be made to landscape highways to provide places of relaxation and recreation wherever our roads run,

Within our cities imaginative programs are needed to landscape streets and to transform open areas into places of beauty and recreation.

We will seek legal power to prevent pollution of our air and water before it happens. We will step up our effort to control harmful wastes, giving first priority to the cleanup of our most contaminated rivers. We will increase research to learn much more about the control of pollution.

We hope to make the Potomac a model of beauty here in the Capital, and preserve unspoiled stretches of some of our waterways with a Wild Rivers bill.

More ideas for a beautiful America will emerge from a White House Conference on Natural Beauty which I will soon call.

Art and Science

We must also recognize and encourage those who can be pathfinders for the Nation's imagination and understanding.

To help promote and honor creative achievements, I will propose a National Foundation on the Arts.

To develop knowledge which will enrich our lives and ensure our progress, I will recommend programs to encourage basic science, particularly in the universities—and to bring closer the day when the oceans will supply our growing need for fresh water.

For government to serve these goals it must be modern in structure, efficient in action, and ready for any emergency.

I am busy, currently, reviewing the structure of the entire executive branch of this Government. I hope to reshape it and to reorganize it to meet more effectively the tasks of the 20th century.

Wherever waste is found, I will eliminate it.

Last year we saved almost $3,500 million by eliminating waste in the National Government.

And I intend to do better this year.

And very soon I will report to you on our progress and on new economies that your Government plans to make.

Even the best of government is subject to the worst of hazards.

I will propose laws to insure the necessary continuity of leadership should the President become disabled or die.

In addition, I will propose reforms in the electoral college—leaving undisturbed the vote by States—but making sure that no elector can substitute his will for that of the people.

Last year, in a sad moment, I came here and I spoke to you after 33 years of public service, practically all of them here on this Hill.

This year I speak after 1 year as President of the United States.

Many of you in this Chamber are among my oldest friends. We have shared many happy moments and many hours of work, and we have watched many Presidents together. Yet, only in the White House can you finally know the full weight of this Office.

The greatest burden is not running the huge operations of government—or meeting daily troubles, large and small—or even working with the Congress.

A President's hardest task is not to do what is right, but to know what is right.

Yet the Presidency brings no special gift of prophecy or foresight. You take an oath, you step into an office, and you must then help guide a great democracy.

The answer was waiting for me in the land where I was born.

It was once barren land. The angular hills were covered with scrub cedar and a few large live oaks. Little would grow in that harsh caliche soil of my country. And each spring the Pedernales River would flood our valley.

But men came and they worked and they endured and they built.

And tonight that country is abundant; abundant with fruit and cattle and goats and sheep, and there are pleasant homes and lakes and the floods are gone.

Why did men come to that once forbidding land?

Well, they were restless, of course, and they had to be moving on. But there was more than that. There was a dream—a dream of a place where a free man could build for himself, and raise his children to a better life—a dream of a continent to be conquered, a world to be won, a nation to be made.

Remembering this, I knew the answer.

A President does not shape a new and personal vision of America.

He collects it from the scattered hopes of the American past.

It existed when the first settlers saw the coast of a new world, and when the first pioneers moved westward.

It has guided us every step of the way.

It sustains every President. But it is also your inheritance and it belongs equally to all the people that we all serve.

It must be interpreted anew by each generation for its own needs; as I have tried, in part, to do tonight.

It shall lead us as we enter the third century of the search for a more perfect union?

This, then, is the state of the Union: Free and restless, growing and full of hope.

So it was in the beginning.

So it shall always be, while God is willing, and we are strong enough to keep the faith.


State of the Union Address Lyndon B. Johnson January 12, 1966

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, Members of the House and the Senate, my fellow Americans:

I come before you tonight to report on the State of the Union for the third time.

I come here to thank you and to add my tribute, once more, to the Nation's gratitude for this, the 89th Congress. This Congress has already reserved for itself an honored chapter in the history of America.

Our Nation tonight is engaged in a brutal and bitter conflict in Vietnam. Later on I want to discuss that struggle in some detail with you. It just must be the center of our concerns.

But we will not permit those who fire upon us in Vietnam to win a victory over the desires and the intentions of all the American people. This Nation is mighty enough, its society is healthy enough, its people are strong enough, to pursue our goals in the rest of the world while still building a Great Society here at home.

And that is what I have come here to ask of you tonight.

I recommend that you provide the resources to carry forward, with full vigor, the great health and education programs that you enacted into law last year.

I recommend that we prosecute with vigor and determination our war on poverty.

I recommend that you give a new and daring direction to our foreign aid program, designed to make a maximum attack on hunger and disease and ignorance in those countries that are determined to help themselves, and to help those nations that are trying to control population growth.

I recommend that you make it possible to expand trade between the United States and Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

I recommend to you a program to rebuild completely, on a scale never before attempted, entire central and slum areas of several of our cities in America.

I recommend that you attack the wasteful and degrading poisoning of our rivers, and, as the cornerstone of this effort, clean completely entire large river basins.

I recommend that you meet the growing menace of crime in the streets by building up law enforcement and by revitalizing the entire Federal system from prevention to probation.

I recommend that you take additional steps to insure equal justice to all of our people by effectively enforcing nondiscrimination in Federal and State jury selection, by making it a serious Federal crime to obstruct public and private efforts to secure civil rights, and by outlawing discrimination in the sale and rental of housing.

I recommend that you help me modernize and streamline the Federal Government by creating a new Cabinet level Department of Transportation and reorganizing several existing agencies. In turn, I will restructure our civil service in the top grades so that men and women can easily be assigned to jobs where they are most needed, and ability will be both required as well as rewarded.

I will ask you to make it possible for Members of the House of Representatives to work more effectively in the service of the Nation through a constitutional amendment extending the term of a Congressman to 4 years, concurrent with that of the President. II.

Because of Vietnam we cannot do all that we should, or all that we would like to do. We will ruthlessly attack waste and inefficiency. We will make sure that every dollar is spent with the thrift and with the commonsense which recognizes how hard the taxpayer worked in order to earn it.

We will continue to meet the needs of our people by continuing to develop the Great Society.

Last year alone the wealth that we produced increased $47 billion, and it will soar again this year to a total over $720 billion.

Because our economic policies have produced rising revenues, if you approve every program that I recommend tonight, our total budget deficit will be one of the lowest in many years. It will be only $1.8 billion next year. Total spending in the administrative budget will be $112.8 billion. Revenues next year will be $111 billion.

On a cash basis—which is the way that you and I keep our family budget—the Federal budget next year will actually show a surplus. That is to say, if we include all the money that your Government will take in and all the money that your Government will spend, your Government next year will collect one-half billion dollars more than it will spend in the year 1967.

I have not come here tonight to ask for pleasant luxuries or for idle pleasures. I have come here to recommend that you, the representatives of the richest Nation on earth, you, the elected servants of a people who live in abundance unmatched on this globe, you bring the most urgent decencies of life to all of your fellow Americans.

There are men who cry out: We must sacrifice. Well, let us rather ask them: Who will they sacrifice? Are they going to sacrifice the children who seek the learning, or the sick who need medical care, or the families who dwell in squalor now brightened by the hope of home? Will they sacrifice opportunity for the distressed, the beauty of our land, the hope of our poor?

Time may require further sacrifices. And if it does, then we will make them.

But we will not heed those who wring it from the hopes of the unfortunate here in a land of plenty.

I believe that we can continue the Great Society while we fight in Vietnam. But if there are some who do not believe this, then, in the name of justice, let them call for the contribution of those who live in the fullness of our blessing, rather than try to strip it from the hands of those that are most in need.

And let no one think that the unfortunate and the oppressed of this land sit stifled and alone in their hope tonight. Hundreds of their servants and their protectors sit before me tonight here in this great Chamber. III.

The Great Society leads us along three roads—growth and justice and liberation.

I can report to you tonight what you have seen for yourselves already—in every city and countryside. This Nation is flourishing.

Workers are making more money than ever—with after-tax income in the past 5 years up 33 percent; in the last year alone, up 8 percent.

More people are working than ever before in our history—an increase last year of 2 1/2 million jobs.

Corporations have greater after-tax earnings than ever in history. For the past 5 years those earnings have been up over 65 percent, and last year alone they had a rise of 20 percent.

Average farm income is higher than ever. Over the past 5 years it is up 40 percent, and over the past year it is up 22 percent alone.

I was informed this afternoon by the distinguished Secretary of the Treasury that his preliminary estimates indicate that our balance of payments deficit has been reduced from $2.8 billion in 1964 to $1.3 billion, or less, in 1965. This achievement has been made possible by the patriotic voluntary cooperation of businessmen and bankers working with your Government.

We must now work together with increased urgency to wipe out this balance of payments deficit altogether in the next year.

And as our economy surges toward new heights we must increase our vigilance against the inflation which raises the cost of living and which lowers the savings of every family in this land. It is essential, to prevent inflation, that we ask both labor and business to exercise price and wage restraint, and I do so again tonight.

I believe it desirable, because of increased military expenditures, that you temporarily restore the automobile and certain telephone excise tax reductions made effective only 12 days ago. Without raising taxes—or even increasing the total tax bill paid—we should move to improve our withholding system so that Americans can more realistically pay as they go, speed up the collection of corporate taxes, and make other necessary simplifications of the tax structure at an early date.

I hope these measures will be adequate. But if the necessities of Vietnam require it, I will not hesitate to return to the Congress for additional appropriations, or additional revenues if they are needed.

I propose legislation to establish unavoidable requirements for nondiscriminatory jury selection in Federal and State courts—and to give the Attorney General the power necessary to enforce those requirements.

I propose legislation to strengthen authority of Federal courts to try those who murder, attack, or intimidate either civil rights workers or others exercising their constitutional rights—and to increase penalties to a level equal to the nature of the crime.

Legislation, resting on the fullest constitutional authority of the Federal Government, to prohibit racial discrimination in the sale or rental of housing.

For that other nation within a Nation—the poor—whose distress has now captured the conscience of America, I will ask the Congress not only to continue, but to speed up the war on poverty. And in so doing, we will provide the added energy of achievement with the increased efficiency of experience.

To improve the life of our rural Americans and our farm population, we will plan for the future through the establishment of several new Community Development Districts, improved education through the use of Teacher Corps teams, better health measures, physical examinations, and adequate and available medical resources.

For those who labor, I propose to improve unemployment insurance, to expand minimum wage benefits, and by the repeal of section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act to make the labor laws in all our States equal to the laws of the 31 States which do not have tonight right-to-work measures.

And I also intend to ask the Congress to consider measures which, without improperly invading State and local authority, will enable us effectively to deal with strikes which threaten irreparable damage to the national interest.

Yet, slowly, painfully, on the edge of victory, has come the knowledge that shared prosperity is not enough. In the midst of abundance modern man walks oppressed by forces which menace and confine the quality of his life, and which individual abundance alone will not overcome.

We can subdue and we can master these forces—bring increased meaning to our lives—if all of us, Government and citizens, are bold enough to change old ways, daring enough to assault new dangers, and if the dream is dear enough to call forth the limitless capacities of this great people.

This year we must continue to improve the quality of American life.

Let us fulfill and improve the great health and education programs of last year, extending special opportunities to those who risk their lives in our Armed Forces.

I urge the House of Representatives to complete action on three programs already passed by the Senate—the Teacher Corps, rent assistance, and home rule for the District of Columbia.

In some of our urban areas we must help rebuild entire sections and neighborhoods containing, in some cases, as many as 100,000 people. Working together, private enterprise and government must press forward with the task of providing homes and shops, parks and hospitals, and all the other necessary parts of a flourishing community where our people can come to live the good life.

I will offer other proposals to stimulate and to reward planning for the growth of entire metropolitan areas.

Of all the reckless devastations of our national heritage, none is really more shameful than the continued poisoning of our rivers and our air.

We must undertake a cooperative effort to end pollution in several river basins, making additional funds available to help draw the plans and construct the plants that are necessary to make the waters of our entire river systems clean, and make them a source of pleasure and beauty for all of our people.

To attack and to overcome growing crime and lawlessness, I think we must have a stepped-up program to help modernize and strengthen our local police forces.

Our people have a right to feel secure in their homes and on their streets—and that right just must be secured.

Nor can we fail to arrest the destruction of life and property on our highways.

I will propose a Highway Safety Act of 1966 to seek an end to this mounting tragedy.

We must also act to prevent the deception of the American consumer—requiring all packages to state clearly and truthfully their contents—all interest and credit charges to be fully revealed—and keeping harmful drugs and cosmetics away from our stores.

It is the genius of our Constitution that under its shelter of enduring institutions and rooted principles there is ample room for the rich fertility of American political invention. We must change to master change.

I propose to take steps to modernize and streamline the executive branch, to modernize the relations between city and State and Nation.

A new Department of Transportation is needed to bring together our transportation activities. The present structure—35 Government agencies, spending $5 billion yearly—makes it almost impossible to serve either the growing demands of this great Nation or the needs of the industry, or the right of the taxpayer to full efficiency and real frugality.

I will propose in addition a program to construct and to flight-test a new supersonic transport airplane that will fly three times the speed of sound—in excess of 2,000 miles per hour.

I propose to examine our Federal system—the relation between city, State, Nation, and the citizens themselves. We need a commission of the most distinguished scholars and men of public affairs to do this job. I will ask them to move on to develop a creative federalism to best use the wonderful diversity of our institutions and our people to solve the problems and to fulfill the dreams of the American people.

As the process of election becomes more complex and more costly, we must make it possible for those without personal wealth to enter public life without being obligated to a few large contributors.

Therefore, I will submit legislation to revise the present unrealistic restriction on contributions—to prohibit the endless proliferation of committees, bringing local and State committees under the act—to attach strong teeth and severe penalties to the requirement of full disclosure of contributions—and to broaden the participation of the people, through added tax incentives, to stimulate small contributions to the party and to the candidate of their choice.

To strengthen the work of Congress I strongly urge an amendment to provide a 4-year term for Members of the House of Representatives—which should not begin before 1972.

The present 2-year term requires most Members of Congress to divert enormous energies to an almost constant process of campaigning—depriving this Nation of the fullest measure of both their skill and their wisdom. Today, too, the work of government is far more complex than in our early years, requiring more time to learn and more time to master the technical tasks of legislating. And a longer term will serve to attract more men of the highest quality to political life. The Nation, the principle of democracy, and, I think, each congressional district, will all be better served by a 4-year term for Members of the House. And I urge your swift action. IV.

Tonight the cup of peril is full in Vietnam. That conflict is not an isolated episode, but another great event in the policy that we have followed with strong consistency since World War II.

The touchstone of that policy is the interest of the United States—the welfare and the freedom of the people of the United States. But nations sink when they see that interest only through a narrow glass.

In a world that has grown small and dangerous, pursuit of narrow aims could bring decay and even disaster.

An America that is mighty beyond description—yet living in a hostile or despairing world—would be neither safe nor free to build a civilization to liberate the spirit of man.

In this pursuit we helped rebuild Western Europe. We gave our aid to Greece and Turkey, and we defended the freedom of Berlin.

In this pursuit we have helped new nations toward independence. We have extended the helping hand of the Peace Corps and carried forward the largest program of economic assistance in the world.

And in this pursuit we work to build a hemisphere of democracy and of social justice.

In this pursuit we have defended against Communist aggression—in Korea under President Truman—in the Formosa Straits under President Eisenhower—in Cuba under President Kennedy—and again in Vietnam.

Tonight Vietnam must hold the center of our attention, but across the world problems and opportunities crowd in on the American Nation. I will discuss them fully in the months to come, and I will follow the five continuing lines of policy that America has followed under its last four Presidents.

While special Vietnam expenditures for the next fiscal year are estimated to increase by $5.8 billion, I can tell you that all the other expenditures put together in the entire Federal budget will rise this coming year by only $.6 billion. This is true because of the stringent cost-conscious economy program inaugurated in the Defense Department, and followed by the other departments of Government.

We will vigorously pursue existing proposals—and seek new ones—to control arms and to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

By strengthening the common defense, by stimulating world commerce, by meeting new hopes, these associations serve the cause of a flourishing world.

We will take new steps this year to help strengthen the Alliance for Progress, the unity of Europe, the community of the Atlantic, the regional organizations of developing continents, and that supreme association—the United Nations.

We will work to strengthen economic cooperation, to reduce barriers to trade, and to improve international finance.

From the Marshall plan to this very moment tonight, that policy has rested on the claims of compassion, and the certain knowledge that only a people advancing in expectation will build secure and peaceful lands.

This year I propose major new directions in our program of foreign assistance to help those countries who will help themselves.

We will conduct a worldwide attack on the problems of hunger and disease and ignorance.

We will place the matchless skill and the resources of our own great America, in farming and in fertilizers, at the service of those countries committed to develop a modern agriculture.

We will aid those who educate the young in other lands, and we will give children in other continents the same head start that we are trying to give our own children. To advance these ends I will propose the International Education Act of 1966.

I will also propose the International Health Act of 1966 to strike at disease by a new effort to bring modern skills and knowledge to the uncared-for, those suffering in the world, and by trying to wipe out smallpox and malaria and control yellow fever over most of the world during this next decade; to help countries trying to control population growth, by increasing our research—and we will earmark funds to help their efforts.

In the next year, from our foreign aid sources, we propose to dedicate $1 billion to these efforts, and we call on all who have the means to join us in this work in the world.

For a peaceful world order will be possible only when each country walks the way that it has chosen to walk for itself.

We follow this principle by encouraging the end of colonial rule.

We follow this principle, abroad as well as at home, by continued hostility to the rule of the many by the few—or the oppression of one race by another.

We follow this principle by building bridges to Eastern Europe. And I will ask the Congress for authority to remove the special tariff restrictions which are a barrier to increasing trade between the East and the West.

The insistent urge toward national independence is the strongest force of today's world in which we live.

In Africa and Asia and Latin America it is shattering the designs of those who would subdue others to their ideas or their will.

It is eroding the unity of what was once a Stalinist empire.

In recent months a number of nations have east out those who would subject them to the ambitions of mainland China.

History is on the side of freedom and is on the side of societies shaped from the genius of each people. History does not favor a single system or belief—unless force is used to make it so.

That is why it has been necessary for us to defend this basic principle of our policy, to defend it in Berlin, in Korea, in Cuba—and tonight in Vietnam.

For tonight, as so many nights before, young Americans struggle and young Americans die in a distant land.

Tonight, as so many nights before, the American Nation is asked to sacrifice the blood of its children and the fruits of its labor for the love of its freedom.

How many times—in my lifetime and in yours—have the American people gathered, as they do now, to hear their President tell them of conflict and tell them of danger?

Each time they have answered. They have answered with all the effort that the security and the freedom of this Nation required.

And they do again tonight in Vietnam. Not too many years ago Vietnam was a peaceful, if troubled, land. In the North was an independent Communist government. In the South a people struggled to build a nation, with the friendly help of the United States.

There were some in South Vietnam who wished to force Communist rule on their own people. But their progress was slight. Their hope of success was dim. Then, little more than 6 years ago, North Vietnam decided on conquest. And from that day to this, soldiers and supplies have moved from North to South in a swelling stream that is swallowing the remnants of revolution in aggression.

As the assault mounted, our choice gradually became clear. We could leave, abandoning South Vietnam to its attackers and to certain conquest, or we could stay and fight beside the people of South Vietnam. We stayed.

And we will stay until aggression has stopped.

We will stay because a just nation cannot leave to the cruelties of its enemies a people who have staked their lives and independence on America's solemn pledge—a pledge which has grown through the commitments of three American Presidents.

We will stay because in Asia and around the world are countries whose independence rests, in large measure, on confidence in America's word and in America's protection. To yield to force in Vietnam would weaken that confidence, would undermine the independence of many lands, and would whet the appetite of aggression. We would have to fight in one land, and then we would have to fight in another—or abandon much of Asia to the domination of Communists.

And we do not intend to abandon Asia to conquest.

Last year the nature of the war in Vietnam changed again. Swiftly increasing numbers of armed men from the North crossed the borders to join forces that were already in the South. Attack and terror increased, spurred and encouraged by the belief that the United States lacked the will to continue and that their victory was near.

Despite our desire to limit conflict, it was necessary to act: to hold back the mounting aggression, to give courage to the people of the South, and to make our firmness clear to the North. Thus. we began limited air action against military targets in North Vietnam. We increased our fighting force to its present strength tonight of 190,000 men.

These moves have not ended the aggression but they have prevented its success. The aims of the enemy have been put out of reach by the skill and the bravery of Americans and their allies—and by the enduring courage of the South Vietnamese who, I can tell you, have lost eight men last year for every one of ours.

The enemy is no longer close to victory. Time is no longer on his side. There is no cause to doubt the American commitment.

Our decision to stand firm has been matched by our desire for peace.

In 1965 alone we had 300 private talks for peace in Vietnam, with friends and adversaries throughout the world.

Since Christmas your Government has labored again, with imagination and endurance, to remove any barrier to peaceful settlement. For 20 days now we and our Vietnamese allies have dropped no bombs in North Vietnam.

Able and experienced spokesmen have visited, in behalf of America, more than 40 countries. We have talked to more than a hundred governments, all 113 that we have relations with, and some that we don't. We have talked to the United Nations and we have called upon all of its members to make any contribution that they can toward helping obtain peace.

In public statements and in private communications, to adversaries and to friends, in Rome and Warsaw, in Paris and Tokyo, in Africa and throughout this hemisphere, America has made her position abundantly clear.

We seek neither territory nor bases, economic domination or military alliance in Vietnam. We fight for the principle of self-determination—that the people of South Vietnam should be able to choose their own course, choose it in free elections without violence, without terror, and without fear.

The people of all Vietnam should make a free decision on the great question of reunification.

This is all we want for South Vietnam. It is all the people of South Vietnam want. And if there is a single nation on this earth that desires less than this for its own people, then let its voice be heard.

We have also made it clear—from Hanoi to New York—that there are no arbitrary limits to our search for peace. We stand by the Geneva Agreements of 1954 and 1962. We will meet at any conference table, we will discuss any proposals—four points or fourteen or forty—and we will consider the views of any group. We will work for a cease-fire now or once discussions have begun. We will respond if others reduce their use of force, and we will withdraw our soldiers once South Vietnam is securely guaranteed the right to shape its own future.

We have said all this, and we have asked—and hoped—and we have waited for a response.

So far we have received no response to prove either success or failure.

We have carried our quest for peace to many nations and peoples because we share this planet with others whose future, in large measure, is tied to our own action, and whose counsel is necessary to our own hopes.

We have found understanding and support. And we know they wait with us tonight for some response that could lead to peace.

I wish tonight that I could give you a blueprint for the course of this conflict over the coming months, but we just cannot know what the future may require. We may have to face long, hard combat or a long, hard conference, or even both at once.

Until peace comes, or if it does not come, our course is clear. We will act as we must to help protect the independence of the valiant people of South Vietnam. We will strive to limit the conflict, for we wish neither increased destruction nor do we want to invite increased danger.

But we will give our fighting men what they must have: every gun, and every dollar, and every decision—whatever the cost or whatever the challenge.

And we will continue to help the people of South Vietnam care for those that are ravaged by battle, create progress in the villages, and carry forward the healing hopes of peace as best they can amidst the uncertain terrors of war.

And let me be absolutely clear: The days may become months, and the months may become years, but we will stay as long as aggression commands us to battle.

There may be some who do not want peace, whose ambitions stretch so far that war in Vietnam is but a welcome and convenient episode in an immense design to subdue history to their will. But for others it must now be clear—the choice is not between peace and victory, it lies between peace and the ravages of a conflict from which they can only lose.

The people of Vietnam, North and South, seek the same things: the shared needs of man, the needs for food and shelter and education—the chance to build and work and till the soil, free from the arbitrary horrors of battle—the desire to walk in the dignity of those who master their own destiny. For many painful years, in war and revolution and infrequent peace, they have struggled to fulfill those needs.

It is a crime against mankind that so much courage, and so much will, and so many dreams, must be flung on the fires of war and death.

To all of those caught up in this conflict we therefore say again tonight: Let us choose peace, and with it the wondrous works of peace, and beyond that, the time when hope reaches toward consummation, and life is the servant of life.

In this work, we plan to discharge our duty to the people whom we serve. V.

This is the State of the Union.

But over it all—wealth, and promise, and expectation—lies our troubling awareness of American men at war tonight.

How many men who listen to me tonight have served their Nation in other wars? How very many are not here to listen?

The war in Vietnam is not like these other wars. Yet, finally, war is always the same. It is young men dying in the fullness of their promise. It is trying to kill a man that you do not even know well enough to hate.

Therefore, to know war is to know that there is still madness in this world.

Many of you share the burden of this knowledge tonight with me. But there is a difference. For finally I must be the one to order our guns to fire, against all the most inward pulls of my desire. For we have children to teach, and we have sick to be cured, and we have men to be freed. There are poor to be lifted up, and there are cities to be built, and there is a world to be helped.

Yet we do what we must.

I am hopeful, and I will try as best I can, with everything I have got, to end this battle and to return our sons to their desires.

Yet as long as others will challenge America's security and test the clearness of our beliefs with fire and steel, then we must stand or see the promise of two centuries tremble. I believe tonight that you do not want me to try that risk. And from that belief your President summons his strength for the trials that lie ahead in the days to come.

The work must be our work now. Scarred by the weaknesses of man, with whatever guidance God may offer us, we must nevertheless and alone with our mortality, strive to ennoble the life of man on earth.

Thank you, and goodnight.


State of the Union Address Lyndon B. Johnson January 10, 1967

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, distinguished Members of the Congress:

I share with all of you the grief that you feel at the death today of one of the most beloved, respected, and effective Members of this body, the distinguished Representative from Rhode Island, Mr. Fogarty.

I have come here tonight to report to you that this is a time of testing for our Nation.

At home, the question is whether we will continue working for better opportunities for all Americans, when most Americans are already living better than any people in history.

Abroad, the question is whether we have the staying power to fight a very costly war, when the objective is limited and the danger to us is seemingly remote.

So our test is not whether we shrink from our country's cause when the dangers to us are obvious and dose at hand, but, rather, whether we carry on when they seem obscure and distant—and some think that it is safe to lay down our burdens.

I have come tonight to ask this Congress and this Nation to resolve that issue: to meet our commitments at home and abroad—to continue to build a better America—and to reaffirm this Nation's allegiance to freedom.

As President Abraham Lincoln said, "We must ask where we are, and whither we are tending." I.

The last 3 years bear witness to our determination to make this a better country.

We have struck down legal barriers to equality.

We have improved the education of 7 million deprived children and this year alone we have enabled almost 1 million students to go to college.

We have brought medical care to older people who were unable to afford it. Three and one-half million Americans have already received treatment under Medicare since July.

We have built a strong economy that has put almost 3 million more Americans on the payrolls in the last year alone.

We have included more than 9 million new workers under a higher minimum wage.

We have launched new training programs to provide job skills for almost 1 million Americans.

We have helped more than a thousand local communities to attack poverty in the neighborhoods of the poor. We have set out to rebuild our cities on a scale that has never been attempted before. We have begun to rescue our waters from the menace of pollution and to restore the beauty of our land and our countryside, our cities and our towns.

We have given 1 million young Americans a chance to earn through the Neighborhood Youth Corps—or through Head Start, a chance to learn.

So together we have tried to meet the needs of our people. And, we have succeeded in creating a better life for the many as well as the few. Now we must answer whether our gains shall be the foundations of further progress, or whether they shall be only monuments to what might have been—abandoned now by a people who lacked the will to see their great work through.

I believe that our people do not want to quit—though the task is great, the work hard, often frustrating, and success is a matter not of days or months, but of years—and sometimes it may be even decades. II.

I have come here tonight to discuss with you five ways of carrying forward the progress of these last 3 years. These five ways concern programs, partnerships, priorities, prosperity, and peace.

First, programs. We must see to it, I think, that these new programs that we have passed work effectively and are administered in the best possible way.

Three years ago we set out to create these new instruments of social progress. This required trial and error—and it has produced both. But as we learn, through success and failure, we are changing our strategy and we are trying to improve our tactics. In the long run, these starts—some rewarding, others inadequate and disappointing—are crucial to SUCCESS.

One example is the struggle to make life better for the less fortunate among us.

On a similar occasion, at this rostrum in 1949, I heard a great American President, Harry S. Truman, declare this: "The American people have decided that poverty is just as wasteful and just as unnecessary as preventable disease."

Many listened to President Truman that day here in this Chamber, but few understood what was required and did anything about it. The executive branch and the Congress waited 15 long years before ever taking any action on that challenge, as it did on many other challenges that great President presented. And when, 3 years ago, you here in the Congress joined with me in a declaration of war on poverty, then I warned, "It will not be a short or easy struggle—no single weapon... will suffice—but we shall not rest until that war is won."

And I have come here to renew that pledge tonight.

I recommend that we intensify our efforts to give the poor a chance to enjoy and to join in this Nation's progress.

I shall propose certain administrative changes suggested by the Congress—as well as some that we have learned from our own trial and error.

I shall urge special methods and special funds to reach the hundreds of thousands of Americans that are now trapped in the ghettos of our big cities and, through Head Start, to try to reach out to our very young, little children. The chance to learn is their brightest hope and must command our full determination. For learning brings skills; and skills bring jobs; and jobs bring responsibility and dignity, as well as taxes.

This war—like the war in Vietnam—is not a simple one. There is no single battle-line which you can plot each day on a chart. The enemy is not easy to perceive, or to isolate, or to destroy. There are mistakes and there are setbacks. But we are moving, and our direction is forward.

This is true with other programs that are making and breaking new ground. Some do not yet have the capacity to absorb well or wisely all the money that could be put into them. Administrative skills and trained manpower are just as vital to their success as dollars. And I believe those skills will come. But it will take time and patience and hard work. Success cannot be forced at a single stroke. So we must continue to strengthen the administration of every program if that success is to come—as we know it must.

We have done much in the space of 2 short years, working together.

I have recommended, and you, the Congress, have approved, 10 different reorganization plans, combining and consolidating many bureaus of this Government, and creating two entirely new Cabinet departments.

I have come tonight to propose that we establish a new department—a Department of Business and Labor.

By combining the Department of Commerce with the Department of Labor and other related agencies, I think we can create a more economical, efficient, and streamlined instrument that will better serve a growing nation.

This is our goal throughout the entire Federal Government. Every program will be thoroughly evaluated. Grant-in-aid programs will be improved and simplified as desired by many of our local administrators and our Governors.

Where there have been mistakes, we will try very hard to correct them.

Where there has been progress, we will try to build upon it.

Our second objective is partnership—to create an effective partnership at all levels of government. And I should treasure nothing more than to have that partnership begin between the executive and the Congress.

The 88th and the 89th Congresses passed more social and economic legislation than any two single Congresses in American history. Most of you who were Members of those Congresses voted to pass most of those measures. But your efforts will come to nothing unless it reaches the people.

Federal energy is essential. But it is not enough. Only a total working partnership among Federal, State, and local governments can succeed. The test of that partnership will be the concern of each public organization, each private institution, and each responsible citizen.

Each State, county, and city needs to examine its capacity for government in today's world, as we are examining ours in the executive department, and as I see you are examining yours. Some will need to reorganize and reshape their methods of administration—as we are doing. Others will need to revise their constitutions and their laws to bring them up to date—as we are doing. Above all, I think we must work together and find ways in which the multitudes of small jurisdictions can be brought together more efficiently.

During the past 3 years we have returned to State and local governments about $40 billion in grants-in-aid. This year alone, 70 percent of our Federal expenditures for domestic programs will be distributed through the State and local governments. With Federal assistance, State and local governments by 1970 will be spending close to $110 billion annually. These enormous sums must be used wisely, honestly, and effectively. We intend to work closely with the States and the localities to do exactly that.

Our third objective is priorities, to move ahead on the priorities that we have established within the resources that are available.

I wish, of course, that we could do all that should be done—and that we could do it now. But the Nation has many commitments and responsibilities which make heavy demands upon our total resources. No administration would more eagerly utilize for these programs all the resources they require than the administration that started them.

So let us resolve, now, to do all that we can, with what we have—knowing that it is far, far more than we have ever done before, and far, far less than our problems will ultimately require.

Let us create new opportunities for our children and our young Americans who need special help.

We should strengthen the Head Start program, begin it for children 3 years old, and maintain its educational momentum by following through in the early years.

We should try new methods of child development and care from the earliest years, before it is too late to correct.

And I will propose these measures to the 90th Congress.

Let us insure that older Americans, and neglected Americans, share in their Nation's progress.

We should raise social security payments by an overall average of 20 percent. That will add $4 billion 100 million to social security payments in the first year. I will recommend that each of the 23 million Americans now receiving payments get an increase of at least 15 percent.

I will ask that you raise the minimum payments by 59 percent—from $44 to $70 a month, and to guarantee a minimum benefit of $100 a month for those with a total of 25 years of coverage. We must raise the limits that retired workers can earn without losing social security income.

We must eliminate by law unjust discrimination in employment because of age.

We should embark upon a major effort to provide self-help assistance to the forgotten in our midst—the American Indians and the migratory farm workers. And we should reach with the hand of understanding to help those who live in rural poverty.

And I will propose these measures to the 90th Congress.

So let us keep on improving the quality of life and enlarging the meaning of justice for all of our fellow Americans.

We should transform our decaying slums into places of decency through the landmark Model Cities program. I intend to seek for this effort, this year, the full amount that you in Congress authorized last year.

We should call upon the genius of private industry and the most advanced technology to help rebuild our great cities.

We should vastly expand the fight for dean air with a total attack on pollution at its sources, and—because air, like water, does not respect manmade boundaries—we should set up "regional airsheds" throughout this great land.

We should continue to carry to every corner of the Nation our campaign for a beautiful America—to dean up our towns, to make them more beautiful, our cities, our countryside, by creating more parks, and more seashores, and more open spaces for our children to play in, and for the generations that come after us to enjoy.

We should continue to seek equality and justice for each citizen—before a jury, in seeking a job, in exercising his civil rights. We should find a solution to fair housing, so that every American, regardless of color, has a decent home of his choice.

We should modernize our Selective Service System. The National Commission on Selective Service will shortly submit its report. I will send you new recommendations to meet our military manpower needs. But let us resolve that this is to be the Congress that made our draft laws as fair and as effective as possible.

We should protect what Justice Brandeis called the "right most valued by civilized men"—the right to privacy. We should outlaw all wiretapping—public and private—wherever and whenever it occurs, except when the security of this Nation itself is at stake—and only then with the strictest governmental safeguards. And we should exercise the full reach of our constitutional powers to outlaw electronic "bugging" and "snooping."

I hope this Congress will try to help me do more for the consumer. We should demand that the cost of credit be clearly and honestly expressed where average citizens can understand it. We should immediately take steps to prevent massive power failures, to safeguard the home against hazardous household products, and to assure safety in the pipelines that carry natural gas across our Nation.

We should extend Medicare benefits that are now denied to 1,300,000 permanently and totally disabled Americans under 65 years of age.

We should improve the process of democracy by passing our election reform and financing proposals, by tightening our laws regulating lobbying, and by restoring a reasonable franchise to Americans who move their residences.

We should develop educational television into a vital public resource to enrich our homes, educate our families, and to provide assistance in our classrooms. We should insist that the public interest be fully served through the public's airwaves.

And I will propose these measures to the 90th Congress.

Now we come to a question that weighs very heavily on all our minds—on yours and mine. This Nation must make an all-out effort to combat crime.

The 89th Congress gave us a new start in the attack on crime by passing the Law Enforcement Assistance Act that I recommended. We appointed the National Crime Commission to study crime in America and to recommend the best ways to carry that attack forward.

And while we do not have all the answers, on the basis of its preliminary recommendations we are ready to move.

This is not a war that Washington alone can win. The idea of a national police force is repugnant to the American people. Crime must be rooted out in local communities by local authorities. Our policemen must be better trained, must be better paid, and must be better supported by the local citizens that they try to serve and to protect.

The National Government can and expects to help.

And so I will recommend to the 90th Congress the Safe Streets and Crime Control Act of 1967. It will enable us to assist those States and cities that try to make their streets and homes safer, their police forces better, their corrections systems more effective, and their courts more efficient.

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