Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969

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Author: Lyndon B. Johnson  | Date: March 29, 1968

163
Remarks to Representatives of the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia.
March 29, 1968

General Wilson, Mr. Klieman, distinguished students, and guests:

I am told that this pledge that you have just heard has been signed by thousands of young people. I think it is a good pledge. It is one that I am delighted and very proud to accept here on the White House steps this morning on behalf of all the people of America.

I think there is nothing more important that you could do for your country during this period than, as you say, "learn and practice the rules of fair play, respect the rights of others, and obey the laws of our city, our State, and our country."

I would like to quote something which another President, President Lincoln, said to another group of young people about 130 years ago. President Lincoln had not yet become President, but he was deeply concerned about the situation in this land. He said:

"I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is even now something of ill omen amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country—the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions in lieu of the sober judgment of courts, and the worse than savage mobs for the executive ministers of justice .... Accounts of outrages committed by mobs form the everyday news of the times."
So, as you can see, there have been riotersand there have been mobs in other days, too. Their victims then were runaway slaves and gamblers, and sometimes just simply unhappy, unfortunate citizens who happened to walk down a street where ’passion had been aroused. But, as Lincoln realized, whatever the objectives of these people, whoever their victim, the real danger was to our own Constitution and to the freedom of our own country.

If our country is to survive, Lincoln said, we must all realize that "there is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law."

Now, this is as true in 1968 as it was in 1838. And there is no more hopeful sign for this Nation’s future than the proof that you have brought today that the overwhelming majority of young people in your great city are aware of this truth.

So, I am very happy and honored and proud that you have come here under the auspices of the Police Athletic League. This is a great organization, not only in Philadelphia, but it is a good organization throughout the country. Unfortunately, it is all too often true that our policeman’s lot is not a very happy lot. But this is a most happy occasion for all of us here today and I hope that we can have many more like it.

I am glad to meet you and to greet you. I hope the other young people of this land will see in you an example that they want to emulate.
Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:29 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House to 114 boys and girls representing the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia. The group had come to present the President with a pledge signed by approximately 125,000 Philadelphia students affirming their dedication to law and authority. In his opening words the President referred to Brig. Gen. George B. Wilson, Marine Corps Reserve, (Ret.), president of the Police Athletic League, and Paul Klieman, chairman of the League’s 1968 campaign.

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Chicago: Lyndon B. Johnson, "163 Remarks to Representatives of the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia.," Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1369 453. Original Sources, accessed August 15, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4TYM4DCDDGI18DD.

MLA: Johnson, Lyndon B. "163 Remarks to Representatives of the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia." Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1369, page 453. Original Sources. 15 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4TYM4DCDDGI18DD.

Harvard: Johnson, LB, '163 Remarks to Representatives of the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia.' in Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968-1969 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.1369, pp.453. Original Sources, retrieved 15 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4TYM4DCDDGI18DD.