Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964

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Author: Lyndon B. Johnson  | Date: October 26, 1964

716
Remarks at City Hall, Macon, Georgia.
October 26, 1964

Governor Sanders, distinguished platform guests, ladies and gentlemen:

My heart is happy today. I am back in Georgia where I feel at home. There is much in Georgia to remind me of Texas-the people are loyal, the people are hospitable, and the people are kind. Your future is bright because you look to the future and because you want Macon and all of Georgia to be more prosperous tomorrow than it is today.

I am sorry that my longtime and my dear friend Senator Dick Russell could not be here with us today. For 8 years I served in the leadership of the Senate, and every time my name was put before a Democratic caucus, he nominated me for that leadership.

Nothing could please me more than to have by my side my old friend, your able Senator, my loyal colleague, one of the promising young men of this Nation, Herman Talmadge. He is diligent, he looks after the people’s business, he is a wise and able young man, and you are mighty fortunate to have him in the Senate. I am mighty proud to count him my friend.

Here in Georgia you have another very valuable possession, one of the most promising, one of the most respected, one of the ablest Governors in the United States—Carl Sanders. He is a man of the people. He is honest, he is energetic, and he is not afraid to stand up and be counted. He works day and night for the future of Georgia, and I am going to work arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder, with him to make Georgia a more prosperous State.

I am touched this afternoon to be here with one of my wisest counselors, one of my best friends, our beloved Carl Vinson. How I wish he were going to be in the next Congress so I could rely on him for advice and wise counsel in Washington. But I am going to rely on him for advice and wise counsel in Milledgeville just the same. I know he is going to be back home in Georgia, the place that he loves most, and I know Uncle Carl won’t mind too much if I keep that telephone line busy talking to him occasionally.

The Georgia delegation to the Congress of the United States has always been one of the most effective and one of the most respected. This delegation ranks with the finest: Congressman Phil Landrum, who led the fight to wipe poverty off the face of this land, and who will be remembered in history for this victorious beginning of a great crusade in a modern 20th century; and your diligent and your able and your farsighted Congressman Jack Flynt, who has worked so hard, so long, to lead the way for programs and plans that will make this a wiser and a stronger Nation and a better State, and now he is going to help Macon make hercontribution to this Nation. So keep him in the Congress and let him serve you and all the country.

I am glad to see Congressman Bob Stephens; my old friends Russell Tuten and J. L. Pilcher, Charles Weltner and John Davis. All of these men are patriots and they all deserve the applause of a courteous and a grateful people.

I want to thank Mayor Merritt for his hospitality and for the courtesy of this great city. One of my old-time friends lives here. I have known him since I was a young man. It was worth coming to Macon if I didn’t get to see anybody but Peyton Anderson.

There is no finer State Democratic chairman anywhere in the country than J. B. Fuqua, and I am pleased to have him on the platform with us this afternoon. I might add, while Peyton is here, and I want to be sure that he doesn’t go back on his commitment, that I am not the least unhappy about the position that his newspaper is taking in this campaign.

I have just come from Warner Robins Air Force Base. When I was in Congress, I was one of those who helped to bring this base to Macon. I was proud of that achievement then; I am prouder of it now. Moreover, I want all of you to know that as long as Lyndon Johnson is President of the United States, the manned aircraft program, to which Warner Robins contributes so much, and the Warner Robins Base will continue to be a part of our defense system in this country.

I don’t think there is but one real issue in this campaign. Who do you think is best able to secure peace in the world?

[Audience response: "LBJ!"]

As much as I enjoy hearing you express your approval, and as much as I recognize the few visitors who have come over here from the opposition camp to get in good company this afternoon, I think that you would like to know that in this world in which we live the most vital decision that you are going to be called upon to make is the man and the party that you select to lead you in the next 4 years.

You are going to have an overwhelming Democratic Senate, made up of overwhelming Democratic Members. You are going to have a large majority of the Members of the House of Representatives who are Democrats. I think, I hope, and I believe that you are going to have a Democratic President to work with them.

Some people like to talk about personalities. Some people like to write signs about individuals. And I guess I would do that, too, if I didn’t have any issues to talk about. But we have issues, and we are going to spend a few minutes’ time that we have before we go to Augusta and to Columbia exercising our right of free speech in a free country to talk about those issues.

Here in this town, where Warner Robins means so much, I think I will just read the record. Al Smith used to say, "Let’s look at the record." There is a lot of "fear talk" in this campaign, and there is some "smear talk" in this campaign.

But when my opponent was down here visiting you good people the other day, he neglected to mention, when he was here in Georgia, that in 1953 when they called the roll on adding $400 million to the Strategic Air Force for aircraft purchases, Goldwater voted "no" and I voted "aye."

And to those people that are interested in the defense of our country, and in this popular phrase that has been developed, "Peace through preparedness," let’s go up to 1954, when we voted on adding $350 million for our Army personnel and to strengthen the maintenance of our Army. Goldwatervoted "no"; I voted "aye."

In 1955 when we had the roll called on adding $46 million to strengthen the United States Marine Corps, Goldwater voted "no"; I voted "aye."

In 1955 when they called the roll on adding $420 million for military assistance abroad, Goldwater voted "no"; I voted "aye." In 1956 when they called the roll on adding $800 million for Air Force procurement, Goldwater voted "no"; I voted "aye."

In the last Congress before the Kennedy administration, when they called the roll on Army missile procurement, Goldwater voted "no" on the $233 million item; I voted "aye."

I could go on reciting these votes all afternoon, but the record speaks for itself. You must judge a man and rate him by his deeds in off-election years instead of his words in election years. And besides, as all of you have observed, some people get confused anyway.

I am glad to be back here in Macon. When I was Vice President, I spoke at Mercer University at the Waiter F. George Law School. This was a sentimental journey for me, for Walter George was my counselor and was my guide. He was one of the great Georgians of our time. How often I wished that he could be here to counsel me today. I am happy that his son, Heard George, is here with us.

Now, I want the good people of middle Georgia to know that I am familiar with your great program of river development in this State, that I am interested in your Flint River basin and the Altamaha River basin, and I supported the development of our rivers when I was in Congress. And I will continue to support the development of these resources in Georgia when I am your President.

It was 78 years ago when a great young son of Georgia journeyed to New York to speak of the new South. I remember he said one time that fields that ran red with human blood in September were green with harvest in June.

But when Henry Grady went to New York, he told his fellow countrymen, "We have wiped out the place where Mason and Dixon’s line used to be."

Henry Grady spoke in the spirit of Robert E. Lee, and he spoke in the spirit of Lincoln,
too.

That was 78 years ago. It has taken that vision a long, long time to come true, but there are still those who want to divide our country. There are still those who are trying in this election to play the politics of diversity, of division, and of difference.

I say when you divide your country, that is wrong.

The new South is here in America.

What Americans want today is a new politics, a politics of national unity, a politics concerned with progress and peace for the Nation, a politics of honor, and a politics for decency for all.

And when the returns come in 1 week from tomorrow, America will know, and the world will know, that in this land of the free there is no North, no South, no East, no West. We are one Nation, united, indivisible.

It is the sons of Georgia that have carried that flag to every corner of this globe, and they have brought her back without a tarnish on it. They know there is only one Nation, one people, one flag, one Constitution, united and indivisible under God.

I think most of you people that are not emotional realize how far Georgia has come in the last 30 years. The per capita income in Georgia in 1932 when I went to Washington—the per capita income was $175 per year. There are some people on this platform that remember that. One hundred andseventy-five dollars a year, a little less than $15 a month per person. Well, today the per capita income in Georgia, thank God, is more than 10 times that much.

Ninety-eight percent of the farms in Georgia in 1932 used coal oil lamps and lanterns. They were without any electricity. Today, with REA, 98 percent of all the homes have electricity.

Two million people in the South suffered from malaria in 1932. In 1964 that disease has been completely eradicated from our section, and we look ahead. We look ahead not as any region, but we look ahead as a united Nation, and when the voters come in on November 3d, we are going to have a mandate from every region for America to continue to move forward.

Never before anywhere have any others had so many things as we have now. Never before anywhere have any others had the opportunity that we enjoy to enrich our lives with nobler things of the spirit.

The great State of Georgia has a motto that all Americans can and should understand. That motto is "Wisdom, justice, moderation." Wisdom, justice, moderation-these are qualities of the spirit.

These are the qualities that have helped to make America the strongest, the mightiest, the most respected, the most trusted nation in the history of man, and Georgia’s sons have contributed to it all.

I have come here to Macon this afternoon to declare and to predict that we are not going to exchange these qualities for cynicism, for extremism, for impulse, at home or in the world.

We will keep America strong against any danger. We will keep America strong against every threat. We will keep America strong against all perils.

We will keep America on the tried and the tested and the trusted course of responsibility, and in this nuclear age, neither we nor the world can afford even a moment of recklessness, not even a breath of bluff or bluster. All that we have, and all that free men have, could be wiped out in the first hour of a nuclear war.

On November 3d, the people of every region will vote for a new politics of responsibility to get on with the building of a new America, an America of peace, an America of progress, an America of growing prosperity for growing numbers of people who love instead of hate, of people who have faith instead of doubt, of people who don’t know what it is to fear or smear, but for people who love thy neighbor as thyself.

One hundred years is long enough to burden down our future with the divisions of the past. The time has come—the time is now—to bind up our wounds, to heal our history, and to make our beloved America whole again.

The entire world watches our decision tomorrow week. The entire world knows that there is just one issue in this campaign, and that is peace in the world. The entire world is watching to see whose thumb you will put close to that nuclear button, whose hand you want to reach over and pick up that "hot line" when Moscow is calling, and answer that phone.

You people of Georgia don’t need any advice on how to mark your ballot. You have been marking it all through the years of this Republic, and you have never had the blush of shame come to your cheek because of the question of your decisions.

So I did not come here today to talk to you about personalities, or to speak illy of my colleagues, or to criticize my opponents. I came here to give you the record and to submit to you that you must next Tuesday week do what in your conscience you know is best for America.

You must next Tuesday week go with your uncles and your cousins and your aunts, because we need every single one of you. You must go and do what you know in your heart is right for your country.

Thank you and goodby.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:19 p.m. at City Hall in Macon, Ga. In his opening words he referred to Governor Carl E. Sanders of Georgia. Later he referred to, among others, Senators Richard B. Russell and Herman E. Talmadge, and Representatives Carl Vinson, Phil M. Landrum, John J. Flynt, Jr., Robert G. Stephens, Jr., J. Russell Tuten, J. L. Pilcher, Charles L. Weltner, and John W. Davis, all of Georgia, Mayor B. F. Merritt, Jr., of Macon, Peyton T. Anderson, Jr., publisher of the Macon Telegraph and News, J. B. Fuqua, chairman of the Florida State Democratic Committee, and Walter F. George, Senator from Georgia from 1926 to 1956, and his son Heard.

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Chicago: Lyndon B. Johnson, "716 Remarks at City Hall, Macon, Georgia.," Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.1673-1674 1445–1447. Original Sources, accessed July 12, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CKAYI92XZKBQ3HY.

MLA: Johnson, Lyndon B. "716 Remarks at City Hall, Macon, Georgia." Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.1673-1674, pp. 1445–1447. Original Sources. 12 Jul. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CKAYI92XZKBQ3HY.

Harvard: Johnson, LB, '716 Remarks at City Hall, Macon, Georgia.' in Public Papers of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), Pp.1673-1674, pp.1445–1447. Original Sources, retrieved 12 July 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CKAYI92XZKBQ3HY.