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FDR: Yesterday, December 7, 1941,a date which will live in infamy.
JFK: And so my fellow Americans, ask notwhat your country can do for you,ask what you can do for your country.
NIXON: Therefore, I shall resign the presidencyeffective at noon tomorrow.
REAGAN: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.
OBAMA: There is not a liberal Americaand a conservative America.There is the United States of America.
NARRATOR: Nearly any list of great American speecheswould include at least two by Franklin Roosevelt, his FirstInaugural, and his Declaration of War.Both addressed a people troubled by events seemingly notof their making and beyond their control.In both instances, Roosevelt forged a rhetorical responsewhich turned their fear into determination
NARRATOR [continued]: and replaced their visions of chaoswith an image of strong leadership.We offer both speeches for your evaluation.On March 4, 1933, facing the worst economic crisisin generations, Franklin Rooseveltoutlined the seriousness of the situation,but immediately began to minimize its impact.
NARRATOR [continued]: He comforted his audience.Our problems pale in comparison with the perilsof our forefathers, he tells them, adding,plenty is at our doorstep.And his memorable claim that the only thing we have to fear isfear itself.It is this fine balance of concern and comfortwhich ultimately leads the audience to the conclusion
NARRATOR [continued]: that the solution lies in their own determinationand his strong leadership.Roosevelt strongly believed that prerequisite to recoverywas the reduction of a general feeling of helplessness.Events, speech craftsmanship, and oratorical stylecombine to make this not only one of the finestinaugural addresses, but also one
NARRATOR [continued]: of the most important rhetorical documents in American history.
SPEAKER 1: You, Franklin Delano Roosevelt,do solemnly swear that you will faithfullyexecute the office of President of the United States,and will, to the best of your ability,preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the UnitedStates, so help you God.
FDR: I, Franklin Delano Roosevelt,do solemnly swear that I will faithfullyexecute the office of President of the United States,and will, to the best of my ability,preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the UnitedStates, so help me God.
FDR [continued]: President Hoover, Mister Chief Justice, my friends.This is a day of national consecration.And I am certain that on this day,my fellow Americans expect that on my inductioninto the Presidency, I will address them
FDR [continued]: with a candor and a decision whichthe present situation of our people impels.This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, and boldly.Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditionsin our country today.
FDR [continued]: This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive,and will prosper.Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we haveto fear is fear itself-- nameless, unreasoning,
FDR [continued]: unjustified terror which paralyzesneeded efforts to convert retreat into advance.In dark hour of our national lifea leadership of frankness and of vigorhas met with that understanding and support of the peoplethemselves, which is essential to victory.
FDR [continued]: And I am convinced that you will againgive that support to leadership in these critical days.In such a spirit on my part and on yours,we face our common difficulties.They concern, thank God, only material things.
FDR [continued]: Values have shrunk to fantastic levels.Taxes have risen.Our ability to pay has fallen.Government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailmentof income.The means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade.The withered leaves of industrial enterpriselie on every side.
FDR [continued]: Farmers find no markets for their produce.And the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.More important, a host of unemployed citizensface the grim problem of existence,and an equally great number toil with little return.
FDR [continued]: Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realitiesof the moment.And yet our distress comes from no failure of substance.We are stricken by no plague of locusts.Compared with the perils which our forefathers conqueredbecause they believed and were not afraid,we have still much to be thankful for.
FDR [continued]: Nature still offers her bounty, and human effortshave multiplied it.Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of itlanguishes in the very sight of the supply.Primarily, this is because the rulersof the exchange of mankind's goods
FDR [continued]: have failed, through their own stubbornnessand their own incompetence, have admitted their failureand have abdicated.Practices of the unscrupulous money changersstand indicted in the court of public opinion,rejected by the hearts and minds of men.
FDR [continued]: True they have tried, but their effortshave been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition.Faced by failure of credit, they have proposedonly the lending of more money.Stripped of the lure of profit by whichto induce our people to follow their false leadership,they have resorted to exhortations,
FDR [continued]: pleading tearfully for restored confidence.They only know the rules of a generation of self seekers.They have no vision.And when there is no vision, the people perish.Yes, the money changers have fled from their high seatsin the temple of our civilization.
FDR [continued]: We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths.The measure of that restoration liesin the extant to which we apply social values morenoble than mere monetary profit.
FDR [continued]: Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money.It lies in the joy of achievement,in the thrill of creative effort.The joy and the moral stimulation of workno longer must be forgotten in the mad chaseof evanescent profits.These dark days, my friends, will be worth all
FDR [continued]: they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is notto be ministered unto, but to minister to ourselves,to our fellow men.Recognition of that falsity of materialas the standard of success goes hand
FDR [continued]: in hand with the abandonment of the false beliefthat public office and high political positionare to be valued only by the standard of prideof place and personal profit.And there must be an end to a conduct in bankingand in business which too often has given to a sacred trust
FDR [continued]: the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing.Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives onlyon honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations,on faithful protection, and on unselfish performance.
FDR [continued]: Without them, it cannot live.Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone.This Nation is asking for action, and action now.
FDR [continued]: Our greatest primary task is to put people to work.This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wiselyand courageously.It can be accomplished in part by direct recruitingby the government itself, treating the task as we would
FDR [continued]: treat the emergency of a war.But at the same time, through this employment,accomplishing greatly needed projectsto stimulate and reorganize the useof our great natural resources.Hand in hand with that, we must franklyrecognize the overbalance of population
FDR [continued]: in our industrial centers.And by engaging on a national scale in a redistribution,endeavor to provide a better use of the land for those bestfitted for the land.Yes, the task can be helped by definite efforts
FDR [continued]: to raise the values of agricultural products,and with this the power to purchasethe output of our cities.It can be helped by preventing realisticallythe tragedy of the growing loss through foreclosureof our small homes and our farms.It can be helped by insistence that the federal, the state,
FDR [continued]: and the local governments act forthwith on the demandthat their cost be drastically reduced.It can be helped by the unifying of relief activitieswhich today are often scattered, uneconomical, unequal.It can be helped by national planning for, and supervision
FDR [continued]: of, all forms of transportation and of communicationsand other utilities that have a definitely public character.There are many ways in which it can be helped,but it can never be helped by merely talking about it.
FDR [continued]: We must act.We must act quickly.And finally, in our progress towards a resumption of work,we require two safeguards against a returnof the evils of the old order.There must be a strict supervision of all bankingand credits and investments.
FDR [continued]: There must be an end to speculationwith other people's money.And there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.These, my friends, are the lines of attack.
FDR [continued]: I shall presently urge upon a new congress in special sessiondetailed measures for their fulfillment.And I shall seek the immediate assistance of the 48 states.Through this program of action, we address ourselves
FDR [continued]: to putting our own national house in order,and making income balance outgo.Our international trade relations,though vastly important, are in pointof time and necessity secondary to the establishmentof a sound national economy.
FDR [continued]: I favor, as a practical policy, the putting of first thingsfirst.I shall spare no effort to restoreworld trade by international economic readjustment.But the emergency at home cannot wait on that accomplishment.
FDR [continued]: The basic thought that guides these specific meansof national recovery is not narrowly nationalistic.It is the insistence, as a first consideration,upon the interdependence of the various elementsin all parts of the United States of America,
FDR [continued]: a recognition of the old and permanently importantmanifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer.It is the way to recovery.It is the immediate way.It is the strongest assurance that recovery will endure.In the field of world policy, I would dedicate this Nation
FDR [continued]: to the policy of the Good Neighbor--the neighbor who resolutely respects himself,and because he does so, respects the rights of others.The neighbor who respects his obligations,and respects the sanctity of his agreements,
FDR [continued]: in and with a world of neighbors.If I read the temper of our people directly,we now realize as we have never realized before,our interdependence on each other.That we cannot merely take, but we must give as well.
FDR [continued]: That if we are to go forward, we mustmove as a trained and loyal army,willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline.Because without such discipline, no progress can be made,no leadership becomes effective.We are, I know, ready and willing to submit
FDR [continued]: our lives and our property to such discipline,because it makes possible a leadership thataims at the larger good.This I propose to offer, pledging that the largerpurposes will bind upon us, bind upon us all,
FDR [continued]: as a sacred obligation with a unit of duty,hitherto evoked only in times of armed strife.With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatinglythe leadership of this great armyof our people dedicated to a disciplined attack
FDR [continued]: upon our common problems.Action in this image, action to this endis feasible under the form of governmentwhich we have inherited from our ancestors.Our constitution is so simple, so practical,that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs
FDR [continued]: by changes in emphasis and arrangementwithout loss of a central form.That is why our constitutional systemhas proved itself the most superblyenduring political mechanism the modern world has ever seen.It has met every stress of vast expansion of territory,
FDR [continued]: of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife,of world relations.And it is to be hoped that the normal balanceof executive and legislative authoritymay be wholly equal, wholly adequate to meetthe unprecedented task before us.
FDR [continued]: But it may be that an unprecedented demand and needfor undelayed action may call for temporary departurefrom that normal balance of public procedure.I am prepared, under my Constitutional duty,to recommend the measures that a stricken nation
FDR [continued]: in the midst of a stricken world may require.These measures, or such other measures as the Congressmay build out of its experience and wisdom,I shall seek within my constitutional authority,to bring to speedy adoption.
FDR [continued]: But in the event that the Congress shallfail to take one of these two courses, in the eventthat the national emergency is still critical,I shall not evade the clear course of dutythat will then confront me.I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrumentto meet the crisis-- broad Executive
FDR [continued]: power-- to wage a war against the emergencyas great as the power that would begiven to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.For the trust reposed in me, I will
FDR [continued]: return the courage and the devotion that befit the time.I can do no less.We face the arduous days that lie before usin the warm courage of national unity.With a clear consciousness of seeking
FDR [continued]: old and precious moral values.With the clean satisfaction that comesfrom the stern performance of duty by old and young alike.We aim at the assurance of a rounded,a permanent national life.
FDR [continued]: We don't not distrust the future of essential democracy.The people of the United States have not failed.In their need they have registered a mandatethat they want direct, vigorous action.
FDR [continued]: They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership.They have made me the present instrument of their wishes.In the spirit of the gift, I take it.In this dedication of a Nation, we humbly
FDR [continued]: ask the blessing of God.May he protect each and every one of us.May he guide me in the days to come.
NARRATOR: Again, we see events conspireto create a unique rhetorical event for a president whostamped it with a personal and permanent interpretation.December 7, 1941, a day of infamy.Roosevelt employs forceful language, delivery,and strong descriptive style to hammer his enemiesand rally his people.This classic crisis speech seems destined to survive the ages,
NARRATOR [continued]: its memorable phrases recalled, repeated, and studied.Franklin Roosevelt's Declaration of War
FDR: Vice-president, Mister Speaker, members of the Senate,of the House of Representatives.Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a datewhich will live in infamy, the United States of America
FDR [continued]: was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and airforces of the Empire of Japan.The United States was at peace with that nation,and at solicitation of Japan, still in conversation
FDR [continued]: with its government and its emperor,looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.Indeed, one hour after, Japanese air squadronshad commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu,
FDR [continued]: the Japanese Ambassador to the United Statesand his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formalreply to a recent American message.And while this reply stated that it
FDR [continued]: seemed useless to continue the existing diplomaticnegotiation, it contained no threat or hintof war or of armed attack.It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan
FDR [continued]: makes it obvious that the attack was deliberatelyplanned, many days or even weeks ago.During the intervening time, the Japanese governmenthas deliberately sought to deceive the United States
FDR [continued]: by false statements and expressions of hopefor continued peace.The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islandshas caused severe damage to American naval and militaryforces.
FDR [continued]: I regret to tell you that very many American lives havebeen lost.In addition, American ships have beenreported torpedoed on the high seas between San Franciscoand Honolulu.Yesterday, the Japanese government
FDR [continued]: also launched an attack against Malaya.Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.Last night, Japanese forces attacked
FDR [continued]: the Philippine Islands.Last night, the Japanese attacked with Wake island.And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.Japan has thus far undertaken a surprise offensive extending
FDR [continued]: throughout the Pacific area.The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves.The people of the United States have alreadyformed their opinions, and well understand the implications
FDR [continued]: to the very life and safety of our Nation.As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy,I have directed that all measuresbe taken for our defense.But always will our whole Nation remember the character
FDR [continued]: of the onslaught against us.No matter how long it may take usto overcome this premeditated invasion,
FDR [continued]: the American people in their righteousmight will win through to absolute victory.I believe that I interpret the will of the Congressand of the people when I assert that we will not only
FDR [continued]: defend ourselves to the uttermost,but will make it very certain that this form of treacheryshall never again endanger us.
FDR [continued]: Hostilities exist.There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory,and our interests are in grave danger.With confidence in our armed forces,
FDR [continued]: with the unbounding determination of our people,we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us, God.I ask that the Congress declare that since
FDR [continued]: the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japanon Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of warhas existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.
NARRATOR: With civil rights demonstrations intensifyingin the South, the nation watched passions reach a climaxin the town of Selma, Alabama.Though not noted for his oratory,Lyndon Johnson seized the opportunityof a dramatic moment to address a joint session of Congresson March 15, 1965.Calling forth the outrage of a nation
NARRATOR [continued]: and the lessons of history, he reasoned with Congressto pass the urgently needed Voting Rights Act of 1965.A masterful legislator, Johnson made greater stridesin civil rights legislation than any other president.Raised in poverty, Johnson seemedlikely to identify with those victims of social abuse.
NARRATOR [continued]: After graduating from college, hetaught speech and coached debate at the high school level.In 1935, FDR began Johnson's political careerby appointing him Texas administrator of the NationalYouth Administration.Two years later, he won a congressional seatand eventually rose to majority leader of the US Senate.
NARRATOR [continued]: In 1960, Kennedy chose him as his running mate.Three years later, Kennedy's assassinationelevated Johnson to the presidency.As with Kennedy, Johnson targeted civil rightslegislation as a primary objective.Here, we see Johnson speaking to his former colleaguesusing the television coverage as yet another device to pressure
NARRATOR [continued]: accountability from Congress.As a persuasive instrument, Johnson's speechparades a number of appeals to influence Congressand reaches a climax with his personal experiencesas a teacher.Many critics argue that this speech stands as his finest.
SPEAKER: Members of the Congress,I have the great pleasure, the highest privilege,and the distinguished, and I might alsosay personal honor, of presenting to you the presidentof the United States.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, Mr. President,members of the Congress, I speak tonight for the dignity of manand the destiny of democracy.I urge every member of both parties, Americans
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: of all religions and of all colors,from every section of this countryto join me in that cause.At times, history and fate meet at a single time
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: in a single place to shape a turning pointin man's unending search for freedom.So it was at Lexington and Concord.So it was a century ago at Appomattox.So it was last week in Selma, Alabama.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: There, long-suffering men and womenpeacefully protested the denial of their rights as Americans.Many were brutally assaulted.One good man, a man of God, was killed.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: There is no cause for pride in what has happened in Selma.There is no cause for self-satisfactionin the long denial of equal rights of millionsof Americans.But there is cause for hope and for faith
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: in our democracy in what is happening here tonight,for the cries of pain and the hymns and protestsof oppressed people have summonedinto convocation all the majesty of this great government,
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: the government of the greatest nation on Earth.Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basicof this country-- to right wrong, to do justice,to serve man.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: In our time, we have come to livewith the moments of great crisis.Our lives have been marked with debate about great issues,issues of war and peace, issues of prosperity and depression.But rarely in any time does an issue
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: lay bare the secret heart of America itself.Rarely are we met with the challengenot to our growth, our abundance, or our welfareor our security, but rather to the values and the purposes
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: and the meaning of our beloved nation.The issue of equal rights for our American Negroesis such an issue.And should we defeat every enemy and should we double our wealth
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: and conquer the stars and still be unequal to this issue,then we will have failed as a people and as a nation,for when a country, as with a person, what is a manprofited if he shall gain the whole world
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: and lose his own soul?[APPLAUSE]There is no Negro problem.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: There is no Southern problem.There is no Northern problem.There is only an American problem.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: And we are met here tonight as Americans, not asDemocrats or Republicans.We are met here as Americans to solve that problem.This was the first nation in the history of the worldto be founded with a purpose.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: The great phrases of that purpose stillsound in every American heart, North and South-- "all menare created equal," "government by consent of the governed,"
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: "give me liberty or give me death."Those are not just clever words, and those are not justempty theories.In their name, Americans have fought and diedfor two centuries.And tonight around the world, they
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: stand there as guardians of our liberty, risking their lives.Those words are a promise to every citizen that he shallshare in the dignity of man.This dignity cannot be found in a man's possessions.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: It cannot be found in his power or in his position.It really rests on his right to betreated as a man, equal in opportunity to all others.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: It says that he shall share in freedom,he shall choose his leaders, educate his children,provide for his family according to his ability and his meritsas a human being.To apply any other test, to deny a man his hopes because
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: of his color or race or his religionor the place of his birth is not only to do injustice.It is to deny America and to dishonorthe dead who gave their lives for American freedom.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: [APPLAUSE]Our fathers believed that if this noble viewof the rights of man was to flourish,it must be rooted in democracy.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: also The most basic right of all was the rightto choose your own leaders.The history of this country in large measureis the history of expansion of that right to allof our people.Many of the issues of civil rights
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: are very complex and most difficult. But about thisthere can and should be no argument.Every American citizen must have an equal right to vote.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: There is no reason which can excusethe denial of that right.There is no duty which weighs more heavily on usthan the duty we have to ensure that right.Yet the harsh fact is that, in many places in this country,
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: men and women are kept from voting simplybecause they are Negroes.Every device of which human ingenuity is capablehas been used to deny this right.The Negro citizen may go to register, onlyto be told that the day is wrong or the hour is late
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: or the official in charge is absent.And if he persists and if he manages to present himselfto the registrar, he may be disqualifiedbecause he did not spell out his middle nameor because he abbreviated a word on the application.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: And if he manages to fill out an application,he is given a test.The registrar is the sole judge of whether he passes this test.He may be asked to recite the entire Constitutionor explain the most complex provisions of state law.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: And even a college degree cannot be used to prove that he canread and write.For the fact is that the only way to pass these barriersis to show a white skin.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: Experience has clearly shown that the existing processof law cannot overcome systematic and ingenuousdiscrimination.No law that we now have on the books--and I have helped to put three of them there--[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: --can ensure the right to vote when local officials aredetermined to deny it.In such a case, our duty must be clear to all of us.The Constitution says that no person
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: shall be kept from voting becauseof his race or his color.We have all sworn an oath before Godto support and to defend that Constitution.We must now act in obedience to that oath.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: Wednesday I will send to Congressa law designed to eliminate illegal barriers to the rightto vote.[APPLAUSE]The broad principles of that billwill be in the hands of the Democratic and Republican
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: leaders tomorrow.After they have reviewed it, it will come here formallyas a bill.I am grateful for this opportunityto come here tonight at the invitation of the leadershipto reason with my friends, to give them my views,
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: and to visit with my former colleagues.I had prepared a more comprehensive analysisof the legislation, which I had intendedto transmit to the clerk tomorrowbut which I will submit to the clerks tonight.But I want to really discuss with you now
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: briefly the main proposals of this legislation.This bill will strike down restrictionsto voting in all elections--[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: --federal, state, and local--[APPLAUSE]--which have been used to deny Negroes the right to vote.This bill will establish a simple, uniform standard,which cannot be used, however ingenious,
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: the effort to flout our constitution.It will provide for citizens to beregistered by officials of the United States government--[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: --if the state officials refuse to register them.It will eliminate tedious, unnecessary lawsuits,which delay the right to vote.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: Finally, this legislation will ensurethat properly registered individuals are notprohibited from voting.[APPLAUSE]I will welcome the suggestions from all the members
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: of Congress-- I have no doubt that I will get some--[LAUGHTER]--on ways and means to strengthen this lawand to make it effective.But experience has plainly shown that this is the only pathto carry out the command of the Constitution.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: To those who seek to avoid actionby their national government in their home communities,who want to and who seeks to maintain purely local controlover elections, the answer is simple--open your polling places to all your people.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: [APPLAUSE]Allow men and women to register and vote,whatever the color of their skin.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: [APPLAUSE]Extend the rights of citizenship to every citizen of this land.There is no constitutional issue here.The command of the Constitution is plain.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: There is no moral issue.It is wrong, deadly wrong, to denyany of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: There is no issue of states' rights or national rights.There is only the struggle for human rights.[APPLAUSE]I have not the slightest doubt what will be your answer.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: But the last time a president sent a civil rights billto the Congress, it contained a provisionto protect voting rights in federal elections.That civil rights bill was passed after eight long monthsof debate.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: And when that bill came to my deskfrom the Congress for my signature,the heart of the voting provision had been eliminated.This time on this issue, there mustbe no delay or no hesitation or no compromise without purpose.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: [APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: We cannot, we must not refuse to protect the right of everyAmerican to vote in every election that he may desireto participate in.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: And we ought not and we cannot and we must not wait anothereight months before we get a bill.[APPLAUSE]We have already waited 100 years and more.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: And the time for waiting is gone.[APPLAUSE]So I ask you to join me in workinglong hours and nights and weekendsif necessary to pass this bill.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: And I don't make that request lightly.For from the window where I sit with the problemsof our country, I recognize that from outside this chamberis the outraged conscience of a nation,
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: the grave concern of many nations,and the harsh judgment of history on our acts.But even if we pass this bill, the battle will not be over.What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement, which
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: reaches into every section and state of America.It is the effort of American Negroesto secure for themselves the full blessingsof American life.Their cause must be our cause, too.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: Because it's not just Negroes, but really it'sall of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotryand injustice.And we shall overcome.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: As a man whose roots go deeply into Southern soil,I know how agonizing racial feelings are.I know how difficult it is to reshapethe attitudes and the structure of our society.But a century has passed, more than 100 years,
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: since the Negro was freed.And he is not fully free tonight.It was more than 100 years ago that Abraham Lincoln,a great president of another party,signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: But emancipation is a proclamation and not a fact.A century has passed, more than 100 years,since equality was promised.And yet the Negro is not equal.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: A century has passed since the day of promise.And the promise is unkept.The time of justice has now come.Now I tell you that I believe sincerelythat no force can hold it back.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: It is right in the eyes of man and God that it should come.And when it does, I think that day will brightenthe lives of every American.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: For Negroes are not the only victims.How many white children have gone uneducated?How many white families have lived in stark poverty?How many white lives have been scarred by fearbecause we wasted our energy and our substance
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror?[APPLAUSE]And so I say to all of you here and to all in the nationtonight that those who appeal to you to hold on to the past
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: do so at the cost of denying you your future.This great, rich, restless countrycan offer opportunity and educationand hope to all, all black and white,
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: all North and South, sharecropper and city dweller.These are the enemies-- poverty, ignorance, disease.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: They are our enemies, not our fellow manand not our neighbor.And these enemies, too, poverty, disease, and ignorance, weshall overcome.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: Now let none of us in any section lookwith prideful righteousness on the troubles in another sectionor the problems of our neighbors.There's really no part o America where the promise of equalityhas been fully kept.In Buffalo, as well as in Birmingham,
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: in Philadelphia as well as Selma,Americans are struggling for the fruits of freedom.This is one nation.What happens in Selma or in Cincinnatiis a matter of legitimate concern to every American.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: But let each of us look within our own heartsand our own communities.And let each of us put our shoulder to the wheelto root out injustice wherever it exists.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: As we meet here in this peaceful, historic chambertonight, men from the South, some of whomwere at Iwo Jima, men from the North, who have carried OldGlory to far corners of the worldand brought it back without a stain on it, men from the East
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: and from the West are all fighting togetherwithout regard to religion or color or region in Vietnam.Men from every region fought for usacross the world 20 years ago.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: And now in these common dangers, in these common sacrifices,the South made its contribution of honorand gallantry no less than any other regionin the great republic and in some instances,a great many of them more.And I have not the slightest doubt
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: that good men from everywhere in this country,from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from The Golden Gateto the harbors along the Atlantic,will rally now together in this causeto vindicate the freedom of all Americans.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: [APPLAUSE]For all of us all owe this duty, and I believe that all of uswill respond to it.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: Your president makes that request of every American.The real hero of this struggle is the American Negro.His actions and protests, his courage to risk safetyand even to risk his life have awakened
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: the conscience of this nation.His demonstrations have been designed to call attentionto injustice, designed to provoke change,designed to stir reform.He has called upon us to make good the promise of America.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: And who among us can say that we wouldhave made the same progress were itnot for his persistent bravery and his faithin American democracy?[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: For at the real heart of battle for qualityis a deep-seated belief in the democratic process.Equality depends not on the force of arms or tear gasbut depends upon the force of moral right, not on recourse
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: to violence, but on respect for law and order.[APPLAUSE]And there have been many pressures upon your president,and there will be others as the days come and go.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: But I pledge you tonight that we intendto fight this battle where it should be fought, in the courtsand in the Congress and in the hearts of men.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: We must preserve the right of free speechand the right of free assembly.But the right of free speech does not carry with it,as has been said, the right to holler "fire!" in a crowdedtheater.We must preserve the right to free assembly.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: But free assembly does not carry with itthe right to block public thoroughfares to traffic.[APPLAUSE]We do have a right to protest and a right
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: to march under conditions that do notinfringe the constitutional rights of our neighbors.And I intend to protect all those rightsas long as I am permitted to serve in this office.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: We will guard against violence, knowingit strikes from our hand the very weapons whichwe seek-- progress, obedience to law,and belief in American values.In Selma, as elsewhere, we seek and pray for peace.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: We seek order.We seek unity.But we will not accept the peace of stifled rightsor the order imposed by fear or the unity that stifles protest.For peace cannot be purchased at the cost of liberty.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: [APPLAUSE]In Selma tonight-- and we had a good daythere-- as in every city, we are workingfor a just and peaceful settlement.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: And we must all remember that after this speechI'm making tonight, after the police and the FBIand the marshals have all gone, and after you have promptlypassed this bill--[LAUGHTER]--the people of Selma and the other cities of the nation
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: must still live and work together.And when the attention of the nation has gone elsewhere,they must try to heal the wounds and to build a new community.This cannot be easily done on a battleground of violence,
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: as the history and the South itself shows.It is in recognition of the this that man of both raceshave shown such an outstandingly impressive responsibilityin recent days, last Tuesday, again today.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: The bill that I am presenting to youwill be known as a civil rights bill.But in a larger sense, most of the program I am recommendingis a civil rights program.Its object is to open the City of Hopeto all people of all races.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: Because all Americans just must have the right to vote.And we are going to give them that right.[APPLAUSE]All Americans must have the privileges of citizenship,
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: regardless of race.And they are going to have those privileges of citizenshipregardless of race.[APPLAUSE]But I would like to caution you and remind youthat to exercise these privileges
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: takes much more than just legal right.It requires a trained mind and a healthy body.It requires a decent home and the chanceto find a job and the opportunityto escape from the clutches of poverty.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: Of course, people cannot contribute to the nationif they are never taught to read or write,if their bodies are stunted from hunger,if their sickness goes untended, if their life is spentin hopeless poverty, just drawing a welfare check.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: So we want to open the gates to opportunity.But we're also going to give all our people, black and white,the help that they need to walk through those gates.My first job after college was as a teacher
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: in Cotulla, Texas in a small Mexican American school.Few of them could speak English, and Icouldn't speak much Spanish.My students were poor, and they often came to classwithout breakfast, hungry.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: And they knew that even in their youth the pain of prejudice.They never seemed to know why people disliked them.But they knew it was so, because I saw it in their eyes.I often walked home late in the afternoon,
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: after the classes were finished, wishingthere was more that I could do.But all I knew was to teach them the littlethat I knew, hoping that it might help themagainst the hardships that lay ahead.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: And somehow you never forget what poverty and hatred cando when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child.I never though then in 1928 that Iwould be standing here in 1965.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: It never even occurred to me and my fondest dreamsthat I might have the chance to help the sonsand daughters of those students and to help people like themall over this country.But now I do have that chance.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: And I'll let you in on a secret.I mean to use it.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: And I hope that you will use it with me.This is the richest and the most powerful countrywhich ever occupied this globe.The might of past empires is little compared to ours.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: But I do not want to be the president whobuilt empires or sought grandeur or extended dominion.I want to be the president who educated young childrento the wonders of their worth.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: I want to be the president who helped to feed the hungryand to prepare them to be taxpayers instead of taxeaters.[APPLAUSE]
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: I want to be the president who helped the poor to findtheir own way and who protected the right of every citizento vote in every election.[APPLAUSE]I want to be the president who helped to end hatred
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: among his fellow men and who promoted loveamong the people of all races and all regionsand our parties.[APPLAUSE]I want to be the president who helped
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: to end war among the brothers of this Earth.[APPLAUSE]And so at the request of your beloved speakerand the senator from Montana, the majority leader,
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: and the senator from Illinois, the minority leader, and Mr.McCulloch and other members of both parties,I came here tonight not as President Roosevelt came downone time in person to veto a bonus billand not as President Truman came down one time to urge
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: the passage of a railroad bill.But I came down here to ask you to share this task with meand to share it with the people that we both work for.I want this to be the Congress, Republicans and Democrats
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: alike, which did all these things for all these people.Beyond this great chamber out yonder in 50 statesare the people that we serve.Who can tell what deep and unspoken hopes are
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: in their hearts tonight as they sit there and listen?We all can guess from our own liveshow difficult they often find their own pursuit of happiness,how many problems each little family has.
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: They look most of all to themselves for their future.But I think that they also look to each of us.Above the pyramid on the great seal of the United States,it says in Latin, "God has favored our undertaking."
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: God will not favor everything that we do.It is rather out duty to divine His will.But I cannot help believing that he truly understands and that
LYNDON JOHNSON [continued]: he really favors the undertaking that we began here tonight.[APPLAUSE]
NARRATOR: Not since the conclusion of the Apollo moonmission program had most Americans paid much attentionto space launches.The no-hitch routine of the countdown, the blast-off,and the disappearance of the booster climbing to the heavensattracted little more than summary coverageby the news media.On January 28, 1986, this routine
NARRATOR [continued]: was shattered by a terrifying eventso unexpected and frightening that few who were alivewill forget its images or what theywere doing at the moment they sawthe flaming disintegration of the space shuttle Challenger.The horrifying effect on the nationwas compounded by the presence of a school teacher, ChristaMcAuliffe, on the crew.
NARRATOR [continued]: The well-publicized selection of the first teacher in spaceprompted many schools to encourageviewing of the launch in their classrooms.Unlike many tragedies, this time the entire nationcould watch the potential consequencesof complex technology meshed with human error.Six hours later, President Ronald Reaganaddressed the nation, preparing to present
NARRATOR [continued]: the State of the Union address that evening, he and his staffwere, at first, unsure of the appropriate response.After making the decision to cancel that speech,they had little time to prepare his televised reactionto the tragedy.Nonetheless, notice how Reagan skillfullyaddresses various audiences, particularly the carehe takes to comfort the young children who were viewing.
NARRATOR [continued]: As does any effective eulogy, his speechseeks to console and find meaning.Here, the meaning in this tragedyis that man's exploration and search for knowledgesometimes has a high cost.His tribute to the Challenger astronautsdemonstrates as clearly as any of his speecheswhy Ronald Reagan was called the Great Communicator.
RONALD REAGAN: Ladies and gentleman, Iplanned to speak to you tonight to reporton the State of the Union.But the events of earlier today have let me change those plans.Today is a day for mourning and remembering.Nancy and I are pained to the core over the tragedyof the shuttle Challenger.We know we share this pain with all the people of our country.
RONALD REAGAN [continued]: This is truly a national loss.19 years ago almost to the day, we lost three astronautsin a terrible accident on the ground,but we've never lost an astronaut in flight.We've never had a tragedy like this.And perhaps we've forgotten the courageit took for the crew of the shuttle.But they, the Challenger seven, were aware of the dangers,
RONALD REAGAN [continued]: overcame them, and did their jobs brilliantly.We mourn seven heroes-- Michael Smith, Dick Scobee,Judith Reznik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, GregoryJarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.We mourn their loss as a nation together.To the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do,
RONALD REAGAN [continued]: the full impact of this tragedy.But we feel the loss, and we're thinking about youso very much.Your loved ones were daring and brave,and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says,give me a challenge and I'll meet it with joy.They had a hunger to explore the universeand discover its truths.
RONALD REAGAN [continued]: They wished to serve, and they did.They served all of us.We've grown used to wonders in this century.It's hard to dazzle us.But for 25 years, the United States space programhas been doing just that.We've grown used to the idea of space,and perhaps we forget that we've only just begun.We're still pioneers.
RONALD REAGAN [continued]: They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of Americawho were watching the live coverage of the shuttle'stake-off.I know it's hard to understand, but sometimes painful thingslike this happen.It's all part of the process of exploration and discovery.It's all part of taking a chance and expanding man's horizons.
RONALD REAGAN [continued]: The future doesn't belong to the faint-hearted.It belongs to the brave.The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future,and we'll continue to follow.I've always had great faith in and respect for our spaceprogram, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it.We don't hide our space program.
RONALD REAGAN [continued]: We don't keep secrets and cover things up.We do it all up front and in public.That's the way freedom is, and we wouldn't change itfor a minute.We'll continue our quest in space.There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crewsand, yes, more volunteers, more civilians,more teachers in space.
RONALD REAGAN [continued]: Nothing ends here.Our hopes and our journeys continue.I want to add that I wish I could talk to every manand woman who works for NASA or who worked on this missionand tell them, your dedication and professionalismhave moved and impressed us for decades,and we know of your anguish.
RONALD REAGAN [continued]: We share it.There's a coincidence today.On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir FrancisDrake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama.In his lifetime, the great frontiers were the oceans,and a historian later said, he lived by the sea, died on it,
RONALD REAGAN [continued]: and was buried in it.Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew,their dedication was, like Drake's, complete.The crew of the space shuttle Challengerhonored us by the manner in which they lived their lives.We will never forget them, nor the last time wesaw them this morning, as they prepared for their journey
RONALD REAGAN [continued]: and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of Earthto touch the face of God.Thank you.
NARRATOR: On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King,Jr. was assassinated by a white gunman.The times found increased pressurefrom some in the black community to wage a moremilitant struggle against racial injustice.Word of his death reached Robert Kennedyas he was flying to a scheduled addressat an urban black ghetto.
NARRATOR [continued]: Shaken by the news, he gathered his composure,walked into a predominantly black crowd of about 2,500,relayed the tragic events, and delivered an extemporaneouseulogy.Robert Kennedy was the seventh of nine childrenof millionaire Joseph Kennedy.He rose to prominence as campaign directorfor his brother John.He then served as US attorney general
NARRATOR [continued]: in John's administration.Following President Kennedy's assassination,he became senator from New York, and in 1968announced his candidacy for president.He was once described as the only politicianwith the courage to walk into the toughest ghettosand talk to the black militants.His followers could not have been surprised
NARRATOR [continued]: when he ignored police warnings and addressed the ghetto crowd.The eulogy stands as one of the oldest form of oratory,and its structure has been passed downfrom the ancient Greeks-- praise, lament,and consolation.Kennedy follows classic teachings in this speech.King's life exemplified compassion and love,
NARRATOR [continued]: and Kennedy urges his followers to honor his deathby extending those qualities.His emotional reference to his brother's assassinationreveals his empathy for his audience.Unlike others nationally who rioted followingthe outrage of King's death, this crowd quietlydispersed without incident.While portions of the audio and video have been lost,
NARRATOR [continued]: we offer what remains of what may have been Robert Kennedy'smost eloquent speech.
ROBERT KENNEDY: I have some very sad news for all of you,and I think sad news for all of our fellow citizens and peoplewho love peace all over the world.And that is that Martin Luther King was shotand was killed tonight.[AUDIENCE GASPS AND SCREAMS]Martin Luther King dedicated his life
ROBERT KENNEDY [continued]: to love and to justice between fellow human beings.He died in the cause of that effort.In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the UnitedStates, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are
ROBERT KENNEDY [continued]: and what direction we want to move in.For those of you who are black, consideringthe evidence evidently is that there were white people whowere responsible, we can be filledwith bitterness and with hatred and a desire for revenge.
ROBERT KENNEDY [continued]: We can move in that direction as country,in greater polarization, black peopleamongst black and white amongst white, filledwith hatred toward one another.Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did,to understand and to comprehend and replace that violence,
ROBERT KENNEDY [continued]: that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land withand effort to understand, compassion, and love.For those of you who are black and are temptedto be filled with hatred and disgust of the injustice
ROBERT KENNEDY [continued]: of such an act against all white people,I would only say that can also feel in my own heartthe same kind of feeling.I had a member of my family killed,and he was killed by a white man.So we have to make an effort in the United States.
ROBERT KENNEDY [continued]: We have to make an effort to understand,to go beyond these rather difficult times.My favorite poem-- my favorite poet was Aeschylus.And he once wrote, "Even in our sleep, pain,
ROBERT KENNEDY [continued]: which cannot forget, falls drop by drop from the heart untilin our own despair, against our will,comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."What we need in the United States is not division.What we need in the United States is not hatred.
ROBERT KENNEDY [continued]: What we need in the United Statesis not violence and lawlessness but is love and wisdomand compassion toward one another,feeling a justice towards those who still sufferwithin our country, whether they be whiteor whether they be black.
ROBERT KENNEDY [continued]: It is not the end of violence.It is not the end of lawlessness.It is not the end of disorder.But the vast majority of white peopleand the vast majority of black people in this countrywant to live together, want to improvethe quality of our life, and want justice
ROBERT KENNEDY [continued]: for all human beings that have died in our land.We dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wroteso many years ago, "to tame the savageness of manand make gentle the life of this world."
Great Speeches Volume 5
View Segments Segment :
Speeches have the ability to change thoughts and ideas, and to inspire nations. From Robert Kennedy to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, four influential speakers of the twentieth century display their political speaking skills.
Speeches have the ability to change thoughts and ideas, and to inspire nations. From Robert Kennedy to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, four influential speakers of the twentieth century display their political speaking skills.