“The United States is willing to stop the aerial and naval bombardment of North Viet-Nam with the understanding that this will lead promptly to productive discussions between representatives of the United States and the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam looking toward a resolution of the issues between them.”—Excerpt from a message delivered to North Vietnamese representative in France, Mai Van Bo, through French intermediaries, Marcovich and Aubrac, on 8/25/67. (Summary, Timeline summary of negotiation attempts as presented by Kissinger, 9/8/67, #1a, “Pennsylvania,” Vietnam Country File, NSF, Box 140.)
“With twelve days still remaining in presidential and senate campaign, public interest and candidate activity are mounting, and there is every prospect of high voter turnout in an election which we can fairly regard as a good step forward in the development of democratic institutions in South Viet-Nam.”—Excerpt from a summary report, dated 8/23/67, of Ambassador Bunker’s observations regarding the upcoming elections in South Vietnam. (Memo, Elections in Viet-Nam, #13a, “Vietnam, Memos to the President, 8/3-27/67,” Vietnam Country File, National Security File, Box 56.)
“The history of the labor movement in America is a lesson in responsibility."
“The movement began at a time when workers were treated more as commodities than as human beings, when most men and women were without power to affect the conditions and wages of their working lives, and when the laws offered no protection for collective action.
“In another country, or in different hands, the workers’ protest against these conditions might have degenerated into sustained violence. There are always some who glorify violence as the midwife of progress. There are always some who mistakenly equate hatred with determination, force with justice.
“But the American labor movement learned early that violence is the sure road to disaster. Labor in this country organized not to destroy, but to demand a part of the American dream. As a result, the American worker today enjoys a prosperity and a security unknown to any other workingman in the history of the world.
“Now, on this 73d Labor Day, America and her labor movement have much to celebrate.
“More Americans—76.2 million of us, 1.6 million more than on last Labor Day—are at work than ever before. The unemployment rate, now 3.9 percent, has been below 4 percent during all but one month in the past year and a half. This is the longest period of sustained low unemployment since the early 1950s. Our per capita disposable personal income has reached $2,717—a 3.6 percent increase in purchasing power over the past year. American workingmen have mightily contributed to, and benefited from, these achievements.
“But our work is not done, if we only magnify our own affluence. Years ago labor fought to awaken the social conscience of those who owned and managed property and production. Today our common challenge is to extend the promise of America to those who are as unfamiliar with it as the railroad workers and coal miners were 70 years ago.
“In a land of plenty, one out of every seven persons lives in poverty.
“Some are the victims of discrimination because of their race, their religion, their sex, or their age.
“We must cure these ills. We must create more jobs, and train the men and women to fill them. We must guarantee the right of every citizen to become the best that there is within him to be.
“In the 1930s, the labor movement spoke on behalf of the forgotten many to the privileged few. Today, it must continue to speak—more firmly than ever-on behalf of the disadvantaged minority.”…
“It’s strange. You feel soothed and happy by the companionship of your daughter and your son-in-law, and the fine young people who are their friends and the members of your staff. And the cool, brisk, shiny beauty of the day. But simultaneously, you are way down and grieved, emotionally wearied by the troubles that you must try to solve—the growing virus of the riots, the rising list of Vietnam casualties, criticism from your own friends, or former friends, in Congress—and most of the complaining is coming from the Democrats.”—August 13, 1967. Lady Bird Johnson, A White House Diary, New York: Dell Books, 1971, pg 611.
“Most of your grandmothers can remember when women did not even have the right in this country to vote. One of the arguments against extending this suffrage, believe it or not, was that wives would simply vote the way their husband voted, and this would give husbands an unfair advantage over bachelors at the polls.
“I am one who has lived in a family with very strong-minded women. I know better. The democratic principle in our house has often left me on the short end of a three to one vote. …
“I remember one occasion when I was trying to exercise my right that I thought belonged to all people, the right of free speech. I tried for weeks to convince my ladies of the wisdom of a project that I had in mind and they wouldn’t buy it. They wouldn’t go along with me. They wouldn’t get with it.
“I became a bit annoyed and, rather exasperated, one day said to Luci, ‘There is a conspiracy of silence against me.’ She looked at me very calmly and said, ‘Daddy, why don’t you join it?’”
QUESTION. Mr. President, 51 former Democratic National Convention delegates are said to be urging you to retire for the good of the party and their criticism seems to be mainly on foreign policy. What is your comment on that?
“A subject that had been very much on my mind over the weekend was our ‘coming down off the mountain’—our departure from this place. On Sunday there was a poll that showed a distinct downward trend in the number of people who approved of Lyndon’s handling of the war in Vietnam. Our own decision, our hope, our determination, is to leave when this term ends. but how to tell it to the world, and when—in the fall, as John Connally suggested? Or not until March 1968—my own idea? Nevertheless, it does seem the leaves of autumn are falling rather early, since there are eighteen months left of this term.”— Lady Bird Johnson, A White House Diary, New York: Dell Books, 1971, pg 605. July 31, 1967.
“It’s over. The President is just not going to do anything more. That’s it. He’s through with domestic problems, with the cities… He’s not going to do anything. And he’s the only man who can.”—Robert F. Kennedy to Frank Makiewicz, in response to LBJ’s statement about the Detroit riots, quoted in Robert F. Kennedy and his Times, by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., New York, Houghton Mifflin, 1978, p. 797.
The catastrophe which has struck the City of Detroit is a ‘disaster’ by any reasonable definition of that term. Entire blocks have been leveled by fire and pockets of destruction exist throughout the city. Losses due to fire and looting have been estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars and these estimates may very well prove to be conservative. However, we have been advised by Governor Farris Bryant and Deputy United States Attorney General Christopher that the provisions of the Federal Disaster Assistance Act have not in the past been applied to disasters other than those resulting from natural causes. Last week part of the Detroit metropolitan area was declared a disaster area following a five-inch rainfall. It simply does not make sense not to commit Federal assistance to the City of Detroit in view of what has happened there in recent days. We urgently request that this policy be reevaluted, in view of the fact that the statute covers natural disasters, “or other catastrophe which in the determination of the president” warrants special Federal assistance and that such assistance be approved for the City of Detroit.
GOVERNOR GEORGE ROMNEY
JEROME P. CAVANAGN, Mayor
”—July 27, 1967. Telegram to President Lyndon B. Johnson, regarding riots in Detroit. LBJ’s response here.
Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh offers a slightly different interpretation of the issues around of sending federal troops to his city:
Cavanagh: “By the time really that the Army came in, which was a day or two later, it naturally was starting to burn down. These things all are the same. They’re like a fire. They slowly will extinguish themselves even if you leave them alone, which you can’t do obviously. I’m not derogating the Army’s role in it; they were very vital. It continued for many more nights. But it was mainly their presence, and their professionalism I think, that helped.”
Interviewer: “This matter of the delay in sending in the federal troops because of almost the semantic argument over whether or not you had an insurrection, was this a political maneuver in your feeling either on the part of Governor Romney or of the administration in Washington? Is this real and legal?”
Cavanagh: “I thought there was a genuine concern on the part of the federal officials, the President, the Attorney General, and others, a genuine legal concern about the commitment of federal troops for this kind of a domestic outbreak. On the other hand I’m not so naive as to assume that politics didn’t play a part. I don’t think though that politics was the paramount consideration. I think, as I believe I mentioned, that the President probably saw some slight political advantage in the whole situation and proceeded to use it. And I’m not saying that the Governor didn’t use what political advantages he might have, or that I would not have . After all, we are political people . That’s not to say though that politics was the paramount consideration and we were making decisions on the basis of what would be good politics.”