September 11, 1967, On his way to the ‘67 Expo in Canada, King Constantine of Greece (pictured above between aide Mike Manatos and LBJ) stops for a private visit with the President. In a background paper, LBJ has been briefed on the visit’s importance:.
“The coup of April 21, 1967 took King Constantine completely by surprise. Although he made an initial effort to contact his key military commanders to resist the coup, when it became apparent that the coup leaders had won over or effectively neutralized all major military commands, and that resistance on his part might plunge the nation into a civil war, the King reluctantly accepted the coup as a fait accompli. However, although he agreed to preside over the first Cabinet meeting of the new government, he refused to sign the royal decree suspending certain articles of the Constitution which therefore went into effect without his signature.”
This background paper, along with others prepared for the visit, illustrate the tenuous relationship that King Constantine has with the new military junta, King Constantine’s efforts to push towards a return to constitutionalism, and his hope that the U.S. will support him in this effort.
More about the coup in our earlier posts.
—Paper, background paper for visit of King Constantine, 9/6/67, #43, “Greece, Visit of King Constantine,” Country File, NSF, Box 127, LBJ Presidential Library. Photo #A4751-15; public domain.
September 6, 1967. LBJ announces that he will nominate Walter Washington to be the first Mayor (Commissioner) of Washington, D.C. After advocates for home-rule for the District, including LBJ, finally won their fight, LBJ offered the mayoralty to Washington. The President enlisted the help of NYC Mayor Lindsay and Lady Bird to help Mr. Washington prepare .
Now LBJ announces his mayoral selection—the first African-American mayor of a large U.S. city:
"Three weeks ago Congress approved a reorganization plan to bring modern government to the Nation’s Capital.
"Even this new system can be only as strong and fair as the men who will lead it….
"We have found a man who will be a strong and authentic voice for the people of the District. His name is Walter Edward Washington."
Statement by the President on His Intention To Nominate Walter E. Washington and Thomas W. Fletcher as Commissioner of the District of Columbia and Assistant to the Commissioner. September 6, 1967.
Photo C6814-12, Washington at White House with LBJ on 10/3/67, public domain.
September 5, 1967. Walt Rostow sends this memo to President Johnson regarding the capture of documents showing Cuban support, with involvement by Che Guevara, in the guerrilla movement in Bolivia.
—Memo, Rostow to LBJ, 9/6/67, #105, “Bolivia, Volume 4,” Country File, NSF, Box 8, LBJ Presidential Library.
September 7, 1967. In a memo to the President, CIA Director Richard Helms provides background information and an update on the continued attempts at peace negotiations with North Vietnam involving Henry Kissinger as an intermediary.
“Hanoi’s failure to date to respond to the US initiative could well be related to a combination of factors of timing and interpretation, reinforced by its deep-seated distrust of US motives in the area. The tone of the premier’s remarks to the intermediaries in July suggests a greater interest in getting talks started than we have noted in the past. This may represent merely a tactical shift, however, for we see nothing in his private statements or in his recent public pronouncements indicating a significant change in Hanoi’s position. North Vietnamese leaders continue to insist on an unconditional stop to the bombing and a settlement based on their ‘four points.’ They show no sign yet of any readiness to compromise these objectives.”
Read the rest of the memo here. LBJ Library photo # B6275-20a; public domain.
September 3, 1967. Nguyen Van Thieu is elected President of South Vietnam. In an attempt to counteract criticisms that the U.S. government was manipulating the vote, President Johnson sent a mission comprised of Governors, Senators, labor and business leaders, and journalists to South Vietnam to observe the general elections.
Governor Bill Guy of North Dakota reported:
“Too much attention has been placed on the possibility of irregularities, and not enough on the other aspects. These people with great courage came out with a moving and profound example of desire for self determination as much as I have seen anywhere. We visited a precinct at which a bomb went off and killed three and wounded six during the voting. They closed it for 45 minutes and then reopened it for more voting. I was very impressed.”
—Memo, Jim Jones to the President, 9/6/67, #3, “[September 6, 1967 - 11:09 a.m. Meeting with Vietnam Election Observers],” Meeting Notes File, Box 2, LBJ Presidential Library.
More about the elections in the Foreign Relations of the United States Series here. Photo: LBJ with Nguyen Van Thieu in 1966, # A1906-15; public domain.
August 31, 1967. The Senate Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee issues a summary report on aerial war against North Vietnam.
In its report, the Subcommittee discusses the limitation of air bombing target lists and the difficulty involved in getting targets approved. The Subcommittee argues that the “air campaign has been crucial and vital in saving many American and allied lives in South Vietnam.” In addition, the summary report also points a division between opinions of civilian authorities and military authorities regarding air bombing.
In its conclusion, the report states, “It is high time, we believe, to allow the military voice to be heard in connection with the tactical details of military operations.”
The document above is an example of a request for approval of Arc Light Strike Targets dated August 13, 1967.
—Congressional Record, Volume 113, part 19, page 25179-25182. Document: Message, Request for target approval, 8/13/67, #64b, “ 3 I Targets, 7/67 - 3/68,” Vietnam Country File, National Security File, Box 84.
August 30, 1967. The Senate confirms the appointment of Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court. He will serve from 1967 until 1991—a total of 24 years.
Photo via Library of Congress.
August 26, 1967.
-A White House Diary, New York: Dell Books, 1971, pg 620-621. Photo via Boy Scouts of America, York-Adams Area Council,
August 25, 1967. It is two days before LBJ’s birthday, and his staff is trying to select a gift:
“3:30p …Looked at 10 oil paintings by Bob Taylor of Cordell, Oklahoma, that had been selected by the Pres from photographs sent in by Mr. Taylor…. The President expressed great disappointment, thinking that the paintings were not as good as the pictures of the paintings. Thus we will not keep any of them and we are without a birthday gift for the President. He expressed appreciation for staff’s efforts.”
Above: A photograph by Mr. Bob Taylor taken for Oklahoma Today Magazine, Spring 1964. (Download the whole issue Oklahoma State.) Mr. Taylor appears to have been a photographer as well as a painter, which might help explain LBJ’s disappointment!
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.)
August 25, 1967. Robert McNamara delivers a statement as part of the Stennis hearings in the Senate Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee. On August 30th, McNamara’s statement is then read into the Congressional Record.
As part of his statement, McNamara lists the three primary objectives of the bombing in North Vietnam: to reduce the flow and/or increase the cost of infiltration of men and supplies from North to South Vietnam; to raise the morale of the South Vietnamese people, who have been under severe military pressure; and to make clear to the North Vietnamese leadership that the bombings are the result of their continued aggression against the South.
To those arguing for increased bombing, McNamara states that the limited bombing objectives “…were and are entirely consistent with our limited purposes in Southeast Asia. We are not fighting for territorial conquests or to destroy existing governments. We are fighting there only to assure the people of South Vietnam the freedom to choose their own political and economic institutions.”
—Congressional Record, Volume 113, part 18, page 24533. Photo: LBJ Library, C7636-15A; image is in the public domain.
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.)