October 6, 1964. The Whistle Stop campaign tour rolls along across Virginia, on into North Carolina. Lady Bird, her daughter Lynda, 100 or so members of the press, and more than a dozen white-gloved ‘hostesses” ride aboard the un-air-conditioned Lady Bird Special.
Hospitality committees along the route gave out pennants, buttons, and other small campaign material for visitors aboard the Lady Bird Special and the crowds gathered to see Lady Bird. In the dining car, in another nod to Southern hospitality, guests were treated to specialty dishes from each state along the route: Virginia ham, North Carolina BBQ, Georgia pecan pie, and Louisiana shrimp creole were among the choices.
In addition to the hospitality committees, travelers and dignitaries from the states could also visit with the Masters of Ceremonies, Congressman Hale Boggs and Luther Hodges, depending on which leg of the journey they were on board. The Masters of Ceremonies were also responsible for introducing Mrs. Johnson and her daughters to the crowds at each of the stops.
Listen to the recordings of the speeches at the stops on our YouTube playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE4ezrXJCEOS6QeZeAzpT22z71gqdlrqb
“Alexandria has been chosen as the first stop for one of the greatest campaigners in America, and I am very proud to announce that I am her husband.”
LBJ kicks off Lady Bird’s Whistle Stop in Alexandria. They will meet again in Raleigh that evening, after all of these stops:
- Fredericksburg, Virginia
- Ashland, Virginia
- Richmond, Virginia
- Petersburg, Virginia
- Suffolk, Virginia
- Norfolk, Virginia
- Ahoskie, North Carolina
- Hobgood, North Carolina (slowdown)
- Tarboro, North Carolina
- Rocky Mount, North Carolina
- Wilson, North Carolina
- Selma, North Carolina
More on Day 1: http://whistlestop.lbjlibrary.org/#day-one
Did Lady Bird visit your town during her Whistle Stop campaign tour 50 years ago? She went to Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
October 5, 1964. Lady Bird prepares to head out tomorrow on her four-day, eight-state Whistle Stop campaign. She knows that LBJ’s chances of taking the southern states are slim, in light of the recent passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and that she will face hostile crowds, heckling, and even violence. She is going anyway.
“And every time the rest of the nation makes one more snide joke about cornpone or rednecks, the defenses of the South go up more angrily. The dividing abyss widens and the curtain becomes thicker and murkier. It is partly the South wanting to pull away and partly the rest of the nation misunderstanding – yes even laughing – in a way. None of this is right or is good for the future of our country.”
—Lady Bird’s recorded thoughts before departing on her Whistle Stop campaign tour, LBJ Presidential Library transcript.
On Monday, Oct. 6, 2014: the LBJ Time Machine departs from chronology to revisit Lady Bird Johnson’s Whistle Stop campaign of 1964, on its 50th anniversary…
Just three months after the 1964 Civil Rights Act was signed, amidst rising racial tensions in the South and against the advice of trusted advisors, Lady Bird Johnson boarded a train named the “Lady Bird Special” to campaign for her husband’s presidential bid in states from Virginia to Louisiana. President Johnson was ahead in national polls, but he faced an uphill battle in the South.
Liz Carpenter said later, “Our star attraction was a Southern-bred First Lady. We were supposed to blow kisses and spread love through eight states and make them like it….”
Stay tuned for what happens next! The train leaves the station Monday, Oct. 6.
There is a cosmic irony in the role payed by Vietnam in Lyndon Johnson’s career….What increased the irony was that Vietnam turned against him that group in society whose approbation he most desired—the college students. Nothing bewildered him more that the sieges of the White House by half-naked hippies chanting: “Hey! Hey! LBJ! How many kids have you killed today?”
He thought he had done everything for them—college loans, scholarships, subsidies—and he considered their conduct nothing but the grossest ingratitude. They were not showing the same concern for his problem that he had shown for their problems—or, at least, that was the way he reasoned.
Everyone’s making the sign on the V. The battle is over. The question everyone’s asking is when’s the next happening?
October 22, 1967, Sunday morning. It is the day that the March on the Pentagon protesters’ permit will expire, LBJ and Lady Bird are coming back from church services:
"Lem Johnson reports that when they were almost back to the White House from Church, the President asked Mrs. Johnson if she would like to take a ride over there to the Pentagon and see what they were doing.
At the Lincoln Memorial, it looked like there were about 150 people sitting on the steps — just scattered around the area. We drove around the Memorial one and one-half times —looked at the Mall area and the reflecting pool area.
"Mrs. Johnson particularly noticed the litter and refuse left by those gathered the Memorial yesterday. The President was highly interested in what a hippie looked like, their dress, age groups, and items they carried. ..some were carrying flags, bed rolls, blankets, flight bags, flowers…
"We then drove across Memorial Bridge and turned down Shirley highway—the road was blocked, but we told the Park Policemen we were secret service, and they let us through. We went around the blockade and up the highway, looking to the right up to the line of soldiers guarding the highway. We drove slowly, and looked carefully at the Mall Entrance of the Pentagon — we circled around, crossed the median strip, and then drove back to the White House.”
Jail is a goof. Easiest jailing of all time.
From Revolution for the Hell of It, New York: Simon and Shuster, 1970, p. 50.
Oct 21-22, 1967.
"This exorcism business is getting pretty exciting….The Pentagon happening transcended the issue of the War. The War is Over, sings Phil Ochs, and the protest becomes directed to the entire fabric of a restrictive, dull, brutal society,
"The protesters become total political animals.
"A totality emerges that renders the word political meaningless. ‘The war is over.’ Everyone’s yelling and screaming. Someone writes LBJ loves Ho Cho Minh on the wall.”
Abbie Hoffman, Revolution for the Hell of It, New York: Simon and Shuster, 1970, p 46.
Photo from USMarshalls.gov, which has a very different perspective on the weekend’s events.
Oct. 21, 1967
"In support of civil authority, we have the very delicate and difficult job of upholding constitutional rights of free assembly and expression and protecting government operations and property….We must avoid either overreacting or under-reacting. We must act in a way which holds to the absolute minimum the possibility of bloodshed and injury; which minimizes the need for arrest; which distinguishes to the extent feasible between those who are and are not breaking the law; and which uses the minimum force consistent with the mission of protecting the employees (military and civilian), the operations, and the property of the Government.”
David E. McGiffert, Memorandum to the Chief of Staff, U.S.Army, Oct. 20, 1967, “Anti-Vietnam Demonstrations,” Papers of Warren Christoper, Box 8, LBJ Library. As quoted in Robert S. McNamara with Brian VanDeMark, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, New York: Random House, 1995, p. 303-304.
October 21, 1967. Sometime in the late afternoon or early evening, a small group of protesters, including a group calling itself the “SDS Revolutionary Contingent” rushes the Pentagon building and are driven back by military police and federal marshals. Most of the dwindling crowd has gone home, however. In total. 647 people will be arrested (including Abbie Hoffman and Norman Mailer) and 47 hospitalized—a very small percentage of the estimated 100,000 demonstration participants (many of whom remained at the Mall instead of walking to the Pentagon).
Most of the mainstream US media condemns the activists’ actions as extremist, and Americans still agree 3:1 that antiwar demonstrations are “acts of disloyalty against the boys in Vietnam,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Photo: via USMarshalls.gov. Reference: An American Ordeal: The Antiwar Movement of the Vietnam Era by Charles DeBenedetti.