Sept. 28, 1967. Accompanied by Texas Governor John Connally, LBJ heads to the US-Mexico border, recently stricken by severe flooding from Hurricane Beulah (map of region here). The slow-moving storm has cut a broad swath of destruction. A 14-foot surge swept across South Padre Island, in the Gulf of Mexico, and the overflowing Rio Grande flooded houses to the rooftops in Harlingen, TX. 

Both sides of the border have been devastated, and volunteers, especially medical personnel, have responded with an outpouring of assistance. The US Army has even dispatched aid helicopters to remote areas of Mexico like Comales (map). 

LBJ is on his way to visit a high school-turned-emergency hospital in Rio Grande City that (according to the President’s Daily Diary) houses 1,500 to 2,000 people, 99% of them Mexican nationals. 

LBJ photo via LBJ Library, #A4871-24, public domain. Other photos via The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Lots more in their digital archives here. More on Beulah via NOAA.

Sept. 28, 1967. 1:15 PM. LBJ and Lady Bird head to Texas, with Yuki leading the way!
LBJ Library photo #A4872-6, public domain. 

Sept. 28, 1967. 1:15 PM. LBJ and Lady Bird head to Texas, with Yuki leading the way!

LBJ Library photo #A4872-6, public domain. 

Sept. 28, 1967. 9:54 AM. On a phone call with Republican Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, LBJ complains about public criticism about Vietnam from Senators Thruston MortonWilliam Fulbright, and Clifford Case

At about 8:38, the President says: 

"Now, we don’t have a single military man or a single civilian man who thinks that these people are ready to talk now. We think they’re relying on the Senate—these speeches up there. And I think somebody’s just got to tell these Senators, ‘If you want to have some influence, come down here and we’ll expose you and debate with you right in the Cabinet Room. But for God’s sake, don’t tell Ho Chi Minh that if he holds out another month we may stop hitting him, because that what he’s hoping he can do.’”

Monday, Sept. 25, 1967. Last night was one of those bleak nights when the shadows take over. We both woke up about 3:30 AM and talked and talked and talked about when and how to make the statement that Lyndon is not going to be a candidate again.

Lady Bird Johnson, A White House Diary, New York: Dell Books, 1971, pg 627.

Sept. 22, 1967. LBJ and assistant Marvin Watson. 
LBJ Library photo #A4821-10, public domain. 

Sept. 22, 1967. LBJ and assistant Marvin Watson. 

LBJ Library photo #A4821-10, public domain. 

September 29, 1967. In the midst of the ongoing attempts at peace negotiations, President Johnson delivers a speech before the National Legislative Conference in San Antonio, Texas. 

"I am ready to talk with Ho Chi Minh, and other chiefs of state concerned, tomorrow.
I am ready to have Secretary Rusk meet with their foreign minister tomorrow. 
I am ready to send a trusted representative of America to any spot on this earth to talk in public or private with a spokesman of Hanoi.
We have twice sought to have the issue of Vietnam dealt with by the United Nations—and twice Hanoi has refused.
Our desire to negotiate peace—through the United Nations or out—has been made very, very clear to Hanoi—directly and many times through third parties.
As we have told Hanoi time and time and time again, the heart of the matter is really this: The United States is willing to stop all aerial and naval bombardment of North Vietnam when this will lead promptly to productive discussions. We, of course, assume that while discussions proceed, North Vietnam would not take advantage of the bombing cessation or limitation.”
—Read the full speech at the American Presidency Project.

Photo from CPS Energy. 

September 29, 1967. In the midst of the ongoing attempts at peace negotiations, President Johnson delivers a speech before the National Legislative Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

"I am ready to talk with Ho Chi Minh, and other chiefs of state concerned, tomorrow.

I am ready to have Secretary Rusk meet with their foreign minister tomorrow.

I am ready to send a trusted representative of America to any spot on this earth to talk in public or private with a spokesman of Hanoi.

We have twice sought to have the issue of Vietnam dealt with by the United Nations—and twice Hanoi has refused.

Our desire to negotiate peace—through the United Nations or out—has been made very, very clear to Hanoi—directly and many times through third parties.

As we have told Hanoi time and time and time again, the heart of the matter is really this: The United States is willing to stop all aerial and naval bombardment of North Vietnam when this will lead promptly to productive discussions. We, of course, assume that while discussions proceed, North Vietnam would not take advantage of the bombing cessation or limitation.”

—Read the full speech at the American Presidency Project.

Photo from CPS Energy


"In August of last year, a demented sniper sat with an arsenal of weapons at the top of a University tower and coldly and systematically killed and maimed 44 Americans.
"The horror of that senseless slaughter shocked the entire Nation. Yet, today, 13 months later, Congress has failed to enact a gun control law. In those intervening 13 months, guns were involved in more than:
6,500 murders
10,000 suicides
2,600 accidental deaths
43,500 aggravated assaults
50,000 robberies.
"FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover has just reported that the use of firearms in dangerous crimes is on the upswing. For the first six months of 1967 there was a:
24 percent rise in the use of guns in aggravated assaults.
37 percent rise in the use of weapons in robberies.
"A civilized nation cannot allow this armed terror to continue."

-Lyndon B. Johnson: "Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Urging Enactment of Gun Control Legislation," September 15, 1967. 
Photo of UT Tower by daleexpress

"In August of last year, a demented sniper sat with an arsenal of weapons at the top of a University tower and coldly and systematically killed and maimed 44 Americans.

"The horror of that senseless slaughter shocked the entire Nation. Yet, today, 13 months later, Congress has failed to enact a gun control law. In those intervening 13 months, guns were involved in more than:

  • 6,500 murders
  • 10,000 suicides
  • 2,600 accidental deaths
  • 43,500 aggravated assaults
  • 50,000 robberies.

"FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover has just reported that the use of firearms in dangerous crimes is on the upswing. For the first six months of 1967 there was a:

  • 24 percent rise in the use of guns in aggravated assaults.
  • 37 percent rise in the use of weapons in robberies.

"A civilized nation cannot allow this armed terror to continue."

-Lyndon B. Johnson: "Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Urging Enactment of Gun Control Legislation," September 15, 1967. 

Photo of UT Tower by daleexpress

September 16, 1967. Marcovich and Aubrac deliver the US response to the previous communication from Hanoi on September 11th. The response had actually been ready since September 13th, but Kissinger had been holding onto the message in hopes of delivering it to Mai Van Bo, the Delegate General and Commercial Representative in France of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, personally.

The message reiterates the message from August 25th and claims that the US proposal did not contain conditions and that the US has since ceased the bombing of Hanoi, while waiting for a response from the DRV. In addition, the message leaves the proposal from August 25th open.

—Read a draft of the text of the September 13th message here.

Q. Mr. President, there seems to be, at least in public, some dispute going on within the administration on bombing policy in North Vietnam, with Secretary McNamara’s representatives taking one position and the military another…

THE PRESIDENT. The President is the Commander in Chief under the Constitution. His principal deputy in military matters is the Secretary of Defense. The Joint Chiefs are his military advisers.

The Joint Chiefs are a group of very able men. They are the finest in character and the best trained soldiers and sailors that we have. Their judgment is requested and respected, and certainly always carefully considered.

No two men ever see everything alike. Throughout our history there have been differences among Army leaders and naval leaders, between members of the Joint Chiefs and the civilians, between the civilians and the Congress. That is really the strength of our system….

Very frequently you find that men of strong minds do not always agree. When they do, you have to consider their individual viewpoints and then act in the way you think is in the best interest of the Nation. That is what we have done.

But six out of every seven targets recommended have been authorized. As of now, I think that we are operating effectively, efficiently, and in the national interest.

Q. Has Secretary McNamara recommended to you that the rate of bombing in the North be reduced?

THE PRESIDENT. The recommendations that we get from time to time are to authorize specific targets. When those meetings conclude, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the President have as of now been in agreement with each other.

The President’s News Conference,  September 1, 1967.

Fall 1967. 

“Dick Helms’s secret memo shows that, in the fall of 1967, the CIA;s most senior analysts believed we could have withdrawn from Vietnam without any permanent damage to U.S. or Western security. At the same time they were expressing that view, I was stating to the Stennis subcommittee the judgment—supported by CIA/DIA analyses—that we could not win the war by bombing the North. And my May 19 memo had reported that we would continue suffering heavy casualties in South Vietnam with no assurance of winning their either.
"How, in the face of such factors, does one explain the administration’s failure to push harder for negotiations and contemplate withdrawal? The answer is that the Joint Chiefs and many others in the government took an entirely different view of the war’s progress, that influential members of Congress and the public, and that the President was heavily swayed by their opinion."  

Robert S. McNamara with Brian VanDeMark, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, New York: Random House, 1995, p. 294-295. Photo from 2/7/1968, LBJ Library. 

Fall 1967. 

Dick Helms’s secret memo shows that, in the fall of 1967, the CIA;s most senior analysts believed we could have withdrawn from Vietnam without any permanent damage to U.S. or Western security. At the same time they were expressing that view, I was stating to the Stennis subcommittee the judgment—supported by CIA/DIA analyses—that we could not win the war by bombing the North. And my May 19 memo had reported that we would continue suffering heavy casualties in South Vietnam with no assurance of winning their either.

"How, in the face of such factors, does one explain the administration’s failure to push harder for negotiations and contemplate withdrawal? The answer is that the Joint Chiefs and many others in the government took an entirely different view of the war’s progress, that influential members of Congress and the public, and that the President was heavily swayed by their opinion."  

Robert S. McNamara with Brian VanDeMark, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, New York: Random House, 1995, p. 294-295. Photo from 2/7/1968, LBJ Library. 

On September 12, 1967, Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms submitted to President Johnson a report ….[that] dealt with the impact of the failure to sustain the non-Communist state in South Vietnam. This failure would not come as a result of a complete military and political collapse of the U.S. effort in Vietnam, but would evolve from the likely compromise solution that would result from a peace settlement negotiated within a relatively brief period of time and to the advantage of the Vietnamese Communists.

The risks of an unfavorable outcome in Vietnam were considerable. The authors of the report described the permanent damage that would result to the United States in the international arena, the internal dissension that would follow, and the destabilization that would arise in other areas of Southeast Asia.

They mitigated their conclusions, however, by suggesting that “such risks are probably more limited and controllable than most previous argument has indicated.”

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964–1968, Volume V, Vietnam, 1967, Document 316. Office of the Historian, State Department. 

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 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 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 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.