October 20, 1967. Across the US people are responding, especially on college campuses, to the escalation of protest and conflict over Vietnam. This clipping from the Austin American-Statesman newspaper was sent to LBJ by old friend—now Congressman—Jake Pickle.
It describes the efforts of eight “long-haired, casually attired” University of Texas students on motorcycles as they attempt to recruit students from Southwest Texas State College (LBJ’s alma mater. now Texas State University). The “UT peaceniks” are turned away by the SWT dean, to the delight of Cong. Pickle, and, presumably, the President.
Note, Jake Pickle to the President, 10/20/67, Ex HU 4, WHCF, Box 60, LBJ Library.
Oct. 20-21, 1967. The March on the Pentagon begins.
100,000 people arrive in Washington on Friday and convene Saturday morning at the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool on the Mall. The weather is sunny and pleasant, and so far the mood is calm.
LBJ Library photo 7051-33, and 7051-35, public domain.
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October 19, 1967. LBJ, assistant Joe Califano, and Attorney General Ramsey Clark meet to discuss preparations for upcoming protests at the Pentagon.
"The Justice Department had been monitoring and reporting to the President on the planned demonstration since early October, and it too was concerned about far left and Communist involvement. Johnson decided to prepare for the worst. He had troops, including regular Army soldiers, marines, and police, deployed or on the alert to protect the Pentagon, the Capitol, and the White House. Army troops were even secretly stationed in the basement of the Commerce Department, so they could rapidly assume positions surrounding the White House if such action became necessary."
Joseph A. Califano, Jr., The Triumph and Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson: The White House Years, New York, Simon and Shuster, 1991, p. 199. LBJ Library photo 7018-5, public domain.
October 11, 1967. LBJ assistant Marvin Watson learns that coordinated demonstrations are being planned for overseas in connection with the October 21 March on the Pentagon. It is a foreshadowing of the extensive overseas and domestic antiwar protests of the years to come.
Memo, Sither to Watson, 10/11/67, #47, “Demonstrations (October 20-21, 1967) [2 of 2],” Office Files of Mildred Stegall, Box 64a, LBJ Presidential Library.
“It was our purpose to hold down the number of arrests, that is, the department’s purpose under the Attorney General. The thinking was that those who were marching on the Pentagon had as their purpose the creation of conditions which would lead to a large number of arrests. The number of arrests was approximately six hundred and seventy-six. That was a large number, but I think it was smaller than perhaps we had feared….
“It gave the federal government a chance to show the nation what orderly processing in a civil disturbance would be. It came not long after the very inadequate processing which was possible in Detroit, for example, where persons were held on buses for substantial periods of time following their arrest….
“One of my assignments was to make backup arrangements for the necessities of life—portable toilets, water, and first aid—in the event march leaders failed to carry out their agreed responsibility to provide such facilities. In fact, they did fail to carry out their responsibilities in that regard, and we had to provide some backup help.”
—-Steven Pollak, First Assistant, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice, in his oral history, page 33-34. Photo: the aftermath of the riots in Detroit, Bentley Image Bank, Bentley Historical Library via the Insititute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.
Sept, 22, 1967. The White House receives more details about the planned demonstrations in the capital, and LBJ’s aides immediately notify Attorney General Ramsey Clark.
Top: Flyer, Oct 21, 1967 Demonstration, #20a, “Demonstrations (October 20-21, 1967) [1 of 2],” Office Files of Mildred Stegall, Box 64a, LBJ Presidential Library.
Bottom: Memo, Sither to Watson, 9/22/67, #64, “Demonstrations (October 20-21, 1967) [2 of 2],” Office Files of Mildred Stegall, Box 64a, LBJ Presidential Library.
September 16, 1967. LBJ’s assistant Marvin Watson receives this memo notifying him of a planned march on Washington DC for October 21, 1967. At this time, details are sketchy—and most of the information reported in this memo will be proved inaccurate, or, for one reason or another, will not come to pass.
Memo, Sither to Watson, 9/16/67, #70, “Demonstrations (October 20-21, 1967) [2 of 2],” Office Files of Mildred Stegall, Box 64a, LBJ Presidential Library.
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Oct. 20, 1967. Lady Bird records in her Diary:
"Lyndon said, as he often has, that he would give a piece of his life if Speaker Sam Rayburn would be back with the gavel and he (Lyndon himself) were over in the Senate for just one week. In discussing President Eisenhower, he said: ‘He has paid me back one hundred percent for what I did for him when I was Majority Leader by just trying to be decent.’”
October 20, 1967. Lady Bird has a candid conversation with LBJ’s physician, Dr. James Cain, about his health and their future:
"I told him my feelings—that I did not want to go through the grueling six months of a campaign, and that even more, if we should win I did not want to face another four years as devouring as these last four have been….There are so many things I want to do! My list is a mile long. And for the first time in my life I believe that Lyndon, too, could be happy….
"I asked Jim frankly, as a medical man, what advice he could give me. He said, ‘Obviously he has aged. The last four years have taken a lot out of him, But I cannot say, as I think the doctors should have said to FDR when he ran for his fourth term, that he won’t live out this next term….’
"And so the dilemma continues.”
—Lady Bird Johnson, A White House Diary, New York: Dell Books, 1971, pg 643. Photo:A1798-34, 1/24/1966.
Oct. 20, 1967, LBJ and Yuki share a moment in the Oval Office.
LBJ Library photo A5010-10, public domain.
Remember, you are killing a man.
October 12, 1967. LBJ sends a telegram to the “Impossible Dream” Boston Red Sox, facing off against the St Louis Cardinals in the final game of the World Series. (Being a consummate politician, LBJ also sent one to the Cardinals.)
"To the Boston Red Sox:
My position imposes neutrality on this fateful day. I will try to restrain my natural sympathy for those who prove the polls wrong. Win or lose, you have won a lasting place in history and our hearts. Good luck to you all. I will be watching with the rest of America and look forward to seeing you.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON
Alas, it was not to be. Sox fans would have to wait a few more years—well, 37 more years—to finally defeat the Cardinals and win the championship.