Looking Back

By Lyndon B. Johnson / September / October 2000
October 26th, 2007
As I will return tonight to my large room and my lonely desk in the White House to cope with the decisions that have come to that desk through the day from all the countries of the world, and when I review the problems of our men in uniform, and those on strike, when I see the farmer and the laborer seeking justice and believing that his government will do what is right, my mind will wander back here to the little State of Rhode Island, far away from what was once the largest State in the nation, where I was born.

And I will remember back ten months ago when a terrible tragedy befell the people of this nation and I was called upon, as best I could, with all my limitations, to carry on. And I will think of the presidents, Mr. Hoover in New York and Mr. Truman in Independence and Mr. Eisenhower in Gettysburg, all of whom sent me their good wishes and their prayers, who told me that they were at the service of this nation in this crisis.

And I will remember how the butcher and the baker and the candlestick-maker, the little children on the sidewalks, the folks sitting in the Old Folks Home as I drove by, how they all gave me their hopes and their prayers, that somehow we might be able to carry on. But there is nothing I will be more thankful for than the contribution of the people of this State, because in my moment of trial Congressman St. Germain and Congressman Fogarty, Senator Pell and Johnny Pastore, all walking in that tradition of that great Democratic leader Theodore Francis Green, they marched up by my side and said, “You have our talents and our energy and our prayers.”

And, however long I may be permitted to continue in my work, I shall always feel deeply I the debt of this great University for the inspiration it has given me through the years, for the honor it paid me in giving me a degree, and in the debt of the little State of Rhode Island for the quality of manhood it has produced.

— From the November 1964 BAM Lyndon B. Johnson, who received an honorary degree in 1959, returned to Brown for its bicentennial convocation on Sept. 28, 1964, less than a year after he became president. This is an excerpt from his address.

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September / October 2000