On This Day in History: Today

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April 20th, 1964

On this day in 1964, President Johnson sent a message to the 73d Continental Congress of the Daughters of the American Revolution. LBJ wrote,

All of us who are dedicated to freedom—the people of this and other nations; men as well as women—owe a great debt to those early revolutionaries and patriots through whose efforts the democratic principles of liberty and equality for all were set forth so vibrantly in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

It is with this belief that I challenge the members of the Daughters of the American Revolution to even greater service to your fellow Americans—to continuing your humanitarian efforts on behalf of underprivileged children—to helping win the war against poverty—to pursuing your constructive activities in the preservation of the historic landmarks and the sites of our revolutionary past.

April 20th, 1965

On this day in 1965, President Johnson issued a statement on the eve of the Senate’s consideration of the Voting Rights Bill.

“There can be no forgetting, however, that neither a Voting Rights Act nor any other single act will solve the civil rights problems of the Nation or insure equal justice and equal opportunity for our Negro citizens. Those goals can be achieved only as the result of individual understanding, of community responsibility, and of national good faith. We have, in past months, seen some splendid examples of such action.

“In the period preceding enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, hundreds—and even thousands—of Southern businessmen undertook to comply with it voluntarily even though it was not yet law. That spirit of acceptance illustrated not only respect for law and human dignity; it also established the climate of order throughout the South which has been so important to the successful implementation of the 1964 act.

“Similarly, there have been encouraging reports in recent days of community responsibility in the South. One such report concerns the action by 22 Alabama business groups who advertised, both locally and nationally, their commitment toward improved communication between the races. Perhaps an even more interesting illustration is that offered by the leaders of the city of Selma. Although not party to the original advertisements, they decided, by overwhelming vote, to endorse them.

“Assuredly, racial problems will persist, not only in Alabama and not only in the South, but for this to happen in a city where group feelings have been so inflamed suggests, I think, that men of reason and men of good will can prevail in all parts of our country. There could be no more encouraging fact.”

April 20th, 1965

Sec. Robert McNamara on the telephone Sec. Robert McNamara on the telephone
credit: Yoichi Okamoto

On this day in 1965, President Johnson had a telephone conversation with Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.

Secretary McNamara called from Honolulu, Hawaii, where he’d been meeting regarding Vietnam strategy. He talked to the President about the meeting; the New York Times story on the meeting; possible Chinese intervention in Vietnam; the introduction of U. S. combat troops; the improved performance by South Vietnam; about McNamara’s concerns about the vulnerability of Bien Hoa, Danang; and the two men mentioned General Maxwell Taylor.

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April 20th, 1965

On this day in 1965, President Johnson met with Prime Minister Moro of Italy at the White House. That evening, Leontyne Price, soprano, performed at the White House Dinner.