On This Day in History: August


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August 1st

On this day in 1968, President Johnson signed the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968. The President commented

“Now, for the first time, the Congress and the Executive are joining in a commitment here today to eliminate substandard housing in America and build homes for families.

“The bill opens the way for the construction of entire new communities reducing the congestion of the crowded cities.

“We know that a city is not of brick alone. We know that a home is more than a shelter. Through dozens of other programs we are trying to work to improve the quality of man’s life and to better humanity.

“But the center of our effort is here—the center of man’s life—the place we all call our home.”

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August 2nd

On this day in 1964, in the early hours of a Sunday morning, President Johnson received a message that North Vietnamese torpedo boats had attacked an American destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin. Later that morning the President met with Secretary of State Dean Rusk and others to discuss the situation in Vietnam. At the meeting it was decided not to retaliate at this time, but to strengthen the American patrols, and to issue a protest note to North Vietnam.

Presidential Timeline Website

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August 3rd

On this day in 1964, President Johnson held an impromptu press conference to release a statement instructing the Navy to continue and strengthen its patrols in the Gulf of Tonkin and to take action against any further attacks.

Presidential Timeline Website

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August 4th

On this day in 1964, while meeting with Congressman George Mahon about the Poverty Bill, President Johnson received word that American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin were under attack, presumably from the North Vietnamese. The President discussed the reported attack at a previously scheduled National Security Council meeting on Cyprus and at lunch with his senior foreign policy advisors where the decision was reached to respond with a forceful limited air attack. After clarifying conflicting reports about the attack, he met once again with the National Security Council and the Congressional leadership about the Vietnam situation and the need for a Congressional resolution on the subject. Shortly after 11:30 p.m., on live television, the President issued a statement to the American public regarding Vietnam.

During that Security Council meeting, the President received a call from Assistant FBI Director, Cartha “Deke” Deloach, informing him that the bodies of three Mississippi civil rights workers missing since June had been found.

Presidential Timeline Website

On this day in 1965, President Johnson signed the Community Mental Health Centers Act Amendments of 1965.

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August 5th

On this day in 1964, the President’s attention was once more focused on “…the Communist Challenge in Southeast Asia.” In his speech at Syracuse University, he spoke of the unprovoked and deliberate attack upon the United States military by the North Vietnamese. He assured the world that the United States government and people were united in their commitment to repel aggression from the North Vietnamese.

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August 6th

Signing ceremony for the Voting Rights Act Signing ceremony for the Voting Rights Act
credit: Frank Wolfe

On this day in 1965, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The act authorized federal examiners to register qualified voters and suspend devices such as literacy tests aimed at preventing African Americans from voting.

On this day in 1964, Peter, Paul, and Mary entertained at the White House in honor of His Excellency U Thant, Secretary General of the United Nations.

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August 7th

On this day in 1964, Congress passed the Southeast Asia Resolution (the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution). This resolution was in response to North Vietnamese attacks on American naval vessels conducting intelligence-gathering patrols in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of North Vietnam on August 2 and August 4, 1964. With only two dissenting votes in the Senate and none in the House, Congress backed the President in taking “all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.”

On this day in 1964, Peter Pan (American Light Opera Theatre) was presented in concert for the Junior Village.

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August 8th

On this day in 1967, President Johnson met with foreign policy advisors in the dining room of the White House regarding Vietnam.

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August 9th

On this day in 1965, President Johnson signed the Health Research Facilities Amendments.

On this day in 1965, President Johnson wrote a letter accepting a proposal for the establishment of a Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin. In his letter, LBJ wrote:

I have been aware, of course, of the existence of the other Presidential Libraries and their contribution to history. It has been a source of satisfaction to know that through these institutions we are making certain that the full record of each presidential administration is being carefully kept for study and use by all those interested in the history of our country.

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August 10th

On this day in 1964, President Johnson signed the Joint Resolution for the Maintenance of Peace and Security in Southeast Asia.

On this day in 1965, President Johnson signed the Housing and Urban Development Act. The President stated,

“Many elements mattered to the success and the stability of our great American society. Education matters a great deal. Health matters. Jobs matter. Equality of opportunity and individual dignity matter very much.

“But legislation and labors in all of these fields can never succeed unless and until every family has the shelter and the security, the integrity and the independence, and the dignity and the decency of a proper home.

“The Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 retains, and expands, and improves the best of the tested programs of the past.

“The importance of the bill is not only that it retains and improves the best of good and traditional programs; it is a landmark bill because of its new ideas.

“Foremost and uppermost of these is the program of assistance for the construction and the rehabilitation of housing for the elderly and for families of low income—the people who live in the most wretched conditions in our slums and our blighted neighborhoods.”

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August 11th

On this day in 1966, President Johnson signed Executive Order 11297 for the Coordination of Federal Urban Programs.

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August 12th

On this day in 1964, in an address to the American Bar Association, President Johnson spoke about the Gulf of Tonkin incidents and the U.S. commitment in Vietnam.

On this day in 1964, President Johnson signed the Military Pay Bill.

On this day in 1965, President Johnson signed the bill establishing the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site.

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August 13th

On this day in 1964, President Johnson signed the Federal Aid Highway Act.

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August 14th

On this day in 1963, Vice President Johnson attended the funeral of Glynn Stegall in Graham, Texas.

On this day in 1967, President Johnson made a statement upon directing expanded efforts to assist returning veterans to find suitable employment. The President stated,

“During the past 4 months the Federal-State public employment service system has operated a pilot program in Pennsylvania which through personalized service to veterans has increased their employability.

“I have today directed the Secretary of Labor, in cooperation with the Secretary of Defense, to extend this activity nationwide in order to assure each returning veteran the greatest help possible in obtaining meaningful, rewarding employment. We can do no less for our Nation’s sons and daughters who have done so much for us.

“The law now requires that the Federal-State operated public employment service give priority job placement assistance to veterans. I am directing that this assistance be extended beyond the confines of the employment office, and that each and every returning veteran be personally contacted by telephone or by personal visit by a representative from one of the Nation’s 2,200 public employment service offices in order to ascertain his or her particular job needs.”

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August 15th

On this day in 1965, President Johnson made a statement following the restoration of order in Los Angeles.

“To resort to terror and violence not only shatters the essential fight of every citizen to be secure in his home, his shop, and in the streets of his town; it strikes from the hand of the Negro the very weapons with which he is achieving his own emancipation.

“Those who strike at the fabric of ordered liberty also erode the foundation on which the house of justice stands.

“But it is not enough simply to decry disorder. We must also strike at the unjust conditions from which disorder largely flows. For the second great American principle is that all shall have an equal chance to share in the blessings of our society.

“As I have said, time and time again, aimless violence finds fertile ground among men imprisoned by the shadowed walls of hatred, coming of age in the poverty of slums, facing their future without education or skills and with little hope of rewarding work.

“We must not only be relentless in condemning violence, but also in taking the necessary steps to prevent violence. We must not let anger drown understanding if domestic peace is ever to rest on its only sure foundation—the faith of all our people that they share, in opportunity and in obligation, the promise of American life.”

On this day in 1968, the President signed HR 15794, the Grain Standards Act which revised and modernized the Grain Standards Act of 1916.

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August 16th

On this day in 1967, President Johnson wrote a letter to the Senate Majority Leader urging enactment of legislation and funding of programs for cities. The President wrote,

I called together some of the most brilliant minds, the most talented planners, and the most experienced urban experts in the nation. After exhaustive study, they recommended to me a number of proposals that hold vast promise for the future of every city in this nation. Chief among these proposals was the Model Cities Program—the most coordinated, massive, and far-reaching attack on urban blight ever proposed to the Congress. This was not just a federal program. It was designed to stimulate local initiative in the private sector, and at the state, county and local level.

On this day in 1968, President Johnson gave an Executive Order for the Cooperative Area Manpower Planning System.

The Cooperative Area Manpower Planning System’s purpose was to improve the employability of disadvantaged, unemployed, and underemployed persons while closely coordinating the operating programs at the local, state, and Federal levels.

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August 17th

On this day in 1966, the Indian Ambassador delivered a letter from Mrs. Gandhi and discussed briefly India’s domestic political difficulties. The President assured the Ambassador he understood Mrs. Gandhi’s pre-election problems. He urged India to go more than half way in meeting Pakistan first and in opening talks in order to avoid an arms race and to concentrate on development.

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August 18th

On this day in 1964, President Johnson signed a bill extending the Hill-Burton Act. The President stated,

“We have many new hospitals today in cities that are large and small. But many of our most important hospitals are too old. The hospitals which serve more than two-thirds of our population in nearly 200 metropolitan areas are obsolete, are out of date, are desperately in need of modernization. This legislation that I am signing today will help us get started on that long overdue job.

“The Hill-Burton hospital construction program has been extended another 5 years, but Congress has also provided assistance for constructing mental health facilities, mental retardation facilities, the medical and dental schools that we need.

“And Congress has helped to meet our health manpower needs by a program to overcome our critical shortage of nurses, a program to train more graduate public health personnel, and by providing assistance to students attending medical and dental and nursing schools.

“We are supporting, as no nation on earth has ever supported, the strength of our medical profession. We are supporting them with modern facilities, with more and better trained manpower, and productive research in more and more fields. I believe that we are pursuing a sensible and yet a most responsible course.”

On this day in 1961, President Kennedy asked Vice President Johnson to visit West Germany and Berlin to reassure these countries of U.S. support in the immediate aftermath of Soviet construction of the Berlin Wall. Vice President Johnson’s trip to Berlin described the current efforts by East Germany to restrict travel to East Berlin and the Western reaction to these efforts.

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August 19th

On this day in 1964, President Johnson signed a bill creating the National Commission on Technology, Automation, and Economic Progress. The President stated,

“This legislation creating a National Commission on Technology, Automation, and Economic Progress will help us meet our responsibility.

“Technology is creating both new opportunities and new obligations for us—opportunity for greater productivity and progress—obligation to be sure that no working man, no family, must pay an unjust price for progress.

“Automation is not our enemy. Our enemies are ignorance, indifference, and inertia. Automation can be the ally of our prosperity if we will just look ahead, if we will understand what is to come, and if we will set our course wisely after proper planning for the future.

“That is the purpose of this commission. I hope and I expect that its work will benefit the workingman and benefit the businessman, and serve the interests of the farmer and the professionals and all of our people in America.

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August 20th

Signing of the Poverty Bill Signing of the Poverty Bill
credit: Cecil Stoughton

On this day in 1964, President Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act in the White House Rose Garden. The act established the Office of Economic Opportunity to direct and coordinate a variety of educational, employment, and training programs which were the foundation of President Johnson’s War on Poverty.

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August 21st

On this day in 1968, President Johnson called for the withdrawal of Soviet troops after their invasion of Czechoslovakia. The invasion stalled the Johnson Administration’s efforts to limit the spread of armaments and to mutually reduce troop strength in Europe.

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August 22nd

On this day in 1968, President Johnson awarded the Presidential Unit Citation to Company A, 1st Battalion and Company B, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry, USA.

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August 23rd

On this day in 1963, Vice President Johnson attended funeral services for Donald Agger (Abe Fortas’ brother-in-law) at Georgetown Presbyterian Church.

On this day in 1966, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass played at the White House.

On this day in 1967, President Johnson gave remarks to participants in the 12th Annual Program of the Council of International Programs for Youth Leaders and Social Workers. The group consisted of 170 delegates from 52 countries who came to the United States under the joint sponsorship of the Council and the Department of State to work for 4 months in social welfare and youth activities.

The President stated,

“This is much more than just an effort of good will. We believe that it is very definitely a program of good works. We believe this idea is bearing fruit in our country.”

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August 24th

On this day in 1965, President Johnson signed the Bill Extending the Peace Corps Act. The President said,

“And it is a great privilege for me to be here to sign this bill, and by doing so make it possible for a larger and a more successful Peace Corps of men and women who carry America, and who carry America’s dream of peace and well-being for all men, to the four corners of the globe. …”

On this day in 1966, President Johnson signed the Animal Welfare Bill. The President stated,

“Progress, particularly in science and medicine, does require the use of animals for research and this bill does not interfere with that. But science and research do not compel us to tolerate the kind of inhumanity which has been involved in the business of supplying stolen animals to laboratories or which is sometimes involved in the careless and callous handling of animals in some of our laboratories.”

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August 25th

On this day in 1965, President Johnson wrote a letter to the Speaker urging House action on the Immigration Bill. In his letter, the President wrote,

There is no piece of legislation before the Congress that in terms of decency and equity is more demanding of passage than the Immigration bill. Four Presidents have urged this kind of legislation. Four decades have been witness to this kind of need. Countless Americans with ties of family and heritage reaching beyond the seas have cried out for this kind of action.

Our present restrictions say that Italians, Greeks, Spaniards, all the Southern European countries in particular, are not as desirable as others. What a shameful declaration.

You and I, Mr. Speaker, and the great majority of the Congress know this is wrong. The vast majority of our fellow citizens know this is wrong. I hope the Congress will act speedily on the Immigration bill as reported by the House Committee, free of any crippling amendments.

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August 26th

On this day in 1964, President Johnson was nominated for President of the United States at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Hubert Humphrey was nominated for Vice President.

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August 27th

On this day in 1908, Lyndon Johnson was born on a farm near Stonewall, Texas.

On this day in 1964, President Johnson accepted the nomination as candidate for President of the United States at the Democratic National Convention. Hubert Humphrey accepted the Vice Presidential nomination.

On this day in 1966, Vice President and Mrs. Hubert Humphrey called the President to wish him happy birthday.

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August 28th

On this day in 1948, Lyndon Johnson campaigned for the U.S. Senate.

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August 29th

On this day in 1965, President Johnson gave remarks by telephone to Astronauts Cooper and Conrad following completion of the Gemini 5 Mission. The astronauts had landed in the North Atlantic that morning just 1.5 hours short of completing their original 121-orbit, 8-day mission. The President said,

“I do want to salute you both for the very calm and cool courage that you have shown throughout these last 8 days. In the face of disappointment and discouragement you have conducted yourselves nobly. You have certainly proved, I think, once and for all that man has a place in the exploration of the great frontier of space.”

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August 30th

On this day in 1964, President Johnson spoke in a filmed message to delegates of the Third International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy. The President stated,

“Today I invite all of you to join with us in this enterprise. As we move ahead we look to the International Atomic Energy Agency to play an ever larger role in these peaceful efforts. Already it has set standards for the care and for the keeping of nuclear materials. This achievement has raised our hopes for a workable system of world law on nuclear energy.

“For almost 20 years we have known the atom’s terror as a weapon of war. Today we begin to know its hope as a powerhouse of peace.

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August 31st

On this day in 1964, President Johnson signed the Food Stamp Act, establishing the Federal food stamp program to help poor families improve their diet. The President stated,

“I am proud to sign the Food Stamp Act of 1964 because it is a realistic and responsible step toward the fuller and wiser use of our agricultural abundance.

“I believe the Food Stamp Act weds the best of the humanitarian instincts of the American people with the best of the free enterprise system. Instead of establishing a duplicate public system to distribute food surplus to the needy, this act permits us to use our highly efficient commercial food distribution system.

“It is one of many sensible and needed steps we have taken to apply the power of America’s new abundance to the task of building a better life for every American.

“In 1961 President Kennedy’s first Executive order doubled the quantity and variety of foods to be distributed to the needy. Today nearly 6 million people enjoy a better share of our food abundance through this program and up to 15 different food items are now available.

“As a permanent program, the food stamp plan will be one of our most valuable weapons for the war on poverty.”