Here is the video clip of Johnson's inaugural address.
Scroll down for the text transcript.
It follows the full text transcript of
Lyndon B. Johnson's Inaugural Address, delivered
on the East Portico, U.S. Capitol, at Washington D.C. -
January 20, 1965.
countrymen, on this occasion, the oath I have
taken before you and before God is not mine
alone, but ours together.
We are one nation
and one people. Our fate as a nation and our
future as a people rest not upon one citizen,
but upon all citizens.
This is the majesty and the meaning of this
For every generation, there is a destiny. For
some, history decides. For this generation, the
choice must be our own.
Even now, a rocket moves toward Mars. It reminds
us that the world will not be the same for our
children, or even for ourselves m a short span
of years. The next man to stand here will look
out on a scene different from our own, because
ours is a time of change-- rapid and fantastic
change bearing the secrets of nature,
multiplying the nations, placing in uncertain
hands new weapons for mastery and destruction,
shaking old values, and uprooting old ways.
Our destiny in the midst of change will rest on
the unchanged character of our people, and on
THE AMERICAN COVENANT
They came here--the exile and the stranger,
brave but frightened-- to find a place where a
man could be his own man. They made a covenant
with this land. Conceived in justice, written in
liberty, bound in union, it was meant one day to
inspire the hopes of all mankind; and it binds
us still. If we keep its terms, we shall
JUSTICE AND CHANGE
First, justice was the promise that all who made
the journey would share in the fruits of the
In a land of great wealth, families must not
live in hopeless poverty. In a land rich in
harvest, children just must not go hungry. In a
land of healing miracles, neighbors must not
suffer and die unattended. In a great land of
learning and scholars, young people must be
taught to read and write.
For the more than 30 years that I have served
this Nation, I have believed that this injustice
to our people, this waste of our resources, was
our real enemy. For 30 years or more, with the
resources I have had, I have vigilantly fought
against it. I have learned, and I know, that it
will not surrender easily.
But change has given us new weapons. Before this
generation of Americans is finished, this enemy
will not only retreat--it will be conquered.
Justice requires us to remember that when any
citizen denies his fellow, saying, "His color is
not mine," or "His beliefs are strange and
different," in that moment he betrays America,
though his forebears created this Nation.
LIBERTY AND CHANGE
Liberty was the second article of our covenant.
It was self- government. It was our Bill of
Rights. But it was more. America would be a
place where each man could be proud to be
himself: stretching his talents, rejoicing in
his work, important in the life of his neighbors
and his nation.
This has become more difficult in a world where
change and growth seem to tower beyond the
control and even the judgment of men. We must
work to provide the knowledge and the
surroundings which can enlarge the possibilities
of every citizen.
The American covenant called on us to help show
the way for the liberation of man. And that is
today our goal. Thus, if as a nation there is
much outside our control, as a people no
stranger is outside our hope.
Change has brought new meaning to that old
mission. We can never again stand aside,
prideful in isolation. Terrific dangers and
troubles that we once called "foreign" now
constantly live among us. If American lives must
end, and American treasure be spilled, in
countries we barely know, that is the price that
change has demanded of conviction and of our
Think of our world as it looks from the rocket
that is heading toward Mars. It is like a
child's globe, hanging in space, the continents
stuck to its side like colored maps. We are all
fellow passengers on a dot of earth. And each of
us, in the span of time, has really only a
moment among our companions.
How incredible it is that in this fragile
existence, we should hate and destroy one
another. There are possibilities enough for all
who will abandon mastery over others to pursue
mastery over nature. There is world enough for
all to seek their happiness in their own way.
Our Nation's course is abundantly clear. We
aspire to nothing that belongs to others. We
seek no dominion over our fellow man. but man's
dominion over tyranny and misery.
But more is required. Men want to be a part of a
common enterprise--a cause greater than
themselves. Each of us must find a way to
advance the purpose of the Nation, thus finding
new purpose for ourselves. Without this, we
shall become a nation of strangers.
UNION AND CHANGE
The third article was union. To those who were
small and few against the wilderness, the
success of liberty demanded the strength of
union. Two centuries of change have made this
No longer need capitalist and worker, farmer and
clerk, city and countryside, struggle to divide
our bounty. By working shoulder to shoulder,
together we can increase the bounty of all. We
have discovered that every child who learns,
every man who finds work, every sick body that
is made whole--like a candle added to an
altar--brightens the hope of all the faithful.
So let us reject any among us who seek to reopen
old wounds and to rekindle old hatreds. They
stand in the way of a seeking nation.
Let us now join reason to faith and action to
experience, to transform our unity of interest
into a unity of purpose. For the hour and the
day and the time are here to achieve progress
without strife, to achieve change without
hatred--not without difference of opinion, but
without the deep and abiding divisions which
scar the union for generations.
THE AMERICAN BELIEF
Under this covenant of justice, liberty, and
union we have become a nation--prosperous,
great, and mighty. And we have kept our freedom.
But we have no promise from God that our
greatness will endure. We have been allowed by
Him to seek greatness with the sweat of our
hands and the strength of our spirit.
I do not believe that the Great Society is the
ordered, changeless, and sterile battalion of
the ants. It is the excitement of
becoming--always becoming, trying, probing,
falling, resting, and trying again--but always
trying and always gaining.
In each generation, with toil and tears, we have
had to earn our heritage again.
If we fail now, we shall have forgotten in
abundance what we learned in hardship: that
democracy rests on faith, that freedom asks more
than it gives, and that the judgment of God is
harshest on those who are most favored.
If we succeed, it will not be because of what we
have, but it will be because of what we are; not
because of what we own, but, rather because of
what we believe.
For we are a nation of believers. Underneath the
clamor of building and the rush of our day's
pursuits, we are believers in justice and
liberty and union, and in our own Union. We
believe that every man must someday be free. And
we believe in ourselves.
Our enemies have always made the same mistake.
In my lifetime--in depression and in war--they
have awaited our defeat. Each time, from the
secret places of the American heart, came forth
the faith they could not see or that they could
not even imagine. It brought us victory. And it
For this is what America is all about. It is the
uncrossed desert and the unclimbed ridge. It is
the star that is not reached and the harvest
sleeping in the unplowed ground. Is our world
gone? We say "Farewell." Is a new world coming?
We welcome it--and we will bend it to the hopes
To these trusted public servants and to my
family and those close friends of mine who have
followed me down a long, winding road, and to
all the people of this Union and the world, I
will repeat today what I said on that sorrowful
day in November 1963: "I will lead and I will do
the best I can."
But you must look within your own hearts to the
old promises and to the old dream. They will
lead you best of all.
For myself, I ask only, in the words of an
ancient leader: "Give me now wisdom and
knowledge, that I may go out and come in before
this people: for who can judge this thy people,
that is so great?"