Remarks of President Johnson at the LBJ Library Dedication, May 22, 1971

Mr. President, we are delighted that you, the Vice President, the Members of Congress, and these distinguished guests have come here today.

We are all partners in this hopeful undertaking. The people of Texas built this library. The National Archives will manage the Library. The documents I have saved since the 1930s are being given, along with the documents of many others who served with me. Those documents contain millions and millions of words. But the two that best express my philosophy are the words, “Man can.”

I wish President Truman, the father of the Presidential Library System, could be here. He said he didn’t want his library to be a tribute to him. He wanted it to serve as a real center for learning about our government.

We are doing that here.

We have a School of Public Affairs offering training for careers in public service which will try to produce thinkers and doers: people who dream of progress and will try to turn those dreams into achievements.

The Library records reflect the Nation for 40 years—from the ’30s through the ’60s. They picture a sweep of history beginning with the depression and ending with the most prosperous era we have ever known. They record a drive for change and social reform unparalleled in its energy and scope—and a World War unmatched in its destruction. They chronicle the end of colonialism—and the beginning of the Cold War and the Atomic Age which still threaten mankind. They cover the time when liberty was challenged in Europe and Latin America and Asia—and record America’s response to those challenges.

It is all here: the story of our time—with the bark off.

A President sees things from a unique perspective. No one can share his responsibility. No one can share the scope of his duties or the burden of his decisions.

In my book, to be published this fall, I explain: “I have not written these chapters to say, ‘This is how it was,’ but to say, ‘This is how I saw it from my vantage point.’”

This Library does not say, “This is how I saw it,” but, “This is how the documents show it was.”

There is no record of a mistake, nothing critical, ugly, or unpleasant that is not included in the files here. We have papers from my 40 years of public service in one place, for friend and foe to judge, to approve or to disapprove.

I do not know how this period will be regarded in years to come. But that is not the point. This Library will show the facts … not just the joy and triumphs, but the sorrow and failures, too.

So, Mr. President, here are 31 million documents, to be preserved for the Nation—for all to review and evaluate—which reflect what man can do and cannot do in one life.

Remarks by President Johnson at the end of his prepared text:

And finally, on behalf of Lady Bird and myself, I want to tell you how much joy you give us for your presence here today. I look out into that sea of faces, and I see men that I have engaged with debate through the years—men and women who have followed us every mile of the long road. And it gives me nothing but the greatest satisfaction—one of the greatest of my life. Thank you very much.


Remarks of President Johnson at the LBJ Library Dedication, May 22, 1971. University of Texas Press Release, May 22, 1971, “5/22/71, Remarks by Lyndon B. Johnson at the LBJ Library Dedication,” Statements File, Box 300, LBJ Library.
Lbj On a fence Sepia

Friends of the LBJ Library

When you become a member of the Friends of the LBJ Library, you'll be making an important contribution to the library's mission -- and to our community. You will also get special access to events.