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    President Johnson's Speech on the Vietnam War, in Which He Announced He Would Not Run for Reelection, Inscribed and Signed to the Son of His Ambassador to South Vietnam

    Lyndon B. Johnson Signed and Inscribed Speech Historically Important Lyndon B. Johnson Speech inscribed and signed "To John M. Taylor/with the pleasure of/Lyndon B. Johnson" probably as President. State Department pamphlet A New Step Toward Peace (U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, 1968), 20 pages, 6" x 9". Bound in red grain boards with marbled endpapers and "President Lyndon B. Johnson / Address of March 31, 1968" in gilt lettering on the cover. The 3" x 3.75" bookplate of John Maxwell Taylor, son of General Maxwell Taylor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1962-1964) and LBJ's Ambassador to South Vietnam (1964-1965), is affixed inside the front cover. In this speech to the Nation, televised on Sunday evening, March 31, 1968 at 9 PM from the Oval Office, President Johnson announced that he had just ordered major reductions in the bombing of North Vietnam, that he was requesting peace talks, and that he would not run for reelection. Lady Bird Johnson wrote about that day in her diary. "I think what was uppermost," she penned, "- what was going over and over in Lyndon's mind - was what I've heard him say increasingly these last months: 'I do not believe I can unite this country.'" That afternoon he told her he had decided not to run for reelection. He read that day the speech President Truman had delivered 16 years earlier when he announced he was not running for reelection. Johnson and Truman had both succeeded to the presidency upon the death of a popular Chief Executive. Each had won election to a full four year term and were involved in a war in Southeast Asia, Truman in Korea, Johnson in Vietnam. Lady Bird had read her husband's address and insisted he add a five word phrase towards the end of his speech. She wrote in her diary, "Lyndon, very quiet, sat at his desk. The lines in his face were deep, but there was a marvelous sort of repose over-all. And the seconds ticked away. I went to him and said quietly, 'Remember - pacing and drama.' It was a great speech and I wanted him to get the greatest out of it - and I did not know what the end would be. The speech was magnificently delivered. He's best, I think, in the worst of times, calm and strong - those who love him must have loved him more. And those who hate him must at least have thought: 'Here is a man.' Then came the end of the speech. 'What we won when all of our people united just must not now be lost in suspicion, distrust, selfishness, and politics among any of our people. Believing this as I do, I have concluded that I should not permit the Presidency to become involved in the partisan divisions that are developing in this political year...I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office - the Presidency of your country. Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.'" The five word phrase added by Lady Bird: "and I will not accept." Lady Bird concluded her March 31st entry in her diary, "At last the decision had been irrevocably stated, and as well as any human can, we knew our future! Lyndon's speech had been, I believe, nobly done, and in its way almost as dramatic as our entrance to this job - although the actual exit is still nine months away, if the Lord lets us live. And to these nine months I'm going to bring the best I possibly can. I went to sleep planning." The pamphlet, bound by John M. Taylor for his collection, is in mint condition. As President Johnson died just four years after he left the White House and had secretaries who were authorized to inscribe and sign his name, as well as the Autopen, books authentically signed by Lyndon B. Johnson are extremely rare. This speech on the Vietnam War, inscribed by Johnson to the son of the Four-Star General who served as his Ambassador to South Vietnam, is especially desirable and would be a significant addition to a presidential collection.

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    Auction Dates
    February, 2008
    21st-22nd Thursday-Friday
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