The Presidential Recordings: Lyndon B. Johnson

An excerpt from Volume 8.

May 2011By Comments

Tuesday, June 23, 1964

They’ve just disappeared from the face of the earth.
—Lee White to President Johnson

They can’t disappear forever, can they?
—John McCormack to President Johnson

James Earl Chaney was 21 years old. Michael Henry “Mickey” Schwerner was 24. Andrew Goodman was 20. Chaney was a black Mississippian. Schwerner was a white New Yorker. Both men were seasoned activists with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Meridian, Mississippi, a small city near the Alabama border. Goodman was a white volunteer from New York on his first trip to the Magnolia State, one of approximately 800 mostly white, mostly northern students coming down to assist in voter education, freedom schools, and other organizing activities as part of Freedom Summer. Mississippi officials referred to the situation as the “Invasion of Mississippi by Northern College Students.”[1] Adding to the wariness of many white Mississippians, Schwerner and Goodman—and many of the student volunteers—were Jewish. On June 21, two days after the Senate passed the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964, these three men kicked off Freedom Summer by investigating a church-burning in the Neshoba County community of Longdale. They expected to be back in Meridian by 4:00 p.m. (cst).[2] At approximately 3:30 p.m. (cst), however, they were arrested for allegedly going 65 miles per hour in a 30-mph zone and went to jail in nearby Philadelphia.[3]

A few hours before that incident, on the West Coast, President Johnson concluded a carefully orchestrated political trip to California, with the ending slightly tarnished by a hotel scheduling conflict that forced the relocation of 13-year-old Lyle Peskin’s Bar Mitzvah. Johnson took the opportunity, however, to shake the boy’s hand and greet his family as he left for the airport. President Johnson arrived back at the White House a little before 6:00 p.m. (edt) and then shared dinner and a late-evening swim with Lady Bird, journalist William S. White, and two key White House aides.[4] While he relaxed in the nation’s capital, tragic events were unfolding in the rural South. The Mississippi midnight would lead to the first major domestic crisis of his presidency. Like Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy before him, Johnson would be forced to redefine federal-local relations in the United States.[5] How would the federal government respond to the failure of local officials to provide equal protection of the laws and to adequately maintain law and order?[6]

On this fateful night, President Johnson turned in at 11:15 p.m. About 45 minutes later in eastern Mississippi, the three civil rights activists paid a $20 bond for Chaney on the speeding charge and were released from the Neshoba County Jail. Escorted out of town by Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price and a Philadelphia patrolman around 12:30 a.m. (edt), Chaney directed their 1963 Ford Fairlane station wagon along state Highway 19 toward Meridian. Within minutes, Price reappeared behind them, this time with a carload of violent white extremists at his rear. In an apparent attempt to outmaneuver Price, Chaney veered onto another road, Highway 492. Price soon turned on his flashing lights, and Chaney pulled over. The deputy transferred the activists to his cruiser and motored back to Highway 19. Not far ahead, he and the caravan made a left onto a dirt lane known as Rock Cut Road. Here, according to the FBI interviews of two conspirators, the gang that had followed behind Price took Schwerner, then Goodman, and then Chaney out of Price’s car and shot them to death at close range. A few men placed the bodies back into the activists’ Ford station wagon, with FBI witness Doyle Barnette claiming that his contribution was merely wedging Chaney’s lifeless foot into the vehicle. The men buried them six miles southwest of Philadelphia in a new earthen dam at the Old Jolly Farm, a piece of property owned by a truck driver and entrepreneur.[7] Over the next six weeks, their disappearance became the central focus of the FBI’s “Miburn” investigation, the shortened name for a case better known as “Mississippi Burning.”

That same night in Williamsburg, Virginia, Prime Minister IË™smet IË™nönü of Turkey settled into the first night of his first visit to the United States since John Kennedy’s assassination. IË™nönü was in political turmoil at home and had flown to the United States to enlist Washington’s support for his efforts to protect Turks on the Greek-dominated island in the Mediterranean.[8] In Massachusetts, 32-year-old Senator Edward Kennedy lay immobilized in a hospital room, confined to a Stryker spinal support machine after a tragic airplane crash on June 20. In response to this latest family tragedy, Robert Kennedy was debating whether to abandon his own plans to run for the U.S. Senate in New York. Half a world away, the U.S. presence in Saigon was undergoing two major changes. Outgoing U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge was handing off his diplomatic duties to Maxwell Taylor, who would leave his position as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Feeling the pull of the Republican Party in an election year, Lodge had decided to return to the United States to assist Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton’s recently announced bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Meanwhile, General William Westmoreland was in the second day of his almost four-year command of U.S. military operations in Vietnam, taking over the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), from General Paul Harkins.

It is not clear when Lyndon Johnson first heard about the missing civil rights activists, but news of their disappearance began moving slowly toward the White House when Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman failed to check in promptly with fellow activists on the night of June 21.[9] Around 7:30 p.m. (edt), staffers of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO)—a coalition of civil rights organizations in Mississippi that had been the principal organizer of Freedom Summer—started making calls to local jails, including the one actually holding their colleagues. None of them proved fruitful, however.[10] At midnight (edt) on June 22, according to a detailed chronology compiled by COFO workers, COFO reported Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman as missing to FBI Special Agent H. F. Helgesen in Jackson, Mississippi. Thirty minutes later, a similar call went to Frank Schwelb, a Justice Department attorney with the Civil Rights Division who was in Meridian. At 1:00 a.m., John Doar, the administration’s key liaison in several southern civil rights incidents and an assistant to Assistant Attorney General Burke Marshall, first received word of the disappearance from the Atlanta office of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), followed up by more contact early in the morning. At 8:00 a.m., he announced to SNCC, one of the chief components of COFO, that he had “invested the FBI with the power to look into this matter.” Fifty-five minutes later, the Jackson COFO office reached the Philadelphia jail and were told that the men had been let go after supper at 8:00 p.m. (edt), a time frame that the Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey affirmed.[11] Rainey also claimed to have been caring for his hospitalized wife the night before and had known nothing about the disappearance until reporters called him early this morning.[12]

Communications intensified just before noon. At the White House just before noon, Associate Counsel Lee White received a request for an expanded investigation from CORE National Director James Farmer. A few minutes later, Doar took a brief break to receive the Distinguished Federal Civilian Service Award from President Johnson in a Flower Garden ceremony.[13] He and White remained busy with calls on the matter through the afternoon. At 7:20 p.m., some progress had occurred at the local level in Mississippi; Doar announced that the Mississippi Highway Patrol issued an all-points bulletin for Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner. By 8:00 p.m., Lee White claimed that a “full scale search was on.”[14] By 11:30 p.m., the FBI had four agents in Neshoba County, all of them from the New Orleans office, with the United Press International news service soon reporting their arrival. The FBI’s top inspector, Joseph Sullivan, arrived about the same time, making his way down from Memphis. The next morning, June 23, COFO’s Meridian office notified its headquarters that two FBI agents had come around and that Mickey Schwerner’s father was set to meet with White House Counsel Lee White.[15]

While communications flowed back and forth between COFO, CORE, Lee White, and the Justice Department on June 22, President Johnson seemed to remain insulated from events in the Magnolia State. Dominating his schedule was the visit of Prime Minister IË™nönü and other ceremonial duties, including a fete celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birthday. The major issues beyond the Turk-Greek tension were the decision to send Maxwell Taylor to Saigon, some federal appointments issues, the Medicare bill, and the timing of Johnson’s anticipated signing of the Civil Rights Act.[16]

On June 23, almost a dozen other pressing matters divided Johnson’s attention. The President found that he had to address squabbles in the Democratic Party ranks at the state level and fleshed out the agenda for the Democratic National Convention. Worried about both the fall election and southern racial violence, he also held several discussions about potential appointees to head the civil rights compliance agency known as the Community Relations Service. Concerned that Democrats might force Robert Kennedy onto him as a running mate, Johnson asked presidential confidant Clark Clifford and Democratic National Committee liaison Clifton Carter to gauge Robert Kennedy’s political strength, especially in California, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Johnson also took time to donate a swath of federal land to the state of New Jersey for a recreational park and conferred with Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon about debt-limit legislation and congressional support for an excise tax amendment. Over the next ten days, Johnson spent much time in pitched struggles with Republicans and conservative Democrats on things such as foreign aid, mass transit, and the War on Poverty. In all, he was closely tracking 31 pieces of pending legislation with his typically meticulous eye for detail and mastery of the legislative process.[17] In foreign policy matters on this day, he continued to focus on Cyprus while also assessing ambassadorial candidates, touching base with Defense Secretary McNamara about defense appropriations and reconnaissance flights over Laos and ruminating over the direction of policy in Vietnam. In a blending of foreign and domestic policy battles, Johnson stood tough in a long-term struggle against conservatives who opposed foreign aid spending.

Toward the end of this day, he would ensure that pork barrel rewards went to Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, the key Republican convert to the Civil Rights Act, while also haggling with the senator over excise taxes. To do so, the President personally lobbied an Army Corps of Engineers bureaucrat to check up on one of Dirksen’s favored projects. Johnson’s skills as a master legislator would be secondary today, however. A series of calls about Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman dominated his agenda by the early afternoon, as he considered ways to intensify the investigation and to respond to anxious parents of children presumed to be dead.

8:45 a.m.: President Johnson began this Tuesday with his traditional sit-down breakfast with Democratic leaders from Capitol Hill.[18]

10:10 a.m.: Walked the group to the Oval Office, stopping briefly in the hall to take a picture with New Orleans Congressman Hale Boggs and Orleans Parish (Louisiana) District Attorney Jim Garrison, a man who would later gain national prominence as a driven investigator of the Kennedy assassination.

10:20 a.m.: Prepared for a morning press conference regarding Maxwell Taylor’s appointment as U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam. Attending the prep session were White House aides and advisers from the National Security Council, State Department, and Defense Department.

11:00 a.m.: Returned to the Oval Office with National Security Special Assistant McGeorge Bundy and close aide Jack Valenti. Johnson conferred with Press Secretary George Reedy before the press conference began.

11:01 a.m.

from George Reedy[19]

McGeorge Bundy: . . . This is one that I put him up to.

Marie Fehmer interrupts to report that Reedy is on the line.

George Reedy: . . . set, Mr. President, should I bring them [the reporters] in?

President Johnson: Well, let me see.

[to Bundy] Mac, are we ready to go?

Bundy: Yes, we are.

President Johnson: Give me my stuff there, then.

[to Reedy] OK.

Reedy: OK.

11:02 a.m.: President Johnson made an unrecorded call on his personal line to Jack Valenti (Valenti had gone to his nearby office).

11:04 a.m.—11:30 a.m.: Welcomed reporters to the Oval Office for an unannounced press conference.

Most of the questions at the press conference dealt with Vietnam, but toward the end, Johnson answered one about the missing civil rights activists from James “Scotty” Reston, the New York Times columnist and Washington bureau chief. The President asserted that he had ordered the FBI to “spare no effort” and that he had made requests for additional personnel several weeks earlier.[20]

Several times later in the day, Johnson would reiterate his claim that he had already requested a larger federal presence in Mississippi in anticipation of Freedom Summer. Although many found that claim unconvincing because that new federal presence was hard to find, Johnson offered a subtle explanation to Lee White and to the Speaker of the House: Most of the “FBI men” he had ordered were supposed to be there as undercover “informers” and infiltrators.[21] Johnson’s claims remain a point of contention among historians, but there is additional evidence that at least one week before the Freedom Summer disappearances, he had asked Lee White to outline the legal and bureaucratic options available to the White House for a response to the “highly explosive situation.”[22]

With the signing of the Civil Rights Act imminent, the Johnson administration had made serious efforts to try to limit white violence all over the South. In the previous week alone, Johnson and his advisers had pressured local officials to curtail brutal white attacks on blacks in St. Augustine, Florida. The potential for violence in Mississippi, however, dwarfed that of the Sunshine State. Over the past decade, the murders of Emmett Till, George Lee, Mack Charles Parker, Herbert Lee, and Medgar Evers—for which there had been no convictions—had been front-page news and were still well known to the Justice Department. In the past two years, activists in the federally supported Voter Education Project there had endured severe persecution and attacks. In the previous four months alone, Attorney General Robert Kennedy had identified 40 “instances of Klan-type activity or police brutality” in Mississippi. He was so concerned about the increase in “acts of terrorism” that he recently sent Assistant Attorney General Burke Marshall there on a fact-finding mission. Based on Marshall’s findings, Kennedy suggested that the President have the FBI produce a detailed report on the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups before the end of June.[23]

For the Freedom Summer activists, though, the official word from the administration was that the federal government could guarantee them no protection, a message John Doar personally delivered to them. This information—and other internal Freedom Summer happenings—was quickly filtered to Mississippi officials through an informant in the group working for the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, the state-sponsored antisubversive, anti—civil rights intelligence-gathering organization.[24]

11:35 a.m.—11:49 a.m.: Off-the-record talk with Reston in the lounge. President Johnson also arranged for flowers to go to the son of Hubert Humphrey, who had recently had a cancerous tumor removed from his neck.

11:49 a.m.: On his way back to the Oval Office, stopped to chat with Lee White, who was in Special Assistant Kenny O’Donnell’s office.

White later recollected that he took this opportunity to tell Johnson that the parents of Schwerner and Goodman had requested a face-to-face meeting with the President and recommended that he comply. Only days earlier, White had marveled to President Johnson how “nearly incredible” it was that “those people who are voluntarily sticking their head into the lion’s mouth would ask for somebody to come down and shoot the lion.”[25] The disappearance of the three young men, though, had helped shift his thinking. Johnson responded by turning his attention to Jack Valenti and berating him for having his feet on his desk and talking on the telephone too much.[26] The politics of granting this request remained the major issue for the rest of the afternoon. With the considerable exception of Robert Kennedy, most of Johnson’s advisers recommended that he avoid such encounters.

11:54 a.m.: Before leaving for a noon-hour speech, met with Nevada Governor Grant Sawyer, the chairman of the National Governor’s Conference. The governor delivered a report from the conference, offered his endorsement of Johnson for the fall election, and discussed Democratic Party matters.

12:02 p.m.: Left for Constitution Hall to speak to the Occupational Safety Conference, where he was met by Labor Secretary Willard Wirtz and Labor Assistant Secretary Esther Peterson.[27]

12:25 p.m.: Returned to the Oval Office.

12:30 p.m.: Called Walter Jenkins.

At some point, the Dictabelt recorder picked up the following fragment of a conversation about returning a call to CORE’s national director, James Farmer. The secretary is most likely Juanita Roberts.

Time Unknown

With White House Secretary[28]

President Johnson: . . . Something like that. You oughtn’t to—quit dealing in these murder cases. Because I—you make me call him back.

White House Secretary: Yes, sir.

12:35 p.m.

to Lee White[29]

The first lengthy civil rights—related recording of the day focused on the issues raised at the press conference and the disappearance of the three activists. Johnson and White discussed how to respond to a request for a meeting by James Farmer and how to approach the Mississippi issue with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which was then holding its annual meeting three blocks behind the White House at the Statler Hilton Hotel.

President Johnson: I asked [FBI Director J. Edgar] Hoover last . . . two weeks ago after talking to the Attorney General [Robert Kennedy] to fill up Mississippi with FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] men and infiltrate everything he could; that they haul them in by the dozens; that I’ve asked him to put more men after these three kids; that he hauled them in last night.

Lee White: Right.

President Johnson: That I’ve asked him for another report today; that I’m shoving it as much as I know how; that I didn’t ask them to go, and I can’t control the actions of Mississippi people. The only weapon I have for locating them is the FBI. I haven’t got any state police or any constables, and the FBI is better than marshals, and I’ve got all of them I’ve got looking after them. I can’t find them myself. That I think it’s pretty dangerous that they’ll overrun the White House. Because anybody that wants a conference with the President, all they’ve got to do is send his kid to Mississippi and then demand a conference with the President. And I think that’s [an] awfully bad precedent for the President, to be seeing individual groups. I just think that . . . Every damn woman that gets indicted will be wanting to see him. Or everybody that gets arrested will be wanting to see him. And no telling where we’ll ever stop it. Congressmen will get to come in, get their picture made coming in and out of the White House. And it’ll just be hell.[30] But tell him [James Farmer] that we’re doing everything we know how to do with the FBI and see if he’s got any other constructive suggestion.

White: OK.

President Johnson: And then tell him if . . . you . . . I’ve got a luncheon on. Tell him the Prime Minister of Turkey [IË™smet IË™nönü] is here, and I’ve got lots of problems, but if he [James Farmer] needs to talk to me after you’ve talked to him, that you’ll get me to call him if you . . .

White: All right.

President Johnson: . . . if you can, and ask him—find out what I want to say to him because I want to be awful careful what I say to this fellow.

White: I agree. He seems fairly responsible, but it’s murder dealing with these people on the telephone. But I’ve got the message, and I’ll call him right away.

President Johnson: Here’s what he said to [White House secretary] Juanita [Roberts]: “I want to express personally to the President my concern about the disappearance of the three people in Mississippi. Familiar with the case?” Juanita: “Yes.” “Two of them are our staff members, and I’m on my way down to Mississippi now to look at the situation personally. I’d hoped to be able to chat with the President about it.”

White: Mm-hmm.

President Johnson: Juanita: “Yes, he’s left a meeting to go to Constitution Hall to address the safety group [President’s Conference on Occupational Safety]. How long would you be available?” See, she’s trying to promote a meeting with us because she’s dumb. “Well, I’ll be here in my office until 2:00. That number is Columbia 7-6270.” Juanita: “He’s got an awful tight schedule. I want to get in touch with him, tell him of your call.” [James] Farmer: “Well, I’ll appreciate it, and I’ll be here until 2:30. Thank you very much.”

White: All right, I’ll call him right away.

President Johnson: Tell him Mrs. Roberts has just called you and asked you to get in touch with him. You’re trying to convey his message to the President, and what is it he wants to convey, and what have we done, and tell him these parents are wanting to see you and that we have made an appointment for him with the FBI and with [Burke] Marshall, who can do something about it.[31]

White: Right.

President Johnson: And that I’ve given them already a standing order to stay on it day and night. Now, have you . . .

What do they think happened? Think they got killed?

White: Uhh . . . This morning they had absolutely no trace. There’s no sign of the automobile. They have found nobody who’s seen the car or the three people.

So as far as they’re concerned, they’ve just disappeared from the face of the earth.

President Johnson: Now, you’re waiting to reply—

White: This means murder, as they see it.

President Johnson: You’re waiting to reply to [William] Ryan and [Ogden] Reid?[32]

White: They’ll probably be calling me as . . . about 1:30 . . .

President Johnson: When do they have appointments with the Justice Department and the FBI?

White: Sometime in the order of between 2 [p.m.] and 3 [p.m.], depending upon when the plane gets in, and we’ve, you know, agreed to be as responsive as Burke Marshall’s schedule will permit, and he’s—probably in the order . . . sometime around 2:30.

President Johnson: All right. Tell them after they get through there, if they still want to talk to me about anything to call you.

White: All right.

President Johnson: Tell them I’m not in the office, and I’m off making a speech and attending a luncheon.

White: OK.

President Johnson: And that you’ll be glad to see them, or if there’s anything you can do, but that all the power’s over with Burke Marshall and the FBI, and that’s who they ought to be talking to. And it’ll set a bad example if they all start coming here because the White House will be overrun with everybody who wants to get their picture made with the President.

White: All right, and—

President Johnson: The other thing: I think we ought to be pretty careful to tell them that we don’t see people who tell the newspaper before they get an appointment.

White: Yeah, well, that’s—

President Johnson: We’ve had a rule against that for years, seeing people who get in the newspaper before they get an appointment.

White: That really does rankle.[33]

President Johnson: Now, what . . . what shape are we in with Roy Wilkins?[34]

White: Roy’s hope is that either he could bring—no announcement was made last night, by the way. They . . . they said OK, no announcement. Roy did not call me. He was supposed to call me this morning, and I assume he’s been tied up in his own meeting, but his assistant, a fellow by the name of [John] Morsell, did. And he said that, you know, if Roy can bring his whole [NAACP executive] board of 30 members, fine . . .[35]

President Johnson: That’s good.

White: If he can’t bring them, why, you know—

President Johnson: [Unclear] that’s good. Tell him that’d be very good. I’d like to meet them, and we’ll meet them in the Cabinet Room.

White: He says that they are Roy’s employer, basically, that he’s execu­tive director, and . . .

President Johnson: That’s fine. Well, I’d be glad to—

White: Makes sense.

President Johnson: I’d be glad to meet them, and tell him I want to tell them I think he’s one of the most valuable citizens in this country, and I’ll tell them that, my judgment.

White: I think that’s wonderful.

President Johnson: And just tell him I’m anxious to meet with them. I want to help the cause, though, and to keep out of the newspapers. Just come on over, and we’ll have a meeting like we did with [John] Kennedy on civil rights.[36]

White: Would you believe it desirable to send a little formal message to their meeting so it would be incorporated into their minutes of their convention?

President Johnson: I don’t think so. I think the best thing to do is meet with them here.

White: OK.

President Johnson: Talk to them, and . . . Where is the best way to get them in without getting the press?

White: We can bus them in and bring them in through the Southwest Gate. There’s enough of them that it’ll warrant taking one bus, and—

President Johnson: Bring them in the Southwest Gate and take them to the Cabinet Room.

White: Yeah. And that’s set for tomorrow at 5:30 [p.m.].

President Johnson: [Unclear] talk to him, and you tell him that let’s keep out of the newspapers so we won’t have every one of these groups coming in. Tell him every labor union comes [to Washington, D.C.] to have a convention, every bankers association, every one of them want to have a meeting with the President.

White: They sure do.

President Johnson: I’m meeting with them, but I’m keeping it off the record. Tell them there’s 1,700 of them here.

White: That’s right: They’ve got a big gang. There’s no question about it—

President Johnson: I know all the labor unions want to meet with me, and I’ve told them that I have to meet with the boards, but keep it out of the papers.

White: Fair enough, and they were extremely understanding and cooperative last night when I said that, you know, there wasn’t any reason that we could see to announce an off-the-record meeting. It didn’t help anything; it only added to the number of requests and the burdens, and they said no strain at all, they’re glad to do it.

The high spot of Wilkins’s speech last night was his statement about all of the . . . his people he’s sure would remember Senator [Barry] Goldwater with a special vengeance, and apparently that stopped the whole [NAACP] convention right there.[37]

President Johnson: OK.

White: All right, sir.

President Johnson: You let me know, now, what we have to do about these other folks. I think I’ll call the Speaker [John McCormack] and see if he can’t talk to Ryan and Reid and ask them if they want to start the President’s interviewing all these parents. I think that’s pretty bad to see—

White: I’d say that this guy Ryan is a tough cookie to deal with. He was really unreasonable, and I’m not sure you’ve read it yet, but a memo to the files: He called at midnight last night to tell me that there were three kids missing in Mississippi and what were we doing about it.[38] And . . .

President Johnson: When did we have the FBI in there, yesterday afternoon?

White: Well, it really started yesterday morning about 11:30.

President Johnson: After the kids?

White: After the kids, yeah.

President Johnson: How many did they move in?

White: They began moving yesterday afternoon and moved in all night the extra people, but the people on the scene started at sometime around 11:30 [a.m.] or 12 [p.m.] yesterday.

President Johnson: Find out from Burke Marshall how many they got in, in response to my request the other day and how many they sent in yesterday.

White: All right, and what they have also arranged is to use the facilities and the equipment of the [Meridian] naval air base nearby.[39] They’ve got helicopters, and these are made available to the FBI for scouring the countryside. We’ve got quite a few things to report in the way of constructive action.

President Johnson: All right, tell Farmer what you’ve done and make a list of those things for me.

White: All right, sir.

President Johnson: OK.

White: Yes, sir.

12:40 p.m.

from George Reedy[40]

Since taking office, President Johnson had demonstrated frequent sensitivity to any criticism from the White House press corps and had taken an active role in responding to them. In this conversation, Johnson defended his handling of the morning’s sessions.

President Johnson: Yeah?

George Reedy: Mr. President?

President Johnson: Yeah.

Reedy: I have a request whether you would do the [Henry Cabot] Lodge statement for film.

President Johnson: Yeah.

Reedy: You would, sir?

President Johnson: Yeah.

Reedy: OK, sir, about when?

President Johnson: Just put it on the tele[prompter] . . . put it on the teleprompter, [the] letter, the whole outfit. Yeah, I’ll do it anytime you get it ready. Get it ready by teleprompter, right quick.

Reedy: OK, and how about the Southeast Asian policy statement too?

President Johnson: If they want it, yeah.

Reedy: OK, sir.

President Johnson: But put in there a little bit different. Just say, “I have repeatedly stated our policy in Southeast Asia, as I . . . as General [Dwight] Eisenhower—as President Eisenhower did ten years ago. The policy has not changed. I repeat it again.”

Reedy: Right. You bet.

President Johnson: [to someone in the office] OK. That’s fine.

[to Reedy] Put that on [the] teleprompter right quick.

Reedy: Right.

President Johnson: Any other news?

Reedy: No, sir, I sent you in a list with all of the names on it who asked the questions, and . . .

President Johnson: All right. Now you be sure that you and [Mac] Kilduff get out [that] they had 19 questions.[41] And [if] any of them ask you anytime about a press conference, just say, “Now, when he has anything that justifies announcing, when he calls one and doesn’t, y’all criticize him and say that it’s not presidential caliber. Now, he doesn’t want to dodge a question. If you’ve got any you want to ask him, I’ll submit it right now. Get it for you in two minutes.”

Reedy: Right.

President Johnson: “But until he has some announcement, he doesn’t want to take your time. He doesn’t mind taking his, but he doesn’t want to just be calling, because you’ll go out and write a story that he issued a bunch of announcements that the bureaus would normally issue.” Just say, “We had a good deal of economic stuff this morning that he wanted to give. It’s very significant. It’s very important. But he didn’t give it because he doesn’t want you raising hell about . . .”

And I don’t care: I’ll give it to them fast or slow. I give it to them fast so that they won’t say I used all the time, and they can have more questions, but when I do that, then they want me to go slow, so I went slow this morning. But they don’t know what they want. And if they’ll just tell me, I guess the thing—the rule now will be give them all opening statements real slow on the advice, the request, of Helen Thomas.[42] And let’s let them know that we’re going to go slow enough with them because . . . and they always refer to our press conferences as quickies. Well, we . . . when we have an announcement, we make it.

We consider that a compliment, but they ought to quit acting like they’re children. I don’t know why we ought to give them a day notice to think up a question. They’re supposed to be intelligent. They expect me to answer it on the spur of the moment, they ought to be able to ask it. Besides, they can accumulate their questions and put them in their ass pocket and write on them if they want to, accumulate them so when I do call on them, they’re prepared. But there’s no reason why I ought to give them a day’s notice because I don’t know a day ahead of time. Do they want me to delay the Lodge thing a day, or do they want me to give it to them when I got it?

Reedy: Well, this—

President Johnson: Both UP[I] [United Press International] and AP [Associated Press] spend a lot of time talking about the quickies, but I don’t know why they don’t want it as soon as I know it. Why they would want me to wait until tomorrow and give them all notice, I don’t know why. OK.

Reedy: Yes, sir.

12:45 p.m.

to John McCormack[43]

Following up on McCormack’s visit from this morning, Johnson spoke to the Speaker of the House about General Maxwell Taylor leaving the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to become ambassador to South Vietnam and U. Alexis Johnson’s leaving his post as deputy under secretary of state for political affairs to be Taylor’s deputy in Saigon. Johnson then spread the word about his proclaimed use of the FBI in Mississippi and addressed the pressure he was receiving from New York Democrat William Fitts Ryan and New York Republican Ogden Reid to see the parents of the missing white activists. Johnson also took the opportunity to complain about Republican obstructions to his Great Society agenda, particularly from House Minority Leader Charles Halleck.

John McCormack: . . . secretary?

President Johnson: Alexis Johnson, same as the President, Johnson, J-o-h-n-s-o-n.

McCormack: E-l-i-x-i-s [sic]?

President Johnson: Yes. He is the outstanding, foremost expert in Southeast Asia, and it’s going to be a real blow to us here, as is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs [of Staff, Maxwell Taylor]. But some of them will say it’s too much military, so I put him out there to balance it, give us political, and I want the military to work with [Nguyen] Khanh because they got a military president and try to get his cooperation.[44] If he falls over, as he may any day, have another coup, we’re through in Asia, and I’m trying to get a man [who] can lead him and give him advice.

I called you because we got a very dangerous and bad precedent shaping up, irresponsibility of some of these House members, a fellow named [William] Ryan and Ogden Reid. Uh . . .

McCormack: Who? Ryan?

President Johnson: Ryan.

McCormack: What Ryan?

President Johnson: Uh . . . from New York.

McCormack: What about him?

President Johnson: Well, he’s a damn fool. That’s first. [McCormack attempts to speak.] F-double-o-l.

McCormack: Well, [unclear] new to that.

President Johnson: F-double-o-l.

McCormack: He’s one of the—He’s nothing but [unclear].

President Johnson: He called at midnight last night. Midnight, now. And got ahold of my assistant [Lee White] and demanded we do something about these three kids that . . . these Jewish boys from New York. They went off to Mississippi—

McCormack: He just made a speech to the floor of the House.[45]

President Johnson: And . . . what we have done in Mississippi is this: About three weeks ago, I called in Edgar Hoover and told him to fill Mississippi—I can’t say this publicly—but load it down with FBI men and put them in every place they anticipate they can as informers and put them in the [Ku Klux] Klan and infiltrate it. Get them to join up—we can’t advertise this—but get all the informers they need so we know what’s going on and that we can protect these kids as best we can. We don’t recommend it, don’t advise it, but they’re going to do it anyway, and so we’re going to give them as much protection as we can. So he shipped the FBI in there, and he’s got them joining up on everything, and they’re trying to get in a position where they can be helpful.

When these kids didn’t show night before last, yesterday morning we sent a new bunch of FBI in to supplement them in numbers. We got the Defense Department to turn over the helicopters and the whole facilities of the [Meridian] Naval Air Station to the FBI, and the FBI is using these helicopters to guard all roads and fly over them and take pictures and try to locate these people.[46] The FBI has got two big groups that have gone in at my request, although I don’t want to be appearing to be directing this thing and appear that I’m invading the state and taking the rights of a governor or mayor.

Nevertheless, I’ve quietly shown plenty of firmness and put plenty of power. That’s the only power I have. The marshals couldn’t do much about it. The FBI is the best people. Marshals are not investigative in nature and can’t locate anybody. We’ve asked them for a report as quickly as they can get it.

Now, [William] Ryan calls up and tells my assistant Lee White at midnight, “What are you doing about it?” And he tells him what we’re doing. And so this morning he demands that we start interviewing these parents. The parents have given out a statement up in New York that they’re heading down to see Ryan and Ogden Reid, and they’re going to the President. So all you’ll have to do to have a picture made at the White House and have an hour conference with the President is just to send somebody to Mississippi [unclear comments by McCormack] and not let them show up, then you get your picture made.

We told them the place they ought to go is talk to the Justice Department that’s surveying this. The President can’t personally look after each child when there [are] a thousand of them down there, and he oughtn’t to be a babysitter anyway. [Unclear word by McCormack.][47] He ought to establish policies.[48] And I’ve got 1,700 organizations in this town. Every damn one of them want me to address them, from the Chamber of Commerce to the NAACP.

McCormack: Knight of Columbus. Knights of Columbus. [Laughs heartily.]

President Johnson: NAACP. NAACP, they got me today, and the Safety Council, I just came from there, and I’ve got the Turkish ambassador, and I’ve got Bill Benton and Governor Grant Sawyer ahead of the governors, and Governor Richard Hughes and [Robert] McNamara and [Dean] Rusk and [McGeorge] Bundy and the Prime Minister of Turkey.[49] Now, that’s my day, but—

McCormack: How are you going to get along with Greece and Turkey? You’ll be a master magician [unclear].

President Johnson: Well, I got Turkey going all right. I don’t know what’ll happen to Greece, but I’ve got Turkey. I got them signed on yesterday, just confidentially. The Greeks [are] going to be awfully tough, but there can’t be anything but failure, but it does put off war, and I put it off every day as long as I can. They had their ships on the way, and they were going to invade. And by God, those Turks will fight.

McCormack: Oh, oh yeah, they’ll fight [unclear].

President Johnson: And I stopped it, and it took guts, but I stopped it. And I don’t know whether I can stop it anymore or not. [Unclear comment by McCormack.] But if I do, I’ll have my conscience clear: I did all I could to avoid bloodshed.

Anyway, Ryan and Reid[50] . . . so I think what you ought to do—it’s up to you, and you-all know the House members better than I do—I think you ought to tell them that you cannot publicly say this . . .

McCormack: I wouldn’t trust Ryan.

President Johnson: But that—

McCormack: He’s one of that reform group up in New York.[51]

President Johnson: But that you think they ought to know that the FBI and the Department of Justice under instructions have put all the people in there that they can put in there, and they’re on the job 24 hours a day. [McCormack makes several unclear comments throughout.] And that the president oughtn’t to be put into the position of seeing every family that comes in. I can’t even see the Kennedys and express sympathy to Teddy. I mean, this is not just a sympathy operation: It’s a pretty tough one, to head the government. And if these two come in, every damn one of them are going to come right in here, in the White House. The President of the United States [is] going to be sitting down, sympathizing with mothers and fathers.

McCormack: [Unclear.]

President Johnson: I don’t know . . . I made an appointment with the FBI for them. I made an appointment with Burke Marshall, the assistant attorney general in civil rights, who has all the information, all the knowledge, and all the power. And there’s not anything I can do besides that. But after you feel it out, if you think I’ve got to see them, well, I’ll just have the congressman. I don’t want to turn him down, but it’s sure a bad precedent.

McCormack: Well, you’re dealing with an odd stick there. He . . . he
. . . they’re . . . they . . . He’s one of the . . . one of that reform group up there [unclear] state of mind. He has no consciousness—“We don’t care.” And you’re dealing with . . . I . . . I would . . . I wouldn’t want to talk to them unless you give me permission to do so.

President Johnson: Well, I’d give you permission.

McCormack: [Unclear] . . . be impossible.

President Johnson: What would be your recommendation? Now, he and Reid are the ones that are doing the calling.

McCormick: Well—

President Johnson: They want to get all the attention they can.

McCormack: Well, you’re a busy man.

President Johnson: That’s right, and they say if . . . I’m afraid that if you tell them without explaining it to them . . . I’m afraid that they’ll get out and say, “Well, the President is hard-hearted. He has no concern about them. He said, ‘Let them eat cake. To hell with them.’” But I think . . . I think on the other hand, if the Speaker said to them “Now, I understand you’re interested in these parents. They’re coming down here. I was down at [the congressional leadership] breakfast this morning. The President has issued the orders. He’s done everything he can. It’s up to Burke Marshall and the FBI. The President told me to tell you that he’d made appointments for these folks over there, and it’s bad—”

McCormack: Who’s that? Burke Marshall?

President Johnson: Burke Marshall. He’s the assistant attorney general, in charge of civil rights. He’s the ablest man in the government. [Unclear comment by McCormack.] And the FBI—we’ve made appointments with both of them—that if they go to bringing each individual case into the President of the United States, pretty soon he won’t have time to select General Taylor. And if they still think you got to do it and you recommend it, I’ll see them.

McCormack: Yeah, the press—well, I won’t go that far. I’ll be damned if [unclear] I won’t. I’m not going [unclear]—I won’t. I’ll talk with them, diplomatically. But . . . you’re dealing with a fellow who’s—why, he even went into another Democratic colleague’s district and campaigned against him.[52]

President Johnson: What do you think, then, I ought to do?

McCormack: I wouldn’t see them. Just diplomatically, you haven’t got time. You can handle that. In a day or two, it’ll—they’ll catch those three. They can’t disappear forever, can they?

President Johnson: No, unless they’ve killed them.

McCormack: Unless they killed them, and then if they killed them, then other action is necessary.

President Johnson: You talk to them and call me as soon as you do.

McCormack: [with the President acknowledging] By the way, the press told me that [Henry Cabot] Lodge resigned, and they asked me for a statement, so I said, oh, “Weeks ago, I expected it.” [Chuckles.] That’s all I said.

President Johnson: Well, he’s coming back to try to rescue the [Republican] Party from [Barry] Goldwater, that’s what he’s doing.

McCormack: I mentioned before, you know, just about what he’d do. You under—I’m not surprised at all. Then he’ll come back, he’ll have some goddamn thing to nibble at.

President Johnson: Mr. Speaker, I think that we ought to tell Charlie [Halleck]—now, I want y’all to tell him whatever you want to, and I’ll support you. That’s a matter for the House. I can’t determine when they adjourn and when they don’t.[53]

McCormack: I—

President Johnson: But I think we ought to tell Charlie this: I think we ought to say [speaking in rapid-fire fashion], “Charlie, you’ve been leader, and you’ve had a program. We’ve got 31 bills. These bills have been delayed. They’ve been held up here. We couldn’t meet on Friday; we can’t meet on Saturday; we can’t meet on Monday. Now, we’ve got problems with our people, and we’re to blame for some of this ourselves. The President’s to blame for some of it. But we think that we ought to have action on these bills. Now, we’re willing to give you one week or two weeks or three weeks if you want it, if you’ll get us some action. Now come here and sit down and see what you can do without delaying and without procrastinating and without just being an obstruction.”

McCormack: Well, I’ve already talked with him this morning about antipoverty, and I also talked about the civil rights because we have to have at least two, probably three, but at least two Republican members to sign that petition for a meeting.[54] And he’s going to have a meeting with them. Apparently [Clarence] Brown went out to Ohio yesterday, and [Ray] Bliss ousted him as national committeeman [unclear]—[55]

President Johnson: He did. He did, and Brown walked out mad as hell.

McCormack: [Chuckles.] When Brown’s mad, he’s mad. And he’s going to have a meeting, and he’s going to let us know tomorrow. And we particularly—I—Carl [Albert] and I spoke to him about antipoverty.[56]

President Johnson: OK.

McCormack: I’ll do the best I can.

President Johnson: Bye. OK.

McCormack: Fine.

12:55 p.m.: President Johnson made a quick, unrecorded call to Walter Jenkins before talking to his press secretary about filming an announcement of the Lodge departure from South Vietnam.

12:57 p.m.

from George Reedy[57]

President Johnson: Yes, yes?

George Reedy: Can we do the film at 2:30 [p.m.] in the Cabinet Room, Mr. President?

President Johnson: Yeah.

Reedy: And could you . . . would it be all right for you to do this one sitting down, just as you did it for the press?

President Johnson: [Pauses.] I don’t know whether I can use teleprompter sitting down very well or not.

Reedy: [to someone in room] He can use teleprompter, can’t he, [unclear]?[58]

Unidentified: [Unclear] hold the teleprompter directly over the camera.

Reedy: [to Johnson] Yes, you’ll have it directly over the camera, sir.

President Johnson: Yeah. All right, OK.

Reedy: You bet.

1:01 p.m.: While traveling to a different taping in the Cabinet Room —a message for a Fourth of July celebration in Denmark—Johnson spent two minutes browsing the afternoon newspapers.

1:07 p.m.: Returned to the Oval Office and took a call from Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon.

1:08 p.m.

from Douglas Dillon[59]

Dillon updated the President on two matters before the Senate Finance Committee. One was a bill to raise the limit on national debt from $315 billion to $324 billion. The other was the Excise Tax Extension Act, designed to continue the excise tax provisions in the $11 billion tax cut bill passed in February.[60] The excise tax issue had long been a problem for Johnson. In January, several members of the Finance Committee had tried to reduce excise taxes on a number of goods and services, but Johnson feared those reductions would cut revenue too greatly. In a flurry of phone calls on January 23, Johnson had been able to turn enough votes to save his preferred version of the legislation.[61]

Shortly after this call began, Kenny O’Donnell and Jack Valenti came into the Oval Office.

President Johnson: [aside to someone in office] Tell them . . .

[connecting to Dillon] Thank you.

Douglas Dillon: I just wanted to tell you I spent the morning testifying on the debt limit before the Finance Committee. I don’t think there’ll be any trouble there. But they’re taking up also tomorrow, without hearings, this excise bill, and we’re just about where we were last winter with that. We have [a] problem with [Harry] Byrd and—who just won’t make up his mind—and also with [Abraham] Ribicoff, and I didn’t know if in the case of Byrd, if it wouldn’t be possible for maybe for you to, oh, say something to him about your interest in it.[62] We haven’t been able to get a commitment out of him one way or the other.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. All right, I’ll sure try.

Dillon: [Unclear] vote on it.

President Johnson: I’ll sure try, Doug.

Dillon: Harry Byrd, I mean, that’s about the only one, otherwise—

President Johnson: Yeah. . . . All right. I talked to [George] Smathers about it this morning.[63]

Dillon: Yeah, well, I think he’s fine. He’s—

President Johnson: I asked him to please get him. Larry [O’Brien]

gave me a list, and it looked like the only one out of line was [Vance] Hartke, according to Larry’s statement.[64]

Dillon: Well, Hartke’s wrong. Now, I’ll tell you, they—Larry checked Byrd right off . . . [Mike] Man[atos] . . . He told Manatos a couple of months ago, about a month ago, that he was right, but I—[65]

President Johnson: Well, Manatos had a memo from me at the [congressional] leaders’ meeting this morning that said he was right.

Dillon: Yeah, well, that’s right, but I talked to him two days ago, and he said at that time he hadn’t made up his mind how to vote on some of these individual things, and he had a lot of fur growers in his state, and maybe he was just giving me the razz, but he was . . .

President Johnson: I’ll call him. I’ll call him.

Dillon: He was [unclear] set that right.[66]

President Johnson: I’ll call him, Doug.

Dillon: Thank you. Fine.

President Johnson: Bye.

1:11 p.m.: Standing in Kenny O’Donnell’s office door again, the President talked to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara for one minute.

1:12 p.m.—1:29 p.m.: Came back to the Oval Office and met with former Connecticut senator William Benton. In the middle of the meeting, he received another call from the Speaker of the House.

1:20 p.m.

from John McCormack[67]

Johnson received advice from the Speaker about seeing the parents of the missing activists and then briefly discussed the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

President Johnson: Go ahead, John? Yes, Mr. Speaker.

John McCormack: I just talked with [William] Ryan, and he said that that initiated in New York through the press, where the press said that he was going to try and make—get an appointment with the parents for you, with you, rather. And I told him everything humanly possible is being done, and he could rest content on that, and I said he can tell the parents and use me as a quote if he wants to.

President Johnson: Mmm.

McCormack: And he realizes the difficulty, and he talked with Lee White, I think.

President Johnson: Yeah.

McCormack: And the parents are going to call Lee White.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

McCormack: And that’s according to apparently what he said was Lee White’s . . . was White’s suggestion.

President Johnson: Yeah.

McCormack: [with the President acknowledging throughout] Now, what I . . . might I think—and of course, he realizes how busy you are and so forth. I told him everything humanly possible was being done. And I can tell you that now, and Bill . . . because that’s the result of your . . . Your one-minute speech, I said, interested me. . . . I made some inquiries.

Now, might—what I might suggest is you might have the parents reach someone of your administrative [unclear]—

President Johnson: All right, I’ll tell Lee White to get them over to Justice and see FBI and the—Burke Marshall, who are tops, and then if they still want to, they can come see him.

McCormack: That’s what I’d suggest.

President Johnson: OK. Can you talk to [Ogden] Reid, tell him the same thing?

McCormack: Oh, I won’t talk to Reid. No, he’s a Republican.[68]

President Johnson: Fine. . . . All right.

McCormack: I’ll leave it with Ryan.

President Johnson: OK.

McCormack: You don’t mind, do you?

President Johnson: Not at all, you’re the boss.

McCormack: I think if you talk with him, you make . . . you would make a mistake.

President Johnson: You’re the boss. Say, I want to talk to you. We are not going to do anything on conventions until after the Republicans meet to see what the story is.[69] We’d like to have you as permanent chairman [of the Democratic National Convention] if you’d like to do it. If not, we’d like to have your suggestion, and we have nobody picked out for anything, and I’d like for you to be thinking about who you think would be good. And I’m going to talk to some of the boys in the Senate, but I’m not going to until after we get . . . see whether it’s [Barry] Goldwater or who it is, because we’ve got plenty of time. We don’t have to move until six weeks after they do. We’ve got [until] the end of August, and we really won’t do any campaigning until after Labor Day. And [John] Kennedy set it back [to] August, and I think he did it very wisely. So we’ll let them show all their hold cards, and then we’ll come in and trump them.

McCormack: All right, Mr.—

President Johnson: You be just—you just be—

McCormack: Whatever you want is OK with me.

President Johnson: You just be thinking.

McCormack: Whatever you want is OK with me.

President Johnson: OK.

McCormack: Thank you.

President Johnson: OK.

1:30 p.m.: President Johnson walked to the Fish Room to preside over the ceremony marking the U.S. Army’s donation of land to New Jersey’s Sandy Hook State Park. Among the dignitaries in attendance were New Jersey Governor Richard Hughes, Senator Harrison Williams, Senator Clifford Case, Interior Secretary Steward Udall, and Army Secretary Stephen Ailes.[70]

1:35 p.m.: Made a quick, unrecorded call to George Reedy, then took a call from Democratic National Committee liaison Cliff Carter.

1:36 p.m.

from Cliff Carter[71]

Carter, in Detroit preparing for a Johnson fund-raiser on June 26, called to report on trouble within the Nevada Democratic Party. Johnson used the opportunity to press him to get information on the level of support for the President among the biggest state delegations. Johnson was particularly concerned about enthusiasm for Robert Kennedy in California, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

President Johnson: Yes?

Juanita Roberts: Cliff Carter is calling in from Detroit, if you still need him.

President Johnson: OK.

Roberts: Thank you.

Johnson leaves the line briefly.

President Johnson: [to operator] Give me Cliff Carter.

[to someone in office] They over there now? Have we got anything else?

White House Operator: There you are.

President Johnson: [to someone in office] When do I have to come back here?

[over phone] Hello?

Cliff Carter: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: Cliff?

Carter: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: The governor of Nevada [Grant Sawyer] was in here this morning and just raising hell about this fellow Brown that said I had named as LBJ coordinator, and said he wasn’t well thought of, and he got hell beat out of him 2 to 1 for the [Democratic] National Committee’s job, and that [Alan] Bible and the governor did not feel that we were taking them into the picture.[72] And if we didn’t want them that’s all right, but they’d like to go for us, and they thought that [Barry] Goldwater had a chance to carry Nevada because of the conservatism but that we had to include them in on the plans if we wanted to have any hope of it. I told him I never had heard of Brown, didn’t know anything about it. Did we name him?

Carter: No, sir. Senator Bible—Senator [Howard] Cannon . . . It was my understanding that Senator Bible concurred in this . . . selected him.[73]

President Johnson: Well, you better check that, and you better call. I don’t know where he is, but have your office, when he calls, tell him to call you at whatever place you are so you can talk to him and try to explain to him and see what we do about it.

Carter: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: Now, we want to also see how many of these people . . . I don’t think there’s anything to this, but they tell me yesterday a newspaperman, who’s very reliable, says that our friend Bobby [Kennedy] met with Pierre Salinger and the whole group two weeks ago, and they decided that they could get about 40 percent of themselves for the top job [of president].[74] We don’t want to express that at all, but they’ve talked to [Richard] Daley and to the various leaders: California and Illinois and Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and New York.[75] And they counted about 40 percent, but they were going back and survey and have another meeting. They met two weeks ago at Hyannis Port [Massachusetts]. I would think it’s about the vice presidency, and I don’t know they had had a meeting at all, I would doubt it, but Walter [Jenkins] said that Salinger was here two weeks ago on Meet the Press. I don’t know what our contact is with Daley, but we ought to have a friendly one, talk about general things, what we can do to help Chicago and so forth, and then we ought to see if he’s, without being blunt like New Jersey . . .

[to someone in the Oval Office] See if we can get Dick Hughes before he leaves.[76] I want to talk to him.

[returning to Carter] If we can see if he is going to go with us; if he’s not, well, maybe we ought to just let them pick their whole outfit.

Carter: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: And you ought to find out from Dave Lawrence who’s going to run the Pennsylvania delegation.[77] Who is going to run it?

Carter: He’s still got a big hand in it—

President Johnson: All right, find out who’s going to run it and if they’re with us all the way. Now, do you know who’s handling New York? [78] We sent a wire this morning to somebody up there—[Stanley] Steingut at Brooklyn.[79]

Carter: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: But you ought to talk to Eddie Weisl, and we ought to see if they’re going to be with us or if they’re going to be some other way. Now, we’re told . . . Dick Goodwin told me that Jesse Unruh told him in California that he didn’t want to be quoted, but if he had to, he’d have to go with Bobby.[80]

Carter: Yes, sir. [Unclear.]

President Johnson: And I don’t know whether he’s got the delegation or not. We ought to see if [Governor Pat] Brown’s got it, or he’s got it, or who’s got it.[81] Now, you are the one that’s got to do these things, and we’ve been there seven months, and I just want to be sure that we’re on top of these things.

Carter: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: Are we?

Carter: Yes, sir, I think so.

President Johnson: Have they got any of this stuff staked out besides Massachusetts?

Carter: Uh . . . A couple of them I’m not sure of.

President Johnson: Who?

Carter: Those areas that you mentioned.

President Johnson: Well, that’s where the votes are. You better be sure of them. Better get busy and go to seeing them, because all this detail stuff and this . . . it’s not worth a damn if you haven’t got those big ones. We found that out in Los Angeles in ’60.[82]

Carter: Yes.

President Johnson: What you want to do is get New Jersey and get New York and—have you got New Jersey? Is that delegation with us? I would gather not, from the way they wouldn’t put in the resolution up there.

Carter: No, no, sir, they’re with us.

President Johnson: You think that they would be for Mr. Pat Brown if I wanted him for vice president?

Carter: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: All right. All right. Now, but you don’t know who New York would be for?

Carter: I think they’re . . . who you are.

President Johnson: All right, well, you visit around and get close enough to them where you know.

Now, I think it’s bad for you to be in on any money-raising things. You try to stay as far away from it as you can.

Carter: All right.

President Johnson: Let Dick [Richard Maguire] handle that.[83]

Carter: All right, sir.

President Johnson: And just tell him you don’t know, you’ve never had any experience with it, you don’t have anything to do with it, and that he’s the best one, and you do other things because . . . you got a big write-up in the [Washington] Star here today about you and Maguire meeting with a bunch of people from Cleveland was it, Ohio?

Carter: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: And who let that out?

Carter: I don’t know.

President Johnson: Tell them over at the [Democratic] National Committee to quit claiming they’re picking up all this money that they’re not picking up. They claim they picked up a million dollars out yonder. They don’t do it. They didn’t pick up 500,000 [dollars] net. And I’d put the net figure because if we pick up that, people are not going to want to give money. Do you follow me?

Carter: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

President Johnson: And I’d just quit telling them all this stuff that we do tell them. Somebody over at that committee talks too much to these reporters. This fellow [Walter] Pincus of the Star. But you look into it, and you get back, that’s what I wanted to tell you.

Carter: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: Any other news?

Carter: No, sir.

President Johnson: Have you got any idea how many votes we got up to now?

Carter: Uh . . .

President Johnson: How many in the convention . . . total?

Carter: [There are] 2,580.

President Johnson: All right, so that means we’ve got to have roughly 1,300.

Carter: Yes, sir, 1,250.

President Johnson: How many do we have?

Carter: I think over a thousand.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Carter: Actually, you’ve got more than that, but over a thousand definite.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. Let’s be positive, now, [that] we wrap up the number that we need right away. He’s [Robert Kennedy’s] going to announce, probably this afternoon, [that] he’s not going into New York.

Carter: Mm-hmm. [Pauses.] OK, sir.

President Johnson: OK. Bye.

Carter: Bye.

1:52 p.m.

from Clark Clifford;
preceded by office conversation with Richard Hughes[84]

New Jersey Governor Hughes dropped by for two minutes, then Johnson asked longtime Democratic presidential adviser Clark Clifford to find out more about the Robert Kennedy situation. Johnson also updated Clifford on the replacement of Ambassador Lodge.

Before Clifford comes on the line, Johnson speaks apparently to New Jersey Governor Richard Hughes about Democratic Party politics.

President Johnson: . . . going to try to meet with any of these other leaders [unclear]?

Richard Hughes: Not too many, no. [Unclear.]

President Johnson: If I were you, I think I’d go on and call [David] Lawrence and talk to [Richard] Daley, and—

Hughes: All right, sir.

President Johnson: —put yourself in a position. Talk to John Connally, ask him what’s happening in the South.[85]

Hughes: I shall indeed.

President Johnson: Kind of look after my . . .

The operator interrupts to announce that Clifford is on the line. The recording captures almost 40 seconds of silence before picking up on the phone conversation.

President Johnson: . . . called me up and asked me if I wanted him to go to Poland.[86] He thought I knew about it, and I said, “No, I haven’t heard of it, don’t know anything about it, don’t know what the merits are. I’d be guided by your judgment: If you think you ought to go, I’ll go with you; if you don’t think you ought to go, I’d stay.” So I just checked it back to him, and . . .

Clark Clifford: All right.

President Johnson: I’d called two or three times to ask about his brother [Ted Kennedy] and been very friendly.[87]

Bill Benton came in just now and said he’d been talking to [Averell] Harriman and some of them and that he urged me to send Bobby to Moscow as ambassador with some ideas because [Nikita] Khrushchev wanted to get along, and he hoped I’d send Sargent Shriver to Paris.[88] I didn’t comment either way. I don’t know whether there’s a plant. He said Harriman had suggested this, and Harriman met him. Harriman and Bobby are pretty close.

Clifford: Yeah.

President Johnson: He may be wanting that kind of world experience, but I don’t have any idea.

[with Clifford acknowledging throughout] Anyway, that’s your department, and I just thought you ought to have all this background in case you got called or talked to. I assume he’ll tell me about it this afternoon. If he does, I’ll just say fine, whatever you want to do in regard to New York, that’s your business, and I . . . if you would decide you’d want to do it, I’m prepared to go with you; if you don’t, that’s all right too.

There’s talk . . . A newspaper man came in yesterday, said they had a meeting two weeks ago up at Hyannis Port, and [Pierre] Salinger came in, and Ken O’Donnell and a number of them, and that they said that they had Massachusetts and New York and Illinois and Ohio and . . . California, and they’ve had about 40 percent of them that thought he’d make the best president, but they decided to have Tydings in from Maryland, and they’d go back and have a little survey, and they’d meet again about the time of the Republican convention.[89] I don’t believe anything like that happened. They might have talked about the vice presidency, but the . . . we checked it, though, Walter Jenkins did, and Salinger was here, and they did . . . there were some . . . they did have . . . he was up there during that weekend.

Clifford: Hmm.

President Johnson: [with Clifford acknowledging] Now, I don’t know. This newspaperman told the fellow on the Judiciary Committee of the Senate, and he told me. I don’t know how much truth there is in it. Larry O’Brien told me he definitely wanted the second place. He has been to California on TV and meeting with a group out there and has been in New York a good deal as you know, and I think has had some contacts with Pennsylvania and Illinois. I think it’s something that we ought to look into, and I don’t know who ought to look into it, but anyway, that’s the picture, and you keep that to yourself.

Clifford: [Unclear.]

President Johnson: I named [Maxwell] Taylor and Alex Johnson, assistant secretary of state, in the number one and two places this morning to take over for [Henry Cabot] Lodge, and Taylor’s a wonderful civilian, and among the military he’s the best. And we think he can hold this general [Nguyen Khanh] in line too. We have to have somebody who can hold him up because he may go under any day, and if they do, we go under. Alex Johnson, on the other hand, can take care of the political thing. He’s the best expert we have on Southeast Asia.

Clifford: Great.

President Johnson: So we thought both of them is a good signal to Hanoi and Peiping.

Kay Graham’s all right. [Al] Friendly’s a little worried because we don’t want a military man, and he thinks it’s his job to protect the virtue of that young girl, and he’s probably raising hell because I got a military man.[90] That may kick off a little trouble, but Taylor’s not a rambunctious military man.

Clifford: Not at all; not at all.

President Johnson: And I believe it will be pretty well received.

Clifford: Mm-hmm.

President Johnson: You got any knowledge or anything you want to tell me?

Clifford: No, I’m interested in these reports you get, and I’ll see if I can’t take a—

President Johnson: You might wish them [the Robert Kennedy party] good-bye, at least, before they leave. They’re leaving tonight, and—or in the morning—and you might just say, “I see where you’re leaving, just wanted to pay my respects and . . .”

Clifford: And see what I pick up.

President Johnson: What have you decided in New York?

Be good. Call me.

Clifford: Thank you very much.

President Johnson: Call me when you hear anything.

Clifford: I will.

1:59 p.m.: Johnson held an off-the-record lunch in the Mansion with Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Special Assistant McGeorge Bundy, and a few other White House aides, likely to discuss Maxwell Taylor.

2:56 p.m.: Returned to the Oval Office with Bundy and Jack Valenti.

2:59 p.m.

from Luther Hodges[91]

Johnson had been experiencing difficulties in finding a director for the Community Relations Service, the entity to be created by the Civil Rights Act to mediate disputes in the South. Since the new bureaucracy was slated to fall under the jurisdiction of the Commerce Department, Secretary Hodges had been leading the search for Johnson, and the two men had discussed a number of candidates on June 19.[92] In this call, Hodges, the former governor of North Carolina, reported that Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen had turned it down. The two men then considered Charlotte Mayor Stanley Brookshire and former Florida Governor LeRoy Collins. In this section of tape, Johnson set out some of his rationale for a Community Relations director’s qualifications and the danger of using too much federal power in the South. Collins eventually got the job, despite a warning later today from Mississippi Senator James Eastland, who railed against Collins as a “damn cheat, double-crosser, and a liar” and a “goddamn, lying, son of a bitch.”[93]

President Johnson: Yes?

Luther Hodges: Hello, Mr. President.

President Johnson: Yes.

Hodges: Luther Hodges.

President Johnson: Yes.

Hodges: Mr. President, I’ve had Mr. [Ivan] Allen here for a half an hour or so from Atlanta. He simply will not give the mayor’s job up to come here or to be with us on a full-time basis.

President Johnson: Hmm.

Hodges: I put a lot of heat on him and told him what a sacrifice it would take, and he said well, he’s just committed to that. He’d give us [one-]third time or half time [to] help us organize whatever it was. He simply couldn’t take the job. Now, I had mentioned the directorship to him over the phone, but he didn’t quite get it over the phone. He’s working here with us now on committees and things of that character, but I didn’t see any use to bother you to bring him over unless he’s willing to do it.

President Johnson: No . . . no.

Hodges: Now, I’d like to talk with you for a few minutes maybe this afternoon if you could fit it in. I’ve got one or two ideas about which way we move now.

President Johnson: All right. I’ve got a TV program, and then I’ve got a meeting of 300 over at the House, and I’ve got to come back with the Prime Minister of Turkey at 5:00 [p.m.]. It could be sometime late, maybe in the evening. Why don’t you try that [mayor of] Charlotte [Stanley Brookshire] fellow? Or anybody else that you have in mind that you think will—

Hodges: Well, I can find out from the Charlotte fellow.

President Johnson: We’ve got to find somebody . . .

Hodges: I know that.

President Johnson: . . . that will go along, that the Negro groups know and has some record with them as being friendly, that would—according to my idea, the best man would be somebody that could meet that qualification and still be fair and just for the South [Hodges acknowledges] and know something about them.[94]

Hodges: I talked with [unclear]—

President Johnson: And I think you just [are] almost going to have to stay on the road with these southern governors as soon as we sign this bill, taking your conciliation man and getting people like Buford Ellington that—they won’t rate high with the Negroes up here, but they can talk to the southern governors, and we’re going to have to get these men to quit preaching violence and start asking for observance.[95]

Hodges: Right.

President Johnson: Because if we don’t, we’re going to have more problems than we got in Mississippi, and I’ve got all this—father and mother—they’re wanting to come in and see me this afternoon, with these three children that are lost.

Hodges: Is that right?

President Johnson: [with Hodges acknowledging] I told them I couldn’t see them. I sent them to see the FBI and see Burke Marshall, but . . . the only other candidate I know outside of the man, if we could get the Charlotte man to consider it, would be this fellow they suggested over in [Secretary of Labor] Bill Wirtz’s shop. You might ask Wirtz if he knows—

Hodges: William Simkins [sic]?[96]

President Johnson: Yeah. If you don’t like him, you better ask him if he knows any other negotiators or mediators in this field. It’s . . . need somebody to take some . . . have some experience. I don’t know, we may look back over the WTB files in the old days where we had professors come in from the South that might . . .[97] We got to have someone in enough standing, though . . .

Hodges: Exactly.

President Johnson: . . . that the Negroes will accept.

Now, Roy Wilkins is about ready to get upset with me because I won’t go and address the NAACP. And I just tell him this is not the time to do it, but . . .

Hodges: Right, right.

President Johnson: We’ve got to get a man on that, and I thought that Atlanta man [Ivan Allen] was the last word.

Hodges: Well, I thought so too, and I talked to him about [Harold] Walker, by the way, and he said that we were right about Walker: that he wasn’t quite persuasive enough; he’s a little too technical.[98] So he’s the one, you know, that you felt like that there’s . . .

President Johnson: Well, they felt that he would be industry’s man and that they didn’t know him, and even though he was their friend, that the . . . even old Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young would support him.[99] You got fellows like this James Farmer.

Hodges: Mm-hmm.

President Johnson: And they [are] outlaws—Martin Luther King—and you just got to be awful careful.[100]

Hodges: Well—

President Johnson: Maybe this Charlotte man, we could look at him, and . . .

Hodges: I’ll call him. But can you take a couple minutes now on the phone? I’ll tell you [unclear]

President Johnson: Yeah, oh, yeah. Yeah, sure, sure.

Hodges: Here’s what I run into. The other day—and I hope you’re not . . . understand I’m not beating this man’s drum; I’m trying to do the best job.

President Johnson: No . . . no. I know that.

Hodges: We can get [Le]Roy Collins to do this job if you would be willing to make a telephone call to his board to let him off for about a year or more.[101] As N . . . you know, as NAB [National Association of Broadcasters]. I know you don’t have much to do with them, the broadcasters, but I asked him, as I’ve asked two or three other people, [for] any suggestions. This is the kind of thing that he would do a great job on, and this is the kind that Burke Marshall and all the rest of them, I know, would go crazy about. I checked him also . . . what Allen—

President Johnson: Well, check that out, and if you think . . . talk to Burke Marshall and let’s see, and if you do, I’ll call the board. I’ll call anybody I need to that’ll help you.

Hodges: All right. I think we might as well get as close to the top one—

President Johnson: You better check with the Florida senators first, though.[102] Say if you got him to take a leave and if he’d do it, if they would have any objection, because there’s no use in getting him to say so. If one of them say[s] “I don’t like him,” that’s the end of it.

Hodges: Well, of course, you know . . . you probably know that what’s-his-name, George [Smathers], has probably . . . has been afraid that
[Le]Roy would someday run against him, so you don’t [unclear] any.

President Johnson: Well, if I wanted him, that’s why I’d put him in here.

Hodges: Yeah. [They both chuckle.]

President Johnson: Yes, sir.

Hodges: I know exactly what you mean.

President Johnson: This is not going to be any place to win any popularity contests.

Hodges: Not at all, and this guy would sacrifice anything in the world for the principle of doing a job for his country. This man—Collins. No question about it. Well, I’ll . . . Let me . . . I’ll check Brookshire, and then let me check—

President Johnson: Then if you can get Collins, call up them, say, “Now, we’ve had his name suggested. We want to try to draft him, but before I ever approach a man on anything, or the President does, I check with the senators, and I just want to be sure he wouldn’t be obnoxious to you.”

Hodges: Yeah. You’re willing for me to check that.

President Johnson: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’d call them.

Hodges: Well, I’ll do it and stay in touch with you.

President Johnson: And you’d better be thinking like this fellow in Georgia, the Atlanta man. You better be thinking of Buford [Ellington] in Tennessee. And you ought to be thinking who you can get in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Hodges: We’re doing that.

President Johnson: And we ought to try to get 10, 11 topflight people that you can direct and get out and see these governors and see these leading publishers of the papers. Make you up a list of opinion makers and go to them and say, “What we want is observance instead of enforcement. We don’t want to send troops in here to enforce something. We want to get you-all to appeal to them to observe it, and Johnson and I are going to do all we can to stay out of your way and keep off your neck. But we can’t do it unless you help us a little bit.”

Hodges: Right.

President Johnson: That’s—

Hodges: When do you think this bill would become law?

President Johnson: I’d think July the Fourth.

Hodges: July Fourth. [Johnson belches noticeably.] Well, then we would have to go right to work on it—

President Johnson: Yes, sir, but if I don’t have one, you going to have to be the conciliator because you’ve got enough humaneness about you and understanding and enough judgment and brains about the South, and I’m just not going to let them move these seven divisions in the South. I’m just going to withstand it long as I can. I moved a bunch of FBI people into Mississippi last night, but I’m not going to send troops on my people if I can avoid it. That they’ve got to help me avoid it, and they’ve got to know it. Now, I want to sit down and talk to this governor of Mississippi [Paul Johnson]. I know his problem, and he’s got a hell of a problem, and I want to be . . .

Hodges: It’s not going to be easy, Mr. President, in the Deep South.

President Johnson: Oh, it’s going to be awful. It’s just going to be awful. You just don’t know how bad it is.

Hodges: No question about it.

President Johnson: Well, you do know. You’re the only one in the administration that does know.

You go on, though, and talk to the two senators and then let me know what you want me to do, and I’ll do it, and if you want to come over late in the evening, you call me and we’ll get together anytime.

Hodges: Thank you, Mr. President.

President Johnson: Bye.

3:11 p.m.

between Jack Valenti and Robert Kennedy[103]

While Johnson had been attending matters of foreign policy and finding a suitable southern civil rights mediator, Robert Kennedy had been meeting at the Justice Department with Andrew Goodman’s mother and father and Michael Schwerner’s father. He told them that he was using the “maximum resources” available, including personal ones. The parents emphasized that they wanted the administration to protect the civil rights workers, not just to commit to investigate when things happened to them.[104] He phoned the President immediately after that session to petition the President to make a statement of personal concern for the activists, but Jack Valenti took the call. According to the Daily Diary, two minutes after this call began, Johnson headed to the Cabinet Room to tape his message about Ambassador Lodge, telling secretary Vicki McCammon, “Sure is a fancy outfit you have on there.”

Jack Valenti: Mr. Kennedy?

Robert Kennedy: Yeah?

Valenti: He is in the Cabinet Room recording on television some of his statements in the press conference today, and I’ll have him call you just as soon—

Kennedy: Well, now, let me—should I tell you what the problem is?

Valenti: All right.

Kennedy: And this, the . . . I’ve just seen these parents, you know, of these kids that have been picked up or lost down in Mississippi, and I think that two things: Number one, I think he should probably make a statement about that, and I heard he said something at the press conference this morning.

Valenti: Right.

Kennedy: But I think it should really be more formalized, although I haven’t seen the statement, and perhaps it’s satisfactory. Second, I think he should consider seeing them, the parents. And third, I think he should consider making a call to Governor [Paul] Johnson and expressing concern so it would be said that he had made that call.

Valenti: All right.

Kennedy: Do you know the facts about the case?

Valenti: Yes, sir, I’m very well acquainted with them, sir.

Kennedy: Yeah. And now, you see, yesterday, I told them to use the . . . you know, the helicopters, and they—get the FBI in as if it’s a kidnapping, so we’re doing all we can. But I think that people are going to get . . . there’s going to be more of this, and people are going to wonder . . .

Valenti: Let me read you his answer:

The question was: “Mr. President, do you have any information about the three kids that disappeared in Mississippi?”

The answer: “The FBI has a substantial number of men who are closely studying it and investigating the entire situation. We have asked them to spare no effort to secure all the information possible and report to me as soon as possible. We believe they are making every effort to locate them. I have had no report since breakfast, but at that time I understood they had increased their forces in that area. Several weeks ago, I asked them to anticipate the problems that would come from this and to send extra FBI personnel into the area. They have substantially augmented their personnel in the last few hours.”

That was his statement on it.

Kennedy: You see, I think that to express sort of concern . . .

Valenti: Right.

Kennedy: You know, personal concern for them and for their families. Now, I don’t know whether he wants—I’ve seen their families. It might not be necessary, but . . . we’re going to have more of this, and that’s a hell of a problem.

Valenti: Yes, sir . . . that it is.

Kennedy: But I think at least he—I think that the—what he . . . I do think he should call the governor.

Valenti: All right, sir.

Kennedy: And just say that how concerned he is.

Valenti: Will you be in your office for a while, sir?

Kennedy: Yeah.

Valenti: All right, sir.

Kennedy: And would you have him think about those three possibilities, and while he’s on television, he might just, you know, just supplement that answer by expressing personal concern about them and that he’s—

Valenti: Well, the two things that they’re doing on television right now is his rereading his statement on [Henry Cabot] Lodge and [Maxwell] Taylor—

Kennedy: I see . . . I see.

Valenti: —and second, rereading his restatement of U.S. policy on Vietnam.

Kennedy: Yeah.

Valenti: Those are the two things that he’s reading on television. They wanted that for the TV audiences. And—

Kennedy: Yeah. . . . I’d like to have him say something also, you know, even if just a paragraph on—so it got on television about his concern about this thing.

Valenti: All right, sir.

Kennedy: I think it’d make them feel . . . and that’s not as important as just the fact that he’s on top of all these things.

Valenti: Right.

Kennedy: I think it’s the human equation that’s damn important for everything.

Valenti: All right, sir.

Kennedy: OK.

Valenti: Thank you, sir.

3:31 p.m.: President Johnson returned to the Oval Office with McGeorge Bundy. Johnson tried to return Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s call, but had to settle for the deputy attorney general.

3:35 p.m.

to Nicholas Katzenbach[105]

In this almost nine-minute call, they addressed the most pressing issue of the afternoon: how to deal with the parents of the missing young men. Katzenbach worried about setting the precedent of a presidential meeting and argued for sending a message through Lee White. In this call, Katzenbach speculated that the activists were dead.

White House Operator: Mr. President?

President Johnson: Yes.

White House Operator: He’s [Robert Kennedy] gone to a TV studio, and he should be back in about an hour. Could I reach him, or have him call you?

President Johnson: Let me talk to Katzenbach.

White House Operator: Thank you.

President Johnson: [to someone in Oval Office] He’s gone to a TV studio.

The President holds for approximately one minute and fifteen seconds before Katzenbach comes to the line. While holding for Katzenbach, he instructs someone in the office, “Tell the girls to get Senator [James] Eastland on the phone for me.”

White House Operator: Ready, sir.

President Johnson: Nick?

Nicholas Katzenbach: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: The Attorney General called me. Were you around when he called me?

Katzenbach: No, I was gone just before he called you.

President Johnson: He . . . I was in the TV studio on my statement on Laos and Vietnam, and when I called him back ten minutes later, he’d gone to a TV studio and [is] going to be gone an hour.

Katzenbach: Yes.

President Johnson: [with Katzenbach acknowledging throughout] Now, he talked to Jack Valenti and suggested that he thought I probably should make a statement on these three boys that are missing down in Mississippi and I ought to consider seeing their parents. I’ve been considering that all day. I talked to the Speaker [of the House John McCormack] about it. A little Republican congressman, Ogden Reid, is trying to get it in here. I’m afraid that if I start housemothering each kid that’s gone down there and that doesn’t show up, that we’ll have this White House full of people every day asking for sympathy and congressmen too, because they want to come over and have their picture made and get on TV, and I don’t know whether the President of the United States ought to be busy doing that or not.

I told them that we . . . what we’d done, and we had called in the Defense Department, and the Navy turned them over helicopters, and we’d called in all the FBI two weeks ago and asked them to put on extra people and sent in extra ones yesterday. So there’s not anything new I can tell them except to let this be a forum, and I thought I better talk to you before I cleared that request. [Katzenbach attempts to interject.] The Speaker talked to [William] Ryan, explained it to Ryan, and he understood it.

Katzenbach: I think both Reid and Ryan understand that, although for the reasons that you indicate, they’re both, you know, always anxious as any congressman would be [chuckling] [to] do what he can for constituents. Now, they might see Lee White.

President Johnson: Well, I thought Lee ought to come over there, and then they don’t have this as a bunch of television cameras. The White House, the President’s assistant, could sit in on it, but they busted up. I told him to get his tail over there, and he messed around here and didn’t do it. And—

Katzenbach: Well, they’re going back over it with the congressmen now. Why doesn’t he hightail it up there and see them up there?

President Johnson: Where?

Katzenbach: At the—

President Johnson: Over where?

Katzenbach: —They’re going back to Congressman Ryan’s—I’ll make sure where it is, but I think it’s Congressman Ryan’s office.

President Johnson: I thought they were going to the FBI?

Katzenbach: No, the FBI doesn’t want to interview them at this time because all the press is around, which I understand. They would rather let that go for a couple of hours and then talk with them when the press is gone. Now, the press will be finished when they leave here. They’re talking to some press, and I think what they say will be all right.

President Johnson: Now, is Ryan and Reid with them?

Katzenbach: Yeah. [Pause.]

President Johnson: Well, what do you think we ought to do?

Katzenbach: Well, I think if you’d—I haven’t seen your statement this morning, Mr. President.

President Johnson: I haven’t made any statement on it.

Katzenbach: All right, I thought you said something in the press conference.

President Johnson: No, I said that . . . Oh, I did make some mention of it by saying that the FBI [Katzenbach acknowledges] . . . let me read it to you. But, I mean I’m . . . I put out no statement since the Attorney General made this suggestion.

[reading] “Do you have any information about the kids that disappeared in Mississippi?” That’s Scotty Reston.[106]

[reading] President: “The FBI has a substantial number of men who are closely studying and investigating the entire situation. We’ve asked them to spare no effort to secure all the information possible, to report to us as soon as possible. We believe they’re making every effort to locate them. I’ve had no report since breakfast, but at that time I understood they had increased their forces in that area. Several weeks ago, I asked them to anticipate the problems that’d come from this and send extra FBI personnel into the area. They have substantially augmented their personnel in the last few hours.”

Katzenbach: Well, that pretty much covers everything you can say, really. The only—I think if Lee were to see them and to carry an expression of personal concern from you to give to them, say that he had talked to you and that you had expressed your personal concern and sympathy with them in this difficult time for them with their children missing, that that would do.

Now, I think whether Lee sees them at the White House, or I think it’d be just as good if Lee saw them in Congressman Ryan’s office. I think that could be—I don’t . . . be done without any press around. I think I could arrange that.

President Johnson: Ask them. Tell them that . . . call them and tell them that Lee White’s been handling this and that he’s been directing the Defense Department and talking to you-all about it for the White House and for the President. And he handles these matters for him, and he’d like if they’d like for him, he’ll have him come right up and meet with them, and see what they say.

Katzenbach: All right.

President Johnson: And then call me back.

Katzenbach: All right, Mr. President.

President Johnson: OK.

Now, you think that’s just as good as having them up in Lee’s office? That avoids all the press?

Katzenbach: Well, that avoids the press if you have them in Lee’s office, I suppose, but the press will be on the outside and want—

President Johnson: Oh, yeah, yeah, I say, but—

Katzenbach: Yeah. I think this way I can find out if there’s any press there and . . . and the congressmen understand the difficulties of the press on this—

President Johnson: Just tell them that they’re going to bring them in from every damn kid that goes down there. He’s going to hide out to get his mama’s picture in the paper if he needs to.

Katzenbach: That’s right.

President Johnson: What do you think happened to them?

Katzenbach: I think they got picked up by some of these Klan people, be my guess.

President Johnson: And murdered?

Katzenbach: Yeah, probably, or else they’re just being hidden in one of those barns or something, you know, and getting the hell scared out of them. But I would not be surprised if they’d been murdered, Mr. President. Pretty rough characters.

President Johnson: How old are these kids?

Katzenbach: Twenty, and twenty-four, and twenty-two.[107]

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. What did you say to them, and what’d the Attorney General say to them?

Katzenbach: Simply that we were doing everything that we possibly could to find out what had happened and essentially what you just said: The FBI was there; we had helicopters out, we are doing everything we could. And if they had any suggestions as to what ought to be done, to get in touch with us and tell us what ought to be done. And an expression of sympathy, and then some discussion of the general difficulty of the federal government being involved beforehand in protection and why the Constitution didn’t permit this.

President Johnson: What did they say?

Katzenbach: And they reacted quite favorably to this. They said they understood the problem, and they just were distressed and just hoped that everything was being done that could be done, and they’re . . . They were not dissatisfied with anything, Mr. President. I think they felt everything was being done, that could be done.

President Johnson: Now, if you think . . . if they’ve got any preference and they’re raising hell, tell them to come on down and see Lee right now and just let me know.

Katzenbach: All right.

President Johnson: And if you don’t think it’s the thing to do. If you don’t think going to the Hill is better, but you think down here would suit them better, just tell them to come on down and see him, and I may just walk in his office and say a word to them.

Katzenbach: All right, Mr. President.

President Johnson: Would you advise that or not advise it?

Katzenbach: [with the President acknowledging] Your seeing them? I think you have the problem of every future one, and I think you’ve got an awful good reason today to be tied up. I’m inclined to think that a personal message from you via Lee would be sufficient. I’m trying to look out for the future because this is not going to be the only time this sort of thing will occur, I’m afraid.

President Johnson: OK.

Katzenbach: All right.

President Johnson: Thank you.

After the Katzenbach conversation, Johnson attempted to place a call to Lee White, but decided to meet with him in person.[108]

3:40 p.m.: The President made an unrecorded call to Walter Jenkins.

3:45 p.m.: Met with Lee White in the Oval Office.

3:50 p.m.: Accepted some material sent by George Reedy before speaking to the assistant attorney general for civil rights.

3:51 p.m.

to Burke Marshall[109]

President Johnson sought advice from Marshall on the disappearance of the COFO workers. He also followed up on a suggestion given to him an hour earlier by Commerce Secretary Luther Hodges, who said that Burke Marshall “would go crazy” in support of LeRoy Collins serving as head of the Community Relations Service.

President Johnson: [to someone in office] Tell [George] Reedy I would say no to that. Tell Walter [Jenkins] to be sure that John Connally knows that he got that.

[on phone] Burke?

Burke Marshall: Yes, Mr. President.

President Johnson: The Attorney General is going to see me later, but I talked to [Nicholas] Katzenbach, and he left a message about our talking to these families. I want to—Katzenbach’s going to get Lee White to run up and see them in [William] Ryan’s office and tell them what all we’ve done and how interested we are so we don’t open up . . . have every boy that gets missing, his parents come down to the White House and have a platform and these congressmen come along with them.

Marshall: Yes.

President Johnson: If we can’t catch them in the office, why, we’ll have them come to see Lee White there. Now, I want to talk to you about the conciliation thing. First, do you think I ought to call the governor [Paul Johnson] on this?[110] The Attorney General indicated he thought maybe I ought to.

Marshall: The governor—

President Johnson: And I thought I’d call Senator [James] Eastland and ask him what he thinks we can do here on these three boys.[111]

Marshall: Oh, I think the senator could tell you, Mr. President, better than I could if you ask him that question.

President Johnson: You think that’s the thing to do, then, is talk to him?

Marshall: Yes. I talked to Attorney General [Joe] Patterson down in—

President Johnson: That’s Mississippi?

Marshall: [with the President acknowledging] Yes, this morning. I know him, and I’ve always . . . he’s always been honest with me, you know, as Senator Eastland always is. And so I’ve done that, and he’s probably told the governor about that call. I told him that the bureau [FBI] was in there, and that we wanted to cooperate and not fight with the state over this, which was the matter of finding three kids that had disappeared. And so he was . . . as he always is, he was perfectly friendly and said that he’d see what he could do to help, and—but I think on whether you should call the governor, which I think maybe you should do, I think the senator would give you better advice than anyone else on that.

President Johnson: What would you say to the governor if you talked to him? Just ask him to try to help find them?

Marshall: Yes.

President Johnson: Wouldn’t he say I’m already doing that? Probably.

Marshall: Probably.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. Uh—

Marshall: I think that if you did do it, Mr. President, I think it would have to be in a way that wasn’t public. I mean, I think we couldn’t do that to the governor. It wouldn’t . . . we wouldn’t . . . I mean, it would make it so tough on him to be helpful at all on any other—

President Johnson: Did you tell the kids that—tell their parents that you’d talked to the Attorney General?

Marshall: Yes, I did tell them that.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. Uh—

Marshall: But he won’t mind that. But the governor would . . .

President Johnson: Resent it?

Marshall: I would think that he might, Mr. President. Again, I think Senator Eastland could give you the best advice on that. We need . . . That governor needs . . . We need to keep him.

President Johnson: Sir?

Marshall: [speaking louder] We need to keep him helpful if we can, Mr. President.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And you don’t think my calling him would be . . . make him helpful if it got out?

Marshall: I wouldn’t think so.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. That’s my judgment.

Now, on this conciliator, we got the mayor of Atlanta [Ivan Allen] in, and he just said [under] no circumstances would he resign. He’d give us a third of his help or half-time help, but he couldn’t resign. So I told [Luther] Hodges to pursue it with the mayor of Charlottesville [sic, Charlotte, North Carolina]—that was the other suggestion he made. And if he failed there, to give some thought to LeRoy Collins. What would you think of that?

Marshall: Oh, I think he’d be first-rate, Mr. President, although he’s awfully . . . he’s cashed in a lot of chips down there, of course. That is, he’s spoken out so strongly on this subject in the past. But I think in all areas, except the very, very difficult states, he’d be first-rate.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. All right, now, if we fail there, they talked to Dave Lawrence [of Pennsylvania]. He doesn’t want to do it, but would you think that he’s a little too old? Or would you . . . Do you know anybody [who] would be better? We’ve got to get somebody pretty quick.

Marshall: That’s right, Mr. President. I’d . . .

President Johnson: The South likes Dave Lawrence.

Marshall: Do they?

President Johnson: They respect him, every one of them. The Dick Russells, the Lyndon Johnsons, everybody that he was against.[112] He’s never been for us, I mean, he was strong for Jack Kennedy against Lyndon Johnson. But he does it in such a way that you respect him.

Marshall: Mm-hmm.

President Johnson: You like him?

Marshall: Well, he’s a very fine man, Mr. President.

President Johnson: Well, will you explore that and give me some other names if you think of them? I want to be sure that we get somebody that you think the Negroes will accept, that you-all will think will be fair and work with you and under your leadership, and that Hodges will appoint.

Marshall: All right, Mr. President.

President Johnson: And you give me two or three more names of southerners that we can explore. Now, I wouldn’t be hesitant to make Ted Kheel do it, if he’d do it, although he’s a New Yorker.[113]

Marshall: Yes, I think he has some identifications with the NAACP and other groups that would make it difficult for him, and . . .

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. May be that.

Marshall: He was identified—I think he may have been a founding member of a thing called the Gandhi Society [for Human Rights] [Johnson acknowledges], which is . . . was—which [Martin Luther] King was involved in.[114]

President Johnson: Now, Hodges doesn’t like him, but Dr. [George] Taylor recommended this fellow [William] Simkin over at the . . . Sitkin or Sinkin, what is it, over at Labor Department, conciliator, head of the conciliation service?[115]

Marshall: I don’t know him.

President Johnson: Simkin or Sitkin? You might look at him. He’s the director of conciliation for [Willard] Wirtz, and I might suggest you talk

to Wirtz and see if he’s got any good people that . . . He may have some good conciliators, you know, that . . . [unclear].

Marshall: Yes. I think that . . . I think he might, Mr. President. I’ll talk to him, if you want.

President Johnson: Yeah, I sure do. Now, anything else?

Marshall: No—

President Johnson: The Attorney General suggested I might want to say something in a statement. Now . . .

Marshall: On these people in Mississippi?

President Johnson: Yeah. Here’s what I said this morning—he didn’t know it:

[reading] “Mr. President, do you have any information about these kids that disappeared in Mississippi?” The President:—that’s Scotty Reston—“The FBI has a substantial number of men who are closely studying, investigating the entire situation. We have asked them to spare no efforts, to secure all the information possible, report to us as soon as possible. We believe they’re making every effort to locate them. I’ve had no report since breakfast, but at that time I understood that they had increased their forces in that area. Several weeks ago, I had asked them to anticipate the problems that would come from this and to send extra FBI personnel into the area. They have substantially augmented their personnel in the last few hours.”

I don’t know what else I can say.

Marshall: No, I think that’s fine, Mr. President. I think if Lee is going to see them and . . . and . . . When they were over here, we said that you were concerned about it, and I think that’s all they want.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. OK. Much obliged.

Marshall: Thank you, Mr. President.

3:59 p.m.

to James Eastland[116]

Hoping to gain an entrée to the Mississippi governor, the President reached his old Senate friend James Eastland in the senator’s hometown of Ruleville, Mississippi. Johnson kept Eastland on the speakerphone for the entirety of this conversation, literally shouting into what he called the “squawk box” for over eight minutes. Eastland, in his thick Mississippi Delta accent, mocked the idea that any violence had occurred and gave voice to a prevalent white southern belief that the disappearance was a “publicity stunt,” declaring confidently that there was “nobody in that area to harm them.”

President Johnson: Jim?

James Eastland: Hello, Mr. President, how you feel?

President Johnson: I’m doing all right. I hope you are. You got a lot of sunshine down there?

Eastland: Need some rain—we need rain mighty bad.

President Johnson: Well, we’re so dry in my country that we’re going to have to sell off all of our cattle if we don’t get rain.

Eastland: Well, I’m in the same shape: got a cotton crop just burning up.

President Johnson: I’ll be darned. I thought you’d be harvesting cotton pretty soon. When is it, July?

Eastland: Yeah.

President Johnson: I guess they’re harvesting in the valley right now.

Eastland: Uh-huh.

President Johnson: Jim, we’ve got three kids missing down there. What can I do about it?

Eastland: Well, I don’t know. I don’t believe there’s . . . I don’t believe there’s three missing.

President Johnson: We’ve got their parents down here.

Eastland: I believe it’s a publicity stunt.

President Johnson: They say that their parents are here, and they’ve come down to see the Attorney General, and they’ve seen Burke Marshall, and they’re going to be interviewed by the FBI—the parents. And they’ve got some newspaper people and some photographers with them and a couple of congressmen: Congressman [William] Ryan and this Republican, Congressman Ogden Reid, whose folks used to own the Herald Tribune in New York.[117]

Eastland: Yeah?

President Johnson: They want to come to the White House to see the President, and I told them that I thought that that would be better to let Lee White—who handles matters like that for me—to talk to them, and he’d go up to Ryan’s office and talk to them. I don’t know whether that’s going to be satisfactory or not.

The Attorney General called over while I was out. He thought I ought to make a statement on it. I made one at my press conference this morning. Scotty Reston said, “Mr. President, do you have any information about those three kids that disappeared in Mississippi?” I said [reading]: “The FBI has a number of men who are studying it, and we’ve asked them to spare no efforts to secure information and report to us. I’ve had no reports since breakfast, but at that time I understood that the FBI had forces in that area looking into it. Several weeks ago, I asked them to anticipate the problems that would come from this, and they have sent extra FBI personnel into the area. They have substantially augmented their personnel in the last few hours.” And that’s all I said.

Eastland: Well, that’s all right. Now, I’m going to tell you why I don’t think there’s a damn thing to it. They were put in jail in Philadelphia, in East Mississippi, right next to . . . the county right next to John Stennis’s home county, and they were going to Meridian.[118] There’s not a Ku Klux Klan in that area; there’s not a Citizen’s Council in that area; there’s no organized white man in that area, so that’s why I think it’s a publicity stunt.[119] Now, if it had happened in other areas, I would pay more attention to it, but I happen to know that some of these bombings where nobody gets hurt are publicity stunts.

This Nigra woman in Ruleville that’s been to Washington and testified that she was shot at 19 times is lying.[120] Course, with anybody that gets shot at 19 times [chuckling] is going to get hit, and she hasn’t been shot at a time, and nobody’s tried to bother her. They let her sit in on the Democratic . . . in the Democratic county convention this morning.

President Johnson: Uh-huh.

Eastland: I don’t think there’s anything to it.

President Johnson: Well, now, here’s what I’m calling you about as my friend: Number one, they said I ought to make a statement. I’ve made this statement, and I think I’ll stand on it. Do you see any need of my going any further?

Eastland: No!

President Johnson: All right, that’s number one. Number two, they’ve suggested I see these parents. I’ve told them I thought that’d be a bad precedent. I’m going to try to get them to see an assistant of mine and get by with that if I can, so I don’t add to the fuel. Uh, do you . . . you . . .
you . . . Don’t you think that’s the thing to do?

Eastland: Sure, and I think it’s going to turn out that there’s nothing to it. Now, I don’t know, but . . .

President Johnson: Now, number three, the Attorney General suggested that I probably ought to call the governor [Paul Johnson]. I found out that Burke Marshall called the attorney general, [Joe] Patterson of Mississippi, this morning. He was quite cooperative, and he said they were going to do everything they could to help. If I call the governor, it might put him on the spot a little bit, particularly if it got public, and he might resent it. Now, what’s your judgment?

Eastland: Well, my judgment is that he’s going to do everything he can, and is doing everything he can, to enforce the law.

President Johnson: All right, now, should I call him or not?

Eastland: Well, it’d be all right.

President Johnson: Would you advise it or not advise it?

Eastland: No, I’m not going to advise you. I don’t think it would mean anything either way. He’s going . . . I can call him, and . . .

President Johnson: You just do that, and I’ll say I’ve communicated with the proper people, and I’m doing everything I can with everybody I know.

Eastland: All right. I’ll call him and talk to him about it [unclear]—

President Johnson: I’d rather work with you. Now you tell him that I want to see him anytime he wants to now. I told you and John Stennis we want to get this bill out of the way so they couldn’t say I was trading and filling out.[121] Now, it’s out of the way, and you tell him anytime he wants to meet—

Eastland: Well . . .

President Johnson: —I’m ready.

Eastland: This boy in the . . . What’s—[Nicholas] Katzenbach said to arrange it one day next week after the sixth.

President Johnson: All right, that’s good. Well, you just—

Eastland: And I’m going . . . I was going to talk to him this afternoon.

President Johnson: All right. You just tell him anything—

Eastland: Well, let me ask you this question about these three that are missing: Who is it there to harm them? There’s no organ—there’s no white organizations in that area of Mississippi. Who would . . . who would—could possibly harm them?

President Johnson: Well, might have some crank, or some nut, like . . . They locked [talking over Eastland] a man up in Minneapolis today for saying he’s going to kill me Friday when I go out there.[122]

Eastland: [Unclear.][123] . . . It’ll take a crowd to handle . . . make three men disappear.

President Johnson: Well, it depends on the kind of men, Jim.

Eastland: Huh?

President Johnson: It depends on the kind of men.

Eastland: Well, there’s nobody in that area to harm them.

President Johnson: They might take a big crowd to take three like you.

Eastland: [chuckling] Ah, well—

President Johnson: I imagine it wouldn’t take many to capture me.

Eastland: [continuing to chuckle] Well, I’d run.

President Johnson: All right. Well, now you get that rain for both of us and send it on east when you get through using it.

Eastland: I’ll do it.

President Johnson: Now you tell the governor I send my regards. I want to work with him.

Now, we got a party conciliator under this law, Jim. I’ve got to have some southerner that knows something about the South and that the Negroes will have confidence in and won’t say that I’ve fixed them. If you’ve got any ideas or anybody that’s worth a damn, I wished you’d let me know.

Eastland: I’ll do it.

President Johnson: I tried to get the mayor of Atlanta [Ivan Allen] today, and he wouldn’t take it.

Eastland: I didn’t know that.

President Johnson: Well, I asked him, and he said he wouldn’t take it. Some of them have suggested that I try to get Dave Lawrence of Pennsylvania, but he’s been governor, and he wouldn’t want to take it. Some of them have suggested that I get a mayor from North Carolina; I don’t know him [Stanley Brookshire]. One of them suggested that I get LeRoy Collins. I don’t know whether he’d get out of the association he works for or not.

Eastland: Well, he’s a damn cheat, double-crosser, and a liar, and he’s a . . . strictly dishonest. Now, he agreed that the convention . . . before he was to recognize us to vote for you, and he went back on his word, and I called him a goddamn, lying, son of a bitch out there.[124]

President Johnson: Well, we don’t want him, then, do we?

Eastland: Hell, no!

President Johnson: All right, I’ll tell them that. Now, get some—

Eastland: You couldn’t retain your self-respect and vote a—and support a man that fought you like he did.

President Johnson: All right. OK, much obliged.

Eastland: Well, I think—

President Johnson: You think of anybody you can and give me a ring.

Eastland: I’ll do it.

At 3:32 p.m. (edt), the FBI had located the 1963 Ford Fairlane station wagon driven by Chaney. The burned car rested 15 miles northeast of Philadelphia. It was 48 feet off of Highway 21 and just over 100 feet east of the languid Bogue Chitto Creek. The FBI found the vehicle through tips from the superintendent at a nearby Choctaw Indian Reservation and a local man who had seen ten-foot-high flames in the area at approximately 4:00 a.m. (edt) on June 22 (a little over three hours after the

murders). Arriving on the scene were Neshoba County Sheriff Lawrence Rainey and an estimated 20 FBI agents.[125]

4:05 p.m.

from J. Edgar Hoover[126]

Shortly after Johnson’s exchange with Eastland, the FBI director called with the startling news about the car, adding that the men had “been killed.” During the call, Johnson remained on the speakerphone.

A conversation between the White House operator and Marie Fehmer precedes the call in which they decide to put Hoover on the line before Luther Hodges.

J. Edgar Hoover: Mr. President?

President Johnson: Yeah.

Hoover: I wanted to let you know we found the car.

President Johnson: Yeah?

Hoover: Now, this is not known. Nobody knows this at all, but the car was burned, and we do not know yet whether any bodies are inside of the car because of the intense heat that still is in the area of the car.[127] The license plates on the car are the same that was on the car that was in Philadelphia, Mississippi, yesterday, and apparently this is off to the side of the road. It wasn’t going toward Meridian, but it was going in the opposite direction.

Now, whether there are any bodies in the car, we won’t know until we can get into the car ourselves. We’ve got agents, of course, on the ground, and as soon as we get definite word, I’ll of course get word to you. But I did want you to know that apparently what’s happened: These men have been killed. Although, as I say, we can’t tell whether there are any bodies in there in view of the intense heat.

President Johnson: Well, now, what would make you think they’d been killed?

Hoover: Because of the fact that it is the same car that they were in, in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and the same license number is on the outside of the car. Now, as I say, the heat is so intense you can’t tell—on the inside everything’s been burned—whether there are any charred bodies or not. It is merely an assumption that probably they were burned in the car. On the other hand, they may have been taken out and killed on the outside.

President Johnson: Or maybe kidnapped and locked up.

Hoover: How’s that?

President Johnson: Or maybe kidnapped and locked up.

Hoover: Well, I would doubt whether those people down there would even give them that much of a break. But of course, we’re going to go into that very thoroughly: not only as to the fact as to whether they’re still alive. If they’re not in the car, then they maybe have been killed and their bodies buried in one of those swamps down there.

President Johnson: Where did you find the car? How far from Philadelphia?

Hoover: The car was about, I’d say, eight miles from Philadelphia, but not in the direction of Meridian. It was in the opposite direction. Now, they had left Philadelphia—according to the reports that we had earlier—to go to Meridian, which is about 20 miles. This, however, was on state Highway 21, and the car was off to the side of the highway, although it could be seen from the highway. And an Indian agent—there’s an Indian [Choctaw] reservation down in that area, although the car is not on the reservation—an Indian agent saw the car and immediately notified us, and we went there, and there we found this condition.[128]

President Johnson: How long had the car been burnt, you reckon, six or eight hours?

Hoover: Well, we . . . we frankly don’t know. The intense heat would have indicated that the car probably had been burning for nearly six hours, or five or six hours.

President Johnson: What would you indicate? They filled it with gasoline, and . . .

Hoover: I would think so, yes. There wasn’t any indication of any explosion like dynamite or anything of that kind. And, of course, dynamite wouldn’t have caused the intense heat and fire that kerosene or gasoline would have.

President Johnson: Well, looks like a poor fellow would jump out of a car that [was] burning.

Hoover: Well, you would think they would, unless they’d been bound and were locked in that car and then the car set afire.

President Johnson: Well, why wouldn’t an agent be able to look at a car and see if there’s any bones in it?

Hoover: See whether there are any bodies in it?

President Johnson: Any bones, yeah.

Hoover: Well, the reason for that is the car is so burned and charred with heat that you can’t get close to it, except that we did get the license number, which is on the outside of the car.

President Johnson: You mean it’s still burning?

Hoover: Well, the car is still burning, yes.

President Johnson: You mean you think this happened in the last few minutes, then?

Hoover: No, I don’t think it’s the last few minutes. I think it’s something that’s happened within the last maybe five or six hours. You see, they didn’t leave there until sometime yesterday, I think it was.[129]

President Johnson: OK, you call me as soon as you can.

Now, this group’s coming down here to see Lee White, my assistant.

Hoover: Yes?

President Johnson: You think in the light of this that this congressman —both of them are raising hell for me to see them. You think I ought to step in and just tell them I’ve talked to you, and you’re doing everything you can?

Hoover: I think it would be all right. I don’t like to have you having to see these people because we’re going to have more cases like this down South, and every time that it occurs, they’re going to have these families come on here to Washington, and of course the congressmen, being politically minded, they’ll want you to see them.

Now, they’ve seen [Nicholas] Katzenbach, as I understand, over here.

President Johnson: Yeah.

Hoover: And politically, it might be wise for you to just step in and say that you’ve been in communication with the bureau [FBI], somewhat along the statement that you issued this morning. [Unclear comment by Johnson.] I wouldn’t give the details of the number of agents that we’ve got. You said it was substantially augmented, and I think that’s . . . that’s entirely sufficient. And that you’re being kept advised of any progress that is being made.

President Johnson: That’s good. OK. Thank you a lot.

Hoover: Fine.

President Johnson: You let me know as soon as you hear anything.

Hoover: Yes, I’ll call you, Mr. President. OK.

4:14 p.m.

to Luther Hodges[130]

Johnson’s next call was a quick follow-up to Hodges on Eastland’s complaints about LeRoy Collins. The President was still talking through the speakerphone.

The President asks for Nicholas Katzenbach before the operator connects the Hodges call.

President Johnson: Hello?

Luther Hodges: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: Luther?

Hodges: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: I talked to Jim Eastland about this Mississippi thing.

Hodges: Yes?

President Johnson: And it’s pretty bad down there, and he . . . I mentioned [LeRoy] Collins to him, and he said he’s a goddamn, lying, son of a bitch. He wouldn’t trust him on oath and not to even think of naming him.

Hodges: Oh, really?

President Johnson: Yeah, he said that he lied to them, and they don’t—they hate him pretty much, so I think you better not name him.

Hodges: Really? That’s a . . . that’s a shocker.

President Johnson: Said they tried to get him to recognize him at the convention. He promised to do it, and then he wouldn’t let Mississippi vote for me.

Hodges: Oh, for heaven’s sake.

President Johnson: Real vicious about it.

Hodges: Really?

President Johnson: We better think of a . . .

Hodges: Well, you think I better . . . should I double . . . Should I check on the other two of the Florida senators [George Smathers and Spessard Holland] just to see what their reaction is before I move?

President Johnson: I believe that it’d be out, though, if Eastland felt that way. I wouldn’t want him. I think that they’re very bitter, and if a fellow feels that way about me, why . . .

Hodges: Well, he doesn’t feel that way about you.

President Johnson: Well, Jim Eastland said that they had a bound agreement with him at the convention to recognize him so Mississippi could vote for me, and said, by God, he wouldn’t recognize him, said he called him a damn liar.

Hodges: Well, I—of course, I don’t suppose either you or I could argue that at a distance, but I can’t believe that’s true, Mr. President. [Unclear.][131]

President Johnson: Well, Mississippi was pledged to me, and they told me they changed before they got to the end of roll call, and they did ask for recognition. They couldn’t get it.

Hodges: Hmm.

President Johnson: He was chairman.

Hodges: Yeah. Well, I just don’t know the details of that, do you?

President Johnson: No. No, that’s all I know.

Hodges: I have talked with this man, and I know he has the very highest regard, and I don’t believe he would have premeditatedly done a thing like that. I’d like, if you don’t mind, like to get to the bottom of that.

President Johnson: All right, ask him and without telling him [about] Eastland, just tell him some people say that Mississippi had an agreement with him.

Hodges: I’ll do that.

President Johnson: [Unclear] what it is. But in the meantime, you pursue that North Carolina man [Stanley Brookshire].

Hodges: I’ll do that. I’ll know by tonight.

President Johnson: Bye.

Hodges: See what else we can do. Thank you.

4:16 p.m.

to Nicholas Katzenbach[132]

The news from Hoover changed the handling of the Mississippi situation, as Johnson firmed up plans to see the parents. Continuing to speak on the speakerphone, he informed the deputy attorney general about the burned car.

An office conversation with Lee White precedes the Katzenbach call.

Lee White: [James] Farmer was headed down there to—

President Johnson: Can you get Farmer now? It’s 3 [p.m.] . . . 4:00. He said he’d leave at 2:30.

White: [talking over Johnson] I’m sure he’s on . . . I’m sure he’s en route.

President Johnson: Where was he, at the hotel?

White: No, he was in his office. He was planning to leave New York City at 2[:00] or 2:30 for Meridian.

President Johnson: Well, I guess he’s already gone.

White: I think he is, sir.

President Johnson: I’d place a call for him at his home anyway to tell him this . . . found the car. You won’t get him, but you can tell him you tried to get him.

I think if Katzenbach hasn’t gotten them [the parents], what you’d better do is just tell them to come on down at your office and come in that side door from the EOB [Executive Office Building]. Get word out there and bring them to your office, and then you tell them what all we’ve done, and let me come over and say a word, and I may just—I guess I ought to tell them we found the car, don’t you think so?

White: Unless there’s any reason for . . . [unclear] . . . from [J. Edgar] Hoover’s point of view that it would harm things. I don’t think it would.

President Johnson: Well, he didn’t tell me to keep it confidential.

White: No, he [unclear]. That’s right, he didn’t. Of course, if you know it and they don’t tell them . . . [if] you don’t tell them, you’re [unclear].

President Johnson: I’d have to tell them.

White: Yeah, going to be rough.

President Johnson: I don’t think we ought to tell anybody else until Hoover tells [unclear]—[133]

The operator announces the Katzenbach call.

President Johnson: Yes, Nick?

Nicholas Katzenbach: Yes, Mr. President.

President Johnson: What’d you find out about those fellows?

Katzenbach: I haven’t found out anything yet.

President Johnson: Are they still in [William] Ryan’s office?

Katzenbach: They’re still there, went back over there, and I guess that’s where they are. I asked Burke Marshall to try to follow it because I had a group in my office and couldn’t talk. And so I asked Burke to try to do it and . . . and see if the press was over there. And I suspect they are, since they tailed out [of] here after them. So I think under those circumstances, it’d be better for Lee to see them in the White House, Mr. President.

President Johnson: All right. Well, I’d just tell Lee to call them, and . . . I understand they found the car burned up down there.

Katzenbach: Did they? I didn’t . . . hadn’t heard that information.

President Johnson: I don’t know what that means. If a car is burned up, they say they can’t tell whether there are any bodies in it or not. Sounds like somebody put a lot of gasoline in it and touched it afire.[134]

Katzenbach: Yes.

President Johnson: But I don’t believe three men would burn up in it. I believe they’d run out. You might find some bodies around it. They’d be . . .

Katzenbach: Well, they may have . . . They might could have . . . They could have been killed first and left in there. Then burned it.

President Johnson: What would be the point in doing that?

Katzenbach: Destroy as much evidence as they could in the fire, Mr. President. [Pauses.] Make it as difficult to trace as possible.

President Johnson: Well. [Pauses.] What else can we do to forestall the reoccurrence of this?

Katzenbach: That’s what I’ve been trying—

President Johnson: And what other things can we do besides ask FBI to be every damn place they can [unclear]?

Katzenbach: My—I think that’s the major thing that we can do, Mr. President, and that . . . And the only other thing is to attempt to make the appeals that can be made quietly to the governor. I mean, I know Jim Eastland. I’ve talked at length with him on this, and he doesn’t want violence down there and swears [Governor] Paul Johnson doesn’t, and he’s never misled me on anything.

I don’t know what else we can do, and you can work with the groups that we have: the decent citizens, try to get them aroused. You’ve been doing that, sir. And it’s hard to . . . it’s just hard to think of anything else, Mr. President. I’ve been sitting here. We’ve spent endless times over here trying to think of things that can be done. That’s all we’ve come up with. [Pause.]

President Johnson: OK, much obliged. You let me know if there’s anything else.

Katzenbach: Yes.

4:21 p.m.

to J. Edgar Hoover[135]

To clarify the confidentiality issue raised with Lee White, Johnson checked with Hoover about what information he could relay to the parents.

An office conversation with Lee White precedes the call.

President Johnson: You just ask them what time they want to come down and tell—[Loud feedback on the line can be heard.] What’d you do over there?

Lee White: I just pushed a button that went down. You mean the line here on this . . .

President Johnson: You can come talk right into this one.

White: [Unclear.] [Pauses for ten seconds.] I’ve got a memo, Mr. President, over to the [unclear]—

The operator interrupts to announce that Hoover is on the line.

President Johnson: Yes, Edgar?

J. Edgar Hoover: Mr. President?

President Johnson: Yeah.

Hoover: I think this can be done when you see these people. I think it’s proper that you can now say that the car has been found and has . . . that the car was burning, has been found, and that agents are endeavoring now to get inside of the car. What I find now, on the last word I just got, was that the inside of the car, from the intense heat, has melted and burned everything into ashes. Now, we’ve got to therefore pry the doors open, which we’re doing, and getting into the inside to examine to see whether there’s any human bones inside the car. If there are, we know the bodies, then, were in the car. But everything has been consumed in the car, even to the metal inside the car being melted.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Hoover: Now, this Indian agent that first flashed this information to us said that he saw this car yesterday burning, and then he reported it to us today. So therefore the car has been extremely hot, and it’s . . . the agents now are able to—have gotten the tools there—able to pry open the doors of the car to examine the inside. Whether we find any human bones or ashes of human bones that can be examined from that point of view we won’t know until we can have the experts in the laboratory examine that down there.

President Johnson: Fine, Edgar. Much obliged.

Hoover: Fine.

President Johnson: You have to keep me informed.

Hoover: OK.

Time Unknown

between Lee White and William Ryan[136]

White used Johnson’s phone to set procedures for the parents’ visit to the White House.

The President asks the operator to get Congressman Ryan for Lee White. The recording apparently is captured through the President’s speakerphone: Only White’s side of the conversation is recorded.

Lee White: Hello? Congressman, this is Lee White. I heard your meeting went well with the Justice Department, and I had hoped to get down there myself to participate, but unfortunately, I was at the White House and couldn’t make it. Are the parents still with you and with your people? [Pause while Ryan responds, with White acknowledging.]

Well, this is an awfully rough day for the President, so let me suggest then—if you have some transportation—if you’ll bring them through the Southwest Gate to the West Basement in my office, and I’ll be glad to meet with them. And, you know, I know it’s not the same as the President is. I have been working on it, and I’ll be glad to hear them and give them the benefit of whatever information I have. [Pause while Ryan responds.]

Southwest Gate. [Pause while Ryan responds.] That’s the gate . . . [Pause while Ryan responds.] That’s right, around the south side, that big old, shaped fence in between the West Wing and the Executive Office Building. My office is the second floor, and you just bring them or have them come to the West Basement [unclear].

The recording of the conversation continues unclearly in the background as an unidentified male and the operator come on the line and discuss that the Oval Office telephone was apparently left off the hook. White hangs up and resumes his office conversation with the President while an operator continues to attempt to get the attention of someone on the line. The President finally realizes that the intercom is on and instructs White to turn it off.

4:24 p.m.: Johnson took an unrecorded call from Walter Jenkins.

4:25 p.m.

from James Eastland[137]

Heeding Johnson’s request, Senator Eastland had called Mississippi Governor Paul Johnson. Early on in this report on his findings, Eastland relayed the governor’s belief that the disappearance was a hoax, but Johnson stopped him with the news of the burned station wagon.

James Eastland: . . . [unclear] impartial observer down here to advise you whether there’s any violence, whether or not everything’s not being handled exactly as it ought to be—that he [Governor Paul Johnson] would welcome it.

President Johnson: All right. All right.

Eastland: Now . . . and he says he’d be glad to cooperate. He’d give them . . . send them anywhere they want to go, see anybody they want to see, that he thinks you ought to know what the facts are. He says that these people [COFO activists] that are in the state haven’t scratched the . . . and that they’ve got to do something to attract attention. [Johnson acknowledges.]

Now, here’s what he says about this thing at Philadelphia: He said those people were in Meridian. They left Meridian to go to Philadelphia, which is 45 miles away. Before they got to Philadelphia, they were announced missing by the headquarters of this organization in Jackson. And then they showed up in Meridian and were put in jail after that and kept a few hours and turned loose. Now, he says he expects them to turn up and claiming with bruises and claiming that somebody’s whipped them, when that . . . he doesn’t believe a word of it. And it is peculiar from what he said that they were reported missing, he said, 45 minutes after they left Meridian and before they got to Philadelphia, and they served . . . were put in jail in Philadelphia after that.

President Johnson: OK, now, here’s the problem, Jim. [J. Edgar] Hoover just called me one minute ago, and—oh, I guess five minutes ago—and told me that they had found the car. It wasn’t headed toward Meridian; it was headed a different direction out at a Indian reservation . . .

Eastland: Well, there’s all kind of Indian reservations between Philadelphia and Meridian.[138]

President Johnson: Well, he said it was headed away from Meridian, but an Indian found it, saw it burning yesterday.

Eastland: Oh.

President Johnson: And he reported it to them, and his agents have gone out there, and the car is still burning. And it’s so hot they can’t get inside of it, and they don’t know whether the people are inside of it or not, but it’s the same car they were in because it’s got the same license numbers.

Eastland: Well, I know nothing about that. But the governor says you can send some impartial man down here and that you’ll get the surprise of your life, and there is, now . . . now, all around me, there are . . . in Ruleville—it’s one of the headquarters—and there’s just nothing. There’s no violence or no friction of any kind.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. OK, much obliged. And you’ve communicated my wishes to him, so there’s no use in my calling him?

Eastland: Yeah, now, what . . . I’m going to have to call the Justice Department. They—Bobby [Kennedy] suggested an agenda of what you were going to talk about, and he wants that.

President Johnson: All right. That’s good.

Eastland: That’s something we can arrange.

President Johnson: Yeah, that’s good. I haven’t seen it, but I . . . anything suits me, and I want to be guided by you-all’s suggestions, you and Attorney General.

Eastland: Well . . . that’s fine.

President Johnson: OK.

Eastland: Bye.

President Johnson: Bye.

For the next 20 minutes, concerns about tax policy, ambassadorial appointments, Cyprus, and Henry Cabot Lodge momentarily interrupt the focus on the Mississippi crisis.

4:29 p.m.

from Douglas Dillon[139]

Dillon followed up on his earlier discussion (at 1:08 p.m. this day) about the Senate Finance Committee and reported on new developments in the excise tax—extension deliberations.

President Johnson: Yes?

Douglas Dillon: Mr. President, I just had quite a long talk on the phone with Russell Long, and for this excise thing tomorrow, we’ve lost . . .
[Albert] Gore and [Paul] Douglas, and so we need to have . . . [Vance] Hartke’s vote.[140] And both our own people from talking to him and Russell Long from talking to him thinks that if you talk to him, we can get it; otherwise, we won’t get it. And with that, we’ll have nine votes, counting [Harry] Byrd, and we’ll be all right. Without it, they think we may lose anything up to a billion dollars in revenue in what the committee will do.

President Johnson: All right, I’ll try to talk to him. They don’t know anything about my relationship with Hartke, and I don’t think that I’m the one to talk to him, but I’ll go ahead and do it just so they—

Dillon: Well, they felt that—

President Johnson: [Unclear] try. They don’t know a damn thing. They don’t know how I stand with Hartke, and . . . but I’ll do it. I don’t . . . I don’t . . . I wouldn’t be very optimistic about it, though.

Dillon: Well, we’ll see—

President Johnson: What is the vote on that committee? How’s it—

Dillon: It would be 9 to 8 if we have Hartke and Byrd. We’ll have nine. We’ll lose six Republicans and Gore and Douglas.

President Johnson: Well, I understood Douglas is just going to make one motion: that’s to strike out some excise and substitute oil or something.

Dillon: No. . . . No, he’s . . . [Mike] Manatos misunderstood him, and he now has told Manatos that. He’s going to make that motion, but then he’ll go along with [Everett] Dirksen anyway, no matter what happens to his motion.[141] So we’ve lost him. Because he was against us before, so it’s nothing new.

President Johnson: OK. All right. Much obliged.

Dillon: All right, thank you.

President Johnson: Bye.

4:30 p.m.: Using his personal line, the President made an unrecorded call to Walter Jenkins.

4:43 p.m.

to Dean Rusk[142]

Johnson continued to wrap up the details of his seven-month search to find a replacement for Carl Rowan as ambassador to Finland. Earlier in the year, Democratic fund-raiser Mary Lasker had turned him down. Art critic Aline Saarinen seemed to be in line to accept, but later withdrew. Tyler Thompson, a career Foreign Service officer, would be appointed to the post on July 31.

Dean Rusk: Hello?

President Johnson: Dean—

Rusk: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: —I want to ask you: We sent some career person to Finland, and I got a little bit fuzzed up. It got by me without my knowing it, and we haven’t notified him yet, although we asked the country if he’d be acceptable. Some of your career people—I just wondered if there’s any reason why we couldn’t change it and put this boy Sam Gilstrap to Finland and give this career man something else.[143]

Rusk: Well, my understanding was, Mr. President, that this name was on a list that apparently we were notified that you had approved—

President Johnson: Yeah.

Rusk: —and the Finnish government was very pleased with it when they were asked for the agrément. There is considerable disadvantage in shifting gears. It is not impossible to do it. Let me look at the . . .

President Johnson: I don’t believe the fellow’s been told. If he hadn’t, I would like to switch him some other place. I don’t know him, and I[’d] like to send Gilstrap to Finland if I could.

Rusk: Uh-huh, let me check on that.

President Johnson: Gilstrap was consul, you know, out at Hong Kong, and he’s being promoted to an ambassadorship.

Rusk: Mm-hmm.

President Johnson: And he’s young and able and attractive and shrewd and smart, and if you can, I’d sure like to.

Did you ever talk to [George] Aiken?[144]

Rusk: I have not been able to reach him yet, but I will. I’ve been in a meeting this afternoon. I’ll get him, though, before I come over for this 5:00 meeting with [Turkish Prime Minister IË™smet] IË™nönü. There was an agreed communiqué, by the way. [Under Secretary of State] George Ball will be in to see you a few minutes before the meeting.

President Johnson: Is it any good? What does it say, nothing?

Rusk: It says much of nothing, but I think the Turks are reasonably pleased with it.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Rusk: But—well, I’ll—Let me look into this other matter and advise you tomorrow on it.

President Johnson: All right.

Rusk: Right.

President Johnson: Aiken says that he’s sure that there’s some difference or something out there, and a good many of them are leaving the impression that [Henry Cabot] Lodge is in a fight with us. So I wished you would quote to Aiken that Lodge said he was coming back to campaign, that he thought he had to stand up and be counted for [William] Scranton.[145]

Rusk: Right, I surely will. I’ll be—I’ll call him before I come over.

President Johnson: All right.

Rusk: Thank you.

4:49 p.m.

from Lee White[146]

Lee White called to plan the White House’s handling of the news about the burned car, but Johnson had encountered another problem that was at least as problematic: The NAACP convention had voted at 2:30 p.m. to picket the Justice Department to protest the lack of protection in the South.[147] Afterward, Johnson intensified his efforts to arrange a visit with the parents.

President Johnson: Hello?

Lee White: Mr. President?

President Johnson: Yeah.

White: It just occurred to me as I sat here trying to figure out what in the world we could do when this information breaks. I haven’t come up with any particularly spectacular, but it seems—

President Johnson: NAACP has just voted to picket the White House tomorrow because they want protection for their people in Mississippi.[148]

White: No kidding?

President Johnson: Yeah.

White: Well, that’s really great, isn’t it? [Pauses.]

What I was thinking was this would be an absolutely perfect time for Governor [Paul] Johnson to make a strong statement about what he intends to do to apprehend these . . . the people who perpetrated whatever crime this turns out to be, and if he could be prepared with some sort of a position, I think—and perhaps even get some other southern governors and statesmen to speak out and to decry this. I’m sure they’re going to be as shocked and as badly battered as I feel and perhaps could do a great deal to . . . if the timing were right.

I just wondered how that struck you as at least somewhat a way of trying to bring order out of that . . . the chaos that could emerge when this information becomes public.

President Johnson: Yeah, I think it would be good. What would we do, suggest that Eastland get him to make a statement or something?

White: Yes, sir. And that he himself could say that people of Mississippi are not violent, that this is shocking. I mean, Senator [James] Eastland’s got some stature and standing, and if everybody began to speak out, I think that would be of tremendous assistance because—

President Johnson: Well, get me two or three sentences that each one of them might say along the line you think.

White: All right.

President Johnson: I think you ought to try to get ahold of Roy Wilkins and ask him what in the hell we’ve done. Tell him I’ve been on the phone all day long. I’ve talked to [Nicholas] Katzenbach and [Burke] Marshall and Jim Eastland twice, the Attorney General and [J. Edgar] Hoover four or five times.

White: Yeah, this . . .

President Johnson: Ask him what else he wants us to do. Tell him we don’t know . . . if they’re going to picket, they’ll destroy . . . people won’t think we’ve done any . . . the people we try to help for will think we’re—if we don’t have their confidence, there isn’t . . . nobody going to do anything. I don’t see what good they think it’d do by picketing the White House. They must think they can do some good, though.

White: Well, I have a hard time figuring out what benefits they’ll pull from that. It doesn’t strike me as very beneficial. I’ll try to get in touch with Roy and find out.

Now, I—you may recall in one of my memos, I specifically raised this question with him very early in the game, and he said no sir, he figured they were just absolutely pleased with everything and the way it was going and that he would certainly do his best to head off anything that came along that might look like it was critical of the administration or of you personally. But he—

President Johnson: Well, doesn’t picketing of the White House imply that they’re very angry with us?

White: Does to me. It doesn’t strike me as being a very complimentary or very flattering thing. I’d say—

President Johnson: You call Roy, and then you call Burke Marshall and ask him what we ought to do about it.

White: All right.

President Johnson: I think maybe you ought to think about getting me a statement on this Mississippi thing, too.

White: All right, sir, I will. All right, I’ll bring them down.

President Johnson: All right. Have you heard from these people yet?

White: No, sir, apparently they’re en route.

President Johnson: We ought to get them down here. You ought to call [William] Ryan again and ask him if they’ve left.

White: All right. I will.

4:59 p.m.

to Mike Mansfield[149]

Johnson called the Senate majority leader about Henry Cabot Lodge’s leaving South Vietnam to take a greater role in the Republican Party
and about the impending excise tax vote. In the middle of those topics, Johnson dropped in the news about the burned car.

President Johnson: Mike?

Mike Mansfield: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: George Aiken said that he was sure that Lodge must be coming back because of some difference of opinion.

Mansfield: Yes.

President Johnson: Lodge announced that—he agreed to let me announce it first—but Lodge announced that the reason he was coming back was, quote, “because I believe it is my duty to do everything I can to help Governor [William] Scranton to win for president,” unquote.

Mansfield: Uh-huh.

President Johnson: That’s the only reason he’s coming back. He frankly says he wants to get up and help before the [Republican] Convention.

Now, I wonder if you wouldn’t tell Aiken that those are the facts. He told us that’s why he’s coming. He told them publicly, so there’s no use of

leaving the impression with the people that there’s been any argument, because there has not. He—

Mansfield: I would be glad to, sir.

President Johnson: He praises me in the letter, and we praise Lodge. And there’s no quarrel: We wanted him to stay on, but his own people just raised so much hell, he thought he ought to come back and help Scranton, or he would be considered as not standing up and being counted when he was needed.

Mansfield: I’ll tell George Aiken right away.

President Johnson: Tell him that, because he’s got it all over the tickers, and he evidently put it out before he knew why Lodge was quitting.

Mansfield: I see.

President Johnson: Now, second, Douglas Dillon tells me we’re in [a] very serious situation, that . . . that [Paul] Douglas is quitting us and [Albert] Gore is quitting us and that if we don’t get [Vance] Hartke’s vote, [Everett] Dirksen is going to repeal all these excess [corrects himself] excise taxes, and that’ll just wreck us. Now, can you talk to Hartke and ask him to vote with the Democrats instead of the Republicans?

Mansfield: Yes, sir, I can.

President Johnson: Now, he’s running this year, and while this may help him with a little group of banjo players, if he defeats his President and the Republican wins out, it’s going to hurt me enough that he’s liable to go down with me.[150]

Mansfield: Yes, sir, I’ll be glad to talk to him.

President Johnson: Now, we’ve had a bad situation in Mississippi.

Mansfield: Mm-hmm.

President Johnson: Looks like they may have murdered those three kids.

Mansfield: Oh, God!

President Johnson: We found the car burning—that’s confidential—we’re trying to confirm it, but the car has been burnt.

Mansfield: Uh-huh. Oh, my lord.

President Johnson: But let me give you this statement again. I’m quoting from the ticker now. . . .

Mansfield: Yeah. I’d like to copy it down then. OK.

President Johnson: Let me find it. [Pauses.] Wait a minute. [Pauses.] Lodge said in Saigon he resigned as ambassador because he believed it his duty, quote, “to do everything I can to help Governor Scranton to win for president,” unquote.

Mansfield: Mm-hmm . . . I can to . . .

President Johnson: “Help.” That’s the UP[I] [United Press International]. The AP [Associated Press] says, “Because I believe it is my duty to do everything I can to help Governor Scranton to win for president.”

Mansfield: OK—

President Johnson: So both of them carry the same thing, and it’s AP number 125.

Mansfield: Yes?

President Johnson: And it’s filed at 12—at 2:12 [p.m.].

Mansfield: 2:12.

President Johnson: Yeah.

Mansfield: OK, [unclear].

President Johnson: Thank you.

Mansfield: Thank you.

5:00 p.m.

from George Reedy; preceded by Office Conversation
with Jack Valenti
[151]

Press Secretary Reedy checked with Johnson about details that could be released regarding Mississippi.

Jack Valenti: Mr. [George] Ball and Mr. [Robert] Komer are here to give you a brief briefing before you meet the Prime Minister [IË™smet IË™nönü].[152]

A secretary interrupts to report that Reedy is on the line.

President Johnson: Yeah?

George Reedy: One quick one, sir. Did you talk to the Attorney General about this Mississippi thing?

President Johnson: Mmm. Yeah, Attorney General called and talked to Jack Valenti. [Pauses.] I’ve talked to [Nicholas] Katzenbach in his absence, and I’ve talked to Burke Marshall.

Reedy: Yes, sir, and to the people in Mississippi—

President Johnson: I’d just say—

Reedy: —and to J. Edgar Hoover.

President Johnson: [with Reedy acknowledging] Yeah. I’ve been in touch with Hoover three or four times. Been in constant touch with him the last several days and three or four times today, if they ask you the question. And I’d say we’ve been in touch with the Attorney General and Katzenbach and Burke Marshall, because the Attorney General talked to Jack Valenti.

Reedy: That’s enough. “We’ve been in touch on it” is OK, sir.

President Johnson: Anything else?

Reedy: That’s all I need.

President Johnson: All right.

5:02 p.m.: Under Secretary George Ball and NSC staffer Robert Komer came into the Oval Office for the Turkey briefing.

5:10 p.m.: Johnson received an unrecorded call from Walter Jenkins.

5:15 p.m.: Walked to the Cabinet Room with Ball and Komer to meet Dean Rusk and the Turkish delegation.

5:25 p.m.: Made an unrecorded call to George Reedy from the Cabinet Room.

5:29 p.m.: Walked to the Oval Office with Prime Minister IË™smet IË™nönü and others to present him with an autographed copy of A Time for Action, a published collection of Johnson’s speeches and writings from the previous decade.[153] Afterward, the President took IË™nönü to Kenny O’Donnell’s office and introduced him to several people there.

5:33 p.m.: Made an unrecorded call to Jenkins. Two minutes later, Johnson called the FBI director in anticipation of the visit by the parents of the missing civil rights activists.

5:35 p.m.

to J. Edgar Hoover[154]

Johnson clarified details about the burned car while the parents were brought into the office, who had apparently heard the news about their children for the first time.

While the President waits for Hoover to come to the line, he speaks to Walter Jenkins.

President Johnson: You better comb your hair, Walter, looks like you been sleeping on it. Run in my office, right quick there. Put some water on it. You’re worse than George Reedy these days.[155]

The operator connects the call.

J. Edgar Hoover: Hello?

President Johnson: Edgar?

Hoover: Yes, Mr. President.

President Johnson: [reading] “NAACP votes to demonstrate in front of the White House tomorrow to protest the worsening civil rights situation in Mississippi. In unanimous vote, during a special meeting of the NAACP, members voted to stage a demonstration at the Justice Department.”

Hoover: Yes.

President Johnson: “[To] urge stronger federal action. The vote came as the FBI continued a full-scale re—search.”

Have you-all put out any announcements yet?

Hoover: No, we haven’t. We haven’t put out any announcement

here. There has come out from New Orleans word that the car has been found.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Hoover: The . . . We notified the Mississippi Highway Patrol, which has been cooperating and which had out a three-point alarm to locate the car. So in order to terminate that, we asked the Mississippi Highway Patrol to assist us in roping off this area where the car’s found. What we want to try to do now down there is to locate any footprints or any car tread prints that may be in the mud or dirt on the side of the road of the persons who took the car there.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. What can I tell the parents?

Hoover: I think you can tell the parents that the car has been found and that it was burned and that the agents are proceeding with intensive investigation to determine any evidence that would aid in—

President Johnson: Car’s been found and it’s burned.

[to someone in the room, or to someone who picks up the line and then puts the receiver back down] [Unclear.] No, but I just want you to take this.

[to Hoover] The car’s been found, and it’s been burned, and—

Hoover: Yes.

President Johnson: —the agents are proceeding with intensive investigation.

Hoover: To find out . . . to find the—

President Johnson: [to someone in room] Bring them on in.

Nathan Schwerner, Robert and Carolyn Goodman, Congressman William Ryan, Congressman Ogden Reid, the parents’ attorney Martin Popper, Lee White, Walter Jenkins, and Jack Valenti begin the process of entering the Oval Office.

Hoover: —perpetrators of the crime.

President Johnson: To find the perpetrators. Any indication they’re in the car yet?

Hoover: There’s no indication as to whether they are because the entire inside of the car is melted into molten metal.

President Johnson: But wouldn’t there be some bones there if . . .

Hoover: We have sent laboratory experts there to make examination of the ashes and of the inside to see whether there is any human bones or human evidence of ashes that would enable us to determine whether the bodies were in the car.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Hoover: We do not know that they were, and we do not know that they were not.

President Johnson: Do you have any idea when I’ll know that?

Hoover: We will probably get word on that sometime this evening.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. You are sure, though, that you have found the car?

Hoover: We are sure we found the car in that it is the same make, the same color, and the same license numbers that were on the car when the car was in Philadelphia, Mississippi, yesterday.

President Johnson: Same car, same make, same license number, same color and everything?

Hoover: Yes.

President Johnson: All right. Now, where was it found from Philadelphia?

Hoover: It was found about . . . I think it was on highway, on state Highway 21, which is northeast of Philadelphia, about eight miles northeast of Philadelphia.

President Johnson: State Highway 21, eight miles northeast of Philadelphia?

Hoover: That’s correct.

President Johnson: But it was not headed toward Meridian?

Hoover: No, it was not headed toward Meridian; it was in the opposite direction of Meridian.

President Johnson: Now, I talked to Mississippi. They told me that they had an announcement that the car and the people in it were missing prior to their arrival in Philadelphia and that when they later arrived and they were jailed, then . . . that this announcement had been made before that. Do you know whether that’s true or not?

Hoover: No, I [unclear] . . . No, that couldn’t have been true.

President Johnson: Couldn’t have been true?

Hoover: No, it couldn’t have been true because this car was burning yesterday.

President Johnson: Now, are you in touch with all the local officials and—

Hoover: Oh, yes.

President Johnson: Are they cooperating with you?

Hoover: They’re cooperating thoroughly. This is the Mississippi Highway Patrol, and we have . . . we’ve had in the air, of course, the helicopters trying to locate the car. That will be no longer necessary now. But the local authorities are, of course, cooperating thoroughly.

[with the President acknowledging] Now, what’s going to complicate the picture is, is going down there, some of these leading agitators of the Negro movement, to investigate this matter themselves. For instance, Palmer is— [James] Farmer is—of CORE—is flying down to Philadelphia, Mississippi. And the . . . this Mrs. [Anna] Diggs, I think she’s the wife of the congressman from Illinois.[156] She’s a lawyer; she’s going down there also. Now, of course, as soon as they arrive in those little towns, there’s going to be even more disturbance. But I’ve issued orders to our men that they are to allow no one to come within the boundary of the roped-off area in which we are working.

President Johnson: I wonder if you oughtn’t to ask one of your best people to communicate to the governor and suggest maybe that he make a statement that . . . a pretty strong statement that he’s . . . what he’s going to do, so that we can be sure that he gives us all the protections we can.

Hoover: I think it’d be a very good idea.

President Johnson: See if one of your men won’t—can’t talk to him and indicate that.

Hoover: I’ll take care of that right away.

President Johnson: Thank you, Edgar. And keep me informed, now. The first thing you hear, you call me.

Hoover: Yes, I will.

5:40 p.m.

from Robert McNamara[157]

Immediately after the Hoover call, Johnson took one from the Secretary of Defense. Most of the conversation was about replacing Maxwell Taylor as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reconnaissance flights in Laos, and Appropriations Committee business. McNamara hung up before Johnson could ask about military efforts in Mississippi.

During this call, the President is meeting with three of the parents of Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

Robert McNamara: [with Johnson acknowledging] Two points, Mr. President. First, on the chief of staff of the Army: I mentioned at lunch, I believe, we had two men under consideration.[158] One was [Creighton] Abrams, who’s about 49½, and the other is a man named [Harold] Johnson, who is about 52½. General [Earle] Wheeler strongly recommends General Johnson for the post, with Abrams as his vice-chief. Johnson was formerly commander of the Command and General Staff School at Leavenworth [Kansas]. He’s known as one of the ablest of the Army generals. We’d be reaching down rather far to pick him up; he’s currently deputy chief of staff operations. Wheeler believes that Abrams and Johnson are about equal in ability, that to take the younger man over the older man, even though the older one’s only three years older, would be undesirable from the point of view of morale in the Army. In either case, we’re reaching down very far below all of the four-star generals to pick one or the other of these. I would support General Wheeler’s conclusion, as does Cy Vance.[159]

President Johnson: All right, get me a little note transmitting that and give me their biographical background and let me look at it tonight, and I’ll be in touch with you in the morning.

McNamara: I will do that.

Secondly, the State Department and we would recommend a reconnaissance mission at medium level—that is to say around 6[000] to 10,000 feet, one reconnaissance aircraft plus two fighter escorts—over Route 13 in Laos plus the Plaine des Jarres area—either tomorrow night or the next night depending on weather. [Leonard] Unger has recommended such a mission; State concurs in it.[160]

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. Now, why is that necessary again? Intelligence and psychological?

McNamara: I think, yes. Well, it’s both. Unger is particularly interested in the movements along Route 13. You may have re—noticed that [General] Kong Le is talking about some kind of an offensive action down around Vang Vieng, which is on Route 13, in the event that the Pathet Lao move towards Muong Soui up in that other Route 7.[161] [Johnson acknowledges.] And Unger is interested in finding out as much as he can about Pathet Lao dispositions along Route 13 for that reason.

President Johnson: Hmm. Wonder if you would get, just for my information, get the military aide and tell him to bring me those maps and point out to me—[162]

McNamara: I will. I’ll do that.

President Johnson: —what you recommend, and you go over that with him, and then that’s OK unless you hear from me.

McNamara: Very good. Thank you.

President Johnson: All right. Anything else?

McNamara: No, that’s all for the time.

President Johnson: Now, they tell me we had a war in the Appropriations Committee this afternoon, but I’ll talk to you about it a little bit later on, on the [foreign] aid thing.[163]

McNamara: I heard there was one vote in issue and that . . . I haven’t heard the result.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. OK, thank you.

McNamara: Thank you.

President Johnson: Bob? Bob? Bob? [McNamara had already hung up.]

5:44 p.m.

to Robert McNamara[164]

The President continues to meet with the parents of Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

President Johnson: [to people in office] Y’all pardon me, but I’m selecting the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of staff and secretary of the Army and gotten them on the way to Saigon, and [Henry Cabot] Lodge is coming out, and we’re having all kinds of problems today.

Unidentified: We know.

The operator announces that McNamara is on the line.

President Johnson: Mr. Secretary, I’m here with the parents of these boys that have not been heard from in Mississippi since night before last. You have . . . are making available everything that you have to the FBI for . . . in their rescue and search, I assume.

Robert McNamara: Yes, sir, we have.

President Johnson: You be sure, now, to tell [J. Edgar] Hoover—

McNamara: We have helicopters that are being used at present along with some naval security cars.

President Johnson: Well, you be sure to let them know that every facility of the Department [of Defense] is available to them, and see that Hoover knows that, and see that he utilizes it to every extent possible.

McNamara: I will indeed, and we’ve had people working with Burke Marshall today on it.

President Johnson: Uh . . . Uh . . . So . . . OK, thank you.

McNamara: All right, thank you.

5:55 p.m.: Commerce Secretary Hodges arrived for an eight-minute meeting.

5:56 p.m.: During the meeting with Hodges, the President took an unrecorded call from Walter Jenkins, and four minutes later, took a call from a powerful Illinois Republican.

6:00 p.m.

from Everett Dirksen[165]

Johnson stepped away from the situation in Mississippi to tend to the interests of Everett Dirksen, the Senate minority leader, who had been essential for the passage of the Civil Rights Act and remained a key figure for the passage of a wide range of proposed legislation. Here, Dirksen pressured Johnson to accelerate the Corps of Engineers’ approval process for the Kaskaskia River Navigation Project, a series of locks and dams in southern Illinois designed to make the river navigable by barges. After that, Johnson took the opportunity to pressure Dirksen on the excise amendment.

Everett Dirksen: . . . [unclear] civil works. He’s going to appear before the Public Works Appropriations Subcommittee tomorrow morning. There is planning money in the bill for the Kaskaskia River Navigation Project.

President Johnson: How do you spell it?

Dirksen: K-a-s-k-a-s-k-i-a. Kaskaskia River Navigation Project. Now, all I want him to do is to have [General Jackson] Graham say to the committee that the [Army Corps of] Engineers do have construction capability for fiscal 1965, and if it’s only 25[000] or 50,000 dollars, that’ll be enough to nail the thing down.[166]

President Johnson: How big’s the project?

Dirksen: Huh?

President Johnson: What’s the total cost?

Dirksen: The total cost of the project, I think, is $30-some million. Now, it’s in that area of Illinois that’s distressed. And already, Kaiser Aluminum and a half a dozen other plants have optioned sites in that area, just waiting for the time when this thing can be finished so that they can

barge coal out of there and raw materials.[167] And it’s going to be the making of the southern 30 counties of the state.

President Johnson: Let me get on to it. I’ll call you back.

Dirksen: Yeah.

President Johnson: All right.

Dirksen: I just want to be sure that General Graham will say—

President Johnson: All right. . . . Now, you’re not going to beat me on excise taxes and ruin my budget this year. [Unclear comment by Dirksen.] I’ve got Ways and Means holding hearings, and we’re going to come up with a recommendation one way or the other, but don’t beat me on that, now. You can do it if you want to, and you can ruin my budget, but you’re hollering “economy” and trying to balance it, and I cut the deficit 50 percent under what [John] Kennedy had it. Now, if you screw me up on excise taxes and get that thing going, I’ll have hell. Now, let my Ways and Means Committee—

Dirksen: Now . . . Now, look at the pressure I’m under.

President Johnson: No, you’re not under—

Dirksen: [Unclear] damn trade associations.

President Johnson: Well, I know it, but God, you’re also for good fiscal prudence, and you know . . . you know that the way to do this is through the House committee, and you know if you put it in, you’re not going to get it. They’re not going to let you-all write a bill over in the Senate on taxes.

Dirksen: I don’t suppose we are.

President Johnson: Now, please don’t press me on that.

Dirksen: Well, I got to press it [unclear]—

President Johnson: Well, who are you going to take? You going to take all your Republicans? Give me one or two of them and let them be prudent. You’ve got people on there that can . . .

Dirksen: Well, you’ve got enough votes to beat it.

President Johnson: No, I haven’t. I haven’t. You can beat me, and if you . . . you oughtn’t to do it. And you see how I’m—how you’re going to let me win by one vote in there, and I’ll call you back in a little bit on this.

Dirksen: You never talked that way when you were sitting in that front seat.

President Johnson: Yeah, well, I did—

Dirksen: You always had [unclear].

President Johnson: I did if my country’s involved. I voted for Ike [Dwight Eisenhower] one time when [William] Knowland voted against him. I cast the vote on his foreign aid and brought it out of the committee.[168]

Dirksen: You’re a hard bargainer.

President Johnson: And—No, I’m not.

Dirksen: Yes, you are.

President Johnson: But you just take care of them, and I’ll look at this and see what I can do and call you right back.

Dirksen: All right.

6:07 p.m.: President Johnson held a meeting with Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Under Secretary of State George Ball that lasted until approximately 6:30 p.m. J. Edgar Hoover called during the meeting with more news about the burned car.

6:15 p.m.

from J. Edgar Hoover[169]

J. Edgar Hoover: . . . car was so hot and had been burned down that it’s just like molten metal, so that the ashes, and when—things in the bottom of the car have got to be analyzed by laboratory experts before we can determine whether there are any human bones or flesh or anything of that kind.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. Well, why in the hell can’t they take a crowbar and break into that car?

Hoover: We’ve broken into the car; we’re at work on that now.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Hoover: We got the crowbars there within, I guess, about a half hour ago and broke open the doors, which couldn’t be opened any other way.
And now they’re, as I say, are working on the matter of getting the particles of the inside of the car out and preserving such parts that can be preserved.

Now, of course, what’s happened down there is the community has learned that the—of the car being found, and we have asked the Mississippi Highway Patrol to put out . . . to give us enough men that we can surround the area to keep away sightseers and newspapermen and all that type of individual that will cause us a trouble. What we want to preserve are any footprints or any tire prints of persons who might have come there with this car and then left the car there because they set it afire. Obviously, whoever did it didn’t walk away, I would imagine, except to get into another car and drive away. So therefore, we are trying to preserve whatever evidence we can find on the outside there.

[with the President acknowledging throughout] But so far, as to whether the bodies were in the car or not, we can’t say that definitely yes or no. We can say it is the car and that is . . . and the license numbers that were on the car in Philadelphia, Mississippi, are the license numbers on this burned car, because the burning of the car occurred inside. The outside of it was not burned. It was scorched, of course, and then burned, but was not destroyed.

Now, I understood—I conveyed your suggestion that we get in touch with the governor and see whether he would issue a statement. He could not be reached for 20 minutes because he was holding a press conference. I would surmise that that may be dealing with this particular thing because the Mississippi Highway Patrol told us that they had had a flash that the car had been found and they were sending some of their men down to where it was in order to be of any assistance that they could, since it is both a federal and a state violation of law. I told them, however, to still keep after the governor and then to let me know what the governor was . . . what the governor said—if it was a . . . if . . . if he was dealing with this subject—what he said in his press conference.
I suggested to them that they tell the governor that it might be desirable for him to indicate that not only would the full facilities of the
law enforcement agencies of Mississippi be extended to the federal authorities, but he would see that everything was done to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice. Now, whether he’ll say that or not, I don’t know.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. OK, much obliged. You call me when you get anything.

Hoover: I will. Yeah.

6:18 p.m.

to Jackson Graham[170]

Attesting to Johnson’s interest in helping Everett Dirksen, the President found the director of civil works for the Army Corps of Engineers in less than 15 minutes.

President Johnson: General?

Jackson Graham: Yes, sir, Mr. President.

President Johnson: Senator [Everett] Dirksen, the Republican leader, has called me about a project, Kaskiakaskia River [sic]. Do you know anything about it?

Graham: Yes, sir, I do . . .

President Johnson: He wants you to testify . . . When if you . . . When you’re testifying tomorrow.

Graham: Yes, sir, I go up tomorrow.

President Johnson: It says the [Army Corps of] Engineers do have construction capability for 1965, and he’s going to try to get the committee to put in 35[000] [to] 40,000 dollars of construction money. He’s got planning money.

Graham: Right.

President Johnson: Is that correct?

Graham: Well, we’re actually making an economic restudy now for about a hundred thousand [dollars], and if that comes out favorable, we would have a construction capability.[171]

President Johnson: When will you have that study available?

Graham: About September, Mr. President. We’re hopeful that it’s going to come out all right, but—

President Johnson: But you can’t say until September?

Graham: Well, I think we’ll have a pretty good idea by July, but the final answer would come in September or—

President Johnson: How could you testify tomorrow that the [Army Corps of] Engineers believe it has a construction capability for ’65?

Graham: I would have to make this contingent on favorable outcome of the restudy. I certainly could indicate a capability of about the figure you indicate with that proviso.

President Johnson: Contingent on . . .

Graham: Contingent on favorable restudy of the economics of the project. What’s happened is the railroads have gone in with unitized trains, are taking coal out of this Kaskaskia area into the Chicago area, so that we couldn’t very well compete with that on a . . . with barges. We think we can justify this by figuring barging out into the lower river and generally moving the coal south rather than north into the Chicago area.

President Johnson: All right. Now, will you . . . will you say that, then: that you believe that it has a construction capability, and you’d go along with 25[000] or 35,000 [dollars] construction money if it’s contingent on the favorable restudy of economics?

Graham: I’m perfectly willing to say that, sir.

President Johnson: All right.

Graham: And, actually, we probably could use a little bit more.

President Johnson: How much? Fifty, a hundred? What do you say?

Graham: I would—let’s settle on 60,000 [dollars], [unclear].

President Johnson: 60[000], OK.

Graham: This [unclear]—

President Johnson: I’m going to say that you’ll say that you will testify that the [Army Corps of] Engineers do have a construction capability for 1965 contingent on the favorable restudy of the economics of the project.

Graham: That’s correct, sir.

President Johnson: Thank you.

Graham: I’ll be happy [to]. Thank you.

6:22 p.m.

from Everett Dirksen[172]

Johnson and Dirksen continued their conversation about the Kaskaskia River Navigation Project.

President Johnson: . . . General [Jackson Graham], I guess at home. He says that if I want him to, that he’ll testify . . . He said he’s got a hundred thousand [dollar] restudy going on that won’t be out until September.

Everett Dirksen: Yeah.

President Johnson: That he can’t tell, that if the railroads haul this coal out of there and the economics are such that it won’t justify, that he’d be in a hell of a shape. So—

Dirksen: Yeah, but there’s no reason—

President Johnson: —he’s says that what—

Dirksen: [Unclear]—

President Johnson: He says what he’ll testify is this: that the [Army Corps of] Engineers have a construction capability for 1965 contingent on favorable restudy of the economics of the project.

Dirksen: Yeah.

President Johnson: That he believes that it will be a favorable restudy, that he believes that they can get barges out of there, but he can’t see positively because he’s got a hundred thousand [dollars] wrapped up in this study—it’s coming out in September—and said if it came out the wrong way, he’d be in a hell of a shape. But he’ll put it in. He’ll say that they have a capability contingent on the restudy, and you can put the money in contingent on the restudy, and then he . . . If the restudy goes against it and the project’s no good, he’ll just have to not spend it.

Dirksen: Yeah, except his division engineer in St. Louis told us today that they did have this construction capability.[173]

President Johnson: Well, he says they’ll have a construction capability if the thing ought to be built at all, but if—

Dirksen: Yeah.

President Johnson: —if the economics of it are not justified—and they’ll know when they get through with this hundred thousand [dollar] study, which will be through in September. So he says put your money in contingent upon it being justified.

Dirksen: OK.

President Johnson: And I told him to go as strong as he could, and he said he’d go 60,000 [dollars]. So . . .

Dirksen: OK.

President Johnson: He’ll testify for 60,000 [dollars] for you, and don’t

you tell anybody, now, that you’ve got a back door to the White House, but you go up there, and don’t you kill my goddamn tax bill tomorrow. And quit messing around in my smokehouse.

Dirksen: You forget . . . You forget that I bought a key at Peoples Drug Store.[174]

President Johnson: Well, I know it.

Dirksen: It’s got a label on it: back door at the White House.

President Johnson: What Republicans are going to vote against you tomorrow [on the excise tax extension]?

Dirksen: [Chuckles.] Against what?

President Johnson: Against your raid on the Treasury.

Dirksen: I don’t know whether anybody’s going to vote [unclear].

President Johnson: Well, how many will you let vote against you?

Dirksen: Well, I don’t know. I’ll have to do a little worshipping.

President Johnson: I’m going to lose a bunch of people on my side, so I’ve got to get two or three of your men.

Dirksen: You’re a hard bargainer.

President Johnson: Well, you get them for me.

[talking over Dirksen, with Dirksen then acknowledging throughout] Now, here’s what Joe Fowler says.[175] Joe Fowler says that the position [Wilbur] Mills is taking is the correct position.[176] That his committee [reading] “will make a full, definitive study of the present taxes immediately, and that study should be continued. That is my strong feeling. I would like to—I would have to stick with the colleagues in the Treasury. Once you uncork this thing just a little bit, you’re a little bit pregnant and you’ll never know where it ends. You’ll have great difficulty with Mills if you try to take off some of the taxes. He wouldn’t allow that. Whatever was said at the time the big tax bill was up about hearings was not to give any indication that the administration subscribed. Furthermore, no statement was made that hearings would be held before June the 30th.” Some of them said they was made, so I called him.

Now, you offer your amendment, but don’t you . . . don’t you . . .

Dirksen: Wilbur’s got time on his side. He can kill it in conference.

President Johnson: No, don’t kill it in conference. That gets everybody upset, and you get every damn outfit in the country, and don’t make it cruel and inhuman punishment. That’s unconstitutional.

Dirksen: Why, everybody’s upset all the time.

President Johnson: No.

Dirksen: What do you think about me?

President Johnson: Sure enough, now. Hmmph. Hell, I just got you straightened out: [talking over Dirksen] 30 million dollar’s worth.

Dirksen: You let me [be] upset for a hundred days on our damn civil rights bill.

President Johnson: Thirty million dollars. You got yourself into that. You’re the hero of the hour now. Hell, they’ve forgotten that anybody else is around. Every time I pick up a paper, it’s Dirksen—magazine.[177]

Dirksen: Yeah, I—

President Johnson: NAACP is flying Dirksen banners and picketing the White House tomorrow.

Dirksen: I couldn’t even get you to change your tune about that damn House [civil rights] bill.[178]

President Johnson: Oh, the hell you couldn’t.

Dirksen: No, you didn’t. You never did [unclear]—

President Johnson: I told them that I—was the first thing they asked me. I said whatever Dirksen and the Attorney General agree on, I’m for. [Dirksen chuckles.] That’s what I sent him up there to agree for. You know, you never got a call from me during the whole outfit, and you know it.

Dirksen: I know.

President Johnson: But don’t mess up that tax bill tomorrow now, Everett. Please don’t.

Dirksen: Well, I got to offer this, but—

President Johnson: Well, offer it, but don’t—John Williams is not for raiding the Treasury, so get him to save you.[179]

Dirksen: [Chuckles.] Well, he’s been my savior before.

President Johnson: Well, get him to do it.

Dirksen: Well, we’ll see.

President Johnson: OK.

Dirksen: Bye.

6:26 p.m.

from George Reedy[180]

On the heels of his cajoling of Everett Dirksen, Johnson chastised his press secretary for releasing information about the burned car.

George Reedy: . . . whether these parents knew about the burned car when they went in to see you.

President Johnson: Well, ask them that, or you’ll have to ask—tell them you don’t know about that. You don’t know what the parents had in their mind. That’s what I’d say.

Reedy: Of course, they’ll probably say that you told them.

President Johnson: Well, if they do, let them tell them. Just say, “Boys, I don’t know what the parents had in their mind. I don’t know what the parents knew. I just don’t plain don’t know.”

Reedy: Mm-hmm.

President Johnson: Do you?

Reedy: No, I don’t—

President Johnson: How would you know?

Reedy: —know. I just know what Lee White told me happened: that you were the one that told them.

President Johnson: Well, he shouldn’t have told you because when you get information, you get in trouble. Long as you don’t know, you do wonderful, but . . . Every time [McGeorge] Bundy or Lee White or them go out and go talking big, tell you what they know, and that gets you in trouble, see. I’d just tell them that I surely don’t know because we asked those people not to talk, you see. [Reedy acknowledges.] And if we go to talking, it makes us look pretty bad, don’t you think so?

Reedy: [sighing] I don’t think so in this particular case, sir—

President Johnson: Well, because—

Reedy: —but I’m not going to argue with you.

President Johnson: I don’t want to be announcing it anyway.

Reedy: Oh, OK.

President Johnson: I . . . I’d . . . They don’t know what they found yet. They’re still looking. I just hung up talking to [J. Edgar] Hoover.

Reedy: Well, they asked me if you had known about it, since it had cleared the wire. I said yes, you knew about it. I [unclear]—

President Johnson: Well, I wouldn’t say that. You don’t know what I know about it. I’d say, “I don’t know. I haven’t talked to him. I’ll find out.” I just can’t . . . I’m going to call Lee and just cuss him out for going and telling you, because he oughtn’t to do that. That just gets us real messed up.

Reedy: Well, I didn’t say anything that Lee told me, sir.

President Johnson: No, I know it, but how’d you know I know about it?

Reedy: Well, I didn’t want the wire knowing something that you didn’t, frankly, sir.

President Johnson: Well, I’d just say, “I don’t know. I’ll check with you, but let me check.” They tell me it’s always good business to say, “Let me check on that one.” “Gee, fellows, I’d like to help you, but I’ll have to check it.”

Reedy: OK, sir.

President Johnson: Because you’re not supposed to read my mind. [Pauses.]

OK.

Reedy: OK, sir.

After the conversation with Reedy, Johnson placed a call to Lee White. While waiting, he continued his session with Secretary Rusk and Under Secretary Ball.

Time Unknown

from Yolanda Boozer; followed by Jack Valenti and Dean Rusk[181]

President Johnson: Yes?

Yolanda Boozer: Congressman Jack Brooks, [line] 9-2.[182]

President Johnson: Who?

Boozer: Congressman Jack Brooks.

President Johnson: Tell him I’ve got the Secretary of State with me, and I’ll come on, but I can’t be but a minute.

Boozer: Yes, sir.

A 22-second pause ensues.

Dean Rusk: You want me to slip out and try and get four or five [unclear]?

Unidentified: I don’t know that I can—

President Johnson: Yes, I think you better. You’ve—got any further suggestions before we go on this?

Rusk: Mr. President, I may be off base, but on this matter of the director of conciliation and so forth, but is the Justice Department working [unclear]—

A buzzer sounds; Rusk continues to talk in the background while Valenti comes on the line.

Jack Valenti: The Attorney General is here, sir.

Rusk: —the human relations council [unclear] community council [unclear]—

While Rusk continues to talk, someone says something unclear about the Department of Commerce. As that occurs, the following conversation takes place on the line.

Boozer: Hello?

Valenti: I was waiting to get the President.

Boozer: Jack?

Valenti: Yeah?

Boozer: Are you in your room?

President Johnson: Yes?

Valenti: Mr. President?

President Johnson: [louder] Yes?

Valenti: The Attorney General is here, sir.

President Johnson: All right, I’ll be ready in just a minute.

Valenti: All right.

6:30 p.m.

to Lee White[183]

Johnson calmly chided White for talking to Reedy.

President Johnson: Lee? George [Reedy] wants to know now. He said you had told him that we had talked to these people.

Lee White: Mm-hmm.

President Johnson: When you tell George anything you get in trouble, so don’t ever [White chuckles] do that, please don’t.

White: No, I’m sorry.

President Johnson: I just can’t stand him, because he’s ready to issue a press release on it now. What can I do about it?

White: Mmm . . . Inasmuch as—

President Johnson: I told him not to talk.

White: Inasmuch as the story had broken on the wires about the automobile having been found at the time when they were known to be in your office, struck me, Mr. President, that you’d carry that off so. . . . so [unclear]—

President Johnson: How do they know that . . . how do they know they were in the office? Did they give that out? They get reporters with them, or what?

White: Apparently, they brought some photographers with them who were separated when they came into the building, and photographers stayed in the West Lobby. And so we didn’t let the photographers follow them around the building, but apparently the word had—

President Johnson: Didn’t they come in the side door? They didn’t come like you told them, huh?

White: [with the President acknowledging throughout] They did come in the side door, but they brought the photographers with them. The guards didn’t let the photographers come by; their names weren’t on the list. The photographers then went around and got into the West Lobby, I believe, and they’re the ones. But I think the word had filtered through that they were in the building, that they wanted to come in the building, and [Assistant Press Secretary] Mac Kilduff had had inquiries about it as early as 1:00 this afternoon. So that the prospects of their being here was always pretty good.

But I’d say, sir, my own reaction is that there’s something bold and dramatic and really courageous about your having told those people, and it turned out that it was the best thing you could have done because as soon as they got in their automobile, they must have heard on the radio the bulletin that the car had been found. So I’d say that [it] strikes me as something that if George is asked he could say, yes, that they heard it from you because it’s a courageous thing, and it went off so smoothly.

President Johnson: All right. OK.

White: I sure didn’t envy you. [Chuckles lightly.] You did it beautifully.

President Johnson: All right . . . All right.

White: Yes, sir.

6:30 p.m.: President Johnson made unrecorded calls to George Reedy and Jack Valenti on his private line.

6:33 p.m.: Met with Robert Kennedy, Nicholas Katzenbach, and Burke Marshall. The three men remained for the next three hours.

6:34 p.m.

from Clark Clifford[184]

As Bobby Kennedy arrived, Johnson received a call from Clark Clifford, the adviser that Johnson had asked to gather information from Kennedy almost six hours earlier.

Clark Clifford: This is Clark.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Clifford: [with the President acknowledging throughout] I had a brief conversation with the man [Robert Kennedy]. He was in a great hurry, getting ready to fly to New York to get a plane to Europe. He said the event that had decided him was the [airplane] accident to his brother Teddy. He says that he wants to spend time with him. He’s going to have a very serious morale factor—he’s always been so active, and he’s got to lie there on that fracture bed for maybe six months. And also, he expects to devote a very substantial amount of time to campaigning in Massachusetts in Teddy’s behalf because Teddy can’t do a thing. He’ll be in the fracture bed from now until November, and he wants to be free to go campaign for his brother and see that nothing happens up there. At least, those were the two reasons that he gave to me.

So he said, “I’m off in a hurry,” said, “I just wanted to tell you I thought it all over with great care,” and he said, “I was really continuing to be undecided until the terrible thing happened to Teddy.” And he said, “That decided me. I think that I’ve got to stick closer to him and help him and get him through. And I’ll look after myself later on.”

So I wanted to pass that on to you. That may be part of it; the other part is a sneaking notion that he might be there when the lightning struck for number two, which, of course, was his choice when he came here last week. I thought maybe he’d gotten out of it by the time he left.

President Johnson: Thank you, much obliged.

Clifford: Thought I’d just pass it on.

President Johnson: Thank you, appreciate it.

Clifford: All right.

6:40 p.m.: Johnson made a quick, unrecorded call to Walter Jenkins on the private line.

6:40 p.m.

from George Mahon[185]

Johnson spoke to the Texas congressman about the afternoon’s foreign aid showdown with Louisiana Congressman Otto Passman. Mahon, the chair of the full House Appropriations Committee, had sided with the majority on the Foreign Operations Subcommittee to reduce the size of Passman’s desired cut.

The President is meeting with Robert Kennedy, Nicholas Katzenbach, and Burke Marshall at the time of the call.

President Johnson: [to people in the office] . . . [unclear] word, so I called him back and told him. He said in the meantime, he had called the governor—no, what he did, he called me back.[186] [He] said he had talked to the governor. Governor said he didn’t want any violence, that he was going to do everything he could, that he was looking forward to coming up here next week. He’s looking forward to getting an agenda from you on what we’d talk about. Said you would send him an agenda. I told him all [unclear] assuming we can work it out. He wanted to come next week and talk to me, and that he—Eastland didn’t want any violence—

The recording cuts directly to the phone conversation.

George Mahon: We didn’t do so well. Have you seen the ticker?

President Johnson: No.

Mahon: Well, Mr. [Otto] Passman stormed out and announced to the press that he was—

President Johnson: I heard that: said he wasn’t a prostitute.

Mahon: Yeah, he wasn’t a prostitute—

President Johnson: I disagree with him.

Mahon: Yes, I do, and he said if you were so infallible, why didn’t we elect you for life?

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. Well, I’m for that.

Mahon: [Laughs.] I don’t see anything wrong with that.

President Johnson: I don’t believe anybody could hold this job for life. I don’t know whether I can go until November or not. [Mahon continues to laugh.]

[to people in office] Passman said if I was so infallible I ought to have been elected for life. [Laughs.]

Mahon: But now . . . listen now, this is not all roses. [Johnson acknowledges.] This is the beginning of the . . .

President Johnson: Oh, of course it is.

Mahon: But—

President Johnson: I told him to get the list of all the Republicans [who] voted for us last time and try to see that we can hold those and get all the Democrats [who] voted against us and see if we can change some of them.

Mahon: Yes, and . . . you see, the point is that you haven’t won this victory: We took a 200 million—dollar cut.

President Johnson: Yeah . . . that’s right.

Mahon: And we by—actually we took a 229 million—dollar cut. We moved to reconsider, and we got that out of the way, and we had a lot of flare-ups and the rough edges, but—

President Johnson: Who stayed with you?

Mahon: Oh, I’ll tell you right now: Old [William] Natcher really did go to town.[187]

President Johnson: He did?

Mahon: He saved the day for us.

President Johnson: Well, that’s wonderful. Did—

Mahon: I was—

President Johnson: Did [Joseph] Montoya and does [John] Flynt stand up?[188]

Mahon: Montoya and . . . Montoya and old Jack Flynt, they stayed right in there.

President Johnson: And you and [Vaughan] Gary and . . .[189]

Mahon: Gary.

President Johnson: And Johnny Rooney?[190]

Mahon: Johnny Rooney.

President Johnson: All right. That made you seven, didn’t they?

Mahon: Yeah, we had the seven.

President Johnson: And [Silvio] Conte?[191]

Mahon: And Conte. Don’t overlook Conte.

President Johnson: No other Republicans?

Mahon: No other Republicans. But that Conte is like a [unclear]—

President Johnson: All right, Passman and what—what Democrat did we lose besides Passman? Any?

Mahon: Well, of course, George Andrews.[192]

President Johnson: George Andrews couldn’t—why? Can’t he ever go with us?

Mahon: No, no, no. He—

President Johnson: Not be reelected in Alabama, huh?

Mahon: Yeah, not in Alabama. He, you know, no—

President Johnson: Well, I salute you. You rolled him. Now, what do you . . . will you have any problem in your full committee?

Mahon: We may have. We may have, but . . .

President Johnson: Well, you look after—

Mahon: He [Passman] has denounced the President and denounced the majority of the committee, and he in effect called us all prostitutes. This . . . this is . . . this is . . . Just the statement he made is going to help us a lot. It’ll help solidify us on the House floor.

President Johnson: You better get—in the morning—you better get on that committee of yours and don’t take any chances on him rolling you there.

Mahon: Oh, I’ve been on that committee for two or three days.

President Johnson: Well, you just—

Mahon: I’ve got only one man I know of who’s with us [who’s] going to be absent, and that’s Joe Evins of Tennessee.[193]

President Johnson: Well, when does the vote come?

Mahon: Well, the vote comes at . . . on Thursday morning.

President Johnson: Can’t you make him stay there?

Mahon: [slightly chuckling] Well . . . he’s [unclear]—

President Johnson: Can you vote proxies in your committee?

Mahon: [with the President acknowledging] Well, we don’t have proxies. But we’re going to count every nose. You see, I’ve got the subcommittee chairmen, including Jamie Whitten, working with me.[194] And so we’re going to count every nose, and we’re going to be OK. I know the reason why.

President Johnson: God bless you. And then we’ll get to work on the House, and I’ll get with you, and we’ll work on it.

Mahon: Yes, well, I tell you, I hated to have to call on you so much in this, but you pulled it out of the fire when you talked to Natcher. That’s what did the trick.[195]

President Johnson: Yeah, mighty proud of you.

Mahon: Thanks a lot.

President Johnson: Absolutely.

7:05 p.m.

to Allen Dulles; President Johnson joined by Robert Kennedy[196]

Earlier in the day, Governor Paul Johnson had requested that Johnson send an “impartial observer” to Mississippi. Here, Johnson and Kennedy asked former CIA director Allen Dulles to be that person.

Allen Dulles: How are you? [Tape skips.] Very well.

President Johnson: We got the ox in the ditch, and we need a little help.

Dulles: You have what?

President Johnson: The ox in the ditch.

Dulles: [Chuckles.] I didn’t catch the first word.

President Johnson: [Chuckles.] Ox, o-x. [Dulles laughs heartily.] Uh . . .

Dulles: What can I do?

President Johnson: The Attorney General and I are sitting here talking and . . .

Dulles: Yeah?

President Johnson: [slowly] The governor of Mississippi this afternoon sent me word that he would like for me to pick some impartial, objective observer that would represent the President and come down and talk to him and let him show my representative what he was doing to try to prevent violence and what the state police were doing, what the local officials were doing, and review what his problem was and what we were doing. We wanted to . . .

Dulles: Yeah.

President Johnson: . . . get someone that we thought all the country would respect, and I want to be careful who represents me, and Attorney General and I have talked about it. We concluded that you were about the best and only fellow that we knew that’d get that job done for me, and we wanted to talk to you about it.

Dulles: Well, I’m certainly, any time I’m at your disposition. Whether I’m the best man for this or not, I don’t know.

President Johnson: Oh yes, you are. Let—[Dulles laughs.] I know you are. Now, let the Attorney General tell you what he thinks about it, and I’ll be back on in a minute.

Dulles: Yeah. . . . All right.

Attorney General Kennedy comes on the line.

Robert Kennedy: Oh, Allen?

Dulles: Bob?

Kennedy: How are you?

Dulles: Very well, but I—

Kennedy: Good.

Dulles: —feel terribly about your brother, you know. [Unclear, tape skips.]

Kennedy: Yes. Well, he’s coming along now, and he’s going to recover.

Dulles: Good, good. . . . When you see him next, give him my respect and regard.

Kennedy: I’ll do that; I’ll do that.

I think this is . . . could be awfully important. You know, the situation is extremely explosive in Mississippi.[197]

Dulles: Oh, I know it is.

Kennedy: [with Dulles acknowledging] And there’s very little contact and has been for the last few years between the authorities down there and the federal authorities, and the fact that the governor said that this was a possibility that he’d accept and have some impartial person go down there and look at the situation, I think could, you know, be a big help and give us some breathing space. And also somebody with your reputation around the country and around the world, I think, could perform a real service. I think it would be a question of going down and talking to him, talking to some of these students, talking to some of the Negro people down there, talking to some of the FBI, and then coming in and talking quite frankly with the governor and talking quite frankly with President Johnson about what you think needs to be done.

Dulles: I’m not a great expert on this subject, though.

Kennedy: [with Dulles acknowledging] I don’t think that’s—I think it’s just a question of decency, really, and just looking at the facts and us, and we’d obviously give you a briefing on what we . . . how we found the

situation, and then you could talk to him and see what you think. But I think it’d be, you know, it’s something that we don’t have and never have had, and the fact that you have no communication in such an explosive situation is very, very dangerous for the country.

Dulles: Oh, I realize it is.

Kennedy: And I think that you could . . .

Dulles: I realize it.

Kennedy: This is not a question of needing a great deal of expertise on civil rights or on the—

Dulles: I understand.

Kennedy: —problems of Negroes. I mean, hell, you could get that.

Dulles: Yeah. Yeah.

Kennedy: It’s just a question of whether, you know . . . people—

Dulles: [with Kennedy acknowledging] Why wouldn’t it—wouldn’t it be best for me to sit down with you—

Kennedy: Yes.

Dulles: —or with the President just as he wants?

Kennedy: Yes.

Dulles: And both of you and talk and see whether I can be of service.

Kennedy: Yes, I think that the . . . you see, we . . . we had these three students down there who have been missing for 48 hours.

Dulles: Yeah, I know it.

Kennedy: And they found this car, which is burning, and they haven’t been able to find out if the students were in there or not.

Dulles: Ah.

Kennedy: But I think it would be helpful if the President could say sometime tonight that he talked to the governor and talked to you and that he’s taking that step so it doesn’t look like . . . you know, I think that it’s important to get on w[ith]—

Dulles: My job would be purely advisory, I mean—

Kennedy: That’s right.

Dulles: I’d . . .

Kennedy: That’s right, and I think you’d go down and report on what the facts are and make suggestions.

Dulles: Yeah.

Kennedy: And you make suggestions—

There is a break in the tape.

Kennedy: —and that we . . . you know, there’d be somebody that would go with you and . . .

Dulles: Right. Somebody from your office?

Kennedy: [with Dulles acknowledging] Well, or that, or we could pick out a young lawyer who, you know, was satisfactory to you. I have a little hesitation about our office because—

Dulles: Yeah. I see your point. See your point [unclear]—

Kennedy: [talking over Dulles]—they might think it was suspect, but I think you could get some young lawyer. You know, this fellow [Tom] Finney from Clark Clifford’s office is one possibility, but somebody like that.

Dulles: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Kennedy: Somebody that you had confidence in [Dulles agrees] who could, you know, we could fill in on all the facts.[198]

Dulles: And that would be with the governor and then with all the elements—

Kennedy: Yes, yes.

Dulles: Yeah.

Kennedy: I think it could be, you know . . . we’ve worked together for a long time, and so I know what you could do, and I know you’d do this well, and I know that you could do it, Allen.

Dulles: You want to announce it right away?

Kennedy: Well, I think it’d be well if—

Dulles: Now, what is the timing on this? I’m on this other commission [Warren Commission], you know, and we’re trying to finish up our work, and I wouldn’t want the . . .[199]

Kennedy: No, but I think if you could—

Dulles: . . . the Chief Justice [Earl Warren] to think I’d run out on him.

Kennedy: No, I think—what I think is that if you could go down there for a day or so [Dulles makes unclear sound] or a couple of days and then come back up here.

Dulles: Yeah.

Kennedy: And I think just to be—go down and talk to the governor and talk to some of the other people down there, and then you could come back up, but I think just to get it started, it would be helpful.

Dulles: Go down pretty soon you mean?

Kennedy: Yes.

Dulles: Something like day after tomorrow or tomorrow [unclear].

Kennedy: Yes, and then just talk to them, and . . . but you wouldn’t have to—

Dulles: Yeah, yeah. . . . Do you think the governor’s in good faith?

Kennedy: [with Dulles acknowledging] Yes. Now, of course this is all subject to that. And if the governor wasn’t, you know, then we—it certainly wouldn’t be announced, but I think that even if you found out that he wasn’t, it would—

Dulles: I don’t think I know him personally.

Kennedy: No, we don’t know him, but I think that if he found out he wasn’t, Allen, even that’s helpful to the country and helpful to the President, just to—

Dulles: I see. . . . Well, you know him, don’t you?

Kennedy: I don’t know him.

Dulles: Don’t you really?

Kennedy: I’ve talked to him on the phone. You see, we really don’t have any communication with him down here, and the fact that he’s opened this door is very important.

Dulles: He’s suggested it?

Kennedy: Yes. And that—

Dulles: This is [George] Wallace, is it?[200] I got [unclear]—

Kennedy: No, this is [Paul] Johnson.

Dulles: Oh, it is Johnson.

Kennedy: Yeah.

Dulles: Oh, yes, certainly. Johnson, yes. Yeah.

Kennedy: Yeah . . . So . . .

Dulles: Has he a fairly good reputation with [unclear]?

Kennedy: No, we just don’t know. Well, they say he’s better than his predecessor, [Ross] Barnett.[201]

Dulles: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Better than Barnett.

Kennedy: [with Dulles acknowledging] But I think even, you see, even if that’s not true, the fact that you could report that or, I mean, that you found it. Just if President Johnson has to take some steps later on, you know, and these things have such an effect across the country: It’s not just Mississippi, but just have an effect across the country. I mean, this is not just a local m[atter]—

Dulles: Why did you pick me for this?

Kennedy: Because I know you. [Chuckles.]

Dulles: [Laughs heartily.] I’ve been a little mad at you, you know, a little bit on this Bay of Pigs book, but I’d like to forget that very easily.[202]

Kennedy: Well . . . Oh, well, I’m glad. [Dulles laughs.] But anyway, you know I . . .

Dulles: [chuckling] I don’t stay angry long.

Kennedy: [not reciprocating Dulles’s amusement] Yeah. Well, fine. But I think it could be . . . and I think the President feels it could be a big help.

Dulles: Well listen, I’d do anything for the nation, you—

Kennedy: Yes.

Dulles: —know, anytime. I’ve never refused. I just have a little question of my . . .

Kennedy: Well, I’m sure you could do it.

Dulles: . . . wise, wise thing to do.

Kennedy: But he—

Dulles: He wants to announce this tonight, the President wants to announce it tonight?

Kennedy: Yeah, I think he’d like to if it works out with Pre[sident]—Governor Johnson. Here he is back again.

Dulles: Yeah.

President Johnson comes back on the line.

President Johnson: Mr. Dulles?

Dulles: Yes, Mr. President.

President Johnson: I’ll tell you what I’ll do: I’ll talk to the governor, and then I’ll give you a ring back and perhaps we can get together in the morning.

Dulles: Right. I’ll be at your disposition.

President Johnson: Do you know—

Dulles: If you think I can do it?

President Johnson: Oh yeah.

Dulles: [with the President protesting] I’m not so sure that—this is a field that I’m not . . . no expert in. I’ve . . . I go along—

President Johnson: No, you’re the man for it. Now, we want to get you some . . . any assistance you want. I don’t know who you may want. Anybody I know that I can get, I will.

Dulles: Yeah.

President Johnson: I don’t think it’d be good to get somebody from the Justice Department. They’ll have plenty of—

Dulles: No, I’d [unclear] have a private citizen probably—somebody from private life.

President Johnson: Now, this boy John [sic] Finney is pretty knowledgeable, able, young lawyer, very brilliant young fellow. He was Mike Monroney’s administrator for a while, and he’s gone in Clark Clifford’s law firm.

Dulles: Yeah.

President Johnson: And . . .

Dulles: I have great respect for Clark. I know him very well.

President Johnson: I don’t know whether he’d let him go or not, but I’d ask him if you thought it’d be helpful. The Attorney General and I are rather agreed he’d be a good one.

Dulles: [with the President acknowledging] You remember that I’m on . . . you put me on this commission that I’m working on with the Chief Justice and the others.

President Johnson: Yes, I know that.

Dulles: And that is now reaching a point where I wouldn’t want to neglect that work.

President Johnson: I know that. . . . No. No, I understand that.

Dulles: For anything.

President Johnson: I understand that.

Dulles: Yeah.

President Johnson: [with Dulles acknowledging] And . . . But you’ll have to go down there and stay a day or two and then come right on back, and I’ll put a plane at your disposal, and you can take one of the Jetstars and go down in the morning and come back in the evening after a couple days there. Go in and out. And I’ll call Clark and see about John [sic] Finney, and then I’ll call you as soon as I talk to the governor.

Dulles: You might do that. . . . Someone that Clark thought was good, I’d be very glad—he’s got some very able men in his office.

President Johnson: Fine, thank you.

Dulles: Very able.

President Johnson: Thank you so much, Mr. Dulles.

Dulles: Thank you, Mr. President, for the confidence.

President Johnson: All right, thank you.

7:15 p.m.

from J. Edgar Hoover[203]

Hoover, a man who had a long professional rivalry with Dulles, checked
in with President Johnson to let him know that no bodies were in the car.

President Johnson: Yes?

J. Edgar Hoover: This is Edgar Hoover, Mr. President.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Hoover: I wanted to let you know first, the governor has issued the statement along the lines suggested.

President Johnson: Good.

Hoover: And has also indicated that he will give every assistance, that even to the extent of calling out the National Guard, to aid in any search that we might desire.

President Johnson: Good.

Hoover: And that he’ll support us in every way he possibly can.

President Johnson: Good.

Hoover: Now, the . . . the . . . the . . . I talked to the Secretary of Defense, and he’s placed at our disposal a plane which has taken the two laboratory men, and they will arrive at Meridian, Mississippi, at midnight; otherwise, we couldn’t have gotten down there until tomorrow morning.

President Johnson: Good.

Hoover: [with the President acknowledging throughout] We have moved all the inside of the car from the place the car was found to Meridian, where the experts will make the examination immediately upon their arrival.

Now, it’s the impression of the agents who have removed the material, most of which are ashes and all kinds of debris, there were no bones that could be found, although bones would burn [in] a fire as hot as that. However, there were no dental plates or anything of that type that would normally would not burn, so the offhand presumption is that the bodies were not in the car. However, we will not know that definitely until the laboratory men tomorrow by—at midnight will make the determination, and I’ll have word the first thing in the morning.

President Johnson: Fine, thank you.

Hoover: Then we’ll, of course, have to start the search for where they are or who did this thing.

President Johnson: Any information they get, if they call you tonight or in the morning, you call me.

Hoover: Yes, I will, Mr. President.

President Johnson: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Hoover: Thank you.

After this call, Johnson asked a White House operator to place calls to Clark Clifford and Governor Paul Johnson. Shortly after that, while meeting with Nicholas Katzenbach and Robert Kennedy, he asked to be connected to the deputy attorney general’s office.[204] During that time, Jack Valenti spoke to Congressman Ryan.

7:25 p.m.

between Jack Valenti and William Ryan[205]

After Hoover reported that no bodies were in the burned car, Johnson asked Jack Valenti and Lee White to find the phone numbers for the parents. One minute into this conversation, Johnson received a call from Walter Jenkins (see conversation below).

Jack Valenti: Where may we reach these parents? Where are they located?

William Ryan: Well, I’ll give you—I have the phone number for the Goodmans.

Valenti: All right, the Good—Mr. [Robert] and Mrs. [Carolyn] Goodman.

Ryan: Mr. and Mrs. Goodman.

Valenti: All right.

Ryan: It’s Endicott-2 . . .

Valenti: Endicott-2.

Ryan: . . . 7-2-6-5.

Valenti: All right. Is that a hotel?

Ryan: No, that would be their home in New York.

Valenti: That’s in New York. Are they here now?

Ryan: No, they’ve gone back to New York.

Valenti: They’ve gone back to New York.

Ryan: Right.

Valenti: All right. What about the other ones? Do you know anything about the other ones?

Ryan: Other . . . now, wait a minute. The other number, if you can’t get the Goodmans there, is Endicott-2 . . .

Valenti: Endicott-2 . . .

Ryan: . . . 7-1-7-5.

Valenti: . . . 7-1-7-5. Both New York numbers?

Ryan: Right, that’s the same—there are two phones in the same house.

Valenti: I see. What about—

Ryan: I’ll have to get you Mr. Schwermer’s [sic]—Schwerner’s number.

Valenti: All right, would you call me back on that?

Ryan: I’ll get that for you.

Valenti: All right.

Ryan: It’s in the Westchester phone book, and I’ll pull it out and get it for you.

Valenti: Hold on just one second, would you? Would you hold on there, Congressman?

Ryan: Yes.

Forty-five seconds elapse while Valenti is away from the line.

Valenti: Bill?

Ryan: Yes.

Valenti: Hello?

Ryan: Yes.

Valenti: No, I was just—I’m sorry, I had to get the other phone there. Mr. and Mrs. Goodman, Endicott-2, 7-2-6-5.

Ryan: Right.

Valenti: Endicott-2, 7-1-7-5.

Ryan: Right.

Valenti: Would you call me back and let me know where the other people—When did these people go to New York?

Ryan: Well, they left right after being with the President.

Valenti: I see.

Ryan: And they took whatever the first plane was when they got to the airport.

Valenti: I understand. . . . Now, wasn’t the other one Mr. Schermer?

Ryan: Schwerner.

Valenti: How do you spell that?

Ryan: S-c-h-w-e-r-n-e-r. Schwerner.

Valenti: S-c-h-w-e-r-n-e-r, Schwerner.

Ryan: Right; right.

Valenti: Do you think that—is that Congressman [Ogden] Reid’s people?

Ryan: Yes.

Valenti: Well, maybe I could call . . . [unclear] . . . if you—

Ryan: Well, we are just trying his office.

Valenti: All right, fine. Would you call me—

Ryan: I know he’s not here.

Valenti: Would you call me back?

Ryan: Yes.

Valenti: Thank you.

Ryan: Right.

Valenti: Good-bye, sir.

Ryan: Any further word?

Valenti: No, nothing else yet. I just want to have it just in case that we want to talk to them, that’s all.

Ryan: Fine.

Valenti: Thank you, Congressman.

Ryan: Hold it just a minute.

[to someone in his office] You got it there, [unclear]?

[on phone] Hold on one minute, Jack.

Valenti: All right.

Ryan: All right, I got it right here. P-e . . .

Valenti: P—

The recording is interrupted by the operator reporting to the President that J. Edgar Hoover is calling the Attorney General, who is meeting with Johnson in the Oval Office. Kennedy’s side of the conversation, consisting of a greeting and two affirmations, are recorded before cutting back to the Ryan call.

Ryan: . . . about finding the car. Apparently it’s been on—

Valenti: He was hoping to talk to his wife.[206]

Ryan: He wanted to talk to his wife before she heard it.

Valenti: Yes.

Ryan: So he was headed right back.

Valenti: All right. Thank you, Congressman.

Ryan: All right. We—Listen, I want to tell you how much I appreciate the President seeing them and your—

The recording is interrupted by a brief exchange between Yolanda Boozer and an operator.

Ryan: . . . thought reacted very well.

Valenti: Thank you, sir. We’ll be in touch with you.

Ryan: OK.

Valenti: Bye.

Ryan: Bye.

7:26 p.m.

from Walter Jenkins[207]

Amid the rush to deal with the news from Hoover, Johnson took the time to give Jenkins some instructions to pass along to A.W. Moursund, Johnson’s business partner, who was being pursued by the Wall Street Journal. Three months earlier, the newspaper had published a series of articles outlining the sources of the Johnson family’s wealth and their broadcast stations. The reporting focused in depth on the favorable relationship between the Johnsons and the Federal Communications Commission.[208]

President Johnson: Yes?

Walter Jenkins: Well, I have A.W. [Moursund] on the other line, and I thought maybe I ought to make a report before I let him go. He said he was in Blanco [Texas] at the hearing all morning, and when he got back, he got trapped: that Ray Shaw of the Wall Street Journal, Dallas, and Mr. E. [Ed] Cony of the Wall Street Journal[209]

President Johnson: Now, we’ll have to send a guard [unclear].

Jenkins: —were sitting in his office when he walked in. And that Jesse [Kellam] tells him that [Louis] Kohlmeier is in Austin trying to talk to Don [Thomas], but they’re dodging him.[210] But he said that he just walked in, and they were there.

President Johnson: Hmm.

Jenkins: [with the President acknowledging] He said that he told them first off that he was busy and couldn’t spend all—any of his time talking to newspapermen, that Abe Fortas had written the trust instrument and any details that they could get out of him, that’d be fine.[211] And they said that they’d been told that before, but wanted to ask him a few little questions, and he said he would doubt that he would answer any of them. And they said, “Well, we’d like to ask them anyway.” And—

President Johnson: [Unclear] please, oh, those boys. How can we tell them to avoid that?

Jenkins: He said they could go to 20 people on the opposite side, and they’d be glad to talk to them, but they wanted to try to stick to what was accurate and what was right. And he said the only thing he could tell them at all would be very general. And they started out onto the [LBJ] Foundation, wanted to know if the President was a principal contributor, and he said, “I said all I could tell them about that is that doubtless, he had contributed, but I wasn’t going into names and amounts. And [they] wanted to know about the stocks that the foundation owned, and I said I didn’t think it was proper of me to talk about that with them. [They] said they had gone into the Kennedy Foundation. I said I had never seen any report on that, what the Kennedy Foundation’s stocks are, on the things they owned. I did volunteer that the foundation is a little charitable institution that we’re mighty proud of and that we hope will amount to something someday. We’re trying to build it up where it will be good for some worthwhile causes, and he jumped on that and said that then I guess that accounts for the fact that you’re not paying out all the income in contributions. And I said I don’t know that to be a fact. I said I’m sure that maybe some years may have paid out more and perhaps some years less, wouldn’t know unless I had the statements before me, but we were trying to make something out of it besides just a pipeline and wanted to be really good to do some worthwhile good.

“He got off the foundation and jumped me on Brazos-Tenth [Street Corporation] and wanted to know the connection between the President and Brazos-Tenth.[212] I told him there was no connection, looked him right in the eye. He looked at me like he thought I was lying, wanted to know about an exchange between Texas Broadcasting and Brazos-Tenth. Have 19 parcels of land. I said you’re talking about something covered by the trust, and I’m not going into anything that would inform Mrs. [Lady Bird] Johnson through the newspapers of what I’m not supposed to tell her at all, and I let him read the paragraph out of the trust that told me what all I could say.

“And then he said the records show that I had a large hand in the Moore State Bank along with Brazos-Tenth, a large interest in the Moore State Bank along with Brazos-Tenth, and there’d been some rumble about the bank paying me a thousand-dollar-a-month retainer.[213] I said I do practice law, and I do try to render value received, and . . . that there’s no concern of anyone about my practice. And I said you’re talking about my business now, and not somebody else’s, and I’m not a public figure at all.

“Asked about the Haywood [Ranch].[214] Said he’d seen in the newspapers that the President and I owned the Haywood together, and I told him that that was correct. He wanted to know about some Lake Forest lots the President and I are supposed to have together, and I told him there were some little lots that a fellow had been trying to sell and they weren’t worth much, said they’d probably cost us 4[00] or 500 dollars, each of us.

“And he wanted to know if my job was a tough job. I said if it’s hard for me to carry out the instructions in the trust instrument: no, that it’s not hard, it’s easy. And asked me about the telephone line. I made the same statement that I’ve made before. I said, ‘Now look here, fellow. I’m not seeking any publicity. We have an awfully good man; let’s try to uphold him.’ He said, ‘If you’re telling us not to use your name, we just can’t do that.’ They grinned, and were very friendly and all that, but I guess they’ll go off and cut my guts out.”

President Johnson: That’s right, and tell him that we sure—

Jenkins: “Did the best I could and tried not to make any mistakes.”

President Johnson: Tell him that’s all right, but we strongly recommend from here that when they catch him, wait like they did Don, or catch him, to just never say but one thing and that is under the—“Let me read you the trust instrument. I can’t divulge it, and you talk to the attorney.” That’s the only advice I can give him, because they get the interview. Doesn’t make any difference whether it’s accident or not, Walter.

Jenkins: Yep.

President Johnson: They’ve got it, and they’ve got it by a bad thing, and they’ve got him admitting it, all this, and he oughtn’t to do it. Just tell him that you’ve talked to the boss, and he says he doesn’t know anything except to read them the . . . put a paragraph on his desk and read it if they’re in his office. They don’t have to let them come in, and . . . but just read them that and say that’s all I can tell you. Refer them to him, that’s all I know to do. Don’t make him feel bad, because he’s just played hell, but none of them know how to avoid it.

Jenkins: All right, sir.

President Johnson: Just as long as there are people that talk, why, we’ll . . . they’ll have stories. Just tell him I said as long as anyone would say yes to them that . . . they’d do it now.

Did they ever say they talked to Abe?

Jenkins: Never did say for sure that they would, said they’d been told before to do that, and he hopes they will, but . . .

President Johnson: Well, just tell him that if any more else come in, please don’t talk to them. Just don’t talk to them. Just say, “I’m sorry, but here’s the trust instrument, and I can’t do it.”

Jenkins: All right.

President Johnson: Kohlmeier and who?

Jenkins: Well, Kohlmeier was not here. Kohlmeier was in Austin trying to see Don [Thomas]. This was Ray Shaw, Wall Street Journal, Dallas, and E. Cony of the Wall Street Journal, New York, has—

Fifty seconds excised under deed of gift restriction.

President Johnson: Anything else?

Jenkins: No, I believe that’s all. I’ll get back and talk to A.W.

President Johnson: All right. Just—

Jenkins: Nothing else you want to tell A.W., is there?

President Johnson: Just tell him, though, that that’s a real problem with us and he’ll have to talk to Don and . . . them and make it abundantly clear that . . . that they don’t talk to them.

Jenkins: All right, sir.

President Johnson: OK.

Jenkins: All right, sir.

7:30 p.m.: Lee White returned to join the civil rights advisers in the Oval Office, and President Johnson received another call from Clark Clifford.

7:30 p.m.

from Clark Clifford[215]

President Johnson: Hello?

Clark Clifford: Yeah. Hi, Mr. President.

President Johnson: Clark, I’m here with the Attorney General and some of these boys on this Mississippi thing. The governor of Mississippi told Senator [James] Eastland today that he’d like for me to send an impartial observer down there to . . . that he could go over with a federal . . . with my observer, communicate with us what he was doing to try to maintain law and order, doing everything including calling out the National Guard if necessary.

These three missing boys, they found the car burned today that they were in. They don’t believe they were in the car when it was burned; they can’t find any bones or teeth or plates or anything like that. But they don’t know. Their parents were in to see me.

So I’m going to call him back this evening, and—governor—and tell him that I’m anxious to send that observer, and I’m going to ask Allen Dulles to go. [Unclear comment by Clifford.] And he is agreeable to do it. I need a young man to go with him to help him. He says you’ve got a bunch
of good, bright, young men in your firm. I suggested we might ask you to lend us John Finney . . . what—not Finney, whatever his given name is.

Clifford: Tom.

President Johnson: Tom Finney.

Clifford: Yeah.

President Johnson: Because he’s not anti-southern, and he’s knowledgeable. He’s worked in Oklahoma a lot, and he knows Dulles. Dulles is up in years.[216] I can put them in a Jetstar and let them fly down there for a day or two and talk to the governor and talk to the FBI and talk to the local officers and talk to the churches and talk to the others, and they can make a report back.

Clifford: Very good.

President Johnson: And I didn’t want to say that until I talked to you, and I didn’t want to talk to Tom until I talked to you.

Clifford: Fine.

President Johnson: Maybe you want to talk to him before I do.

Clifford: Well, I—what I’ll do is call him immediately and tell him that he will hear from you—

President Johnson: All right. . . . That’s fine.

Clifford: [with Johnson acknowledging]—and that it’s perfectly agreeable with me for him to do it because I think his sense of obligation to the firm would be such that he would say that he would have . . . that he felt he would have to check with me, so I will do that ahead of time and tell him that he can expect a call, and he is to agree at once to do it, and he will do an excellent job. He’s a very, very bright and mature young man.

President Johnson: Thank you a lot. Thank you a lot. And I’ll call, be back in touch with you. And I’ll call him. Thank you.

Clifford: All right.

7:40 p.m.: Johnson made an unrecorded call to George Reedy on the private line.

8:00 p.m.

between J. Edgar Hoover and Robert Kennedy[217]

While in the Little Lounge with the President and the President’s tailor, the Attorney General asked FBI Director Hoover to check out a CBS report that the bodies had been found.

White House Secretary: Hello?

Robert Kennedy: Hello? Yes.

White House Secretary: Do you want to take it down?

Kennedy: Yeah.

White House Secretary: Thank you.

[to Hoover] There you are.

Hoover comes on the line.

J. Edgar Hoover: Hello?

Robert Kennedy: Oh, Edgar?

Hoover: Yes, Bobby.

Kennedy: CBS just had a report that the bodies have been found.

Hoover: I haven’t received word on that.

Kennedy: No. So could—

[checking with someone in the office] Who was it, Gerry Waters?[218]

[to Hoover] Gerry Waters. I thought maybe somebody could take a . . . find out what . . . basis of his information is. It’s Gerry Waters, G—

Hoover: Is he with CBS?

Kennedy: Yeah.

Hoover: I’ll take care of that right away.

Kennedy: Thanks a lot.

Hoover: Fine.

8:10 p.m.

between Edwin Guthman and Robert Kennedy[219]

Using a phone in the Oval Office, Kennedy called his assistant to talk about delaying their trip to Europe.

Edwin Guthman: Bob?

Robert Kennedy: Hi.

Guthman: Well, the plane has not landed yet. They think it’s overhead, and it’s, you know, and it’s coming in.

Kennedy: Yeah.

Guthman: Now, we can—can you stand by over—

Kennedy: Yeah, that’s right. Well, I don’t see how I’m going to go to New York now, tonight.

Guthman: Oh . . .

Kennedy: We haven’t said I’m not going yet, have we?

Guthman: Haven’t done a thing yet. So you’ll stand by?

Kennedy: Don’t you think?

Guthman: Well, yeah, except . . . umm . . .

Kennedy: God, it’d make it much more . . . better if I could go, wouldn’t it?

Guthman: Tomorrow morning?

Kennedy: Yeah.

Guthman: Well, yeah.

Kennedy: But I think it’s better not to, don’t you?

Guthman: Yeah, and I think that if you delay once and then go, that indica[tes]—and, you know, depending on how things go tomorrow, then it looks more like, you know . . .

Kennedy: Yeah. . . . On top of it.

Guthman: Yeah. Another thing is that you have to fly all night; that’s the hell of it.

Kennedy: Yeah.

Guthman: But I would . . . then, you know, I wouldn’t think it’d be too wrong to go ahead and say that you’re going to . . . you’ve delayed your trip, or you, you know, could make the morning papers with it.

Kennedy: OK. [Unclear comment by Guthman.] OK. That’s fine, then.

Guthman: All right.

Kennedy: OK.

Guthman: Thanks a lot. Talk—stay—we’ll call you just as soon as we know something.

Kennedy: All right.

Guthman: We’ll call you.

8:20 p.m.: Lady Bird arrived at the Oval Office for a brief visit before the President phoned the governor of Mississippi.

8:21 p.m.

to Paul Johnson[220]

While President Johnson is being connected, Lady Bird speaks in the background.

President Johnson: Hello?

Yolanda Boozer: Governor Paul Johnson, 9-0.

President Johnson: All right, are you on—Attorney General in there?

Boozer: Yes, sir, he’s on the other line.

President Johnson: Tell him that I’m talking on that call now.

Boozer: Yes, sir. Thank you.

The operator then connects the call.

President Johnson: Hello, Governor?

Paul Johnson: Hello?

President Johnson: Governor?

Paul Johnson: Yes.

President Johnson: Lyndon Johnson.

Paul Johnson: Yes, sir, Mr. President, how are you?

President Johnson: Fine; hope you are.

Paul Johnson: Getting along fine, thank you.

President Johnson: I was talking to Jim Eastland this afternoon, and he told me—after he talked to you he called me back and said that you had . . . you were deeply concerned about this situation, as I was, and—

Paul Johnson: Yes, we’ve been doing everything that we possibly could to solve it as quickly as possible.

President Johnson: He said that . . . He said you had suggested that [you would] be glad if I’d send an impartial, objective observer down to talk to you so you could tell him what you were doing and see themselves what all was happening.

Paul Johnson: Just exactly what the situation is.

President Johnson: And I’ll tell you what I thought: I thought that . . . I think that’s a good idea, and I asked Allen Dulles—who is the brother, you know, of the former secretary of state [John Foster Dulles] and a very able man—to fly down there and told him that you had asked us to do that, had been told that you . . . and I’m going to ask him to go down there tomorrow or next day, and I’ll have him give you notice beforehand.

Paul Johnson: All right.

President Johnson: I want him to talk to you and any people that you suggest that might be desirable for him to talk to. Send him to anyone that you think he ought to see, any local officials or state official—

Paul Johnson: Right. We’ll send him anywhere he wants to go.

President Johnson: Or state officials, and I think he also ought to, before he comes back, see some of the Negro groups so that he can hear anything they’ve got to say or talk to them. I think he ought to talk to the FBI people that are in there.

Paul Johnson: Yes.

President Johnson: I’m deeply concerned about this situation, as I know you are.

Paul Johnson: [with the President acknowledging throughout] Yes. The real danger in it, Mr. President, is these youngsters who come into a situation where you already have a hard-core group of people with long police records that are professional agitators, and these youngsters don’t realize what they’re getting into. And they’ve been in here a good while, and they’ve stirred up a great deal of tension, and now these youngsters come in when the tension is getting toward the boiling point.

On this matter over there of these three that have disappeared, we’ve had investigators in there, of course, since yesterday morning checking it out. Then we have, of course, our people over there at the scene of this automobile, and I have been in touch with the FBI resident agent—or the district agent, [Harry] Maynor, down at New Orleans—and my people and his have been working very closely together.[221]

President Johnson: Yes. See, Edgar Hoover told me that a couple times this afternoon.

Paul Johnson: Right. . . . And then I told him that I thought that our people should get with his group and make a decision as to whether or not that big swamp [Bogue Chitto] should be searched. And if they needed to do so, or determine that was the thing to do right away, that we would be glad to furnish some additional personnel to get in there and to search that swamp out.

I, frankly, don’t think that they will find them anyway, except perhaps in another part of this country. [President Johnson acknowledges.] From what we could determine, it looked like that they went out of there on foot to the highway, which is only about a hundred yards away. So . . .

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. . . . From the car?

Paul Johnson: [with the President acknowledging] Yes. And that’s a tremendous swamp in there, particularly on the south part of the road, and it would take a large number of men to really scour that swamp closely. But we’re willing to do it if they feel that that would, you know, be bene­ficial.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. You issued a statement this afternoon, didn’t you?

Paul Johnson: That’s correct, sir.

President Johnson: What’d you say in that statement?

Paul Johnson: Well, in that statement—and incidentally, the CBS crowd were there and filmed it.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Paul Johnson: I said that my people had been in there on assignment since yesterday morning. That I had not received any official notice or request to search for these people or to run this down until last night, but despite that, as quick as we heard about it yesterday morning, we sent investigators over. And then we also alerted our patrol units over in that area to be on the lookout also. And that the car had been found; that it was in the swamp about 12 miles northeast of Philadelphia; that it was on the north side of the highway in the Bogue Chitto swamp, about a hundred yards off the highway. That the FBI agents were there on the scene, that some of our personnel were there on the scene, that there were no bodies found in the car, and that the area had been roped off. That news personnel, I felt certain, would not be permitted in the area until an investigation had properly been carried out by the FBI and by our state investigators and by the local sheriff, and that every effort was being made, through a coordinated movement between all three of the law enforcement branches, to see that the ends of justice are met.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Paul Johnson: That was more or less the statement that I [unclear].

President Johnson: Mr. Hoover told me that you had made it, and it pleased me very much. [Unclear comment by Governor Johnson.] We want to cooperate with you in any way in the world that we can. We know what a problem it is, and we want to make available all facilities that the federal government has that we can to you and work . . .

Paul Johnson: Did you see where—

President Johnson: . . . work with all of our people there and our equipment to try to locate these boys.

Now, CBS has got out a report that they’d located the bodies, and they’d found the bodies. You know anything about that?

Paul Johnson: I know nothing whatsoever about that, and if that were true, the investigators over there would have contacted me immediately.

President Johnson: I believe so. CBS called to say the student bodies have been found. [Unclear comment by Governor Johnson.][222] I don’t know whether—I just got that since I started talking to you.

Paul Johnson: No, I . . . we do not know if they have.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Paul Johnson: We haven’t found out.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Paul Johnson: But I’ll certainly be delighted to give you a ring or to give someone that you may designate a ring—

President Johnson: Wait just a minute: Hoover’s calling us on the other phone now. Let me see what he says. . . .

Paul Johnson: Sure.

There is a 15-second pause as the President apparently checks with Hoover.

President Johnson: This CBS man says that it’s an unconfirmed report from a UPI [United Press International] stringer in Jackson.[223]

Paul Johnson: Uh-huh.

President Johnson: UPI still has not carried the story.

Paul Johnson: No. I feel that if they had located the bodies that they would have notified me immediately.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. The parents were down. I’ve got to say something at night, and I don’t want to . . .

Paul Johnson: Right.

President Johnson: I want to contribute to a solution and not add to a problem.

Paul Johnson: Well, certainly. You see what the big problem is down here is this: Suppose we had a half million marshals in here. You could not have prevented such a thing as happened in this particular incident. It’s an isolated proposition that could happen anywhere in the state because of its size and because of the wooded areas and because of the fact that it is a rural state with a lot of small communities. And you’re going to have this sort of a thing in New York City or anywhere else. It’s a matter of when these things do happen that we run them to earth and bring them to justice.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Paul Johnson: But this sort of thing could not have been prevented, regardless of what anyone had done.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Paul Johnson: That’s our big problem here, and it would be in Texas or Arkansas or anywhere else.

President Johnson: Yes, that’s right. Now—

Paul Johnson: But you can have an individual incident or isolated incident like that.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm. Well, I think that we’re going to have a long summer, and as I said before—

Paul Johnson: Yes, it is.

President Johnson: —we’re—I’m deeply concerned about what’s going to happen day to day, and I think it’s just imperative that we work together as closely as we can, and all the resources of the state, and—

Paul Johnson: That’s correct.

President Johnson: —the local people and the folks that we have be put together to try to see if the law’s observed and see that we can avoid any violence.

Paul Johnson: Well, we have been doing that . . . we have been doing that for about six months, and we’ve just kept the lid on this thing. How we’ve done it, I don’t know, but we’ve kept it all suppressed, and I’ve just looked for the dynamite keg to go off any minute, you know, and me sitting on it. But we have—I think the FBI agents and any of your people here in the state will tell you the same thing.

President Johnson: Mm-hmm.

Paul Johnson: That we’ve made a tremendous effort to try to keep the people calm, and so far they have been. There have been no demonstrations at all.

President Johnson: [with Governor Johnson acknowledging throughout] Well, I wanted to tell you that . . . what I said before: that I was very pleased with your statement, that I appreciate your invitation to have this objective observer. I’m going to send Mr. Dulles; I’ll notify you when he comes. I’m very anxious to—repeat, anxious—to cooperate with you and the local people, and all the facilities I have available are available for that purpose.

The governor [sic, Dulles] will come and talk to you and any people that you desire he talk to—and I’d suggest that you figure out various parts of the state [if] there are any people you think who could give him helpful suggestions and report on what’s happening so we can get a pretty complete picture.

Paul Johnson: Certainly.

President Johnson: [with Governor Johnson acknowledging] Give him any guidance you can on any of the leaders that you think he might ought to talk to, to get all sides of the picture. We’ll—He’ll talk to the FBI people who are familiar, as you suggest, and then I’ll want him to come back and give me some information because they’re [the NAACP’s] picketing us tomorrow, and [chuckles slightly] they’ll say that we’re not taking steps that we ought to, and so forth. So we want to be sure that we do everything we possibly can consistent with getting results.

Paul Johnson: [with the President acknowledging] Well, regardless of what had been done, Mr. President, an incident like this cannot be obviated anywhere in the United States or anywhere in the world. And those people who do criticize, they realize that, but they are just trying to stir up a storm, you know.

President Johnson: Well, we’ve got to . . . we’ve got to put everything we’ve got behind it because the summer’s going to be long and a difficult one, Governor, and I know how you feel about it, and you know my problem too. And let’s just work together as closely as we can, and my phone’s always ready for you, and I’ll consider yours the same way, and we’ll be back in touch with each other.

Paul Johnson: [Unclear] . . . fine, and I do appreciate your calling me so very much.

President Johnson: Thank you. I’m looking forward to seeing you next week.

Paul Johnson: On anything that you think that I can do [President Johnson attempts to speak] to help suppress this situation, I wish you’d let me know.

President Johnson: I’ll sure do it, and I just hope you appeal to all of them to continue, as you did today, to observe the law, and everybody follow it, and let’s have no violence. [Unclear comment by Governor Johnson.] That’s fine.

Paul Johnson: We will require it.

President Johnson: Thank you.

Paul Johnson: Yes, sir.

Immediately after the call with the governor, Johnson tried to reach Tom Finney to invite him to accompany Allen Dulles.[224] The next recorded call went to the mother of Michael Schwerner.

8:35 p.m.

to Anne Schwerner[225]

Johnson began phoning parents with the news that the FBI had found no bodies in the burned car. Anne Schwerner had not accompanied her husband, Nathan, to the meeting with the President earlier in the day. Johnson reached her at home in Pelham, New York.

President Johnson: Mrs. Schwerner?

Anne Schwerner: Hello, President Johnson.

President Johnson: Are you the mother of the . . .

Schwerner: Of Michael.

President Johnson: Yes. We have received word from Mr. [J. Edgar] Hoover that the investigation in the car indicates that there were no people in the car, and it’s very likely that none of them were burned as could have been possible under the early information.

Schwerner: Yes, thank you.

President Johnson: And I have talked to the governor there, and he is making all the facilities of the state available in the search. And they have seen some tracks leaving the car.

Schwerner: Yes.

President Johnson: And they’re going to try to continue. We’re flying people in from the FBI tonight, and I just wanted you to know that, and that was a little hope that we didn’t have earlier, and I thought that we would enjoy it as long as we could.

Schwerner: [emotionally] Thank you so much, President Johnson. I appreciate this. Thank you very much.

President Johnson: Thank you, ma’am.

Schwerner: [emotionally] Thank you.

President Johnson: Bye.

8:45 p.m.

to Tom Finney; President Johnson joined by Robert Kennedy[226]

Johnson finally reached Finney to invite him to join Dulles.

tom Finney: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: Has Clark [Clifford] talked to you?

Finney: Yes, I talked to him just a minute ago.

President Johnson: I hope you can be helpful to us.

Finney: I’m at your disposal.

President Johnson: All right. I’ll have Jack Valenti call you in the morning and get you with Mr. [Allen] Dulles. We’ll see if he can get off to go down there tomorrow. I’d like for him to go if he can.

Finney: All right, sir.

President Johnson: And we’ll get a plane set up for you, and you better think about your . . . any stenographic facilities you might need [Finney acknowledges], and . . . we’ll fly you down to see the governor. What we want to do is: I’ve told the governor that you’re coming, and he’s asked for an objective observer. I’m telling him I’m sending Mr. Dulles, but he’s up in years, and I want some young man that’s got some imagination and initiative and go with him and kind of support him. And I told the governor how deeply concerned we are, and we want to cooperate and make all the facilities available that we have. And I want the governor to talk—Dulles to talk to the governor, and then I want him to talk to any people the governor wants him to talk to. And then I’m very anxious for him to talk to the FBI people we’ve got there and, over the state, the Negro leaders and some of the church leaders that are on the other side and get a picture and be sure that they’re doing everything they can do and that we’re doing everything we can do to bring about law observance and to prevent these things that happen, like burning this car today, and so forth.

Finney: Has there been any further word on the three boys?

President Johnson: No, they haven’t located—they haven’t located them. They have seen . . . They found some tracks leading away from the car, but that’s all. The Attorney General’s here with me, and I want you to talk to him about it before we get off the line.

Finney: All right, sir.

President Johnson: Now, do you have anything else you want to say?

Finney: No, sir. You think . . . what, I’ll leave tomorrow, you believe?

President Johnson: Yeah, I would think so.

Finney: Yeah.

President Johnson: I want to get you to meet with the people over there like Burke Marshall or the [Attorney] General, anybody that would be helpful, and then we’ll . . . we’ll get you off just as quickly as you can. I think the quicker, the better.

Finney: I think that’s right.

President Johnson: OK. Here’s the A.G.

Finney: All right, sir.

Attorney General Kennedy comes on the line.

Robert Kennedy: Hello?

Finney: Hi, Bob.

Kennedy: Hi, how are you?

Finney: Fine.

Kennedy: I think, maybe, if you could come by some time tomorrow morning. You want to give me a ring?

Finney: Sure.

Kennedy: And then we could chat about it.

Finney: All right. Or if you’d like, I can just be at your office at whatever time.

Kennedy: Why don’t you come by at 10 [a.m.], then?

Finney: All right.

Kennedy: And I’ll try to get hold of Allen Dulles, too.

Finney: All right, fine.

Kennedy: And if there’s any change, I’ll give you a ring.

Finney: OK, fine.

Kennedy: Fine, Tom.

Finney: All right. Thank you, Bob.

8:50 p.m.

to Robert Goodman[227]

Johnson reached the father of Andrew Goodman in New York City. Robert Kennedy was with Johnson in the Oval Office.

A brief, unclear office conversation precedes the call.

President Johnson: . . . threw their hats at each other.

Robert Kennedy: God . . . that . . . When did I come on? [Unclear.]

President Johnson: [Unclear] came on after [unclear].

Yolanda Boozer then announces Robert Goodman.

Robert Goodman: Hello, Mr. President.

President Johnson: The FBI got in the car.

Goodman: Yes.

President Johnson: And think that there’s a . . . there are reasons to believe that no people were in the car because they’ve been unable to find any evidence of that, and there are indications that there were tracks leading from the car back to the highway.

Goodman: That’s wonderful news, Mr. . . .

President Johnson: And we don’t know where we’ll go from there, but I thought you should have that information as soon as we had it.

Goodman: [emotionally] Thank you so much.

President Johnson: We’ve talked to the governor, and he’s agreed to make available all the facilities at his command to search that entire area, and he and the FBI together are working up a plan to go through the area and see if they can find any further information and give it to us. So we’re making arrangements to send additional people in tonight and tomorrow.

Goodman: [emotionally] Mr. President, I can’t express my words to thank you for what you’re doing: for these boys and for us. Thank you so much.

President Johnson: Thank you, sir.

Goodman: [emotionally] Thank you.

President Johnson: Good-bye.

8:53 p.m.

to Allen Dulles; President Johnson joined by Robert Kennedy[228]

Johnson and Kennedy updated Dulles on the details of the Mississippi fact-finding trip.

President Johnson: . . . men that have been very close to this situation—

Allen Dulles: I would like that very much.

President Johnson: —before you go, and we’ll set a plane up hopefully for tomorrow afternoon, a Jetstar, to take you to Jackson, hoping you can see the governor tomorrow, late.

Dulles: Right.

President Johnson: [with Dulles acknowledging] They tell me if you leave here at 4 [p.m.] you get there at 4—there’s two hours’ change in time. It’s about the same thing. [Tom] Finney said he’d be available to meet you in the morning anytime that you want to meet him. He’s a young lawyer from Clark [Clifford]—I talked to Clark; he thought he’d be—

Dulles: All right. If there’s any possibility, I’d like to meet him tonight.

President Johnson: All right, I’ll call him back and see if he . . . [unclear]—

Dulles: All right, but why don’t I call him and save you the trouble?

President Johnson: All right . . . fine. Tom Finney. F-i-n—

Dulles: If I start into this situation cold, you know, and I’d like to get as much as soon as I can—

President Johnson: Well, now, he won’t know any more about it than you do, hardly. He’s just going to be a fellow that’ll dig up things for you—

Dulles: That’s fine.

President Johnson: [with Dulles acknowledging] —and work with you, but the Attorney General’s here, and he will tell you what he wants you to do in the morning about meeting with Burke Marshall and some of these people that . . .

Here’s a statement that I’m going to make:

[reading] “As I said in my press conference this morning, we have been concerned about the whereabouts and physical safety of the three young people that are still missing in Mississippi. At the present time, although their car has been found burned, we have no definite information on what has happened to them. We share the anxiety and deep distress of the parents of these young men.

“I talked to Governor [Paul] Johnson of Mississippi and expressed my deep concern. He reaffirmed to me what he said publicly this afternoon to the people of Mississippi: that law enforcement facilities of that state will be utilized to their full extent to prevent acts of violence or public disorder from any source. By arrangement of Governor Johnson, I’ve asked Allen Dulles to go to Mississippi to meet with the governor, other officials of the state, and others who have information on the law observance problems that exist there and are a matter of great concern to the governor and to us. Mr. Dulles will leave shortly and will keep me fully advised on these matters.

“We’re basically a law-abiding nation. All the forces of our society, both state and federal, must be directed to preserving law and order. I call for cooperation and restraint of all the citizens of this country in maintaining a society free of anarchy, violence, and disdain for the law.”[229]

Here’s the Attorney General. You got any suggestions on that?

Dulles: No, that’s fine.

President Johnson: Fine.

Robert Kennedy comes on the line.

Robert Kennedy: Oh, Allen?

Dulles: Yes, Bob.

Kennedy: Would it be at all possible to see you in the morning?

Dulles: Surely.

Kennedy: Would you have any time?

Dulles: Oh, I’ll give you any—all the time you want.

Kennedy: Fine. Well, maybe, what if we meet in my office at 10:00?[230]

Dulles: 10:00.

Kennedy: That’d be all right with you?

Dulles: That is wise, is it, to meet there?

Kennedy: I don’t think there’s any problem about it.

Dulles: All right.

Kennedy: Wait a minute.

[to Johnson] Do you think we can get Tom Finney to see him before he comes in?

[to Dulles] No, I think it’s logical that you would do that.

Dulles: Of course.

Kennedy: So I don’t think there’s any . . . I mean, there’s no mystery about the fact you [unclear] see [unclear]—

Dulles: I understand.

Kennedy: Yeah, I think it was good to raise the point, but I think it’s all right.

Dulles: All right, I’ll be in your office at 10:00.

Kennedy: And I’ll just have these people go over. As I say, I don’t think it’s . . . it’s not that complicated or difficult, and we could just tell you what we found, and then you can talk to—

Dulles: Yeah, I’d start on this cold, you know—

Kennedy: I know, but I don’t think it’s . . . it’s not—

Dulles: If there’s anything I could be working on tonight, I’d be glad to do it.

Kennedy: I don’t think that—

[to Johnson] Is there anything that he can read tonight?

[to Dulles] Where are you, Allen?

Dulles: I’m in my home . . . 2723 Q Street.

Kennedy: [to Johnson] Well, I could send over some . . . we could send over some of the FBI reports.

[to Dulles] I could send over some FBI reports that you might take a look at.

Dulles: I’d like that, and a biography of [Governor] Johnson and so forth and so on for background.

Kennedy: And a biography of Johnson.

Dulles: Yes.

Kennedy: Well, why don’t we do that, and I’ll send some material over.

Dulles: Right.

Kennedy: And that’ll be over in another 45 minutes.

Dulles: That’s fine.

Kennedy: Thanks a lot, Allen.

Dulles: Thank you.

Kennedy: Bye.

Dulles: Right.

Time Unknown

with William Ryan and Ogden Reid;
President Johnson joined by Jack Valenti
[231]

Johnson provided assurances that the White House would stay in charge of the investigation.

President Johnson: . . . taking pictures of those. I’m sending down some experts by jet plane tonight. They’ll arrive there a little after midnight, and they are examining them carefully, but it gives us some hope that they were not in the car.

William Ryan: [Unclear.]

President Johnson: And of course, you know, I don’t know any more than you do. I just thought I ought to give you the information as soon as I have it because—

Ryan: Well, I am certainly grateful to you, Mr. President, for taking the time from your very onerous duties.

President Johnson: Well . . .

Ryan: And I deeply appreciate it.

President Johnson: I’ve called the governor of Mississippi, and I’ve asked him to put all of the facilities of his people to search immediately, and he’s agreed to do that, and I’m sending additional people there tonight and tomorrow to join with them. I’ve had a number, just had dozens of them there for several weeks now, but they can’t—they don’t know what happens out on the highway, you know, and there are hundreds of miles of highways all over that state.

Ryan: Right.

President Johnson: And so . . . and then, the governor’s asked me to send in an impartial observer that I’m sending down tomorrow. It’ll probably be Mr. Allen Dulles, former head of the Central Intelligence [Agency]. And he’s a great, able fellow, you know, and—

Ryan: [Unclear] aware of that.

President Johnson: —the [former] secretary of state’s brother, and I’ve called him tonight, and he’s going to go as my representative.

So we’re going to stay right on top of it. I’m still at the office, and I’ll be here through the evening, and I want you to leave word here where I can reach you at any time, and you—

Ryan: I’ll be at this number all the time, and I’m sure that your office will know how to break through if there’s another call.

President Johnson: Wait just a minute here.

[to Valenti] Jack, come get this number here so we can see where to get him.

[to Ryan] Here’s Mr. Valenti, and you give him the number where you can be reached.

Ryan: I will—

President Johnson: Thank you.

Ryan: Thank you. And thank you ever so much. I’m most grateful, Mr. President.

President Johnson: Fine. Tell Ogden about it, and tell him I’ll see him a little later.

Ryan: Yes. Mr. Reid asked that I convey his thanks, Mr. President.

President Johnson: OK. Thank you. Just a minute, here’s Valenti.

Ryan: Could he do so himself?

President Johnson: Yes.

Ryan: Just a moment.

President Johnson: [to Valenti] I want you to get his—

Congressman Reid comes on the line.

Ogden Reid: Mr. President?

President Johnson: Yes, Ogden.

Reid: Thank you very, very much. And we’ll stand by for anything we can do or any word here.

President Johnson: Thank you, Ogden. Here’s Jack Valenti. I want to get the number where you can be reached.

Reid: Thank you, sir.

Valenti comes on the line.

Jack Valenti: Congressman?

Reid: Yes.

Valenti: Let me have the number.

Reid: The number, the code is 914 . . .

Valenti: Now, is this the number where you can be reached?

Reid: This is the Schwerner’s home.

Valenti: Schwerner’s home: area code, 914.

Reid: And the number is Pelham-8, P-E-8 . . .

Valenti: 8.

Reid: . . . 3718.

Valenti: 1-8. How do you spell their name?

Reid: S-c-h-w-e-r-n-e-r.

Valenti: All right.

Reid: The address is 34 5th Street.

Valenti: 34 5th street.

Reid: 5th, F-i-f-t-h Street, Pelham, New York.

Valenti: Pelham, New York.

Reid: Pelham, P-e-l-h-a-m. My number is White Plains-9-1-2—

Valenti: White Plains . . .

Reid: 9.

Valenti: 9.

Reid: 1291.

Valenti: 9-1.

Reid: And I will be at the Schwerner’s probably for the next hour, and then I’ll be back at my home.

Valenti: All right.

Reid: And we appreciate any word that you might have. I’ll stay up all night.

Valenti: All right.

Reid: Thank you.

Valenti: All right, Congressman.

Reid: Thank you.

Valenti: You’re at the Schwermer [sic] number now?

Reid: That is correct.

Valenti: All right, and if you’re not there, you’ll be at your own number: White Plains-9-1291.

Reid: That’s correct.

Valenti: Their number is Pelham-8-3718.

Reid: That is correct.

Valenti: 34 5th Street.

Reid: That is correct, and the code for both numbers is 914.

Valenti: All right. Thank you very much.

Reid: Thank you very, very much.

Valenti: Bye.

Reid: Bye.

Time Unknown

between White House Operators and Lee White[232]

Whereas congressmen William Ryan and Ogden Reid had given the White House the contact information for the parents of the two missing white activists, Lee White had to depend on the press and AT&T.

White House Operator #1: Hello?

Lee White: Lee White. Do you have any luck with that family by the name of Chaney in Meridian?

White House Operator #1: Wait a minute.

There is an approximate 15-second pause.

White House Operator #2: Hello?

White: Yes?

White House Operator #2: I haven’t—can’t find out anything, sir. I’m trying now for little towns outside of Meridian to see if they might have anything listed.

White: I’d appreciate it if you would, and if you could keep at it.

White House Operator #2: Yeah, I have the long-distance operator on the line trying for me.

White: If—

White House Operator #2: You haven’t . . . You’re sure of the spelling, C-h-a-y-n-e-y?[233]

White: Well, that’s what came to us out of the paper. It could possibly be C-h-e-n . . . C-h-e-y-n-e-y.

White House Operator #2: C-h-e-y-n-e-y, OK.

White: I guess that would be an alternative spelling.

White House Operator #2: I’ll try either way.

White: If you can’t catch me here, if you’d catch me at home, I’d appreciate it.

White House Operator #2: All right, Mr. White, I’ll be glad to.

White: Thank you.

9:10 p.m.: Johnson made an unrecorded call to Walter Jenkins on the personal line.

9:20 p.m.—9:25 p.m.: Press Secretary George Reedy came to the Oval Office for five minutes.

9:30 p.m.: Went to the Little Lounge with Jack Valenti; joined by secretary Yolanda Boozer.

9:45 p.m.: Called Bill Moyers to set up a doctor’s visit at the Mayo Clinic during a trip to Minnesota.

10:15 p.m.: Lady Bird brought the President his supper, which he did not eat for another half hour.

10:20 p.m.

to Dean Rusk[234]

In the last recorded call of the day, the two men discussed Henry Cabot Lodge’s departure from Saigon and the situation in Vietnam.

President Johnson: Dean?

Dean Rusk: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: Did you have a chance to talk to [George] Aiken?

Rusk: I haven’t been able to reach him, but I’ve talked to Bill Fulbright here, and he has talked to Aiken, and Aiken says he was misquoted.[235] But I have a date to call him at quarter of 8 in the morning before he has a breakfast, and that has been set up.

President Johnson: [with Rusk acknowledging] OK. Now, [Henry Cabot] Lodge goes into a good deal of detail in his statement tonight. He said, “I have resigned as ambassador to Vietnam because I believe it’s my duty to do everything I can to help [William] Scranton to win his contest for the Republican nomination [for] president. I have accepted an invitation to address the Resolutions Committee of the Republican Party. I’m deeply grateful for the many courtesies extended to my wife and me. [It] truly makes us sad to leave, but Vietnam is on the right track, and with persistence its freedom and independence will surely be achieved. I shall”—so he says we’re on the right track, and “I shall continue to be—”

Rusk: I have that . . . I have that quotation.

President Johnson: I can—

Rusk: I will use that with Aiken, but . . . but he was talked to today, and he said that he had been misquoted, but I will . . . I have a date to talk to him at quarter of 8 before he has an 8:00 breakfast with a number of senators.

President Johnson: That’s good . . . fine. Thank you, Dean.

Rusk: All right.

President Johnson: Bye.

10:25 p.m.: President Johnson made his last call of the night (unrecorded) to aide and speechwriter Horace Busby to chastise Busby for his wordy speeches. According to the Daily Diary, Johnson felt that this morning’s address to the Occupational Safety Conference had “too many long phrases.”

10:45 p.m.: Went to the Mansion with Lady Bird to eat dinner at last, then turned in at midnight, awaking the next morning with a sore throat.

 


[1]. Virgil Downing, Mississippi Sovereignty Commission investigator, “Invasion of Mississippi by Northern College Students,” 1 July 1964, Folder 1, July 1964, Box 136, Series II, Sub-Series 9: Sovereignty Commission, Johnson (Paul B.) Family Papers, in Collection M191, Manuscript Collection, McCain Library and Archives, University of Southern Mississippi (hereafter cited as Sovereignty Commission, Johnson Papers, University of Southern Mississippi).

[2]. To avoid possible confusion in time zone shifts between Mississippi and Washington, D.C., the editors of this volume use eastern daylight time (edt) as the standard time reference from this point forward unless otherwise noted. In 1964, the choice to use daylight saving time was left up to the states and led to wide variation in implementation. Mississippi in 1964 was on central standard time (cst), two hours behind the edt of Washington, D.C. After the passage of the Uniform Time Act of 1966, all but Michigan and Hawaii used daylight saving time. New York Times, 30 April 1967.

[3]. Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Miburn Prosecutive Summary” of the case “Bernard L. Akin, et al.; James Earl Chaney, Michael Henry Schwerner, aka Mickey, Andrew Goodman—Victims,” 19 December 1964, File 44.25706, http://foia.fbi.gov/miburn/miburn3.pdf, pp. ii-iv, 7, 35—50.

[4]. To reconstruct President Johnson’s day, the editors used several resources. The most important of these were the President’s Daily Diary and the Daily Diary Backup, on which Johnson’s office staff carefully noted where Johnson was during the day and night and with whom he spoke or met. Unless otherwise noted, references to Johnson’s daily schedule came from the Daily Diary sheets found in Diaries and Appointment Logs of Lyndon B. Johnson, Special Files, 1927—1973, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[5]. On the role of federalism in the Little Rock school crisis in 1957, the Freedom Rides in 1961, the Ole Miss riots in 1962, and several incidents in Alabama in 1963, see Michal R. Belknap, Federal Law and Southern Order: Racial Violence and Constitutional Conflict in the Post-Brown South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987), pp. 39—52, 70—105.

[6]. The state of Mississippi had given instructions to local law enforcement officers for Freedom Summer, encouraging them to do their “dead-level best to maintain law and order” as they had been “proud” to do in the past. The public safety commissioner recommended plans of action for “out-of-state” or “impostor” defense attorneys or for “agitators” or “intruders” who wished to worship at certain churches. He also pushed for them to create an “intelligence network,” to update their riot gear, and to make sure they could handle “mass numbers of prisoners.” T. B. Birdsong, Mississippi Commissioner of Public Safety, to All Law Enforcement Officers, 9 June 1964, Folder 7: “Highway Patrol Reports and Correspondence, June 1964,” Box 144, Series II, Sub-Series 10: Highway Patrol, Johnson Papers, University of Southern Mississippi.

[7]. Grand Jury Charges in U.S. v. Cecil Ray Price, et al., 23 January 1965, Folder 8, Box 2, M368, Michael J. Miller Civil Rights Collection, McCain Library and Archives, University of Southern Mississippi; Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Miburn Prosecutive Summary” of the case “Bernard L. Akin, et al.; James Earl Chaney, Michael Henry Schwerner, aka Mickey, Andrew Goodman—Victims,” 19 December 1964, File 44.25706, http://foia.fbi.gov/miburn/miburn3.pdf, pp. ii—iv, 142, 170—90, 215—55 (principally the interviews of conspirators Doyle Barnette and James Jordan). A compelling, though often speculative, narrative of 21 June by two historical journalists is Seth Cagin and Philip Dray, We Are Not Afraid: The Story of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney and the Civil Rights Campaign for Mississippi (New York: Macmillan, 1988), pp. 278—301.

[8]. “Inonu to Seek Partition,” New York Times, 21 June 1964.

[9]. A memorandum of a meeting between Lee White, Bill Moyers, Jack Valenti, and Richard Goodwin failed to mention the disappearance, but did list several detailed strategies for “generating an atmosphere of compliance and acceptance of the Civil Rights Bill.” Lee C. White to President Johnson, 22 June 1964, “HU 2/ST 24 1/1/64—7/16/64” folder, Box 26, White House Central Files: Human Rights 2/ST, Lyndon B. Johnson Library. On Mickey Schwerner’s tendency to report in promptly, see Rita L. Schwerner, Affidavit, COFO v. L.A. Rainey, et al., 29 July 1964, p. 3, Folder 11: “Lauderdale County, 1964,” Box 3, Council of Federated Organizations Records, Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

[10]. In addition to local groups from Mississippi, the primary organizations involved with COFO were the Congress of Racial Equality, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. This incarnation of COFO began in 1962 as part of the Voter Education Project (VEP) sponsored by the Southern Regional Council and encouraged by the Kennedy Administration.

[11]. Council of Federated Organizations, “COFO Contacts with Neshoba County Law Enforcement Officers in the Schwerner-Cheney [sic]-Goodman Case,” and “The Philadelphia, Mississippi Case, Chronology of Contact with Agents of the Federal Government,” Folder 16: “Depositions, Neshoba County, 1964,” Box 3, Council of Federated Organizations Records, Z/1867.000/S, Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Other locations of the federal contact chronology are Lee White to Nicholas Katzenbach, 6 July 1964, “Civil Rights—Mississippi” folder, Office Files of Lee White, Box 6, White House Central Files, Lyndon B. Johnson Library; and Michal R. Belknap, Civil Rights, the White House, and the Justice Department, 1945—1968, vol. 10, Racial Violence and Law Enforcement in the South (New York: Garland, 1991), pp. 283—87.

[12]. A. L. Hopkins, Mississippi Sovereignty Commission investigator, “Continued investigation of the disappearance of the three civil rights workers after they were released from the Neshoba County jail at 10:30 p.m., Sunday, June 21, 1964,” 3 July 1964, Folder 1, July 1964, Box 136, Series II, Sub-Series 9: Sovereignty Commission, Johnson Papers, University of Southern Mississippi. The FBI’s heavily redacted report on Rainey’s alibi is found in Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Miburn Prosecutive Summary,” of the case “Bernard L. Akin, et al.; James Earl Chaney, Michael Henry Schwerner, aka Mickey, Andrew Goodman—Victims,” 19 December 1964, File 44.25706, http://foia.fbi.gov/miburn/miburn8.pdf, pp. 880—908.

[13]. Other recipients were a naval researcher, the CIA’s comptroller, and the executive secretary of the National Security Council.

[14]. Lee White, “Memorandum to the Files: Disappearance of Three Participants in Mississippi Project,” 23 June 1964, “Civil Rights—Mississippi” folder, Box 6, Office Files of Lee White, White House Central Files, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[15]. Council of Federated Organizations, “The Philadelphia, Mississippi Case, Chronology of Contact with Agents of the Federal Government,” Folder 16: “Depositions, Neshoba County, 1964,” Box 3, Council of Federated Organizations Records, Z/1867.000/S, Mississippi Department of Archives and History; other locations of the chronology are “Civil Rights—Mississippi” folder, Office Files of Lee White, Box 6, White House Central Files, Lyndon B. Johnson Library; and Belknap, Civil Rights, the White House, and the Justice Department, 1945—1968, vol. 10, Racial Violence and Law Enforcement in the South, pp. 283—87.

[16]. See Guian A. McKee, ed., The Presidential Recordings, Lyndon B. Johnson: Mississippi Burning and the Passage of the Civil Rights Act, June 1, 1964—July 4, 1964, vol. 7, June 1, 1964—June 22, 1964 (New York: Norton, 2011).

[17]. Conversation between President Johnson and Larry O’Brien, 5:57 p.m., 1 July 1964, in this volume.

[18]. The leaders included Speaker of the House John McCormack, House Majority Leader Carl Albert, House Majority Whip Hale Boggs, Senate President Pro Tem Carl Hayden, Senator George Smathers, and Senate Majority Leader Hubert Humphrey. Also attending were aides Walter Jenkins, Bill Moyers, Larry O’Brien, Kenny O’Donnell, George Reedy, and Jack Valenti.

[19]. Tape WH6406.13, Citation #3814, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[20]. “The President’s News Conference,” 23 June 1964, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963—64 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office [hereafter GPO], 1965), 1:802—8.

[21]. See conversations between President Johnson and John McCormack, 12:45 p.m., 23 June 1964, in this chapter; and President Johnson and Lee White, 12:35 p.m., 23 June 1964, in this chapter. On 8 April, Lee White had recommended adding more federal marshals to Mississippi as a “stabilizing influence.” Lee C. White to President Johnson, 8 April 1964, “HU 2/ST 24 1/1/64—7/16/64” folder, Box 26, White House Central Files: Human Rights 2/ST, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[22]. Lee White to Burke Marshall, 17 June 1964, “PL/ST 24” folder, Box 53, White House Central Files: Political Affairs, Mississippi (Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party), Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[23]. Robert F. Kennedy to President Johnson, 21 May 1964, “3/26/64—5/24/64” folder, Box 2, White House Central Files: Human Rights 2, Lyndon B. Johnson Library. For Marshall’s list of incidents, see Burke Marshall to Dan H. Shell, 15 July 1964, Folder 1, July 1964, Box 136, Series II, Sub-Series 9: Sovereignty Commission, Johnson Papers, University of Southern Mississippi.

[24]. Informant’s report from Oxford, Ohio, and Jackson, Mississippi, 26 June 1964, Folder 10, June 1964, Box 135, Series II, Sub-Series 9: Sovereignty Commission, Johnson Papers, University of Southern Mississippi; Yasuhiro Katagiri, The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission: Civil Rights and States’ Rights (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2001). The Sovereignty Commission files were made available to the public in March 1998 after two decades of litigation. They are available at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) in Jackson, Mississippi, and on the MDAH’s Web site, http://www.mdah.state
.ms.us/arlib/contents/er/sovcom/.

[25]. Lee C. White to President Johnson, 17 June 1964, “HU 2/ST 24 1/1/64—7/16/64” folder, Office Files of Lee White, Box 26, White House Central Files: Human Rights 2/ST, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[26]. Transcript, Lee C. White, Oral History Interview, 18 February 1971, Lyndon B. Johnson Library, p. 6—7.

[27]. “Remarks to the President’s Conference on Occupational Safety,” 23 June 1964, Public Papers, Johnson, 1963—64, 1:808—10.

[28]. Tape WH6406.13, Citation #3817, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[29]. Tape WH6406.13, Citation #3818, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[30]. The 30-second section from “That I think” to “be hell” was excised under deed of gift restriction until opened in October 2003.

[31]. Burke Marshall was assistant attorney general for civil rights.

[32]. Democrat William Ryan and Republican Ogden Reid were representatives from New York, the home of two of the three missing civil rights workers.

[33]. The 26-second section from “And it’ll” to “does rankle” was excised under deed of gift restriction until opened in October 2003.

[34]. Roy Wilkins was executive director of the NAACP.

[35]. Johnson held an off-the-record meeting with the NAACP Board of Directors and vice presidents the next day at 5:48 p.m. in the Cabinet Room.

[36]. For a 72-page report on Kennedy meetings on desegregation, see “List of Persons Who Attended Meetings With President Kennedy at White House With Respect to Voluntary Desegregation,” “HU 2 7/28/64—8/20/64” folder, Box 3, White House Central Files: Human Rights, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[37]. Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona) was a front-runner for the Republican nomination for the fall presidential election.

[38]. Lee White, “Memorandum to the Files: Disappearance of Three Participants in Mississippi Project,” 23 June 1964, “Civil Rights—Mississippi” folder, Office Files of Lee White, Box 6, White House Central Files, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[39]. The Navy maintained an Auxiliary Air Station in Meridian, approximately 50 miles from Philadelphia.

[40]. Tape WH6406.13, Citation #3819, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[41]. Malcolm “Mac” Kilduff was assistant press secretary.

[42]. Helen Thomas was a United Press International (UPI) White House correspondent.

[43]. Tape WH6406.13, Citations #3820 and #3821, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[44]. General Nguyen Khanh was Prime Minister of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). Five months earlier, on 30 January, he led a successful coup d’etat against General Duong Van Minh.

[45]. The 31-second section from “a fellow named Ryan” to “floor of the House” was excised under deed of gift restriction until opened in October 2003.

[46]. Johnson’s speech trails off. This word may be “few” instead of “people.” On the matter of the air station, Lee White reported that James Farmer had alerted the administration on 22 June to the possible equipment at the Meridian base. Lee White, “Memorandum to the Files: Disappearance of Three Participants in Mississippi Project,” 23 June 1964, “Civil Rights—Mississippi” folder, Office Files of Lee White, Box 6, White House Central Files, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[47]. McCormack seems to say, “No.”

[48]. The 35-second section from “And so this morning” to “establish policies” was excised under deed of gift restriction until opened in October 2003.

[49]. Raymond Hare was the U.S. ambassador to Turkey. Bill Benton, the former Democratic sena­tor from Connecticut (1949—1953), was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Grant Sawyer, a Democrat, was governor of Nevada, and Richard Hughes, a Democrat, was governor of New Jersey.

[50]. The 26-second section from “Well, I got Turkey” to “Ryan and Reid” was excised under deed of gift restriction until opened in October 2003.

[51]. Congressman Ryan had been one of several politicians supported by the New York Committee for Democratic Voters, better known as the Reform Democrats.

[52]. The 2-minute-and-41-second section from “And that the President” to “campaigned against him” was excised under deed of gift restriction until opened in October 2003.

[53]. See the conversation between President Johnson and Charles Halleck, 6:24 p.m., 22 June 1964, in McKee, Presidential Recordings, Johnson, vol. 7, June 1, 1964—June 22, 1964, pp. 535—43.

[54]. Passed by the Senate on 19 June, the civil rights bill had come to the House for final approval on 22 June and awaited action by Howard “Judge” Smith, chairman of the House Rules Committee.

[55]. Congressman Clarence J. Brown Sr. had been Ohio’s Republican national committeeman for 20 years, but he had been replaced one day before, on 22 June, by Ray C. Bliss, the Ohio GOP’s state chairman.

[56]. The administration’s antipoverty bill was stalled in the House Rules Committee, where Clarence Brown was the ranking Republican. Carl Albert (D-Oklahoma) was House majority leader.

[57]. Tape WH6406.13, Citation #3822, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[58]. Reedy may also have said, “He can use teleprompter, Kenny?”

[59]. Tape WH6406.13, Citation #3823, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[60]. Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 88th Cong., 2nd sess., 1964, vol. 20 (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Service, 1965), pp. 540, 582.

[61]. See conversations on 23 January 1964 in Kent B. Germany and Robert David Johnson, eds., The Presidential Recordings, Lyndon B. Johnson: The Kennedy Assassination and the Transfer of Power, November 1963—January 1964, vol. 3, January 1964 (New York: Norton, 2005), pp. 737—70.

[62]. Both Democratic senators, Harry Byrd represented Virginia and Abraham Ribicoff represented Connecticut. Byrd was also the chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

[63]. George Smathers was a Democratic senator from Florida.

[64]. Lawrence “Larry” O’Brien, special assistant to the President, was the Johnson administration’s chief liaison on congressional matters. Vance Hartke was Democratic senator from Indiana.

[65]. Mike Manatos was O’Brien’s deputy.

[66]. Dillon may have said, “He was upset that night.”

[67]. Tape WH6406.13, Citation #3824, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[68]. Eight years later, in 1972, Reid switched to the Democratic Party.

[69]. The Republican National Convention was set for 13—16 July, with the Democratic National Convention to follow, 24—27 August.

[70]. “Remarks on the Transfer to New Jersey of Lands for the Sandy Hook State Park,” 23 June 1964, Public Papers, Johnson, 1963—64, 1:810—11.

[71]. Tape WH6406.13, Citation #3826, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[72]. Alan Bible (D-Nevada) had served in the Senate since 1954. The first name for Brown was not identified.

[73]. Howard Cannon (D-Nevada) had served in the Senate since 1959.

[74]. Pierre Salinger, the former press secretary for John Kennedy and for Johnson, had resigned on 19 March 1964 to campaign for the U.S. Senate seat in California.

[75]. Richard Daley was the Democratic mayor of Chicago from 1955 until his death in 1976.

[76]. Richard Hughes, the governor of New Jersey, had met with Johnson a few minutes earlier as part of a ceremony to donate 271 acres of Army land to New Jersey’s Sandy Hook State Park. Hughes’s state was hosting this year’s Democratic National Convention.

[77]. David Lawrence, a former governor of Pennsylvania (1959—63), was a special assistant to the President. Otis Morse was the Democratic State Committee chairman.

[78]. William McKeon was the chair of the New York Democratic State Committee. The national committeeman for New York was Carmine G. De Sapio, a Tammany Hall leader from Manhattan. Two months later, Johnson replaced him with Edwin Weisl Sr., a Johnson friend from the days of the Senate Preparedness Committee and former director of Paramount Pictures. New York Times, 23 August 1964. For Weisl’s earlier discussions of New Jersey and New York politics, see Robert David Johnson and Kent B. Germany, eds., The Presidential Recordings, Lyndon B. Johnson: Toward the Great Society, February 1, 1964—May 31, 1964, vol. 4, February 1, 1964—March 8, 1964 (New York: Norton, 2007), pp. 224—27.

[79]. Stanley Steingut was a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly from 1955 until 1977.

[80]. Richard Goodwin was one of Johnson’s chief speechwriters. Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh was the leader of a powerful faction in the California Democratic Party and the Speaker of the California State Assembly. In the California race for the U.S. Senate, Unruh was backing Salinger.

[81]. Edmund “Pat” Brown was the Democratic governor of California.

[82]. Johnson failed to capture the Democratic nomination in 1960 and had to settle for being running mate to John Kennedy.

[83]. Richard Maguire was treasurer of the Democratic National Committee.

[84]. Tape WH6406.13, Citation #3828, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[85]. John Connally was the governor of Texas who was shot while riding with John Kennedy in Dallas on 22 November 1963. A leader of the state’s conservative Democrats, he had recently taken a major step in his reelection bid by winning the Democratic Party primary. Although he was an old friend and ally of Johnson’s, the two had feuded over Texas politics earlier in the year. See 1 February 1964, 3 February 1964, and 8 February 1964 in Johnson and Germany, Presidential Recordings, Johnson, vol. 4, February 1, 1964—March 8, 1964, pp. 131—33, 332—40, 795—98.

[86]. See the conversation between President Johnson and Robert Kennedy, 8:58 p.m., 18 June 1964, in McKee, Presidential Recordings, Johnson, vol. 7, June 1, 1964—June 22, 1964, pp. 452—55.

[87]. Senator Edward Kennedy had suffered severe back injuries during a 19 June airplane crash.

[88]. Averell Harriman was under secretary of state for political affairs. Director of the Peace Corps, Sargent Shriver was coordinating the President’s antipoverty efforts.

[89]. This person is probably Joseph Tydings, the son of deceased Maryland senator Millard Tydings. He was a federal attorney in Maryland and a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.

[90]. The reference to “that young girl” is unclear but was most likely about Katharine “Kay” Graham, who succeeded her husband as the president of the Washington Post in 1963 after his suicide. Alfred Friendly was executive vice president and managing editor.

[91]. Tape WH6406.13, Citation #3829, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[92]. Conversation between President Johnson and Luther Hodges, 2:28 p.m., 19 June 1964, in McKee, Presidential Recordings, Johnson, vol. 7. June 1, 1964—June 22, 1964, pp. 463—68.

[93]. Conversation between President Johnson and James Eastland, 3:59 p.m., 23 June 1964, in this chapter.

[94]. For cross-reference and context, see Johnson’s search in February—March for replacements to the Civil Rights Commission in Johnson and Germany, Presidential Recordings, Johnson, vol. 4, February 1, 1964—March 8, 1964, pp. 113—14, 528—30, 864—83.

[95]. Buford Ellington was the former governor of Tennessee and one of Johnson’s troubleshooters on political and racial matters in the South. In March 1965, Ellington became the director of emergency planning in the Johnson administration.

[96]. William E. Simkin was director of the Department of Labor’s Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

[97]. The WTB was the War Trade Board, a bureaucracy created during World War I.

[98]. Harold Walker, Atlanta native and general counsel for Lockheed, had been suggested as a person to head the Community Relations Service. See the conversation between Ralph McGill and Juanita Roberts, 11:40 a.m., 17 June 1964; Luther Hodges to Johnson, 11:45 a.m., 18 June 1964; and Johnson to Roy Wilkins, 5:20 p.m., 19 June 1964, in McKee, Presidential Recordings, Johnson, vol. 7, June 1, 1964—June 22, 1964, pp. 384—86, 425—28, 478—84.

[99]. Young was the executive director of the National Urban League.

[100]. The nine-second section from “You got” to “awful careful” was excised under deed of gift restriction until opened in October 2003.

[101]. Florida governor from 1955 to 1961, LeRoy Collins had been serving as president of the National Association of Broadcasters since 1961. Later in 1964, he took the position as director of the Community Relations Service.

[102]. Democrats George Smathers and Spessard Holland were Florida’s junior and senior senators, respectively.

[103]. Tape WH6406.13, Citation #3831, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[104]. Council of Federated Organizations, “The Philadelphia, Mississippi Case, Chronology of Contact with Agents of the Federal Government,” Folder 16: “Depositions, Neshoba County, 1964,” Box 3, Council of Federated Organizations Records, Z/1867.000/S, Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

[105]. Tape WH6406.13, Citation #3832, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[106]. James “Scotty” Reston was the Washington, D.C., bureau chief and a columnist for the New York Times. Johnson had held a private meeting with him after this morning’s press conference.

[107]. The press was reporting the ages of Goodman as 20, Schwerner as 24, and Chaney as 21. Chaney had his 21st birthday less than a month earlier.

[108]. Tape WH6406.13, Citation #3833, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[109]. Tape WH6406.14, Citations #3834 and #3835, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[110]. In a series of recommendations about Mississippi on 8 April, Lee White had recommended that Johnson reach out to Governor Paul Johnson either by phone or by intermediary to make him more accessible in situations such as this one. Lee C. White to President Johnson, 8 April 1964, “HU 2/ST 24 1/1/64—7/16/64” folder, Box 26, White House Central Files: Human Rights 2/ST, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[111]. First elected in 1942, James Eastland was a Democratic senator from Mississippi and the powerful chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

[112]. Senator Richard Russell (D-Georgia) was one of the most powerful figures on Capitol Hill and a leading foe of civil rights legislation. He was also a close friend and confidant of President Johnson’s.

[113]. Theodore “Ted” Kheel was a New York attorney who had helped mediate railroad labor negotiations in April 1964. He had also assisted Johnson with the Civil Rights Act of 1957. See also the conversation between President Johnson and Luther Hodges, 2:28 p.m., 19 June 1964, in McKee, Presidential Recordings, Johnson, vol. 7, June 1, 1964—June 22, 1964, pp. 463—68.

[114]. Kheel’s name, along with those of Harry Belafonte and A. Philip Randolph, was mentioned in a 20 April 1962 memorandum from FBI Director Hoover to Attorney General Kennedy. Hoover had been tracking the activities of Stanley Levison, the associate of Martin Luther King Jr. that Hoover claimed was a former Communist, and reported on Levison’s role in the formation of the Gandhi Society. David Garrow, The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr.: From “Solo” to Memphis (New York: Norton, 1981), pp. 46—47.

[115]. A professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, George Taylor had also assisted in avoiding a railroad strike earlier in the year. William Simkin was director of the Department of Labor’s Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

[116]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3836, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[117]. Lee White recounts that he pointed out the Herald Tribune connection to Johnson while standing in the doorway of Kenny O’Donnell’s office just before noon. Lee White, transcript, Oral History Interview, 18 February 1971, Lyndon B. Johnson Library, pp. 8—9.

[118]. Democratic Senator John Stennis was from Starkville in Oktibbeha County, home to Mississippi State University. It was approximately 70 miles north of Philadelphia, Mississippi.

[119]. Eastland’s plantation was in Sunflower County in the Mississippi Delta. The county seat was Indianola, where in 1954 the first Citizen’s Council was formed two months after the Brown v. Board Supreme Court decision.

[120]. Eastland was referring to Fannie Lou Hamer, the sharecropper who had become one of the most influential civil rights leaders in Mississippi. In late-August 1962, Hamer lost her job as a timekeeper for a plantation and was evicted from her home. On the night of 10 September 1962, 16 shots were fired into the home where she had been staying since her eviction, but apparently unknown to the shooters, she was not in the house. That same night, two women were shot in Ruleville and another home was fired upon. To profound effect two months after this call, Hamer repeated her story to the Credentials Committee of the Democratic National Convention.

[121]. Presumably, Johnson meant the Civil Rights Act, which he would sign on 2 July.

[122]. Johnson had several speaking engagements in Minnesota on 27—28 June.

[123]. Eastland seemed to say, “Naw, it’ll take a bear.”

[124]. LeRoy Collins was chairman of the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. During the nomination roll call, the Mississippi delegation proved notable for its early morning submission of arch-segregationist governor Ross Barnett as their candidate, a move met by loud boos from surprised Democrats in the Convention Hall. Washington Post, 14 July 1960.

[125]. Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Miburn Prosecutive Summary” of the case “Bernard L. Akin, et al.; James Earl Chaney, Michael Henry Schwerner, aka Mickey, Andrew Goodman—Victims,” 19 December 1964, File 44.25706, http://foia.fbi.gov/miburn/miburn6.pdf, pp. 427, 458, 465—78; Chief A. D. Morgan, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Report, Folder 7: “Highway Patrol Reports and Correspondence, June 1964,” Box 144, Series II, Sub-Series 10: Highway Patrol, Johnson Papers, University of Southern Mississippi.

[126]. Tape WH6406.14, Citations #3837 and #3838, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[127]. The activists had been driving a recent-model, blue Ford Fairlane station wagon.

[128]. According to two journalists’ accounts, Special Agent John Proctor had received a report from Lonnie Hardin, the superintendent of the nearby Choctaw Reservation. In the days after the car’s discovery, finding the identity of the person reporting the car to the FBI was a top priority of the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Cagin and Dray, We Are Not Afraid, p. 338; Gwin Cole, Assistant Chief, Mississippi Highway Patrol, “Report RE: Philadelphia Situation, 1:05 p.m., 1 July 1964,” Folder 1, July 1964, Box 136, Series II, Sub-Series 9: Sovereignty Commission, Johnson Papers, University of Southern Mississippi.

[129]. Hoover’s early report here on the car’s temperature was likely erroneous, particularly since it had been seen aflame almost 36 hours earlier. The Mississippi highway patrolman on the scene reported that the car had been “burned sometime before and was now cold.” Chief A. D. Morgan, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Report, Folder 7: “Highway Patrol Reports and Correspondence, June 1964,” Box 144, Series II, Sub-Series 10: Highway Patrol, Johnson Papers, University of Southern Mississippi.

[130]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3839, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[131]. Hodges may have said, “Coming from him.”

[132]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3840, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[133]. White apparently took notes from this meeting and others in the day on the back of a civil rights task force report. Task Force Issue Paper, 17 June 1964, “Civil Rights Legislation” folder, Office Files of Lee White, Box 3, White House Central Files, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[134]. Johnson was apparently correct about the flame accelerant. FBI witness Doyle Barnette claimed that one of the conspirators at the Old Jolly Farm dam site had produced a “glass gallon jug” of gasoline for burning the station wagon. Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Miburn Prosecutive Summary” of the case “Bernard L. Akin, et al.; James Earl Chaney, Michael Henry Schwerner, aka Mickey, Andrew Goodman—Victims,” 19 December 1964, File 44.25706, http://foia.fbi.gov/miburn/miburn3.pdf, pp. 176.

[135]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3841, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[136]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3842, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[137]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3845, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[138]. That area of Mississippi had several Choctaw reservations.

[139]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3846, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[140]. Russell Long, Democrat of Louisiana, had been the Senate floor leader of Johnson’s tax bill in January and February 1964. Albert Gore and Paul Douglas were Democratic senators from Tennessee and Illinois, respectively. Douglas, an economist and tax specialist, chaired the Joint Economic Committee.

[141]. Everett Dirksen, a Republican senator from Illinois, was the Senate minority leader and a member of the Senate Finance Committee.

[142]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3847, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[143]. Sam Gilstrap, an Oklahoman, had been the U.S. consul general in Singapore, but was set to become the first ambassador to the newly independent African nation of Malawi. The United States would create an embassy in Singapore in 1966.

[144]. George Aiken was a Republican senator from Vermont.

[145]. William Scranton was governor of Pennsylvania and one of the major challengers to Barry Goldwater’s bid for the presidential nomination.

[146]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3850, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[147]. Louis Martin to Lee White, 24 June 1964, “Civil Rights—Mississippi” folder, Office Files of Lee White, Box 6, White House Central Files, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[148]. The vote was for a protest at the Justice Department, not the White House. Two Mississippians led the push for action: Charles Evers, the brother of slain Mississippi NAACP Director Medgar Evers, and Dr. Aaron Henry, the president of the Mississippi NAACP. New York Times, 24 June 1964.

[149]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3851, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[150]. In January 1964, Vance Hartke, a Democrat from Indiana, had pushed for a reduction of excise taxes on musical instruments, partly because a major instrument manufacturer was located in his state. The President applied personal pressure via the telephone and told him not to worry about the “goddamned band and musical instruments” but to consider the “big credit” that the Democratic Party would receive for the fall election. See the conversation between President Johnson and Vance Hartke, 1:11 p.m., 23 January 1964, in Germany and Johnson, Presidential Recordings, Johnson, vol. 3, January 1964, pp. 743—44.

[151]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3852, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[152]. Robert Komer was a member of the National Security Council staff.

[153]. Lyndon B. Johnson, A Time For Action: A Selection from the Speeches and Writings of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1953—1964 (New York: Atheneum, 1964).

[154]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3853, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[155]. A few months earlier, Johnson told the generously proportioned Reedy, “You come in, in a damned old wrinkled suit, and you come in with a dirty shirt, and you come in with your tie screwed up. I want you to look real nice—get you a corset if you have to.” Conversation between President Johnson and George Reedy, 2:25 p.m., 25 January 1964, in Germany and Johnson, Presidential Recordings, Johnson, vol. 3, January 1964, p. 829.

[156]. Anna Johnston Diggs (later Taylor) was the wife of Charles Diggs, the prominent black congressman representing a Detroit, Michigan, district. During this summer in Mississippi, she assisted the National Lawyers Guild. In 1979, she was appointed a federal judge for the Eastern District of Michigan.

[157]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3854, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[158]. President Johnson had to fill the Army position because General Earle Wheeler was vacating it to take over for Maxwell Taylor as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

[159]. Cyrus Vance had been deputy secretary of defense since January 1964. Johnson took his and Wheeler’s advice and announced General Johnson as the new Army chief of staff and General Abrams as the new vice-chief. According to Carroll Kilpatrick of the Washington Post, the President passed over 31 other higher-ranked officers to appoint Harold Johnson, and 32 others for Abrams. Washington Post, 25 June 1964.

[160]. Leonard Unger was U.S. ambassador to Laos.

[161]. Featured on the cover of this week’s Time magazine, Kong Le was a general in the Royal Armed Forces in Laos. He commanded the Lao neutralist military forces until October 1966. Time, 26 June 1964.

[162]. Major General Chester V. Clifton was the White House military aide.

[163]. Since taking office, President Johnson had battled with Louisiana Congressman Otto Passman over foreign aid funding, referring to him as a “caveman.” In today’s round, Passman, the chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, had tried to cut $515 million from Johnson’s $3.5 billion aid package. Passman’s bid failed, but the subcommittee did trim $200 million. The full Appropriations Committee sent the appropriations bill to the House floor on 25 June, and it passed on 1 July. Robert David Johnson and David Shreve, eds., The Presidential Recordings, Lyndon B. Johnson: The Kennedy Assassination and the Transfer of Power, November 1963—January 1964, vol. 2, December 1963 (New York: Norton, 2005), p. 567; Congressional Quarterly Almanac, 1964, vol. 20, p. 313.

[164]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3855, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[165]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3856, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[166]. General Jackson Graham was director of civil works for the Army Corps of Engineers until 1967.

[167]. Among the companies purchasing tracts of land near the river in anticipation of the $28 million project were Kaiser Aluminum, Illinois Power Company, and Humble Oil. Chicago Tribune, 19 November 1967.

[168]. The President had used this example when discussing the foreign aid bill the week before. William Knowland was a Republican senator from California (1945—1958). See the conversation between President Johnson and James “Scotty” Reston, 6:58 p.m., 17 June 1964, in McKee, Presidential Recordings, Johnson, vol. 7, June 1, 1964 —June 22, 1964, pp. 395—400.

[169]. Tape WH6406.14, Citation #3857, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[170]. Tape WH6406.15, Citation #3858, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[171]. The Corps of Engineers required that a project’s potential economic impact justify its expense.

[172]. Tape WH6406.15, Citation #3859, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[173]. Colonel James B. Meanor Jr. headed the Corps’ St. Louis District. Michael J. Broadhead, historian, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to Kent Germany, 9 June 2006, in possession of the editors.

[174]. Peoples Drug was a national chain store.

[175]. Henry “Joe” Fowler had been under secretary of the Treasury since 1961.

[176]. Democrat Wilbur Mills of Arkansas chaired the House Committee on Ways and Means.

[177]. Dirksen’s portrait was on the cover of the previous week’s Time magazine. Time, 19 June 1964.

[178]. Dirksen had tried to weaken the bill’s equal employment provisions.

[179]. John Williams was a Republican senator from Delaware with whom Johnson had sparred over the tax cut bill and the Bobby Baker investigation.

[180]. Tape WH6406.15, Citations #3860 and #3861, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[181]. Tape WH6406.15, Citation #3863, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[182]. Texas Democrat Jack Brooks and his wife, Charlotte, were good friends of President and Mrs. Johnson.

[183]. Tape WH6406.15, Citation #3864, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[184]. Tape WH6406.15, Citation #3865, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[185]. Tape WH6406.15, Citation #3866, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[186]. Presumably, the “he” in this paragraph is Senator James Eastland.

[187]. William Natcher was a Democratic representative from Kentucky.

[188]. Both Democratic representatives, Joseph Montoya was from New Mexico and John Flynt was from Georgia.

[189]. Vaughan Gary was a Democratic congressman from Virginia.

[190]. Democrat John Rooney was a representative from New York.

[191]. Silvio Conte was a Republican representative from Massachusetts. The New York Times called him a “maverick Republican” who was the “nearest thing” in spirit and outlook to former New York mayor Fiorello La Guardia. New York Times, 26 June 1964.

[192]. Democrat George Andrews had served in the House from Alabama since 1944.

[193]. Joseph Evins had served as a Democratic representative from Tennessee since 1947.

[194]. Jamie Whitten, the Mississippi Democrat, chaired the Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee.

[195]. Johnson apparently spoke to Natcher on the evening of 22 June. For discussions about Natcher, see the conversation between President Johnson and Walter Jenkins, 9:15 a.m., 20 June 1964; and between President Johnson and Larry O’Brien, 5:10 p.m., 22 June 1964, in McKee, Presidential Recordings, Johnson, vol. 7, June 1, 1964 —June 22, 1964, pp. 500—503, 518—23.

[196]. Tape WH6406.15, Citation #3868, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[197]. Robert Kennedy and Allen Dulles had been involved in another explosive situation during his brother’s administration, the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961. President Kennedy made a joke during the 1962 Ole Miss crisis about Dulles having to step down as director of the CIA, saying that he had not had as “interesting a time since the Bay of Pigs,” while Robert mockingly worried that he would soon have to resign and join Dulles at Princeton University. “Meeting on Civil Rights,” September 30—October 1, 1962, Timothy Naftali and Philip Zelikow, eds., The Presidential Recordings, John F. Kennedy: The Great Crises, vol. 2, September—October 21, 1962 (New York: Norton, 2001), p. 274.

[198]. Tom Finney, a former aide to Senator and Commerce Committee Chair Mike Monroney of Oklahoma, had been briefly considered in January 1964 as a possible appointee to the Securities and Exchange Commission. See Mike Monroney to Johnson, 1:00 p.m., 24 January 1964, in Germany and Johnson, Presidential Recordings, Johnson, vol. 3, January 1964, p. 783—86.

[199]. Dulles was also serving on the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, better known as the Warren Commission.

[200]. George Wallace, the governor of Alabama, was one of the most visible defenders of segregation in the South. One year earlier, he made his stand in the schoolhouse door to prevent the matriculation of two black students at the University of Alabama.

[201]. Ross Barnett had been the Democratic governor of Mississippi from 1960 to 1964 and was an arch-segregationist who, in September and October 1962, had defied the Kennedy administration’s orders to desegregate the University of Mississippi.

[202]. Dulles may have been referring to a book published a month earlier that directed blame at the CIA for the failure of the Bay of Pigs operation. Haynes Johnson, Manuel Artime, José Pérez San Román, Erneido Oliva, and Enrique Ruiz-Williams, The Bay of Pigs: The Leaders’ Story of Brigade 2506 (New York: Norton, 1964).

[203]. Tape WH6406.15, Citation #3869, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[204]. Tape WH6406.15, Citation #3870, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[205]. Tape WH6406.15, Citations #3871 and #3872, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[206]. Nathan Schwerner’s wife (the mother of Michael), Anne, was not in the parents’ group that had met with Johnson earlier in the afternoon. Michael Schwerner’s wife was fellow COFO activist Rita Schwerner.

[207]. Tape WH6406.15, Citation #3874, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[208]. Louis M. Kohlmeier, “The Johnson Wealth,” Wall Street Journal, 23 March 1964; “President Johnson, as Well as His Wife, Appears to Hold Big Personal Fortune,” Wall Street Journal, 23 March 1964; Kohlmeier, “Johnson and the FCC,” Wall Street Journal, 24 March 1964.

[209]. Blanco, Texas, was a small Hill Country town just south of Johnson City.

[210]. Jesse Kellam and Don Thomas were overseers of Johnson’s blind trust while he was President. Louis Kohlmeier, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, had been writing articles about Johnson’s business holdings. On 30 June, he published another piece on the Johnson City Foundation (formerly the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation). Louis Kohlmeier, “How President Uses Family Foundation to Donate to Charity,” Wall Street Journal, 30 June 1964.

[211]. Abe Fortas was a partner in the prestigious Washington, D.C., firm of Arnold, Porter, and Fortas and was perhaps the closest legal-political adviser to President Johnson.

[212]. Ostensibly owned by Don Thomas, the Brazos—Tenth Street Corporation was housed in the same building as the LBJ Company and was suspected of being a front corporation for LBJ. Alfred Steinberg, Sam Johnson’s Boy: A Close-Up of the President from Texas (New York: Macmillan, 1968), pp. 574—76.

[213]. Moore State Bank was located in nearby Llano, Texas.

[214]. Situated along the Llano River, the approximately 4,500—acre Haywood Ranch was owned by Johnson and Moursund through their Comanche Cattle Company. Hal K. Rothman, LBJ’s Texas White House: “Our Heart’s Home” (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2001), p. 153.

[215]. Tape WH6406.15, Citation #3875, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[216]. Allen Dulles was 71 years old; he died five years later, in 1969.

[217]. Tape WH6406.15, Citation #3876, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[218]. This CBS reporter was Gerald A. Waters.

[219]. Tape WH6406.15, Citation #3877, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[220]. Tape WH6406.16, Citation #3878, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[221]. The governor was referring to Harry G. Maynor. John Proctor was the resident agent for Meridian, an area that fell under the control of the New Orleans office.

[222]. Governor Johnson speaks too faintly here to make a definitive judgment, but he seemed to say “uh-oh.”

[223]. A stringer is a freelance reporter.

[224]. Tape WH6406.16, Citation #3880, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[225]. Tape WH6406.16, Citation #3882, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[226]. Tape WH6406.16, Citation #3883, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[227]. Tape WH6406.16, Citation #3884, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[228]. Tape WH6406.16, Citation #3885, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[229]. The White House released this statement shortly after this call.

[230]. Kennedy had already arranged for Tom Finney to meet there at the same time.

[231]. Tape WH6406.16, Citation #3886, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[232]. Tape WH6406.16, Citation #3887, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[233]. This spelling of Chaney’s name was the one that White used in his memorandum of the day’s events. Lee White, “Memorandum to the Files: Disappearance of Three Participants in Mississippi Project,” 23 June 1964, “Civil Rights—Mississippi” folder, Office Files of Lee White, Box 6, White House Central Files, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[234]. Tape WH6406.16, Citation #3889, Recordings of Telephone Conversations—White House Series, Recordings and Transcripts of Conversations and Meetings, Lyndon B. Johnson Library.

[235]. J. William Fulbright, Democrat of Arkansas, was chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

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