Nov. 27, 1963: Johnson invokes JFK in speech to Congress


In President Johnson’s address to a joint session of Congress five days after JFK’s assassination, he declared, “let us continue,” an echo of Kennedy’s inaugural injunction, “let us begin anew.”

With those words Johnson began what would become a masterful use of Kennedy’s memory and his own considerable legislative skills in passing such seemingly intractable legislation as the 1964 Civil Rights bill. This is one of the greatest ironies of the assassination: it enabled LBJ to accomplish what Kennedy probably could not have.

There is little in the record of this day regarding the fate of the Presidential commission idea that LBJ had opposed earlier in the week and FBI Director Hoover had called a “regular circus.” If Johnson talked to Dean Acheson, as he had told Joe Alsop he would do two days earlier, the conversation was not recorded (Johnson and Kennedy’s taping system was manual, unlike Nixon’s).

In Congress, Senator Everett Dirksen proposed a Senate Judiciary Committee investigation of the assassination, and a separate joint Congressional inquiry was also proposed. These ideas were to be short-lived, as by the following day Johnson would settle on a presidential commission to investigate JFK’s death.

2 thoughts on “Nov. 27, 1963: Johnson invokes JFK in speech to Congress”

  1. Charles Rogers

    Professional politicians are ruthless and corrupt but they are almost never naive. Lets say that at least 75% of the Congress knew that LBJ had green lighted the hit on Kennedy. What kind of people continue to serve and support a monster. Even Nixon played ball with the new regime. Kennedy must have been thoroughly hated in Washington.

    1. Charles, this is part of why Kennedy chose LBJ for his Vice-President. He knew that had he not done so, he’d be President with LBJ as Senate Majority leader, and that would have made it quite difficult for his legislation to get through the Senate, let alone the entire body of Congress. He(Kennedy)had a tough time with the Congress as it was.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top