Historical Highlights

President Lyndon B. Johnson’s First Address to a Joint Session of Congress

November 27, 1963
President Lyndon B. Johnson’s First Address to a Joint Session of Congress Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
Representative Carlton Sickles of Maryland served two terms in the House before he ran an unsuccessful campaign for Governor of Maryland.
On this date, Lyndon B. Johnson addressed a Joint Session of Congress for the first time as President of the United States. During the 24-minute speech, Johnson pressured Congress for “the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill and a tax cut as the best way of honoring” the memory of slain President John F. Kennedy, reported the Chicago Tribune. The packed House Chamber remained solemn in light of Kennedy’s assassination five days earlier. Nevertheless, during the speech, Johnson received “a two minute ovation” and “was interrupted 32 times by varying bursts of applause.” Representative Carlton Sickles of Maryland commented, “President Johnson has given us just the reassurance the nation and the world needed.” “He is going to be a great President,” Sickles continued, “but he can’t do it alone. It is now our turn in Congress to rise to the occasion and pass the legislation essential to our economy and to our well-being.” In less than three months, the House passed the initial version of a far-reaching civil rights measure. That landmark bill became the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when President Johnson signed a final version into law in July 1964.

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