Lyndon B. Johnson’s Remarks Upon Assuming Office (1963)

Lyndon Johnson’s ascension to the presidency took place on Air Force One. The former first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, stood at his side, as did his wife, Lady Bird Johnson. The body of John F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated two hours and eight minutes earlier, was stored underneath their feet, in the cargo hold. Johnson had waited to leave for Washington D.C. on Air Force One until Kennedy’s body was on the plane as well, per Jacqueline Kennedy’s wishes. As a result, the oath of office was performed inside the sweltering office of the plane, which had been disconnected from its ground power supply.

Upon landing in Washington D.C., four hours later, President Johnson gave these short remarks.

Remarks Upon Arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, November 22, 1963

This is a sad time for all people. We have suffered a loss that cannot be weighed. For me, it is a deep personal tragedy. I know that the world shares the sorrow that Mrs. Kennedy and her family bear. I will do my best. That is all I can do. I ask for your help—and God’s.

Johnson's prepared remarks.

Johnson’s prepared remarks.

Johnson taking the oath of office.

Johnson taking the oath of office.