Lyndon Johnson, Edward Kennedy

President Johnson: I am going to have Dean Rusk and the Chief Justice [Earl Warren] are going to be at Runnymede where the Magna Carta was signed, and they are dedicating a portion of it to President [John F.] Kennedy.1

Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy: Uh-huh.

President Johnson: And I understood that Ms. [Jacqueline] Kennedy might go. I am going to notify her, and I wanted to notify you. I don’t know how to notify [Robert] Bobby [Kennedy]. But one of the [Boeing] 707s that we have on the Presidential planes would be available to her and her party.2 And I thought I would ask—she could take any members of the family that she desired or whoever she wanted, but I thought I might also ask you and Bobby to represent me, the President, with the Chief Justice and the secretary of state if you thought it was all right. I don’t know what you want to do about it. You could do anything you wanted to, but I attempted to call her and tell her--she's flying--and I’ve got a request here about it. And I thought that if she wanted to, she could do it; if she didn’t, she didn’t need to. Now, do you have any reaction to it, one way or the other?

Kennedy: Well, I—I think she was—it was sort of up in the air. When I talked to her probably two weeks ago, I know she was planning to go, and it was a question whether Bobby or myself—we thought we'd probably just talk with her and find out what her feeling about it was. I can—I’ll talk with her about it and—to get some kind of feeling. I hadn’t really sort of thought ahead that far. I knew May 21 was the date and I had had it in the back of my mind, but I just hadn’t reached the point where we had sort of made a decision on it. But I’ll be delighted to talk with her, and I know she’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness. I’ll mention it to Bobby. And then, if I could, get back to you.

President Johnson: You do that. I have a call in for her. I imagine she’ll be answering. They told me New York they’d get her. Then they came back and said she is enroute to Florida—

Kennedy: Yes, she heads down--

President Johnson: —and that she’ll be there about three [o'clock] something and they would have her report. Now, when is Bobby coming back?

Kennedy: He ought to be back tonight.

President Johnson: Well, I’ll call him tomorrow, but you tell him too. I wanted to call him, and—

Kennedy: He’s in that remote area, as you probably know. [both laugh] I sent a message up to Bobby the other day.

President Johnson: I saw that. I saw that on television.

Kennedy: [Laughs.] I didn’t know whether—

President Johnson: I thought it was—

Kennedy: —that was a little fresh or not. [laughs]

President Johnson: I thought it was a little bit fresh. I thought you’re being a little rough on him. You’re going to get whipped if you keep taking on him. You’re going to have to be like old Sam Houston.3 You’ll have to use your cane on him, because he can whip you.

Kennedy: [laughing] He can now.

President Johnson: [laughing] Well, anyway, all I want—I don’t want to impose on you or to urge you to do anything. I just wanted to—since I knew that she—this is going to be done, I thought it would be a good thing to have the—

Kennedy: When would they go over, Mr. President, [unclear]?

President Johnson: Whenever she wanted to go over. Rusk is going to be there on NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] or something, and the Chief Justice has already agreed to go, not as my representative, but as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; the Magna Carta deal or so forth. And I was going to ask the two of them to represent me with the two Kennedy brothers.

Kennedy: Yeah.

President Johnson: Which I thought would be pretty good company: Rusk and Chief Justice and Robert Kennedy and Teddy Kennedy. And I was going to say that I had asked Mrs. Kennedy to use one of the presidential planes for her and her party, and I’d ask the two brothers to join the secretary and the Chief Justice in representing me.

Kennedy: Well, that’s very thoughtful and I—if the first of the week, if I could get back to you, Mr. President, or soon after I get a chance? I can give you—I’m sure you’ll get in touch—Jackie will give some feelings of—

President Johnson: All right.

Kennedy: I’ll—

President Johnson: You talk to Bobby and I’ll call him too.

Kennedy: Good.

President Johnson: Thank you. How are you doing? All right?

Kennedy: Oh, real well.

Presidnet Johnson: Where is my immigration bill?4 Goddamn it, you—I believe you represent—

Kennedy: [Unclear] we're getting here into that Voting Rights [bill] all morning, and it’s coming along.

President Johnson: [Nicholas] Katzenbach doing a good job?

Kennedy: Very good. He’s really first class. I mean his [unclear].

President Johnson: I wish you’d comend me on some of my appointments. [laughs]

Kennedy: [laughs] That was a good one.

President Johnson: All right.

Kennedy: Thanks very much.

President Johnson: All right.

  • 1. Runnymede is located in the county of Surrey, England.
  • 2. At the time of this call Senator Robert F. Kennedy [D-New York] was climbing Mount Kennedy, a mountain in Canada that had been named for former President Kennedy following his assassination.
  • 3. Sam Houston Johnson was Lyndon Johnson's younger brother.
  • 4. The Immigration and Naturalization Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee was holding hearings into administration proposals to modify immigration laws, particularly by revising the national quota system of awarding visas. Kennedy was serving as acting chairman of the subcommittee.

Original tape courtesy of LBJ Library. This transcript is a working draft. Please let us know if you find important errors.