President Lyndon Johnson presses his plans for the enactment of civil rights legislation during a White House meeting with Sen. Richard Russell of Georgia.
Accounts of exactly what was said at the meeting vary across biographies and histories. The following is from Jack Valenti, special assistant to President Johnson, who was present at the meeting. (From a 1997 speech and "Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History"; links: @ and @)
The president ... said in a soft, even voice, "Dick, I love you, and I owe you. If it had not been for you, I would not have been leader, or vice president or now president. But I wanted to tell you face to face, Dick, please don't get in my way on this civil rights bill. It's been locked up in the Senate too long. I'm going to pass this bill, Dick. I will not cavil. I will not hesitate. And if you get in my way, I'll run you down."
Russell sat mutely for a moment, impassive, his face a mask. Then he spoke, in the rolling accents of his Georgia countryside. "Well, Mr. President, you may just do that. But I pledge you that if you do, it will not only cost you the election, it will cost you the South forever." ...
(Johnson) spoke softly, almost tenderly: "Dick, my old friend, if that's the price I have to pay, then I will gladly pay it."
-- Photo by Yoichi Okamoto, official presidential photographer, from LBJ Library