KC Johnson

Eastland

President Johnson and James Eastland, 25 June 1964

President Johnson: Jim, we’ve got three kids missing down there. What can I do about it?

James Eastland: Well, I don’t know. I don’t believe there’s three missing.

President Johnson: You’ve got their parents down here . . .

Eastland: I believe it’s a publicity stunt . . . I don’t think there’s anything to it.

President Johnson: Well, now, here’s what I’m calling you about, as my friend.

Number one: they said I ought to make a statement. I’ve made this statement. I think I’ll stand on it. Do you see any need of my going any further?

Eastland: No!

President Johnson: All right, that’s number one.

Number two: they’ve suggested I see these parents. I told ‘em I thought that’d be a bad precedent. I’m going to try and get ‘em to see an assistant of mine, and to get by with that if I can, so I don’t add to the fuel. Don’t you—you think that’s the thing to do?

Eastland: Sure. And I think it’s going to turn out that there’s nothing to it. Now, I don’t know, but . . .

President Johnson: Now, number three: the attorney general suggested that I probably ought to call the governor [Paul Johnson]. I found out that Burke Marshall called the attorney general, Patterson, of Mississippi this morning. He was quite cooperative, and he said they were going to do everything they could to help.

If I call the governor, it might put him on the spot a little bit, particularly if it got public, and he might resent it. Now, what’s your judgment?

Eastland: Well, my judgment is that he’s going to do everything he can—and is doing everything he can—to enforce the law.

President Johnson: All right. Now, should I call him or not?

Eastland: Well, it’d be all right.

President Johnson: Would you advise it, or not advise it?

Eastland: No, I’m not going to advise you. I don’t think it would mean anything either way. He’s going to . . .

I can call him, and . . .

President Johnson: All right—

[Break.]

Eastland: Let me ask you this question about the three who are missing. Who is it [that] would harm ‘em? There’s no white organizations in what area of Mississippi.

President Johnson: Uh-huh.

Eastland: Who would possibly harm ‘em?

 

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