Exactly one month after defeating Republican Barry Goldwater in one of the largest landslides in U.S. history, former President Lyndon B. Johnson was awarded an honorary degree from Georgetown as the university concluded its 175th anniversary celebration. President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963, had originally been scheduled to speak and was presented a posthumous degree during the ceremony in McDonough Gymnasium.
Amidst the Cold War, Johnson used his acceptance speech to remark on what he referred to as the “central problem of today’s world” — the interdependence of nations. He called for “increasing the unity of Europe as a key to Western strength and a barrier to resurgent and erosive nationalism,” which was a direct commentary on the division in Germany and the Soviet Union’s dominance over its eastern European allies and East Berlin.
Johnson announced America’s plan to move forward with its allies to form a nuclear fleet, though he asserted a willingness on behalf of the Atlantic nations to “discuss any proposal with the Soviet Union which might increase the chances of a lasting peace.”