Remarks of Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives
Tour of the Rayburn Library
On October 9, 1957, thousands of the Speaker's friends were present for the library's formal dedication. Twirling batons and brass bands heralded a truly
memorable day for both Bonham and the nation. [Doorkeeper?] William "Bill" Miller of the House of Representatives clears the way to the speaker stand for Mr. Rayburn and members of the official
party. In a few moments the ceremony will get underway which dedicates this half-million dollar library to the advancement of education the promotion of the general welfare. Speaker Rayburn
made the initial gift to the library, donating the ten-thousand dollars he received in 1941 as part of the Collier's Award for Distinguished Congressional Service. This launched the movement
and the setting up the Sam Rayburn Foundation, a non-profit trust set up in 1949 to build, operate, and maintain the institution. Friends and admirers such as seen here have since made possible
the completion and endowment of the library. Mr. Buster Cole represents the Foundation and introduces the distinguished guests. These include Dr. Wayne Grover, Archivist of the United States,
who points out that history is written through just such records as are housed in this library. Mrs. Fred Benson, widow of the late Chief Justice, says Mr. Rayburn's greatest success has been
as a truly fine human being. C.H. Dillehay, Superintendent of Public Schools of Bonham, introduces Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Anderson. In his address, Mr. Anderson says:
RA: If there is anything that is bi-partisan in Washington, it is a uniform respect and appreciation for Sam Rayburn.
Next, Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson makes his way to the microphone, and among his remarks has this to say:
LJ: My footsteps were guided by Sam Rayburn when I was a young congressman, whose legislative legs wobbled like those of a young colt. If those legs are
firmer today, it was because his guidance was good.
Governor McFarland of Arizona introduces former President Harry S. Truman. Mr. Truman was the sixth of the seven presidents under whom Mr. Rayburn has served
to date. Mr. Truman is particularly appreciative of the Speaker's official and personal papers which the library houses. In a basement vault are eighteen steel filing cabinets filled with a
year-by-year case files containing Speaker Rayburn's correspondence with his constituents in Texas' 4th Congressional District. And a second set of files containing papers related to
legislation, politics, national and international affairs. The papers will be made available for scholarly research subject to regulations established by the Foundation's Board of Trustees, in
agreement with Speaker Rayburn.
In his own words, Mr. Truman says: Now, Sam Rayburn has set up here a historical library for the legislative branch of government, that's the most complete
thing I ever saw. When a man wants to study the legislative branch of government, the history of legislation is right here, and he can get that information and find out exactly what he wants to
know. Now, the documents that make up the archives of the United States are the archives of the legislative branches of government. They are the archives of the Supreme Court, and they are the
papers of the President of the United States. And you know what happens to a great many of those papers of Presidents of United States? They've been wilfully destroyed, some of them have. The
sons of some of the Presidents of the United States have deliberately burned their papers. And some of them have been scattered from one end of the country to the other. There's sixteen sets of
those papers in the Library of Congress, and the Congress just passed an authorization act last session, in which those papers are to be microfilmed and indexed, something that's never been
done to them before. Jefferson had the finest set of papers and the most orderly set of papers in the history of the country, and you know what happened to them? His grand-niece and his
grand-nephew and got hard up and they tried to sell them to the Congress. And the Congress said they'd take the official papers, but they wouldn't take the rest of them. Now, any paper that a
President of the United States touches or that a Speaker of the House of the Representatives touches is an official paper of the government of the United States, no matter what anybody
And now Mr. Cole introduces Speaker Rayburn. It would be difficult to imagine the deep emotions being experienced by Mr. Rayburn as he approaches the
speakers stand at this historic moment. The Speaker has said that he wants the library to be for the people of Texas, Bonham, and Fannin county. Where they can go freely to read, to meditate,
to visit, and to rest from their useful labors. He says he wants it particularly as a contribution to the youth of this nation:
SR: I have faith in this youth. I know that they're good boys and girls. I know they're as patriotic as I was. I know they're as clean boys and girls as ever
lived in this or in any other land that I have the faith to believe. When the burdens, and there are burdens; when the responsibilities, and there are tremendous responsibilities; our
citizenship is shifted from our shoulders to theirs, that there hearts will be big enough, their shoulders broad enough, their minds keen enough to preserve, protect, defend, and perpetuate the
great institutions of this, the greatest, the mightiest government that ever blessed mankind.
SR: This dream has come true. That I can leave in the community I love, whose people have given me a loyalty, and a friendship, unequaled in any [?]. That
they may come here to read, study, to rest from their useful labors, visit with each other, and be friendly. It's going to be open now, and will be open some hours during everyday from now on.
In order that there may be no question in the long future as to what is in this library, because all my personal papers, all my books, and valuable documents is stored in here. Furnishings that
are worth thousands upon thousands of dollars, not only to me and my memory, but to other people. In this document here, I transmit to this Foundation a quick claim to everything that I own in
this building. And I trust, and pray, that it will stand for a long time. That under God, it will bless and help God's people. I thank you.
Thus ends the formal ceremony dedicating this dream come true. Mr. Rayburn leaves the microphone to be greeted by many of his friends and lifelong associates
who've had a part in bringing it to pass, and who share with him the great personal satisfaction of this hour. Let us join with those now accepting Mr. Rayburn's invitation to tour the library,
and see its historic contents for ourselves.
Immediately inside the foyer of the library is a bronze plaque listing the Trustees of the Sam Rayburn Foundation. The plaque also gives the years when
Speaker Rayburn has served as presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives. Heavy glass doors leading to the main lobby are inscribed with the initials S.R., significant in
view of the fact that the Speaker placed his initials in each of the books housed in the library. As the visitor enters the main lobby, he looks through double doors leading to the replica of
the Speaker's office in the nation's capital. Visible through the doorway from the lobby is the crystal chandelier, converted from gaslight to electricity, which hung in the White House until
1907, then in the House of Representatives. The existence of a duplicate made it possible for Speaker Rayburn to acquire this chandelier for the library. The library office duplicates the
Speaker's capitol office in its entirety. This rug covering the tile floor was actually acquired from the capitol office. The barrell-vaulted ceiling was decorated by Italian artisans, just
like the one in Washington. The massive but comfortable red leather furniture also came from the capitol office. Immediately behind the Speaker's desk at the east end of the office, is a
fireplace housed for ninety-two years in the House of Representatives in the capitol. The desk faces the librarian's office, and is directly in line with a huge painting of a familiar Texas
scene, a field of bluebonnets. To the right of the lobby, is the library's main reading room. Around its walls are shelved are the published proceedings of the Congress, from the first
Continental Congress of 1774 to date, books of American history, and biographies and writings of Presidents and other American leaders of the nation's history. A formal garden which may be
viewed through the floor-to-ceiling windows of this room will be planted as a memorial for the late Lucinda Rayburn, beloved sister and Washington hostess for the Speaker. A second reading room
in the basement contains hundreds of other volumes depicting the history of the American nation, and the man who made that history. Many of the volumes bear inscriptions and autographs of
associates, including the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt, former President Harry S. Truman, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Also on display in the main reading room is this
full-colored reproduction of the Seal of the United States House of Representatives, and the Seal of the State of Texas. Directly across the lobby from the main reading room is the exhibit room
in which are displayed many of the historic mementos collected by Speaker Rayburn during his more than half-century of public service. The displays enclosed in glass cases trace the career of
Speaker Sam Rayburn from a Fannin county farmboy to his position as one of the most powerful and influential men in American government. In each of the display cases is a symbol of the
Speaker's authority, the gavel. This is one of those used by the Speaker to call the Congress to order to hear Presidents and foreign leaders, such as Great Britain's former Prime Minister
Winston Churchill. This gavel, and the case in which it was enclosed, were made from wood taken from the White House during remodeling. It was presented to Speaker Rayburn by President Truman
when the Speaker surpassed Henry Clay's record for service as presiding officer of the House. Among the many items on display are the Speaker's first schoolbooks, the first present he ever gave
his mother with money he earned himself, his degrees from colleges and universities and certificates of election to Congress, many treasured photographs, including his mother and father, the
house in which he was born, and the family group while it was still together. Among the gifts the Speaker has received is this 2500 year old Grecian urn presented by the Athens Palace Guard in
appreciation of American economic aid. At the east end of the exhibit room is a white marble fireplace mantle which once graced the Adam's room of the White House. Removed from the White House
during remodeling, it was presented to the Sam Rayburn Library by the White House Renovation Commission. Included among the Speaker's records on display are bound volumes in which are collected
excerpts from the Congressional record recording every action taken and every word spoken by Speaker Sam Rayburn in the House of Representatives. The first volume contains Mr. Rayburn's maiden
speech in Congress which he delivered on May 6, 1913, two months and two days after he was sworn in for the first time. This is the Speaker's own handwritten copy of that speech which was on
the [ ?]. Plans are being developed by the Foundation to acquire other books and papers. These will make the library increasingly important as a research center for generations to come. The Sam
Rayburn Library will remain a lasting memorial to Mr. Speaker, the honorable Sam Rayburn of the State of Texas:
SR: And I trust, and pray, that it will stand for a long time. That under God, it will bless and help God's people. I thank you.
Narrated footage of the dedication of the Rayburn Library. Speakers at the dedication include Lyndon Johnson, Harry S. Truman, and
Speaker Rayburn himself. A tour of the library when it opened follows the dedication ceremony.