He is a man who has touched my life and that of my family, as I'm
sure he's touched almost everyone here, in a strange and very delightful
way. And I'm going to tell you just a few brief instances that occurred,
actually, long before I had any dreams of coming to Washington myself.
The first time I heard about Senator Humphrey was when I was in the
navy, and he made a famous speech at the Democratic National Convention.
He was quite well known in Georgia. I don't think anyone else has kept
more Georgia politicians from seeing the end of a Democratic convention
than Senator Humphrey has, because it got so that every time he walked
in, they walked out and came back home.
So, in 1964, when he became the vice-presidential candidate, in Georgia,
it wasn't a very popular thing to be for the Johnson-Humphrey slate. My
mother, Lillian, ran the Sumter County Johnson-Humphrey headquarters. And
I could always tell when my mother was coming down the road, because she
was in a brand-new automobile with the windows broken out, the radio antenna
tied in a knot, and the car painted with soap.
In that campaign, Hubert and Muriel came down to south Georgia to
Moultrie for a Democratic rally. And because of my mother's loyalty, she
was given the honor of picking up Muriel at the airport. And Rosalynn and
my mother and Muriel and my sister Gloria went down to Moultrie to attend
the rally. Senator Humphrey made a speech, and they had a women's reception
for Muriel. And they were riding around that south Georgia town getting
ready for the reception. Everybody in town was very excited. And as Muriel
approached the site, she said, "Are any black women invited to the
For a long time no one spoke, and finally my sister said, "I
don't know." She knew quite well that they weren't. And Muriel said,
"I'm not going in." So, they stopped the car, and my sister Gloria
went inside to check and let the hostess know that Muriel was not coming
to the reception. But in a few minutes, Gloria came back and said, "Mrs.
Humphrey, it's okay." So, she went in and, sure enough, there were
several black ladies there at the reception. And Muriel never knew until
now that the maids just took off their aprons for the occasion. But that
was the first integrated reception in south Georgia, Muriel, and you are
responsible for it.
Ten or eleven years ago, when I was not in political office at all,
Senator Humphrey was vice-president. He had been to Europe on a long, tedious,
very successful trip. And he came down to Atlanta, Georgia, to visit in
the home of a friend named Marvin Shube. And I was invited there to meet
him, which was a great honor for me. I have never yet met a Democratic
president, and he was the only Democratic vice-president I had ever met.
And I stood there knowing that he was very weary because he had just returned
from Europe. But he answered the eager questions of those Georgia friends
until quite late in the morning, about two o'clock. And he was very well
briefed, because when I walked in the room, he said, "Young man, I
understand that your mother is in the Peace Corps in India."
And I said, "Yes, sir, that's right." He said, "Well,
I've been very interested in the Peace Corps. The idea originally came
from me, and I've been proud to see it put into effect." He said,
"Where's your mother?" And I said, "She's near Bombay."
He said, "How's she getting along?" I said, "Well, she's
quite lonely, sir. She's been there about six months, and she's not seen
anybody, even the Peace Corps officials. She's in a little town called
About a month later, I got a letter from my mother. She was in her
room one evening, and the head of the Peace Corps in India had driven up
to the little town of Vikhroli. He came in and asked my mother if she needed
anything. She said, no, she was getting along quite well, but she would
like to go over to Bombay. He said, "Well, can I take you in shopping,
Mrs. Carter?" She said, "Yes, I'd like that." So, they went
in, and he bought her a very fine supper and brought her back to Vikhroli.
When he got out, he handed her a fifth of very good bourbon. And he turned
around to get in the car to leave, and he finally turned back to her and
said, "By the way, Miss Lillian, who in the hell are you, anyway?"
And that's a true story. It was not until later that my mother knew who
she was. She was a friend of Hubert Humphrey.
And, of course, the next time he crossed my path was in 1968 when
he was our nominee for president. And all of us in this room went through
that year of tragedy together when he was not elected to be the leader
of our country. And I think he felt then an urging to be loyal to his president
and, unfortunately, many people were not that loyal to him. And his loss
was our nation's even greater loss in 1968.
The next time I saw him was when I was governor. He came to our home
in 1972. All the candidates just happened to stop by to see me that year,
and my daughter, Amy, was about four years old. And most of the ones who
would come into the mansion--she stayed away from them, having an early
aversion to politicians. But when Senator Humphrey came in, she loved him
And I'll never forget sitting in the front presidential suite of
the Georgia governor's mansion, a very beautiful room, trying to talk to
Senator Humphrey. Amy came in eating a soft brownie, and she climbed up
on his lap without any timidity at all. In a very natural way, he put his
arm around her as though she was his own grandchild. And I'll always remember
Senator Humphrey sitting there talking to me about politics and about the
campaign, smiling often, with brownie all over his face. And each time
he frowned, brownie crumbs fell to the floor. And Amy loved him then and
has loved him ever since. But I think she recognized in him the qualities
that have aroused the love of so many people.
And then, of course, last year all I could hear everywhere I went
when I said, "Would you help me become president?" almost invariably
they would say, "Well, my first preference is Hubert Humphrey. If
he doesn't run, I'll support you." And there again, I learned on a
nationwide basis the relationship between Senator Humphrey and the people
of this country.
But I think the most deep impression I have of my good friend Hubert
Humphrey is since I've been president. I've seen him in the oval office
early in the morning. I've seen him in meetings with other congressional
leaders. I've called him on the phone when I was in trouble. I've gotten
his quiet and private and sound advice. And I've come to recognize that
all the attributes that I love about America are resident in him. And I'm
proud to be the president of a nation that loves a man like Hubert Humphrey
and is loved so deeply by him.
President Jimmy Carter - December 2, 1977