Lot #233
Sarah T. Hughes Historically Lengthy Signed Firsthand Account

Unique first-hand account of LBJ’s swearing in from the judge who administered the Oath of Office on Air Force One
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Unique first-hand account of LBJ’s swearing in from the judge who administered the Oath of Office on Air Force One

Historic one-of-a-kind eyewitness account, most likely typed by Hughes herself, four pages, 7.5 x 10.5, signed at the conclusion, “Sarah T. Hughes, November 22, 1963.” Account concerns her administering the oath of office to Lyndon B. Johnson. In part: “I had just reached home from the Trade Mart where a large and enthusiastic crowd had gathered to see and hear President John F. Kennedy. We waited in vain, for he had been assassinated as he was leaving the downtown area of Dallas…Barefoot Sanders (U. S. Attorney) wanted to speak to me. Immediately I heard his familiar voice, ‘The Vice-President wants you to swear him in as President. Can you do it? How soon can you get to the airport?’ ‘Of course I could, and I could be there in ten minutes’…There was no time to find the oath administered to the President, but the essentials of every oath are the same…One of the motorcycle officers…escorted me toward the plane…In the second compartment were several Texas Congressmen, Vice-Presidential Aides, Secret Service men, and the Vice-President and Mrs. Johnson…By that time a Bible that was on the plane had been thrust into my hands. I thought someone said it was a Catholic Bible. I do not know, but I would like to think it was, and that President Kennedy had been reading it on his last trip. The Vice-President said Mrs. Kennedy wanted to be present for the ceremony and in a very few minutes she appeared. Her face showed her grief, but she was composed and calm. She too exemplified the courage this country needs to carry on…

The Vice-President asked Mrs. Johnson to stand on his right, Mrs. Kennedy on his left, and with his hand on the Bible he slowly and reverently repeated the oath after me ‘I do solemnly swear that I will perform the duties of President of the United States to the best of my ability and defend, protect and preserve the Constitution of the United States.’ That was all to the oath I had in my hand, but I said, ‘So Help Me God,’ and he said it after me. It needed to be said. He kissed his wife on the cheek and gently kissed Mrs. Kennedy. Here was a man with the ability and determination for the task ahead. Great as the responsibilities of the office are, I felt he could carry on. I told him so and that we were behind him and he would have our sympathy and our help. As I left the plane, I heard him give the order to take off. I drove away with my thoughts on this man upon whom so much now depended.” Cloth-matted and framed to an overall size of 37.75 x 14. In fine condition, with a staple hole to top left of each page and some scattered light creasing. An amazing moment in American history, this piece is the longest known account of Hughes’ important role in the tragic succession of power. RR Auction COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: JFK 50th Anniversary Auction
  • Dates: October 17 - October 23