Testimony of Lindy Boggs

New Orleans, Louisiana -- June 28, 1995
I'd like to call our first witness to the stand this morning and extend a special welcome. Congresswoman Lindy Boggs is here to testify before us this morning, the wife of Hale Boggs, who, of course, was a member of the Warren Commission in 1964, and we're especially honored that she has agreed to testify today. Mrs. Boggs

MS. BOGGS: Okay. Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, welcome to New Orleans and a special welcome to Anna Nelson, who we were very sorry to lose from New Orleans and from her service to our city and state and Tulane University. We're very happy to have her back for awhile.

And welcome to this grand ole building where you have assembled in a splendid effort to uphold the finest traditions of our Constitutional heritage.

In this era of cynicism about government, your mission is of critical importance. Devoted to the archival history of our nation and to those institutions that preserve and distribute it, I served for several years on the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives, as a member from the U.S. House of Representatives, and I currently serve as a member of the National Archives Foundation Board. I think I'm the Vice President, but I'm not quite sure.

I salute your dedication to your task and am pleased to cooperate with you and I have assured Mr. Samoluk from your Commission that he has my consent to examine the papers of my husband, Hale Boggs, who, of course, was a member of the Warren Commission, at the Tulane University Library.

Hale's service on the Warren Commission demanded untold hours of hearings and of reading of transcripts, and also of heartbreaking experiences concerning the assassination of his good friend, Jack Kennedy, and the removal of him as an inspiring young leader of our nation.

When the metal-bound loads of testimony would arrive on our doorstep at home every night, I wished fervently that I could read and digest it and put it into outline form, as I sometimes did with some of the other voluminous testimony from less sensitive hearings. But, of course, I was precluded by security standards from doing so. Consequently, Hale read far into the night on many occasions and his attitude was indicative of the devoted service rendered by all of the members of the Warren Commission.

And following Hale's death, Chief Justice Warren often repeated to me that Hale's language that -- and I paraphrase -- according to the evidence submitted to this Commission, Lee Oswald has assassinated the President, and that this language resulted in the unanimous signing of the report by the commissioners.

My feeling has always been that if new evidence was discovered and new hearings conducted as a result, that Hale would applaud those efforts. Consequently, when Congressman Lou Stokes, a Democrat of Ohio, who chaired the Special Committee to examine new findings and to review the existing testimony, I spoke out in favor of the extension of his committee on the floor of the House during the general debate.

Prior to my arrival on the floor, my colleague, Congressman Dave Treen of New Orleans, and I attended a luncheon with young scholars specially selected from the New Orleans area for this trip to Washington. And when Dave asked for a show of hands among the thoughtful young Americans about any doubts concerning the Kennedy assassination and about the necessity to extend the wake of Mr. Stokes' committee, at least two-thirds of the students vigorously thrust their hands up.

So, Mr. Chairman and the members of this committee, I strongly thrust up my hand and my encouragement to this Commission, and I wish you well in your continued quest for truth and justice. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you, Mrs. Boggs. If you wouldn't mind, if members of the Board have any questions for you.

MS. BOGGS: I would be delighted, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Any questions?

MS. NELSON: I don't know that I have a question so much as I have a comment. And that is that I'm not surprised that you supported the archival record and also the fact that there might be new information.

Is there a sense -- did your husband have a sense that the Warren Commission was happening so fast that, in fact, other information would come out? Do you think that was that sense during the Warren Commission?

MS. BOGGS: I think that when they read all the testimony that came to them each night that they felt a great deal of information had come their way. However, there were obvious feelings of wanting to know more about certain areas of the investigation, wanting to have filled in some of the unanswered questions, and of course, that was why it was so necessary for Hale to be able to say that according to the testimony submitted to the Commission, that Oswald was the assassin.

MS. NELSON: It's interested the public a great deal as to how members of the Warren Commission were chosen. There have been various members of the public who have questioned that. Do you remember how Congressman Boggs was?

MS. BOGGS: Well, Hale was one of the first people who suggested to President Johnson that there should be a commission.

MS. NELSON: I see.

MS. BOGGS: And Hale was devoted to President Kennedy, and there was some talk following the assassination that Hale had warned the President not to go to Dallas, and the connotation was that it would be physically dangerous for him to do so.

That was not Hale's message to the President because just a few weeks prior to that the President was coming to New Orleans to dedicate the new wharf and the President said to Hale that he had had some warnings that he should not come to New Orleans. Hale had answered when the President of the United States can't go to a city of the United States and be protected, we've come to a very difficult time in our nation's history, and encouraged him to come.

But Hale's warning the President about going to Dallas was that there was great infighting among the members of the Democratic party and the Democratic stars in the state and he didn't want the President to become involved in a factional disagreement.

And so that I'm happy to have another opportunity to lay that rumor to rest.

MS. NELSON: Thank you very, very much.

MS. BOGGS: I thank you.

MR. HALL: Mrs. Boggs, knowing what our job is, is there any place in particular where you might send us to look for documents?

MS. BOGGS: I hope that you have examined all the documents from the Louis Stokes' Committee and I'm certain that you have been in touch with Congressman Stokes. He is an extraordinarily reliable member of Congress and a searcher always for the truth. And he would be a source of tremendous help to you.

Also, I think that what you're doing in reaching out to people who are in the public sector, just people who are perhaps have information, have documents, have recorded perhaps conversations and so on, that you're doing the correct thing. Of course, you are going to have to judge whether these were valid expressions or not. But the expressions should be there for the public to see, whether you consider them valid or not, and I am very pleased that you are involved in that quest.

CHAIRMAN TUNHEIM: Thank you very much, Mrs. Boggs. We really appreciate your testimony this morning.

MS. BOGGS: Thank you very much.


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