The Noblest Search of Today Is the Search for Excellence

Lyndon B. Johnson? Apocryphal?

johnson08Dear Quote Investigator: Lyndon B. Johnson was the President of the U.S. during the 1960s. I am having a difficult time trying to verify the following uplifting quotation which has been attributed to him:

The noblest search is the search for excellence.

What do you think?

Quote Investigator: In April 1964 a strongly matching statement appeared in a widely-distributed magazine called “This Week” which was inserted into Sunday newspapers. The article containing the quotation was titled “Words to Live By: The Challenge We Face” with a byline of Lyndon B. Johnson. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1 2

In a world that sometimes seems vexed by change and wearied by doubt, there is little need of the next-best, the almost-completed and the nearly-as-good-as.

The noblest search of today is the search for excellence. In every endeavor, there simply cannot be allowed any lessening in this search.

In conclusion, QI believes that Johnson can be credited with the remark in the article. Of course, Johnson was very busy in 1964; hence, it was possible that parts of the article were ghost written.

Image Notes: Lyndon Johnson portrait in the National Portrait Gallery via Wikimedia Commons. Picture of young Lyndon Johnson circa 1915 from the LBJ Library at lbjlibrary.org. Images have been cropped and resized.

(Great thanks to Julia Hyman whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.)

Notes:

  1. 1964 April 26, The Des Moines Sunday Register, Section: This Week (Sunday Newspaper Supplement published by United Newspapers Magazine Corporation), Words To Live By: The Challenge We Face by Lyndon B. Johnson, Quote Page 2, Des Moines, Iowa. (Newspapers_com)
  2. 1964 April 26, The Salt Lake Tribune, Section: This Week (Sunday Newspaper Supplement published by United Newspapers Magazine Corporation), Words To Live By: The Challenge We Face by Lyndon B. Johnson, Quote Page 2, Salt Lake City, Utah. (Newspapers_com)