JOHN F. KENNEDY’S OWN TYPESCRIPT READING COPY, ANNOTATED AND CORRECTED BY HIM, OF A 1958 POLITICAL ADDRESS DELIVERED WHILE SENATOR, QUOTING FDR, T.S. ELIOT, NIKITA KRUSHCHEV, OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES AND QUEEN ELIZABETH, WITH A BOAT DOODLE AND OVER 50 WORDS IN KENNEDY’S HAND
KENNEDY, John F. Typescript speech. No place, delivered 1 October 1959. Thirteen quarto pages (8-1/2 by 11 inches), typewritten on rectos (page three is a sheet of 8-1/2 by 13-1/4-inch manila paper with lower portion folded to 10-1/2 inches); verso of page 13 with pencil drawing by JFK of a dory boat and two names. $18,500.
Important political address by Senator John F. Kennedy quoting FDR, T.S. Eliot, Nikita Khrushchev, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Queen Elizabeth I, and comparing President Eisenhower to Shakespeare’s King Lear—also with a boat doodle and over 50 words in Kennedy’s hand. The Kennedy Library has a typescript of this speech, but without the corrections.
On Thursday afternoon, March 13, 1958, Senator John F. Kennedy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered an important economic and foreign policy address at a luncheon of the Women's Democratic Club in Washington, DC. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library has what appears to be the exact 13-page typescript of this speech except that page 3 is on the same paper as the other 12 pages. The Kennedy Library's copy, however, does not include any corrections or handwritten additions, so the one here offered is a later, possibly final draft of JFK's speech.
Headed: "Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy (Dem.Mass.) / Women's Democratic Club Luncheon Washington, D.C. / Thursday Afternoon, March 13, 1958." Atop the typed title, Kennedy has handwritten approximately 23 words, his opening remarks, probably humorous, prior to his speech. Some of his words seem to be "as an impromptu… influence… husbands are," "for him one who knew him well," "most," and "Two monkeys" which may refer to Dr. Wernher von Braun's March 2, 1958, interview which was headlined in some newspapers: "U.S. Plans to Fire Monkey Into Space." When asked how long it would take to put a man into outer space, Von Braun said, "I would definitely say within the next five years."
On page 1, after saying, "But let us not take victory for granted," JFK crossed out "I do not say that it will be easy. It will come to us only if we deserve it." Kennedy handwrites in the left margin: "I think the prospects are excellent."
On page 5, Kennedy says "When an administration lets fall the reins of leadership, they must be firmly held by Congress—today a Democratic Congress. We must exercise that leadership." He then adds in pencil: "and we must do it now on a whole variety of fronts—at home and abroad." Kennedy had crossed out the remaining four lines on this page and the top 13 lines of the next page. Following his handwritten addition to page 5, he has drawn horizontal lines above and below this next typed paragraph: "And above all, in the words of Justice Holmes, whether we sail with the wind or against the wind, let us set sail—and not drift or lie at anchor." JFK adds in pencil: "Therein lies our responsibility and our opportunity."
On the verso of page 13, Kennedy has sketched a dory boat and a small doodle around the number "1" listing two numbered names.
Excerpts from Sen. John F. Kennedy's March 13, 1958 address: "We meet today in an atmosphere of victory. We cannot help but exult at the prospects for November look brighter and brighter. In the Senate, for example, I do not believe the Democrats can lose a single seat—and I believe our chances are excellent to pick up a dozen or more—from Maine to California. But let us not take victory for granted. I think the prospects are excellent. We have to offer more than the old slogans and policies of the past. We have to offer more than charges we cannot prove or promises we cannot fulfill. We must prove our capacity for responsible leadership. We must demonstrate competence for tackling the difficult issues of our times. And we will.
"I was sharply reminded of this Democratic tradition six weeks ago. I was in New York to see the opening of a play about Franklin Roosevelt, called 'Sunrise at Campobello.' It is not a play about politics. It is a not about the Presidency or the Democratic Party. It is a play the triumph of one man and his family over disaster—the disaster of physical illness. But I thought, as I left the theatre ['very deeply moved' has been crossed out], that this play portrays more than this stirring personal triumph. It also brought to mind all the great qualities of leadership in times of crisis for which FDR was famous… We urgently need those qualities in Washington today. For this nation now enters a period of crisis of greater proportions than any we have ever endured… The Republicans in 1956 may have cried 'Peace, peace'—but there is no peace. Here at home, where they promised prosperity to match their peace, the economic situation is also approaching the crisis stage.
"The question is: What are we going to do about it? The President has offered a variety of statements and proposals. But implementing and even interpreting those statements and proposals is a difficult task. 'I am always filled with alarm,' T.S. Eliot o ce [sic] said, 'when I read a public statement by anyone in authority—the sense of which I utterly fail to grasp.['] Well, I am alarmed. I tried to understand these Presidential messages and news conferences statements. But they sound like the Exhortations of King Lear that goes, 'I will do such things / What they are yet I know not / But they shall be / the Terros [sic, Terrors] of the earth' and I think the President would have added 'And they shall be wityout [sic] cost to the taxpayer.' In short, the Administration's program to meet the recession has lacked a certain clarity and vigor. When all has been said and done, much has been said.
"Exactly twenty-five years ago this month the nation waited for the kind of leadership we need today. Exactly twenty-five years ago this month President-elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt boarded the train [JFK has penciled "B&O train"] for Washington. He was figuratively watched, with hope and fear, by millions of unemployed workers—dispossessed farmers—panicky bankers—and pessimistic businessmen. Franklin Roosevelt brought down to Washington with him something more than confidence. He brought imagination and ideas. He brought determination and action. He brought leadership—articulate, thoughtful, visionary, resourceful leadership. As the Republicans packed to move out, Robert E. Sherwood contrasted the old and the new administrations in a brief, sardonic poem: 'Plodding feet / Tramp—tramp / The Grand Old Party's / Breaking Camp. / Blare of bules / Din—din / The New Deal is moving in.
"'The Presidency,' FDR had told a reporter the previous year, 'is not merely an administrative office. That's the least of it. It is more than an engineering job, efficient or inefficient. It is pre-eminently a place of moral leadership. Without leadership, alert and sensitive to change, we are bogged up or lose our way, as we have lost it in the past decade.' What we need in America today is not so much the confidence in the economy we keep hearing about—but confidence in our leadership. We want 'leadership alert and sensitive,' in Roosevelt's words, to the harsh changes occurring in the economy. That is necessarily the role of the Chief Executive in modern America. That is the role fulfilled by Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. That role is not being fulfilled today…"
On the concluding six pages, JFK turns to foreign policy. In part, "Interestingly enough, the challenge we face abroad is also primarily economic in nature—if we talk in terms of the most dangerous threat to our position. One hundred years ago great Constitutional lawyers and issues dominated the Senate, in both domestic and foreign affairs: slavery, secession, nullification, treaties with Canada, the acquisition of new territory and all the rest. Now in foreign as well as domestic affairs, we face complex economic issues… the economic decline, the political chaos and the ideological disillusionment upon which Communism breeds and spreads are all on the increase. The astounding explosive growth of the world's population, expected to double in this century, is centered largely on those nations of the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America least able to support it… As a result, in the midst of this age of prosperity and abundance, the standard of living for much of the world is actually declining… Into the disorder and distress caused by these trends march Messrs. Khrushchev and company. They arrive able to conclude arrangements for foreign aid and trade without respecting the wishes of Congressional Committees, consumers and taxpayers. They have purchased commodities they did not need from wavering nations. They have sold expensive equipment at a loss to an uncommitted state. They have purchased raw materials at a level far above the world price from an under-developed nation. And they have provided loans to potential allies at a rate of interest well below the world bank and other normal levels.
"How do we meet this challenge? It seems to me the following are of prime importance: 1. First, we should shift the balance of this year's foreign aid program from military to economic aid… 2. Secondly, in areas where military assistance is necessary over the long pull, it might serve a second purpose—local capital development… 3. Third, in economic assistance, we must expand the small beginnings made last year in establishing the International Development Fund… Fourth, to cite a specific example, we must give greater aid to India… 5. Fifth, our economic aid to the world's newest nation must not be restricted by our Western alliances—and I refer specifically to Tunisia… 6. Sixth, and finally, let us be prepared to negotiate with the Russians—at the Summit or anywhere else… We should be willing, certainly, to reopen disarmament talks… We should be willing, as a further example, to discuss the Middle East…
"These are some of my thoughts on how to meet the global challenge we face, and the economic crisis here at home. But the need is for action, not words, nor complacency, nor alarm. There is no doubt about our agenda—there is no doubt about its urgency. In the words of the first Queen Elizabeth: 'Of them to whom much is committed, much is required.' The Democratic Party governs both Houses of Congress; it has a great wealth of talent, a great heritage of leadership. There can be no doubt that of us much is required." The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library has what appears to be the exact 13-page typescript of this speech except that page 3 is on the same paper as the other 12 pages. The Kennedy Library's copy, however, does not include any corrections or handwritten additions, so the one here offered is a later, possibly final draft of JFK's speech.