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JOHN

FITZGERALD
KENNEDY
IN HIS OWN
WORDS

Independence Day Speech 1946


"'Some Elements of the American Character,' Independence Day Oration by John Fitzgerald Kennedy,
Candidate for Congress from the 11th Congressional District"

Mr. Mayor; Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.


We stand today in the shadow of history.
We gather here in the very Cradle of Liberty.
It is an honor and a pleasure to be the speaker of the day--an honor because of the long and distinguished list of
noted orators who have preceded me on this platform, a pleasure because one of that honored list who stood here
fifty years ago, and who is with us here today, is my grandfather.
It has been the custom for the speaker of the day to link his thoughts across the years to certain classic ideals of
the early American tradition. I shall do the same. I propose today to discuss certain elements of the American
character which have made this nation great. It is well for us to recall them today, for this is a day of recollection
and a day of hope.
A nation's character, like that of an individual, is elusive. It is produced partly by things we have done and partly
by what has been done to us. It is the result of physical factors, intellectual factors, spiritual factors.
It is well for us to consider our American character, for in peace, as in war, we will survive or fail according to its
measure.
RELIGIOUS ELEMENT
Our deep religious sense is the first element of the American character which I would discuss this morning.
The informing spirit of the American character has always been a deep religious sense.
Throughout the years, down to the present, a devotion to fundamental religious principles has characterized
American thought and action.
Our government was founded on the essential religious idea of integrity of the individual. It was this religious
sense which inspired the authors of the Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their
Creator with certain inalienable rights."
Our earliest legislation was inspired by this deep religious sense:
"Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion."
Our first leader, Washington, was inspired by this deep religious sense:
"Of all of the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are
indispensable supports."
Lincoln was inspired by this deep religious sense:
"That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by
the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth."
Our late, lamented President was inspired by this deep religious sense:
"We shall win this war, and in victory we shall seek not vengeance, but the establishment of an
international order in which the spirit of Christ shall rule the hearts of men and nations."
Thus we see that this nation has ever been inspired by essential religious ideas. The doctrine of slavery which
challenged these ideas within our own country was destroyed.
Recently, the philosophy of racism, which threatened to overwhelm them by attacks from abroad, was also met
and destroyed.
Today these basic religious ideas are challenged by atheism and materialism: at home in the cynical philosophy of
many of our intellectuals, abroad in the doctrine of collectivism, which sets up the twin pillars of atheism and
materialism as the official philosophical establishment of the State.
Inspired by a deeply religious sense, this country, which has ever been devoted to the dignity of man, which has
ever fostered the growth of the human spirit, has always met and hurled back the challenge of those deathly
philosophies of hate and despair. We have defeated them in the past; we will always defeat them.
How well, then, has DeTocqueville said: "You may talk of the people and their majesty, but where there is no
respect for God can there be much for man? You may talk of the supremacy of the ballot, respect for order,
denounce riot, secession--unless religion is the first link, all is vain."
IDEALISTIC ELEMENT
Another element in the American character that I would bring to your attention this morning is the idealism of
our native people--stemming from the strong religious beliefs of the first colonists, developed as they worked the
land.
This idealism, this fixed regard for principle, has been an element of the American character from the birth of
this nation to the present day.
In recent years, the existence of this element in the American character has been challenged by those who seek to
give an economic interpretation to American history. They seek to destroy our faith in our past so that they may
guide our future. These cynics are wrong, for, while there may be some truth in their interpretation, it does
remain a fact, and a most important one, that the motivating force of the American people has been their belief
that they have always stood at the barricades by the side of God.
In Revolutionary times, the cry "No taxation without representation" was not an economic complaint. Rather, it
was directly traceable to the eminently fair and just principle that no sovereign power has the right to govern
without the consent of the governed. Anything short of that was tyranny. It was against this tyranny that the
colonists "fired the shot heard 'round the world."
This belief in principle was expressed most impressively by George Washington at the Constitutional Convention
in 1783. "It is probable that no plan we propose will be adopted. Perhaps another dreadful conflict is to be
sustained. If, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our
work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair, the event is in the hands of God."
This idealism, this conviction that our eyes had seen the glory of the Lord -that right was right and wrong was
wrong-finally led to the ultimate clash at Bull Run and the long red years of the war between the States.
Again, the cynics may apply the economic interpretation to this conflict: the industrial North against the
agricultural South; the struggle of the two economies. Say what they will, it is an undeniable fact that the
Northern Army of Virginia and the Army of the Potomac were inspired by devotion to principle: on the one
hand, the right of secession; on the other, the belief that the "Union must be preserved."
In 1917, this element of the American character was stimulated by the slogans "War to End War" and "A War
to Save Democracy," and again the American people had as their leader a man, Woodrow Wilson, whose
idealism was the traditional idealism of America. To such a degree was this true that he was able to say, "Some
people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American. America is the only idealistic nation in
the world."
It is perhaps true that the American intervention in 1917 might have been more effective if the case for American
intervention had been represented on less moralistic terms. As it was, the American people eventually came to
look upon themselves as giving food and guns to a general cause in which all other people had material ends and
in which they alone had moral ends.
The idealism with which we had entered the battle made the subsequent disillusionment all the more bitter and
revealed a dangerous facet to this element of the American character, for this bitterness, a direct result of our
inflated hopes, brought a radical change in our foreign policy and a resulting withdrawal from Europe. We failed
to make the adjustment between what we had hoped to win and what we actually could win. Our idealism was
too strong. We would not compromise.
And thus we brought to our shoulders much of the burden of the responsibility for World War II--a burden
which we would not then acknowledge but for which we have paid full price in recent years on distant shores, on
faraway fields and valleys and hills, on pieces of foreign soil which will be forever ours.
It was perhaps because of this failure that the second world war never did become a crusade as did the first.
Our idealism had become tarnished, but extraordinary efforts were made to evoke it, and it is indubitably true
that the great majority of Americans had strong convictions as to which side spoke for the right before our entry
into the war.
It is now in the postwar world that this idealism--this devotion to principle--this belief in the natural law--this
deep religious conviction that this is truly God's country and we are truly God's people--will meet its greatest
trial.
Our American idealism finds itself faced by the old-world doctrine of power politics. It is meeting with successive
rebuffs, and all this may result in a new and even more bitter disillusionment, in another ignominious retreat
from our world destiny.
But, if we remain faithful to the American tradition, our idealism will be a steadfast thing, a constant flame, a
torch held aloft for the guidance of other nations.
It will take great faith.
Our idealism, the second element of the American character, is being severely tested. Now, only time will tell
whether this element of the American character will be true to its historic tradition.
PATRIOTIC ELEMENT
The third element of the American character that I would bring to your attention this morning is the great
patriotic instinct of our people.
From our pioneer days, perhaps because we were a people who developed from a beachhead on a tremendous
continent, this American patriotism has always had as its core a strange and almost mystical love of the land.
Early in our history we acquired, as James Truslow Adams has pointed out, "a sense of unlimited energy face to
face with unlimited resources."
Land, land, land, stretching with incredible richness across half a world. Its sheer vastness has made it a
challenge to the American spirit. The endless land stretching to, the western sun caught the imagination of men
who founded this nation and awakened the patriotic spirit that has become a characteristic of the American
people.
In the words of America's poet, Walt Whitman, we note this deep sense of the land:
"Land of the pastoral plains, the grass-field of the world, land of those sweet-air'd interminable plateaus!
Land of the herd, the garden, the healthy house of adobe!
Land where the northwest Columbia winds, and where the southwest Colorado winds!
Land of the eastern Chesapeake! Land of the Delaware!
Land of Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan! Land of the Old Thirteen! Massachusetts land! Land of
Vermont and Connecticut!
Land of the ocean shores! Land of sierras and peaks!
Land of boatmen and sailors! Fishermen's land!"
This preoccupation with the land records itself in the catalogue of the colonists' grievances against George III. It
has always been reflected in the highest moments of our patriotism, for, throughout the years, in the early days
here at home and in recent years abroad, Americans have been ever ready to defend this native land.
From the birth of the nation to the present day, from the Heights of Dorchester to the broad meadows of
Virginia, from Bunker Hill to the batteries of Saratoga, from Bergen's Neck, where Wayne and Maylan's troops
achieved such martial wonders, to Yorktown, where Britain's troops surrendered, Americans have heroically
embraced the soldier's alternative of victory or the grave. American patriotism was shown at the Halls of
Montezuma. It was shown with Meade at Gettysburg, with Sheridan at Winchester, with Phil Carney at Fair
Oaks, with Longstreet in the Wilderness, and it was shown by the flower of the Virginia Army when Pickett
charged at Gettysburg. It was shown by Captain Rowan, who plunged into the jungles of Cuba and delivered the
famous message to Garcia, symbol now of tenacity and determination. It was shown by the Fifth and Sixth
Marines at Belleau Wood, by the Yankee Division at Verdun, by Captain Leahy, whose last order as he lay dying
was "The command is forward." And in recent years it was shown by those who stood at Bataan with
Wainwright, by those who fought at Wake Island with Devereaux, who flew in the air with Don Gentile. It was
shown by those who jumped with Gavin, by those who stormed the bloody beaches at Salerno with Commando
Kelly; it was shown by the First Division at Omaha Beach, by the Second Ranger Battalion as it crossed the
Purple Heart Valley, by the 101st as it stood at Bastogne; it was shown at the Bulge, at the Rhine, and at victory.
Wherever freedom has been in danger, Americans with a deep sense of patriotism have ever been willing to stand
at Armageddon and strike a blow for liberty and the Lord.
INDIVIDUALISTIC ELEMENT
The American character has been not only religious, idealistic, and patriotic, but because of these it has been
essentially individual.
The right of the individual against the State has ever been one of our most cherished political principles.
The American Constitution has set down for all men to see the essentially Christian and American principle that
there are certain rights held by every man which no government and no majority, however powerful, can deny.
Conceived in Grecian thought, strengthened by Christian morality, and stamped indelibly into American
political philosophy, the right of the individual against the State is the keystone of our Constitution. Each man is
free.
He is free in thought.
He is free in expression.
He is free in worship.
To us, who have been reared in the American tradition, these rights have become part of our very being. They
have become so much a part of our being that most of us are prone to feel that they are rights universally
recognized and universally exercised. But the sad fact is that this is not true. They were dearly won for us only a
few short centuries ago and they were dearly preserved for us in the days just past. And there are large sections
of the world today where these rights are denied as a matter of philosophy and as a matter of government.
We cannot assume that the struggle is ended. It is never-ending.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. It was the price yesterday. It is the price today, and it will ever be the
price.
The characteristics of the American people have ever been a deep sense of religion, a deep sense of idealism, a
deep sense of patriotism, and a deep sense of individualism.
Let us not blink the fact that the days which lie ahead of us are bitter ones.
May God grant that, at some distant date, on this day, and on this platform, the orator may be able to say that
these are still the great qualities of the American character and that they have prevailed.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at Boston College,


Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, February 1, 1953
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. This draft has handwritten changes. A link to page images of the draft is given at the bottom of this page.

You gentlemen tonight are showing your usual tolerance in inviting to a Boston College dinner a graduate of that
theological school across the Charles, but then, Boston College has always been that way. In fact, so tolerant has
Boston College been to outsiders that in all its 89 years of history, Boston College has yet to have a Boston College
graduate as a President - in fact, some feel that Boston College is getting intolerably tolerant, as its last two
Presidents were graduates of Holy Cross.
I am especially glad to be here because your varsity men represent a great athletic tradition.
Men like Jack Ryder, the track coach for over 39 years, but recently retired - John Kelly of Cambridge, who
coached Boston College inter-collegiate championship, and all other coaches who devoted their lives to Boston
College.
Another reason why I am glad to be here is because we have as the guest of honor Mike Holovak. I have known
Mike for a long time. He is not only a Boston College immortal, but has made for himself as a coach a great place
in the hearts of all those who follow the games. One of the greatest tributes I have ever heard was given to Mike
by Frank Leahy of Notre Dame -----
I am especially pleased to be here for while I was no great shakes as an athlete, I had one of the best spectator
records ever achieved at that football factory across the river.
Someone asked me once what senators talked about in the cloak-room. While it covers everything, I remember a
recent conversation I had with George Smathers, the Senator from Florida, who played end for Florida
University. We discussed the greatest teams, plays and players that we had seen, and when Senator Wayne Morse
was speaking we covered a good deal of ground.
The best football player I ever saw - who dominated his team and the entire field, was Clint Frank - saw him
score four touchdowns in less than two quarters, against a pretty good Princeton team.
I would put Al Marsters or Tom Harmon of Michigan in class second. I saw Harmon score 21 points on his 21st
birthday in the first half of the game against California.
Congressman Carrol Kean, who played three years for Chicago in the early 20's - he sat across from me on the
Labor Committee - once told me that George Gitt was easily the best. The fact that Kearn's nose was broken
tackling Gitt may have had something to do with it.
The best play I ever saw occurred in the game between the Army and Notre Dame in the 20's when Chris Cagle
was starring for Army.
The most exciting team was Stamford - won only one game the year before with Dartmouth - which did not do
much for Eastern football - and that was undefeated and went to the Rose Bowl the next year, the first year of the
"T".
The most interesting football player I know of was Wisard White, with whom I served in the Navy, who was All
America for Columbia. After graduating from college he went to Yale Law School. In 1941 he led his class at Law
School by a point and a half.
The greatest game easily, of course, was the Georgetown-Boston College game. No less an authority than
Grantland Rice called it the Greatest Game Ever Played and the Biggest Up-set, - but why go on.
All of these reminiscences are rather one-sided and I know that you each could match them all, but it does
demonstrate the vivid memories that football has produced for those of us who have followed it through the
years.
It is a great game - it, as well as all athletics, - means much in binding together all members of a college - in
creating a common identity and purpose. Athletics help maintain the interest of the alumni in the life of a college,
and without a loyal and interesting alumni a college cannot hope to survive.
By this banquet tonight honoring these young men, you are giving renewed evidence of your devotion to Boston
College and the things for which it stands.
Boston College has long recognized this - and it has also recognized that football, and other sports, should not be
merely spectator sports, - all should participate in them on one level or another. Life in the United States can be
enervating and soft, but in school and college American boys acquire qualities of vigor and stamina.
I think that Catholic colleges, concerned as they are primarily with preparing their graduates for the life
hereafter - recognize the connection between sports and the good life. They have concentrated attention on it, and
all of us have benefited from it.
There is another reason for this emphasis on sports. Douglas MacArthur was right when he wrote these words
which now stand before the playing fields in West Point: "Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds,
that upon other fields, in other days, will bear the fruits of victory".
These are difficult and dangerous days. The structure of containment in many areas is cracking, and our
horizons are lit by the lightning flash of distant conflict. Young American soldiers now occupy a hundred
different garrisons stretching from the Rhine in a great half circle to the 38th Parallel. If the free world is to
survive in this type of trial and trouble, if the line is to be held against the advancing hordes, then in the final
analysis, and this we must know, it will depend on us.
The leadership has been inexorably thrust upon the United States - for only America has the power and
resources, both physically and spiritually, to provide that leadership. We are in truth the last best hope on earth.
If we do not stand it now - if we do not stand firm amid the conflicting tides of neutralism, resignation, isolation
and indifference, then all will be lost, and one by one the free countries of the earth will fall until finally the direct
assault will begin on the great citadel - the United States.
In our efforts to rally those who would remain free - one of our basic difficulties has been that all too frequently
the things which divide us seem stronger than those which unite us.
In many ways, for example, the free people of South East Asia feel closer to their neighbors, the Chinese, than
they do to us. Many of the things for which we fight seem to mean almost nothing to those whose common
support we seek.
The preservation of the private enterprise system means little as a rallying cry to the sullen half-starved masses of
teeming Asia. Possession and the collectivization of private property does not stir the imagination of that great
proportion of the world's population whose personal resources are almost non-existent.
And even to those who might possess a few sterile sun-baked feet of dusty earth, collectivization may seem a
logical method of attacking agricultural problems which leave them without hope or even life. Democracy even,
the rule of the majority, may mean little to the illiterate millions who have been dominated by native and foreign
autocracies beyond the reach of their memories.
What then does unite us? Certainly the common desire to be free and independent, but there is something more
vital above and beyond that, and that is the common link that unites us - that distinguishes us from our enemies -
a belief in God - in the life of the spirit as against the materialism and atheism that joins together the primitives
who seek to destroy us and the things for which we stand.
This is the common belief and force that binds us - east and west - free and oppressed. This is the power that
must animate our thoughts and actions.
When we recognize this more clearly, when we lay the stress on this part of our national character and tradition -
that it deserves and warrants - then the fundamentals of the world struggle will become more apparent - both to
friend and foe, and then our final victory will be assured.
The Catholic Church has, of course, recognized this from the beginning and the Catholic colleges in America -
colleges like Boston College - have been attempting to provide through their graduates the leadership in this time
of crisis, and they are succeeding. This is especially true of Boston College whose graduates are providing
leadership in so many important fields we are all the [unreadable].
The crisis is as great today as that of early days when Hun and Mongol marched East, West, North and South,
like an irresistible force seeking the ephemeral goal of world domination. Their defeat this time is inevitable as it
was then - for, in the last analysis and in truth, if we but see it, God and the right are on our side and we cannot
fail.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the New


England Luncheon of the National Democratic Women's
Club of Washington D.C., February 12, 1953
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the draft is given at the bottom of this page.

The National Democratic Committee is to be congratulated for holding this luncheon meeting. I was particularly
happy to accept, because our Chairwoman today, Mrs. Galvin, is from my native city of Boston. She is the wife of
a distinguished Bostonian, Michael Galvin, the former Under Secretary of Labor, and she is well and highly
regarded in her own right.
We are met today in the shadow of a great defeat. What made this defeat especially difficult for all of us to
sustain was that through it we were denied the services as Chief Executive of the former Governor of Illinois our
candidate for President Adlai Stevenson. Adlai Stevenson fitted none of the traditional moulds from which
successful political leaders are poured, although in his introspection and somewhat melancholy, with all his wit
and sparkle, reserve, there is some resemblance of Woodrow Wilson.
Adlai Stevenson like Henry Clay would rather have been right than President. I was confident that he would be
both, for I was sure that the time, the party and the man had met. It was not to be, but who can safely predict
what the future, now so obscured, will hold for Adlai Stevenson.
In addition the defeat of November was a disappointment because all of us believed that the Democratic Party
with its program and the men that make up its Congressional leadership, was far better fitted to carry the
burdens and responsibilities of leadership in these difficult and dangerous days.
But the defeat that we suffered - our removal from positions of direct responsibility, must not be regarded as an
unmitigated disaster. The Democrats had been in power for 20 years. Although the personnel and the stream of
force had changed somewhat, nevertheless that is a long time to bear the burdens of administrative authority.
The wellsprings which should give freshness and vitality to action commence to become dry and the movement
loses coherence and direction. We can not deny however partisan we may be that this had begun to happen to the
Democratic Party. Defeat is not as Governor Stevenson has so well pointed out a shot in the arm, but it does give
us an opportunity to regain perspective, to renew our energies and to find out where we are going.
What course should we follow now. It is still too early to say and it would perhaps be a mistake to chart it with
too much accuracy, and I think it important to remember that the American people are not interested too much
in party disputes as such. Political parties are to them a means to a more abundant life and are not an end in
themselves. In addition, the American people have given a mandate to President Eisenhower and the Republican
Party. As Americans we want them to succeed.
But we have definite responsibilities as members of the minority party under the American political system. We
must give representation not only to the 24 million Americans who voted for Adlai Stevenson for President, but
also to develop a coherent program of action for the future which we hope will win the support of a majority of
Americans.
In so doing we must take into account that we are a national party, that we therefore include within our
membership groups that are mutually antipathetic but are willing to remain members of the same party because
of the general course of its actions.
In addition, we must realize that because of the success of our social programs of the past 20 years, the political
complexion of the country has changed, and moved to the right. A majority of the people today have enough of a
stake in our economy that they have become conservers, and this has affected their political behavior.
To sum up in a most general way what the Democratic Party should not become, I would say first it should not
become a Labor Party with a capitol "L". In a country with only two major political parties this would be a fatal
mistake as we would be condemned, unless there was a major depression or war, to being a permanent minority
unable to attract sufficient strength to gain widespread approval. Nor does the Democratic Party have a real
future as a conservative or a states-rights party. The Republicans have a monopoly on that course of action that
they will not lose, and if we swing to the right, we would become atrophied and die as did the Whigs in the 1850's
when they no longer served the needs of the people.
Within these two channel marks, we must steer our course - fighting the battle for people's rights, seeking to give
aid and relief to those on the periphery who still live on the marginal edge of existence.
We will have an opportunity in the coming months in the Congress to carve out a solid program - to demonstrate
clearly that the differences between the Republicans and ourselves, between our philosophy of government and
theirs - are fundamental and traditional. We can thus show the American people a clear alternative - one that
justifies their support in the coming elections of 1954 and 1956.
It is important that we do not fall into the habit that often plagues political minorities of waging ceaseless guerilla
warfare over objectives of little importance so that our opposition appears superficial and irresponsible. Our
opponents have shown us the fallacy for over 20 years of that course of action. It took a skilled military leader to
lead them from the hills of petty resistance to join battle successfully in the plains. Our opposition should be
confined therefore to serious questions of policy. There will be many and even in the early days of the Republican
administration they are becoming apparent.
We must, for example, give clear evidence that the Democratic Party seeks to develop and retain our national
lands, and resources as a treasure belonging to all the people, to be used for their benefit. We must work to
strengthen the minimum wage, to bring it up to date with the rise in the national wage structure and extend its
coverage. We must improve and extend our social security program; build the Nation's health; propose workable
alternatives to the National Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 to restore government to a less prejudicial
role in Labor management relations; and continue our ancient battle to see that the influence, and if necessary
the authority, of the government is used to secure equal rights to employment for all people, a right in full accord
with the traditions of American democracy.
We must continue as before to protect the people from monopoly, from the irresponsible exercise of economic
power. In foreign affairs although we have met and will meet with cruel and severe disappointment, we must
continue to guide our policy within the framework of collective security upon which our own domestic well being
depends.
To sum it up we must set our course not, in General Bradley's memorable phrase, by the lights of each passing
ship, but by the fixed stars that we have always followed. If we are true to our historic tradition, we can not fail -
we must succeed. If we in short remain close to the people, the people will remain close to us and we can look
forward to the future with confidence and hope.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy before the Young


Democratic Club, Baltimore, Maryland, March 20, 1953
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy Library. A link to page images
is given at the bottom of this page.

The Young Democrats of Maryland are meeting in the most critical time in the Nation's history; a period even
more critical than the early days of the Civil War. The structure of containment in many areas is cracking and
our horizons are lit by lightning flashes of distant conflict. Young Americans now occupy a hundred far-flung
garrisons stretching from the Rhine in a great half circle to the 38th parallel. There is on all sides evidence of the
fierce struggle of world domination by the Communists whose dogma teaches that for them there is no security in
a world which they do not control. At the same time there is our own desperate effort to secure that balance of
power in the world for those countries whose national independence still survives. This is a struggle of major
political philosophies and systems of moral values, of men at arms - of stockpiles of strategic materials and
atomic weapons - of air bases and bombers - of industrial potentials and, most important, of military realities.
This is the physical, brutal ominous war upon which we have bestowed the name "cold". It is against this vast
dark panorama that this dinner is held. It is not always easy in a national tension and crisis like this to talk of
politics, and political quarrels pale to the awesome struggle of rival states, but we have a most solemn
constitutional obligation to assemble, to maintain and keep alive the political party to which we owe fealty; to
influence its policies, to guide its actions for the national good during these days of our minority, to work for the
time when we shall once again hold responsibility and authority.
It is therefore a great privilege for me to join with you tonight in behalf of our common cause.
We are met tonight in the shadow of a great defeat. What made this defeat especially difficult for all of us to
sustain was that through it we were denied the services as Chief Executive of the former Governor of Illinois our
candidate for President Adlai Stevenson. Adlai Stevenson fitted none of the traditional moulds from which
successful political leaders are poured, although in his introspection and somewhat melancholy, with all his wit
and sparkle, reserve, there is some resemblance to Woodrow Wilson.
Although Governor Stevenson lost New York and Massachusetts, it was in these two states that he secured some
of his most devoted adherents. You realized as we did in New England that there are no gains without pains; no
easy solutions to difficult problems and that in the final analysis more important to a Nation's survival than
deposits of copper and gold in the ground are the deposits of character and courage in the human heart. Thus we
naturally responded to his challenge and appeal.
Adlai Stevenson like Henry Clay would rather have been right than President. I was confident that he would be
both, for I was sure that the time, the party and the man had met. It was not to be, but who can safely predict
what the future, now so obscured, will hold for Adlai Stevenson.
In addition the defeat of November was a disappointment because all of us believed that the Democratic Party
with its program and the men that make up its Congressional leadership, was far better fitted to carry the
burdens and responsibilities of leadership in these difficult and dangerous days. Certainly on its record, it
deserved public support with its record of social legislation, legislation which has received such widespread
popular acceptance that even the Republicans finally were for it. It had impressive claims on public approval.
But the defeat that we suffered - our removal from positions of direct responsibility, although under the
American system our indirect responsibility is still considerable, must not be regarded as an unmitigated
disaster. The Democrats had been in power for 20 years. Although the personnel and the stream of force had
changed somewhat, nevertheless that is a long time to bear the burdens of administrative authority. The
wellsprings which should give freshness and vitality to action commence to become dry and the movement loses
coherence and direction. We can not deny however partisan we may be that this had begun to happen to the
Democratic Party. Defeat is not as Governor Stevenson has so well pointed out a shot in the arm, but it does give
us an opportunity to regain perspective, to renew our energies and to find out where we are going.
What course should we follow now. It is still too early to say and it would perhaps be a mistake to chart it with
too much accuracy, and I think it important to remember that the American people are not interested in party
disputes as such. Political parties are to them a means to a more abundant life and are not an end in themselves.
In addition, the American people have given a mandate to President Eisenhower and the Republican Party. As
Americans we want them to succeed.
But we have definite responsibilities as members of a minority party under the American constitutional system.
We must give representation not only to the 24 million Americans who voted for Adlai Stevenson for President,
but also to develop a coherent program of action for the future which we hope will win the support of a majority
of Americans.
In so doing we must take into account that we are a national party, that we therefore include within our
membership groups that are mutually antipathetic but are willing to remain members of the same party because
of the general course of its actions.
In addition, we must realize that because of the success of our social programs of the past 20 years, the political
complexion of the country has changed, and moved to the right. A majority of the people today have enough of a
stake in our economy that they have become conservers, and this has affected their political behavior.
To sum up in a most general way what the Democratic Party should not become, I would say first it should not
become a hostile party. In a country with only two major political parties this would be a fatal mistake as we
would be condemned, unless there was a major depression or war, to be a permanent minority unable to attract
sufficient strength to gain widespread approval. Nor does the Democratic Party have a real future as a
conservative or a states-right party. The Republicans have a monopoly on that course of action that they will not
lose, and if we swing to the right, we would become atrophied and die as did the Whigs in the 1850's.
Within these two channel marks, we must steer our course - fighting the battle for people's rights, seeking to give
aid and relief to those on the periphery who still live on the marginal edge of existence. We must continue our
historic mission of extending the horizons of social legislation.
We will have an opportunity in the coming months in the Congress to carve out a solid program - to demonstrate
clearly that the differences between the Republicans and ourselves, between our philosophy of government and
theirs - are fundamental and traditional. We can thus show the American people a clear alternative - one that
justifies their support in the coming elections of 1954 and 1956.
It is important that we do not fall into the habit that often plagues political minorities of waging ceaseless guerilla
warfare over objectives of little importance - so that our opposition appears superficial and irresponsible. Our
opponents have shown us the fallacy of that course of action. And it took a skilled military leader to lead them
from the hills of petty resistance to join battle in the plains. Our opposition should be confined therefore to
serious questions of policy. There will be many and even in the early days of the Republican administration they
are becoming apparent.
It has been just sixty days since the new administration took office. During those sixty days, the administration
has evidenced the desire to carry out campaign pledges regardless of their effect on national policies - and to
carry out policies regardless of campaign pledges. Worse yet the two heads of the Republican elephant, each with
separate campaign promises and platforms have been engaged in a constant struggle for control.
In Boston four days before his election General Eisenhower said "I pledge that the full resources of our new
administration will be thrown into the battle against inflation." The full resources of the administration have
consisted in lifting all price controls, resulting in higher prices on essential military goods made of copper, as well
as the price of groceries to the housewife.
In Pittsburgh General Eisenhower said "We must have better housing for those Americans who are now forced
to live in slums and sub-standard dwellings." To improve the housing program, he appointed its arch enemy,
former Representative Albert Cole as Administrator. To liberalize our national immigration laws, all reference to
the necessity of revising the McCarran Immigration Act about which we heard so much during the campaign has
been omitted from all lists of legislative "must". To raise the morale of government employees their budget
director has ordered all employees to report on other employees in a manner in which Senator Margaret Chase
Smith has compared to "communist thought police". To aid small businessmen they talk of abolishing the RFC,
which makes 90% of its loans to small businessmen who can not obtain capital elsewhere.
For the Republican position on offshore oil, do we believe Mr. Eisenhower, Mr. Brownell, Mr. McKay, or the
State Department representative, all of whom said something different? For the Republican position on reduction
of taxes do we listen to Mr. Eisenhower, the Republican platform or Representative Reed? For the Republican
position on standby controls, do we listen to Mr. Eisenhower or Senator Capehart? For the Republican position
regarding Russia's violation of the Yalta and other wartime pacts, do we listen to Mr. Eisenhower, Mr. Dulles, or
Mr. Taft, all of whom say something different? For the Republican view on the President's powers of
reorganization, should we have listened to Budget Director Dodge, Republicans in Congress or the President, all
of whom made conflicting statements?
We were promised that the best minds of management and labor would draft amendments to the Taft-Hartley
Law; but the President's high-powered committee could not even agree on their rules of procedure, and the
President now indicates he has nothing to say on the Taft-Hartley law. We are expected to grant statehood to
supposedly Republican Hawaii, but not to supposedly Democratic Alaska. We are given a reorganization plan for
the Federal Security Agency, after it has been approved by the A.M.A., which is practically the identical plan
rejected by Republicans in earlier years as the first step towards socialized medicine.
This confusion and inconsistency explains the rise in tide of hope and confidence of the Democrats, both in and
out of Washington. But the role of an effective opposition is not limited to exposing inadequacies alone; we must
propose effective alternatives of our own.
We must for example give clear evidence that the Democratic Party seeks to retain the submerged lands, or
tidelands, as a national preserve belonging to all the people and used for their benefit. Our position must be
clear-cut and President Truman, Senator Hill and others have marked the course for us. We must work to
strengthen the minimum wage to bring it up to date with the rise in the national wage structure and even more
important extend its coverage. We must provide for an increase in social security payments and old age and
survivor's insurance, the payments of which have been almost completely outmoded by the inflationary forces of
the past few years.
We must work to build the Nation's health. The recent report of the President's Commission has shown us how
great are the opportunities, therefore the responsibilities in this vital field. We must propose workable
alternatives to the National Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 to restore government to a less prejudicial
role in labor-management relations. We must develop our natural resources of all kinds in all parts of the
country and maintain the people's equity in them. We must continue our ancient battle to see that the influence
and if necessary the authority of the government is used to secure equal rights to employment for all people, a
right in full accord with the traditions of American democracy.
We must continue as before to protect the people from monopoly, from the irresponsible exercise of economic
power. In foreign affairs although we have met and will meet with cruel and severe disappointment we must
continue to guide our policy within the framework of collective security upon which our own domestic well being
depends.
Certainly however impatient or dissatisfied we may feel with the actions of our Allies, one does not wish to see the
United States abrogate its present position of leadership of the Free World by unilateral action, action which may
not prove decisive. This is a long struggle in which we are engaged - one requiring constancy and perseverance as
well as action and movement.
To sum it up we must set our course not as in General Bradley's memorable phrase, by the light of each passing
ship, but by the fixed stars that we have always followed. If we are true to our historic tradition, we can not fail -
we must succeed. If we in short remain close to the people, the people will remain close to us and we can look
forward to the future with confidence and hope.

Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy at New York


County Democratic Dinner, New York, New York, April
15, 1953
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to the page is given at the bottom of this page.
Mr. Toastmaster: It is a pleasure to relax tonight in this Democratic stronghold out of the zone of fire of the
Potomac battle-ground where the Republicans in Congress and the Republicans in the administration have just
wheeled out their heavy artillery to use against each other. After enjoying such a pleasant dinner, I am no longer
concerned as to who is supposed to negotiate treaties, who is supposed to announce our terms for peace in Korea,
or who is supposed to throw out the first ball.
It is also a pleasure to be in this Democratic city because of its fame for positive leadership. The State that has
produced Franklin D. Roosevelt, Al Smith, Herbert H. Lehman, Robert F. Wagner, Sr. - and now making a
brilliant record of his own Robert F. Wagner, Jr. - Averill Harriman, and my distinguished friends from the
other House from New York City, Arthur Klein, Adam Powell, Franklin Roosevelt, and Jim Donovan - the state
that has produced these men can stand as a beacon of hope to Democrats meeting in darkened basements and
attics all over the country.
We are met tonight in the aftermath of a great defeat. What made this defeat especially difficult for all of us to
sustain, was that through it we were denied the services as Chief Executive of the former Governor of Illinois, our
candidate for President, Adlai Stevenson.
But the defeat that we suffered - our removal from positions of direct responsibility, must not be regarded as an
unmitigated disaster. The Democrats had been in power for 20 years. Although the personnel and the stream of
force had changed somewhat, nevertheless that is a long time to bear the burdens of administrative authority.
The wellsprings which should give freshness and vitality to action commence to become dry, and the movement
loses coherence and direction. We cannot deny, however partisan we may be, that this had begun to happen to
the Democratic Party. Defeat is not, as Governor Stevenson has so well pointed out, a shot in the arm, but it does
give us an opportunity to regain perspective, to renew our energies and to find out where we are going.
We have long believed that the Democratic Party is not the party of any one group, but of all groups: Not of some
of the people, but all of the people. In our party may be found members of all races - all religions all walks of life
all income groups in all parts of the country. It must be obvious that while, on the one hand, the Democratic
Party must not be an extremist party, on the other it has no real future as a conservative or states-right party.
The Republicans have a monopoly on that course of action that they will not lose, and if we swing to the right, we
would become atrophied and die as did the Whigs in the 1850's.
We have been welded together by a philosophy of progress, which is emphasized by the young people that I see
here tonight. Whether they be young in spirit, such as Herbert Lehman, or young in age, the members of the
Democratic Party must never lose that youthful zest for which Jim Farley is justly celebrated, a zest for new ideas
and for a better world, which has made us great. Particularly here in New York City the meeting place of the
world does the Democratic party need to be the youthful, vigorous party with progressive ideas that can attract
all of the diverse elements of the population.
All of our associates may not belong to the same organization. You will recall that Will Rogers once said - "I am
not a member of any organized political party I am a Democrat". But the organization of the Democratic Party
in the minority, with all of its conflicting groups, is a model of consistency and uniformity, when compared with
our Republican friends in Washington. Fortunately for President Eisenhower, the Democratic Party, if not in
power, is still a power. With our help the Chief Executive has been able to call his relations with Congress
"excellent". With our help he has defeated the Republicans who wanted to weaken his reorganization powers. He
has defeated the Republicans who wanted to reduce taxes before balancing the budget. We think we can help him
defeat the Republicans sponsoring the Bricker amendment, although Mr. Dulles has made a shocking concession
to those forces of isolationism, by rejecting the genocide convention and our work on international human rights.
We think we can help him defeat those Republicans who want to repudiate his campaign promises, to improve
the Taft-Hartley Law, to strengthen the Social Security Act, and to repeal the McCarran Act. Indeed, I expect to
hear any day that the president can muster a majority in the Senate - all he needs is two more Democratic seats.
It has been nearly 90 days since the new administration took office. During these 90 days, the administration has
evidenced the desire to carry out campaign pledges regardless of their effect on national policies, and to carry out
policies regardless of campaign pledges.
For the Republican position on off-shore oil, do we believe Mr. Eisenhower, Mr. Brownell, Mr. McKay, or the
State Department representative, all of whom said something different. For the Republican position on the
reduction of taxes, do we listen to Mr. Eisenhower, the Republican platform, or Representative Reed? For the
Republican position on stand-by controls should we listen to Mr. Eisenhower or Senator Capehart? For the
Republican position regarding Russia's violation of the Yalta and other war time pacts, should we listen to Mr.
Eisenhower, to Mr. Dulles or to Mr. Taft, each of whom says something different. This confusion and
inconsistency explains the rising tide of hope and confidence of the Democrats, both in and out of Washington.
But the role of an effective opposition is not limited to exposing inadequacies alone, we must propose effective
alternatives of our own. We must on our part continue the battle for people's rights, to give aid and relief to those
on the periphery, who still live on the marginal edge of existence, and continue our historic mission of extending
the horizons of social legislation.
The Democratic Party will have many opportunities for important public service in the coming months, but
already it is becoming apparent, as Senators Johnson and Symington have pointed out, that it may be in the field
of national security that this service will have its most enduring significance.
There is, of course, good reason to believe that the ultimate reliance of the Soviet Union will be on the weapons of
subversion, economic disintegration and guerilla warfare to accomplish our destruction, rather than upon the
direct assault of all-out war.
But we cannot count on it. So long as the Soviet Union and her satellites continue to dedicate the large percentage
of their national production to the preparation for war - so long must the United States recognize the peril to
which we are now subjected in increasing quantities.
Time is only a friend so long as it is favorably used, and there are growing indications that in many categories of
defense, the years since Korea have enabled the Communists to overcome some of their deficiencies in atomic
power, and at the same time continue to widen the gap that separates us on the ground, in the air, and under the
sea. The evidence is obvious. The Armies that the Soviet Union and her satellites have available for an all out
attack on the continent of Europe are still several times the size of the force that now guard Western Europe
from invasion - and we are not closing the gap.
The Soviet Union has a great many more ocean going submarines than do we. They have in fact five times the
submarine fleet with which the Germans nearly succeeded in isolating the British in the early days of the last
war, and their submarines are infinitely more effective.

Although the exact figures are classified, it is now known that the Soviets have many thousands more first class
jets than the United States and its combined allies, and also that their best plane has proved in Korea certainly
the equal - if not superior - to any of our fighters at normal combat altitude.
It may be argued that this is understandable, as the United States has concentrated its attention on a strategic
force of long range bombers, but at least as startling is their rapid development in this field. It is now known that,
if and when they feel they have enough atomic bombs to risk an all out attack on this country, they already have
the planes with which to deliver those bombs. It has now been estimated that the Soviets and its allies have
substantially more jet bombers than the United States and the other nations of the free world: and although most
of the Soviet bombers have not the range of the longest range bombers of this country, there is no reason to
believe that, especially with the tremendous fire power of atomic weapons, they would not be willing to risk one
way flights to destroy American cities. Many people forget that a Russian plane with a Russian crew flew from
Moscow to Southern California non-stop some 16 years ago.
The Secretary of Defense in response to this severe threat has signally failed to emphasize in his public statements
the clear and present danger to which we are now subjected.
The United States has witnessed in recent years, though a stretch-out, the dilution of the strength the Chiefs of
Staff considered to be the minimum for our national security. Any further extension of the target date for our
defense goals would be against the national interest and must be opposed.
Rather it is obvious that it is our obligation, an obligation of the most pressing sort, to inform the American
people of the severity of the threat to our security, and of the sacrifices that must be made to meet it.
This is not an issue, I think, on which the Democrats can win elections, for only disaster could prove us correct,
but we intend to fight for what is right and oppose what is wrong, for the good of the people. If the Republicans
fail to keep their pledges, neither that fact nor the fact that we are in the minority should prevent us from
keeping ours. During the next four years, we shall work in the Congress, in the state legislatures, in the city
councils and in the meeting halls of our nation. We shall continue to work as we have in the past for the welfare
of our people, and for a better country and a better world. We are not engaged in a partisan struggle with the
Republicans in which we would take delight in seeing the country suffer under their management. We are instead
their fellow workers in the struggle for peace and prosperity at home and abroad. The election placed the
responsibility of government in the hands of the Republicans, but it did not remove responsibility from the hearts
of the Democrats.
With imagination and courage, we shall demonstrate to the nation that promises can mean performance - that
responsible opposition can mean constructive legislation - and that the Democratic Party has not forgotten the
people. If we remain close to the people, the people will surely remain close to us and we can look forward to the
future with confidence and hope.

Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy at Bridgeport


Democratic Town Committee Dinner, Bridgeport,
Connecticut, April 24, 1953
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. Also in the Senate Speech file were notes relating to this speech. Links to page images for both the draft
and the notes are given at the bottom of this page.
It is a great pleasure to be here in Connecticut with so many Democratic friends and the Democrats who labored
long and hard to build and strengthen the party here in this State.

Although 1952 was the year in which Democratic hopes and ambitions received a serious set back yet your
presence here tonight indicates the vitality in the party here and gives promise of brighter days.
Connecticut has been, I believe, unusually fortunate in the quality of its leadership - men like Senator McMahon,
whose memory will live long in the records of the Senate of the United States - and Senator Benton who gave
many evidences of his political courage in his service in Washington - men like former Governor Bowles who has
recently concluded an exacting task in Asia and added new laurels to his reputation. And then there is an old
friend and colleague of mine in the House of Representatives, former Congressman Ribicoff who came to
Washington the same year that I did in 1947. It is a source of great regret to me that he is not in the United States
Senate, for we have need for his type of intelligent leadership.
The Democratic Party is today represented in the United States Congress by but one man - but in Tom Dodd the
traditions of this great state are maintained and indeed enhanced. He is but only at the beginning of a long and
brilliant career.
We are met tonight in the aftermath of a great defeat. What made this defeat especially difficult for all of us to
sustain was that through it we were denied the services as Chief Executive of the former Governor of Illinois, our
candidate for President, Adlai Stevenson.
But the defeat that we suffered - our removal from positions of direct responsibility, must not be regarded as an
unmitigated disaster. The Democrats had been in power for 20 years. Although the personnel and the stream of
force had changed somewhat, nevertheless that is a long time to bear the burdens of administrative authority.
Defeat is not, as Governor Stevenson has so well pointed out, a shot in the arm, but it does give us an opportunity
to regain perspective, to renew our energies and to find out where we are going. What course should we now
follow? It is still too early to say. It must be obvious that while the Democratic Party must not be an extremist
party, it has no real future on the other hand as a conservative or states rights party. The Republicans have a
monopoly on that course of action that they will not lose and if we swing to the right we would become atrophied
and die as did the Whigs in the 1850's.
We have been welded together by a philosophy of progress which is emphasized by the young people that I see
here tonight. Whether they be young in spirit, or young in age, the members of the Democratic Party must never
lose that youthful zest for new ideas and for a better world, which has made us great. Particularly here in
Bridgeport does the Democratic Party need to be the youthful, vigorous party with progressive ideas that can
attract all groups in the population.
All of our associates may not belong to quite the same organization. But the organization of the Democratic Party
in the minority with all of its conflicting groups, is a model of consistency and uniformity when compared with
our republican friends in Washington. Fortunately for President Eisenhower the Democratic Party if not in
power, is still a power. With our help the Chief Executive has been able to call his relations with Congress
"excellent". With our help he has defeated the Republicans who wanted to weaken his reorganization powers. He
has defeated the Republicans who wanted to reduce taxes before balancing the budget. We think we can help him
defeat those Republicans who want to repudiate his campaign promises, to improve the Taft-Hartley Law, to
strengthen the Social Security Act and to repeal the McCarran Act. Indeed, I expect to hear any day that the
President can muster a majority in the Senate - all he needs is two more Democratic seats.
It has been nearly 90 days since the new administration took office. During these 90 days, the administration has
evidenced the desire to carry out campaign pledges regardless of their effect on national policies, and to carry out
policies regardless of campaign pledges. To improve our housing program, they have tabled the entire public
housing program for next year in the house. To aid small businessmen they talk of abolishing the R.F.C., which
makes 90% of its loans to small businessmen, many here in the United States who cannot obtain capital
elsewhere.
For the Republican position of off-shore oil, do we believe Mr. Eisenhower, Mr. Brownell, Mr. McKay, or the
State Department representative, all of whom said something different, but all of whom want to give to three
states the billions of dollars worth of resources belonging to all the people. For the Republican position on stand-
by controls, should we listen to Mr. Eisenhower or Senator Capehart? For the Republican position regarding
Russia's violation of the Yalta and other war time pacts, should we listen to Mr. Eisenhower, to Mr. Dulles or to
Mr. Taft, each of whom says something different. We were promised "The best minds of the country" to solve
our serious national problems and yet too frequently those "best minds" have consisted of Republican
Congressmen defeated by the people in the past election. This confusion and inconsistency explains the rising tide
of hope and confidence of the Democrat, both in and out of Washington. But the role of an effective opposition is
not limited to exposing inadequacies alone, we must propose effective alternative of our own. We must on our
part continue the battle for people's rights, to give aid and relief to those on the periphery who still live on the
marginal edge of existence and continue our historic mission of extending the horizons of social legislation.
The Democratic Party will have many opportunities for important public service in the coming months, but
already it is becoming apparent that it may be in the field of national security that this service will have its most
enduring significance.
There is, of course, good reason to believe that the ultimate reliance of the Soviet Union will be on the weapons of
subversion, economic disintegration and guerilla warfare to accomplish our destruction, rather than upon the
direct assault of all-out war.
But we cannot count on it. So long as the Soviet Union and her satellites continue to dedicate the large percentage
of their national production to the preparation for war - so long must the United States recognize the peril to
which we are now subjected to in increasing quantities.
Time is only a friend as long as it is favorably used, and there are growing indications that in many categories of
defense, the years since Korea have enabled the communists to overcome some of their deficiencies in atomic
power, and at the same time continue to widen the gap that separates us on the ground, in the air and under the
sea. The evidence is obvious. The armies that the Soviet Union and her satellites have available for an all-out
attack on the continent of Europe are several times the size of the force that now guard[s] Western Europe from
invasion.
The Soviet Union has a great many more ocean-going submarines than we do. They have in fact five times the
submarine fleet with which the Germans nearly succeeded in isolating the British in the early days of the last
war, and their submarines are infinitely more effective.
Although the exact figures are not classified, it is now known that the Soviets have many thousands more first-
class jets than the United States and its combined allies, and also that their best plane has proved in Korea
certainly the equal, if not superior, to any of our fighters at normal combat altitude.
It may be argued that this is understandable, as the United States has concentrated its attention on a strategic
force of long-range bombers, but at least as startling is their rapid development in this field. It is now known that,
if and when they feel that they have enough atomic bombs to risk an all-out attack on this country, they already
have the planes with which to deliver those bombs. It has been estimated that the Soviets and its allies now have
more jet bombers than the United States and the other nations of the free world; and although most of the Soviet
bombers have not the range of the longest-range bombers of this Country, there is no reason to believe that,
especially with the tremendous fire power of atomic weapons, they would not be willing to risk one-way flights to
destroy American cities. Many people forget that a Russian plane with a Russian crew flew from Moscow to
Southern California non-stop some 16 years ago.
The Secretary of Defense in response to this severe threat has signally failed to emphasize in his public statements
the clear and present danger to which we are now subjected. This is especially true when we recall the recent
statement of Senator Symington, a member of the Armed Services Committee, that the Soviets are each day
widening the gap that separates us. I, therefore, view with much alarm the emphasis given by Secretary Dulles in
his statement on Thursday from Europe that the Nato Alliance has ceased to build up its strength to prepare for
an attack in 1954 which has usually been held to be the "critical year", when the Soviet strength would be
relatively at a maximum. Rather he placed his emphasis on a "long term program consistent with economic
health".
The United States has witnessed in recent years, through a stretch-out, the dilution of the strength the chiefs of
staff considered to be the minimum for our national security. Any further extension of the target date for our
defense goals would be against the national interest and must be opposed.
It is obvious that it is our obligation, an obligation of the most pressing sort, to inform the American people of the
severity of the threat to our security and of the sacrifices that must be made to meet it.
This is not an issue, I think, on which the Democrats can win elections, for only disaster could prove that correct.
But we shall continue to work as we have in the past for the welfare of our people and for a better country and a
better world. We are not engaged in a partisan struggle with the Republicans in which we would take delight in
seeing a country go to ruin under their management. We are instead their fellow workers in the struggle for
peace and prosperity at home and abroad. The election placed the responsibility of Government in the hands of
the Republicans, but it did not remove responsibility from the hearts of the democrats.
With youthful imagination and courage, we shall demonstrate to the nation that promises can mean performance
- that responsible opposition can mean constructive legislation - and that the Democratic Party has not forgotten
the people. If we remain close to the people, the people will remain close to us and we can look forward to the
future with confidence and hope.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the Jefferson-


Jackson Day Dinner at the Hotel Dupont, Wilmington,
Delaware, May 14, 1953
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two drafts of the speech
exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. This redaction is based on the Reading Copy of the speech. Links to page images of the two drafts are
given at the bottom of this page.
We are met tonight in the aftermath of a great defeat. What made this defeat especially difficult for all of us to
sustain was that through it we were denied the services as Chief Executive of the former Governor of Illinois, our
candidate for president, Adlai Stevenson.
But the defeat that we suffered - our removal from positions of direct responsibility, must not be regarded as an
unmitigated disaster. The Democrats had been in power for 20 years. Although the personnel and the stream of
force had changed somewhat, nevertheless that is a long time to bear the burdens of administrative authority.
Defeat is not, as Governor Stevenson has so well pointed out, a shot in the arm, but it does give us an opportunity
to regain perspective, to renew our energies and to find out where we are going. What course should we now
follow?
We have been welded together by a philosophy of progress which is emphasized by the young people that we see
here tonight. Whether they be young in spirit, or young in age, the members of the Democratic Party must never
lose that youthful zest for new ideas and for a better world, which has made us great. Particularly here in
Delaware does the Democratic Party need to be the youthful, vigorous party with progressive ideas that can
attract all groups in the population.
All of our associates may not belong to quite the same organization. But the organization of the Democratic Party
in the minority with all of its conflicting groups, is a model of consistency and uniformity when compared with
our Republican friends in Washington. Fortunately for President Eisenhower the Democratic Party if not in
power, is still a power. With our help, the Chief Executive has been able to call his relations with Congress
"excellent". With our help he has defeated the Republicans who wanted to weaken his reorganization powers.
We think we can help him defeat those Republicans who want to repudiate his campaign promises, to improve
the Taft-Hartley Law, to strengthen the Social Security Act and to repeal the McCarran Act. Indeed, I expect to
hear any day that the President can muster a majority in the Senate - all he needs is two more Democratic seats.
It has been over 100 days since the new administration took office. During these 100 days, the administration has
evidenced the desire to carry out campaign pledges regardless of their effect on national policies, and to carry out
policies regardless of campaign pledges. To improve our Housing Program, they have tabled the entire Public
Housing Program for next year in the House. To aid small businessmen they talk of abolishing the R.F.C., which
makes 90% of its loans to small businessmen who cannot obtain capital elsewhere. To protect our natural
resources they are going to turn over the billions and billions of dollars of Tidelands Oil resources belonging to
all the people to a few. This give away on a gigantic scale, I believe, provides a legitimate basis for the fears which
have been expressed that this is but the first step in the gradual liquidation of the public domain of America.
In any case, the excessive campaign promises of balanced budgets, strong new foreign policies, etc., go
shimmering off into space, and it would not surprise us that the only campaign promise the Republicans will keep
is the one to turn over the resources of the submerged lands to the privileged states.
This confusion and inconsistency explains the rising tide of hope and confidence of the Democrat, both in and out
of Washington. But the role of an effective opposition is not limited to exposing inadequacies alone, we must
propose effective alternatives of our own. We must on our part continue the battle for people's rights, to give aid
and relief to those on the periphery who still live on the marginal edge of existence, and continue our historic
mission of extending the horizons of social legislation.
The Democratic Party will have many opportunities for important public service in the coming months, but
already it is becoming apparent that it may be in the field of national security that this service will have its most
enduring significance.
There is, of course, good reason to believe that the ultimate reliance of the Soviet Union will be on the weapons of
subversion, economic disintegration and guerilla warfare to accomplish our destruction, rather than upon the
direct assault of an all-out war.
But we cannot count on it. So long as the Soviet Union and her Satellites continue to dedicate the large percentage
of their national production to the preparation for war - so long must the United States recognize the peril to
which we are now subjected in increasing quantities.
Time is only a friend so long as it is favorably used, and there are growing indications that in many categories of
defense, the years since Korea have enabled the Communists to overcome some of their deficiencies in Atomic
power, and, at the same time, continue to widen the gap that separates us on the ground, in the air and under the
sea. The evidence is obvious. The armies that the Soviet Union and her Satellites have available for an all-out
attack on the Continent of Europe are several times the size of the force that now guards Western Europe from
invasion.
The Soviet Union has a great many more ocean-going submarines than do we. They have in fact, five times the
submarine fleet with which the Germans nearly succeeded in isolating the British in the early days of the last
war, and their submarines are infinitely more effective.
Although the exact figures are classified, it is now known that the Soviets have many thousands more first-class
jets than the United States and its combined allies, and also that their best plane has proved in Korea certainly
the equal, if not superior, to any of our fighters at normal combat altitude.
It may be argued that this is understandable, as the United States has concentrated its attention on a strategic
force of long-range bombers, but at least as startling is their rapid development in this field. It is now known that,
if and when they feel that they have enough atomic bombs to risk an all-out attack on this Country, they already
have the planes with which to deliver those bombs. It has been estimated that the Soviets and its allies have more
jet bombers now than the United States and the other nations of the free world; and although most of the Soviet
bombers have not the range of the longest-range bombers of this Country, there is no reason to believe that,
especially with the tremendous fire power to atomic weapons, they would not be willing to risk one-way flights to
destroy American cities. Many people forget that a Russian plane with a Russian crew flew from Moscow to
Southern California non-stop some 16 years ago.
I therefore view with alarm the recent decision by the NATO powers to relax their defensive preparations. The
result will be that their strength will not be as great by the end of 1954, as it had been planned that it would be by
the end of 1953. This is all the more serious when we recall that 1954 had always been held to be the "critical
year" - the year in which Soviet strength would be relatively at a maximum.
In short, what has happened is that the Soviet strength has not been cut. We merely increased the size of the
calculated risk with what may prove to be dire results.
Even more serious, however, are the proposed slashes in our own military strength contained in the new military
budget. The present indications are, if Congress accepts the recommendations of the administration, that a new
and severe stretch out of our military strength will be carried out. For the fifth time since the end of World War
II the forced goals of the Armed Services have been changed. The result of these shifts will be that the goals
which the chiefs of staff consider to be the minimum for 1953 in view of Soviet potentials will now be stretched
out to 1956 or 1957. In the air, for example, the new budget will force a summary roll back of aircraft
procurement resulting in reductions in projected air defense, tactical capabilities, as well as our strategic air
force.
Can a country as rich and prosperous as we be satisfied with this? Are we really worthy of our historic traditions
and heritage? Should we, in this time of our greatest national power, consent to a policy fraught with risk and
danger?
In short, I do not see how the Western alliance with a productive potential substantially larger than that of the
Communist bloc, can be satisfied with anything less than a maximum effort in this field, one that has some
relation to the unrelenting efforts of the Soviet to build irresistible military strength.
This is not an issue, I think, on which the Democrats can win elections, for only disaster could prove us correct.
But we must fight, I believe, against this policy of drift and slide and in so doing we shall be worthy of the trust
imposed upon us by the people and by the times. We are not engaged in a partisan struggle with the Republicans
in which we would take delight in seeing our Country suffer difficulty and trouble under their management. We
are instead their fellow workers in the struggle for peace and prosperity at home and abroad. The election placed
the responsibility of Government in the hands of the Republicans, but it did not remove responsibility from the
hearts of the Democrats.
With youthful imagination and courage, we shall demonstrate to the Nation that promises can mean performance
- that responsible opposition can mean constructive legislation - and that the Democratic Party has not forgotten
the people. If we remain close to the people, the people will remain close to us and we can look forward to the
future with confidence and hope.

Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy at the Executive


Committee Meeting at the American Legion National
Headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 16,
1953
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Three versions of the
speech exist in the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers, Senate Speech Files, here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. One version is clearly a predecessor to the other two, but there is no way of establishing with certainty
which of those two was actually the version given. Both are labeled “Advance Copy,” although one has edits by
Kennedy on it, which could conceivably be his final thoughts. We have not used that version as the basis for our
transcript because of interpretative ambiguities with regard to those emendations. Instead we have used the other
"Advance Copy" as being the most generally legible copy of the speech. Links to page images of all three versions
are given at the bottom of the page.

The American Legion is the largest veterans organization of its kind in the world. Its members, over the years of
its existence since the end of World War I, have compiled an enviable record in carrying out the principles for
which the legion was formed. It is therefore a privilege for me to address the executive committee of this great
organization today.
One of the articles of the Legion's oath is "to make right the master of might." But the legion has never believed
that "right" should march unescorted and unarmed in a difficult and dangerous world, and therefore since its
earliest days the American Legion has made one of its foremost aims the battle for strong and adequate national
defense, and in so doing it has fought against the successive waves of drift and slide of the last years that have cost
us so heavily.
This meeting is therefore I believe the proper place in which to argue the need for a defense effort more in
keeping with the perils of the time than the one that is at present our national policy.
The American Legion will have many opportunities for important public service in the coming months, but
already it is becoming apparent that it may again be in the field of national security that this service will have its
most enduring significance.
There is, of course, good reason to believe that the ultimate reliance of the Soviet Union will be on the weapons of
subversion, economic disintegration and guerilla warfare to accomplish our destruction, rather than upon the
direct assault of all out war.
But we cannot count on it. So long as the Soviet Union and her satellites continue to dedicate the large percentage
of their national production to the preparation for war - so long must the United States recognize the peril to
which we are now subjected in increasing quantities.
Time is only a friend so long as it is favorably used and there are growing indications that in many categories of
defense, the years since Korea have enabled the communists to overcome some of their deficiencies in atomic
power and, at the same time, continue to widen the gap that separates us on the ground, in the air and under the
sea. The evidence is obvious. The armies that the Soviet Union and her satellites have available for an all out
attack on the Continent of Europe are several times the size of the force that now guards Western Europe from
invasion. According to Admiral Carney, the Navy Chief of Operation, speaking in Boston last Monday, the Soviet
Union now is the second greatest naval power in the world and they have surpassed in general naval strength
Great Britain. In particular, they have concentrated their effort in the development of the most powerful under
sea fleet that the world has ever seen. They have, in fact, five times the submarine fleet with which the Germans
nearly succeeded in isolating the British in the early days of the last war and their submarines are infinitely more
effective. But dangerous as are these threats to our national security - far greater importance is that presented by
the menace of Soviet atomic and hydrogen weapons to the United States.
Seldom, if ever, in the recent history of the United States, have so many conflicting statements been made on any
issue by responsible officials as were made last week in Washington on the present danger to the United States
from atomic attack by the Soviet Union. Arthur Fleming, head of the Office of Defense Mobilization, stated that
"the Soviet Union is capable of delivering the most destructive weapon ever devised by man on chosen targets in
the United States". Mr. Wilson, the Secretary of Defense, stated that he "would doubt a little" that the Soviets
have "bombs ready to drop and airplanes to drop them". He stated further that we could only spend a little over
five hundred millions of dollars without "upsetting our fundamental defense program". W. Sterling Cole,
Chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, called on the other hand for an expenditure of ten billion
dollars a year for air defense.
President Eisenhower attempted to resolve the conflict by saying that "the Soviets now have the capability of
atomic attack on us, and such capability will increase with the passage of time". All of these statements, in spite
of their being contradictory in emphasis, furnished clear evidence for all to see that the United States was about
to enter the most critical period in our long history. The time is rapidly approaching when the Soviet Union will
have the long range planes to carry to the United States the weapon capable of infinite destruction. And the
traditional advantages that the initial attack has always given the aggressor will be multiplied a thousandfold by
the destructiveness of atomic fire power.
This dire threat to our survival poses a difficult and strategic problem. Recognizing that this threat may exist for
years and that our economic resources are not unlimited, those responsible for our security must determine
whether we should rely for our safety on an elaborate system of continental defense, combined with a reasonably
powerful strategic air force of our own, or whether recognizing that even under optimum conditions there is only
a limited security possible in a maginot line around the United States, we should concentrate all of our ability on
a strategic air force containing such retaliatory powers that the Soviets will be impelled to hold their hand.
At the present time, unfortunately, we are doing neither. Our continental defenses are insecure and our Air Force
has suffered heavily from successive stretch-outs.
In the fall of 1951, the joint Chiefs of Staff recognizing the decisive nature of atomic weapons broke the
compromise between the three services which had made for the equal distribution of funds. It was determined in
view of the Soviet effort and capabilities by 1954 that a minimum goal for our security for that year would be 143
air groups. The targets for the Army and Navy meanwhile remained the same. Although the stretch-out of 1952
ordered by President Truman, which would have provided 138 wings by June 1955 lessened the impact of this
decision on Air Force strength, the primacy of the air weapons was still recognized. The Truman budget of 1953
called for an expenditure of over sixteen billion dollars for air and eleven billion for Army and Navy respectively.
When the smoke of congressional battle cleared last July, however, six months later, five billion had been taken
from the Air Force, a billion from the Navy and over a billion added to the Army. This was a return to the
balanced force concept with a vengeance. This was a wring-out rather than a stretch-out of air force strength.
The preliminary budgets released for next year for the Defense Department, prepared by the New Joint Chiefs of
Staff, were, therefore, most disappointing. In the words of the New York Times, "They were seen as furthering to
a large degree the return of the principle of balanced forces that existed before the Korean War." The result will
be that the United States will not possess more than 115 wings by June 1954 instead of 143, not more than 120
wings by June 1955, not more than 127 by June 1956.
I do not believe that this balanced force concept takes into account the decisive nature of atomic and hydrogen
weapons.
The Kelly report made at the request of the Department of Defense estimated that if a major portion of atomic
bombs were properly placed, an attack would result in destruction of at least one-third of our industrial capacity
and would kill over thirteen million of our people.
This study also warned that our capabilities to stop attacking bombers would run from a high of 20% under
perfect conditions to a fraction if conditions were adverse.
These statistics were made even more sombre by a statement of Congressman Cole here this week when he
warned us that "given the passage of enough time, which need not be great, and a research and production
program of sufficient vigor, I fear that the Soviets may come to possess, not five or ten of these weapons, but
hundreds or even thousands".
The Soviet while developing a basic well rounded military strength has concentrated since the end of World War
II in building the world's largest Air Force.
The Red Air Force contains over 20,000 planes - by the summer of 1954 it has been estimated that they will have
this number of jets alone, while a good portion of our present Air Force strength of 95 wings is made up of
propeller driven planes or jets that are obsolete.
The Russians have a medium bomber based on our B-29 capable of flying one way missions to the United States.
They are producing a heavy turbo-prop bomber comparable to the B-36. They have sufficient jet light bombers
to have provided over one hundred to the Chinese Communist Air Force which, as a result of the Soviet
contribution, is now the fourth largest Air Force in the world. They have numerous four jet light bombers
equivalent to our B-45 stationed in Eastern Europe capable of attacking with lightning speed any point in
Western Europe. They will soon produce a plane similar to our B-47 according to the Secretary of the Air Force
and there are reports of a new larger bomber under development akin to our B-52. These planes, of course, are
supported by thousands of MIG 15's. Even more illuminating as to relative air strength are these words from a
recent article based upon a report by Robert H. Orr, who was the Fifth Air Force Chief of Combat Operation in
Korea I quote:
"During the last year of the Korean War the U. S. Fifth Air Force operated sixteen wings in support of the
fighting. The Force was made up as follows: Three medium-bomber wings (All B-29's) detached from the
Strategic Air Command: Two fighter-interceptor wings (F-86's); five fighter-bomber wings (F-84's and F-80's);
two light-bomber wings (World War II propeller driven B-26's); one reconnaissance wing (F-80's and B-26's);
and three oversized troop-carrier wings (using a variety of transports and cargo carriers)…at the time they were
committed, these wings represented all but a small fraction of the Air Force's (Most modern) ready fighter-
interceptor strength; all but two wings of its ready fighter-bomber strength; and all that the Strategic Air
Command was prepared to spare from its ready resources (not including B-36's and, of course, the B-47 jets,
which did not enter SAC units until last spring."
"It has been likewise estimated that the Soviet interceptor input into the Korean War, including those lost and
the 1,500 MIG's still incorporated in the CCAF, must have been on the order of 3,900 and was probably higher.
That number would equip fifty-two USAF interceptor wings, or almost twice as many as were proposed for the
143 wing program".
This is a large equity in a marginal war and demonstrates clearly the extent of the over-all Soviet investment in
air power.
I believe, therefore, that we are justified in making certain obvious conclusions.
First, that while we should not neglect our continental and civil defense systems at present, it can be assumed that
an attacking force if equipped with atomic and hydrogen bombs could bring about widespread destruction and
possibly speedy victory.
Secondly, we can be sure that the Soviets today are making a maximum effort to improve their capabilities, in
both air power and atomic and hydrogen weapons.
Thirdly, in view of these facts it appears obvious that the United States has no alternative than to give priority to
the development of a Strategic Air Force with sufficient retaliatory powers to threaten a potential aggressor with
havoc and ruin.
Fourthly, I do not believe that the present program of air power expansion gives us such an Air Force. Our
present effort should be judged not in comparison with what we have done in the past but rather with what the
Soviets are now doing today. If we do this, we cannot help but be alarmed by our present progress.
I do not see how a country which is productively the most powerful in the world with its people enjoying the
highest standard of living in our history can be satisfied with anything less than an Air Force second to none.
Today we do not have it.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy before the Boston


Chapter of the National Association of Cost
Accountants, October 21, 1953
This is a redacation of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. A draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. There are also notes that accompany this speech draft. Links to page images of the notes and the draft are
given at the bottom of this page.

As many of you may know, I hays been particularly interested during my first year in the Senate in exploring
those conditions within the jurisdiction of the federal government which have contributed to the impairment of
economic stability within New England or particular communities in this area. One may argue as to whether the
New England economy is now fully recovered from the short term crisis of 1949 and the long term decline which
has characterized its primary manufacturing industries far the past 30 years. But there surely can be no
argument as to the fact that no matter how many new industries move in, some attention should be paid to our
old industries; and that new industries will not move in and old industries will continue to move out as long as
other regions in the country employ what I consider to be unfair methods of competition.
It is my opinion that such unfair methods include the exploitation of loopholes or privileges contained in our
federal tax laws; and I think this is an area of particular interest to you in the accounting field. Certainly no critic
of my New England Program could deny that correction of inequitable federal tax legislation is one example of
where federal policies and action are related to New England's economic status.
But because you are no doubt more familiar with the complexities of such tax laws than I, I am going to reverse
the usual role of the political speaker who supplies all the answers. I am instead going to supply questions -
questions directed in part to you, but to a greater extent directed to our Secretary of the Treasury, Commissioner
of Internal Revenue, Defense Mobilizer and other officials. Some of these are questions of policy, some of
administrative procedures, and some of fact.
PART 2
Tax Loopholes Influencing Industrial Dislocation:
The first group of questions which I wish to raise are those concerned with those loopholes or privileges in our
Federal tax laws which have directly influenced industrial migration or dislocation to the disadvantage of New
England and other older areas. My first question is:
1. Why are municipal securities which are used for the financing of private commercial facilities declared to be
exempt from Federal income taxes? There appears to be a growing tendency of states, counties, and
municipalities to issue tax exempt bonds for the acquisition or construction of plants or sites which are
subsequently leased, loaned or given to private profit-making enterprises. As municipal property, these buildings
escape local property taxes and the interest from these municipal bonds is exempt from Federal income taxes.
This, of course, permits the financing of such facilities at a lower cost, and induces bargain-seeking
manufacturers in other areas to abandon their plants and workers to accept the gains of such a tax dodge, This
constitutes, in my opinion, unfair competition to the private company which would have to pay higher interest
rates to finance taxable bonds for a new plant. One tax expert concluded that a municipally-financed cotton mill
needed only a 2.4% profit on sales to stay in business, compared to a 4.36% return needed by a privately-
financed cotton mill.
Last year the Stylon Corporation, makers of ceramic tile, decided to move from Milford, Massachusetts, to
Florence, Alabama. The city of Florence issued municipal bonds to build a new $1.3 million plant for Stylon. I am
told that these bonds did not pledge the credit of the city, but provided for interest and repayment only from the
so called rent Stylon was to pay on its new factory. The bonds themselves, in fact, were convertible into Stylon
common stock. Nevertheless, these Florence, Alabama, bonds wars exempt from all Federal income taxes and
were gobbled up by investors at a low interest rate. Thus the taxpayers of Massachusetts and every other state in
the union were handing a subsidy to Stylon to help it move from Massachusetts to Alabama. This year, the
American Bosch Company, a rather important factor in the employment and industrial life of Springfield,
Massachusetts, is leaving its location in that city for a free plant, free taxes for 10 years and low wage labor in
Columbus, Mississippi.
I could cite dozens of other examples to you in Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana and
Oklahoma as well as Alabama. These are tactics which have been particularly harmful to the textile industry.
Apparel, machine, leather, abrasive, paper, and other important industries have been lured to these states
through the use of industrial development revenue bonds.
But to return to my question, why are such securities exempt from Federal income taxes? Are not these bonds
issued for a proprietary rather than for a public purpose? Are not these purely commercial bonds being used for
purposes of unfair competition which, by hiding under the sheep's clothing of municipal securities, are able to
cause a loss of revenues to the federal government? The Investment Bankers Association, the Municipal Finance
Officers Association, the American Bar Association's Section on municipal law and others have all condemned
these practices within the past few years. If the Bureau of Internal Revenue is convinced that such bonds cannot
be taxed under our present statutes, then it is the duty of Congress to provide such an amendment. Putting an
end to this tax dodge would benefit not only our older industrial areas whose plants are lured by such practices,
among others, but also in the long run those communities now mistakenly offering such inducements. The
Southeastern States Tax Officials Association has pointed out that this practice is "inequitable and unfair to
industry in the states and detrimental to the taxpayers of the state because what is given away must be paid for
by other businesses and individuals ... thereby creating an unhealthy social and economic condition." Virginia a
few years ago repealed its authorization for such bond issues, its officials pointing out that "someone has to pay
in the end." Moreover, no community which attracts migrant industries obviously not devoted to community
responsibility or high ethical standards can ever be sure at what time such enterprises, having accepted these
benefits and a few years of heavy profits, will again move for new bargains elsewhere leaving the community with
empty buildings and a heavy bond issue.
I raise the question as to whether such municipal bonds are, or properly should be, tax exempt.
My second question is:
2. Should it be possible for Puerto Rico, under her Commonwealth relationship to the United States, to offer tax
exemptions and municipally financed plants to firms moving their operations to Puerto Rico from the mainland
in order to take advantage of such subsidies?
This question is closely associated with the first, but offers a special case because of the economic relationship
between Puerto Rico and the United States. At the present time, certain new industries in Puerto Rico are
granted complete exemption from income taxes, insular and municipal property taxes, and certain license fees,
excise taxes and other levies imposed by the insular and municipal governments of Puerto Rico for the period
from July 1, 1947, to June 30, 1959; a 75 percent exemption from such taxes for the fiscal year 1959-60; a 50
percent exemption for the fiscal year 1960-61; and a 25 percent exemption for the fiscal year 1961-62. Recently,
the Governor has requested a still, more far reaching program of tax exemption. United States corporations in
Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican corporations, as well as citizens of Puerto Rico, do not, except under special
circumstances, pay Federal income taxes to the United States.
I fully sympathize with the need of Puerto Rico for further industrializing its economy; and I am opposed to
undue interference by the Congress in Puerto Rico's affairs since the granting of its constitution. But, I cannot
believe that Congress is powerless to act upon the type of unfair competition and industry dislocation which such
tax exemptions create.
Recently, I obtained assurances from Governor Munoz Marin that the Puerto Rican tax exemption program
"will not be used to encourage any industry to move to Puerto Rico if that involves closing industrial plants in
any part of the United States." However, since the release of this correspondence, several other examples of the
abuse of the Puerto Rican tax exemption program have been called to my attention; and I am hopeful that in the
near future I can travel to Puerto Rico to inspect this situation firsthand. But I raise the question for
consideration by you and our tax officials as to whether either the people of Puerto Rico or the people of the
United States profit from the exploitation of such tax privileges by manufacturers transferring their operations
out of this country.
My third question is:
3. Is that loophole completely closed which permits avoidance of taxes through the operation of a private business
by a tax exempt, charitable or educational trust?
I am sure that all of you remember the wide publicity given to the closing of the Nashua, New Hampshire, mills of
the Textron Company as a part of its manipulation of mill property through the use of charitable trusts and
other tax avoidance devices. Title III of the Revenue Act of 1950 was intended to close this loophole. However, the
original proposals to close up this loophole completely were somewhat modified, such modifications being made
by the Congress in good faith. I raise the question again tonight because since enactment of the 1950 Act, Textron
has sold a mill to a southern university, who could pay a relatively high price because of its tax exempt status and
then "permit" Textron to "manage" the mill for a fixed sum each year. A review of this provision of the Internal
Revenue Code would seem to be in order to ascertain whether its provisions need to be tightened.
Fourth, I wish to ask:
4. Can steps be taken to prevent the preferred capital gains treatment from being used as an incentive to
liquidate going concerns?
It has been called to my attention that the preferential treatment of capital gains under our tax laws has been
increasingly used by financial speculators who purchase going concerns for purposes of manipulation and
liquidation rather that operation. In this way, profitable and established businesses are exploited or destroyed for
personal gain regardless of economic dislocations and human waste. This has apparently been a factor in
liquidations in textile, leather, tobacco and retail establishments. In one example which has been cited to me, a
single group of speculators, through a series of financial manipulations over a period of eight years involving
about a dozen allegedly different corporations, has been able to list most of the taxable income from the textile
mills involved as capital gains, thereby paying a maximum tax of 25 percent - now 26 percent - instead of the
higher rates intended by the tax laws. As a part of these maneuvers, the capital assets of one textile mill in New
Bedford, Massachusetts, were so impaired that it was liquidated in 1949, destroying 1,000 jobs; other mills met a
similar fate.
I realize that any limitation on the preferential treatment of capital gains is difficult to draft and administer, but I
ask whether such repeated abuses could not be restricted.
PART II
Tax Amortization and Industrial Dislocation:
My next set of questions all relate to the same provision in our tax law Section 124A of the Internal Revenue
Code providing for accelerated tax amortization as an inducement to expansion of emergency defense facilities.
Although Defense Mobilizer Flemming has recently said that a sharp cut in such inducements is now planned, the
operations of this program are worthy of review, not only in view of their past and present scope - certificates
having been awarded for some 515.7 billion worth of capital investment - but also because such a program
appears certainly to be a part of any future defense expansion policies.
My first question with respect to this program is:
1. Are tax amortization certificates being issued in a manner contributing to industrial dislocation?
It is my observation that tax amortization certificates have been awarded without regard to available sites or
facilities in labor surplus areas; and frequently in cases contributing to the dislocation and unemployment in
such areas. A few days before J. P. Stevens Company announced the liquidation of its Haverhill mills throwing
over 400 employees out of work, the same company had applied for a tax amortization certificate as an
inducement for new textile facilities in Stanley, North Carolina. The awarding of tax amortization privileges for a
new $25 million transformer plant for General Electric Company in Rome, Georgia, was made at the very time
that General Electric's activities in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, were threatened with curtailment and that
community already had serious unemployment and available plant facilities. Several other examples which I
quoted to the Senate convinced me that this is a question which must be seriously considered and answered by
the appropriate officials. At present, the Department of Labor comments on many such proposals which might
create a problem of labor shortage; but not where it might create a problem of labor surplus. At present,
regulations deny certificates which would be used in lieu of existing facilities; but a Congressional investigation
two years ago indicated that such regulations were not being strictly enforced, particularly on a nationwide basis.
If, therefore, we are to have a prosperous and growing economy in every section of the country, consideration
should be given to the effect of tax amortization certificates on industrial dislocation.
My second question closely related to the first:
2. Are tax amortization certificates being issued in a manner damaging the competitive status of any part of the
country?
New England's participation in the accelerated amortization for expansion program has been disproportionately
small in terms of its population, income, manufacturing employment, defense contributions, value added by
manufacture, and willingness to expand. On the other hand, the four West South Central States, with far less
defense participation, have received thus far certificates of necessity for projects worth five times the amount
awarded all six New England states. Similar comparisons may be made with the South Atlantic and East South
Central states. Particularly in the textile, chemical and metal industry has New England received an amazingly
small portion of such certificates as might be expected on the basis of its employment in those industries.
If some equilibrium is not maintained, we shall end the emergency period with some sections of the country
having most of the new plants and equipment while others, including New England, will have most of the old
plants. In part this inequity is an indication of less aggressive representation on the part of New England
businessmen and Congressmen; but our willingness to cooperate must be met by Federal policies concerned with
an equitable distribution of new productive facilities, The competitive status of New England and other parts of
the country who are an the short end of the present tax amortization program will be further weakened at the
close of the emergency should an excess of productive capacity cause further liquidation of outmoded plants in
higher cost areas.
Third, I would like to ask this question concerning the tax amortization program;
3. ARE TAX AMORTIZATION CERTIFICATES BEING ISSUED FOR OBJECTIVES EITHER
UNNECESSARY OR SUBSEQUENTLY NOT ADOPTED?
This question has its roots in the first two questions raised, particularly with respect to the textile industry. A
considerable number of new textile, and particularly synthetic textile, plants have been built largely in the South
under the inducement of accelerated tax amortization. But at the same time the textile industry showed every
sign of excess capacity with empty plants and unemployment in many important textile towns in New England.
For building and operating these new plants, critical materials had to be allocated and new workers trained, at
the same time that the workers and plants of Lawrence and Lowell stood idle. There are, of course, many reasons
why the manufacturers chose to build these new plants in the South and elsewhere; but it highly questionable
whether the inducement of accelerated amortization was a necessary incentive for such construction,
Moreover, of the 233 expansion programs for which rapid tax amortization certificates have been provided, a
majority have been in the indirect defense category including petroleum, railroad freight equipment and electric
power, many of which facilities would undoubtedly have been built regardless of the special privileges offered by
the government, Finally, several other cases have been called to my attention where the new facilities, built with
the critical materials allocated under the certificate of necessity and operated originally under the accelerated
amortization provisions, have been deemed by their owners to be unnecessary for the defense purposes for which
they were originally built; and instead private commercial operations are transferred thereto from older plants
in older parts of the country. I was astonished to learn that practically no check or review for possible revocation
is provided under the present program, regardless of the use to which such facilities may be put once the tax
privileges have been given. The Congress and the people are entitled to know whether these certificates are being
issued for unnecessary objectives or objectives not subsequently adopted.
Fourth, I ask:
4. ARE TAX AMORTIZATION CERTIFICATES BEING ISSUED IN A MANNER DAMAGING T0 THE
COMPETITIVE STATUS OF SMALL BUSINESS?
This is a question of no small significance to New England, which has a higher proportion of independent
business enterprises employing less than 500 persons than any other region in the United States. The economic
growth of our region is particularly dependent upon the industrial expansion of our small business enterprises.
Present regulations state that expansions will not be certified where such expansions may tend to eliminate
competition, create or strengthen monopolies, injure small business, or otherwise promote undue concentration
of economic power. But let us look at the result. In the basic industries concerned with this program, small firms
normally provide roughly 35% of the employment. In ten out of the 20 major industry groupings in
manufacturing small business firms filed enough applications so that they could have received 35% of the
certificates awarded. But in 18 out of the 20, small business received substantially less than its fair share.
On the whole, although over 43% of all certificates were issued to small business, they received only 10% of the
value of certificates granted; and they represented 23% of the applications denied. In textiles, small business has
22% of the employment, but received only 5% of the value of certificates issue. Thus, we must seriously raise the
question as to whether the effect of this program has been to damage the competitive status of small business
whose need for productive expansion and tax relief is already critical.
Finally, in concluding my remarks with respect to this tremendous program of accelerated tax amortization, I
wish to ask this question:
5. ARE TAX AMORTIZATION CERTIFICATES BEING ISSUED IN A MANNER RESULTING IN
UNJUSTIFIABLE SUBSIDIZATION AT PUBLIC EXPENSE?
Actually, this question breaks down into a number of sub-questions. Because of the billions of dollars of tax funds
involved, we must ask ourselves whether this program has permitted abuses and undue advantages at the
expense of the general taxpayer. If we accept the premise that tax amortization incentives are a necessary and
desirable inducement for defense expansion, then of course we must accept the legitimate gains to manufacturers
from their participation in the program. But it is not always easy to distinguish the legitimate gains from the
unfair advantages. The conclusion of the Hardy Committee Investigation of the last Congress was that " the
certificate of necessity program is the biggest bonanza that ever came down the Government Pike." The
Committee stated that the program had cost the government millions in tax revenues, had been turned into one
of direct and hidden subsidies and resulted in discrimination between competitors and against small business and
had on the whole been excessive. Interestingly enough the Brewster Committee following World War II called
that tax amortization program "legal profiteering"; and the Nye and Couzen Investigations following World
War I were similarly highly critical of the abuses permitted by the special tax amortization programs in existence
during the war. One may wonder how much we learned from our experience and whether future programs will
permit similar abuses.
Many questions need to be raised. In how many cases is the amortization percentage based upon original cost,
instead of original cost less salvage value, as is the normal tax accounting procedure? In how many cases, has
land, which no other taxpayer can depreciate, been included as well as buildings in the investment for which
amortization can be allowed? In how many cases have defense contracts operating on a cost plus basis included in
their costs of depreciation paid by the government the excessive charge for amortization permitted under this
program? In how many cases will the productive facilities amortized in five years - or in the case of atomic
facilities in the unbelievably short period of one year - be extremely profitable to their owner for 20 years
thereafter? In how many cases will the owner be able to sell his facilities at a profit and pay on the long-term
capital gains tax rate, after he has derived the full tax benefit from special amortization under the income or
excess profits tax rates?
Certainly it is legitimate to offer manufacturers a decrease in the risk involved in such plant expansion. The tax
advantage secured through high deductions during a time of high taxes, or the income resulting from tax savings
made possible by the acceleration of amortization deductions, are also gains necessarily connected with any such
program.
But at a time when the tax burden borne by all of us is exceedingly high and when the administration talks in
terms of imposing even more discriminatory taxes upon the general public, these questions relating to those tax
loopholes and privileges which permit the few to profit at the expense of the many must be seriously raised - and
I hope seriously answered.

Address at the Sixth Annual Conference of the Council


of Profit-Sharing Industries, Hotel Sheraton Plaza,
Boston, MA, November 12, 1953
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two drafts of the speech
exist in the Senate Press Release File of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F.
Kennedy Library. One of the drafts has notes, while the other has a note labeled "Not Delivered", which leads to
some question as to whether the speech was ever given. With the exception of the notes, which have not been
incorporated, both versions are the same. Links to page images of the two drafts are provided at the bottom of this
page.

I want to talk with you tonight about the Federal budget. I would like to examine in a realistic and non-partisan
manner the fiscal problems faced by the present administration, and point out to you the difficulty which the
Administration faces in carrying out its promises of one year ago.
There are three separate factors which we must consider almost simultaneously in any examination of the federal
government's fiscal problems. These are, of course, first the federal budget or schedule of expenditures; secondly,
federal revenues, dependent primarily upon the schedule of various tax returns; and finally, the federal public
debt, consisting of the total of individual deficits resulting from an imbalance between the previous two factors.
Let us examine the present prospective status of each of these three items.
I. The Federal Budget
Our first inquiry concerns the federal budget.
This year, fiscal year 1954, the federal government is committed to spend at least some $72 billion dollars. This
represents a reduction in expenditures from the budget submitted by the outgoing administration of
approximately $13 billion; but unfortunately a considerable portion of these savings are false, consisting only of
the deferment of present obligations of the federal government such as civil service retirement and veterans'
benefits. For the following fiscal years it is estimated that the budget can be further cut by another $4 or $5
billion dollars, and I can offer several examples of where such cuts should be made; but this, in view of the tax
and debt problems which I shall discuss momentarily, is by no means sufficient.
There are several reasons why this rather large budget cannot be cut far more extensively.
First, the real difficulty in effectuating any cut in the budget of sufficient extent to fulfill campaign promises lies
in our expenditures for national security. Today, although economic aid has been sharply reduced and the
military budget dangerously decreased, expenditures for national security - including the defense department,
atomic energy, military aid abroad and civil defense - constitute over 70% of the federal budget. Housing,
community development, education and research, social security, welfare, health and labor department
appropriations when added together, on the other hand, total less than 4% of our federal budget. Interestingly
enough, among the departments criticized most severely, the budget of the Department of Health, Education and
Welfare was cut by Congress only 2% below the amount submitted by the outgoing administration; the
Agriculture Department only 2%; the Post Office Department only 2%; and the Justice Department only 4%.
Secondly, effective economies in government are restrained by the pressure on particular items. Rivers and
harbors and flood control projects gain the support of those congressmen in whose jurisdiction they are located.
Subsidies to airlines, shipbuilders, publishers, agricultural interests and others all have powerful friends in their
beneficiaries, as do such agencies as the veterans administration, soil conservation service, and many others.
Third, economy advocates are faced with the large amount of unspent funds authorized by Congress, which are
carried over from previous years but whose expenditure is already contracted for. On July 1 of this year, such
funds totaled $81 billion dollars, not counting special revolving loan and other funds of $20 billion dollars. All of
these expenditures will show up in the federal cash budget during the next few years; but Congress will have little
or no chance to reduce them, nor will the Administration.
Fourth and finally, is the matter of fixed charges and legal obligations. Such obligations make up some 20% of
our federal budget, and include such large items as interest on the public debt (8%), which has been increased by
the present administration; veterans' compensation, pension and benefit programs (6%); farm price supports,
public assistance and unemployment compensation payments, federal highway aid and other payments fixed by
law.
In short, the prospects of reducing the budget by more than 4 or 5 billion dollars next year will be difficult,
particularly after this year's reductions. It will be extremely difficult if the Administration seeks, as announced,
over a 1,000% increase in civil defense; or if we make a serious attempt to develop civilian use of atomic power;
or if a worsening of the crisis in Indo-China or elsewhere in the globe requires more American intervention; or if
our farm surpluses require extensive government purchases.
Most important of all, the budget will be difficult to reduce by any sizable proportion if the Congress and the
American people realize that the level of our expenditures for national security, dangerously cut last year, must
be proposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Department, not by the Bureau of the Budget.
II. Federal Tax Revenues
Realizing then, the difficulty of substantially lessening federal expenditures, let us look at the other side of the
Federal ledger; our tax returns.
The income of the federal government during the present fiscal year is expected to reach less than 69 billion
dollars, a sum which you will note is more than 3 billion dollars less than our expected expenditures. But,
although I stated that expenditures for the following fiscal year might drop by some $4 or $5 billion, the income
of the Federal Government is expected to drop by a like amount.
(1) On December 31, the Excess Profits Tax will expire, causing an annual loss of revenue amounting to 2.3
billion dollars.
(2) On January 1, individual income taxes will take a 10-11% across the board decrease, including a 1%
reduction in individual capital gains tax, for a further annual loss of 3.1 billion dollars in revenue.
(3) On April 1, the corporation income tax automatically decreases 5%, for an annual revenue loss of 1.9 billion
dollars.
(4) Several excise taxes now bringing in another 1 billion dollars will expire on that same April date.
(5) In addition, there is strong pressure for a so called tax revision bill, which will grant relief in many areas of
supposed hardships or inequities, which could cost another 1 to 3 billion dollars in annual revenues.
To permit all of these tax reductions to take place will cause a loss in federal revenues of somewhere around 10
billion dollars a year, making any budget balancing impossible even with great reductions in federal
expenditures. It has been suggested that the corporation income tax may be reduced only 2% instead of 5%; that
excise taxes not be permitted to expire but be revised in order to double their production of revenues; and that
the so called tax revision bill be postponed until a more favorable time. But even if these steps are taken, the
expiration of the Excess Profits Tax and the decrease in personal income taxes will prevent revenues from
reaching a point sufficient to support an adequate federal budget. Under the circumstances, one may question
whether we can afford to lose these revenues.
The Federal Government could close those tax loopholes, such as the percentage depletion allowance for oil, gas
and mining interests, which loopholes have been estimated to cause an annual loss in revenues of over 4 ½ billion
dollars. On the other hand, such revenues could be raised through imposition of a general manufacturers' excise
tax, which is the familiar sales tax at the manufacturer's level.
There are however many, many objections to the imposition of a general manufacturer's excise tax.
Among others, it is a discriminatory tax, taking a greater proportion of the income of the small wage earner than
of those in the higher income brackets, hitting harder at the poor family than the wealthy individual. It is an
unsound tax, taxing not income, not profits, but consumption. Regardless of the level at which it is imposed, it is
clearly passed on to the consumer.
When imposed at the manufacturer's level, the effect of the tax is pyramided; for each mark up by the wholesaler
or retailer on the cost of the product as it comes to him must of necessity include a percentage mark up on the tax
itself which forms a part of that cost. Moreover, inasmuch as it is included in the cost of the wholesalers' and
retailers' inventory, the latter are required to borrow more capital for the acquisition of such inventory, buy
more insurance to cover it, pay higher personal property taxes on it, and pay higher commissions for its resale.
Thus, in addition to the tax itself, these further costs boost prices still higher.
As a result of these costs and the pyramided tax this form of taxation is artificially inflationary, unnecessarily
increasing the cost of living and doing business at a time when every effort should be made to hold it down.
At the same time, it clearly reduces the purchasing power of the consuming public. The consumer today has only
a limited number of dollars to spend upon the purchase of goods. The addition of a sales tax to the price of these
products obviously does not increase the number of dollars the consumer has available, and obviously decreases
the number of items on which he can spend his dollars. True enough, it may transfer that purchasing power to
the federal government; but in holding the line against recession we are interested in the buying power of the
housewife and the worker and the farmer who buys your goods, and not the buying power of the federal
government whose expenditures for a limited number of items is not determined primarily by its tax revenues.
In short, a general manufacturer's excise tax or sales tax imposed by the Federal Government would be
economically unsound. Its concealment through imposition at the manufacturer's level does not really make it
any less painful; nor do the discriminations and evils resulting from the present system of federal excise taxes and
state and local sales taxes justify broadening that discrimination to envelop us all. Adequate tax revenues of the
Federal Government must be maintained, and I have pointed out the difficulties and alternatives which exist with
respect to that task; but certainly the general manufacturer's excise tax or sales tax is not a desirable alternative.
III. The Federal Debt
Finally, then, we come to consider the third factor: the national debt. As you have no doubt read in the
newspapers, the statutory debt limit is 275 billion dollars, an amount fixed over 7 years ago. Tonight, the gross
public debt of the federal government is 274.96 billion dollars, or less than 40 million dollars under the ceiling.
This is indeed a small margin on which to operate a government which spends some 300 million dollars every
day! The President's request for a 15 billion dollar increase in the statutory limit was, as you recall, denied in the
closing days of Congress. It now appears as though the government will squeeze by until the first of the year,
partly through a reduction in progress payments on defense contracts, a reduction which is particularly hard on
small businessmen who are anxious to avoid additional credit costs. During the first 6 months of next year, a
large portion of tax revenues, including at least 60% of the corporate income tax, will be paid, and the debt
should drop. But in the 6 months thereafter, as revenues decline and expenditures are maintained, an increase in
the gross public debt over and beyond the present statutory limit seems almost inevitable.
The likelihood of a further deficit to increase the total debt during the next two fiscal years is obviously very
great, inasmuch as, as I have already pointed out, it will be difficult to reduce expenditures which already exceed
income, by more than the expected decline in tax revenues. Moreover, should a mild recession strike our
economy, tax revenues will likely drop by nearly $10 billion; fiscal theory will call for a further reduction in tax
rates; and the size of the deficit will be still greater.
There is, of course, a "desperate alternative" here, too. The Federal Government might sell its public lands,
power developments, and other projects, in order to increase its fluid assets and reduce its debt; or it might call
for a transfer of the social security, unemployment compensation and other trust funds to the general treasury,
thus improving its fiscal position on the books. But I need not tell you that these are dangerous alternatives
indeed, threatening the rights and interests of all of the people of the United States, and leading to disastrous
consequences in the future which may cause still greater budgetary deficits.
IV. An Optimistic View
You have before you, then, an apparently grim or at least disillusioning picture. Federal expenditures cannot be
substantially lessened, unless we endanger our defensive strength. Federal taxes cannot be substantially reduced
if we are to balance the budget (and if it is insisted that Congress keep tax loopholes open), unless a
discriminatory and undesirable sales tax is imposed. The national debt cannot be reduced and the present debt
limit will have to be exceeded, unless the government adopts policies with respect to its assets and trust funds
which would endanger the security and rights of ourselves and our posterity.
Although the Administration cannot be blamed for the tremendous expenditures of World War II and the
Korean Conflicts, which were to a large extent responsible for this situation, at the same time I do not think we
can fairly place all of the blame upon its predecessor. The last year of World War II expenditures was fiscal
1945-46 and the public debt which had risen so rapidly during the war stood at 269.4 billion dollars at the close of
that year. Surprisingly enough, by the end of fiscal 1952-53, the gross national debt stood at 266 billion dollars, a
drop of nearly $4 billion. Similarly, the net debt, which is calculated on the basis of the so-called consolidated
cash budget of the government based on actual revenues and expenditures of all types, and which is the basis for
most economic and business analyses, also showed a sharp reduction during the years of the Truman
Administration.
Our ultimate objective must quite obviously be a balanced budget within a framework of full employment. But
inasmuch as it appears that we shall face continuing deficits for some time unless undesirable alternatives are
adopted, we might well remember some of the incorrect premises upon which much discussion of the national
debt has centered.
First, is a deficit inflationary? Certainly that is its tendency, and that is ample reason for its reduction; but the
causal relationship is not that simple. Our worst inflation was experienced during the fiscal year 1950-51; but
that was a year when the administrative budget showed a sizable surplus. In subsequent years, the government
showed a deficit but prices levelled off. This year, we face a sizable deficit again; and yet the financial pages
indicate that the danger today is more recession than of inflation. Obviously, other economic factors are more
important in the nation than the size of the deficit.
Secondly, is a balanced budget necessary to give us the strength to maintain the cold war? The view that it is also
fails to look at the federal budget in the framework of the entire national economy. All of us surely realize that
World War II could not have been won if our military expenditures were slashed to the point necessary for a
balanced budget. But because our economy was prosperous and our productive potential showed a tremendous
increase, and because our federal government had the financial and productive resources to draw upon, even
though it meant incurring a huge deficit we were able to accomplish fantastic military production objectives in
order to win that war. It is equally important to emphasize today that what we shall "afford" is not to be
determined on the basis of whether the federal budget is or is not balanced, but on the basis of our defensive and
productive strength and other national objectives.
Third, does an unbalanced budget show an unsound economy? Again, it is important to look at the entire
national picture. During the past 20 years, our national debt increased to previously unheard of levels. But at the
same time, personal income, employment, savings, planned investment, and profits increased over the same
period of time to record levels, as did our standard of living, purchasing power and general prosperity. In 1932,
our national debt was considerably less than 10% of the present debt ceiling which had us all so concerned; but
our national prosperity was also considerably less. In the years since 1932, every time you or I bought a savings
bond, it was a sign of further prosperity; and yet at the same time it increased the national debt. Of course, the
argument that "we owe it to ourselves" ignores the difference between taxpayers and bond holders; but the fact
remains that for every dollar owed by the government there is a dollar asset in the hands of a private citizen or
corporation, an asset which he regards as a part of his personal prosperity. In short, our nation as a whole has
not been living beyond its means but getting richer and more productive while at the same time financing a huge
war effort and giving extensive aid to other nations (whose economies could not support such an effort and who
really were living beyond their means).
Fourth, as a result of the foregoing, the national debt burden, as distinguished from the national debt, has
decreased not increased. At the end of 1945, the gross debt was over 152% of that year's national income; by the
end of August 1953 its percentage of national income was less than 88%. Total public and private debt in this
country has fallen from 425% of national income in 1933 to 190% at the end of 1952. This year's deficit about
which we are so concerned, is but a small fraction of the value of this year's national output.
Thus in addition to seeking a balanced budget, we should also work for full employment, and for increasing the
productivity of our workers. The output of our plant and the income of all of our citizens in order to continue a
lightening of the debt burden. [sic]
Certainly this conclusion brings us back to that which unites us here: profit sharing. It is through such practices
that the productivity of our workers and our industrial community will continue to increase, and our wages and
our national income shall continue to rise, so that the burden of debt shall weigh less heavily on each of us, and
the actual debt will decrease as our citizens become still more prosperous.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy for the


Northeastern University Convocation, Symphony Hall,
Boston, Massachusetts, December 2,1953
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two drafts of the speech
exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. Although one draft is more fragmentary and does seem to be earlier, there is no way of knowing which, if
either, of the drafts best represents the speech as delivered. The redaction is based on the longer and apparently
later draft. Links to page images of the two drafts are given at the bottom of this page.

I appreciate the opportunity to be with you on the occasion of your mid-year convocation. The functions of the
private university are basic and fundamental today for its task is a continuing search for the truth - - - both for
its own sake and because only if we possess it can we be really free. Never has been the task of finding the truth
been more difficult.
In the struggle between modern states “truth” has been a weapon in the battle for power - - - it is bent and
twisted and subverted to fit the cause of national policy.
Frequently, we in the West are forced by this drumbeat of lies and propaganda to be “discriminating” in our
selection of what facets of the truth we will disclose. Thus the responsibility of a free university to pursue its own
disinterested studies is even more important today than ever before.
In our search for truth the American tradition of freedom is of inestimable importance. It was stated clearly by
Thomas Jefferson in his first inaugural “all, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of
the majority in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their
equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression…if there be any among us who
would wish to disolve this union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of
the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”
I thought this morning I would tell you something about the work and responsibilities of elective office and about
some of the problems we have to face. I do this because, quite obviously, you as future graduates of a private
university will be expected to assume leadership in a democratic society. The democratic system demands much
of its members because it presupposes the essence of a rational, self-reliant citizenry - - - the majority of which
when joined together will be wiser than would a governing elite. So the responsibility for action rests on both the
citizen and the office holder. You will in future days be one or the other. In recent months the question has been
raised by Mr. Attlee and others as to the true source of power in the American Federal system. I do believe that
much of the confusion and some of the fear felt by the citizens of other countries toward the United States is the
result of the failure to comprehend, particularly for those with a parliamentary system of government where
responsibility and power are more closely united, the full significance of the differences between the two houses of
Congress, between the Legislative branch and the Executive branch, and between the Federal and State
Governments. Our constitutional founders believed that liberty could be preserved only when the motions of
government were slow - - - the power divided - - - and time provided for the wisdom of the people to operate
against previpitous and ill-considered action. The delegates believed that they were sacrificing efficiency for
liberty. They believed, in the words of James Madison, who in his middle thirties was the most vigorous figure in
Philadelphia, that they were “so contriving the interior structure of the government as that its several constituent
parts may, by their mutual relations…be the means of keeping each other in their proper places.”
In our constitution there are limits placed on both the Federal and State Governments, and there is an area of
individual liberty protected against both. Like the reign of law, this is a tenant that has roots deep in Graceo-
Roman theory, medieval political theory, in Locke and Montesquieu.
The Senate today is a different body than its early framers imagined that it would be. The admission of new
states - - - the passage of time - - - the 17th Amendment that resulted in the direct election of Senators instead of
by the State Legislature, has brought about changes in its procedure and composition although the Senator’s
tenure of office and unlimited debate still set it apart from the House. As one who has served in the House of
Representatives and in the Senate, I must admit that the task of representation is not always as simple as it
sometimes seems to students of legislative process. Those of you who aspire to public office should be reminded
that it is not always easy to be on the side of the angels. I say this because it is only on rare occasions revealed to
us on which side the angels stand. Indeed, in most issues it seems as though the angels are not present - - - the
questions do not involve a moral issue of right and wrong - - - but rather the settlement of conflicts between
powerful interests. For example, though I believe that the Federal Government has a paramount right to the oil
of the Tidelands - - - nevertheless, I would not claim that the issue involved was a moral one. It is not a moral
question, nor is the answer obvious as to whether we should vote twenty million dollars more for hospital
construction even though we have at the same time a heavy deficit. It is not a moral question whether the “free
speech” section of the Taft-Hartley Bill should be extended to representation elections. I am not even as
convinced as is Mr. Dulles that foreign policy is a moral issue - - - although there is no doubt that the basic
struggle with the Soviet Union is fundamentally a moral struggle. But if all our country’s foreign policy were
based on moral grounds it would be difficult for us to reconcile our favoring freedom for the people behind the
Iron Curtain on the one hand and yet opposing the people of Morocco obtaining their independence from France
on the other - - - merely because we have air bases there.
Take the subject of the Federal Budget for instance. All of us would like to see it cut, and eventually get tax
reductions. But what are the facts, first on the budget for spending and second on income or revenue? The real
difficulty in effectuating any cut in the budget of sufficient extent to fulfill campaign promises lies in our
expenditures for national security. Today, although economic aid has been sharply reduced and the military
budget dangerously decreased, expenditures for national security--including the defense department, atomic
energy, military aid abroad and civil defense--constitute over 70% of the federal budget. Housing, community
development, education and research, social security, welfare, health and labor department appropriations when
added together, on the other hand, total less than 4% of our federal budget.
Secondly, effective economies in government are restrained by the pressure on particular items. Rivers and
harbors and flood control projects gain the support of those congressmen in whose jurisdiction they are located.
Subsidies to airlines, shipbuilders, publishers, agricultural interests and others all have powerful friends in their
beneficiaries, as do such agencies as the veterans administration, soil conservation service, and many others.
And finally, is the matter of fixed charges and legal obligations. Such obligations make up some 20% of our
federal budget, and include such large items as interest on the public debt (8%), which has been increased by the
present administration; veterans’ compensation, pensions and benefit programs (6%); farm price supports,
public assistance and unemployment compensation payments, federal highway aid and other payments fixed by
law.
In short, the prospects of reducing the budget by more than $4 or $5 billion dollars next year will be difficult,
particularly after this year’s reductions.
Realizing then, the difficulty of substantially lessening federal expenditures, let us look at the other side of the
Federal ledger; our tax returns.
The income of the federal government during the present fiscal year is expected to reach less than $69 billion
dollars, a sum which you will note is more than $3 billion dollars less than our expected expenditures. But,
although I stated that expenditures for the following fiscal year might drop by some $4 or $5 billion, the income
of the Federal Government is expected to drop by a like amount.
(1) On December 31, the Excess Profits Tax will expire, causing an annual loss of revenue amounting to $2.3
billion dollars.
(2) On January 1, individual income taxes will take a 10-11% across-the-board decrease, including a 1%
reduction in individual capital gains tax, for a further annual loss of $3.1 billion dollars in revenue.
(3) On April 1, the corporation income tax automatically decreases 5%, for an annual revenue loss of $1.9 billion
dollars.
(4) Several excise taxes now bringing in another $1 billion dollars will expire on that same April date.
Many, however, think that the cuts in the Federal Budget can come out of national defense. But what are the
facts here - - - have we truly an adequate defense - - - are we spending too much for defense and therefore can
afford to cut our defense budget or, in the light of world conditions are we spending enough? The facts are these.
In the Fall of 1951, the joint chiefs of staff recognizing the decisive nature of atomic weapons broke the
compromise between the three services which had made for the equal distribution of funds. It was determined in
view of the Soviet effort and capabilities by 1954 that the minimum goal for our security for that year would be
143 air groups. The targets for the Army and Navy meanwhile remained the same. Although the stretch-out of
1952 ordered by President Truman, which would have provided 138 wings by June 1955 lessened the impact of
this decision on Air Force strength, the primacy of the air weapons was still recognized. The Truman Budget of
1953 called for an expenditure of over sixteen billion dollars for Air and eleven billion for Army and Navy
respectively. When the smoke of Congressional battle cleared early last July, however, six months later, five
billion had been taken from the Air Force, a billion from the Navy and over a billion added to the Army. This
was a return to the balanced force concept with vengeance - - - was a ring-out rather than a stretch-out of Air
Force strength. The preliminary budgets released for next year for the Defense Department, prepared by the new
Joint Chiefs of Staff, were, therefore, most disappointing. In the words of the New York Times, “they were seen
as furthering to a large degree the return of the principle of balanced forces that existed before the Korean war.”
The result will be that the United States will not possess more than 115 wings by June 1954 instead of 143, not
more than 120 wings by June 1955, not more than 127 by June 1956. This is at a time when the Soviet Union, in
addition to building the largest Army in the World and becoming the second largest Naval power in the World, is
concentrating its attention on building the World’s largest Air Force. By the summer of 1954 they will possess
over twenty thousand planes, nearly all of which are Jet, while a substantial part of our Air Force consists of
planes that are propeller driven or Jets that are obsolete.
The point is that the questions on which we must vote only rarely involve issues that admit an easy solution. Some
Senators vote to appease political pressures at home and stay in office and become according to Dryden’s
Epilogue to the Duke de Guise:
“Damned neuters in the middle way of steering
are neither fish nor flesh nor good red herring;
Not Whigs, nor Tories they, nor this nor that
Nor birds, nor beasts; but just a kind of bat;
A twilight animal, true to neither cause
With Tory wings, and Whiggish teeth and claws.
While others, like Senator Taft, vote according to convictions. But their convictions are after all the result of their
own lives, their environment, their experiences and prejudices, their glands and blood pressure, and thus their
convictions may bring them to the wrong conclusion, as occasionally did Senator Taft’s, while the Senators who
supinely follow the wishes of the people may end up voting right, for under our Federal system the needs of the
individual state must be given recognition, for the sum of the real interests of the separate states, in those cases
where they do not conflict with each other representing the National interest.
But in the final analysis the only way to national survival is for the people to support the point of view stated by
Edmund Burke in his famous letter to the electors of Bristol. After stating his views on Britain’s relationship with
the colonies, he wrote, “Gentlemen, you have my opinion on the present state of public affairs…without troubling
myself to inquire whether I am under a similar obligation to it, I have a pleasure in accounting for my conduct to
my constituents. I feel warmly on this subject and I express myself as I feel.
“If my conduct has not been able to make any impression on the warm part of that ancient and powerful party,
with whose support I was not honored at my election; on my side, my respect, regard, and duty to them is not at
all lessened…But flattery and friendship are very different things; and to mislead is not to serve them. I cannot
purchase the favor of any man but counsel from him what I think is ruin.
“By the favor of my fellow citizens I am a representative of an honest, well-ordered virtuous city;…I do, to the
best of my power, act so as to make myself worthy of so honorable a choice. If I were ready, on my call of my own
vanity or interest, or to answer any election purpose, to forsake principles…which I had formed at a mature age,
on full reflection, and which have been confirmed by long experience, I should forfeit the only thing which makes
you pardon so many errors and imperfections in me.”
If we demand that our representatives measure up to the high standards that we expect of them it will depend
basically upon our own conduct. In a democracy we get the kind of government we deserve, and unless we are
honest and responsible we will not have honest and responsible representatives.
You would be interested to read in this light the letters that Congressmen receive. He receives letters from small
businessmen who advocate free competition so that they may survive--but who insist also on price fixing through
so-called free trade laws. The receive letters from farmers who pride themselves of their individuality and self-
reliance - and yet who receive the largest subsidies of any group in the American economy. They receive letters
from Southerners who believe in everything the Republicans stand for yet would not ever vote for the admission
of the two-party system in the South. They receive letters from citizens who want economy but who also want
funds for local airports, for the dredging of local rivers and harbors.
We cannot long afford the luxury of irresponsibility in national affairs. Today our economic and political system
is competing with that of the Communists. In 50 years the Communists have moved outward with unparalleled
swiftness so that now they control over one-third of the world’s population and their shadow hangs heavy over
the lives of many millions of men in the free world. Their economic system--rigidly controlled--devoted
completely to the aggrandizement of the state, steadily is closing the gap in productive supremacy that once we
enjoyed. The troubles and pressures of the 18th century when our country began, pale in significance with those
we now face for basically challenged our all of the suppositions upon which our founders based our government.
That there are inalienable rights--rights granted by God and not by the state--that man is a political animal--that
he is rational--that the state is organized for his welfare and to protect his rights--that rule by the majority is not
only more just but more efficient.
Unless we can prove again the truth of these fundamentals then time will continue to serve the cause of our
enemies.
As young men and women on this occasion, you can take no better theme than the words of Daniel Webster,
spoken at Bunker Hill a century ago, which are now standing above the head of the Speaker of the House of
Representatives. “Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its power, build up all its great institutions
and see whether we also in our day and generation may perform something worthy of being remembered.”

Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy at the


Massachusetts State C.I.O. Convention, Massachusetts,
December 3, 1953
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two drafts of the speech
exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. Draft two contains handwritten corrections and the redaction is based on this draft although there is no
way of knowing with certainty which, if either, of the drafts best represents the speech as delivered. Links to page
images of the two drafts are given at the bottom of this page.

It is a great pleasure to be here today with my friends of the Massachusetts State C.I.O., and to participate in
your deliberations on matters affecting all working men and women, and indeed all people everywhere. I thought
I would speak to you today about conditions in Washington. I know that you have been greatly disappointed not
only by what the present administration and Congress have done in the field of labor law, but also by their
actions and inactions in other fields.
It seems to me that those of us who are opposed to government by postponement, government by give-away, and
government by turning-back-the-clock are faced with three serious responsibilities in the years ahead. First, we
must oppose vigorously those measures and failures which harm the public interest; secondly, we must propose
constructive approaches to fill the gaps left vacant by delay and confusion; and third and finally, we must make
only those promises and charges which are within the limits of fairness and responsibility.
As an example of our first responsibility, of vigorous opposition, let's look at the field of labor. Start at the White
House. On September 22 of this year, Press Secretary Hagerty said he checked on Martin Durkin's story with the
President, and said: "I find that there has been no decision made by the President on any suggestions or detailed
recommendations for changes in the Taft-Hartley Law." No decision! No decision despite promises of changes
over a year ago, and despite the President's statement calling for specific amendments in his message to
Congress.
We then move to the Department of Labor itself. Martin Durkin was replaced by a man who considers Taft-
Hartley to be basically a good law; and left a department where political replacements and budget cuts have
seriously weakened its effectiveness. The President promised to strengthen the Department of Labor; yet its
budget, which was already the smallest in government, was cut 14%, more than 7 times as much as they cut the
Post Office Department, the Justice Department, the District of Columbia, Agriculture, and the Department of
Health, Education and Welfare. The Wage and Hour Division was cut 27% below the 1952 appropriation, thus
making it possible to inspect only 1 out of 22 establishments covered by the law. Field offices in 8 regions in the
South were abolished entirely, which was good news for those sweatshops paying less than $0.75 an hour. As
Senator Paul Douglas charged, "The runaway and exploiting shops and the commercialized farms have called the
tune, and the Administration is dancing."
Now let's move over to the National Labor Relations Board. The new Chairman is Mr. Farmer, who says the
Taft-Hartley Law is basically sound. The other new member is Mr. Rogers, who was council for the Republican
majority on the Rules Committee and who says he wants the law carried out just as the Republican 80th
Congress would have wanted it to be carried out. The third hasn't been appointed, but you can bet it won't be
Bill Belanger. Already, there has been a series of NLRB decisions which indicate that a still wider latitude is
going to be given to employers refusing to bargain, refusing to enforce union shop contracts, discharging
employees because of union activities, weakening employee bargaining units, and coercing employees under the
guise of so-called "free speech."
Next, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Here, too, they slashed 14% out of the budget, and fired
the able and experienced Director, a Republican himself.
That completes our tour of the Administration. Now let's ride down to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue - to
see what's been going on in Congress that affects labor. There, too, the Taft-Hartley Law was carefully studied;
but the only concrete result was a bill drawn up by the staff of the Senate Labor Committee which contained
provisions far more stringent than those now contained in Taft-Hartley. This bill would not only have halted
unionization in the South and other areas of the country, but would have turned the clock back 20 years in giving
full power to the states to take any anti-union actions they pleased.
The same is true on all other measures affecting workers as citizens, in housing, health, education, lower prices,
cheaper power, and all the rest. The 83rd Congress nearly killed public housing, abandoned all rent controls and
even standby price controls, gave away our offshore oil resources to a few states instead of preserving their
income for our schools, and took other actions against the national interest.
Permit me to add that much of what I have been describing has particular importance for you as citizens and
workers of New England. If we are to stop the liquidation of our plants and their migration southward; if we are
to attract new industries to our one-industry towns; and if we are to protect adequately the jobs and security of
our workers; then a great deal needs to be done. This has been a good year for New England and Massachusetts,
certainly better than last. But you know that prosperity in New England is not yet permanently assured; that
layoffs are increasing and plant closings are continuing. We still lag behind the rest of the country in our
industrial growth; and if a recession strikes us, our loss will be even more severe than other parts of the country.
This means, as I stated to the Senate in presenting my program for New England, that the Taft-Hartley Law
must be drastically revised to encourage the unionization of areas competitive with ours; our minimum wage
raised and our other fair labor standards laws strengthened or $1.00/hr. [illegible], in order to discourage the
runaway shops and prevent substandard wage competition. It means that those tax loopholes must be closed
which encourage industrial migration; the tax amortization program carefully scrutinized; and greater
consideration given to labor surplus areas in the awarding of defense contracts.
It means further that our natural resources must be developed so that our power bills will no longer be twice as
high as those in the TVA area. It means that we must work for better programs of aid to small business, of
retraining the unemployed industrial workers, and of providing security for the unemployed, the aged, and the
disabled. Only in this way can New England continue to grow and prosper, and our jobs be free from the
uncertainty and difficulty that unfair competition and our own position as an older area seek to press down upon
us. The C.I.O., with many other labor, civic and business organizations, has been most helpful in pushing this
program; and I want to take this opportunity of expressing my appreciation.
At any rate, there's a long way to go in all fields of importance to labor. This is a clear example of a field where
Democrats and Republicans alike who believe in a sounder economy for all, including labor, must oppose
vigorously these attempts to hold back American progress.
Now, let's look at our second responsibility, the responsibility of offering a constructive approach to fill the gap
left wide open by present delay and confusion.
My example here is our foreign policy. Never before have the uncertainties and power vacuums in world affairs
called more clearly for positive American leadership and clear American policies.
But instead, what has been done? They have harassed, reversed and rendered ineffective some of our most able
public servants in this field. They have impaired Western unity by being indecisive instead of resolute; and by
being quick to denounce and slow to understand. They have first cut our defensive strength in order to save
money, and now talk of tripling it in order to save lives. They have reduced Point 4 to a pale and non-stimulating
three point two. They have reorganized interminably and cut seriously our information program and the Voice of
America, until the Voice is little more than a whisper. They have played politics on restrictive immigration
policies, on the isolationist Bricker Amendment, and the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act. They have gone
forward, then backward, then vacillated concerning Israel and the Middle East, Indian participation in the Peace
Conference, human rights and genocide, and other issues.
This is a dangerous course indeed; for through it we have stimulated neutralism among traditional friends who
now distrust our attempts at leadership. Let us hope after 1954, and certainly after 1956, our policies will again
be positive, our programs comprehensive, and our principles reaffirmed.
We must not make political issues out of war and peace, and we must continue to recognize executive
responsibility for the conduct of foreign relations under the constitution. But, nevertheless, we have a definite
responsibility to check our present policies of drift and slide.
Indeed, the administration might do well to follow the vigorous example of the C.I.O. in its effective battle against
Communistic exploitation. The I.U.E.-C.I.O., for example, has not lacked active and positive leadership both in
this state and in the country as a whole in opposing Communist domination in a free and healthy trade union
movement. The I.U.E. and the C.I.O. believe in individual rights and human dignity more than totalitarian
power, in the free expression of opinion rather than slavish adherence to any party line: and in accomplishing
their goals through peaceful and democratic methods, not by subversion and violence. That is why you have so
successfully broken the foothold in labor which these Communist-dominated unions once held; and that is why
I.U.E. will continue to do battle successfully. Thousands of patriotic members and local leaders of the UE, and
other unions expelled from the C.I.O. in 1949 should not be charged with disloyalty. But the fact remains that the
national leadership of UE has been characterized as one following "a tenacious conformity to the Communist
party line through at least six major reversals" by Senator Hubert Humphrey's Senate Sub-Committee on Labor
Management Relations and is presenting too great a security risk to be permitted to represent workers. The
individual members and the union as a whole should take remedial action against such leadership which has
brought down upon them these inequities.
Finally, and perhaps most important, those of us who seek a return to progressive and effective leadership must
be responsible, as opposition and as politicians. If we now make promises we cannot carry out, the people will see
we are no different than the Republicans. If we now blame the Republicans for ills which Government cannot
control, the people will expect the impossible from a Democratic victory.
Democrats, labor, liberals and all of those who join us must indeed "talk sense to the American people"; make
only those promises we can carry out; and frankly state the difficulties and dangers which confront us.
We would be deceiving the people to deny that these are all difficult tasks.
We can provide in 1954 and 1956 a factor which has been generally lacking under the Republican regime,
particularly since the death of Robert Taft - and that factor is leadership; in our case positive, purposeful and
progressive leadership; leadership to further the interests of America as a whole and not a favored few. I am
certain that many, many Republicans, in and out of Congress, will be happier under Democratic leadership than
under the kind of leadership they are getting now.
As Christmas approaches, I would recommend to our respected President and his able Cabinet of businessmen
that they restudy the role of businessmen as Dickens set it forth in his "Christmas Carol." You all remember the
words of Jacob Marley's ghost to his partner, Ebenezer Scrooge:
"But you were always a good man of business", said Scrooge… "Business," replied the Ghost, "Mankind was my
business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance and benevolence were all my
business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business."
Let us hope that our businessmen's government will heed this advice. Republicans and Democrats, labor and
management, men and women of all races and creeds and national origins, all must see that we are led by those
who make mankind their business. Together we can demonstrate to a disillusioned nation that promises can
mean performance - that responsible opposition can mean constructive legislation - and together we shall make
real and meaningful the promise that for all of us is America.
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the University
of Montreal, Montreal, Canada, December 4, 1953
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to the page images is given at the bottom of this page.

I appreciate this opportunity to speak to you at this celebrated university in this ancient and famous city. The
functions of the private university, particularly those that are Roman Catholic, are basic and fundamental today
for its task is a continuing search for the truth, both for its own sake and because only if we possess it can we be
really free. Never has been the task of finding the truth more difficult. In the struggle between modern states
"truth" has become a weapon in the battle for power - it is bent and twisted and subverted to fit the pattern of
national policy.
Frequently, we in the West are forced by this drumbeat of lies and propaganda to be "discriminating" in our
selection of what facets of the truth we ourselves will disclose. Thus the responsibility of a free university to
pursue its own disinterested studies is even more important today than ever before. The University of Montreal
has succeeded in carrying out this mission, so that today it stands as a bulwark on the North American Continent
in the battle for the preservation of Christian civilization.
I appreciate also this opportunity to express once again the respect and friendship with which the people of the
United States regard their neighbors in Canada. The ties that bind our two nations together are many and
indissoluble. We have a similar background in that both of our nations have people from many dissimilar
backgrounds. Although this is my first journey to Canada, Canadians are by no means strangers to me. For, of
all the many residents of my state of Massachusetts who were born outside of the United States, a much larger
percentage - more than 1 out of 4 - were born in Canada than in any other country. Those of you who are of
French extraction would feel at home in Lowell and Lawrence, New Bedford and Fall River, and in dozens of
others of our cities and towns where the French language and culture are maintained with vigor by the thousands
and thousands of your former neighbors who now are American citizens, and thus they have kept open an
important link with Canadian and French culture - its literature and its arts, which otherwise might have been
lost. They have maintained singular devotion to the Catholic religion in an age of growing cynicism and
indifference.
Perhaps most fundamental of all, the roots of our similarly free political and economic institutions may be traced
back to a common seed, and the peaceful maintenance of the Canadian-American border has been a symbol all
over the world for those who believe that a just and lasting peace can be achieved.
Today, our economic ties are made closer by international trade between our two countries. Last year, Canada
bought nearly $3 billion worth of goods from the United States, representing approximately 20% of our sales to
other countries. More than $7 out of every $10 Canadians spent to bring goods into their country was spent in the
United States, indicating the importance of my nation as a source of supply to your industries and consumers. On
the other hand, the United States bought nearly $2.4 billion worth of goods from Canada. We were your best
customer, buying one-half of all goods you exported. Out of all the dollars spent by the United States for goods to
be imported from other countries, more than $1 out of every $5 [was] spent for Canadian products. Many
Canadian securities are bought in the United States; many United States firms have subsidiaries or plants in
Canada; and many other economic ties are equally strong.
The bonds between our two countries, then, are beneficial to both. We export professional football players to you;
and you export professional hockey players to us. The example of cooperation which Canada and the United
States have set - in the economic, military, political, cultural and other spheres - is one for all the World to
admire.
Unfortunately, from time to time tensions arise between the United States and Canada, just as tensions will arise
between any close friends. Today such tensions have received a disproportionate amount of headline space in the
newspapers of both of our countries; disproportionate not because such tensions are unimportant, but because
this negative side of the balance sheet is greatly smaller than the positive side which I have previously mentioned.
Nevertheless, it is well to understand exactly what these tensions are, and how they might best be reduced. Today,
the charged atmosphere of suspicion and fear which has resulted in my country from the external and internal
threat of communist imperialism has caused a number of incidents which have caused alarm and resentment
among Canadians and Americans alike. The proposed St. Lawrence Seaway has been frequently postponed,
much to your disappointment, because of the failure of the United States to get Congressional approval for
participation in its construction, and the proposed St. Lawrence Power Project has not yet cleared its final hurdle
in the United States Court of Appeals in order that the power authority of the State of New York may join with
Canada in the construction of that project.
Perhaps of more importance, several questions have been raised with respect to international trade between the
two countries. The U. S. Tariff Commission has held hearings at which American producers requested
restrictions on the importation of Canadian oats, fish, lead, zinc, and oil. Bills for the same purpose have been
introduced in Congress. Last March a year-long embargo on all Canadian beef cattle, imposed because of a local
outbreak of hoof-and-mouth disease, was lifted, after costing Canada about $50 million dollars.
Even this problem is not one-way. New Englanders may accuse Canadians of "dumping" groundfish fillets; but
Canadians are accusing New Englanders of dumping textiles. Canadians have also expressed concern with
respect to United States policies for exporting agricultural surpluses; and of course, Canada and the United
States are competing for other export markets in Latin America and elsewhere.
It would not be appropriate for me to attempt to analyze each of these many issues, and discuss in detail their
solutions. But I do maintain that much of the confusion and fear results from the unfounded misunderstandings
and misconceptions which the citizens of each country hold with respect to the other. Perhaps if I explain some of
the factors in the United States which give rise to this uncertainty and confusion, it may be of some help to you in
understanding the conflicts we read about today.
I make this statement as a Member of the United States Senate, one of two parliamentary bodies in the
Legislative Branch of our Federal Government. It is frequently difficult for citizens of other countries,
particularly those with a parliamentary form of government where responsibility and authority are joined more
closely together, even for Canadians with a Federal System of their own, to comprehend the full significance of
the difference between the two Houses of Congress, between the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch,
and between the Federal and State Governments; or to understand that a Congressional Committee is not the
same as the United States Government. For example, the editor of the Montreal Star, Mr. G. V. Ferguson, wrote
in 1952 that Canadians find it hard to understand that the American Congress can successfully frustrate its own
administration in the pursuance of international trade objectives. "In Canada," Mr. Ferguson pointed out, "a
government remains a government only so long as it can pass its legislative program." Even more recently, Mr.
Attlee of Great Britain raised questions concerning the ultimate source of power in the United States.
Our constitutional founders believed that liberty could be preserved only when the motions of government were
slow - the power divided - and time provided for the wisdom of the people to operate against precipitous and ill-
considered action. The delegates believed that they were sacrificing efficiency for liberty. They believed, in the
words of James Madison, who in his middle thirties was the most vigorous figure in Philadelphia, that they were
"so contriving the interior structure of the government as that its several constituent parts may, by their mutual
relations … be the means of keeping each other in their proper places."
In our constitution there are limits placed on both the Federal and State Governments, and there is an area of
individual liberty protected against both. Like the reign of law, this is a tenant that has roots deep in Graeco-
Roman theory, medieval political theory, in Locke and Montesquieu.
The system of checks and balances set up in our constitution was, of course, also the result of the necessary
compromises between powerful interests in all of the thirteen colonies. The most basic dispute of the Convention
was that involving the larger states: Massachusetts, Virginia and Pennsylvania with the smaller states, Delaware -
so small in the words of John Randolph that it was composed of five counties at low tide and three at high -
Connecticut and New Jersey. The larger states possessing a majority of the population and revenue were
determined that their influence should be in proportion, while the smaller states were reluctant to sacrifice their
confederatory status wherein each state as sovereign held veto on action. The result of the Connecticut
compromise - "a motley measure" in the words of Alexander Hamilton - are familiar to us all. The
representation in the Lower House was based on population, and they alone had the power to initiate legislation
dealing with revenue matters; while in the Upper House each state was given an equal vote.
Successive presidents who have had difficulty with the Senate, including President Eisenhower, would be
surprised to have learned what our founders perceived the role of the Senate to be. In a famous anecdote,
Jefferson after his return from France once asked Washington at breakfast why he had agreed to a second
chamber in Congress. Washington asked him, "Why did you pour that coffee into your saucer?" "To cool it,"
Jefferson said. "Even so," said Washington, "we pour legislation into the Senatorial saucer to cool it."
There is no doubt that the framers of the Constitution saw the Senate as a sort of privy council to the President -
enjoying a different and more intimate relation with the Chief Executive than did the direct representatives of
the people. And thus the Senate was given a powerful voice over foreign affairs and the selection of office holders
for the Executive Department. Washington tried to make such use of the Senate. Herbert Agar, in discussing the
situation writes, "he entered the chamber one day and took the Vice President's chair, saying he had come for
their advice and consent regarding an Indian treaty, and that he had brought with him General Knox, the
Secretary of War, who knew all about the treaty. Knox produced the papers which were read; Washington then
waited for some advice or consent. The Senate was unwilling to give it in the presence of the President and his
Cabinet Minister. The feeling seemed to be that the Senators were under pressure, and that their dignity was
being violated. The Senate did not want information from General Knox; it wanted to be left alone to act in its
own fashion." "We said for him to withdraw," wrote Senator Maclay, "he did so with a discontented air."
A proper understanding of the system of checks and balances would explain for citizens of other countries the
many and seemingly conflicting actions which appear on the governmental scene in the United States. A State
Governor may protest the imports of Icelandic fish, but only the President and the Tariff Commission can
restrict such imports, even into that State under present law. The United States Department of Agriculture may
protest the importation of Canadian oats, and a United States Senator may introduce a Bill to restrict such
imports, but, until the House of Representatives takes initial action to amend the Reciprocal Trades Agreement
Act, the final decision rests with the Tariff Commission in the Executive Branch. When Congress failed to
approve the St. Lawrence Power Project, the Federal Power Commission authorized the State of New York to
build it, but only the Federal Courts can remove all legal objections to that decision. A Senator may broadcast all
his suspicions of foreign officials; but he speaks only for himself and not the United States Government or our
people.
Time has proved that the American Constitution is not, as Macaulay once said, "all sail and no anchor." Sir John
MacDonald, speaking in 1865, after the American Constitutional system had received its most severe test in the
American Civil War stated, "It is the fashion now to enlarge on the defects of the Constitution of the United
States, but I am not one of those who look upon it as a failure. I think and believe that it is one of the most skillful
works that human intelligence has created; (it) is one of the most perfect organizations that ever governed a free
people. To say that it has some difficulties is but to say that it is not the work of omniscience but of human
intellect." Our constitutional system like that of Canada was the result of special circumstances existing at the
time of our early development. But like yours, it demonstrated confidence in man as a rational being - in the
belief that given an atmosphere - and time - where truth has an opportunity to compete with error in the market
place of ideas - in the long run the judgment of the great majority of the people can be trusted to come to the
right decision.
The rights of the minority were given special protection in the American Constitution. This freedom for the
minority was provided through the Bill of Rights, especially the first eight amendments, which wrote into law the
inalienable and God-given rights of man, while the while the 9th and 10th, which dealt with the so-called reserve
powers, provided that those powers not exclusively granted to the United States Government were held by the
various states and the people themselves. In contrast to the United States, the enumerated powers in the
Canadian Constitution are provincial and the reserve and residual powers in theory are federal. And an
additional protection was the establishment of an independent judiciary on equal terms with the Executive and
Legislative Branch. John Marshall, the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, in a series of
fundamental decisions: - Marbury vs. Madison, which established the right of the Supreme Court to hold as
unconstitutional an act of Congress, and McCullough vs. Madison in which the court annulled a state law which
conflicted with a federal law, set up the Supreme Court to act as "umpire" in our Federal System. This is one of
the main adjustive mechanisms in the constitutional framework through the principle of judicial review, which is
quite unique in its broad extension and use. For many years - particularly in the early days of the New Deal, the
Court was regarded by many, by its constitutional interpretation of the Acts of Congress, as a block to legitimate
progress. In recent years, however, the Court has acted generally as a conservator of fundamental values and
significantly advanced them in areas, like racial discrimination.
The boldest conception of the delegates to the American Constitutional Convention was that the Federal
Government was not superior to the State Government; the State and Federal Governments each had their share
of sovereignty; each operated directly upon its citizens; each was supreme in its field.
A famous legal case from the distant past might explain clearly the source of some of our present difficulties. To
illustrate the difficulties of comprehending our governmental system, while at the same time illustrating the
division of functions in our government, I would like to choose an example - not from the present tensions which
mar our near-perfect relationship; but rather from incident which occurred more than 110 years ago.
I would remind you of the very famous case of "the People vs. McLeod." In the years 1837 and 1838, there was
considerable difficulty along the American-Canadian border, due largely to the overly-enthusiastic desires of
many American citizens to bring democracy to Canada by force against the British crown. The Montreal
Transcript for December 23, 1837, summed up the atmosphere as follows:
"The concurrent statements of the Canadian press, the American press, and of private letters, leave no longer
any doubt of a hostile feeling along, and within, the American frontier - a cherished hope of perpetuating their
own blind prejudices at the expense of the British Government, which, with all its noble characteristics, has in
their eyes the damning sin of being a monarchy."
In one of a series of incidents along the border, a group of Canadians sought retaliation against an unauthorized
raiding party of American citizens and destroyed the steamer Caroline in a New York port. An American citizen
was killed; and three years later, a Canadian by the name of Alexander McLeod was arrested and imprisoned by
the State of New York on a charge of murder. Inasmuch as the British Government assumed responsibility for
the actions taken as a matter of international relations between the two countries, it was generally agreed by
experts in international law that McLeod was being unlawfully detained. At that time the position of Secretary of
State - corresponding to your Minister of External Affairs - was held by a very famous American, and a former
Senator from Massachusetts, Daniel Webster. Mr. Webster, although using the restraint necessary for the
support of Congress and public opinion, practically admitted that the arrest and trial of McLeod was improper;
and Presidents Harrison and Tyler (who succeeded Harrison upon his death) agreed.
The British and Canadian authorities assumed that this would be an end to the matter, and that their demand for
the release of McLeod would be instantly met. Such, however, was not the case. The President, through Daniel
Webster, pointed out that the Executive Branch of the Federal Government was forbidden by the Constitution to
interfere with the conduct of the case by the Judicial Branch of the State Government. They also pointed out that,
because of the division of functions between local and federal authorities, they could not require the local
prosecuting attorney to dismiss the case. The British Ambassador in Washington, Mr. Fox, wrote Secretary of
State Webster, however, that his Government could not "admit for a moment the validity of the doctrine that the
Federal Government of the United States has no power to interfere with the matter in question and that the
decision thereof must rest solely and entirely with the State of New York"; and he talked darkly of further action
to free McLeod.
Next, the British wondered, if it was impossible to interfere with the Judicial Branch of the State Government
under existing law, could not the U.S. Administration, as leader of the majority party, obtain action by Congress
to change the law. (Of course, Congress cannot change the Constitution, which in our country is supreme over all
federal and state statutes.) But President Tyler did send a message to Congress urging legislation for the removal
of such cases from state courts to federal courts, on the grounds that such incidents embarrassed the Federal
Government in its conduct of international relations. But the President, despite his anxiety to conform to the
wishes of the increasingly hostile British, could only request such legislation; and, although it was eventually
passed, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, to whom the McLeod Case was referred, took a very dim view
of any action being undertaken with respect to the case by the Executive Branch. You might also be interested to
know that, although the House of Representatives was anxious to review all of the correspondence and
documents in the State Department relating to the case, it could not demand that information, but only request it
if, it said by Resolution, the President did not feel this to be incompatible with the public interest.
So history presents us with a case 110 years old to remind Americans and Canadians of the dangers in
misunderstanding the governmental process of the other country. The McLeod case illustrates the role of the
American President and his Secretary of State as the chief spokesmen for my nation in foreign affairs; the role of
Congress as the only body with legislative power, a power separate and distinct from that exercised by the
President; and the role of states as individual entities within the Federal Government whose jurisdiction in
certain matters cannot be infringed by federal action. In addition, the case illustrates the checks and balances
which exist not only between the Federal and State Governments, but also between the three branches of
Government, Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Finally and most important today, it illustrates how our system
of government can appear to others to speak with one tongue but many voices, and thus create
misunderstandings which lead to unnecessary tensions.
Incidentally, I didn't mean to leave Mr. McLeod languishing in jail without telling you the final outcome of his
case. His attempt at habeas corpus, which the Federal Government supported, failed in the New York Supreme
Court as the result of a judicial opinion which has been much criticized in international law circles; but as
somewhat of an anti-climax, he was subsequently tried by a local court and acquitted by the jury. All of the
trouble caused by his arrest was unnecessary.
A great heritage has been passed on to both of us. Our job now, of course, is to maintain it in a changing world
and pass it on with its basic protection for the average citizen, undisturbed.
The responsibility of those who now hold elective office is thus especially great. As one who has served several
years in our House of Representatives and in the United States Senate, I must admit that the task of
representation is not always as simple as it sometimes seems to students of the legislative process. Those of you
who aspire to public office should be reminded that it is not always easy to be on the side of the angels. Indeed, on
most issues it seems as though the angels are not with us - at least not politically, as the questions that face us do
not involve moral issues of right and wrong - but rather the settlement of conflicting claims of powerful interests.
For example, though I believe that the St. Lawrence Waterway would benefit substantial sections of my country
as well as yours - yet its effect on New England, and particularly on the Port of Boston which I represent, might
be unfortunate. The easy answer on the course to adopt would be for the Representative to vote for the national
interest, but am I not sent to the Congress to represent the needs of my people. It is not a moral question, nor is
the answer obvious as to whether we should vote twenty million dollars more for hospital construction - even
though we have at the same time a heavy budgetary deficit. I am not even as convinced as is Mr. Dulles, our
Secretary of State, that foreign policy is a moral issue, for if this is not simply a struggle for survival by the
powerful states but a crusade against the evils of the materialistic system that the communists espouse, how can
we, to defeat Soviet Communism, ally ourselves closely with the communists of Yugoslavia?
If our country's foreign policy were based on moral grounds alone - it would be difficult to understand how we
can reconcile our favoring freedom for the people behind the Iron Curtain on the one hand and yet opposing
freedom for the people of Morocco on the other - merely because in our case we have air bases there. The point is
that the questions on which we vote only rarely involve issues that admit an easy solution. Some politicians vote
as the result of hoping to appease political pressures at home and stay in office and become, according to
Dryden's Epilogue to the Duke de Guise:
"Damned neuters in the middle
way of steering
Are neither fish nor flesh nor
good red herring;
Not Whigs, nor Tories they; nor this
nor that
Nor birds, nor beasts; but just a kind
of bat;
A twilight animal, true to neither
cause
With Tory wings, and Whiggish teeth
and claws
while others like Senator Taft in our country, or Sir Wilfred Laurier or Louis St. Laurent in yours, vote
according to their convictions. But their convictions are after all the result of their own lives, their environment,
their experience and prejudices, their glands and blood pressure, and thus their convictions may bring them to
the wrong conclusion, as occasionally did Senator Taft's, while the politicians who supinely follow the wishes of
the people may end up voting right, for under our federal system the needs of the individual state must be given
recognition, for the sum of the real interests of the separate states, in those cases where they do not conflict, is the
National interest.
But in the final analysis, the only way to national survival is for our political leaders to accept the view-point
expressed by Edmund Burke in his famous letter to the electors of Bristol. After stating his position on Britain's
relations with the American colonies, he wrote: "Gentlemen, you have my opinion on the present state of
affairs…I feel warmly on this subject and I express myself as I feel…Flattery and friendship are very different
things and to mislead them is not to serve them. I cannot purchase the favor of any man but council him from
what I think is his ruin."
We cannot afford the luxury of irresponsibility in national affairs. Today our economic and political system is
competing with that of the Communists.
In 50 years the Communists have moved outward with unparalleled swiftness so that now they control over one-
third of the world's population and their shadow hangs over the lives of many millions of men in the free world.
Their economic system - rigidly controlled - devoted completely to the aggrandizement of the state, steadily is
closing the gap in productive supremacy that once we enjoyed. The troubles and pressures of the 18th Century
when our country began pale in significance with those we now face, for basically challenged are all of the
suppositions upon which our founders based our government: that there are inalienable rights - rights granted by
God and not by the state - that man is a political being - that he is rational - that the state is organized for his
welfare and to protect his rights - that rule by the majority is not only more just, but more efficient.
Unless we can prove again the truth of these fundamentals, then time will continue to serve the cause of our
enemies.
In conclusion, I would like to address a brief word to the present relations of our two great countries. I am not
attempting to minimize the disputes which have caused an unfortunate amount of resentment and distrust on the
part of both Canadian and American citizens; neither am I able to offer a simple formula for the solution of these
problems. But I know that I speak for the great majority of American people when I say to you that the United
States highly values her fraternal friendship and association with Canadians. If you and I, the citizens and
officials of our two great nations, and the press, can all emphasize these positive values and traditions which
insure the continued amity of the United States and Canada, then there will be less danger of a deterioration in
our relationship resulting from temporary insignificant or politically inspired controversies. If the United States
and Canada, with their common language, common history, common economic and political interests and other
close ties cannot live peacefully with one and other, then what hope is there for the rest of the World. We have a
responsibility to demonstrate to all peoples everywhere that peaceful and stable existence by powerful countries
side by side, can remain a permanent reality in today's troubled world.
It is my hope that the people of Canada, by their careful judgment and clear thinking stability, will refuse to
permit the pressures of the day to weaken those foundations laid a century ago. Let us put away the
misunderstandings and misconceptions which give rise to uncertainty and confusion at the present time, just as
they did over one hundred years ago; and then our two nations will continue to grow in friendship, to grow in
prosperity, and to grow in peaceful and democratic achievement.

Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy, Chattanooga,


Tennessee, December 10, 1953
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of this speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

It is a great pleasure to be here today in Tennessee, and to become better acquainted with your famous and justly
celebrated state. I value most highly my association in the United States Senate with two of the most able
members of that body, Estes Kefauver and Albert Gore, with both of whom I had the pleasure of serving in the
House of Representatives, and I can assure you that they have wasted no opportunity to tell me about the
advantages and assets of the Volunteer State. I am also a long admirer of your Andrew Jackson, and have framed
on my Senate office wall a letter of President Jackson in 1836 warning against "attempts to build up political
power irresponsible to the will, or faithless to the trusts, of the majority."
Only a short time ago I had an opportunity to learn more details about Tennessee's industrial development in a
special advertising supplement to the Sunday New York Times . I acquired a good many copies of that paper
because it also contained an article by myself describing some of the problems currently facing New England,
including southern competition. The Tennessee advertising section substantiated, rather than contradicted, many
of the points in my article.
I would like to discuss with you today some of the issues which concern New England and the South with respect
to this whole question of industrial development and migration.
Possibly you will say that you know of no instances where companies have abandoned their Massachusetts plants
and simultaneously established the same operations in Tennessee. But the process of industrial migration is more
subtle and indirect. More often, firms start by operating mills in both New England and the South, then abandon
their northern plants in periods of decline and later expand their southern operations when prosperity returns.
Beginning chiefly with cotton textiles over 25 years ago, this pattern of industrial migration has spread to other
industries. Since 1946, in Massachusetts alone, 70 textile mills have been liquidated, generally for migration or
disposition of their assets to plants in the South or other sections of the country. Besides textiles, there have been
moves in the machinery, hosiery, apparel, electrical, paper, chemical and other important industries. Every
month of the year some Massachusetts manufacturer is approached by public or private southern interests,
including Tennessee, offering various inducements for migration southward. Other manufacturers warn their
employees that they must take pay cuts to meet southern competition or face plant liquidations.
Why do our industries move to Tennessee and to the South, with all of the attendant consequences to their
employees and community?
It would be unfair to imply that your natural advantages have not been responsible for a large share of this
industrial migration. Perhaps most important of all, the South has a much larger supply of farm workers to draw
upon for industrial employment, permitting wider selection of the most productive employees. Pure, fresh water;
nearness to raw materials and production factors; greater space; a milder climate; and the hospitality shown new
industries in new areas are also southern advantages which should not be denied. Nor should we deny or seek to
hamper the rapid efforts of the South to obtain for itself some of New England's own many and well-known
advantages, in skilled labor, research, markets and credit facilities.
However, it is an unfortunate fact that the southward migration of industry from New England has too
frequently taken place for causes other than normal competition and natural advantages, which causes I shall
detail in a moment. It is particularly unfortunate when one realizes the impact such industrial migration has
upon New England. Although our states are far from depressed or undeveloped, and our citizens still enjoy a
standard of living and per capita income above that of the nation as a whole, the lack of sufficient new industry to
replace the old plants lost to the South has retarded New England's economic growth. Its industrialization,
manufacturing employment, share in particular industries, and per capita income have not kept pace with
increases in the rest of the country, even in 1953, one of our most prosperous years. What is true of New England
generally is particularly true in Massachusetts, where we have been unusually dependent upon manufacturing as
a source of employment and income.
In Tennessee, on the other hand, the trend has been in the opposite direction. Between 1939 and 1952, the
number of manufacturing plants and wages in Tennessee more than tripled; the number of manufacturing
employees nearly doubled; and the value of manufacturing output has increased by some 450%. Thousands of
new industries, and billions of dollars in investment in plant expansion, have poured into this state. The same
trend, of course, is true for the South as a whole. The 11 Southeastern states, for example, between 1929 and 1950
increased their per capita income 179%. The gain for the nation as a whole was 111%; for New England, 85%.
It would be wrong for New England to attempt to retard industrialization of the South. Although New England is
at a locational disadvantage in reaching the rapidly expanding markets of the Southeast and the Southwest, New
England, who must sell to the South, benefits from this tremendous increase in purchasing power. To the extent
that locational advantages of southern industries offer real efficiency, New England consumers share the benefits
of such efficiency with the entire nation.
But while recognizing New England's gains from southern industrialization, and the natural advantages of
southern industry, we must also recognize that the serious consequences of industrial migration are not all due to
these natural advantages.
There are two other major reasons influencing this remarkable industrial development. The first has been the
influence of Federal programs. The Tennessee Valley Authority, which I shall discuss in more detail in a moment,
is only one of these. Tennessee has also received from the Federal Government a disproportionate share of
government contracts, tax amortization certificates, federal construction projects, grants in aid, and similar aids
to its economy in comparison with Massachusetts, partly due to our own uninterest. In 1952, Massachusetts, with
50% more population than Tennessee, received 1% of the value of federally financed construction projects; while
Tennessee received nearly 15% of such contracts. Massachusetts, in fiscal 1952, contributed nearly 4 times as
much as Tennessee to the Federal Government in taxes; but Tennessee received from the Federal Government 4
times as much as Massachusetts in expenditures for rivers, harbors, and flood control projects under the Army
Engineers. The latest figures available show that, as of one year ago, tax amortization certificates had been
awarded Tennessee valued at twice those awarded Massachusetts, despite the fact that Massachusetts deserved a
larger proportion than Tennessee in terms of manufacturing capacity, defense contribution, proportion of
industry, need for expansion, and so forth.
The second major reason - influencing industrial migration from New England to the South and the relative
development of those two areas - is the cost differential resulting from practices or conditions permitted or
provided by Federal law which are unfair or substandard by any criterion. An inadequate minimum wage
permits industries moving South to pay wages below the subsistence level. A weakened Walsh-Healey Public
Contracts Act permits them to bid for Federal contracts despite wage levels substantially below their northern
competitors. A Labor Relations Act which has frozen unionization permits employers to run away from unions
and particularly a union shop by moving to Tennessee or other southern states. Various tax loopholes encourage
migration to take advantage of tax-free plants, charitable trusts, and other privileges. These are some of the
Federal policies which unduly accentuate this cost differential and industrial migration.
Although time does not permit us to examine each of these aspects of the struggle for industry between New
England and the South more closely, permit me to cite in contrast two examples of inducements which Tennessee
offers to industry through the New York Times advertisement -the Tennessee Valley Authority, an example of a
Federal program which has been greatly beneficial to Tennessee although Massachusetts and New England have
no comparable program; and your tax-free plant and site program, an example of what I deem to be unfair
competition.
First: There is no denying the fact that the low cost power made possible by the TVA is a consideration in the
location and development of business. The man who wants to start a moderate sized industry with a demand of
500 kilowatts and a monthly use of 100,000 kilowatt hours finds his annual electric bill in Boston would be
$26,800; in Chattanooga $11,000. There is not a single Federal hydro-electric project in the state of
Massachusetts or indeed in the entire six-state New England area. There is not a single R.E.A. cooperative or
utility district, such as you have in Tennessee, in the whole state of Massachusetts. We do have municipally-
owned electrical plants in Massachusetts similar to yours; but they must purchase their power from the private
utilities at rates nearly twice as high as those paid by your municipal system here. Interestingly enough the rates
in these two regions were at approximately the same levels in 1932; but by 1948, the bills for 250 kilowatt hours a
month had declined about 18% in New England and about 47% in Chattanooga.
It is my position, a position not shared by all segments of opinion in New England, that our answer to your power
advantage in the struggle for industry should not be attempted dilution of power development in Tennessee; but
instead the development of our resources in Massachusetts and New England. The TVA is not "creeping
socialism" because it attracts industry which might otherwise locate, remain or expand in New England. It is a
challenge to us to seek further utilization of our own natural resources. I do not want to see your electric bills for
industrial power go up; I want to see our bills go down.
Perhaps Massachusetts will never enjoy the same advantages in the field of power as Tennessee. Our fuel costs
are higher; we have fewer land areas which can suitably or profitably be flooded; and our river valleys are less
adaptable to power and multi-purpose development. Nevertheless, the power potential of the rivers of Maine and
other New England states, of a tidal project at Passamaquoddy, of the St. Lawrence and Niagara, have not yet
been fully tapped. The current Federal Inter-Agency Survey of Water Resources has been continually
hamstrung, and its conclusion postponed, by inadequate appropriations. If New England can see this
comprehensive survey financed and completed, and obtain therefrom a comprehensive formula for its power
development, we will be able to move ahead with definite knowledge and goals.
But if we are to pursue these objectives, we need the help of the South. I am hopeful that southern Congressmen
and Senators will not attack any such program, as some of them have attacked appropriations for this Inter-
Agency Survey; and still more have opposed other programs to bolster the economy of New England - including
Defense Manpower Policy 4 assisting labor surplus areas to get defense contracts, and the Walsh-Healey Act, to
which they attached the restrictions of the Fulbright Amendment - as "Federal interference with the forces of
free competition." For, as I have previously pointed out, the South has long recognized more than any other
region the tremendous importance that the Federal Government can play in developing the resources of an area.
Moreover, so inter-dependent is the economy of the United States that any increase in tempo in New England
from the development of its power potential or other aids will stimulate industry in the South.
Let us turn now from the TVA, which incidentally I will be touring this week, to the Tennessee Industrial
Revenue Bond Building Act of 1951. It is my understanding that this Act, as amended in 1953, authorizes all
incorporated municipalities and counties to erect buildings and acquire sites, as inducements to new industry,
through the issuance of revenue bonds. The New York Times advertisement goes on to proclaim proudly:
"Since the bonds are exempt from state and federal taxation, and most materials used in the building are also tax
exempt, it is possible for local governments to provide factory space at a lower financial outlay in most cases than
would be possible for such space to be provided by private financing.''
This constitutes, in my opinion, unfair competition to the private companies which must pay higher interest rates
to finance taxable bonds for a new plant. Indeed, in effect, the taxpayers of Massachusetts and every other state
are handing a subsidy to Tennessee and the industry moving into Tennessee and other southern states to take
advantage of this subsidy. Textile, apparel, machine, leather, abrasive, paper and other important industries have
been lured to these states at least partly through the use of industrial development revenue bonds. I understand
that last year the city of Elizabethton, Tennessee, approved a 6 million dollar bond issue to finance the erection of
a plant for Textron, Inc., once a major source of employment in New England. Although this particular deal
apparently fell through, Textron has located many of its southern plants through the use of various tax loopholes,
including charitable trusts. I am also told that the city of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, planned to build a 4.5
million dollar plant for the Wamsutta Mills, a New Bedford, Massachusetts, firm. Again, this was one
arrangement which did not work out, partly because investment bankers are increasingly reluctant to handle
such bonds. But I am sure you know of many more successful examples, not only in Pulaski and Merryville,
Tennessee, but other parts of the South, involving firms from New England and elsewhere.
Why are such securities exempted from federal income taxes when they are issued for a proprietary rather than
for a public purpose? The U. S. Chamber of Commerce, the Investment Bankers Association, the Municipal
Finance Officers Association, the American Bar Association's Section of Municipal Law and others have all
condemned this practice.
I am hopeful that southern spokesmen and statesmen, including your able Representatives in Congress from
Tennessee, will assist me in my efforts to plug up this federal tax loophole. In the long run, fair competition is just
as important to the South as it is to any other section. There are areas in Tennessee and the Southeast which
already share New England's troubles of surplus labor areas, a declining textile industry, one-industry towns,
and the out-migration of industries to take advantage of unfair inducements elsewhere. These are all problems, in
fact, that exist now in many parts of the country and which will multiply as the economies of those regions
mature; and which will particularly trouble the Southeast because of your dependence on textiles, already hit by
the impact of synthetic fibres, foreign competition and migration. Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and
Nashville have all experienced some labor surplus.
Moreover, tax subsidies are no foundation on which to build stable industries. Virginia repealed its tax exemption
law in 1946, on grounds that it meant unstable industry and an unstable tax base. It was unfair to existing
business, said one Virginia spokesman, for "someone has to pay in the long run." Although 6 southern states
besides Tennessee have statutes offering tax exemptions to new industries, the others do not. The Southeastern
States Tax Officials Association has condemned the practice of tax-free municipal plants as "inequitable and
unfair to industry in the state and detrimental to the taxpayers of the state because what is given away must be
paid for by other businesses and individuals, ultimately, thereby creating an unhealthy social and economic
condition."
Industries thus attracted are migrants, not new enterprises. Their home offices are generally not in Tennessee,
but in New York, Boston or elsewhere. Once having accepted your tax benefits and a few years of heavy profits,
they may again move, leaving your community as well with empty buildings, stranded workers and a heavy bond
issue. As such use of public credit spreads, no community can be sure of the stability of the enterprises on which
its citizens depend for their livelihood. I am told that your town of Elizabethton, with only l0,000 people, had $26
million in municipal bonds for private industrial plants in February 1952, and was planning another issue to
bring this total to $51 million, or an additional debt load of more than $5,000 plus interest for every man, woman,
and child in the town! What happens when their new-found benefactors leave for another bargain elsewhere?
I intend to work for the elimination of unfair competition of this character in Congress, and urge the South to
support this move for its own benefit. This is not an issue between North and South, but one concerning the
stability and integrity of our entire national economy. The competitive struggle for industry will and must go on,
but it must be a fair struggle based on natural advantages and natural resources, not exploiting conditions and
circumstances that tend to depress rather than elevate the economic welfare of the nation.
Contrast, if you will, your TVA with your program of tax-exempt factories. The one utilizes the vast resources of
the Federal Government to develop publicly the natural, human, and material resources of an area; the other
robs the Federal Government of its tax dollars by utilizing a public advantage for private gain. The one
contributes immeasurably to the economic progress of our nation and all of its citizens; the other abuses a federal
tax policy in order to benefit one section of the country at the expense of another. The one sets a standard for all
the nation to admire and emulate; the other offers a path which is eventually self-destroying for those who follow
it.
New England's answer to the South lies neither in prohibiting federal power and other programs aiding the
South; nor, as some have maintained, in cutting wages or social benefits in New England or meeting subsidy with
more subsidies; for in the end all of us are harmed and our problems remain unsolved. Instead positive action is
required. For this reason I presented to the Senate in May of 1953 a comprehensive program calling for federal
legislation aimed at the correction of these abuses.
I called for action to aid the expansion and diversification of industry in our older areas to replace the traditional
industries lost through migration. Such aid would include providing loans and assistance to small business,
retraining unemployed industrial workers, tax amortization benefits for industries expanding in areas of chronic
unemployment, developing natural resources, and aiding local industrial development agencies. I further called
for more adequate security for the jobless and aged who are the victims of industrial dislocation. But that is not
enough. The Minimum Wage, Walsh-Healy, Taft-Hartley, Unemployment Compensation and Social Security
Laws must be improved to prevent the use of substandard wages, anti-union policies and inadequate social
benefits as lures to industrial migration. Tax loopholes must be closed, and equal consideration given to all areas
in the administration of policies dealing with tax write-offs, transportation rates or government contracts and
projects; for these should not properly be factors inducing plant migration.
These are some of the policies within the jurisdiction of the Federal Government affecting New England's
economic status. At no time did I suggest in this program that any solution of New England's difficulties must be
at the expense of the economic well-being of the South. I was anxious that the program be studied not as a
political or regional issue, with heated arguments and oversimplified solutions, but rather as a program of
mutual benefit for all, based upon the inter-dependent economies of New England, the South and the nation. It
was not my intention to absolve New England itself from all responsibility for its economic ills, or to make the
South our whipping-boy in an appeal to the emotions of the man on the street. This is a problem upon which
inter-regional cooperation, not political antagonisms, is needed. It calls, not for a single simple solution, but many
steps consistent with the approach I have outlined.
The South, instead of fighting such a program, should welcome it for the stability that it promises and the
safeguards that it assures to the South's new and proud industrialization. It is a common goal that lies ahead of
us - the expansion and prosperity of every section of the nation, not the ephemeral aggrandizement of one at the
expense of another through the exploitation of impermanent and ultimately self-destroying values. In checking
such practices, the alliance of both South and North is needed if we would carry out our common pledge "to
promote the general welfare and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy on the Saint


Lawrence Seaway before the Senate, Washington, D.C.,
January 14, 1954
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to the page image is given at the bottom of this page.

(1) I am frank to admit that few issues during my service in the House of Representatives or the Senate have
troubled me as much as the pending bill authorizing participation by the United States in the construction and
operation of the St. Lawrence Seaway. As you may know, on 6 different occasions over a period of 20 years, no
Massachusetts Senator or Representative has ever voted in favor of the Seaway; and such opposition on the part
of many of our citizens and officials continues to this day. I shall discuss the bases of that opposition
subsequently; but in initiating a comprehensive study on this issue, I limited myself primarily to two questions
which have not previously been before those Massachusetts Senators and Representatives opposing the Seaway,
two questions which are indeed facing all Members of the Congress on this issue:
First, is the St. Lawrence Seaway going to be built, regardless of the action taken in the United States Senate on
this bill?
and
Secondly, If so, is it in the national interest that the United States participate in the construction, operation and
administration of the Seaway?
A careful, and I believe thorough and objective, study of this issue has fully satisfied me that both of these
questions must be answered in the affirmative.
(2) The evidence appears to be conclusive that Canada will build the Seaway. Although they frequently overlook
this fact, Seaway opponents now appear to take this for granted. I have studied the Act passed by the Canadian
Parliament authorizing the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway by Canada, which was dependent only upon
the United States participation in the power project. As you all know, such participation is now assured through
the license granted by the Federal Power Commission to the New York State Power Authority, subject only to
rejection of a final attempt at litigation which is practically assured in the Court of Appeals. Construction has
been delayed only pending this final step. The Canadian law entitled "An Act to Establish the St. Lawrence
Seaway Authority" (15-16 George VI, Ch. 24, 1950), and the official statements of the Canadian Government,
make it clear that Canada will build the Seaway alone and cooperate on the power project with New York,
although the door is left open for American participation if we should so decide at this session of Congress.
Indeed, the Toronto Telegram stated in an editorial of January 9 following the State of the Union message that
"President Eisenhower's call to Congress to get cracking on the Seaway arouses only a mild and skeptical interest
in this country, because Canadians have made up their minds that the best thing for them to do is to build the
Seaway themselves." We can no longer doubt that the Seaway will be built, regardless of how we vote today.
(3) We are then confronted only with the second question, is it in the national interest of the United States that we
participate in the construction, operation and administration of the Seaway as authorized by the Wiley Bill? That
question has been answered in the affirmative by every President, Secretary of Army and Defense, Secretary of
Commerce, National Security Council, National Security Resources Board, and other administration officials for
the past 30 years, including President Eisenhower and other representatives of his administration. The President
stated in that part of his message on national defense:
"Both nations now need the St. Lawrence Seaway for security as well as for economic reasons. I urge the
Congress promptly to approve our participation in its construction."
Mr. President, our ownership and control of a vital strategic international waterway along our own border would
be lost without passage of this bill. If Canada builds the seaway alone, it may not only be a more expensive
proposition, due to the difference in topography, requiring higher tolls over a longer period of time, but the
Seaway will still be paid for to a great extent by the American interests whose use thereof will be many times
greater than the Canadians. Thus the economy of the United States will have paid for the greater part of the
Seaway at a higher cost, but the United States Government will have no voice in the decisions regarding tolls,
traffic, admission of foreign ships, defense and security measures, and priorities. Inasmuch as the United States is
going to benefit both economically and militarily from the construction of the Seaway, and inasmuch as the Wiley
Bill provides that the Seaway will be self-liquidating, and require comparatively small appropriations over a 5-
year period, I believe that our participation is in the national interest, and therefore should not be defeated for
sectional reasons.
(4) I refer to "sectional reasons" because I have been urged to vote against the Seaway, on two other grounds,
neither of which is related to the unchangeable fact that Canada will otherwise build it alone and that our
participation is important. These two points of opposition, entirely sectional in nature, are:
1. The Seaway will work an economic hardship upon Massachusetts,
and
2. The Seaway will be of no direct economic benefit to Massachusetts.
I would like to discuss each of these questions briefly, inasmuch as they not only explain the basis of much of the
traditional opposition to this measure in my state and other states, but also, I believe, because they involve the
very nature and responsibility of the United States Senate and our Federal Union.
(5) First, will the Seaway work an economic hardship on Massachusetts?
Of course, inasmuch as the Seaway is to be built anyway, regardless of American participation, such arguments
are of necessity only academic; for the issue here is not whether the Seaway should be built, but whether the
United States should participate in that project. However, inasmuch as I have devoted considerable time and
effort in the Senate to an analysis and alleviation of some of the economic problems now troubling New England,
I am especially concerned with these many predictions of injury to my state and region resulting from the
Seaway.
(6) The Port of Boston.
The primary attention in this discussion of the Seaway's effect upon our economy has centered upon the Port of
Boston; and I have therefore analyzed carefully figures on Port traffic, largely furnished me by the Boston Port
Authority. In the first place, at least 75% of the Port traffic is coastwise, intraport and local, which no one has
claimed will be affected by the Seaway. Of the remaining foreign traffic, an examination of imports reveals that
practically all of it is coal, fuel oil, petroleum, food products, beverages and other items for consumption within
the New England area. Other raw materials used by New England manufacturers, such as wool and rubber,
make up a large part of the remainder of this import traffic. It is obvious that none of this traffic will be diverted
by the Seaway.
(7) With respect to goods shipped by rail out of the New England area, I have had the opportunity to see a
comprehensive analysis of New England's chief rail exports, and only a small portion of these were foreign-made
imports arriving through the Port of Boston; and even a smaller portion of these few items went to the area
which the St. Lawrence Seaway would serve. Consequently, only an extremely small percentage of foreign import
trade will be lost to the Port of Boston at most. Even if as much as 22% of these imports were lost, as has been
alleged by some but which the figures do not support, even if all of this were lost, the total loss in tonnage would
be less than 5% of the annual traffic handled by the Port.
(8) With respect to exports, which total less than 2% of Port traffic, opponents of the Seaway have suggested only
that the export grain trade might be affected once the Seaway is in operation. The analysis of New England rail
traffic bears this out. It cannot be denied that some or all of the Port's export grain trade may be affected by the
Seaway. However, in 1952, in terms of tonnage handled, this trade amounted to only 9/10 of 1% of the total
traffic in the Port of Boston; and due to the mechanical nature of the operation, involved only a small number of
employees. Thus, although grain as a bottom cargo has some significance beyond its own tonnage, nevertheless,
even if the entire export grain trade was lost to the Port, the over-all effect upon its traffic, and the economy of
Boston and New England, would be almost negligible.
(9) In short, even if the Port of Boston were to lose all of its export grain, and as much as 22% of all foreign
import trade as the result of the Seaway, a figure which exceeds the claims of its strongest opponents and cannot
be supported by the traffic analysis, even under such circumstances the over-all decline in terms of total traffic at
the Port would be less than 6%; and since 1945 the variations in the Port's traffic from year to year have been
practically always greater than 6%.
(10) There has been some speculation that if the Seaway is not built by Canada and the iron ore begins to move
out of Labrador, the Boston Port would receive this traffic. However, the rail haul from Boston to the steel-
producing areas in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois is considerably greater than that from the competing ports in
Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York; and, although the latter may be affected by a current Interstate
Commerce Commission case, it is even clearer that the newer steel developments in Maryland, New Jersey and
Pennsylvania will be served by ports considerably closer than Boston. I think it is not only speculative but overly
optimistic to hope that Boston would get any substantial share of this trade if the Seaway were not built. Of
course, as I have already indicated, the Seaway is going to be built, and will then provide for the transportation of
iron ore over a water haul equal to the haul from Labrador to Boston, and a rail haul of approximately 20% the
distance from Boston to Youngstown. No Atlantic port would carry such ore then; and it is therefore extremely
doubtful whether either the Port of Boston or the New England railroads would wish to make considerable
expenditures in adapting their facilities to handle this iron ore traffic when it will most certainly be carried by the
Seaway within a period of several years.
(11) In short, I do not feel that the effect of the Seaway upon the Port of Boston will be of any lasting significance;
and there are some who believe that in the long run traffic at the Port will be stimulated. What is more important
to the Port of Boston, as pointed out by the President's Committee on the New England Economy, is the fact that
a 1948 sampling of New England firms showed that 81% of their exports were shipped out of New York instead
of Boston. If those in New England who have decried the loss to the Port of Boston resulting from the Seaway
would only divert their own export traffic to the Port, the gain would be many times as great as any loss suffered
by construction of the Seaway,
(12) New England Railroads
For these same reasons, I have been unable to find any serious injury to the New England railroads resulting
from the construction of the Seaway. The analysis of New England's rail traffic, which I mentioned before,
indicates that New England's chief rail exports were largely consumption goods or highly manufactured
industrial products and equipment which have a high unit value in which the cost of transportation is a relatively
small portion. It is doubtful that these goods would be shipped over 1500 miles to the Gaspe Peninsula, to go over
the Seaway instead of the quicker and more direct route via rail. Moreover, only a small portion of these goods go
to the area to be served by the Seaway; and whenever any goods are so diverted, of course, it will be a further
gain for the Port of Boston.
(13) With respect to goods shipped by rail into New England, by far the largest single item is coal from West
Virginia, Kentucky, and other coal producing states; and this, like most of the other items which are shipped into
the region by rail, will continue to come by this more direct route. Again, any Seaway diversion of goods for
consumption in Massachusetts and New England will be a gain for the Port of Boston. The only major exception
is grain, and I have already discussed the fact that export grain may be lost to the New England railroads and
ports, but this represents only 1/3 of 1% of the entire rail traffic handled by the New England railroads. The
other 90% of the grain shipped into New England would not be affected by the Seaway, inasmuch as present
routes utilizing the Erie Canal and railroads are considerably shorter and more economical than even the Seaway
will provide. On the contrary, the increased industrial activities in the Middle West may well build markets for
New England manufacturers, and traffic for the New England railroads and ports. But permit me to repeat the
one unchangeable fact which makes discussion of possible gain or loss to Massachusetts irrelevant to the pending
measure; namely, that the Seaway is going to be built, its economic consequences are going to be felt, whether
beneficial or not, regardless of the vote in the United States Senate.
(14) However, this discussion of the possibilities of economic gain to the Port and railroads leads to the other
"sectional question", namely how will the St. Lawrence Seaway help Massachusetts? There have been a great
many claims advanced along the lines that it would be of help to my state; but I have studied them with care and
must say in all frankness that I think they are wholly speculative at best. I know of no direct economic benefit to
the economy of Massachusetts or any segment thereof from the Seaway, and I have been urged to oppose the
Seaway on these grounds, inasmuch as the initial investment, even though repaid, will come in part from
Massachusetts tax revenues.
(15) But I am unable to accept such a narrow view of my functions as United States Senator; and in speaking on
the Senate floor on behalf of the New England economy I stressed my opposition to the idea that "New England's
interest is best served by opposing Federal programs which contribute to the well-being of the country,
particularly when those programs increase the purchasing power of New England's customers. Where Federal
action is necessary and appropriate, it is my firm belief that New England must fight for those national policies."
(16) Moreover, I have sought the support of Senators from all sections of the country in my efforts on behalf of
New England, pointing out to them not only the concern which they should have for an important region in our
country, but also the fact that an increase in economic activity in New England would benefit the nation as a
whole. For these reasons, I cannot oppose the Seaway because the direct economic benefits will go largely to the
Great Lakes and Middle Western areas. I could not conscientiously take such a position, and at the same time
expect support from the Senators in the Middle West or any other part of the country for those programs and
projects of aid to New England.
(17) The Seaway is going to be built; the only question is the part we shall play in opening our fourth coastline.
To those in my state and elsewhere who oppose our participation in the construction of this project for national
security merely because the economic benefits go elsewhere, I would say that it has been this arbitrary refusal of
many New Englanders to recognize the legitimate needs and aspirations of other sections which has contributed
to the neglect of, and even opposition to, the needs of our own region by the representatives of other areas. We
cannot continue so narrow and destructive a position. As was so well stated by a famous Massachusetts Senator
over 100 years ago, our aim should not be "States dissevered, discordant, (or) belligerent"; but "One country,
one Constitution, one destiny."

Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy at the Cathedral


Club, Brooklyn, New York, January 21, 1954
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

The Major responsibility facing the Congress, indeed the entire country, is the maintenance of a strong and
vigorous foreign policy. The function of that policy, of course, is to protect the security of the United States, to
keep the peace if possible, and to retain on the side of the free world the balance of power. A foreign policy is
constituted of many ingredients. Certainly of fundamental importance to its success is our military strength; for
even though it is unused, its potential adds significance to our every action. The truth of this axiom is readily
apparent from a study of the post-war foreign policy of the Soviet Union. For no country in the recent history of
the world, with the exception perhaps of Hitler during the Munich crisis, has used the threat of a powerful army
equipped for instant war with more effectiveness than have the Russians. It has been the factor which has won
them in the critical years from 1945 to the present time success after success, though not a single Russian soldier
has been forced to sacrifice his life during this period. It is equally apparent that military strength is a vital
ingredient of an effective American foreign policy. To our failure to possess it in 1950 can be attributed in great
measure the beginning of the Korean War and many other setbacks to our hopes and aspirations in the last 9
years. Thus the maintenance of a military potential second to none is of fundamental importance not only for
defense in case of war but for the peacetime security of the United States.
Today the President submitted to the Congress a military budget which reflects the fiscal aspects of the
fundamental shift in the implementation of our foreign policy which was indicated by Secretary Dulles in his
speech earlier this week before the Council on Foreign Relations here in New York. This change in policy had
momentous implications for all Americans and should be so understood; for, while it may decrease the prospect,
as has been argued, of successive Koreas scattered throughout the world, it may also, if our warnings are not
heeded, increase the possibility of the United States being forced to become involved in atomic action. Secretary
Dulles gave clear warning to the Chinese and Russian leaders, in his speech in New York, that if they should
begin another limited Korean-type war the homeland of neither the Chinese nor the Russians would be a
sanctuary from direct atomic attack by the strategic air force of the United States. Mr. Dulles stated "the way to
deter aggression is for the free community to be willing and able to respond vigorously at places and with means
of its own choosing." Secretary Dulles and the leaders of the present administration have obviously concluded
that the West can no longer afford to fight a series of marginal wars or successive police actions which sap our
strength and neutralize our friends. It is preferable, they believe, to face the enemy with prospects of all-out
warfare, rather than drift through years of perpetual discord and struggle.
Basically this represents a change in our approach to the problem of containing the expansion of the Soviet
Union, which has too often tended, as Secretary Dulles pointed out, to be merely a reflex action to Soviet
initiative. Our policy of containment originated in 1947 when the Communists, in defiance of the World War II
agreement between the Russians and Winston Churchill, attempted by intensive guerilla action to seize control of
Greece, which had been placed under the protection of the free world. In response to this threat, President
Truman came before Congress and, by requesting assistance for Greece and Turkey, originated the Truman
doctrine. Later that year there was spelled out in the Foreign Affairs Quarterly, in an article by Mr. X, later
identified as George Kennan, the leading Soviet expert in the American State Department, a comprehensive and
detailed analysis of what steps would be necessary to prevent the Soviets from seizing strategic areas in the world,
areas vital to our security. The implementation of this policy called for the building of strength in those areas
surrounding the post war Soviet zone of control, stretching in a great half moon from Norway down through
Greece and Turkey to the Middle East across to the Orient through Japan to Alaska. The purpose was to prevent
gradual deterioration in our position and a consequent increase in the relative strength of the Communist bloc,
resulting finally in a situation where the Communists could face the prospects of war with a certitude of victory.
Though the immediate threat then was in the Eastern Mediterrean, the general challenge was not alone to the
Greeks and Turks, and it became obvious that further assistance in other areas was necessary. Thus, in 1948
economic assistance to Western Europe on a massive scale was started through the Marshall Plan. We realized at
that time, with the atomic monopoly held by the United States, that the chief threat to our security was not a
military one, but rather from the danger that the standard of living of the people of Western Europe would fall
below the marginal level, and that active and vigorous Communist parties within those countries would profit
from their hardships. By 1949, however, it was apparent that, although the Communist challenge was world-
wide, our assistance was concentrated. The Communist threat became especially heavy in the Middle East and
Southeast Asia. Dominated by colonial powers for more than a century, with a large percentage of their people
unable to read or write, with an average income in many of the areas of $40 or $50 a year, and a life expectancy
in the poorest country of 25 or 26 years, the people of this great region stretching from the eastern
Mediterranean to the South China Sea offered a ready target to Communist infiltration. To give them some
confidence that under a free system they could hope for a better life, to counter the Soviet subversion and
propaganda, the United States initiated programs of technical assistance and propaganda, for all the countries
along the Soviet underbelly. These programs, of course, are still in effect and have had, in some areas, significant
results.
Towards the end of 1949 it became obvious, however, that the Soviets were concentrating on building up and
maintaining the most powerful military forces in the world, forces which, as I have said, provided power and
support to their diplomacy and propaganda, encouragement to their supporters and a constant threat to their
enemies. In 1949, therefore, we initiated the North Atlantic Treaty, which not only provided for mutual
cooperation in building up military forces in the West, but also resulted in the United States' guarantees of the
territorial integrity of all NATO powers. We hoped by this means to avoid the mistakes of World War I and II
where doubts about our ultimate actions were sufficient to encourage the Germans to commence military action
without fear of the United States. It was our hope that the warning of United States' retaliation in case of a
Western European invasion would offset the weakness of European armies at that time and would prevent the
Russians from marching to an easy victory. Even today, after three years of build-up, a build-up substantially
slower than our earlier hopes for the NATO forces, this threat of American retaliation remains the chief defense
of the Continent of Europe.
Since then the military guarantees of NATO have been widened; we are attempting to include within a mutual
defense pact the major countries of the Eastern Mediterranean. The day may come when neutralism ceases to
hold itself out as a practical alternative for many of the peoples of Asia and our system of mutual guarantees will
become world-wide.
But until this is accomplished, the new policy announced last week faces grave difficulties and dangers. It would
be difficult, for example, for the United States to commence atomic retaliation against communist aggression in
Burma, if Burma had from the beginning of the cold war shown uninterest in the cause of the free world and
opposed vigorously any action that would result in closer defense arrangements with us.
But this prospect of a unilateral world-wide Monroe Doctrine for the Atomic Age is only one of the complications
of the new policy. A second complication, that of the limitation on atomic weapons against current communist
tactics, is suggested by the present war in French Indochina. The war there has been proceeding with growing
intensity since 1945. The burden has been borne almost totally by the French who have lost more officers than
yearly graduate from the French military academy at St. Cyr. The French fight there against the communist
forces of the Viet Minh, the native armies led by Ho Chi Minh, who despite his record as a lifelong communist,
has influence penetrating all groups of society because of his years of battle against French colonialism.
French Indochina offers a sharp contrast with the struggle in Korea. There we were supporting a courageous and
valiant native government in their desire to be independent of the Communists. In French Indochina, because of
the decades of heavy and unilateral control that the French have maintained over this Colony, the native people
too often tend to regard the French as the real oppressors, and the rebel forces, even though Communist, as
liberators. Thus the natives have played, unlike the South Koreans, a relatively small part in the war against the
Communist; the burden has been carried chiefly by the French with an increasingly large investment in military
assistance by ourselves, and the prospects of a Communist defeat become more distant. The pressures in France
are growing steadily for cutting their investment and loss, and either withdrawing or working out an
arrangement for a negotiated peace with the leaders of Viet Minh - a peace, I must add, which will in my opinion
ultimately and inevitably result in Communist domination in French Indochina. For Indochina is probably the
only country in the world where many observers believe the Communist-led element would win a free election.
Moreover, since the end of the Korean war, the Chinese, who were hard pressed in the fighting - probably more
hard pressed than we ever imagined at the time - have now been able to catch their breath. Their assistance to the
forces of Viet Minh is thus steadily growing, and they themselves, and this is a most significant fact, are steadily
increasing their own military strength. Some observers believe that within two years the Chinese Communists
will have developed over 150 modern divisions. They will then become, after the Soviet Union and the United
States, the greatest single military power in the world, lacking only an atomic arsenal and an industrial capacity
to sustain it, to put them in the first rank. This power will be under the direction of native leadership which has
increasingly evidenced aggressive and rapacious intentions towards the countries along their southern border.
Under these circumstances, we must ask how the new Dulles policy and its dependence upon the threat of atomic
retaliation will fare in these areas of guerrilla warfare. At what point would the threat of atomic weapons be used
in the struggles in Southeast Asia - in French Indochina - particularly where the chief burden is carried on the
one side by native communists and on the other by the troops of a Western power, which once held the country
under colonial rule? Under these conditions at what point would our new policy come into play? All observers
agree that it is vital to the security of all of Southeast Asia that Indochina remain free from Communist
domination, for if Indochina should be lost undoubtedly within a short time, Burma, Thailand, Malaya and
Indonesia and other now independent states might fall under control of the Communist bloc in a series of chain
reactions. Such an occurrence obviously would have the most serious consequences for all the Middle East and
Europe, and indeed for our own security. Thus French Indochina may well be the keystone to the defense of all of
Asia.
But if the Chinese do not intervene directly, and merely increase their supplies to the native Communist forces,
and send informal "volunteer" missions to assist in the training of troops and the handling of more complicated
equipment, at what point would it ever be possible for us in the words of Secretary Dulles to employ "massive
retaliatory power"? It seems to me that we could be placed in a most difficult position of either giving no aid at
all of the kind that is necessary to bring victory to us in that area, or the wrong kind of aid which would alienate
the people of great sections of the world who might feel that the remedy was worse than the disease. Of course,
Mr. Dulles feels that the threat of attack will prevent the brush fires from starting far more effectively than could
subsequent efforts to assist the forces of freedom in each of these areas against the well entrenched communist
guerilla or native armies. But once the brush fire begins to spread, and particularly if it spreads through a series
of localized combustions, then the new policy might be confronted with a serious dilemma.
The third question presented by Mr. Dulles' policy involves the constitutional and political nature of our
government. Under the Constitution the President must seek the consent of Congress for a declaration of war;
and even in the absence of a formal declaration, congressional consent would be required before such a drastic
step could be taken as ordering our strategic air force into action against a country who might retaliate with
bombs on our own citizens. And yet, if the President goes to the Congress and asks their consent, does he not give
a warning to the enemy of our intentions, a warning that might under present conditions permit retaliation on us
before our own blow became effective? Here again you can see that the "new strategy" most recently announced
by the Secretary of State has implications of the utmost seriousness. We will not now, as formerly, resist
aggression wherever it occurs. Now the United States is being committed to instant retaliation against the
aggressor anywhere we choose with any weapons we choose. Now we are making it clear to the Communists that
an act of aggression will be followed by retaliation by the United States on the home territory of China or Russia.
Thus, we have witnessed how far the United States has come since the neutralism of the 30s.
Some may ask whether the American people have been able to adjust their thinking so rapidly and so extensively
as to support a policy which, under a broad interpretation, could call for instant atomic attack upon the
homeland of any aggressor against any country in any part of the world.
I would not maintain for a moment that the policy of containment which has undergone steady revision and
improvement since 1946 should not be constantly and critically re-examined. But, the people of the United States
in their consideration of the new policy enunciated by the President and Secretary of State Dulles, with all of its
implications concerning our military manpower and our relations with other nations, are entitled to the fullest
answers of at least these three basic questions:
First, what would be the relationship of this policy to any attacks upon those nations who may at that time be
neutral or unfriendly in their attitudes toward a defensive alliance with the United States?
Second, of what value would atomic retaliation be in opposing a Communist advance which rested not upon
military invasion but upon local insurrection and political deterioration?
Third, does this new policy depend for its success on the relinquishment by Congress of its traditional, though
time consuming and well publicized power to consent to our involvement in all-out atomic war?
Foreign policy, is of course, a bi-partisan affair; and I do agree with Secretary Dulles' general objective of
preventing a series of exhausting, though localized, engagements of military manpower. Nor do I seek
Congressional interference in the Executive's responsibility for the conduct of our foreign affairs. On the
contrary, I would oppose any constitutional amendment or other attempt to restrict that executive responsibility.
But I think that all of us have our own responsibility to call attention to what we believe to be the implications of
those policies into which we might otherwise drift without a public awareness of their significance. In this
country, one of our most fundamental rights is to petition and question the Executive and Legislative branches of
the Government about the policies which they pursue. I raise these questions tonight, not only for the
consideration of high officials of our government, but also because no foreign or domestic policy can be
effectively maintained in a Democracy such as ours unless it is understood and supported by the great majority of
the people. In an era of supersonic attack and atomic retaliation, extended public debate and education are of no
avail once such a policy must be implemented. The time to study, no doubt, to review and revise - is now. For
upon our decisions now may well rest the peace and security of the world - indeed the very continued existence of
Mankind.

Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy at meeting of The


Young Presidents Organization at Harvard Business
School on January 23, 1954
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. There is one copy of this
speech in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.
It is a privilege to meet at the Harvard Business School with the Young Presidents Organization of the United
States.
It seems to me that there is before the Congress today one fundamental issue which has more significance to
growing businesses than any other: that of maintaining and expanding our business prosperity and preventing
the disaster of a serious recession. Experience has shown that it is the new, independent and growing businesses
which are hit first and hardest in a declining economy.
I do not think it is necessary with this group to go into detail concerning current economic indicators, and
whether they portend a serious decline in the near future. I would like instead to discuss what Congress and the
Federal Government should be doing in this area to prevent any serious set-back from occurring, whether that be
termed a "rolling readjustment" or "orthodox recession." I realize that the President will set forth his program
in his economic message next Thursday; but I would like to take this opportunity to outline my views as to what
such an anti-recession program should entail.
The fundamental premise upon which such a program must be based, in my opinion, is that the foundation of the
American economy is the American consumer. Too frequently this is overlooked by those preparing the
programs aimed at maintaining prosperity and full employment. Neither a program of psychological confidence
or tax assistance to investors will induce plant expansion on the part of those industries now cutting back for lack
of customers. The recent decline in department store and other retail sales, which further cuts production in our
basic industries, may be traced directly to the decline in national and personal income caused not by lower farm
prices but the steady fall in manufacturing hours and employment since last July. During this same period of
time, the rate of unemployment has risen at a higher rate than that which accompanied the economic decline of
1949; and lay-offs in a wide variety of manufacturing industries have been increasing, the labor force has been
decreasing, and the hiring rate has dropped. In short, Congress must at this session consider the ways and means
of increasing the employment, the income and the purchasing power of the consumer; and through such
stimulation of purchasing power indirectly stimulating industrial investment and expansion.
I would like to mention briefly seven non-partisan legislative steps which should be included in any minimum
anti-recession program:
1. First, we must counteract an economic decline with tax reductions. This is, of course, an easy and traditional
method of keeping additional funds in the hands of consumers. But to be effective, it cannot be an across-the-
board percentage reduction which benefits primarily those in the higher income brackets, nor can it be effected
primarily in the fields of corporate taxation or dividends. Instead, (a) We should reduce the present level of excise
taxes which are a direct tax upon, and therefore a discouragement to, consumption.
(b) We should raise the current dependency exemption from the present outmoded figure of $600 to a level
possibly as high as $1,000, in order to increase the purchasing power available to the large family consumers who
should be our best customers.
(c) We should raise the taxable income level beneath which no tax is required from the present $600 to a level
possibly as high as $1500, in order to make certain that the benefits will accrue largely to those in the lower
income group. For it is this latter group whose income is channeled primarily into the purchase of your products,
rather than personal savings or investment.
(d) Of course, I need not add that it would be unthinkable to reverse this trend by imposing a manufacturers
excise tax or sales tax, which would directly decrease purchasing power and discourage consumption.
2. Secondly, we must strengthen our unemployment compensation system. Our experience in 1949 indicated that
this program was one of the bulwarks in maintaining national income at a time when employment was suffering a
serious decline. But unless important improvements are made in the system, it will not prove adequate as a means
of maintaining purchasing power should a full recession get underway.
(a) Coverage of workers for unemployment compensation benefits should be extended to those employed by
smaller firms, the Federal Government, and others exempted under the present law.
(b) The Federal Law should be amended to provide minimum standards for the amount of benefits paid to
unemployed workers, and the duration of the period for which such payments may be made. The wide variation
in state plans today not only denies adequate protection to workers in many parts of the country, but also
discriminates between employers with respect to their tax burden in support of the program.
(c) A Federal program of reinsurance should be established, whereby the unemployment funds presently
accumulating in the general Treasury would be utilized in a national reinsurance fund to be drawn upon by those
states whose reserves are dangerously depleted by a heavy run of unemployment. Even under the recent
prosperity, many states, of which Rhode Island is the most notable example, find the solvency of their state
unemployment compensation reserves threatened by years of chronic unemployment. There is pending before the
Senate Finance Committee at the present time a bill passed by the House which I regard as a step in the opposite
direction of this goal; for it provides only for loans, repayable under harsh conditions, rather than reinsurance;
and it distributes the greater portion of these accumulated funds to all of the states regardless of need or the use
to which such funds should be put.
(d) It has also been suggested that such Federal funds may be necessary to provide supplementary benefits to
individuals whose unemployment is the result of mobilization readjustment, or the consequences of developments
in technology or international trade.
3. Third, we must strengthen our social security program in order to provide more adequate purchasing power
for those consumers who, being past the retirement age, draw neither wages, unemployment benefits nor other
substantial sources of income.
(a) Social security coverage should be extended to an additional 10 million persons a year, including farm
operators and workers, lawyers and other self-employed professional persons, additional public employees and
domestic workers, fishermen, and others.
(b) The benefit level must be increased, inasmuch as the present minimum of $25 a month is obviously
inadequate to maintain a decent standard of living, even when supplemented by personal savings and other
income. I have joined in recommending changes in the wage base and benefits bases, as well as an increase in the
minimum.
(c) Protection should be extended to those forced to retire before age 65 by reason of a total or permanent
disability. This is one of the glaring gaps in this country's social insurance protection today.
(d) Other improvements are required in our social security program, including the amount of permissible
monthly earnings under the retirement test, and other eligibility requirements. Such changes must, of course, be
financed on the present basis of a social insurance reserve adequate to meet the needs of the system.
4. Fourth, a more solid floor of purchasing power should be established through strengthening of our Fair Labor
Standards Acts.
(a) A minimum wage of 75¢ an hour is obviously outdated and permits the exploitation of too many workers at
submarginal levels. I have introduced legislation to raise this minimum to at least $1 an hour, thereby assuring
workers of a more decent wage and enabling them to maintain a more decent living standard through increased
consumption.
(b) The coverage of the Fair Labor Standards Act, like Social Security and Unemployment Compensation, must
also be extended to many millions of workers now exempted from its protection.
(c) The Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act, which prevents the tremendous spending power of the Federal
Government from contributing to a lowering of these standards, is similarly in need of improvement. The
Fulbright Amendment passed 2 years ago has made difficult the effective adoption of industry-wide minima, and
should be clarified or repealed.
5. Fifth, and I turn now from direct income stimulants to the area of maintaining employment, we must make
certain that a reservoir of necessary public works is available, and the funds therefore appropriated, such
reservoir to be utilized before a recession is well underway. Public works are now recognized as a basic, although
in my opinion limited, method of providing additional employment opportunities. Certainly it can hardly be
denied that there remains a tremendous need in this country for additional housing, hospitals, schools, dams,
highways and other projects, all of which could be integrated into a public works program far more effective
than those hastily but belatedly begun 20 years ago. Such a program aids not only those employed upon such
projects, but also the steel, lumber, machine tool, cement and other industries whose goods, services or
equipment will be required.
6. Sixth, the Federal Government must adopt a more effective defense manpower policy to relieve spot
unemployment in various areas of the country. The recent furor over President Eisenhower's support of the new
Defense Manpower Policy No. 4, which is loosely intended to encourage the awarding of defense contracts to
plants in areas of serious unemployment, has concealed the shortcomings of this policy. The new program
represents a reduction in the efforts exercised under the previous policy, particularly in its elimination of bid-
matching provisions, and needs considerable improvement if it is to be of any assistance to the textile centers of
New England, the coal mining areas of the Appalachians and the other so-called distressed areas in all parts of
the country.
7. Seventh, a program of industrial job retraining should be adopted in order to enlarge the job opportunities for
workers laid off in declining industries. If the thousands of unemployed textile workers of Lawrence,
Massachusetts, for example, could be trained to relieve the shortage of employment in the electronic or other
more technical industries willing to expand in Lawrence or elsewhere, we would have struck at this problem of
unemployment before its effects could multiply throughout other segments of the economy.
I sincerely believe that this briefly outlined program is one on which all men of goodwill can unite. Partly for that
reason, I omitted discussion of other fundamental but more controversial problems affecting our economy.
Certainly, for example, (a) we must have a program which maintains a prosperous agricultural economy.
(b) Our monetary and credit policies, although of less value in stimulating consumption, must certainly not be
applied in the opposite direction.
(c) Tax and credit aids to investment and expansion, as previously mentioned, are of importance, but are of
particular importance if they can result in the modernization of machinery which would bring lower prices and
additional consumption.
(d) We learned in the 30's that collective bargaining by labor organizations was an instrument for general
economic advance; and I believe that the Taft-Hartley Law must be amended to prevent undue restrictions on
such collective bargaining.
(e) Properly expanded international trade;
(f) Protection against the economic consequences of ill health, and
(g) Loans to bring small businesses through tight spots, are among the other items which must of necessity be
included in such a program. Of course, our present programs of
(h) Insuring mortgages and
(i) bank deposits, and
(j) curbing excessive or fraudulent speculation in securities, must be continued.
(k) In addition, Congress should reexamine and strengthen the Employment Act of 1946, in order to make it a
true "full employment" act.
Consideration should be given to providing comprehensive powers to deal with such a situation on a stand-by
basis, to be utilized when conditions warrant. I must confess my own disappointment in the lack of any new or
magic formula with which to meet these problems; but I nevertheless believe that, with these weapons, we can
meet the challenge of economic decline; and the growing businesses of which you are the chief executives will
continue to grow.

Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy at the


Introduction of Governor G. Mennen Williams of
Michigan to the Massachusetts Democratic Party at the
Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, Boston, January 23, 1954
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One copy of this speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of this speech is given at the bottom of this page.

It is a great privilege to welcome to Massachusetts as speaker for the evening, Governor G. Mennen Williams of
Michigan. It is my pleasant task to serve in a dual capacity, and not only introduce Governor Williams to the
Democratic Party of our state, but also to introduce the Massachusetts Democratic Party to Governor Williams.
Governor, I want you to meet the Democrats of The Bay State. Perhaps you have heard from the Democratic
National Committee, as was reported in the January issue of Fortune magazine, that this is the "worst state in the
Union to deal with because there is no one to deal with." In short, the Democratic Party here, its leaders and its
members, wear the brand of no man, no boss and no machine. Such courageous and fighting leaders as Ex-
Governor Dever, Congressman McCormack, Ex-Mayor Curley, and the late Maurice Tobin have all maintained
their individual independence regardless of any attempts to control their votes, their actions, and their minds.
Such a diversity may be a cause for despair to the Democratic National Committee and those interested in the
smooth dispensation of patronage - that is, back in the days when patronage was a subject of interest in to the
Democrats. But it is not a source of despair or shame to the Massachusetts Democrats; on the contrary, we are
proud of our independence and we intend to maintain it regardless of what others may say or write about us.
Such a course is not always easy; for, as pointed out by Edmund Burke many years ago: "Those who would carry
on the work of the public must be hardened to expect the most grievous disappointments, the most shocking
insults, and what is worst of all, the presumptuous judgment of the ignorant upon their actions."
I have no doubt, Governor Williams, that you too have been subjected to attacks by those seeking to control your
office or your party. But I know from your record that you have always maintained the principles of political
freedom and integrity which are fundamental to the vigor and progress of the Democratic Party. I know of your
courage, and your service overseas as a Lieut. Comdr. in the Navy, and of your decoration of the Legion of Merit
and the Presidential Citation. I know of your experience in Washington, as a Government lawyer for the Social
Security Board and the Department of Justice before the war and Deputy Director of OPA shortly after the war.
We all know that as Governor of Michigan since your election in 1948, you have given inspired leadership to the
problems of unemployment which have, form time to time, affected areas within your state. It is therefore with
great pleasure that I welcome you here tonight on behalf of all of the citizens of Massachusetts; that I have
introduced to you, Governor, our fighting, independent and progressive Democratic Party; and it is with great
pleasure that I introduce to the Democratic Party, the fighting, independent and progressive Governor of
Michigan, Governor G. Mennen Williams.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy to the American


Federation of Labor National Legislative Council on
Tuesday, February 16, 1954
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of this speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Library. A link to page images of the draft is given at the
bottom of this page.

One week ago the American Federation of Labor, through its Executive Council meeting in Miami, Florida,
reached an historic decision: to do battle against that current practice which undermines the stability of our
economy and the security of our wage earners - the runaway shop. 1500 hat workers in South Norwalk,
Connecticut, have been on strike for more than 6 months because their employer refuses to include in their
contract a job security clause protecting the income of the workers should the company continue its transfer of
operations elsewhere. Last year, despite the recurrent optimism voiced by many New England organizations,
over 4,000 workers in one industry alone - the textile industry - lost their jobs due to the southward migration of
textile mills from New England, New York and Pennsylvania. Last year, workers in a score of industries
throughout the New England and Middle Atlantic states, and to a lesser extent other parts of the country, were
told that they would be forced to take wage cuts in order to meet low wage competition from other areas, or else
face the prospects of a move by their employers to such low wage areas.
The American Federation of Labor and other organizations who seek to do battle against this industry migration
are doing what is only right and necessary. This is not an issue between North and South, nor between labor and
management. Instead it is an issue that concerns the stability and integrity of our entire national economy. When
I spoke in Chattanooga, Tennessee last December on this problem, I discussed as a prime example of the unfair
competitive practices utilized in moving industry from one section of the country to another the issuance of tax-
free municipal bonds, a practice I shall discuss with you shortly. That very week, the citizens of Knoxville,
Tennessee discovered that their state law permitting this practice could be turned against them when a large mill
in Knoxville was induced to abandon that location for a tax-free plant in a small Tennessee community. North
Carolina has experienced an outmigration of hosiery mills to lower wage areas. Businessmen and labor officials
in all parts of the country have indicated to me their concern over the problem of runaway plants which affect
the prosperity of their community, the payrolls of their workers and the fairness of competition in all parts of the
country.
It is only rare that an obvious example of a runaway plant presents itself. More often, the process is more subtle
and indirect than a simultaneous liquidation of a New England plant and a transfer of these operations to
southern plants. Instead, firms start by operating mills in both New England and the South, then tend to abandon
their northern plants in periods of decline and later expand their southern operations when prosperity returns.
This is true not only of movements from North to South, but movements within a region or even from this
country to locations in Puerto Rico or elsewhere.
Of course, natural advantages have been responsible for a large share of this industrial migration. A larger
supply of labor, primarily from the farms; nearness to raw materials and production factors; and greater space
are among the many advantages which attract industries to the South or rural areas away from the cities of New
England and the North. But you and I know that these are not the only reasons; and I am certain that the
National Legislative Council of the American Federation of Labor is interested in those Federal policies which
have a bearing upon this problem. Certainly we are justified in maintaining that the policies of the Federal
Government should not contribute to the practice of runaway shops. Neither should they be so inadequate, in
terms of standards or protection offered, that these serious abuses of fair competition, with all their consequences
upon the national economy and interstate commerce, may prevail.
The list of Federal programs and policies which affect industrial dislocation is a staggering one. Federal power
policies have enabled a manufacturer to move to Chattanooga where his annual electric bill is less than half of
what it would be in Boston. The Fulbright Amendment to the Walsh-Healey Act permits southern cotton mills to
pay outrageous low wages on Government contracts, far below the level paid by New England textile
manufacturers. The newly announced policy on channeling defense contracts to distressed areas of substantial
labor surplus, recently endorsed by President Eisenhower, does nothing to permit New England textile mills to
gain an equal footing with the runaway shops and other southern plants in obtaining such contracts. The use of
the capital gains tax as an incentive for liquidation, and the tax-exempt status of charitable organizations as a
method of tax avoidance, have both been used by those engaged in moving industry to the low wage areas. The
developing markets and industry in the South, which we should not oppose, have been due to a great extent to
RFC loans, Federally constructed or financed power projects, soil conservation programs, farm price supports,
grants-in-aid, construction projects, military installations, tax amortization certificates, and other policies and
programs of the Federal government. Moreover, if we are to expand and diversify industry in our older areas in
order to replace the traditional industries lost through migration, we must consider a program which might well
include providing loans and assistance to small business, retraining unemployed industrial workers, providing
tax amortization benefits for industries expanding in areas of chronic unemployment, developing natural
resources, and aiding local industrial development agencies. We must provide more adequate security for the
jobless and aged who are the victims of industrial dislocation. Equal consideration must be given to all areas in
the administration of policies dealing with tax write-offs, transportation rates, and government contracts and
projects; for these should not be factors inducing plant migration.
The average hourly wage paid most of the workers in your organizations are far in excess of $1.50 an hour; but
because the Federal minimum wage is only half of that figure, an outdated 75¢ an hour, many industries
migrating to rural communities of the South pay workers only that less than subsistence wage, and those
employees under learner permits even less. The President has seen fit to make no recommendation upon
increasing the minimum wage or expanding its coverage at this time. But current economic uncertainty, far from
justifying a delay in taking this step, requires immediate action in order to bring a more realistic floor beneath
the purchasing power of our workers. The old fears of unemployment, and price increases repeated by the
President's message have been amply disproven by experience under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the most
recent data on wage rates. I have previously mentioned the practice of building plants with tax-exempt municipal
bonds as an inducement to runaway plants. Those of us, including your organization, who have pointed out the
destructiveness of this practice to those who utilize it and those at whom it is aimed, were gratified by the decision
of the House Ways and Means Committee to repeal the Federal tax exemption on the interest from such bonds;
even this small step was modified so as to permit such bonds to remain tax free, and merely prevent the
manufacturer who receives such plants from deducting the rent he may pay on them to the municipality. Such a
provision is, of course, inadequate to meet this problem, particularly where a lease of the tax-free plant is not
involved.
As many of you know, I discussed each of these items in some detail in a series of three speeches delivered to the
Senate last May, wherein I set forth the problems of the older area and the area hit by industrial dislocation; and
suggested some 40 proposals to help meet these problems. Time does not permit an examination of each of these
this morning; but I would like to mention briefly one Federal policy which is of primary importance in this field,
and which will be considered by the present session of Congress: The Taft-Hartley Law.
First, let us consider the effect of the Taft-Hartley Law upon the problem of runaway plants. I am frequently told
that no one can demonstrate that the Taft-Hartley Law has in any way affected the organization of southern
industry or the movement of industry from North to South. I am sure you would not agree with that conclusion.
Statistics with respect to the unionization of our non-agricultural labor force, and with respect to the
organizational attempts of individual unions in the South, indicate very clearly that the passage of the Taft-
Hartley Law has frozen unionization to the disadvantage of New England and the cities of the North, and to the
advantage of those employers who seek to avoid unions by moving South. The degree of unionization, as you well
know, affects wages, fringe benefits, workloads, the cost of working and safety conditions, and managerial
prerogatives. Thus a non-union plant is able to operate at a cost differential which threatens the competitive
position of the employer and his workers in a unionized plant; and a non-union area offers this feature as an
added inducement to industrial migration. Indeed, the National Labor Relations Board has recently held that
employer statements which threatened plant migration if the workers supported a union was not a threat and
therefore not in violation of the so-called "free speech section."
Many sections of the Taft-Hartley Act are of concern to us here, not only in general but also because of their
effect upon industrial dislocation. The complete elimination of the closed shop, provisions for decertification of
weak unions and the encouragement of empty and evasive collective bargaining have all made more difficult the
organization of more newly industrialized areas. The sweeping ban on secondary boycotts requires garment
workers to handle textiles from runaway or substandard plants, a defect not corrected by the President's minor
recommendations on this point. The lengthy and tangled procedures and filing requirements of the Taft-Hartley
Law have led to unnecessary delays and expenditures and in effect nullify the protection of the Act for weak
unions in hostile atmospheres. The ban on participation of economic strikers in representation elections, which
will be felt even more heavily during a time of surplus labor and unemployment, has already broken the union in
those cases where strike breakers have replaced 51% or more of the strikers. Again, the recommendation of the
President falls short in attempting to correct this abuse.
However, the two sections of the Taft-Hartley Law which have probably done more damage in this field than any
others are those dealing with the pre-election and "free speech" rights of employers and employees; and those
dealing with the priority and jurisdiction of state anti-labor laws. With respect, first of all, to the free speech
section, many examples could be cited to show the effects upon labor union organization and elections of hostile
speech which, under the Act, could not even be considered as evidence of an unfair labor practice. I know of no
other field of law where a man's statements cannot be introduced as evidence to show his motives for performing
a subsequent act, simply because such statements were worded in such a way as to refrain from directly making
threats or promises. Moreover, the recent decisions of the NLRB in the Livingston Shirt and other cases indicate
that a still wider latitude will be given to the immunity afforded such statements, regardless of their effect upon
representation elections, and unions will not be permitted an equal chance to reply. The Smith Bill, which
purports to represent the President's views on Taft-Hartley, seeks to write into the statue the application of this
doctrine to representation elections. This is far different from the amendment which is needed, which would
permit the use of such statements as evidence in the light of the context in which they were uttered and similarly
prevent interference in representation elections by outside pressure groups who do not directly represent the
employer but further his interests.
With respect to the issue of Federal-state jurisdiction, the Taft-Hartley Law again adopts a position which
discourages union security and encourages industrial migration. Under section 14(b), state laws prohibiting the
union shop or other union security agreement take precedence over the Taft-Hartley Act, which permits a
modified form of union shop, as long as they are more restrictive than Taft-Hartley. These so-called right-to-
work laws apply to all plants within the state where such laws are on the books, regardless of whether the plants
are in interstate commerce and regardless of whether a union shop has been agreed upon by a national employer
and union, each of whom has units in several states. At least 16 southern or agricultural states were encouraged
by section 14(b) to adopt these more restrictive state laws. In states such as Massachusetts, on the other hand,
union security provisions more liberal than Taft-Hartley are not permitted to prevail. Thus a company may
avoid a union shop, and frequently as a result any union at all, by moving from Massachusetts to one of these 16
states.
Any doubt as to the effect upon industrial migration of this provision of the Taft-Hartley Law, and the state
right-to-work laws which it engenders, was removed in my opinion by the message sent to the South Carolina
Legislature on January 19th of this year by South Carolina's Governor James F. Byrnes. Permit me to quote
from the text of that message:
"South Carolina is engaged in free but serious competition with other southern states to secure new industrial
plants and the expansion of existing plants. The competition is keen. It will become keener in the days ahead of
us. New plants will come here because we have an abundant supply of loyal and intelligent workers….In our
effort to increase the number of industries and thereby increase the number of jobs for wage earners we have one
handicap. Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas, Arizona, Iowa,
Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota and South Dakota. Each has a "right-to-work statute". It declares the policy of
the state is that no person shall be denied the right to work because he is a member of a union or because he is
not a member of a union. But in South Carolina there is no right-to-work statute. Thus, South Carolina's natural
advantage of willing and competent workers has been lessened by the recent enactment of right-to-work
legislation in other southern states are actively engaged in having South Carolina manufacturers move plants to
their states."
Certainly Governor Byrnes' statement is clear evidence of the inducements to runaway plants encouraged by the
Taft-Hartley Law. Not only should section 14(b) be eliminated, but an amendment should be added making clear
that Federal law in matters of union security and other rights protected by the Act should prevail in interstate
commerce. Such an amendment, you may recall, was included in Senator Taft's Bill unanimously reported by the
82nd Congress' Senate Labor Committee with respect to union security in the building trade.
Unfortunately, the recommendation of the President was again in the opposite direction. Instead of asserting the
superiority of Federal law in regard to this Federal problem, the Senate bill proposes to permit any state to take
any action of any kind in any strike that it deems to be an emergency. This can mean compulsory arbitration,
labor injunctions, imprisonment of strikers, and a number of other remedies which a state may choose to exercise
if it decides to label a strike as an emergency. The enactment of the states' rights and free speech provisions of the
Smith Bill, even if accompanied by all of the other minor improvements recommended by the President, would
make the Taft-Hartley Law far worse than it is today, and accentuate the movement of plants from organized to
unorganized areas. As pointed out by President Meany in his statement to our Committee a week ago, "The bill
falls far short of the general overhauling of the Act which is necessary before it can be called fair to the workers
of this country."
In view of the widespread interest which has recently been expressed in this problem of runaway plants, and the
many serious questions it raises for our economy and its stability, particularly as a general economic decline gets
under way, I suggest to you that the American Federation of Labor, together with the C.I.O. and other interested
organizations, call a conference in Washington on the problem of industrial migration. Such a conference, with
experts and leaders from all fields and all parts of the country, could perform a valuable service, not only by
alerting the public and our Government officials to this problem, but also by examining public and private
methods of preventing such migration from occurring, and of alleviating the problems which such migration
creates. I submit this suggestion to you for your consideration; and I appreciate the opportunity to be with you
today to discuss this matter.
The Taft-Hartley Law and Industrial Migration
1. The Taft-Hartley Law has frozen unionization. The degree of unionization affects wages, fringe benefits,
workloads, the cost of working and safety conditions, and managerial prerogatives.
2. Harmful provisions of Taft-Hartley: In general.
a. The complete elimination of the closed shop, provision for decertification of weak unions, and the
encouragement of empty and evasive collective bargaining, have all made more difficult the organization of more
newly industrialized areas.
b. The sweeping ban on secondary boycotts requires, e.g., garment workers to handle textiles from runaway or
substandard plants.
c. Unnecessary delays and expenditures.
d. The ban on economic strikers voting.
3. Harmful provisions of Taft-Hartley: In particular.
a. Free speech.
-hostile statements cannot be considered in their context as evidence of an employer's motive in committing a
subsequent act.
-Smith bill seeks to incorporate Livingston Shirt decision and extend "free speech" to representation elections.
-Amendment which is needed: permit the use of such statements as evidence in the light of the context in which
they were uttered, and similarly prevent outside pressures.
b. Federal-State jurisdiction.
-Under Section 14(b), state laws prohibiting the union shop or other union security agreement take precedence
over the Taft-Hartley Act, which permits a modified form of union shop, as long as they are more restrictive than
Taft-Hartley, regardless of whether a union shop has been agreed upon by a national employer and union (at
least 16 states).
-Message of Gov. Byrnes (See attached statement)
-Amendment needed: (Like Senator Taft's Building Trade Bill of 1952)
-Smith Bill: worse on emergencies - injunctions, compulsory arbitration, imprisonment of strikers, etc.
CONCLUSION: Recommend a Washington conference.

Speech by Senator John F. Kennedy on H.R. 5173 before


the Senate Finance Committee, March 10, 1954
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of this speech
exists in the Senate Press Release file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F.
Kennedy Library. Links to page images of the press release are given at the bottom of this page.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Senate Finance Committee:


I appreciate this opportunity to appear before your Committee in opposition to H.R. 5173, the Reed Bill on
unemployment compensation. It seems to me unthinkable that, during a time when the rate of unemployment
under this Act has nearly doubled from what it was one year ago, and the rate of new claims has increased by
nearly 80%, Congress would take steps to weaken instead of strengthen our jobless insurance program.
Massachusetts has a special interest in this bill - for, like Rhode Island, it has long suffered from chronic and
seasonal unemployment, insufficient diversification of industry and heavy dependence upon manufacturing
employment. Although our benefit and eligibility standards are not excessive and we were the only state besides
Rhode Island which charged the full unemployment tax in 1953, Massachusetts has on the average paid out more
than $0.80 for each dollar collected; and our state unemployment compensation reserve at the close of fiscal 1953
was less than 5 times as great as the benefits paid during the previous year, and barely twice as great as that
year’s unemployment tax collections. Inasmuch as the 1948-1950 slump cut this state’s reserve nearly in half, a
serious recession tomorrow could endanger its solvency. The latest data indicate that only 22% of Massachusetts
workers covered by this Act could be paid benefits for the maximum 26 weeks out of the funds available.
Inasmuch as the number of Massachusetts claimants has increased in one year by more than 85%, and the rate of
new claims has jumped more than 50%, the adequacy of this program is of concern not only to the workers
whose benefits may be reduced or with-held, or to those employers whose taxes may be raised; it is of concern to
the whole state. Business Week on May 7, 1949, for example, stated that the paradox of depression
unemployment rates in Lawrence, Massachusetts, without a business depression was due, according to Lawrence
businessmen, to unemployment compensation, which they said had “proved to be an effective cushion for
business - as well as workers - against the impact of layoffs.”
What has been true in Massachusetts has also been true on a national level, where in 1949 $1.7 billion - more
than twice the 1948 level - was paid to maintain the purchasing power of unemployed workers. For fiscal 1954,
benefits will undoubtedly again exceed $1 billion. In addition to Massachusetts and Rhode Island, other state
unemployment compensation reserves may meet difficulties, if present economic trends continue to worsen, in
both large states - such as New York, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey - and less
wealthy states - such as New Hampshire, Alabama, Maryland, Washington, Delaware and Alaska.
For these reasons, your Committee might consider several improvements in our unemployment compensation
system, instead of the weaknesses proposed by this complex and misunderstood bill. As President Eisenhower
pointed out, what he termed our “valuable first line of defense against economic recession . . . needs
reinforcement” if it is to play its proper role in just the type of downturn we now face. These improvements are
not contained in H.R. 5173.
A. Coverage. As pointed out by the President, Congress should act to cover 3.4 million employees of businesses
with fewer than 8 workers, 2.5 million Federal civilian employees and 200,000 agricultural processing employees,
among others, who presently face relief instead of social insurance.
B. Benefits and Duration. The President also pointed out that the present level of benefits is inadequate, having
fallen from the original goal of 50% of weekly wages to an average of 33%; and the duration of the benefits is
similarly inadequate, having permitted almost 2 million persons to exhaust their rights in a short time in 1949.
Although the President recommended state action, I favor nationwide minimum standards to prevent any
incentive for one state to undercut the standards of another.
C. Tax Base. Consideration should be given to raising the taxable wage base under unemployment compensation
from $3,000 to 3,600, in order to keep to keep it on par with OASI, enable easier bookkeeping for employers, and
strengthen reserves in states such as Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
D. Earmarking. The excess of Federal collections under the Act for administrative purposes over the
expenditures for such purposes over the expenditures for such purposes, presently about $60 million a year,
should be earmarked for strengthening the unemployment compensation program, instead of using this payroll
tax to support the Government. Such earmarking is proposed in H.R. 5173; but it proposes to use such funds in a
manner detrimental, not beneficial, to the unemployment insurance system.
I. THE LOAN FUND PROVISIONS OF H.R. 5173 WOULD NOT OFFER SUBSTANTIAL ASSISTANCE TO
DEPLETED STATE RESERVES
General Limitations of Loan Programs.
Lending money to a state fund imperiled by heavy unemployment is unlike any other Federal aid program. When
Congress is concerned with national problems of health, public assistance, education and other programs
familiar to this Committee, it grants aid to the states on the basis of their need, and does not require such aid to
be repaid.
A Federal repayable loan fund can only hope to deal with temporary crises at most. Instead of preventing
disaster to a state reserve suffering from heavy and chronic unemployment, it merely postpones emergency
taxation to pay back the loan.
For a long-term problem such as the decline in textile employment or a serious recession, a repayable loan is not
sufficient. If a state struck by such an economic catastrophe must raise its rates to safeguard its fund or repay a
loan, it loses more industry unable to compete with other low-tax areas, and thus is faced with both dwindling tax
collections and mounting unemployment claims. Requiring such a state to be able to repay a loan under such
circumstances increases the competitive disadvantages of some employers, - contrary to the original purpose of
the Law; and improperly distributes costs over the business cycle, by requiring a state to raise its tax rates to
repay the loan at the very time when its payrolls are diminishing and its businesses need help. Finally a very basic
objection to any loan program is the fact that as many as 26 states, including Rhode Island, appear to be bound
by constitutional restrictions in seeking loans.
One purpose of our unemployment insurance program is to share the risk; for, if the tax rate on each employer
were to cover the full burden of unemployment in his industry, his tax might be as high as 20%. By pooling this
risk within the state, its burden is more evenly distributed. Similarly, risks should be pooled on a Federal-State
basis, whereby state funds which fall to a dangerously low level through no fault of their own would receive
“insurance payments” from a reinsurance reserve to which all states contribute. I support S. 710 for this purpose,
introduced by the Senators from Rhode Island, although I realize that there are alternative methods of
establishing such a reinsurance program for this Committee to consider; but certainly a loan does not fulfill this
principal of sharing the risk among all states.
Limitations of Loan Program of H.R. 5173.
The loan features of the bill before your Committee are particularly unhelpful. Compare, if you will, these
provisions with the lending provisions of the George Loan Fund, Title XII of the Unemployment Compensation
Act, which you originally recommended in 1944, and which expired on January 1, 1952.
A. First, the size of the loan fund in H.R. 5173 is limited to a maximum of $200 million, little more than New
York’s claims in a normal year. No maximum was included in the George Fund.
B. Secondly, the eligibility provisions for a loan under H.R. 5173 are too restrictive, requiring the state reserve to
be lower than the total benefits paid out during the previous 12 months (although the loan itself cannot exceed
the amount of benefits paid during the highest of the preceding 4 quarters). Under the George provision, a state
was eligible whenever its reserve fell below its annual rate of collections during the higher of the two previous
calendar years, a situation which is more likely to occur unless the state is already paying out more than it takes
in under a full tax rate.
C. Third, and most important, the repayment provisions of H.R. 5173 are too harsh. The bill provides that
employers in a state which has not repaid a loan after a period of from 13 to 24 months (on the second January 1)
face a 5% Federal penalty tax increase, and another 5% each year until the loan is repaid. This penalty applies
even though the reserve fund continues to decline, even though the state must continue to seek new loans, and
even though the excessive unemployment compensation tax is contributing to the deterioration of employment.
Such a state would be required to reduce its benefits and increase its tax rates above the normal rate of 2.7%; or
face collapse of the state system. Contrast these harsh provisions with the George Loan Fund, which contained no
penalty and required repayment only whenever, and to the extent that, the balance in the state fund exceeded the
higher of the annual tax collections during the two previous calendar years. President Eisenhower, in
recommending a loan fund, specified that repayment by a hard-hit state should not begin for 4 years “in the
interests of allowing a state a reasonable interim to readjust its economy and attract new industries.” For these
reasons, I believe the loan fund provisions of H.R. 5173 do not offer substantial assistance to depleted state funds.
II. H.R. 5173 WOULD WASTE UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION FUNDS NEEDED FOR BENEFIT
PAYMENTS
The second feature of H.R. 5173 distributes to the states on the basis of their covered payrolls those funds not
expended each year on administration or the loan fund. This, in my opinion, is one of the most extraordinary and
fiscally irresponsible propositions ever to come before this body. Under this provision, states would receive
monies raised by a Federal tax regardless of their need for such funds, regardless of the amounts they
contributed to such funds and regardless of the amount they may have already received for similar purposes.
Here is a bill which is extremely stringent in lending money to states in need; but which then distributes far
larger sums, without any standards, to all states regardless of need. Surely no Federal grant-in-aid program
could be approved on a basis whereby New York would receive 40 times as much as Delaware regardless of need.
The bill does not require that these funds be used for benefits; and most states today clearly would use the
Federal gift for administrative expenses. Yet Congress already appropriates all administrative expenditures
under this program, as determined by each state and reviewed by the Department of Labor and Congress; and if
the amount appropriated proves to be insufficient, Congress provides a supplemental appropriation. But this bill
requires the distribution of these funds for administrative purposes above and beyond what Congress determines
to be necessary appropriations for those purposes, and thus renders meaningless the congressional function. The
bill also requires state legislatures to appropriate the funds which Congress has raised. As stated by the Treasury
Department:
“Sound administration counsels against a system whereby a legislative body appropriates funds it has no
responsibility for raising. It is all the more undesirable if it occurs after the Congress has already appropriated
what it deems to be necessary for proper and efficient administration.”
This provision, permitting the reduction of taxes during prosperous periods, and then eliminating this aid during
recession, is in addition unsound. Moreover, a period of heavy unemployment may require more Federal and
State administrative expenses than the 0.3% tax collects; but instead of establishing a contingency fund for such
years, the Reed Bill requires each year’s surplus to be distributed in full, so that general Treasury expenditures
would be required in such a year. Certainly this Committee, which is concerned with the cash budget and the
statutory debt limit, should question a proposal encouraging the states to find new ways to spend monies which
would otherwise be retained in the Federal Treasury, including those states - and there have been about 30 of
them so far - who may already receive more in congressional appropriations for administrative expenses than
they have paid in. Such funds should be saved for benefit payments in those states today or in the future whose
reserves are threatened by serious unemployment; or at least in a contingency fund for years of heavy
administrative expenses.
III. CONCLUSION
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, let me add that this bill increases the prospects for complete federalization of
unemployment compensation. It provides for excessive payments of Federal funds to all states. It requires state
legislatures to appropriate funds raised by Federal tax. It encourages state employment agencies to expand their
various administrative services to be subsidized by Federal funds. Its lending provisions require a change in the
constitutional structure of many states. Its harsh provisions for repayment would keep some states continually
dependent upon Federal loans to replenish the state reserves they are unable to build up. And finally, those states
whose reserves are not adequately aided by this bill, whose benefits may have been sharply reduced and taxes
sharply raised in order to prevent a collapse during heavy unemployment, will certainly demand complete
federalization of the entire unemployment compensation system.
For these reasons, if the Congress does not now see fit to safeguard state funds by a program of reinsurance, I
believe it would be preferable to have no action at all than to enact the Reed Bill which would waste these badly
needed funds. If the lending provisions could be liberalized, and the provision for distribution of surplus funds
stricken or at least restricted to benefit payments, that would constitute some improvement; but it would be far
more logical to adopt the suggestion of the Administration and the House Minority Report that the George Loan
Fund provision be re-enacted until more comprehensive legislation along the lines outlined is possible; and until
the Commission on Intergovernmental Relations - whose establishment was recommended by the Senate
Committee on Government Operations, of which I am a member, - completes its study of this subject. This
present bill is an unjustifiable raid on our unemployment compensation benefits, and it would impair our jobless
insurance program at a time when it is in critical need of improvement.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy during his


Western Tour, Washington, April 1954
This is a transcript of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. This speech exists in the
Senate Press Release File of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Presidential Library. Links to page iimages of this draft are given at the bottom of this page.

I come from a beachhead on the Atlantic Ocean where this country began. To come from old New England to the
roaring Northwest for the first time is an impressive experience. Much is different - much is the same. You
border on the smoky Pacific - we on the cold Atlantic. You fish for salmon - we for cod. Your rivers are torrents
which you have harnessed - ours are only ribbons to the sea. You have great forests of high fir and spruce - our
trees fight for existence on the marginal soil of our rocky countryside. Much is different - but much is the same;
the industry of our people, their self reliance, their self respect, their character and their courage - these are the
qualities, more important than natural resources, which we hope are typical of life in the Northwest and in the
Northeast.
This trip is, as I have said, a great experience; but I am not sure that it is necessary - except for my own
enlightenment. For I have come to preach the doctrine of Democracy in the State that has prospered under its
administrations, which has sent two of its ablest exponents, Senators Jackson and Magnuson, to represent it in
the United States Senate, and which will I am confident return Democratic majorities in 1954 and 1956. For this I
believe to be essential if the fullest potential of your vast natural, economic and human resources is to be realized.
I find the atmosphere out here very different from that prevailing in Washington today. Here you are
enthusiastic about moving ahead, about building new dams, developing new industries, creating new jobs and
providing a more abundant life. With youthful vigor and vision, you are not content to stand still, and you
recognize the dangers of falling back. After all, why stand still in the country where Paul Bunyan could blow out
the lamp in the bunkhouse and be in his bunk asleep before the room was dark.
But in Washington, the Republicans are talking in an entirely different vein. They say that this year won't be as
prosperous as 1953, but it will still be good. They say that unemployment is rising, but that it isn't enough to hurt.
They say that our gross national product and our capital investment in new plants and equipment will decline
from the levels of one year ago; but they explain this by saying that our economy cannot set a new record every
year.
It is this sort of sterile, stand-still, status quo philosophy that is threatening our economic prosperity today. In my
own New England area, we need new jobs and new orders in order to hold our own and replace industries lost to
other areas. Here in the Northwest, you need new jobs and new capital in order to keep moving ahead, to provide
markets for your farms and forests, to continue the development of your resources, and to halt the waste of your
water power and the failure to utilize your minerals now lying idle in the ground. Nationwide, we need to provide
jobs every year for 700,000 additional persons. We need to provide hundreds of thousands of American families
with the goods and services which make our standard of living the greatest in the world, not to mention the
millions of the world whose markets and needs for our goods and foodstuffs are barely tapped.
To adopt the static attitude of the Republicans is to abandon faith in the potential strength of our nation. It is to
fail to understand the nature of our economy as one which must be constantly expanding and constantly more
prosperous.
We learned in 1952 that we could no longer campaign against a Hoover depression; but we know that in 1954 we
must campaign and take action against a Republican "readjustment'. Despite the many clouds now appearing on
the economic horizon, which have already seriously affected the workers and farmers in your State, the
Republicans have failed to carry out a single one of their pledges in this field. Thus it seems to me that the
Democratic Party both in the Capitol and throughout the country is faced with a most serious responsibility - to
endeavor, though a minority party, to fill the vacuum left by the Republican abrogation of leadership in this most
critical time in the life of the American Republic. In a two-party system in a country as large as ours, there must
of necessity be included within each party's ranks groups that are mutually hostile. This is the source of our
strength; without it we should be atomized into many small parties all representing a particular region or
economic interest. Thus, it is vital that the groups within each of the parties submerge their special interests to
support a general course of action. The Democratic Party did this for nearly two decades, a period during which
we changed the face of our nation and wrote into the statute books the legislation that has made easier the lives of
countless millions of Americans.
But the strange alliance of the various groups within the Republican Party which has now been given
responsibility by the American people scarcely endured a year before the centrifugal force of its warring factions
broke it apart - indeed it did not survive the death of Senator Robert Taft.
Thus today we find President Eisenhower at the head of a crusade which party storm and strife has broken and
washed upon the beach. His supporters in the Senate have deserted him on crucial issues - powerful elements in
his own party have challenged his leadership - legislation which he has opposed has been enacted - legislation
which he has supported has been ignored - and in order to carry out a minimum legislative program, he has been
forced to rely upon the party against which he led the great crusade little more than a year ago.
All this has happened at a time when the problems facing us at home and abroad are reaching maximum
intensity. The sharp increases nationally in unemployment, increases which you have experienced in this area as
well, should serve to stimulate action on a variety of fronts to strengthen our built-in stabilizers against further
recession. Yet the Republicans have failed to write into law a single one of their pledges in this field.
The functions of the RFC, which made loans to the State of Washington alone, for example, of over three
hundred and fifty million dollars have been taken over in part by the Small Business Administration, which in
the nine months of its existence has made fewer than one hundred and fifty loans, totaling less than ten million
dollars for the entire country. Instead of strengthening the Unemployment Compensation system at this critical
time to provide larger benefits over a longer period of time - the Republicans in Congress seek to enact the Reed
Bill, which dissipates the jobless trust fund upon which the buying power of our unemployed ultimately depends.
The same is true for Social Security. Near the end of the last session, some members of the Democratic Party,
including Senators Jackson and Magnuson, introduced a bill to expand and improve our program to give more
adequate protection against the hardships of old age. The President himself in his most favorable message to date
made recommendations for lesser improvements in the law; but the doors of the Republican Ways and Means
Committee are still shut - the only sign of life being when they threw on to the Senate Floor a tax bill to give relief
primarily to those who have stock in corporations.
All of these measures and many more need to be acted upon and acted upon right away. Our minimum wage
laws must be brought up-to-date, for $0.75 an hour or $30 a week does not in 1954 provide a minimum standard
of living. The Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act must be strengthened; and the Taft-Hartley Law replaced by a
new and fairer statute, if our workers are to maintain their present wage levels.
Our farm program must be revitalized, not plowed under, for farm prosperity in the Northwest means jobs in the
factories of New England; and factory jobs in New England mean farm prosperity in the Northwest. All of these
Democratic dinners have been helping Secretary Benson "eat our way out of the livestock surplus"; but they
haven't caused the voters to forget what General Eisenhower said when campaigning, that "the Republican Party
is pledged to the 90% parity price support and it is pledged even more than that to help the farmer obtain his full
price, 100% of parity." The President now says that he never promised 100% of parity; and if you read his
speeches carefully enough, you have to agree. It just sounded that way around election time.
Another example of where the General's pledge has resulted in nothing more than a general hedge has been
public power. Out here in October 1952, he said that any claim that he opposed Federal participation in power
development was creating "imaginary devils." Now that the campaign's gone - and forgotten, at least in
Washington, D. C. - the Department of the Interior and the Federal Power Commission suddenly seem to be full
of these anti-public power "devils", and I don't think they're figments of your imagination. That same static "do
nothing" policy is delaying construction of your big dams on the Columbia, eliminating new transmission lines,
and giving away the great Hells Canyon dam site on the Snake River. Perhaps I should be careful in criticizing
the operations of the Idaho Power Company at Hells Canyon, inasmuch as I am told that some of the major
owners of this corporation - which is profiting from the new policy of "local interests" development - are
residents of New England, not Idaho. I wish that, instead of using their efforts to prevent the people of the
Northwest from developing your power resources, they would use it in New England where our power costs are
three times as high and where we don't have a single Federal hydroelectric project.
New England is envious but not resentful; we want to see the Northwest develop, to see your power costs reduced,
your factories expanded and your minerals utilized. Those of us who reject the stand-still policy of the
Republicans believe in the future greatness of this country; and we know that new ideas, new leaders, new
industries, and new economic developments are going to come out of the West. For these reasons we refuse and
you should refuse to be satisfied with a mild readjustment; we want action by the Federal Government that will
keep more factories humming and more power turbines singing.
Perhaps the President is right when he says it is not yet time for any "slam-bang" action, such as a large public
works program. But when will that time come? First, we were promised action if there was no upturn by the
middle of March. Now we are told that the March figures won't be available until the middle of April. Then no
doubt we will be told that these figures won't be properly interpreted until the middle of May. It seems to me that
anyone who understands the dynamic and progressive nature of our economy could not fail to see that action is
needed today to keep us moving ahead. It may not be "slam-bang", but we can certainly use a little shove.
We need something more then a program of psychological confidence; and something more than a program
aimed primarily at benefiting investors and others in higher income brackets, as the current Republican tax bills
propose. For unless we increase the purchasing power of the consumer, and his demand for the goods and
services of our factories, there is little value in stimulating greater industrial capacity when today's capacity is not
being used.
The Republicans today are carrying on a psychological warfare the intention of which is to conceal inaction by
giving the impression of action. It thus becomes difficult for us to criticize a policy which is known as the "new
look"; which says that we are "seizing the initiative" in foreign policy. It is difficult to criticize domestic policies
which emphasize such popular slogans as "states rights", "federal-state partnership" and "middle-of-the-road".
It is not easy to arouse people to action against a "rolling readjustment" which needs no "slam-bang" action. It is
difficult to be on the side of "creeping socialism", "prophets of doom and gloom" and, what is worst of all, "egg
heads". The fact is that the American people have more frequently been the victims of the administration's
stepped up psychological warfare than have our enemies abroad. Some of the ashes from its detonations have
fallen upon us and our policies have suffered.
I am confident of the future success of our Party - our victory is as certain and inevitable as the changing tides.
But for the country's sake and for our own, I do not want the Democratic Party to gain office on the basis of
cleverly worded promises or by raising false hopes. As Adlai Stevenson so wisely stated, and as the Republicans
by now should realize: "It is better that we should lose the election than to deceive the people." For victory won
in this fashion contains the seeds of subsequent disaster. We must indeed "talk sense to the American people",
make only those promises we can carry out, and frankly state the difficulties and dangers which confront us. If
we now make promises we can not carry out the people will see we are no different than the Republicans. If we
now blame the Republicans for ills that time and circumstance have brought, the people will expect the
impossible from a Democratic victory. If in seeking office, we now make charges or state facts which exceed the
limits of fairness and validity, then the people will soon find us out, too. We would be deceiving the people to
claim that the problems of expanding our economy and maintaining our national security are not difficult tasks.
They will require the unified effort of our own Party, North and South, East and West. But as Democrats, we
know where we are going. We cannot promise the American people easy solutions to difficult problems, but we
can offer them action and specific proposals.
The Democrats will provide in 1954 and 1956 a factor which has been generally lacking under the Republican
regime and that factor is leadership; in our case, positive, purposeful and progressive leadership; a leadership
which this nation badly needs.
The old catch words and slogans which brought us success in the 30's and 40's have worn thin with the passing
years. But the Democratic faith that holds government to be the servant of the many and not the few still burns
brightly. With that faith we can tackle the new problems that are demanding new solutions. If today we use the
years of our minority for the best interests of the American people, then tomorrow it is certain that we will be
called upon again to assume positions of responsibility and leadership. And that leadership will be to further the
interests of America as a whole and not a favored few.
Let us demonstrate to a disillusioned nation that promises can mean performance - that responsible opposition
can mean constructive legislation - and that the Democratic Party does not forget the people. If we remain close
to the people, the people will remain close to us, and together we shall again make real and meaningful the
promise that for all of us is America.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy on Indochina


before the Senate, Washington, D.C., April 6, 1954
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

Mr. President, the time has come for the American people to be told the blunt truth about Indochina.
I am reluctant to make any statement which may be misinterpreted as unappreciative of the gallant French
struggle at Dien Bien Phu and elsewhere; or as partisan criticism of our Secretary of State just prior to his
participation in the delicate deliberations in Geneva. Nor, as one who is not a member of those committees of the
Congress which have been briefed - if not consulted - on this matter, do I wish to appear impetuous or an
alarmist in my evaluation of the situation. But the speeches of President Eisenhower, Secretary Dulles, and others
have left too much unsaid, in my opinion - and what has been left unsaid is the heart of the problem that should
concern every citizen. For if the American people are, for the fourth time in this century, to travel the long and
tortuous road of war - particularly a war which we now realize would threaten the survival of civilization - then I
believe we have a right - a right which we should have hitherto exercised - to inquire in detail into the nature of
the struggle in which we may become engaged, and the alternative to such struggle. Without such clarification
the general support and success of our policy is endangered.
Inasmuch as Secretary Dulles has rejected, with finality, any suggestion of bargaining on Indochina in exchange
for recognition of Red China, those discussions in Geneva which concern that war may center around two basic
alternatives:
The first is a negotiated peace, based either upon partition of the area between the forces of the Viet Minh and
the French Union, possibly along the 16th parallel; or based upon a coalition government in which Ho Chi Minh
is represented. Despite any wishful thinking to the contrary, it should be apparent that the popularity and
prevalence of Ho Chi Minh and his following throughout Indochina would cause either partition or a coalition
government to result in eventual domination by the Communists.
The second alternative is for the United States to persuade the French to continue their valiant and costly
struggle; an alternative which, considering the current state of opinion in France, will be adopted only if the
United States pledges increasing support. Secretary Dulles' statement that the "imposition in southeast Asia of
the political system of Communist Russia and its Chinese Communist ally…should be met by united action"
indicates that it is our policy to give such support; that we will, as observed by the New York Times last
Wednesday, "fight if necessary to keep southeast Asia out of their hands"; and that we hope to win the support of
the free countries of Asia for united action against communism in Indochina, in spite of the fact that such nations
have pursued since the war's inception a policy of cold neutrality.
I think it is important that the Senate and the American people demonstrate their endorsement of Mr. Dulles'
objectives, despite our difficulty in ascertaining the full significance of its key phrases.
Certainly, I, for one, favor a policy of a "united action" by many nations whenever necessary to achieve a
military and political victory for the free world in that area, realizing full well that it may eventually require
some commitment of our manpower.
But to pour money, materiel, and men into the jungles of Indochina without at least a remote prospect of victory
would be dangerously futile and self-destructive. Of course, all discussion of "united action" assumes that
inevitability of such victory; but such assumptions are not unlike similar predictions of confidence which have
lulled the American people for many years and which, if continued, would present an improper basis for
determining the extent of American participation.
Permit me to review briefly some of the statements concerning the progress of the war in that area, and it will be
understood why I say that either we have not frankly and fully faced the seriousness of the military situation, or
our intelligence estimates and those of the French have been woefully defective.
In February of 1951, for example, the late Brig. Gen. Francis G. Brink, then head of the United States Military
Advisory Group, in Indochina, told us of the favorable turn of events in that area as a result of new tactics
designed by Gen. Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. In the fall of that same year, General De Lattre himself voiced
optimism in his speech before the National Press Club here in Washington; and predicted victory, under certain
conditions, in 18 months to 2 years, during his visit to France.
In June of 1952, American and French officials issued a joint communique in Washington expressing the two
countries' joint determination to bring the battle to a successful end; and Secretary of State Acheson stated at his
press conference that -
"The military situation appears to be developing favorably. ... Aggression has been checked and recent
indications warrant the view that the tide is now moving in our favor. ... We can anticipate continued favorable
developments."
In March 1953, the French officials again came to Washington, again issued statements predicting victory in
Indochina, and again joined with the United States in a communique planning military action and United States
support which would achieve their new goal of decisive military victory in 2 years.
In May of 1953, President Eisenhower and Secretary of State Dulles told the Congress that our mutual security
program for France and Indochina would help "reduce this Communist pressure to manageable proportions." In
June an American military mission headed by General O'Daniel was sent to discuss with General Navarre in
Indochina the manner in which United States aid "may best contribute to the advancement of the objective of
defeating the Communist forces there"; and in the fall of last year General O'Daniel stated that he was
"confident that the French-trained Vietnam Army when fully organized would prevail over the rebels."
In September of 1953, French and American officials again conferred, and, in announcing a new program of
extensive American aid, again issued a joint communique restating the objective of "an early and victorious
conclusion."
On December 2, 1953, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs Walter S. Robertson told the Women's
National Republican Club in New York - in words almost identical with those of Secretary of State Acheson 18
months earlier - that "In Indochina…we believe the tide now is turning." Later the same month Secretary of
State Dulles state that military setbacks in the area had been exaggerated; and that he did not "believe that
anything that has happened upsets appreciably the timetable of General Navarre's plan," which anticipated
decisive military results by about March 1955.
In February of this year, Defense Secretary Wilson said that a French victory was "both possible and probable"
and that the war was going "fully as well as we expected it to at this stage. I see no reason to think Indochina
would be another Korea." Also in February of this year, Under Secretary of State Smith stated that:
"The military situation in Indochina is favorable. ... Contrary to some reports, the recent advances made by the
Viet Minh are largely "real estate" operations. ... Tactically, the French position is solid and the officers in the
field seem confident of their ability to deal with the situation."
Less than 2 weeks ago, Admiral Radford, Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff, stated that "the French are going
to win." And finally, in a press conference some days prior to his speech to the Overseas Press Club in New York,
Secretary of State Dulles stated that he did not "expect that there is going to be a Communist victory in
Indochina"; that "in terms of Communist domination of Indochina, I do not accept that as a probability"; that
"we have seen no reason to abandon the so-called Navarre plan," which meant decisive results only 1 year hence;
and that the United States would provide whatever additional equipment was needed for victory over the Viet
Minh; with the upper hand probably to be gained "by the end of the next fighting season."
Despite this series of optimistic reports about eventual victory, every Member of the Senate knows that such
victory today appears to be desperately remote, to say the least, despite tremendous amounts of economic and
material aid from the United States, and despite a deplorable loss of French Union manpower. The call for either
negotiations or additional participation by other nations underscores the remoteness of such a final victory today,
regardless of the outcome at Dien Bien Phu. It is, of course, for these reasons that many French are reluctant to
continue the struggle without greater assistance; for to record the sapping effect which time and the enemy have
had on their will and strength in that area is not to disparage their valor. If "united action" can achieve the
necessary victory over the forces of communism, and thus preserve the security and freedom of all southeast
Asia, then such united action is clearly called for. But if, on the other hand, the increase in our aid and the
utilization of our troops would only result in further statements of confidence without ultimate victory over
aggression, then now is the time when we must evaluate the conditions under which that pledge is made.
I am frankly of the belief that no amount of American military assistance in Indochina can conquer an enemy
which is everywhere and at the same time nowhere, "an enemy of the people" which has the sympathy and covert
support of the people. As succinctly stated by the report of the Judd Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs
Committee in January of this year:
"Until political independence has been achieved, an effective fighting force from the associated states cannot be
expected. ... The apathy of the local population to the menace of the Viet Minh communism disguised as
nationalism is the most discouraging aspect of the situation. That can only be overcome through the grant of
complete independence to each of the associated states. Only for such a cause as their own freedom will people
make the heroic effort necessary to win this kind of struggle."
This is an analysis which is shared, if in some instances grudgingly, by most American observers. Moreover,
without political independence for the associated states, the other Asiatic nations have made it clear that they
regard this as a war of colonialism; and the "united action" which is said to be so desperately needed for victory
in that area is likely to end up as unilateral action by our own country. Such intervention, without participation
by the armed forces of the other nations of Asia, without the support of the great masses of the peoples of the
associated states, with increasing reluctance and discouragement on the part of the French - and, I might add,
with hordes of Chinese Communist troops poised just across the border in anticipation of our unilateral entry
into their kind of battleground - such intervention, Mr. President, would be virtually impossible in the type of
military situation which prevails in Indochina.
This is not a new point, of course. In November of 1951, I reported upon my return from the Far East as follows:
"In Indochina we have allied ourselves to the desperate effort of a French regime to hang on to the remnants of
empire. There is no broad, general support of the native Vietnam Government among the people of that area. To
check the southern drive of communism makes sense but not only through reliance on the force of arms. The task
is rather to build strong native non-Communist sentiment within these areas and rely on that as a spearhead of
defense rather than upon the legions of General de Lattre. To do this apart from and in defiance of innately
nationalistic aims spells foredoomed failure."
In June of last year, I sought an amendment to the Mutual Security Act which would have provided for the
distribution of American aid, to the extent feasible, in such a way as to encourage the freedom and independence
desired by the people of the Associated States. My amendment was soundly defeated on the grounds that we
should not pressure France into taking action on this delicate situation; and that the new French Government
could be expected to make "a decision which would obviate the necessity of this kind of amendment or
resolution." The distinguished majority leader [Mr. Knowland] assured us that "We will all work, in conjunction
with our great ally, France, toward the freedom of the people of those states."
It is true that only 2 days later on July 3 the French Government issued a statement agreeing that -
"There is every reason to complete the independence of sovereignty of the Associated States of Indochina by
insuring ... the transfer of the powers ... retained in the interests of the States themselves, because of the perilous
circumstances resulting from the state of war."
In order to implement this agreement, Bao Dai arrived in Paris on August 27 calling for "complete independence
for Vietnam."
I do not wish to weary the Senate with a long recital of the proceedings of the negotiations, except to say that as of
today they have brought no important change in the treaty relationships between Vietnam and the French
Republic. Today the talks appear to be at an impasse; and the return from Paris to Saigon of the Premier of
Vietnam, Prince Buu Loc, is not a happy augury for their success. Thus the degree of control which the French
retain in the area is approximately the same as I outlined last year:
Politically, French control was and is extensive and paramount. There is no popular assembly in Vietnam which
represents the will of the people that can ratify the treaty relationship between Vietnam and the French.
Although the Associated States are said to be "independent within the French Union," the French always have a
permanent control in the high council and in the Assembly of the Union and the Government of France guides its
actions. Under article 62 of the French Constitution, the French Government "coordinates" all of the resources
of the members of the Union placed in common to guarantee its defense, under policies directed and prepared by
the French Government. French Union subjects are given special legal exemptions, including the privilege of
extraterritoriality. The French High Commissioner continues to exercise powers with respect to the internal
security of the Associated States, and will have a similar mission even after the restoration of peace. When
Vietnamese taxes affect French Union subjects, there must be consultation with the representatives of the
countries concerned before they are imposed. The foreign policy of Vietnam must be coordinated with that of
France, and the French must give consent to the sending of diplomatic missions to foreign countries. Inasmuch as
the French did not develop experienced governmental administrators before World War II, they have guided to
some degree actions within the local governments by requiring the Vietnamese Government to turn to them for
foreign counselors and technicians.
Militarily, French control is nearly complete. The United States has in the past dealt primarily with the French
military authority, and these in turn deal with the Associated States. Our equipment and aid is turned over to the
French who will then arrange for its distribution according to their decision. The French are granted for a period
of time without limit facilities for bases and garrisons.
Culturally, the French are directly in contact with the training of intellectual youths of Vietnam, inasmuch as
France joined in the establishment of the university, installed a French rector, and provided that all instructions
should be in French.
Economically, French control of the country's basic resources, transportation, trade, and economic life in general
is extensive. In Vietnam, estimated French control is nearly 100 percent in the field of foreign commerce,
international and coastal shipping, and rubber and other export products. The French control 66 percent of the
rice export trade. Moreover, possession of property belonging to the French cannot be changed without
permission of the French; and France shares the veto right under the PAU agreement on matters affecting
France's export and import trade.
All of this flies in the face of repeated assurances to the American people by our own officials that complete
independence has been or will be granted.
In February of 1951, for example, the American Minister to the Associated States, Donald Heath, told us that the
French colonial regime had ended and that "all Indochinese Government services were turned over to the
Indochinese States." This is untrue. In November of 1951, Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk again assured
us that -
"The peoples of the Associated States are free to assume the extensive responsibility for their own affairs that has
been accorded them by treaties with France."
Last year, the Department of States assured me that -
"France had granted such a full measure of control to the 3 states over their own affairs that ... these 3 countries
became sovereign states."
In February of this year, Under Secretary of State Smith stated that the representatives of the Governments of
Vietnam and of France would "meet in Paris to draw up the treaty which will complete Vietnamese
independence." As I have said, those conversations began in July, and broke off 10 days ago. And again Secretary
Dulles stated last week that -
"Their independence is not yet complete, but the French Government last July declared its intention to complete
that independence, and negotiations to consummate that pledge are underway."
They are underway 9 months after the pledge was originally given.
I do not believe that the importance of the current breakdown of these negotiations has been made clear to the
Senate or the people of the United States. Every year we are given three sets of assurances: First, that the
independence of the Associated States is now complete; second, that the independence of the Associated States
will soon be completed under steps "now" being undertaken; and, third, that military victory for the French
Union forces in Indochina is assured, or is just around the corner, or lies 2 years off. But the stringent limitations
upon the status of the Associated States as sovereign states remain; and the fact that military victory has not yet
been achieved is largely the result of these limitations. Repeated failure of these prophecies has, however, in no
way diminished the frequency of their reiteration, and they have caused this Nation to delay definitive action
until now the opportunity for any desirable solution may well be past.
It is time, therefore, for us to face the stark reality of the difficult situation before us without the false hopes
which predictions of military victory and assurances of complete independence have given us in the past. The
hard truth of the matter is, first, that without the wholehearted support of the peoples of the Associated States,
without a reliable and crusading native army with a dependable officer corps, a military victory, even with
American support, in that area is difficult if not impossible, of achievement; and, second, that the support of the
people of that area cannot be obtained without a change in the contractual relationships which presently exist
between the Associated States and the French Union.
Instead of approaching a solution to this problem, as Secretary Dulles indicated, French and Vietnamese officials
appear to be receding from it. The Vietnamese, whose own representatives lack full popular support, because of a
lack of popular assembly in that country, recognizing that French opinion favoring a military withdrawal would
become overwhelming if all ties were entirely broken, have sought 2 treaties: one giving the Vietnamese complete
and genuine independence, and the other maintaining a tie with the French Union on the basis of equality, as in
the British Commonwealth. But 9 months of negotiations have failed thus far to provide a formula for both
independence and union which is acceptable to the parties currently in the government of each nation. The
French Assembly on March 9 - and I believe this action did not receive the attention it deserved - substantially
lessened the chances of such a solution, through the adoption of a tremendously far-reaching rider which
declared that France would consider her obligations toward Indochinese states ended if they should revoke the
clauses in the French Constitution that bind them to the French Union. In other words, Mr. President, the French
Parliament indicated that France would no longer have any obligations toward the Associated States if the
present ties which bind them to the French Union - ties which assure, because of the constitutional arrangement
of the French Union, that the French Republic and its Government are always the dominant power in the union -
were broken.
I realize that Secretary Dulles cannot force the French to adopt any course of action to which they are opposed;
nor am I unaware of the likelihood of a French military withdrawal from Indochina, once its political and
economic stake in that area is gone. But we must realize that the difficulties in the military situation which would
result from a French withdrawal would not be greatly different from the difficulties which would prevail after
the intervention of American troops without the support of the Indochinese or the other nations of Asia. The
situation might be compared to what the situation would have been in Korea, if the Japanese had maintained
possession of Korea, if a Communist group of Koreans were carrying on a war there with Japan - which had
dominated that area for more than a century - and if we then went to the assistance of the Japanese, and put
down the revolution of the native Koreans, even though they were Communists, and even though in taking that
action we could not have the support of the non-Communist elements of country.
That is the type of situation, whether we like it or not, which is presented today in connection with our support of
the French in Indochina, without the support of the native peoples of Indochina.
In Indochina, as in Korea, the battle against communism should be a battle, not for economic or political gain,
but for the security of the free world, and for the values and institutions which are held dear in France and
throughout the non-Communist world, as well as in the United States. It seems to me, therefore, that the dilemma
which confronts us is not a hopeless one; that a victorious fight can be maintained by the French, with the
support of this Nation and many other nations - and most important of all, the support of the Vietnamese and
other peoples of the Associated States - once it is recognized that the defense of southeast Asia and the repelling of
Communist aggression are the objectives of such a struggle, and not the maintenance of political relationships
founded upon ancient colonialism. In such a struggle, the United States and other nations may properly be called
upon to play their fullest part.
If, however, this is not to be the nature of the war; if the French persist in their refusal to grant the legitimate
independence and freedom desired by the peoples of the Associated States; and if those peoples and the other
peoples of Asia remain aloof from the conflict, as they have in the past, then it is my hope that Secretary Dulles,
before pledging our assistance at Geneva, will recognize the futility of channeling American men and machines
into that hopeless internecine struggle.
The facts and alternatives before us are unpleasant, Mr. President. But in a nation such as ours, it is only through
the fullest and frankest appreciation of such facts and alternatives that any foreign policy can be effectively
maintained. In an era of supersonic attack and atomic retaliation, extended public debate and education are of no
avail, once such a policy must be implemented. The time to study, to doubt, to review, and revise is now, for upon
our decisions now may well rest the peace and security of the world, and, indeed, the very continued existence of
mankind. And if we cannot entrust this decision to the people, then, as Thomas Jefferson once said:
"If we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not
to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education."

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy for the Cook


County Democratic Dinner, Chicago, Illinois, April 20,
1954
This is a transcript of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. This speech exists in the
Senate Press Release File of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Presidential Library. Links to page images of this draft are given at the bottom of this page.

It is a great honor to be here this evening with the men and women of this famous Democratic County at the
beginning of the Democratic campaign for 1954. The Democrats here have been faithful supporters of their party
in good times and bad, and under the able leadership of Dick Daley, this year and in 1956, they will play a
decisive role in the coming Democratic victories.
This year the Democratic ticket in Illinois is led by Senator Paul Douglas. I not only sit next to him in the Senate
and on the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, but he was, as you know, born in the ancient city of Salem
in Massachusetts. All Easterners do not, as some mid-Westerners sometimes suggest, look only towards Europe.
Thoreau once wrote "Eastward I go only by force - but westward I go free. I must walk toward Oregon and not
toward Europe." As Senator Douglas is a free man - it was perhaps inevitable that he would come to Illinois.
I always attempt to invoke, when appropriation bills are before the Senate, a feeling of filial affection for old
Massachusetts in Senator Douglas and Senator Symington, who are both native sons - but it has never done much
good. When Senator Douglas recently voted against an appropriation to dredge out Salem Harbor - I knew that
we had lost him for good.
I presume that some of you may have read in LIFE Magazine this week an article about the United States Senate,
which said: "The United States Senate has often been called the world's most exclusive club. Its members are
quick to defend each other's rights and privileges and they like to go out of their way to extol each other's
abilities profusely, even in the face of wide party differences." I would like to give you an example of this
senatorial good fellowship as it involves Senator Douglas of Illinois and the Senator from Massachusetts. I read
from the Congressional Record; the Senator from Massachusetts is speaking: "The Senator from Illinois, Mr.
Douglas, with ignorance reviles me. I . . . brand him to his face as false. No person with the upright form of man
can be allowed to switch from his tongue the perpetual stench of an offensive personality. The noisome squat and
nameless animal to which I now refer is not the proper model for an American Senator. Will the Senator from
Illinois please take notice?" Senator Douglas gracefully responds: "I will - and therefore will not imitate you."
The Senator from Massachusetts - "Mr. President, again the Senator switches his tongue and again he fills the
Senate with its offensive odor."
I hasten to add, though I am sure unnecessarily, that this exchange of senatorial compliments occurred a
hundred years ago between Stephen Douglas of Illinois and Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts - and that
the feelings that this Senator from Massachusetts has for the present Senator from Illinois - though equally
sincere - are a good deal more fraternal.
The strength of his intellect in combating the forces of confusion and ignorance; the range of his vision in fighting
the forces of reaction and timidity; his sense of justice in opposing the forces of dishonesty regardless of political
dangers and partisan considerations - these are the qualities which make Paul Douglas one of America's
outstanding public servants today. He understands the underdog and the outsider and the overlooked. Without
his thorough comprehension of the economic and other issues which confront us, without his consistent battle for
economy and ethics and justice in government, without his presence on the Senate floor to take up the cudgels -
alone, if necessary - for what he believes to be the right, the Senate of the United States would be a dimmer, a
darker and a less hopeful place.
To write legislation that will aid the people, and at the same time keep the Government a partner and not the
master - to find legislative solutions for the wide range of problems that face us, requires more than good
intentions and the easy passing of appropriation bills. It demands detailed and technical knowledge possessed by
all too few men.
Senator Taft had this ability, even though we did not always agree with his conclusions. Senator Paul Douglas has
it now, and the country should be grateful that Illinois has been true to its long tradition of recognizing and
rewarding greatness, as it has done in the case of Governor Stevenson and Senator Douglas.
Senator Douglas' courage has been particularly noticeable in recent times in his leadership in alerting the nation
to the dangers of economic recession. Months ago he was saying, alone, what many are saying now; that this
nation need never have another serious depression, that our mills and farms should produce more, not less; that
to secure these goals, prompt and vigorous action by the Federal Government is necessary.
I think it fair to say that if it had not been for the legislation enacted by the Democrats during their twenty years
in office, that the present economic recession would have already commenced a spiral into a depression. Social
Security legislation and Unemployment Compensation have maintained consumer purchasing power among our
workers who have lost their jobs, and the elderly people who have been retired. The price support program has
maintained the income of our hard-hit farmers. The Deposit Insurance Program has protected the savings of our
people. The Securities and Exchange Commission has regulated short selling and speculation in the stock market,
which precipitated the crash in 1929. The Fair Labor Standards Act has prevented the successive cutting of
wages to meet those of the sweatshop employer.
This and related social legislation form a platform built by the Democratic administrations which has supported
the economy even during this period of decline. But we cannot be satisfied with what we have done in the past.
New times bring new problems. The failure therefore of the Republican Party to enact a single piece of new
constructive legislation in any of these fields, in the fifteen months that it has had responsibility, represents a
most unfortunate abrogation of leadership in a critical time in the life of the American Republic.
Thus it seems to me that the Democratic Party, both in the Capitol and throughout the country, is faced with the
most serious responsibility and opportunity - to endeavor, though a minority party, to fill this vacuum.
In a two-party system in a country as large as ours, there must of necessity be included within each party's ranks
groups that are mutually hostile. But it is expected that the groups within each of the parties submerge their
special interests to support a general course of action. The Democratic Party did this for nearly two decades, a
period during which we changed the face of our nation and wrote into the statute books the legislation that has
made easier the lives of countless millions of Americans.
But the strange alliance of the various groups within the Republican Party scarcely endured a year before the
centrifugal force of its warring factions broke it apart - indeed, it did not survive the death of Senator Robert A.
Taft.
Thus today we find President Eisenhower at the head of a crusade which party storm and strife has broken and
washed upon the beach. His supporters in the Senate have deserted him on crucial issues - powerful elements in
his own party have challenged his leadership - legislation which he has opposed has been enacted - legislation
which he has supported has been ignored - and in order to carry out a minimum legislative program, he has been
forced to rely upon the party against which he led the great crusade little more than a year ago.
All this has happened at a time when the problems facing us at home and abroad are reaching maximum
intensity.
Though the Democratic Party has never made foreign policy a partisan issue, I cannot close without saying a
word about our national security. The deterioration of the French position in Indo-China has caused the United
States to be faced with decisions both somber and complex, on which hang the future of the free world. For if
Secretary Dulles' and Vice President Nixon's words are to be taken at their face value, we are about to enter the
jungle to do battle with the tiger.
Under these conditions, no one would wish to do or say anything for partisan reasons that might make the
President's task more difficult, his burdens more onerous. But I do believe it both proper and necessary that
those who bear responsibility should indicate in advance the course of action that should be adopted, and not
confine themselves to laments after the nettle has been grasped, and the matter has passed from our control. It is
of no use for the Democratic Party, in order to win some future election, to say of Indo-China what the
Republican platform said of the Democratic administration in 1952 - "In Korea they committed this nation to
fight back under the most unfavorable conditions. In Korea they produced stalemates, and they offered no hope
of victory."
These charges were used to good advantage in the fall of 1952 - but since then the world has taken a couple of
turns and now it is a Republican administration which finds the door slowly opening and the tight rope awaiting.
It is my belief that the American people should be told the truth about the situation in the Far East. This has not
been done. Within the past two months, Secretary of State Dulles, Secretary of Defense Wilson, Assistant
Secretary of State Robertson, and Chairman Radford of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have all predicted a probable
military victory in Indo-China. In February of this year Defense Secretary Wilson said that a French victory
"was both possible and probable. I see no reason to think Indo-China would be another Korea."
Within the past ten days, General O'Daniel, who heads the Military Advisory Group in Indo-China, held a press
conference in which he repeated again the assurance of a military victory in Indo-China. Certainly the American
people have every right to franker and more accurate statements than these which simultaneously assert military
victory, military deterioration and the need for military support from ourselves and other nations.
The primary cause of the inability of the French Union forces to obtain a decisive military victory after eight
years of fighting, is due to the lack of popular support for the war among the peoples of the Associated States of
Indo-China and, consequently, the lack of a crusading and reliable native army with an effective officer corps.
France still maintains too strong a hold on the political, military, diplomatic and economic relationships which
bind the French Union to the Associated States of Indo-China, and therefore failing to possess the substance of
freedom, they have not joined wholeheartedly the war against the Communists. Political independence which
results from military defeats will not bring about miracles - but the immediate granting of independence is of
transcendent importance and is long overdue.
The emphasis placed in recent days on the building of a system of guarantees among some of the neighboring
countries, should not blind us to the fact that the war in Indo-China is an internal one - that the assistance given
to the Communist forces within the country by the Chinese is substantially less than what we are giving the
French Union forces - that the French Union forces outnumber the Communist armies - and that military
guarantees of assistance from other countries, in case of outright aggression by the Chinese, will be of little value
in a war that is primarily civil.
The support of the countries that Secretary Dulles visited last week - England and France - are of course essential
to effective united action, but Asia cannot be saved in Europe. The support of the Asians themselves is a primary
requisite to success - and not only of the Australians, New Zealanders and the people of the Philippines - who are
after all island people - but the masses of the continent of Asia itself, who have viewed the war because of its
colonial complexion, with a cold neutrality. Although the United States would be expected to bear its
proportionate share of the burden, we cannot save those who will not be saved. We cannot preserve the
independence of Indo-China and Southeast Asia, regardless of the extent of our effort, unless the people of India,
Burma, Indonesia, as well as the people of the Associated States, play their proper part in any united effort. This
support is not only desirable; it is essential for success. These are the hard facts that must be considered before
we undertake unilateral action in that area that could result in disaster or a bloody stalemate.
As to the Democratic Party, I am confident of its future success - our victory is as certain and inevitable as the
changing tides. But for the country's sake and for our own, I do not want the Democratic Party to gain office on
the basis of cleverly worded promises or by raising false hopes. As Adlai Stevenson so wisely stated, and as the
Republicans by now should realize: "It is better that we should lose the election than to deceive the people." For
victory won in this fashion contains the seeds of subsequent disaster. We must indeed "talk sense to the American
people", make only those promises we can carry out, and frankly state the difficulties and dangers which
confront us. If we now make promises we cannot carry out the people will see we are no different than the
Republicans. If we now blame the Republicans for ills that time and circumstances have brought, the people will
expect the impossible from a Democratic victory. If in seeking office, we now make charges or state facts which
exceed the limits of fairness and validity, then the people will soon find us out, too. We would be deceiving the
people to claim that the problems of expanding our economy and maintaining our national security are not
difficult tasks. They will require the unified effort of our own party, North and South, East and West. But as
Democrats, we know where we are going. We cannot promise the American people easy solutions to difficult
problems, but we can offer them action and specific proposals.
Let us demonstrate to a disillusioned nation that promises can mean performance - that responsible opposition
can mean constructive legislation - and that the Democratic Party does not forget the people. If we remain close
to the people, the people will remain close to us, and we can look forward to the future with confidence and hope.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy on the Boston


Army Base Pier to Senate, May 11, 1954
This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One copy of this speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

Mr. President, I have joined today with my colleagues, the senior Senator from Massachusetts [Mr. Saltonstall]
and Representative McCormack, in introducing a bill to prevent a scandal, which if permitted to develop would
cause a serious financial loss not only to the people of Massachusetts and New England, but also to the taxpayers
of the United States. The situation in brief is comparable to a parent abandoning his child because he does not
wish to pay for its medical expenses. He hope that someone else will care for the child, but intends to abandon it
whether such care is possible or not.
The child in this case is the Boston Army Base pier in South Boston, Mass., which was built by the Federal
Government in 1918 and which has been of tremendous value to the Army in the course of two world wars. Since
1921, except for the war years of 1942 to 1946, the Maritime Administration has held jurisdiction over the pier by
permit of the Army, in order to lease the area for commercial purposes to a public terminal operator, which at
the present time is the Boston Tidewater Terminals, Inc.
The Army continues to use the pier for all of its cargo shipments in the area, and the Maritime Administration
has consistently netted a sizable profit for the Federal Government through its lease of the property.
But the Department of Commerce has now told the Maritime Administration that it must return control of the
property to the jurisdiction of the Army. As the Army originally indicated that the pier was surplus to its needs,
if no other arrangements were concluded, the waterfront terminal section would be disposed of by the General
Services Administration as surplus property. The bill we have introduced today, and on which we urge prompt
action by the Congress, would provide for continued Army jurisdiction over these facilities, and their lease to the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The speed with which the Federal Government announced its intention to abandon these maritime facilities was
without question induced by the necessity of immediate costly repairs. In 1935, a one-half inch steel underwater
skirt and pilings were constructed around the pier to prevent the damage caused by wood-eating marine borers.
Rust and corrosion have now worn this steel to tin-can thinness, with hundreds of holes developing each year. A
report of a survey made for the Army by the engineering firm of Fay, Spofford, and Thorndike stated that
extensive rehabilitation would be necessary to prevent the steel from buckling at any time - even this very day -
the sand pouring out, the pilings collapsing, and the whole base sliding into the 30-foot deep channel in Boston
harbor. The Army states it has no funds available for such repairs; and the Maritime Administration is
apparently unable to undertake them.
While the Army base pier is presently in full use, the state of deterioration is not hypothetical or projected, but
very real. Prompt action must be taken if serious disaster, including the loss of many lives and much valuable
property, is to be averted.
I. The Value of the Boston Army Base Pier
1. The Value to the Army
If Congress fails to take action to prevent the abandonment of these facilities, it will be wasting a valuable
national asset in which the Federal Government has invested many millions of dollars since its original
investment of $28 million. The replacement value of this pier is estimated to be from $75 million to $100 million.
Only 2 years ago nearly $1 million was spent for additional improvements.
During World War II, the facilities were activated by the Army in 2 months; and because of Boston's proximity
to the major European ports - it is from 200 to 2,000 miles closer than other eastern ports - the Boston Army pier
handled millions of tons of military cargo and was in constant use as a port of embarkation in time of war. It has
a direct, spacious and uncongested approach from the city, and provides the same freedom of movement for
railroad cars and trucks. It has ample office and warehouse space. It has the more flexible quay type of pier. It is
the only pier with double shipside tracks for direct loading. The Army should also be interested in the fact that
some 5,000 reservists use the base as the only available training site. It might also be pointed out, in evaluating
the Federal Government's responsibility to maintain the property which has served it so well, that retention of
these commercial facilities as Federal property has cost the city of Boston more than $36 million in taxes.
2. The value to International Trade and the New England Economy
At a time when the administration seeks to expand international trade, it is important to note that the Army base
pier, if properly restored and maintained, is superior to all other facilities in Boston Harbor. Other commercial
piers in Boston offer mostly small one-story sheds. The Army base pier, on the other hand, has very ample
facilities, all of which are now fully in use. It is the only pier in Boston with shipside warehouse space, double
shipside tracks and the other advantages noted above with respect to its role as a port of embarkation. It can
handle more than 100 railroad cars or trucks; its upper floors have 550,000 square feet of storage space; and its 7
full-sized covered berths are matched only by the east Boston pier of the Boston & Albany Rail Road.
Moreover, the Army base pier is an integral part of Boston's shipping industry. In 1953, it was used by more than
300 general cargo ships, about 25 percent of Boston's total, carrying about 335,000 tons. This average of 6 ships a
week affected the jobs of thousands of railroad workers, truckers, and longshoremen. It is estimated that during
the war year of 1944 nearly 2.5 million tons were handled through these Army facilities. If the 326 ships berthed
at the Army base in 1953 had not come to Boston, the revenue loss to the port area would have been more than
$3.5 million. The Army pier provides approximately 30 percent of the berthing piers in Boston; and its
abandonment would leave Boston with only 22 covered berths, when in 1935 it had 35 such berths. The
administration has a real opportunity to fulfill its pledge of assistance to our economy.
For these reasons, it would be most unwise, even if it were possible to do so, for the Federal Government to turn
these facilities over to private commercial operation, either through an industrial lease from the Army or by its
dispersal as surplus property through GSA. A firm which converted the property for industrial purposes might
be able to amortize the heavy initial cost of rehabilitation; but this would impair the use of the facilities as a port
of embarkation to the Army and as a port of international trade for New England.
It seems to me, therefore, to be obvious that the Federal Government must be dissuaded from carrying out its
present plans to abandon or otherwise dispose of the Boston Army base pier. Toward this end, I toured the pier
on March 7 with the New England Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers; the deputy post commander and the
post engineer; and spokesmen for the Boston shipowners, longshoremen, the Port Authority, and the pier
operators. Again, on March 12, along with my colleague, the Senior Senator from Massachusetts [Mr.
Saltonstall], I discussed the question with a similar group which included representatives of the Maritime
Administration and the Army. Finally, on April 5, representatives of my office met with other interested parties
and agreed upon the course of action embodied in the bill we have introduced today.
II. Alternative Courses of Federal Action
There are three major courses available to Congress and the Federal Government:
First. The first is a hands-off, do-nothing policy. By taking no action to prevent further damage or to rehabilitate
the property, and vainly hoping for private acquisition in a manner consistent with national policies of defense
and international trade, the Federal Government is openly inviting the disaster which would occur when the
snapping of a single steel chain could cause the whole Army base to slide into the channel. This is an expensive,
not an economical, alternative - expensive in loss of life and property, expensive in loss of the facilities of the port
of Boston, and expensive in the cost of removing the collapsed wreck from the channel.
Second. The second major alternative available to Congress is to authorize the Government to take such steps as
may be necessary, including the removal of various parts of the wharf structures, to prevent their eventual
collapse and the resulting destruction and interference. By letter of March 29, the Corps of Engineers has
informed me that two such schemes would be possible:
A. The first would cost from $1.3 million to $1.44 million, but would provide a period of satisfactory safety of not
more than 10 years. This plan entails cutting the present bulkhead at approximately the low-water line, removing
the supporting rods and the outer 30 feet of the wharf apron, and placing fill on the water side of the bulkhead.
This would enable retention of the wharf and pier sheds for land storage, although with a very limited use
possible and although the water-side fill might be a hazard to navigation and would have to be strictly
maintained in order to insure the stability of the bulkhead.
B. The second scheme for preventing collapse of the pier would cost from $4.252 million to $4.325 million, and
would provide safety on a more permanent basis with a lesser annual maintenance cost. This plan entails far
more extensive removals, including removal of the entire sheet-pile bulkhead, the tie rods, the apron for a
distance of from 80 to 95 feet to the face of the pier, all timber piling within the area in which the apron was
removed, and all of the wharf sheds' superstructure. This would leave only the major portion of the pier shed for
land storage.
Obviously, the first or temporary plan is unsatisfactory, inasmuch as it simply means the problem must be faced
all over again in 10 years and that only a limited unsatisfactory use could be made of the pier. The second scheme
is more permanent, but, like any plan which emphasizes merely the prevention of collapse, it renders unusable
the piers themselves, and is thus unsatisfactory from a point of view of military and economic value.
Third. The third course of action available - and that adopted in our bill - is to authorize funds for the
rehabilitation of the pier, in order that these valuable maritime facilities may continue to serve the Nation in time
of peace and war. The Fay, Spofford & Thorndike survey considered a number of rehabilitation schemes and
rejected several. The Army has also eliminated as a practical alternative the partial restoration of the pier in
order to make usable only three of the covered berths. This would cost only $5 million, but it is doubtful that it
would be of assistance for more than 5 years.
As a result of this sifting, three fundamental plans for rehabilitating the pier are available:
A. Remove the present pier completely and install in its place a new open-deck wharf, at a construction cost of
$12.35 million and an estimated life of 40 years.
B. Install a new precast concrete sheet pile bulkhead outside the present structure. This would cost an estimated
$9.37 million; but its estimated life would be only 25 years, and its lower resistance and higher maintenance cost
make this steelplate scheme which contemplates something which is similar to what is now on the pier, less
advantageous.
C. Construct a gravity-type mass concrete seawall supported by steel-bearing piles to be located immediately
outside the present steel sheet pile bulkhead. The wharf would be widened by about 30 feet, which might be of
some inconvenience, although it would be basically practical. The channel would be deepened and new railroad
facilities would be added. Using cast-in-place concrete for the gravity wall would result in a total construction
cost of $10.5 million, and an estimated life of 60 years. If precast concrete blocks were to be used in constructing
the gravity wall, the cost would be $13.28 million for an estimated life of 75 years.
If these schemes are analyzed in terms of cost per year of life, scheme ( C ), cast-in-place gravity wall, with a
construction cost of only $10.05 million - which is only $700,000 more than the least expensive alternative, the
new concrete sheet pile bulkhead - and with an estimated life of 60 years, would have the lowest cost per year of
estimated life, $289,118. In addition, it presents an operation which would be practical and economical to
maintain, which would present the minimum amount of hazards and disturbance during construction, and which
would have a higher resistance to fire and explosion. This would appear to be the best of all possible schemes of
rehabilitation, and funds therefore are provided in the bill introduced today; and certainly rehabilitation is to be
preferred over the plans for removal, collapse, or inactivity, which are also of considerable expense.
III. The Cost of Rehabilitation
Mr. President, I hope that the Congress will recognize the responsibility of the Federal Government to undertake
the rehabilitation of this valuable national asset in the manner which I have discussed. Here is an asset in which
the Federal taxpayers have invested a substantial amount of money, which is valuable to the Nation in peacetime
as an aid to international trade and our general economy, and which in time of war or national emergency is of
critical importance to the national defense effort. An unwise step now could mean that our future mobilization
efforts would be delayed while such facilities were reconstructed or reconverted, a delay which could well be
crucial in the race to bring our pier facilities to the necessary level. The $75 to $100 million spent then would be
unnecessary if a reasonable maintenance and restoration expenditure were made today. The Congress has an
obligation to the taxpayers to eliminate unnecessary expenses; but we also have an obligation to be certain that
such economy does not jeopardize the security of the Nation; and we have the further obligation to be reasonably
certain that a present reduction of expenses will not result in a much greater expenditure in the future.
Certainly such expenditures would be consistent with the responsibility of the Army and the Maritime
Administration, the value they have obtained from the pier and their investment in it, and the present policies of
the Federal Government. Certainly such expenditures would not be too large in view of the amount of Federal
money allocated to Massachusetts and New England for such projects over the years. In the current Army civil
functions appropriations bill as it came to the Senate, for example, $560,000 will be spent in the State of
Massachusetts; and more than $281 million in the rest of the country. In fact, the total amount to be spent in the
six-State New England area is only $1,735,000, an amount less than that to be received by 24 individual States,
practically all of whom contribute less in tax revenues than Massachusetts alone. Similarly, the share of all six
New England States in the continental nonclassified projects to be authorized under the 1955 defense public
works bill is only 8 percent of a total of $575.2 million; while the three Southern States of Georgia, North
Carolina, and South Carolina will receive 11 percent.
However, inasmuch as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is also vitally affected by the maintenance of these
facilities, I urged when first touring the pier on March 7 that it join in the financing of such rehabilitation; and
our bill so provides, as well as requiring the Commonwealth to pay all subsequent maintenance and repair costs.
We hear a great deal of talk these days about the partnership of the Federal Government with State and local
governments in the development of projects beneficial to both. Here is an opportunity for the Federal
Government to demonstrate on a worthy project that it means what it says; and to prevent the national disaster
which would result from either the collapse of the pier or its unavailability for military use in an emergency.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at Princeton


University, May 11, 1954
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two versions of the speech
exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. The redaction is based on the copy with the later date. There is also a copy labeled a "draft," which
differs in its wording and has a different date on it - April 29, 1954. Links to page images of the two versions are
given at the bottom of the page.

I appreciate this opportunity to participate in the Colloquium on the Eisenhower Administration before this
ancient and justly celebrated society. This society, and the University of which it is a part, have made singular
contributions to the advancement of truth and freedom. The lives of two former members, James Madison and
Adlai Stevenson, living at opposite ends of our historical span, give clear evidence of the nature and quality of the
public service rendered by the graduates of this society and this college.
I have been given the assignment tonight of discussing, from a Party point of view, the Eisenhower
Administration's conduct of foreign policy. The word "party" is derived, as you know, from the Latin word
"partire", meaning: part, portion, division or share. I speak, therefore, not as a neutral, but as an advocate of one
part of our political life; and while I will attempt to refrain from distorting the truth or unfairly condemning the
Republicans for failure to achieve results that are beyond human endeavor, I should warn nevertheless that in
fairness final judgment should be based also upon careful consideration of Senator Wiley's able speech last week.
My task is made more complicated by the fact that unlike domestic affairs, foreign policy does not lend itself
easily to factional dispute. But a bipartisan approach on basic issues does not preclude policy differences, free
from party rancor; and it would be an abrogation of responsibility if both parties did not set forth clearly what
course of action they feel should be pursued in order to achieve our common objectives. Republicans and
Democrats alike agree on the need for strengthening and unifying the free world, ending Communist aggression,
building our national security, and seeking international disarmament and atomic control. But there are areas of
disagreement and disappointment as well.
In considering the Eisenhower record, I feel it not amiss to point with some pride to the record compiled by the
Democratic Administration, a record which is still subject to almost unprecedented abuse by that substantial
element of the Republican Party which has opposed since the end of World War II the entire concept of a
bipartisan foreign policy.
There was, of course, one major blot on that Democratic record: China. I am not as sure as I once was that it ever
could have been saved. Nor is there any evidence that those who talked about it the most would have been willing
to take the hard steps - including the commitment of American troops - which were essential to success. As
Winston Churchill has said, the primary responsibility for the loss of China must rest with the Chinese
Government which lost it. But, nevertheless, considering what was at stake, we must regard our efforts in that
instance as wholly inadequate - lacking the vigor and single mindedness that might have permitted us to block the
Communist advance.
On the other hand, there is a solid record of accomplishment. Between 1945 and 1952 the United States gave
independence to the Philippines; supported the struggle for independence in Indonesia against our long-time
friends, the Dutch, thereby helping to prevent a repetition of Indo-China in those fertile islands; helped pressure
the Russians to evacuate Iran; stopped the Communists in Greece and Turkey under the Truman Doctrine;
checked the rise of Communism elsewhere through the Marshall Plan and Mutual Security Program; broke the
Berlin blockade; built a system of defensive alliances, including NATO, OAS and the Pacific Defense Pacts; gave
reality to the concept of collective security by stopping the Communists in Korea; laid the groundwork for the
Schuman Plan and EDC; took steps to bring Italy, Germany, Austria and Japan back into the family of nations;
created the Point IV concept; developed the thermo-nuclear weapon; sent military aid to Indo-China; created the
United Nations and its effectiveness against aggression, including the Little Assembly; and made similar progress
in a hundred ways in a hundred areas of the world. No one can claim that the Republicans were stepping into an
easy job on which the difficult work was all done; but certainly with the accomplishments of those challenging
years behind them, in many ways the Republican record in foreign policy is disappointing, its outlook depressing.
I submit that what Senator Wiley told you was "a policy of bold collective security" is not deserving of his
description: "more vigorous, more imaginative, more dynamic, more daring, than that of the previous
administration."
Any comprehensive review in the field of foreign policy for even a period of fifteen months is a difficult task.
But, to the extent time permits, let us review those items both large and small which form that entity called our
foreign policy, in terms of four battles: the battle for the "initiative" in the various areas of the world; the battle
for men's minds; the battle for economic gain; and the battle for national security.
I. The Battle for the Initiative
President Eisenhower, in this year's State of the Union Message, stated: "There has been a great strategic change
in the world during the past year. That precious intangible, the initiative, is becoming ours….As a major theme
of American policy during the coming year, let our joint determination be to hold this new initiative and to use
it."
Interestingly enough, the chastening experience of the past month have in no way diminished the vigor and
frequency with which administration spokesmen exalt publicly over this "initiative regained." But a survey of
our policies in the various areas of the world fails to support this boast.
In Asia, the events of the last month are too disheartening and involve us all too heavily for captious and partisan
criticism.
I do not blame Secretary Dulles for the failure of his desperate efforts since his "united action" speech five weeks
ago to build a collective framework to prevent Communist seizure of Indo-China. No man could have tried
harder or done more. But unifying the non-Communist forces of Asia, Western Europe and the United States on
a single course of action in a concentrated period of time - a course of action sufficient to give a promise of
success in the treacherous and swampy jungles of Indo-China - this was beyond human expectation. That it
stimulated French hopes for immediate assistance was perhaps inevitable, and we will now suffer the inevitable
charge of having let them down at their most crucial hour.
But it should have been no surprise that the British - living as they do on the bull's-eye in a hydrogen age - would
prefer to await the results of Geneva before commencing a hasty and ill-considered intervention which would
have internationalized the war on the worst possible battleground for the West and most obviously, it should
have been no surprise that the call for united action by a dominant Western power against a powerful ancient
and rapacious Asiatic nation, in a continent with a long history of Western exploration, has met with a hostile
reception in the East. Months of planning were required to build the NATO alliance, even in the fertile grounds
of Europe; to persuade the Asiatics to abandon their neutrality could not be done overnight.
Senator Dirksen, in speaking of Indo-China, said recently on the Senate floor that we should be grateful we have
a President who can read a battle map; but someone misread with dire results the battle map in Indo-China. Now
that we have suddenly become acutely aware of the dangers which confront the French in that area, can we
rightfully expect that every other power would either automatically, or through threats or economic pressure,
follow blindly the uncertain course we pursue in that area? The truth of the matter is that the administration's
real failure in Indo-China was not that of the last four weeks; but one which occurred throughout the months
since they assumed control, when the situation in Indo-China was deteriorating beneath the surface without any
real recognition of the facts by our top officials. It is apparent that our intelligence estimates of the situation in
Indo-China were woefully and inexcusably inaccurate. Within the past two months Secretary of State Dulles,
Secretary of Defense Wilson, Assistant Secretary of State Robertson and Chairman Radford of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff all predicted a probably military victory in Indo-China for the forces of the French Union. In February
of this year, Secretary Wilson said that a French victory "was both possible and probable. I see no reason to
think Indo-China would be another Korea." And in late March, Secretary Dulles said "We have no reason to
abandon the Navarre Plan", which called for decisive military results by the French in one year.
During the same period, our Indo-China policy for action fluctuated on all points between assurances of early
withdrawal of a few technicians to warnings of heavy commitments of American manpower. The statement by
Vice President Nixon concerning the intervention of American manpower was wholly at odds with prior
statements by the President, and with his own earlier assertion that massive retaliation was preferable to being
"nibbled" to death in localized conflicts. Mr. Dulles last Friday evening suggested his support of both positions,
however irreconcilable they may seem to you and me. The only change in the initiative, it seems, has not been
from East to West - but from the President to the Vice President to Senator Knowland to Secretary Dulles.
Before he insists on the support of our Allies, the President had better "seize the initiative" back so they will
know whose policies they are asked to support.
It is difficult to say today precisely what our policy should be in Indo-China or what course future events will
take, depending in great part on the reaction in France and Vietnam to the fall of Dien Bien Phu. Ideally, of
course, if the Communists turn down the terms proposed by M. Bidault for a cease fire, it is our hope that the
French, with additional assistance by the genuine independence to the people of Vietnam, and continue to fight
long enough to permit the native armies to be trained and equipped and eventually carry the major burden of the
struggle. This certainly will require possibly two years of fighting before, under the most favorable conditions,
large portions of the French Army could withdraw. The French people at the end of eight long years of fighting
and after a major disaster may well be unwilling to continue the struggle. If so, we will have to settle for terms far
less satisfactory, either a coalition government which would mean ultimate Communist domination, or a partition
along the 16th parallel with the forces of Vietnam still controlling the Delta area around Hanoi. The final
desperate alternative available, if worse comes to worse, is to draw a line at Cambodia and Laos, beyond which
the Communists would be warned not to move. In this way we might hope to seal off the Communist virus in
Indo-China from spreading through all Southeast Asia; and although they would hold an immensely strategic
and potentially powerful area in Indo-China, we might, on the basis of alliances with the other countries of Asia
and the British and French, maintain such a line and thus maintain some position in that vital area. Of course,
the Communists' recent claim on behalf of the shadow governments of Cambodia and Laos at Geneva indicates
that they are going to attempt in those States the same pattern of infiltration and subversion which worked so
successfully in Vietnam.
If we are to be successful in holding the line in Indo-China and Asia, we will need more than the Administration's
much-vaunted "massive retaliation" to strengthen the hand of the local governments against insurrection and
guerrilla warfare, and to meet other more subtle Communist methods of conquest of Asia short of the outright
aggression which they realize would bring on a world war.
Certainly an essential element in Western policy must be the granting of independence to all areas which are
prepared for self-government and which are now held under Western colonial domination. The failure of France
to give independence to the people of Vietnam precipitated the present crisis, and permitted the Communists to
seize control of the Nationalist movement. We cannot afford to give the Communists that advantage in future
struggles, just as we cannot overlook weapons in the areas of economic and technical assistance, propaganda, and
others I shall discuss in a moment.
But unfortunately, as a result of our relations with France, we have not firmly insisted that final independence be
granted; and thus in Asia - where the war will be won, not in London or Paris - the struggle has been regarded by
the Asiatic nations and the Vietnamese themselves with a cold neutrality. Perhaps this illustrates the ancient
maxim that a candid friend is the best of all.
Moreover, on this basic issue, again the American people and Congress were not told in time the hard truth. A
series of statements by our Department of State have insisted that the independence of the Associated States is
already complete or will soon be completed. In May of last year, for example, the Department of State in a letter
assured me that "France had granted such a full measure of control over their own affairs that…these three
countries became sovereign states." This hardly squares with the extensive political control still maintained by
the French Republic through its domination of the French Union and the lack of a Popular Assembly in Vietnam;
its extensive diplomatic control, through its coordination of Vietnamese foreign policy and diplomatic missions;
its extensive military control over the conduct of the war, the distribution of American aid, the location of French
facilities, and even the training of native armies; and extensive economic control, through ownership of the
country's basic resources, control of transportation and commerce, and special tax and extra-territorial
privileges.
It is my hope that before channeling American men and machines into what will otherwise be a hopeless
internecine struggle, the Administration will make certain that the independence now under discussion again will
be firmly and finally granted to the Associated States as a first step toward winning the full support of the
peoples of that land and the other nations of Asia.
Elsewhere in Asia, the initiative has likewise fallen from our grasp in our failure to develop affirmative, long-
range policies. The uncertain truce in Korea has brought no progress toward a final settlement satisfactory to the
security of the non-Communist world, but instead a buildup of Communist strength. The attitude of India, the
key to Asia because of her size, location and Nehru's prestige, has been increasingly alienated through our
political maneuvers in the UN concerning her participation in the Korean peace conference and Mrs. Pandit's
election, through our removal of Chester Bowles from his uniquely effective ambassadorship, and finally by our
decision to arm her neighbor across a tense and suspicious border - Pakistan. Much as we may deplore India's
unfortunate prohibition upon our use of her airways, threats of economic retaliation will not persuade her to
relax her concepts of sovereignty and neutrality. In Japan and elsewhere, we have fanned the flames of anti-
American and anti-military discontent through our hydrogen bomb tests in the Pacific. While these tests were
necessary, could they not have been more efficiently conducted - or at least could not their necessity in terms of
Russia's own experiments been more clearly explained to an anxious world?
In Europe, far from gaining the initiative, we have impaired western unity by being overbearing instead of firm;
by being indecisive instead of resolute; and by being hasty instead of deliberate. Fulfillment of NATO defense
goals continues to lag; and progress toward a European Defense Community remains static, unable to overcome
barriers in Italy and particularly in France.
Efforts to achieve peace treaties for Germany and Austria are at an impasse; and our haste in announcing and
then modifying our policy for Trieste gave neither aid nor comfort to either Italy or Yugoslavia, nor success to
our efforts.
We have embarrassed our closest friends in Europe by giving them inadequate notice and explanation in
announcing our "new look" foreign policy, our call for "united action" in Indo-China, and our H-bomb tests. In
what James Reston of The Times calls the "art of sudden diplomacy," we have continually confronted them with
the undesirable alternatives of either disagreeing publicly with the United States or undertaking far-reaching
military steps without prior mutual deliberation.
In the Middle East and Africa, we have been stymied in our attempts to join ancient enemies for military or
resource development purposes. The problems of Israel and the Arab States remain unsolved, with both groups
resentful of what they consider to be the prejudices of American foreign policy, and with increasing danger of
Soviet gains among the Arab States (as demonstrated by the recent action of the Jordan Parliament in thanking
Vishinsky). Our reputation as a friend of underprivileged areas and as an enemy of colonialism has been
damaged by our attitude toward the cases of Morocco before the UN and others, and by the broken trail of
abandoned Point IV projects which stretches across those vast areas.
And, finally, in the Western Hemisphere, we have handed the initiative to anti-American propagandists instead
of seizing it for ourselves. Canada and Latin America are alarmed by threats of new tariff restrictions. The
operations of the Export-Import Band, which supplied badly needed capital for the development of South
American resources, have been sharply curtailed.
Canada has become resentful at charges made in the United States against her Foreign Minister, Lester Pearson;
and there is no evidence that Senator Jenner's interview with Mr. Gouzenko yielded results commensurate with
the ill-feeling it developed.
When Mexican-American negotiations on a wetback labor treaty bogged down, the President in un-neighborly
fashion asked Congress for a law authorizing American recruitment of Mexican labor without Mexico's consent;
and signed it for future use even though an agreement had been concluded by that time! The recent attack in
Costa Rica upon our proposed arms aid to Nicaragua, the gains of the Communists in Guatemala and the
continued attacks upon the United States in Argentina and other nations of the Western Hemisphere do not
demonstrate that this nation has firmly seized the initiative; and the extension of our traditional three-mile limit
into what has heretofore been considered international waters I the off-shore oil bill further muddled that
antagonistic situation whereby our fishing boats have been seized and all jurisdictional limits challenged.
All of these unfortunate events cannot be laid, in fairness, to the door-step of those now in responsibility, even
though there was little hesitation in the past in charging Mr. Acheson and Mr. Truman with incompetency and
worse. This is a time of strife and tension the world over. Trouble is now and will long be our constant
companion. But it is difficult to see how this record squares with the oft-reiterated boast that under the new team
the initiative has been regained. Let us hope that we can seize the initiative in a meaningful sense in world affairs
- with positive policies, comprehensive programs and consistent principles.
II. The Battle for Men's Minds
We now turn to an examination of that second battle - the battle for men's minds. The Republican platform of
1952 promised "We shall again make liberty into a beacon light of hope that will penetrate the dark places. That
program will give the Voice of America a real function…We favor international exchanges of students" and
similar programs. But what have the Republicans done to implement this far-reaching promise?
Our overseas information programs, including our overseas libraries and the Voice of America, have been
harassed, defamed, reorganized, and heavily cut. Last year, the Information Agency's budget was cut 37% from
$123 million to 475 million; and this year, the House of Representatives cut 15% from the administration's
request. As a result, the Voice of America has been reduced to a bare whisper. Our small but vitally effective
Fulbright Program for international exchange of students and teachers was cut this year by the House of
Representatives some 40%, a reduction of $6 million from the $15 million requested.
But world opinion of the United States and the way of life it represents is not based only on our information and
educational activities. To the disappointment of those underprivileged areas which constitute the greatest bloc of
opinion yet to be won, the Republican administration has officially de-emphasized our Point IV Technical
Assistance Program, merged it with military aid and short-term goals, and in brief, reduced Point IV to a pale
and non-intoxicating 3.2. Our contribution to the Multilateral Technical Assistance Program of the United
Nations was cut last year by more than one-third of the amount requested. Our contribution to the UN
International Children's Emergency Fund, aiding the impoverished future leaders of every land, was similarly
cut nearly in half. We have announced to a disillusioned world that we will do nothing more in the field of
genocide and international human rights. Our failure to deal decisively with racial discrimination, and our well-
publicized abuses in the granting of visas and passports, provide further grist for the Communist propaganda
mills.
As a substitute for fulfillment of campaign promises to revise the discriminatory McCarran Immigration Act,
and to excuse consistent failure to even include it in the administration's legislative program, an emergency
refugee law was finally passed last year which would at least permit the admission of 209,000 refugees over a
period of three years. But do you know how many have admitted under this program? Eight! Eight refugees out
of 209,000!
Suspicions have been permitted to develop that our new military and foreign policies concentrate upon military
might, instead of utilizing economic and technical assistance, propaganda and diplomatic negotiations as well.
Too frequently, the Soviets have successfully created the impression that it was the United States who was closing
the door to high-level negotiations, and who is equating negotiation and compromise with appeasement. We have
not, I believe, taken into full consideration the fact that many people whose support we seek, now regard,
unreasonable as it may be, the United States and the Soviet Union as equal dangers to world peace. In addition,
the disunity and dissension which we have witnessed at home has not contributed to the confidence in ourselves
which we seek abroad in the losing battle for men's minds.
III. The Battle for Economic Gain
Third, what of the battle for economic gain? The President's State of the Union Message in 1954 promised "our
foreign policy will recognize the importance of profitable and equitable world trade." Instead, powerful
Republicans have sought legislation to destroy the philosophy of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, even
after the Administration promised no reciprocal trade agreements for a year. High tariff personnel have been
appointed to the Tariff Commission and other agencies, and the Buy American Act has been stretched to shut out
the low bides of friendly nations. Legislative action on the report of the Randall Commission is given little hope.
In 1952, the Export-Import Bank made $275 million worth of long-term development loans, compared with $40
million in 1953. Against a background of generous promises, we have encouraged disillusionment among our
Allies and stimulated their interest in the active Soviet trade missions and in developing closer economic ties with
countries behind the Iron Curtain.
IV. The Battle for National Security
Finally, we review that battle which may be of most concern to you and me and our families, the battle for
national security. The President, in his State of the Union message in 1953 said, "We owe ourselves and the world
a candid explanation of the military measures we are taking to make that peace secure…our military power
continues to grow…(our) air power is receiving heavy emphasis…this new program will make and keep America
strong in an age of peril."
These statements are not supported by the facts. Today, when the Soviet Union possesses many thousand mare
first-class jets than the United States and its combined Allies, when its best planes have proven in Korea to be the
equal, if not superior, of our fighters at normal combat altitude, when it possesses long-range bombers with
which to loose devastation upon American cities - and most important of all when it possesses the atomic and
hydrogen bombs capable of leveling the urban and industrial might of our nation - it is unthinkable that our
basic policies appear to underestimate the strength of the enemy and its gains in thermo-nuclear developments.
Proposed improvements in our continental defense are not comparable to improvements in the enemy's capacity
to penetrate that defense. Dangerous budgetary limitations and general inertia make our Civil Defense Program
of negligible value.
Last year, the administration cut our Air Force funds by over $5 billion dollars. This was a wring-out rather than
a stretch-out of Air Force strength. Although we were assured that our actual air power would not be affected by
these cuts, the Department of Defense announced several months later that 950 planes, including 748 combat
planes, were being eliminated from the aircraft procurement program. The result will be that the United States,
instead of possessing 143 wings by 1955 - the amount considered to be the minimum considered for national
security by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1951, will not have more than 115 wings by June 1954, and not more than
137 by 1957.
This year, unable to cut our air strength further, the Republicans proposed instead to cut substantially the funds
for the other branches of the service. The current defense appropriations bill provides a cut of $5 billion dollars
in the Army budget compared with last year. This slash, which will result in a reduction from 20 to 17 divisions,
and presupposes a cut the following year to 15 divisions, was based on the assumption, which has not stood the
test of time, that the United States will not have its overseas commitments increased; on the assumption that we
would continue a withdrawal of our ground forces from various parts of the world, including the Far East, a
judgment which I predict again will prove to be incorrect; and on the assumption that our "massive retaliatory
power", including "a great capacity to retaliate, instantly, by means and at places of our own choosing," will give
us security on the cheap.
I am not convinced that this "new look" can withstand exhaustive analysis. It should of necessity rely on, in
addition to a non-existent hydrogen and atomic monopoly, an air power second to none, a goal impaired by the
serious cuts we made in air power last year. In addition, by announcing a decrease in the strength of our
conventional forces for resistance in so-called "brush fire" wars, while threatening atomic retaliation only
against "very substantial overt acts" which "threaten our freedom", we in effect invited, rather than deterred,
expansion by the Communists in those areas - such as Indo-China - and through those techniques which they
deem not sufficiently offensive to induce us to risk the atomic warfare for which we are so ill-prepared
defensively. Thus intensified Communist expansion through indigenous forces, subversion and other methods
short of military invasion will require us to respond with either inadequate aid, or aid which would alienate those
who would consider the remedy worse than the disease.
The limitations of the "new look", and its massive retaliation theory, can be seen in Indo-China. It was not allied
disunity alone that caused us to refrain from intervention. It was also the realization that such intervention, short
of world war, would be of limited value as the result of the wide dispersal of our ground strength, and as a
consequence of the direct Chinese invasion almost certain to follow. To attack those questioning this program as
wishing to "force us into bankruptcy" is a reckless charge, and one which fails to look at the Federal Budget in
the framework of our national security.
To be secure we must spend enough to give a clear margin of superiority over our enemies. Any other policy is
dangerous, possibly fatal. Our defense appropriations for last year and this will not give us that superiority. The
economies that we have achieved, in my opinion, will be paid for by weakening the effectiveness of our foreign
policy, which in any nation depends to a large extent on the potency of the military power behind it, as the
Russians have repeatedly demonstrated. If the weaknesses resulting from these economies invite an attack in
Indo-China or Korea, our "savings" would be paid for many times over. To gear our national defense to the
Federal Budget "over the long haul" is to emphasize secondary objectives over our responsibilities for world
leadership.
Conclusion
In conclusion, the generous promises the President made at the beginning of his administration have most
certainly not been implemented by successful action. An argument can be made that the administration's record
under the circumstances if not wholly unsatisfactory; but compared to the promises that were so casually made
to win an election, and the confident assurances that marked this administration's reign, the record is
disheartening.
To those who have carried the practice of campaign utterances beyond election day, I would refer these words of
John Galsworthy, written many years ago - "I have just one rule for politicians all over the world, do not say in
power what you say in opposition; if you do, you only have to carry out what the other fellows have found
impossible." The Republicans have not yet learned this lesson.
For those who once criticized the Truman Administration for not "going it alone", now criticize their own
administration for not achieving "united action". At the same time, those "narrow-minded critics" as Senator
Wiley called them - and he knows them better than I - threaten withdrawal of support from the United Nations.
Those who criticized the setbacks of the Truman Administration now criticize their own for attempting to
prevent further setbacks. They criticize any possibility of American military commitment and at the same time
condemn any possibility of negotiated settlements. In this context of domestic politics, with its handicaps on an
effective foreign policy and with the difficulties not unexpectedly resulting from Soviet intransigence and allied
weakness, our prestige and control of events in the world has fallen to a dangerous low.
The truth is that the inexorable force of circumstance has forced the Republicans to adopt many of the courses
for which they attacked their predecessors. This in turn has led to that mild case of political schizophrenia that
Adlai Stevenson so accurately predicted. This was clearly illustrated by the debate on the Bricker Amendment,
when the President rightfully opposed infringement upon his constitutional powers, but continually led his party
to believe that it was a matter for compromise, thus stimulating the desires of powerful members of his own
party.
Did Senator Wiley address you as a representative of the Republican party? If the Wiley wing demonstrated its
full strength on the vote to recommit the Bricker Amendment, the it is a very lonely wing indeed. For on that
basic issue the President's Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee voted for recommittal; but not a single
other Republican voted with him.
Certainly it is difficult for the Republican leadership to formulate a strong and effective foreign policy, when the
Secretary of State and his co-workers are frequently subjected to sharp tongue lashings by the "leaders" of their
party in the Senate. (Possibly this is what is meant by "massive retaliation".)
In spite of this record, with all of its short-comings and errors, despite the criticism which was and still is
showered upon their administration, the Democrats have not found it easy to criticize a policy which emphasizes
such slogans as the "new look" - which says that we are "seizing the initiative" in foreign affairs. It is difficult for
a Democrat not to rise to his feet and cheer with the Republicans when the President speaks of "unleashing"
Chiang Kai-shek or when he calls on Congress to renounce secret and evil international agreements. We feel
warmly reassured when we hear such terms as "security for the long haul" and "massive retaliation". The fact is
that we have felt in the last 15 months the rhetoric but not the reality of action; and the American people have
more frequently been the victims of the administration's stepped-up psychological warfare than have our enemies
abroad.
Some will say that these obstacles imposed by the Republicans upon their own foreign policy activities may be
explained and therefore excused by one word: "politics". But even in a society so immersed in the political
struggle as ours, this is not an adequate defense; for as Plutarch once wrote: "though the boys throw stones at
frogs in sport, yet the frogs do not die in sport, but in earnest."
In all fairness I should say that I have not attempted to set down in detail the accomplishments of this
Administration - for I know Senator Wiley did so adequately. Nor could I honestly maintain that the difficulties
faced by the Eisenhower administration today did not and would not, in many instances, trouble Democratic
leadership as well.
Communist development of the hydrogen bomb and the increasing military power of the Chinese have so altered
the balance of power in the world that many who once followed our leadership now wonder whether neutrality
does not offer them more complete security than the hard struggle against the enemy. Thus the fact is that we -
160 million people regardless of party - are the real bulwark against the steady march to world power of the
communists.
We are the leaders - and we must recognize the disadvantages that go with leadership of a loosely knit
confederacy against a monolithic power. Neither the United states nor our allies can afford the luxuries of the
past in the difficult days ahead.
As the leaders of the Grand Alliance, we can and must - Republicans and Democrats alike - learn from the
mistakes and failures of the past, and promulgate a foreign policy which can win the minds and hearts of people
everywhere, which can command the support of our allies and the respect of our enemies, and which can provide
a sword and a shield for the defense of these United States.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy before the


Vermont State Holy Name Rally at St. Michael’s
College, Burlington, Vermont, May 16, 1954
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Three drafts of the speech
exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. The version labeled "draft 1" actually appears to be a carbon of "draft 2," but has been assigned an
earlier status because draft 2 has handwritten changes whereas draft 1 is uncorrected and thus represents an
earlier state of the speech. The third draft is a separate typescript with significant differences and handwritten
changes. There is no way of knowing which if any of the drafts best represents the speech delivered, but a decision
was made to base the redaction on draft 2. Links to page images of the three drafts are given at the bottom of this
page.

The great fundamental principles to which we rededicate ourselves today have meaning beyond the church and
beyond this state and nation. They are the fundamental concepts of morality and truth which have brought
civilization through a series of dark ages, each one with its own particular form of stultification upon man's
aspirations and achievements in literature, government, religion, human welfare and international goodwill. We
are confronted today with the possibilities of an age far darker than any of those of years gone by, an age in
which the political, religious, economic and social institutions and values which we hold dear may well be wiped
away.
There is, of course, nothing new about this warning. On all sides we see grim evidence of the fierce struggle for
world domination by the Communists whose dogma teaches that for them there is no real security in a world
which they do not control. At the same time we see our own desperate effort to secure that balance of power in
the world on the side of those countries whose national independence still survives. What is called the structure of
containment is cracking in many areas; and our horizons are lit by the flashes of distant conflicts. Young
Americans now occupy a hundred far-flung garrisons stretching from the Rhine across a great half circle to
Southeast Asia.
This nation is devoting its fortunes and its energies to the efforts of the free world to contain Communist
expansion, to resist out-right aggression, and to build strength in those countries on the periphery who may next
fall victim to the hidden but unrelenting march of the Communists. Such efforts on our part have required
sacrifices by our citizens, and raise fundamental questions on maintaining a healthy economy and a free citizenry
while at the same time achieving maximum national security.
This is a struggle of men and arms - of stockpiles of strategic materials and nuclear weapons - of air bases and
bombers - of industrial potential and military achievements. This is the physical struggle; and the central
problem here is to be equal to the sacrifices and willing to pay the price of ultimate victory. But serious as this
material challenge is, of far deeper significance is the moral struggle. This is the "stern encounter" of which
Cardinal Newman so prophetically wrote: "Then will come the stern encounter when two real and living
principles, simple, entire, and consistent, one in the church and the other out of it, at length rush upon one
another contending not for names and words or half views, but for elementary notions and distinctive moral
characteristics."
Cardinal Newman spoke of this conflict as yet to come. Doubtless its climax is yet to come, but in essence the
conflict has been going on for 2,000 years. It has not been limited to one nation or one form of government. The
issues, the slogans, the battle flags, the battlefields and the personalities have been different. But basically it has
been the same encounter of opposing principles, of good and evil, of right and wrong.
This ancient struggle is more comprehensive, more deep-rooted and even more violent than the political and
military battles which go on today as they have in the past. And yet it is very nearly a silent struggle, with a din
not heard in the streets of the world, and fought by weapons more subtle and more damaging than cannons and
shells. The encounter of which I speak makes no such uproar. It makes no more noise than the inner process of
disintegration which over a period of several hundred years may hollow from within some great tree of the forest,
until it is left standing an empty shell, the easy victim of some winter gale.
We can barely hear the stern encounter, and thus too often we forget it. Our minds are intent upon the present
and future conflicts of armed might, and upon the brutal, physical side of that ominous war upon which we have
bestowed the strange epithet "cold". We tend to forget the moral and spiritual issues which inhere in the fateful
encounter of which the physical war is but one manifestation. We tend to forget those ideals and faiths and
philosophical needs which drive men far more intensely than military and economic objectives.
As the leader of the Grand Alliance, we must frequently adjust our day-to-day programs in order to maintain the
unity which is so important to our success. But in matters of fundamental moral principle, our experience in
Indo-China should conclusively demonstrate to use that in the long run our cause will be stronger if we adhere to
those basic principles which have guided this nation since its inception. We cannot overlook the moral and
idealogical basis of our own policies and of the struggles taking place in the world today in our emphasis upon the
military and physical side of the war. If this nation ignores the continuing moral struggle; if we fail to recognize
those inner human problems which lie at the root of the great world issues of the day; then we cannot succeed in
the maintenance of an effective foreign policy, no matter how many new weapons of annihilation our modern
science can assemble, and no matter how many men we pour into the jungles and beachheads of battlegrounds all
over the world. Unless the United States bases its foreign policy upon a recognition of moral principles and the
idealogical struggle, we cannot hope to win the hearts and minds of those peoples of the world whose support is
essential to our success.
Permit me to mention four examples of the moral challenge which we face: First, the unswerving fanaticism of
the Communists; second, the weary indifference of so much of the West; third, the anti-Western nationalism of
Asia; and finally, the despairing hopes of freedom-loving partisans behind the Iron Curtain.
1. It will take more than force of arms to dispel the fervid fanaticism of Communist troops. No matter how much
we may hold them in contempt, we must admit that the Communists have instilled into their people a philosophy
that shows itself in the most extraordinary acts of dedication and self-sacrifice. At Dien Bien Phu in Indo-China,
hordes of Communist troops hurled themselves to inevitable death on the approaches of that fortress in order
that their comrades might achieve victory once the bullets of the French Union forces had been spent. In the Koje
prison riots, unarmed Chinese and North Korean prisoners of war marched to certain death in order to give
their cause a propaganda weapon in the struggle of the West, and cannot help but marvel, however much we may
hate their cause, at the constancy of the guerrillas of Indo-China's leader Ho Chi Minh, who fought for well over
a decade first against the Japanese, and then against the French, in the swamps and jungles of Southeast Asia.
In contrast to this devotion to a single cause - which we find repugnant, there exist problems of the spirit in our
own camp which the leaders of the West dare not fail to recognize: problems which include the indifference and
cynicism with which so many in the West regard a cause which seeks to establish the dignity of man and the
supremacy of the moral order; problems which include the disintegration of our common social order and the
slow attrition of our religious, ethical and cultural foundations; problems which include the inertia and escapism
which characterize those rightfully weary after long years of war and sacrifice. But it is in this matter of devotion
to moral principles that the Communists extend to us our greatest challenge. For we must match their fanaticism
with our own self-sacrifice if we are to strengthen the ties which bind all free people together.
3. But the great masses of the peoples of Asia and Africa, on whose support our success must ultimately depend,
are not attracted by most of those Western ideals. Most of them have never heard of free competitive enterprise.
Most of them cannot read, do not have enough to eat, and have never heard of a hospital. Only a comparatively
few of them have ever seen a white man; and most of these regard white men as exploiters, enslavers and
invaders. The preservation of free democratic institutions is no rallying cry to these people. The nationalization
and the collectivization of private property does not shock those whose personal resources are almost non-
existent.
These are peoples who yearn for the dignity and freedom of independence, who for centuries have been under the
domination of Western powers. If their own homeland is torn by war, as in Indo-China or Malaya, they are likely
to regard it coldly as a war between two foreign powers struggling for domination of their country. What is even
more discouraging is the fact that the Communists, by promising political independence and economic equality,
have captured for themselves the banner of nationalism under which these peoples are willing to fight, if at all.
In Indo-China, our friendship with France restrained us from actively and firmly pushing for the full
independence of the Associated States. Yet complete Vietnamese independence was essential to rally the native
and other Asiatic forces necessary to wage successfully the battle against communism; and we would have better
served France itself, and the cause of the whole free world, if we had remained true to our traditional policy of
helping all oppressed people. Such steps as are now being undertaken, and even they appear to lack the necessary
finality, may again be too little and too late.
4. Finally, compare the moral principles that inspire the fanatic Communist, the cynical Westerner, and the
neutral Asiatic with those that still live to inspire the oppressed sufferers behind the Iron Curtain. For those 800
million people who live out their lives in despair and deprivation, totalitarian power has been substituted for
individual rights and human decency. From the 19 million people of East Germany to the 10 million persons in
Communist controlled Viet Minh, there is no rejoicing in the name of religion and independence on this Sunday
afternoon.
The torture of Cardinal Mindszenty, the incarceration of Cardinal Wysznski and Archbishop Stepinac, and the
oppression of Catholics, Protestants and Jews throughout the area dominated by communism are designed to
destroy the God-given faith of an enslaved people. But the riots in East Germany, and the discontent evidenced
through the Iron Curtain area, demonstrate to the free world that their devotion to political and religious
freedom cannot be so easily crushed.
There is no magic formula for rolling back the Iron Curtain, no simple solution in terms of "liberation",
"psychological warfare", or a "new look initiative" in foreign policy.
But if our nation recognizes the spiritual and moral elements of the stern encounter, and if we can offer hope to
the troubled in mind, and courage to the brave in spirit, then we shall have helped to keep alive the faith that will
one day be free. Let us remember these words spoken by Sir Roger Casement to the jury which had convicted
him of high treason for his part in the organization of the Irish in 1914: Our hope, said Sir Roger, "renews with
each generation the claims of the last. The cause that begets this indomitable persistency, the faculty of
preserving through centuries of misery the remembrance of lost liberty, this surely is the noblest cause men ever
strove for, ever lived for, ever died for. If this be the case I stand here today indicted for, and convicted of
sustaining, then I stand in a goodly company and a right noble succession."
There is our message for today, for those under the heel of the Soviets and for those of us who still enjoy the light
of freedom; there is our faith and our task. Let us not fail its fulfillment.

Partial remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy before The


Executives' Club, Chicago, Illinois, May 28, 1954
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to the page images is given at the bottom of this page.

The acceleration of recent events in Indo-China has brought within the realm of definite possibility within the
next few weeks a request to Congress from the President of the United States for military intervention in that
area. It is therefore important for all of us - in and out of Congress - to inquire into the nature of that struggle,
and the decisions and actions which have brought us to this brink of war.
We must take particular care to base our impending decisions upon the actual facts of the situation; for I think it
is not unfair to say that the policies of the Western powers toward Indo-China have been notably marked by
miscalculations and contradictions; that there has been a steadily widening gap between our conception of events
in that area and reality; and that our actions frequently have been directed toward conditions which no longer
existed. Permit me to mention four examples of what I believe to be glaring errors of conception and judgment.
First, the very foundation of American assistance rested upon a miscalculation of the military program of the
French Union forces in Indo-China. The United States, which is now paying more than 80% of the cost of the
largely French-directed war, has based such assistance and our diplomatic strategy on the assumption that the
so-called Navarre Plan would achieve a military victory against the Viet Minh. This plan, bearing the name of the
French general in command of the area, called for development of the native armies and continuation of the
struggle by the French Union forces to achieve success by 1955. Joint French-American communiqués in March
and September of last year stated that American support was premised on the success of this plan; and as late as
April of this year, Secretary Dulles stated in discussing Geneva that there was "no reason to question the
inherent soundness of the Navarre Plan" and that "nothing has happened to change the basic estimate of relative
military power for 1955." Chairman Radford of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated at the same time that our military
and technical assistance was still based upon the "expectation that increased military operation by the French
and by the Associated States would defeat the Communist military forces."
Not only were these statements in direct contrast to the steady deterioration of the military situation in Indo-
China; they were also in curious contradiction to the policies of the French in that area as outlined one month
earlier by Premier Laniel. Recalling previous disagreements over the desirability of negotiation as an alternative
to military triumph, M. Laniel told the French Assembly on March 6 that "Today we are unanimous in wishing
from now on for a settlement of the conflict by means of negotiation. This is one thing that is settled. There is no
need for anyone to argue it further."
The failure of the United States to comprehend the eclipse of the Navarre Plan in French councils as well as on
Indochinese battlefields was a most serious miscalculation. It can be traced to further miscalculations on the part
of both France and the United States: our underestimation of the military power of the Viet Minh; our failure to
consider the effect upon their military capabilities of increased assistance from Red China; and our inability to
foresee the drastic turn in the military situation which occurred between the Berlin and Geneva Conferences.
A second basic miscalculation was our inability to recognize the nature and significance of the independence
movement in Indo-China. Certainly we must realize now that the success of the Navarre Plan, and any hope of
either military victory or a reasonable negotiated peace, rested upon the effectiveness and reliability of the
Vietnamese Army and its officer corps; and that in turn depended not only on the quality of French training, but
also upon the wholehearted support and devotion which the people of Vietnam would be willing to give to the
struggle against the Communists.
Of course, this issue presented the United States with a serious dilemma. On the one hand, the importance of
Vietnamese spirit and the traditions of our own policy motivated our desires for a French grant of independence.
On the other hand, a strong body of opinion within our Department of State argued that the French would
withdraw from the struggle, with disastrous results, if the ties binding Indo-China to the French Union were
severed. Seeking a rationalization by which to escape from this dilemma while preventing a French withdrawal,
the United States, under Democratic as well as Republican administrations, chose to support the myth - and it
was no more than a myth - that the Associated States of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam were genuinely
independent.
In May of last year, for example, the Department of State in a letter assured me that "France had granted such a
full measure of control over their own affairs that…these three countries became sovereign states." This hardly
squares with the extensive political control still maintained by the French Republic through its domination of the
French Union and the lack of a Popular Assembly in Vietnam; its extensive diplomatic control, through its
coordination of Vietnamese foreign policy and diplomatic missions; its extensive military control over the
conduct of war, the distribution of American aid, the retention of French facilities, and even the training of native
armies; and extensive economic control, through ownership of the country's basic resources, control of
transportation and commerce, and special tax and extraterritorial privileges.
The third fundamental American miscalculation was our misapprehension of the fluidity and instability which
characterized Asia and allied attitudes toward its problems. To attempt to unify the non-Communist forces of
Asia, Western Europe and the United States on a single course of action in Indo-China and Asia in a
concentrated period of time was an impossible task, and failed to distinguish the diplomatic difficulties faced in
Asia and those on which we had achieved comparative unity in Europe. In Europe, we have always dealt with
established governments reasonably able to maintain domestic order, whose officials were familiar with
Communist motives and traditional balances of power. In Europe we were able to establish a system of mutual
guarantees to deter the Soviet Union from outright military intervention.
The situation in the Far East is entirely different. Young and struggling governments, with a traditional hatred
for the white man who had exploited them for several centuries, held no strong hostility for the Communist
movement which was and still is to some extent identified in many sections with independence. In Indo-China, the
cause of the West was blurred by the visual impact of colonial powers fighting native people. No system of
military guarantees had been established; neutrality, far more than mutuality, characterized Asiatic opinion; and
there was no real political or military counterforce to offset the massive armies and power of the Chinese. The
political and economic interests of ourselves and our European allies in the area were not on the same level,
although the West is reaping a bitter harvest of decades of mistakes and exploitation in Asia. It was thus a serious
mistake to assume that united action would be quickly forthcoming as the result of our belated prompting, and
disunity at home and with our most intimate allies was the unfortunate result.
The fourth and final serious miscalculation by the United States was to base our own military strength upon a
mistaken analysis by the National Security Council of the future course of events in the world in general, and in
Indo-China in particular. Last year, the administration cut our air force funds by over $5 billion. As a result,
instead of possessing 143 wings by 1955 - the minimum requested by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1951 - we will
have no more than 137 wings by 1957. This year, the "new look" provides for a cut of $5 billion from last year's
budget. This slash, to result in a reduction from 20 to 17 divisions this year and to 15 next year, is based upon
assumptions which have not stood the test of time: that the United States would not have its overseas
commitments increased; that we would continue a withdrawal of our ground forces in various parts of the world,
including the Far East; and that our "massive retaliatory power", including "a great capacity to retaliate,
instantly, by means and at places of our own choosing," would give us security at bargain prices.
Events in Indo-China and elsewhere today have already knocked the props from under these assumptions; and
our reduction of strength for resistance in so-called "brush fire" wars, while threatening atomic retaliation, has
in effect invited expansion by the Communists in areas such as Indo-China through those techniques which they
deem not sufficiently offensive to induce us to risk the atomic warfare for which we are so ill prepared
defensively.
These miscalculations and contradictions upon which our policies have been based for so many years have
become more apparent in recent weeks. The resultant confusion, haste, contradictions, reversals and failures are
by now well known to you.
We may hope that the Communists, who would be necessarily concerned about a major war in the Far East the
end of which they cannot foresee, will come to terms in Indo-China. Present deliberations center about the
possibility of a cease fire and partition along the 16th parallel, with Communist recognition of the security of
Laos and Cambodia. This might permit the allies to establish a defensive pact solidifying their determination to
repel, by whatever means are necessary, any Communist advances beyond that line.
But the Communists' willingness to accept such an agreement will depend upon their assessment of the limits to
which they could force us without facing atomic retaliation. Today they are intransigent. Time is passing in
Geneva. Our allies, fearful of the tremendous buildup of Russian and Chinese military power, including the
Soviet's hydrogen developments and long-range air force, are indecisive; and the French may soon be faced with
the basic decision as to settlement, or whether they will surrender or withdraw. Certainly any French decision to
maintain the struggle will depend upon assurances of American support. It is thus apparent, as I previously
stated, that the administration and Congress may soon be called upon to decide the wisdom of American
intervention on behalf of the French Union forces.
The elements of that decision, the ingredients which must balance in order to produce a successful policy, are
clear.
First, the United States has insisted that our intervention must be on the basis of united action, and under the
auspices of the United Nations. We originally required, as a condition for our participation, the assistance of not
only Great Britain and France, but also the peoples of Asia, including India, Burma, Ceylon, and Indonesia in
addition to the Associated States of Indo-China.
It is doubtful that this condition can be wholly met. Even if the support of our Western allies, and such island
nations as the Philippines and New Zealand is forthcoming, we have no evidence that the heretofore neutral
countries of Asia would join us in collective action. We must therefore consider whether this limited support
would be sufficient.
Secondly, the United States has insisted upon complete independence for the people of Indo-China as a condition
for our intervention, in order to win the support of the Vietnamese and the rest of Asia, and in order to assure the
justice of our cause. Here, too, the condition we have imposed presents serious difficulties, including the
possibilities of French withdrawal once the ties between the French Union and the Associated States are broken.
Moreover, it would be difficult to insist upon free elections in a country where - according to those occasional
reports seeping through strict censorship - native units have defected to the Communists even at Dien Bien Phu
itself, where most government officials and some of their families are in Europe instead of at home, and where Ho
Chi Minh - rather than Bao Dai - is the most popular leader in the land because of this identification with the
fight against French colonial rule.
Third, intervention by the United States could not be expected in the absence of a willingness by the French to
continue the struggle. The present French Government survives by the razor's edge of a two-vote margin. The
French people are weary from eight long years of fighting and the disaster at Dien Bien Phu. We do not know,
once the decision faces them, whether they will choose withdrawal or a continuation of the struggle.
Fourth, American intervention is dependent upon the role of the Vietnamese. The lack of popular enthusiasm for
the war in that area, the hostility from the natives faced by Western soldiers, and the desertion of the Vietnamese
soldiers and civilians to Ho Chi Minh - which might well rapidly increase if a partition contrary to their wishes
were adopted - these are the factors upon which the quality of this ingredient would be determined.
Fifth, the United States would, of course, only intervene where such intervention was militarily sound. The
terrain in Indo-China is more complex than Korea; and we would not have the support of a friendly population.
We would be forced to throw our widely dispersed ground troops into the jungle war where conditions favor the
Communists; and it is doubtful that we could possibly achieve decisive results if the Chinese answered our
ground troops with so-called "volunteer" units. Certainly this condition is not one that can be discussed in full
today without a comprehensive analysis of the military situation; but we know enough to realize the difficulties
which surround this condition too.
If these five conditions are not met in full, it will be necessary to weigh each of them in balance against the
circumstances of the day in order to determine the desirability of the particular type of intervention which may
be requested at that time. We would, moreover, be faced with two other decisions:
First, can we or should we localize such a war in Indo-China as we did in Korea; or would we be prepared to
carry the war to the Chinese Mainland and thus risk the invocation of the Sino-Russian Treaty of Friendship and
a world-wide nuclear war.
Secondly, we would be required to determine under the circumstances then existent whether all or part of Indo-
China is absolutely essential to the security of Asia and the free world. President Eisenhower originally stated
that Indo-China was of transcendent importance under the "falling dominoes" theory. Secretary Dulles has since
indicated that the loss of all of Southeast Asia might not necessarily follow the loss of Indo-China. But, the
internal struggles, the neutrality and the military weaknesses of the other governments of Asia would tend to
make them weak reeds on which to lean once Indo-China fell.
These are decisions which weigh heavily upon the minds of the administration and Congress, and indeed all
citizens. Permit me to conclude, however, by pointing out what may be one encouraging result: namely, the
lessons the United States may have learned in Indo-China for more effective policies in the future in that and
other areas.
1. First of all, I hope we have learned the importance of allies. Those who once urged that we "go it alone" in
Korea and elsewhere now insist upon the participation of other nations in any military intervention. We have
learned, moreover, that we need more than our traditional European allies. For they are overextended in many
areas, beset by domestic problems and struggling to unify European defenses; and the battle against communism
in Asia - with its long history of Western exploitation - cannot be won without the full support of the nations of
that continent.
2. Secondly, I think we now more fully realize the implications of the hydrogen age. The fear of a nuclear war in
which no nation would be victor and all nations would be victims has stimulated neutrality and caution
throughout the world; and it has radically altered the significance of a military program which relies primarily
upon massive retaliatory power. For if the United States can meet aggression only by risking hydrogen warfare,
we hand an advantage to the aggressor nation willing to achieve its conquest by methods short of those inducing
us to take that risk. In short, we must reverse our air cuts and our "new look" military cuts, and place national
security ahead of balancing the budget.
3. Third, I trust the United states has learned that it cannot ignore the moral and idealogical principles at the root
of today's struggles. Indo-China should teach us that in the long run our cause will be stronger if it is clearly just,
if we remain true to our traditional policies of helping all oppressed people, even though it may require
unpleasant pressures in our relations with colonial powers and friends. We would have better served France
itself, and the cause of the whole free world, had we insisted firmly at the beginning upon the complete
Vietnamese independence which was essential to rally native and other Asiatic forces.
4. Finally, the United states now has a clearer realization of the burdens of leadership, and the severe and
conflicting criticisms which Great Britain and others bore in the past. Today the British feel we moved too fast in
seeking action in Indo-China; the French feel we moved too slow. Many Asiatics feel we have supported
continued French domination of the Associated States by our assistance; others feel we have let down the
Vietnamese by not intervening more promptly and directly. Some say we are pushing our allies too hard; some
say we are not leading them vigorously enough.
Many Americans understandably respond to this criticism with an attitude of disgust and withdrawal. But unless
we choose the road that will inevitably lead us to eventual submission or annihilation, we must recognize that
these are our burdens borne by others in the past in the difficult task of welding into a powerful force a loose
confederacy of heterogeneous nations - some of whom will find our pace too slow, others too fast.
The United States is the leader of the free world today; but this is not so because our citizens are anxious that we
take the lead in military battles; nor because our diplomats are the most expert; nor because our policies are
faultless or the most popular. The mantle of leadership has been placed upon our shoulders not by any nation nor
by our own government or citizens, but by destiny and circumstance, by the sheer fact of our physical and
economic strength, and by our rule as the only real counter to the forces of communism in the world today. If
events in Indo-China have taught us to better fulfill that role, then it is not a wholly dark story after all; and what
Washington termed "the sacred fire of liberty" may yet be preserved throughout the world.

Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy on "The


Economic Problems of New England" on June 3, 1954
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. There is one copy of this
speech in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

Mr. President: Since my discussion before the Senate exactly one year ago of the economic problems of New
England and their alleviation, considerable progress has been made in meeting those problems, including the
organization of the twelve New England Senators in response to the call of the senior Senator from Massachusetts
(Mr. Saltonstall) and myself. These 12 Senators, regardless of party, have been working faithfully on behalf of
New England's needs.
But more effective action by the Executive Branch is necessary. The disappointing failures to meet many of New
England's economic needs, too easily overlooked in our drive for psychological confidence, cannot be justified by
recent trends. In these twelve months since my Senate speeches, unemployment in New England - which is above
the national average - has increased by more than 125%* until insured unemployment has reached
approximately 180,000. Manufacturing** has declined in all six New England states for a total loss of 133,000
jobs, highlighted by the 48,000 job decline in the textile industry which is now approximately 60% of its
February 1951 strength. Our leather, shoe, rubber, apparel and other non-durable goods industries have also
declined; as have the more publicized machinery, metal and other durable goods industries. New England's steel
fabricating mills operated in the first quarter of 1954 at 62% of capacity, 30% less than a year ago. Reports from
The New England Council and the Boston Federal Reserve Bank indicate that declining defense orders will
increase the difficulties of New England's electronic, aircraft, shipbuilding and equipment manufacturers.
The battle against recession is now more nationwide in scope than it was one year ago, and it involves many
legislative issues to be discussed subsequently on this floor, including taxation, credit and interest, public works,
housing, farm income, and world trade, in addition to the items which I shall mention; but permit me to outline
those steps which the administration should take promptly in order to help restore prosperity in New England
and other similarly situated areas, and in order to complement the effectiveness of the New England members of
Congress.
1. Restore bid-matching to Defense Manpower Policy No. 4, the program for channeling defense contracts to
labor surplus areas. This program, both widely hailed and condemned when announced six months ago, has had
only a negligible effect because of its elimination of the bid-matching features under which New England labor
surplus areas had previously obtained $14 million in defense contracts. During the new policy's first full quarter
of operation,*** not a preference, and only two "distressed areas" in the rest of the country received contracts
totalling only $163,159. Moreover, only two of New England's labor surplus areas received any defense contracts
at all in the first quarter; and New England's share of all defense contracts declined instead of increasing.
2. Expand the application of the administration's new policy of tax amortization certificates of necessity for
industries in labor surplus areas. The delay in initiating this policy, the restrictions placed upon it, and the fact
that it provided only an extra percentage for that declining number of industries already eligible for emergency
amortization, have made this program of little value; and as of April 15, only two certificates under this policy
had been awarded to one New England community, covering a capital investment of only $250,843. Only ten such
certificates were awarded throughout the entire country. During this same period under the regular tax
amortization program, the number and value of certificates of necessity awarded to all firms in all New England
states continued to lag behind New England's proportionate share and defense contribution.
3. Revitalize and broaden the authority of the Small Business Administration. The establishment of this agency to
strengthen the economy by aiding small business was of particular interest in New England, which has a higher
proportion of small business than any other region in the United States, and where the rate of business failures is
higher this year than last. But as a result of legislative ceilings and administrative delays, the Small Business
Administration as of May 13 had approved in its 7 1/2 months of operation only six loans, for a total of only
$204,000 in all six New England states. Indeed, as of April 30, SBA had disbursed less than $1.2 million on thirty-
seven loans throughout the nation (as compared with administrative expenses on March 30 totalling nearly $2.4
million).
4. Eliminate discrimination and confusion in New England transportation rates. I have previously pointed out
examples of such discrimination and confusion in rail, truck and ocean shipping rates, and this subject is now
under review by the New England Senators Conference. ICC decisions during the past twelve months have
intensified this situation. Division 2 of the Commission recently denied to New England, and its railroads and
ports, the opportunity to enjoy rates on iron ore shipped by rail to the interior steel-producing areas, comparable
to the rates enjoyed by the Ports of Philadelphia and Baltimore. In January, a Commission decision denied
adequate service in inter-coastal shipping between the Port of Boston and the West Coast. Other recent ICC
decisions affecting shipments of New England goods by truck have continued this discrimination.
5. Plug tax loopholes which contribute to improper industrial migration. The House Ways and Means
Committee, in its deliberation on the tax revision bill, originally decided to plug one of the most flagrant of such
loopholes by removing the immunity from "industrial development" bonds issued by states and municipalities in
order to build tax-free factories as a lure to industry; but, the Committee reversed this decision and instead voted
to deny the use of rentals on such factories as business deductions. The Senate Finance Committee has now voted
to eliminate even this substitute, which is ineffective whenever such factories are given or cheaply sold to the
migrant industry. I am hopeful that the Senate Committee or the Senate, with the administration's backing, will
reinstate at least this modified version before the bill is finally passed, and eliminate this unjustifiable abuse of
public credit.
6. Request legislative and administrative action to correct substandard wage competition. It is my hope that the
President will reexamine his decision not to seek an increase in the minimum wage or to extend its coverage at
this time; that his administration will ask Congress to modify or repeal the Fulbright Amendment to the Walsh-
Healey Act which has stymied effective application of adequate nationwide minima on defense contracts; and
that the Department of Justice will act more vigorously in pending litigation under the Fulbright Amendment
which has delayed the adoption of realistic wage standards for the textile industry. I am particularly hopeful that
this year's budget for Labor's Wage and Hour Enforcement Division will rectify last year's error, when this
budget was cut 27% below the previous appropriation, thus making it possible to inspect only one out of twenty-
two establishments covered by the law, requiring the complete elimination of eight southern regional offices, and
making possible the review of wages in Puerto Rico only once in every seven years for each industry.
7. Initiate a program to revive the shipbuilding industry. Such a program, much discussed but not as yet
forthcoming, is of particular interest in New England and other areas dependent upon this vital industry. An
essential part of such a program would be to make more effective those defense manpower policies applicable to
the shipbuilding industry, inasmuch as the third Forrestal-type aircraft carrier was awarded to a shipyard with
increasing employment and substantial naval projects, instead of the Fore River shipyard at Quincy,
Massachusetts, where employment had already dropped by more than 25%, and where seven out of its ten
shipbuilding ways will be idle by this fall.
8. Support the Saltonstall-Kennedy Bill to aid research and market development in the fishing industry. The
active opposition by the Department of Agriculture with the approval of the Bureau of the Budget to this
measure, which seeks only to allocate to our fishing industry its fair share of tariff receipts, has handicapped its
passage without restrictive amendments. I am hopeful that the administration will reverse this position, and
support this bill which is of great importance to New England's hundred million dollar fishing industry.
9. Seek more effective social insurance against the ills of unemployment and forced retirement. In order to
maintain community purchasing power and individual living standards, New England requires improvements in
the existing Social Security Program, which improvements are only partly contained in the recommendations of
the President, particularly with respect to our disabled citizens. It is especially important to strengthen our
unemployment compensation program by extending coverage, providing federal reinsurance for states with low
reserves and by establishing through congressional action - not, as the President asked in vain, through
individual state action - minimum standards for unemployment insurance benefits and their duration. As a first
step, the administration should withdraw its support, even though it is substantially modified, of the House-
passed Reed Bill which would undermine the basic strength of our jobless insurance program. The bill
introduced today by myself and several other Senators would far more adequately meet the needs of New
England and the nation.
10. Accord equal treatment to New England and all other areas in federal programs, including those for resource
development. Last year, the original budget request for the New England-New York Inter-Agency Survey of
Water Resources was set at $1,200,000 in order that that survey might be completed by the end of fiscal 1954,
inasmuch as its original termination was fiscal 1952. The revised budget, however, when finally enacted into law,
cut this figure exactly in half, thus delaying completion by at least another year. This stepchild treatment of New
England by a Federal Government which has provided direct grants for the establishment of power facilities in
other areas already enjoying cheaper power rates, should be reversed by the present administration, for the
recommendations of the Budget Bureau and Army Engineers are generally conclusive on such items. New
England's share of the Army Civil Functions Appropriation Bill is less than that received by some two dozen
individual states, practically all of whom contribute less in tax revenues than Massachusetts alone; and therefore
the request for adequate funds with which to survey our potential resource development is not excessive.
It is my hope, Mr. President, that the administration will take prompt action on the 10-point program which I
have outlined above, and that we in Congress - with the assistance of the twelve New England Senators who have
indicated their active concern for these problems - will be able to follow through on legislation to restore
economic strength and expand employment in New England and all other parts of the country.

* As measured by the average weekly insured unemployment under state programs, May 1953-May 1954.
** March 1953 to March 1954, latest available Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys.
*** Defense Department release based upon contracts of $25,000 value or more, $10,000 for Navy.

Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy on Defense


Department Appropriation Bill to Senate on June 17,
1954
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One copy of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

MR. PRESIDENT: The purpose of the amendment, which is offered on behalf of myself and Senators Gore,
Mansfield, Symington, Humphrey, Monroney, and Lehman, is to maintain the strength of our Army at its
present level of nineteen divisions. The pending Defense Appropriation Bill - which cuts the Army appropriation
$5.3 billion or 41% below last year's level, and would cut at least $4 billion or 30% in estimated total
expenditures - requires a reduction in Army forces to seventeen divisions by the end of fiscal 1955. This cut,
which would be accompanied by a cut in military personnel of 230,000 men or 16%, would be a further cut
imposed upon the cut of one division which has already been made since the beginning of this year, when we had
twenty divisions. It is my understanding that this two-division cut, which our amendment is intended to prevent,
will leave the United States with only six combat divisions in the Far East and only five in Europe.
Mr. President, if we could safely assume that such a cut would in no way reduce our armed strength, or if we
could safely assume that there will be a reduced need for military manpower, or if we could safely assume that
the threat and military power of the Soviet Union were being similarly reduced, then we would be more than
justified in supporting a cut of the magnitude contained in this bill. Certainly none of us are desirous of
maintaining an excessive military establishment.
But the fact remains that, whatever assumptions might have been possible in August 1953 when this budget was
developed, or whatever assumptions might have been possible in the spring of 1954 when it was presented to the
Senate Appropriations Committee, we cannot safely make such assumptions on June 17, 1954.
1. The Proposed Reduction in the Army Budget Will Give Us Less Security. It is all very well to hope that our
"new look" atomic deterrent power will prevent an outbreak of war; to hope that other nations will take up the
slack caused by the reduction in our manpower; and to hope that the United States will not be forced to intervene
in Indo-China or anywhere else on the globe. But these hopes, expressed by the able Senator from Michigan (Mr.
Ferguson) yesterday, neither give us more security, nor conceal the fact that this slash in Army strength will give
us less security. General Ridgeway testified before the Senate Committee (p. 59) as follows:
"…We are steadily reducing Army forces - a reduction through which our capabilities will be lowered while our
responsibilities for meeting the continuing enemy threat have yet to be increasingly lessened….This reduction in
strength has made it necessary for the Army to re-evaluate its military program, its present force structure, and
its worldwide deployments…."
Earlier, he had told the House Appropriations Committee (p. 54) that: "A reduction in the order of magnitude
that we are making will certainly, when completed, leave us with less combat effectiveness than we had when we
started." And he agreed that our much heralded new weapons "will not be of particular benefit in replacing
ground forces during the coming fiscal year." Similar statements by Secretary Stevens and General Honnen,
Chief of the Army Budget Division, make it clear that "the overall combat effectiveness of the Army by the end of
1955, even with gains we could make with improved weapons, will be somewhat less than it is today."
2. The Proposed Reduction in the Army Budget is Inconsistent with the Increasing Threat of Communist
Military Power. It is the height of folly to reduce our strength when the Soviets are increasing theirs. General
Ridgway testified that: "The military power ratio between western defense capability and the Soviet bloc's
capability is not changing to our advantage…The strength of the major components of Soviet bloc military power
continues to increase…unaccompanied by an offsetting increase in Allied strength."
The President, on January 21, stated that the reduction of two divisions was "made possible by the cessation of
hostilities", among other reasons; but what are the possibilities of new hostilities on June 17? Secretary Wilson
justified this budget in March upon his assumption that "the threat to our security will not reach a peak at any
particular point in time." But in June, the recent events in Indo-China, Geneva, Paris, and elsewhere, indicate to
me that the peak threat to our security is being reached very rapidly. On March 15, long before the fall of Dien
Bien Phu and the negotiations for SEATO - which, if to be realistic, will surely require U.S. strength comparable
to our five NATO divisions, Secretary Stevens stated that: "A 17-division force is predicated upon certain basic
assumptions", including not only the assumption that hostilities in Korea will not be resumed, but also "that no
additional requirement is made upon the Army."
General Ridgway, in discussing "the growth in Soviet nuclear weapons", the progress of the military forces in
North Korea and Communist China "from the status of mere masses of riflemen toward the status of a more
modern Army" and the menace which exists at every significant point of contact between the Soviet bloc and the
West - including Germany, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and the entire Far Eastern area - emphasized
what he called the "increasing threat to the United States" and the unabatement "of the ultimate intentions of the
Soviet bloc to bring about out downfall."
3. The Proposed Reduction in the Army Budget Unduly Emphasizes Budget Savings Over National Security.
General Ridgway accepted this budget, he testified, only because:
"It has been my unvarying position that when a career military officer receives from proper superior authority a
decision, that regardless of his views previously expressed, he accepts that decision as a second one, and he does
his utmost within his available means to carry it out."
Although the General asked for opportunity to express his views in executive session, he testified in his prepared
statements that:
"This budget seeks to achieve the maximum combat capability for the Army within the means provided by
national policy…The Army has been guided in the preparation of this budget by basic economic and strategic
decisions which have been made at a higher level…The Army believes that the programmed distribution of
strength and forces for fiscal year 1955 is the best attainable within the authorized end strength of 1,172,700
personnel."
Moreover, the emphasis given by Secretary Wilson and others to the necessity of maintaining the cost of national
security at what he called a "bearable" level "over the long pull" indicates that budget reductions are a primary
feature of the "new look" military policy, and a primary consideration in the elimination of these two Army
divisions. Indeed, the boast was made in the other House that these Defense Department reductions "are largely
responsible for the $7.4 billion tax reduction which the House has already voted this year."
But a budget reduction - an objective we all share - should be an objective secondary to our national security and
our responsible leadership in world affairs. Today what we shall "afford" should not be determined on the basis
of whether the budget is balanced, but on the basis of expenditures which give us a clear margin of superiority
over our enemies. If the weaknesses resulting from these cuts in Army strength invite an attack in Indo-China or
Korea, our "savings" would be paid for many times over.
Moreover, our amendment to restore these two divisions will cost a total of only $350 million, less than the
pending bill has already cut from the total Army budget submitted by the President, and far less than its billion
dollar cut from the total Defense budget as submitted. Our amendment, therefore, will in no way contribute to an
imbalance of the President's budgetary policies, or weaken this nation economically in future years.
If we are to make and keep America strong in an age of peril, we will not permit this reduction in the
effectiveness and strength of our Armed Forces. Permit me to say, as Henry Clay at the age of 33 told the Senate
in 1810, in urging strong military measures just prior to the War of 1812:
"I call upon the Members of this House to maintain its character for vigor. I beseech them not to forfeit the
esteem of the country."
For, Mr. President, if the Senator from Michigan is proven right by future events, then we shall have saved $350
million, an important savings. But if future events prove right the contentions of those of us who fear the
consequences of weakening our armed strength - and I pray that we shall be proven wrong - then any action we
take today which reduces our strength may well cost us heavily in terms of our security and freedom. Trouble
and danger are our constant companions: our enemies are powerful and implacable. If in our judgment of future
events we are to err - let us err on the side of strength.

Statement on Revisions in the Social Security Law


before the Senate Committee on Finance, July 12, 1954
This transcription of these remarks is made for the convenience of readers and researchers. A single text exists in
the Senate Press Releases File of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. Although the release begins with additional introductory material, the body of the release appears to
represent John F. Kennedy's message before the Senate. A link to page images of this release is given at the
bottom of this page.

I appreciate very much this opportunity to express my views concerning improvements in the scope and coverage
of our Social Security Laws. As a co-sponsor of S. 2260, introduced last year, I am delighted that the President's
1954 social security proposals as embodied in H.R. 7199 make similar important improvements in our old-age
and survivors insurance program; but I am disappointed in the failure of the administration program to fully
meet the retirement needs of our elder or disabled citizens.
As a result of improved mortality rates and a long-range decline in birth rates, this nation's number and
proportion of persons 65 years and older have increased tremendously during the course of this century. In 1900,
only one in twenty-five were in this bracket which we have arbitrarily labeled "aged". But today, more than one
in twelve are over age 65. Since 1900, the total population of this nation has doubled; but our population of elder
citizens has quadrupled.
Unfortunately, job opportunities for our older workers have not similarly increased. As a result, the proportion
of men aged 65 and over in the labor force has dropped sharply. This is a problem with which I am well
acquainted, inasmuch as in Massachusetts and New England our proportion of elder citizens is very high and
their employment opportunities are increasingly difficult.
It is for these reasons that I recommend to your Committee consideration of at least some of the provisions of S.
2260 which I believe more fully meet the inadequacies in our present Social Security Laws.
1. The most glaring gap in American social insurance today is the absence of disability benefits. The worker
whose career is prematurely ended by illness or injury is in too many cases a burden on his relatives, his
community, and the nation. Regardless of his age, his diligence, or his earning capacity, permanent and total
disability may bring impoverishment and disruption at the very time when the responsibility for support of the
family is greatest. Disablement of the breadwinner not only removes a source of income from the family, but adds
an extra dependent. The administration bill properly includes a provision freezing the benefit rights of those
totally and permanently disabled, in order to protect the level of his benefits upon reaching age 65. But the 45
year old amputee, facing twenty lean years before he becomes eligible for so-called "retirement" benefits does not
find his needs met by a reassurance that his benefit status has been frozen.
2. With respect to retirement benefits, the Eisenhower program contains some constructive and necessary
improvements; but unfortunately, they are still not bold enough or big enough to meet today's needs. Increasing
the minimum benefits from $25 to $30 is most desirable; but even the $35 proposed under our bill falls far short
of providing an adequate supplement to the retirement income of the individual worker. Similarly, increases in
the maximum benefits for individuals and families are not adequately provided by H.R. 7199. The new benefit
formula contained in this bill is a desirable recognition for those in middle-income brackets; but an increase in
the creditable and taxable wage base from $3600 to only $4200 is unrealistic under today's earning levels. In
order to restore to the program its 1939 status, when the taxable wage base covered 96% of earnings, a base of
$6,000 - as provided in S. 2260 - should be established. Finally, the provisions permitting the drop out of four or
five years of lowest earnings are a commendable feature to bring a more equitable relationship between earnings
and benefits; but this can be achieved more directly and with higher benefits for the wage earner if he were
permitted to select his ten highest years of earnings in computing his retirement benefits.
3. I am delighted that the administration has seen fit to place the retirement test or so-called "work clause" on an
annual basis, permitting $1,000 a year of outside earnings, with one month's benefits deducted for additional
amounts earned over that sum. This is an important step in removing the harsh and restrictive features of the
present law, although it seems to me that the figure of $1200 a year --or $100 a month--would be more in line
with existing needs and wage levels.
4. Finally, I strongly urge that your Committee consider two features of S. 2260 which are in no way touched
upon by H.R. 7199. Many persons find it difficult to understand the social security law and particularly do not
understand the relationship between benefits and years of contributions. As you will recall, the original Social
Security Act included an increment in the benefit amount for each year of work in covered employment. This was
removed in 1950, thus permitting one who retires after a few years of contributions to receive the same benefit as
a worker with the same average wage who has contributed for twenty years. I think that equity, and the
importance of a better understanding of the law, requires a restoration of this benefit increment for additional
years of paid in service. S. 2260 proposes an increment of 1/2% a year as recognition of these greater
contributions. Similarly, our bill provided that an individual who postponed his retirement beyond the time that
he could draw benefits would receive a delayed retirement credit for the period of his postponement at the rate of
2% a year. A flexible retirement age should be encouraged; and additional recognition should be given to those
persons who forego their retirement benefits and make additional contributions to the fund instead of retiring as
soon as they are eligible.
Except where rigid seniority rules apply, the older worker is among the first laid off - and the last to find another
job. Increasing prevalence of compulsory retirement in industry, and the inability of our elder citizens today to
qualify under the thousands of new pension plans gained through collective bargaining, accentuate the
importance of maintaining the living standards and purchasing power of our older citizens regardless of the
future course of our economy. It is my hope that this Committee and Congress will meet what has been called
"the essential test of a civilized society" by making adequate provision for the decent and dignified retirement of
our aged and disabled citizens.
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy before
Massachusetts State Federation of Labor Convention,
August 4, 1954
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two copies of the speech
exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Library. This redaction is based on what appears to be the
Reading Copy of the speech and essentially reproduces that version. A link to page images of the other draft,
which has handwritten edits, is given at the bottom of this page.

I stand here a fugitive from an open shop where the hours have been unduly long, the working conditions unduly
wearisome and the practice of a captive audience unduly abused - the United States Senate. If our exclusive club
were to be unionized, I am not certain which craft would have jurisdiction - perhaps we would belong to the
USTTA - the United Stemwinders and Tub Thumpers of America. Our trade has many skills: If a Senator, while
in the Capitol, talks to other senators, that is a great debate; if he talks to other citizens, that is a congressional
investigation; and if he talks to himself all night, that is a filibuster.
But whatever we have learned about the art of talkmanship, we should have learned that we cannot talk
ourselves either into or out of serious economic problems. There has been too much talk in recent months about
how healthy our economy is - too much talk, and not enough action to correct the sore spots which still hamper
our progress. Neither undue pessimism nor undue optimism will meet the grocery bills of the unemployed
workers.
Here in New England, the cool optimism engendered by upturns in May and June melted away in the heat of
July. Unemployment continues to be heavy in Lawrence, Lowell, Fall River, New Bedford, North Adams,
Milford, Southbridge, and Webster. Unemployment is also cause for concern in Boston, Brockton, Springfield,
Holyoke, and right here in Worcester.
During the past year, more than 167,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in New England, 80,000 of these in
Massachusetts alone. To those who still entertain the myth that these losses are mostly textiles and other non-
durable goods, I would point out that the heaviest loss was suffered in New England's hard goods industries,
where employment declined in June for the 12th consecutive month. We are not only losing the services of those
who make our fine woolen and cotton goods, our apparel, shoes and similar products. We have also suffered a
tremendous loss in employment opportunities for those working in the machinery, shipbuilding and construction
industries. The decline in employment here in Massachusetts - in such industries as textiles, communication
equipment, transportation equipment, machinery and fabricated materials - has in one year taken away more
than 1 in every 10 manufacturing jobs. And those of you remaining on the job know that the average work-week
has been cut to less than 40 hours, and as a result take-home pay has been cut too.
What we need to correct this trend is neither glowing words nor despair but action. This includes action by labor
organizations, such as the unique and statesmanlike loan of $250,000 by the United Hatters to the Kartiganer
Corporation to enable that manufacturer to maintain his factories in West Upton and Milford. This includes
action by employers, industrial development organizations, and state and local governments.
What we also need - despite traditional New England arguments to the contrary - is action by the Federal
Government: action which will give New England its fair share of federal programs now aiding other regions at
our expense; action which will prevent other regions from using methods of unfair competition to lure New
England industry; and action which will permit New England to utilize more fully its human, material and
natural resources.
Particularly important is action by the Federal Government in the fields of labor and social legislation. Unless
collective bargaining can make greater progress in the South and other unorganized areas through amendments
to the Taft-Hartley law; unless substandard wage competition can be eliminated by strengthening our labor
standards legislation; and unless steps are taken to provide employment opportunities and to restore the
purchasing power of our unemployed workers - New England will year after year be confronted with the same
difficult economic problems. Unfortunately, the single biggest obstacle to adequate federal action - not speeches,
not studies, but action - is the negative and vacuous labor program of the Federal Government today.
Let us look for a moment at what the Federal Government has done or failed to do about the problems of labor
relations, the problems of labor standards, and the problems of unemployment.
I. The Administration and Labor Relations.
After a full year of vacillation and contradiction and inaction, the Senate began to consider amendments to the
Taft-Hartley Act. The administration bill before us recognized some of the law's minor defects. These only served
to camouflage those recommendations which would harm sound industrial relations. One amendment would
encourage the states to meet "emergencies" by adopting compulsory arbitration for all types of industry, denying
rights guaranteed by federal law and enacting other anti-labor laws as an inducement to migrant industry. This
was in contrast to the bill introduced by Senator Douglas and me to eliminate the so-called "states rights"
provision of Taft-Hartley. Another amendment encouraged patently unfair abuses of the "captive audience"
technique.
Fortunately, these amendments, and an even more violently anti-labor states rights amendment introduced by
Senator Goldwater, were recommitted by the Senate. But instead we see action by the NLRB accomplishing what
Congress could not. One Albert C. Beeson, whose conflicting statements, prejudgment of the issues and
misrepresentations before our Labor Committee caused all Democratic members to oppose his nomination,
joined the Board. A series of NLRB decisions has given a much wider latitude to employers refusing to bargain
and coercing employees under the guise of so-called "free speech."
Within the past month the NLRB announced new jurisdictional rules to overturn the refusal of Congress to grant
wider power to the states. In those states where labor organization is most difficult, the protection of Federal
rights will no longer be given to those workers employed by industries falling below a certain dollar maximum;
most radio television, public utilities and transit companies; and restaurants and retail stores - regardless of the
fact that the courts and past Boards have found such employers are in interstate commerce and under the
constitutional jurisdiction of the Federal Government. I for one resent this legislation by administrative fiat
overturning the decision of the Congress.
II. The Federal Government
Still further encouragement was given to runaway shops by the refusal to increase the minimum wage, thus
permitting areas of substandard wages to undercut the wage levels of workers in Massachusetts and elsewhere.
As author of the bill to raise the minimum wage from 75 ¢ to at least $1.00 an hour, I was severely disappointed
when the President repeated all of the old fears of unemployment, price increases, and discriminations against
small business which have been repeated by the opponents of minimum wage legislation - and disproved by
experience - ever since the enactment of the first minimum wage law.
Similarly, the Walsh-Henley Public Contracts Act has become an idle and useless instrument. The Fulbright
Amendment has hamstrung with legal actions the effective enforcement of minimum wages on federal contracts
in textile and other fields. The Department of Labor is apparently unwilling to go ahead with its statutory
responsibility to carry out the law, regardless of such handicaps.
Finally, effective labor standards have been nearly strangled by parsimony. Last year, the Department of Labor's
budget, already the smallest in government, was cut 14%, more than seven times as much as the cut in the Post
Office Department, the Justice Department and Agriculture. The Wage and Hour Division was cut 27% below its
1952 appropriation, thus making it possible to inspect only 1 out of 22 establishments covered by the law. Field
offices in 8 regions in the South were abolished entirely. The chances of your own employer being checked are,
for example, only 1 out of 10 in textiles and 1 out of 20 in construction. In low-wage Puerto Rico, a review of wage
levels is possible only once in 7 years for each industry! This year theses cuts were even more severe. It would be
more honest to repeal our minimum wage laws rather than emasculate them by amendment, inaction and miserly
appropriations.
III. The Federal Government and Unemployment
Last fall a great deal of publicity was given to the new Defense Manpower Policy No. 4, the program for
channeling defense contracts to labor surplus areas. But the new policy knocked out the one helpful feature of the
former program, bid-matching, and has been a colossal flop. New England is getting fewer defense contracts than
ever before, and practically no contracts in labor surplus areas as a result of this supposed preference. The needs
of the Quincy and Boston Naval Shipyards have been ignored. The new tax amortization program for labor
surplus areas has proven to be another example of many worlds with practically no results.
Finally, Congress has gone in the opposite direction by passing a bill to undermine the entire financial structure
of our unemployment compensation system. When I offered an amendment to set minimum standards for the
amount and duration of unemployment compensation benefits - exactly the same standards that President
Eisenhower had recommended to the states as necessary to give the unemployed workers a decent standard of
living - it was voted down. When I offered the administration's own amendment to prevent states from using
surplus federal unemployment tax funds for administrative luxuries when there were needed elsewhere for
benefit payments - it too was voted down. The problems of the unemployed simply were unrecognized.
IV. A Program for Federal Action
This is the unhappy record of the past two years - the record which affects the job of every worker in
Massachusetts, which threatens the amount of his pay and the existence of his plant. But this is the past - and it is
now even more important that we unite all parties to improve this record in the future.
I have indicated many times in the past the notion which the Federal Government must undertake in order to
alleviate these problems. Permit me to re-emphasize 8 of those points:
1. First, the Taft-Hartley Law must be amended so that its unfair and inequitable provisions will no longer retard
labor's attempts to organize in the South and other hostile areas. We must reverse the trend toward giving anti-
labor State Legislatures power to override those rights of collective bargaining which the Wagner Act firmly
established.
2. Second, the national minimum wage must be increased from its present inadequate and unrealistic level of 75 ¢
an hour to meet rises in the cost of living, worker productivity, average wages and per capita income. Current
economic uncertainty, far from justifying a delay in taking this step, requires a more solid floor beneath
purchasing power.
3. Third, the Walsh-Healey Act must be strengthened by revision of the Fulbright Amendment and other
provisions, and the enforcement appropriations for the Department of Labor must be increased.
4. Fourth, our unemployment compensation program must be revitalized, with nationwide standards permitting
every worker to receive more adequate benefits, and for a more adequate period before his benefit rights are
exhausted. Inadequate unemployment benefits mean inadequate purchasing power in our communities hard hit
by unemployment.
5. Fifth, the Defense Manpower Policy Program for channeling defense contracts into labor surplus areas must
be made into a reality, providing employment opportunities for thousands of workers whose skills and
productivity will otherwise be wasted and dispersed.
6. Sixth, tax loopholes which permit the use of federally tax-exempt municipal bonds to build tax-free factories as
an inducement to migrant industry must be closed. This most obvious of all unfair methods of competition is
harmful to the workers and community abandoned by the runaway plant, and to the community in which that
plant is relocated.
7. Seventh, the transportation problems of New England must be promptly investigated and corrected. Pointing
to recent decisions discriminating against New England truckers, ports and railroads, I have introduced a
resolution on behalf of all 12 New England Senators calling for such a Senate investigation.
8. Eighth, the high power costs of New England must be reduced, through more effective development of our
natural resources and through the utilization of atomic energy. My amendment requiring that the Atomic Energy
Commission take into consideration in its approval of atomic power projects the high cost of power in the areas
which would benefit most from its power projects, along with other amendments adopted by the Senate, will, I
am hopeful, hasten the day when New England can enjoy the cheap power which now aids the Tennessee Valley
and other areas.
There, my friends, is a program for action: action to meet the economic problems that confront us, action to
secure a better life for every worker and his family. I know the members of this organization will join with me in
seeking such action, to do more for Massachusetts, to build a better state and nation, and to enable ourselves and
our children to look forward to the future with confidence and hope.
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Commencement
Address Assumption College, Worcester, Massachusetts,
June 3, 1955
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. The printed program is the
only copy of the speech in the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy Library. A
link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

This is my first visit to Massachusetts in over nine months - my first speech in nearly a year. It is, thus, a pleasure
as well as an honor to be here today at Assumption College.
I saw Assumption College for the first time on the afternoon of June 10th, twenty-four hours after disaster had
struck from the West. No institution could have suffered the losses that Assumption suffered that day and
survived if there was not in the minds of those in positions of responsibility an overriding scene of the function
and need of such a College.
The disaster of two years ago was not in any sense a blessing in disguise, but it did give all of us an opportunity to
reassess the purposes for which the school has developed. That that re-evaluation has reaffirmed the importance
of this College to us all can be seen in the wide-spread support that has been given from all groups in
Assumption's struggle to survive. To Bishop Wright, to Father Desautels, the Faculty, the Student Body and the
Alumni, this Community and State owes a special obligation. The ultimate result will be that Assumption will
play an even larger role in the life of New England than it has in the past.
It is highly important that this should be so. Assumption College in these critical days has a threefold function. Its
primary end, in the words of Pope Pius XI, is "preparing man for what he must be and do here below, in order to
attain the sublime end for which he was created," the perfection of man through the proper development of all
his faculties in the light of his supernatural end. In addition, the Catholic College, since it is a College, must be
concerned not only with the student's spiritual development but also his intellectual development. Assumption
College has recognized that its students, in the words of Jacques Maritain, "in order to reach self-determination,
for which he is made, *** needs discipline and tradition, which will both weigh heavily on him and strengthen
him."
Secondly, Assumption has a special responsibility imposed upon it because it represents one of the major
channels connecting the United States with the great sea of France's religious, cultural and social traditions.
What is most striking in the French tradition is its extraordinary vitality. Many countries have had a brief golden
age. France's has existed from before the Renaissance to the present day.
We can trace the continuity of French Art from the stained glass windows at Chartres to Rouault today. We can
trace the continuity of French painting from the Avignon Pieta to Matisse's Chapel at Venice: French literature
flows like a torrent from the song of Roland to Paul Claudel. We can trace the continuity of French missionary
zeal from the founding of the Association for the Propagation of the Faith in Lyons in the 12th century to
Assumption College in Worcester in the 20th.
Indeed, it is three Frenchmen today who have stimulated the rebirth of Catholic intellectual life: Jacques
Maritain, our outstanding Catholic philosopher - Francois Mauriac, our outstanding Catholic writer - Paul
Claudel, our outstanding Catholic poet. This is the matchless tradition, that it is the role of Assumption through
its graduates to interpret for America.
We are fortunate in New England where Americans of French and Canadian extraction play such a major role
that here at Assumption College we should have the means of maintaining such a close tie with so much that is
important and so little known. As Bishop Wright said several years ago, God "has brought you here and gave
you the force and grace and the vision to retain your traditions of language and culture in order that you might
*** interpret to us the wisdom of French speaking christendom in a moment of history which English speaking
christendom and all the English speaking world needed so badly." This College serves as a wellspring from which
all of us may gather direction and inspiration: You who graduate can share with us the French speaking world's
tradition and wisdom in a period of disintegration.
And lastly, Assumption has the function common to all universities, the continuing search for the truth, both for
its own sake and because only if we possess it can we really be free. Never has the task of finding the truth been
more difficult. In a struggle between modern states "truth" has become a weapon in the battle of power - it is
bent, twisted and subverted to fit the pattern of national policy. Frequently, we in the West feel ourselves forced
by this drum beat of lies and propaganda to be "discriminating" in our selection of what facets of the truth we
ourselves will disclose. Thus, the responsibility of a free university to pursue its own objective studies is even
more important today than ever before. Assumption College has succeeded in carrying out this mission, so that
today it stands as a bulwark on the North American continent in the battle for the preservation of Christian
civilization.
I say this and not because I believe Christianity is a weapon in the present world struggle, but because I believe
religion itself is at the root of the struggle, not in terms of the physical organizations of Christianity versus those
of Atheism, but in terms of Good versus Evil, right versus wrong, in terms of "the stern encounter" of which
Cardinal Newman so prophetically wrote:
"Then will come the stern encounter when two real and living principles, simple, entire, and consistent, one in the
church and the other out of it, at length rush upon one another contending nor for names and words or half
views, but for elementary notions and distinctive moral characteristics."
Cardinal Newman spoke of this conflict as yet to come. Doubtless its climax is yet to come, but in essence the
conflict has been going on for 2,000 years. It has not been limited to one nation or to one form of government.
The issues, the slogans, the battle flags, the battlefields and the personalities have been different. But basically it
has been the same encounter of opposing principles, a struggle more comprehensive, more deeprooted and even
more violent than the political and military battles which go on today. It is easy to envision the struggle as being
wholly physical - of men and arms - of stockpiles, strategic materials and nuclear weapons - of air bases and
bombers, of industrial potential and military achievements. This is the material struggle, and the central problem
here is to be equal to the sacrifices necessary for ultimate survival and victory. But of far deeper significance is
"the stern encounter", the very nearly silent struggle, with no din to be heard in the streets of the world, and with
weapons far more subtle and far more damaging than cannons and shells. The encounter of which I speak makes
no more noise than the inner process of disintegration which over a period of several hundred years may hollow
from within some great tree of the forest, until it is left standing an empty shell, the easy victim of a winter gale.
We can barely hear the stern encounter, and thus too often we forget it. Our minds, like the headlines of our
newspapers, are intent upon the present and future conflicts of armed might, and upon the brutal, physical side
of that ominous war upon which we have bestowed the strange epithet "cold". We tend to forget the moral and
spiritual issues which inhere in the fateful encounter of which the physical war is but one manifestation. We tend
to forget those ideals and faiths and philosophical needs which drive men far more intensely than military and
economic objectives.
This is not to say that we have overlooked religion. Too often we have utilized it as a weapon, broadcast it as
propaganda, shouted it as a battle cry. But in "the stern encounter", in the moral struggle, religion is not simply
a weapon - it is the essence of the struggle itself. The Communist rulers do not fear the phraseology of religion, or
the ceremonies and churches and denomination organizations. On the contrary, they leave no stone unturned in
seeking to turn these aspects of religion to their own advantage and to use the trappings of religion in order to
cement the obedience of their people. What they fear is the profound consequences of a religion that is lived and
not merely acknowledged. They fear especially man's response to spiritual and ethical stimuli, not merely
material. A society which seeks to make the worship of the State the ultimate objective of life cannot permit a
higher loyalty, a faith in God, a belief in a religion that elevates the individual, acknowledges his true value and
teaches him devotion and responsibility to something beyond the here and the now. The communists fear
Christianity more as a way of life than as a weapon. In short, there is room in a totalitarian system for churches -
but there is no room for God. The claim of the State must be total, and no other loyalty, and no other philosophy
of life can be tolerated.
Is this not simply an indication of the weakness of the communist position? If the ultimate struggle is indeed a
moral encounter, then are we not certain of eventual victory?
At first glance it might seem inevitable that in a struggle where the issue is the supremacy of the moral order, we
must be victorious. That it is not inevitable, is due to the steady attrition in our faith and belief, a disease from
which we in the West are suffering heavily. The communists have substituted dialectical materialism for faith in
God; we on our part have substituted too often cynicism, indifference and secularism. We have permitted the
communists too often to choose the ground for the struggle. We point with pride to the great outpourings of our
factories and assume we have therefore proved the superiority of our system. We forget that the essence of the
struggle is not material, but spiritual and ethical. We forget that the purpose of life is the future and not the
present.
This emphasis on the material shows itself in many elements of our political life. Too often, in our foreign policy,
in order to compete with the power doctrines of the Bolcheviks, we ourselves practice what Jacques Maritain
called "moderate machiavellianism". But as Maritain pointed out in the showdown, this pale and attenuated
version "is inevitably destined to be vanquished by absolute and virulent machiavellianism" as practiced by the
communists.
We cannot separate our lives into compartments, either as individuals or as a nation. We cannot, on the one
hand, run with the tide, and on the other, hold fast to Catholic principles.
Here at Assumption we are taught that Christianity is a way of life, not a means to an end: that eternal truths
and the problems of this world cannot be kept separate. You who are graduating from this College today know
this to be true and it is your responsibility as well as your opportunity by your works and example to stimulate a
revival of our religious faith, to renew the battle against weary indifference and inertia, against the washing away
of our religious, ethical and cultural foundations.
If our nation recognizes the spiritual and moral element of the "stern encounter", and directs our policies to
emphasize this phase of the struggle - if we refuse those compromises which have cost us so heavily - which have
blurred the nature of the encounter between our enemies and ourselves - we shall find our way easier, our success
more certain.
As graduates of this College during the years of its greatest crisis, when the struggle for survival seemed
crushing, you have found a clear example of what charity, hope and faith, especially faith, can do in overcoming
all obstacles. The cause for which we struggle needs reaffirmation. Its true meaning and significance can be
found at Assumption, and you who have studied here can be the vanguard in giving direction and purpose to our
lives and to our time.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy on Federal Flood


Insurance to the Fall River Chapter of the National
Association of Cost Accountants, October 13, 1955
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two copies of the speech
exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Libraray. One copy has some minor handwritten notes on it. A link to page images of the draft with the
handwritten changes is given at the bottom of this page.

It is a genuine pleasure to meet here this evening with my friends from the Fall River-New Bedford area and the
Fall River Chapter of the National Association of Cost Accountants. Yours is a profession much in demand in
Washington today - for budgets, taxes and appropriations are a major concern as the Administration prepares
for the opening of Congress. The Secretary of the Treasury has been juggling the books all he can, determined to
balance the budget even if he has to borrow the money to do it. The Secretary of defense has been asking for
more money, probably because of the diminishing enlistment rate which followed his announcement that men are
now being commissioned as Army nurses. And the Commissioner of Internal Revenue has been trying to figure
out how much in taxes he will collect from winners on the $64,000 Question.
There is still another problem of "costs" which I would like to discuss with you tonight - the cost of floods, their
destructive power and their control. The disastrous floods of last august, which brought tragedy, hardship and
hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to thousands of Massachusetts homes and industries, were the last of a
series of heavy floods inundating New England in the past thirty years - including the destructive floods of 1927,
1936 and 1938. It should now be apparent to every New Englander that, no matter how proud we may be of our
New England spirit of independence, we must begin to participate more fully in Federal flood control programs.
Only in this way will we lessen the grim consequences which will be constantly forced upon us - particularly if, as
now seems likely, a new pattern of hurricane paths is being formed.
It is time for New England to demand her fair share of Federal flood control expenditures. In terms of 1955 price
levels, the funds authorized by the basic Flood Control Act of 1936 and subsequent acts total nearly ten billion
dollars. But New England, a major flood area which requires protection for 10% of the nation's industry and
well over 6% of the nation's population, can receive at most little more than 3% of the amount authorized.
But even if we had actually received our 3% of the funds for projects already authorized, New England would
have been in far better shape last August. Instead, only about one fifth of the funds necessary for New England
flood control projects already authorized has actually been appropriated by the Congress - while in the politically
powerful Missouri River Basin, for example, the ratio of appropriations to authorizations is nearly twice as high.
Indeed the nation as a whole has received appropriations for a much larger share of its authorized projects than
has New England.
Of the nearly one billion, eight hundred million dollars appropriated by the Congress for flood control during the
last five fiscal years, all of the six New England States put together received only ten million dollars - or six-tenths
of one per cent! It is important to note that, to the total Federal funds appropriated, our area contributed in taxes
- for the construction of flood control projects all over the country - nearly ten times as much as the tiny
percentage of those appropriations which went to New England. If Massachusetts had been receiving flood
control funds from the Congress in the past five years in accordance with her share of the population, or in
accordance with her share of contributions to the Federal treasury, our State would have received nearly fifteen
times as much as it actually did receive.
These figures are so fantastic, these differences are so great, that they stagger the imagination. How different the
month of August 1955 might have been, how much property might have been saved, how many lives might have
been spared, had Massachusetts in the past five years received for flood control purposes fifteen times as much as
she actually did receive!
The task that lies ahead is clear. Perhaps we cannot increase our share of Federal flood control appropriations by
fifteen hundred percent - but I do insist - and I shall insist in Washington - that the flood control needs of
Massachusetts and New England be more adequately recognized. This is a task which will require a sympathetic
administration, regardless of party, and the unified efforts of every member of the New England delegation in
Washington, which - I am happy to say - is now more closely united, without regard to political affiliation, than
ever before. But it is a task that will require even more the enthusiastic support of State and local officials, and
above all public opinion, in this area. It is your job to determine the projects needed and to initiate, in
cooperation with the local offices of the Army Engineers, the request for Federal funds - and it is our job in
Washington to follow through on those requests, to see that the funds are appropriated and to stop the short-
changing of New England which has penalized us these many years.
On the other side of the flood damage coin is the matter of flood insurance, which - unlike flood control, an
activity recognized by practically everyone to be properly within the province of the Federal Government -
promises to be a lively and controversial topic during the coming session of Congress.
I do not think there is anyone in this room who would not prefer that flood insurance be handled entirely by our
private insurance industry. But the fact is that flood insurance from private sources is virtually unavailable
today. Practically none of the billions of dollars of destructive damage suffered by homeowners and businessmen
less than two months ago was covered by any flood insurance of any kind. This is perhaps the most glaring gap in
the protection offered by an industry which has otherwise insured everything from race horses to the legs of
famous actresses.
Thus the alternative to some form of Federal insurance is no insurance at all. This is important to keep in mind.
We may criticize Federal insurance, we may lack enthusiasm for Federal activity in this field and we may be very
dubious about the success of such an experiment. But we must remember that the only other choice facing us is
no insurance whatsoever.
Let us examine the reasons why private insurance companies are unwilling to enter this field - and I think they
are very good reasons, in view of their obligations of prudence to their policyholders and stockholders - in order
to determine whether these same reasons make Federal flood insurance equally impossible.
In the first place, the insurance industry is understandably reluctant to expand the funds necessary for predicting
and measuring floods, surveying the extent of flood damage and erecting projects necessary for flood control in
particular areas. But those tasks, which are essential to any rough calculation of the risk to be insured, are quite
obviously the duties of the Federal Government, duties which it would be fulfilling whether or not it was in the
insurance business.
Secondly, an individual insurance company is unwilling to maintain the large financial reserve necessary to meet
the cost of a heavy flood occurring before their flood insurance premiums have accumulated. Congress, on the
other hand, can authorize - as it has in the past authorized - an agency to borrow funds from the Treasury should
an emergency arise in the early years of its existence, to be repaid subsequently from premium income.
Third, the private insurance industry runs up against 48 different state insurance laws and a multitude of
conflicting regulations concerning uniformity of rates, adequacy of reserve and other knotty problems, while the
Federal Government, recognizing that state boundaries have no significance in national disasters, would be able
to promulgate a fair and yet economically sound program for home owners and businessmen in all parts of the
country.
Fourth and finally, no single private insurance company could be assured of a broad base in all parts of the
country upon which to spread the risk; it could not be certain that early bankruptcy would not result from the
concentration of their insurance in the most vulnerable areas; and it could not foresee with any certainty a
reasonable profit within a reasonable period of time. Although the problem of spreading the risk over a broad
base will also exist, though to a lesser extent, under a Federal program, it would not face the same financial
difficulties - no profit would be needed; no state and federal taxes would be paid; existing personnel could be
used; money could be borrowed at cost, or even less than cost, from the Treasury; and, should Congress ever
decree that a partial subsidy would be in the national interest, that subsidy would be borne by all and not a few
policyholders or stockholders.
Several flood insurance bills will be offered in the next sessions of Congress including one which I have prepared
and on which I have been joined by my colleague Senator Saltonstall. But I shall be concerned not so much as to
whether it is my bill, or a Democratic bill, or a Senate bill that receives final approval as I shall be concerned over
obtaining the best bill possible. It is my hope that all of us in Congress who are concerned about this gap in our
insurance system will join forces to bring about the passage of such a bill. We shall need the cooperation of the
insurance industry, the backing of public opinion and the assistance of businessmen and cost experts such as
yourselves. I hope that we can count on that help in the months to come.
We know the story from the Seventh Book of Matthew of the "foolish man who built his house upon the sand,
and the rain descendeth, and the floods cameth, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and
great was the fall of it." But we have also seen that the hurricane-driven floods of New England make little or no
distinction between houses built on rock and those built on sand. They pose a menace and a challenge to wise men
as well as fools. And if our State is not to fall - and great would be the fall of it - all of us must work together
toward a common goal.
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at Sigma Delta
Chi Journalism Fraternity Dinner, Boston,
Massachusetts, October 27, 1955
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two identical copies of this
speech exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F.
Kennedy Presidential Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

Introduction
I would like to talk with you tonight about one of those facets of legislative government which is of fundamental
importance not only to members of the Senate but also to members of the newspaper profession - particularly
those in the editorial and publishing offices - the question of a Senator's relationship to his state and his
constituents.
I.
Perhaps many of you will think that this is no problem at all. Most people assume, with some justification, that
the primary responsibility of a Senator under our Constitution is to represent the views of his State and to abide
by the demands of his constituents. If Senator Saltonstall and I do not speak for Massachusetts, then no one will;
and the rights, the equal representation, the aspirations and even the identity of our Commonwealth become lost.
We are recognized by the Vice-President in the Senate Chamber as "the Senior Senator and the Junior Senator
from Massachusetts", as the agents of our State in Washington, as the protectors of her interests.
And thus, if I may be permitted a personal reference, it was not surprising when, in 1954, immediately after my
speech in support of American participation in the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway, many voters and
many newspapers criticized me for allegedly failing to stand by the interests of our section. Some said in effect:
The reasons you give as to why our participation in the Seaway would be in the national interest, and why it
would have little or no effect on Massachusetts, are all very persuasive; but your duty is to abide by the wishes of
your constituents, regardless of whether they are right and regardless of whether you agree with them. Permit
me to quote from the editorials of one newspaper at that time: "Senator Kennedy is…ruining New
England...sacrificing the best interests of the people who elected him for the national interest, as he saw it…It is
nice to have a Senator with such noble motives that he seeks to be a statesman with a great broad outlook
encompassing the whole of the United States. But even…the Norrises and other earlier Senators of stature didn't
go back on their own areas".
Others informed me that, in order to be properly responsive to the will of my constituents under our democratic
system, it was my duty to place their principles - not mine - above all else. Even if they made mistakes, I was told,
that was far better than my arrogating for myself, as representative of the people, the right to say that I know
better than they what is good for them.
These are very strong arguments, and they are very soundly based in our Constitution, in our Federal system and
in our representative form of government. But I do not believe that they tell the whole story. Of course, we should
not ignore the needs of our area - nor could we easily do so as products of that area - but who would be left to
look out for the national interest if every Senator were dominated completely by local interests and pressures? Of
course, I am the Junior Senator from Massachusetts; but I am also a United States Senator and a member of the
Senate of the United States; and my oath of office was administered by the Vice-President, not by the Governor
of Massachusetts.
I cannot believe that the people of Massachusetts sent me to Washington to serve merely as a seismograph to
record the ups and downs of popular opinion. I believe instead that those of us in public office were elected - not
because the people believed we would be bound by their every impulse, regardless of the conclusions directed by
our own deliberations - but because they had confidence in our judgment, and in our ability to exercise that
judgment from a position where we could determine what were the best interests of the voters as a part of the
best interests of the nation. If we are to exercise fully that judgment, sometimes we may be required to lead,
inform, correct and on occasion even ignore public opinion in our States.
I think that a rather simple, a rather "corny" but a rather thought-provoking story once told by a Mississippi
Senator who had opposed his state best illustrates this point. The Senator involved bore the fascinating name of
Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar; and he had gotten himself into the predicament of which I spoke by three
different actions: first, he had delivered a moving eulogy in the Congress upon the death of the South's most
implacable enemy, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts; secondly, he had abided by the decision of the
special electoral commission to award the Presidency to the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876; and finally
and most terrible of all, he had violated the instructions of his State Legislature and ignored the wishes of his
constituents by opposing the free silver movement which sought to promote easy, inflationary money for the
relief of Mississippi and other debtor and depression-ridden states.
When Lucius Lamar returned to Mississippi he was met with bitter hostility. But in a series of powerful speeches
which he delivered throughout the State, senator Lamar, a former officer of the Confederacy, told the story
which I would like to repeat to you. In the company of other prominent military leaders of the Confederacy, he
said, he had been on board a blockade runner making for Savannah harbor; and the Captain had sent sailor
Billy Summers to the top mast to look for Yankee gun boats in the harbor. Billy said he had seen ten. But that
distinguished array of officers knew where the Yankee fleet was, Lamar related, and they told the Captain that
Billy was wrong and that he should proceed ahead. The Captain refused, insisting that while the officers knew a
great deal more about military affairs, Billy Summers on the top mast with a powerful glass knew a great deal
more about what boats were in the harbor. It later developed, according to Lamar, that Billy was right, and that
if they had gone ahead they would all have been captured.
And so Lamar insisted to his constituents that he did not claim to be wiser than they; but that he was in a better
position as a member of the Senate to judge what was in their best interests. And he concluded the story with
these words:
"Thus it is, my countrymen, you have sent me to the topmost mast, and I tell you what I see. If you say I must
come down, I will obey without a murmur, for you cannot make me lie to you; but if you return me to my post, I
can only say that I will be true to love of country, truth, and God."
The example of Senator Lamar is only one of many examples which are available to us from the history of the
Senate and American politics. We may take pride in the fact that our own State has not lacked in examples of
independent and courageous Senators.
Senator John Quincy Adams, who had already incurred the displeasure of his party by supporting Jefferson in
his acquisition of the Louisiana Territory, acted directly contrary to the interests of his State as well as his party
when he steered Jefferson's Embargo bill against Britain through the Senate. Jefferson, who was his father's
political enemy, and young Senator Adams were acting because of predatory attacks upon American merchant
ships by British cruisers. Our ships had been seized, their cargoes confiscated, and our seamen compelled to serve
in the King's Navy as alleged British subjects.
But Massachusetts was the leading commercial state in the nation, and it boasted a substantial proportion of the
American merchant fleet and practically all of the shipbuilding and fishing industries. These industries were very
nearly permanently destroyed by the Embargo; and John Quincy Adams, for his devotion to the national
interest, was compelled to resign his seat and to return to Boston, scorned and deserted by all but his devoted
father.
Your predecessors, the Massachusetts newspapers of the day, had a hand in his downfall. The Northampton
Hampshire Gazette, for example, called him "a party scavenger…one of those ambitious politicians who lives on
both land and water, and occasionally resorts to each, but who finally settles down in the mud." But young John
Quincy, whose star would, of course, later rise to even greater heights, never apologized for his stand. "This
measure will cost you and me our seats," he had remarked to a colleague when the Embargo bill was being
prepared, "but private interest must not be put in opposition to public good."
Still another Massachusetts Senator, probably the most famous in our history, is better known for his
subservience to the business interests of our State and region than for his courage in defying his constituents. I
refer, of course, to Daniel Webster. But in 1850, when disunion was a much more ominous threat than most of us
realize - in fact, more ominous than many good citizens of that time realized - Daniel Webster helped hold
together the Union to which he was devoted by supporting Henry Clay's great Compromise of 1850 and thus
pacifying the South. As a result, secession was prevented for another eleven years until the North was strong
enough to preserve the Union; but Webster had been required to support features of the Compromise which
were odious to the people of Massachusetts - particularly the provisions for strengthening the law that required
the return of fugitive slaves to their Southern masters.
That remarkable collection of literary lights who gathered in Massachusetts in the mid-nineteenth century
condemned Webster in terms which few other Senators have been forced to endure. Theodore Parker, Ralph
Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, James Russell Lowell, and John
Greenleaf Whittier were among the Abolitionists who cried out for Webster's scalp. "I know of no deed in
American history done by a son of New England," said Theodore Parker, "to which I can compare this deed of
Daniel Webster's - except the act of Benedict Arnold."
Once again, the newspapers of our State condemned their Senator for failing to express the views of
Massachusetts. The Boston Atlas, for example, complained: "His sentiments are not our sentiments nor we
venture to say of the Whigs of New England." But Webster had not intended to speak on behalf of
Massachusetts. For he had opened his famous address to the Senate on the 7th of March, 1850 with theses words:
"Mr. President; I wish to speak today, not as a Massachusetts man, nor as a Northern man, but as an American
and a Member of the Senate of the United States."
Other examples in the annals of Massachusetts history could be cited. "Nothing better can be said in praise of
either our Senators or our State," former Senator George Frisbie Hoar wrote in his Autobiography, "than that
they have been worthy of her, and she has been worthy of them. She has never asked of them obsequiousness, or
flattery, or obedience to her will, unless it had the approval of their own judgment and conscience. They have
never been afraid to trust the people and they have never been afraid to withstand the people. They knew well the
great secret of all statesmanship, that he that withstands the people on fit occasions is commonly the man who
trusts them most and always in the end the man they trust most."
Hoar himself had occasion to apply this principle when he opposed the popular Philippines Treaty in 1899. "The
temper of the people of Massachusetts," he wrote at that time to a friend who was certain that his political life
was ended, "makes it possible for any of her public servants to do his duty, whether for the time he differ from
them or agree with them. I suppose the majority of the people of Massachusetts (were) on my side in this matter.
But if they were not, they would say to me, 'Do what you think right, whether you agree with us or not.'"
I hope that these examples from the past serve to illustrate the importance in a representative form of
government of legislators who are willing, in cases of overriding national interest, to place their devotion to the
country ahead of their devotion to their constituents - legislators who think more or the conclusions of their own
conscience and study than they do of militant pressure groups or vociferous public opinion.
II.
But this leads me to the second part of the problem - and that is the difficulty which faces any Senator whose
conscience directs him to oppose the popular or easy approach. At various times in our history it has been
fashionable to ridicule Congressmen, and to assume that there are no men of courage, integrity and principle in
that body. Recently Walter Lippmann rendered a harsh judgment on us all with these words:
"With exceptions so rare they are regarded as miracles of nature, successful democratic politicians are insecure
and intimidated men. They advance politically only as they placate, appease, bribe, seduce, bamboozle, or
otherwise manage to manipulate the demanding threatening elements in their constituencies. The decisive
consideration is not whether the proposition is good but whether it is popular - not whether it will work well and
prove itself, but whether the active-talking constituents like it immediately."
I am not so sure, after nearly ten years of living and working in the midst of "successful democratic politicians,"
that they are all "insecure and intimidated men." I am convinced that the complication of public business and the
competition for the public's attention have obscured innumerable acts of political courage - large and small -
performed almost daily in the Senate Chamber. But I am also fully aware of the terrible pressures which
discourage acts of political courage, which drive a Senator to abandon or subdue his conscience.
One of these pressures is the pressure of compromise, which is a necessity in a political body under the
democratic way of life and federal system of government.
Still another pressure is the desire to continue the comradeship and approval of our colleagues in the Senate, to
get along with our fellow members of the club rather than pursue a unique and independent course which would
embarrass or irritate them. "The way to get along," I was told when I entered Congress, "is to go along."
Still another pressure is the pressure of our party and our party leadership, to whom each of us has some
responsibility if we are to maintain our two-party system and make party platforms and party labels mean
anything to the voters. I was criticized by some in this state for being the only Democrat to support President
Eisenhower's highway program, even though I thought that program was best for Massachusetts and everyone
else. But I did not believe we should permit the pressures of party responsibility to submerge on every issue the
call of personal responsibility.
Still another pressure, and in a sense the most important one, is the desire to be reelected. This is not a wholly
selfish motive - for those who go down to defeat in the hopeless defense of a single principle will not return to
fight for that or any other principle in the future. A Senator must consider the effect of that defeat upon his
party, his friends and supporters, and even his wife and children. Certainly in no other occupation is a man
expected to sacrifice honor, prestige and his chosen career for the national good. And thus former Senator
Ashurst of Arizona reportedly said to his colleague Mark Smith:
"Mark, the great trouble with you is that you refuse to be a demagogue. You will not submerge your principles in
order to get yourself elected. You must learn that there are times when a man in public life is compelled to rise
above his principles."
Finally, of course, is the pressure which embraces all other pressures - the pressure of a Senator's constituency,
the interest groups, the organized letter-writers, as you know, even the newspapers. It is impossible to satisfy
them all. Ex-Congressman McGroarty of California wrote a constituent in 1934:
"One of the countless drawbacks of being in Congress is that I am compelled to receive impertinent letters from a
jackass like you, in which you say I promised to have the Sierra Madre mountains reforested and I have been in
Congress two months and haven't done it. Will you please take two running jumps and go to hell."
Few of us follow that urge - but the provocation is there, from unreasonable letters, impossible requests,
hopelessly inconsistent demands and endlessly unsatisfied grievances. One group of my constituents seeks lower
transportation rates; but another group would be hurt by this action. One group of my constituents wants the
Federal Government out of business; but another group would lose their jobs if this took place. One group of
Massachusetts businessmen wants a high tariff on one type of goods but a low tariff on another. Many voters
demand more economy in all activities of the Government - except the one in which they are interested.
Conclusion: What are we to do?
One Senator since retired said that he voted with the special interests on every issue, hoping that by election time
all of them added together would constitute nearly a majority that would remember him favorably, while the
other members of the public would never know about - much less remember - his voting against their welfare. A
man of conscience cannot adopt this solution - which apparently did not work in the former Senator's case
anyway. But no Senator can ignore the pressures of his state's interest groups, his constituents, his party, the
comradeship of his colleagues, the needs of his family, his own pride in office, the necessity for compromise and
the importance of remaining in office. To decide at which point and on which issue he will risk his career, thus
endangering his future opportunities to fight for principle, is an overwhelming responsibility.
We can only hope that our position will be understood by the leaders and moulders of public opinion such as
yourselves. If our newspapers and others can recognize the need for conscientious and independent thinking in
these troubled times, if they will honor courage instead of sneering at its unselfishness, then we need not fear for
the future of our nation and the spirit of individualism and dissent which gave birth to it.
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy before the Annual
New England Air Reserve Review, South Weymouth
Naval Air Station, October 28, 1955
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

It is a real honor to pay tribute to the men of the New England Naval Air Reserve, and to convey to you the
thanks of a grateful people - the people of Massachusetts and New England, in fact all of us in all of the 48 states,
who are able to sleep easier at night with the knowledge that you stand ready to respond to any emergency call.
We are deeply thankful for the fighting spirit with which you have kept your units ready for action - we are
deeply grateful for the patriotic devotion with which you stand prepared to defend your country - and we are
deeply appreciative of the sacrifices you have made - sacrifices of time and effort, pleasure and profit, sleep and
comfort - in order to help assume the heavy military burdens of this great and grateful nation.
We are also grateful to your families and fiancés for the sacrifices they have made - the weekend plans they have
cancelled, the schedules they have re-arranged and the endless waiting they have endured and will endure still
more should an emergency arise. "They also serve," wrote the poet John Milton, "who only stand and wait."
But it would not be surprising if some of you, in the ranks as well as in the audience, have been asking yourselves:
what are all of these sacrifices for? Is there still any need for all of this military might? Doesn't the "spirit of
Geneva", about which we have all heard so much in recent months, make it possible to relax a little bit, to cut
down at least on the hardest sacrifices - and thus possibly even to spend a few weekends at home with our
families?
Those questions are natural enough in view of the surface trends of the past few months. The President - for
whose complete recovery, I might add, we all pray - came back from Geneva with the report that the leaders of
the Soviet Union had assured him "earnestly and often" that that nation "intended to pursue a new spirit of
conciliation and cooperation in its contacts with others." The American people were told that there was
"evidence of a new friendliness in the world". Secretary of State Dulles went even further. He thought the
Russian leaders "indicated at Geneva…the genuine desire of peace"; and he assured us that "the war danger has
further receded", and that "an era of peaceful change" could be on its way.
In other portions of their talks, the President and his Secretary of State were more guarded and less optimistic -
particularly in comparison with the glowing statements made by other political leaders.
Some skeptics asked whether there were any fine deeds to accompany these fine words - and they asked what,
after all the shouting had died down and all the pleasantries had been exchanged, actually had been
accomplished at the Big Four Meeting in Geneva. But even these skeptics were for the most part hushed on
August 13 when Moscow announced a reduction in the Soviet Armed Forces of 640,000 men. Manpower, after
all, was not only the bulwark of Russian military might but the root of her political and diplomatic power as well.
Communist Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Albania and Czechoslovakia followed the Soviet Union's lead - as it
seems they quite frequently do - and announced cuts in the size of their armed forces. These cuts, said the
Communists, were made "with a view to promoting the relaxing of international tension and establishing
confidence among the nations" - and they were made possible, the Tass Communique went on to say, because
"recent developments … show that a certain relaxation of international tensions has been achieved."
With such an attitude of sweetness and light suddenly transforming those whom we had but a short time ago
considered our menacing enemies, it is difficult indeed for anyone in this nation - which has no thought of
aggression and no desire for war - to raise doubts about the sincerity and the objectives of the new Russian
approach. But surely we know in this country that it is folly to "cry peace, peace, when there is no peace." And
surely we know that too often behind the soft smile of sweetness there lie the sharp teeth of aggression.
The facts of the matter are that, although Communist diplomatic notes may be couched in more gentlemanly
tones - those gentlemanly tones have brought us no closer to real agreement over a system of nuclear inspection,
over the reunification of Germany, over the defense of Formosa, over the rights of the satellite nations trampled
behind the Iron Curtain, or over any other major issue which threatens the peace and security of the world. We
cannot afford to denounce whatever progress is being made or appear to be stirring up distrust and hostility
unnecessarily. But neither can we afford to permit the beam of our own peace propaganda spotlights to turn
inland and blind us to the grim realities of the world situation. We cannot afford to permit the roar of our
appeals for world peace to deafen our ears to the harsh discordant sounds of the conflicts that refuse to
disappear. In the jungles of Indo-China, in the straits of Formosa, in the desert no-man's-lands of the Middle
East, in the seething cities of North Africa, and in Europe itself, the surface calm of the "Geneva spirit" could be
exploded at any time by Communist deception, subversion or aggression. Mr. Dulles told us that the Geneva
Conference brought about a "transformation in the relations between the Soviet Union and the Western
powers." But we have yet to see any real evidence of that transformation.
Surely we cannot seriously consider the recent announcements of reductions in the Communist armed forces as
real evidence. Even if the Soviet Union and her satellites actually do cut military manpower to the extent
announced to the world - (and, when no non-Communist nation is able to ascertain the size of those armed forces
and it is never revealed, there is a vast difference between announcing a cut as a sign of peace-loving intentions
and then actually making that cut) - but even if those cuts are made, this will have little or no effect on the
relative strength of the Communists in Europe. General Gruenther, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe,
estimated last spring that the Soviet Union alone had "in being, active forces" of about 4 1/2 million men. Of
these, 2 1/2 million are in 175 infantry and armored divisions. The satellites add another 1 1/2 million men and 80
divisions to this, for a total in Europe alone of 4 million men in 255 infantry and armored divisions. When
security, naval, air and other forces are added to these, Communist military manpower in Europe totals some 6
1/2 to 7 million men, stretched more than half-way across the continent from Moscow to Berlin. Obviously this is
many, many times as large a force as all 15 NATO nations together could ever hope to put in Europe - and thus a
reduction of 768,000 men or 10 to 13% in the forces of the U.S.S.R. and her satellites will hardly affect the
balance of power from that point of view.
The free world wearily and earnestly hopes for the "relaxation of international tension" which Moscow claimed
had made these meaningless reductions in armed strength possible. But let us not confuse "relaxation of tension"
with just plain "relaxation". And I am fearful that it is the latter which causes the Russians to smile - a smile
which may even be stifling a laugh at Western confusion and ineptitude. For while we have not yet even fulfilled
the limited strength goals of NATO, much less even begun to match the overwhelming manpower of the
Communists, the West is already cutting, transferring and withdrawing - not just in public announcements, not
for increased efficiency, and not (unlike the Soviets) for transfer to labor camps or collective farms to strengthen
the national security - but instead in a fashion that is clearly reducing our strength.
Great Britain, our strongest partner in NATO with only 800,000 in service, is cutting its forces by at least 100,000
- or 12 1/2 % - of that already small number. France, with half her ground forces already in North Africa
protecting her colonial interests, is diverting still more troops from those she had previously committed to NATO
in commitments she has never met. Greece and Turkey, far from uniting to strengthen their defenses against a
mutual enemy, are instead sharpening their claws over a mutual friend: Cyprus.
And so I commend you, our "weekend warriors", for standing by your posts and your nation, for refusing to
relax or to be deceived. Our nation, far from forgetting about you, needs you more now than ever before.
***
As I quoted to you earlier, "They also serve who only stand and wait." But you have been standing and waiting
long enough this evening - thank you for permitting me to be here with you and my warmest wishes - and thanks
- to you all.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy before the Annual


Alumni Association Banquet of Boston College Business
Administration in Boston, October 29, 1955
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two drafts of the speech
exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. Corrections made in one draft that are reflected in the second appear to establish an order of precedence.
The redaction is of the apparently more final text. Links to page images of the two drafts are given at the bottom of
this page.

It is a genuine pleasure to be with you tonight at the Boston College Business Administration Annual Alumni
Association Banquet. I had some doubts when I first received my invitation from Father Joyce; for I remembered
the advice of St. Jerome: "Avoid, as you would the plague, a clergyman who is also a man of business."
The prosperity reflected here tonight symbolizes the continued improvement which has this year characterized
the general economic status of our State and nation. But we should no permit the warm glow of the banquet hall
to dull our awareness of the depressed communities and declining industries which still remain in our State.
Economic facts.
For the hard facts of the matter are that while manufacturing employment in Massachusetts rose in the year
September "54" to September "55" by over 22,000 jobs, nevertheless, depressed communities still exist amid this
general level of prosperity. This is especially true in those cities and towns where the textile industry is
concentrated. They continue to suffer large-scale unemployment and, also, they have suffered a general down-
turn in their wage levels as a result of having to meet Southern competition.
During the first six months of this year, over 38,000 Massachusetts workers exhausted their unemployment
benefits, and were forced to turn for assistance to the relief rolls, to charitable institutions or to other members of
their families. The latest figures show a new groups of more than 30,000 still receiving unemployment benefits.
In Lawrence, more than one out of every five working men and women has been unemployed for several years;
and in Fall River, Lowell, Fitchburg, Milford and the Southbridge-Webster area unemployment, bankruptcy,
liquidation, migration, and other heavy economic loss have been all too common in these otherwise prosperous
days.
Administration proposals.
Within the past few days, the Administration in Washington has announced new plans designed to bring new
hope to our so-called distressed areas and industries.
I will say in all frankness, and without intending to exploit for partisan purposes the distress of Massachusetts
businessmen and workers, that this State is growing weary of highly publicized announcements of Federal aid
which, when the ballyhoo is over and the gobbledygook has been translated, boil down to little or nothing at all.
This has been true regardless of which political party has been in control.
Proposals of 1953.
Approximately two years ago, another bold new Administration program was announced, you may recall, to
bring aid to the labor surplus communities of Massachusetts and the country, with two chief features: first,
defense contracts were to be channeled into these communities under a new kind of preference system; and,
secondly, tax amortization certificates were to be granted to provide a fast tax right-off to industries willing to
locate in these areas. I asked at that time whether these programs were not too little and too late; but, I
nevertheless looked forward hopefully to whatever benefits they would bring to our State.
But what is the record after nearly two years? How many defense contracts have been channeled under this
program into Lawrence, Fall River, Milford or Fitchburg? None! Not one dollar's worth of any kind of contract
from any branch of the service. And, how many emergency tax amortization certificates of necessity have been
awarded in the past two years to attract new industries to the labor surplus areas of Massachusetts? None! The
much heralded program of two years ago, in short, was much like its predecessors under the Democratic
Administration in terms of what it brought to the anxious businessmen and workers of our labor surplus
communities - words instead of action, a stone instead of bread.
New Proposals.
Perhaps we can hope for more from the new program recently announced at Denver. But I am not encouraged by
newspaper reports on its three new proposals: First, creation of still another new Government bureau to
coordinate the work now being done. It is difficult to see how the coordination of very little can result in very
much. Secondly, the agency would be empowered to make Federal loans for industrial development. But two
years ago, the Administration and Congress established the Small Business Administration as the place to which
businessmen could turn for credit not available from commercial sources. Yet, in more than two years of
operation, the Small Business Administration has made only 29 loans in the entire State of Massachusetts, for a
total amount of less than $1,300,000. Perhaps still another loan agency sill help; but the record is not
encouraging.
Third and finally, the new program is to provide "technical assistance" to distressed areas to enable them to
discover their "economic potential" and thus to help themselves. This is called a "Point IV Program" for the
United States. But the Industrial Development Corporations which have done such a marvelous job in New
Bedford, Lawrence and elsewhere in Massachusetts and New England have already made all the surveys of
economic potential and all the appraisals of economic trouble which need to be made. Instead of being treated
like some underdeveloped colonial stepchild, they want concrete action by the Federal Government based upon a
realistic recognition of their needs.
If the Federal Government is truly interested in promulgating a real program for the alleviation of economic
distress in our area, I would commend to their attention the following points.
1. First, Defense contracts should be channeled to bidders from areas of substantial labor surplus who are able, if
given an opportunity, to match the lowest bids submitted from other areas. This policy of "bid-matching" was
the major feature of the old Defense Manpower Policy Number 4; and despite continued resort to loopholes and
legalistic sophistries, it had enabled New England labor surplus areas to obtain $14,000,000 in defense contracts -
until it was quietly abandoned two years ago when the Administration under pressure from Southerners and
Westerners announced it own new program, a program whose sorry results I have already described to you.
Some say such a policy is inefficient and uneconomical. But thousands of square feet of empty plant spaces, row
upon row of idle, deteriorating machinery, and endless lines of jobless men are not more efficient or economical.
Allocation of defense contracts is at best a stopgap method of assistance; but surely we are as concerned about
temporary problems of labor surplus as we are about the transitional problems of surplus agricultural
commodities.
2. Secondly, Existing programs of aid to businessmen in such areas - including tax amortization certificates and
business loans - should be greatly accelerated. I have already indicated to you the shocking paucity of those
programs under the past two administrations. But they could become significant sources of assistance. For New
England desperately needs new businesses, large and small, if her economy is to expand instead of contract - and
I am sure that many of you know from personal experience how important to the firm establishment of a new
business are the availability of extra credit and the opportunity for a favorable tax treatment during its early
years. The Small Business Administration - cripped by legislative ceilings and administrative delays - has not yet
fulfilled the needs that required its creation. And the Tax Amortization program, far from aiding New England,
has distributed its tax favors in excessively disproportionate amounts to industries expanding or locating in the
South and other areas competitive with New England.
3. And this leads me to my third point: Congress and the Administration must take steps to end unfair
competition from tax inducements and substandard wages. In addition, removal of the tax exemption presently
granted to so-called "industrial development" bonds issued by states and municipalities - largely in the South - in
order to build these tax-free factories long overdue. Under this tax-exempt status, we in the North are paying a
subsidy to assist Southern states to industrialize at our expense.
Some of you may recall that earlier this year, a Brookhaven, Mississippi industrial development firm attempted
to lure one of this State's oldest manufacturing concerns with a letter offering these three, among other,
inducements: No capital outlay for a modern new factory; Complete tax exemption for 99 years; and, finally,
"The finest labor, 98% native born, who will lower your average industrial wage rates $.55 to $.95 (an hour)
below Northern states…". Substandard wages as well as tax gimmicks constitute means of unfair competition.
The national minimum wage has been raised to at least a more decent level; but Congress and the Administration
have not yet acted on a bill introduced by Senator Payne and myself to revise the Walsh-Healey Act, which the
Fulbright Amendment has rendered almost meaningless by requiring New England businessmen - who pay the
prevailing wage rates of their industry as determined by the Secretary of Labor - to compete for Government
contracts with Southern industrialists who have tied up the whole Act in Court in order to escape those wages.
4. Fourth, the Federal Government should take prompt action to eliminate current rate discrimination against
New England and the Port of Boston. Last year, despite all local efforts to revitalize the Port of Boston, the
tonnage passing in and out of the Port was below the level of 1952 by more than 700 million pounds. Other ports -
such as Baltimore and New Orleans - have taken an increasing share of the nation's port trade away from
Boston, which once ranked second in the nation but ranked 12th in importance at the beginning of last year. It is
unthinkable that this decline should take place at a time when the Federal Government is shipping millions of
pounds of foodstuffs and other commodities to our friends abroad. And, yet the Port of Boston has been almost
totally disregarded by these operations. It is even more unthinkable that Boston should lose ground to ports
which are hundreds - and in some instances thousands - of miles further away from European and South
American ports of destination; and yet discriminatory rail freight rates on goods shipped through Boston have
been not only continued but required by the Interstate Commerce Commission.
A new effort must be made to obtain for Boston her fair share of the tremendous Government export program.
But still more important - important to the progress of the entire New England economy - the ICC must reverse
its recent decisions discriminating against Boston and denying to her the natural advantages of her location. As
long as dried skim milk which the Federal government is shipping in great quantities can be shipped from
Minneapolis to the port of Norfolk for $.03 cheaper on every hundred pounds than it could be sent to the port of
Boston, we are going to get very little of that business. If the ICC REFUSES TO act - and the New England and
Middle Atlantic regions have lacked fair representation on that agency for a number of years - then it will be up
to the Congress to remove this inequity. Other rail, trucking and ocean rate policies also appear to discriminate
against Massachusetts - these too must be changed.
5. Fifth - The Federal Government should immediately take steps to make New England a leader in the
development of low-cost atomic power. Congressional authorization for such a step is already provided in the
amendment which I succeeded in having attached to the Atomic Energy Act of last year; and the erection of an
atomic reactor power facility in Western Massachusetts has already been proposed. More than any other single
section of the country, New England needs abundant and cheaper electrical energy. Low-cost atomic power
which because of our high power volts will be economically feasible here before any other areas of this country
could halt the migration of our industry to the Tennessee Valley and other low-cost power areas. It could provide
the basis for the development of an entirely new type of New England industry. And, it could revolutionize the
work, day and home life of every family in Massachusetts. We should not expect too much too soon - but I hope
all of us in this room will live to see a new and better New England - free from bankruptcies, free from
unemployment, free from poverty and free from economic fear or distress - arise as the result of harnessing the
atom.
With your help, I hope to see action in the coming years on these five points and others.
The ultimate dependence for the prosperity of New England rests in New England and not in Washington. But, as
long as the Federal Government continues to play such a major role in the economic life of our country, it is
important that its policies be directed along lines that will assist our economy and strengthen our industrial life.
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at Senate Banking
and Currency Committee Hearings, November 9, 1955
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and resesarchers. One draft of this speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

Mr. Chairman, I am sure I speak on behalf of every citizen of this State and region when I express my
appreciation to you for your efforts in coming to Massachusetts and New England. I want to welcome you and
your associates to this city and emphasize my personal gratitude for your generosity in adding, at the request of
Senator Saltonstall and myself, this hearing to your already heavy schedule.
I. The Need for a Federal Flood Insurance Program.
1. The growing flood problem.
Estimates of the property damage and financial loss suffered as the result of the August and October floods in
this region, though varying, have gone as high as two billion dollars. The communities, homeowners, businessmen
and others who bore the brunt of this terrible loss can never hope to regain, from public or private sources, all
that was swept away; but they do hope that the tragic lesson of this calamity may spur Congress into taking
action to alleviate such losses in the future. The most important step, of course, is acceleration of the construction
of all necessary flood control projects. But of nearly equal importance to this area - where the frequency of floods
may be sharply increasing, as the result of new hurricane paths - is the question of insurance.
2. The need for insurance.
Although prevention of damage to property is obviously preferable to reimbursement for its loss, once such
destruction is an accomplished fact reimbursement softens the blow and makes possible earlier rehabilitation.
The accepted manner of providing such reimbursement is through a system of insurance - whereby the risks of
future losses are spread equitably (a) over all interested members of the community, and (b) perhaps more
important for our purposes today, over a very long period of years - thus making it possible to budget in advance,
with consequent increases in peace of mind and economic security, a small, regular contribution for such
purposes each month for many years, instead of being confronted with an overwhelming amount following a
catastrophe.
These benefits are as true in the case of floods as they are in the case of any other catastrophe now covered by
insurance. Some suggest that flood insurance, however, whether public or private, is undesirable because it
would encourage retention of property in potential danger areas, a problem which is not presented by fire and
most other disaster insurance programs. Certainly some care needs to be exercised to prevent this tendency (and
the Kennedy-Saltonstall bill so provides). But an estimated ten million people live on fifty million acres in
potential flood areas in this country - particularly here in New England, where our major cities are located in
river valleys - and some four hundred billion dollars is invested in those areas. All possible floods in these areas
cannot be prevented; the cities and industries cannot be abandoned or relocated; and thus insurance is needed.
Of course, insurance by its very nature cannot be available on the same terms to those who live in the very
"flood-bottoms" themselves; and any insurance program requires, moreover, all policyholders to take preventive
measures to reduce damage. Thus, unlike a flood relief program restricted to direct grants to all persons, the
cautious and the careless alike, insurance discourages unwise investments and encourages reduction of losses.
3. The unavailability of private insurance.
An insurance program is thus both necessary and desirable to cover floods in much the same manner as fires,
lightning, hailstorms, cyclones, earthquakes, tornadoes, blizzards and practically every other natural catastrophe
are covered. But the fact of the matter is that flood insurance of any kind is virtually unavailable today. Nor is
there any prospect that the private insurance industry will offer adequate protection against potential flood
damage at reasonable rates. Practically none of the heavy damage suffered by the homeowners and businessmen
in this area was covered by insurance. This is without question the most glaring gap in the protection offered by
an industry which has otherwise offered insurance on every conceivable - and some not so conceivable - subject.
4. The reasons for the unavailability of private flood insurance.
I do not criticize the private insurance industry for its failure to offer this badly-needed protection. The prudence
which they owe their other policyholders as well as their stockholders prevents them from embarking alone on
such a program for the following reasons:
a. First, any insurance company which unilaterally added flood damage to its "extended coverage" policies would
find itself unable to compete with other companies failing to offer this expensive item.
b. Second, in attempting to cope with flood problems in multi-state river valleys, to fix varying rates and
conditions for property in different areas, and to experiment in this new, unchartered wilderness, private
insurance companies would face 48 different sets of conflicting state insurance laws and inappropriate (for flood
purposes) restraints.
c. Third, no insurance company is able or willing to expend the funds necessary for the prediction and
measurement of floods and flood damage in each river basin in order to make possible some actuarial estimate of
the risks involved. Even if such surveys could be undertaken, it would be necessary to recover their costs through
still higher premiums from policyholders.
d. Fourth, no insurance company would be willing to tie up the funds necessary for the maintenance of the large
financial reserve which would be required to meet the contingency of a heavy flood early in the program (before
flood premium income was sufficient to maintain that reserve).
e. Fifth, previous experience with flood insurance, largely around the turn of the century and limited to
particular valleys, was most unprofitable; and any modern company whose sales might be concentrated in a
particular region fears the same result.
f. Sixth, the possibilities of a catastrophic loss early in the game, an adverse selection of risks due to a limited
base, a declining demand after flood waters have receded and unpopular variations in rates, would all make
impossible the guarantee of a reasonable profit within a reasonable period of time.
5. The need for, and feasibility of, Federal flood insurance.
It is apparent from the unavailability of private flood insurance that the only alternative to some form of Federal
insurance is no insurance at all. However much we may criticize the Federal Government's entry into this field,
however doubtful we may be about the success of such an experiment, it is important to remember that the only
other choice facing us is no insurance whatsoever.
The Insurance Company Report of 1952 which outlined the industry's reasons for refusing to enter this field also
stated:
"Since for the reasons outlined private underwriters cannot undertake to provide specific flood indemnity as an
insurance venture, it follows that Government likewise could not undertake to provide specific flood indemnity
by means of insurance. There is no reason to believe that the Government would encounter fewer obstacles to
such an undertaking than private insurers."
A re-examination, in terms of a Federal program, of the six obstacles found in private insurance, shows the
fallacy of this conclusion.
a. The Federal Government, of course, would have no problems of competition with other insurance companies
who would not offer flood protection. On the contrary, the monopolistic nature of its position would make
possible a broader base and cheaper rates than any single company could offer.
b. Similarly, the Congress, recognizing that state boundaries have no significance in national disasters, would be
able to promulgate a fair and yet economically sound program for property owners in all parts of the country,
experimenting without regard to the various state insurance regulations.
c. Third, the Federal Government has already, and properly so, assumed the responsibility of predicting and
measuring floods and flood damage, as well as erecting flood control projects to reduce this damage. The cost of
such tasks, clearly in the national interest, are properly borne by the public as a whole, and thus, unlike private
insurance administrative costs, would not be charged exclusively to the policyholders.
d. Fourth, the question of a large financial reserve poses no difficult problems for Congress, which can authorize
- as it has in the past authorized - an agency to borrow funds from the Treasury, either on a regular basis or in
case of an emergency in the early years of its existence, such loans to be repaid from premium income.
e. Fifth, unlike the private flood insurance ventures on the Mississippi in 1899, a Federal program would
inherently be nation-wide in coverage - drawing additional strength from the fact that major floods tend to occur
only in one of two regions - not every region - during any one year.
f. Finally, it cannot be denied that a Federal program will also face problems of risk selection, rate variation and
other problems that make a profit dubious. But the Federal Government is not required to make a reasonable
profit on its insurance within a reasonable period of time. As stated in the Hoover Commission Task Force
Report on Water Resources and Power:
"Flood insurance … cannot pay off in the working life of an individual, and hence could not be attractive to the
managers or stockholders of a business firm. But Government, as a permanent institution with much at stake
already, can take a long-range course."
Moreover, a Federal insurance program would pay no State and Federal taxes; it could use existing Federal
personnel without additional cost to policyholders; and it could borrow money at cost, or even less than cost,
from the Federal Treasury. It would also be in a better position to require long-term commitments from policy
purchasers who might otherwise fail to renew as flood memories become dim. Federal flood insurance is thus not
only necessary but feasible.
6. The responsibility of the Federal Government.
Floods have long been recognized as an appropriate subject for Congressional action because of their devastating
effects upon our nation's interstate commerce, preparedness, health, welfare and economic well-being. Without
Federal flood insurance, the Federal Government receives less tax income from non-productive flooded
industries and from homeowners able to deduct flood losses. Without Federal flood insurance, heavy Federal
subsidies through direct relief grants (to which flood victims have made no special contribution) will continue.
Finally, the Federal Government has an important stake in preventing the abandonment of cities and industries
in potential flood areas.
Neither is insurance a new field for Congressional action. Crop insurance, war damage insurance and maritime
cargo war insurance are among those well-known Federal programs most closely related to the subject at hand;
and in addition the Federal Government provides insurance for bank deposits, savings and loan accounts,
mortgages on houses and vessels, and investments under the Mutual Security Act; several types of insurance for
Government employees and veterans; and social insurance against the risks of retirement and unemployment for
practically all working men and women. The Federal Government entered many of these fields, particularly
those first mentioned, because of the unwillingness or inability of the private insurance industry to offer adequate
protection at reasonable rates, and in spite of predictions of certain failure from representatives of that industry,
in much the same situation as we have today. But every one of the programs mentioned has been generally
accepted and financially successful. (It is important to note that the insurance industry, in its 1952 Report,
specifically compared flood damage with modern war damage; and the Report offered
"the complete facilities of the insurance business…to the Government in carrying out such an undertaking
should Congress…determine to provide specific flood indemnity…(and) wish to make use of such facilities in a
manner similar to their utilization in connection with the War Damage Corporation in World War II.")
7. It has been suggested that the accelerated flood control program which I previously mentioned should be
preferred to the exclusion of any insurance program. But consider these facts:
a. Every flood control expert in the country agrees that no amount of projects, however high the dams, and
however adequate the warning systems, could ever eliminate all floods and all damage.
b. It will be years before a comprehensive flood control program can be completed, if it will ever be completed.
c. In some areas flood control is simply not economically feasible, because of the cost of the project, the value of
the land to be acquired or other factors.
d. Responsibility of the Federal Government for payment of flood insurance claims would increase, not retard,
the speed with which it built projects to reduce those claims.
8. The relationship of Federal flood relief measure to insurance.
The argument has been made that direct grants of money, from both Federal and private sources, would be more
in keeping with the American tradition of voluntary relief for humanitarian purposes. But such relief, by its very
nature, and as demonstrated by our experience here, is irregular, unreliable and inadequate in terms of complete
recovery. Moreover, unlike insurance, for which the property owner pays, it too often requires recipients to
undergo a "means test" to demonstrate that they are eligible for a handout. Similarly, disaster loans are no
substitute for insurance; for their repayment requires the mortgaging of future income, a mortgaging which
many small homeowners - already left with a debt and mortgage for which they have no house - simply cannot
undertake. Certainly the insurance method of a small regular payment in advance of the disaster is to be
preferred.
II. What Kind of Flood Insurance Bill?
Early in September I proposed the draft Federal Flood Insurance Bill which is before your Committee now. I was
joined in this endeavor by my colleague, the Senior Senator from Massachusetts (Mr. Saltonstall); and I have
since received assurances of co-sponsorship from Senators in every part of the country, including the Senior
Senator from Rhode Island (Mr. Green), the Senior Senator from South Carolina (Mr. Johnston), the Senior
Senator from North Dakota (Mr. Langer), the Junior Senator from Oregon (Mr. Neuberger) and the Junior
Senator from Maine (Mr. Payne). Numerous other Senators have indicated to me their interest in the bill.
The difference between this draft proposal and the other proposals contained in the Committee prints before
your Committee point up a number of questions concerning the exact nature and details of any Federal Disaster
Insurance bill.
(1) Use of the term "insurance". Representatives of private insurance companies have objected to the use of the
term "insurance" in connection with these proposals. Personally I am willing to substitute the word "indemnity"
or any other term if that would facilitate passage of the bill. But inasmuch as all of the proposals thus far
envisioned, with or without a Federal subsidy, are based upon the basic principles of insurance, this objection
would appear to merit little attention.
(2) Other disasters? A more fundamental question is whether the proposed insurance program should cover
other natural or man-made disasters in addition to those caused by floods or high water. With respect to man-
made disasters, such as war damage, I have always favored the revival of the War Damage Corporation which
operated so successfully in previous years; but your Committee knows of the many controversial problems which
have prevented enactment of such legislation in recent times. Thus I would prefer to see such legislation
considered independently, rather than risk the delay or defeat of a flood insurance bill which is unrelated to those
particular controversies.
With respect to other natural disasters, it is my understanding that private insurance is presently offered - and I
hope your Committee will check into this - for every natural catastrophe except floods and high water. In the
belief that no Federal program should compete with private industry, I limited my bill to floods alone. I realize
that the inclusion of natural disasters more prevalent in other parts of the country is said to increase the potential
support of such a bill; but this should not be necessary in view of the official figures on flood damage in every
State in the Union during the last several decades.
The definition of "flood" should be broadly interpreted to cover the entire insurance gap, including damage
caused by hurricane-driven tides, tidal waves and other high water damage from either fresh or salt water.
(3) What energy? The next fundamental question facing your Committee is the location of responsibility for the
administration of this program. I want to stress that the designation of the Small Business Administration in my
bill is at best tentative; and was made simply because that agency (a) succeeded the RFC under whose
jurisdiction was placed the War Risk program, and (b) is the only agency presently in touch with both
homeowners and businessmen in case of disaster. This year's floods point up a drastic need for improved
coordination of our many disaster relief programs; and as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government
Reorganization of the Senate Government Operations Committee I hope to look into this matter. Should an over-
all disaster agency be created, naturally it should administer this program. If not, and if the Government
agencies involved feel that the FHA would be preferable to the SBA, I would be willing to accept that judgment
and the judgment of this Committee. A related question which I am also willing to leave to more expert
determination is whether such a program should be administered by an independent Government corporation.
(4) Insurance or reinsurance? One of the proposals most frequently made is that the role of the Government
should be restricted to that of a reinsurer, protecting private insurance companies against excessive loss on flood
insurance policies sold to their customers. To the extent that broad, economical and fair coverage could result,
reinsurance would be the ideal way to provide flood insurance with the greatest amount of private enterprise;
and my bill authorizes such a function. But to restrict the Federal program to reinsurance alone, and to prohibit
it from providing insurance on its own, makes the dangerous assumption that the insurance companies would be
willing, with Federal backing, to underwrite flood risks at reasonable rates, providing the same protection to the
same people who would be covered under a Federal program. Neither insurance or reinsurance should exclude
the other. Under the Kennedy-Saltonstall bill, both insurance and reinsurance are authorized, and a high degree
of flexibility is retained. It would be possible, for example, to handle the program entirely through the private
insurance companies, including not only the use of their facilities and personnel but also their voluntary financial
participation in the underwriting of risks and the sharing of losses and profits. Similarly, practically all of the
other various proposals made for some kind of flood insurance would be possible under this bill; and I would
prefer the adoption of such a broad and flexible plan, rather than a bill strictly limited to only one of these
alternatives.
(5) Role of the insurance industry. The cooperation and participation of the private insurance industry are
essential to the success of any Federal insurance program. I have stressed that we must not compete with private
insurance; and in addition to restricting my bill to flood property not now eligible for private insurance coverage,
the bill specifically provides that insurance and reinsurance would not be available from the Federal Government
except when they were not available from private sources. As mentioned, the Kennedy-Saltonstall bill also
authorizes reinsurance for companies willing to insure flood risks on that basis; and the maximum use possible of
their facilities, services, personnel, records and claims adjustment procedures, as well as their financial
participation, is directed. Finally, the Kennedy-Saltonstall bill calls upon the administrator to exchange loss
experience and similar information with private firms, and to appoint an Insurance Advisory Committee of
members from the industry to assist in the administration of the Act. It is my hope that this program of
partnership with private insurance, not competition or duplication, will meet with the approval of the industry
and the Congress.
(6) Permanent or temporary? I have stressed from the beginning that this proposal is something in the nature of
an experiment, much as the initial programs of Crop Insurance and War Damage Insurance were experiments.
For this reason I have attempted, as indicated, to make my bill flexible in nature, with most details left to its
administrator. I do not share the opinion expressed by the Budget Bureau, however, that any bill adopted should
be temporary in nature, with a life of perhaps three years; for the very nature of insurance, particularly flood
insurance, makes it necessary that costs and risks be calculated on a permanent long-range basis from the very
beginning. Undoubtedly Congress will want to make changes in the program after its first few years of operation,
as it did with Crop Insurance; but we should not write into law this restraint upon sound, long-range planning.
(7) Retroactivity: The Committee print on which no sponsors name appears would provide under this program
indemnification for losses already suffered during the current year, on which, of course, no insurance was taken
or premium paid. It would be difficult for me to oppose this step, for I know that the heavy losses of our citizens
will not otherwise be recovered; but such a proposal introduces into this program principles both alien and
unsound from an insurance standpoint, including the burdening of new policy-holders with the costs of floods not
covered by the program. I would therefore suggest that such a proposal be considered independently of flood
insurance.
(8) What kinds of property? The next fundamental question to be determined by your Committee is the type of
property to be covered under a Federal flood insurance program. The Kennedy-Saltonstall bill covers only
privately owned real property, including commercial, industrial and residential property. It thus excludes all
personal goods, business inventories, crops, detachable equipment and property owned by state and local
governments. The primary reason for this admittedly narrow scope was my belief that an experimental bill of
this nature would meet success only if strictly limited in terms of coverage and potential economic loss. Although
I will favor the broadest bill possible of enactment by Congress, to the extent that no duplication of private
insurance efforts is found by this Committee, the following should be kept in mind: Federal Crop Insurance
should be expanded - but under its own program, not in this bill. Private insurance companies presently offer
flood insurance on bridges, tunnels and other types of publicly owned property; while other state and local
governments look upon themselves as self-insurers as does the Federal Government. Automobiles, jewelry, furs,
and many other types of movable personal property are also offered coverage by private insurance - and the
administrative problems of paying insurances claims on other types of personal property are almost
insurmountable.
(9) Compulsory or voluntary coverage? Inherent in the Kennedy-Saltonstall Bill and I believe in all of the bills
before you, is the principle of voluntary coverage. Such coverage, of course, would be limited, a problem we
cannot ignore. It has been suggested that coverage be made universal by making it compulsory, by automatically
including premiums either in the property taxes paid in every state or in the premiums paid on private insurance
policies for fire and extended coverage. Such a proposal violates the basic principles of insurance, and distributes
the cost of floods equally among all persons regardless of their exposure or their efforts to avoid damage. Those
who were actually protected by the program would be paying the same amount for their protection as those who
received no direct benefits under the program whatsoever. If a flood insurance subsidy is necessary - as will be
discussed momentarily - it should come from general revenues and supplement premium payments - thus
requiring a larger contribution from those who will benefit than from those who will not, and distributing the
burden equally over all taxpayers, not simply those who own property or insurance policies.
(10) Cost to policyholders and Government. But would a subsidy be necessary? No flood insurance program
should be financed entirely out of general revenues, for that would again violate the principle that those receiving
protection should pay more than those who do not. The Kennedy-Saltonstall Bill provides that premiums will be
charged, and that "rates shall be based insofar as practicable upon consideration of the risks involved and shall
to the extent deemed practicable by the Administrator by adequate to cover all administrative and operating
expenses arising under this Act, as well as reserves for probable losses." In order to carry out that objective,
several provisions have been included in the bill: (a) Coverage, both as to types of property and types of
catastrophe, is strictly limited. (b) The Administrator is empowered to establish such terms, conditions and limits
as are necessary to attain this objective, and he may decline some applications and risks altogether. (c) A
"deductible" of at least $300 plus 10% of the remainder of the claim is required. (d) No insurance or reinsurance
shall be issued for properties in conflict with flood zoning laws; and the program shall be administered to prevent
inducements for unwarranted acquisition of facilities in obvious flood danger areas. (e) A broader base is made
possible by authorizing other Federal agencies participating in the financing of real estate to require purchase of
Federal flood insurance under this Act.
I have previously stated the financial advantages enjoyed by a Federal program of this nature. Of course, there
will still be problems of maintaining a steady demand, broadening the base to avoid an adverse selection of risks,
and selling policies with wide variations in rates dependent upon the location of property; but, as pointed out by
the Hoover Commission Task Force Report, these are questions which can be answered only by the initiation of a
limited, experimental program. If a supplemental Federal subsidy eventually be needed, it would still be a more
efficient and less burdensome form of Federal assistance than the heavy relief grants now required and a not
inequitable burden in view of other subsidies in other programs and areas.
(11) Amounts of insurance offered. The dollar amounts suggested in the Kennedy-Saltonstall Bill, with respect to
both the aggregate amount of insurance covering my single piece of property and the total amount of insurance
which can be issued, were arbitrarily selected and intended to be tentative. I have suggested $250,000 as the limit
on the amount of insurance to be written on any single property (but not for any single owner), an amount fixed
not only because on my previously expressed desire to offer a limited, experimental bill, but also because of a
feeling that those whose real property alone exceeds that value are not those most in need of such insurance. The
limit on the total amount of insurance to be provided under the Kennedy-Saltonstall Bill begins at $500,000,000,
increasing by that amount each year until it reaches $1 ½ billion by 1958. Although this might well be adequate
for an experimental approach of the type I have expressed - particularly in view of the pessimistic predictions
that there will be little demand for such insurances once these floods have been forgotten - I would nevertheless
be most willing to accept the recommendations of the Committee on this matter.
(12) Conclusion. In reviewing some of the questions with which my staff and I were confronted, and with which
this Committee and its staff will be confronted, in drafting a bill for Federal flood insurance, I have set forth the
rationale which lies behind many of the provisions contained in the Kennedy-Saltonstall Bill. But I want to stress
to you, Mr. Chairman, that my chief concern is not whether my name will be on the bill finally enacted, or
whether it is a Democratic bill or a Republican bill - my chief concern is to obtain the best bill possible. I will be
delighted to work with you, Mr. Chairman, and the members of your Committee, to bring about the passage of
such a measure; and I want to assure you again how deeply your efforts are appreciated in this state and region.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the 6th Annual


Convention of United Cerebral Palsy, Boston,
Massachusetts, November 11, 1955
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of this speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Presidential Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

Healing the sick, caring for them, and finding methods of preventing illness are among the highest type of activity
engaged in by mankind. Especially is that true in the case of a disease like cerebral palsy which attacks children,
and which is not normally fatal - a fortunate fact but one which carries with it a lifetime of heartbreak, unusual
financial burden, and incomparable physical inconvenience. I am pleased to be among people who have enlisted
their time, talent, and financial assistance in alleviating such conditions. And I am pleased to speak on a subject
so close to your interests - and to be able to bring you information certain to be well received. No one relishes
delivering bad news; every speaker welcomes the prospect of bearing good tidings.
As you know, the National Institutes of Health located in Bethesda Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.,
are composed of seven independent institutes. These various institutes concern themselves with such specific
areas of medical research activity as arthritis and metabolic diseases; cancer; dentistry; heart disease; mental
health; microbiology; and neurological diseases and blindness. The National Institute of Neurological Diseases
and Blindness includes within its area of activity all those diseases in which the nervous and muscular systems of
humans are affected, including cerebral palsy. The Institute, along with the rest of the medical profession, has
long been troubled by the difficulties experienced by medical research in attempting to conquer cerebral palsy,
which is perhaps our modern world's most mystifying and least understood malady - and one of the most tragic.
Although it is a disease contracted by adults as well as children, its most staggering aspect is the fact that nearly
10,000 babies are born in the United States each year with cerebral palsy - 1 every 53 minutes! This may mean
awkward and involuntary movements, lack of balance, irregular gaits, guttural speech, grimacing, drooling,
spasticity, failure of muscular coordination, tremor and rigidity or some degree of mental incapacity. So far as
medical science knows, the causes appear to be equally varied: congenital brain malformation; injury to the
motor centers of the brain before, during or after birth; incompatibility of blood factors; head injuries or high
fevers during infancy; cerebral hemorrhage; and premature birth. The feelings of inadequacy and futility with
which we non-medical people approach cerebral palsy certainly echoes the professional view of its complexities as
well as its tragedies. Only an equally complex, comprehensive and many-sided campaign against cerebral palsy
can ever turn the tide. It is a disease that must be prevented - and to be prevented it must first be understood.
Tonight it is my great privilege to announce - and one could not conceive of a more appropriate audience to
which this first public announcement could be made - that the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and
Blindness outside Washington, D.C. is now planning to launch an all-out attack against the dread spectre of
cerebral palsy. In the language of the National Institutes of Health, a "collaborative study" of cerebral palsy is to
be undertaken by the medical world under the aegis of the Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness.
Thus, as it has done in similar instances in the past - namely, in the testing of the effectiveness of penicillin in
controlling syphilis, in an attack upon tuberculosis and a search for its cures, and in the reduction of the
abnormally high incidence of blindness in premature babies - the Institute will mobilize all of its research
resources, together with those of private associations, including your own United Cerebral Palsy, hospitals, and
medical schools, into a powerful task force to conduct an intensive research campaign. What might take 50 to 100
years of research under normal conditions can thus be accomplished in a 5 to 10 year period of highly
concentrated effort.
The Institute's personnel, under the direction of Dr. Pearce Bailey, and the non-governmental participants such
as United Cerebral Palsy have already worked out a tentative "protocol" prescribing the method of approach
and the role to be played by each participating individual and agency. This protocol is at present being circulated
among those who are to play active roles in the war against Cerebral Palsy for additional refinements, and the
actual working program of attack will get underway in the near future.
Permit me to give you a dramatic example of what I mean by this "task force" attack that is about to be launched
on cerebral palsy. Although considerably simpler than the problems involved in understanding, preventing, and
caring for victims of cerebral palsy, the case of retrolental fibroplasias - a particular form of blindness - provides
an inspiring illustration of the "collaborative study" in action. For years doctors had been aware that premature
babies tended to develop retrolental fibroplasia. In 1942 this observed tendency was carefully studied and noted
in medical periodicals. Considerable thought and attention had been given to the problem without much success
when a young doctor from Washington, D.C. approached the National Institutes of Health and declared that his
studies and observations led him to conclude that the blindness was a direct result of the oxygen administered to
premature babies in an effort to assist them in their early days. Despite the fact that the theory did not have any
particular acceptance in the medical world, a research grant was awarded the doctor by the Institutes and he
continued and expanded his studies. The information he gathered was sufficient in the judgement of the Institutes
of Health and expert medical boards to warrant an exhaustive study and experiment along the lines suggested by
his efforts.
Thus a group of investigators in 18 hospitals in various parts of the United States, supported by the National
Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness, the National Foundation of Eye Research and the National
Society for the Prevention of Blindness, commenced an intensive one-year experiment. The results of the
experiment indicated quite clearly that in fact there was a direct relationship between the time spent in high
concentration oxygen by premature babies and the incidence of blindness (retrolental fibroplasia) among those
babies. Although oxygen in many cases is essential to survival of premature babies, it was found, the period of
exposure to high concentration oxygen must be held to the barest minimum to reduce the chances of retrolental
fibroplasias. As the result of this "task force" attack, the incidence of that type of blindness, although not
completely eliminated, has decreased from 40% to 2%! Interestingly enough they also discovered that premature
babies do not generally need the sustained high concentration of oxygen formerly thought necessary for survival.
It is not contended that these facts would not have been discovered if there had not been a collaborative study,
but rather that many children would have had to spend their lives in darkness while the normal course of
research was confirming the theory over a period of years. This striking example illustrates well the "task force"
approach to a specific medical problem.
Another aspect of the collaborative study requiring comment is its financial support. As I am sure most of you
are painfully aware, we in the Congress are called upon to appropriate a lot of your money each year for various
purposes. I must confess, however, that when it comes to appropriating funds for the support of medical research
in this country, I am pleased to cast my vote for such appropriations. We should not permit worthy experiments
to remain unperformed - it is clearly in our national interest to finance those experiments essential to our
understanding of the human body and the many diseases that afflict it. I was grateful that my amendment in the
last session of Congress to increase appropriations for medical research was approved without objection when it
was made clear that many worthwhile projects would not otherwise by undertaken.
Any nation which can spend 2 1/2 billion dollars for scientific research and development for military weapons
and equipment - as the United States will do in fiscal 1956 - certainly can afford to invest more of its national
wealth in broadening our base of medical knowledge and making discoveries which will give the people of our
country and the world healthier, more useful lives.
The United States Senate can justly take pride in its attitude towards medical research. When the Executive
Branch of the Government requested slightly over $89,000,000 for fiscal year 1956 for the medical research
programs of the National Institutes of Health, this exact amount was approved by the House of Representatives.
The Senate, however, wanted to know if more could be done; and with a little effort we unearthed the fact that
many worthwhile scientific experiments approved by non-governmental expert councils had not been included in
the recommendations made to the Congress by the Executive Branch. Acting on this information, the Senate
voted $112,000,000, an increase of $23,000,000. In conference with the House the entire increase did not stand,
but a substantial part of it - $ 8 1/2 million - did. In the case of the Institute of Neurological Diseases and
Blindness in which we are particularly interested tonight, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare
requested $8,111,000; the Senate approved $11,850,000; and in Conference the final figure agreed upon was
$9,861,000.
No discussion of cerebral palsy in Boston would be complete without reference to Mrs. Abraham Pinanski and
Dr. David Cogan, both of whom have just recently been appointed to serve on the National Advisory
Neurological Diseases and Blindness Institute Council. Mrs. Pinanski has a long record of active service on state
and local hospitals and Public Health Advisory Committees. Dr. Cogan, a noted investigator into the causes of
blindness, has served as a consultant to the National Research Council, the Public Health Service, the World
Health Organization and other groups interested in eye disorders. I believe I mentioned earlier the role played by
the Advisory Councils to the various institutes. These experts are selected to sit as a group and to evaluate all
proposals for research grants and to advise the specific institutes as to which experiments are worthy of financial
support. The heavy responsibilities borne by the members of these Advisory Councils makes the selection of the
members extremely important. The Nation's top talent is called upon and we in Massachusetts take special pride
in the fact that two of the twelve members of this particular National Advisory Council are Bostonians.
I hope no one will interpret what I have said here to mean that the government should or wants to do the job
alone. I know of the splendid research program being supported by the American people through their
contributions to United Cerebral Palsy. I also know of the ambitious plans you and leaders of industry have made
for your new Research and Educational Foundation. By all means, these voluntary efforts should be continued
and, in fact, increased in view of the intensive campaign to be waged against cerebral palsy.
The cause which has enlisted your talent and generosity is heartwarming; the healing of children doomed in the
past to a lifetime in the shadows - the comforting of their families on whom the burden falls with special severity.
This surely is a work worthy of all your efforts and all your sacrifices. Their gratitude and that of the people of
this state and the country is with you.

Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy at the Annual


Convention Banquet of the Farm Bureau Federation of
Massacusetts, November 15, 1955
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two drafts of the speech
exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. The second draft incorporates a few changes that were indicated on the first draft. The redaction is based
on the second draft. Links to page images of the two drafts are given at the bottom of this page.

It is customary these days for a politician addressing a farm group to fill his remarks with gloomy descriptions of
the farm problem and lavish political promises of programs designed to meet that problem. Tonight I have no
lavish promises to offer - and, looking about me, I am convinced that the economic condition of Massachusetts
farmers is not as black as farm conditions are usually currently pictured.
I am aware that you have your problems - some of which concern the Federal Government - and the only
promise I offer tonight is my assurance that I will be of all possible help to you in meeting those problems,
whatever they may concern - Federal milk-marketing orders, funds for agricultural research or soil conservation,
problems created by the new rash of hurricanes and floods, and the early completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway
(and I am particularly gratified by your support of that project.) But I am delighted by the fact that, whatever
you problems, you have not expected the Federal Government to solve them for you through subsidies and
controls.
Despite this, it is with some hesitation that I would like to speak to you tonight about this question of a Federal
farm program. Senators from farm states may decide whether Boston should have an urban redevelopment
program; and Senators from the deep South can recommend what kind of flood control projects are best suited
for our state. But a "city Senator", from an Eastern state generally characterized as urban and industrial in
nature, is not supposed to be so presumptuous as to offer suggestions for a farm program. I would speak on this
subject, however - not only because Massachusetts can boast of some of the Nation's finest farm lands, most
modern methods and most famous products (including cranberries, carnations and poultry products) - not only
because farming is a vital Massachusetts industry, pumping more than $200 million of cash farm income into our
state's economy every year - but also because the agricultural policies of our Nation, while they may appear to
affect more directly more farmers in other parts of the country, are of real significance to Massachusetts and her
farmers, industries, consumers and taxpayers.
There are, of course, basic principles upon which practically all Americans, regardless of occupation and
regardless of location, can agree. I think most of us would agree that agriculture needs some protection from the
distress that results from violent downswings in farm prices. I think most of us want to prevent an agricultural
depression that could wreck the Nation's economic health; and we want to prevent inequitable treatment of
farmers at the hands of a government discriminating in favor of other segments of the economy. I think most of
us would agree that the national interest requires a long range program adjusting production to demand, and
enabling our farmers to move high quality food and fibers at reasonable prices to consumers at home and
abroad, without wasting our soil resources.
But agreement ends on what kind of program will best fulfill these objectives. Permit me to state at the outset
that I am opposed to any farm program calling for high price supports fixed at 90% of parity until such time as
the flexible support program has had a sufficient opportunity to prove itself. Given a choice between the present
sliding-scale system of price supports and the old program of fixed supports I shall choose - and have chosen in
the past - the former, the more flexible program; not because I think it to be the ideal, final answer - and
certainly not because I enjoy parting from the majority of my Democratic colleagues on the issue - but because I
regard flexible supports as the less harmful of the two alternatives presented and a step in the right direction.
I do not say that nothing good has been accomplished by the fixed price support program. Certainly it provided a
helpful cushion during the serious decline in farm prices and farm exports which has taken place in recent years,
and during the general economic decline of 1954. But to those of my colleagues who call upon me to support the
90% program, despite its shortcomings, as a means of stabilizing farm income, I can only point to the decline in
farm prices and income which has taken place during the operation of that 90% program, a decline which has
been intensified by the ever present threat posed by the huge surpluses acquired by the Government under that
program. The facts of the matter are that, due in part to the stimulation of high support prices, the productive
capacity of our food and fiber industry is over-expanded - but its markets are shrinking - not so much in terms of
actual and potential need, which will continue to increase here and in the poorer areas of the world, but in terms
of distribution and purchasing power. Price supports at 90% of parity will not solve that problem; price supports
at a lower or flexible level will not solve it either - but at least they will not accentuate it so badly.
What is needed, in my opinion, is a new, fresh, realistic appraisal of the farm situation. I am afraid that neither
party platform in 1956 will provide either a program based on such an appraisal, or even the hope of one in the
future. I doubt that I, as a "city Senator", will have much influence on those platforms and what goes into them.
But I would like to suggest tonight four standards of what should not go into next year's farm platforms, either
Democratic or Republican. And I offer these four criteria to you tonight with the full knowledge that not one of
the four will receive any attention from either party when it draws up its platform next summer.
1. First: No farm platform should be based more upon the myths and magic that are believed necessary to attract
farm votes than upon the facts and logic that are necessary to build a sound farm program. We have heard in
recent months speeches on one side aimed at stirring up discontent - a so-called "farm revolt" - and we have
heard on the other side speeches offering glib but empty reassurances that all is well or soon will be. Neither
approach contributes very much to the long-range solution of real farm problems. I do not believe that the
farmers of this country will necessarily vote for those who most exaggerate their distress, or who paint the
darkest picture of the total depression or total regimentation that will result if their opponents win. Let us drop
from the platforms and speeches of both parties all reference to such unmeaningful abstractions as a "free
agricultural market"; let us refrain from the repeated use of such loaded terms as "full parity" and "rigidity",
used by both sides so much as to become nearly meaningless and let us admit that neither farm prosperity nor the
effectiveness of any farm program can be realistically measured in terms of the war and post-war years, when
shortages and inflation characterized our agricultural economy.
2. Secondly: No farm platform should be calculated to aid one section of our country or one segment of our
economy at the expense of another. I refer not only to the danger of pitting farmers against processors and
consumers, but also to the danger of helping one part of the farm population while hurting another. Supporting
grain prices in the Middle-west only intensifies the high feed price squeeze of the New England dairy farmer.
Prohibiting the importation of Canadian rye may help farmers in Minnesota but it hurts farmers in
Massachusetts. Those of you who sell dairy products or vegetables are, under present programs, paying taxes
that are used to divert other farmers into competition with you; just as our New England textile manufacturers
pay taxes used to acquire huge cotton surpluses which may be "dumped" abroad at cut-rate prices - an action
that will not only impair our foreign relations by depriving our allies of their markets, but will also force these
same taxpaying manufacturers to compete with that same cheap cotton when it is shipped back to this country in
the form of cheap textile imports.
Part of the problem is the common oversimplification - particularly common in political platforms and speeches -
that all farmers in all parts of the country are alike. Certainly the problems of the New England poultry farmer,
who is usually happy that the Government got out of his business, are vastly unlike the problems of the Oregon
wheat rancher who wants the Government in deeper in his business. And even the interests of the Massachusetts
dairy and tobacco farmers bear little resemblance to the interests of the dairy farmers of Wisconsin and the
tobacco farmers of North Carolina. Yet some of my colleagues in the political profession from other parts of the
country are still acclaimed as "farm spokesmen", purporting to speak for both you and me in the deliberations of
Congress and the party conventions.
3. Third: No farm platform should depend primarily upon the enlargement of subsidies and the accumulation of
surpluses to provide long-range solutions to farm problems. Some politicians still cherish the mistaken belief that
the farm vote can be "purchased" by whichever party promises the most expensive subsidy program - despite the
fact that any and all farm programs are in danger of being permanently discredited in the eyes of the public as
the result of today's excessive surpluses and subsidies. More than $5 billion worth of wheat, cotton and other
surplus products are already in Government storage, at a cost to the taxpayers of some $700,000 a day - not
including the deterioration and decomposition of those commodities. Our net loss in the last fiscal year on price
support operations alone was nearly $800 million. Well over 10% of this nation's cropland - some 40 million
acres - is devoted to growing crops not for sale, not for stomachs but for surplus storage. And no end is in sight;
for what was originally conceived as the prudent use of Governmental machinery to help farmers adjust
production to market demand is now regarded by some as a permanent relief program, guaranteeing certain
farmers a fixed profit at Government expense - a guarantee given to no other industry - regardless of the market
demand, the cost to the Government, the size of the surpluses on hand or the efficiency of the farmers involved.
Like most subsidies, our farm programs have tended to help the inefficient as well as the efficient, and help the
rich more than the poor. It has been estimated that less than 2% of the nation's farmers receive more than 25%
of the price support program's benefits. In fact, most of the small and marginal farm operators who heavily
weight the depressing statistics used by those calling for a more expensive program - the farm families at the
bottom of the economic ladder, the Negro and Mexican tenant farmers of the South and Southwest, and others -
will on the whole receive few, if any, of the benefits to be passed out under such programs.
4. Fourth: No farm platform should pretend that a program of either fixed or sliding price supports offers a
perfect, comprehensive answer to all the ills of agriculture. Neither program is free of the faults for which its own
adherents condemn the other. The flexibility of the new compromise program is certainly very slight indeed; and
the President's last Budget Message recognized that it would not save the taxpayers any money. Both the old and
the new programs depend upon the storage of surpluses too big to handle, too expensive to store. Both old and
new offer support to some farmers in some parts of the country that hurts other farmers in other parts of the
country. Both concentrate more on the farmer's price than on his net income, more on his guaranteed security
than on his independence. Both programs require the farmer to accept various controls, particularly acreage
restrictions which - being invariably followed by more intensive fertilization and production on the remaining
acres - have in the past had little effect (except as a nuisance) in most instances. Neither program diminishes
appreciably the production of surplus commodities or increases appreciably their markets, thus facilitating
neither the end of the storage burden not the adoption of sound soil conservation practices. Both subsidize the
inefficient farmers while giving little help to those who most need it. Neither program enables our farmers to sell
in the world market at normal competitive prices; and both require restrictions on agricultural imports - which
would otherwise take advantage of our support program - thus restricting still further the market for farm
exports. Neither of the present alternatives offers lower prices to consumers and industry. And finally, both high
and sliding-scale supports are based primarily on outmoded parity price relationships of the past, which do not
realistically reflect changes in current cost conditions, new techniques or productivity, or future market
demands.
Conclusion. I offer these four standards in the hope, already rapidly dimming, that the farm issue in the next
campaign will be dealt with honestly, intelligently and fairly, with the national interest uppermost in the minds of
the candidates. I do not pretend to know the final answers to all the problems I have raised; I am neither a
farmer nor a professor - (neither an egg producer nor an "egg-head"). But I suggest these four criteria to you
and to our political leaders because of my conviction that only a new and frank approach to this issue will ever
provide a solution to these intricate problems in the years that lie ahead.
In the words of Daniel Webster:
"In highly excited times it is far easier to fan and feed the flames of discord than to subdue them; and he who
counsels moderation is in danger of being regarded as failing in his duty to his party … (but) let our object (at all
times) be our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country."
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy to the National
Conference of Christians & Jews, Inc., February 16,
1956
This is a redaction of a speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two drafts of the speech
exist in the Senate Speech Files of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. As the basis for this text, we have used the version that we have labeled "draft one," which include
handwritten emendations. There is also a version without the edits. Presumptively the handwritten additions
represent a later stage of composition, but we can not say with absolute certainty which version represents the
text as delivered. Links to page images of the two drafts are given at the bottom of this page.

I am deeply honored and deeply grateful for the distinction you bestow upon me tonight. I only hope that my
future conduct, as a private citizen and as a public servant, will be worthy of the trust symbolized by this award.
I think there is some significance to the fact that you have chosen a politician - and I use the word without
apology - as one of the recipients of your award. For the unfortunate truth of the matter is that the field of
politics is all too often lacking in the principles and practices we honor tonight. Religious, racial and ethnic
distinctions are prevalent - indeed, sometimes dominant - in the political life of Massachusetts and the nation.
Bloc voting, so-called "balanced tickets", and special appeals for special ethnic groups are all an integral part of
the political scene as we know it today - as well as outright racial and religious prejudice, slander and
discrimination.
Perhaps some ethnic distinctions are inevitable as long as the various ethnic groups themselves insist upon
thinking in such terms - but what is the value of it? Would not our society be better served if the best available
men were picked for the highest available offices - rather than excluding some because of their religious
affiliation and including others because of their ethnic background? Is it not preferable for our candidates to
think in terms of the long-run interests of our state and nation rather than in terms of the Irish vote, or the
Jewish vote, or the Yankee vote?
I can testify from personal experience that expertness in the affairs of a Senatorial office is not dependent upon
religious affiliation. Three professional staff members assist me in my office in Washington. No inquiry of their
religious affiliation was made when I hired them. I was interested, and remain interested, only in their work. One
of these men is a Catholic. One is a Protestant. One is a Jew. All three are at the service of any Massachusetts
citizen who requests our help, whatever may be his problem and whatever may be his religious faith.
Tonight we stand on the threshold of another political campaign - and all of us here tonight share the hope, and
pledge our efforts toward its fulfillment, that no racial, religious or other ethnic differences will play any part in
this year's campaign. And if they do, I suggest that we take inspiration from the courage displayed by others
before us who refused to bow to the passions of prejudice and bigotry.
One such example was a Protestant Senator from the State of Nebraska, George W. Norris. In 1928, as many of
you will vividly recall, the Democratic nominee for President, Al Smith, was subjected to a variety of vicious
attacks because of his Catholic faith. Governor Smith made it clear that his personal religious views did not affect
his belief in the First Amendment, in freedom of religion for all, in the enforcement of our laws and Constitution
and in the American public school system; and he stated flatly that he recognized no power in the Church which
could interfere with any of these matters.
But the bigots and the uninformed, aided and abetted by those politically opposed to Smith, inflamed and
exploited the prejudice and ignorance of many Americans toward the Catholic Church in 1928. A radio
commentator stated flatly over the air that a New Jersey convent had been purchased by the Catholic Church as
the American residence for the Pope after Smith's election. In Georgia, some churches exhibited pictures of
Smith at the opening of the Holland Tunnel, convinced that the tunnel was actually being constructed to connect
with the basement of the Vatican in Rome, 3500 miles away. On election eve the story spread that the Pope had
already purchased tickets for sailing to the United States as soon as he was radioed news of a Smith victory.
In the face of such a campaign, George Norris of Nebraska, a lifetime Protestant from an overwhelmingly
Protestant state, could hardly be expected to speak out - particularly since he was also a member of a different
party and also differed with Smith over prohibition. But Norris believed one issue in the campaign - public power
- overrode all others - and once he had made his decision on this basis to join the Smith camp, he was not going to
let the false issue of religion, or the emotions it aroused among his constituents, stand in his way. Surely "it is
possible," he said, "for a man in public life to separate his religious beliefs from his political activities…I am a
Protestant and a dry, yet I would support a man who was a wet and a Catholic provided I believed he was
sincerely in favor of law enforcement and was right on economic issues."
When his constituents condemned his stand, Norris assailed the "special interests and machine politicians who
have kept this religious issue to the front although they knew it was a false, wicked and unfair issue." And he
closed his nationwide broadcast for Smith from Omaha by meeting this issue openly and powerfully, with these
words:
"It is our duty as patriots to cast out this Un-American doctrine and rebuke those who have raised the torch of
intolerance. All believers of any faith can unite and go forward in our political work to bring about the maximum
amount of happiness for our people."
A second example - also of some significance today - occurred four years earlier - in the pre-convention campaign
of the Democratic Party of 1924, when intolerance had again raised its ugly head - not because of the religious
affiliation of any candidate but because of the whole problem of racial and religious hatred and the powerful
groups who fostered it. The Ku Klux Klan was a potent force in American politics in 1924, numbering an
estimated 5 million members in 45 states. Hate-mongering was their business; "America for the Americans" was
their slogan; and post-war fear and distrust of our allies, our former enemies and the new Communist movement
provided their atmosphere. Negroes were lynched - Catholics were flogged - Jews were tarred and feathered -
immigrants were excluded - and it was all done in the name of the Lord.
As the Democratic Convention prepared to meet in New York City, the burning issue was whether the Klan -
dominant in Southern Democratic politics and influential elsewhere - would be condemned, condoned or even
mentioned. The advisors of Senator Oscar W. Underwood of Alabama - a former Presidential candidate (in
1912), a former Democratic floor leader in both the House and the Senate, author of the famous tariff bill which
bore his name, and a leading Presidential possibility - urged that he say nothing to offend the Ku Klux Klan. But
Senator Underwood, convinced that the Klan was contrary to all the principles of Jeffersonian democracy in
which he believed, denounced it in no uncertain terms, insisted that this was the paramount issue upon which the
party would have to take a firm stand, and fought vigorously but unsuccessfully to include an anti-Klan plank in
the party platform. The Louisiana delegation and other Southerners publicly repudiated him, and from that
moment on his chances for the Presidency were nil. But it was the courage of such men as George W. Norris and
Oscar W. Underwood that paved the way for the progress in race relations and religious tolerance that has
brightened the years since their brave deeds were done.
But courage on the part of those public officials under a bigoted attack, or on the part of those public officials
who boldly support them, is not enough. I ask you now to recall the atmosphere in Washington and the nation -
and particularly here in Boston - exactly 40 years ago this very night. President Woodrow Wilson had nominated
to be Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court one of Boston's best-known and most controversial
citizens - Louis D. Brandeis. Opposition to the appointment was heavy and vociferous. It was said that Mr.
Brandeis was a radical, that he was dishonest, that he was controversial, that he was an impractical theorist - and
that he was a Jew.
Although opposition on this latter ground was, for the most part, not out in the open, Brandeis himself - when
asked to prepare an anonymous brief on his own case by Senator LaFollette - opened with these words:
"The dominant reasons (as contrasted with the stated reasons) for the opposition to the confirmation of Mr.
Brandeis are that he is considered a radical and is a Jew." Jewish lawyers were advised not to write to the Senate
Committee on his behalf for fear of antagonizing the Southern Democratic votes needed for confirmation; and
most newspapers emphasized in their news columns the fact that no Jew had ever served on the highest Court in
our land.
I will not now repeat the names of those good citizens of Boston who protested the Brandeis appointment - on
grounds other than religious, of course - the scions of famous Boston families, the eminent lawyers, the scholarly
professors. No useful purpose is served by recalling the bitter attacks made by those who 20 years later would call
Louis Brandeis one of the greatest jurists of all time. For his detractors, and their methods and attacks, did not
concern Brandeis so much as those who sat by and merely watched.
"What has seemed to me the really serious features of the attitude of this community," he wrote a friend from
Boston, "were not the attacks of my opponents, however vicious and unfounded, but the silence or acquiescence
of those who were not opposed to or were actually in sympathy with me.
Most alarming is the unmanliness, the pusillanimity of those who believed that my efforts were commendable but
feared to speak out; feared because of either financial or social considerations or for the love of enjoyment or
ease. And then the acquiescence of an equally large body of men who felt neither sympathy with nor opposition to
my views, but who so lacked an active sympathy with the demands of fair play that they were willing to remain
silent, although they realized fully that my opponents were guilty of foul play…
My opponents substituted attacks upon reputation for opposing arguments. And this community permitted them
to do so almost without a protest. This seems to me the fundamental defect. Our task in Massachusetts is to
reconstruct manhood."
We would do well to remember today, just 40 years later, the experience and the words of Louis Brandeis.
Fulfillment of the principles of brotherhood requires the courage of manhood - the manhood which Brandeis
found lacking in Boston 40 years ago, the manhood of George Norris and Oscar Underwood. Our most
challenging and difficult task in the field of human relations, it seems to me, is to arouse and encourage those who
do not preach race hatred, but who make no protest when others do - those who do not practice religious
intolerance but who acquiesce in its existence. It is these good but timid or thoughtless citizens whom Harry
Overstreet called "the mild and gentle people of prejudice…
They do not go to lynchings but they do nothing to create a condition of human dignity that would make
lynchings impossible… Their moral sickness is that they have learned to stand by and do nothing. Consciously or
subconsciously, the sense of responsibility is dimmed out in them. The power to feel is blurred. The issue is
befogged by rationalizations.
Thus," concluded Dr. Overstreet, "it is the mild and gentle people of prejudice, with their compulsive
effortlessness, who must bear the burden of moral guilt." And it is these gentle people of prejudice, it seems to me
- those who wanted to ignore the Klan in 1924, who listened to the Al Smith whispers in 1928, who permitted
Brandeis to be slandered in 1916 - it is that great group, which includes almost all of us at one time or another, to
whom Brotherhood Week must be most specifically directed.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the Women's


National Press Club Luncheon, February 23, 1956
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two drafts exist in the
folder for this speech in the Senate Speech files of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John
F. Kennedy Library. One, possibly the carbon of a press release, is headed with the same title as the file folder.
This draft is used as the basis for the text below. The other draft has John F. Kennedy's handwritten notes on it,
but is unrelated to the first draft and contains no explicit connection to the occasion for which this particular file
exists. Links to images of both drafts are given below.

I barely made it over here today, but fortunately had a very skillful taxi driver. I was about to give him a large
tip and tell him to vote Democratic, when I remembered the still more effective vote-getting technique Senator
Green had told me about – so I gave him no tip at all, and told him to vote Republican.
It is a genuine pleasure to be here today at the Women’s National Press Club Luncheon. Your members have
distinguished themselves among Washington journalists for their competent reporting, their comprehensive
understanding of the legislative process, and their complete fearlessness in predicting the outcome of the 1956
conventions and elections.
The Senate, too, is engaged in that age-old guessing game of picking candidates – and I am often reminded of the
prediction made by the late Speaker of the House Thomas B. Reed when he prophesied that the time would
eventually come when the Constitution would be amended so as to provide that Presidents should always be
chosen by the Senate, out of the Senate. The American people, as Reed described the situation, awaited with the
tensest excitement the result of this first trial of
“the choice of the wisest men by and out of the wisest body of men. When the time came for the
announcement of the first such vote,” Reed went on, “the presiding officer’s hesitation and pallor
indicated that something unexpected had happened. He shouted to the vast multitude the astounding
result: 96 Senators had each received one vote:
“for a moment a stillness as of death settled upon the multitude. Never till that moment had the people
recognized that…the Senate of the United States was one level mass of wisdom and virtue, perfect in all of
its parts.”
But whatever may be the accuracy of the predictions of Thomas Reed or Doris Fleeson, the members of this
group are noted for responsible journalism, a vital ingredient in the world today. In the course of my recent
research on political courage, I learned a lot about responsible – and irresponsible journalism. Some of the
harshest and most abusive attacks on the Senators described in my book came not from opposing politicians, not
from intellectual constituents, but from newspapers.
When Daniel Webster supported Henry Clay’s Compromise of 1850 in order to prevent secession and Civil War,
the New York Evening Post called it a “traitorous retreat”. When Thomas Hart Benton split with the State of
Missouri over the questions of slavery and states’ rights, the Missouri Register declared that Senator Benton is “a
blustering, insolent, unscrupulous demagogue.” When Edmund G. Ross cast his historic and decisive vote against
the conviction of the impeached Andrew Johnson, a Kansas newspaper charged that he was a “poor, pitiful,
shriveled wretch” who had “sold himself…basely lied to his friends…and signed the death warrant of his
country’s liberty…because the traitor, like Benedict Arnold, loved money better than he did principle, friends,
honor, and his country.” When Governor John Peter Altgeld of Illinois pardoned the three remaining defendants
in the Haymarket Square bombing of 1886, the Chicago Tribune termed him as “anarchist…socialist…apologist
for murder…and fomenter of lawlessness”; and declared there was “not a drop of true American blood in his
veins.” And when George Norris and his eleven colleagues filibustered to a temporary grave Woodrow Wilson’s
armed ship program in 1917, the New York Herald Tribune was certain that the name of George Norris would
“go down into history bracketed with that of Benedict Arnold.” I must say that the failure of this particular
prediction has not discouraged the columnists of the Herald Tribune from continuing to engage in the dangerous
art of political prophecy.
When we read these and similar attacks which have been made in more recent times, those of us in the Senate are
comforted by the description which Senator Grimes of Iowa gave to the reports of Washington correspondents
during the Johnson Impeachment Trial. They were, he said, “lies sent from here by the most worthless and
irresponsible creatures on the face of the earth.” At the time Senator Grimes spoke, of course, female
correspondents were not yet admitted to the Press Gallery.
Politicians are, from time to time, still troubled by irresponsible journalists and authors – just as journalists and
authors, from time to time, are still troubled by irresponsible politicians. But it is a tragic fact that there are few
groups where the problems of the politician are given as little genuine comprehension as they are among the
writers, who seem to possess that talent for finding the right and wrong on all questions with none of the
difficulties that face the politician. It was this extraordinary faculty of so many literary figures that prompted
Lord Melbourne’s statement that he would like to be as sure of anything as the youthful historian T. B.
MacCauley seemed to be of everything.
I do not wish to minimize the difficulty that the author faces in being faithful to his talent. Nor do I wish to
defend the art of the politician if it results in situations which are in Shaw’s words “smirched with compromise,
rotted with opportunism, and mildewed by expedience.” Certainly I do not seek any cessation of the writer’s
critical faculties in their application to my profession. For it is one of the hallmarks of the totalitarian when
criticism is directed only against the enemies of the state, rather than against the state itself. And certainly all too
frequently it has been the writer and not the politician who has been the truer friend of liberty.
But I do suggest the need for a greater comprehension of the very real and difficult problems involved in the
successful governing of a democratic state. In few other professions but politics is the urge so great to follow the
example of Congressman John Steven McGroarty of California, who wrote a constituent in 1934:
“One of the countless drawbacks of being in Congress is that I am compelled to receive impertinent letters
from a jackass like you in which you say I promised to have the Sierra Madre mountains reforested and I
have been in Congress two months and haven’t done it. Will you please take two running jumps and go to
hell.”
And in few other professions but politics is it expected that a man will sacrifice honors, prestige and his chosen
career on a single issue. I do not say that authors, teachers and others do not face difficult decisions involving
their integrity – but few face them as does the politician in the spotlight of publicity. And few bear the continual
weight of temptations and pressures to take the primrose path of never-ending compromise. Torn between his
obligations to his constituency, his concern for the welfare of his family, his gratitude to his supporters, his
loyalty to his party, his personal ambitions, his sense of public duty, and his awareness that right and wrong on
most issues are almost inextricably mixed, the politician stumbles along, seeking shelter from the slings and
arrows of his critics – most of them interested, only a few disinterested.
It is no wonder that we do not have more men of political courage, willing to go out on a limb for what they
believe. It is no wonder that a famous Senator half a century ago had become so accustomed to political caution
and guarded opinions that when he went to see the Siamese Twins at the World Exposition, he asked the guard at
the exhibit: “Brothers, I presume?”
And it is no wonder that it was said of a similarly inclined and similarly cautious Senator of a generation ago,
William B. Allison of Iowa, that if a piano were constructed reaching from the Senate Chamber to Des Moines,
Allison could run all the way on the keys without ever striking a note.
Our course is not made easier, of course, when it is under constant attack from authors and journalists using
those horrible weapons of modern internecine warfare: the barbed thrust, the acid pen, and – most sinister of all
– the rhetorical blast. My desk is flooded with books, articles and pamphlets criticizing Congress. But rarely, if
ever, have I seen any writer bestow praise upon either the political profession or any political body for its
accomplishments, its ability or its integrity – much less for its intelligence. Fictitious politicians – whether
members of Parliament in the time of Charles Dickens or mayors of Gibbsville in the time of John O’Hara – are
inevitably shabby, slippery and selfish. Many of today’s intellectuals and authors share the views of Henry
Adams, who in 1869 was told impatiently by a Cabinet member: “You can’t use tact with a Congressman! A
Congressman is a hog! You must take a stick and hit him on the snout.” And in quiet derision Adams had
replied: “If a Congressman is a hog, what is a Senator?”
And real-life politicians to much of the literary world today represent nothing but censors, investigators, and
perpetrators of what has been called “the swinish cult of anti-intellectualism” – a cult, I might add, which is
matched in the current clash by what might be termed “the superior cult of anti-politicalism”.
Unfortunately it is also true that most politicians have little but disdain for most authors and scholars. In
Washington we award medals and memorials to distinguished civil servants, to famous military men, to
outstanding scientists and, of course, to retiring politicians – but nothing to distinguished authors. In fact, I have
serious doubts that a national poet-laureate could ever get Senate confirmation.
But I have come here not to accentuate the differences between the politician and the author, but to stress what
they share in common:
First: The American politician of today and the American author of today are descended from a common
ancestry. For our nation’s first great politicians – those who presided at its birth in 1776 and its christening in
1787 – included among their ranks most of the nation’s first great writers and scholars. The founders of the
American Constitution were also the founders of American scholarship. The works of Jefferson, Madison,
Hamilton, Franklin, Paine, John Adams and Samuel Adams – to name but a few – influenced the literature of the
world as well as its geography. Books were their tools, not their enemies. Locke, Milton, Sidney, Montesquieu,
Priestly, Coke, Bolingbroke, Harrington and Bentham were among those widely read in political circles and
frequently quoted in political pamphlets. Our political leaders traded in the free commerce of ideas with lasting
results both here and abroad.
For more than a century this link between the American literary and political worlds was maintained unbroken.
Presidents, Senators, and Congressmen were not only political philosophers but biographers, historians,
essayists, humorists and in some instances writers of poetry. Listen, if you please, to this poem of a young girl:
“Remember Thee?
Yes, lovely girl;
While faithful memory holds its seat,
Till this warm heart in dust is laid,
And this wild pulse shall cease to beat…
Still, cousin, I will think of Thee.”

The author is not Christina Rossetti, but the Senator from Texas – Sam Houston.
And literary men, when not directly active in politics themselves, maintained a strong influence on political
events. The gifted Abolitionists of New England – Longfellow, Hawthorne, Emerson, Whittier and others –
influenced strongly the years before the Civil War. And Henry Adams’ education was involved even more with
political matters than with the symmetries of Chartes and Mount St. Michel.
But today this link is all but gone. Where are the scholar-statesmen of yesteryear?
The modern politician – although not all of them, I should make clear – knows well that what he says but never
writes can almost always be denied; but that what he writes and never remembers may some day come back to
haunt him. The thought of Job’s lament “O, that my adversary had written a book” has dried up many a
politician’s pen. Political memoirs and diaries, published at the end of one’s career, and with the incalculable
advantage of hindsight, are considered to be relatively safe. But even this type of publication is increasingly rare.
The only fiction to which many modern politicians turn their hand is the party platform – the only muse which
they invoke is their party leader. As for Locke, Milton, Coke, and Bolingbroke – the only Locke in which they are
interested is on the treasury door – Milton is on television Tuesday nights – Coke they drink – and Bolingbroke
they never heard of.
At the same time, too many American authors and scholars – forgetting that their forefathers were politicians,
too – are fearful that the rough and tumble of politics will damage the fine hand by which they spin out carefully
conceived works. “All literary men,” wrote John Galsworthy “can tell people what they oughtn’t to be; that’s
literature. But to tell them what they ought to do is politics.” Many literary men will tell us what we ought to do –
to that extent they will enter politics. But few will put themselves into the open arena, exposed to the pressures of
public calumny and to the humiliation of the ballot-box. They prefer to remain on the marksman’s end of the
rifle of political criticism, and not on the bull’s-eye. This is indeed unfortunate – for our political life would be
refreshened if our literary men of today would assume the position of leadership they held so decisively in past
years.
Secondly: Politicians and authors are mutually dependent upon each other. Politics, politicians and government
have – since man first carved out his thoughts on the walls of caves – ranked second only to romance as a subject
for literary plots. The relationship of a Solomon with the Queen of Sheba, the conquests of a Charlemagne, the
tragedy of a Lear – these are the tales of politicians, their governments, their laws, their battles. It took politics to
hang the witches at Salem, to plunge the knife into Duncan at Dunsinane and to quarrel over the remains of
Caesar at Rome. It was politics that sent Joan of Arc to die in the city square at Rouen, that sent De Bonnivard to
the Chillon dungeons, that sent Davy Crocket to the Alamo. Without politics and governments, there would be no
spies, no court intrigue, no revolutions, no prisons, no poorhouses. Certainly without politics, there would never
have been a Civil War in this country – and thus no Rhett Butlers or Scarlett O’Haras to pursue each other
through the pages of about 90% of today’s historical novels.
Politics and government, finally, have touched the lives and works of all the authors and poets we have ever
honored. They ordered Lawrence to Arabia, sent Byron to die in the rain at Missolonghi, exiled Shelley to Italy,
dismissed Poe from West Point and sent Rupert Brooke to die near Troy.
Nor is this a one-way street. The influence of literature upon the course of our political life has been equally vast
and immeasurable. Time and again, great works of literature like Rousseau’s “Social Contract” have given rise
to great political struggles – and time and again, great political struggles have given birth to great works of
literature.
Modern politicians, whatever they may say, could no more get along without authors than authors could get
along without politicians.
Finally: The politician and the author are motivated by a common incentive – public approval. “How many
books will I sell?” asks the author. “How many votes will I get?” asks the politician. The problem, of course, is to
prevent the natural desire of both groups for public approbation from becoming dominant, to prevent Gresham’s
Law from operating in the literary and political world wherein the bad would inevitably drive out the good.
And thus may I conclude with a plea for greater comprehension on both sides of the problems each of us faces,
for a greater recognition of how inextricably our professions and our fates are involved. In this way the synthesis
of our efforts and talents may be a greater service to the cause of freedom – a bulwark against the challenge of
the future.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy upon Presentation


of the Carver Gold Award to Cardinal Spellman, New
York, New York, February 24, 1956
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two drafts of the speech
exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. There is no way of knowing which, if either, of the drafts best represents the speech as delivered, but this
version is based on the draft of the speech that includes handwritten changes (provisionally identified as "draft
two"). Links to page images are given at the bottom of this page.

It is a real honor, and one that gives me deep satisfaction, to present to his Eminence Francis Cardinal Spellman
in your name this justly distinguished and richly deserved award - the George Washington Carver Memorial
Institute Gold Award for 1955 - for outstanding contribution to the Betterment of Race Relations and Human
Welfare. I can think of no one more entitled to such recognition than Cardinal Spellman, whose unceasing
devotion to the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of his fellow men has never recognized a color line. It is
due to the tireless efforts of such men as Cardinal Spellman and others gathered here today - men of vision and
honor and courage - that this nation has made steady progress toward the reduction of racial inequity and
tension and the achievement of lasting brotherhood among men.
No one would deny that much more remains to be done. And no one can blind himself to the shocking and tragic
evidence of inequality and intolerance that continues to confront us on every side. But neither should we listen to
the professional pessimists who talk only of delay, never of progress, who see only the worst in human beings,
never the best. Let all men of good-will follow the example of Cardinal Spellman, who would rather light a candle
than curse the darkness.
All Americans everywhere, of every race and creed, rejoice in this further recognition of a true servant of God -
and all of us wish him good health and Godspeed in his great work for many, many years to come.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the Jefferson-


Jackson Day Dinner, Hartford, Connecticut, February
25, 1956
This is a transcript of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the speech are given at the bottom of this page.

More than a century and a half ago, our New England ancestors - or at least the ancestors of some of us, since
mine hadn't come over yet - tried to prevent the 13 United States from expanding the Nation's boundaries to the
South and West. Those old New England Federalists were motivated solely by a set of real values and a return to
principle - namely, the fear that if land suddenly became cheap the real values of their vast land-holdings would
go down and they would never get as much return on their principle.
But they were also convinced that bringing a lot of new votes and a lot of new politicians into the United States
spelled trouble - and they were right. Political life in America would be a lot simpler today without the Midwest,
Southwest and Far West. There would be no Natural Gas Bill to divide and tarnish the Senate - Senators would
have to provide their own natural gas; and some of us do pretty well - even without a depletion allowance. There
would be no farm problem calling for the establishment of a soil bank - although a soil bank sounds like a good
savings institution if we can just convince all the Republicans to deposit their dirt before the campaign. And there
would be no Detroit, no auto manufacturers and no car-dealers in the country - and thus the President's Cabinet
would be smaller, duller and Dulles.
On the other hand, however, without a Midwest there would be no Illinois and no Adlai Stevenson - and that
would take much of the joy out of American politics. Whom else could we criticize in California as being too
moderate for saying the same thing he said in Florida - where we criticized him for being too radical? Whom else
could we expect to unify his party and his country by taking a positive, forthright stand on one side or another of
every burning issue that is dividing his party and his country? Whom else could we deride for being too
intellectually aloof and too commonly humorous, too outspoken and too indecisive, and too much of a politician
with too little political experience?
Governor Stevenson is immensely popular here in New England, I can testify. I have just completed an
exhaustive survey - I must have talked with half a dozen people or so (I exhaust very easily in an election year) -
and everyone was for him, except for a few who weren't sure they liked the idea of a civilian in the White House.
The rest, including the Republicans, were for Stevenson - as long as he wasn't running against President
Eisenhower, Chief Justice Warren, Governor Ribicoff, Milton Eisenhower, Liberace or Bishop Sheehan.
After all, New England gave Adlai Stevenson a great send-off vote in 1952 - trouble is, we sent him off around the
world instead of to the White House. But Mr. Stevenson is gradually realizing what errors he made in that
campaign - very gradually, since less than one full chapter of Mr. Truman's Memoirs appears in the Times each
day.
But today New England Democrats are eager and active, Governor - we always have something on the fire - and
it's usually a fellow Democrat. Our slogan here is "all together, fellows - and every man for himself." But we fight
Republicans even harder than we fight Democrats - at least, most Democrats. After all, the Eisenhower
Administration damned our textile industry, damned our Federal installations and damned our requests for
assistance to meet unemployment - but they forgot while they were about it to dam up our rivers and streams.
Like the New Haven Railroad, this Administration has either run us down, passed us by or slowed us up - it has
usually been going the wrong way on the wrong track at the wrong time - and the stockholders are getting ready
to demand a new President.
New England admires Adlai Stevenson as a great leader and statesman even more than they admire him as a
great Democrat. And thus I think it would be fitting to express how New England feels about Adlai E. Stevenson
by paraphrasing the tribute paid by Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 to the Republican George Norris of Nebraska:
History asks, "Did the man have integrity?
Did the man have unselfishness?
Did the man have courage?
Did the man have consistency?"
There are few statesmen in America today who so definitely and clearly measure up to an affirmative answer to
those four questions as does Adlai E. Stevenson.
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy before the Irish
Fellowship Club of Chicago, March 17, 1956
There are four different - sometimes very different - drafts of this speech in the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential
Papers. We have opted to use what is plainly a press release version although whether this represents the speech as
given is purely speculative. The other three drafts include individually different additions and deletions, some
typed, some handwritten, and one of those versions has been modified for use in Philadelphia. In addition, the file
includes pages of notes for the speech. Links to page images of all the versions and the notes are included at the
bottom of this page.

I am glad to be in Chicago tonight, not only because my sister and her husband live here, but because I feel
strongly the ties of a common kinship. All of us of Irish descent are bound together by the ties that come from a
common experience, experience which may exist only in memories and in legend, but which is real enough to
those who possess it. And thus whether we live in Cork or Boston, Chicago or Sydney, we are all members of a
great family which is linked together by that strongest of chains - a common past. It is strange to think that the
wellspring from which this fraternal empire has sprung is a small island in the far Atlantic with a population
one-third the size of that of this prairie state. But this is the source, and it is to this green and misty island that we
turn tonight and to its patron saint, Saint Patrick.
It is also fitting that we remember at this time three requests granted St. Patrick by the Angel of the Lord, in
order to bring happiness and hope to the Irish: first, that the weather should always be fair on his special day to
allow the faithful to attend the services of the church; secondly, that every Thursday and every Saturday twelve
souls of the Irish people should be freed from the pains of Hell; and third, that no outlander should ever rule over
Ireland.
I have not heard a weather report from the Emerald Isle tonight, but I am certain that no rain fell - officially.
Who pays any heed to a little Irish mist? And I have no doubt that twelve Irishmen have been freed from the
nether regions this very Saturday. In fact, the toastmaster tells me he thinks he saw several of them here tonight -
Governor Stevenson, I understand, was trying last week to get several dozen released in time for the New
Hampshire primary. But certainly we need no report to tell us that tonight no outlander rules over Eire; and the
Irish people are celebrating this day in peace and in liberty.
But it is not a bitter and tragic irony that the Irish should now enjoy their freedom at a time when personal
liberty and national independence have become the most critical issues of our time - whether they involve
millions struggling to end the yoke of Western Colonialism, or billions held in an iron captivity in areas
stretching in a great half circle from the plains beyond the captive city of Warsaw in the West to the Red River
Delta beyond the trampled city of Hanoi in the East. For as the Irish have finally emerged from the shadow of
subjugation, the eclipse of a new Age of Tyranny has darkened the skies of many ancient states which had
enjoyed a long history of personal liberty and national independence. Today, while free Irishmen everywhere
marched to the tune of "O'Donnell Abu" and "The Irish Captain," only hobnail boots clattering on darkened
streets rang out in these enslaved nations.
I know of a few men in our land, and none in this room, who would ignore these tyrannies as far-off troubles of
no concern at home. For we realize, as John Boyle O'Reilly once wrote, that:
"The world is large, when two weary leagues
two loving hearts divide;
But the world is small, when your enemy
is loose on the other side."
I do not maintain that the Irish were the only race to display extraordinary devotion to liberty, or the only people
to struggle unceasingly for their national independence. History proves otherwise. But the special contribution of
the Irish, I believe - the emerald thread that runs throughout the tapestry of their past - has been the constancy,
the endurance, the faith that they displayed through endless centuries of foreign oppression - centuries in which
even the most rudimentary religious and civil rights were denied to them.
For all the classic weapons of oppression were employed to break the will of the Irish. Religious persecution was
encouraged - mass starvation was ignored. On February 19, 1847, it was announced in the House of Commons
that 15,000 persons were dying of starvation in Ireland every day; and Queen Victoria was so moved by this
pitiful news that she contributed five pounds to the society for Irish relief. We should not be too quick to
condemn the good Queen - for in those days the English pound was no doubt worth more than it is today.
Even assassination was employed to end resistance. Listen, if you will, to the wild melancholy of the Irish after
the murder by Cromwell's agents of their beloved Chieftain, Owen Roe O'Neill:
"Sagest in the council was he, kindest in the Hall:
Sure we never won a battle - 'twas Owen won them all.
Soft as woman's was your voice, O'Neill, bright was your eye.
Oh! why did you leave us, Owen? Why did you die

Your troubles are all over, you're at rest with God on high:
But we're slaves, and we're orphans, Owen! - why did you die?
We're sheep without a shepherd, when the snow shuts out the sky -
Oh! why did you leave us, Owen? Why did you die?"
It is not my purpose to recall needlessly the unhappy memories of an age gone by. But I think that the history of
the Irish - and indeed of all people, East and West - demonstrates that along with the need to worship God there
has been implanted in every man's soul the desire to be free.
The greatest enemy today of man's desire to be free is, of course, the Soviet Union, which holds its captives in a
subjugation harsh and unending, maintained by a tyranny more sinister and persuasive than any in the history of
the world. The United States and her allies have for more than a decade been attempting to halt this Communist
advance. But one of the weaknesses in our common front has been the restraint on freedom sponsored by our
allies and accepted by ourselves.
Why in this past decade has not the United States consistently based its conduct of foreign affairs upon the
recognition of every man's desire to be free? We were, after all, the victor in our own way for independence. We
promulgated the Monroe Doctrine and the "open-door" policy, with their clear warnings to the colonial powers
of Europe. We gave self-determination to our own dependencies; and we were for more than a century outspoken
in our opposition to colonial exploitation elsewhere. But throughout all this we were still living largely in a
splendid isolation, removed from a direct control of world destiny. But World War II rudely shook this isolation -
the frontiers of our national security became the frontiers of the world - and we found ourselves obliged to deal
with the harsh facts of existence on a global basis.
For the sake of our own security, we have found our destiny to be closely linked with that of the British and the
French; the Dutch and the Belgians - nations which still hold under their subjugation large areas of the world
upon which they feel their ultimate security depends.
And thus we have been caught up in a dilemma which up to now has been insoluble. We want our Allies to be
strong, and yet quite obviously a part of their strength comes from their overseas possessions. And thus our
dilemma has become a paradox. We fight to keep the world free from Communist imperialism - but in doing so
we hamper our efforts, and bring suspicion upon our motives, by being closely linked with Western imperialism.
We have permitted the reputation of the United States as a friend of oppressed people to be hitched to the chariot
of the conqueror; because we have believed we could have it both ways.
It is easy for us to believe that the imperialism of the West is infinitely preferable to the totalitarianism of the
Soviets - but the sullen hostility of Islam and Asia should make us wonder. We thought it would be obvious to the
North African that control by France is better for the North African than control by the Communists. I happen
to believe it is - but I do not live in North Africa. When Stalin was alive and personified aggression - in a hurry
and on the make - it was possible for natives to see the true meaning of Communist control. But now, in a period
when the Communist challenge is more subtle, when they employ the people's passion for freedom by skillfully
manipulating native leaders, our position becomes nearly impossible.
I do not wish to oversimplify an endlessly complex problem, nor deny the success we have had in helping free
countries remain free. But our attempts to look both ways on the subject of colonialism has caused our standing
in the free world to be seriously questioned. The time has come for a more forceful stand.
I urge, therefore, that this nation, acting within appropriate limits of judgment and discretion, inform our allies
and the world at large that - after a reasonable period of transition and self-determination - this nation will speak
out boldly for freedom for all people - whether they are denied that freedom by an iron curtain of tyranny, or by
a paper curtain of colonial ties and constitutional manipulations. We shall no longer abstain in the U. N. from
voting on colonial issues - we shall no longer trade our vote on such issues for other supposed gains - we shall no
longer seek to prevent the subjugated peoples of the world from being heard and we shall recognize that the day
of the colonial is through, and that words of lasting wisdom were printed nearly 160 years ago by the imprisoned
editor of the Dublin Press, Arthur O'Connor
"If there be any man so base or so stupid," wrote Arthur O'Connor in his Address to the Irish Nation, "as
to imagine that they can usurp or withhold your civil and political rights; that they can convert truth into
sedition or patriotism into treason; let them look round them - they will find, that amongst the old and
inveterate despotisms in Europe, some have been destroyed, and the rest are on the brink of destruction."
Such a warning is no less true today, as one by one the traditional colonies of Western powers break free. Only a
bold and sympathetic stand by the United States during this period of transition will prevent them from falling
under the control of a tyranny infinitely more infamous than that from which they are now emerging. And thus
the whole struggle of the free world against the Communists will be clarified and strengthened. I emphasize again
that I do not fail to appreciate the difficulties of our hard pressed Allies - but I feel that their present colonial
policies only serve to make easier the way of the Communist transgressor.
You may feel that this has little to do with Ireland and the Irish; but we must not forget that freedom is the
commodity the Irish have valued most highly and the commodity that Ireland has exported most widely. The
"wild geese" - the Irish officers and soldiers who fled Ireland after the Battle of the Boyne - fought for freedom in
all parts of the world. Exiled, persecuted, and loyal, they and their descendants fought in their part of the world
for their outlawed religion, their denationalized country and their hopes for freedom. Fighting for the French,
they broke the ranks of the English at Fontenoy. Fighting for the Spanish, they turned the tide of battle against
the Germans at Melaszo. And fighting for the Union Army, they bore the brunt of the slaughter at
Fredericksburg.
Thus Irishmen today can sympathize with the aspirations of all people everywhere to be free - and their own long
and ultimately successful fight for independence offers encouragement and hope to all who struggle to be free.
Let the United States and all free people today speak to captive peoples everywhere with the words of Sir Roger
Casement as he addressed the British jury which had sentenced him to hang for high treason in 1914:
"When all your fights," said Sir Roger, "become only an accumulated wrong; when man must beg with
bated breath for leave to subsist in their own land, to think their own thoughts, to sign their own songs -
then surely it is a braver, a saner and a truer thing to be a rebel in act and in deed. Gentlemen of the Jury:
Ireland has outlived the failure of all her hopes - and yet she still hopes. And this faculty - of preserving
through centuries of misery the remembrance of lost liberty - this surely is the noblest cause men ever
strove for, ever lived for, ever died for. If this be the case for which I stand indicted here today, then I
stand in a goodly company and in a right noble succession."
There is our message, Mr. Toastmaster. There is our faith and our task. Let us not foil its fulfillment. Let us hold
out our hands to those who struggle for freedom today as Ireland struggled for a thousand years. Let us not leave
them to be "sheep without a shepherd, when the snow shuts the sky." Let us show them we have not forgotten the
constancy and the faith and the hope - of the Irish.

Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy at Yankee


Stadium on April 29, 1956
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One copy of this speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

We are gathered here this afternoon to commemorate a notable anniversary in man's eternal quest for freedom.
For nearly 8 years ago today a state was born - and a people, rising from the ashes of history's most ruthless
persecution, entered upon a new birth of freedom. The state was the State of Israel - and the people were the
children of Israel. Today, as the anniversary of that monumental event recurs for the eighth time - Israel, we
salute you.
Much is different between the United States and Israel. Our Nation stretches in a great land mass between two
wide oceans - the Israelis occupy a beachhead on the eastern Mediterranean. Americans number 165 million - the
Israelis less than 2 million. We are the oldest Republic on earth and the youngest people - the Israelis have the
youngest republic and the oldest people.
Yes, much is different - but much is the same. For both Israel and the United States won their freedom in a bitter
war for independence. Both Israel and the United States acknowledge the supremacy of the moral law - both
believe in personal as well as national liberty - and, perhaps most important, both will fight to the end to
maintain that liberty.
I join in this salute today because of my own deep admiration for Israel and her people - an admiration based not
on hearsay, not on assumption, but on my own personal experience. For I went to Palestine in 1939; and I saw
there an unhappy land, ruled under a League of Nations mandate by a Britain which divided and ruled in
accordance to ancient policy. And while there I was shocked by a British Foreign Office white paper just issued
sharply cutting back Jewish immigration. Yes, as in the days of old, "the glory had departed from Israel." For
century after century, Romans, Turks, Christians, Moslems, Pagans, British - all had conquered the Holy Land -
but none could make it prosper. In the words of Israel Zangwill: "The land without a people waited for the
people without a land." The realm where once milk and honey flowed, and civilization flourished, was in 1939 a
barren realm - barren of hope and cheer and progress as well as crops and industries - a gloomy picture for a
young man paying his first visit from the United States.
But 12 years later, in 1951, I traveled again to the land by the River Jordan - this time as a Member of the
Congress of the United States - and this time to see first-hand the new State of Israel. The transformation which
had taken place could not have been more complete. For between the time of my visit in 1939 and my visit in
1951, a nation had been reborn - a desert had been reclaimed - and a national integrity had been redeemed, after
2,000 years of seemingly endless waiting. Zion had at least been restored - and she had promptly opened her arms
to the homeless and the weary and the persecuted. It was the "Ingathering of the Exiles" - they had heard the call
of their homeland; and they had come, brands plucked from the burning - they had come from concentration
camps and ghettoes, from distant exile and dangerous sanctuary, from broken homes in Poland and lonely huts
in Yemen, like the ancient strangers in a strange land they had come. And Israel received them all, fed them,
housed them, cared for them, bound up their wounds, and enlisted them in the struggle to build a new nation.
But perhaps the greatest change of all I found lay in the hearts and minds of the people. For, unlike the
discouraged settlers of 1939, they looked to the future with hope. From Haifa to the Gulf of Akaba, from Gaza to
the Dead Sea, I found a revival of an ancient spirit. I found it in Israel's gift to world statesmanship, David Ben-
Gurion. I saw it in the determined step of soldiers and workers; I heard it in the glad voices of women in the
fields; I saw it in the hopeful eyes of refugees waiting patiently in their misery. The barren land I had seen in
1939 had become the vital nation of 1951.
Yes; Israel, we salute you. We honor your progress and your determination and your spirit. But in the midst of
our rejoicing we do not forget your peril. We know that no other nation in this world lives out its days in an
atmosphere of such constant tension and fear. We know that no other nation in this world is surrounded on every
side by such violent hate and prejudice.
Will Israel fall? Will this noblest of all the 20th century's experiments in democracy sink beneath the surface, not
to rise again for still another 2,000 years? Part of the answer rests with the United States, the leader of the free
world, and the godfather of the infant nation Israel. I shall not now attempt to chart our course in detail. But I
shall say, and say again, that this is no time for equivocation or hesitation.
TIME FOR ACTION IS NOW
It is long past time for this Nation and others to make it absolutely clear that any aggression or threat of
aggression in the Middle East will not be tolerated by the United Nations or the parties to the 1950 Tripartite
Agreement. It is time that we made this so clear, in the U.N. and elsewhere, that no nation would dare to launch
an attack. For it is the responsibility of our Government to make certain that neither Israel nor any small nation
of the world is left defenseless without arms while neighboring states dedicated to their destruction receive
unlimited quantities of Communist arms. It is time that all the nations of the world, in the Middle East and
elsewhere, realized that Israel is here to stay. She will not surrender - she will not retreat - and we will not let her
fall.
Today we celebrate her 8th birthday - but I say without hesitation that she will live to see and 80th birthday - and
an eight hundredth. For peace is all Israel asks, no more - a peace that will "beat swords into plowshares and
spears into pruning-hooks"; a peace that will enable the desert to "rejoice and blossom as the rose," "when the
wicked cease from troubling and the weary be at rest." Then, and only then, will the world have witnessed the
complete fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy "Tzee-Yon B'Meeshpat Teepadeh" - "Zion shall be redeemed through
justice." And all of us here, and there, and everywhere will then be able to say to each other with faith and with
confidence, in our coming and in our going: "Shalom" - peace! Peace be with you, now and forever.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the Conference


on Vietnam Luncheon in the Hotel Willard, Washington,
D.C., June 1, 1956
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two copies of the speech
exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. One copy is a draft with handwritten notations and the second copy is a press release. The redaction is
based on the press release. Links to page images of the two copies are given at the bottom of this page.

It is a genuine pleasure to be here today at this vital Conference on the future of Vietnam, and America's stake in
that new nation, sponsored by the American Friends of Vietnam, an organization of which I am proud to be a
member. Your meeting today at a time when political events concerning Vietnam are approaching a climax, both
in that country and in our own Congress, is most timely. Your topic and deliberations, which emphasize the
promise of the future more than the failures of the past, are most constructive. I can assure you that the Congress
of the United States will give considerable weight to your findings and recommendations; and I extend to all of
you who have made the effort to participate in this Conference my congratulations and best wishes.
It is an ironic and tragic fact that this Conference is being held at a time when the news about Vietnam has
virtually disappeared from the front pages of the American press, and the American people have all but forgotten
the tiny nation for which we are in large measure responsible. This decline in public attention is due, I believe, to
three factors: (1) First, it is due in part to the amazing success of President Diem in meeting firmly and with
determination the major political and economic crises which had heretofore continually plagued Vietnam. (I shall
say more about this point later, for it deserves more consideration from all Americans interested in the future of
Asia).
(2) Secondly, it is due in part to the traditional role of American journalism, including readers as well as writers,
to be more interested in crises than in accomplishments, to give more space to the threat of wars than the need
for works, and to write larger headlines on the sensational omissions of the past than the creative missions of the
future.
(3) Third and finally, our neglect of Vietnam is the result of one of the most serious weaknesses that has
hampered the long-range effectiveness of American foreign policy over the past several years - and that is the
over emphasis upon our role as "volunteer fire department" for the world. Whenever and wherever fire breaks
out - in Indo-China, in the Middle East, in Guatemala, in Cyprus, in the Formosan Straits - our firemen rush in,
wheeling up all their heavy equipment, and resorting to every known method of containing and extinguishing the
blaze. The crowd gathers - the usually successful efforts of our able volunteers are heartily applauded - and then
the firemen rush off to the next conflagration, leaving the grateful but still stunned inhabitants to clean up the
rubble, pick up the pieces and rebuild their homes with whatever resources are available.
The role, to be sure, is a necessary one; but it is not the only role to be played, and the others cannot be ignored.
A volunteer fire department halts, but rarely prevents, fires. It repels but rarely rebuilds; it meets the problems
of the present but not of the future. And while we are devoting our attention to the Communist arson in Korea,
there is smoldering in Indo-China; we turn our efforts to Indo-China until the alarm sounds in Algeria - and so it
goes.
Of course Vietnam is not completely forgotten by our policy-makers today - I could not in honesty make such a
charge and the facts would easily refute it - but the unfortunate truth of the matter is that, in my opinion,
Vietnam would in all likelihood be receiving more attention from our Congress and Administration, and greater
assistance under our aid programs, if it were in imminent danger of Communist invasion or revolution. Like
those peoples of Latin America and Africa whom we have very nearly overlooked in the past decade, the
Vietnamese may find that their devotion to the cause of democracy, and their success in reducing the strength of
local Communist groups, have had the ironic effect of reducing American support. Yet the need for that support
has in no way been reduced. (I hope it will not be necessary for the Diem Government - or this organization - to
subsidize the growth of the South Vietnam Communist Party in order to focus American attention on that
nation's critical needs!)
No one contends that we should now rush all our firefighting equipment to Vietnam, ignoring the Middle East or
any other part of the world. But neither should we conclude that the cessation of hostilities in Indo-China
removed that area from the list of important areas of United States foreign policy. Let us briefly consider exactly
what is "America's Stake in Vietnam":
(1) First, Vietnam represents the cornerstone of the Free World in Southeast Asia, the keystone to the arch, the
finger in the dike. Burma, Thailand, India, Japan, the Philippines and obviously Laos and Cambodia are among
those whose security would be threatened if the Red Tide of Communism overflowed into Vietnam. In the past,
our policy-makers have sometimes issued contradictory statements on this point - but the long history of Chinese
invasions of Southeast Asia being stopped by Vietnamese warriors should have removed all doubt on this subject.
Moreover, the independence of a Free Vietnam is crucial to the free world in fields other than the military. Her
economy is essential to the economy of Southeast Asia; and her political liberty is an inspiration to those seeking
to obtain or maintain their liberty in all parts of Asia - and indeed the world. The fundamental tenets of this
nation's foreign policy, in short, depend in considerable measure upon a strong and free Vietnamese nation.
(2) Secondly, Vietnam represents a proving ground of democracy in Asia. However we may choose to ignore it or
deprecate it, the rising prestige and influence of Communist China in Asia are unchallengable facts. Vietnam
represents the alternative to Communist dictatorship. If this democratic experiment fails, if some one million
refugees have fled the totalitarianism of the North only to find neither freedom nor security in the South, then
weakness, not strength, will characterize the meaning of democracy in the minds of still more Asians. The United
States is directly responsible for this experiment - it is playing an important role in the laboratory where it is
being conducted. We cannot afford to permit that experiment to fail.
(3) Third and in somewhat similar fashion, Vietnam represents a test of American responsibility and
determination in Asia. If we are not the parents of little Vietnam, then surely we are the godparents. We presided
at its birth, we gave assistance to its life, we have helped to shape its future. As French influence in the political,
economic and military spheres has declined in Vietnam, American influence has steadily grown. This is our
offspring - we cannot abandon it, we cannot ignore its needs. And if it falls victim to any of the perils that
threaten its existence - Communism, political anarchy, poverty and the rest - then the United States, with some
justification, will be held responsible; and our prestige in Asia will sink to a new low.
(4) Fourth and finally, America's stake in Vietnam, in her strength and in her security, is a very selfish one - for it
can be measured, in the last analysis, in terms of American lives and American dollars. It is now well known that
we were at one time on the brink of war in Indo-china - a war which could well have been more costly, more
exhausting and less conclusive than any war we have ever known. The threat to such war is not now altogether
removed form the horizon. Military weakness, political instability or economic failure in the new state of Vietnam
could change almost overnight the apparent security which has increasingly characterized that area under the
leadership of Premier Diem. And the key position of Vietnam in Southeast Asia, as already discussed, makes
inevitable the involvement of this nation's security in any new outbreak of trouble.
It is these four points, in my opinion, that represent America's stake in Vietnamese security. And before we look
to the future, let us stop to review what the Diem Government has already accomplished by way of increasing
that security. Most striking of all, perhaps, has been the rehabilitation of more than ¾ of a million refugees from
the North. For these courageous people dedicated to the free way of life, approximately 45,000 houses have been
constructed, 2,500 wells dug, 100 schools established and dozens of medical centers and maternity homes
provided.
Equally impressive has been the increased solidarity and stability of the Government, the elimination of
rebellious sects and the taking of the first vital steps toward true democracy. Where once colonialism and
Communism struggled for supremacy, a free and independent republic has been proclaimed, recognized by over
40 countries of the free world. Where once a playboy emperor ruled from a distant shore, a constituent assembly
has been elected.
Social and economic reforms have likewise been remarkable. The living conditions of the peasants have been
vastly improved, the wastelands have been cultivated, and a wider ownership of the land is gradually being
encouraged. Farm cooperatives and farmer loans have modernized an outmoded agricultural economy; and a
tremendous dam in the center of the country has made possible the irrigation of a vast area previously
uncultivated. Legislation for better labor relations, health protection, working conditions and wages has been
completed under the leadership of President Diem.
Finally, the Vietnamese army - now fighting for its own homeland and not its colonial masters - has increased
tremendously in both quality and quantity. General O'Daniel can tell you more about these accomplishments.
But the responsibility of the United States for Vietnam does not conclude, obviously, with a review of what has
been accomplished thus far with our help. Much more needs to be done; much more, in fact, than we have been
doing up to now. Military alliances in Southeast Asia are necessary but not enough. Atomic superiority and the
development of new ultimate weapons are not enough. Informational and propaganda activities, warning of the
evils of Communism and the blessings of the American way of life, are not enough in a country where concepts of
free enterprise and capitalism are meaningless, where poverty and hunger are not enemies across the 17th
parallel but enemies within their midst. As Ambassador Chuong has recently said: "People cannot be expected to
fight for the Free World unless they have their own freedom to defend, their freedom from foreign domination as
well ass freedom from misery, oppression, corruption."
I shall not attempt to set forth the details of the type of aid program this nation should offer the Vietnamese - for
it is not the details of that program that are as important as the spirit with which it is offered and the objectives it
seeks to accomplish. We should not attempt to buy the friendship of the Vietnamese. Nor can we win their hearts
by making them dependent upon our handouts. What we must offer them is a revolution - a political, economic
and social revolution far superior to anything the Communists can offer - far more peaceful, far more democratic
and far more locally controlled. Such a Revolution will require much from the United States and much from
Vietnam. We must supply capital to replace that drained by the centuries of colonial exploitation; technicians to
train those handicapped by deliberate policies of illiteracy; guidance to assist a nation taking those first feeble
steps toward the complexities of a republican form of government. We must assist the inspiring growth of
Vietnamese democracy and economy, including the complete integration of those refugees who gave up their
homes and their belongings to seek freedom. We must provide military assistance to rebuild the new Vietnamese
Army, which every day faces the growing peril of Vietminh Armies across the border.
And finally, in the councils of the world, we must never permit any diplomatic action adverse to this, one of the
youngest members of the family of nations - and I include in that injunction a plea that the United States never
give its approval to the early nationwide elections called for by the Geneva Agreement of 1954. Neither the
United States nor Free Vietnam was a party to that agreement - and neither the United States nor Free Vietnam
is ever going to be a party to an election obviously stacked and subverted in advance, urged upon us by those who
have already broken their own pledges under the Agreement they now seek to enforce.
All this and more we can offer Free Vietnam, as it passes through the present period of transition on its way to a
new era - an era of pride and independence, and era of democratic and economic growth - an ear which, when
contrasted with the long years of colonial oppression, will truly represent a political, social and economic
revolution.
This is the revolution we can, we should, we must offer to the people of Vietnam - not as charity, not as a business
proposition, not as a political maneuver, nor simply to enlist them as soldiers against Communism or as chattels
of American foreign policy - but a revolution of their own making, for their own welfare, and for the security of
freedom everywhere. The Communists offer them another kind of revolution, glittering and seductive in its
superficial appeal. The choice between the two can be made only by the Vietnamese people themselves. But in
these times of trial and burden, true friendships stand out. As Premier Diem recently wrote a great friend of
Vietnam, Senator Mansfield, "It is only in winter that you can tell which trees are evergreen." And I am
confident that if this nation demonstrates that it has not forgotten the people of Vietnam, the people of Vietnam
will demonstrate that they have not forgotten us.
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the Fourth
Annual Rockhurst Day Banquet of Rockhurst College in
Kansas City, Missouri, Saturday June 2, 1956
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One copy of this speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

In recent years, key farm states such as Missouri have been visited by an increasing number of politicians all over
the country. But I must confess that this is my first trip to this state - and I am thus deeply gratified for the honor
that Rockhurst College has bestowed upon me in presenting me with an Honorary Degree.
Much is different between Missouri and Massachusetts. We live on a beachhead on the cold Atlantic; you live
deep in the heartland of America. We harvest the rolling sea, you harvest the rolling prairie. You send us hogs
and corn; we send you carnations and cranberries.
Yes, much is different, but much is the same - the same sense of self-reliance, the common determination to see
our country progress, the mutual recognition of the responsibilities as well as the privileges of self-government.
Indeed, many citizens of your state and mine are descended from the same hardy forebears who forged the union
in which both states now unite.
I have not been unfamiliar with the history of Missouri and her statesmen - and I think one episode is of
considerable relevance to those of us commemorating this Fourth Annual Rockhurst Day. It was little more than
88 years ago today that Senator John Brooks Henderson of Missouri faced a decision more difficult than any he
had ever known and more far-reaching in its consequences than any he would ever have to make. That issue was
the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson by the radical Republican movement dedicated to his destruction
and to the exploitation of the defeated Southern states. Senator Henderson, then but 41 years old and the second
youngest member of the Senate, had already achieved national prominence. He was one o the most influential
leaders keeping the State of Missouri in the union and the sponsor of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution
abolishing slavery. He was in 1868 no staunch follower of Andrew Johnson - on the contrary, he was a supporter
of the Tenure-of-Office Act which had led to the impeachment charges and a severe critic of Johnson's conduct of
office. He was, on the other hand, noted for his political independence - he had, for example, defied his party by
becoming the only regular Republican to vote against the bill restricting the President's authority as
Commander-in-Chief of the Army.
Thus the radical Republicans knew that John Henderson's vote was not as certain as they might hope, and every
effort was exerted to obtain from him an advance committal to vote guilty. Only Edmund G. Ross of Kansas
endured more pressure and abuse than John Henderson. Missouri newspapers assailed him, party leaders bullied
him, spies hounded him during his every waking hour. Finally the full delegation of Republican Congressmen
from Missouri, accompanied by a prominent state legislator, called upon the Senator and demanded that he vote
for the President's conviction. To do otherwise, they warned, would be to rebel against the nearly unanimous
wishes of his party and state, and insure his own defeat for reelection the following year. Beset by doubts as to his
proper responsibility under a representative form of government, and feeling trapped in his own office by his
friends and associates, Henderson wavered. He meekly offered to wire his resignation to the Governor, enabling a
new appointee to vote for conviction; and, when it was doubted whether a new Senator would be permitted to
vote, he agreed to ascertain whether his own vote would be crucial.
But an insolent and threatening telegram from Missouri restored his sense of honor, and he swiftly wired his
reply: "Say to my friends that I am sworn to do impartial justice according to law and conscience, and I will try
to do it like an honest man."
John Henderson voted for the President's acquittal, the last important act of his Senatorial career. Denounced,
threatened and burned in effigy in Missouri, he did not even bother to seek reelection to the Senate. Years later
his party would realize its debt to him, and return him to lesser offices, but for the Senate, whose integrity he had
upheld, he was through.
It seems to me that, as the people of Missouri and indeed the nation look back upon the courageous but tragic
career of Senator Henderson, they will better appreciate the special contribution to our society made by
Rockhurst and similar institutions. For in 1956, as in 1868, the individual citizen has an urgent but difficult
responsibility to determine the facts and the policy decisions to be based upon those facts. And yet he knows that
his political leaders, and most of his newspapers, are stating the facts from their point of view - not dishonestly,
not carelessly, and frequently not even knowingly - but simply because their role is the role of the advocate not
the judge. Even government finds it difficult to present the truth in an age when "truth" has become a weapon in
the struggle for power - truth that is bent, twisted and subverted to fit the pattern of national policy. Frequently,
we in the West feel ourselves forced by the drum beat of lies and propaganda to be "discriminating" in our
selection of what facets of the truth we ourselves will disclose.
Thus, the responsibility of a free university to pursue its own objective studies, to carry on the continuing search
for the truth - both for its own sake and because only if we possess it can we really be free - is even more
important today than ever before. Rockhurst College has succeeded in carrying out this mission, so that today it
stands as a bulwark on the North American continent in the battle for the preservation of Christian civilization.
I would like to discuss with you today in more detail an example of one of those issues where the truth and the
right frequently are very difficult to determine - and where the use of catchwords and equivocal terms has made
more possible the misunderstanding of this issue by American citizens. The issue to which I refer is the growing
and recurrent problems of colonialism, nationalism and the attitude of the United States and her allies.
Since World War II rudely shook our attitude of isolation, we have, for the sake of our own security, found our
destiny to be closely linked with that of the British and the French, the Dutch and the Belgians - nations which
still hold under their subjugation large areas of the world upon which they feel their ultimate security depends.
And thus we have been caught up in a dilemma which up to now has been insoluble. We want our Allies to be
strong; and yet quite obviously a part of their strength comes from their overseas possessions. We want the
uncommitted peoples of the Middle East, Asia and Africa to remain free from the ever-reaching tentacles of
Soviet influence and responsive to the leadership of the United States and our allies - and yet those uncommitted
peoples look upon those allies with at least as much suspicion in most cases, and more in some, as they do the
Soviet Union. We fight to keep the world free from Communist imperialism - but in doing so we hamper our
efforts, and bring suspicion upon our motives, by being closely linked with Western imperialism. We want -
indeed we desperately need, if the deterrent power of our Strategic Air Command is to have any meaning - to
maintain Western bases in Cyprus, in North Africa and in all the other areas around the borders of the Soviet
Union - and yet we stand to lose those bases if the Communists are able to captivate the nationalistic movements
that seek to drive out all vestiges of Western domination. We have permitted the reputation of the United States
as a friend of oppressed people, in short, to be hitched to the chariot of the conqueror; because we have believed
we could have it both ways.
As a result, our policies and statements on these matters have too frequently been characterized by indecision,
confusion, haste, timidity, and an excessive fear of giving offense. In the United Nations we have abstained on
some key issues, vacillated on others, and prevented others from being even placed on the agenda. Our Secretary
of State has spoken of Goa, and our Ambassador to France has spoken of Algeria, in terms which have led our
motives and our sympathies to be questioned by those who seek the end of colonial rule. This is not a new pattern
- our course in Indo-China under the Democratic as well as the Republican Administrations antagonized the
Vietnamese people, refueled the propaganda machines of the Vietminh Communists and in the long-run proved
to be a disservice to the Free world as a whole and even to France itself.
This policy - if it can be called a policy - of trying to look both ways at once, of trying to bury our heads in the
sand when a colonial issue arises, of trying to please everybody and displease nobody - this is the policy which our
Department of State likes to call "neutrality" on colonial issues. And when asked about it at a recent news
conference, Secretary Dulles had this to say: "We expect to continue to take a position of neutrality because that
is our general policy with relation to these highly controversial matters which involve countries both of whom are
friends and where we ourselves are not directly involved."
I must respectfully disagree with the able Secretary, though I stress again the fact that this is no partisan matter.
We are directly involved, deeply involved in these issues. They may not involve our possessions - they may not
involve our treaties - they may not always even involve our military bases. But we are directly involved - our
standing in the eyes of the free world, our leadership in the fight to keep that world free, our geographical and
population advantages over the Communist orbit, our prestige, our security, our life and our way of life - these
are all directly involved. How then can we be wedded to this do-nothing policy called "neutrality". How can we
be afraid to touch these "highly controversial" disputes between two friends, when their continuation - and our
reluctance - only serve to strengthen the hand of the mutual enemy of us all?
I do not wish to oversimplify an endlessly complex problem. Nor do I wish to deny the success we have had in
helping free countries remain free, and the value of the steps we have taken in the right direction on this subject.
But the time has come for the United States to take a more forceful stand.
I urge, therefore, that this nation, acting within appropriate limits of judgment and discretion, inform our Allies
and the world at large that - after a reasonable period of transition for self-determination - this nation will speak
out boldly for freedom for all people - whether they are denied that freedom by an iron curtain of tyranny, or by
a paper curtain of colonial ties and constitutional manipulations. We shall no longer abstain in the United
Nations from voting on colonial issues - we shall no longer trade our vote on such issues for other supposed gains
- we shall no longer seek to prevent the subjugated peoples of the world from being heard. And we shall recognize
that the day of the colonial is through.
Of course such a stand will displease our allies - but it will displease the Soviets even more. For whether our allies
like it or not, and whether they act to impede it or not, sooner or later, one by one, the traditional colonies of the
Western powers are breaking free. The primary question is whether they will then turn for association and
support to the West - which has thus far too often hampered and discouraged their efforts for self-determination
- or turn to the Communist East - which has (however hypocritically, in view of its own colonial exploitation)
inflamed their nationalistic spirits and assumed the role of freedom's defender. I emphasize again that I do not
fail to appreciate the difficulties of our hard pressed Allies - but I feel that their present colonial policies only
serve to make easier the way of the Communist transgressor.
The path I suggest for this nation will not be easy. We will find our policies hailed by extremists, terrorists and
saboteurs for whom we could have no sympathy - and condemned by our oldest and most trusted friends who
will feel we have deserted them. We will encounter the most difficult problems of government and justice known
to man - the fate of the large and justifiably alarmed European minorities in North Africa - the lack of
preparation for self-government on the part of many peoples eager to govern themselves now - the likelihood of
this nation being forced to take the place of the present colonial powers in providing the economic assistance
which these new nations will need for many years - and the danger to Western naval and air bases located in
these key areas.
But we have faced difficult problems before - and we have faced them successfully whenever we were resolutely
determined to take the hard, bold steps necessary for their solution.
If we are to secure the friendship of the Arab, the African and the Asian, we cannot hope to accomplish it solely
by means of military pacts and assistance. Neither can we purchase it through extensive programs of economic
grants and subsidies. We cannot win their hearts by making them dependent upon our handouts. We cannot keep
them free by selling them free enterprise. Describing the perils of Communism or the prosperity of the United
States will be to no avail. No, the strength of our appeal to these key populations - and it is rightfully our appeal,
and not that of the Communists - lies in our traditional and deeply felt philosophy of freedom and independence
for all peoples everywhere. Whatever restraints may have been imposed upon this philosophy in our foreign
policy pronouncements during the past decade, there can be no doubt that it still represents the basic attitudes of
the overwhelming majority of the American people.
Today this issue confronts us in Algeria, Cyprus, West New Guinea and elsewhere. Tomorrow it may be in
Portugese Goa or Singapore - and the next day it may be in Togoland or Tanganyika.
There are some who recognize these issues but dismiss them as unimportant. What has all this to do, they say,
with the thought of war in the Middle East or the deterioration of our position in the Far East? The answer is, I
believe, that these issues are fundamental to practically every crisis now occurring or which will occur in the next
generation. For whatever the dispute may be that creates the headlines - we can never escape the fact that we are
dependent upon the decisions of people who have hated, as their ancestors before them for centuries hated, the
white men who bled them, beat them, exploited them and ruled them. Perhaps it is already too late for the United
States to repudiate these centuries of ill will, and to firmly but boldly press for a new generation of friendship
among equal and independent states. But we dare not fail to make the effort.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy introducing


Governor Abraham Ribicoff at the Massachusetts State
Democratic Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts on
Friday June 8, 1956
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One copy of this speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.
Exactly one hundred years ago, in the political campaign of 1856, a new element was introduced into American
politics - a secret party - secret because its members were instructed to reply, whenever they were asked about
the party's policies, "I know nothing". But the objectives of the Know-Nothing Party, as it was called, were not
secret - it was an anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, anti-immigrant organization. It was the party of bigotry and
intolerance of the American people. The Democratic Party, I am proud to say, met that challenge head-on -
declaring in its convention platform its unending opposition to secret parties and religious and national
intolerance, as not "in unison with the spirit of enlightened freedom which distinguishes the American system of
popular government."
Tonight, one hundred years later, the Democrats of Massachusetts of all races, creeds and national origins are
proud to play host to a man who symbolizes for all America the victories over know-nothingism that have been
scored in the past century. The Ribicoff home in New Britain, Connecticut, into which our speaker was born
some 46 years ago, was a poor Jewish home, without political influence, without economic security. From his
boyhood on, young Abe Ribicoff worked - as a newsboy, an errand boy, a store clerk and a road construction
worker; later as a manufacturer's representative while attending the University of Chicago; and finally as a
lawyer in Hartford.
For 18 years he has served his state faithfully and well - as a State Legislator who was voted ablest of all by
Hartford newsmen; as a Judge whose ability earned him appointment under Republican as well as Democratic
Governors of Connecticut; as a Member of the House of Representatives, where I became personally acquainted
with his conscientious and courageous devotion to duty and principle; and finally and currently, as a
distinguished Governor of our sister state, where he has won national acclaim for his sparkling and dynamic
efforts to meet the problem of floods, depressed areas and Republicans.
I was delighted to ask my good friend Abe Ribicoff to be your keynote speaker tonight - for he is one who has
carried the Democratic banner fearlessly and loyally in election after election - and kept it spotless.
So welcome to Massachusetts, Mr. Ribicoff - a Democratic state with a Democratic heart - a state that in the past
year or so has offered the party more state chairmen and more John F. Kennedys than anyone else in the nation.
I trust you won't be alarmed by these apparent divisions - for you know they are a traditional sigh of Democratic
strength. Here's how Will Rogers described the Democratic Convention before the sweep in 1932:
"They fought, the fit, the split, and adjourned in a dandy wave of dissension. That's the old Democratic spirit. A
whole day wasted and nothing done. I tell you they're getting back to normal."
And here's what Finley Peter Dunne's Mr. Dooley said about the party fifty years ago:
"The Democratic Party ain't on speaking terms with itself. When you see two men with white neckties set in
opposite corners while one mutters 'traitor' and the other hisses 'miscreant', ye can bet they're two Democratic
leaders trying to reunite the party. There's as many Democrats out of the party as there are in, settin' on the
doorstep to read themselves back and the other readers out. The loudest readers wins."
So don't worry about Massachusetts, Governor Ribicoff. For in the words of Adlai Stevenson:
"We are Americans first, last and always. May the day never come when the things that divide us seem more
important than the things that unite us."
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the
Commencement Exercises of Boston College, Chestnut
Hill, Massachusetts, June 13, 1956
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two versions of the speech
exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. One draft includes Kennedy's handwritten changes, and these have been incorporated into the other
draft. The redaction is based on this later draft. Links to page images of the two drafts are given at the bottom of
this page.

I am deeply honored at being admitted to the ranks of the alumni of Boston College. Boston College has played a
notable part in the life of this community and it carries on a most distinguished and ancient tradition of Jesuit
education.
This college has the function of producing men who, whatever their fields of endeavor, will become leaders. I do
not mean leaders in the narrow sense of personal success. This great school, manned by dedicated religious and
lay-teachers, was not built and is not maintained, quite obviously, merely to give its graduates an advantage in
the life struggle. No, the object, as you well know, is more complex. The first thought, of course, is towards the
City of God, but there is also cognizance of our obligations to the City of Man. I would like to emphasize today
the civil obligations you have towards the government of this City of Man.
I do not mean by this that it is necessary that all of you should take up politics or government as a career. That
may be possible for many of you, I hope, if by temperament and opportunity you should feel equipped and
inclined.
But, I would like to emphasize the obligation of all who have had the benefit of your training, to assume their
proportionate share of the burden of self-government. The phrase "self-government" has fallen into disuse these
days. The center of government seems so far removed from us that we tend unconsciously in our minds to divide
ourselves into two groups, the governors and the governed.
In spite of the elaborate solar system of local, state and national units of government that encircle our lives, most
of us tend to regard ourselves as the objects of governmental policy and not the makers. This state of mind has
resulted in the feeling of great uninterest and faint distaste with which so many Americans view the
governmental process. We tend to look with disfavor at a political structure which seems to emphasize party and
factional disputes, where compromise runs rampant, where indirection seems to have become the shortest
distance between two points. But, to look at the political process in this superficial fashion is misleading; it is like
looking at an anthill as merely a bit of sand and failing to see that it is the cover for a whole labyrinth of life.
The important thing to remember is that your uninterest in politics will not mean that the various tasks will not
be done; they will be done, and usually in a way unsatisfactory to you. There are a great many Americans who do
take an intense interest in politics; they recognize that at stake is control of the most powerful and richest country
on earth. It is governed by one of two political parties; if a group or a combination of interests can master the
parties or can become a dominate influence in one of them, the stakes are well worthwhile.
Thus, underneath the clash of personalities, the serious struggles go on. In City Halls, in State Houses, in the
nation's Capitol, struggling groups, labor, business, agriculture and all the infinite subdivisions within each
group contend; all bringing the maximum pressure to bear on the party, the politician and the administration.
In the Federalist papers, Madison foresaw these contending factions, but, he expressed the hope that they would,
to a great extent, cancel each other out. This happens to a degree - the society for the protection of the taxpayer
fights the efforts of the society for the liquidation of the taxpayer, (not always successfully,) and a kind of
struggling equilibrium is maintained.
But I would like, after a decade of observing this curious business of self-government, to stress the need for
greater participation by men like you. I do not think you can always rely on this mutual canceling out to protect
the public interest. With your training here you have had an opportunity to realize that self-government involves
responsibilities as well as rights, duties as well as privileges. As Pope Pius XII has said, "Direct action is
indispensable if we do not want sane doctrines and solid convictions to remain, if not entirely of academic
interest, at least of little practical consequence."
To play your proper role in government, the role for which your education and training equips you, I would first
emphasize to you the necessity for using your own cool judgment. Do not forget that there are few wholly
objective sources of information. Nearly everything you read and hear is part of a polemic on one side of a
question or another. The final responsibility of the people to deem where truth and error lie is correspondingly
greater in a system such as ours. Because you have been trained by skilled teachers to think independently and to
make your judgments based on a strict moral code, your contribution here can be most important.
Secondly, politics is like any other profession, to be effective in it you must first understand it. You should be
discriminating enough to know that there are occasions when a politician must compromise in order to prevent
conflicting groups from tearing the country apart. All legislation, as Henry Clay reminded us, is founded upon
the principle of compromise. But, the politician has the responsibility of not confusing compromise for the public
interest with compromise for the sake of his own personal advancement.
Actually the people get, by and large, the kind of political representation that they desire and deserve. If the
people will support politicians of courage, will recognize and reward political courage, even when it may be
employed against what they conceive to be their own immediate interest, then the quality of our public service
will be correspondingly increased. Too often at the present time when the politician, obeying his conscience
refuses to give way to an unreasonable pressure, he stand nearly defenseless, the great mass of the people
uncomprehending and uninterested, as a revengeful minority turn to destroy him. The shores of our history are
littered with the wrecks of the careers of men who stood for their country against the storms of partisan fury and
prejudice only to founder on the shoals for want of help from the beach.
Never before in our history has there been a greater need for men of integrity and courage in the public service.
Never before in our history has there been a greater need for the people to take up willingly the responsibility of
free government. Certainly you as educated Catholics are committed to bear your share of the burden, for the
philosophy that you have been taught here at Boston College is needed in the solution of the problems we face.
With the issues of war and peace, with the fate of Western civilization hanging in the balance - the somber
question indeed of the survival of our Faith and country at stake, each man among you can afford in some
degree, at least, to answer the call to service.
High on the wall of the House of Representatives in Washington, above the Speaker's chair so that everyone can
see, are written words we should remember. They were from a speech by a distinguished Senator from our native
State of Massachusetts, Daniel Webster, "Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up
its institutions and promote all its great interests and see whether we, in our day and generation, may not
perform something worthy to be remembered."

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at Harvard


University on Thursday, June 14, 1956
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

It is a pleasure to join with my fellow alumni in this pilgrimage to the second home of our youth.
Prince Bismarck once remarked that one-third of the students of German universities broke down from
overwork; another third broke down from dissipation; and the other third ruled Germany. As I look about this
campus today, I would hesitate to predict which third attends reunions (although I have some suspicion) but, I
am confident I am looking at rulers of America in the sense that all active, informed citizens rule.
I can think of nothing more reassuring for all of us than to come again to this institution whose whole purpose is
dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.
I belong to a profession where the emphasis is somewhat different. Our political parties, our politicians are
interested, of necessity, in winning popular support - a majority; and only indirectly truth is the object of our
controversy. From this polemic of contending factions, the general public is expected to make a discriminating
judgment. As the problems have become more complex, as our role as a chief defender of Western civilization has
become enlarged, the responsibility of the electorate as a court of last resort has become almost too great. The
people desperately seek objectivity and a university such as this fulfills that function.
And the political profession needs to have its temperature lowered in the cooling waters of the scholastic pool. We
need both the technical judgment and the disinterested viewpoint of the scholar, to prevent us from becoming
imprisoned by our own slogans.
Therefore, it is regrettable that the gap between the intellectual and the politician seems to be growing. Instead of
synthesis, clash and discord now characterize the relations between the two groups much of the time. Authors,
scholars, and intellectuals can praise every aspect of American society but the political. My desk is flooded with
books, articles, and pamphlets criticizing Congress. But, rarely if ever, have I seen any intellectual bestow praise
on either the political profession or any political body for its accomplishments, its ability, or its integrity - much
less for its intelligence. To many universities and scholars we reap nothing but censure, investigators and
perpetrators of what has been called the swinish cult of anti-intellectualism.
James Russell Lowell's satiric attack more than 100 years ago on Caleb Cushing, a celebrated Attorney General
and Member of Congress, sets the tone, "Gineral C is a dreffle smart man, he's ben on all sides that give places or
pelt but consistency still wuz a part of his plan - he's ben true to one party, that is himself."
But in fairness, the way of the intellectual is not altogether serene; in fact, so great has become popular suspicion
that a recent survey of American intellectuals by a national magazine elicited from one of our foremost literary
figures the guarded response, "I ain't no intellectual."
Both sides in this battle, it seems to me, are motivated by largely unfounded feelings of distrust. The politician,
whose authority rests upon the mandate of the popular will, is resentful of the scholar who can, with dexterity,
slip from position to position without dragging the anchor of public opinion. It was this skill that caused Lord
Melbourne to say of the youthful historian Macauley that he wished he was as sure of anything as Macauley was
of everything. The intellectual, on the other hand, finds it difficult to accept the differences between the
laboratory and the legislature. In the former, the goal is truth, pure and simple, without regard to changing
currents of public opinion; in the latter, compromises and majorities and procedural customs and rights affect
the ultimate decision as to what is right or just or good. And even when they realize this difference, most
intellectuals consider their chief functions that of the critic - and politicians are sensitive to critics - (possibly
because we have so many of them). "Many intellectuals," Sidney Hook has said, "would rather die than agree
with the majority, even on the rare occasions when the majority is right."
It seems to me that the time has come for intellectuals and politicians alike to put aside those horrible weapons of
modern internecine warfare, the barbed thrust, the acid pen, and, most sinister of all, the rhetorical blast. Let us
not emphasize all on which we differ but all we have in common. Let us consider not what we fear separately but
what we share together.
First, I would ask both groups to recall that the American politician of today and the American intellectual of
today are descended from a common ancestry. Our Nation's first great politicians were also among the Nation's
first great writers and scholars. The founders of the American Constitution were also the founders of American
scholarship. The works of Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Franklin, Paine, and John Adams - to name but a few -
influenced the literature of the world as well as its geography. Books were their tools, not their enemies. Locke,
Milton, Sydney, Montesquieu, Coke, and Bollingbroke were among those widely read in political circles and
frequently quoted in political pamphlets. Our political leaders traded in the free commerce of ideas with lasting
results both here and abroad.
In those golden years, our political leaders moved from one field to another with amazing versatility and vitality.
Jefferson and Franklin still throw long shadows over many fields of learning. A contemporary described
Jefferson, "A gentleman of 32, who could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a
cause, break a horse, dance a minuet, and play the violin."
Daniel Webster could throw thunderbolts at Hayne on the Senate floor and then stroll a few steps down the
corridor and dominate the Supreme Court as the foremost lawyer of his time. John Quincy Adams, after being
summarily dismissed from the Senate for a notable display of independence, could become Boylston professor
rhetoric and oratory at Harvard and then become a great Secretary of State. (Those were the happy days when
Harvard professors had no difficulty getting Senate confirmation.)
The versatility also existed on the frontier. In an obituary of Missouri's first Senator, Thomas Hart Benton, the
man whose tavern brawl with Jackson in Tennessee caused him to flee the State, said, "With a readiness that was
often surprising, he could quote from a Roman law or a Greek philosopher, from Virgil's Georgics, the Arabian
Nights, Herodotus, or Sancho Panza, from the Sacred Carpets, the German reformers or Adam Smith; from
Fenelon or Hudibras, from the financial reports of Necca or the doings of the Council of Trent, from the debates
on the adoption of the Constitution or intrigues of the kitchen cabinet or from some forgotten speech of a
deceased Member of Congress."
This link between the American scholar and the American politician remained for more than a century. Just 100
years ago in the presidential campaign of 1856, the Republicans sent three brilliant orators around the campaign
circuit: William Cullen Bryant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Those were the
carefree days when the eggheads were all Republicans.
I would hope that both groups, recalling their common heritage, might once again forge a link between the
intellectual and political professions. I know that scholars may prefer the mysteries of pure scholarship or the
delights of abstract discourse. But, "Would you have counted him a friend of ancient Greece," as George William
Curtis asked a century ago during the Kansas-Nebraska controversy, "who quietly discussed patriotism on that
Greek summer day through whose hopeless and immortal hours Leonidas and his 300 stood at Thermopylae for
liberty? Was John Milton to conjugate Greek verbs in his library or talk of the liberty of the ancient Shunamites
when the liberty of Englishmen was imperiled?" No, the duty of the scholar, particularly in a republic such as
ours, is to contribute his objective views and his sense of liberty to the affairs of his State and Nation.
Secondly, I would remind both groups that the American politician and the American intellectual operate within
a common framework - a framework we call liberty. Freedom of expression is not divisible into political
expression and intellectual expression. The lock on the door of the legislature, the Parliament, or the assembly
hall - by order of the King, the Commissar, or the Fuehrer - has historically been followed or preceded by a lock
on the door of the university, the library, or the print shop. And if the first blow for freedom in any subjugated
land is struck by a political leader, the second is struck by a book, a newspaper, or a pamphlet.
Unfortunately, in more recent times, politicians and intellectuals have quarreled bitterly, too bitterly in some
cases, over how each group has met the modern challenge to freedom both at home and abroad. Politicians have
questioned the discernment with which intellectuals have reacted to the siren call of the extreme left; and
intellectuals have tended to accuse politicians of not always being aware, especially here at home, of the toxic
effects of freedom restrained.
While differences in judgment where freedom is endangered are perhaps inevitable, there should, nevertheless,
be more basic agreement on fundamentals. In this field we should be natural allies, working more closely
together for the common cause against the common enemy.
Third and finally, I would stress the great potential gain for both groups resulting from increased political
cooperation.
The American intellectual and scholar today must decide, as Goethe put it, whether he is to be an anvil - or a
hammer. Today, for many, the stage of the anvil, at least in its formal phase, is complete. The question he faces is
whether he is to be a hammer - whether he is to give to the world in which he was reared and educated the
broadest possible benefits of his learning. As one who is familiar with the political world, I can testify that we
need it.
For example: The password for all legislation, promoted by either party, is progress. But how well do we tell
what is progress and what is retreat? Those of us who may be too close to the issue, or too politically or
emotionally involved in it, look for the objective word of the scholar. Indeed, the operation of our political life is
such that we may not even be debating the real issues.
In foreign affairs, for example, the parties dispute over which is best fitted to implement the long-accepted
policies of collective security and Soviet containment. But perhaps these policies are no longer adequate, perhaps
these goals are no longer meaningful - the debate goes on nevertheless, for neither party is in a position to
undertake the reappraisal necessary, particularly if the solutions presented are more complex to, and less
popular with, the electorate.
Or take our agricultural program, for another example. Republicans and Democrats debate long over whether
flexible or rigid price supports should be in effect. But this may not be the real issue at all - and in fact I am
convinced that it is not, that neither program offers any long-range solution to our many real farm problems. The
scholars and the universities might reexamine this whole area and come up with some real answers - the political
parties and their conventions rarely will.
Other examples could be given indefinitely - where do we draw the line between free trade and protection, when
does taxation become prohibitive, what is the most effective use we can make of our present nuclear potential?
The intellectuals who can draw upon their rational disinterested approach and their fund of learning to help
reshape our political life can make a tremendous contribution to their society while gaining new respect for their
own group.
I do not say that our political and public life should be turned over to experts who ignore public opinion. Nor
would I adopt from the Belgian constitution of 1893 the provision giving 3 votes instead of 1 to college graduates;
or give Harvard a seat in the Congress as William and Mary was once represented in the Virginia House of
Burgesses.
But, I would urge that our political parties and our universities recognize the need for greater cooperation and
understanding between politicians and intellectuals. We do not need scholars or politicians like Lord John
Russell, of whom Queen Victoria remarked, he would be a better man if he knew a third subject - but he was
interested in nothing but the constitution of 1688 and himself. What we need are men who can ride easily over
broad fields of knowledge and recognize the mutual dependence of our two worlds.
"Don't teach my boy poetry," an English mother recently wrote the Provost of Harrow. "Don't teach my boy
poetry; he is going to stand for Parliament." Well, perhaps she was right - but if more politicians knew poetry
and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live on this
commencement day of 1956.

Commencement Address by Senator John F. Kennedy at


Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts on
Sunday, June 17, 1956
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. Links to page images of the speech are given at the bottom of this page.

I am proud and grateful for the honor bestowed upon me today by a University justly celebrated even beyond the
borders of Massachusetts - an honor I could not possibly have foreseen some 16 years ago as I attended my own
Commencement exercises.
There were some then, as now, who regard commencement as a very sad occasion. The pleasures, the values and
the friendships of college days are at an end - the identical group seated here now will probably never again
gather - this is the last [winter?] most of you will spend here on this campus - and the sands of time will gradually
erase most of the memories which seem so important today.
But a sorrowful commencement address to match this mood would in no way be appropriate to the more carefree
spirit which also characterizes such an occasion. In keeping with this spirit of rejoicing, a commencement address
would have to be a light and frothy mixture of hope and humor, reminiscing about the misdeeds of past
intramural battles and plotting the deviltry of future alumni gatherings. It is a peculiar phenomenon of American
college life, I might add, for the student to spend the early years of his life striving to attain the dignity of a
graduating senior, and to spend the later years of his life, at least at such affairs as class reunions, striving to
return to the dignity of an uninhibited sophomore.
In any event, it is apparent that neither a sad nor a joyful speech is quite adequate to this occasion. Something is
needed in the way of a message that recognizes both the bright honor achieved and the new responsibilities
awaiting - a message that might even presume to offer some advice to the graduating class about to undertake
those responsibilities.
But what kind of advice? A traditional Senatorial speech might advise all of you to select politics as your career,
to participate professionally in the governmental process. But most Northeastern graduates, I believe, already
know what they are going to do - and when I look over the career achievements of past Northeastern graduates,
or meet them in Washington, Boston, and all over the state, I am doubly proud to be even an honorary member
of that distinguished group.
Well, if I could not tell you what to do, I might, following the lines of the traditional commencement address,
instead concentrate on why you should do it - offering, if it were possible, new inspiration, high ideals and
philosophical gems for thought. But once again I have concluded that such an effort would be wasted here. Few,
if any, of you have attended Northeastern University for four or more years without deriving from your studies,
your instructors and most of all from your own inner hearts and souls some sense of inspiration and idealism - a
desire to serve others, an urge to contribute to your society, a deeply felt feeling that you could help make the
world a better place in which men might live at peace.
No, I would not tell you what to do, I would not tell you why to do it - but permit me, if you will, a few brief
comments on where to do it. And I address myself particularly to those of you who are residents, or returning
natives, of the state of Massachusetts. I had previously announced the title of my address as "It's Your America
Now" - for indeed that is in essence the theme of every commencement address today in every part of the nation.
But to the overwhelming majority of you who are citizens of Massachusetts, my title might more accurately be
"It's Your Massachusetts Now". For the theme of my advice to you can be summed up in two words - stay home.
I do not urge such a choice upon you for purely sentimental reasons. Nor would I want you to stay in
Massachusetts because it is easier or more convenient or less risky. I do not even ask you to stay in order to vote
Democratic in the Senatorial race of 1958. I want even the Republicans to stay - if there are any Republicans
here.
No, I would urge you to stay in Massachusetts, to have faith in Massachusetts, to build your homes and your
families and your careers here, for two reasons:
First, because Massachusetts presents unexcelled opportunities for today's college graduates; and secondly ,
because Massachusetts needs your efforts as no other state does.
First, what kind of opportunity does Massachusetts offer ? What are the prospects for the future, the chances for
growth? Some are very pessimistic. "New England," a noted scholar wrote a few years ago, "New England is a
finished place. Its destiny is that of Florence or Venice, not Milan, while the American empire careens onward
toward its unpredicted end. New England is the first section to be finished, the first old civilization in America."
Even more recently a well-known economist stirred considerable controversy by an article entitled "The
Economic Decline of New England", which made telling points on our state and region's failure to keep pace with
the industrial expansion of the South and the West.
This is not a false picture. The pessimists and the defeatists did not invent unemployment or business failures or
plant migrations. And some of those who have criticized those gloomy prophecies the most have been the most
responsible for them. Too many of our business leaders turn to New York for their shipping, the South for their
expansion, the Midwest for their markets and the Far West for new investments. They are more familiar with
Manhattan and Miami than with Boston and Nantucket.
All this is not an attractive picture for ambitious young men and women. And many of you, I have no doubt, have
felt the urge to leave for other parts without even consulting these pessimistic authorities. I think I know
something of the feeling, the desire to get away, the determination not to mark time or waste away in a declining,
unexciting area. Your commencement, as every commencement speaker has said since classes were held in caves
or trees, represents not an end but a beginning - not a victory but a challenge - and it is only natural that you
would want to begin to meet that challenge, to make your mark, to make some contribution to society, in a locale
which, superficially at least, seems to offer more of a challenge.
But I ask you to examine the prospects of Massachusetts more closely - to measure them not by the gloomy
defeatism of the past but by the bright hopes for the future. For a new era is dawning in this state - economically,
politically, and in every other way - an era in which young people such as yourselves, with an education such as
you now possess, will play an increasingly important role.
For we stand at the threshold of the atomic age, an age which offers this state more than any other a revolution -
a revolution in our industrial structure, in our standard of living, in our way of life. We stand, too, at the
threshold of automation, which will transform an industrialized state such as our long before other states have
even heard of it. We are already seeing new industries, new products, new processes - and we may soon see new
and growing cities defying the doubts of the pessimists. In such as exciting and challenging period of change and
growth, the opportunities for younger people in this state are greater than ever.
We in Massachusetts cannot offer the world great deposits of uranium or growing fields of cotton or vast
hydroelectric power projects - but we can offer the leadership and the vision and the determination, on the part
of all our citizens, without which that uranium will be meaningless, that cotton will rot and those power projects
will churn for naught.
It is not only an economic or technological transformation which the future offers. The whole nature of politics
and public service is changing in this state. Young men and women, with high ability and high ideals, are to be
welcomed, not scoffed at - and they will find inspiration, not disillusionment. The old political order in this state
is changing, in both parties. And on the state, local or precinct level - in the State Legislature or the Town School
Committee - young people are to play an increasingly important role.
I could go on to describe the potentialities of the future in many other areas - the social and cultural development
of our state which continues to offer more to a young family than any other - the recreational possibilities, the
employment opportunities, the educational facilities. I might remind those of you who feel eager to get away of
those who are entering, not leaving our borders - coming from all over the nation, indeed all over the world, to
Massachusetts - to enjoy our concerts, to remodel our factories, to attend our schools, to be treated in our
hospitals, to study our history, to vacation on our beaches, to buy our products, and finally to just sample our
rich culture, our appealing charms and our famous clam chowder.
All this and more I could remind you - but I am hopeful that enough has been said to cause you to pause and
consider your plans and your travels - except perhaps, to add these words of Daniel Webster's some 126 years
ago:
"I shall enter on no encomium upon Massachusetts; she needs none. There she is. Behold her, and judge for
yourselves."
(2) But I mentioned a second reason for staying in Massachusetts - a reason which might at first seem
contradictory with the first - and that is that Massachusetts needs you . She needs you if she is to build the kind of
future I have described, to realize its full potential, to make it more meaningful for us all. We need young people
to do this job - and I hope I can still include in that category one who (like Jack Benny) is a youthful 39 - we need
young people with a new approach, with new ideas, with their eyes on the future instead of the past.
Massachusetts will never be ashamed of her past. The state of Adams and Winthrop and Sumner and Webster -
the home of the Pilgrims, the Puritans and Paul Revere - the land that led the nation into new ways of
agriculture, commerce, manufacturing, government and social legislation - that is a heritage which we cannot
and would not cast aside. But the past is not always the guide for the future - and deeds once done are not always
enough - as the poet tells us so well in his legend of the wandering calf:
One day thought a primeval wood
A calf walked home, as good calves should,
And left a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.
The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way,
And from that day over hill and glade
Through those old woods a path was made.
And many men wound in and out,
And turned and bent and crooked about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because 'twas such a crooked path.
But still they followed - do not laugh -
The first migrations of that calf,
And through the winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.
And for two centuries and a half
Men trod the footsteps of that calf,
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-ways of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do as other men have done.
This poem probably refers to the streets of Boston. I do not know. I do know that Massachusetts has too often, in
too many ways, in too many fields of endeavor, followed the calf-ways of the mind. The dead hand of the past has
affected our industry, our politics, our welfare and the welfare of our state. It is up to you and me and all who
will join with us to bring new leadership and new vision to our state.
I do not promise you riches. I do not promise you greater fame or a longer life or even a pennant-winning ball
club. As a politician I have been told to guard my promises more carefully than that. But I do promise those of
you who will have faith in Massachusetts and her future, those of you who will dedicate your careers to the
betterment of your state and all her people - to you I can promise a lifetime of challenge and opportunity,
sometimes exciting and rewarding, sometimes slow and difficult, but always, always worthwhile.
Will you join me in that effort? Will you pour back into the state from which it came that talent and vigor which
your degree represents? [High on the Chamber Wall of the United States House of Representatives, inscribed
behind the Speaker's desk for all to see and all to ponder, are these words of the most famous statesman my state
of Massachusetts ever sent to the halls of Congress, Daniel Webster - words which I ask you to take with you as
you consider the path ahead:
"Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its power, build up its institutions, promote all its great
interests and see whether we also in our day and generation may not perform something worthy to be
remembered."

Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy at the Democratic


National Convention, Conrad Hilton, Chicago, Illinois
on August 16, 1956
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One copy of this speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of this speech is given at the bottom of this page.
FELLOW DELEGATES AND FELLOW DEMOCRATS:
We have come here today not merely to nominate a Democratic candidate, but to nominate a President of the
United States.
Sometimes in the heat of a political convention, we forget the grave responsibilities which we as delegates possess.
For we here today are selecting a man who must be something more than a good candidate, something more than
a good speaker, more than a good politician, a good liberal or a good conservative. We are selecting the head of
the most powerful nation on earth, the man who literally will hold in his hands the powers of survival or
destruction, of freedom or slavery, of success or failure for us all. We are selecting here today the man who for
the next four years will be guiding, for good or evil, for better or worse, the destinies of our nation and, to a large
extent, the destiny of the free world.
I ask you, therefore, to think beyond the balloting of tonight and tomorrow - to think beyond even the election in
November - and to think instead of those four years that lie ahead, and of the crises that will come with them.
Of overwhelming importance are the ever-mounting threats of our survival that confront us abroad, threats that
require a prompt return to firm, decisive leadership. Each Republican year of indecision and hesitation has
brought new Communist advances - in Indo-China, in the Middle East, in North Africa, in all the tense and
troubled areas of the world. The Grand Alliance of the West - that chain for freedom forged by Truman and
Marshall and the rest - is cracking, its unity deteriorating, its strength dissipating. We are hesitant on Suez, silent
on colonialism, uncertain on disarmament, and contradictory on the other major issues of the day. And, I regret
to say that once we are able to cut through the slogans and the press releases and the vague reassurances, we
realize to our shock and dismay that the next four years of this hydrogen age represent the most dangerous and
the most difficult period in the history of our nation.
And, consider, too, the four years that face us as a nation at home. For here, too, the absence of new ideas, the
lack of new leadership, the failure to keep pace with new developments, have all contributed to the growth of
gigantic economic and social problems - problems that can perhaps be postponed or explained away or ignored
now - but problems that during the next four years will burst forth with continuing velocity. The problem of the
nation's distressed farmers - the problem of our declining small business - the problem of our maldistribution of
economic gains - the problem of our hopelessly inadequate schools - and the problem of our nation's health - and
many more. Conferences are held, to be sure - commissions are convened - but no new steps are taken and no
bold programs are effected.
These are problems that cry out for solution - they cry out for leadership - they cry out for a man equal to the
times. And the Democratic Party can say to the nation today - we have such a man!!
We can offer to the nation today a man uniquely qualified by inheritance, by training and by conviction, to lead
us out of this crisis of complacency, and into a new era of life and fulfillment. During the past four years his wise
and perceptive analyses of the world crisis have pierced through the vacillations and the contradictions of official
Washington to give understanding and hope to people at home and abroad. And his eloquent, courageous and
experienced outlook on our problems here at home have stood in shining contrast to the collection of broken
promises, neglected problems and dangerous blunders that pave the road from Gettysburg to the White House.
Of course, in a democracy, it is not enough to have the right man - for first he must be elected, he must show the
nation that he is the right man, he must be a winner. And I say we have a winner - in the man who became
Governor of this state in 1948 with the largest majority in the history of Illinois - in the man who in 1956 has
shown in primary after primary that he, and only he, is the top vote getter in the Democratic Party today.
And let us be frank about the campaign that lies ahead. Our party will be up against two of the toughest, most
skillful campaigners in its history - one who takes the high road, and one who takes the low. If we are to
overcome that combination in November this Convention must nominate the candidate who can best carry our
case to the American people - the one who is by all odds and by all counts our most eloquent, our most forceful,
our most appealing figure.
The American people saw and heard and admired this man for the first time four years ago, when, out of the
usual sea of campaign promises and dreary oratory and catchy slogans, there came something new and different -
something great and good - a campaign and a candidate dedicated to telling the truth. Sometimes the truth hurt
sometimes it wasn't believed - sometimes it wasn't popular - but it was always the truth, the same truth, North,
South, East and West. It was a campaign that brought home to the American people two great qualities of the
candidate - his natural talent for Government, which had previously been demonstrated in his able, efficient and
economical administration of the State of Illinois - and, secondly, his natural talent for campaigning, for meeting
people of all kinds, under all circumstances, with a zest for hard work and a will to win.
These are, as I have said, critical times - times that demand the best we have - times that demand the best
America has. We have, therefore, an obligation to pick the man best qualified, not only to lead our Party, but to
lead our country. The nation is entitled to expect that of us. For what we do here today affects more than a
nomination, more than an election - it affects the life and the way of life of all of our fellow-Americans.
The time is ripe. The hour has struck. The man is here; and he is ready. Let the word go forth that we have
fulfilled our responsibility to the nation.
Ladies and gentlemen of the convention: it is now my privilege to present to this convention, as candidate for
President of the United States, the name of the man uniquely qualified - by virtue of his compassion, his
conscience, and his courage - to follow in the great traditions of Jefferson, Jackson, Wilson, Roosevelt, and the
man from Independence. Fellow Delegates, I give you the man from Libertyville - the next Democratic nominee
and the next President of the United States - Adlai E. Stevenson.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at United


Steelworkers Convention, Los Angeles, California,
September 19, 1956
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. Two versions of the speech
exist in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library, an apparent draft and a text published in the "Minutes of the Eighth Constitutional Convention of the
United Steelworkers of America." We have based our text on that publication and provided a link to page images
of the draft version at the bottom of the page.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am grateful for your very generous reception and for the kind words of your President.
He and I shared a floor at the Chicago Convention. I was in Suite 1005 and he was in 1005A. I remember one day
someone was trying to get in my suite. Finally the phone rang and the voice said, "Senator, I will tell you what we
will do. If you will send us all the pretty girl volunteers that you have who are going to your headquarters, I will
send you all the delegates who are going to our headquarters."
As you know, I did not make out very well in Chicago, but I never did get a report on whoever was at the other
end of the telephone. I suppose every time I think of that second ballot at the Chicago Convention I shall be
reminded of the story of the Western pioneer who was a member of a wagon train coming westward. The little
band was attacked by Indians, and the pioneer was picked up three days later with some arrows in his back and
a piece of his scalp missing. They gave him some whiskey and finally revived him. They asked him if it hurt. He
replied, "Only when I laugh."
As you know, the Democratic Presidential Candidate, Mr. Stevenson, is engaged in a hard campaign. What
makes it so difficult is that the Republican Party and the Republican spokesman are singing all songs in whatever
key they may be sung in, hoping that all of them will bring success to them in November. It is not very difficult
for the Secretary of Commerce, Mr. Sinclair Weeks and the Secretary of Treasury, Mr. George Humphrey to
assure their corporate friends that everything is in safe hands, while at the same time Jim Mitchell, Secretary of
Labor, and one of the most respected members of the Eisenhower Administration, Professor Larson, go around
telling some of the rest of us that everything is in very good hands. It reminds me of the explanation of the success
of a prominent western Governor, who seemed to have the popularity of all people, Republicans and Democrats,
and yet the contention was the poor people thought he was a friend of poor people and the rich people knew he
was not.
As I say, I like Jim Mitchell, and I think the Democrats like Jim Mitchell. We are sorry he does not speak with a
somewhat stronger voice. He likes Ike. The only real question is whether Ike likes him. You may recall that
Secretary Mitchell in 1953 told a labor convention that one of his first objectives was to shore up our minimum
wage laws. The President asked the Republican Congress to amend the Republican budget for enforcing those
laws, and after Secretary Mitchell in 1954 said he categorically opposed the right-to-work laws, the President told
his press conference that Mr. Mitchell's views did not necessarily represent the Administration's views. And after
Secretary of Labor Mitchell in 1955 appeared before our Senate Labor Committee in support of greater
minimum wage coverage, particularly in retail stores, the President told his news conference that he had not
specifically recommended extending coverage to any class or group, retail or otherwise, and one of Mr. Mitchell's
subordinates came back and told our Labor Committee that they really only wanted the problem studied, not
acted upon. I can just see Secretary Mitchell in his office, observing one command after another coming from the
White House repudiating his generous offer, saying, "Somebody up there doesn't like me."
From what I read in the newspaper, the secretary seems to have several points. First of all, this is a year of
prosperity that is equally shared in by business and labor. It is a fact that the corporate profits of business have
gone up 28 per cent while workers' wages have gone up 6 per cent in the last year. That sort of equal division of
prosperity is like the rabbit stew that they used to serve during the meat shortage of World War II. One
customer challenged it and said, "There must be some horse meat in it."
The butcher said, "Not more than 50-50, one horse for every rabbit."
That is the kind of division of prosperity we have. They have been getting the horses.
The second point Mr. Mitchell has talked about is that the Democratic Platform is a pretty good platform but it
cannot be carried out because of the power of the Southern Democrats in the House and Senate. There is some
truth in that, although there are some Democrats like Senate Labor Committee Chairman Lister Hill, who led
the battle against the confirmation of the Eisenhower Anti-Labor appointee to the N.L.R.B., and Senator Lyndon
Johnson, who led our party victories for a higher minimum wage, and Senator Walter George of the Finance
Committee, whose tireless battle over determined Republican opposition made possible the payment of
retirement benefits to multitudes of disabled workers. But it is true there is a handful of Democrats from various
sections of the country who oppose these steps forward and who have prevented a break-through in the
legislative program of the last few years.
Now, I am ready to make Secretary Mitchell a fair offer in four categories that he talked to you about yesterday.
The first was the Taft-Hartley Act. You can tell it is election year because they talk about repealing the Taft-
Hartley Act. I have been a member of the Labor Committee for ten years. I was a member, as was Mr. Nixon, of
the Labor Committee that wrote the Taft-Hartley Bill, although I voted against it. And the Taft-Hartley Bill,
except for one minor change in 1950, as you know, has not been amended. Now, if Mr. Mitchell will give us one-
third of the votes of the Republicans in the House and the Senate we can promise that we will amend the Taft-
Hartley Bill basically; if he will give us one-third of the Republicans to amend Section 14-B, which will end all of
these infamous right-to-work laws. There is no sense in trying to go from state to state repealing them. All you
have to do is repeal Section 14-B, and that would be an end to it. And if the President will recommend it or if he
will give us one-third of the votes in the House and Senate in the Republican Party we can end the right-to-work
laws and there will be no longer any necessity for him to speak to Union conventions all over the country.
Secondly, he talked yesterday about the minimum wage. I have been Acting Chairman of the Senate Labor
Subcommittee on minimum wage and I know something about the Administration's position on it. We finally
passed a dollar. The Administration wanted 90 cents. If Secretary Mitchell will recommend extending the
coverage to millions of workers of the United States who are not covered by minimum wage laws we can do
something really important in the Congress. I think it is most important, because, even though your wages, as you
know, are well up in the scale at least comparatively, you know that there are millions of your fellow workers
who are not protected by the minimum wage law, particularly in the retail stores, particularly women who are
not protected and deserve protection. Therefore I think it is the responsibility of the Republicans and Secretary
Mitchell to mean what they say to come before us next January, and we will pass a decent minimum wage law
and extend the coverage.
The third thing he talked about is the Republican program to aid distressed areas which is especially important,
as Martin Walsh knows from firsthand experience. Last year we held hearings on a Democratic program which
did not vary much, but I thought importantly, from the Republicans', and we passed it in the Senate with only
five Republican Senators voting with us for this program. The last two days of the session it came up in the House
and I called the Administration and I was referred, not to Mr. Mitchell but to the Under-Secretary of Labor who
told me that unless we took all of the Republican bill that bill would not be passed.
So I don't blame Secretary of Labor Mitchell. He just does not speak with the voice of the Republican Party in
the Congress and in the Administration.
If we could carry out that sort of a program which I believe is vitally important, and if he will support us, and if
the Republicans will, I believe that we can really do a good job next year.
The last point I wanted to mention, which he talked about not only here and on other occasions, is this question of
unemployment compensation, because I think what has happened in this regard is the key to this whole
Republican program of promising liberal legislation, but not doing anything about it. In 1954 the President sent
up a recommendation which asked all of the States to pass a law which would give any worker who is
unemployed two-thirds of his wages or one-half of the average wage of the State, whichever is the less. No State in
the Union at that time was doing it. We waited about six months and no State put the program into effect. I
offered an amendment when the Social Security Bill was up on the floor, not to write in a bill better than the
President, but to write in the law the recommendations of the President. And when we finally came to the vote we
had almost two-thirds of the Democratic Senators and we had four Republican Senators for the President's own
program. So there is no sense to come before you yesterday or to come before other working people all over the
country and say what you are going to do in view of this record.
I think there is a great opportunity for Democrats and Republicans. We can't put forward any of these programs
without their support in the Congress, but we don't need very many votes. All we need is a few, and I think this
Congress in the coming year will do a great job. To make it more secure, however, I think we need Democratic
Congressmen and Democratic Senators, a great many more.
As you know, we have been handicapped by the fact that for about ten years we have enjoyed hairline majorities
in all committees in both houses of Congress. But if you can give us a strong Democratic Senate, a strong
Democratic House, I think for the first time since the end of World War II - in fact, the first time since almost
1938, the United States can really begin to move forward to really expand all of the gains which were made 15 or
20 years ago. I think that is the big job of the next Congress, because it is not that we are not enjoying prosperity
today, but there are going to be big problems with increasing populations in the years to come. And our job, I
think, is to make sure that all these people, particularly those on the bottom of the scale who don't have unions
now, who don't enjoy union wages, who don't have unemployment compensation, who don't have social security,
- to expand all these programs to them. And I think this is a program in which you are vitally interested, and I
think you have recognized that in all of your work, not only for the welfare of your own members but for the
welfare of all people, all Americans.
This is what your Union under the leadership of Mr. Murray and now Mr. McDonald has stood for. And
therefore I am very proud to have been extended your invitation today and I wish you and I know you wish all of
us who are working for the Party great success in the months ahead. Thank you.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the Los Angeles


World Affairs Council Luncheon at the Biltmore Hotel
on September 21, 1956
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of this speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the draft is given at the bottom of this page.

It is a genuine honor and pleasure to have this opportunity to address the members of an admirably outstanding
and widely-needed community organization, The Los Angeles World Affairs Council. It is indeed kind for you to
invite me to this Luncheon while I am here in California spreading the gospel of the Democratic Party. For I
realize that this is a strictly non-partisan organization….and that it was for this reason that my good friend,
Democratic National Committeeman Paul Ziffren, had suggested to me that my address might consist of a strictly
non-partisan attack upon the foreign policies of the Republican administration.
Actually, my subject today is one of truly bi-partisan import - the proper role of foreign policy in the 1956
political campaign. If, for my examples of criticism, I seem to draw more heavily upon the shortcomings of
Republicans than Democrats, I trust you will understand that this is due first in large measure to the fact that a
Republican administration is currently in charge of our foreign policy, and, also due, secondly, in part, to the fact
that as a politician talking about a question of politics, I have a natural difficulty in overcoming the partisan
influences of my environment and my profession.
Although this subject of foreign policy in a political campaign may seem to be less directly concerned with the
more substantive issues of world affairs which I assume your usual programs discuss, this Luncheon seems to me
to be a particularly apt place for such a topic. For the very existence of your organization, your very presence
here today, indicates your awareness of the relationship between American foreign policy and American public
opinion - and a Presidential election campaign, probably more than any other part of our public life, helps to
materialize and shape that relationship for better or worse.
My message, therefore, is not addressed to Democrats alone - or to Republicans - but to all thinking citizens
aware of the critical international issues confronting our nation on every side, and the potential values and the
potential dangers of subjecting those issues to the rigors of a political campaign. In times such as these,
confronted by a ruthless enemy who need pay little heed to a public opinion he controls and manipulates, we
might, in a sense, consider Democracy, political parties and political campaigns to be luxuries - absolutely
essential luxuries, to be sure, if that is not a complete paradox of terms, but luxuries nevertheless in terms of the
hard necessities of national security. Recognizing that we should and must continue such luxuries, as necessary to
our very way of life as well as its survival, there remain nevertheless certain political practices and techniques,
particularly in a campaign year, which we cannot afford, in this critical and sensitive area.
Thus I would urge upon you and upon all citizens, as the 1956 campaign opens, the following three criteria or
guideposts to political maturity and responsibility in the field of world affairs:
- First, that we cannot afford in 1956 to ignore the real foreign policy issues in this campaign.
- Secondly, that we cannot afford in 1956 to approach foreign policy campaign issues with partisan distortion,
exaggeration or oversimplification.
- Third and finally, that we cannot afford in 1956 to alter unwisely the conduct or course of our foreign policy for
purposes of political campaign strategy.
Permit me, if you will, to expand and explain each of these points further - for, like so many codes of political
conduct, they are more readily agreed to by all concerned only as long as they remain a general statement of
ideals without further explanation or specific examples. I. First: We cannot afford in 1956 to ignore the real
foreign policy issues in this campaign. There has been considerable emphasis thus far in the campaign upon what
are called "pocketbook" or "breadbasket" issues. Each candidate, from time to time, of course, talked hopefully
or pessimistically, as the case may be - about the prospects for world peace. But each has also demonstrated his
own conviction that the outcome in November hinges more upon the prospects for, and distribution of, continued
prosperity. This is not extraordinary. For foreign policy issues according to many of my fellow politicians have
always been considered too complex, too gloomy, too far-away for the average voter. He is much more interested,
they say, in his job or business or farm, in his level of wages or income, his social insurance, his taxes, his housing
and health needs, his cost of living, and so on.
These are important issues, true, particularly in their demonstration of the differences between the two great
political parties and the approach of each to the individual and his needs. And, true, foreign policy issues are
often complex and they are often gloomy. But they are not far-away - not in the age of atomic rockets and
intercontinental missiles - not in these times when they loom nearer and larger than ever before, towering over
every other aspect of our lives, rendering close to comparative insignificance the so-called pocketbook issues of
the campaign. For we shall have no pocketbooks and no campaigns and nothing else if we fail to master these
complex and gloomy issues.
Moreover, we make a great mistake when we attempt to divide too sharply these so-called foreign and domestic
issues. Many of those matters of local political impact upon which candidates for all offices, from the Presidency
on down, will offer hasty comment and solemn promises - certainly without regard to their international
implications in most cases - are in reality issues vitally affecting our foreign affairs and national security. The
inequities and outmoded restrictions of the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act, for example, deeply affect our
relations with a number of allies. So do our vacillations on the issue of Reciprocal Trade Agreements and our
uncertain tariff barriers. So do the size of our defense budget, the adequacy of our tax structure, the disposal of
our farm surpluses, and so on down a long list. These should be considered foreign as well as domestic issues -
and approached with the same care by all candidates during the current campaign.
But, returning to the overriding issue of war and peace, there are some who say there is no issue here, for there
are no major differences between the Republican and Democratic Parties on this matter. It is true, and
fortunately true, that the dominant majorities in each party are in general agreement on the long-range goals of
American foreign policy. Republicans and Democrats alike do agree that we want world peace, prosperity and
justice, not war, power or glory. We do agree that the principle of collective security has replaced the outmoded
concept of isolationism. But where we differ, and sometimes differ sharply, is on the manner, methods and the
tactics of implementing those goals and principles. My own list of differences, of course, necessarily involves my
criticisms of and disappointments in the present administration, and might not be appropriate for this occasion -
but the objective record will show, I believe, sharp differences in the manner in which the two parties approach
the problems of collective security, international trade, foreign aid, the UN and her affiliates, our defense budget,
and so on.
One of the causes of this mistaken belief in party similarity and perhaps one of the greatest errors we all make in
this campaign, is the assumption that American foreign policy is simply a question of the battle against
communism, a battle which obviously both parties and all Americans support. If that were the case, that might
make our task much clearer - but that is simply not the case. The truth of the matter is that the leadership of the
West and the maintenance of peace are currently threatened most seriously in four Middle Eastern-
Mediterranean areas - Suez, Cyprus, Israel and French North Africa. In not a single one of these conflicts is the
East-West struggle directly or indirectly involved. And in all but the special case of Israel, the conflict is an out-
growth of the revolution we have almost ignored while concentrating on the communist revolution - and that is
the Asian-African revolution of nationalism, the revolt against colonialism, the determination of people to control
their national destinies.
Strangely enough, the home of the Declaration of Independence has not understood this movement…Tied too
blindly and too closely to the policies of England, France and other colonial powers, we have permitted the
Soviets to falsely pose as the worlds anti-colonialism leader, and we have appeared in the eyes of millions of key
uncommitted people to have abandoned our proud traditions of self-determination and independence. Thus
arrogant extremists and communists now seek to exploit the most powerful new force to shape the world since
World War II - not an atomic weapon, not a military pact, but - more powerful than these - the force of a surging
African-Asian nationalism. In my opinion, the tragic failure of both Republican and Democratic administrations
since World War II to comprehend the nature of this revolution, and its potentialities for good and evil, has
reaped a bitter harvest today - and it is by rights and by necessity a major foreign policy campaign issue that has
nothing to do with anti-communism.
Still another obstacle to the proper consideration of foreign policy as a campaign issue is the traditional
argument that politics should stop at the water's edge and all Americans should support their nation's actions
abroad. Thus it is said, foreign policy issues should be ruled out of the campaign. It seems to me that the
Democrats were more emphatic about this four years ago, when they were in office, than they are today - and the
Republicans, who exploited the issue of Korea to dangerous extremes in 1952, now take just the reverse position.
Moreover, this tradition of bi-partisan support abroad was never intended, in my opinion, to prevent healthy
discussion at home. True, care must be taken to avoid bitter political splits that will make subsequent bi-partisan
support impossible - party policies must be so shaped as to prevent extreme fluctuations with each change of
administration - and responsible candidates must of course refrain from undermining by their headlines any
delicate and difficult negotiations being conducted abroad. But to eliminate all such discussions from the
campaign, as was suggested earlier in the year, would be, in my opinion, the height of folly.
Finally, there are those who would deny the necessity of foreign policy's role in the campaign for a more tragic
reason - a tragic belief that the American people are not capable of deciding these issues at the polls or anyplace
else. Popular whims and prejudices are dangers, indeed, as I will discuss more fully in a moment - but in a nation
committed to democracy, as Jefferson said, whenever the people are not sufficiently enlightened to exercise their
right of decision, the solution is not to withhold it from them but to enlighten them. If our candidates and
officials, therefore, will entrust these matters to public judgment in a responsible and mature fashion, the public
will, I am confident, act with equally good judgment and responsibility in deciding the nation's course.
The question, of course, is whether or not each side will present its case to the people in a responsible fashion.
And this brings me to my second major criteria for this campaign - namely:
II. Secondly, we cannot afford in 1956 to approach foreign policy campaign issues with partisan distortion,
exaggeration or oversimplification. Some of my fellow Democratic orators, for example are too often repeating
the alarming charges that we are unquestionably losing both the cold war and the armaments race, while the
Republican platform, on the other hand, boasts that in the past four years the spread of Communist influence has
been checked, the danger of war has receded and the position of the free world has become much stronger.
Neither description, of course, is correct - and little service is done to the cause of healthy foreign policy debates
by continued exaggerations of this sort.
Criticism, where justified, is, as I said, desirable; and the task of criticizing our nation's current conduct of
foreign policy falls, of course, to the opposition party - today the Democratic Party. I hope and pray that my
fellow Democrats will not look upon the Republican strategy of 1952, however successful, as a guide for re-
winning control of the Government in 1956. For, although in this and other areas Democratic administrations
have also been guilty of irresponsibility, I feel that the 1952 Republican campaign provides us with our best and
most recent example of the irresponsible approach to foreign policy during a political campaign. I trust that the
Democratic Party will not speak as intemperately of Suez and Indo China as the Republicans did of Korea - that
we will neither make a deceptively meaningless promise to "go there" or seek, but such slogans as "win or get
out," to appeal at the same time to those desiring more aggressiveness and those desiring less. I trust that we will
not in order to win their votes exploit the hopes and miseries of millions of Americans looking in vain for the
"liberation" of their iron curtain relatives. And I trust that we shall make no assertions concerning the use of our
military forces, such as those made regarding use of the Seventh Fleet in the Formosan Straits, that confuse the
issues, alarm our Allies and endanger our own security.
On the contrary, I have high hopes that 1956 will offer the voters a far saner, a far sounder discussion of foreign
policy issues than 1952. After all, as the result of the change in administrations both parties should now be able to
concentrate on current policies instead of berating and distorting the distant past. By any fair standard, Yalta,
the loss of China and our entry into Korea, for example, should not be campaign issues today; and neither should
the Republican isolationism of 1940, or the old battle of Asia-first versus Europe-first. Let us all agree that
neither party is a "war party"; and that neither party's errors in the conduct of foreign affairs - and both have
made plenty of them - were motivated by sinister designs or by a softness toward Communism. Let us also agree,
for example, that the Republicans do not deserve the blame for the instability of French Governments; and
neither do they deserve the credit for Stalin's death or the hydrogen stalemate and basic changes in Soviet foreign
policy that followed that death as a matter of course. The sooner we clear out all such nonsensical charges and
claims by both sides, the sooner we can get to the real issues But assuming we do discuss the real issues, let us
approach them with hard reason and accurate statements. Let us avoid, on both sides, the use of emotionally
loaded but meaningless terms like appeasement or co-existence. Let us avoid the use of slogans and catch-words
that promise everything while promising nothing. And let us, above all, admit that the problems we face are
difficult problems indeed - difficult to solve, difficult sometimes to ever explain, difficult in the burdens they
require the voters to bear. The temptation to describe some problems in simple black and white terms, and to
offer easy, quick solutions, is a very great temptation indeed - but I am hopeful that neither party will do
anything to obtain the support of the American voter that is in itself unworthy of that support. The pressures are
great to take the seemingly popular way out - with lower taxes, thundering denunciations, and glittering but
irredeemable promises - but courage and constancy are not dead, I know, in either political party.
Enough then of these frantic boasts and foolish words, enough of painless superficial solutions. Words will not
stop wars; intemperate criticism will not bring constructive action; and cruel disillusions at home and bitter
misunderstandings abroad are too high a price to pay for the empty promises of magic solutions. This is no time
to kid ourselves, our people and our allies with press agent platitudes - and I know we won't be kidding our
enemies. Let us instead ask the American people to face up to these hard, ugly questions before disaster, not
afterwards when we have but one choice. And I am confident that the people thus entrusted, will in the long run
reward the courageous and not the cowardly - that they will honor those who faced up to the fact that there are
no easy shortcuts instead of those who glibly obscured the issues with false hopes and promises.
Third and finally, we cannot afford in 1956 to alter unwisely the conduct or course of our foreign policy for
purposes of political campaign strategy. There is, I know, considerable pressure on the present administration to
consider the domestic political situation as a part of the foreign policy decision-making process. Trade barriers
are being demanded by influential economic groups. Increased attention to the problems of their homelands are
being demanded by important nationality groups. And a wide variety of public myths and public prejudices
demand appealing campaign promises and commitments that may be regretted once the battle is over and the
harsh facts of the world struggle are once again considered in the sober light of the post-election dawn.
Let us hope that the administration will not yield to these campaign pressures. Let us hope that neither side will
attempt some dramatic but dubious scheme, such as President Truman's decision - finally revoked - to send Chief
Justice Vinson to Moscow during the course of the 1948 campaign, and General Eisenhower's pledge of four
years ago to go to Korea if he were elected. (Many of you may know, incidentally, that sometime earlier in the
campaign of 1952, Governor Stevenson had quietly turned down a post-election invitation to appear in California
because of his determination to go to Korea if elected - a decision which he refused to announce publicly for fear
that it would be interpreted as a political artifice.)
Perhaps the greatest danger is the pressure for delay. Every four years, the United Nations General Assembly
postpones its Fall meeting until an unusually late date following the American elections, no matter what urgent
matters need prompt attention, a practice that is hardly a tribute to the courage and independence of our foreign
policy spokesmen or to the calm and maturity of our political campaigns, and whatever administration is in
power is likewise confronted with the temptation to delay its own unpopular decisions until after the second
Tuesday in November. In 1952 this was true of our attitude on Korea; in 1954 this affected our role in the
partition of Indo China; and now in 1956, I suspect that the exigencies of the political campaign are causing the
administration to delay making public any cold appraisal of the steps which must be ultimately taken to meet the
Suez crisis.
As long as we back the British and French in Suez, but only so far - as long as we support British policy in
Cyprus but do not vote for it - as long as we proclaim our sympathy to the end of Colonialism but abstain from
voting on specific issues - as long as we are neither members nor non-members of the Bagdad Pact but some kind
of half-member - in short so long as we can continue to play the game both ways and hopefully antagonize no one
- then, the administration feels, we can get through the election. But this kind of indecision, compromise and half-
heartedness, which has characterized Democratic Administrations in election years also, has tragic consequences.
Both parties, too, have been all too willing in the past to make inflammatory statements intended for domestic
policy consumption without regard to the antagonisms they arouse among our puzzled friends abroad.
I think, therefore, that this 1956 election presents a crucial test to the role of public opinion in a democratic
foreign policy. Historians have remarked that the decline of Great Britain's power and glory in world affairs
began when British public opinion first began to exercise influence upon the course of her policies. On the other
hand, there is considerable evidence to support the proposition that American public opinion, with our
traditional sympathies for people seeking their freedom, has wisely prevented American foreign policy on
colonial issues from being associated even more closely with the European Colonial powers.
In short the role of public opinion in the coming election and in the years to follow can be a source for great good
or great evil - a source of weakness or a source of strength. We can fluctuate between hysteria and complacency,
between recklessness and cowardice - or we can contribute the wisdom and support of an enlightened public to
the guidance of a sound and constructive foreign policy.
This year, 1956, is the test. In 1952, as I already mentioned, demagoguery and distortions played too large a role
in the political campaign and too large a role in the decision of the electorate. If this is repeated by either political
party with success in 1956, then we may expect in the future a foreign policy which is not really a foreign policy
at all but one tied essentially to domestic policy considerations.
The conduct of our policies with respect to Israel, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Poland and others will be determined
more by the political potency of nationality groups in this country than by the stricter requirements of our
national interest as a whole. Our policy for China - if indeed we have any policy today - will be determined by
emotional appeals and local pressure groups rather than our long-range objectives for the Far East. Bi-
partisanship, reason and decisiveness will disappear from the foreign-policy making process.
If, on the other hand, our political parties and their leaders demonstrate that they are willing and capable of
debating these solemn issues without resort to half-truth, slogans, and hypocritical promises and appeals - if they
have the courage to state the unpleasant facts of the alternatives facing us - if they refuse to bid for the votes of
pressure groups and the uninformed by means of short-cut promises - then 1956 will indeed be a year of promise
and greatness, a year of hope for the era of peace that lies ahead, and a year of fulfillment for the vision we call
the democratic way of life.
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the Stevenson-
Kefauver Campaign at the Fairmont Hotel in San
Francisco, California, September 21, 1956
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. A single, incomplete draft
of this speech exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F.
Kennedy Library. The text follows this draft closely, with a few minor typographical corrections of spelling and
punctuation. A link to page images of the draft is given at the bottom of this page.

It is a great pleasure for me to be here in San Francisco on behalf of the Stevenson Kefauver ticket and to urge
support of your great Democratic candidates for the Senate and House, and I am particularly delighted to see
again the many San Franciscans who were so kind to me at the Chicago convention. As a matter of fact, I seem to
receive more support in this state and elsewhere from the cities such as San Francisco where I have never spoken
- and you may draw your own conclusions as to why this occurred.
Actually, when I think of that second ballot for the Vice Presidency at Chicago, I am most reminded of the early
California pioneer who was on a wagon train etc.
The emergence of so many Senators as potential candidates for the national ticket should not have been
surprising, however, if we had recalled the somewhat sarcastic prediction made two generations ago by a speaker
of the house, Thomas Reed. Speaker Reed prophesied that the day would come when the people, tired of second
rate presidents, would amend the constitution to require that the President be elected by the Senate from the
membership of the Senate. And this is how he described it: "As the presiding officer completed his tally of votes,
the hushed crowd in the galleries sat with tense excitement awaiting the outcome of the first determination of the
wisest by the wisest. The pallor of the presiding officer's face indicated that something unexpected had happened
and the crowd leaned forward to catch his words as he cried out "Ninety-six Senators had each received one
vote". Never before had the people realized that the Senate of the United States was one great level mass of
wisdom, equal in all of its parts". Actually speaker Reeds' sarcastic fantasy was an exaggeration in 1956 - all
Senators were not candidates for President - some were only candidates for Vice President.
But I have come to California not on behalf of myself but on behalf of the National and State Democratic tickets.
Prior to my arrival here only 3 short days ago, and my decision that Roger Kent and Paul Ziffren schedule me as
they saw fit, I always thought California was a vacation state. I am one of the first vacationers in history to come
from Los Angeles to San Francisco by way of Santa Ana and San Diego. During the past three days, I have made
a dozen or more appearances in at least four cities - that I remember. I have spoken to Democratic groups, to the
Steel Workers Convention, to television audiences, to a Committee on the Arts, and to a World Affairs Council -
and I at first thought that my purpose in coming to this hotel was to address the Republican Associates.
I have enjoyed returning to California, however, for it is here that I briefly attended school and considered
becoming a career newspaperman before I returned to Boston and the more placid life of politics. California, I
am sure, lost a great newspaperman and Massachusetts gained a Senator - but I am not sure which state came off
the better - and I have not dared to ask either one. In any event, you may be sure that my attitude toward your
city is more friendly than that of an earlier Massachusetts Senator, Daniel Webster, who, when asked to support
an appropriation for a railroad to this growing area replied: "Not one damned cent will I give to bring that
______ one inch closer to Boston". No doubt he was fearful that too many Bostonians would come here to stay -
and I find that many of them have. If this weather keeps up, they may even have difficulty getting me to return.
The real test of whether the Republican leopard has changed his spots lies not in the campaign oratory, not in the
platform of platitudes and not in the smile on the face of the candidates - but in the Republican record for the
past four years.
DOMESTIC ISSUES
Consider, for example, the Republican boast of peak prosperity. Prosperity for whom, we should ask. True, the
profits of our largest corporations under the Eisenhower administration have risen some 61% - but factory wages
have risen only 10%; farm prices have declined 18%; and small business profits are down 52%. Twenty-four
states still include within their borders depressed areas of chronic unemployment; and nearly two-thirds of our
workers still lack the protection of the $1 an hour minimum wage. The Republicans insist that their prosperity
has been shared equally by everyone - but that is too much like the rabbit stew served during the great shortages
of World War II ---etc. etc.
To demonstrate their new concern for the working man, the Republicans have been sending Secretary of Labor
Mitchell around to all of the labor conventions, including the steelworkers convention I addressed the other day.
Inasmuch as Secretaries Humphrey and Weeks are simultaneously reassuring their business friends that all is in
good hands, the situation is like the tremendous popularity of a well-known western governor as it was described
to me yesterday. The poor people, it seems, think he is a friend of the poor, and the rich people know that he is
not.
Now I like Jim Mitchell. A lot of Democrats like him. A lot of Labor people like him. And undoubtedly, he likes
Ike. But the question is: Does Ike like Mitchell? When in 1953 Secretary Mitchell told a Labor convention that
one of his first tasks was to shore up the enforcement of our minimum wage laws, President Eisenhower
promptly cut his enforcement budget by 28%. When in 1954, Secretary Mitchell announced his vigorous
opposition to state right-to-work laws, President Eisenhower told his news conference that Mr. Mitchell did not
necessarily reflect administration views on this subject. When in 1955, Secretary Mitchell asked our Senate
Labor Committee to broadly extend the coverage of the minimum wage Laws, particularly to retail workers,
President Eisenhower told another news conference that he had made no recommendations for extension, to
retail workers or anyone else. I can just hear Mr. Nixon sitting in his office as one repudiation after another
comes down from the White House and complaining to his aide: "Somebody up there doesn't like no."
3. A similar case of pledges turning into hedges and those who elected being neglected is, of course, the case of our
nation's farmers. As farm prices, farm income and the farmers share of our food dollars all continue to decline,
while farm mortgage debts increase, we cannot blame our farm friends for believing the story circulating around
Washington - that General Eisenhower asked Secretary Benson how the farmer was doing and Benson replied
that the farmer's income was still "well below par." "Well under par!", said Ike as he hurried off to the golf
course, "excellent, excellent!"
4. Still another tragic story has been the fate of small business under a supposedly business administration. As
small business failures and mergers rise rapidly, and small business' share of our economic gains and our defense
contracts decline steadily, the small businessmen in my State are pointing with nodding heads to the legal opinion
put out by Attorney for the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge on whether visiting Republicans should be given
free passes. That practice, we understand, the attorney said, would be "discriminating in favor of a privileged
class ."
5. The lack of vigorous full-time leadership in the White House has held back the nation in a number of other
fields. The voters are, I believe, sorely disappointed in the President's lack of courage and determination in
meeting the problems of our day. Certainly you must be disappointed here in California, where you once boasted
a Congressman who was one of my heroes of political courage, Congressman John Steven McGroarty. Do you
remember the letter he wrote: "One of the countless drawbacks…. etc. etc.
In surveying the supposed changes in the so-called new Republican Party with respect to domestic issues, you can
see, we find that it is about as much change as going from Los Angeles to San Francisco on a damp and rainy
day…that's the Republican story, from smog to fog - for, although they insist there is an important difference, it
is hardly visible to the naked eye.
Now let us look for a moment to see what changes we can find in the new Republican Party approach to foreign
affairs, to see whether they have substituted responsibility for the shocking irresponsibility on this subject which
characterized their campaign in 1952. I can speak with some objectivity on this subject because I was asked to
address a strictly nonpartisan world affairs group in Los Angeles this noon…and I delivered a strictly
nonpartisan attack on the foreign policies of the Eisenhower administration.
Let me begin by saying in all seriousness that I earnestly hope that the Democratic Party, now that it is the
opposition party, will not imitate the tragically irresponsible campaign on foreign policy issues adopted by the
Republicans in 1952 - despite the success of those methods. Let us avoid exaggeration of our weaknesses,
distortion of the record and oversimplification of the issues. Let us not exploit the miseries and hopes of millions
of Americans who long in vain for the "liberation" of their relatives behind the Iron Curtain. And let us make no
intemperate remarks on Suez or Indo-China similar to the Republicans' remarks on Korea in 1952, which
promised both more aggression and complete withdrawal of our troops at the same time - which endangered our
security and alarmed our allies by falsifying the status of the seventh fleet in the Formosan Straits - and which
shamelessly played on the emotions of the people in General Eisenhower's promise to "go there"…..for what, no
one knew.
This is not to say that we will not have plenty of ammunition and justification to debate foreign policy issues - for
Republican drift, inaction, and vacillation have harmed our interests and principles of collective security in
practically every corner of the world. At least they have learned - after once presenting him with the pistol he
now holds at our head - that what is good for General Nasser is not necessarily good for this country. We will give
credit where credit is due, and find fault only where it is justified. We shall not blame the Republicans for the
instability of French governments or give them credit for the death of Stalin.
One of the many issues which I have felt should play a larger role in this campaign has little or nothing to do with
the worldwide struggle against Communism. For the leadership of the West [break in text ]
I should point out by way of conclusion that one of the chief causes for the barren record of the Eisenhower
administration has been the failure of his fellow Republicans in Congress to support his more enlightened
proposals. Indeed, they have on occasion so heavily opposed him that Mr. Eisenhower was in the position of the
pitcher for the San Francisco Seals who was beaten by a score of twenty to two - and when he was berated by the
manager for his performance, he replied: "How do you expect me to win any games if you fellows won't get me
any runs."
In the coming election, California will play a crucial role - and from what I've seen in three days I am confident
of our Party's prospects in this State. I am confident that you will send a Democratic Senator and a host of
Democratic congressmen to work with Adlai Stevenson in Washington. The Democratic Party faces this decision
of the people with confidence, because we have always placed our confidence in the people. I am sure that we will
not be disappointed on November sixth.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the Annual


Convention Banquet of Young Democrats of North
Carolina in Winston-Salem, NC, October 5, 1956
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One copy of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

…This meeting represents the very heart of the Democratic Party in the years to come. For the future of our
Party is dependent upon its younger members - men and women such as I see here tonight. Perhaps the most
striking contrast between our Party leadership and that of the Republicans - a contrast particularly visible to all
the nation at this year's two national conventions - is the predominance of young leadership in the Democratic
Party and the absence of that leadership on the Republican side. Young men sit in positions of authority on the
Democratic side of the aisle in the Senate - Albert Gore of Tennessee, Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, George
Smathers of Florida, Henry Jackson of Washington, Russell Long of Louisiana, Mike Mansfield of Montana, and
a whole host of others, including, of course, our distinguished Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson and our
distinguished Vice Presidential nominee, Estes Kefauver of Tennessee. And occupying the Governor's chair in
many of our States are more young Democrats - Muskie of Maine, Meyner of New Jersey, Williams of Michigan,
Ribicoff of Connecticut, Freeman of Minnesota, Collins of Florida, Simms of New Mexico, and many others. Our
candidates for the Senate this year share this youthful vigor - Richards in California, Dodd in Connecticut,
Talmadge in Georgia, Church in Idaho, Stingle in Illinois, Wagner in New York, Clark in Pennsylvania, Marland
in West Virginia, and many others.
I give you this long list of names because I think its length is almost as impressive as the high quality of these
whose names I have mentioned. And they, of course, are only a few of those in positions of responsibility on the
Federal and State levels, to say nothing of those occupying other important posts in their States, counties and
local communities. The Democratic Party has been blessed with a wealth of young leadership - a new, bold,
vigorous leadership dedicated to the Party and the people - young men, their minds fertile with new ideas and
fervent with a new spirit. Thus, when Adlai Stevenson talks about a "new America", about the challenges and
opportunities that face this nation in the years ahead, he knows he is speaking for a party which will be well
equipped to meet those challenges and seize those opportunities.
But when, on the other hand, President Eisenhower talks about "the party of the future", we must ask ourselves:
where is it? Where are the "Young Turks" who were to sweep to power with President Eisenhower in 1952?
Where are the young men who were going to reform the party once the Republicans gained control? They are not
in the Cabinet - they are not in the leadership of the Senate - they are not in the leadership of the House - they are
not in the Governors' Mansions. They are all gone - all, that is, save one - the Vice President of the United States.
In short, when Mr. Eisenhower talks about "the party of the future", he is talking about the party of Richard
Nixon. And I believe that the American voters will settle his future on November 6.
Consequently, you can understand why I am a bit skeptical about the constant references to the "new"
Republican Party. It is true that they have a new platform which quietly ignores all of the promises of 1952. And
it is true that they can present on the surface a new unity between the two wings of the Republican Party - the
right-wing and the far-right-wing. But the truth of the matter is that this practically new Republican Party is
very much like the used cars which many of you have inspected after they, too, were advertised as practically new
- they had a little more shine, a little more polish, and maybe some new accessories - but underneath were the
same worn-out, inadequate works.
For the actual record of the Republican Administration and the Republicans in Congress, as contrasted with
their promises in 1952 and their claims in 1956, represents the same Republican pattern of the past - the pattern
that offered no hope, no inspiration, no assistance and no opportunity to the young voters of America. Thus,
although I am thankful that the young men and women of this country - who will hold the political balance of
power during the next decade - are turning to the Democratic Party, I am not surprised. For ours is the party of
youth and vigor, the party that offers real leadership - the kind of leadership young people want - instead of
drifting, part-time leadership. And although our opponents may have in the past cried out "It is time for a
change"! - a clarion call we have not heard from them in recent years - actually it is the Democratic Party that is
the party of change, the party of tomorrow as well as today.
Let us consider, for example, the needs of a young man and his family just starting out in life. He doesn't want a
handout - he doesn't want to be overly-protected - he doesn't want anything more than that to which he is
entitled. All he requires is a chance to get started, a chance to build for himself and his family the niche in our
world that is rightfully theirs. But without the leadership of a youthful vigorous Democratic Party, what would
he find - what does he find today under a Republican Administration?
…When he seeks employment, he find that nearly two-thirds of the jobs in this country do not even have the bare
protection of a dollar minimum wage; and that if he is laid-off, as so many young people without seniority are in
the fluctuations of our economy, he finds that there are no nationwide standards of unemployment compensation
which will keep him from becoming a relief case until he can find work again.
…If he wants to buy his own farm, he finds that in the past four years the amount of credit available from the
Farmer's Home Administration has been steadily declining while the interest rates have been raised to a point he
cannot afford.
…If he wants to start his own business, and small businesses are the life-line of your State and mine, he finds it is
now almost impossible to get a loan from the Small Business Administration with all of its inadequate funds,
higher interest rates and excessive red tape requirements. He finds that his chances of getting a defense contract
are almost negligible under and administration where 68% of all such contracts go to the 100 largest
corporations. And with no legislation to prevent price discrimination and economic cannablism on the part of the
big firms, he soon finds that his independent business, too, must be gobbled up in the increasing trend toward
corporate mergers.
…He finds, both as a small business man, and as a family man, that the only tax relief granted in recent years has
been to those who need it the least.
…He finds that he must send his children to overcrowded schools and send his wife to an overcrowded hospital;
and he is forced, in addition, to support his aged parents because, with the cost of living at a peak, they are
unable to stretch their inadequate social security benefits.
Finally, young men and women - perhaps more than any others in our society - are concerned about the present
drift of our foreign policy. John Foster Dulles may lead us to the brink of war, but it is the young men and
women of the country who are catapulted into the middle of it. Many are concerned about the vacillations of the
present Administration and the Republicans in Congress on the issues of foreign aid and collective security - and
these are young men who know that battles not fought at Inchon or Saigon are likely to be fought in Winston
Salem or Woonsocket. Many of those who fought in Korea were resentful of Republican distortion and
exploitation of that issue in 1952; and many of those who might have to fight in the Middle East are distressed by
Republican confusion and the deterioration of our position in 1956.
I am encouraged, moreover, by the refusal of young men and women today to be deceived by the Republican
boast of world peace - for they realize that it is possible for use in a period of peace to lose the cold war, to
endanger our security - without a shot ever being fired.
The most serious aspect of our drifting foreign policy during the past four years has little or nothing to do
directly with the continued growth of Communist military might. The security and leadership of the United
States and her allies, and in fact the maintenance of peace itself, are currently threatened most seriously in three
Middle Eastern-Mediterranean areas - Suez, Cyprus and French North Africa. In not a one is our interest
threatened by Communist armies. Instead, these conflicts are an outgrowth of the revolution which we have
virtually ignored while they were concentrating on the Communist revolution - and I am referring to the Asian-
African revolution of nationalism, the revolt against colonialism, the determination of people to control their
national destinies.
The great failure of this Administration to comprehend the nature of this revolution, and its potentialities for
good and evil, has reaped a bitter harvest in the Middle East today, just as it did in Indo-China two years ago,
and just as it may in some other area of Asia or Africa in the near future. We have permitted our own attitude on
colonial issues to be tied too blindly and too closely to the policies of our Western allies. We have permitted
millions of key uncommitted people - people who hold in their hands the balance of power in the world during
the next ten years - to believe this nation has abandoned its proud traditions of self-determination and
independence. And we have permitted the Soviet Union - the most ruthless colonial power on earth - to falsely
pretend to be the leader of the struggle against colonialism. Now, in Suez, in Algeria, in every troubled and tense
area in the world, extremists and communists are seeking to exploit for their own selfish and dangerous ends this
powerful, surging spirit of freedom and independence - a spirit which can rightfully be a force for the free world
if this nation will give it encouragement instead of neglect.
This is only one of many issues where the nation and the world cry out for a return to firm, decisive leadership in
Washington. Fortunately, we have a man equal to the times - with the courage and the vigor and the vision equal
to the task. Adlai Stevenson, in my opinion, is uniquely qualified to pierce through the turmoil that surrounds us
abroad and lead this nation safely through its present crises at home and abroad.
Adlai Stevenson, and the young men and women who are supporting him and running for office with him, truly
represent a new America. And so it is that in 1956 young men and women in every state of the union will turn in
tremendous numbers to the Democratic Party, the party that recognizes their needs and represents their future -
not the party of stand pat and status quo, but the party of progress for all the people.
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the Junior
Chamber of Commerce Dinner in Richmond, Virginia,
October 15, 1956
This is a redaction of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of this speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A lilnk to page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

My mission here today is to present the case for the Democratic Party. I am the advocate - you are the jury - and
your verdict will be rendered on the sixth of November. The political advocate, like the trial lawyer, necessarily
operates under certain limitations. He presents the case for his client as persuasively as he can, in what we all
hope will be a factual and truthful manner. But he does not present the case for his opponent nor point out to the
jury the weaknesses in his own client's cause. Consequently, a political campaign does not always furnish the best
foundation for a wise verdict at the polls. The oratory is too often exaggerated; the promises are too often
meaningless; and the appeal to emotions and personalities too often confuses the substantive issues. I would ask
you to judge the Democratic Party therefore not on its promises for the future but on its record of the past - not
only on the personalities of its current leaders but on the realities of its past leadership.
Many political analyists have written in recent times that 1956 presents a race between a party and a man -
between the solid strength of the Democratic Party and the immense personal popularity of President
Eisenhower. But it seems to me that, however this may describe the motivations of the electorate, this is not, or
should not be, the actual choice facing the country. For one man, however popular and however powerful, cannot
control his party in the Congress, or, as we have seen, even in his own administration - and this will be
particularly true during his last term in office. We must therefore compare party against party, not party against
man. And I am confident that once that comparison is made upon the basis of the past record, the people will
again turn to the leadership of the Democratic Party.
But before we examine more closely the record of the past, let us consider one pertinent aspect of the future - the
Republican claim that they are the party of the future. For the question is: who in the future is going to lead that
party? In contrast with the Republican Convention in San Francisco, the Democratic Convention showed to the
Nation dozens of young and vigorous Senators, Governors, Congressmen and others in position of leadership.
When Adlai Stevenson talks about the New America, he can point to the many able young leaders of the
Democratic Party - including those here with me tonight - who will be able to build that New America, to meet its
challenges and seize its opportunities.
But when, on the other hand, President Eisenhower talks about "the party of the future", we must ask ourselves:
where is it? Where are the "Young Turks" who were to sweep to power with President Eisenhower in 1952?
Where are the young men who were going to reform the party once the Republicans gained control? They are not
in the Cabinet - they are not in the leadership of the Senate - they are not in the leadership of the House - they are
not in the Governors' Manions. Who is left to lead the party of the future? Certainly not poor, old, brainwashed
Harold Stassen. No, they are all gone - all, that is, save one - the Vice President of the United States. In short,
when Mr. Eisenhower talks about "the party of the future", he is talking about the party of Richard Nixon. And
I cannot believe that the majority of American voters would want to entrust their future to Mr. Nixon.
The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is today emerging under a new leadership, with new vision and new
ideals. In a sense, the Democratic Convention at Chicago represented a contest for supremacy within the party
between these new forces, led by Adlai Stevenson, and the older ways of the party symbolized by former
President Truman. The decision of the Convention by an overwhelming margin was in favor of Mr. Stevenson
and his philosophy - a philosophy of moderation that did not yield to irresponsibility on either the left or the right
- a philosophy of candid and conscientious courage, that did not believe in a campaign of vilification or
oversimplification. This, I believe, is the philosophy of the future - and by its decision at Chicago, the Democratic
Party resolved to become the party of the future - a role for which it is richly endowed with leaders, programs
and enthusiasm.
The two issues of this campaign, if we think for a moment in terms of Republican slogans, are Peace and
Prosperity. I would ask you in judging these issues to look beneath the labels and to examine the record.
First, with respect to Prosperity, let us ask: Prosperity for whom? Where is the prosperity for our farmers who
have seen their prices and income go steadily down as their debts go steadily up? Where is the prosperity for our
small businessmen who have seen their profits decline while business failures jumped? Where is the prosperity
for our working men and women whose average earnings have increased less than 1/6th the increase of big
business profits? Where is the prosperity for the consumer who sees prices at an all time high, his installment
debt increasing and his personal savings declining? What kind of prosperity is it that sends children to
overcrowded schools, that sends the sick and disabled to overcrowded hospitals and that maintains pockets of
chronic unemployment in at least 20 states?
Permit me to mention in particular this problem of small business. Since Inauguration Day 1953, the profits of
our largest corporations have increased 61 per cent. But small business profits have declined 52 per cent,
business failures have increased, and new business starts have declined. In Virginia, for example, the rate of
business failures which had been steadily declining during the last three years of Democratic Administration
increased by 9 per cent during the first three years of Republican rule.
Little or nothing has been done by the Republican Administration to meet these problems. Little or nothing has
been done to stop the growth of monopolies, with mergers at their highest point in history. Little or nothing has
been done to give more defense contracts to small businessmen, with 68 per cent of all contracts going to the 100
largest firms. Little or nothing has been done to replace the credit opportunities taken away from independent
businessmen by the Republican tight money policies. For government loans from the Small Business
Administration having been shockingly few while the interest rate has been shockingly raised.
We Democrats refuse to agree with the Republican official who said: "Let's face it. Big business is going to get
bigger and small business is going to get smaller and there is nothing we can do about it." We think we can do
something about it. We can give small business an agency that will really represent them and really help them -
help them get working capital and long-term credit - help them get a fairer share of government contracts - and
help them in other ways to survive a world of economic giants. We can tighten up and enforce our anti-monopoly
and restrictive trade legislation. And we can revise our corporate tax laws to give small businessmen the relief
they deserve. Small business has been the neglected stepchild of the Republican Administration, and we
Democrats propose to bring it back into the family.
Secondly, what about the question of Peace? Many have said in recent times, including the President at his last
press conference, that the outcome of the campaign would be determined by domestic or pocketbook issues,
rather than foreign policy. There are several reasons for this. In the first place, some say there are no major
differences between the Republican and Democratic Parties on this matter. It is true, and fortunately true, that
the dominant majorities in each party are in general agreement on the long-range goals of American foreign
policy. Republicans and Democrats alike do agree that we want world peace, prosperity and justice, not war,
power or glory. We do agree that the principle of collective security has replaced the outmoded concept of
isolationism. But where we differ, and sometimes differ sharply, is on the manner, methods and the tactics of
implementing those goals and principles - in our approach to the problems of collective security, international
trade, foreign aid, the UN and her affiliates, our defense budget and so on.
Still another obstacle to the proper consideration of foreign policy as a campaign issue is the traditional
argument that politics should stop at the water's edge and all Americans should support their nation's actions
abroad. Thus it is said, foreign policy issues should be ruled out of the campaign. It seems to me that the
Democrats were more emphatic about this four years ago, when they were in office, than they are today - and the
Republicans, who exploited the issue of Korea to dangerous extremes in 1952, now take just the reverse position.
Moreover, this tradition of bi-partisan support abroad was never intended, in my opinion, to prevent healthy
discussion at home. True, care must be taken to avoid bitter political splits that will make subsequent bi-partisan
support impossible - party policies must be so shaped as to prevent extreme fluctuations with each change of
administration - and responsible candidates must of course refrain from undermining by their headlines any
delicate and difficult negotiations being conducted abroad. But to eliminate all such discussions from the
campaign, as was suggested earlier in the year, would be, in my opinion, the height of folly.
Yet let me make it clear that I would prefer no foreign policy discussion at all to a campaign characterized by
partisan distortion, exaggeration or oversimplification. Despite the obvious invalidity of the boasts contained in
the 1956 Republican platform - that in the past four years the spread of Communist influence has been checked,
the danger of war has receded and the position of the free world has become much stronger - the level of foreign
policy debate will be primarily determined by the Democratic Party as the party of opposition. I hope and pray
that my fellow Democrats will not look upon the Republican strategy of 1952, however successful, as a guide for
re-winning control of the Government in 1956. I trust that the Democratic Party will not speak as intemperately
of Suez and Indo China as the Republicans did of Korea - that we will neither make a deceptively meaningless
promise to "go there" or seek, with such slogans as "win or get out", to appeal at the same time to those desiring
more aggressiveness and those desiring less. I trust that we will not, in order to win their votes, exploit the hopes
and miseries of millions of Americans looking in vain for the "liberation" of their iron curtain relatives. And I
trust that we shall make no assertions concerning the use of our military forces, such as those made regarding use
of the Seventh Fleet in the Formosan Straits, that confuse the issues, alarm our Allies and endanger our own
security.
On the contrary, I have high hopes that 1956 will offer the voters a far saner, a far sounder discussion of foreign
policy issues than 1952. By any fair standard, Yalta, the loss of China and our entry into Korea, for example,
should not be campaign issues today; and neither should the Republican isolationism of 1940, or the old battle of
Asia-first versus Europe-first. Let us all agree that neither party is a "war party"; and that neither party's errors
in the conduct of foreign affairs were motivated by sinister designs or by a softness toward Communism. Let us
also agree, for example, that the Republicans do not deserve the blame for the instability of French
Governments; and neither do they deserve the credit for Stalin's death or the hydrogen stalemate and basic
changes in Soviet foreign policy that followed that death as a matter of course. The sooner we clear out all such
nonsensical charges and claims by both sides, the sooner we can get to the real issues.
The Democrats, and particularly our standard-bearer Adlai Stevenson, are determined to discuss the real issues,
and to approach them with hard reason and accurate statements. We want to avoid, on both sides, the use of
emotionally loaded but meaningless terms like appeasement or co-existence. We want to avoid the use of slogans
and catch-words that promise everything while promising nothing. And we admit that the problems we face are
difficult problems indeed - difficult to solve, difficult sometimes to even explain, difficult in the burdens they
require the voters to bear.
We heard enough in 1952 of frantic boasts and foolish words, enough painless superficial solutions. Words, we
know, will not stop wars; intemperate criticism will not bring constructive action; and cruel disillusions at home
and bitter misunderstandings abroad are too high a price to pay for the empty promises of magic solutions.
And that is why I am not impressed by the continued Republican talk about peace. For a peace without security,
without preparation for the future, is no peace at all. And the last four years have made it abundantly clear that
we could lose the cold war and imperil our security without a shot being fired.
For there are two pathways to peace - one of weakness and one of strength. The Republican Administration, and
the Republican Party traditionally have followed the pathway of weakness - weakness in our defensive strength,
so that our enemies know we are unwilling and unable to fight local "brushfire" wars; weakness in our
diplomatic position, so that the Soviets can take advantage of us, particularly in an election year, weakness in our
Western alliances, corroded by our vacillations on foreign aid and by the continuous threats and misstatements
of our wandering Secretary of State, and finally a deplorable moral weakness, caused by our failure to speak up
clearly on the great moral issues of the day such as colonialism, equality of nations and disarmament. Indecision,
compromise and halfheartedness characterize too many of our actions. We back the British and French in Suez,
but only so far - we support British policy in Cyprus but do not vote for it - we proclaim our sympathy to the end
of Colonialism but abstain from voting on specific issues - we are neither members nor non-members of the
Bagdad Pact but some kind of half-member - in short we try to play the game both ways and hopefully
antagonize no one. That is one kind of peace.
The other pathway to peace is the pathway of strength - and this is the pathway which we Democrats have
followed in the past and will follow in the future. We followed that pathway when we resisted Republican cuts in
the Air Force that set back our air buildup by at least two years. We followed it when we resisted Republican cuts
in the Army that left us, according to General Ridgeway, unable to meet our military obligations. We believe in
peace through strength, not weakness - the strength of our allies, strength of our leadership, the strength of our
ideas and of our bargaining position abroad.
Perhaps most important of all, in the field of foreign policy, we believe in the strength of moral leadership. It is
here that I believe our nation and world desperately need the ability and the courage and the compassion of that
uniquely qualified statesman, Adlai E. Stevenson.
For the major crises facing us abroad today are not simply matters of anti-communism. The security and
leadership of the United States and her allies, and in fact the maintenance of peace itself, are currently threatened
most seriously in three Middle Eastern-Mediterranean areas - Suez, Cyprus and North Africa. In not a single one
of these conflicts is the Communist cold war directly involved. In not a one is our interest threatened by
Communist armies. Instead, these conflicts are an outgrowth of the revolution which we have virtually ignored
while they were concentrating on the Communist revolution - and I am referring to the Asian-American
revolution of nationalism, the revolt against colonialism, the determination of people to control their national
destinies.
The great failure of this Administration to comprehend the nature of this revolution, and its potentialities for
good and evil, has reaped a bitter harvest in the Middle East today, just as it did in Indo-China two years ago,
and just as it may in some other area of Asia or Africa in the near future. We have permitted our own attitude on
colonial issues to be tied too blindly and too closely to the policies of our Western allies. We have permitted
millions of key uncommitted people - people who hold in their hands the balance of power in the world during
the next ten years - to believe this nation has abandoned its proud traditions of self-determination and
independence. And we have permitted the Soviet Union - the most ruthless colonial power on earth - to falsely
pretend to be the leader of the struggle against colonialism. Now, in Suez, in Algeria, in every troubled and tense
area in the world, extremists and communists are seeking to exploit for their own selfish and dangerous ends this
powerful, surging spirit of freedom and independence - a spirit which can rightfully be a force for the free world
if the nation will give it encouragement instead of neglect.
This is only one of many foreign policy issues where the nation and the world cry out for a return to firm,
decisive leadership in Washington - and they will find that leadership in a Democratic Congress and a
Democratic President.
I do not pretend to say that the future will always be rosy, even under a Democratic Administration. There will
be crises, there will be problems. But the Democratic Party has the enthusiasm and the determination and the
new ideas necessary to meet those problems. We can build the schools and the hospitals and the homes and the
highways that our nation needs. We can wage unrelentless war against slums and poverty and illiteracy and
illness and economic insecurity. We can build, through strength and justice and moral leadership, a lasting peace.
And we can go forward to the New America of which Governor Stevenson speaks, never satisfied with things as
they are, daring always to try the new, daring nobly and doing greatly. "For unto whomsoever much is given, of
him shall much be required." It is in this spirit that I present to you tonight the case for the Democratic Party.
And it is in this spirit that we ask for your confidence in November.

Remarks given at the Springfield Rotary Club,


Springfield, Massachusetts, October 19, 1956
This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to the page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

We are - as I am sure you are all painfully aware - in the midst of our national biennial stock-taking season - that
period when the "in's" "point with pride" to the same record and conditions that the "out's" "view with alarm."
I would like to deviate somewhat from this customary fare of our election season and discuss with you this
afternoon - in a non-partisan fashion - the progress that we have made in Washington in our efforts to restore the
New England economy to a healthy condition; and the problems yet to be resolved, and progress still to be made,
in this area.
Fundamental, I think you will agree, to the recognition and treatment of the economic ills of New England has
been the formation of the first New England Senators Conference. Since the first formal meeting of the 12
Senators from our region, called by Senator Saltonstall and myself early in 1954, the members of our delegation
have exchanged information, opinions and viewpoints, without regard to party affiliation, on issues of common
interest to the six States of New England. We are not a voting bloc, although there have been many matters of
particular concern to our region upon which we have taken joint action. One example was our successful efforts
in behalf of the Yankee Atomic Electric Company's application for a license to construct a reactor here in
Western Massachusetts. Another was our letter to and meeting with the Director of the Office of Defense
Mobilization to protest any Governmental action restricting the importation of fuel oil so necessary for our
industries and for the heating of our homes. The experience of our first three years has convinced us of the
usefulness to New England of these periodic meetings; and they enable each of us to better discharge his
responsibilities to the citizens of his State, and meet the problems of particular interest to our region. Permit me
to mention ten of these problems briefly.
(1) The problem of migratory industry - Perhaps the most serious problem besetting New England in the recent
past has been the migration of industry to the South and West. An excellent job has been done by many of our
local Industrial Development Commissions, established through the efforts of local Governmental units, and by
the intensive drive of many of our private citizens concerned about the economic plight of their communities.
They have done a laudable job; but action on the Federal level was also necessary. I am glad to report that we in
the National Government also have a list of achievements in this field worthy of note.
As a member of the Senate Labor Committee, I opposed the amendments to the Taft-Hartley Act which would
have encouraged additional States to adopt the badly-named "Right to Work" laws, the prime inducement for
many runaway shops. Our efforts were successful and the amendments were sent back to the Committee, never
to be heard from again. We successfully urged greater funds for enforcing the minimum wage laws and a policy
of granting minimum wage learner permits only in proper and legitimate instances - two factors which are
important in eliminating "unfair" competition from other sections of the country. I might digress here a minute
to note that although the strains of "Dixie" arouse different reactions in me than they did before that long Friday
afternoon last August in Chicago, my attitude towards competition between regions of the United States for
industry remains the same - namely, the natural advantages each region has to offer can and should be exploited
to the fullest possible extent; but "unfair practices" should not be permitted as inducements for runaway
industry. In the first classification, that of legitimate advantages, I place such items as a bountiful water supply,
good climate, a competent and adaptable labor force, and nearness to markets. Unfair practices include
violations of minimum wage laws, the use of municipal tax-free bonds to build factories, and the maintenance of
varying minimum wage levels in different parts of the country for work done on Government contracts. It is not
difficult to distinguish between the two and I shall continue to oppose those in the "unfair" group.
(2) The problem of labor surplus areas - It is disturbing to me - as I am sure it is to you - to realize that in this
general period of prosperity there are islands of economic distress. Although significant steps have been taken to
correct this situation, and although the problem is not so acute as it was a few years ago, there are still over
62,000 unemployed in the State of Massachusetts, and Lawrence and Lowell remain on the Government's list of
labor surplus areas. We have developed some highly satisfactory devices for guarding the economy of the nation
as a whole and for taking preventive and remedial action when danger signals in that economy are apparent. To
those communities which are in economic trouble on a local scale, the problem is just as real. Many - as I have
indicated earlier - have been able to assist themselves; others need immediate help. I regret that the House of
Representatives did not agree to the Senate-approved bill introduced by five of my colleagues and myself which
would have provided a program to meet this need. This nation's credit and the technical knowledge of our
Government agencies should be extended to those industries in distressed areas desiring to modernize and
expand their operations, thereby bringing employment to their communities and reversing the downward spiral
of industrial activity.
(3) The problem of power - Atomic energy - the most threatening and at the same time the most promising
natural resource the world possesses - holds one of the most important keys to New England's economic future.
We know we are at a great competitive disadvantage with our Southern and Western competitors insofar as
electrical energy is concerned - the same power that costs $8.28 in Springfield and $9.53 in Boston, costs $5.00 in
Chattanooga, Tennessee, and $3.20 in Tacoma, Washington. However, the prospect of cheap power for our
region from atomic energy is a tantalizing goal which more and more seems capable of attainment. I was
gratified when the Congress accepted my amendment to the Atomic Energy Act and gave preference to areas
with high power costs in the location of reactors, for surely atomic power will be competitive with conventional
power here in Massachusetts long before it will be in other areas where hydroelectric power is more abundant.
Similarly, there was encouragement in the successful application of the Yankee Atomic Power Company for a
license to construct a reactor. The City of Holyoke has also had encouragement and support in its efforts to
participate in the atomic reactor development program. Its application is still pending. The earlier and more
extensive our participation in this hopeful field, the sooner the benefits of atomic power will aid our area.
In addition to the hope afforded by atomic energy, there is the possibility that some power from the new St.
Lawrence power project can be made available to Western Massachusetts. We are a considerable distance from
the generating site, but the Federal Power Commission is considering the application of Massachusetts for a
portion of that power. The feasibility of harnessing the power in the great tides at Passamaquoddy in Maine also
continues to have our interest and we are presently awaiting the report of the Corps of Engineers on that
question.
(4) The problem of transportation - As our nation's population center has moved westward, New England's
geographical location in a relatively remote corner of the United States has made the problem of transportation a
crucial one, particularly to a manufacturing area like southern New England which, by and large, brings in raw
materials, processes them, and then ships the finished product to the distant markets of the country. The New
England Senators are very much aware of the importance of national transportation policies to our region, and
we have sought to have those policies re-examined in the hope that the present discrimination against New
England will be eliminated. At present we find that ocean cargo rates are "equalized" so that a European shipper
pays the same ocean rate to ship to a South Atlantic port such as Baltimore that he pays to Boston, even though
the Boston run is hundreds of miles shorter. When, however, his goods are transferred to railroad cars at the
port, he finds it is cheaper, under present rate schedules, to ship from a Southern port to the Midwest than from
Boston. This inequitable "squeeze" will continue to receive our attention until the situation is corrected. The
railroads serving New England ports are presently seeking to establish rates competitive with Southern rail
carriers, a program which has the support of all New England Senators and the numerous shippers of this area. I
have been especially interested in the efforts of railroads serving Boston to secure approval from the Interstate
Commerce Commission to carry iron ore from Labrador to the midwestern steel mills at rates which will attract
that lucrative business to the Port of Boston. I might add that our success in securing increased air service to New
England was heartening, as was the Federal Government's agreement to participate in the rehabilitation of the
Boston Army Pier.
(5) Problems of the fishing industry - High on the list of recent Federal legislation benefiting New England has
been the Kennedy-Saltonstall Fisheries Research Act which has made possible extensive studies in the techniques
of harvesting, processing, distributing, and marketing fish. The first three experimental years were so successful
that during the last session of Congress the program was made permanent. But as helpful as this long-range
program is to the industry, immediate aid is also essential. A ten million dollar emergency loan program was
authorized by the Congress to provide much-needed credit to fishermen so that their vessels and equipment could
be repaired and modernized. At the same time, Congress ordered a reorganization of the Department of Interior
to ensure that the lack of emphasis given the problems of commercial fishermen by the Department in the past
would be remedied. Yet another significant law enacted to aid the fishing industry will provide an educational
program for fishing personnel so that the benefits of increased knowledge of fishing techniques can be translated
into practical results. All in all, the fishing industry has received more attention from Congress in the past three
years than it did in the preceding thirty.
Moreover, the Tariff Commission last week recommended to the President that the tariff on groundfish be
increased to alleviate the "serious injury" suffered by the industry. Indicative of this injury is the fact that the
Boston Fishing Fleet has declined from 110 vessels at the end of 1951 to 80 at the end of 1955. During that same
period the domestic production of groundfish fillets declined from 148 million pounds to 105 million pounds,
while imports increased from 87 million pounds to 128 million pounds. All of us who are concerned about the
plight of the domestic fishing industry are hopeful that the President will accept the latest recommendations of
the Tariff Commission instead of rejecting them as he did in 1954. I am in complete sympathy with the policy of
increasing trade between the United States and the other countries of the free world; and I know that we must do
everything within reason to bolster the economy of our friends. But, in so doing, we must not lose sight of the
difficulties imposed on certain of our domestic industries as a result of these national policies. Every means for
distributing the burden of this program must be employed to ensure that our more depressed and vulnerable
industries do not bear a disproportionate share of that burden.
(6) Problems of the textile industry - The American textile industry - and especially that segment of it located in
New England which produces higher quality textiles - has also been plagued with drastically increasing imports.
But just this month we have achieved an agreement by Japan to curtail her cotton exports; and a decision by the
President - aided by our persistent prodding - will raise the tariff on woolen textile imports from 25 to 45 percent
whenever imports equal 5 percent of the domestic production, in keeping with the reservation written into our
reciprocal trade agreements on woolens. In addition, the Senate this year approved a resolution, backed by the
New England Senators, calling for a complete investigation of the textile situation by the Tariff Commission; and
it is to be hoped that the results of that investigation now proceeding will be further beneficial. Our successful
efforts in connection with the minimum wage and its enforcement, and in effecting higher nation-wide wage
levels on Government textile contracts, have also been helpful to New England.
(7) Problems of agriculture - Our New England farmers have not been immune to the problems experienced by
their counterparts in other sections of the country. In fact, we have frequently found that action aimed at solving
agricultural problems elsewhere has only aggravated our New England situation. The artificial support of basic
crops at a rigid 90 percent parity figure has resulted only in higher feed grain prices for our dairy farmers.
Similarly, any effort to limit the importation of feed grain into this country makes more untenable the position of
New England's farmers, and, accordingly, we have opposed legislation aimed at that goal. Other Massachusetts
farmers face special problems: the cranberry farmers seek to come within the agricultural marketing program;
the cigar tobacco growers need the kind of relief represented by the new soil bank program, and Federal funds to
combat the gypsy moths, so destructive to many farms, were increased with the support of all the New England
Senators.
(8) Problems of small business - Our nation's generally prosperous economy has tended to obscure the problems
peculiar to small business, upon which our area depends. Small business failures and mergers have increased
alarmingly, while at the same time their share of the Government's business has suffered a marked decline. Most
Massachusetts small business men who responded to a letter which I recently addressed to them indicate that the
most needed reform is tax relief. Of course, I have yet to hear that any segment of our American economy has
demanded increased taxes - the unanimity of view on the need for tax decreases is phenomenal. But it does seem
to me that the case for small business tax relief is unusually strong; and there is reason to hope that the Congress
will give favorable consideration to legislation along the lines of that which a number of my colleagues and I
introduced in the last Congress.

(9) The problem of floods - The tragic floods of 1955 created an extra and unexpected strain on our economy.
Many plants which had experienced devastating floods were reluctant to rebuild in the same areas, thereby
risking repeat performances, and understandably so. Our efforts to achieve a comprehensive and effective flood
control program for New England have met with at least initial success. The Congress this year appropriated 25
million dollars as the Federal Government's contribution to flood control projects in our region, a vast increase
over appropriations of earlier years, which averaged around three million dollars. Furthermore, a flood
insurance program on a limited and experimental basis will be undertaken by the Federal Government patterned
after a proposal which I introduced at the beginning of this year. Of course, it is not feasible to eliminate all
floods by control and all losses resulting from floods by insurance. But we can minimize the damage and spread
some of its financial burden over our total economy.
(10) The problem of tax drain - A continuing, difficult and sometimes almost intangible problem is that of the
heavy net tax drain which operates upon our region by virtue of the various Federal programs. No region expects
to get back, in the form of grants, services and projects, all of the funds she sends to Washington - but the nature
of many Federal programs, and the formulae by which their funds are distributed, are particularly injurious to
our area in this regard. The recent highway bill demonstrates this problem - the bill initially recommended by
the Public Works Committee was most unfair, but I am glad to say that the compromise formula ultimately
agreed to by the Congress, as a result of our insistence, treats our region fairly. Our task in Washington is not
only to oppose unnecessary expenditures and wasteful projects, but also to be alert to our own area's needs to
share in planned and existing programs. Much, of course, remains to be done - in the fields of unemployment,
transportation, power, stream pollution, unreasonable competition from imports, industrial dislocation,
distressed areas, and the special problems of small businesses and agriculture. But I believe there has been a
desirable improvement in the attitude of the Federal Government toward New England - and in the attitude of
New England toward the Federal Government. If each will continue to recognize the importance and the proper
role of the other in the solution of these problems, we may look forward to a better, a greater, a newer New
England in the years that lie ahead.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy on New England


Economic Prospects, Massachusetts, October 19, 1956
This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech
exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy
Library. A link to the page images of the speech is given at the bottom of this page.

I would like to talk to you at this time about our own economic situation here at home, in this state and in this
region - about some of the progress we have made and some of the problems we face. I realize that there are still
some in New England who refuse to recognize that a United States Senator, or the Federal Government, has any
responsibility in this area. Certainly it is true that no Federal program could ever solve all the problems of the
New England economy without action on the state and local level - and particularly without assistance from
private organizations, industry and individuals. No bill which you may request Senator Saltonstall or myself to
introduce will ever replace community leadership and community spirit as the essential ingredients for
maintaining or rebuilding our economic prosperity. No set of Federal subsidies or controls can ever replace
responsible attitudes by labor and management, improved educational and scientific achievements and, above all
else, the faith in New England which must be shared and practiced by New Englanders themselves.
However, the proper role of the Federal Government cannot be denied - not in the expenditure of large Federal
grants, in the establishment of new bureaucracies, or in special advantages for our area which are contrary to the
national interest or discriminate against the needs of other areas - but in obtaining attention on a national level to
problems, industries and communities that are essential to the well-being of the entire country. In many ways, as
I have told the Senate on several occasions, the problems of New England are national problems - and we can no
longer attempt to solve those problems on a local level only, pouring our tax funds into the economic development
of other regions without receiving from the Congress fair consideration of our own needs.
It is not my intention today to prophesy doom and depression. I do not share the exaggerated views of those
pessimists who have been talking about the decline of New England for the past thirty years. We are still, in
terms of per capita income and standard of living, one of the more prosperous areas of the country. Our financial
institutions have a higher proportion of assets, our workers a higher take-home pay and our families more
savings accounts, life insurance, telephones and television sets than their counterparts in any similar area on
earth. We have many assets no other region can match - an energetic climate and an intelligent citizenry - world
famous educational institutions and industrial research laboratories - the nation's best record of harmonious
industrial relations - and excellent access to capital investment, skilled manpower, new plant sites and markets.
In addition, we have that all-important factor of unity - the twelve Senators from the New England region meet
regularly to further their joint consideration and action on the common needs of our area; our delegations in the
House of Representatives, and our Governors in their own six-state conference, provide similar cooperation. In
short, New England is not a backward region, an undeveloped area or in the throes of a depression - and we have
every reason to be optimistic and little reason to complain.
But at the same time, if we are to continue to move ahead, if we are to take a realistic inventory of our assets and
liabilities, we must speak very frankly with respect to the real problems which threaten our prosperity, which
have damaged the economic welfare of many of our citizens and which require action on the Federal level. New
England is the oldest regional civilization and economy in the United States - and we must be aware of the ills and
problems of old age. We must prevent the dreaded diseases of economic arteriosclerosis and senescence from
weakening our cities and industries - and we must attack them promptly and effectively whenever and wherever
they occur.
These problems are aggravated by our lack of industrial raw materials - we have no oil, no coal, no huge resource
of water power. Our fuel costs are high - and so are our freight and other transportation costs. What resources
we do have, such as fisheries and forests, are being depleted. Along with all of the advantages of economic
maturity - industrialization, leadership and the other advantages already mentioned - we witness also the
handicaps of old age: the development of markets, industries and the center of population in other parts of the
country - a failure to keep pace with other regions in terms of long-range economic growth, population and per
capita income - and a dependence in too many communities and industries upon the outmoded methods,
machinery and management of the past. The outlook, I repeat, does not call for a gloomy attitude of despair and
helplessness - but it does call for action.
The New England Economy Today
Permit me to translate this general statement of our position into the specific facts that confront us today. Our
great hope in recent years has been the development of new industries attracted to our state - a new
diversification of our economy which it has needed for so many years - a new strength which was gained
regretfully only by the loss of our so-called soft goods (such as textiles and leather) which made pools of
manpower and plants available. These new industries have increased per capita income in Massachusetts, offset
unemployment and maintained a degree of economic stability we could not otherwise have expected. The
dynamic, rapidly growing electronics industry, for example, has been responsible for 20% of the new
manufacturing jobs in this region since 1939 and last year spent over $50 million in Massachusetts alone on new
plants and equipment.
I have never supported the view that Massachusetts should favor new industry over the old - that we should
forget about such old friends as textiles and regard their decline as a blessing. For new industries do not always
employ the same people or move into the same locality. The encouraging statistics they present for the state as a
whole are likely to conceal indivi