Inauguration of John F. Kennedy

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Inauguration of John F. Kennedy
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{{John F. Kennedy series}}The inauguration of John F. Kennedy as the 35th President of the United States was held on Friday, January 20, 1961 at the eastern portico of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. The inauguration marked the commencement of John F. Kennedy's only term as President and of Lyndon B. Johnson's only term as Vice President. Kennedy was assassinated {{age in years and days|1961|1|20|1963|11|22}} into this term, and Johnson succeeded to the presidency.Kennedy took office following the November 1960 presidential election, in which he narrowly defeated Richard Nixon, the then–incumbent Vice President. He was the first Catholic to become President, and became the youngest person elected to the office.His inaugural address encompassed the major themes of his campaign and would define his presidency during a time of economic prosperity, emerging social changes, and diplomatic challenges.BOOK, Bragdon, Henry W., History of a Free Nation, 1998, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, New York City, NY, This inauguration was the first in which a poet, Robert Frost, participated in the program.Presidential inaugurations are organized by the Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. For John F. Kennedy's inauguration, this committee was chaired by Senator John Sparkman, and included Senators Carl Hayden and Styles Bridges, and Representatives Sam Rayburn, John William McCormack, and Charles A. Halleck.WEB, List of United States Congress Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (from 1901),weblink, United State Senate, 15 February 2014, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 16 November 2013,

Sinatra inaugural ball

File:John F. Kennedy Inaugural Ball, 20 January 1961.jpg|250px|left|thumb|President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, wearing a gown designed by Ethel Franken of Bergdorf GoodmanBergdorf Goodman}}Frank Sinatra and Peter Lawford organized and hosted a pre-inaugural ball at the D.C. Armory on the eve of Inauguration day, January 19, 1961, considered as one of the biggest parties ever held in Washington, D.C.{{r|purdum201102}}WEB, Doyle, Jack, The Jack Pack, Pt. 2: 1961-2008,,weblink 16 February 2014, 21 August 2011, Sinatra recruited many Hollywood stars who performed and attended, and went as far as convincing Broadway theatres to suspend their shows for the night to accommodate some of their actors attending the gala. With tickets ranging from $100 per person to $10,000 per group, Sinatra hoped to raise $1.7 million (${{Formatprice|{{Inflation|US|1700000|1961|r=2}}}} in today's dollars) for the Democratic Party to eliminate its debt brought on by a hard-fought campaign.{{r|purdum201102}} Many Hollywood stars gave brief speeches or performed acts, rehearsed by Kay Thompson and directed by Roger Edens, and stayed at the Statler-Hilton Hotel where preparations and rehearsals were photographed by Phil Stern. Performances and speeches included Fredric March, Sidney Poitier, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Kelly, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, Bill Dana, Milton Berle, Jimmy Durante, Harry Belafonte, and Sinatra himself.Sammy Davis, Jr., a long-time friend of Sinatra, supporter of the Democratic Party, and member of the Rat Pack, was asked by John F. Kennedy not to attend the gala at the behest of his father Joseph,{{r|purdum201102}} fearing that his interracial marriage to Swedish actress May Britt was too controversial for the time and occasion, much to Sammy's and Sinatra's dismay.{{r|purdum201102}} Davis had already postponed his wedding to Britt until after the election, also at the request of the Kennedy campaign via Sinatra.BOOK, Jacobs, George, Stadiem, William, Mr. S.: The Last Word on Frank Sinatra, New York, HarperCollins, 2003, 0-06-051516-3, Davis eventually switched his support to the Republican Party and Richard Nixon in the early 1970s. Harry Belafonte expressed sadness at the controversy, stating "It was the ambassador, [but] we didn't know that until after. Sammy not being there was a loss."{{r|purdum201102}}At the end of the ball, Kennedy spoke to thank Sinatra on the festivities and his support of the Democratic Party throughout his life and the 1960 campaign, adding "The happy relationship between the arts and politics which has characterized our long history I think reached culmination tonight." Jacqueline retired to the White House before the ball ended at 1:30am (ET), and John went to a second pre-inaugural ball hosted by his father Joseph Kennedy, and would finally return to the White House at around 3:30am.

The inaugural nor'easter

A strong nor'easter fell the day before the inauguration, with temperatures at {{convert|20|F|C}} and snowfall at {{convert|1|-|2|inch|cm}} per hour and a total of {{convert|8|inch|cm}} during the night,WEB, Presidential Inaugural Weather: Worst Traffic Jam - 1961,weblink U.S. National Weather Service, 11 February 2014, causing transportation and logistical problems in Washington and serious concern for the inauguration.NEWS, Jason Samenow, Inauguration Weather: The Case of Kennedy, January 9, 2009, The Washington Post, February 10, 2010,weblink BOOK, Paul J. Kocin and Louis W. Uccellini, Northeast Snowstorms, 400, 2004, American Meteorological Society, 1-878220-64-0, WEB, Andrea Stone, Record Falls With Snow in Washington, DC, February 10, 2010, AOL News, February 10, 2010,weblink yes,weblink" title="">weblink February 12, 2010, On inauguration day, January 20, 1961, the skies began to clear but the snow created chaos in Washington, almost canceling the inaugural parade. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was put in charge of clearing the streets during the evening and morning before the inauguration, and were assisted by more than 1,000 District of Columbia employees and 1,700 Boy Scouts. This task force employed hundreds of dump trucks, front-end loaders, sanders, plows, rotaries, and flamethrowers to clear the route. Over 1,400 cars which had been stranded due to the conditions and lack of fuel had to be removed from the parade route along Pennsylvania Avenue.The snowstorm dropped visibility at Washington National Airport to less than half a mile, preventing former President Herbert Hoover from flying into Washington and attending the inauguration.WEB, National Weather Service Sterling, VA, Presidential Inaugural Weather, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, February 10, 2010,weblink

Inauguration proceedings

(File:President Kennedy inaugural address (color).jpg|350px|thumb|right|View of the extended East Front of the Capitol where the inauguration was held. President Kennedy is in the center delivering his inaugural address, with Vice-President Johnson and official and invited guests sitting behind him.)Before the proceeding to the Capitol in company with outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Kennedy went to a morning Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown.{{r|purdum201102}} Cardinal Richard Cushing gave the invocation at the inaugural which lasted for 12 minutes,WEB,weblink Newdow v. Bush, 391 F. Supp. 2d 95 (D.D.C. 2005), Appendix D: Inaugural Clergy, 2 of Appendix, footnote 26, No. Civ.A.04-2208(JDB), United States District Court, District of Columbia, 17 December 2004, PDF, 2014-02-11, with additional prayers recited by Archbishop Iakovos of the Greek Orthodox Church and Reverend Dr. John Barclay of the Central Christian Church of Austin, Texas, and a blessing offered by Rabbi Nelson Glueck. The invocation and prayers lasted a total of 28 minutes. Marian Anderson sang "The Star-Spangled Banner", and a composition by musical Leonard Bernstein titled "Fanfare for the Inauguration of John F. Kennedy" was played.The oath of office for Vice President was administered by the Speaker of the House of Representatives Sam Rayburn to Lyndon Johnson.WEB, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1961,weblink Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, 2009-01-21, This marked the first time a Speaker administered the oath, which had been given in previous inaugurations by either the President pro tempore of the Senate, the ex-Vice President, or a United States Senator.WEB, Inaugurals of Presidents of the United States: Some Precedents and Notable Events,weblink Library of Congress, citing Roll Call article of 18 January 1961, 15 February 2014, Robert Frost, then 86 years old,NEWS, Wolly, Brian, History & Archaeology: Inaugural Firsts - When was the first inaugural parade? Who had the longest inaugural address? A look at presidential inaugurations through time,weblink 26 January 2013, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 December 2008, WEB, Wirzbicki, Alan, The poem Robert Frost wanted to read at John F. Kennedy's inauguration,weblink, Boston Globe, 11 February 2014, 11 January 2011, recited his poem "The Gift Outright".Tuten, Nancy Lewis; Zubizarreta, John (2001). The Robert Frost Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group, {{ISBN|9780313294648}}NEWS, Associated Press, Robert Frost Dies at 88; Kennedy Leads in Tribute,weblink 11 February 2014, New York Times, 30 January 1963, Kennedy requested Frost to read a poem at the inauguration, suggesting "The Gift Outright",NEWS, Robert Frost Adds Poet's Touch, The New York Times, 21 January 1961, WEB, Poetry and Power: Robert Frost's Inaugural Reading,weblink, 11 February 2014, considered an act of gratitude towards Frost for his help during the campaign. Kennedy would later state that he admired the "courage, the towering skill and daring" of Frost, and adding that "I've never taken the view the world of politics and the world of poetry are so far apart. I think politicians and poets share at least one thing, and that is their greatness depends upon the courage with which they face the challenges of life." American poet William Meredith would say that the request "focused attention on Kennedy as a man of culture, as a man interested in culture."Frost composed a new poem titled Dedication specifically for the ceremony as a preface to the poem Kennedy suggested, to the surprise of Kennedy's friends.WEB, Birney, Alice, Stewart L. Udall Collection: Robert Frost's Dedication,weblink Library of Congress, 11 February 2014, On the morning of the inauguration, Frost asked Stewart Udall, Kennedy's future Secretary of the Interior, to have his handwritten draft type scripted for easier reading, to which Udall obliged.Once at the presidential podium, however, the glare of the sun and snow prevented him from reading his papers.WEB,weblink The Poetry of Robert Frost, May 5, 2010, Library of Congress, When Frost started reading, he stumbled on the first three lines, squinting at his papers in view of the crowd and cameras. Vice-President Johnson tried to assist by using his top hat as a shade, however Frost waved the offer aside, took the hat and jokingly said "I'll help you with that", sparking laughter and applause from the crowd and President Kennedy. Understanding the immediacy of the situation, Frost stated to the microphones that "this [the poem] was to have been a preface to a poem which I do not have to read", and began to recite "The Gift Outright" from memory. This marks the first time a poem was read at a Presidential inauguration, a feature repeated by future Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama at their respective ceremonies.NEWS, Michael E. Ruane, Selection Provides Civil Rights Symmetry,weblink Washington Post, 2008-12-17, 2009-01-15, NEWS, Rosenthal, Harry, Poet Addresses Inaugural Event,weblink 11 February 2014, Washington Post, 20 January 1997, Frost gave the type scripted version of the undelivered "Dedication" poem to Udall after the ceremony, who eventually donated the document to the Library of Congress where it is stored today. The original manuscript version, personally dedicated by Frost, was provided to the President and currently held by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.NEWS, Camia, Catalina, Why poet Frost made a last-minute switch at JFK's inauguration,weblink 11 February 2014, USA Today, 26 September 2010, WEB,weblink Robert Frost's Original Poem for JFK's Inauguration Finds Way to Kennedy Presidential Library, January 8, 2008, John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, JFKPOF-140-045., Kennedy's wife Jacqueline framed this manuscript version, writing on the back of the frame: For Jack. First thing I had framed to be put in your office. First thing to be hung there. Frost officially presented the poem, retitled to For John F. Kennedy His Inauguration and expanded from 42 to 77 lines, to Kennedy in March 1962. The unread poem (published in 1962 as part of Frost's In the Clearing poetry collection) was finally recited at the U.S. Capitol by Chaplain Daniel P. Coughlin during the 50th anniversary celebrations of Kennedy's inauguration.

Oath of office

The oath of office for the President was administered by Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren to Kennedy using a closed family Bible at 12:51 (ET) although he officially became president at the stroke of noon.WEB,weblink John F. Kennedy and Ireland – John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum,, August 30, 2010, New York Times, January 21, 1961, p. 8, col. 1.WEB,weblink White House Diaries, January 8, 2008, John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, NEWS, Kennedy Was in Office Despite Delay in Oath, The New York Times, January 21, 1961, 13, Kennedy did not wear an overcoat when taking the oath of office and delivering the inaugural address, despite the cold conditions of {{convert|22|°F|°C}} with windchill at {{convert|7|°F|°C}} at noon.NEWS,weblink The New York Times, Kennedy's Words, Obama's Challenge, January 19, 2009,

The inaugural address

File:John F. Kennedy Inauguration Speech.ogv|thumb|right|Video of John F. Kennedy being sworn in as thirty-fifth President of the United States, and delivering his inaugural address.]]{{Listen|filename=JFK inaugural address.ogg|title="Inaugural address of John F. Kennedy"|description=Audio of John F. Kennedy giving his inaugural address. (Duration:14 minutes)|format=Ogg}}Immediately after reciting the oath of office, President Kennedy turned to address the crowd gathered at the Capitol. His 1366-wordWEB, Peters, Gerhard,weblink Inaugural Addresses (including length in words) Washington – Trump, The American Presidency Project, University of California, Santa Barbara, October 17, 2018, inaugural address, the first delivered to a televised audience in color, is considered among the best presidential inaugural speeches in American history.WEB, John Fitzgerald, Kennedy, Inaugural Address,weblink American Rhetoric, July 7, 2008, NEWS, Wyatt, Edward, Two Authors Ask About 'Ask Not',weblink 11 February 2014, New York Times, 10 May 2005, WEB, Greatest speeches of the 20th century,weblink The Guardian, 12 February 2014, }}


File:JFKInauguralInscriptionGravesite.jpg|thumb|right|The most famous passage from the inaugural address is etched in stone at Kennedy's gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery, with the Lincoln Memorial and Washington MonumentWashington Monument The speech was crafted by Kennedy and his speech writer Ted Sorensen. Kennedy had Sorensen study President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address as well as other inaugural speeches.WEB,weblink Analyzing the Inaugural Address, January 21, 2011, JFK Library, Kennedy began collecting thoughts and ideas for his inauguration speech in late November 1960. He took suggestions from various friends, aides and counselors, including suggestions from clergymen for biblical quotations. Kennedy then made several drafts using his own thoughts and some of those suggestions.WEB,weblink John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, 1961, January 29, 2008, National Archives and Records Administration, Kennedy included in his speech several suggestions made by Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith and by the former Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson II. Kennedy's line "Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate." is nearly identical to Galbraith's suggestion "We shall never negotiate out of fear. But we shall never fear to negotiate." Stevenson's suggestion "if the free way of life doesn't help the many poor of this world it will never save the few rich." was the basis for Kennedy's line "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."WEB, Analyzing the Rhetoric of JFK's Inaugural Address,weblink Department of Education and Public Programs, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, 8 January 2013,

Main ideas of the speech

As a president coming into power at the height of the Cold War, President Kennedy's duty of maintaining peaceful international relations with representing the United States as a force to be reckoned was daunting, at the very least. It is this overarching goal of his presidential term that dominates his inaugural address. Kennedy highlights the newly discovered dangers of nuclear power coupled with the accelerating arms race, and essentially makes the main point that this focus on pure firepower should be replaced with a focus on maintenance of international relations and helping the impoverished in the world."John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address". Bartleby. Retrieved October 4, 2013.

Rhetorical elements

The main focus of the speech can crudely be boiled down to one theme – the relationship between duty and power."The Timeless Speech: A Close Textual Analysis of John F. Kennedy's Inaugural". Biane. Retrieved October 5, 2013. This is emphasized by Kennedy's strong use of juxtaposition in the first part of the speech. For example, he states in the second passage, "... Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life," a clear calling-out of not only America, but also other nations of power for skewed Cold War priorities. He again employs the strategy in the fifth passage when he says, "United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do," again appealing to the idea of refocusing of international values."Text Analysis, John F. Kennedy, 1961." Cruz. Retrieved October 5, 2013 Again, after exhorting "both sides" to action, he calls on all of "us" "to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle ... against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself,"BOOK, Thurston Clarke, Ask Not: The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech That Changed America, 2010, Penguin, 39,weblink 9781101478059, though the phrase "long twilight struggle" came to be associated with the cold war struggle against communism.BOOK, Thomas Alan Schwartz, Diane B. Kunz, The Diplomacy of the Crucial Decade: American Foreign Relations During the 1960s, Victories and Defeats in the Long Twilight Struggle: The United States and Western Europe in the 1960s, 1994, Columbia University Press, 115,weblink 9780231081771, One of the main components of classical rhetoric, to prepon (the appropriate), is also extremely prevalent in this address."Toward a Sophistic Definition of Rhetoric." Poulakos. Philosophy and Rhetoric 16(1983):35–48. Recognizing the fear and anxiety prevalent in the American people since the start of the Cold War, Kennedy geared his speech to have an optimistic and even idealistic tone as a means of providing comfort. He does this by quickly moving the time of the speech into the future, and invokes repetition of the phrase "Let both sides ..." to allude to how he plans to deal with strained relations while also appealing to the end goal of international unity. He also phrases negative ideas in a manner so as to present them as opportunities – a challenge, appealing to innately American ideals. A great line to emphasize this is in the fourth from last passage, where he states, "In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger," a simple twist of words that challenges the American public rather than frightening them.It was also in his inaugural address that John F. Kennedy spoke his famous words, "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." This use of chiasmus can be seen even as a thesis statement of his speech – a call to action for the public to do what is right for the greater good. (This appears to be an elegant rephrasing of Franklin D. Roosevelt's acceptance speech at the 1936 Democratic National Convention: "To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.") WEB,weblink Acceptance Speech for the Renomination for the Presidency, Philadelphia, Pa.,, 2018-06-04,

Invited guests

Along with official presidential guests and honorees, including former presidents, vice-presidents, cabinet members, and other Washington officials, the Kennedys invited famous men and women of the arts, including Carl Sandburg, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Brendan Behan, Mark Rothko, and fashion icon and future Vogue editor Diana Vreeland.{{r|purdum201102}}Congressman Tip O'Neill sat next to wealthy Boston businessman George Kara:NEWS, Purdum, Todd, From That Day Forth,weblink 2011-01-18, Vanity Fair, February 2011,

Presidents and First ladies

Five first Ladies, Edith Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Truman, Mamie Eisenhower and Jackie Kennedy attended the event, as did future First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, and Betty Ford.Former President Harry S Truman joined Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy on the platform, as did future Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford, making this, retroactively, the largest conclave of the "presidential fraternity" prior to the opening of the Reagan Library in the 1990s.

Parade to the White House

A vast parade along Pennsylvania Avenue followed the inauguration ceremony, bearing the new President from Capitol Plaza to the White House. Upon his arrival, Kennedy mounted a reviewing stand shared with honored guests such as former President Harry Truman and former First Ladies Edith Wilson and Eleanor Roosevelt. Throngs of onlookers and millions of television viewers also watched the procession; it took three hours to pass by. Sixteen thousand members of the US armed forces marched with displays of modern weaponry like the Minuteman missile and the supersonic B-70 bomber. A further sixteen thousand marchers were civilians ranging from federal and state officials to high school bands and Boy Scouts, accompanied by forty floats.NEWS, January 20, 1961, Dazzling Military Might Goes On Parade for New President,weblink The Terre Haute Tribune, Terre Haute, IN, United Press International, UPI,, December 10, 2016, {{Open access}}


Kennedy's inauguration marked many firsts for the United States. Kennedy was the first, and to this date, the only Catholic inaugurated as commander-in-chief.WEB, The Presidents of the United States of America: John F. Kennedy,weblink Frank Freidel and Hugh Sidey, White House Historical Association,, 31 May 2011, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 2 June 2011, At the inauguration, Kennedy, then 43, was the youngest elected president and was replacing the oldest president in American history at that time, Eisenhower.NEWS, Reagan Now Oldest President, The New York Times, May 17, 1981, 28, Reuters, NEWS, Kennedy Sworn in, Asks 'Global Alliance' Against Tyranny, Want, Disease, and War; Republicans and Diplomats Hail Address, W.H., Lawrence, The New York Times, January 21, 1961, 1, WEB, Business Insider, Donald Trump is the oldest president elected in US history,weblink Business Insider, 12 May 2017, The age difference and visual impact of the turnover from Eisenhower's presence to Kennedy's was noticeable at the inauguration.NEWS, Brooks, David, David Brooks (journalist), The Ike Phase,weblink 12 February 2014, The New York Times, 14 March 2011, In addition, Kennedy was the first person born in the 20th century to have been inaugurated as President.NEWS, Crouch, Ian, Robert Frost and J.F.K., Fifty Years Later,weblink 12 February 2014, The New Yorker, 20 January 2011, The claim that Kennedy did not wear a hat to his inauguration, and so single-handedly killed the men's hat industry,NEWS,weblink Who Killed Men's Hats? Think Of A Three Letter Word Beginning With 'I', NPR, Robert Krulwich, 4 May 2012, 16 August 2015, MAGAZINE,weblink How to wear a hat and look good, Esquire, Sam Parker, 19 November 2013, 16 August 2015, NEWS,weblink Hat Trick, Snopes, 27 September 2007, 16 August 2015, is false.NEWS,weblink Inaugural Traditions: Dude, Where's My Top Hat?, ABC News, 19 January 2009, 16 August 2015, Kennedy wore a top hat to the inauguration and to the balls in the evening, removing it only to be sworn in and give his address. He in fact restored the tradition, after Eisenhower broke with it by wearing a homburg instead of a top hat to both of his inaugurations. Johnson, at his inauguration in 1965, was the first President to go completely hatless.

See also




External links

{{John F. Kennedy}}{{US inaugurations}}{{Robert Frost}}

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