Lot 11: John F. Kennedy 1955 'Profiles in Courage' Hand-Annotated Speech Manuscript Page
8th November 2017
Annotated typed manuscript page with corrections in Kennedy's hand, 8 x 10.5, from a speech given at the Sigma Delta Chi Journalism Fraternity Dinner in Boston on October 27, 1955; the quotes featured in this speech were later published on pages 9 and 10 of his 1957 Pulitzer Prize–winning book Profiles in Courage. In part: "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 and, as you know, the newspapers. It is impossible to satisfy them all. Ex-Congressman McGroary 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." Kennedy underlines several phrases in pencil and makes a few deletions, in addition to writing the politicians' names, "Ashurst" and "McGroary," in the left margin; the quotes from Ashurt and McGroary are what also appeared in Profiles in Courage. Impressively mounted, matted, and framed with a plaque and portrait to an overall size of 32.5 x 25.5. In fine condition. Originally sold by Charles Hamilton in 1975. Accompanied by an early printing of Profiles in Courage, a photocopied typescript of Kennedy's final draft of this speech, and unsigned documents related to the German publication of the book. This speech was perhaps the first time that Kennedy revealed his thoughts on courage and politics, which would later be immortalized in Profiles in Courage. Manuscripts related to the award-winning book are exceedingly scarce, and with numerous corrections made in Kennedy's hand this is a superb example.
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