Lot 94: Historic original press release signed in blue ballpoint, seven pages, 8.5 x 11, July 4, 1960. Kennedy's response to objections to his presidential candidacy raised by former president and fellow Democrat Harry S. Truman. In part: "Last Saturday, one of our most dedicated and courageous Presidents gave the nation his views on the forthcoming Democratic National Convention...Mr. Truman suggested that I step aside as a Presidential candidate in 1960. In response, let me say: I do not intend to step aside at anyone's request. I was the only candidate to risk my chances in all the primaries-the only one to visit every state. I have encountered and survived every kind of opposition-and I do not intend to withdraw my name now, on the eve of the Convention...I hope that Mr. Truman will attend the convention-and should I be the nominee, I hope he will support me in the fall...The heart of Mr. Truman's objection, it seems, is his question as to whether I am ready for the country, or the country is ready for me, in terms of maturity and experience. Let me say this, as objectively as I can: I did not undertake lightly to seek the Presidency. It is not a prize or a normal object of ambition. It is the greatest office in the world. And I came to the conclusion that I could best serve the United States in that office after 18 years in the service of our nation-first as a Naval Officer in World War II-and for the past fourteen years as a member of the Congress...If we are to establish a test for the Presidency whereby fourteen years in major elective office is insufficient experience, then all but three of the ten possibilities mentioned by Mr. Truman must be ruled out-all but a handful of our Presidents since the very founding of the Nation should have been ruled out-and every President elevated to that office in the 20th Century should have been ruled out, including the three great Democratic Presidents: Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman himself...To exclude from position of trust and command all those below the age of 44 would have kept Jefferson from writing the Declaration of Independence, Washington from commanding the Continental Army, Madison from Fathering the Constitution, Hamilton from serving as Secretary of the Treasurer, Clay from being elected Speaker of the House, and Christopher Columbus from even discovering America. But I do not believe the American people are willing to impose any such test. For this is still a young country, founded by young men, and still young in heart, youthful in spirit, and blessed with new young leaders...The strength and health and vigor of these young men is equally needed in the White House. For, during my lifetime alone, four out of our seven President have suffered major health setbacks that impaired, at least temporarily, their exercise of executive leadership...It is true, of course, that almost all of the major world leaders today-on both sides of the Iron Curtain-are men past the age of 65. It is true that the world today is largely in the hands of men whose education was completed before the whole course of international events was altered by two World Wars. But who is to say how successful they have been in improving the fate of the world? And who is to replace these men as the passage of time removes from the scene those born in the 19th century? The world is changing. The old ways will not do. The balance of power is shifting-there are new and more terrible weapons-new and uncertain nations-new pressures of population and automation that were never considered before. And in many of these new countries, I have noticed-particularly in Africa and Asia-they are electing young men to leadership-men who are not bound by the traditions of the past-men who are not blinded by the old fears and hates and rivalries-men who can cast off the old slogans and delusions and suspicions. It is time for a new generation of leadership, to cope with new problems and new opportunities. For there is a new world to be won-a world of peace and goodwill, a world of hope and abundance. And I want America to lead the way to that new world. Mr. Truman asks me if I think I am ready. And I am reminded that one hundred years ago, Abraham Lincoln-not yet President, and under fire from the veteran politicians-wrote these words: 'I see the storm coming, and I know that His hand is in it. If He has a place and work for me, I believe that I am ready.' Today I say to you-in all humility-that if the people of the nation select me to be their President, I believe that I am ready." In fine condition, with intersecting folds, and light toning and soiling.
The 1960 Democratic National Convention was to begin a week later and Truman had just come out strongly against a Kennedy candidacy, criticizing his youth, inexperience, and religion. Truman's opinion was also colored by his combative relationship with JFK's father, Joseph P. Kennedy, and his distrust of the Kennedy political machine. Truman asserted that the DNC was 'rigged' in Kennedy's favor, and once quipped, 'It's not the Pope I'm afraid of. It's the pop.' Nevertheless, Truman ultimately came around and campaigned for Kennedy in the general election, just as any dutiful Democrat would; it did help that he despised the alternative, Richard Nixon, even more. The eloquence of JFK's speech alone proves his worthiness of the presidency. This magnificent response to Truman's objections addresses them within the context of the past, present, and future, revealing an unassailable reverence for the office and profound understanding of his own place in history.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs & Artifacts
Friday, 23rd October 2015
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