6 December 2013
KENNEDY, John F. (1917-1963), President. A collection of 70 pages of autograph notes, questions and comments, written by JFK during his Presidential campaign while suffering from laryngitis, n.d. [ca. Spring 1960]. Together 70 folio pages, from a yellow legal pad, written in ball point and felt marker pens.
"I AM EXHAUSTED - MY VOICE ABOUT TO GO COMPLETELY." AN ANXIOUS, SOMETIMES SALTY JFK COMMUNICATES WITH HIS AIDES IN WRITING DURING A PRIMARY CAMPAIGN BOUT OF LARYNGITIS
It's one of the great occupational hazards of the political campaigner: the daily speaking grind, the ebullient shouts over the roar of the crowd, all conspire to wear down the vocal chords. It happened to JFK during the West Virginia primary, and here he shuts down his voice to recuperate. But his mind is churning away, nervously contemplating his chances for victory against his main Democratic rivals Hubert Humphrey, Stuart Symington and Lyndon B. Johnson: "Bobby was chin down...because the anti-Johnson group was really pouring it on us. Therefore, it was an extremely difficult day--because all our best supporters were the most hostile"..."We just finished a poll - 50-50."
At times his comments are philosophical: "How important is the theme of the Democratic Party--Wilson, FDR, Truman tradition." At other times griping and caustic: "I am sick of reading"... "That is a shitty plan" ... "There's no sense giving a speech at a college. My voice can't take it." ... There's a reference to his eventual GOP opponent: "They must be keeping Dick. I think Shannon's article in the Post made them think that?" And another to their respective wives: "Pat Nixon is away - Jackie's home." A recurring theme is the matter of Kennedy's Catholicism. West Virginia was 95 percent Protestant, and many local ministers urged their flock to vote against him: "Religion -- In case Ministers beat the crap out of me." ... "I am going to say 'Catholics in America & Baptists in Spain.'" The horse-race with Humphrey remains uppermost in his mind: "If H. H. loses Tues. in D.C. we will win." ... "The debate will be everything." ... "We are 62 - 38 in South Charleston. If we could carry Kanawa we would win." ... "Ted: We have to spend some time in Kanawa County..." "What are you guessing tonight? It will be a long night." Kennedy took West Virginia by a landslide - 61- 39 percent over Humphrey.
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