KENNEDY, John F. (1917-1963). Autograph notes, drafted in connection with the writing of Profiles in Courage, n.d. [ca. 1955?]. 2 pages, closely written in ink on a single leaf of United States Senate imprinted stationery.
THE WRITING OF Profiles in Courage: KENNEDY COLLECTS PASSAGES ON THE ROLE OF POLITICAL PARTIES FROM JAMES MADISON'S FEDERALIST NO. 10
An important document relating to Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize winning book that help bring him national, presidential stature. On the recto, Kennedy jots the title of Arthur N. Holcombe's book, The Middle Classes in American Politics, and transcribes two lengthy quotations. The first, from A. Lawrence Lowell, is: "Neither the motion or the amendment may express the exact opinion of a member, but when voting he must make his choice between them; and in so doing compromise by accepting that which his comes nearest to his views." The second is from Madison's Federalist No. 10: "But the most common and durable source of faction has been the various and unequal distribution of property..." On the verso, Kennedy has carefully jotted down another quote from Madison's essay: "A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government." That passage is followed by seven lines commenting on the essay, presumably from Holcombe's book.
The idea for Profiles first came to Kennedy in 1954. He envisioned a magazine piece about famous political leaders who espoused positions that were contrary to their constituents' wishes but nevertheless in the national interest. But when the Senator's back injury necessitated surgery and a long convalescence, it was expanded into a book with the working title "Courage in the Senate." Published on 1 January 1956 to glowing reviews, the Pulitzer Prize committee gave it the award for best biography in 1957. The award conferred an image of intellectual seriousness upon a young Senator who hitherto had been known mainly as the glamorous son of former Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy. But allegations clouded the work from the outset. The muckraking columnist Drew Pearson told Mike Wallace in a television interview in 1957 that "Jack Kennedy is...the only man in history that I know who won a Pulitzer Prize on a book which was ghostwritten for him." Kennedy's aide Theodore Sorenson was the book's true author, Pearson alleged. Joseph Kennedy exploded with rage and ordered family lawyer Clark Clifford to threaten suit again Pearson and the ABC network unless they retracted the charge. Clifford produced sheaves of hand-written notes like this one to document JFK's authorship. It was enough to scare Clifford's targets into a retraction, but never quieted the controversy. While numerous sheets like this exist in the Kennedy Library, no manuscript draft attributed to Kennedy is known. A carbon typescript of the first 10 chapters, with an outline for Chapter 1, was part of the collection of Mrs. Charles W. Engelhard (sale, Christie's, 26 January 1996, lot 160, $8,000).