KENNEDY, John F. Autograph letter signed ("Jack") as Senator, to Langdon P. Marvin, Jr., no place, [October 1954]. 4 pages, 8vo (8½ x 5½ in.), on rectos only of yellow paper, punch holes in top margin, in very fine condition. [With:] a newspaper clipping with red pencil marks possibly made by Kennedy.
KENNEDY REACTS TO THE ACCUSATION THAT HE IS AVOIDING THE MCCARTHY HEARINGS: "THE FACTS ARE WRONG"
An intriguing letter in which Kennedy reacts to a newspaper accusation that he has scheduled a hospital visit in order to avoid the Senate vote to censure Joseph McCarthy. As chair of the Committee on Government Operations, McCarthy initiated a determined effort to identify Communists in the United States which quickly escalated into an uncontrolled witch hunt. Kennedy, unable to remain aloof from the extremism known as McCarthyism, frequently took stands against his fellow senator. Most of the public and the press, however, believed that Kennedy was afraid to oppose McCarthy for fear of alienating his constituents (Massachusetts had the highest proportion of McCarthy supporters in the U.S.). When Kennedy faced an inevitable hospitalization due to the wartime injury of his back, he grew concerned that he might miss the upcoming vote to censure McCarthy (see Sorensen, Kennedy, pp. 46-49).
In October, Drew Pearson (1897-1969), a well-known journalist for the Baltimore Sun who wrote the syndicated column Washington Merry-Go-Round, published an insinuation that Kennedy's hospital visit was well-timed: "Sen. Jack Kennedy...will choose the particular moment of the McCarthy debate to be hospitalized because of his huge McCarthy following in Massachusetts...Young Kennedy might have a second political purpose...[to avoid] any campaigning for Foster Furcolo [1911-1995]...who's opposing Saltonstall. John is said to figure a second Democratic senator would diminish his own political stature and perhaps pit popular Salty against him in 1958."
Kennedy was angered by the column. Here, writing to his assistant, he offers conjectures about who gave the information to Pearson: "Foster Furcolo had already sent me the Pearson column. It demonstrates my previous point. My guess is that it came either from Furcolo himself who is close to Pearson - or perhaps from Ed Michaelson." Kennedy denies the allegations: "In any case the facts are wrong. As you know the operation was set in advance of the McCarthy Censure business and 2ndly [sic] it is doubtful if Furcolo could beat Saltonstall in 1954 if I would have to worry about him in '58'." Referring to Pearson's assistant Jack Anderson (1922- ), he affirms: "I will leave it to your judgment - but it demonstrates that Anderson etc. is unfriendly & I am inclined to say to hell with them."
Kennedy's recuperation took much longer than he anticipated and he missed the vote of censure. Theodore Sorensen, Kennedy's other legislative assistant, later wrote: "I knew, had he been present, that he would have voted for censure along with every other Democrat" (Kennedy, p. 49). Together two items. (2)