KENNEDY, John Fitzgerald (1917-1963), President. Autograph draft speech with extensive corrections and revisions, n.p., . 10 pages, on rectos only, yellow lined legal paper.
A HANDWRITTEN SPEECH OF YOUNG SENATOR KENNEDY - "GOVERNMENT SHOULD ... ENCOURAGE THE GROWTH OF THE PRIVATE ENTERPRISE SYSTEM"
A characteristically forceful, strongly worded address largely devoted to the future of the Democratic Party. In 1952, riding on the coat-tails of the popular candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republicans seized control of the Senate and the House. Kennedy resisted the tide winning his first Senate term by a convincing margin over the incumbent candidate. In this speech, probably delivered in 1953, Kennedy refers to his party's reversals: "The Democratic Party ...after...decades of control over the affairs of this country received a major set back in 1952." Kennedy argues that the party must be aggressive and forward-looking in order to set things right: "I believe firstly that the Democratic Party must be [a] progressive party. It has no future as a Conservative or states' rights party." Affirming the conservative nature of the Republicans, Kennedy assures his listeners that if the Democrats attempt to adopt a similar role, "we would atrophy and die as did the Whigs in the 1850s."
Drawing a parallel to Woodrow Wilson's New Freedom, Kennedy elucidates the economic views of the party: "for the welfare of our people we believe that the power of government should be used whenever possible to encourage the growth of the private enterprise system upon which our people & our freedom depend." Kennedy addresses the priority that the party should apply to social issues, mentioning specifically labor, the minimum wage and housing. But, he cautions against a government that is too powerful: "power corrupts and whether the power be wielded by big business, by labor or big government [it] should be finally controlled...the Democratic Party must continue to work...for the basic rights of our citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution."
Expressing optimism for the nation's future, Kennedy notes, "there are new problems demanding new solutions. If we face them with vigorous courage - if we talk sense to the American people - I have no doubt that within the not too distant future we shall be called upon again to assume positions of authority & responsibility." He states plainly, "I am a democrat, both by tradition and conviction."
Kennedy's New Frontier, the inspiring title applied to his domestic agenda upon taking the White House in 1960, was based on the vision of a new generation of Americans working to improve the nation. In his inaugural address, he called upon them: "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans ... unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed" (Degregorio, p. 554). His earlier political speeches, such as this example, which encourage Democrats to break with the past and seize the future, sounded many similar themes, and first pointed toward the policies that guided the domestic agenda of his presidency.