KENNEDY, John Fitzgerald (1917-1963), President. Typed early draft of a portion of Why England Slept, with numerous autograph corrections and additions, [Boston, Mass., 1940]. 3½ pages, 4to (10 15/16 x 8½ in.), punch holes in left margin, minor browning, otherwise fine.
A HEAVILY CORRECTED DRAFT OF PART OF KENNEDY'S 'WHY ENGLAND SLEPT'
In the fall of 1936, Jack Kennedy, in deference to his father's wishes, enrolled at Harvard University. The young Kennedy was quite active on the athletic field, but his academic record, however, proved less impressive. The future President could only maintain a C average in his freshman and sophomore years, but by his junior year, however, his work had improved considerably. At that point he took a leave of absence to join his family in England, where his father had been appointed U.S. ambassador. Kennedy was able to travel extensively on the Continent during the eventful years leading up to World War II, and in consultation with his tutor at Harvard, settled upon a senior thesis topic on which he was already well-informed: Britain's lack of preparedness for German aggression.
This heavily corrected early draft of Why England Slept likely comprises part of the introduction and conclusion of Kennedy's senior thesis. It lacks the detail and polish of the published book and is at times awkwardly written. In his introduction, Kennedy lays out the specifics of his argument: "I will also point out England's difficult financial position -- the desire not to interfere with her export trade & the reason for it...I will tie in the foreign policy with the rearmament programme to show that the appeasement programme could be interpreted as a policy of permitting England to develop her programme without becoming totalitarian which she would have if she had gone in for a much heavier budget...I will conclude by saying that the root of the trouble lay in the fact that in a short race a dictatorship will win, it is only in a long race that England could realize on her superior war potential: Munich was the price she paid for making the race long and letting her realize on her programme." Kennedy has crossed out the last portion of the introduction which ended "Let us look at 1936 to see if it is there that the gap begins to widen and let us try to see why." Although the draft indicated that the paper would begin in 1936, the published version includes additional material on the period of British disarmament. On the back of the second page of the introduction, Kennedy has written an outline which appears to correspond to this supplementary section.
Kennedy begins his conclusion by pointing out that "...I am trying to look back on the situation and cast my judgment on the basis of the facts as they were at that year and not on [the] basis of what has since happened." He explains that delays in rearmament in 1935 were partly the result of the pending election and concludes that "the real responsibility...lies in a combination of what Baldwin called the time lag of democracy and the inability of a democratic state to compete with a totalitarian state."
The completed thesis was well-received, earning Jack a cum laude degree, and Kennedy's father suggested it might be published. He enlisted a friend, Arthur Krock, head of the New York Times bureau in Washington, to work with Jack to edit the book. For its title they chose Why England Slept, alluding to Winston Churchill's recent book on the same topic, While England Slept. Although reviews were favorable and the book became a bestseller, some questioned Kennedy's authorship and wondered "whether Krock had actually rewritten or coauthored the book" (Kenney, John F. Kennedy, p. 18).