U.S. Presidents as Orators: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook

By Halford Ryan | Go to book overview

Vito N. Silvestri


John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963)

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

Born May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was reared in a family that fostered physical and intellectual competition among the children. Because they were monetarily secure, Rose and Joe Kennedy, John's parents, encouraged the children to be active in public service in some way. The children lived with their father's expectation that their oldest brother Joe would become President.

In 1936, John Kennedy entered Harvard University. A political science major, he wrote an undergraduate thesis entitled, "Appeasement in Europe," a study of British apathy and lack of military preparedness before World War II. He graduated cum laude from Harvard. He subsequently revised his thesis and had it published as Why England Slept, which won him praise from reviewers and earned a place on the 1940 bestseller list.

During World War II, Kennedy served in the Navy. In 1943, he commanded a torpedo boat, PT-109, which was rammed by a Japanese destroyer in the South Pacific. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroism in rescuing his crew. Honorably discharged in 1945, after hospitalization for malaria and a recurring back injury, Kennedy worked briefly as a reporter for the Hearst newspapers. In 1946, he successfully ran for Congressman from the Massachusetts Eleventh District and went on to serve three terms. He challenged Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., in 1953, and won a seat in the Senate.

Hospitalized in 1954 and 1955 for back operations, Kennedy wrote Profiles in Courage, a compilation of brief biographies of courageous American politi-

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U.S. Presidents as Orators: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • An Introduction to Presidential Oratory ix
  • BIBLIOGRAPHICAL SOURCES xvii
  • George Washington (1732-1799) 3
  • Conclusion 15
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 16
  • John Adams (1735-1826) 18
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 26
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) 28
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 40
  • James Madison (1751-1836) 43
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 52
  • John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) 54
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 63
  • Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) 65
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 75
  • Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) 77
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 89
  • Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) 93
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 107
  • Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) 111
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 132
  • Herbert Clark Hoover (1874-1964) 134
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 144
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) 146
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 164
  • Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) 168
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 187
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) 190
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 204
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963) 210
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 225
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973) 228
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 245
  • Richard Milhous Nixon (1913-1994) 249
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 269
  • Gerald R. Ford (1913- ) 274
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 296
  • Jimmy Carter (1924- ) 299
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 311
  • Ronald Reagan (1911- ) 316
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 337
  • George Herbert Walker Bush (1924- ) 344
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 358
  • Bill Clinton (1946- ) 361
  • RHETORICAL RESOURCES 374
  • Index 377
  • About the Editor and Contributors 387
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