Monday, March 31, 2014

President –Elect John F. Kennedy addresses the Massachusetts General Court

On November 8th, 1960, Massachusetts’ favorite son, Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was elected to the Presidency.  Elected at the age of  just forty three, he was the youngest man elected to that office.

A highlight of his career, perhaps most importantly for those in Massachusetts was his speech here in the Massachusetts State House, delivered on January 9th, 1961. Kennedy's speech as president-elect was delivered “To a Joint Convention of the Two Houses of the General Court of Massachusetts.”  He spoke here just ten days before his inauguration and the address has come to be known as "The City Upon the Hill" address.

The eloquent speech contains mention of Kennedy’s appreciation of history and of government. It also shines throughout with his love for this state, the state of his birth.   He notes that:

                For forty-three years---- whether I was in London, Washington, the South Pacific or elsewhere this has been my home: and, God willing, wherever I serve, this shall remain my home.
Reading this speech now captures the excitement of the times and the great hope Kennedy’s Massachusetts supporters had for their favorite son. The ending notes the profound future role for the President-elect:
       I ask for your help and your prayers, as I embark on this new and solemn journey.      
The speech is House Bill No. 2660  of 1961 located in the State Library. The text is scanned and available here.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has a recording of the speech.

Please visit the State Library to find a large collection of materials about John F. Kennedy  and the Kennedy family.   We are located in Room 341 of the State House.  Please view our website at

Pamela W. Schofield
Legislative Reference Librarian
State Library of Massachusetts