John F. Kennedy Commencement Address (1956)
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This is a copy of a commencement address given by Senator John F. Kennedy (who later became the 35th President of the United States). He was the commencement speaker at Springfield College on June 10, 1956. Throughout the eight-page document are handwritten edits. The speech, originally intended for Springfield College, appears to have been rewritten about Northeastern University. In the heading on the first page, all references to Springfield College were crossed out. Many of the edits within the speech replace “college” with “university” and “Springfield” with “Northeastern.” Similarly, a reference to alumni becoming “community leaders, Y secretaries, teachers, counselors, [and] club directors” (all of which are career paths specific to Springfield College alumni) has been crossed out. It is not known where this copy of the speech came from, nor are we able to confirm that this was the actual speech given by JFK. It is rumored that Kennedy accidentally gave a speech written for another school while at Springfield College, but this is unconfirmed. After praising the successes of the college and its alumni, Kennedy urges the graduates to remain in Massachusetts because their state “presents unexcelled opportunities for today’s college graduates” and “needs your efforts as no other state does.” At a time when New England was considered to be in economic decline, Kennedy argues that the ambition of youth can defeat the gloomy defeatism. Toward the end of the speech, he recites Sam Walter Foss’ poem “The Calf-Path” and suggests that it may refer to the streets of Boston. Kennedy ends with an inspirational quote by Daniel Webster. This item was scanned from a copy of the original.
|Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963|
|Springfield College Archives and Special Collections|
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
Foss, Sam Walter, 1858-1911
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