50 Years Ago - Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts Wins Presidential Nomination at Democratic National Convention

For Immediate Release: July 12, 2010
Further information: Rachel Day (617) 514-1662, rachel.day@jfklfoundation.org

Boston, MA – Tuesday, July 13 marks the 50th anniversary of Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts securing his party’s nomination for President of the United States.

Senator Kennedy first announced his bid for the presidency on January 2, 1960. He campaigned tirelessly during the primary season, overcoming religious intolerance and charges that he lacked experience, to win all of the primaries he entered. By the spring of 1960, John F. Kennedy had visited every state in the country.

Kennedy’s efforts paid off on July 13 at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles when he received 806 delegate votes, 45 more than the 761 needed to win the nomination, and nearly double the 409 delegate votes received by his nearest contender, Senator Lyndon Johnson. In his acceptance speech on July 15, John F. Kennedy used the term “New Frontier” to describe the challenges and opportunities of the 1960s, saying:

…we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier – the frontier of the 1960's – a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils – a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats.

…the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises – it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their pride, not to their pocketbook – it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security.

…the New Frontier is here, whether we seek it or not. Beyond that frontier are the uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. It would be easier to shrink back from that frontier, to look to the safe mediocrity of the past, to be lulled by good intentions and high rhetoric – and those who prefer that course should not cast their votes for me, regardless of party.

But I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier.

To mark the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is displaying an original draft of his historic acceptance speech in the Convention Exhibit of the Museum. The draft shows handwritten annotations by Theodore C. Sorensen, Kennedy’s advisor and speechwriter.

[Click here for the full text of the speech.]

[Click here for a YouTube excerpt of the announcement.]

Also on special display will be archival film footage of the 1960 Democratic Convention, excerpted from over 25 hours of gavel to gavel coverage. The footage includes speeches from JFK's rivals including Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, and Adlai Stevenson as well as commentary from Walter Cronkite and other CBS reporters.  These excerpts will be shown at the Kennedy Library on a continuous loop beginning on Thursday, July 15 through Sunday, July 18.  

The Kennedy Presidential Library’s permanent museum exhibits feature video footage of John F. Kennedy's presidential nomination acceptance speech from the 1960 Democratic Convention in its entirety and a portion of the teleprompter scroll that JFK read from as he delivered the speech.

To learn more about John F. Kennedy’s 1960 campaign, the Kennedy Presidential Library invites the public to join JFK on the campaign trail by following @Kennedy1960 on Twitter. Culling from campaign schedules, press releases, diary entries and newspapers in the Kennedy Library Archives, the @Kennedy1960 Twitter page allows internet users around the world to track the day-to-day workings of John F. Kennedy’s road to the White House.

By collaborating with other organizations across the country, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation seeks to remind a new generation of Americans of the ideals that President Kennedy embraced: the responsibilities of citizenship and the importance of public service; a belief in democracy, civil rights, and the pursuit of social justice; the value of civil political debate; and a commitment to internationalism and science to build a better and secure world.

Click here to watch the Kennedy Library’s 50th Anniversary Celebration video.

For additional archival resources, visit the Kennedy Library website’s “Campaign of 1960.”

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and supported, in part, by the Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization. For more information, visit www.jfklibrary.org on the Internet.