John F. Kennedy in Springfield
November 22, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, Texas. While still a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, Kennedy spoke in Springfield for the Democratic Party's annual Jackson Days celebration. At the time of his visit, Kennedy was best known for his best-selling book Profiles in Courage. Published in 1955, it won a Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1957.
Kennedy spoke at the Shrine Mosque on February 23, 1957. An enthusiastic crowd of 2,200 people heard the young senator's speech. Kennedy predicted Democratic victories in 1958 and 1960. Looking to the 1960 presidential race, Kennedy suggested that Missouri Senator Stuart Symington would be the Democratic nominee. Although he said Ohio was "the mother of Presidents," he also declared "Missouri is expecting... I don't see how the Democrats could do any better than right here at this table." Though both men were at the table, few in the room could have predicted the nomination would go to Kennedy instead of Symington.
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