The Inauguration

The inauguration of John F. Kennedy as the 35th President was held on Friday, January 20, 1961 at the eastern portico of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. His inaugural address encompassed the major themes of his campaign and would defined his eventual presidency during a time of economic prosperity, emerging social changes, and diplomatic challenges.

He had delegated his aide Ted Sorensen to read all the previous presidential inaugurals, with the additional brief of trying to crack the code that had made Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address such a hit.

One of JFK's most pressing issues addressed during his speech was the deteriorating relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Kennedy came into power at the height of the Cold War, and tensions between the two nations were high. Legitimate fears of large scale nuclear war was resulting in a massive arms race between the two nations to stockpile thousands of bombs in defense against the other country. Kennedy's goals during his speech were to diffuse the friction between the US and USSR, allay the fears of the public over the potential of nuclear war, and redirect focus on helping the impoverished in the world.

Kennedy's inauguration was a first in multiple regards. He was the first and only Catholic president (to date), and, at the age of 43, he was the youngest president in American history.

Who Was Invited?

  • Former presidents/vice-presidents
  • Former cabinet members/other Washington officials
  • Carl Sandburg: a Pulitzer Prize winning poet
  • John Steinbeck
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Mark Rothko: an American painter of Russian descent

Facts About the Speech

Words: 1364
Sentences: 53
Paragraphs: 27
Time: 13.5 minutes
Most popular words:
  1. world (8)
  2. sides (8)
  3. pledge (7)
  4. citizens (5)
  5. power (5)
  6. free (5)
  7. nations (5)
  8. president (4)
  9. fellow (4)
  10. freedom (4)