Constitution Daily looks back at some of the most noteworthy presidential inauguration speeches. John F. Kennedy’s speech in 1961 was one of the shortest but most powerful addresses made by a president.
Kennedy, along with several presidents. Source: National Archives.
Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon by a narrow margin and became America’s youngest elected president. He developed his speech with writer Ted Sorenson and asked family friend John Kenneth Galbraith to contribute. It includes several oft-repeated passages.
Highlights from the 1961 inaugural address
The inauguration was almost postponed because of snow on the previous evening. Robert Frost read a poem before the speech, and among the political dignitaries at the speech were former presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, and future presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.
Quote: “So, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.