October 14, 1960 - Kennedy Library: Anniversary of Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at University of Michigan proposing Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: October 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: October 14, 1960 - Kennedy Library: Anniversary of Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at University of Michigan proposing Peace Corps

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-6-190.balt.east.verizon.net - on Tuesday, October 14, 2003 - 11:12 am: Edit Post

Anniversary of Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at University of Michigan proposing Peace Corps

In the early hours of Oct. 14, 1960, then-Sen. John F. Kennedy made an unprepared campaign speech to a group of students on the steps of the Student Union at the University of Michigan. He asked if they would be willing to devote a few years of their life working in under-developed countries around the world to promote better understanding between the United States, developing countries and their peoples. Within weeks, 1,000 Michigan students had signed a petition calling for the establishment of the Peace Corps program. Less than one year later, on March 1, 1961, the Peace Corps was officially launched. Read the speech at:

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy
University of Michigan

Student Union Building Steps, Ann Arbor, Michigan

October 14, 1960

I want to express my thanks to you, as a graduate of the Michigan of the East, Harvard University.

I come here tonight delighted to have the opportunity to say one or two words about this campaign that is coming into the last three weeks.

I think in many ways it is the most important campaign since 1933, mostly because of the problems which press upon the United States, and the opportunities which will be presented to us in the 1960s. The opportunity must be seized, through the judgment of the President, and the vigor of the executive, and the cooperation of the Congress. Through these I think we can make the greatest possible difference.

How many of you who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world? On your willingness to do that, not merely to serve one year or two years in the service, but on your willingness to contribute part of your life to this country, I think will depend the answer whether a free society can compete. I think it can! And I think Americans are willing to contribute. But the effort must be far greater than we have ever made in the past.

Therefore, I am delighted to come to Michigan, to this University, because unless we have those resources in this school, unless you comprehend the nature of what is being asked of you this country can't possibly move through the next ten years in a period of relative strength.

So I come here tonight to go to bed! But I also come here tonight to ask you to join in the effort. . . .

This University. . . this is the longest short speech I've ever made. . . therefore , I'll finish it! Let me say in conclusion, this University is not maintained by its alumni, or by the state, merely to help its graduates have an economic advantage in the life struggle. There is certainly a greater purpose, and I'm sure you recognize it. Therefore, I do not apologize for asking for your support in this campaign. I come here tonight asking your support for this country over the next decade.

Thank you.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; History; President Kennedy



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.