26 October 2015

Senator John F. Kennedy on Senator John C. Calhoun

John C. Calhoun
For 8 years in the U.S. Senate I have occupied a seat which was once held in the Senate, from Massachusetts, by a distinguished Senator, Senator Daniel Webster. He served in the time before 1850, when the Senate was at its height, and included within its ranks Lewis Cass, Clay, Douglas, Benton, and all the rest. But none of these were considered by Daniel Webster to match the talents and the character of the Senator from South Carolina, John C. Calhoun. They were both born in the same year; Calhoun was a native of Abingdon, S.C. They both went to college in New England, one to Yale and the other to Dartmouth. They had both entered Congress as young men, and they stayed in Congress for 40 years, until they died in 1850, John Calhoun, and in 1852 Senator Daniel Webster. They worked together on foreign relations, the development of the United States, fiscal improvements. Each served in the House as well as in the Senate. Each was Secretary of State. And yet through most of their lives, they also differed on great questions. But to his dying day, Senator Daniel Webster said of John C. Calhoun, "He was much the ablest man I ever knew. He could have demolished Newton, Calvin, or Locke as a logician." He admired above all his powerful mind and his courage.
Sitting as I do in the U.S. Senate, succeeding Senator Webster in succession, I have also admired John C. Calhoun. When I was selected as chairman of a committee to pick five outstanding Senators in the history of this country, John C. Calhoun's name led all the rest, and his painting is now in the Senate reception room. And when I wrote a book about courageous Senators, I mentioned John C. Calhoun. I am not here in South Carolina to make glittering promises or glowing predictions, but to express the hope that in 1960, South Carolina and the Nation will be guided by the spirit of Calhoun and his courage. "I never know what South Carolina thinks of a measure," he once said. "I act to the best of my judgment and according to my conscience. If she approves, well and good. If she does not, and wishes anyone to take my place, I am ready to vacate. We are even."
~ Senator John F. Kennedy, Columbia, South Carolina, 10 October 1960

Unlike today's social justice warriors posing as historians, JFK measured a man against the backdrop of his times rather than the simplistic, agenda-driven standards used by so many modern "historians" and, in his own words, "admired John C. Calhoun." I must wonder, does this make JFK a "neo-Confederate"?

So I posit the question to those "historians" advocating for the renaming of locations, buildings, etc named after Calhoun; or for the removal of monuments honoring Calhoun: Should we also be considering the same removals and renaming for all things related to John F. Kennedy?


cenantua said...

Nice find, Richard.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Robert. How long before protesters pee on JFK's eternal flame for uttering such blasphemies against the church of political correctness? ☺

Brother Juniper said...

Perhaps what bothers me most about those who measure the past by the standards of the present is that the present is a moral and cultural wasteland. Almost any time from the civilized past makes us look bad.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

J: Yes, you're right. "the present is a moral and cultural wasteland." Under statement of the year. ☺