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Hubert H. Humphrey Digitization Project

President Kennedy tossing a baseball to begin the 1963 season with Senator Humphrey and Senator Mansfield, April 8, 1963This is the fifth installment of our NHPRC funded project to digitize Hubert H. Humphrey's speech texts. This month we focus on 1961-1963, the Kennedy administration. These three short years witnessed the establishment of the Peace Corps; the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis; increased United States involvement in the communist-controlled portions of Europe, Asia and the Americas; nuclear arms limitations; civil rights activism; increasing mental health awareness; and the assassination of President Kennedy.

On January 20, 1961 John F. Kennedy gave his inaugural presidential address. "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country" he challenged America. Hubert Humphrey described the time in his autobiography:

There was simply a new step, a new cadence, to American life from the minute Kennedy gave his inaugural address. The whole country seemed to have awakened from the dormancy of the Eisenhower years, and the White House and the presidency served as a foundation of inspiration and a source of national revival (The Education of a Public Man, 1976, p. 177).

Humphrey was challenged by the new administration to become majority whip of the Senate and described the next four years as being: "one of the most productive periods of my senatorial life" (p. 179).

Washington: Mrs. FDR's Prospects of Mankind TV Program, March 5, 1961 President Kennedy took Humphrey's advice on many things. On March 5, 1961 President Kennedy officially established the Peace Corps. In this introduction to the WTTG program Prospects of Mankind, Eleanor Roosevelt asked the President to introduce the topic. The President gave credit to Humphrey and others for creating the discussion that got him interested in promoting the program.

Humphrey Work in Senate, July 28When asked to describe his job to a student, Humphrey used his weekly radio address in July of 1963 to tell his Minnesota constituents what kind of Senator he was.

I am not the type of Senator who specializes in a few, particular subjects, and then votes a 'party line' on all other issues. For me the responsibility to understand fully the issues involved applies to every vote and every decision I must make (p. 2).

He described the leadership involved in his position and the opportunity it afforded to create progress through programs that would strengthen America. He cited the Food for Peace program, the Peace Corps and the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency as three examples of progress, all accomplished during the Kennedy administration.

Washington, D.C.: National Conference on World Disarmament and Development (press release), April 11, 1961Kennedy did not always ask Humphrey for advice, however, and that frustrated the Senator. In this speech on April 11, 1961 to the National Conference on World Disarmament and Development in Washington D.C. Humphrey said that "there is a new tone in American foreign policy. The quiet diplomacy of the new Administration is not designed to win a war of words. Its purpose is to attain peace with justice and to extend freedom and social progress throughout the world." President Kennedy, however, had already authorized the Bay of Pigs invasion in February of that year and within a week of Humphrey giving this speech Cuban airfields were bombed by U.S. forces and the beach invasion had begun.

Hubert H. Humphrey and members of the National Association of Social Workers, May 16, 1961On May 16, 1961 Humphrey gave this speech to the National Association of Social Workers in Minneapolis telling them that poverty, illiteracy, disease and hopelessness cause countries to turn to communism, not the strength of leaders like Castro and Khrushchev. In June of 1961, however, Kennedy held a summit meeting with Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna that seemed to prove that the Soviet leader was indeed a more powerful adversary than Kennedy had anticipated. Humphrey later speculated in his autobiography that arrogant miscalculation on Kennedy's part could have contributed to the Cuban missile crisis in October of that year and "wondered why some of us--Eleanor Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, or I, for example--had not been asked for our views of Khrushchev and how he operated, since all of us had spent time with him" (The Education of a Public Man, p. 183).

On the last day of Kennedy's meeting with Khrushchev an NBC radio program was aired. The host and guests speculated on which international topics were being discussed by the two powerful leaders. Speculation centered on the issues of communism in Southeast Asia, East Germany and Berlin, Cuba and Latin America and disarmament.

Chet Huntley Reporting (JFK Report No. 7), NBC TV, June 4Calling Humphrey "long the most articulate American spokesman on disarmament" Chet Huntley questioned him about whether disarmament was "just a long-range dream for humanity" (pp. 24-28). Humphrey replied that it was a necessary dream, but maintained that it would require hard work and painful negotiations and must include international cooperation.

Just two years later in August of 1963, another Washington, D.C.: NBC Television Program on Test Ban, August 11, 12, 1963NBC program was aired on television. Humphrey was able to tell the audience that he was in Moscow the previous Thursday with President Kennedy as representatives from United States, United Kingdom and the Soviet Union signed a treaty banning certain types of nuclear weapons testing. Humphrey quoted the President saying that this treaty was "a first step toward limiting the nuclear arms race" (p. 2).

While Humphrey was promoting disarmament abroad, important issues were also escalating at home. The rising crescendo of the civil rights movement was felt in places like Oxford, Mississippi and Birmingham, Alabama. Kennedy, while reluctant to propose civil rights legislation his first two years in office, was now persuaded to send a bill to Congress by June of 1963. On August 28 over 200,000 people marched on Washington, bringing the importance of civil rights to the Capitol. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I have a dream" speech to a crowd that included Humphrey. As Humphrey recalled that day in his autobiography:

If I had to pick one day in my public life when I was most encouraged that democracy could work, when my spirit soared on the wings of the American dream of social justice for everyone, it was that day.

That day and that event did more to bring the truth of human rights and civil rights to the attention of the entire nation than anything that had happened in all of our history (pp. 201-202).

Washington, D.C.: National Association for Mental Health (excerpts), November 21, 1963It was with great shock that Humphrey learned that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas on November 22, the day after Humphrey had given this speech to the National Association for Mental Health. Humphrey and Kennedy had both worked diligently for new mental health legislation. Both had personal experience in their own families. The night Humphrey had been re-elected to his current Senate term was also the night he and his wife became grandparents for the first time. They learned the next day that their granddaughter was born with Down's syndrome. Kennedy’s younger sister Rosemary had experienced mental disabilities that eventually led to institutionalization. In a horrible coincidence, the man who assassinated the President less than a month after the Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act had passed also lived with mental health issues.

Kennedy Assassination Statement, NBC-TV with Robert McCormack (transcript), November 23 Humphrey was attending a luncheon at the Chilean Embassy with his wife the day the President died. In this NBC interview the next day Humphrey described the moment:

I stood alone in a hallway of the Embassy, and I am not ashamed to say that I just couldn't contain myself, I broke down and sobbed. Because it seemed like a bit of life had gone out of me. And then to try to tell others to come to the table and to tell the guests and the host that we had lost our President was very, very difficult (p. 2).

Less than an hour later Humphrey was in the White House. As he entered the West Wing he began worrying about his friend Lyndon Johnson who was now President. "Strong man that he was, I feared he might be shaken by the trauma of the day, a day designed to smooth over local Texas political problems, a day that had exploded into a national disaster" (The Education of a Public Man, p. 192). It took almost a year without a vice president for the administration to adjust and carry on after the assassination, but by the next November Humphrey and Johnson had both been elected to the highest two offices in the country and the Kennedy agenda continued to be one of their highest priorities.

These speech texts, as well as all of Humphrey's speeches from 1941-1963 are linked to the inventory of his Speech Text Files. More of Humphrey's speeches will be made available each month throughout this project. Look for the year 1964 in February!

National Historical Publications and Records Commission

This project was awarded the support of a $46,000 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) administered by the National Archives.

Learn more about how the NHPRC helps preserve records of enduring national historical value and promotes their public access and interpretation through archival and documentary programs.

New and Updated Finding Aids - December 2012

Name/Abstract File No.
American Ex-Prisoners of War, inc. Department of Minnesota: An Inventory of Its Records 01079
Charters, membership rosters, bookkeeping records, minutes, newsletters, reports, members' reminiscences, scrapbooks, and other records of the Department of Minnesota and of the Red River Chapter of a non-profit veterans service organization that advocated for former prisoners of war and their families.
Governor Sibley, Henry H.: An Inventory of His Gubernatorial Records gov015
Includes accounting records; appointment records; records concerning charges against public officials; letters received; attorney general's opinions; records relating to pardons and reprieves; poll books from Goodhue, LeSueur, McLeod, and Rice counties documenting the election for the first two amendments to the state constitution (April 15, 1858); and accounts of the state's salt lands commission. There is substantial correspondence concerning railroads.
Governor's Residence Council: An Inventory of Its Records gr00629
Records of the Governor's Residence Council, and its predecessors, the House Development Committee (1979-1980) and State Ceremonial House Council (1980-1981). In order to fully carry out all aspects of the renovation and preservation of the Residence, the files also document the years it served as the private home of the Horace Irvine family (1910-1965) and the years when renovation and maintenance were under the direct supervision of each gubernatorial administration (1965-1979).
Historic American Buildings Survey: An Inventory of Its Records Relating to Minnesota Structures 00251
Project files, including photographs, architectural drawings, project reports, microfiche, correspondence, and miscellaneous papers documenting historically significant districts, buildings, bridges, and other structures in Minnesota through the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) programs of the U.S. National Park Service.
Honeywell Inc.: An Inventory of Its Records at the Minnesota Society 00051
Business records, patent files, company-produced newsletters and periodicals, photographs, and sound and visual recordings of a Minneapolis-based multinational company widely known as a manufacturer of thermostats for residential and commercial heating systems, aeronautical devices and controls for military and commercial aircraft, and as a manufacturer of mainframe computers. Includes records of predecessor and subsidiary companies.
Hubert H. Humphrey: An Inventory of His Speech Text Files 00442
Copies of Humphrey's speeches, in varying formats including notes, drafts, speaking texts, printed copies, and transcripts. Also present are excerpts, sample speeches, and incomplete indexes and checklists.
Caroline Marshall: An Inventory of Her Papers Relating to Minnesota Poetry Organizations 01080
Correspondence, grant applications, news clippings, flyers, poet biographies, and broadsides documenting Marshall's involvement in the Women Poets of the Twin Cities, and Minnesota Poetry Outloud and its Smith Park Poetry Series.
Northern Pacific Railway Company. Land Department.: An Inventory of Its Land Examination Books at the Minnesota Historical Society M505
Land surveyor's field notebooks, containing fairly thorough descriptions of the Northern Land surveyor's field notebooks, containing fairly thorough descriptions of the Northern Pacific Railway Company's western lands, primarily in Washington.
Rochester State Hospital: An Inventory of Its Patient Records, Miscellaneous gr00669
Miscellaneous records containing information on individual patients.
Statehood Centennial Commission: An Inventory of Its Pageantry and Drama Consulting Service Files mscc5
Correspondence, interoffice memos, scripts, contracts and agreements, information sheets, and related materials documenting the work of Robert L. Snook, who consulted with county centennial committees on producing and staging historical dramas.
Steele County: Aurora Township An Inventory of Its Birth and Death Records gr00315
Birth, 1900-1914, 1950, 1958, and death, 1900-1952, records.
Timber Commissioners Board: An Inventory of Its Reports of Estimates and Appraisals gr00664
Download IconDigital, microfilm, and original data reported by state land examiners on timber located on state land, for use by the Timber Commissioners Board in determining whether the timber could be sold.
United States. Office of Indian Affairs: An Inventory of Its Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs M175
Selected microfilm reels of letters, reports, and other papers concerning Indian populations, education, health, agriculture, subsistence, warfare, land transactions, annuities, depredations, claims, traders, agency employees and administration, and other aspects of the federal government's relations with Indian tribes under the administration of various agencies and superintendencies. The files selected pertain primarily to the Ojibwe, Dakota, Winnebago, Sauk, and Fox, but also to the Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Crow, Mandan, Ottawa, Pawnee, and other tribes of the upper Midwest and plains area.

New and Updated Catalog Records

Swanson, Carl O. Carl O. Swanson and Family Papers
A passenger contract, correspondence, and miscellaneous related or printed material of Carl O. Swanson, a carpenter from Smaland, Sweden, and his family who settled in Litchfield, Minnesota in 1872.

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