Leadership for the 60's Campaign Button

1960 Presidential Election

On November 8, 1960, John F. Kennedy was elected president in one of the closest elections in U.S. history. He was the youngest man ever elected president, the only Catholic, and the first president born in the twentieth century.  Follow the 1960 Campaign from the Democratic National Convention to the election returns in this series of exhibits which include film footage of the debate, campaign material, and a replica of a campaign office.

President John F. Kennedy gives his Inaugural Address.

The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy

"In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility--I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it--and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country."  - President Kennedy's inaugural address, January 20, 1961

Radio and Television

JFK Meets the Press

John F. Kennedy was the first president to conduct live televised press conferences. During the course of his Presidency, an average of 1 every 16 days. The first aired on January 25, 1961, and was viewed by an estimated 65 million people. Portions of the press conferences are presented in the exhibit illustrating the range of domestic and international issues addressed by President Kennedy during his tenure in the White House.  

Gold Purse

White House Corridor: Gifts from Heads of State

Gift-giving between foreign leaders is an important part of international relations. President and Mrs. Kennedy received gifts from 106 different Heads of State from all over the world. View these ceremonial gifts that were presented to the Kennedy White House as symbols of diplomacy.

Launch of the Mercury MR-3 Space Capsule Freedom 7

Lift-off! The U.S. Space Program

In 1961 responding to the Soviet Union’s lead in the exploration of space, President Kennedy challenged the United States to keep up in the "Space Race" and not fall behind the Soviets.  He said: “We have a long way to go in the space race. We started late. But this is the new ocean, and I believe the United States must sail on it and be in a position second to none”.  Kennedy set the goal of landing an American on the Moon before the end of the decade and initiated the programs to make it possible.

KN-C21660 Dinner in honor of the Minister of  State for Cultural Affairs of France,  Andre Malraux.

Ceremonial and State Events

President and Mrs. Kennedy celebrated American history, culture, and achievement on social and diplomatic occasions. They brought an innovative spirit to ceremonial and state events, enhancing the role of the arts in national life, as portrayed in the exhibit here.

Robert F. Kennedy's US Treasury Badge

Robert Kennedy's Attorney General Office

Robert Kennedy’s influence in the Kennedy administration extended well beyond law enforcement. Though different in temperament and outlook, the President came to rely heavily on his brother’s judgment and effectiveness as political adviser, foreign affairs counselor, and most trusted confidant. A display of film footage and personal items provide a glimpse into the Attorney General's office.

Carolina Rocking Chair

The Oval Office

In an exhibit filled with President Kennedy’s furnishings from the Oval Office, watch him delivering his historic report to the nation on civil rights, in which he defined racial discrimination as a “moral issue” for the country.

Watercolor Painting of the White House Treaty Room

First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy

This exhibit highlights Jacqueline Kennedy’s early life, as well as her substantive achievements as First Lady. Her contributions to the field of historic preservation, her advocacy for the arts, and her innovations in White House entertaining are illustrated in this exhibit, which includes an interactive screen focusing on Mrs. Kennedy's work as First Lady, highlighting other items from the collection not currently on display.