Literature Study GuidesKennedys Inaugural Address

Kennedy's Inaugural Address | Study Guide

John F. Kennedy

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Course Hero. "Kennedy's Inaugural Address Study Guide." December 21, 2018. Accessed May 17, 2021.


Course Hero, "Kennedy's Inaugural Address Study Guide," December 21, 2018, accessed May 17, 2021,



John F. Kennedy

Year Delivered



Primary Source


History, Speech

At a Glance

  • Following World War II the United States and the Soviet Union began a decades-long struggle for dominance, known as the Cold War. Fearing Soviet communism and dictatorship as threats to their way of life, American leaders competed with the Soviet Union to produce a more powerful nuclear weapons arsenal.
  • In the midst of the Cold War, John F. Kennedy (1917–63) was elected president of the United States.
  • On January 20, 1961, more than 20,000 people gathered to see Kennedy's inauguration and hear his address. Approximately one million people lined the presidential parade route.
  • Kennedy's speech was carefully crafted, with input from several trusted advisers, to convey a message of strength, optimism, and the start of a new age in American history.
  • Kennedy urged the American public to accept the challenges of defending liberty against the threat of communist expansion and nuclear war.
  • The address was widely praised for its dignified language and forceful, inspiring message. Almost 75 percent of Americans supported Kennedy after the inaugural address, which was the first to be televised in color.
  • Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963, left many of his objectives unrealized. However, his inaugural address is recognized as one of the greatest speeches in American history and remains a widely known expression of American ideals.


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