Chris Matthews Reveals Kennedy’s ‘Ask Not’ Speech Has Roots At The Choate School
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews has put together a new book about President John F. Kennedy that offers a revealing glimpse into how a young Kennedy’s prep school experience helped mold him into one of the country’s most remembered Commanders-in-Chief.
Of particular note in Matthews’ Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero is his evidence that Kennedy’s famous and oft-quoted directive to “ask not what your country can do for you,” but, instead, “ask what you can do for your country” may have its roots in lectures given by the headmaster of Connecticut’s exclusive Choate School during Kennedy’s matriculation in the 1930s.
Reports the Huffington Post:
The origin of the lines was in doubt, but Matthews unearthed two documents that would appear to end the discussion. He found the typed chapel-speech notes of the headmaster, George St. John, in which he quoted a Harvard College dean’s refrain. “As has often been said,” the refrain went, “the youth who loves his Alma Mater will always ask, not ‘what can she do for me?’ but ‘what can I do for her?'”
The other clue was uncovered in a response to a questionnaire about JFK’s time at the school, circulated when Kennedy was president. “I boil every time I read or hear the ‘Ask not … etc.’ exhortation as being original with Jack,” wrote one of his fellow students. “Time and time again we all heard [the headmaster] say that to the whole Choate family.”
Other revelations in the book include the fact that JFK’s younger brother, Bobby, was given the task of keeping their father from meddling in his campaign and that JFK cheated during his televised debate with Nixon by wearing makeup while a sweat-prone Nixon did not and, as such, came off looking nervous and disheveled. Tsk tsk.
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