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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

President Kennedy's City on a Hill Speech at the Massachusetts State House

On January 9, 1961, newly elected U.S. President John F. Kennedy gave his farewell speech to the Massachusetts Legislature as he departed for Washington D.C. to be sworn in as the nation's 35th president.

He vowed to carry the characteristics that shaped him in Massachusetts, where "leaders shaped our destiny long before the great Republic was born.  Its principles have guided our footsteps in times of crisis as well as in times of calm.  Its democratic institutions including this historic body have served as beacon lights for other nations as well as our sister states.....

"For what Pericles said to the Athenians has long been true of this commonwealth - 'We do not imitate, for we are a model to others....'

"The enduring qualities of Massachusetts - the common threads woven by the pilgrim and the puritan, the fisherman and the farmer, the Yankee and the immigrant, and will not be and could not be forgotten in this nation's executive mansion.  they are an indelible part of my life, my convictions, my view of the past and my hopes for the future....

"I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arabella 331 years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier. 'We must always consider,' he said. 'That we shall be as a city upon a hill — the eyes of all people are upon us.' Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us.”
Listen to the entire speech from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library archives.

Read more about the 
Kennedy legacy in Massachusetts.

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