Throwback Thursday: On the Eve of Kennedy’s Election

The Senator spoke to an enormous crowd at the Boston Garden.

John F. Kennedy

Associated Press

Presidential candidates who spend their election nights in Massachusetts haven’t done so well in recent history. (See: Mitt Romney, Kerry Dukakis.) But on November 7, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy was about to have better luck. It was the Monday night before voters elected him president in one of the closest races ever, and Kennedy spoke to a crowd of 22,000 people at the Boston Garden.

Kennedy had finished his campaign with a tour of the country that saw enormous crowds in cities from Los Angeles to New York. He delivered a message of discontent with the status quo, a familiar strategy for any candidate whose party doesn’t currently hold the White House (especially when running against the sitting Vice President—in this case, Richard Nixon.) “In my judgment, in 1960, a candidate for the presidency should be willing to give the truth to the people and the truth is that what we are now doing is not good enough,” he told hundreds of thousands of people in New York City.

The day before his election, Kennedy made a tour of New England before returning to Boston. At Faneuil Hall, he gave a televised speech to make one last bid to voters. In that speech, and in the one he delivered at the Garden rally, Kennedy reminded the country of his Boston origins. At the Garden, he said:

I come here to Boston to this Garden which is located in the 11th Congressional District of the State of Massachusetts, which my grandfather represented 60 years ago, and which I had the honor of representing 14 years ago when I was first elected to the House of Representatives. I have therefore proudly come back to this spot and ask your help tonight to be elected president of the United States.

The next day, voters went to the polls and, well … the rest you know.