The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Texarkana, AR-TX - (Advance Release Text)
September 13, 1960

I stand at the spot where Jim Bowie and Davey Crockett crossed the Red River into Texas. More than a hundred years ago, they crossed the old frontier and initiated a new burst of growth and development. Today, the Red River Valley stands on what I have called the New Frontier. Like Jim Bowie and Davey Crockett, we Democrats want to cross the frontier and initiate, once again, a new burst of growth and development.

You all know what development can mean. You have seen it in the Red River Valley. You have seen it in irrigation for your farms. You have seen it in low cost loans. But you haven't seen it in the last 8 years.

Instead, you've seen nondevelopment. You've seen Bensonism. You've seen restrictive allotments, and low farm prices, and high mortgage costs. You've seen a Department of Agriculture with no voice for local people. You've seen this area become what is officially classed as a low-income region.

The issue of development versus Bensonism is one of the great issues of this campaign. It sets the two parties apart. It sets the two candidates apart.

The Republicans stand for Benson and Bensonism. Nothing in the Constitution said he had to be Secretary of Agriculture. The House of Representatives, where Mr. Rayburn sits and Mr. Patman and Mr. Harris never said so. The Senate where I sit never said so. But the Republicans kept him there from 1952 on, and you know what happened.

In 1952 it took 864 bushels of corn to buy a half-ton truck. Now it costs 1,864.

In 1952, it took under 10 bales of cotton to buy that same truck. Now it costs nearly 15 bales.

In 1952, it cost 1,500 hundredweight of grain sorghum to buy that truck. Now it costs over 3,000 hundredweight.

The Republicans are proud of that record. They're so proud of it, they won't even let the Democrats move to convert depressed agricultural areas into more prosperous manufacturing regions. Twice the Democratic Congress has passed depressed area bills to help prepare programs for development of hard-pressed regions. Twice the Republicans killed those bills with the veto. One veto message called conversion "incongruous and unnecessary."

We Democrats believe that development is congruous and is necessary. We will put at the top level of the Agriculture Department men familiar with local commodities and their problems. We shall get back on the job of extending soil and water conservation to every acre of farmland. We shall help with the difficult adjustment from the farm to the town. We will stimulate the balanced growth of the at natural economic regions of the country - including the gulf Southwest.

For we Democrats have always looked forward with development, not backward with Bensonism. We looked forward with the New Freedom of Woodrow Wilson. We looked forward with the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt. We looked forward with the Fair Deal of Harry Truman. And today we look forward with the New Frontier.

With your help, we will open the way to development once again. We will flash the green light for development of the Red River Valley. We will release the brake of high interest. And then we shall once more start down the high road to a strong America and a peaceful world.

I am not satisfied to see Khrushchev daring to affront us on our own soil. I am not satisfied to see communism gaining a foothold in the Congo, and in Cuba. I am not satisfied to see our defense line at Key West instead of across the ocean. I am not satisfied with an America that is first maybe, first perhaps, first if. I want an America that is first period.

Reaching that goal will not be easy. I do not run for the Presidency because it is an easy job. I do not come among you offering the unbought ease of life - presents, gifts, favors. I come among you asking hard work for the future. I say, give me your voice, give me your hand, and together we will build a better America.

And though the task ahead is not easy, it is exciting. For our cause is a sacred cause. Our fight is the fight of God-fearing men against godless communism. Our business is the unfinished business - not of Texas alone, not of Arkansas alone, not Louisiana alone, not even of America alone. It is the unfinished business of the world. It is the business of making peace. For the making of peace is the noblest work of God-fearing men. It is the righteous way and righteousness exalteth a nation.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Texarkana, AR-TX - (Advance Release Text)", September 13, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25787.
 
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