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Speech of Senator John F. Kennedy, Fairgrounds, Palmer, Alaska

September 03, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Senator Fisher, Governor, Senator Bartlett, Senator Gruening, Congressman Rivers, ladies and gentlemen, yesterday afternoon I campaigned in Aroostook County, Maine, which is the potato center at the other end of the United States. I am glad to be here in this rich valley on the opposite end of our country, but united with Maine in a common determination to build a stronger State and a stronger United States.

I am the first candidate for the Presidency to actively campaign in the State of Alaska. [Applause.] There are three electoral votes in Alaska. I left Washington, D.C., this morning at 8 o'clock. It is now 11:30 in Washington. I have come, I figure, about 3,000 miles per electoral vote, and if travel 800,000 miles in the next 2 months, we might win this election. But I am prepared to do it. [Applause.]

There is a story that once a traveler from Boston, Mass., used to complain that the train stood still at night in the West, and the reason, of course, was that when they woke up in the morning, they saw the same mountains and the same rivers that they had seen the previous morning. I, too, come from the other end of the American continent. I was born in one of the oldest cities of the United States, the city of Boston, and I find myself tonight in one of the youngest cities of this country. I was raised in one of our smaller States, and I find myself tonight in our biggest State. But I feel at home as an American in the State of Alaska, and for good reason, for Alaska is a new State, and it typifies the kind of opportunity and determination which we need if we are going to restore our country to a position of second to none around the world. [Applause.] For in America, too, nothing stands still at night. This is a changing State here in Alaska an it is a changing country. The pressures and needs have increased, and yet we have stood still. I don't thing that that is the kind of action which in the State of Alaska they want, if this State is going to realize its great potential.

Tomorrow there will be 7,000 more Americans living in this country than lived here today. By the year 2,000 there will be over 300 million people living in the United States, many thousands here in the State of Alaska. But I don't think that we have begun to prepare for that day, either in this State or in this country. I don't think we have looked to the future with the same kind of courage and determination which it took to build this valley.

I come here to Alaska because I believe in a very real sense this is the last frontier, and in a sense it is a new frontier. This State can be one of our great States. It needs vigorous action on the Federal level, and so does our country. [Applause.]

We have substituted in this State a program of no new starts. We have failed to recognize the fact which the Soviet Union has recognized, and that is the necessity of power as the key to their national development. On the Angara River, north of Mongolia, the Russians are building a hydroelectric project which will be twice as large as any project ever built in the United States of America, twice as large as the Grand Coulee and Boulder Dams combined. Their one project will be the largest in the world and they are doing more. The tragic fact of the matter is that if Alaska belonged to the Russians today, Rampart Canyon Dam would be underway.

I don't think it is going to take the Russians to do it. I think we can do it. I think this is the kind of project [applause] which Alaska needs.

I came here in 1958, and I come back again in 1960. I think here in the largest State of the Union we have an unparalleled opportunity to grow, by recognizing our great natural resources, by harnessing our rivers, by building our roads and highways, by improving our fishing resources, by recognizing that this is an opportunity not merely for the people of Alaska, but for the People of the United States.

I come here to Alaska with pride as an American in this State, and with confidence that this State and this country will be, by the year 1970, once again second to none, the capital of the free world, the hope of men who desire a better life for themselves and their children. Alaska represents what can be done. I am delighted to be here today. I am delighted to campaign in this State. I hope the Vice President comes here after me, because here in Alaska it is an education for him and for me. Whoever is President must know this State, must recognize its opportunities. I can assure you that if I am successful, the needs of this State will be recognized, because here is the new frontier.

Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Speech of Senator John F. Kennedy, Fairgrounds, Palmer, Alaska Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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