John F. Kennedy
Independence Hall Address
speak as President of the United States to the Chief Executives of our
50 States is both an opportunity and an obligation. The necessity for
comity between the National Government and the several States is an
indelible lesson of our long history."
"Our system and our
freedom permit the legislative to be pitted against the executive, the
State against the Federal Government, the city against the countryside,
party against party, interest against interest, all in competition or in
contention one with another. Our task -- your task in the State House
and my task in the White House -- is to weave from all these tangled
threads a fabric of law and progress."
"You and I are the
executors of the testament handed down by those who gathered in this
historic hall 186 years ago today. For they gathered to affix their
names to a document which was, above all else, a document not of
rhetoric but of bold decision."
"It was, it is true, a
document of protest -- but protests had been made before. It set forth
their grievances with eloquence -- but such eloquence had been heard
before. But what distinguished this paper from all the others was the
final irrevocable decision that it took -- to assert the independence of
free States in place of colonies, and to commit to that goal their
lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor."
"The theory of
independence is as old as man himself, and it was not invented in this
hall. But it was in this hall that the theory became a practice; that
the word went out to all, in Thomas Jefferson's phrase, that "the God
who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time."
Text and Audio of Address