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Presidential Visit to Independence Hall - John F. Kennedy - July 4, 1962

Posted on Monday, February 15, 2021

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John F. Kennedy visited America's Birthplace to Celebrate the 186th Anniversary of The Declaration of Independence

On July 4, 1962, President John F. Kennedy visited Philadelphia to celebrate the Fourth of July and visit Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

John F. Kennedy speaks in front of Independence Hall - July 4, 1962 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

Like many Presidents before and after him, John F. Kennedy celebrated Independence Day in 1962 in the City of Brotherly Love. Kennedy arrived by helicopter from Washington D.C. and landed directly behind Independence Hall in Independence Square. Kennedy remained in Philadelphia for the entirety of the City's Fourth of July Celebrations before departing for Camp David to celebrate the rest of the holiday with his family.

President Kennedy had come to Philadelphia not just to celebrate the Fourth of July but to push for some of his legislative priorities for the rest of his term. After touring Independence Hall and viewing the Liberty Bell, Kennedy would give an impassioned speech to an enormous crowd in front of Independence Hall.

A view of the large crowd assembled on Independence Mall to see JFK's Speech - July 4, 1962 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

Celebrating both The Declaration of Independence and a Declaration of Interdependence

In the July 5, 1962 edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Kennedy's visit to Philadelphia was the story of the day and discussion of his visit was dominated by the topics that Kennedy discussed in his speech. One significant topic was Kennedy's desire for a renewed American partnership with Europe. Kennedy noted the irony of calling for new ties between American and Europe while celebrating the anniversary of America's separation from England. But Kennedy was also forceful in his assertion that strong ties with Europe had never been more necessary and that America was ready for a "Declaration of Interdependence - that we will be prepared to discuss with a united Europe the ways and means of forming a concrete Atlantic partnership between the new union now emerging in Europe and the old American union founded here 175 years ago."

Kennedy touches the Liberty Bell - July 4, 1962 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

 

Kennedy's visit and his speech regarding partnership with Europe also became national news and reports on his historic visit were printed in newspapers of record across the nation. The Arizona Republic noted Kennedy's focus on Europe while also publishing a reaction from London, England after news of Kennedy's speech had reached Europe. According to the Arizona Republic, the speech was very well received in London, and the London Times hailed Kennedy's proposal of Interdependence between the nations as "an imaginative idea, typical of [Kennedy's] sense of style and history."

The Arizona Republic also noted the impressive size of the crowd gathered in front of Independence Hall to see Kennedy speak. According to the Arizona Republic, over 100,000 people attended the event.

The Boston Globe similarly focused on Kennedy's remarks on the beginnings of what would become the European Union and America's need to work with this new European alliance. The Boston Globe also demonstrated Kennedy's attempts to tie his current goals to the Revolutionary War Era backdrop of Independence by quoting Alexander Hamilton

"Just as Alexander Hamilton urged New Yorkers to "think continentally" Americans today must learn to think intercontinentally."

John F. Kennedy in front of Independence Hall - July 4, 1962 - The Boston Globe

Kennedy's Visit Today

Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, which is now sits across the street in the Liberty Bell Pavilion, are both stops on The Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia!

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