John F. Kennedy’s Time in Montgomery County

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John F. Kennedy’s Time in Montgomery County

It’s spring of 1960 and the democratic candidates are campaigning for the presidential election. Most candidates are putting a focus on Maryland — a state that doesn’t gain much attention in today’s elections — but John F. Kennedy planned to make the most of his time in Maryland.

Kennedy was determined to win Maryland and “went wooing voters in Maryland,” according to the Washington Post in an article titled “Kennedy Loves Maryland in the Spring.” During Kennedy’s tour of Maryland, he not only traveled to Wheaton Plaza, but all over Montgomery County. The Washington Post, in its May 9, 1960 issue, listed the Democratic candidates’ itinerary for the course of the next few days.

Being an important state to win for the democratic presidential nomination, Kennedy spent ample time traveling around Maryland and its counties. In Montgomery County, Kennedy started his day in Silver Spring, traveled to Bethesda to visit the Bethesda Woman’s Club, and made sure to visit the Rockville County Courthouse. His last stops that day in Montgomery County were Wheaton Plaza Shopping Center and the Indian Spring Country Club. Later, Kennedy held a rally at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Kennedy knew how important it was for him to visit Maryland in order to win the Democratic presidential nomination. He told the Washington Post that great presidents such as Teddy Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Franklin Roosevelt all had to campaign in Maryland. “These men did not neglect Maryland in the spring and Maryland did not forget them in the fall,” he reasoned. And Maryland didn’t disappoint. According to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Kennedy won 70.3% of the votes in the presidential election primary.

Kennedy continued to campaign in Maryland after he won the presidential nomination. During his 1960 campaign, he gave speeches at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring.

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3 Comments on "John F. Kennedy’s Time in Montgomery County"

  1. Petition to have a John F Kennedy statue in Wheaton mall. Any takers?

    • There is already a high school on Randolph Road named after JFK which is located 2.5 miles from “Wheaton Plaza” so that MCPS institution honors the late president more than a statue would at a shopping mall.

  2. Interesting. I grew up in the 1950s in Wheaton & well-remember ant-Catholic and anti-Semitic sentiments. Until SCOTUS intervened and halted corporate, teacher-led public school prayer, the daily recitation of the Protestant version of the Lord’s prayer was the start of each school day. The choice of that prayer was conspicuously intentional and furthered hostility toward religious minorities, including Catholic and Jewish children. Little wonder many Catholic families sent their children to Catholic run private parochial schools, at least until their high school years. I was a White Protestant kid who was sent (walked) fo Sunday School at a nearby fundamentalist Protestant church. Went to vacation bible school there, too – free babysitting during the summer! My parents were clueless as to the theology we were taught (I’m now more of a Unitarian) – the corner church taught us Catholics were pope-worshipping heretics who prayed to Mary instead of Jesus and Jews, having rejected Jesus as Saviour, were destined for eternal God-punishment in the fires of hell. There was debate as to whether Kennedy should be president because he was Catholic. I’m researching this discrimination because I’m disgusted with the objection to the passage of the federal lgbtq Equality Act that insists it threatens religious freedom (ie, it threatens religious bigots who want to discriminate against lgbtq people in the public sphere). My schooling in Montgomery County was all about Protestant beliefs used to discriminate against minorities by weaponizing school prayer. Glad Tom see Kennedy got the majority vote among Maryland Democratic primary voters. I was almost twelve at the time. How did he fare in Montgomery County in the general election? Surely he knew the anti-Catholic bias among Protestants.

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