Kennedy's Inauguration

On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy distinguished his inaugural ceremony with a poetry reading by fellow New Englander Robert Frost.

Blinded by the sun's glare on the snow-covered Capitol grounds, Frost found himself unable to read the poem he had prepared. Instead, he recited "The Gift Outright" from memory, his words moving many. "Dedication," the poem Frost intended to read at the Kennedy inauguration, is featured in Words and Deeds in American History. "The Gift Outright" can be found in the Imagination section of the Library's American Treasures exhibition.

Kennedy delivered his first and only inaugural address at 12:51 (ET) Friday, January 20, 1961, immediately after taking the presidential oath of office.

The address is 1364 words and took 13 minutes and 59 seconds to deliver, from the first word to the last word, not including applause at the end, making it the fourth-shortest inaugural address ever delivered. It is widely considered to be among the best presidential inauguration speeches in American history.

Such as we were we gave ourselves outright ”

— Robert Frost "The Gift Outright"