The State Of The Union In Troubled Times
Press Release · Monday, February 23, 2009

Washington, DC…The following is a document alert -- part of a program sponsored by the National Archives to notify the media of documents in the National Archives holdings that are relevant to national holidays, anniversaries or current events. This program which is based on original records from the National Archives, its 12 Presidential libraries and 13 regional archives, is designed to offer the media an historical perspective on events that occur periodically and to highlight historical antecedents to current political or diplomatic initiatives.

“For only with complete dedication by us all to the national interest can we bring our country through the troubled years that lie ahead. Our problems are critical. The tide is unfavorable. The news will be worse before it is better. And while hoping and working for the best, we should prepare ourselves now for the worst.”
            –President John F. Kennedy, State of the Union Address, January 30, 1961.

Forty-eight years ago a young, newly-elected and charismatic President stood before a joint session of Congress to give his first address to a nation ready for change. The young John F. Kennedy personified the transition of power to a new generation. He had returned triumphantly to his former colleagues on Capitol Hill. “It is a pleasure to return from whence I came,” he began.

As President Barack Obama prepares for his first address before a joint session of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration features President Kennedy’s 1961 State of the Union Address. Given in troubled times, passages of that speech parallel many of our present challenges.

President Kennedy’s address was delivered, a journalist wrote, “in the most solemn terms.” The President described a country in economic crisis within a dangerous world. He said “the American economy is in trouble