In Austin, The "Welcome, JFK!" Banquet That Never Happened

Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
Nov. 20 2013 8:35 AM

In Austin, The "Welcome, JFK!" Banquet That Never Happened

The Vault is Slate's history blog. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @slatevault, and find us on Tumblr. Find out more about what this space is all about here.

If all had gone according to plan, John F. Kennedy and his entourage would have shown up in Austin on the night of November 22, 1963, to attend a $100-a-plate fundraising banquet at Austin’s Municipal Auditorium.

In a recently published book, JFK’s Final Hours in Texas, Julian Reed, press secretary for Texas Governor John Connally, notes that hundreds of Texans had already traveled to Austin in anticipation of that night’s festivities when the bad news came from Dallas. Caterers were preparing food; the chairs were set up in the auditorium; decorations were in place.


These “Local References” notes, which Connally’s office drew up for Kennedy’s use throughout his trip, show the changing flavor of Texas industry and politics in the early 1960s, reflecting the increased presence of the aerospace industry and the incipient transfer of influence from the Democrats to the GOP.

In San Antonio, where he dedicated the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base on November 21, the President might mention the Alamo as part of a long tradition of local involvement in the military. In Ft. Worth, where he spent that night, Kennedy could joke about General Dynamics’ recent successful bid for the contract to produce the F-111 experimental fighter plane. (The language presses the point that Kennedy, despite his later status as a symbol of the 1960s, was no dove.)

The unused local references for the Austin banquet are full of the Texas Longhorns, and especially longtime coach Darrell K. Royal (who, in 20 seasons with Texas, never had a losing record). “I’m extremely proud to see so many Texas Democrats,” the President might have added in Austin, making light of the first signs of the state’s four-decade shift to the GOP. “From what people are trying to say, you’d think there weren’t this many Democrats left in the whole state!” 

The banquet hall in Austin on November 22, with chairs and tables in place.

LBJ Library.

"Local color" notes for JFK, from the office of Julian Read.

The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

"Local color" notes for JFK, from the office of Julian Read.

The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 10:36 AM MacArthur Fellow Alison Bechdel Recounts Telling Her Mother About Her Best-Selling Memoir MacArthur Fellow Alison Bechdel recounts telling her mother about her best-selling memoir.
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Sept. 17 2014 11:06 AM Inside the Exclusive World of Members-Only Clubs
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 11:14 AM How Does That Geometry Problem Make You Feel? Computer tutors that can read students’ emotions.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.