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

The Vault
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.

Advertisement

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!” 

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

LBJ Library.

LocalColor1Final
"Local color" notes for JFK, from the office of Julian Read.

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

LocalColor2Final
"Local color" notes for JFK, from the office of Julian Read.

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

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.