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.

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

Jurisprudence

Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Colorado Is Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Culturebox

Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
The Slate Quiz
Sept. 18 2014 11:44 PM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.