Kane County History: 60 Years Ago, Kennedy Campaigned in Geneva

Kane County History: 60 Years Ago, Kennedy Campaigned in Geneva

Close-up of John F. Kennedy riding in his motorcade south on Third Street, Oct. 25,1960.

  • Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. This article is contributed by Terry Emma, director of the Geneva History Museum. All photos are courtesy of the Geneva History Museum.

On Oct. 25, 1960, John F. Kennedy spoke to a large crowd in front of the Kane County Courthouse in Geneva.

At the time, Kennedy was a junior senator in Massachusetts and the Democratic candidate for president of the United States. He was greeted by an estimated crowd of 7,500 on the courthouse steps, a surprisingly large number for an area dominated by Republican voters

Kennedy also spoke in Batavia, St. Charles, Carpentersville, Aurora and Elgin the same day.

Kennedy’s choice of speaking in predominantly Republican areas was a calculated one. He wanted to reach as many people as possible with his words.

“I want to thank all of you who came out today,” he said during his speech on the steps of the Kane County Courthouse in Geneva. “This is a strong area in the state of Illinois. It is not a county that has been known for its Democratic majorities, but I do appreciate your coming out today.”

In total, Kennedy spoke for about five minutes, after which he spent some time shaking hands with many in the crowd before heading back to his car to continue his tour.

Kennedy’s Geneva appearance occurred less than a month before he was voted the 35th president of the United States.

In honor of the 60th anniversary of then-Sen. John F. Kennedy’s visit to Geneva, join the Geneva History Museum virtually to learn about his itinerary on Oct. 25, 1960, his speech, and stories shared by those who were there.

Attendees can also share their stories at the end of the program.

The virtual event takes place from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13. To register for this FREE event, visit https://genevahistorymuseum.org/event/60th-anniversary-of-jfk-speech-in-geneva/

The crowd gathered along Third Street, in front of the Kane County Courthouse, Oct. 25, 1960.

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