Profiles in Courage
Profiles in Courage is a book by John F. Kennedy, describing acts of bravery and integrity by eight American senators from throughout the senates history. Those profiled crossed party lines and/or defied the public opinion of their constituents to do what they felt was right and suffered severe criticism and a loss in popularity because of their actions.
Table of contents
List of Senators Profiled
- John Quincy Adams from Massachusetts, for breaking away from the Federalist Party.
- Daniel Webster also from Massachusetts, for speaking in favor of the Compromise of 1850.
- Thomas Hart Benton from Missouri, for a lifetime of individualism and stubbornness.
- Sam Houston from Texas, for speaking in favor of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.
- Edmund G. Ross from Kansas, for voting against the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, thus saving Johnsons presidency.
- Lucius Lamar from Mississippi, for eulogizing Charles Sumner on the Senate Floor and other efforts to mend ties between the North and South during Reconstruction.
- George Norris from Nebraska, for speaking out against arming U.S. merchant ships during the United States neutral period in World War I.
- Robert A. Taft from Ohio, for criticizing the Nuremberg Trials for trying Nazi war criminals under what Taft considered ex post facto laws.
The Writing of the Book and Its Aftermath
Kennedy himself was a senator from Massachusetts from 1952 until he was elected president in 1960. Kennedy, with help from research assistants and the Library of Congress, wrote the book at his bedside during 1954 and 1955 while on leave from the Senate to recover from surgery to treat his troublesome back.
After its release, the book was widely acclaimed and helped Kennedy gather national recognition. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1957 and remains one of the definitive books written on both political courage and the U.S. Senate.
Despite this, questions have been raised about how much of the book was actually written by Kennedy and how much by his research assistants. In 1957, newspaper columnist Drew Pearson appeared on ABC News and claimed that the book had been ghost written and later named Kennedys research associate Theodore C. Sorensen as the ghost writer. Both Kennedy and Sorensen denied this claim. ABC News, under pressure from Kennedy and his lawyer Clark Clifford retracted the story. Some critics still question Kennedys authorship of the book.
Also By JFK
- Why England Slept (Thesis project)