The Info List - Profiles In Courage

Profiles in Courage
is a 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning volume of short biographies describing acts of bravery and integrity by eight United States Senators. The book profiles senators who defied the opinions of their party and constituents to do what they felt was right and suffered severe criticism and losses in popularity because of their actions. It begins with a quote from Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke
on the courage of the English statesman Charles James Fox, in his 1783 attack upon the tyranny of the East India Company
East India Company
in the House of Commons.[1] The book focuses intensely on mid-19th century antebellum America and the efforts of Senators to delay the Civil War. Profiles was widely celebrated and became a best seller. John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
is credited as the author, although the extent of his contribution has been questioned. In his 2008 autobiography, Kennedy's speechwriter Ted Sorensen
Ted Sorensen
wrote that, while Kennedy provided the theme and supervised its production, Sorensen had written most of the book.


1 History and background 2 Summary of senators profiled 3 Reception 4 Authorship controversy 5 Accuracy 6 In popular culture 7 See also 8 References 9 External links

History and background[edit] Kennedy was elected to the House of Representatives in 1946, 1948, and 1950 for the state of Massachusetts. In 1952 and 1958, he was elected a Senator from Massachusetts, and served in the Senate until resigning after he was elected president in 1960. It was a passage from Herbert Agar's book The Price of Union about an act of courage by an earlier senator from Massachusetts, John Quincy
John Quincy
Adams, that gave Kennedy the idea of writing about senatorial courage. He showed the passage to Sorensen and asked him to see if he could find some more examples. This Sorensen did, and eventually they had enough not just for an article, as Kennedy had originally envisaged, but a book.[2] With help from research assistants and the Library of Congress, Kennedy wrote the book while bedridden during 1954 and 1955, recovering from back surgery. Summary of senators profiled[edit]

John Quincy
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 staying in the Democratic Party despite his opposition to the extension of slavery in the territories. Sam Houston, from Texas, for speaking against the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854, which would have allowed those two states to decide on the slavery question. Houston wanted to uphold the Missouri Compromise. His and Benton's votes against Kansas– Nebraska
did just that. This was his most unpopular vote, and he was defeated when running for re-election. Two years later he'd regained enough popularity to be elected Governor of Texas. However, when the state convened in special session and joined the Confederacy, Sam Houston refused to be inaugurated as governor, holding true to his ideal of preserving the Union. Edmund G. Ross, from Kansas, for voting for acquittal in the Andrew Johnson impeachment trial. As a result of Ross's vote, along with those of six other Republicans, Democrat Johnson's presidency was saved, and the stature of the office was preserved. Lucius Lamar, from Mississippi, for eulogizing Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner
on the Senate floor and other efforts to mend ties between the North and South during Reconstruction, and for his principled opposition to the Bland–Allison Act
Bland–Allison Act
to permit free coinage of silver. Lamar returned to Mississippi
and gave rousing speeches that eventually led to public approval of his decisions and cemented a legacy of courageousness. George Norris, from Nebraska, for opposing Joseph Gurney Cannon's autocratic power as Speaker of the House, for speaking out against arming U.S. merchant ships during the United States' neutral period in World War I, and for supporting the Presidential Campaign of Democrat Al Smith. Robert A. Taft, from Ohio, for criticizing the Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials
for trying Nazi war criminals under ex post facto laws. Counter-criticism against Taft's statements was vital to his failure to secure the Republican nomination for President in 1948.

Reception[edit] After its release on January 1, 1956, Profiles in Courage
became a best seller. The book won the Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
for Biography in 1957, even though it was not one of the finalists forwarded to the Pulitzer Prize board from the selection committee.[citation needed] Kennedy's father Joseph asked columnist Arthur Krock, his political adviser and a longtime member of the prize board, to persuade others to vote for it.[citation needed][3] The book returned to the bestseller lists in 1961 after Kennedy became President and 1963 after he was assassinated.[4] Profiles in Courage
was made into a television series of the same name that aired on the NBC
network during the 1964–1965 television season. Authorship controversy[edit] Questions have been raised about how much of the book was truly written by Kennedy and how much by his research assistants. On December 7, 1957,[5] journalist Drew Pearson appeared as a guest on The Mike Wallace Interview
The Mike Wallace Interview
and made the following claim live on air: " John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
is the only man in history that I know who won a Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
for a book that was ghostwritten for him."[6] Wallace replied: "You know for a fact, Drew, that the book Profiles in Courage was written for Senator Kennedy ... by someone else?" Pearson responded that he did and that Kennedy speechwriter Ted Sorensen
Ted Sorensen
wrote the book. Wallace responded: "And Kennedy accepted a Pulitzer Prize for it? And he never acknowledged the fact?" Pearson replied: "No, he has not. You know, there's a little wisecrack around the Senate about Jack ... some of his colleagues say, 'Jack, I wish you had a little less profile and more courage.'"[6] It was later reported that the statement "I wish that Kennedy had a little less profile and more courage" was actually made by former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.[7] Joseph P. Kennedy
Joseph P. Kennedy
saw the broadcast, then called his lawyer, Clark Clifford, yelling: "Sue the bastards for fifty million dollars!"[6] Soon Clifford and Robert Kennedy
Robert Kennedy
showed up at ABC and told executives that the Kennedys would sue unless the network issued a full retraction and apology. Mike Wallace and Drew Pearson insisted that the story was true and refused to back off. Nevertheless, ABC made the retraction and apology, which made Wallace furious.[6] According to The Straight Dope, Herbert Parmet later analyzed the text of Profiles in Courage
and wrote in his book Jack: The Struggles of John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
(1980) that although Kennedy did oversee the production and provided for the direction and message of the book, it was clearly Sorensen who provided most of the work that went into the end product.[8] The thematic essays that comprise the first and last chapters "may be viewed largely as [Kennedy's] own work", however.[3]:401 In addition to Kennedy’s speechwriter Sorensen, Jacqueline Kennedy recruited her history instructor from Georgetown University, Jules Davids, to work on the project. Davids told a Kennedy biographer that he and Sorensen had researched and written drafts of most of the book. Kennedy's handwritten notes, which Senator Kennedy showed to reporters to prove his authorship, are now in the Kennedy Library, but are mostly preliminary notes about John Quincy
John Quincy
Adams, a particular interest of Kennedy's, and are not a readable draft of the chapter on Adams. During the six-month period when the book was being written, Sorensen worked full-time on the project, sometimes twelve-hour days; Kennedy spent most of the same period travelling, campaigning, or hospitalized. Kennedy’s preserved notes show that he kept up with the book’s progress, but historian Garry Wills
Garry Wills
remarked that Kennedy’s notes contain no draft of any stage of the manuscript, or of any substantial part of it.[9] In Sorensen's autobiography, Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History, he said he wrote "a first draft of most of the chapters" of Profiles in Courage
and "helped choose the words of many of its sentences".[10][11] Sorensen also wrote: "While in Washington, I received from Florida almost daily instructions and requests by letter and telephone – books to send, memoranda to draft, sources to check, materials to assemble, and Dictaphone drafts or revisions of early chapters." (Sorensen, p. 146) Sorensen wrote that Kennedy "worked particularly hard and long on the first and last chapters, setting the tone and philosophy of the book". Kennedy "publicly acknowledged in his introduction to the book my extensive role in its composition". (p. 147) Sorensen claimed that in May 1957, Kennedy "unexpectedly and generously offered, and I happily accepted, a sum to be spread over several years, that I regarded as more than fair" for his work on the book. Indeed, this supported a long-standing recognition of the collaborative effort that Kennedy and Sorensen had developed since 1953. Accuracy[edit] David O. Stewart has questioned the accuracy of the book's chapter on the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. Of Johnson's defenders in the Senate, Profiles in Courage
stated that "Not a single one of them escaped the terrible torture of vicious criticism engendered by their vote to acquit." However, Stewart wrote of the supposed suffering: "It is a myth, ..." and "None was a victim of postimpeachment retribution. Indeed, their careers were not wildly different from those of the thirty-five senators who voted to convict Andrew Johnson ..."[12] However, Ross lost his bid for re-election two years after casting a vote acquitting Johnson. There is also evidence that Edmund Ross was bribed to vote for Johnson's acquittal,[13] which is not mentioned in Profiles in Courage. Kennedy also praised Lucius Lamar, who, while working in the public eye towards reconciliation, privately was an instigator, according to the claim of author Lemann, of growing racial agitation.[14] In the profile of Lamar, Kennedy had also included a single paragraph condemning Adelbert Ames, the Maine-born governor of Mississippi
from 1873 to 1876, as an opportunistic Carpetbagger
whose administration was "sustained and nourished by Federal bayonets." Ames' daughter, Blanche Ames Ames, was outraged, and regularly wrote to Kennedy for years afterward in protest, demanding a retraction of the "defamatory insinuations" and accused him of pandering to Southern readers.[15] The letter-writing continued even after Kennedy had been elected to the Presidency. This prompted Kennedy to turn to George Plimpton, Ames' grandson and a classmate of Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
at Harvard, asking him if he could get his grandmother to cease, claiming her letters were interfering with government business. Blanche Ames Ames would eventually publish her own biography of her father in 1964.[16] In popular culture[edit] In the 1985 Infocom
interactive fiction game A Mind Forever Voyaging, Profiles in Courage
is on the list of banned books, tapes, and programs, issued by the Morality Bureau of the government in Rockville's Main Library in the 2071 simulation.[citation needed] See also[edit]

Why England Slept
Why England Slept
(published version of Kennedy's bachelor's thesis) A Nation of Immigrants Profile in Courage
Award Portraits of Courage
( George W. Bush
George W. Bush
book, 2017)


^ "Frontpiece: Item 3 – Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke
quotation, typescript". Jfklibrary.org. Retrieved 28 December 2014.  ^ Sorensen, Ted; Myers, Joanne J., (May 21, 2008). Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History (Private Lunch) Archived 2009-10-13 at the Wayback Machine., Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. ^ a b Leamer, Laurence (2001). The Kennedy Men: 1901–1963. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-688-16315-7. :402–403 ^ Nichols, Lewis (December 15, 1963). "In and Out of Books; 'Profiles' East Europe Mr. Caldwell James Bond Publishers' Row". The New York Times.  ^ "Drew Pearson". Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, School of Information, University of Texas. Retrieved 28 December 2014.  ^ a b c d Walls, p. 34 ^ Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, David Talbot, New York: Free Press (2007), p36. ^ Adams, Cecil (November 7, 2003). "Did John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
really write "Profiles in Courage?"". The Straight Dope. Retrieved 19 December 2009.  ^ Garry Wills, The Kennedy Imprisonment (Boston: Little, Brown, 1982) 135–137, ISBN 0-316-94385-1 ^ "Her Story, Their Words: Behind the Scenes of the Best-Sellers". 11 June 2014.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ Farhi, Paul (9 June 2014). "Who wrote that political memoir? No, who wrote it?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 June 2014.  ^ Stewart, David O., (2009). Impeached: the Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy. Simon & Schuster. New York, N.Y. ISBN 978-1-4165-4749-5. Page 308. ^ Stewart, David O. Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy. Simon & Schuster, 2009, pp.185, 186, 188, 189, 242, 269, 278, 279, 280, 282, 285, 292, 297–99, 309. ^ Nicholas Lemann, Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War by Nicholas Lemann. Farrar, Straus &Giroux. New York, NY. ISBN 978-0-374-53069-3. Pages 205–209. ^ Turkel, Stanley, (2005). Heroes of the American Reconstruction: Profiles of Sixteen Educators, Politicians, and Activists. McFarland & Company. Jefferson, N.C. ISBN 978-0-7864-1943-2. Pages 17–19. ^ Ames' daughter dogged JFK over characterization in 'Profiles' – The Lowell Sun, July 2, 2008

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Profiles in Courage.

Profiles in Courage
Summary, Analysis and Discussion Study guide providing background, history, major characters, chapter summary, and other information on the work. Used for the history section listed above. Did John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
really write Profiles in Courage? (from The Straight Dope) Photos of the first edition of Profiles In Courage

v t e

John F. Kennedy

35th President of the United States
President of the United States
(1961–1963) U.S. Senator from Massachusetts (1953–1960) U.S. Representative for MA-11 (1947–1953)

Presidency (timeline)

Presidential Office: Inauguration Cabinet Judicial appointments

Supreme Court

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Domestic policy: Clean Air Act Communications Satellite Act Community Mental Health Act Equal Pay Act Federal affirmative action Federal housing segregation ban Fifty-mile hikes Food for Peace New Frontier Pilot Food Stamp Program Space policy Status of Women (Presidential Commission) University of Alabama integration Voter Education Project

Foreign policy: Alliance for Progress Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

Flexible response Kennedy Doctrine Peace Corps Trade Expansion Act USAID Vietnam War Cuba: Bay of Pigs Invasion Cuban Project Cuban Missile Crisis


Soviet Union: Berlin Crisis Moscow–Washington hotline Vienna summit

White House: Presidential limousine Presidential yacht Resolute desk Situation Room

Presidential speeches

Inaugural address American University speech "We choose to go to the Moon" Report to the American People on Civil Rights "Ich bin ein Berliner" "A rising tide lifts all boats"


U.S. States House of Representatives elections, 1946 1948 1950 U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, 1952 1958 1960 Presidential primaries 1960 Presidential campaign Democratic National Convention 1956 1960 U.S. presidential election, 1960


Personal life

Birthplace and childhood home Kennedy Compound US Navy service PT-109

Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana Arthur Evans PT-59 Castle Hot Springs

Hammersmith Farm Coretta Scott King phone call Rocking chair "Happy Birthday, Mr. President"


Why England Slept
Why England Slept
(1940) Profiles in Courage
(1956) A Nation of Immigrants
A Nation of Immigrants



timeline reactions in popular culture

State funeral

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Gravesite and Eternal Flame


John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
Presidential Library and Museum (Boston) 1964 Civil Rights Act Apollo 11
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John F. Kennedy
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John F. Kennedy
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John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial
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John F. Kennedy
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John F. Kennedy
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John F. Kennedy
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John F. Kennedy
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Yad Kennedy


Jacqueline Bouvier (wife) Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy
(daughter) John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy

son plane crash

Patrick Bouvier Kennedy
Patrick Bouvier Kennedy
(son) Jack Schlossberg
Jack Schlossberg
(grandson) Rose Schlossberg
Rose Schlossberg
(granddaughter) Tatiana Schlossberg (granddaughter) Joseph P. Kennedy
Joseph P. Kennedy
Sr. (father) Rose Fitzgerald (mother) Joseph P. Kennedy
Joseph P. Kennedy
Jr. (brother) Rosemary Kennedy
Rosemary Kennedy
(sister) Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington
Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington
(sister) Eunice Kennedy Shriver
Eunice Kennedy Shriver
(sister) Patricia Kennedy Lawford
Patricia Kennedy Lawford
(sister) Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
(brother) Jean Kennedy Smith
Jean Kennedy Smith
(sister) Ted Kennedy
Ted Kennedy
(brother) P. J. Kennedy
P. J. Kennedy
(grandfather) John F. Fitzgerald
John F. Fitzgerald

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Lyndon B. Johnson


v t e

John Quincy
John Quincy

United States House of Representatives, 1831–1848 6th President of the United States, 1825–1829 8th U.S. Secretary of State, 1817–1825 U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, 1814–1817 1st U.S. Minister to Russia, 1809–1814 Massachusetts State Senate, 1803–1808 U.S. Minister to Prussia, 1797–1801 U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, 1794–1797


Inauguration American System Internal improvements Tariff of 1828 First Treaty of Prairie du Chien Treaty of Fond du Lac Treaty of Limits United States Naval Observatory Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori State of the Union Address, 1825 1827 1828 Federal judiciary appointments

Other events

Monroe Doctrine, author Treaty of Ghent Adams–Onís Treaty Treaty of 1818 Smithsonian Institution United States v. The Amistad

Mendi Bible

President, American Academy of Arts and Sciences President, Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences


Lifelong diary Massachusetts Historical Society holdings

Adams Papers Editorial Project

Life and homes

Early life Abigail Adams
Abigail Adams
Cairn John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
and abolitionism Adams National Historical Park

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United First Parish Church and gravesite


United States presidential election, 1824

Corrupt Bargain

United States presidential election, 1828


Adams Memorial Adams House at Harvard University U.S. Postage stamps Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
Centennial half dollar

Popular culture

Profiles in Courage
(1957 book 1965 television series) The Adams Chronicles (1976 miniseries) Mutiny on the Amistad
Mutiny on the Amistad
(1987 book) Amistad (1997 film) John Adams
John Adams
(2001 book 2008 miniseries)

Adams family Quincy family

Louisa Adams
Louisa Adams
(wife) George W. Adams (son) Charles Adams Sr. (son) John Adams II
John Adams II
(son) Henry Adams
Henry Adams
(grandson) Brooks Adams
Brooks Adams
(grandson) John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
II (grandson) John Adams

father presidency

Abigail Adams

mother First Lady Quincy family

Abigail Adams
Abigail Adams
Smith (sister) Charles Adams (brother) Thomas Boylston Adams (brother) John Adams
John Adams
Sr. (paternal grandfather) Susanna Boylston (paternal grandmother) Elihu Adams (paternal uncle) John Quincy
John Quincy


National Republican Party Republicanism Quincy Patriot

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Andrew Jackson