The Making of a Catholic President

The Making of a Catholic President : Kennedy vs. Nixon 1960

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The 1960 presidential election, won ultimately by John F. Kennedy, was one of the closest and most contentious in American history. The country had never elected a Roman Catholic president, and the last time a Catholic had been nominated-New York Governor Al Smith in 1928-he was routed in the general election. From the outset, Kennedy saw the religion issue as the single most important obstacle on his road to the White House. He was acutely aware of, and deeply frustrated by, the possibility that his personal religious beliefs could keep him out of the White House. In The Making of a Catholic President, Shaun Casey tells the fascinating story of how the Kennedy campaign transformed the "religion question" from a liability into an asset, making him the first (and still only) Catholic president. Drawing on extensive archival research, including many never-before-seen documents, Casey takes us inside the campaign to show Kennedy's chief advisors-Ted Sorensen, John Kenneth Galbraith, Archibald Cox-grappling with the staunch opposition to the candidate's Catholicism. Casey also reveals, for the first time, many of the Nixon campaign's efforts to tap in to anti-Catholic sentiment, with the aid of Billy Graham and the National Association of Evangelicals, among others. The alliance between conservative Protestants and the Nixon campaign, he shows, laid the groundwork for the rise of the Religious Right. This book will shed light on one of the most talked-about elections in American history, as well as on the vexed relationship between religion and politics more generally. With clear relevance to our own political situation-where politicians' religious beliefs seem more important and more volatile than ever-The Making of a Catholic President offers rare insights into one of the most extraordinary presidential campaigns in American more

Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 154.94 x 236.22 x 20.32mm | 521.63g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195374487
  • 9780195374483
  • 1,295,695

Review quote

"Here's a retelling of the 1960 presidential campaign that every political junkie will find pure narcotic. Shaun Casey does a masterful job shedding new light on the religious dimensions of JFK's victory in a way that speaks to all the same debates we now have about the role of faith in politics and vice versa: themes from nearly 50 years ago that vibrate with relevance today."--Mike McCurry, former Press Secretary to President Bill Clinton"Shaun Caseys colorful storytelling and groundbreaking new research shed light on an election that changed forever the link between our secular creed, American democracy, and the faith of our political leaders. This is a fascinating book that will be talked about for years to come." --Senator John Kerry"Casey, who advised the Obama campaign on matters of religion, here reveals the behind-the-scenes anti-Catholic campaign strategies of Kennedy's opponent in 1960."--Washington Post Book World"Shaun Casey has made a rich contribution to understanding the critical role religion--and religious intolerance--played in the 1960 presidential election. With extensive research, admirable organization, and a clear style, he describes an extensive and well-organized web of anti-Kennedy activity that was barely mentioned in Theodore White's classic, The Making of a President, 1960. Readers will be surprised by what Casey has uncovered. This is a valuable book for anyone interested in presidential history and the interplay of religion and politics." --William Martin, author of With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America"In a nation where politics are literally saturated with religious overtones, Shaun Casey's The Making of a Catholic President serves as a poignant reminder of how the 'religion question' can be better served when politicans seek understanding rather than public support from the ecclesiastical community."--Religion in American History"The Making of a Catholic President contains much new research and presents a gripping narrative, even though we remember how the story turned out in the end."--The Christian Century"A thorough examination."--The Library Journal"Casey draws conclusions that are helpful for politicians."--Christian Century "The story is briskly told in eight chapters and an epilogue, which attempts to draw a few modest conclusions for contemporary students of politics and religion. In the closing pages, Casey also briefly and admirably tackles the question of the nature of Kennedy's Catholicism, making some intriguing observations about American Catholicism in the 1950s."--Catholic Historical Review "This is an exceptional book which can be appreciated by both historians and casual readers. It is long overdue."--Journal of American History "Shaun Casey has managed to open up a window on a forgotten aspect of the era, and, astonishingly, to uncover some very significant new revelations.... A model of historical research."--Journal of American Studies "Casey has written the best work on religion and politics in the 1960 campaign."--Presidential Studies Quarterly "Historians and political scientists alike will find this book useful given its sound research and good writing. For liberals, it is an interesting look back at a time when prominent Democrats opposed a Catholic nominee with vigor, not because of policy differences, but simply because of the nominee's Roman Catholicism."-- ournal of Interdisciplinary Studiesshow more

About Shaun A. Casey

Shaun A. Casey is a Visiting Fellow at the Center for American Progress and Associate Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the National Capital Semester for Seminarians at Wesley Theological Seminary. He lives in Fairfax, more

Table of contents

1. The Ghost of Al Smith ; 2. The Protestant Establishment ; 3. Opening Gambit: Wisconsin and West Virginia ; 4. The Vice President Seeks Advice ; 5. The Protestant Underworld ; 6. The Peale Group and The Power of Positive Politics ; 7. A Lion in a Den of Daniels: Kennedys Houston Speech ; 8. Epilogueshow more

Rating details

24 ratings
3.41 out of 5 stars
5 21% (5)
4 25% (6)
3 29% (7)
2 25% (6)
1 0% (0)
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