Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Massachusetts senator and presidential hopeful John F. Kennedy visited Kansas in November 1959 as part of his strategy to win the Democratic Party nomination. Kennedy made stops in five cities in two days, meeting party officials and wooing potential delegates. The candidate first spoke in Kansas City and Wichita on November 19 before flying to Dodge City November 20 after another appearance in Wichita that morning. After a noon luncheon in Dodge City Kennedy made a speech in Salina before his stop in Hays. In Hays, Kennedy gave a television interview, met the press at a news conference, rode in a parade and spoke at a fundraiser.

This thesis examines the “Kennedy effect,” of how Kennedy’s stop in Kansas fit into the electoral picture in Ellis County, the state and nationally. It also highlights how what Kennedy did in his 1959 run for the presidency followed his same strategy in winning his senate seat. Kennedy’s actions repeated what he did in other states; the candidate knew he had to meet voters in person across the country. As was the case in previous campaigns, Kennedy collected contact lists during his Kansas visit to add to the voluminous file kept by his advisors.

This thesis analyzes the events of the Kansas trip, focusing on the Hays appearance. It confirms the work of previous historians who described Kennedy’s path to victory in the 1960 election and adds to the historical narrative by providing in intimate detail the events of one stop on one campaign swing. While other historians discuss the national strategy and events, this thesis describes what a day in the life was like for candidate John F. Kennedy.


Dr. Juti A. Winchester

Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type



© 2019 Randy Gonzales


For questions contact