He would be, at 43, the youngest man ever elected President and, on the night of his party’s nomination, he made that youth his calling card. “It is a time,” John F. Kennedy declared, “for a new generation of leadership – new men to cope with new problems and new opportunities.” He then told the eighty thousand people at the Los Angeles Coliseum, and the millions watching at home, that he stood facing west on what was once the last frontier. “From the lands that stretch three thousand miles behind me, the pioneers of old gave up their safety, their comfort and sometimes their lives to build a new word here in the West. They were not captives of their own doubts... We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier – the frontier of the 1960's – a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils – a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats.” Six months later he was the President, having his photo taken by the great Alfred Eisenstaedt. When asked to sign “Eisie’s” guest book, he was still thinking of that bright new promise for the future – but with a twist:
To Alfred Eisenstaedt - Who has caught us all on the edge of the New Frontier – What will the passage of the next four years show in his revealing photo[s] –
But neither Kennedy, nor his New Frontier, would be alive in four years. An assassin’s bullet brutally ended both. Yet the promise of the New Frontier, with its many indications of future excellence, was succeeded by another new and even more powerful mythic destination: Camelot - an elegiac and magic moment in American history when gallant heroes did great deeds.
Autograph Sentiment Signed, as President, 1 page, octavo, no place, February 1961. To the photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898-1995).