JFK in Scotland

A little known fact is that the first public address made by JFK was in Glasgow.

One of the first hostile acts of the second world war was the sinking of the passenger liner Athenia. The ship, which was en route from Glasgow to Montreal, was sunk on the 3rd of September on 1939. 117 of the 1400 passenger’s lives were lost, 28 of them American citizens, after the ship was torpedoed by a U-boat, the survivors being rescued off the coast of Northern Ireland. 

In an attempt to pour oil on troubled waters and prevent America from being dragged into the war, John F. Kennedy was sent to Scotland by his father, Joseph Kennedy, who was then the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom. 

JFK was taken to meet the 150 American survivors in The Beresford Hotel, but was unprepared for the anger he met when the survivors – who were demanding an armed convoy on their renewed attempts to sail back to the USA –  realised that they had been sent a ‘schoolboy diplomat’. Unexpectedly he managed to mollify the crowd and reassure them that they would be safe to travel back to the USA.

The event did not prove to be the event which brought the US into the war, however the damage-limitation efforts orchestrated by Joseph Kennedy in sending his son to Scotland, gave JFK his first active foray into the world of politics.

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