Labor mourned JFK’s assassination 50 years ago

web.archives-kennedyThe Nov. 28, 1963 edition of The Union Advocate ran three front-page tributes to the nation’s fallen president, remembered as a great friend of organized labor.

St. Paul Trades and Labor Assembly President Charles Rafferty said John F. Kennedy’s assassination Nov. 22, 1963 was a great loss for workers, but he added the president would want the nation to “renew and redouble our determination to carry out in full the great program on behalf of America and the free world” that he initiated.

“We can do no less,” Rafferty added. “He never failed us; we cannot now fail him.”

Another front-page article remembered Kennedy’s final appearance before a large union crowd, which came at the AFL-CIO national convention in New York earlier that month.

“I come here today, and I express my appreciation to the AFL-CIO which, in the 1960s, is attempting to do what its fathers did in the 1930s in supporting a program of progress for this country of ours,” Kennedy told delegates to the national convention. “So we ask your help not next year, but now.”

“Between Organized Labor and Kennedy there was mutual admiration and mutual support,” The Advocate reported, adding union leaders had little doubt he would be reelected the following year, regardless of whom Republicans nominated to run against him.

[The Union Advocate’s “This Month in the Archives” feature offers a look back at what the newspaper was reporting from 5 to 100 years ago. Our digital archives are online, searchable and free to anyone. Click here for access.]

75 Years Ago: Farmer-Labor party takes a hit

Liberals who had put their hopes in the fledgling Farmer-Labor Party were licking their wounds in November 1938, as the independent liberal ticket suffered a trouncing at the hands of conservative Republicans in statewide elections Nov. 8.

Two years earlier, Gov. Elmer Benson had been “swept into office with the greatest plurality ever given a governor in the history of the state,” but he received just 25 percent in his bid for reelection.

Benson’s defeat was the beginning of the end of the Farmer-Labor Party as political force in Minnesota, although it survives nominally as part of the DFL Party.

100 Years Ago: AFL Convention considers forming Labor party

The American Federation of Labor was by 1913 the nation’s largest and most powerful union federation, and its annual convention in Seattle during November of that year drew front-page coverage in The Minnesota Union Advocate.

Among the issues delegates debated at the convention was a plan, pushed by leaders in the Pressmen’s union, to establish a national labor party.

“The plan proposes to have the Socialist party, the Women’s Suffrage League, the Farmers’ National union, the brotherhoods of railroad men not affiliated with the (AFL) and the trade union organizations combine under a working agreement for joint action in the political field,” The Advocate reported Nov. 21.

The “radically extreme proposal” failed to make it past the convention’s Committee on Resolutions. “This declaration holds substantially that the time is not ripe for the formation of a labor party, but trade unionists should look forward to increasing political activity.”


  1. The most important clue to the JFK assassination can be found in this Youtube video:

%d bloggers like this: