November 22

President John F. Kennedy

The tragic death of the young 35th President of the United States on this day in Dallas in 1963 reminded printers of the statement written by Mr. Kennedy in January of that year. In it he paid tribute to the printer’s craft:

“Thomas Carlyle once said that the man who invented the art of printing ‘was disbanding hired armies, and cashiering most Kings and Senates, and creating a whole new Democratic world.’

“As the inheritors and protectors of that democratic world, we can see today how right Carlyle was—how much the things we most value depend on the printed word. The capacity of people to choose, to guide and to censure their own government—the vitality of the democratic idea itself—has always rested on the broad dissemination of facts and ideas which printing has made possible. Perhaps no invention in history so well illustrates the power of creative technology to liberate man.

“Nor has the impact of the art of printing been limited to the national state or culture. For print is the true international currency of the modern world. The printer’s art has built the vast array of secular and religious thought, of technical and scientific achievement, which knows no national frontiers and which forms the fabric of today’s dangers and possibilities.

“In celebrating International Printing Week, you celebrate a human achievement which has demonstrated far greater power to shape the world than all the force of modern weaponry. And it is appropriate that you have chosen the birthday of Benjamin Franklin for this celebration. That great scientist, philosopher, statesman—and printer—embodied for all time the tremendous fact that to affect the thinking of man is to influence the course of history.”

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