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Ted Sorensen

Best known as President John F. Kennedy’s closest adviser and regarded as one of the greatest American presidential speechwriters, Theodore C. “Ted” Sorensen has passed away at age 82. He was scheduled to speak on campus Wednesday, Nov. 10.

The talk was to be the second in this year’s Lives of Liberty Lecture series.

Sorensen was Kennedy’s special counsel and adviser and primary speechwriter. He played a key role in drafting most of the President’s public speeches including Kennedy’s famous inaugural address in 1961. Sorensen collaborated with Kennedy on the President’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book Profiles in Courage (1955), and Sorensen’s biography Kennedy was published in 1965 and became an international bestseller.

Sorensen worked with the former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela on the South African Free Election Fund to finance voter education. In March 2007, he publicly endorsed then-Senator Barack Obama, whom he sees as JFK’s heir, and continued to advise him.

He is the 2009 recipient of the National Medal for Humanities and author of numerous books on law and politics, including the acclaimed autobiography, Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History (2008); Let the Word Go Forth: The Speeches, Statements and Writings of John F. Kennedy, 1947-1963 (1988); and The Kennedy Legacy (1969).

A retired senior partner of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Sorensen remained active in law and international affairs. He served as chair of the advisory board for International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, Brandeis University, a member of the board of the International Center for Transitional Justice, and the advisory boards of Partnership for a Secure America and the National Security Network.

The College’s Lives of Liberty Lecture series was inaugurated in 2007-08 during the College’s celebration of the 250th anniversary of the birth of the Marquis de Lafayette. Previous speakers have included David McCullough, Taylor Branch, Ron Chernow, James McPherson, Simon Schama, Gloria Steinem, Salman Rushdie, and David Quammen.

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