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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

AUTHOR: John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917–63)
QUOTATION: I ask that you offer to the political arena, and to the critical problems of our society which are decided therein, the benefit of the talents which society has helped to develop in you. I ask you to decide, as Goethe put it, whether you will be an anvil—or a hammer. The question is whether you are to be a hammer—whether you are to give to the world in which you were reared and educated the broadest possible benefits of that education.
ATTRIBUTION: Senator JOHN F. KENNEDY, commencement address, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, June 8, 1958.—Transcript, p. 2.

The Home Book of Quotations, ed. Burton Stevenson, 9th ed., p. 84, no. 8 (1964) gives the quotation from Goethe as follows: “Thou must (in commanding and winning, or serving and losing, suffering or triumphing) be either anvil or hammer,” citing his play, Der Gross-Cophta, act II, though it has not been found there.
SUBJECTS: Education