For extremely heroic conduct as Commanding Officer of Motor Torpedo Boat 109 following the collision and sinking of that vessel in the Pacific War Theater on August 1–2, 1943. Unmindful of personal danger, Lieutenant (then Lieutenant, Junior Grade) Kennedy unhesitatingly braved the difficulties and hazards of darkness to direct rescue operations, swimming many hours to secure aid and food after he had succeeded in getting his crew ashore. His outstanding courage, endurance and leadership contributed to the saving of several lives and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
In the October of 1943, Kennedy had taken command of a PT boat, which was converted into the PT-59 gunboat, which had taken part in a Marine rescue on Choiseul Island that November. Kennedy had then left the PT-59 and also returned to the United States in early January 1944. After he received the relevant treatment that he needed for his back injury, Kennedy was released from active duty in late 1944.
Beginning in January 1945, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had spent three further months recovering from his back injury at Castle Hot Springs, a resort and also a temporary military hospital in Arizona. Kennedy was honorably discharged just prior to Japan’s surrender in 1945, and his other decorations in World War II had included the Purple Heart, the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three bronze service stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. When he was later asked how he had become a war hero, John F Kennedy had joked by saying that: “It was easy. They cut my PT boat in half.”
In April 1945, Kennedy’s father, who was a friend of William Randolph Hearst, had arranged a position for his son as a special correspondent for Hearst Newspapers; the assignment had kept Kennedy’s name in the public eye and “expose[d] him to journalism as a possible career.” He had worked as a correspondent that May, where he would cover the Potsdam Conference and other events.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s Congressional Career
The U.S. House of Representatives (1947 – 1953)
While he was still serving, Kennedy’s older brother, Joe Jr., was killed in action over the English Channel during World War II. Because of the fact his eldest brother had been the family’s political standard-bearer and tapped by his father to seek Presidency, his death had changed that course, and the task now fell to Kennedy.
In 1946, the U.S. Representative, James Michael Curley, had vacated his seat in the strongly Democratic 11th Congressional District in Massachusetts – at the urgency of Kennedy’s father – to become the mayor of Boston. Kennedy had ran for the seat, and had also beaten his Republican opponent by a large margin in the November of 1946. From there, he would serve as a congressman for six years.
The U.S. Senate (1953 – 1960)
In the 1952 U.S. Senate Election, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had defeated the incumbent Republican, Henry Cabot Lodge II for the U.S. Senate seat and in the following year, he had married Jacqueline Bouvier. Kennedy had undergone several spinal operations over the next two years, and because of the fact that he was often absent from the Senate, he was, at times, critically ill and received the Catholic’s last rites.
During his convalescence in 1956, Kennedy had published his book, Profiles in Courage, which was about some, if not, many of the U.S. Senators who had risked their careers for their personal beliefs, for which he had won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1957. Rumours that this work was co-written by his close adviser and speechwriter, Ted Sorensen, were confirmed in Sorensen’s 2008 autobiography.
At the 1956 Democratic National Convention, the Presidential nominee, Adlai Stevenson, let the convention select the Vice Presidential nominee. Kennedy had finished second in the balloting, losing to the Senator, Estes Kefauver of Tennessee. John F Kennedy had received a lot of national exposure from that episode; his father had initially thought that it was just as well that Kennedy had lost, due to the potential and political debility of his Catholicism and the strength of the Eisenhower ticket.
One of the matters that had demanded John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s attention in the Senate was President Eisenhower’s bill for the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Kennedy had cast a procedural vote on this, which was considered by some as an appeasement of the Southern Democratic opponents of the bill. Kennedy did vote, however, for Title III of the act, which would have given the Attorney General the power to enjoin, but the Majority Leader, Lyndon B. Johnson had agreed to let the provision die as a compromised measure.
Kennedy had also voted for Title IV, which was coined as the “Jury Trial Amendment”. Many of the civil rights advocates at the time had criticised that vote to be one which would have weakened the act. A final compromise bill, one of which John Fitzgerald Kennedy had supported, was passed in the September of 1957.
In 1958, JFK was re-elected for a second term in the Senate, and had also defeated his Republican opponent, the Boston Lawyer, Vincent J. Celeste, by a wide margin. It was during his re-election campaign that Kennedy’s press secretary at this time, Robert E. Thompson, had put together a film, titled: “The U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy Story“, which would exhibit a day in the life of the Senator himself, as well as showcasing his family life as well as the inner-workings of his office. It had then become known to be the most comprehensive film that was produced about John F Kennedy up to that particular time.
While JFK’s father was initially a strong supporter of the Senator, Joseph McCarthy, McCarthy was also a friend of the Kennedy family. As well as this, Bobby Kennedy had worked for McCarthy’s subcommittee, and McCarthy had dated Kennedy’s sister, Patricia Kennedy Lawford. In 1954, the Senate had voted to censure that McCarthy & Kennedy had drafted a speech that would support the censure.
The speech couldn’t be delivered, however, due to John F Kennedy’s hospitalisation at that time. The speech did, however, have the potential of putting Kennedy in the position of participating procedurally by “pairing” his vote against that of another Senator. Although Kennedy was unable to indicate how he would have voted, the episode had damaged his support among the members of the liberal community, including Eleanor Roosevelt, in the 1956 and 1960 elections.
The 1960 Presidential Election
On the 2nd January 1960, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had initiated his campaign for president in the Democratic Primary Election, where he would face the challenges that were made by the Senator, Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota and the Senator, Wayne Morse of Oregon. Kennedy had defeated Humphrey in Wisconsin and West Virginia, Morse in Maryland and Oregon, as well as the token opposition (often known to have write-in candidates) in New Hampshire, Indiana & Nebraska.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy had visited a coal mine in West Virginia. Most of the minors and others in that predominantly conservative, yet Protestant state, were quite wary of Kennedy’s Roman Catholicism, while his victory in West Virginia had confirmed his broad popular appeal.
At the Democratic Convention, he had given his well-known “New Frontier” speech, stating: “For the problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won—and we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier….. But the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises—it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them.”
As Humphrey and Morse were eliminated, John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s main opponent at the Los Angeles Convention was the Senator, Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas. Kennedy had overcome this formal challenge, as well as the informal ones from Adlai Stevenson (the Democratic nominee in 1952 & 1956), Stuart Symington, and several favourite sons, and on the 13th July, the Democratic Convention had nominated Kennedy as its candidate. Kennedy had asked Johnson to be his vice presidential candidate, despite his opposition from many of the liberal delegates and Kennedy’s own staff, including his own brother, Bobby.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy needed to have Johnson’s strength in the South to win what was most likely to be considered the closest election since 1916. There were some major issues that were included as to how the economy could get itself moving again, Cuba, Kennedy’s Roman Catholicism and whether the Soviet space and the missile programs had surpassed those of the U.S.
To address the fears that Kennedy being Catholic would impact his decision-making, he had famously told the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on the 12th September 1960: “I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party candidate for president who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters – and the Church does not speak for me.” He was questioned rhetorically as to whether one-quarter of Americans were relegated to second-class membership just because they were Catholic, and he had once stated that: “No one asked me my religion [serving the Navy] in the South Pacific.”
During the course of this campaign, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had sought a meeting with the Rabbi, Menachem M. Schneerson, at his office in Brooklyn. Kennedy was turned down as the rabbi was already meeting a group of simple men and women that particular evening.
In September & October, Kennedy had appeared with the Republican Candidate, Richard Nixon, who was the then-vice president, in the U.S. Presidential Debates in U.S. History. During the course of these programs, Nixon, with a sore and injured leg, including his “five o’clock shadow”, was perspiring and looked tense and also uncomfortable, while JFK, choosing to avail himself of the makeup services, appeared to be relaxed, leading the huge television audience to favour Kennedy as the winner.
The radio listeners had either thought that Nixon had won, or that the debates were a draw. These debates are now considered to be a milestone in American Political History, as it was at the point at which the medium of television began to play a dominant role in politics.
Kennedy’s campaign had gained him momentum after the first debate, and he had also pulled just slightly ahead of Nixon in most of the polls. On the 8th November, Kennedy had defeated Nixon in one of the closest presidential elections of the 20th Century. In the National Popular Vote, Kennedy had led Nixon by just two-tenths of 1% (49.7% to 49.5%), while in the Electoral College, he had won 303 votes to Nixon’s 219 (as 269 votes were needed for either Kennedy or Nixon to win).
Fourteen of the electors from Mississippi & Alabama had chosen to refuse to support Kennedy because of his support for the Civil Rights Movement; they had voted for the Senator, Harry F. Byrd of Virginia, as did the elector from Oklahoma. Kennedy was the youngest man to be elected as the president, succeeding Eisenhower, who was then the oldest (Ronald Reagan had surpassed Eisenhower as he had become the oldest president in 1981).
John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s Presidency (1961-1963)
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President at noon on the 20th January 1961. In his inaugural address, he had spoken of the need for all of the Americans to be active citizens, famously stating: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” He asked the nations of the world to join together to fight what he had called the “common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself”.
He had added that: “All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.” In his closing speech, he had expanded on his desire for greater internationalism: “Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you.”
This address had reflected Kennedy’s confidence, as his administration would chart a historically significant in both the domestic policy and foreign affairs. The contrast between this optimistic vision and the pressures of managing the daily political realities at home and abroad would be one of the main focal tensions that would run through the early years of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s administration.
He had brought to the White House a contrast in the organisation, which was compared to the decision-making structure of the former-general Eisenhower; and he had wasted no time in dismantling Eisenhower’s methods. Kennedy had preferred the organisational structure of a wheel, with all of the spokes leading to the President himself. He was more than ready and also willing to make the increased number of quick decisions that were required in such an environment. He had selected a mixture of experienced and inexperienced people to serve in his cabinet. “We can learn our jobs together”, is what he stated.
Much to the chagrin of his economic advisors who had wanted him to reduce the taxes, Kennedy had quickly agreed to a balanced budget pledge. This was need in exchange for the votes to expand the membership of the House Rules Committee in order to give the Democrats a majority in being able to set the legislative agenda. The president had focused on the immediate and specific issues that faced the administration, and he had quickly voiced his impatience with the pondering of deeper meanings. The Deputy National Security (DNS) advisor, Walt Whitman Rostow had once began a diatribe about the growth of communism, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy had abruptly cut him off, asking him: “What do you want to me to do about that today?”
Kennedy had approved the Defense Secretary, Robert McNamara’s controversial decision to award the contract for the F-111 TFX (Tactical Fighter Experimental) fighter-bomber to General Dynamics (the choice of the civilian Defense department over Boeing (the choice of the military). At the request of the Senator, Henry Jackson, Senator John McClellan had held 46 days of mostly closed-door hearings before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations investigating the TFX Contract from February to November 1963.
The Foreign Policy
John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s Presidential Foreign Policy was often dominated by the American confrontations with the Soviet Union, which was manifested by the proxy contests in the early stage of the Cold War. In 1961, Kennedy had anxiously anticipated a summit with the Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev. The president had started off on the wrong foot by reacting aggressively to a routine Khrushchev speech on the Cold War confrontation in early 1961. The speech was initially intended for the domestic audiences in the Soviet Union, but John F Kennedy had interpreted it as a personal challenger. His mistake was what helped to raise the tensions of going into the Vienna Summit of June 1961.
On the way to the Vienna Summit, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had stopped in Paris to meet Charles de Gaulle, who had advised Kennedy to ignore Khrushchev’s abrasive style. The French President had feared that of the United States’ presumed influence in Europe. Nevertheless, Charles de Gaulle was quite impressed with the young president, and also his family. Kennedy had picked up on this in his speech in Paris, saying that he would be remembered as “the man who accompanied Jackie Kennedy to Paris.”
On the 4th June 1961, the president had met with Khrushchev in Vienna and had left the meetings feeling angry and also disappointed that he had allowed the Premier to bully him, despite the warnings that he had received. Khrushchev, for his part, was impressed with the President’s intelligence, but had though of him to be weak. John Fitzgerald Kennedy did succeed in conveying the bottom line to Khrushchev on the most sensitive issue before them, a proposed treaty between Moscow and East Berlin. He made it clear that any such treaty which would interfere with the U.S. Access Rights in West Berlin would be regarded as an act of war.
Shortly after the president had returned home, the U.S.S.R. had announced its intention to sign a treaty with East Berlin, which would abrogate any third-party occupation rights in either sector of the city. Kennedy, feeling depressed and angry as he was, had assumed that his only option was to prepare the country for a nuclear war, which he had personally thought had a one-in-five chance of occurring.
In the following weeks immediately after the Vienna Summit took place, more than 20,000 people had fled from East Berlin to the Western Sector in reactiont to the statements from the U.S.S.R. Kennedy had begun intensive meetings on the Berlin issue, where Dean Acheson had taken the lead to recommend a military buildup alongside the NATO allies. In a July 1961 speech, Kennedy had announced his decision to add $3.25 billion to the defense budget, along with over 200,000 additional troops, stating that an attack on West Berlin would be taken as an attack on the United States. The speech had received an 85% approval rating.
That following month, the Soviet Union and East Berlin began to block any further passage of East Berliners into West Berlin, and they had erected barbed wire fences across the city, which were quickly upgraded to make the famously known Berlin Wall. Kennedy’s reaction at that stage was that he would initially ignore this, as long as free access continued for West to East Berlin. This course, however, was altered, after it was learned that the West Berliners had lost their confidence in the defense of their position by the United States. John Fitzgerald Kennedy had sent the Vice President, Johnson, along with a host of military personnel, in convoy through West Germany, including the Soviet-armed checkpoints, to demonstrate the continued commitment of the United States to West Berlin.
He had given a speech at the Saint Anselm College on the 5th May 1960, which had regarded America’s conduct in the emerging Cold War. This address would detail how the American Foreign Policy should be conducted towards the African Nations, which would note a hint of support for Modern African Nationalism by saying that “For we, too, founded a new nation on revolt from colonial rule”.
Cuba & The Bay of Pigs Invasion
The prior Eisenhower administration had created a plan which would plot to overthrow the Fidel Castro Regime in Cuba. This plan, which was led by the Central Intelligence Agency (also known as the Criminal Investigation Agency & CIA), with the help from the U.S. military, was for an invasion of Cuba by a counter-revolutionary insurgency, which had composed of U.S. trained anti-Castro Cuban exiles, that were led by the CIA paramilitary officers. Their intention was to invade Cuba and also instigate an uprising among the Cuban people, with hopes of removing Fidel Castro from power.
On the 17th April 1961, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had ordered what would become known as the “Bay of Pigs Invasion”: as 1,500 U.S.-trained Cubans, called “Brigade 2506”, had landed on the island. No air support from the United States was provided, and Allen Dulles, the director of the CIA, had later stated that they thought the President would authorise any action that was required for success once the troops were on the ground.
By the 19th April 1961, the Cuban government had captured or killed the invading exiles, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy was forced to negotiate for the release of the 1,189 survivors. After just 20 months, Cuba had released the captured exiles in exchange for $53 million worth of food and medicine. The incident had made Fidel Castro feel wary of the United States, which had led him to believe another invasion would occur.
According to the biographer, Richard Reeves, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had primarily focused on the political repercussions of the plan rather than military considerations. When it failed, he was actually convinced that the plan was a setup to make him look bad. He had taken responsibility for the failure, and had said: “We got a big kick in the leg and we deserved it. But maybe we’ll learn something from it.”
In late 1961, the White House had formed the “Special Group (Augmented)”, headed by Robert Kennedy, including Edward Lansdale, the Secretary, Robert McNamara and others. The group’s objective, which was to overthrow Fidel Castro via espionage, sabotage and other covert tactics, was never pursued.
The Cuban Missile Crisis
On the 14th October 1962, the CIA U-2 spy planes took photographs of the intermediate-range ballistic missile sites being built in Cuba by the Soviets. The photos were shown to Kennedy on the 16th October 1962; a consensus was reached that the missiles were offensive in nature and had thus posed as an immediate nuclear threat.
Kennedy had faced a dilemma: if the U.S. were to attack the sites, it might lead to a nuclear war with the U.S.S.R., but if the United States did nothing, it would be faced with the increased threat from the close-range nuclear weapons. The U.S. would also appear to be less committed to the defense of the hemisphere. On a personal level, JFK would need to show resolve in reaction to Khrushchev, especially after the Vienna Summit.
More than a third of the members of the National Security Council (NSC) had favoured an unannounced air assault on the missile sites, but for some of them, this had conjured up an image of “Pearl Harbor in reverse”. There was also some reaction from the international community (who were asked in confidence), that the assault plan was an overreaction in the light of the U.S. missiles that had been placed in Turkey by Eisenhower.
There would also be no assurance that the assault would be 100% effective. In concurrence with a majority-vote of the NSC, Kennedy had decided on a naval quarantine, and on the 22nd October, he had dispatched a message to Khrushchev and had announced the decision live on TV.
The U.S. Navy would stop and inspect all Soviet ships arriving off Cuba, beginning on the 24th October. The Organisation of American States had given their unanimous support to the removal of the missiles. The president had exchanged two sets of letters with Khrushchev, to no avail, and the United Nations (UN) Secretary General, U Thant, had requested that both parties reverse their decisions and enter a cooling-off period. Khrushchev had said yes, but John Fitzgerald Kennedy had said no.
One Soviet-flagged ship was stopped and also boarded, and on the 28th October, Khrushchev had agreed to dismantle the missile sites, subject to the UN inspections. The United States had publicly promised never to invade Cuba and had also privately agreed to remove its missiles in Turkey, which were, by then, obsolete and had been supplanted by the submarines, which were equipped with the UGM-27 Polaris missiles.
This crisis had brought the world close to nuclear war than at any point before or since. In the end, “the humanity” of the two men prevailed, and the crisis had improved the image of American Willpower, as well as the President’s Credibility. Kennedy’s approval rating had increased from 66% to 77% immediately thereafter.
Latin America & Communism
By arguing that “those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable,” John Fitzgerald Kennedy had sought to contain the perceived threat of communism in Latin America, by establishing the Alliance for Progress, which would send aid to some countries and sought greater human rights standards in the region. John F Kennedy had worked closely with the Governor of Puerto Rico Luis Muñoz Marín for the development of the Alliance of Progress, and he had also began working towards the autonomy of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
When the president had taken office, the Eisenhower administration, through the CIA, had begun to formulate plans for the assassination of Fidel Castro in Cuba and Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. Kennedy had privately instructed the CIA that any such planning must include the plausible deniability by the U.S. His public position was in opposition, and in June 1961, the Dominican Republic’s leader was assassinated; in the days following the event, the Undersecretary of State, Chester Bowles, led a cautious reaction by the nation. Robert Kennedy, who had seen an opportunity for the U.S., called Chester Bowles “a gutless bastard” to his face.
The Peace Corps
As one of his first presidential acts, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had asked the Congress to create the Peace Corps. His brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, was the first director, and through this program, the Americans would volunteer to help the underdeveloped nations in areas such as education, farming, healthcare and construction. The organisation had grown to 5,000 members by March 1963 and 10,000 the following year, and since 1961, over 200,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps, serving in 139 countries.
When Kennedy was briefed, Eisenhower had emphasised that the communist threat in Southeast Asia had required priority; Eisenhower had considered Laos to be “the cork in the bottle” in regards to the regional threat. In March 1961, JFK had voiced a change in the policy from supporting a “free” Laos to a “neutral” Laos, indicating privately that Vietnam, and not Laos, should be deemed as America’s tripwire for the communism’s spread in the area.
In May 1961, Kennedy had dispatched Lyndon Johnson to meet with South Vietnam’s President, Ngo Dinh Diem. Johnson had assured Diem that there would be more aid in molding a fighting force that could resist the communists. Kennedy had announced a change of policy from support to partnership with Diem in defeat of communism in South Vietnam.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy had initially followed Eisenhower’s lead, using limited military action to fight the communist forces that were led by Ho Chi Minh. He had continued the policies that had provided the political, economic and military support to the South Vietnamese Government. Later on in 1961, the Viet Cong began to assume a predominant presence, which would initially seize the provincial capital of Phuoc Vinh. Kennedy had increased the number of helicopters, military advisors, and also undeclared the U.S. Special Forces in the area, but he had remained reluctant to order a full-scale deployment of troops.
In late 1961, John F Kennedy had sent Roger Hilsman, the then director of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, to assess the situation in Vietnam. There, Hilsman had met Sir Robert Thompson, who was the head of the British Advisory Mission to South Vietnam and the concept of the Strategic Hamlet Program was formed. It was later on approved by Kennedy and the South Vietnam President, Ngo Dinh Diem.
It was implemented in early 1962 and this had involved some forced relocation, village internment, and segregation of rural South Vietnamese into new communities where the peasantry would be isolated from the Communist insurgents. It was initially hoped that these new communities would provide the security for the peasants and strengthen the tie between them and the central government. By the November of 1963, the program had waned and had then officially come to an end in 1964.
In early 1962, Kennedy had formally authorised the escalated involvement when he signed the “National Security Action Memorandum – Subversive Insurgency (War of Liberation)”. The Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, had voiced his strong support for the U.S. involvement. “Operation Ranch Hand”, which was a large-scale aerial defoliation effort, began on the roadsides of South Vietnam.
In the April of 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had addressed the situation in Vietnam, stating that: “We don’t have a prayer of staying in Vietnam. Those people hate us. They are going to throw our asses out of there at any point. But I can’t give up that territory to the communists and get the American people to re-elect me”. Kennedy had faced a crisis in Vietnam by July; despite the increased U.S. support, the South Vietnamese military was only marginally effective against the pro-communist Viet Cong forces.
On the 21st August, just as the new U.S. Ambassador, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. arrived, Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, had ordered the South Vietnam forces, funded and trained by the CIA, to quell the Buddhist demonstrations. The crackdowns had heightened their expectations of a coup d’état to remove Diem with (or perhaps by) his brother, Nhu. Lodge was, however, instructed to try and get Diem & Nhu to step down and leave the country. Diem wouldn’t listen to Lodge.
Cable 243 (DEPTEL 243), dated the 24th August, followed, which would declare that Washington would no longer tolerate Nhu’s actions, and Lodge was subsequently ordered to pressure Diem to remove Nhu. If Diem had refused, this would result in the Americans exploring alternative leadership. Lodge had quite clearly stated that the only workable option was to get the South Vietnamese Generals to overthrow Diem & Nhu, as originally planned.
By the week’s end, Kennedy had learned from Lodge that the Diem government might, due to France’s assistance to Nhu, be dealing secretly with the communists – and that they might ask the Americans to leave; orders were then sent to Saigon and throughout Washington to “destroy all coup cables”. At the same time, the first formal anti-Vietnam war sentiment was expressed by the U.S. clergy from the Ministers’ Vietnam Committee.
A White House meeting in the September of that year was indicative of the very different ongoing appraisals; the President was given the updated assessments after personal inspections on the ground by the Department of Defense (General Victor Krulak) and the State Department (Joseph Mendenhall). Krulak had said that the military fight against the communists was progressing and was also being won, while Mendenhall had stated that the country was civilly being lost to any U.S. influence.
Kennedy had reacted, by stating: “Did you two gentlemen visit the same country?” The President was actually unaware that the two men were at such odds that they had somehow not spoken to each other whilst on the return flight.
In the October of 1963, the President had appointed the Defense Secretary, McNamara and the General, Maxwell D. Taylor, to a Vietnam mission in another effort to synchronise the information and formulation of policy. The objective of the McNamara Taylor mission is what would emphasise their “importance of getting to the bottom of the differences in reporting from U.S. representatives in Vietnam”. In meetings with McNamara, Taylor and Lodge, Diem had again refused to agree to the governing measures that were insisted upon by the United States, which had helped to dispel McNamara’s previous optimism about Diem.
Taylor & McNamard were also enlightened by Vietnam’s Vice President, Nguyen Ngoc Tho (the choice of many to succeed Diem, should a coup occur), who, in detailed terms had obliterated Taylor’s information that the military was succeeding in the countryside. In John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s insistence, the mission report had contained a recommended schedule for the troop withdrawals: 1,000 by year’s end, and complete withdrawal in 1965, something that the NSC had considered to be a strategic fantasy. The final report had declared that the military was making process, that the increasingly unpopular Diem-led government was not vulnerable to a coup, and that an assassination of Diem or Nhu was a general possibility.
In late October, the intelligence wires had again reported that a coup against the Diem government was already afoot. The source, Vietnamese General Duong Van Minh (also known as “Big Minh”), wanted to know the U.S. position. Kennedy had instructed Lodge to offer covert assistance to the coup, which would exclude the assassination, and to ensure that there was deniability by the U.S.
Later that month, as the coup had become imminent, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had ordered that all cables were to be routed through him, and a policy of “control and cut out” was initiated to insure that there was presidential control of U.S. responses, whilst cutting him out of the paper trail.
On the 1st November 1963, the South Vietnamese Generals, led by “Big Minh”, overthrew the Diem government, arresting and then killing both Diem and Nhu. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shocked by the deaths. He had found out afterwards that Minh had asked the CIA field office to secure the safe-passage out of the country for Diem and Nhu, but he was told that 24 hours were needed in order for them to procure a plane. Minh had responded that he could not hold them that long.
News of the coup had initially led to renewed confidence – both in America and in South Vietnam – that the war might be won. McGeorge Bundy had drafted a National Security Action Memo to present to Kennedy upon his return from Dallas. It would reiterate the resolve to fight communism in Vietnam, with increasing military and economic aid and expansion of operations into Laos and Cambodia.
Before he had left for Dallas, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had told Michael Forrestal that “after the first of the year … [he wanted] an in depth study of every possible option, including how to get out of there … to review this whole thing from the bottom to the top”. When he was asked what he thought the President meant, Forrestal had said that “it was devil’s advocate stuff.”
Historians have disagreed on whether Vietnam would have escalated had Kennedy survived and been re-elected in 1964. By fueling the debate, there were statements made by the Secretary of Defense, McNamara, in the film: “The Fog of War” that JFK was strongly considering pulling out of Vietnam after the 1964 election. The film had also contained a tape recording of Lyndon Johnson, stating that Kennedy was planning to withdraw, a position of which that Johnson had disagreed with.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy had signed the National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) 263, which was dated the 11th October, which had ordered the withdrawal of 1,000 military personnel by the end of the year. Such an action would have seen a reversal in policy, but Kennedy had decided to move in a less hawkish direction since his acclaimed speech about World Peace at American University on the 10th June 1963.
When Robert Kennedy was asked in 1964 what his brother would have done if the South Vietnamese had been on the brink of defeat, he replied by stating that: “We’d face that when we came to it.” At the time of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s death, no final policy decision had been made as to Vietnam. The U.S’ involvement in the region had escalated until Lyndon Johnson, his successor, had directly deployed the regular U.S. military forces for fighting the Vietnam War. After Kennedy was assassinated, President Johnson had passed the NSAM 273 on the 26th November 1963. This had, in turn, reversed Kennedy’s decision to withdraw 1,000 troops, and had also reaffirmed the policy of assistance to the South Vietnamese.
The American University Speech
On the 10th June 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had delivered the commencement address at the American University in Washington, D.C., “to discuss a topic on which too often ignorance abounds and the truth is too rarely perceived—yet it is the most important topic on earth: world peace … I speak of peace because of the new face of war…in an age when a singular nuclear weapon contains ten times the explosive force delivered by all the allied forces in the Second World War … an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and air and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn … I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men … world peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor—it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance … our problems are man-made—therefore they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants.”
The President had also made two announcements – that the Soviets had expressed a desire to negotiate a nuclear test ban treaty, and that the U.S. had postponed the planned atmospheric tests.
The West Berlin Speech
In 1963, Germany was enduring a time of which there was particular vulnerability, due to the Soviet’s aggression to the East, de Gaulle’s French Nationalism to the West, and the impending retirement of the West German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer.
On the 26th June 1963, John F Kennedy gave a public speech in West Berlin (located in East Germany), which would reiterate the American commitment to Germany, as well as criticising communism. He was met with an ecstatic response from a massive audience.
Kennedy had used the construction of the Berlin Wall as an example of the failures of communism:
“Freedom has many difficulties, and democracy is not perfect. But we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us.” The speech is known for its famous phrase “Ich bin ein Berliner“ (“I am a citizen of Berlin”). A million people were on the street for the speech. He remarked to Ted Sorensen afterwards: “We’ll never have another day like this one, as long as we live.”
In 1960, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had stated that: “Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom”.
While he was subsequently the President, John F Kennedy had initiated the creation of security ties with Israel, as he was credited as the founder of the U.S-Israeli Military Alliance (which would be continued under subsequent Presidents). Kennedy had ended the arms embargo that the Eisenhower and Truman administrations had enforced on Israel. By describing the protection of Israel as a moral and national commitment, he was the first to introduce the concept of a ‘special relationship’ (as he had described it to Golda Meir) between the U.S. & Israel.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy had extended the first informal security guarantees to Israel in 1962, and beginning in 1963, he was the first U.S. President to allow the sale to Israel of advanced U.S. weaponry (the MIM-23 Hawk), as well as to provide diplomatic support for the Israeli policies, which were opposed by Arab neighbours; such as its water project on the Jordan River.
As a result of this newly created security alliance, Kennedy had also encountered a lot of tensions with the Israeli Government regarding the production of nuclear materials in Dimona, which he had believed could instigate a nuclear arms-race in the Middle East. After the existence of a nuclear plant was initially denied by the Israeli government, David Ben-Gurion had stated in a speech to the Israeli Knesset on the 21st December 1960 that the purpose of the nuclear plant at Beersheba was for “research in problems of arid zones and desert flora and fauna”. When Ben-Gurion had met with JFK in New York, he had claimed that Dimona was being developed to provide the nuclear power for desalinisation and other peaceful purposes “for the time being”.
When Kennedy had written that he was skeptical, and stated in a May 1963 letter to Ben-Gurion that American support to Israel could be in jeopardy if the reliable information on the Israeli nuclear program was not forthcoming, Ben-Gurion had repeated previous reassurances that Dimona was being developed for peaceful purposes. The Israeli Government had resisted the American pressure to open its nuclear facilities to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections, and in 1962, the U.S. and Israeli governments had agreed to an annual inspection regime.
A science attaché at the embassy in Tel Aviv had concluded that parts of the Dimona facility had been shut down temporarily to mislead the American scientists when they had visited.
According to Seymour Hersh, the Israelis had set up false control rooms to show the Americans. The Israeli lobbyist, Abe Feinburg had stated that: “It was part of my job to tip them off that Kennedy was insisting on [an inspection].” Hersh had contended that the inspections were conducted in such a way that it had: “guaranteed that the whole procedure would be little more than a whitewash, as the president and his senior advisors had to understand: the American inspection team would have to schedule its visits well in advance, and with the full acquiescence of Israel.”.
Marc Trachtenburg had argued by stating: “Although well aware of what the Israelis were doing, Kennedy chose to take this as satisfactory evidence of Israeli compliance with America’s non-proliferation policy.”The American who led the inspection team stated that the essential goal of the inspections was to find “ways to not reach the point of taking action against Israel’s nuclear weapons program”.
Rodger Davies, the director of the State Department’s Office of Near Eastern Affairs, had concluded in March 1965 that Israel was developing the nuclear weapons, and he also reported that Israel’s target date for achieving nuclear capability was 1968-69. On the 1st May 1968, the Undersecretary of State, Nicholas Katzenbach, had told President Johnson that Dimona was producing enough plutonium to produce two bombs a year. The State Department had argued that if Israel had wanted arms, it should accept international supervision of its nuclear program. Dimona was never placed under the IAEA safeguards. Attempts to write Israeli’s adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) into contracts for the supply of U.S. weapons had continued throughout 1968.
In 1963, the Kennedy administration had backed the coup against the government of Iraq, which was headed by Abd al-Karim Qasim, who had, five years earlier, deposed the Western-allied Iraqi Monarchy. On the 8th February 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had received a memo, stating that: “We will make informal friendly noises as soon as we can find out whom to talk with, and ought to recognize as soon as we’re sure these guys are firmly in the saddle. CIA had excellent reports on the plotting, but I doubt either they or UK should claim much credit for it.” The CIA had originally planned to remove Qasim in the past, but those efforts unfortunately didn’t come to fruition.
The new government, which was led by President Abdul Salam Arif, was dominated by the Ba’ath Party (along with a coalition of Nasserists and Iraqi nationalists), and they used lists – possibly provided by the CIA – of suspected communists and other leftists to systematically murder unknown numbers of Iraq’s educated elite.
After a power struggle with the Ba’athist Prime Minister, Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, Arif had purged the Ba’ath Party from the government. The former CIA officer, James Chritchfield, had disputed the notion that the CIA had offered “active support” to the coup plotters, arguing that while they were “well-informed” on the first coup, it was “surprised” by the power struggles that had soon followed.
During Kennedy’s four-day visit to his ancestral home of Ireland in June 1963, he had accepted a grant of armorial bearings from the Chief Herald of Ireland, and he had also received his honorary degrees from the National University of Ireland and also Trinity College, in Dublin. John Fitzgerald Kennedy had visited the cottage at Dunganstown, located near New Ross, in County Wexford, where his ancestors had originally lived before emigrating to America.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy had also become the first foreign leader to address the Houses of the Oireachtas (the Irish Parliament). On the 22nd December 2006, the Irish Department of Justice had released the declassified police documents, which had indicated that the security was heightened as Kennedy was the core focal subject of three death threats during this visit in particular.
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
Troubled by the long-term dangers of radioactive contamination and nuclear weapons proliferation, John F Kennedy and Khrushchev had agreed to negotiate a nuclear test ban treaty, which was originally conceived in Adlai Stevenson’s 1956 Presidential Campaign. In their Vienna Summit meeting in June 1961, Khrushchev and Kennedy had reached an informal understanding against nuclear testing, but the Soviet Union had begun to test the nuclear weapons that September.
The United States had responded by conducting tests five days later. Shortly after that took place, the new U.S. satellites had began to deliver images which would make it clear the Soviets were substantially behind the U.S. in the arms race. Nevertheless, the greater nuclear strength of the United States was of little value as long as the U.S.S.R. had perceived themselves to be at a parity.
In the July of 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had sent W. Averell Harriman to Moscow to negotiate a treaty with the Soviets. The introductory sessions would include Khrushchev, who had later on delegated the Soviet representation to Andrei Gromyko, and it had quickly become clear that a comprehensive test ban would not be implemented, and this was largely due to the reluctance of the Soviets to allow inspections that would verify compliance.
Ultimately, the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom were the initial signatories to a limited treaty, which would prohibit the atomic testing on the ground, in the atmosphere, or underwater, but not underground. The U.S. Senate had ratified this, and Kennedy had signed it into law in October 1963, but France was quick to declare that it was free to continue developing and testing its own nuclear defenses.
-Domestic Policy- (Indicates continuity, but a turn in a similarly different direction)
John F Kennedy had called his domestic program the “New Frontier”, as it had ambitiously promised federal funding for education, as well as medical care for the elderly, along with economic aid for the rural regions, that’s including the government’s intervention to halt the recession. JFK had also promised an end to racial discrimination.
In his 1963 State of the Union address, Kennedy had also proposed a substantial tax reform, as well as a reduction in the income tax rate from the current range of 20-90% to a range of 14-65%; he also proposed a reduction in the corporate tax rates from 52% down to 47%. JFK had also added that the top rate should be set at 70%, only if certain deductions were not eliminated for high income earners. The Congress didn’t act until 1964, after JFK’s death, when the top individual rate was lowered to 70%, and the top corporate rate was set at 48% (see the Revenue Act of 1964).
To the Economic Club of New York, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had spoken in 1963 of “… the paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and revenues too low; and the soundest way to raise revenue in the long term is to lower rates now.” The Congress had passed a few of Kennedy’s major programs during his lifetime, but did not vote them through in 1964-1965 under his successor, Lyndon Johnson.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy had ended a period of tight fiscal policies, which would help to loosen the monetary policy to keep the interest rates down, and also encourage the growth of the economy. He had presided over the first government budget to top the $100 billion mark in 1962, and his first budget in 1961 was what led to the country’s first non-war, non-recession deficit.
The economy, which had been through two recessions and was in one when Kennedy had taken office, accelerated notably during his presidency. Despite the low inflation and interest rates, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) had grown by an average of only 2.2% per annum during the Eisenhower Presidency (which was scarcely more than the population growth at that time), and had declined by 1% during Eisenhower’s last 12 months in office.
The economy had turned around and prospered during the Kennedy administration, and the GDP had expanded by an average of 5.5% from early 1961 to late 1963, while the inflation had remained steady at around 1% and unemployment eased. The industrial production had risen by 15% and the motor vehicle sales had risen by 40%. This rate of growth in GDP and industry had continued until around 1969, and as such, has yet to be repeated for such a sustained period of time.
Bobby Kennedy had stated that: “We’re going for broke….. their expense accounts, where they’ve been and what they’ve been doing….. the FBI is to interview them all….. we can’t lose this.”
Robert had taken the position that the steel executives had illegally colluded to fix prices.. The administration’s actions are what influence the U.S. Steel to rescind the price increase. The Wall Street Journal had written that the administration had acted: “by naked power, by threats, by agents of the state security police.” The Yale Law Professor, Charles Reich, had opined in The New Republic that the administration had violated the civil liberties by calling a grand jury to indict the U.S. Steel for collusion so quickly.
A New York Times editorial had praised John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s actions and had also said that the steel industry’s price increase: “imperils the economic welfare of the country by inviting a tidal wave of inflation.” Nevertheless, the administration’s Bureau of Budget had reported that the price increase would have resulted in a possible net gain for GDP, as well as a possible net budget surplus. The stock market, which had steadily declined since Kennedy’s election, dropped 10%, shortly after the administration’s action on the steel industry.
Federal & Military Death Penalty
As he was the President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had overseen the last federal execution prior to Furman v. Georgia, a 1972 case that had led to a moratorium on federal execution. Victor Feguer was sentenced to death by a federal court in Iowa, and was later on executed on the 15th March 1963. Kennedy had commuted a death sentence which was imposed by a military court on the seaman, Jimmie Henderson, on the 12th February 1963, changing the death penalty to life in prison.
On the 22nd March 1962, John F Kennedy had signed into law HR5143 (PL87-423), which would abolish the mandatory death penalty for first degree murder in the District of Columbia, the only remaining jurisdiction left in the United States with such a penalty. The death penalty, however, has not been applied in the District of Columbia since 1957, and has now been abolished.
The turbulent end of state-sanctioned racial discrimination was one of the most pressing domestic issues of the 1960s. The Jim Crow segregation was one of the established laws in the Deep South. The Supreme Court of the United States had ruled in 1954 in the Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Many of the schools, especially those located in the Southern states, did not obey the Supreme Court’s decision. The Court had also prohibited segregation at other public facilities (such as buses, theatres, restaurants, courtrooms, bathrooms and beaches), but it had still continued nonetheless.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy had verbally chosen to support racial integration and also the civil rights; during the 1960 campaign, Kennedy had phoned Coretta Scott King, the wife of the Reverend, Martin Luther King, Jr., who was jailed for trying to integrate a department store lunch counter. Robert Kennedy had called the Georgia Governor, Ernest Vandiver, and had also obtained King’s release from prison, which had drawn additional black support to his brother’s candidacy.
In his first State of the Union Address in the January of 1961, President Kennedy had stated that: “The denial of constitutional rights to some of our fellow Americans on account of race – at the ballot box and elsewhere – disturbs the national conscience, and subjects us to the charge of world opinion that our democracy is not equal to the high promise of our heritage.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy had believed that the grassroots movement for civil rights would anger many of the Southern whites, and also make it more difficult for them to pass the Civil Rights laws in the Congress, which was dominated by the Conservative Southern Democrats, and he had chosen to distance himself from it.
John F Kennedy was also a lot more concerned with the other issues that occurred early into his presidency, such as the Cold War, the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the situation that occurred in Southeast Asia. As articulated by his brother, Robert Kennedy, the administration’s early priority was to “keep the president out of this civil rights mess”. Many of the civil rights leaders had viewed Kennedy to be lukewarm, especially where the Freedom Riders were concerned, as they had organised an integrated public transportation effort in the South, and were repeatedly met with violence by whites, including the law enforcement officers, both federal and state.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy had assigned the federal marshals to protect the Freedom Riders as an alternative to using the federal troops or the uncooperative FBI agents. Robert Kennedy, speaking for the President, had urged the Freedom Riders that they would have to”get off the buses and leave the matter to peaceful settlement in the courts.”
On the 6th March 1961, John F Kennedy had signed the Executive Order 10925, which would require the government contractors to “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” This would establish the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity.
Displeased with the pace of Kennedy addressing the issue of segregation, Martin Luther King, Jr., and his associates, had produced a document in 1962, which would call on the President to follow in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln and use an Executive Order to deliver a blow for Civil Rights as a different kind of Second Emancipation Proclamation – Kennedy had decided to not execute the order.
In the September of 1962, James Meredith had enrolled at the University of Mississippi, but was prevented from entering. The Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, had responded by sending 400 federal marshals, while President Kennedy had reluctantly sent 3,000 troops after the situation on the campus had turned violent. The Ole Miss Riot of 1962 had left two dead, with the result of dozens being injured in the process, but James Meredith was finally able to enrol in his first class.
The instigating subculture at the Ole Miss Riot and at many of the other racially ignited events, was the Ku Klux Clan. On the 20th November 1962, JFK had signed the Executive Order 11063, which would prohibit any forms of racial discrimination in federally supported housing or “related facilities”.
In early 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had related to Martin Luther King, Jr., about the prospects for the Civil Rights Legislation, by stating that: “If we get into a long fight over this in Congress, it will bottleneck everything else, and we will still get no bill.” The Civil Rights clashes were on the rise that year, and JFK’s brother, Robert Kennedy and Ted Sorenson, had pressed Kennedy to take more of the initiative on the legislative front.
On the 11th June 1963, the President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had intervened when the Alabama Governor, George Wallace, had blocked the doorway to the University of Alabama to stop the two African American students, James Hood and Vivian Malone, from attending. George Wallace had only moved aside after he was confronted by the Deputy Attorney General, Nicholas Katzenbach, and the Alabama National Guard; which had only just been federalised by the order of the President.
During that evening, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had given his famous Civil Rights address live on national television and radio, where he would launch his initiative for the Civil Rights Legislation – to provide full, and equal access to public schools and other facilities, and greater protection of voting rights.
His proposals are what would become a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The day had ended with the murder of the NAACP leader, Medgar Evers, in front of his home in Mississippi. As the President had predicted, the day after his television speech, and in reaction to it, the House Majority leader, Carl Albert, had called Kennedy to advise him that his two-year signature effort in the Congress to combat the poverty in Appalachia (Area Redevelopment Administration) had been defeated, primarily due to the votes of the Southern Democrats and also the Republicans.
Earlier on, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had signed the Executive Order that had created the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women on the 14th December 1961. The Former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, had led the commission. The Commission statistics had revealed that women were also experiencing many different forms of discrimination; their final report is what had documented the legal and cultural barriers that were issued in the October of 1963. Furthermore, on the 10th June 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a federal law of which that would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on a person’s sex.
Over a hundred thousand, predominantly the African Americans, had gathered in Washington for the Civil Rights March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on the 28th August 1963. John Fitzgerald Kennedy had feared that the March would have a negative effect on the prospects for the Civil Rights Bills in the Congress, and had chosen to decline an invitation to speak. He had also turned over some of the details of the government’s involvement to the Department of Justice, which had channelled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the six sponsors of the March, that’s including the N.A.A.C.P. and also Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
To ensure that there was a peaceful demonstration, the organisers and the President had personally edited the speeches that were considered inflammatory and had also agreed that the March would be held on the Wednesday, and that it would be over at 4:00 PM. Thousands of troops were placed on standby, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy had watched the King’s speech on TV and was very impressed.
The March itself was considered to be a “triumph of managed protest”, and not one arrest that related to the demonstration had occurred. Afterwards, the March leaders had accepted an invitation to the White House to meet with John Fitzgerald Kennedy and a lot of photographs were taken. Kennedy had felt that the March alone was a victory for him as well, and this had bolstered the chances further for his civil rights bill.
Nevertheless, the struggle was still far from being over, because three weeks later, a bomb had exploded on Sunday 15th September at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham; by the end of the day, four of the African American children had died in the explosion and two other children were shot to death in the aftermath.
Due to this resurgent form of violence, the Civil Rights Legislation had undergone some drastic amendments that had critically endangered any prospects for the passage of the bill, much to the outrage of the President. John Fitzgerald Kennedy had called the Congressional Leaders to the White House, and by the following day, the original bill, without the additions, had just enough votes to get itself out of the House Committee.
In 1963, the FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, who had hated the Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. and viewed him as an upstart troublemaker, had presented to the Kennedy Administration the allegations that some of Martin Luther King’s close confidants and advisers were communists. Concerns that the allegations, if made public, would derail the Administration’s Civil Rights initiatives, Robert Kennedy and the President had both warned Martin Luther King, Jr. to discontinue the suspect associations.
After the associations had continued, Robert Kennedy had felt compelled to issue a written directive, which would help to authorise the FBI to wiretap King, and also the other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King’s Civil Rights organisation.
Although Kennedy had only given written approval for the limited wiretapping of King’s phones “on a trial basis, for a month or so”, Hoover had decided to extend the clearance to that his men were left “unshackled” to look for the evidence any areas of King’s life that they had deemed worthy. The wiretapping had continued through June 1966, and was revealed later on in 1968.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy had originally proposed an overhaul of the American Immigration Policy that, later on, was to become the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which was sponsored by Kennedy’s brother, the Senator, Edward Kennedy. It had dramatically shifted the source of immigration from the Northern and Western European countries towards immigration from Latin America and Asia.
This policy change is what had also shifted the emphasis in the selection of immigrants in favour of family reunification. John Fitzgerald Kennedy had wanted to dismantle the selection of immigrants based on their country of origin, and had also seen this as an extension to his civil rights policies.
The construction of the Kinzua Dam had flooded 10,000 acres (4,047 ha) of the Seneca nation land that they had occupied under the Treaty of 1794, and this had forced the 600 Seneca to relocate to Salamanca, in New York. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was asked by the American Civil Liberties Union to intervene and also halt the project, but he had chosen to decline, which cited a critical need for flood control. He had also expressed his concerns about the plight of the Seneca, and had, instead, chosen to direct the government agencies to assist in obtaining more land, damages and also assistance to help mitigate their displacement, following the result of the flood.
The Apollo Program was conceived early in 1960, during the Eisenhower administration, as this served as a follow-up to Project Mercury. While NASA had gone ahead with planning for Apollo, the funding for the program was far from certain, given Eisenhower’s opposition to the manned spaceflight. John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s advisors had speculated that a Moon flight would be prohibitively expensive, but he had decided to postpone the decision.
Kennedy had appointed the Vice President, Lyndon Johnson, as the chairman of the U.S. Space Council, a strong supporter of the U.S. Space Program who had worked for the creation of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in the Senate. In Kennedy’s January 1961 State of the Union address, he had suggested international co-operation in space. Khrushchev had decided to decline, given that the Soviets did not wish to reveal the status of their rocketry, as well as their capabilities they would have in space.
On the 12th April 1961, the Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, had become the first person to fly in space, which would reinforce the American fears about being left behind in a technological competition with the Soviet Union. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was eager for the United States to take the lead in the Space Race for the reasons of strategy and prestige. He had first announced the goal of landing a man on the Moon in the speech to a Joint Session of Congress on the 25th May 1961, stating:
“First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations—explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon—if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy had also made a speech at the Rice University on the 12th September 1962, to which he had said: “No nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space. … We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
On the 21st November 1962, in a cabinet meeting with the NASA administrator, James E. Webb, and the other officials, John F Kennedy had explained that the Moon shot was important for the reasons of international prestige, and that the expense was justified. Lyndon Johnson had assured him that the lessons learned from the space program had the military value as well. The costs for the Apollo Program were expected to reach up to $40 billion.
In a September 1963 speech that came before the United Nations, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had urged the co-operation between the Soviets and Americans in space, by specifically recommending that Apollo should be switched to “a joint expedition to the moon”. Khrushchev had again chosen to decline, and the Soviets did not commit to a manned Moon mission until 1964. On the 20th July 1964, almost six years after JFK’s death, the Apollo 11 had landed the first manned spacecraft on the Moon.
The President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas at 12:30 PM Central Standard Time (18:30 PM Central Daylight Time in the United Kingdom) on Friday 22nd November 1963, while he was on a political trip to Texas to smooth over the frictions in the Democratic Party between the liberals, Ralph Yarborough, Don Yarborough (no relation) and the Conservative, John Connally. While he was travelling in a Presidential motorcase through downtown Dallas, Kennedy was shot once in the throat, and once in the head.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was taken to Parkland Hospital for emergency medical treatment, but was sadly pronounced dead at 1:00 PM CST (7:00 PM CDT in the UK). At the age of only 46, Kennedy had died younger than any other U.S. President known to date. Lee Harvey Oswald, who was an employee of the Texas School Book Depository from which the shots were suspected to have been fired, was arrested for the murder of a local police officer, and was also subsequently charged for the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
He had denied shooting anyone, as he had claimed he was a patsy, but was subsequently killed by Jack Ruby on the 24th November 1963, before he could even be tried. Jack Ruby was then arrested and convicted for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald. He had successfully appealed his conviction and also his death sentence but had been taken ill and died from Cancer on the 3rd January 1967, while the date for his new trial was being set.
The President, Lyndon Johnson, had created the Warren Commission – chaired by the Chief Justice, Earl Warren – to investigate the assassination, which had concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin. The results of this investigation has been disputed by many, and the assassination had proved to be an important moment in U.S. history because of the impact Kennedy’s death had on the nation, as well as the ensuing political repercussions.