President Kennedy

Chapter 39: Catherine Cain

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Election of Kennedy

Election of 1960

  • Republicans- Richard Nixon

    • VP: Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr

  • Democrats- John F. Kennedy- WON

    • VP: Lyndon B. Johnson

JFK= catholic = conflicts w/ Protestant, Bible Belt south & republicans --> gained support from industrial center workers, Catholics & African Americans

JFK= tv role --> displayed his personal appeal (very young)

Nixon- experienced VP - thought he was a good bet for republicans

Kennedy won by

  • 303 electoral votes to 219

  • Popular vote: only had 118,574 votes over Nixon's

New Frontier- Kennedy’s challenging acceptance speech called upon American people for sacrifices to achieve potential greatness

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute." - JFK

  • Peace Corps-- army of idealistic & youthful volunteers to bring American skills to LDCs

  • chose to stimulate the economy by cutting taxes & putting more money -----> directly into private hands

    • proposed a multibillion-$$ plan to land an American on moon

    • increased minimum wage from $1.00 to $1.25

    • Presidential Trade Expansion Act – cut tariffs for free trade w/ European Common Market

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The Cold War

Flexible Response

  • JFK- felt caught in between strategy of “massive retaliation” → either caused nuclear incineration or humiliation

  • JFK- pushed for strategy of ‘flexible response’ - endorsed by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara

    • developing an array of military options could be matched to the necessities of crisis @ hand

    • → increased $$ spending on conventional military forces & bolstered Special Forces (Green Berets-- elite antiguerilla trained to survive on little & kill w/ scientific means)

Kennedy & Vietnam

“military advisers”

  • aka US troops

  • corrupt right- wing Diem Gov in Saigon-- ruled shakily since partition of Vietnam 1954

    • Anti- Diem agitators threatened to topple pro gov from power

  • 1961- JFK ordered sharp ^ of military advisers in South Vietnam

    • why?

      • foster political stability (no communists)

    • but- made very DEEP political commitments & by time of death sent over 15 thousand troops


Bay of Pigs –

  • April 17, 1961-- 1,200 exiles @ Cuba's Bay of Pigs

    • JFK- against direct intervention of the overthrow of Fidel Castro in Cuba

      • didn’t provide air support for exiles → invasion therefore failed as exiles forced to surrender

  • blunder---> Castro further into USSR embrace

Cuban Missile Crisis –

  • October 1962- discovered USSR secretly installing nuclear missiles in Cuba (via US spy planes)

    • JFK-- rejected air force proposals 4 bombing strike against missile sites

  • October 22, 1962-- naval "quarantine" of Cuba & demanded immediate removal of weapons

  • week-- US waited while USSR ships approached patrol line by U.S. Navy @ Cuba

  • October 28-- Khrushchev agreed compromise pull missiles out of Cuba & US agreed to end quarantine & not invade island(also quietly remove US missiles from turkey)

  • late 1963-- Nuclear Test ban treaty w/ USSR

    • pact prohibiting trial nuclear explosions in atmosphere (thawing of Cold war??)

  • June 1963-- JFK P speech @ American University, Washington, D.C.

    • encouraging US to abandon negative views of USSR- tried to lay foundations for a realistic policy of peaceful coexistence w/ USSR

Berlin crisis

  • Khrushchev @ Vienna- June 1961- threatened US that they would make treaty w/ East Germany & cut off Western Access to Berlin

Construction of Berlin Wall

  • 1961-- USSR began to construct it

  • designed to plug population drain from East Germany to West Germany

  • “Wall of Shame”- lasted 3 decades- ugly to free world

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Kennedy & Civil Rights

  • African American voters helped provide JFK w/ his narrow victory→ they expected federal civil rights legislation

  • 1960-- groups of Freedom Riders in South went out to end segregation

    • May 1961- white mob torched a Freedom Ride near Anniston, Alabama

      • white south officials unwilling to stop violence → federal troops sent to protect freedom riders

        • = officially linking JFK to Civil Rights Movement

  • Voter Education Project-- SNCC & other civil rights group inaugurated- to register South’s historically disenfranchised blacks

  • Spring 1963-- MLK jr launched campaign against discrimination in Birmingham, Alabama

    • they were attacked by police w/ dogs & high pressure hoses

    • June 11, 1963--JFK → speech to nation: dedicated himself to finding solution to the racial problems.. → proposing the introduction a new civil rights bill (1964)

  • August 1963,-A. Philip Randolph led peaceful "March on Washington" - build support for the Civil Rights Bill of 1964

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Kennedy's Assassination

  • November 22, 1963- JFK shot & killed in Dallas, Texas (riding in open limousine)

  • gunman- Lee Harvey Oswald

    • Oswald was shot & killed by self appointed avenger- Jack Ruby

  • VP- Lyndon B. Johnson sworn into office- keeping most of Kennedy’s cabinet