Election of Kennedy
Election of 1960, one of the closest elections in American history
Republican candidate was Richard Nixon and the democratic candidate was John F. Kennedy, former Senator of Massachusetts
Kennedy was youngest person ever to be elected President
Many people believed Kennedy’s religious affiliation of Roman Catholicism would be an issue in the campaign but he pledged a solid commitment to the separation of church and state
The New Frontier:
Proposals such as medical assistance for the aged and increased federal aid to education
Won a first round in his campaign when he forced an expansion of the all-important House Rules Committee
New Frontier did not expand quickly
Campaigned on the theme of revitalizing the economy and tried to hold the line against crippling inflation
Support of a general tax-cut bill
- promoted multibillion-dollar project to land an American on the moon
The Cold War
Organization itself becoming dominated by numerous nascent nations emerging in once-colonial Asia and Africa, some critics of U.S. foreign policy
Eisenhower had drenched jungle kingdom with dollars but did not cleanse the country of communist element
Kennedy’s military advisors seriously considered sending in American troops to the Laotian Civil War
The “brushfire wars” intensified the pressure for a shift away from the doctrine of “massive retaliation.”
President Kennedy increased spending on conventional military forces and bolstered the Special Forces
Kennedy and Vietnam:
Diem government had ruled shakily since the partition of Vietnam in 1954
Anti-Diem agitators threatened to topple the pro-American government
Kennedy ordered a sharp increase in the number of “military advisers” in Southern Vietnam
American forces allegedly entered to foster political stability
The U.S. ironically contributed to a long process of political disintegration
Kennedy still told the South Vietnamese that it was “their war.”
In 1961, President Kennedy extended the American hand of friendship to Latin America with the Alliance for Progress, called the Marshall Plan for Latin America
A primary goal was to help the Latin American countries close the gap between the rich and the poor, and thus quiet communist agitation.
Results were disappointing as America had few positive impacts on Latin America's immense social problems.
On April 17, 1961, 1,200 exiles landed at Cuba's Bay of Pigs.
President Kennedy was against the direct intervention of the overthrow of Fidel Castro in Cuba, failing to provide air support for the exiles
The invasion therefore failed as the exiles were forced to surrender.
In October 1962, it was discovered that the Soviets were secretly installing nuclear missiles in Cuba.
Kennedy rejected air force proposals for a bombing strike against the missile sites. Instead, on October 22, 1962, he ordered a naval "quarantine" of Cuba and demanded immediate removal of the weapons.
On October 28, Khrushchev agreed to a compromise in which he would pull the missiles out of Cuba. The American government also agreed to end the quarantine and not invade the island.
In late 1963, a pact prohibiting trial nuclear explosions in the atmosphere was signed.
In June 1963, President Kennedy gave a speech at American University, Washington, D.C. encouraging Americans to abandon the negative views of the Soviet Union. He tried to lay the foundations for a realistic policy of peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union.
Berlin Crisis and Construction of the Berlin Wall:
Soviet leader Krushchev threatened to make a treaty with East Germany and cut off Western access to Berlin
President refused to be bullied
Soviets suddenly began to build the Berlin Wall in August 1961
It was designed to plug the heavy population drain from East Germany to West Germany through the Berlin funnel
Ugly scar that symbolized the post-World War 2 division of Europe into two hostile camps
Kennedy and Civil Rights
He had pledged to eliminate racial discrimination
Groups of Freedom Riders fanned out to end segregation in facilities serving interstate bus passengers
white mob torched a Freedom Ride bus and Robert Kennedy’s personal representative was beaten unconscious in an anti-Freedom Ride riot
Washington dispatched federal marshals to protect the Freedom Riders
Administration joined hands with civil rights movement
SNCC and other civil rights groups inaugurated a Voter Education Project to register the South’s disfranchised blacks
Violent opposition was seen at southern universities such as University of Mississippi
Relationship between King and the Kennedys was fruitful
Civil rights protestors often attacked by prejudice people and police
Kennedy delivered memorable speech to nation about the “moral issue” and he committed to finding a solution
He called for new civil rights legislation to protect black citizens
Still the violence continued and by the time of his death his civil rights bill was making little headway
While riding in an open limousine in downtown Dallas, Texas, Kennedy was shot in the brain by a concealed rifleman and died within seconds
Assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was shot to death by Jack Ruby
Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was quickly sworn in as President on a waiting airplane