The Kennedy Era

Election of Kennedy

  • election of 1960 was between Democrat elected John F. Kennedy while Republicans elected Richard Nixon
  • Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. was elected under Nixon while Lyndon B. Johnson was under Kennedy for the vice presidency
  • Kennedy won both the electoral and popular votes (however the difference in the popular vote were extremely close)
  • The New Frontier was Kennedy's plan which included supporting civil rights, prioritizing defense, and pushing the space program

Reactions of the Cold War

  • Berlin Crisis of 1961 involved Soviet Union's ultimatum for the withdrawal of Western forces in the Western half of Germany
  • Soviet Union began to construct the Berlin Wall which separated Western and Eastern Germany
  • Flexible Response
    • strategy pushed by Kennedy that called for developing an array of military “options” that could match the problems that were circulating (ie. fear of Laos becoming Communist, violence in Congo)

    • resulted in increased spending on military forces and increased the Special Forces
  • in Vietnam Kennedy sent more military advisers to the South and was successful in killing Diem

The Issue of Civil Rights

  • Kennedy was pro civil rights for blacks which gave way for his popularity around the black communities
  • maintained a good relationship with black advocate Martin Luther King Jr.
  • March on Washington
    • black and white demonstration led by King

    • peaceful march in response to to Kennedy’s calling for a new civil rights legislation to protect black citizens

    • this is where King delivered his “I have a dream” speech


  • assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas
  • shot through an open roof presidential motorcade with his wife and the governor and his wife
  • assassin was Lee Harvey Oswald
  • Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby before he could go on trial and be punished
  • after Kennedy was proclaimed dead, Johnson took the oath to be the next president