Election of Kennedy

When: 1960
Candidates: Richard Nixon (Democratic) & John F. Kennedy (Democratic)
  • Nixon was considered young but experienced due his position of being Eisenhower's VP
  • Nixon's success came from his televised debates
  • JFK, former Massachusetts senator, was the youngest person elected President
  • Kennedy was Roman Catholic and became the first Catholic to be elected into office
  • Eisenhower won by a 100,000 votes of a 68 million total votes
Results: Kennedy won
  • Electoral Votes: 303/522
  • Total Votes: 34.221,344/68,328,015


The New Frontier

  • minimum wage was raised from $1 to $1.25
Presidential Trade Expansion Act
  • Cut tariffs for free trade with European Common Market
Peace Corps
  • sought to encourage mutual understanding between Americans and people of other nations and cultures

Cold War

T.V. Speech

  • USSR demanded for attention with their weapons
  • Coping method to keep missiles out is by issuing a naval blockade
  • Closest call to Nuclear War

Khrushchev Calls Back Ships

  • sends apology to JFK
  • USSR remove missiles if US ends blockade
  • US agreed to request and withdrew missiles in Turkey

"Flexible Response"

  • Dealt with the USSR
  • Crafted with the aid of foreign policy veteran Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara
  • Allowed the president to combat Soviet advances around the world through a variety of means
  • Kennedy could:
  1. send money or troops to fight Communist insurgents
  2. authorize the CIA to topple an unfriendly government
  3. use nuclear weapons.

Kennedy + Vietnam

  • Kennedy first applied his new doctrine to the problem in Vietnam, causing greater problems than Laos had been.
  • US was funding Ngo Dinh Diem’s corrupt South Vietnamese regime since Eisenhower first pledged support after the fall of Dien Bien Phu in 1954
  • Most South Vietnamese, who hated Diem, also resented the United States for keeping him in power
  • They threatened to overthrow him on numerous occasions
  • To avoid problems, Kennedy increased American commitment by sending “military advisers” or about 15,000 U.S. servicemen to Saigon
  • When anti-Diem sentiment continued to intensify, the US switched their views and allowed a 1963 coup to overthrow Diem.
  • Kennedy’s decision to send “military advisers” to South Vietnam caused a drastic increase of U.S. involvement in the Vietnamese civil war following:
  1. Eisenhower previously funded the anti-Communist faction
  2. Truman funded Greece and Turkey in the late 1940s for similar reasons
  • US troops presence issued a shift in war from South Vietnam to the United States
  • The first group opened the floodgates, and spurred the addition of more troops soon following
  • Eventually, Kennedy and future presidents would see the political impossibility to recall U.S. forces without first defeating the pro-Communist North Vietnamese.
  • Kennedy’s decision = a costly mistake that entangled the US in the longest and least successful war in American history to date.


  • Bays of Pigs Invasion (Apr 1961)

    • Kennedy allowed the training of anti-Castro CIA officials left Nicaragua to end Castro's regime
    • US's failure to materialize causes their capture by Cuban forces
    • Kennedy accepts full responsibility for the failure but continues to try and assassinate Castro
  • Cuban Missile Crisis

    • Controversy brewing between Cuba and US
    • Castro turns to USSR for help
    • US feels threatened by missiles being placed on Cuba
    • Cuba rebuttals by saying its a safety precaution
    • USSR points out US missiles in Turkey
    • Everyone was ordered to:
    1. Put nukes abroad bombers
    2. Set up for missile launch
    3. Naval fleet and armed forces = on stand-by


  • Kennedy’s first foreign policy crisis occurred when Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev threatened to sign a treaty with East Germany that would cut off the city of Berlin from the United States and Western Europe
  • USSR never signed any such treaty
  • They still built a massive wall of concrete and barbed wire around West Berlin in 1961 to divide East and West Germany
  • Made to prevent East Germans from escaping to freedom in the Western-controlled part of the city.
  • Guard towers were installed
  • the “no-man’s-land” between the inner and outer walls was mined and booby-trapped, which added difficultly for East Germans escape to West without death
  • Came to be the most famous symbol of the Cold War

Kennedy and Civil RIghts

  • 40 African American put into government
  • Thurgood Marshall = Second Circuit Appeals Court
  • creation of Committe on Equal Employment Oppurtunity
  • JFK demands ICC to issue fines on Southern States who segregated bus stops
James Merdith
  • an African American Air Force veteran
  • denied admission to the University of Mississippi
  • attempted to register four times without success
  • Long telephone conversations between the president, the attorney general, and Governor Ross Barnett failed to produce a solution
  • When federal marshals accompanied Meredith for registration, rioting erupted
  • Two people died and dozens were injured
  • JFK mobilized the National Guard and sent federal troops to the campus
  • Meredith registered and attended his first class the next day, which caused the end of segregation at the University of Mississippi

Civil Rights Bills

  • cleared several hurdles in Congress and won the endorsement of House and Senate Republican leaders
    • not passed by President Kennedy because of his passing
    • left in the hands of Lyndon B. Johnson.
    • Johnson used his connections, pre-VP, to pass the Civil Rights Act as a way to honor President Kennedy
    • Provisions of the Act passed on July 2, 1964:
    1. protecting African Americans against discrimination in voter qualification tests
    2. outlawing discrimination in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations engaged in interstate commerce
    3. authorizing the U.S. Attorney General's Office to file legal suits to enforce desegregation in public schools
    4. authorizing the withdrawal of federal funds from programs practicing discrimination
    5. outlawing discrimination in employment in any business exceeding 25 people and creating an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to review complaints.
    • crucial step in achieving the initial goal: full legal equality.

    Kennedy's Assassination

    When: November 22, 1963

    Where: Dallas, Texas

    Assassin: Lee Harvey


    • while the president was riding in a motorcade
    • Assassin, armed with a rifle and hiding in a nearby book depository, shot Kennedy as he passed
    • VP Lyndon Johnson = Kennedy’s successor
    • Within an hour and a half of the assassination, Oswald was shot and killed two days later in a Dallas police station (and on live television) by Jack Ruby