John F. Kennedy

1961- Nov. 1963

Election of 1960


  • Nominee- John F. Kennedy
  • Running Mate- Lyndon B. Johnson
  • Electoral Vote (states carried)- 303 (23)
  • Popular Vote- 34,220,984 (49.7%)


  • Nominee- Richard Nixon
  • Running Mate- Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
  • Electoral Vote (states carried)- 219 (26)
  • Popular Vote- 34,108,157 (49.6%)

  • John F. Kennedy won election
  • "It's not what your country can do for you, it's what you can do for your country"
  • New Frontier- JFK's campaign name, promised to revitalize the stagnant economy and enact reform legislation in education, health care and civil rights.

The Cold War

"Flexible Response"- Defense Secretary McNamara's strategy to develop an array of military "options" that could be precisely matched to the gravity of the crisis at hand

Kennedy and Vietnam-

  • "flexible response" gave a progressive, somewhat endless, increase of the use of force.
  • In 1961, JFK increased the number of "military advisers" (Troops) in South Vietnam in order to help protect Diem from the communists long enough to allow him to enact basic social reforms.
  • By the time of JFK's death, he had ordered 15,000 men to Vietnam, this would be very hard to pull out from


  • April 17, 1961- 1,200 exiles landed at Cuba's Bay of Pigs. JFK failed to provide air support for the exiles. The invasion therefore failed as the exiles were forced to surrender.
  • The "Bay of Pigs"- pushed Castro further into the Soviet embrace.
  • October 1962- Cuban Missile Crisis- it was discovered that the Soviets were secretly installing nuclear missiles in Cuba. JFK rejected proposals to bomb missile sites. Instead of this, October 22, 1962, he created a naval quarantine of Cuba and demanded immediate removal of all missiles and weapons.
  • On October 28, 1962- Khrushchev agreed to pull the missiles out of Cuba, JFK agreed to end the quarantine and not invade the Cuba
  • late 1963- a pact prohibiting trial nuclear explosions in the atmosphere was signed.


  • JFK met with Khrushchev at Vienna in June 1961
  • Khrushchev was belligerently minded, he then threatened to cut off western Germany, JFK was not shaken.
  • In August 1961, the Soviets began to construct the Berlin Wall. The Berlin wall was meant to stop the large population migration from Eastern to Western Germany through Berlin.

Civil Rights

  • JFK had gained the black vote by promising that he would pass civil rights legislation.
  • In 1960, groups of Freedom Riders (organized mixed-race groups who rode interstate buses deep into the South to draw attention to and protest racial segregation) spread out across the South to end segregation in facilities serving interstate bus passengers.
  • A white mob torched a Freedom Ride bus near Anniston, Alabama in May 1961. Southern officials would not help the riders so federal marshals were dispatched to help.
  • Kennedy's family had a good relationship with the King family for the most part.
  • JFK, in shock of the brutal events surrounding MLK's campaign in Birmingham, delivered a speech to the nation on June 11, 1963 in which he dedicated himself to finding a solution to the racial problems.
  • In August of 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. led 200,000 black and white demonstrators on a peaceful "March on Washington" in support of the proposed new civil rights legislation.


  • November 22, 1963
  • President Kennedy was killed as he was riding in a limousine in Dallas, Texas.
  • The shooter was Lee Harvey Oswald.
  • Jack Ruby killed Oswald by shooting him with no jurisdiction to do so.
  • Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson took over as president after Kennedy's death, he retained most of Kennedy's ideas and cabinet members.