KENNEDY’S “NEW FRONTIER” SPIRITComplacent & comfortable as the 1950’s closed, Americans elected in 1960 a young, vigorouspresident who pledged to “get the country moving again.” Americans were excited about thepolitical “passing of the torch.”
Who could have known how action-packed the ’60’s would be – identify what wasupcoming. Kennedy, the youngest president ever elected, assembled one of theyoungest cabinets. Which member of his cabinet created friction with the FBI?
THE NEW FRONTIER at HOME From the outset Kennedy inspired high expectations, especially among the young. His challenge of a “New Frontier” quickened patriotic pulses. Integral parts of the New Frontier included the establishment of the Peace Corps (explain) ….
to achieving the goal of putting a man on the moon ….* This goal was achieved in 1969.
… which was repeated two more times in the early 1970’s …
… and proposing medical assistance to the elderly and increased federal aid to education. JFK came into office with fragile majorities in Congress. Southern democrats threatened to team up with Republicans and ax New Frontier proposals. To appease congressional conservatives, JFK expanded the important House Rules Committee, which was dominated by conservatives. A vexing problem for JFK was the economy – what steps did the president take to heal the ailing economy? Which particular step was ironic for a liberal, democratic president?
RUMBLINGS in EUROPEA few months after settling into the White House, JFK had a tough meeting with thebelligerent Soviet Premier, Khruschev, in Vienna. What was the Soviet demand? Howdid JFK respond upon returning home? The Soviet response was to construct theBerlin Wall – what was the purpose of the “wall?”
Notice the cemented window openings on the building. The buildings are located in EastBerlin, but the street is located in West Berlin. The completed Berlin Wall would make iteven more difficult for East Berliners to escape to West Berlin.
FOREIGN FLARE-UPS and “FLEXIBLE RESPONSE”Special problems for U.S. foreign policy emerged from the worldwide de-colonization ofEuropean overseas possessions after WWII. “Brushfire wars” in Africa, Asia and LatinAmerica required a change away from Secretary Dulles’s doctrine of “massive retaliation.”Explain Sec. of Defense McNamara’s strategy of “flexible response” as analternative.
STEPPING into the VIETNAM QUAGMIRE The doctrine of “flexible response” seemed sane enough, but it contained lethal logic – explain.
How did the situation in Vietnamhighlight the pitfalls of “flexibleresponse?”
CUBAN CONFRONTATIONSAlthough the U.S. regarded Latin America as its backyard, its southern neighborsfeared the U.S. JFK incorporated a “carrot & stick” approach to contain the spread ofcommunism in the region. JFK inherited a CIA-backed scheme to deal with communism inCuba. Explain the series of events that led to the disaster known as the Bay ofPigs.
The Bay of Pigs blunder, along with continuing American covert efforts to assassinateCastro and overthrow his govt., naturally pushed the Cuban leader even further into theSoviet sphere. Krushchev lost little time in taking advantage of Cuba’s situation. Explainthe Cuban crisis. Describe the fallout from this crisis.
THE STRUGGLE for CIVIL RIGHTSKennedy had campaigned with a strong appeal to black voters, but he proceeded gingerly to redeemhis promises – why did he move so slowly on civil rights? What was his rationale? But eventssoon scrambled his calculations. Violent white reactions to black sit-ins ….
… and groups of Freedom Riders that fanned out to end segregation in facilities servinginterstate bus passengers forced the Kennedy Admin. to join hands with the civil rightsmovement.
Describe JFK’s relationship with Martin Luther King. In which area was initialprogress made?
Was the Civil Rights struggle morepeaceful, or more violent?
Watching developments on television screens, a horrified world saw peaceful civil rightsmarchers, some of them children, repeatedly repelled by police armed with dogs, hoses,clubs, and cattle prods.Jolted by these confrontations and stung by international criticism, JFK delivered amemorable televised speech on June 11, 1963. What did it call for?
In August Martin Luther King led 200,000 black & white demonstrators on a peaceful“March on Washington” in support of the proposed legislation. There, he gave his famous“I have a dream ….” speech.
THE KILLING of KENNEDYViolence haunted America in the early 1960’s and it took center stage on November 22,1963. While riding in an open limousine in downtown Dallas, JFK was shot in the head by aconcealed shooter and died within seconds. Identify the primary figures involved inthe assassination. Does any conspiracy surround the shooting? Vice President LyndonJohnson was promptly sworn-in as president on a waiting plane. How did Johnson handlethe dramatic transition?
In 1964, as America’s younger generation continued to mourn the tragic Kennedyassassination, the Fab Four, better known as The Beatles, …
… “invaded” the U.S. when they performed on the Ed Sullivan Show and ushered-in a newteen culture. “Beatlemania” had begun.
THE LBJ BRAND on the PRESIDENCYLyndon Johnson, six feet three inches tall, hailed from the populist hill country of west Texas.Provide a background and/or profile.
As president, Johnson quickly shed theconservative coloration of his Senate years toreveal the hidden liberal underneath. He pressedCongress to pass the Civil Rights Bill to honorJFK’s legacy. What other Kennedy programs didhe champion?Johnson dubbed his domestic program the “GreatSociety,” a sweeping set of New Dealish economicand welfare measures aimed at transforming theAmerican way of life.
What were the poverty statistics that alarmed LBJ?
The Appalachian region was, and remains, one of the poorest regions of the country.
JOHNSON BATTLS GOLDWATER in 1964Johnson’s nomination by the Democrats in 1964 was a foregone conclusion. Thanks to LBJ,the Democrats stood squarely on their most liberal platform since Truman’s Fair Dealdays.The Republicans nominated Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, a champion ofconservatism. The American stage was set for a historic clash of political principles.Identify Goldwater’s platform?
Explain the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the subsequent Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. How didthis impact the election?On election day, Johnson won in a landslide and swept lopsided Democratic majorities inboth houses of Congress. What factors accounted for Johnson’s landslide victory?
THE GREAT SOCIETY CONGRESSJohnson’s huge victory temporarily smashed the conservative congressional coalition ofsouthern Democrats and northern Republicans. Democrats enjoyed a 2-1 margin.Congress poured out a flood of legislation, comparable to the New Dealers in the 100Days Congress of 1933.
Great Society programs came in for rancorous political attack in later years.Conservatives charged that poverty could not be papered over with greenbacks and thatthe billions spent for “social engineering” had simply been flushed down the drain.In the end, describe the “balance sheet” of Johnson’s Great Society programs.
THE BLACK REVOLUTION EXPLODESIn Johnson’s native South, the walls of segregation were crumbling, but not fast enoughfor long-suffering African Americans. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave the federalgovt. more muscle to enforce school-desegregation orders and to prohibit racialdiscrimination in all kinds of public accommodations and employment.Why were African-Americans in an ugly mood even after the passage of the Civil Rights Act?Explain the issue of voting rights. Describe the Voting Rights Act and its impact. And, whatwere the provisions of the 24th Amendment?
BLACK RAGE The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was one victory, albeit an important one, in the continuing Civil Rights crusade. Increasingly, violent voices began to be heard in the black movement. This rising bitterness was highlighted by the career of Malcolm X, a brilliant black Muslim preacher who favored black separatism and condemned the “blue-eyed white devils.”
The African-American community became increasingly split between Martin Luther King’scourse of moderation and Malcolm X’s course of violent activism. The civil disobedienceadvocated by King came under heavy fire from younger black radicals.Explain the phrase “Black Power.” What waswhite reaction to this?Despair deepened with the assassination ofMLK in April, 1968. Describe theimpact/significance of his death.
In the end, King’s legacy of moderation and civil disobedience prevailed. White Americanswere increasingly moved to act on behalf of Civil Rights for Black-Americans as brutalwhite repression was shown on television. The Soviet Union took pleasure in highlightingthe embarrassing violence.
COMBATING COMMUNISM in TWO HEMISPHERESForeign flare-ups threatened Johnson’s political life. Explain the problem for LBJ in theDominican Republic. Additionally, Johnson was floundering deeper into the Vietnamconflict. Americans watched LBJ’s step-by-step escalation. What was “OperationRolling Thunder?” How did Goldwater react to Johnson’s escalation in Vietnam?
VIETNAM VEXATIONSAmerica could not defeat the enemy in Vietnam, but it seemed to be defeating itself.World opinion grew increasingly hostile – why? Domestic discontent also festered asthe Vietnamese entanglement dragged on. Anti-war demonstrations increased,increasing numbers of draftees dodged service, and many Americans felt pangs ofconscience at the spectacle of Americans burning peasant huts and blistering civilianswith napalm. Describe the war opposition in Congress.
Over-commitment in S.E. Asia also tied America’s hands elsewhere. Johnson had tocontend with expanding Soviet influence, the Six Day War in the Middle East, and theNorth Koreans seizing the U.S. intelligence ship, the Pueblo. Describe each of theseevents.
VIETNAM TOPPLES JOHNSONHawkish illusions that the struggle was about to be won were shattered by a blisteringcommunist offensive launched in late January 1968 – explain the Tet Offensive and itsimpact/significance. Explain Johnson’s political dilemma.
With an increasingly insistent voice, American public opinion demanded a speedy end tothe war. Opposition grew so vehement that Johnson could feel the very foundations ofgovt. shaking under his feet. He also suffered through hells of personal agony overAmerican casualties. Adding to Johnson’s political woes, military leaders requested 200,000 more troops. The military’s request split Johnson’s Administration.
LBJ meanwhile was being challenged fromwithin his own party as the 1968presidential election approached. Whowere the challengers?What was Johnson’s response to theirchallenge? Describe the impact of hisresponse.It was rumored that Republican RichardNixon was working behind the scenes withNorth Vietnamese representatives toensure that the war would continue throughthe campaign.
THE PRESIDENTIAL SWEEPSTAKES of 1968 The summer of 1968 was one of the hottest political seasons in the country’s history. Johnson’s heir apparent for the nomination was Hubert Humphrey, who was supported by the party’s apparatus. But Senators McCarthy and Kennedy were dueling in several state primaries, with Kennedy’s support gathering ever-increasing speed. Fatefully, on June 5, 1968, Kennedy was assassinated at a political event in California. Kennedy’s assassination would throw the Democratic Party into disarray.
Surrounded by bitterness & frustration, the Democrats met in Chicago in Aug. 1968.Angry anti-war zealots, deprived by an assassin of their leading candidate, streamedmenacingly into Chicago. Describe what happened at the convention?Amid the tumultuous atmosphere, Humphrey won the nomination on the first ballot.What was Humphrey’s war platform?Scenting victory as the Democrats divided, the Republicans nominated Richard Nixon –why was he the Republican’s choice? Identify the third party candidate and itsplatform.
VICTORY for NIXONVietnam proved a less crucial issue than expected. Why was it a difficult decision forvoters? Nixon, who had lost a close election to Kennedy, won big in the electoral column,but won more narrowly in the popular vote column. His biggest “failure” was not capturingparty control in either house of Congress.How did the third-party do in the election?
THE CULTURAL UPHEAVAL of the 1960’sThe struggles of the 1960’s against racism, poverty, and the war in Vietnam hadmomentous cultural consequences. Everywhere in 1960’s America, a newly negativeattitude toward all kinds of authority took hold. Disillusionment sparked many youngpeople to abandon their traditional moral rudders.This disaffection of the young reached crisis proportions in the tumultuous 1960’s. Oneof the first organized protests against established authority was the so-called FreeSpeech Movement in Cal.
But in only a few years, the clean-cut Berkeley activists and their sober-minded sit-inswould seem quaint. Some became radical political rebels, while others turned to mind-bending drugs, tuned in to “acid rock,” and dropped out of “straight” society. Others “didtheir own thing” in communes or “alternative” institutions. Patriotism became a dirty word. The “counter-culture” was blatantly opposed to traditional American ways.
The 1960’s also witnessed a “sexual revolution,” though its novelty and scale are oftenexaggerated. This “revolution” ranged from the introduction of the birth-control pill tomarches advocating gay rights.Launched in youthful idealism, many of the cultural “revolutions” of the 1960’s sputteredout in violence and cynicism. Identify the three Ps of the upheavals. As the 1970’sapproached, what was the main factor for the upheavals subsiding?