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Essential Question : To what degree did Kennedy’s “New Frontier” domestic & foreign policy differ from Truman & Eisenhower in the 1950s?. Kennedy & the New Frontier. But, it was not the 1 st time TV influenced politics…. JFK’s New Frontier.

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  • Essential Question:

    • To what degree did Kennedy’s “New Frontier” domestic & foreign policy differ from Truman & Eisenhower in the 1950s?

Kennedy & the New Frontier

But, it was not the 1st time TV influenced politics…

JFK’s New Frontier

McCarthy was destroyed by TV in the Army-Senate hearings

Eisenhower used TV to campaign in 1952 & 1956

  • The election of 1960 between Richard Nixon & John F. Kennedy was the 1st to use TV debates:

    • Nixon was much better known buttheTVdebates helped swing undecided voters towards JFK

    • 1960 marked the beginning of television dominance in politics

    • Image & appearance became essential traits for candidates

Nixon used TV to defend himself in the “Checkers” speech

TN Senator Kefauver used TV to investigate organized crime

JFK’s New Frontier

  • Kennedy’s administration reflected youth, energy, & sharp break from Eisenhower

  • JFK promised a New Frontier:

    • Domestic reforms in education, health care, & civil rights

    • A foreign policy committed to defeating the Soviet Union & winning the Cold War

The JFK era began “Camelot” comparisons with JFK as a modern-day Lancelot

…the extension of Social Security…

Aid for public schools…

JFK’s New Frontier

…and medical insurance for the elderly were all shot down by Congress

An increase in the minimum wage

…unemployment benefits…

  • JFK’s New Frontier promised a return of FDR-era liberal policies:

    • But, Conservatives in Congress opposed JFK’s social reforms in education & health care

    • Congress did help the poor

    • The modernization of industry, gov’t spending, & a major tax cut in 1963 stimulated the economy & created jobs

Increased funds for public housing

JFK’s New Frontier

  • One long-lasting achievement of the JFK-era was strengthening the presidency:

    • Eisenhower left many decisions to his staff, but JFK demanded more direct presidential control

    • JFK transferred much of the decision-making power from the cabinet to his White House staff

JFK appointed tough, pragmatic, & academic “New Frontiersmen” to his staff

Kennedy referred to his staff as the “the best & the brightest”

Kennedy Intensifies the Cold War

Kennedy Intensifies the Cold War

  • Addressing U.S. foreign policy & containing Communism was JFK’s top priority as president:

    • JFK believed Ike compromised with the USSR when the Cold War could have been won

    • JFK aimed to close the “missile gap” & increase U.S. defenses

    • Looked to solve issues in Berlin, Vietnam, & Cuba

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival & success of liberty. We will do this & more.”

—JFK’s inaugural address

To combat Communism & to help underdeveloped countries, JFK created the Peace Corps & the Alliance for Progress

Flexible Response

  • JFK shifted from Ike’s “mutually assured destruction” to a “flexible response” capable of responding to a variety of future problems:

    • Increased nuclear arsenal to 1,000 ICBMs & 32 Polaris subs to create a “first-strike” capability

    • Increased the army & air force

    • Expanded covert operations & created the Green Berets

JFK was convinced that the USSR had more missiles, but really the U.S. had the lead with 600 B-52s, 2 Polaris subs, 2,000 warheads

The Apollo Program

The Space Race

  • JFK hoped to avoid another Sputnik & hoped to beat the Soviets to the moon:

    • JFK greatly expanded NASA & announced that the U.S. would get to the moon by 1970

    • The U.S. landed a man on the moon in 1969

Crisis over Berlin

  • JFK’s 1st confrontation with the Soviet Union came in Berlin:

    • Khrushchev was upset with the exodus of skilled workers from East Germany to West Berlin

    • The USSR threatened to remove all U.S. influence from West Berlin, but settled on building the Berlin Wall in 1961

“Ich bin ein Berliner”

—JFK, 1963

Containment in Vietnam

  • Vietnamprovedtobeatoughtest:

    • Since 1954, Communist leader Ho Chi Minh gained popularity in North Vietnam; By 1961, he gained a foothold in the South

    • The U.S. gave aid to unpopular South leader Ngo Dihn Diem

    • When Diem lost control of the South, JFK gave the OK for a coup against Diem in 1963

“Strongly in our mind is what happened in China at the end of World War II, where China was lost. We don’t want that.”



Viet Minh are Vietnamese communists in North Vietnam

Viet Cong are Vietnamese communists in South Vietnam

Containing Castro: Bay of Pigs

  • Fidel Castro took over Cuba in 1959&developed ties with Russia

    • The Eisenhower administration (directed by the CIA) had been training Cuban exiles for an invasion & overthrow of Castro

    • In 1961, JFK gave the OK for the CIA to initiate the Bay of Pigs invasion

JFK blamed the Republicans for allowing a “communist satellite” to arise on “our very doorstep”

The invasion called for U.S. air support but JFK canceled the air strike; without air support, Castro squashed the invasion

Kennedy took full responsibility for the failure of Bay of Pigs, but did not apologize for coup

24 medium-range & 18 short range ICBMs

Cuban Missile Crisis

  • To protect Cuba from another U.S. invasion, the USSR began a secret build-up of nuclear missiles

  • On Oct 14, 1962 a U-2 spy plane discovered Cuban missile camps

  • How would the U.S. respond?

Immediate air strike?

Full-scale invasion?

Kennedy chose to “quarantine” Cuba to keep new missiles out & an invasion of Cuba if the USSR did not remove its nukes

Diplomacy: trade nukes in Cuba for nukes in Turkey?

Naval blockade to keep warheads out?

Kennedy announced a quarantine (blockade) to keep more missiles out & demanded that the Soviets remove the missiles already in Cuba

The Cuban Missile Crisis

And…U.S. removal of nuclear weapons in Turkey

Cuban Missile Crisis

  • The standoff ended when Russia removed its Cuban missiles & the USA vowed to never invade Cuba

  • The impact of the crisis:

    • Seen as a political victory for JFK

    • Installed a “hot line” to improve US-Soviet communications

    • This near-nuclear war convinced both sides to move from confrontation to negotiation

“Our most basic common link is the fact that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. We are all mortal.”


  • Essential Question:

    • To what degree was Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” a continuation of JFK’s “New Frontier” domestic agenda?

“Let Us Continue”

"Let Us Continue"

  • On Nov 22, 1963 in Dallas, JFK was assassinated & VP Lyndon Johnson became president:

    • LBJ was a master politician with a reputation for getting results

    • LBJ promised to continue Kennedy's liberal agenda

    • LBJ ultimately exceeded JFK’s record on providing economic & racial equality

LBJ helped push through the greatest array of liberal legislation in U.S. history (“Great Society”), surpassing FDR’s New Deal

Americans were stunned this rapid succession of events

Lyndon Johnson in Action

  • LBJ quickly pushed through Congress 2 key “Kennedy” bills:

    • A $10 billion reduction in income taxes that led to increased consumer spending & new jobs

    • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 that declared segregation in public facilities illegal & protected black voting rights

The most significant legislation on race since the Reconstruction Amendments

Lyndon Johnson in Action

  • In 1964, LBJ waged a “war on poverty in America” & created the Office of Economic Opportunity:

    • Created the Job Corps for high school dropouts

    • Head Start for preschoolers

    • Adult education & technical training opportunities

  • As a result of, America had 10 million fewer poor people by 1970

In 1964, the U.S. had 35 million poor people

The Election of 1964

  • In 1964, LBJ ran against:

    • Conservative Republican Barry Goldwater rejected LBJ’s liberal welfare programs & called for a stronger foreign policy stance

    • Segregationist George Wallace

  • LBJ won in a landslide & the Democrats took control of Congress for 1st time in 25 years

The “Daisy” Campaign Spot

Click on the “Daisy Ad”

The Great Society

  • Once elected, LBJ initiated his “Great Society” domestic agenda:

    • Medicare & Medicaid extended health insurance to the elderly & the poor

    • Extended $1 billion to improve public & parochial schools

    • The Voting Rights Act of 1965 banned literacy tests & provided for federal registrars for polls

The Triumph of Reform

  • By 1965, Congress passed 89 laws or reforms as part of LBJ’s social agenda:

    • The Great Society was the most comprehensive agenda of social reform since FDR

    • But…the American people did not respond well to LBJ

    • Soon…events in Vietnam, would taint his presidency

Johnson Escalates the Vietnam War

LBJ Escalates the Vietnam War

“I am not going to lose Vietnam. I am not going to be the president who saw Southeast Asia go the way China went.”


  • LBJ continued JFK’s strong foreign policy positions too:

    • He supported CIA-sponsored coups in Brazil, Panama, & the Dominican Republic

    • LBJ continued Eisenhower & JFK policies towards Vietnam

  • But in doing so, LBJ found himself under attack from Congress, the media, & universities

LBJ Escalates the Vietnam War

  • During the Gulf of Tonkin affair in Aug 1964, the military bombed North Vietnam in retaliation for an attack on the USS Maddox

  • The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave LBJ the authority to:

    • Defend Vietnam at any cost

    • Unlimited military intervention to be used at LBJ’s discretion

The Vietnam War

LBJ’s advisors wanted 100,000 troops in 1965 & a plan for 100,000 more in 1966; Estimations were 500 U.S. deaths per month


  • 1965 marked the beginning of full-scaleU.S.involvement in Vietnam

    • LBJ was informed that “without U.S. action, defeat is inevitable”

    • LBJ authorized bombing raids into North Vietnam & requested 50,000U.S.soldierssenttoAsia

  • LBJ never explained to the American people how the gov’t planned to win the war in Vietnam

LBJ took middle road of limited U.S. intervention: not a withdrawal & not a full-scale invasion of North Vietnam


  • By 1968, 500,000 U.S. troops stationed to keep Vietnam from falling to Communism

    • U.S. bombings & “search & destroy” attacks were ineffective

    • Soviet & Chinese weaponry freely flowed into North Vietnam

    • Reckless bombings killed thousands of innocent civilians

  • The bloody stalemate & media depictionofthewarledtoprotests


  • The early 1960s under JFK represented consume spending, a strong stance on the Cold War, & more social reforms at home

  • The transition to LBJ in 1963 brought success at home (civil rights & the Great Society)

  • But, heightened involvement in Vietnam signaled the onset of the counter-culturemovementby1968

Class Discussion: To what degree was the USA winning the Cold War from 1945-1963?

The Cold War: 1948-1975

The Cold War under Truman: 1945-1952

The Cold War: 1948-1975

The Cold War under Eisenhower: 1953-1960

The Cold War: 1948-1975

The Cold War under Kennedy: 1961-1963

The Cold War: 1948-1975

The Cold War under Johnson: 1963-1968

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