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LESSON STRATER; Write down three questions about this picture. You have 5 minutes.
John F. Kennedy 1960-1963 Who Killed JFK? 22nd November, 1963
The Assassination of Kennedy To learn • about the evidence about the assassination • how this evidence is disputed • how some sources contradict others • how the historian’s job is to sift through these sources to search to reach a sound conclusion based on the evidence
Your Task is to reach a judgment on JFK's assassination. • You will be divided into small groups to assess the evidence surrounding JFK’s assassination. • You need to identify • What happened on that day? • How JFK was assassinated? • Who was to blame? • Whether the findings of the Warren Commission were right or not?
The Assassination of John F Kennedy • John Fitzgerald Kennedy became the 35th president of the United States in January 1961. He promised to help America’s poor, black people and improve education. Taxes would have to go up tp ay for these improvements. • This made him unpopular with wealthy people who would have to pay more taxes. • He was also unpopular with Southern racists who were against his equal treatment for blacks (or civil rights) policy. • They also disliked him because he came from a rich Northern, Catholic family. • In short, Kennedy had plenty of enemies. John Kennedy, aged 43, was the youngest president of the century. With his attractive wife, Jackie, and lively young children, the Kennedy family was a welcome change for the US media. An NDM Production
Key Events in Kennedys presidency 1961-1963. “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.” Kennedy’s inaugeral speech, 22 January 1961. Concerns at Home Kennedy brothers’ war on organised crime Black Civil Rights ‘Camelot’ – the charm offensive Kennedy’s domestic programmes did not advance very far due to increasing problems abroad.
Key Events in Kennedy's presidency 1961-1963. Foreign Policy Problems Facing Kennedy: Cold War Rivalries with Russia Vietnam? Cuban Missile Crisis 1962 Bay of Pigs Fiasco 1961 Cuba The Soviet Union The Berlin Wall 1961 US assisted invasion of Cuba by Cuban exiles fails disastrously Fidel Castro East Germany The Space Race Was Kennedy soft on Communism? Nikita Khrushchev
Kennedy's Campaign for the 1964 Presidential Election. By the middle of 1963 Kennedy was considering his chances of winning a second term as President. He began preparing for the 1964 presidential election campaign. Kennedy faced a difficult task. Many felt that his foreign policy had been less than successful. The South was vital to Kennedy’s chances of electoral success. But Kennedy was distrusted by many southern whites, partly because of his sympathy towards the black civil rights movement and also because of his failure to eliminate the communist Fidel Castro in Cuba. Also, Kennedy was a northern catholic. Kennedy saw Texas as the key to his success in the South and he decided to visit the state in November. This was partly to be a charm crusade but Kennedy was also hoping to heal a damaging split which had occurred within the Texan Democratic Party , between the left-wing led by Senator Ralph Yarborough and the right, led by the State Governor, John Connally. Texas
The Texas Visit, November 1963 Fort Worth Dallas Kennedy’s Texas visit started first at Fort Worth. Then, on the morning of the 22 November, Kennedy took the short flight from Fort Worth to Love Airfield, Dallas. President Kennedy speaking to a crowd at Fort Worth in the early morning of 22 November. Behind him [L – R] are Senator Ralph Yarborough, Governor John Connally and Vice-President Lyndon Johnson.
The Events of 22 November: 12.00 am Arrival at Love Field airport. President Kennedy and the First Lady are in the rear seat. Governor Connally and his wife are in the jump seat.
The Events: The Presidential limousine travelling through the streets of Dallas on the way to a gathering at the Wallmart Center.
12.28 Kennedy’s car turns into Dealey Plaza The Events:
The Events: 12.30 – The limousine enters Elm Street and shots are heard. President Kennedy is struck in the throat and, then, the head.
1.00 pm – The stricken Kennedy is taken to the nearby Parklands Hospital where at 1.00 pm the President is declared dead. The Events:
The Events: 2.00 pm – One hour later Lyndon Johnson, on board Airforce One, is sworn in as the 36th president of America.
The Events: Afternoon – That afternoon police arrest Lee Harvey Oswald for murdering police officer Tippets. Later, he is declared a suspect in the murder of the president.
Saturday, 23 November, 1963 – The next morning the Dallas Police announced that the case had been solved: Oswald acting alone, had shot President Kennedy from a sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository Building, where a rifle and three cartidges were found. The Events:
The Events: Oswald, however, maintained he was innocent. “I’m just a patsy,” he said. The assassination of President Kennedy provoked speculation: Was Oswald indeed a lone assassin? Was he involved in a conspiracy to kill the president? Was he a hired killer acting for someone else? Was he innocent?
Lee Harvey Oswald When considering LHO’s role in this event think about the following: • What was Oswald doing at the time of the assassination? Was he at the sixth floor window of the TSBD? • What were Oswald’s movements after the assassination of Kennedy up to the shooting of Officer Tippets? • Was Oswald a ‘crackshot’ with a rifle? • Was Oswald “just the patsy” ie. the fall guy?
The Lone Gunman theory When considering LHO’s role in this event and the theory of a lone gunman, think about the following: • How many shots were there? • Did all the shots come from high and behind? • Was there more than one gunman? • The Zapruder film - how reliable is it?
Sunday, 24 November, 1963 – On Sunday morning, while millions watched on TV, Oswald was murdered in the basement of a Dallas jail by Jack Ruby, the owner of a Dallas strip-tease joint called the Carousel . Rumours spread rapidly, and a shocked nation demanded answers. The Events:
Jack Ruby When considering Jack Ruby’s role in this event think about the following: • Why was Ruby allowed such easy access into the Dallas Police station? • Did he know Lee Harvey Oswald? • What were his connections with the ‘Underworld’ – gangsters, the Mafia? • Did Ruby die a natural death or was he silenced?
The Warren Commission Friday, 29November, 1963 - Lyndon Johnson calls into being the Warren Commission charged with investigating the assassination of John Kennedy. Its findings are published on 24 September, 1964.
The autopsy • When looking at the following sides consider the autopsy evidence i.e. Kennedy’s wounds. What does this evidence reveal about the following: • Were there only three shots? • Did all the shots come from above and from the rear? • Was there anything unusual in the way in which the autopsy was conducted? If so, what can explain this?
The Warren Commission • The new president, Lyndon Johnson, set up an investigation into the assassination. The man in charge was Chief Justice Earl Warren. His report concluded that • that only three shots were fired • that the second and third of these hit Kennedy • the third shot to JFK’s head was fatal • the shots were fired from the Book Depository by Lee Harvey Oswald, who worked there. • there was only one gunman and, therefore, no conspiracy. An official drawing from the Warren Commission. It was drawn from written descriptions – not photographs – of the wounds. The neck wound is much too high.
The post mortem or autopsy photo on the right shows the actual location of the bullet entry wound, as opposed to the official drawing on the left, which places it too high on the neck.
This drawing is also clearly wrong. The entry wound to Kennedy’s neck on the drawing on the left is both too high and too much to the side.
LESSON STARTER; Write down five questions that you would like to ask this source.
A drawing of the impact of the second shot fired – according to the Warren Commission. This would not have been a fatal wound.
LESSON STRATER; Write down three questions about this picture. You have 5 minutes.
The Zapruder film head shot. The spray of ‘particulate matter’ (brain tissue) is clearly moving forward – suggesting that it is reacting to the impact of a shot from the rear…
Zapruder film When looking at the film consider the following: • What exactly does the Zapruder film show of Kennedy’s death? • Does it contradict (go against) some of the judgments made by the Warren Commission? • Is there any evidence that the film was it tampered with? If so, how and who by? And why?
24 September, 1964 – After ten months of secret hearings, Chief Justice Earl Warren presented the Commission’s report to President Johnson. The Commission found that Oswald, acting alone, had assassinated President Kennedy. Mainstream media hailed it as “the most massive, detailed and convincing piece of detective work ever undertaken, unmatched in the annals of fact finding.” The Warren Commission
The Findings of the Warren Commission 1. There were three shots fired and which struck Kennedy. 2. The shots came from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book depository building. 3. One shot fired passed through Kennedy and struck Governor Connally. 4. The shots were fired by a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald. 5. The killing of Kennedy was due purely to a ‘lone-nut’ assassin.
Criticisms of the Warren Commission • Many accused the Warren Commission of a cover-up, claiming that: • it ignored dozens of witnesses who claimed they heard at least one shot from the grassy knoll • Oswald could not have fired such a poor quality weapon so accurately in such a short time (8.5 secs) • ‘the magic bullet’ could not have caused such extensive wounds to JFK and Connally and suffer so little physical damage • there must, therefore, have been a second gunman firing at Kennedy from the grassy knoll. • two gunmen means there was a conspiracy
LESSON STARTER; Write down as the three questions you would most like to ask this man.
Who could have been involved in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy? • Top of the list of those who wanted Kennedy dead is the Mafia. Kennedy’s brother, Robert, had started a very successful campaign to destroy the Mafia in America. With JFK dead, Robert would lose all power. • Southern racists violently objected to Kennedy’s support for Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. • Top generals in the US army who believed that Kennedy was ‘soft’ on Communism and should have invaded Cuba in 1962. • Aliens involved in a failed attempt to abduct Kennedy to put an implant in his brain…. Lee Harvey Oswald: was he, as he claimed, set up by the real conspirators? Within two days of the assassination, Oswald was also shot dead, by Jack Ruby – a small time criminal linked to the Mafia.
The 1979 Select Committee • In 1977 the US Senate set up another enquiry into the assassination because so many people believed that the Warren Commission had done a bad job. • The Senate’s Select Committee reported in 1979. It agreed with Warren that Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots which killed Kennedy. • However, it also said that it was likely that another gunman had fired and missed from the grassy knoll and, therefore, there had been a conspiracy. • The Report concluded that it did know the identity of the second gunman. Assassinated by a lone gunman or by a conspiracy, John Kennedy was still the father of two young children. John Junior died in a plane crash in 1999.
The Warren Commission 24 November, 1964 The US government releases 26 volumes of testimony and exhibits which contained the evidence on which the Warren Report was purportedly based. The New York Times reported that the 26 volumes ‘overwhelmingly supported the conclusions [of the Warren Commission’s Report] that the assassination was no conspiracy but the work of one unhappy man, Lee Harvey Oswald.’