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The Kennedy White House

The Kennedy White House. The Tragic End of a Presidency and the Rise of the Legend of Camelot. Main ideas for this Mini-Lecture. How did President Kennedy’s personality and background serve his presidency?

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The Kennedy White House

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  1. The Kennedy White House The Tragic End of a Presidency and the Rise of the Legend of Camelot

  2. Main ideas for this Mini-Lecture How did President Kennedy’s personality and background serve his presidency? What were Kennedy’s priorities for the country? What factors limited his success in carrying out his agenda? What circumstances brought President Kennedy to Dallas in November 1963? What exactly happened on that tragic day in Dallas? Why is this event shrouded in mystery and the subject of conspiracies?

  3. The Kennedy Mystique • Compared to the administration he was replacing, the Kennedy Administration was vibrant and dynamic • Elegant and beautiful wife • Young charming family • Famous friends • Kennedy grew up in an ambitious family that pushed and supported him • Large family • Supported by great family wealth • Harvard educated- War hero

  4. The Kennedy Men • Kennedy surrounded himself with what he called the “best and the brightest: • Chose the most educated rather than the most experienced to serve in his Cabinet • Chose his own brother to be Attorney General- his closest advisor • Surrounded himself with Harvard men like himself • Vice President Lyndon Johnson an outsider (educated at a teachers college in Texas)- Johnson had significantly more political experience than any of Kennedy’s closest advisors • Lack of political experience and narrow margin of victory hurt Kennedy politically

  5. The Domestic New Frontier • In 1961, the American economy was experiencing rising unemployment and inflation. • How did Kennedy try to work with organized labor (specifically steelworkers) to fix this problem? How did this prove to be a difficult job for him? (see p 906) • How did Kennedy try to get the economy moving by cutting taxes? How did this effort get blocked? • Kennedy’s lack of political support and experience limited his accomplishments as president

  6. The New Frontier and the Poor • Kennedy visited some very poor areas as he campaigned for President and wanted to direct public sector resources to help as president • What did social activist Michael Harrington point out in his book The Other America ? • What actions did the Kennedy administration take to address this situation?

  7. Kennedy and the Trip to Dallas • President Kennedy barely won in 1960 and needed to sure up support in places where he was vulnerable. • Texas was a solidly Democratic state but support for Kennedy was not strong • Kennedy’s Catholic background • Kennedy’s support for Civil Rights/ integration • Kennedy also very much hated by organized crime and the far political right • The John Birch Society- saw Kennedy as a Communist- called him a traitor- Headquartered in Dallas • Kennedy Administration aggressively prosecuted crime bosses after using organized crime to try to kill Castro • Lyndon Johnson suggested a good will tour to his home state

  8. The Assassination: 22 November 1963 • Kennedy’s open car limo drives though the heart of Dallas- includes his wife, and Texas Governor John Connally and his wife • Crowds gather for this historic visit- including Abraham Zapruder who records it in his 8 mm video camera • Lee Harvey Oswald, ex marine and one-time Soviet defector sits waiting in an eagles nest he constructs in the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository where he works • Oswald gets off three shots- The first one hit Kennedy in the back of the neck and then hits Gov. Conally- second shot missed- third shot penetrates the president’s head and kills him

  9. The Route in Dallas

  10. Another View

  11. Video: Supporting the Single Gunman Theory • Oswald would be murdered 2 days later and would never be questioned for his role in this crime. Oswald's murder • The circumstances of his murder coupled by Oswald’s death supported a number of conspiracy theories- Oswald did not act alone? • A conspiracy of organized crime? • The communists? • The right with John Birch society? • The trajectory of the bullet that hit both Kennedy and Connally was said to be impossible (The magic bullet theory) • This supported the idea that Oswald did not act alone

  12. Dispelling the Magic Bullet Theory • Carefully watch the video in class and connect to what we discussed. • What is this video’s point of view about the magic bullet? What is the argument the video uses about this? How does the video support this argument with computer generated video? • What is your opinion? Did Lee Oswald kill President Kennedy?

  13. The Aftermath of Dallas and the Legend of Camelot • Vice President Johnson takes the oath of office and uses public sympathy to push Kennedy’s anti poverty and civil rights legislation though Congress • Historical accounts of Kennedy viewed though idealized accounts-More about myth than the man The Legend of Camelot • The Warren Commission (Led by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Earl Warren) • Investigates and concludes a lone gunman killed the President

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