January 2, 1960: John F. Kennedy Announces He’ll Run for President
On this day in 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy announced his intention to run for President of the United States. He campaigned on the pledge to “get the country moving again.” His opponent, Republican Richard Nixon, believed that the country was better off continuing the policies established under Dwight Eisenhower’s eight years of leadership.
Explore Kennedy’s early life and career, from his college days at Harvard to his time serving in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
Image: Statement in which John F. Kennedy announces that he will run for President of the United States.(National Archives)
President John F. Kennedy and his wife, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, pose in front of the White House Christmas tree at the Staff Christmas Reception; 12 December 1962.
October 28, 1962: The Cuban Missile Crisis ends.
The Cuban Missile Crisis marked the highest point of tension between the United States and USSR during the Cold War. After President Kennedy ordered a “quarantine” of Cuba on October 22, declaring in an address that the United States would regard any missile attacks from Cuba “as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”
Four days later, the crisis reached a stalemate; the Soviet Union had not displayed any signs of backing down, and the United States could not possibly allow the missiles to remain where they were, less than 100 miles from Florida. The Strategic Air Command was ordered to DEFCON 2, the highest state of military readiness before imminent nuclear war (the first and only time during the entire Cold War). The crisis was finally ended by secret negotiations conducted between President Kennedy’s Cabinet and Soviet officials. Khrushchev would remove his missiles from Cuba, and the United States pledged never to invade Cuba and also to remove its Jupiter missiles from Turkey, a promise that was fulfilled by April of 1963.
Because of the secretive nature of these negotiations, the USSR came out of the crisis as the weaker party, even though both countries had been forced to compromise. To the public, however, it seemed as though the USSR had completely succumbed to American pressure, and Khrushchev’s removal from office two years later may have been in part caused by the embarrassing aftermath of the event. After this close brush with nuclear war, the Soviet Union and United States established the Moscow-Washington hotline (the “red telephone”), which provided a clearer and more direct means of communication between the two nations.
Tonight at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
Tomorrow at 7 p.m., listen to the secret tapes that President Kennedy made during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Caroline Kennedy will offer opening remarks.
Timothy Naftali, former director of UVA’s Miller Center Presidential Recordings Project, will moderate panelists David G. Coleman, author of The Fourteenth Day; Philip Zelikow, former director of the Miller Center; and Ted Widmer, co-author of Listening In: The Secret White House Tapes of J.F. Kennedy. Speakers will sign books following the program.
Doors open at 6:30 pm at the Special Events entrance on the Constitution Ave side of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.
October 23, 1962 — Day 8 of the Cuban Missile Crisis
President Kennedy signs Proclamation 3504, authorizing the naval quarantine of Cuba. The four-page proclamation included this forceful statement in the second paragraph:
“The United States is determined to prevent by whatever means may be necessary, including the use of arms, the Marxist-Leninist regime in Cuba from extending, by force or the threat of force, its aggressive or subversive activities to any part of this hemisphere, and to prevent in Cuba the creation or use of an externally supported military capability endangering the security of the United States;”
Watch the 1960 debate between Nixon and Kennedy (that first televised one) in its entirety. Kennedy’s opening remarks are an excellent encapsulation of his powerful idealism in action and frequently reminiscent of arguments that dominate the election cycles even now. (“I think we can do better. I don’t want to let the talents of any American go to waste.” and “I don’t believe in big government, but I do believe in effective government action. And I think that’s the only way that United States is going to maintain its freedom, the only way that we’re going to move ahead.”)
Via The Guardian.
I was lucky to be able to attend the debate last night. Here’s the first one ever televised. Key was JFK’s choice to wear a dark navy suit so he didn’t appear the same color as the grey background, which Richard Nixon did. It has often been speculated this was significant since those who listened to the debate on the radio generally felt Nixon had won, while those who watched the television broadcast instead favored JFK.
JFK & LBJ and their top staff during the cuban missile crisis
Happy Birthday, President John F. Kennedy.
The lineup of performers for a “Birthday Salute” in honor of President John F. Kennedy, New York, May 19, 1962.
See more photos from that night here.
Polaroid photo by Mary Moorman taken a fraction of a second after the fatal shot