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June 1962- President Kennedy's Schedule - History

June 1962- President Kennedy's Schedule - History


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1The President began his day with a meeting with Abdul Hahman Salim Al -Ariq the new Ambassador of Kuwait. The President met with Robert Lovett. He then met with Phillip Graham the publisher of the Washington Post. After lunch the President met with the Joint Chief of Staff. At the end of the day he met with Robert Hartmann of the Los Angeles Times.
2The President began his day with greeting and has photographs taken with Mrs. Claire Chennault, Chairman of Chinese Refugee Relief together with Jack Anderson and David Lee. In the afternoon the President flew to Glen Ora, Middleburg Virginia.
3President and Mrs. Kennedy attend Mass at Middleburg Community Center and return to Glen Ora.
4President Kennedy returned from Glen Ora to Washington. The President met with Fraser Wilkins the US Ambassador to Cyprus. The President then had a meeting on Poultry Tariffs that included Governors, Congressman and representatives of the industry. After lunch the President met with Prince Bernhard and Ambassador of the Netherlands Dr. J.H. van Roijen. He then met with Congressman Burr Harrison. He ended his official day with a meeting with William Randolph Hearst jr.
5The President had a Legislative Leaders Breakfast to start the day. The President met with Astronaut Scott Carpenter and his children. The President then met with Kenneth Galbriath the US Ambassador to India. The President traveled to the Marine Air Terminal to greet Archbishop Makarios, President of the Republic of Cyprus. After returning to the White House the President had a Luncheon in honor of Archbishop Makarios, President of the Republic of Cyprus. The President then met with Archbishop Makarios, President of the Republic of Cyprus and his entourage. The President then met had and off the record meeting on Atomic Testing.
6The President traveled to the US Military Academy at West Point were he gave the commencement address. After touring West Point the President returned to White House were he met with Douglas Dillon. He then went to Blair House to attend a luncheon given on his behalf by Archbishop Makarios, President of the Republic of Cyprus. He then had a meeting with Archbishop Makarios, President of the Republic of Cyprus. The President had a meeting the Ambassador Galbriath the Ambassador to India( in his roll as an economist). He then had a large meeting with his economic advisors, to outside experts Professor Paul Samuelson and Robert Solow of MIT joined the meeting.
7The President had a Pre Press Breakfast with Rusk, Manning, Sorensen, Feldman, Heller, Kaysen and Salinger. The President met with Douglas Dillon. The President met with Hubert Humphrey. He then met with Walter Lingle. The President later met with Congressman Emanuel Cellar. He then met with a delegation from State of Florida Inter-American Center. In the afternoon the President met gave a Press Conference. After the Press Conference the President met with participants in the Brooking Institutions Public Policy Conference. He then met with Arthur Goldberg.
8President Kennedy had an off the record meeting with Senator Mike Mansfield. He later met with Robert Woodward the US Ambassador to Spain. The President next met with Franz Joseph Strauss the German Minister of Defense. He then met with a delegation of disabled US veterans. Next the President met with the US Ambassador of Columbia. He them met with Admiral Alfred Richmond retiring Comandant of the US Coast Guard. After lunch the President met with the US Ambassador to Panama. He the met with Director of the AID. The President ended his day with a meeting with Ambassador to the Soviet Union Llewellyn Thompson.
9The President began the day with a meeting with the outgoing Commissioner of the Atomic Energy Commission John Graham. The President had a lengthy meeting with : George Ball, Edwin Martin, Grahm Martin of AID, Katherine Bracken of the State, Joseph Farland Ambassador to Panama, Henry DuFlon of AID and Carl Kayser. The President next met with journalist Joseph Alsop, followed by a meeting with Rowland Evans. The President had a Luncheon for Paul Henri Spaak, Foreign Affairs Minister of Belgium. The President went to Mayflower Hotel in the evening for a dinner in honor of Matt McCloskey.
10The President attended St Stephens Church. The President then traveled to New York. President Kennedy and Peter Lawford visit Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy in the hospital, New York.
11President Kennedy traveled from New York to New Haven. He went to Yale University were he gave a commencement speech and received and honorary degree. After a reception and luncheon he returned to Washington. The President had a Cabinet Meeting whose agenda was legislative priorities. The President then met with Business Council Meeting.
12The President had a Legislative Leaders Breakfast to start the day. He then met with Congressman Hale Boggs. The President next met with Senators Kerr, Mansfield, Russell and LBJ. He then met with LBJ. The President then went to the MATS terminal and greeted President Roberto Chiari of Panama. The President then presented Presidential Certificates to the Capital Page School Graduating Class of 1962. The President next had a meeting with Congressman Albert Thomas. He next hosted a luncheon in honor of President Roberto Chiari of Panama. The President next met with Congressman Wilbur Mills. He then met with Senator Joseph Clark. Next the President had a meeting with President Roberto Chiari of Panama and his entourage. The President and the First Lady had a private dinner with British Ambassador David Ormsby-Gores. The First Couple and the British Ambassador and his wife attended the the play Irma La Douce at the National Theater.
13The President began his day with meetings with his advisors. He then signed S 107 for irrigation on the Navajo Indian Reservation. The President next had a meeting with Mayor Robert Wagner of New York. The President then had an off the record meeting on Laos with his stop advisors, including Rusk and McNamara. The President went to a luncheon at Blair House given by the President of Panama. After the luncheon the President met with the Panamanian President and his entourage. The President then participated in the swearing in ceremony for William Battle ( who had served with the President in the South Pacific) as the US Ambassador to Australia . The President and First Lady held a dinner for Edward R Murrow.
14The President began his day with a breakfast with Rusk, Bundy, Feldman, Heller, Manning, Sorensen and Salinger. The President gave an address before the Peace Corps Staff. The President next met with Meeting with leaders and representatives of the Parliament of Nigeria. The President next received the Missile Sites Labor Commission. After lunch the President gave a Press Conference. The President had an off the record with Thomas Patton and Arthur Goldberg. The President ended his official day with a meeting in India. The President and the First Lady together with Kenneth Galbriath went to the home Mrs Stephen Smith for dinner.
15The President Kennedy began his day with a meeting with Clark Clifford. He them met with Hamiltan Fish the Editor of Foreign Affairs. The President next met with the US Ambassador to Ghana. The President next had a meeting with Rusk McNamara and other advisors on the forthcoming trip of Rusk to Paris. The President next hosted a luncheon for Publsihers and Editors form Idaho. The President met with the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand. A Good-Will Mission from Dahomey called on the President. The Presidents last official meeting of the day was with United Automobile Workers Union President Walter Reuther.
16After receiving his daily briefings the President departed the White House for Glen Ora.
17President and Mrs. Kennedy attend Mass at Middleburg, Virginia, Community Center and return to Glen Ora.
18President Kennedy returned to the White House and met with his advisors. He then met with Robert Lovett. Next the President met with Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies. The President hosted a luncheon with Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies. After lunch the President met with John McCone and Richard Helms of the CIA, He then met with Congressman John Shelley.
19The President began his day with a Legislative Leaders Breakfast. He next had a meeting with Edward D'Gerclamo the Mayor of Kennez Louisiana. He then met with Congressman Blaine Peterson. The new Ambassador of Argentina next met with the President. The President met with Arthur Dean representatives of the US Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee. After lunch the President met with Walter McConaghy the Ambassador of Pakistan. The President met with Congressman John Fogarty. The President ended his day with a meeting with William Stringer of the Christian Science Monitor.
20The President began his day with an address to White House Seminar Students. He then met with Robert Gordon Menzies Prime Minister of Australia and his entourage. He then met with William Battle. He next met with the US Ambassador Argentina. He then met with the newly appointed Ambassador of Spain. The President met with members of the U.S. Industrial Mission to Korea. The President then met with Congressman Victor Antuso. The President had lunch with Henry Luce. The President met with Senators Mansfield, Anderson and Russell. The President held a meeting on Nuclear Testing . Next the President had a meeting with his top advisors on China. He ended the day with a meeting with John Mulikan of Life.
21The President began his day meeting with group of students from Glen Lake, Michigan, High School.(Meeting) He then met with Hubert Humphrey and the Robert Hansen the National Commander of the VFW. He then met with the American Veterans Committee. After lunch the President had a meeting on Foreign Aid. The Presidents last meeting of the day was with Robert Donovan and Roscoe Drummard.
22President Kennedy met with Senator Humphrey together with Sorensen, Freeman, and Feldman. The President next met with participants of Operations Crossroads Africa. The President next met with Senators Mike Monroney, Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy and Congressman Carl Albert. The President next had a Luncheon meeting with publishers and editors of Colorado newspapers. After lunch the President participants in signing the Plans for Progress of Presidents Committee of Equal Opportunity. At the end of the day the President met with his advisors as well as Douglas Dillon.
23President and Mrs. Kennedy attend Mass at Middleburg, Virginia, Community Center and return to Glen Ora. The President met in the morning with his advisors. In the afternoon he flew to Glen Ora (Middleburg, VA).
24In the evening President Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy drive alone around the area near Glen Ora. Middleburg, Virginia.
25The President returned to the White House. after meeting with his advisors he met Admiral Kirk the new appointed Ambassador to the Republic of China (Taiwan). The President hosted a Luncheon with Dr. Guillermo Leon Valencia, President-elect of Colombia. After lunch the President met with Chester Bowles. The President then met with his economic team. Next the President met with Congressman Wilbur Mills and Carl Vinson.
26The President had a Legislative Leaders Breakfast to start the day. When the President arrived in the office he met with Rovert Linney, President of Reserve Mining and Senator Hubert Humphrey. The President next met with Stevenson, Cleveland, Bundyand Schlesinger. The President chaired a National Security Council Meeting devoted to the US relations with the UN. The President next met with Congressman WJ Bryan Dorn. He then met with the US Ambassador to Pakistan. After lunch the President met with the Vice President of the Philippines. The Presidents next meeting was with the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. He then met with David Lawrence Governor of Pennslyvania and Senator Joseph Clark. The President ended his day with a meeting with Senator Wayne Morse.
27The President had a breakfast meeting to prepare for his Press Conference attendees included LBJ Bundy and others. Upon arriving at the Oval Office the President met with the Premier of Jamiaca. For the rest of the morning the President met with his advisors. The President then gave a Press Conference. After the Press Conference the President participated in the opening of an exhibit at the National Archives call the "Old Navy". The President ended his day with a meeting with astronaut John Glenn.
28 The President began his day with a meeting with Harriman, Bundy, and Michael Forrestal. He next met with John McCone and Richard Helms. The President met with leader of Venezuelan Social Christian Party. Next the President met with Frederick Reinhardt the US Ambassador to Italy. The President then met with Elvis Stahr the Secretary of the Army. After lunch the President met with Rabbi Max Nussbaum Temple Israel, Hollywood, Abe Feinberg and Myer Feldman. The President and Mrs. Kennedy greet members of the National Geographic Society and the White House Historical Association. The President next met with Governor John Swainson, Governor of Michigan with a larger delegation. The President then had a meeting to prepare for the upcoming trip to Mexico.
29The President and First Lady Left Washington to travel to Mexico City. Upon arriving at the airport the President spoke at an airport welcoming ceremony. Next there was a meeting with President Adolfo López Mateos. Los Piños, Mexico City. The President and First Lady next attended a Lucheon given in their honor by by the Mexican President. The President then attended a ceremony in at City Hall. The First Couple had a private dinner at the residence of the US Ambassador. The President and the First Lady attended a ballet at the National Salon of Arts. Pictures and Video of Trip
30President Kennedy began his day by laying a wreath at the Independence Monument. The President next visited Independencia Housing Project which he toured. The President had extended meeting with President Adolfo López Mateos. He then participated with a Fourth of July Program. The President next participated in a luncheon that he hosted in honor of the Mexican President and First Lady. The President next met with staff of the US Embassy. The President and Mrs Kennedy next met toured the National Institute of Anthropology. The President and First Lady attended a reception at the Foreign Ministry.

When JFK Visited Colorado

As we commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, some commentators have mentioned his lack of concern for the American West and the issues important to Westerners. A recent editorial in the Denver Post commented that Stewart Udall, Secretary of the Interior under Kennedy, was left to run his own ship because Kennedy did not care enough about the issues effecting the West to intervene. For Udall and Westerners, this lack of oversight was a blessing in disguise. Udall used his tenure under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to greatly expand our public lands (including national parks and monuments), and to help push through environmental legislation. Yet this talk about Kennedy’s lack of attention to the West omits the fact that he visited our State of Colorado three times: once as a presidential candidate and twice as president. Each time, he was received by thousands of citizens who mobbed the streets to see him.

President Kennedy campaigned in Denver on September 24, 1960. Over 25,000 people came to see him, with 15,000 lining the presidential motorcade route from Stapleton Airport to Civic Center, and another 8,000 people cramming into Civic Center Park to hear him speak.

On August 17, 1962, Kennedy visited Pueblo to celebrate the Frying Pan Arkansas Reclamation Project, the huge and controversial water diversion project that brought water from the Western Slope to Colorado Springs and Pueblo (admittedly not such a popular project with people from the Western Slope or environmentalists). Pueblo closed schools and offices for the occasion. Over 100,000 people stood on the sides of Highway 50 to see the President’s motorcade pass on his way to Pueblo Public Schools Stadium. There, 18,000 people in a celebratory mood shrugged off the heat in order to hear Kennedy ordain the Reclamation Project, which he had just signed into law, to be a symbol of the power of the United States to bring water to some of “the bleakest land in the United States.” Kennedy also remarked on the necessity of such projects if the country were to provide water and living space for 300,000,000 people by the end of the Twentieth Century.

In his last visit to Colorado, on June 5, 1963, Kennedy was the commencement speaker at the Air Force Academy graduation in Colorado Springs. There, he spoke to 35,000 people, more than the combined total of attendees for the Academy’s first four graduations. Kennedy was made an honorary member of the class of 1963. He both joked with the graduates and gave these uplifting words:

“We believe in the ability of man to triumph over the terrible forces he has created. We believe in the eternal right to be free. And we believe, finally, that we are going to prevail.” (Rocky Mountain News, 11/23/1963, Page 16, “JFK’s Colorado Trips…”).

To find out more about John F. Kennedy and Stewart Udall and their legacies in Colorado and the West, visit our department and read our newspaper clipping files (where I got most of the information for this blog post). To search for books by and about Udall and Kennedy, search our catalog. To find out more about the above photograph, click here. And thanks Dad, for the blog topic idea.


This day in history, June 10: President John F. Kennedy signs into law Equal Pay Act of 1963, aimed at eliminating wage disparities based on gender

Today is Thursday, June 10, the 161st day of 2021. There are 204 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On June 10, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed into law the Equal Pay Act of 1963, aimed at eliminating wage disparities based on gender.

In 1692, the first execution resulting from the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts took place as Bridget Bishop was hanged.

In 1922, singer-actor Judy Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

In 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in Akron, Ohio, by Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith and William Griffith Wilson.

In 1942, during World War II, German forces massacred 173 male residents of Lidice (LIH’-dyiht-zeh), Czechoslovakia, in retaliation for the killing of Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich.

In 1944, German forces massacred 642 residents of the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane.

In 1967, six days of war in the Mideast involving Israel, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq ended as Israel and Syria accepted a United Nations-mediated cease-fire.

In 1971, President Richard M. Nixon lifted a two-decades-old trade embargo on China.

In 1977, James Earl Ray, the convicted assassin of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., escaped from Brushy Mountain State Prison in Tennessee with six others he was recaptured June 13.

In 1978, Affirmed, ridden by Steve Cauthen, won the 110th Belmont Stakes to claim horse racing’s 11th Triple Crown.

In 1991, 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard of South Lake Tahoe, California, was abducted by Phillip and Nancy Garrido Jaycee was held by the couple for 18 years before she was found by authorities.

In 2004, singer-musician Ray Charles died in Beverly Hills, California, at age 73.

In 2013, jury selection began in Sanford, Florida, in the trial of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. (Zimmerman was acquitted.)

Ten years ago: In a stern rebuke, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned in Brussels that the future of the historic NATO military alliance was at risk because of European penny pinching and a distaste for front-line combat. Tony La Russa managed his 5,000th game as his St. Louis Cardinals lost to the Milwaukee Brewers 8-0.

Five years ago: Muhammad Ali was laid to rest in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, after an all-day send-off. “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe, who set scoring records that stood for decades, died in Sylvania, Ohio, at 88. Singer Christina Grimmie, 22, a finalist on NBC’s “The Voice,” was shot to death during a meet-and-greet after giving a concert in Orlando, Florida, by an apparently obsessed fan who then killed himself. Actor Michael Jace was sentenced in Los Angeles to 40 years to life in prison for fatally shooting his wife, April.

One year ago: Protesters pulled down a century-old statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Virginia, the former capital of the Confederacy. President Donald Trump said his administration would “not even consider” changing the name of any of the 10 Army bases that were named for Confederate Army officers. NASCAR announced that it was banning the Confederate flag at all of its races and venues the flag had been a common sight at those events for more than 70 years. The Mall of America reopened, nearly three months after the Minnesota tourist attraction shut down because of the coronavirus. An international economic report said the virus crisis had triggered the worst global recession in nearly a century, with hundreds of millions of people losing jobs.

Today’s birthdays: Actor Alexandra Stewart is 82. Singer Shirley Alston Reeves (The Shirelles) is 80. Actor Jurgen Prochnow is 80. Media commentator Jeff Greenfield is 78. Actor Frankie Faison is 72. Football Hall of Famer Dan Fouts is 70. Country singer-songwriter Thom Schuyler is 69. Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., is 68. Actor Andrew Stevens is 66. Singer Barrington Henderson is 65. Rock musician Kim Deal is 60. Singer Maxi Priest is 60. Actor Gina Gershon is 59. Actor Jeanne Tripplehorn is 58. Rock musician Jimmy Chamberlin is 57. Actor Ben Daniels is 57. Actor Kate Flannery is 57. Model-actor Elizabeth Hurley is 56. Rock musician Joey Santiago is 56. Actor Doug McKeon is 55. Rock musician Emma Anderson is 54. Country musician Brian Hofeldt (The Derailers) is 54. Rapper The D.O.C. is 53. Rock singer Mike Doughty is 51. R&B singer Faith Evans is 48. Actor Hugh Dancy is 46. R&B singer Lemisha Grinstead (702) is 43. Actor DJ Qualls is 43. Actor Shane West is 43. Country singer Lee Brice is 42. Singer Hoku is 40. Actor Leelee Sobieski is 39. Olympic gold medal figure skater Tara Lipinski is 39. Americana musician Bridget Kearney (Lake Street Drive) is 36. Actor Titus Makin is 32. Actor Tristin Mays is 31. Sasha Obama is 20. Actor Eden McCoy is 18.

Journalism, it’s often said, is the first-draft of history. Check back each day for what’s new … and old.


JFK on the Cuban Missile Crisis – 1962 | Today in History | 22 Oct 16

On October 22, 1962, in a nationally broadcast address, President John F. Kennedy revealed the presence of Soviet-built missile bases under construction in Cuba and announced a quarantine of all offensive military equipment being shipped to the Communist island nation.

SOUNDBITE (English) John F Kennedy, President of the United States:

“Good evening my fellow citizens: This Government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet Military buildup on the island of Cuba. Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island. The purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere.

Upon receiving the first preliminary hard information of this nature last Tuesday morning at 9 a.m., I directed that our surveillance be stepped up. And having now confirmed and completed our evaluation of the evidence and our decision on a course of action, this Government feels obliged to report this new crisis to you in fullest detail.

The characteristics of these new missile sites indicate two distinct types of installations. Several of them include medium range ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead for a distance of more than 1,000 nautical miles. Each of these missiles, in short, is capable of striking Washington, D.C., the Panama Canal, Cape Canaveral, Mexico City, or any other city in the southeastern part of the United States, in Central America, or in the Caribbean area.

Additional sites not yet completed appear to be designed for intermediate range ballistic missiles–capable of traveling more than twice as far–and thus capable of striking most of the major cities in the Western Hemisphere, ranging as far north as Hudson Bay, Canada, and as far south as Lima, Peru. In addition, jet bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, are now being uncrated and assembled in Cuba, while the necessary air bases are being prepared.

This urgent transformation of Cuba into an important strategic base–by the presence of these large, long range, and clearly offensive weapons of sudden mass destruction–constitutes an explicit threat to the peace and security of all the Americas, in flagrant and deliberate defiance of the Rio Pact of 1947, the traditions of this Nation and hemisphere, the joint resolution of the 87th Congress, the Charter of the United Nations, and my own public warnings to the Soviets on September 4 and 13. This action also contradicts the repeated assurances of Soviet spokesmen, both publicly and privately delivered, that the arms buildup in Cuba would retain its original defensive character, and that the Soviet Union had no need or desire to station strategic missiles on the territory of any other nation.

The size of this undertaking makes clear that it has been planned for some months. Yet only last month, after I had made clear the distinction between any introduction of ground-to-ground missiles and the existence of defensive antiaircraft missiles, the Soviet Government publicly stated on September 11, and I quote, “the armaments and military equipment sent to Cuba are designed exclusively for defensive purposes,” that, and I quote the Soviet Government, “there is no need for the Soviet Government to shift its weapons . . . for a retaliatory blow to any other country, for instance Cuba,” and that, and I quote their government, “the Soviet Union has so powerful rockets to carry these nuclear warheads that there is no need to search for sites for them beyond the boundaries of the Soviet Union.” That statement was false.

In that sense, missiles in Cuba add to an already clear and present danger–although it should be noted the nations of Latin America have never previously been subjected to a potential nuclear threat.
Thank you and good night.”

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President John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights Address, June 11, 1963

The excerpt highlights President John F. Kennedy's broadcasted speech announcing he would soon ask the U.S. Congress to enact landmark civil rights legislation. The speech and the legislation was in part a reaction to the actions of Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who attempted to refuse entry of African-American students to the University of Alabama. Kennedy delivered his speech to the nation on June 11, 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr., called the speech “one of the most eloquent, profound and unequivocal pleas for justice and freedom of all men ever made by any president.”


Cuban Missile Crisis: Kennedy's Mistakes

Forty years ago, President John F. Kennedy was locked in a test of wills with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev over missiles in Cuba. Memorialized in both film and print, the Cuban missile crisis has come to be the ultimate symbol of presidential resolve and courage. In the 1974 movie "The Missiles of October" and the more recent "Thirteen Days," starring Kevin Costner, JFK is portrayed as a resolute and unflinching commander in chief. He's given the same heroic portrayal in his brother Bobby Kennedy's "Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis," a book still regularly assigned in college classes. And many historians still share the view of Arthur Schlesinger Jr. that Kennedy's actions demonstrated to the "whole world . . . the ripening of American leadership unsurpassed in the responsible management of power . . . [a] combination of toughness . . . nerve and wisdom, so brilliantly controlled, so matchlessly calibrated that [it] dazzled the world."

In short, Kennedy's handling of the crisis has captured the popular imagination, making him perhaps the most potent symbol of Cold War courage and resolve. But now that the Soviet archives have been opened, it's time to retire JFK as Cold War hero. Instead, the mantle should be passed to Ronald Reagan who, according to those archives, was the president they most respected and feared.

Most portrayals of the Cuban missile crisis begin with the secret placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba and Kennedy's insistence that they be removed. But the story actually begins a couple of years earlier, when JFK first stepped into the Oval Office.

The Kremlin was very pleased when JFK edged out Richard Nixon in 1960. Before the election, the KGB resident in Washington had been ordered to "propose diplomatic or propaganda initiatives, or any other measures, to facilitate Kennedy's victory." The Kremlin regarded Kennedy as a "typical pragmatist," who would change his position and accommodate adversaries if it served his interests. Khrushchev went so far as to delay the release of American U-2 pilot Gary Francis Powers, who was being held in prison after being shot down on a spy mission over the Soviet Union, until after the election. By doing so, said Khrushchev, he was "voting" for Kennedy.

Shortly after JFK became president, he was put to the test. In March 1961, Communist guerrillas armed with new shipments of Soviet weapons advanced deep into the eastern reaches of Laos, which borders Vietnam. The peaceful country's neutrality was supposedly guaranteed by the 1954 Geneva Accords, but the North Vietnamese wanted to use the country as a supply line for their forces fighting in the south. In short order they occupied Eastern Laos and began developing what came to be called the Ho Chi Minh Trail to arm their forces fighting in South Vietnam. In Washington, Kennedy was apprised of the situation and elected to do nothing.

One month later, a large force of Cuban exiles began landing on the beaches of Cuba, near the so-called Bay of Pigs. They had been trained and equipped by the CIA with the intent of liberating the country from Fidel Castro. The plot was something that Kennedy had inherited from Eisenhower. Kennedy signed off on the operation, but nixed a critical ingredient: When the exiles hit the beaches they did so without American air or naval support. The exile army was driven back in a matter of days. The operation was an unmitigated disaster.

A few months later, Soviet bloc leaders decided to begin construction on the Berlin Wall to stem the flow of refugees into West Berlin. As they broke ground, Kennedy became furious. He called up the reserves, sent troops to Europe, and proposed a substantial increase in the military budget. But he was not prepared to resist the move. "It seems particularly stupid," he told aides, "to risk killing a million Americans over an argument about access rights on the Autobahn."

Kennedy thought that by showing restraint he was avoiding a crisis. But in reality he was causing one. In the Kremlin, the combination of Kennedy's tough words and lack of action was seen as weakness and fear. After JFK's speech on the Berlin crisis, Khrushchev hosted a secret meeting of the Central Committees of Communist Parties of the Soviet Union. "Kennedy spoke [to frighten us] and then got scared himself," snickered Khrushchev, according to a transcript. The president was "too much of a lightweight both for the Republicans as well as for the Democrats."

For Nikita Khrushchev, Kennedy's failure at the Bay of Pigs, along with Communist successes in Laos and Berlin, was proof that he could have things his way with the young president. When Robert Frost returned from a September 1962 trip to the Soviet Union, he said that Khrushchev had told him Kennedy was "too liberal to fight." In short, Kennedy was encouraging Khrushchev to pursue what would become his most dangerous gambit.

In May 1962, Khrushchev announced to the Politburo his secret plan to put Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. Fidel Castro was eager for the missiles because they would deter another Bay of Pigs-type invasion. Khrushchev figured if he could pull the plan off, it would shift the balance in the arms competition because his shorter-range ballistic missiles would now be capable of reaching the United States.

The Soviet premier, seemingly always the gambler, was hoping to build the missile sites before the United States even detected them. On the chance that they were discovered, he believed that Kennedy might fear a confrontation and not take any substantial action. Soviet transport ships brought material and specialists to Cuba where construction crews busily worked on the missile batteries. The plan seemed to be going as Khrushchev hoped, until an American U-2 spy plane flying over the island uncovered the scheme. When Kennedy learned about it, he was again furious.

The president ordered an immediate naval blockade of Cuba and regular U-2 flights to monitor the situation. He explained his position to Khrushchev in unambiguous terms: Remove the missiles and the personnel to man them or military action is imminent. Khrushchev, mulling over the situation in his Kremlin office, knew the strategic situation favored the United States. Not only did America have nuclear superiority Cuba was just off the American coastline while the Soviet Union was halfway around the world. Kennedy had called his bluff a bargain needed to be struck. And Kennedy, contrary to the steely determination portrayed in the movies, was all too willing to deal.

Khrushchev agreed to withdraw the missiles. But he wanted several things in return. For his ally Fidel Castro, who was angered by any suggestion that the missiles be pulled out, he demanded a pledge that the United States would never invade Cuba again. And for good measure, he wanted U.S. nuclear missiles in Turkey, which were pointed at Soviet forces, removed as well.

On Saturday, October 27, 1962, as the crisis reached a crescendo, Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin went to the Justice Department for a private meeting with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who was serving as a confidant for his brother. Moscow might have been negotiating from a weak position, but Bobby Kennedy didn't press the matter. His brother was prepared to make a no invasion pledge, he told Dobrynin, and would pull the Jupiter missiles out of Turkey. But he cautioned that the deal needed to be done quietly. "The president can't say anything public in this regard about Turkey," the Soviet transcripts of the meetings quote RFK as saying. It would be too much of a political embarrassment. The missiles would need to be withdrawn under some pretext and without consulting NATO allies. Dobrynin agreed to the secret bargain and it was never mentioned in public.

Indeed, Bobby Kennedy was so sensitive about the secret deal involving missiles in Turkey that when his diary of the crisis was later published as "Thirteen Days," the editor of the book, Ted Sorensen, purposely deleted any mention of them.

LIKE THE REST OF AMERICA, Ronald Reagan spent much of October 1962 watching closely the duel between Kennedy and Khrushchev. He was of course pleased that the crisis was over. But he fretted in public that Kennedy had given up too much. He faulted Kennedy for agreeing to a no invasion pledge. "Are missile bases enough," he asked, "or will we insist on freedom for all Cubans?"

Reagan had always had his doubts about Kennedy, fearing that he was simply not up to meeting the Soviet challenge. In January 1962, during a speech at Huntington Memorial Hospital in California, he saw what Khrushchev saw, and expressed his concerns about whether JFK could handle "the roughnecks of the Kremlin." He was surrounded by "well-meaning and misguided people" who failed to understand the threat. Reagan also astutely noted that by not challenging the Communist move into Laos, Kennedy was signaling his willingness "to drink the bitter cup of capitulation" in Southeast Asia.

In the months following the Cuban missile crisis, Reagan made some pointed suggestions about what America should do next. While the Kennedy administration began pursuing arms control agreements, Reagan wrote an article explaining that the goal should be not to coexist with communism but to defeat it. Crank up the arms race, he advised in early 1963 there was no way Moscow could keep up.

When Reagan announced for the presidency years later, in 1979, the KGB wrote a secret analysis of Reagan the man. Unlike Kennedy, whom they considered prone to changing his mind, Reagan got grudging respect from the KGB. He was "a firm and unbending politician for whom words and deeds are one and the same."

Once he was elected president, Reagan outlined ambitious plans to undermine and defeat the Soviet Union in a series of secret directives. Nothing quite like it had ever been undertaken in the history of the Cold War. Using economic, military, and psychological pressure, he developed a plan to defeat the Soviet empire.

Throughout he demonstrated tremendous resolve. He enacted the largest peacetime military build-up in American history, even though the plan was opposed by the majority of his cabinet. Early in his administration, William P. Clark and Tom Reed came to him to explain the super-secret Continuity of Government program. In place since the Eisenhower administration, COG was a plan to evacuate the president from the White House in the event of a nuclear war. Both Clark and Reed could sense Reagan's discomfort as they described the program, particularly the part about being hustled away on a helicopter to a safe location. When Reed was finished Reagan shook his head.

"No, I'm not going to do that," he told them. "If it happens--God forbid--I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying here at my post." The two men left and were forced to revise America's nuclear war-fighting plans.

Reagan developed an ambitious strategy and then stuck to it. Even during the heights of Gorbymania, there was very little change in the substance of his policies. Reagan was quite simply immovable, much to the frustration of the Kremlin. "No matter what diplomatic tack Moscow examined or actually took," recalls Ambassador Dobrynin, "the Reagan administration proved impervious to it. We came to realize that in contrast to most presidents who shift from their electoral rhetoric to more centrist, pragmatic positions by the middle of their presidential term, Reagan displayed an active immunity to the traditional forces, both internal and external, that normally produce a classic adjustment."

How we choose to look at the Cold War will determine how we face the strategic challenges of the war on terrorism. If we study JFK, we can learn about how to react to a crisis and the art of "crisis management." By studying Reagan, we can learn how to forge a strategy of victory and to defeat our enemies.

So as the television cameras carry 40th anniversary reruns of "Thirteen Days" with images of a resolute JFK, don't imagine that you are watching the apotheosis of Cold War toughness. Think back instead to Gdansk, Poland, on a rainy day in September 1990. Ronald Reagan is at the birthplace of Solidarity, standing in front of a crowd of thousands who are chanting "Thank You! Thank You!" while serenading him with "Sto Lat," a song in honor of Polish heroes. Lech Walesa's former parish priest approaches Reagan with a sword. "I am giving you the saber," he tells the former president, "for helping us to chop off the head of communism."

This article was first published by the Weekly Standard and is reprinted with permission.


50th Anniversary: Executive Order 10988

Fifty years ago, on January 17, 1962, Federal employees first obtained the right to engage in collective bargaining through labor organizations when President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10988, "Employee-Management Cooperation in the Federal Sector." Executive Order 10988 issued as result of the findings of the Task Force on Employee-Management Relations in the Federal Service, which was created by a memorandum issued to all executive department and agency heads by President Kennedy on June 22, 1961. In this memorandum the President noted that, "The participation of employees in the formation and implementation of employee policy and procedures affecting them contributes to the effective conduct of public business," and that this participation should be extended to representatives of employees and employee organizations.

The Task Force held extensive hearings and gathered evidence relating to a broad range of labor relations subjects and determined that recommendations to provide for a government wide policy granting federal employees the right to organize and bargain collectively would contribute to the effective conduct of the public business. Specifically, the Task Force report stated that:

The Task Force wishes most emphatically to endorse the President’s view that the public interest calls for strengthening of employee management relations within the Federal Government. A continuous history, going back three quarters of a century has established beyond any reasonable doubt that certain categories of Federal employees very much want to participate in the formulation of personnel policies and have established large and stable organizations for this purpose. This is not a challenge to be met so much as an opportunity to be embraced.

Executive Order 10988 gave Federal employees the right to join, form, or assist labor organizations. It established a three-tiered system of recognition: exclusive representation, formal recognition, and informal recognition. For unions designated by a majority of employees in a unit, agencies would be obligate to negotiate over terms and conditions of employment with the exclusive representative, and to allow it to attend formal meetings. In units without an exclusive representative, the agency would have to accord formal recognition to unions representing more than 10 percent of the unit and to "consult with such organization from time to time in the formulation and implementation of personnel policies and practices, and matters affecting working conditions that are of concern to its members." The agency would also have to informally recognize all unions, regardless of whether another union was the exclusive representative, and allow them "to present to appropriate officials its views on matters of concern to its members."

In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed a Presidential Review Committee on Employee-Management Relations in the Federal Service to examine the preceding five years of experience with Executive Order 10988. The Review Committee found that:

· The 1962 Order produced some excellent results, beneficial to both agencies and employees

· The new policies have contributed to more democratic management of the workforce and marked improvement in communications between agencies and their employees and

· Through labor-management consultation and negotiations, improved personnel policies and working conditions have been achieved in a number of areas .

Based on the report and recommendations of the Presidential Review Committee , in 1969 President Nixon expanded the rights provided under Executive Order 10988 issuing Executive Order 11491 , which established an institutional framework to govern labor-management relations in the Federal Government, set forth specific unfair labor practices, and authorized the use of binding arbitration of certain disputes. Like Executive Order 10988, the Order contained provisions reserving certain rights to agency management.

Executive Order 11491 also established two new entities. One, the Federal Labor Relations Council (Council), would oversee the entire program make definitive interpretations and rulings on provisions of the Order decide major policy issues hear appeals, at its discretion, from decisions made by the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Labor-Management Relations on unfair labor practice charges and representation claims resolve appeals from negotiability decisions made by agency heads and decide exceptions to arbitration awards. The other, the Federal Service Impasses Panel, was given discretionary authority to assist parties in resolving bargaining impasses when voluntary arrangements failed.

In 1975, based on the " Report and Recommendations of the Federal Labor Relations Council on the Amendment of Executive Order 11491 ," President Gerald R. Ford issued Executive Order 11838 amending the Nixon Executive Order and directing, among other things, the additional expansion of collective bargaining rights to include agency regulations and mid-contract changes, enhancement of third-party dispute resolution procedures, and union recognition by secret ballot election.

Title VII of the Civil Service Reform Act

By 1977, President Jimmy Carter had determined that comprehensive reform of the civil service system -- the first since the Pendleton Act of 1883 -- was necessary. The Congress agreed and, after extensive hearings, passed the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. One title of that Act -- Title VII, which specifically addressed labor-management relations and established the authority of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) -- engendered particularly heated debate. Eventually, Title VII of the bill before the House of Representatives was replaced by a substitute amendment proposed by Rep. Morris K. Udall. Members of Congress previously opposed to the initial legislation that contained a broad management rights provision supported the amendment, based on an understanding that the provision would be "narrowly construed" and would, "wherever possible, encourage both parties to work out their differences in negotiations." (Rep. Ford, 124 Cong. Rec. H9648). The House passed the "Udall Substitute," the Senate agreed to the conference report embodying that amendment, and President Carter signed Title VII, the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (Statute) , into law as part of the Civil Service Reform Act on October 13, 1978, effective January 11, 1979.

The findings and purpose of the Statute articulate the 17 year experience since the issuance of Executive Order 10988 as follows:

The Congress finds that—

(1) experience in both private and public employment indicates that the statutory protection of the right of employees to organize, bargain collectively, and participate through labor organizations of their own choosing in decisions which affect them—

(A) safeguards the public interest

(B) contributes to the effective conduct of public business and

(C) facilitates and encourages the amicable settlements of disputes between employees and their employers involving conditions of employment and

(2) the public interest demands the highest standards of employee performance and the continued development and implementation of modern and progressive work practices to facilitate and improve employee performance and the efficient accomplishment of the operations of the Government.

Therefore, labor organizations and collective bargaining in the civil service are in the public interest.

The actual establishment of the FLRA was effected by the Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1978, which took effect on January 1, 1979, 10 days before the Statute became law. The legislative negotiations that resulted in Title VII and established the FLRA were complex.

While the statutory program was similar in many respects to the system that it replaced, there were programmatic and structural differences that radically changed Federal sector labor-management relations. Among the more significant changes affecting the structure and operation of the new agency were:

· The independent and bipartisan Authority was established to replace the Council, whose members had been the heads of three executive agencies, and given broad powers to remedy unfair labor practices and formal rulemaking authority

· The independent Office of the General Counsel was established to investigate and prosecute unfair labor practice charges and

· The Statute made the Authority's final orders -- which are issued in unfair labor practice and negotiability decisions -- subject to judicial review.

In addition, the Statute made significant substantive changes that would alter the dynamics of labor-management relations, including:

· Requiring that bargaining agreements contain grievance procedures terminating in binding arbitration and broadening the permissible scope of negotiated grievance procedures

· Requiring that agencies grant official time to exclusive representatives for negotiating collective bargaining agreements and

· Changing the nature and scope of reserved management rights and the exceptions to those rights.

FLRA Jurisdiction and Responsibilities

The jurisdiction defined for the newly-created FLRA extended throughout the world to wherever Federal agencies covered by the Statute are located. Subsequent legislation further expanded the list of entities within FLRA's jurisdiction. For example, the Panama Canal Act of 1979 extended FLRA's jurisdiction to cover employees, including foreign nationals, of the Panama Canal Commission and U.S. agencies in the Panama Canal Zone, although this jurisdiction was terminated as of July 1, 1998. More recently, the Presidential and Executive Office Accountability Act extended coverage of the Statute to additional categories of employees of the Executive Office of the President.

Coverage also has been modified over the years by Presidential Orders issued pursuant to § 7103(b) based on national security determinations. In November 1979, President Carter excluded a number of agency subdivisions, principally in the Department of Defense and Department of the Treasury. Subsequently, President Reagan suspended the program with respect to certain overseas activities, and exempted specific divisions of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Marshall's Service from the Statute's coverage.

Through subsequent legislation, Congress expanded the responsibilities of components of the FLRA. For example, the Foreign Service Act of 1980 established a labor-management relations program for the members of the U.S. Foreign Service. The Chairman of the FLRA also heads the Foreign Service Labor Relations Board and appoints its members and the members of the Foreign Service Impasse Disputes Panel the FLRA General Counsel serves as General Counsel to the Board and the Chairman of the Federal Service Impasses Panel serves as a member of the Foreign Service Impasse Disputes Panel. In 1982, the Federal Service Impasses Panel gained authority to rule on negotiation impasses regarding alternative work schedules. And, in 1994, Congress assigned the Authority specific responsibilities concerning the certification of bargaining units resulting from reorganizations within the Department of Agriculture.

Recent Labor-Management Executive Orders

Since the enactment of the Statute in 1979, Federal service labor-management relations has been impacted by the issuance of various Executive Orders. In 1993, President William J. Clinton issued Executive Order 12871, "Labor Management Partnerships," which called for a new form of Federal labor-management relations so that managers, employees, and employees’ elected union representatives would serve as partners in designing and implementing comprehensive changes necessary to transform Federal government agencies into organizations capable of delivering the highest quality services to the American people. That Order was later rescinded by Executive Order 13203, "Revocation of Executive Order and Presidential Memorandum Concerning Labor-Management Partnerships" that was issued by George W. Bush in 2001.

Most recently in 2009, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13522, "Creating Labor-Management Forums to Improve the Delivery of Government Services," with the stated purpose of establishing a cooperative and productive form of labor-management relations throughout the executive branch. The Executive Order provides that:

Federal employees and their union representatives are an essential source of front-line ideas and information about the realities of delivering Government services to the American people. A nonadversarial forum for managers, employees, and employees’ union representatives to discuss Government operations will promote satisfactory labor relations and improve the productivity and effectiveness of the Federal Government. Labor-management forums, as complements to the existing collective bargaining process, will allow managers and employees to collaborate in continuing to deliver the highest quality services to the American people. Management should discuss workplace challenges and problems with labor and endeavor to develop solutions jointly, rather than advise union representatives of predetermined solutions to problems and then engage in bargaining over the impact and implementation of the predetermined solutions.

For half a century and today, Federal labor-management relations contributes in large measure to a high performing, dynamic and diverse public sector workforce and effective public business.


President Kennedy's Rose Garden

The inspiration for renewing the rose garden at the White House came from President Kennedy in 1961. My involvement began at a picnic on a hazy summer day in August at our beach house on Cape Cod, surrounded by sand dunes, the sea, and sailboats. It was a picnic for a few friends and included President and Mrs. Kennedy. Hardly had the President came ashore from his boat when he suggested we sit down and discuss a garden for the White House.

He and Mrs. Kennedy had just returned from a state visit to France, followed by stops in England and Austria. The President had noted that the White House had no garden equal in quality or attractiveness to the gardens that he had seen and in which he had been entertained in Europe. There he had recognized the importance of gardens surrounding an official residence and their appeal to the sensibilities of all people.

He wanted to start, in the greatest haste, to remake the area near his office at the west end of the White House, known as the Rose Garden, into an area both useful and attractive. Would I design it for him? It was a startling request to say the least.

As an amateur, I questioned my ability to design a garden of such importance. Paying little attention to that doubt, he bubbled with enthusiasm, with fascinating details of how he wanted a garden to appeal to the most discriminating taste, yet a garden that would hold a thousand people for a ceremony. What gardener could resist? I agreed, on the spot, to meet in September.

Time passed, and the day came when I called the White House as promised and spoke to J.B. West, the chief usher, who arranged a day for our meeting in the garden. Perry Wheeler, a friend and a landscape architect living and practicing in Washington, agreed to come with me. He seemed to me a likely collaborator. I was fortunate in this choice for from the beginning to the end of the project, he remained always interested, always helpful, and ever the honest critic.

A saucer magnolia outside the Oval Office.

Bruce White for the White House Historical Association

I vividly remember my first impression of the scene and the setting for the projected garden. The White House proper seemed exceptionally tall where it joined the long, low colonnade that linked it to the Oval Office and Cabinet Room. There were no trees near this wing or the corner by the White House, except for Andrew Jackson’s tall, dark Magnolia grandiflora near the South Portico. Beneath the magnolias was a long semicircular white bench on which Perry Wheeler and I sat facing the President’s office.

The garden had a simple plan. Four rows of clipped privet hedges about four feet tall ran the full length. In the plan of parallel lines were tucked away Tom Thumb roses and occasional standard roses. We sat a long time trying to imagine how this area could be designed to reflect the requirements the President had so clearly outlined to me that day at the Cape.

Beyond the colonnade, the door of the Oval Office opened suddenly, and the President came out and in his usual brisk way crossed the lawn to greet us. His first words were, “What do you think can be done? Have you any ideas?” Although I had no thoughts of what to do at the moment, President Kennedy’s enthusiasm and interest were so contagious that I felt I must certainly find him a good solution.

I explained that I would have to think about it now that I had seen the space. The tall central block of the White House in one corner and the West Wing, with its two low colonnades forming boundaries west and north, would have to be united in a harmonious and uncomplicated way. To the south there was no “wall” of architecture, just open space.

After that first impression of the garden and my talk with the President, my sense of responsibility for redesigning the garden was very strong. I hoped to find an inspiration that would help me bring all of the President’s requirements together. It was not until the end of October—the trees had lost their leaves—when late one afternoon, cold with the feeling of approaching winter and descending darkness, I was walking along Fifth Avenue in New York and looked up and saw three lovely magnolia trees growing in front of the Frick museum.

The saucer magnolias transplanted from the Tidal Basin continue to thrive in the Rose Garden today.

Bruce White for the White House Historical Association

I had often admired these trees before, but this evening they had a special importance to me. Their pale silvery branches with heavy twigs seemed to retain the light of summer. I knew their pattern of growth would continue to give form in winter and would catch raindrops as well as tufts of falling snow. I felt I could now design the President’s garden!

I envisioned all four corners planted with Magnolia soulangeana. These trees would soften the difficult corners that were now bare and would permit sufficient light to fall beneath and around them to allow planting. A 50-by-100-foot lawn, large enough to accommodate a thousand people for ceremonial activities and receptions and small enough to be covered by a tent, would be in the center of the garden.

On either side of the large lawn there could be a border 12 feet wide in which to plant smaller trees, roses, and other flowers. The President loved flowers and asked if a variety of other types could be mixed with the roses. He had read the published garden notes of Thomas Jefferson and hoped for flowers used in Jefferson’s period.

At the west end near his office, the steps were to be redesigned for the President wanted them to serve both as steps and as a platform or stage. A central step was to be wider than the others, so that he could stand a little above the heads of the crowd in order that they might see and hear him more clearly. Above this “platform step” were to be three others, upon which those being honored would stand, above the President.

Opposite the steps, at the east end of the garden, a flagstone terrace was to be laid under the historic Magnolia grandiflora. Here the President wished to have a place where he could sit and entertain his guests or, perhaps, hold a small luncheon.

I had before me an interesting problem involving a fascinating place. The site had once been a stable yard but due to its location beneath the great windows of the State Dining Room, the stable was soon relocated. Vegetables had been planted there by President Grant. In the range of rooms along the colonnade had been a milk house, icehouse, workshops, servants’ dwelling rooms, and numbers of other small, thick-walled chambers called, in the earliest times, household “offices.”

The Rose Garden as planted in 1913 according to First Lady Ellen Wilson's modifications of plans by George Burnap.

The first rose garden known there had been a dream-like Victorian garden under glass, part of a large complex of greenhouses begun before the Civil War. A “rose house” was only part of the vast glazed domains, which also had rooms for palms, orchids, fruit trees, and camellias. As the greenhouses grew, their magnificence increased. The rose house, as it was called was a plain, but very tall, rectangular glass structure that fit into the ell of the West Wing, the area of the present Rose Garden. Inside, the roses, planted in rows, were “farmed” more than being set out ornamentally. These rows were crisscrossed by water pipes with low sprinklers. Canvas curtains, like the studio curtains in La Boheme, protected the masses of delicate blossoms from violent summer sunshine.

Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt planted what she called her “Colonial Garden” on the spot in 1902, following the removal of the greenhouses by Charles McKim of the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White. Her charming portrait in the White House shows her seated in the Colonial Garden on a pretty wooden bench, with the South Portico in the background. Here she wanted only sweet peas, black-eyed susans, quince—and the jasmine in which she and Theodore Roosevelt took great delight on summer evenings, as they sat in white painted rocking chairs on the South Portico.

Through time, the White House has had occupants who have loved gardens and some who have not. Even among the “gardeners,” there were different preferences. Mrs. Taft, for example, preferred potted tropical plants inside to flower beds outside.

The one flower that unites all the occupants through the history of the White House is the rose. Thus, for most of the 20 th century, the Rose Garden has been a rose garden. Now, in 1961, President Kennedy wanted it restored in spirit but revised to become more than just a private garden.

My theory of garden design calls for an overall outline, which I call the “bone structure,” the most important element. Designing a garden is not unlike designing a building: You begin with the skeleton sketch, a general pleasing outline or form, and proceed from there. Within this structure, you can make subdivisions as you choose, more complicated or more detailed than the general form.

During the Lyndon B. Johnson administration, Rachel Mellon also supervised the redesign of the East Garden seen here in 2011. In 1965, it was renamed the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden.

White House Historical Association

In late November my husband and I were invited to dinner at the White House Pablo Casals was to play. I was seated across the table from the President.

He looked over to me before sitting down and said with an inquiring smile, “Bunny, where is my garden plan?” “I’m afraid it is still in my head, Mr. President, not yet down on paper, but I will finish it and send it to you soon.” “That’s the story of my administration,” he quipped, with a sparkle and a twinkle in his eye.

This informal exchange, brief as it was, spurred me to move ahead more quickly. A plan went down on paper, and I sent it to the President for approval. Within two days, I received his note of acceptance. I would have the cooperation of the National Park Service. All costs would be covered by the Park Service, but I was to keep expenses as low as possible.

An important first step was to find someone to manage and implement the work of the Rose Garden. There was an official over the gardens and grounds at the White House, but we needed a specialist with varied experience who understood all aspects of the undertaking. I set out to study local National Park Service gardens. One day in the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C., I met Irvin Williams, the head horticulturist, who was also in charge of the government nursery on Dangerfield Island in the Potomac, where the choice of plant material was the largest and the quality the highest. Talking with Mr. Williams, I felt almost immediately that he was the right man to direct and oversee the new garden at the White House, as well as to make other improvements to the White House grounds.

I spoke to Mrs. Kennedy about this, with the hope that if he were willing, Mr. Williams could be transferred by the Park Service to become head gardener at the White House. This strategy worked out well for everyone, and Mr. Williams soon took up his duties there, becoming involved with all the details of building a new garden. Much of the beauty of the White House landscape today is to his credit, as is the quality of the Rose Garden and the corresponding Jacqueline Kennedy Garden on the east side of the house. He has remained ever since as the guiding spirit of the work begun in 1962.

J.B. West helped complete our management team at the White House. He was the chief executive officer in charge of White House operations and had been there since the 1930s. He knew the schedule and activities of the President and his family and how we could adjust our building program to minimize their inconvenience.

Both Mr. Williams and Mr. West lent their intelligence—not to mention their charm—to the project their spirits are woven into the planting of the Rose Garden. The mention of their names recalls the ups and downs we experienced. One day while were removing the old soil and replacing it with new, we cut into a mysterious cable buried in a corner of the garden. It turned out to be the hot line that set off the nation’s military alert.

The scene was suddenly alive with security guards, to the alarm of everyone. We learned that the cable had been hastily installed during World War II by the Navy. Records of its location were inaccurate, hence our innocent intrusion. This startling experience was handled with calmness not even the President reprimanded us for the deep digging. However, months later he asked me if I had found any other interesting objects in my gardening pursuits!

We continued to dig. The garden area was filled with rubble and relics and yielded many curiosities, such as Civil War horseshoes and bits of pots from the old greenhouses. We dug out the whole area to a depth of four feet and filled it with fertile soil. With new soil in place and Mr. Williams at work, my thoughts turned to finding available plant material. The magnolias I imagined planting there would be hard to find.

There were, however, seemingly forgotten groves of interesting trees in the vast public land of the federal city, where old plant material had been allowed to grow in a state of apparent abandon. Near the Tidal Basin and behind the rambling wartime Navy buildings (since torn down) I finally found the four magnolias. Forgotten for many years, these trees had survived both men and war. They were balled and burlapped and moved by a crane from obscurity to the White House, where they took root in President Kennedy’s Rose Garden.

Their presence changed the entire character of this empty space. Their natural untended growth filled the four bare corners. The tree whose trunk reached higher than the others was planted in the northeast corner by the White House. Crowded by other trees in its previous planting ground, this magnolia had reached toward the light it had gained a height not often found in Magnolia soulangeana, which tend to spread after a certain period of upward growth.

When the planting was completed, the trees were pruned to give them strength and to create the shape each corner demanded. The special pruning was done by Everett Hicks, an exceptional man in his field. He had been trained by, and spent most of this life with, the Davey Tree Company. He combined a knowledge of pruning large trees with the eye and talent of a sculptor. These magnolias, my original inspiration, were not disappointing when they were in place. They gave life to what had been a cold, bleak space.

There is often unspoken encouragement when trees or shrubs are planted and you review the original plan to see how the reality of three dimensions measures up. Now in the Rose Garden shadows gave a quality of aliveness that could be repeated by the smaller trees I hoped to plant in the two flanking twelve-foot borders. The length of the borders would allow for five trees on each side. The force of the summer sun that bakes the city of Washington would be broken by the height and width of these trees.

The trees we chose were Katherine crab apples. Crab apples belong to the rose family and would blend well with the roses, perennials, annuals, and herbs that would grow beneath and around them. Aware that the garden would be used almost every day of the year and that the President had high hopes for it, I decided to divide the long beds into sections. The design, with a crab apple as the center of each section, would repeat itself and run like a ribbon the length of both beds.

A large diamond-shaped outline of santolina would surround each crab-apple tree. Each diamond would be set in a larger outline: a small clipped English boxwood hedge and, next to the lawn, a low growing hybrid boxwood called Greenpillow, developed by Henry Hohman in Kingsville, Maryland.

The divisions gave the garden its own pattern, not unlike an early American garden in Southern Virginia, in which the earth could be left bare if need be and the garden would still have form. The well-outlined areas could be bedded out as the season demanded: but the roses could remain, planted in the corners and edges as a strong accent woven into the tapestry of flowers that would change with the seasons.

The Rose Garden, walled on two sides by the colonnade of the West Wing, frames a view toward the Cabinet Room and the Oval Office.

The White House Historical Association

In spring there would be flowering bulbs, such as tulips, with a border of lapis blue Mùscari. In summer the border would be changed to plants of dark lavender heliotrope, while larger sections would have pale pink geraniums, lilies, white dianthus, blue salvia, lady’s mantle, cosmos, and lemon verbena, to mention a few. In fall the plants would be lifted again to allow for planting of chrysanthemums, Anemone japonica, and Michaelmas daisies. As winter approached, the garden would be put to bed, only the roses would remain, while the soil was being fertilized and turned over.

To facilitate this plan, a government greenhouse in Maryland was renovated to meet the changing needs of the Rose Garden. Perennials could be held over, annuals started, and lilies grown in pots so that they could be used year after year. In this way there was assurance that the garden would have the important plants that were required for each season.

At the east end opposite the President’s office, the openness created by the tall trunks of the old magnolias had to be filled in to give privacy and to outline the paved terrace. This was done with hawthorns and mixed varieties of hollies. The East Palatka holly used here was repeated in the bed near the President’s office.

The garden was begun in the spring of 1962 and finished at the end of the same year. It was truly President Kennedy’s garden. His concern for the growth and wellbeing of this garden was never ending. Often in the late afternoon working there by myself, changing and pruning plants, I would notice that his door would be open. He would be working at his desk. I was aware of and touched by the serious tranquility of this scene. As he left the office, he always stopped to say, “Hi,” or “How is the garden doing?”

Twenty years have gone by. The Rose Garden has seen administrations come and go. It is now known the world over. It has fulfilled John F. Kennedy’s vision of a garden that would endure and whose atmosphere, with the subtlety of its every changing patters, would suggest the every changing pattern of history itself.


Contents

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born at 83 Beals Street in Brookline, Massachusetts on May 29, 1917 ⎖] to U.S. England Ambassador Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Sr. (1888–1969) and philanthropist Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald (1890–1995). Joe was the elder son of businessman/politician Patrick Joseph "P. J." Kennedy (1858–1929) and Mary Augusta Hickey (1857–1923). Rose was the eldest daughter of Boston Mayor John Francis "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald (1863–1950) and Mary Josephine "Josie" Hannon (1865–1964). All four of his grandparents were the children of immigrants from Ireland. Jack's younger brothers were Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy (1925–1968) and Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (1932–2009). Bobby and Ted both became prominent Senators. Kennedy lived in Brookline for ten years and attended Edward Devotion School, Noble and Greenough Lower School, and the Dexter School, through 4th grade. In 1927, the family moved to 5040 Independence Avenue in Riverdale, Bronx, New York City two years later, they moved to 294 Pondfield Road in Bronxville, New York, where Kennedy was a member of Scout Troop 2. Ώ] Kennedy spent summers with his family at their home in Hyannisport, Massachusetts, and Christmas and Easter holidays with his family at their winter home in Palm Beach, Florida. For the 5th through 7th grade, Kennedy attended Riverdale Country School, a private school for boys. For 8th grade in September 1930, the 13-year-old Kennedy attended Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut. In late April 1931, he required an appendectomy, after which he withdrew from Canterbury and recuperated at home. ⎗]

In September 1931, Kennedy was sent to The Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut, for his 9th through 12th grade years. His older brother, Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Jr. (1915–1944), had already been at Choate for two years, a football star and leading student. Jack spent his first years at Choate in his brother's shadow, and compensated for this with rebellious behavior which attracted a coterie. Their most notorious stunt was to explode a toilet seat with a powerful firecracker. In the ensuing chapel assembly, the strict headmaster, George St. John, brandished the toilet seat and spoke of certain "muckers" who would "spit in our sea". The defiant Jack Kennedy took the cue and named his group "The Muckers Club", which included roommate and friend Kirk LeMoyne "Lem" Billings. While at Choate, Kennedy was beset by health problems that culminated in 1934 with his emergency hospitalization at Yale – New Haven Hospital. In June 1934 he was admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and diagnosed with colitis. Kennedy graduated from Choate in June 1935. For the school yearbook, of which he had been business manager, Kennedy was voted the "most likely to succeed". ⎘]

In September 1935, he made his first trip abroad, with his parents and sister Kathleen, to London, with the intent of studying under Harold Laski at the London School of Economics (LSE), as his older brother Joe had done. Ill-health forced his return to America in October 1935, when he enrolled late and spent six weeks at Princeton University. He was then hospitalized for observation at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. He convalesced further at the Kennedy winter home in Palm Beach, then spent the spring of 1936 (along with his older brother Joe) working as a ranch hand on the 40,000 acres (160 km 2 ) "Jay Six" cattle ranch outside Benson, Arizona. ⎙] It is reported that ranchman Jack Speiden worked both brothers "very hard".

Kennedy family at Hyannisport in 1931 with Jack at top left in white shirt

In September 1936, Kennedy enrolled at Harvard College, where he produced that year's annual "Freshman Smoker", called by a reviewer "an elaborate entertainment, which included in its cast outstanding personalities of the radio, screen and sports world". ⎚] He tried out for the football, golf, and swimming teams and earned a spot on the varsity swimming team. ⎛] In July 1937 Kennedy sailed to France—bringing his convertible—and spent ten weeks driving through Europe with Billings. ⎜] In June 1938 Kennedy sailed overseas with his father and brother Joe to work with his father, who was then Franklin D. Roosevelt's U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James's, at the American embassy in London. ⎝] In 1939 Kennedy toured Europe, the Soviet Union, the Balkans, and the Middle East in preparation for his Harvard senior honors thesis. He then went to Czechoslovakia and Germany before returning to London on September 1, 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland. On September 3, 1939, the family was in the House of Commons for speeches endorsing the United Kingdom's declaration of war on Germany. Kennedy was sent as his father's representative to help with arrangements for American survivors of the SS Athenia, before flying back to the U.S. from Foynes, Ireland, to Port Washington, New York on his first transatlantic flight.

As an upperclassman at Harvard, Kennedy became a more serious student and developed an interest in political philosophy. In his junior year he made the Dean's List. ⎞] In 1940 Kennedy completed his thesis, "Appeasement in Munich", about British participation in the Munich Agreement. The thesis became a bestseller under the title Why England Slept. ⎟] He graduated from Harvard College with a Bachelor of Science cum laude in international affairs in 1940. Kennedy enrolled in and audited classes at the Stanford Graduate School of Business that fall. ⎠] In early 1941, he helped his father write a memoir of his three years as an American ambassador and then traveled throughout South America. ⎡]


A Few of the African Americans in the Kennedy Administration

Andrew T. Hatcher, associate White House press secretary, the first black man to hold the No. 2 communications spot in the White House, behind his longtime political compatriot, Pierre Salinger. In fact, according to a profile in Ebony in October 1963, Hatcher pinch-hit for Salinger “200 days … as the official White House spokesmen at press briefings, on the mikes and on the job,” including during “the Mississippi Meredith case.” “The appointment was enough to jar ‘the old pros’ who had long become accustomed to Negroes serving only as porters, messengers, maids, clerks and valets at the White House,” Simeon Booker of Ebony wrote.

Dr. Robert Weaver, administrator of the Housing and Home Finance Agency, “the highest appointive federal office ever held by an American Negro,” the Chicago Defender noted in its coverage of Weaver receiving the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal on June 5, 1962. (JFK tried to elevate Weaver to a full Cabinet member but was rebuffed by Southern Democrats around the same time he pushed to open up federal housing for blacks. Lyndon Baines Johnson, the legislator’s legislator, eventually made it happen, naming Weaver his first H.U.D. secretary in 1966.)

George L.P. Weaver, assistant aecretary of labor for Internal Affairs

Carl Rowan, deputy assistant secretary of state for Public Affairs (later LBJ’s director of the U.S. Information Agency, after Edward R. Murrow, and a nationally syndicated columnist)

Dr. Grace Hewell, program coordination officer, Department of Health, Education and Welfare

Christopher C. Scott, deputy assistant postmaster general for transportation

Lt. Commander Samuel Gravely, of the U.S.S. Falgout, the first black Navy commander to lead a combat ship, according to Martin

Dr. Mabel Murphy Smythe, member, U.S. Advisory Commission on Educational Exchange, Department of State

John P. Duncan, commissioner of the District of Columbia

Clifford Alexander Jr., national security council (later secretary of the army under President Carter)

A. Leon Higginbotham, a member of the five-man Federal Trade Commission, which, in September 1962, made him the first African American ever to be appointed to a federal regulatory agency—and only at age 35. (Higginbotham was a distinguished Philadelphia attorney who had graduated from Yale Law School and served as the city’s NAACP chapter president and former assistant district attorney I was proud to recruit him and his wife Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham to teach at Harvard after I arrived in 1991.)

The ambassadors: Carl Rowan, to Finland Clifton Wharton, to Norway and Mercer Cook, to Niger

U.S. attorneys: Cecil Poole, Northern California and Merle McCurdy, Northern Ohio

President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity: Alice Dunnigan John Hope Azie Taylor (later, U.S. treasurer under President Carter) Hobart Taylor John Wheeler and Howard Woods.

Federal judges: James Benton Parsons, Northern District of Illinois, the first black federal district judge to serve inside the continental U.S. Wade McCree, Eastern District of Michigan Marjorie Lawson, Juvenile Court of the District of Columbia and, “Mr. Civil Rights” himself (as Louis Martin referred to him), Thurgood Marshall, the Second Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals. A. Leon Higginbotham would have made No. 5 when JFK nominated him for a district court judgeship in October 1963, but after the assassination, he was held over until LBJ submitted his name again in January 1964.

Read more of this blog post on The Root.

Fifty of the 100 Amazing Facts will be published on The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross website. Read all 100 Facts on The Root.

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