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Kennedy's Domestic Policy

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Elizabeth Williams

on 18 October 2013

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Transcript of Kennedy's Domestic Policy

The Election of 1960:
JFK's Domestic Policies
The New Frontier
First Presidential election that was viewed on television.
Nixon v. Kennedy
Kennedy look strong, handsome, confident, young
This changed politics forever - the President is a media celebrity and must act/look accordingly
Recall the influence of TV
Kennedy was likeable, outgoing and friendly. Nixon seemed stiff.
A new kind of campaign: The two major political parties spent 13.5 million dollars on radio/TV
What were the issues?
1. Economy - Both presented similar economic plans
2. Cold War - "Cold Warriors" - They were both determined to continue the war effort in order to contain Communism
- JFK believed that Soviet Union posed a major threat to the security of the nation.
Missile Gap: The United States is falling behind the Soviets in weaponry
We need to get moving again, and take our rightful place as superpower of the world
Nixon (The Vice President) argued that our country was right on track
He didnt want to be blamed for the current situation in the U.S. (I'm only an advisor to the President. I only give advice when I am asked)
At this point you may think that this election was an easy win for JFK..
JFK was a Catholic.
The United States had never had a Catholic President before,and many Protestants (the majority of Americans at the time) were concerned about his religious background negatively affecting his ability to govern the United States.
His response? "I believe in an America where the separation of the church and state is absolute.. where no Catholic prelate would tell the president, should he be a Catholic, how to act."
The Kennedy Mystique
- Narrow victory over Nixon
Kennedy represented youth, change and movement (the culture of the 1960's). The United States wanted progressive movement and advancement.
"The torch has been passed to a new generation.. My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."

These words inspired a generation - Americans were captivated by Kennedy.
Family Man - Wife (Jackie O), daughter (Caroline) and son (John F. Kennedy, Jr.)
Kennedy's Legislative Agenda
Not everyone was enamored by Kennedy - some conservatives were weary of his religious background, elite family and adaptation to the limelight.
Increase aid to education
Provide health insurance to the elderly
Create a Department of Urban Affairs
Help migrant workers (Remember the Braceros - The Mexican immigrants working long hours in terrible working conditions)
Were these ideas carried out?
Kennedy struggles with Congress:

Even though the Democratic party held the majority in both houses of Congress, Kennedy's progressive social reforms were not well supported
Why? 1. Kennedy had not helped many Democratic congressman get elected, so they did not feel the need to help him out.
2. Republicans and conservative Democrats felt as if these reforms were too BIG and too COSTLY
Congress denied: Funding for education, health insurance for the elderly and the development of an Urban Affairs Department. JFK accepted these losses and did not push the issue any further.
Strengthening the Economy:
1950's: A great deal of prosperity
1960-61: The growth rate had slowed to a rate of 2%, while unemployment crept up towards 7%
Artuhur Goldberg (Secretary of Labor): He forced labor unions to reduce their demands for higher wages
Big Business Fights Back:
Kennedy's Economic Plan:
1. Deficit Spending: Buying on credit
2. Invest more funds in defense and space exploration to combat the advances made by Soviet Union. "A nation at risk" Education reform.
3. Increasing business production and efficiency
4. He asked business owners to keep prices down, and urged labor leaders to hold down pay increases.
However, in 1962, steel prices rose dramatically - JFK threatened that the government would buy their steel from cheaper, foreign companies.
He had the Justice Department investigate the steel industry accused use of 'price-fixing'
They backed down. Kennedy won the fight, but strained the relationship between the executive branch and 'big business'
Economic Reforms Cont'd:
Supply-side ideas: Lowering barriers for people to produce goods and services
Pushed for a cut in tax rates
"A rising tide lift all boats" - If taxes were cut for businesses, they would be able to cut costs, produce more goods and hire more people
Congress did not pass the
tax cut.. but they did raise
the minimum wage and
passed the Area Re-
development Act and
a Housing Act.
Cleared slums, created jobs and built low-income housing
He had a number of women in important positions within the government.
Esther Peterson: Assistant secretary of labor and director of the Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor
Women's Rights
1961: Presidential Commission on the Status of Women
This called for the federal action against gender discrimination
Women should receive equal-pay employment
1960: Equal Pay Act
Kennedy Confronts Global Challenges
JFK's Foreign Policy:
The Cold War at Home
American Democracy vs. Soviet Communism
The Cold War Review:
Kennedy entered the White House amidst the Cold War. He inherited problems from President Eisenhower.
"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
Write a brief response about how Kennedy's statement relates to the Vietnam War. Do you think that the majority of the population agreed with his point of view in 1960? Why or why not?
Kennedy wanted Americans to be the first to land on the moon. In 1961, he said "this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon."
He would not leave to see this dream come true (Neil Armstrong in July 1969)
Kennedy's Foreign Policy
1. "Flexible Response": Kennedy felt that Eisenhower had only focused on the development of nuclear weapons. We need to expand our ideas, and allow for a more flexible response to Communist aggression.
He called for an increase in conventional troops and weapons to help support nations fighting off Communism
United States Army Special Forces - Adopted guerrilla warfare tactics in fighting Communist aggression (Green Berets)
2. Economic Aid to Countries: Kennedy began to focus on Latin America.
Corrupt Politicians
Bad Economy/Living Conditions
Left Wing movements developed in an effort to overthrow corrupt dictators
- Americans had a history of supporting these corrupt officials in an effort to prevent Communist takeover, and the majority population resented this intrusion.
- Presence of American businesses in Latin America - viewed as a form of imperialism
Alliance for Progress: A series of cooperative aid projects with Latin American governments
Goal = Free and Prosperous Latin America
10 years: $20 billion to aid schools, housing, health care reforms and fairer land distribution
Success: In Chile, Colombia, Venezuela & Central America
The Peace Corps
- Young Americans were sent to developing countires across the world
They were trained to perform humanitarian services. This meshed well with the progressive, liberal youth culture of the 1960's. Many volunteered to go live in another country for two years
Laid out sewage systems in countries such as Bolivia
Trained medical technicians in countries such as Chad
Teachers went to other coutnries to teach English
They also helped to build roads
1963: The program had expanded to include thousands of volunteers and they were serving in more than 30 countries
The Space Race
Crises of the Cold War
Cuba's role in the war:
The Bay of Pigs:
The cold war intensified during Kennedy's term - Bay of Pigs
Cuba: A small Latin American country just 90 miles off the coast of Florida.
During the 1950's, Cuba was under the corrupt control of a dictator named Fulgencio Batista
1959: Communist revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro overthrew Batista and took control for himself.
The Soviet Union took the opportunity to extend their influence into the Western hemisphere, and began to establish ties with Castro.
Castro quickly instituted socialist reforms, including a redistribution of land, and the seizure of foreign businesses (many of which belonged to Americans)
Americans were terrified by the possibility of a Communist takeover, and Cuba was too close for comfort
Nikita Kruschev began to expand the military presence in Cuba
Fulgencio Batista - corrupt Cuban dictator during the late 1950's
Fidel Castro - Communist leader in Cuba
Nikita Kruschev - Leader of the Soviet Union during Kennedy's term
Americans feared that the Soviet Union would use Cuba as a home base for spreading Communist ideologies all throughout Central and South America.
Before Kennedy took office, Dwight D. Eisenhower had approved a plan for members of the CIA to secretly train and arm Cuban exiles (La Brigada) to invade the island and start an uprising against Castro.
When Kennedy assumed the Presidency, his advisors convinced him to approve the plan. He made some changes, and then agreed to carry out the plan.
April 17th, 1961: 1,400 armed Cuban exiles landed at the Bay of Pigs.
The entire operation was a failure
La Brigada's boats hit coral reefs and sank
Kennedy had cancelled the American air force support in an effort to make the US seem innocent
The popular uprising didn't happen
- After just two days, nearly all members of La Brigada were captured and killed by Castro's government. He had managed to assume firm control in Cuba. This control would last for decades.
Results of the Bay of Pigs: The American government was exposed as trying to overthrow another nation's system of government.
It also made the United States government look weak and disorganized for coming up with such a poorly designed and executed plan.
Embarassing for Kennedy
June 1961 - Kennedy v. Kruschev
The Berlin Wall Goes Up
Kruschev and Kennedy met in Vienna, Austria to discuss the future of Germany.
Kruschev's demands:
He wanted East Germans (Communist) to flee to West Berlin for safety.
He wanted the Western powers to recognize East Germany
He wanted the U.S., France and Britain to withdraw from Berlin completely
Kruschev thought he could intimidate the young President Kennedy - he was wrong.
Kennedy remained firm and refused.
Kruschev responded with the wall.
Cuban Missile Crisis:
Summer 1962:
American intelligence units discovered that technicians from the Soviet Union had landed in Cuba and had begun the process of expanding their military presence on the island.
October 1962: Kennedy announced that American airplanes and viewed Soviet long-range missiles located in Cuba
Secret Negotiations:
The height of the cold war - on the brink of nuclear war
Kennedy's response?
1. Naval blockade - The goal was to stop the Soviet Union from celivering any more missiles
2. He demanded that the Soviets dismantle any existing missiles in Cuba
3. He also warned that if the Soviets were to use the current missiles, the United States would repsond promptly with an attack on the Soviet Union
The Soviets continued their construction of military weapons and missiles in Cuba, despite JFK's demands
After a great deal of negotiations between the American government and the Soviet Union, they finally were able to reach an agreement.
Soviets agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba
Americans promised not to invade Cuba and to remove any missiles from Turkey
In reality, neither Kennedy nor Kruschev wanted a nuclear war. They were open to negotiations in an effort to settle this dispute without destroying the earth.
Kennedy was praised for his skill handling of this tricky situation. The American public no longer had anxiety about impending nuclear war.
Shortly after the crisis, both countries seemed to scale back their construction of nuclear weapons
August 1963 - Both nations agreed to ban the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere
The crisis was embarassing for Kruschev, because the young American President had coerced him into reterating out of Cuba. He fell from power just one year after the conclusion of the crisis
His sucessor was much less interested in interacting with Western powers
The Svoiet Union recognized that the US had a considerably stronger military, and responded by building up their own military
November 22, 1963:
The Death of a Great American President
Kennedy and LBJ travelled to Texas for a series of politcal appearances.
As he was riding through Dallas, he was shot twice (once in the head and once in the throat)
He died shortly after his arrival to the hospital
Accused killer - Lee Harvey Oswald
Americans were horrified - conspiracy theories?
After the shocking loss of JFK, Vice President was sworn into office on Air Force One.
LBJ - The Great Society
Due to the intense popularity of JFK and the recent events, LBJ decided to continue many of the programs that he had started
By 1963, Kennedy's economic reforms left America with a sense of renewed prosperity.
However, there was still a significant part of the population (50 million Americans that was not included in this prosperity
LBJ's Goal - Eliminate poverty
He was a big, loud Texan with a strong personality
"The Johnson Treatment"
Johnson's Leadership Style
Now choose a partner (who read the opposite document):
Act out the negotiations between these leaders.
List your concerns, demands and explain your willingness to compromise.
Write down three elements to your compromise, and hand it in
Letter From Kruschev
Letter from Kennedy
Document Analysis
1. What were Kruschev's main concerns?
2. What did he demand from the US?
Pretend that you are Kruschev, and prepare a speech to the Soviet people explaining your reasons for being in Cuba, and how you plan to prevent nuclear war.
1. What were Kennedy's main concerns?
2. What he demand from the Soviet Union?
Pretend that you are Kennedy, and prepare a speech to the American people explaining your reasons for invading Cuba, and how you plan to prevent nuclear war.
The War on Poverty:
Kennedy's social reforms that had not passed through Congress during his term, were now being reconsidered
LBJ was an extremely talented politician and he was able tp push these reforms through Congress
1964 - Civil Rights Act
He also passed a significant tax cut for businesses as well as an extensive anti-poverty program
LBJ was focused on helping the 'invisible' poor people:
He did not come from a great deal of money, and he had spent a brief period of time teaching in a low-income area.
"Unfortunately, many Americans live on the outskirts of hope, some because of their poverty, and some because of their color and all too many because of both."
A wide range of programs aimed at creating jobs and fighting poverty (urban and rural areas)
1964: Economic Opportunity Act
Created the Office of Economic Opportunity
Neighborhood Youth Corps - Work-study programs to young individuals living in the inner cities. This helped them to earn a diploma or college degree
Job Corps - Help underprivileged youth find jobs
VISTA - Volunteers in Service to America
Domestic Peace Corps
Young people would volunteer to work in poor neighborhoods to help people in these areas overcome poverty
Johnson took over the Presidency in November 1963, after Kennedy's assassination. He had to run for office the following year.
The Election of 1964:
The American public linked LBJ to John F. Kennedy, and as a result, he enjoyed a great deal of support.
He ran against conservative Republican Barry Goldwater (Senator from Arizona)
Goldwater had extremely conservative policies and ideas. Johnson won the election by a landslide. "For the first time in my life, I truly felt loved by the American people."
Johnson's vision of a more perfect and equitable society
Full transcript