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Chapter 20:New Frontier/Great Society


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Title: Chapter 20:New Frontier/Great Society

Chapter 20New Frontier/Great Society
1960 Election
  • In 1960, the country was enjoying a period of
    relative prosperity. With the exception of the
    civil rights movement, domestic turbulence was
    low, but the intensity of the cold war seemed to
    be growing. Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba in
    1959, and installed a communist regime 90 miles
    away from Florida. In May 1960, an American U-2
    spy plane was shot down inside the Soviet Union.

  • The Democratic nominee, Massachusetts senator
    John F. Kennedy, promised active leadership to
    get America moving again. His opponent, Vice
    President Richard Nixon, hoped to ride Ikes
    coattails. Both candidates had similar political
    positions, but two factors favored Kennedy
    television and civil rights. In the fall of 1960
    there were several televised debates between the
    presidential candidates.

  • On September 26, 1960, 70 million viewers watched
    Nixon and Kennedy, two articulate and
    knowledgeable candidates, debating the issues of
    the day (this was the first televised debate in
    history). Nixon, a foreign policy expert, hoped
    the debates would show Kennedys inexperience.
    He had been ill and was underweight and
    haggard-looking. He looked pasty, white, and

  • Kennedy though, had been coached by television
    producers and he looked and spoke better than
    Nixon. Kennedys success in the debate launched a
    new era in American politics the television age.
    People ignored the messages that were given in
    these debates, people who listened to the debates
    on the radio agreed that Nixon won, and placed
    more stock in what they saw.

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  • A second major event in the campaign took place
    in Atlanta, Georgia. In October 1960 Martin
    Luther King Jr. was arrested during a protest.
    Although the other protesters were released, King
    was sentenced to months of hard labor (for
    basically a traffic violation). Ike refused to
    intervene and Nixon took no public stance. The
    Kennedys talked the judge into releasing King
    with bail.

  • This event garnered Kennedy substantial Black
    support and helped Kennedy in this very tight

  • In the end this was the closest election since
    1884 Kennedy won by fewer than 119,000 votes
    (less than one voter per precinct). His
    inauguration set the tone for a new era at the
    White House, one of grace, elegance, and wit.
    Kennedys speech inspired hope, commitment, and

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  • During his term Kennedy and his young wife,
    Jacqueline (who captivated the nation with her
    eye for fashion), invited many artists and
    celebrities to the White House. In addition,
    Kennedy was often on television. The press loved
    his charm and wit and helped bolster his image.
    The first family fascinated the public.
    Newspapers and magazines filled their pages with
    photos of the Kennedy family.

  • JFKs advisors were called the best and the
    brightest. They included McGeorge Bundy, a
    Harvard University dean for national security
    advisor Robert McNamara, president of Ford
    Motor, as secretary of defense Dean Rusk,
    president of the Rockefeller Foundation, as
    secretary of state. His most trusted advisor was
    his brother, Robert Kennedy whom he appointed
    attorney general.

Flexible Response
  • President John F. Kennedy ushered in the era of
    "flexible response" in 1961, deciding that Ikes
    Brinkmanship and threat of massive nuclear
    retaliation to deter the Soviets had limited
    practical use, but that the possibility of
    smaller brush-fire wars had increased. The idea
    theoretically resulted in more flexible forces
    and an army that took full advantage of new
    equipment, in particular new tanks, armored
    personnel carriers, and helicopters.

  • Kennedy also had an elite branch of the army
    created, the Special Forces (or Green Berets).
    They were to develop a new style of warfare to
    deal with these brush-fire type conflicts. At
    the same time Kennedy tripled the overall nuclear
    capabilities of the U.S. The U.S. was being
    prepared to fight small-scale conflicts and still
    keep the nuclear balance with the Soviets.

Cuba (1959)
  • In 1959 Fidel Castros guerilla movement toppled
    Cubas dictator Batista. He declared that he
    would eliminate poverty, inequality, and
    dictatorship in Cuba. Castro's victory in Cuba
    was welcomed with remarkable unanimity in all the
    free countries of Latin America. He declared
    that free elections will be held as soon as
    possible. The U.S. was suspicious of Castro, but
    recognized his government.

  • After the Revolution Fidel Castro, Dwight
    Eisenhower issued a statement saying he hoped
    "that the people of that friendly country, . . .
    so close to us in geography and sentiment," could
    "through freedom find peace stability, and
  • The era of good feelings lasted less than a week.

  • Castros government then seized three American
    and British oil refineries, broke up commercial
    farms into communes that would be worked by
    formerly landless peasants, and seized foreign
    (mostly American) sugar plantations. In response
    Congress erected trade barriers against Cuban
    sugar. Castro turned to the Soviets for aid and
    repressed those who disagreed with him
    politically. About 10 of Cubans fled to the U.S.

Castro embraces Communism
  • The U.S. now saw Castro as another tyrant who had
    replaced a dictatorship with another
    dictatorship. A counter-revolutionary movement
    of Cubans in Miami, Florida started to rise. In
    March 1960 Ike gave the CIA permission to
    secretly train those Cuban exiles for an invasion
    of Cuba which would launch an uprising to
    overthrow Castro. After JFK is inaugurated he
    finds out about the plan.

The Bay of Pigs
  • Although JFK had doubts about the plan he
    approved the mission, just six days after taking
    office. On April 17, 1961 about 1500 Cuban
    exiles landed at the Bay of Pigs. Nothing went
    as it was planned air strikes had failed to
    knock out the Cuban air force, the advance unit
    never reached shore, and finally 25,000 Cuban
    troops (supported by Soviet tanks and jets) were
    waiting for them.

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  • The exiles fought for a few days before almost
    all of its members were killed or captured. When
    the shooting was over, 114 members of the brigade
    were dead and 1,189 had become Castro's
    prisoners. In Washington, the White House went
    into a brief period of shock. Kennedy recovered
    quickly, however, and made a statement
    acknowledging U.S. support for the invaders.

  • Days later he said that U.S. efforts to oust
    Castro with the Bay of Pigs invasion had been
    restrained, and that future U.S. action against
    the Cuban government might be more severe. The
    covert invasion of Cuba had been a foreign policy
    disaster, what one historian called "the perfect
    failure." It resulted in embarrassment for the
    Kennedy administration and provided Castro with a
    major issue with which to rally his people.

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  • Kennedy later negotiated with Castro for the
    release of the commandos, who had been housed in
    a soccer stadium. In return for 53 million in
    food and medical supplies they were allowed to
    return to the U.S. Although Kennedy warned that
    he would continue to resist further Communist
    expansion in the Western Hemisphere, Castro
    continued to welcome Soviet aid.

The Berlin Wall
  • In 1961 Nikita Khrushchev tried to stop the flow
    of refugees from East to West Berlin. Most were
    seeking freedom from Communist rule. These
    refugees were a sign to the West that the Easts
    Communist government was failing. Since the
    Berlin Airlift (11 years) almost 3 million East
    Germans had fled west. After a failed
    negotiation between JFK and Khrushchev, on August
    13 1961 East German troops began to seal off the
    border with barbed wire.

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  • Within days the construction of a more permanent
    wall had begun. The wall and the armed guards
    were successful in reducing the exodus from the
    east to a trickle. It also became a very real
    symbol of the differences between Communism and
    our way of thinking. During the next 28 years
    approximately 5,000 people succeeded in escaping
    from the East, with 200 dying in the process.

  • This rope dangling from the lighted window of a
    building in East Berlin shows the escape route of
    an East Berlin family of five who slid down the
    rope to safety in 1964. The large number of
    people climbing over the Wall lead the East
    German government to outlaw rope and twine.

  • President John F. Kennedy stands on a platform
    looking over the Berlin Wall into the Eastern

  • "There are some who say that Communism is the
    wave of the future. Let them come to
    Berlin."--President John F. Kennedy, Berlin,
    Germany, June 26, 1963

The Cuban Missile Crisis
  • The Soviets liked having Castro as an ally, and
    Nikita Khrushchev promised to defend Cuba with
    Soviet arms. During the summer of 1962 the flow
    of Soviet weapons to Cuba included nuclear
    missiles. President Kennedy responded with a
    warning that we would not tolerate offensive
    nuclear weapons in Cuba. Then, on October 14 U-2
    planes took photos of Soviet missile bases in
    Cuba, some with missiles ready to fire!

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  • On October 22 Kennedy informed the nation about
    the missiles and of his plan to get them removed.
    He made it clear that any missile attack from
    Cuba would trigger an all-out war on the Soviet
    Union. For the next six days the world faced the
    real possibility of a nuclear war as Soviet ships
    carrying more missiles headed toward Cuba while
    U.S. ships prepared a quarantine of the island.
    The U.S. also had 100,000 troops ready to invade

  • In a contest to test who would back down first,
    the Soviets stopped their ships to avoid a
    confrontation at sea. Secretary of State Dean
    Rusk said We are eyeball to eyeball, and the
    other fellow just blinked. A few days later
    Khrushchev offered to remove the missiles in
    return for not invading Cuba. The U.S. also
    agreed to remove missiles from Turkey. The
    crisis was over.

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The New Frontier
  • In his acceptance speech as Democratic Candidate
    in 1960 John F. Kennedy promised the American
    people a New Frontier We stand at the edge of
    a New Frontier the frontier of unfulfilled
    hopes and dreams. It will deal with unsolved
    problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of
    ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of
    poverty and surplus.  

  • Kennedy wanted to extend economic benefits to all
    citizens, but a razor-thin margin of victory
    limited his mandate. Even though the Democratic
    Party controlled both houses of Congress,
    conservative Southerners resisted plans to
    increase federal aid to education, provide health
    insurance for the elderly and create a new
    Department of Urban Affairs. And so, despite his
    rhetoric, Kennedy's policies were often limited
    and restrained.

  • Still, he did secure funding for a space program,
    and established the Peace Corps to send men and
    women overseas to assist developing countries in
    meeting their own needs. The president made some
    gestures toward civil rights leaders but did not
    until nearly the end of his presidency. He failed
    in his effort to aid public education and to
    provide medical care for the elderly. He gained
    only a modest increase in the minimum wage.

The Kennedy Assassination
  • In the fall of 1963 public opinion polls showed
    that Kennedy was losing popularity, mostly
    because of his support for civil rights.
    President Kennedy went on a Texas trip to raise
    campaign funds and mend political fences among a
    fractured, Texas Democratic party. The president,
    and his wife, landed in Dallas on November 22,
    1963 and received a warm reception throughout the

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  • Riding in an open-air limousine, with the
    governor and his wife, they noted the reception
    they were receiving. As the car approached the
    Texas School Book Depository, in Dealey Plaza,
    rifle shots rang out and Kennedy and Governor
    Connally were shot. Kennedys wound was fatal
    and Governor Connally was severely injured. Both
    were rushed to the hospital, but Kennedy never
    regained consciousness and died in a few hours.

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  • The news of Kennedy's death was made official at
    148 PM. Legendary news anchor Walter Cronkite
    passed along word of the tragedy on television,
    and, uncharacteristically, nearly wept on camera.
    Later that day Vice President Lyndon Johnson was
    sworn in as the next president of the United
    States, with Mrs. Kennedy standing next to him
    (she was still wearing the blood-stained suit).

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  • Immediately afterwards a citywide manhunt for
    Kennedy's assassin began in earnest. Lee Harvey
    Oswald, in his escape, killed a police officer
    and fled. He attempted to hide in the Texas
    Theatre by ducking into the building without
    paying. Police alerted nearby units to apprehend
    him as the suspected murderer of the patrolman.

  • Officers responded and arrested Oswald inside the
    theatre. While in custody, Oswald was charged
    with single-handedly assassinating Kennedy late
    in the evening on November 22. He denied shooting
    Kennedy to reporters, stating, "I didn't shoot
    anyone" and, "I'm just a patsy".

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  • Two days later, long before Oswald could face
    trial, Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby fatally
    shot Oswald while he was being transferred to a
    different jail - while millions watched on
    national television. With the main
    suspect/witness to the crime now dead,
    investigators had a difficult time determining
    what really happened.

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  • Monday, 25 November was a National Day of
    Mourning the country watched the funereal mass
    at St. Matthews Cathedral and the funeral
    procession across the Potomac River for burial at
    Arlington National Cemetery. Afterwards a
    controversial investigation by the Warren
    Commission in 1964 concluded that Oswald acted
    alone, but conspiracy theories continued to

Lyndon Baines Johnson
  • By the time LBJ made it into the White House his
    ambition and drive had become legendary. He was
    a fourth-generation Texan and grew up in the dry
    hill country of Blanco County. LBJs first career
    was as a teacher at Sam Houston HS in Houston.
    At 26 he became the state director of the
    National Youth Administration, a New Deal Agency.
    In 1937 he was elected into the House of
    Representatives and was taken under the wing of

  • Johnson was a master of party politics and of
    behind-the-scenes maneuvering. Because of his
    success as a legislator JFK chose his as his
    running mate in 1960. After the Kennedy
    assassination Johnson addressed a joint session
    of Congress, it was only the fifth day of his
    administration. Johnson asked Congress to pass
    Kennedys civil rights and tax-break legislation,
    which were done to honor the fallen leader.

  • In addition to these successes LBJ also launched
    his War on Poverty. In August 1964 Congress
    enacted the Economic Opportunity Act which
    approved nearly 1 billion for youth programs,
    antipoverty measures, small business loans, and
    job training. To do this it created VISTA,
    Project Head Start, and the Community Action

  • In 1964 the Republicans nominated Barry
    Goldwater, a conservative Senator from Arizona.
    He attacked the JFK/LBJ economic programs, Social
    Security, and even the TVA. He also hinted at
    using nuclear weapons in Cuba and North Vietnam,
    and was an advocate of sending U.S. troops to
    help support South Vietnam against the
    Communists. None of these ideas were very
    popular and LBJ won the election by a landslide.

The Great Society
  • In May 1964 Johnson had started to push his
    program to end poverty and racial injustice in
    America, the Great Society. He saw his
    legislation as just the beginning. This would
    create not only a higher standard of living and
    equal opportunity, but also promote a richer
    quality of life for all. Like his idol FDR, LBJ
    wanted to change America.

  • Your imagination, your initiative and your
    indignation will determine whether we build a
    society where progress is the servant of our
    needs, or a society where old values and new
    visions are buried under unbridled growth.

  • LBJ saw education as the key to the Great
    Society. He got the Elementary and Secondary
    Education Act of 1965 passed, which provided more
    than 1 billion in federal aid to help schools
    purchase textbooks and new library materials.
    This was the first major aid package for
    education in American history. Other important
    elements of the Great society included the
    creation of the Department of Housing and Urban

  • HUD built 240,000 units of low-rent public
    housing, helped other Americans pay for better
    housing, and appointed the first African-American
    Cabinet member, Robert Weaver.
  • Immigration laws also changed under the Great
    Society. The Immigration Act of 1965 opened the
    door for many non-Europeans to immigrate to the
    U.S. by ending the quota system based on

  • The Great Society addressed the environment by
    getting the Water Quality Act of 1965 passed.
    This law required the states to clean up their
    rivers to help improve the quality of Americas
    drinking water. LBJ also ordered the government
    to find the worst chemical polluters ( mainly
    chemical and oil companies) and make them
    clean-up and reduce their pollution.

  • The Cuyahoga River (Cleveland, Ohio) was so
    polluted that it started on fire in 1952 and 1969

  • Consumer protection laws also came under the
    umbrella of the Great Society. Ralph Nader made
    his mark by pushing the U.S. automobile industry
    to make safer cars. Congress reacted by making
    higher standards for cars and tires. Congress
    also passed the Wholesome Meat Act of 1967 to
    raise government standards for inspecting meat
    and to bring higher quality products to the

Car companies resisted the introduction of safety
features, like seat belts! One of the main
targets of Naders book was the Corvair, which
had a suspension that made it liable to roll
  • Finally, the Great Society was aimed at improving
    Social Security by including health benefits.
    Medicare provided hospital insurance and low-cost
    medical insurance for almost every American over
    the age of 65. It is partially paid for through
    Social Security taxes. Medicaid extended health
    insurance to welfare recipients and is funded by
    the federal government and the states.

The Warren Court
  • The wave of liberal reform that characterized the
    Great Society also swept through the Supreme
    Court in the 1960s. Beginning with the landmark
    decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954),
    which ruled that segregation in public schools
    was unconstitutional, Chief Justice Earl Warren
    took an activist stance on the leading issues of
    the day. The Court also reapportioned the
    congressional districts to reflect the changes in

  • Other Warren Court decisions include
  • Mapp v. Ohio (1961) said that illegally seized
    evidence could not be used in state courts.
  • Gideon v. Wainright (1963) required criminal
    courts to provide free legal counsel for those
    that could not afford it.
  • Escobedo v. Illinois (1964) ruled that the
    accused have the right to have counsel present
    when they are being questioned.

  • Miranda v. Arizona (1966) ruled that all suspects
    must be read their rights before they could be
  • These rulings were very controversial, and
    divided the public. Liberals praised these
    decisions because they protected the accused.
    Conservatives argued that these decisions would
    make it too difficult for the police to do their
    jobs and said the liberals were soft on crime.

  • The Great Society and the Warren Court changed
    the U.S. People still disagree whether these
    changes were good or bad, but all agree that LBJ
    extended the power of the government more than
    any president after FDR. The War on Poverty was
    effective at first, the of Americans in poverty
    dropped from 21 to 11. Johnsons tax cuts
    helped the economy, but many of LBJs
    achievements are overshadowed by Vietnam.
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