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JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SIXTH CONVERSATION X

March 30, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SIXTH CONVERSATION X

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 concludes our report on the sixth conversation from “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.


The sixth conversation was recorded on June 3, 1964.

Arthur Schlesinger says:

“One thing that mystified people….was the way George Smathers survived.  (JFK) would get very mad about Smathers, about (his votes against) Medicare, foreign aid.,,,:*

Jacqueline Kennedy responds:

“And I used to get so mad at that–& hurt (but Jack) had such charity.  And it was really a friend of one side of Jack (who) didn’t want to stick it to someone who’d once been a friend.”

Mrs. Kennedy also refers to Edward Stockdale, a friend of Senator Smathers.**

Schlesinger interjects “Kenny (O’Donnell) hated Smathers.”

Mrs. Kennedy says:

“Yeah, & I didn’t like Smathers.”

Arthur Schlesinger asks if the President ever mentioned Hale Boggs.***

Mrs. Kennedy says:

“Well, I know he liked Hale Boggs very much, yes.  (He) had been our friend before the White House.  He always loved Hale Boggs.”

Jacqueline Kennedy concludes the sixth conversation by commenting on the wives who went away (for safety reasons) during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

She says:

“My God, I don’t think that shows you love your husband very much.”

*George Smathers  (1913-2007) was a Democratic Senator from Florida 1951 to 1969.  He earned his law degree from the University of Florida where he was president of the student body & captain of the basketball team. 

He was an officer in the USMC during WWII.  As a senator, he opposed civil rights legislation & signed the Southern Manifesto in opposition to the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954. 

 In 1965, however, Smathers was one of only 4 Southern Democratic senators to vote for LBJ’s Voting Rights Act.


Senator George Smathers, Florida (D)

**Edward Grant Stockdale (1915-1963) was a real estate speculator & aide to Senator Smathers who was JFK’s 1st ambassador to Ireland.   He died on December 2, 1963 in a fall from a Miami office tower.  Senator Smathers said he had been despondent over JFK’s assassination (he did not leave a suicide note).


Edward Grant Stockdale

***Hale Boggs (1914-1972) was a Democratic congressman from Louisiana & House majority leader.


Congressman Hale Boggs, Louisiana (D)


                

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JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SIXTH CONVERSATION IX

March 29, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SIXTH CONVERSATION IX

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.


The sixth conversation was recorded on June 3, 1964.

Jacqueline Kennedy continues to discuss the issues concerning Lyndon Johnson.

She says:

“I thought Lyndon would be too old (in 1968) to run for president.”

Mrs. Kennedy recalls a discussion that someone else might be named to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968.*

*A footnote in the book says that JFK was “vaguely pondering” North Carolina governor Terry Sanford as a possible running mate for 1964.

Mr. Schlesinger asks about the legislative breakfasts which JFK hosted at the White House on a regular basis with congressional leaders.

Mrs. Kennedy answers:

“I know one thing….that Larry O’Brien told me.**

Larry couldn’t stand Ted Sorensen, but he said so many times Larry would have prepared an agenda for the breakfasts & just before they were about to start Ted would….change one or two sentences & then initial it.

You’ll see that heavy hand of Ted…in more places….he wanted his imprint on so many things.”

She goes on to tell Schlesinger…..

“Someone said (Ted Sorensen) loved himself &….one other person, which was Jack……he had a big inferiority complex.”***

**Larry O’Brien was JFK’s legislative aid.

***Theodore Sorensen was JFK’s speech writer & sometimes referred to as Jack’s ‘alter-ego’.


Ted Sorensen,Hudson Union Society Event, May 27, 2009, Photo by Justin Hoch


                       




JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SIXTH CONVERSATION VIII

March 28, 2012


JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SIXTH CONVERSATION VIII

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.


The sixth conversation was recorded on June 3, 1964.

Jacqueline Kennedy discusses the difference between President Kennedy & President Johnson & “where it’s really going to make a difference in this country.”

She says:

“Now there’s a terrible crisis going on in Laos but nobody really knows it…& where’s Lyndon? He’s running all around Texas, getting high school & college degrees.  And the poor man’s terrified.”

Mrs. Kennedy adds that Dave Powers says that LBJ “can’t bear to go to Camp David or anyplace he’s alone.”

She continues…

“I guess it’s very good for the country that (LBJ) could go around & make this air of good feeling (after JFK’s death)  & lull so many people into this sense of security.”

and….

“Joe Kraft told me Lyndon….got very drunk & stayed (at somebody’s house in Georgetown) until 3 or 4 (a.m.) & said, ‘I just don’t know if I’m capable to be president, if my equipment is adequate.'”*

Mrs. Kennedy explains that she is not bitter now about Lyndon, she just wants people to understand “the kind of president Jack was & the kind Lyndon is.”

She continues….

“Lyndon can ride on some of the great things Jack did….civil rights, the tax bill, the gold drain stuff….but when a crisis happens, that’s when they’re going to miss Jack.”

Arthur Schlesinger asks “What sort of a vice president was Lyndon?”

Jacqueline Kennedy responds:


“(LBJ) just never wanted to make any decision or do anything that would put him in any position.  So what he really liked to do was go on these trips….to Pakistan or something.


(But) Jack always said (LBJ) was never disloyal.”

Mr. Schlesinger says “The story has been printed….that there was some consideration to dropping Johnson (from the Democratic ticket) in ’64.”

Mrs. Kennedy follows….

Not in ’64.  But Bobby told me…later (that)….Jack said ‘Oh, God, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon was president,’….but I don’t see how you could drop him in ’64.”

*Joseph Kraft (1924-1986) was a Washington columnist.


Vice President Johnson & President Kennedy, The White House Oval Office, September 17, 1963, Photograph by Abbie Rowe, NARA


       

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SIXTH CONVERSATION VII

March 27, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SIXTH CONVERSATION VII

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.


The sixth conversation was recorded on June 3, 1964.

Arthur Schlesinger asks Jacqueline Kennedy about what she remembers during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

She says:

“I could tell from his voice something was wrong. (He asked) ‘why don’t you just come back to Washington?’

(I) woke the children up from their naps & we got back there.  From then on, it seemed there was no waking or sleeping, & I just don’t know which day was which.

But….Jack….told me right away & some people had said for their wives to go away, but I said ‘Please don’t send me anywhere.  If anything happens, we’re all going to stay right here with you.'”

Mrs. Kennedy goes on to tell Schlesinger that she had told her husband even if there was no room for them in the bomb shelter she would ‘”just want to be on the (White House) lawn when it happens….”

Mr. Schlesinger asks “What was his mood when he told you?”

She responds:

“I can remember one night Jack was lying on his bed & I came in my nightgown.  I thought he was talking on the phone (but he waved me away)…because (McGeorge) Bundy was in the room.”*


McGeorge Bundy (far left), October 29, 1962, Photo by Cecil Stoughton, JFK Library Image

Schlesinger asks “Did the President comment….on the question of whether there should be a raid to knock the (nuclear missile) bases out or blockade or what?”

Mrs. Kennedy replies:

“He really wasn’t sort of asking me.  But then I remember he did tell me about this crazy telegram that came through from Khrushchev one night. Very warlike.  I remember Jack being really upset about that.”

Arthur Schlesinger asks if JFK showed fatigue from the ordeal.

Mrs. Kennedy answers yes but that she didn’t worry about that because he had driven himself all his life & that she knew her husband had the hidden reserve to get through it.

She says:

“And finally, when it was over….he thought of giving that calendar to everyone. I was so surprised when I got one….that I burst out crying.”**

*McGeorge Bundy was JFK’s National Security adviser.

**JFK presented a silver Tiffany calender for October 1962 with the fateful 13 days highlighted in bold to the members of EXCOMM. 

 Each calender was engraved with “JFK” & the recipient’s initials.


EXCOMM Meeting, The White House, October 29, 1962, Photo by Cecil Stoughton, JFK Library Image


              

           

                     





JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SIXTH CONVERSATION VI

March 26, 2012


JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SIXTH CONVERSATION VI


Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.



The sixth conversation was recorded on June 3, 1964.

Arthur Schlesinger asks:

“How about Governor (Ross) Barnett in Mississippi?  Was he mad then?”*

Jacqueline Kennedy responds:

“It was just so hopeless (but) I was in Newport…& (Jack) called me at 5 o’clock in the morning.  I was so touched….because he just wanted to talk, &…said, ‘Oh, my God!’

You wouldn’t realize what it had been like….the tear gas started to run out & the troops that were meant to get there in an hour were still 4 hours away.  And I guess it was just one of the worst nights of his whole life.”

Mr. Schlesinger wants to know if the civil rights “thing” is something he talked much about.

Mrs. Kennedy says:

“It was over such a long period, & there were always–all the Barnetts & then the (Governor George) Wallaces, & I mean one…awful problem after another.”

Arthur Schlesinger asks:

“What did he think of the Negro leaders? Martin Luther King, for example?”

She responds:

“Well, (Jack) said what an incredible speaker (King) was during that freedom march.”

Mrs. Kennedy continues….

“Then he told me of a tape that the FBI had of…King when he was her for the freedom march.  And he said this with no bitterness…how he was calling up all these girls….

I said ‘Oh, but Jack, that’s so terrible (but) he would never judge anyone in any sort of way….he never really said anything against Martin Luther King.”

She adds…

“I know at the time of the freedom march when (all the civil rights leaders) came into his office….he was touched by Philip Randolph.**

*Ross Barnett (1898-1987) was Mississippi’s governor from 1960 to 1964.  In Sept 1962, JFK & Bobby talked with him over the telephone to allow the peaceful admittance of James Meredith, the 1st African-American student to enroll at Ole Miss.  

The Kennedys got nowhere with Barnett & JFK had to send in the army to put down the riots.



**A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979) was chief of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters & one of the organizers of the March on Washington.



                       

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SIXTH CONVERSATION V

March 25, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SIXTH CONVERSATION V

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.


The sixth conversation was recorded on June 3, 1964.

Arthur Schlesinger asks:

“In the….early spring of ’63, one big thing….was the steel crisis &—were you….around then?”*

*The date of the steel crisis was actually April of ’62.

Jacqueline Kennedy answers:

“I remember how really outraged Jack was.  You know, it’s one of the few times–he really controlled his temper. 

 I mean, you never saw him lose it, but just sometimes that flash.  I mean, he was really–what Roger Blough did to him–“**

Mr. Schlesinger says:

“He felt that Roger Blough had double-crossed him.”

Mrs. Kennedy responds:

“Yes, I just remember the expression.  His mouth was really tight.  And you just didn’t do that, you just didn’t behave that way.”

Mr. Schlesinger says:

“Arthur Goldberg played an active role in this steel thing & Ted Sorensen, I suppose….”

Mrs. Kennedy adds…

“It seems to me mostly Jack on the phone & Clark Clifford.  But I suppose all the rest went on in his office…”

**Roger Blough (1904-1985) was chairman of the board of United States Steel Corporation from 1955 to 1969. 

 In April 1962, Blough, contrary to a verbal agreement not to raise steel prices, announced a 3.5% increase. 

JFK felt betrayed.  Following intense pressure from the administration, Blough rescinded the price hike within 72 hours.

Excerpt from President Kennedy’s address on April 11, 1962:

“Actions of United States Steel & other leading steel corporations increasing steel prices by some $6 a ton constitute a wholly unjustifiable & irresponsible defiance of the public interest.

In this serious hour in our Nation’s history……the American people will find it hard, as I do, to accept a situation in which….steel executives….can show such utter contempt for the interests of 185 million Americans.”


JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: THE SIXTH CONVERSATION IV

March 24, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: THE SIXTH CONVERSATION IV

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on the sixth conversation from “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.


The sixth conversation was recorded on June 3, 1964.

Arthur Schlesinger brings up the meeting at the White House with Isaiah Berlin when the topic of discussion was Russia.*

Jacqueline Kennedy says:

“Jack loved that & he loved to just listen to Isaiah Berlin.”

Mrs. Kennedy tells Schlesinger to read an article in Show magazine which she thinks “is quite unfair in its judgment of Jack but…starts from the premise that “Melbourne” was his favorite book & says what he really was most like were these great Whig(s)….who had everything…..yet cared.”

Jacqueline Kennedy continues…

“He loved so to hear those (brilliant English) people talk.  You know they knew so much, their educations were incredible.  That’s when he was happiest. So he loved Isaiah Berlin.”*

*Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) was a British social & political theorist who was described as “one of the finest minds of our time.”  During WWII, he worked for the British Diplomatic Service.


Plaque Marking the Childhood Home of Isaiah Berlin, Photo by Alma Pater, 2009

Arthur Schlesinger asks Mrs. Kennedy “Do you want to say something about the relationship of David (Gore)?”

Mrs. Kennedy responds:

“Yeah.  Jack used to say that David Gore was the brightest man he’d ever met.  And (he) has also the conciliatory sort of side that Jack did.”

Mr. Schlesinger asks if the President saw David Gore often.

Mrs. Kennedy answers:

“We’d see them a lot.  They would stay with us, usually on vacations, or they’d come for a weekend to Camp David, or the country, or the Cape.  And they were always talking on the phone.”

Jacqueline expresses the view that while Gore did not have the drive that her husband did, “he still cares.”**

**David Ormsby-Gore (1918-1985) was British ambassador to the United States.  He is said to have supplied JFK with advice & Cuban cigars.  He resigned as ambassador in 1965 to take his father’s seat in the House of Lords.

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: THE SIXTH CONVERSATION III

March 23, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: THE SIXTH CONVERSATION III

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report on the sixth conversation from “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.


The sixth conversation was recorded on June 2, 1964.

Arthur Schlesinger brings up a meeting at the White House in 1962 in which Princeton professor David Donald* spoke about the Civil War. 

Schlesinger says while he wasn’t there, JFK mentioned it to him later & apparently found it stimulating.

Jacqueline Kennedy responds:

“It was so strange because I remember when the question period started, everyone was very quiet & rather nervous in the White House & the President there & Jack asked Donald, ‘Would Lincoln have been as great a President if he’d lived?’

And Donald….had agreed with him that Lincoln….was better that he died when he did.

JFK+50 Comment

Lincoln had successfully led the nation through the most difficult crisis in our history.  The question JFK posed is an important one given the difficulties of the reconstruction period following the Civil War. If Lincoln had lived to finish his 2nd term, would history’s judgment of his greatness be diminished?

Mrs. Kennedy continues…

And then I remember Jack saying after the Cuban Missile Crisis, when it all turned out so fantastically, he said, ‘Well, if anyone’s ever going to shoot me, this would be the day they should do it.'”

Mr. Schlesinger says, “Oh, really?”

Jacqueline Kennedy continues….

“I mean, it’s so strange, these things that come back, because he saw then that he would be–you know, he said, it will never top this. “

Mr. Schlesinger then asks:

“Had that Lincoln question that he asked Donald–one that he discussed before?  Been on his mind?”

Mrs. Kennedy responds….

“Oh, yes, because all the time we discussed it.

The 1st year I was married, I took a course in American history….from Professor Jules Davids.**

 I’d never taken American history & I used to come home full of these things & I was so excited. And Jack was excited that I was so interested. 

 So at that time, we would talk a lot about Lincoln…&…if he lived.”

*David H. Donald (1920-2009) earned his PhD under Lincoln scholar James G. Randall at the University of Illinois.

Donald’s 1st book, about Lincoln’s law partner William Herndon, was published in 1948.  

Donald won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 & 1988.


David Herbert Donald, http://www.millsaps.edu

**Jules Davids (1921-1996) was professor of diplomatic history at Georgetown School of Foreign Service.

Professor Davids, who graduated from Brooklyn College,  provided editorial assistance on JFK’s ‘Profiles In Courage’ & his students included Bill Clinton & historian Douglas Brinkley.

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: THE SIXTH CONVERSATION II

March 22, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: THE SIXTH CONVERSATION II

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 continues our report of the sixth conversation from “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.


The sixth conversation was recorded on June 2, 1964.

Arthur Schlesinger says:

“The other big thing that happened in the fall of ’61….was the resumption of nuclear testing by the Soviet Union…..which confronted us with the problem of whether we should resume nuclear testing.  That was an old interest of the President’s, wasn’t it?”

Mrs. Kennedy answers:

“Yes. I can remember him being so worried at the time about our resuming (nuclear testing) & how long you….could…put it off….that was a terrible time for him.”

Jacqueline Kennedy goes on to say that Jack was concerned with disarmament  as far back as the fall of 1953 when they were married.

Schlesinger says that he has the impression that the U.S. would not have had a nuclear test ban treaty if both JFK & Prime Minister Harold Macmillan of Great Britain “had not been so deeply committed & forced the issue so constantly on their advisers.”

Mrs. Kennedy responds:

“I know that’s true.  Graham Sutherland, who’s a painter, who I saw a couple of weeks ago about doing a picture of Jack–but he said something to me so interesting. 

He said, ‘The extraordinary thing about President Kennedy was that power made him a better man.’

Well, it (gave) Jack a chance to work for good & I really think Harold Macmillan too.”


Graham Sutherland Tapestry, Coventry Cathedral, Coventry, England Photo by David Jones (2007)

Mr. Schlesinger says….

“When (Averell) Harriman came in at the end….I think the Russians feel that when Harriman is sent to negotiate that the U.S. means business….”

Mrs. Kennedy replies:

“Jack was so happy…for Averell….really after the test ban treaty.  He thought….that ‘That’s really quite a crown.'”*

*W. Averell Harriman (1891-1986) was the son of the famous railroad baron. 

He served as FDR’s ambassador to Moscow & was later governor of New York.  In December 1963, he lent his Georgetown house to Ms. Kennedy to use as they waiting to move into their new home. (Book Footnote)

Mrs. Kennedy says she gave Mr. Harriman a copy of the test ban treaty that had been published by the National Archives especially for her after she & the children left the house.


William Averell Harriman

                                                          State Department Photo

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: THE SIXTH CONVERSATION I

March 21, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: THE SIXTH CONVERSATION I

Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today JFK+50 begins our report on the sixth conversation from “Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” published by Hyperion.



The sixth conversation was recorded on June 2, 1964.

Arthur Schlesinger asks “What was the President’s feeling about these dealings with West Germany?”

Jacqueline Kennedy answers:

“(Jack would) say ‘What do you have to do to show the Germans that you care?’–that we would defend Berlin.

(He) really got irritated with the Germans.

It wasn’t until after his visit to Berlin in June ’63 that he finally did convince them. And then he was really happy after that.”

Mrs. Kennedy discusses JFK’s mood in the aftermath of his meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna in 1961.

She says:

“I always thought with Jack that….all the best things would happen. But you could see….he was really in a gloom. 

I thought–‘Cannot even Jack make this turn out for the best?'”

Schlesinger then says that after the Berlin thing was ending in November of 1961, “Nehru came & made his visit.”

Mrs. Kennedy responds:

“Yes, &–that was a rather nerve-wracking visit.  Lots of consultations with Galbraith, & everything.  And Galbraith kept saying Nehru wanted no fuss, & everything private.”*


The Kennedys with Prime Minister Nehru & Mrs. Gandhi, The White House, 1961, http://www.blogs.usembassy.gov

Jacqueline Kennedy continues….

“Jack had a most unsatisfactory time with Nehru when he’d been a congressman in India. 

He said they’d warned him, ‘Whenever Nehru gets bored with you, he taps his fingertips together & looks up at the ceiling.’ 

 And Jack said he’d been there about 10 minutes when Nehru started to look up at the ceiling.”

The President brought Nehru to the “Honey Fitz”

“Caroline & I were waiting…at the front door (& Caroline had) a little flower for him & made a curtsy.  That’s the 1st time he sort of smiled.”

Mrs. Kennedy continues….

“Well, we got sort of, to be a little bit friends in Newport, & then the helicopter & the plane.  And you know, he always takes your arm.  

He was sort of sweet to me & they did bring the most touching, thoughtful presents for the children.”

Mr. Schlesinger asks “Was (JFK) disappointed in Nehru?”

Mrs. Kennedy responds…

“I think he was.  I think the meetings got absolutely nowhere & there was an awful lot of tapping the fingers & looking up at the ceiling.”

*Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) Prime Minister of India who, according to a footnote in the book, JFK found ‘grimly unaffected by his charm.’


Nehru Statue in Aldwych


                



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