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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  Following intense pressure from the administration, Blough rescinded the price hike within 72 hours.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.”


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