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JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SEVENTH CONVERSATION X

April 9, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SEVENTH CONVERSATION X


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


The seventh conversation was recorded on June 3, 1964.

Arthur Schlesinger asks:

What was JFK’s general feeling about the Foreign Service?”

Jacqueline Kennedy answers:

“It was just despair.  He had such high hopes for (Secretary of State) Dean

Rusk* in the beginning (but then) the man…could never dare to make a decision.”

Mrs. Kennedy continues…

“And Jack used to say, ‘(McGeorge) Bundy & I get more done in one day…than they do in 6 months at the State Department.’

And (also) that sending an order to Rusk….was ‘like dropping it in the dead letter box.'”

Mrs. Kennedy does not speculate at all about the issue of keeping Rusk in a 2nd term. 

She says:

“You asked me once what Jack was planning to do after the election?  

   It was to get rid of Dean Rusk.”

Mrs. Kennedy goes on to give an account of a visit to the White House of 3 ambassadors sent by the State Department prior to their dispatch overseas.

  She says that 2 of them were wearing slave bracelets**.  

JFK, according to his wife, called Rusk & said…

‘Send out a memo to everyone in the Foreign Service that not one of them can wear a slave bracelet anymore.'”

*Dean Rusk (1909-1994), Secretary of State under JFK & LBJ, was born in Georgia & graduated from Davidson College.  

He was a Rhodes Scholar, taught at Mills College in California & earned his law degree at Berkeley.

After serving as state secretary, Rusk taught international law at the University of Georgia School of Law in Athens from 1970 until 1984.


Dean Rusk, Secretary of State (1961-1969)

**Slave bracelets were made by Nigerian slave brokers from Portuguese coins.  A footnote in the book adds ‘not the most helpful image for a U.S. diplomat at a time of tumult in his country over civil rights.’

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