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JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SEVENTH CONVERSATION XII

April 11, 2012

JACQUELINE KENNEDY, HISTORIC CONVERSATIONS: SEVENTH CONVERSATION XII

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 about some of the other people in the State Department? George Ball?”*

Jacqueline Kennedy answers:

“I can remember (Jack) wasn’t always entirely pleased with George Ball.”

Mr. Schlesinger says, “And of course, poor old Chester.”

Mrs. Kennedy responds:

“Chester Bowles** would give some endless talk in a meeting & then Jack would say, ‘Yes, Chester, but I’m not asking you that. I’m asking you what we should do about this problem.’  

Something rather simple, & Chester would never have an answer. 

And so (Jack) couldn’t wait to get him out of there.”

Mr. Schlesinger says, “Averell (Harriman) he liked.”***

Mrs. Kennedy says:

“Yes, Averell he did like.”

Jacqueline Kennedy goes on to say that while JFK liked Walt Rostow**** but he also tended to go “on & on, & was hard to listen to.”

Mr. Schlesinger says, “He liked (Jerome) Wiesner….I think.”*****

Mrs. Kennedy responds:

“Oh, yes.”

Mr. Schlesinger asks, “On the domestic side, economic policy & so on, Walter Heller?”******

Mrs. Kennedy answers:

“I don’t really know what (Jack) thought about (him).  We never saw Walter Heller.  I think (Jack) thought he leaked a lot of things—didn’t he?”

Mr. Schlesinger says:

“Yeah, I think he did.”

While Mrs. Kennedy is not too complimentary of Heller, Schlesinger says “He did a good job.”

*George Ball (1909-1994), Under Secretary of State under JFK & LBJ, was known for his opposition to U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

**Chester Bowles (1901-1986) was Under Secretary of State & U.S. ambassador to India under JFK & LBJ. 

***Averell Harriman (1891-1986) was former Governor of New York, US ambassador to the USSR & UK & served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs under JFK & LBJ.

****Walt Rostow (1916-2003), national security adviser to JFK & LBJ, was a strong supporter of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

*****Jerome Wisner (1915-1994) was president of MIT when JFK appointed him as presidential science adviser.

******Walter Heller (191501987), chairman of JFK’s Council of Economic Advisors, was a University of Minnesota economist.




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