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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

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