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December 3, 1962


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Roger Hilsman, director of the Bureau of Intelligence & Research at the State Department, sent a memorandum today to JFK’s Secretary of State, Dean Rusk.

Hilsman’s memo is an assessment of the current situation in South Vietnam.

Hilsman writes that, in his view, the Viet Cong (South Vietnamese communists) are prepared for a long struggle in Southeast Asia.

The memo also indicates that South Vietnam’s president, Ngo Dinh Diem, has failed to win the support of his own people.

Hilsman believes Diem must gain that support through social & military measures or risk the possibility of a coup.*

*Roger Hilsman was appointed Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs by JFK in 1963 but he left government service in March 1964.  He did not agree with LBJ’s Vietnam policy.  

Hilsman became a professor at Columbia where he is a professor emeritus today.

JFK with the Deputy PM of Malaya
       Roger Hilsman at far right
        Photo by Robert Knudsen

An Interview with Roger Hilsman

In an interview posted at www.gwu.edu/, Roger Hilsman says that President Kennedy did not want to end the war in Vietnam but wanted the United States out of it.

Hilsman says:

“From the beginning, (JFK) was determined that it not be an AMERICAN war, that he would not bomb the North or send (combat) troops, but after the Buddhist crisis in the spring of 1963, (JFK) beat on (Secretary of Defense) McNamara to beat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop a withdrawal plan.”

He continues:

“(JFK) approved the (withdrawal) plan & the 1st 1000 of the 16,500 were withdrawn before Kennedy was killed.  If he had lived, the (rest) would have been out of there within 3 or 4 months.”

Source:  The National Security Archive, Episode 11, April 4, 1999.

December 3, 1901


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President Theodore Roosevelt delivered a 20,000 word speech today to the United States House of Representatives.

The purpose of the President’s address was to ask Congress to curb the power of trusts ‘within reasonable limits.’*

*Later in Feb 1902, J.P. Morgan, head of the Northern Securities Trust, learned that TR’s attorney general had filed a lawsuit against his company.

Morgan, one of the most powerful men in the nation, couldn’t understand how a mere President of the United States could do this to him.

Morgan sent a private message to TR: “Send your man to my man & they can fix it up.”

The United States Supreme Court ultimately supported TR’s view & dissolved the National Securities Corporation.  TR, vindicated, said that this proved that no man, no matter how powerful, is above the law.

A total of 44 trusts were dissolved during TR’s presidency & earned the title “TRUSTBUSTER”.  

It was his successor, however, William Howard Taft, who set the record by “busting” 90 trusts.

          “Putting the screws on Him”
                         Puck Cartoon
                        Almanac of TR

December 3, 1839


Springfield, Illinois (JFK+50) Abraham Lincoln, having been certified as “a person of good moral character” by the state of Illinois, was admitted to practice law in the United States Circuit Court today.

Mr. Lincoln, who did not attend law school, “learned the law” by working as a clerk in a law office.

       Abraham Lincoln of Illinois

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