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In an important victory for his Cold War foreign policy, President John F. Kennedy signs legislation establishing the Peace Corps as a permanent government agency. Kennedy believed that the Peace Corps could provide a new and unique weapon in the war against communism.
During the presidential campaign of 1960, Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy promised to reinvigorate U.S. foreign policy. He charged that the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower had become stagnant and unimaginative in dealing with the communist threat, particularly in regards to the so-called Third World nations. Shortly after his inauguration in January 1961, Kennedy made good on his promise for a new and aggressive foreign policy. On March 1, 1961, he issued an executive order establishing the Peace Corps. As described by Kennedy, this new organization would be an “army” of civilian volunteers–teachers, engineers, agricultural scientists, etc.–who would be sent to underdeveloped nations in Latin America, Africa, Asia and elsewhere to assist the people of those regions.
Kennedy hoped that by improving the lives of people in less developed countries, they would become more resistant to the charms of communism and convinced of America’s sincerity and ability to help them. Many in Congress, however, were not convinced. The program carried a fairly hefty price tag. Though the participants were volunteers, they would need basic subsistence and, more important, tools and money to help the people they were sent to assist. Some members of Congress saw it as an expensive public relations ploy, foreign aid (which had never been popular with Congress or the American people) wrapped in a new ribbon. The program, however, actually turned out to have popular appeal. Stories about idealistic young Americans braving privation in foreign lands to help people grow better crops, build schools, or construct wells was good public relations material for the United States. In September 1961, Congress passed legislation establishing the Peace Corps on a permanent basis. A budget of $40 million for the next fiscal year was approved.
In the years after 1961, thousands of Peace Corps volunteers were sent around the world. Some faced indifference, some even faced danger. For the most part, however, the Peace Corps “army” proved to be a valuable, and relatively inexpensive, Cold War weapon for the United States. Most nations welcomed the idealistic volunteers, and their labor helped make better lives for hundreds of thousands of people. Though the Peace Corps is no longer viewed as a weapon against communism, its goal of improving lives remains intact.
Fulbright–Hays Act of 1961
The Fulbright–Hays Act of 1961 is officially known as the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (Pub.L. 87–256, 75 Stat. 527). It was marshalled by United States Senator J. William Fulbright (D-AR) and passed by the 87th United States Congress on September 16, 1961, the same month the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and Peace Corps Act of 1961 were enacted.
- Introduced in the Houseas H.R. 8666 byWayne Hays (D–OH) on August 31, 1961
- Committee consideration byHouse Foreign Affairs, Senate Foreign Relations
- Passed the Senate on July 14, 1961 (79-5, in lieu of S. 1154)
- Passed the House on September 6, 1961 (329-66)
- Reported by the joint conference committee on September 15, 1961 agreed to by the Senate on September 15, 1961 (Agreed) and by the House on September 16, 1961 (Agreed)
- Signed into law by PresidentJohn F. Kennedyon September 21, 1961
The legislation was enacted into law by the president John F. Kennedy on September 21, 1961. 
Document for September 22nd: Executive Order 10924: Establishment of the Peace Corps
Executive Order 10924, Establishment and Administration of the Peace Corps in the Department of State, March 1, 1961 General Records of the United States Government Record Group 11 National Archives.
On March 1, 1961, President Kennedy signed this executive order establishing the Peace Corps. On September 22, 1961, Congress approved the legislation that formally authorized the Peace Corps. Goals of the Peace Corps included: 1) helping the people of interested countries and areas meet their needs for trained workers 2) helping promote a better understanding of Americans in countries where volunteers served and 3) helping promote a better understanding of peoples of other nations on the part of Americans.
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Today's Document June 25th: Executive Order 8802
The Founding Moment
After a day of campaigning for the presidency, Senator John F. Kennedy arrived at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on October 14, 1960, at 2:00 a.m., to get some sleep, not to propose the establishment of an international volunteer organization. Members of the press had retired for the night, believing that nothing interesting would happen.
But 10,000 students at the university were waiting to hear the presidential candidate speak, and it was there on the steps of the Michigan Union that a bold new experiment in public service was launched. The assembled students heard the future president issue a challenge: How many of them, he asked, would be willing to serve their country and the cause of peace by living and working in the developing world?
The reaction was both swift and enthusiastic, and since 1961, over 240,000 Americans have responded to this enduring challenge. And since then, the Peace Corps has demonstrated how the power of an idea can capture the imagination of an entire nation.
Following up on the idea he launched at the University of Michigan, President Kennedy signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961. Three days later, R. Sargent Shriver became its first Director. Deployment was rapid: Volunteers began serving in five countries in 1961. In just under six years, Director Shriver developed programs in 55 countries with more than 14,500 Volunteers.
Full text of Kennedy's remarks
"I want to express my thanks to you, as a graduate of the Michigan of the East, Harvard University.
"I come here tonight delighted to have the opportunity to say one or two words about this campaign that is coming into the last three weeks.
"I think in many ways it is the most important campaign since 1933, mostly because of the problems which press upon the United States, and the opportunities which will be presented to us in the 1960s. The opportunity must be seized, through the judgment of the President, and the vigor of the executive, and the cooperation of the Congress. Through these I think we can make the greatest possible difference.
"How many of you who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world? On your willingness to do that, not merely to serve one year or two years in the service, but on your willingness to contribute part of your life to this country, I think will depend the answer whether a free society can compete. I think it can! And I think Americans are willing to contribute. But the effort must be far greater than we have ever made in the past.
"Therefore, I am delighted to come to Michigan, to this university, because unless we have those resources in this school, unless you comprehend the nature of what is being asked of you, this country can't possibly move through the next 10 years in a period of relative strength.
"So I come here tonight to go to bed! But I also come here tonight to ask you to join in the effort.
"This university. this is the longest short speech I've ever made. therefore, I'll finish it! Let me say in conclusion, this University is not maintained by its alumni, or by the state, merely to help its graduates have an economic advantage in the life struggle. There is certainly a greater purpose, and I'm sure you recognize it. Therefore, I do not apologize for asking for your support in this campaign. I come here tonight asking your support for this country over the next decade.
President John F. Kennedy was visionary in his efforts to increase the capability of the United States Department of Defense in the conduct of Counter Insurgency and Unconventional Warfare. He recognized the unique capabilities and value of US Army Special Forces -“Green Berets”- in the struggle against despotic insurgency, and ensured their predominance in his global initiatives for freedom.
On October 12, 1961 the president visited Fort Bragg and the US Army Special Warfare Center, home of Army Special Forces. In the course of their meeting, the President asked Brigadier General William P. Yarborough, “Those are nice. How do you like the Green Beret?" General Yarborough replied, "They're fine, Sir. We've wanted them a long time."
After an impressive capabilities demonstration by General Yarborough and his “Green Berets,” the Commander in Chief sent a message to the General which read in part:
The challenge of this old but new form of operations is a real one and I know that you and the members of your Command will carry on for us and the free world in a manner which is both worthy and inspiring. I am sure that the Green Beret will be a mark of distinction in the trying times ahead.
Soon after, the president authorized the “Green Beret” as the official headgear for all US Army Special Forces and these Unconventional Warriors were thereafter and ever known as “The Green Berets."
The president further showed his unfailing support for Special Forces in publishing an official White House Memorandum to the US Army dated April 11, 1962, which stated in part that “The Green Beret is again becoming a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom."
Within two years following the president’s fateful visit to Fort Bragg, the Green Berets would expand their ranks by four additional Groups on active duty and four new Groups in the National Guard and Army Reserve. Already active in several overseas locations, Green Berets were soon deployed to an even greater number of countries and in greater strength across the globe- from Europe to Asia, throughout Central and South America and into the continent of Africa.
But a dark cloud would descend upon the Special Forces and the United States on November 22, 1963. Within hours after the president’s untimely passing, close members of the Kennedy family requested that Green Berets participate in the Honor Guard for his funeral. The Special Warfare Center immediately published orders for forty-six Green Berets to travel to Washington, DC on the following day.
On the day of the president’s funeral, a leading member of that contingent, Command Sergeant Major Francis Ruddy, removed his own Green Beret and placed it solemnly upon the president’s grave. This green beret is now on permanent display in the Museum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and is displayed in memory of President Kennedy and in memory of all Special Forces soldiers, especially those who gave their lives while in service to the country. Today, the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, serves as the Army’s special operations university.
For decades to follow, Green Berets would honor President Kennedy by laying a Green Beret wreath at his grave at Arlington National Cemetery, an honored tradition that continues to this day.
Peace Corps, Viet Nam celebrate historic agreement
Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen attends the event celebrating the signing of the implementing agreement between the Peace Corps and Viet Nam's Ministry of Education and Training.
WASHINGTON – Peace Corps Director Jody K. Olsen attended a reception at the State Department today to celebrate the signing by Viet Nam of the implementing agreement between the Peace Corps and the Ministry of Education and Training to officially establish the Peace Corps program in English education.
The event, which also commemorated the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States of America and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, included Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell, Viet Nam Ambassador to the United States Ha Kim Ngoc and Deputy Chief of Mission Hoang Thi Thanh Nga.
Viet Nam will be the 143rd country to host Peace Corps volunteers since the agency was founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy.
“We are thrilled to be entering into this historic partnership,” said Director Olsen. “I am honored and deeply grateful to the people and Government of Viet Nam for their willingness to open their hearts, schools and homes to Peace Corps volunteers. This program, with its emphasis on cross-cultural exchange and capacity building, will benefit the people of both countries for generations.”
Peace Corps Viet Nam will focus on English education. After arrival in Viet Nam, volunteers will undergo three months of comprehensive cultural, language and technical training before they are given their assignments to serve for two years. The first class of Peace Corps volunteers is scheduled to arrive in Viet Nam in mid-2022 to complete their training and be ready to begin their service when the school year begins in early September.
Director Olsen will sign the implementing agreement next week when the original documents arrive from Ha Noi. The Viet Nam Vice Minister of Education and Training signed those documents in Ha Noi today at a reception with U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink. The country agreement, which established the framework for the program, was signed in 2016.
“Peace Corps volunteers live and work alongside their neighbors, bringing people together in pursuit of peace and friendship,” said Director Olsen. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for our partners in Viet Nam and the Peace Corps family.”
56b. Kennedy's New Frontier
John F. Kennedy's youthful looks, cheerful family and charming demeanor captured the American imagination like few Presidents had ever done. Here, Kennedy poses with his wife Jacqueline and their two children John and Caroline.
Like King Arthur and Guinevere, a dynamic young leader and his beautiful bride led the nation. The White House was their home, America their kingdom. They were John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy .
After squeaking by Richard Nixon in the election of 1960, John F. Kennedy set forth new challenges for the United States. In his inauguration speech, he challenged his fellow Americans to "Ask not what your country can do for you &mdash ask what you can do for your country."
Earth's place in the universe was seen from a dramatic new perspective when American astronauts reached the Moon in the late 1960s. While the first landing on the Moon's surface would not take place until 1969, this photograph of an "earthrise" was taken during the 1968 Apollo 8 data collection mission.
Proclaiming that the "torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans," Kennedy, young and good-looking, boldly and proudly assumed office with a bravado. Many Americans responded to his call by joining the newly formed Peace Corps or volunteering in America to work toward social justice. The nation was united, positive, and forward-looking. No frontier was too distant.
The newest frontier was space. In 1957, the Soviet Union shocked Americans by launching Sputnik , the first satellite to be placed in orbit. Congress responded by creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under President Eisenhower. When Kennedy took office, the United Space fell farther behind. The Soviets had already placed a dog in space ("mutnik," to the press), and in Kennedy's first year, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to orbit the earth.
John F. Kennedy backed the civil rights movement and supported James Meredith's enrollment in the University of Mississippi. Fear that violent opposition to his attendance could erupt at any moment led to Meredith's having to be escorted to class by U.S. marshals.
Kennedy challenged the American people and government to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Congress responded enthusiastically by appropriating billions of dollars for the effort. During Kennedy's administration Alan Shepherd became the first American to enter space, and John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. In 1969, many thought of President Kennedy's challenge when Neil Armstrong became the first human being to set foot on the moon.
Domestically, Kennedy continued in the tradition of liberal Democrats Roosevelt and Truman to some extent. He signed legislation raising the minimum wage and increasing Social Security benefits. He raised money for research into mental illness and allocated funds to develop impoverished rural areas. He showed approval for the civil rights movement by supporting James Meredith's attempt to enroll at the University of Mississippi and by ordering his Attorney General, brother Robert Kennedy, to protect the freedom riders in the South.
Weighing in at just 184 pounds, Sputnik was the world's first man-made satellite. Its launch by Russia in 1957 resulted in the almost immediate formation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States. The "space race" was on.
However, most of Kennedy's more revolutionary proposals languished in the conservative Congress. He wished to protect millions of acres of wilderness lands from developments, but the Congress refused. His efforts to provide federal funds to elementary and secondary schools were denied. His Medicare plan to provide health insurance for the nation's elderly failed to achieve the necessary support. Congress was dominated by a coalition of Republicans and conservative Southern Democrats who refused to expand the New Deal any further.
In his abbreviated Presidency, Kennedy failed to accomplish all he wanted domestically. But the ideas and proposals he supported survived his assassination. Medicare, federal support for education, and wilderness protection all became part of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society.
Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated Kennedy in November, 1963. His death provided a popular mandate for these important programs. In the tumultuous years that followed, many yearned for the happy Kennedy years &mdash a return to Camelot.
Carol Spahn is serving as the Acting Director of the Peace Corps.
She brings more than 25 years of public and private sector experience, and has worked in countries around the world on issues ranging from small business development to infectious disease prevention and women's empowerment.
Most recently, Carol served as the Peace Corps Chief of Operations in the Africa Region covering Eastern and Southern Africa. Previously, she served a five year term as the Country Director of Peace Corps/Malawi.
Carol’s Peace Corps roots extend back to her service as a Volunteer from 1994 to 1996 in Romania, where she served as a Small Business Advisor.
Before returning to the Peace Corps as Country Director, Carol was Senior Vice President of Operations at Women for Women International, an organization serving marginalized and socially excluded women in conflict affected countries. Prior to that, Carol served as Executive Director of Accordia Global Health Foundation, a non-profit focused on creating sustainable centers of excellence in health in Africa. She served as Vice-President, Chief Financial Officer, and Treasurer of Small Enterprise Assistance Funds, a nonprofit private equity fund manager that invests in small and medium sized companies in developing countries. She has also held positions at leading private sector institutions, including GE Capital and KPMG Peat Marwick.
Carol holds a bachelor's degree from the Catholic University of America and a master’s degree in international development from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs.
The President of the United States appoints the Peace Corps Director and deputy director, and the appointments must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Read more about the past directors of the Peace Corps.
Initially established by President John F. Kennedy by Executive Order on March 1, 1961, the Peace Corps was formally authorized by the Congress on September 22, 1961, with passage of the Peace Corps Act.
The Peace Corps enjoys bipartisan support in Congress. Senators and representatives from both parties have served as Volunteers.
The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and House Committee on Foreign Affairs are charged with general oversight of the activities and programs of the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps' annual budget is determined each year by the congressional budget and appropriations process. Funding for the Peace Corps is included in the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill. Generally, the Peace Corps budget is about 1 percent of the foreign operations budget. The Peace Corps is continuously working to provide the highest quality support to Volunteers, particularly in the areas of health, safety, and security.
If you have questions about Peace Corps, we are happy to answer them. Get contact information for offices and support.
Alliance for Progress and Peace Corps, 1961–1969
Growing out of the fear of increased Soviet and Cuban influence in Latin America, the 1961–1969 Alliance for Progress was in essence a Marshall Plan for Latin America . The United States pledged $20 billion in assistance (grants and loans) and called upon the Latin American governments to provide $80 billion in investment funds for their economies. It was the biggest U.S. aid program toward the developing world up to that point—and called for substantial reform of Latin American institutions.
Washington policymakers saw the Alliance as a means of bulwarking capitalist economic growth, funding social reforms to help the poorest Latin Americans, promoting democracy—and strengthening ties between the United States and its neighbors. A key element of the Alliance was U.S. military assistance to friendly regimes in the region, an aspect that gained prominence with the ascension of President Lyndon B. Johnson to power in late 1963 (as the other components of the Alliance were downplayed). The Alliance did not achieve all its lofty goals. According to one study, only 2 percent of economic growth in 1960s Latin America directly benefited the poor and there was a general deterioration of United States-Latin American relations by the end of the 1960s.
Although derided as “Kennedy’s Kiddie Corps” by some when it was established in 1961, the Peace Corps proved over time to be an important foreign policymaking institution. By sending intelligent, hard-working, and idealistic young Americans to do economic and social development work (on 2-year tours) in the areas of greatest need in the Third World, the Peace Corps provided a means by which young Americans could not only learn about the world, but promote positive change. A significant number of Peace Corps Volunteers went on to work as officials in the U.S. Government.
The Peace Corps remains an important, vibrant foreign policy institution. Since the Peace Corps’ founding, more than 187,000 men and women have joined the Peace Corps and served in 139 countries. There are 7,749 Peace Corps Volunteers currently serving 73 countries around the world.
TENTATIVE STEPS TOWARD CIVIL RIGHTS
Cold War concerns, which guided U.S. policy in Cuba and Vietnam, also motivated the Kennedy administration’s steps toward racial equality. Realizing that legal segregation and widespread discrimination hurt the country’s chances of gaining allies in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the federal government increased efforts to secure the civil rights of African Americans in the 1960s. During his presidential campaign, Kennedy had intimated his support for civil rights, and his efforts to secure the release of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., who was arrested following a demonstration, won him the African American vote. Lacking widespread backing in Congress, however, and anxious not to offend white southerners, Kennedy was cautious in assisting African Americans in their fight for full citizenship rights.
His strongest focus was on securing the voting rights of African Americans. Kennedy feared the loss of support from southern white Democrats and the impact a struggle over civil rights could have on his foreign policy agenda as well as on his reelection in 1964. But he thought voter registration drives far preferable to the boycotts, sit-ins, and integration marches that had generated such intense global media coverage in previous years. Encouraged by Congress’s passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1960, which permitted federal courts to appoint referees to guarantee that qualified persons would be registered to vote, Kennedy focused on the passage of a constitutional amendment outlawing poll taxes, a tactic that southern states used to disenfranchise African American voters. Originally proposed by President Truman’s Committee on Civil Rights, the idea had been largely forgotten during Eisenhower’s time in office. Kennedy, however, revived it and convinced Spessard Holland, a conservative Florida senator, to introduce the proposed amendment in Congress. It passed both houses of Congress and was sent to the states for ratification in September 1962.
Escorted by a U.S. marshal and the assistant attorney general for civil rights, James Meredith (center) enters the University of Mississippi over the riotous protests of white southerners. Meredith later attempted a “March against Fear” in 1966 to protest the inability of southern African Americans to vote. His walk ended when a passing motorist shot and wounded him. (credit: Library of Congress)
Kennedy also reacted to the demands of the civil rights movement for equality in education. For example, when African American student James Meredith, encouraged by Kennedy’s speeches, attempted to enroll at the segregated University of Mississippi in 1962, riots broke out on campus. The president responded by sending the U.S. Army and National Guard to Oxford, Mississippi, to support the U.S. Marshals that his brother Robert, the attorney general, had dispatched.
Following similar violence at the University of Alabama when two African American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, attempted to enroll in 1963, Kennedy responded with a bill that would give the federal government greater power to enforce school desegregation, prohibit segregation in public accommodations, and outlaw discrimination in employment. Kennedy would not live to see his bill enacted it would become law during Lyndon Johnson’s administration as the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Fidel Castro (left) and John F. Kennedy (right)
A Research Guide by Manny Paula
The scenario involving Cuba in the early 1960s presented a unique point in the Cold War. Cuba, the small island only 90 miles off the coast of the United States, was led by a dictator named Fidel Castro. It was President John F. Kennedy that stood against him in order to keep the United States safe. The importance and position of Cuba in the Cold War is debatable. Was Cuba just a pawn for the Soviet Union? Was Castro ever really a threat? According to the policies and actions of Kennedy it is apparent that he believed Castro’s regime was a very important player in this war. Throughout the early 1960s major events put attention on the Castro regime in Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis and the attempted Bay of Pigs invasion were the two major events that attained global attention. However, looking in depth into the Kennedy foreign policy towards Cuba demonstrates the amount of importance he placed on Castro. This research guide attempts to clear up the misconceptions and conspiracies and focus attention on the actual policies and the public opinion of Kennedy’s actions toward Castro.
When discussing John F. Kennedy it is difficult not to fall into some conspiracy. His life and death have been the topic of several books, movies, and documentaries and many times the facts are skewed. This preliminary research guide primarily focuses on the declassified documents that were released from the CIA in the late 1990s. Using various archives and libraries it becomes simpler to avoid the conspiracies and formulate an opinion based on the hard evidence. The focus is to go through the facts and decide why Kennedy was so preoccupied by Castro. Several of the released documents focus on the attempted assassination plots, secret operations to overthrow the regime, and the more famous Bay of Pigs invasion. A portion of the historiography that is sometimes ignored for this time period is the public opinion on the matter. The public opinion of Kennedy’s actions can be seen in the primary source documents from various popular newspapers at the time. Why would Kennedy waste his time focusing on the tiny island of Cuba? How would the world perceive the United States when they feared a dictator? The people were curious as to why it seemed Kennedy was obsessed with Castro. The books included in the general overview section provide insight into the policies, events, and background knowledge to the long history of US and Cuban relations. This background information may help clarify why Kennedy put such an emphasis on Castro’s regime. Was it because they were so close to US soil? Or was removing Castro a way to show the USSR that he was in control? This research guide provides the sources to try and answer these several questions as well as decipher fact from friction.
The importance of the policies and actions taken by President Kennedy created some of the most memorable and crucial events of the Cold War. These policies happened to be towards Fidel Castro and his Cuban regime and that is why Kennedy’s actions against Castro are very important.
Picture depicting possible range of missiles in Cuba
1. Husain, Aiyaz. “Covert Action and US Cold War Strategy in Cuba, 1961-62.” Cold War History 5, no. 1 (February 2005): 23-53
This source sheds light on the declassified documents that were released in 1997 that covered the Kennedy administration’s role in Cuban from 1961 to 1962. Examining the declassified documents allow for further knowledge of the policy towards Cuba during these crucial years of the Cold War. Furthermore, major questions can be raised from this source including whether a second Bay of Pig project would have been attempted. Also, Operation Mongoose and other covert actions are highlighted which would provide abundant background information on the Kennedy policy towards Castro and Cuba.
2. Suchlicki, Jaime. Cuba: from Columbus to Castro and Beyond. Washington: Brassey’s, 1997: 137-195.
When trying to understand the policies under John F. Kennedy it is vital to comprehend the relationship between Cuba and the United States beforehand. Suchlicki’s work provides good background knowledge crucial in making sense of the various policies. More specifically it includes background knowledge about Castro’s revolution and the American involvement throughout the rise of the Castro regime.
3. Kennedy, Robert F. Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis, New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1971.
Robert Kennedy’s memoir on the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis gives an insightful look into the actions and views of his brother John F. Kennedy. This will provide more firsthand accounts behind the relationship between Castro and Kennedy during one the most important events of their relationship.
4. Rasenberger, Jim. The Brilliant Disaster: JFK, Castro, and America’s Doomed Invasion of Cuba’s Bay of Pigs, New York: Scribner. 2011.
The history presented here by Rasenberger draws important connections to the importance of the public during the crucial years of the 1960s. Rasenberger uses the declassified documents and focuses his attention on Kennedy, Castro, and some of the other major figures during this time. Furthermore he draws upon the two most famous previous books about the Bay of Pigs. Most importantly, this source raises an important issue about whether ideology and morality should play a role in government decision making. Moreover, this source from a contemporary journalist ties in well with the article from the Chicago Tribune in the 1960s.
5. Barrass, Gordon. The Great Cold War: A Journey Through the Hall of Mirrors, California : Stanford University Press. 2009.
The work done by Barrass in this book provides several insights into the Cold War. This source is not specifically focused on US and Cuba relations however, Barrass does talk about the subject significantly because of its tremendous importance. Furthermore, Barrass worked for the British intelligence during some of the most crucial years of the Cold War so this book provides an insider’s perspective. Lastly, the focus throughout the book is placed on the key policy makers and strategists of the Cold War.
This collection of declassified documents provides ample amounts of primary documents from the Kennedy administration and the CIA. Moreover, the site allows for plenty of research and insight into the major moments of the Castro and Kennedy relationship including the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis.
Two Examples from the site
This link leads to a this large document of close to 400 pages focuses on the American foreign policy with Cuba released in 1998.
This source leads to a report that documents the CIA’s internal probe of the Bay of Pigs Affair. This source provides insight behind how the Kennedy administration operated before, during, and after the Bay of Pigs failure.
Public protest over Cuba situation
1. McGovern, George. “Is Castro an Obsession With Us?: A Senator says emphatically yes–and claims it does scant justice to our dignity as a world leader and masks the real causes of the Latin-American crisis. Is Castro an Obsession?” The New York Times, May 19, 1963.
This primary newspaper source provides a more personal account of how the country was feeling about Cuba at the time. The article at some points attacks Kennedy and states that he obsessed with Castro. Moreover, the article goes as far as to say that Kennedy’s obsession is actually making the country appear weaker to the rest of the world and even to Americans.
2. “U. S. Urged: Help Unseat Fidel: State Dept. Aid Says It’s Up to Cubans.” Chicago Tribune, September 9, 1963.
This article in the Chicago Tribune highlights another area of public opinion. The focus for this article was to show that the American policy was to help the Cubans overthrow Fidel Castro. The urgency came from Latin American officials and a Cuban exile. Also, these officials mention the moral duty of Americans as a great people to help the Cuban exiles regain their country. These two newspaper articles vary the point of view and provide for an argument about how the Cuban situation was viewed by the general public.
3. Healy, Robert. “The Political Circuit: Cuba Critics Losing Steam.” Boston Globe, April 19 th , 1963.
This newspaper article includes the ideas and thoughts of senators around the US about what Kennedy was doing with Cuba. The most important part of the article was Senator Keating criticizing Kennedy about his failure to communicate his policy on Cuba to the public. This provides the amount of confusion the public felt about what was going on with President Kennedy and his policies.
4. Farris, Fred. “Kennedy Won’t Dicker on Inspection: Tells Soviet Castro Must Agree–Soon, or Face Tougher Measures.” Boston Globe, November 5 th , 1962.
This article can be valuable because it was written shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis. While the crisis was over this article still shows the tension between all the parties involved. Moreover, the article demonstrates that the public was still seeing a dangerous scenario unfold. This source provides a look into how Kennedy was perceived by the journalists and public shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis had ended.
The archive at GWU provides various declassified documents as well as electronic briefing books. The subsections offered by the site include Latin America and US Intelligence Community which provides the sources needed for research on the topic. The organization from the archive allows for plenty of information to be found in a timely manner.
These various examples from the GWU archive demonstrate the other possibility for the Kennedy administration which was to bring Castro to the American side. This topic is less known than the major moments of the Cold War, for example the Bay of Pigs, but it does provide a look into the secretive and ever- changing approach Kennedy took to Castro. Moreover, this type of paper would benefit from various different parts of the foreign policy. Solely focusing on the major events and policy would not do justice for all the Kennedy administration had planned concerning Cuba.
This source provides several audio clips and the manuscripts for some of conversations about the Cuban Missile Crisis. The clips include candid conversations between John Kennedy and his brother Robert as well as conversations between Kennedy and several officials.
This audio clip demonstrates the severity of the events in Cuba. The conversation between JFK and his brother Robert about a full invasion of Cuba shows how serious the foreign policy options were getting. The two understood that if an invasion of Cuba were to occur that the Soviet Union would respond and a war would have been brought to American shores.
The online library collection given by the University of Texas has several declassified documents on the major moments of the relationship between Kennedy and Castro. The difference with this source is that it provides an updated look at the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War events for the 50 th anniversary of the crisis. This allows for a more modern look at the moments that could have changed the world.
This press release from the National Archive and JFK library explains the new exhibit that commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This source is important because of the video that includes brief audio tapes from the president.
The digital archive of the JFK Library gives several primary sources from the President himself. The searches with the digital archive include several papers written by the President and audio and visual tapes.
While the previous sources all dealt with the American foreign policy towards Cuba during the early 1960s, this source from the Wilson Center actually provides some insight into what Castro was thinking in Cuba. This source contains a collection of primary sources “mainly from Cuban archives and in Spanish” from the years 1961 to 1979. The documents deal with the secret agreements made between the USSR and Cuba as well as some of the Cuban foreign policy at that time. Moreover, the source includes letters, resolutions, memorandums, and even minutes of conversations.
This printed version of the conversation between Mikoyan and Castro shows how Castro was disappointed about the removal of missiles from Cuba without his participation in the discussion. Castro puts much of the focus on how the crisis affected his people and how the Cuban people became very confused. This draws a parallel between Castro’s relationship with his people and Kennedy’s relationship with Americans (the newspaper sources). This source was from the Russian Foreign Ministry archives. Because Cuba is still a Communist nation getting primary sources from them is very difficult so most of the sources from this archive come from Russia.
This source is actually written in Spanish so it is more important as a source because it was not translated (translation of a text usually involves some interpretation even if not intended). This source presents the discussion between Castro and USSR officials in Cuba after the crisis. The conversation ranges from several different topics including Cuba and its importance to Marxism to the possibility of economic sanctions placed against Cuba by the United States. Moreover, it shows how Castro emphatically placed central importance on protecting the Cuban people.