HS-HSS-TAP-Part_6_--_Chapter_38-_Stormy_Sixties.pdf - The...

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The Stormy Sixties - - ~ckl"--- 1960-1968 LET THE WORD GO FORTH FROM THIS TIME AND PLACE, TO FRIEND AND FOE ALIKE, THAT THE TORCH HAS BEEN PASSED TO A NEW GENERATION OF AMERICANS. JOHN F. KENNEDY , INAUGURAL , 1 961 C omplacent and comfortable as the 1950s closed, Americans elected in 1960 a young, vigorous presi- dent who pledged "to get the country moving again." Neither the nation nor the new president had any inkling as the new decade opened just how action- packed it would be, both at home and abroad. The 1960s would bring a sexual revolution, a civil rights revolution, the emergence of a "youth culture," a devastating war in Vietnam, and the beginnings, at least, of a feminist revo- lution. By the end of the stormy sixties, many Americans would yearn nostalgically for the comparative calm of the fifties. Kennedy•s ••New Frontier•• Spirit Hatless and topcoatless in the twenty-two-degree chill, John F. Kennedy delivered a stirring inaugural address on January 20, 1961. Tall, elegantly handsome, speaking crisply and with staccato finger jabs at the air, Kennedy personified the glamour and vitality of the new adminis- 909 tration. The youngest president ever elected, he assem- bled one of the youngest cabinets, including his thirty- five-year-old brother, Robert, as attorney general. "Bobby," the president quipped, would find "some legal experience" useful when he began to practice law. The new attorney general set out, among other reforms, to recast the priorities of the FBI. The bureau deployed nearly a thousand agents on "internal security" work but targeted only a dozen against organized crime and gave virtually no attention to civil rights violations. Robert Kennedy's efforts were stoutly resisted by J. Edgar Hoover, who had served as FBI director longer than the new attorney general had been alive. Business whiz RobertS. McNamara left the presidency of the Ford Motor Company to take over the Defense Department. Along with other youthful, talented advisers, these appointees made up an inner circle of "the best and the brightest" men around the president. From the outset Kennedy inspired high expecta- tions, especially among the young. His challenge of a "New Frontier" quickened patriotic pulses. He brought a warm heart to the Cold War when he proposed the
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910 C HAPTER 38 The Stormy Sixties, 1960-1968 Richard Goodwin (b. 1931), a young Peace Corps staffer, eloquently summed up the buoyantly optimistic mood of the early 1960s: "For a moment, it seemed as if the entire country, the whole spinning globe, rested, malleable and receptive, in our beneficent hands." Peace Corps, an army of idealistic and mostly youthful volunteers to bring American skills to underdeveloped countries. He summoned citizens to service with his clarion call to "ask not what your country can do for you: ask what you can do for your country." Himself Harvard-educated, Kennedy and his Ivy League lieutenants (heavily from Harvard) radiated confidence in their abilities. The president's personal grace and wit won him the deep affection of many of his fellow citizens. A journalist called Kennedy "the most
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