Chapter 41 ~ The Stormy Sixties ~ 1960 – 1968
I. Kennedy’s “New Frontier” Spirit
In 1960, young, energetic John F. Kennedy was elected as president of the United States—the youngest man ever
elected to that office.
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 of a feminist revolution.
iii. JFK delivered a stirring inaugural address (“Ask not, what your country can do for you…”), and he also
assembled a very young cabinet, including his brother, Robert Kennedy, as attorney general.
Robert Kennedy tried to recast the priorities of the FBI, but was resisted by J. Edgar Hoover.
Business whiz Robert S. McNamara took over the Defense Department.
iv. Early on, JFK proposed the Peace Corps, an army of idealist and mostly youthful volunteers to bring American
skills to underdeveloped countries.
A graduate of Harvard and with a young family, JFK was very vibrant and charming to everyone.
II. The New Frontier at Home
Kennedy’s social program was known as the New Frontier, but conservative Democrats and Republicans
threatened to kill many of its reforms.
JFK did expand the House Rules Committee, but his program didn’t expand quickly, as medical and
education bills remained stalled in Congress.
JFK also had to keep a lid on inflation and maintain a good economy.
However, almost immediately into his term, steel management announced great price increases, igniting the
fury of the president, but JFK also earned fiery attacks by big business against the New Frontier.
Kennedy’s tax-cut bill chose to stimulate the economy through price-cutting.
iii. Kennedy also promoted a project to land Americans on the moon, though apathetic Americans often ridiculed this
III. Rumblings in Europe
JFK met Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev and was threatened, but didn’t back down.
In August of the 1961, the Soviets began building the Berlin Wall to separate East and West Germany.
iii. Western Europe, though, was now prospering after help from the super-successful Marshall Plan.
America had also encouraged a Common Market (to keep trade barriers and tariff low in Europe), which later
became the European Union (EU).
The so-called Kennedy Round of tariff negotiations eased trade between Europe and the U.S.
iv. Unfortunately, French leader Charles de Gaulle was one who was suspicious of the U.S., and he rejected Britain’s
application into the Common Market.
IV. Foreign Flare-Ups and “Flexible Responses”
There were many world problems at this time:
The African Congo got its independence from Belgium in 1960 and then erupted into violence, but the United
Nations sent a peacekeeping force.