The Stormy Sixties
I. Kennedy’s “New Frontier” Spirit
In 1960, young, energetic John F. Kennedy was elected as presidentof the United States
—the youngest man ever elected to that office.
The 1960s would bring a sexual revolution, a civil rightsrevolution, the emergence of a
“youth culture,” adevastating war in Vietnam, and the beginnings of a feminist revolution.
JFK delivered a stirring inaugural address (“Ask not, whatyour country can do for
you…”), and he also assembled avery young cabinet, including his brother, Robert
Kennedy, as attorneygeneral.
Robert Kennedy tried to recast the priorities of the FBI, but was resisted by J.
Business whiz Robert S. McNamara took over the Defense Department.
Early on, JFK proposed the Peace Corps, an army of idealist andmostly youthful
volunteers to bring American skills to underdevelopedcountries.
A graduate of Harvard and with a young family, JFK was very vibrant and charming to
II. The New Frontier at Home
Kennedy’s social program was known as the New Frontier, butconservative Democrats
and Republicans threatened to kill many of itsreforms.
JFK did expand the House Rules Committee, but his programdidn’t expand
quickly, as medical and education bills remainedstalled in Congress.
JFK also had to keep a lid on inflation and maintain a good economy.
However, almost immediately into his term, steel managementannounced
great price increases, igniting the fury of the president,but JFK also earned fiery attacks
by big business against the NewFrontier.
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 goal.
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
Western Europe, though, was now prospering after help from the super-successful
America had also encouraged a Common Market (to keep trade barriersand
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.
Unfortunately, French leader Charles de Gaulle was one who wassuspicious of the U.S.,
and he rejected Britain’s applicationinto the Common Market.
IV. Foreign Flare-Ups and “Flexible Response”
There were many world problems at this time:
The African Congo got its independence from Belgium in 1960 andthen
erupted into violence, but the United Nations sent a peacekeepingforce.