President Kennedy

History of the United States 1945-1981 Part III

Relaxation and civil rights 1961-1969

President Kennedy’s 43-year-old set high goals for his administration. In foreign and defense policy, the aim was not different from Eisenhower’s main features, but showed greater elasticity. While the Eisenhower administration had, for financial reasons in part, focused on developing nuclear weapons at the expense of conventional weapons, the Kennedy government gradually placed greater emphasis on the latter.

However, the integration of rocket weapons into the armed forces had been accelerated in United States, a country located in North America listed on ehealthfacts. The result contributed to a ” terrorist balance ” between the great powers. The balance was put to a heavy test during the Cuba crisis in 1962, with a failed US-supported invasion attempt in 1961 and the subsequent unveiling of Soviet rocket bases on the island. But the Cuba episode in effect initiated a relaxation period. In 1963, an agreement was made to stop nuclear tests in space, in the atmosphere and under water, and a direct telephoto line was established between Moscow and Washington.

Roosevelt’s “good neighborly politics” had replaced the previous policy of interference with Latin America in the 1930s, but Roosevelt’s policy did not involve active efforts in any area on the part of the United States. During the post-war period, relations between the United States and neighboring states in the south deteriorated considerably, and some strong anti-US sentiments emerged, while at the same time poverty in Latin America became increasingly pressing. In this light, Kennedy’s Progress Alliance program must be seen. It involved joint efforts from all US states to accelerate economic growth and social reform.

In domestic politics, Kennedy’s difficulties were considerably greater than in foreign policy. The conservative Southern Democrats, as in many cases before, often agreed with Republicans and against a reformed president of their own party. In particular, this was evident when Kennedy became strongly involved in the fight for equality for the black population.

The president’s brother, Justice Minister Robert F. Kennedy, used federal authority to enforce racial equality in transportation, education, elections and so on. Congress passed legislative proposals to support economically disadvantaged areas, a certain rollout of social security benefits and a rise in the minimum wage rates for workers, but rejected proposals for a new civil rights law, sickness insurance for the elderly, federal support for the school system, and the creation of its own Department of Urban Problems. John F. Kennedy came especially in domestic politics to play the role of inspirer. He was murdered during a visit to Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963.

Kennedy was succeeded by his Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had experience from both chambers in Congress. This helped Johnson get through a civil rights law in 1964, which created its own permanent commission to prevent discrimination in working life. In the fall of 1964, Johnson was elected president by a large majority against arch-conservative Republican Barry Goldwater.

Kennedy’s “New Frontier” was followed by Johnson’s “The Great Society”. This was an extension of Kennedy’s program with a strong emphasis on welfare provision for the poor, the elderly and the blacks. Under Johnson, the “war on poverty” became a key political concept. Partly because of personal experience and skill and partly because the liberal Democratic congressional majority was large enough to make the alliance between conservative Southern Democrats and Republicans less decisive, Johnson managed to get a number of his plans realized.

Congress allocated large sums to the school government, introduced sickness insurance for the elderly and established a separate Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. A program was launched that aimed at partly decontaminating slums and partly from building new pattern cities. Civil law legislation was greatly strengthened through laws that abolished a number of obstacles to black voting rights in practice, especially the poll tax, remnants of the old electoral tax in the southern states. The government was also authorized by Congress to withhold federal funds from states and local administrative units that still discriminate.

President Kennedy

Black power and white reaction

While black and white civil rights advocates in the early 1960s had worked together to improve the conditions of the oppressed blacks, the situation changed from the middle of the decade. One reason was that while conditions for blacks were improving legally and economically, activism among blacks, especially the younger ones, also increased.

Martin Luther King’s non-violence line now came under increasingly strong criticism from the black team. Stokely Carmichael coined the slogan ” Black Power ” and, like a number of other black leaders, called for a more militant stance.

From the mid-1960s, several summers erupted in violent riots in a number of cities across the country. At the same time it is also a setback (the white backlash) among white Americans. Many of them had hoped that civil law would lead to greater harmony between the races and were disappointed with the development. During the 1966 congressional elections, it was especially devoted to liberal Democrats; this led to a reduced majority for Democrats and thus Johnson could not keep pace with reform legislation.