Entries in John F. Kennedy (4)


New Kennedy Documents: The View From First Lady’s Eyes

CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It was 50 years ago this week that the American people were taken inside the White House and given a first-of-its-kind televised tour of the executive mansion.

The  tour guide that day was none other than the first lady herself, Jacqueline Kennedy. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the broadcasts, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has released the first portion of Jacqueline Kennedy’s personal papers.

The historical documents not only show how the first lady prepared for the broadcast, but also her desire to restore the White House shortly after her husband took office.

“These new documents demonstrate her work as first lady, her legendary attention to detail and the incredible range of her understanding of art, history and public diplomacy,” said Tom Putnam, the director of the Kennedy Library, in a statement.

It started in November 1961, when the first lady decided that, as a national symbol, the White House needed to be restored in a way that reflected its historical and cultural significance to the country.

In an interview with Hugh Sidey of Life magazine in September of that year, Jacqueline Kennedy said, “All these people come to see the White House, and they see practically nothing that dates back before 1948. Everything in the White House must have a reason for being there. It would be sacrilege merely to ‘redecorate’ it -- a word I hate. It must be restored -- and that has nothing to do with decoration. That is a question of scholarship.”

The documents reveal how such sentiments motivated the first lady to form the White House Historical Association and Fine Arts Committee, whose task was to restore the interior of the White House to evoke the style of past presidents and first families while keeping mindful of the future generations that would occupy America’s most popular structure.

“No first lady had taken on a project like that in the era of television,” said ABC News’ Cokie Roberts. “Dolley Madison was really the first person to furnish the White House, and it was an enormous undertaking.”

The documents, which Caroline Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr., donated to the Kennedy Library, reveal the first lady’s dedication to all aspects of the project -- from the artwork to the furniture to the fabric for the curtains in the Oval Office.

She set a precedent for all future first ladies to come. “They feel very, very strongly that they are the custodians of a historic monument. And they are privileged to be there, even though as difficult as it is,” said ABC’s Roberts.

After a year of restoration, the first lady’s hard work would be displayed to the nation. Jacquelilne Kennedy invited a television crew into the White House for a tour of the newly renovated executive mansion. They show the first lady’s hands-on approach to the restoration and the TV project: She sent notes to the show’s producers, commenting on the script and highlighting details she wanted to talk about on TV.

On  Feb. 14, 1962, the televised tour aired and Jacqueline Kennedy welcomed the world into her home.  The show was syndicated across the globe and delivered a record audience of 80 million viewers.

As she had countless times before,  Jacqueline Kennedy captivated, and the White House was changed forever. “It became the museum of beautiful furniture and art that it is today and will forever be,” said Roberts.

The broadcast even earned Jacqueline Kennedy an honorary Emmy. It is on display at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, along with the newly released historical documents that give a brief but intimate look into the idealized world of Camelot.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Jacqueline Kennedy Reveals JFK Feared an LBJ Presidency

National Archive/Newsmakers(NEW YORK) -- President John F. Kennedy was so "worried for the country" about the prospect that Vice President Lyndon Johnson might succeed him as president that he'd begun having private conversations about who should become the Democratic Party's standard-bearer in 1968, Jacqueline Kennedy recalled in a series of oral history interviews recorded in early 1964.

She said her husband believed strongly that Johnson shouldn't become president and, in the months before his death in November 1963, he'd begun talking to his brother, Robert Kennedy, about ways to maneuver around Johnson in 1968.

"Bobby told me this later, and I know Jack said it to me sometimes. He said, 'Oh, God, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon was president?'" she said.

The president gave no serious consideration to dropping Johnson from the ticket in 1964, Jacqueline Kennedy recalled. But he did have some talks about how to avoid having Johnson run for president in 1968, at the end of what would have been Kennedy's second term, she said.

Jacqueline Kennedy's recollections, in a series of interviews conducted by writer-historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. and kept private by the Kennedy family until this month, depict a distant and at times disturbing relationship between a president and the man who ultimately did succeed him in office upon his assassination.

The tapes are illuminating not just for the words but for how they're spoken, the distinctive, breathy voice -- at times wistful, at times wickedly irreverent -- revealing a new dimension of woman who carefully kept herself out of the public eye. With sounds of matches striking, ice cubes clinking, and even her children playing in the background, it's a rare snapshot into the life and private recollections of Jacqueline Kennedy. They also detail under-the-surface tension that lingered between Jacqueline Kennedy and her husband's successor.

ABC News' Diane Sawyer will host a prime-time, two-hour special based on the tapes Sept. 13, featuring exclusive audio of Jacqueline Kennedy's interviews. The transcripts are being released in book form this month in Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


For the Kennedys: The End of an Era

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The sun has set on the Kennedy era. When Congress reconvenes next week, it will be the first time in 64 years that there has not been a Kennedy in office.

The last Kennedy -- Patrick, a congressman from Rhode Island -- has officially left the building, saying, "my life is taking a new direction and I will not be a candidate for reelection."

His father, Sen. Edward Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate, died in 2009. Now, the new frontier on Capitol Hill has a distinctly Republican flavor. Replacing the Kennedys as the only father-son team on the Hill are Rep. Ron Paul and Senator-elect Rand Paul, both Tea Party Republicans.

John F. Kennedy launched the family franchise in 1947 when, at age 30, he joined the U.S. Congress. He spent six years as a congressman and eight years as a senator, fighting for civil rights and social welfare. In 1961, he moved to the White House, famously calling on Americans to, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." He brought with him his two brothers in to the political fray: Robert became attorney general and then senator, and Ted would be elected to the Senate too.

The attention attracted to the family's glamour, intellect and occasional scandal would last decades and help propel Ted Kennedy to serve almost 47 years in Congress. He championed Medicare, rights for the disabled, and health care reform. His son, Patrick, and Robert's son, Joe, also followed in the Kennedy footsteps serving as Congressmen.

It's a legacy of triumph, tragedy and a national fascination with Democratic Party's first family. John and Robert were both assassinated, and Ted Kennedy famously pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a deadly car accident at Chappaquiddick.

Still, there is a new generation of young Kennedys who have yet to pick up the torch of public service. It's possible the sun has not set on Camelot for good.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Republican Ad Invoking JFK Draws Kennedy Ire

Image Courtesy: ABC News.(WEST HARTFORD, Conn.) -- A new ad by a Republican Senate candidate featuring images of President John F. Kennedy arguing for lower taxes has drawn the ire of the Kennedy clan. Edward Kennedy Jr., the nephew of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, posted an angry letter to Linda McMahon, the former WWE CEO and Republican Senate candidate in Connecticut. He calls McMahon's ad “dishonest” and says that using the former president’s image gives McMahon’s tax position a “false legitimacy.” The ad shows clips from President Kennedy in 1962 arguing for income tax reductions as an economic stimulus. McMahon is a supporter of extending the Bush-era tax cuts, set to expire in 2011. Kennedy argues the ad doesn’t mention that marginal income rates in 1962 were 90 percent for amounts over $400,000 -- a rate that stands at 35 percent today. The President Kennedy tax cut footage is becoming a go-to for Republicans. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts had a similar ad when he won the special election to fill out Sen. Edward Kennedy’s term. In that ad, Kennedy morphed into Brown.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio.

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