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John F Kennedy, a man who surely needs no introduction, is the last person we look at in this series of Cold War People.

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We shall be looking at one of the most iconic of US presidents, a sometimes controversial figure who inspired hope in so many. He also died in the most tragic of circumstances.

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See you soon for our series on the Spanish Civil War.

George Levrier-Jones

AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones

The Cuban Missile Crisis, episode 4 of itshistorypodcasts.com's series on the Cold War is available now for your listening pleasure.

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With hindsight, many historians see this crisis as the time that the world flirted most closely with nuclear destruction. By the time of the crisis, 1962, we shall see how both the USA’s and USSR’s nuclear weapons had become terribly powerful, but this was in a world where the rules of the game for nuclear war were still being made..

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George Levrier-Jones

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AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones

The 1960 US presidential election is surely one of the most famous in history. It pitched the glamor of JFK against political heavyweight Richard Nixon. Here, Christopher Benedict looks at the fascinating key areas in the election including JFK’s religion, civil rights, and those TV debates.


You can read Chris’ article on JFK and Eleanor Roosevelt’s uneasy relationship in the 1950s here.

Kennedy and Nixon before the first presidential debate in September 1960.

Kennedy and Nixon before the first presidential debate in September 1960.

Step Right Up!

“There’s a sucker born every minute” is a phrase which continues to live its wrongfully folkloric life as having been fathered by P. T. Barnum, the greatest showman on earth and four-term Connecticut legislator whose abolitionist ideals led him to switch allegiances from the Democratic Party to become a sworn Lincoln Republican.

Though the origin of the aphorism is believed to trace instead to David Hannum, who financed the exhibition of the alleged ten-foot tall mummified remains of the ‘Cardiff Giant’ in 1869 and took great exception to Barnum’s simultaneous display of a mold he had made and passed off as the real deal (a fake of a fake), journalist and Gangs of New York author Herbert Asbury attributes the saying in his 1940 book Gem of the Prairie: Chicago Underworld to Michael Cassius McDonald. A charismatic Irish immigrant whose four-story gambling house ‘The Store’ was often referred to as Chicago’s “unofficial City Hall”, McDonald is said to have uttered the immortal words to calm the nerves of his business partner Harry Lawrence over his concern as to how they could possibly attract enough of the Windy City’s inhabitants to patronize their establishment. Wielding great enough influence, both criminal and political, he formed a syndicate known as McDonald’s Democrats which strong-armed the mayoral election of 1879 in the direction of Carter Harrison Sr., a distant cousin of President William Henry Harrison. 

Politics and show business have long been cozy bedfellows. There are carnival-like elements inherent to campaigns, conventions, and elections which rub shoulders with those of traveling ten-in-one sideshows and three-ring, big-top circuses of old. So, it seems only natural that both of 1960’s presidential aspirants would invoke similarly germane imagery as the election cycle wound down through the home stretch.

“The people of the United States, in this last week, have finally caught up with the promises that have been made by our opponents,” said Vice President Richard Nixon from the steps of Oakland’s City Hall on a windswept November 5. “They realize that it’s a modern medicine-man show. A pied piper from Boston and they’re not going to go down that road.”

John F. Kennedy, meanwhile, speaking before a frenzied constituency at the Boston Garden two days later, took the analogy one step further by quipping, “I run against a candidate that reminds me of the symbol of his party. The circus elephant, with his head full of ivory, a long memory, and no vision. And you have seen elephants being led around the circus ring. They grab the tail of the elephant in front of them.”


The Religion Issue

Not since anti-Prohibitionist New York Governor Alfred E. Smith in 1928 had there been a Catholic nominee for the U.S. presidency. While it may be difficult today to fathom what a substantial stumbling block this presented then to upwardly mobile politicians, the very notion of a non-Protestant potentially merging church and state was very real and simply unthinkable, making Kennedy’s Catholicism an allegorical cross to bear. So much so that his Press Secretary Pierre Salinger recalls attempting to enlist the staunchly conservative Reverend Billy Graham to aid their cause during a train ride from West Virginia to Indianapolis. 

“We were in the process of trying to get the nation’s leading Protestant churchmen to sign a public statement urging religious tolerance in the political process,” Salinger said. After initially promising his signature to the document’s final draft, Kennedy confidante and speechwriter Ted Sorensen later received a far less amenable response, in the form of “a flat-out no”, remarking that it would be wrong “to interfere in the political process.” Salinger noted that “later that year, however, Graham appeared at a number of political rallies for Richard Nixon. Apparently, it would have been wrong to interfere in the political process on behalf of a Democrat.”

Forced to directly confront the issue, Kennedy addressed the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, not to mention the nation at large, on September 12, 1960.

“Contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for President”, he stated in clear defiance without the tone of agitated self-defense. “I am the Democratic Party's candidate for President, who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me.”


The Red Menace

With the domino theory put in place in the 1950s and threatening to set off a chain reaction of toppled democracies across the map, replaced by Communist adherents to the tenets of Marxism-Leninism, the incoming Commander-in-Chief would be expected to deal assertively with the bogeymen of the “red scare” in the forms of South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem, Castro in Cuba, and particularly First Secretary of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev. 

Nixon had earned a reputation as a hard-liner in the struggle to seek and destroy socialist tendencies with tough words and even tougher endeavors. First serving as legal counsel on Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee, he became a household name for his successful prosecution of Communist spy Alger Hiss in 1948. It was suggested that Hiss represented all that Nixon despised. Wealthy, liberal, Harvard-educated, and handsome. Sound familiar?

Senator Kennedy was persistently needled as being “soft on Communism” by Nixon, who had slapped his 1950 Senatorial opponent Helen Gahagan Douglas with the libelous epithet “pink lady” for her New Deal progressiveness and references to HUAC as a “smear organization”. Interestingly enough, in 1950 Kennedy, his father Joe an anti-Communist McCarthy crony, privately supported Nixon. “I obviously can’t endorse you,” he admitted, “but it isn’t going to break my heart if you can turn the Senate’s loss (Douglas, herself a former actress) into Hollywood’s gain.”

Khrushchev, who would go toe-to-toe with Kennedy during the Vienna Summit, Cuban Missile Crisis, Berlin Wall standoff, and Test Ban Treaty, offered this after-the-fact personal assessment of both candidates in his memoirs. “I was impressed with Kennedy. I remember liking his face which was sometimes stern but which often broke into a good-natured smile. As for Nixon...he had been a puppet of Joseph McCarthy until McCarthy’s star began to fade, at which point Nixon turned his back on him. So, he was an unprincipled puppet, which is the most dangerous kind,” he wrote. “I was very glad Kennedy won the election... I could tell he was interested in finding a peaceful solution to world problems and avoiding conflict with the Soviet Union.”


Civil Rights

An initial Kennedy backer until he felt snubbed during a personal meeting and came to the conclusion that the Democrat was unwilling to move forward on civil rights issues, retired Brooklyn Dodger and destroyer of baseball’s color barrier Jackie Robinson campaigned instead for the Republican nominee but bemoaned the fact that “the Negro vote was not at all committed to Kennedy, but it went there because Mr. Nixon did not do anything to win it.”

Kennedy, in a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt who was pushing the reluctant Senator into progressive action in courting the support of the black community, wrote, “With respect to Jackie Robinson… he has made uncomplimentary statements to the press about me,” sulking that, “I know that he is out to do as much damage as possible.” Nixon’s running mate Nelson Rockefeller, with Robinson’s blessing, was eventually called upon to espouse the ticket’s fidelity to civil rights in what was considered a too-little, too-late effort.

Kennedy, meanwhile, placed a conciliatory phone call to Coretta Scott King following the arrest of her husband Martin and fifty-two fellow protestors staging a sit-in at the Magnolia Room of Rich’s Department Store in Atlanta. Sentenced to four months of hard labor after all others involved had been released, Martin Luther King was freed only when news of Kennedy’s gesture, as well as brother Robert’s personal intervention on King’s behalf, reached the Georgian judge who had presided over the case. “Because this man was willing to wipe the tears from my daughter’s eyes,” said an emotional King, “I’ve got a suitcase of votes and I’m going to take them to Mr. Kennedy and dump them in his lap.”  

It is worth noting that these maneuvers on the part of the Kennedy brothers carried more than a slight whiff of patronizing opportunism and that, although the both of them did evolve dramatically and genuinely in later years on race relations, it was a birthing process which was painful and sluggish.


The Debates

“Without the many panels and news shows, without his shrewd use of TV commercials and telecast speeches, without television tapes to spread wherever needed his confrontation with the Houston ministers, without the four great debates with Richard Nixon, John Kennedy would never have been elected President,” asserted Ted Sorensen. 

Though they squared off four times (Kennedy lobbied fruitlessly for a fifth), it was the first on September 26, 1960 in Chicago’s CBS Studios which proved to be as visually revealing as it was historically significant. The first ever televised presidential debate, the new medium did Nixon no favors. Having just been released from the hospital after the knee he injured on the campaign trail had become dangerously infected, the Vice President, underweight and sporting a five o’clock shadow, was still susceptible to feverish sweats and a sickly complexion which may have been alleviated somewhat had he not refused a cosmetic touch-up. Nixon’s poor physical appearance was augmented by his unfortunate choice of a grey suit which was ill-fitting and represented poorly in black and white against the studio’s similarly drab backdrop. 

Contrasted against Kennedy’s navy blue suit, copper-colored tan, and million dollar smile, Nixon staggered into a situation which found him already at a decided disadvantage. Like college kids cramming for an exam, Kennedy went through hours of dry runs with Sorensen and Salinger and his levels of confidence and preparedness were evident for all to see. Falling back on practices learned while starring on Whittier College’s esteemed debate club, Nixon continually addressed Kennedy personally, looking away from the television cameras to do so, appearing anxious and adversarial. Poll results differ to this day, but most seem to suggest that the two combatants were evenly matched in terms of verbal content as heard by radio listeners which was betrayed by the pair’s physical incongruities visible to home viewers.

One person who concurred was Nixon’s own running mate Henry Cabot Lodge who remarked, “That son of a bitch just lost the election.”


First Ladies

On assignment for the April 1953 edition of the Washington Times-Herald, their Inquiring Camera Girl Jackie Bouvier interviewed both Vice President Richard Milhouse Nixon and newly elected Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy. Jack and Jackie had been quietly seeing one another since a dinner party the year before where, as then-Congressman Kennedy recalled, “I leaned across the asparagus and asked for her for a date.” Their relationship attained a public profile in January 1953 when the Hamptons-born beauty (with brains to match) accompanied Kennedy to Dwight Eisenhower’s inaugural ball. Pregnant with John Jr. and confined to bed rest for much of the 1960 campaign, Jackie may not have been an observable presence, but did contribute in the way of a syndicated newspaper column called Campaign Wife which combined personal anecdotes with political affairs, as well as handling correspondence and giving interviews. 

Pat Nixon, on the other hand, was never far from Richard’s side, or the public consciousness. A “Pat For First Lady” movement gained strength among the schoolteachers and housewives to whom she tailored her message, and her likeness could be seen on nearly as many buttons and bumper stickers as that of her husband. An attempt was even made in the press, ill-conceived and ill-fated, to manufacture a race for First Lady between Pat and Jackie based on clothing choices as much as, if not more than, party platform.

Dismissed by Mamie Eisenhower as “that woman” for her inimitable fashion sense, Jackie, in turn, took a catty swipe at her 1960 rival for First Lady by telling historian and Kennedy think-tank member Arthur Schlesinger Jr. that Jack “wasn’t thinking of his image, or he would have made me get a little frizzy permanent like Pat Nixon.” 



Both men would, of course, achieve the Presidency. Nixon not until 1968, and only after the path had been paved by Lyndon Johnson’s concession to neither seek nor accept his party’s nomination as well as the assassination of Robert Kennedy a mere four and a half years after his own brother, on that fateful November day in Dallas, was made a national martyr on equal footing, in the hearts and minds of generations of Americans, with the beloved Abraham Lincoln.

All of this calls to mind something P. T. Barnum actually did say. “You have to throw a gold brick into the uncertain waters of the future, and faith because there will be many difficult days before you will see the returns start rolling in.”


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And remember… You can read Chris’ article on JFK and Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1950s by clicking here.


  • The Making of the President 1960 by Theodore White (1961, Atheneum House).
  • With Kennedy by Pierre Salinger (1966, Doubleday).
  • Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady by Greg Mitchell (1998, Random House).
  • Khrushchev Remembers by Nikita Khrushchev, edited by Edward Crankshaw (1970, Little, Brown, and Co.).
  • Letter from Jackie Robinson to Theodore L. Humes, November 16, 1960.
  • Letter from John F. Kennedy to Eleanor Roosevelt, September 3, 1960.
  • The Kennedy Legacy: A Peaceful Revolution for the Seventies by Theodore Sorensen (1969, MacMillan).
  • Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy, Interviews with Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. 1964, with introduction and annotations by Michael Beschloss (2011, Hyperion).
  • Jack Kennedy: The Illustrated Life of a President (2009, Chronicle Books).


AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones

The Kennedys and the Roosevelts are two great American political dynasties. But in spite of both being Democrats, they have not always got on well. In this article, Christopher Benedict explores the often difficult relationship in the 1950s between John F. Kennedy and the wife of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

JFK and Eleanor Roosevelt together in New York in October 1960.

JFK and Eleanor Roosevelt together in New York in October 1960.

Family Ties, Twisted Knots

The original Adams family - John, Abigail, John Quincy, Charles Francis, and Henry - were among the first American clans to project a far-reaching political and historical sphere of influence. The many intertwining branches of the Lee and Harrison family trees likewise extended well beyond the eighteenth century and the same goes, more recently and to a lesser degree, for the Bushes and Clintons.

The two names, however, most synonymous with almost mythological levels of intrigue and adoration, or else abominable degrees of bitterness and contempt, would inarguably be Roosevelt and Kennedy.

Before embarking on a political career which many thought would culminate at the White House, patriarch Joseph Kennedy, during the early stages of the “Happy Days are Here Again” presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, founded the scotch and gin distribution company Somerset Importers with FDR’s eldest son James. Joe was rewarded for his loyalty and shrewd business sense with the appointment as the first Secretary of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and, subsequently, Ambassador to the UK. His tenure, and with it any hope for future political aspirations, ended with his opposition to US intervention and acceptance of Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement.

Given this discourteous fall from grace, it is quite understandable how reticent Eleanor Roosevelt was to pass the proverbial torch to John F. Kennedy without her feeling as though he would wield it recklessly enough to risk burning the nation down.


1956 Democratic Convention

Never unafraid of voicing her opinions on weighty matters in the face of equally considerable opposition, Eleanor re-entered politics in 1956 by making known her displeasure with the lack of progress made by Dwight Eisenhower’s so-called Modern Republicanism and giving her endorsement to Adlai Stevenson for the Democratic presidential nomination, earning the ire of Harry Truman who was avidly backing New York Governor Averell Harriman. Her approval was sought as well by both serious contenders for the Vice Presidency, Senators Estes Kefauver and John Kennedy.

“I did not feel I could support him because he had avoided taking a position during the controversy over Senator Joseph McCarthy’s methods of investigation,” Eleanor explained to the unnamed Kennedy associate who had approached her at the convention. Kennedy proved unable himself, in the course of a face to face meeting in Chicago, to sway her with the assurance that his absence during those hearings was due only to his recuperation from back surgery, or by his buoyant argument that the episode was “so long ago” and “did not enter into the current situation”. Needless to say, this letdown ruffled the feathers of Kennedy supporters sufficiently for his counselor and speechwriter Ted Sorensen to gripe that Mrs. Roosevelt “used the occasion to chastise the Senator in a roomful of people for being insufficiently anti-McCarthy.”

With “a sense of great relief at leaving politics behind”, however short-lived it would prove to be, Eleanor boarded a New York-bound plane prior to the balloting. Jack Kennedy was left in the dust to deliver Stevenson’s nominating speech, stew over his bitter loss to Kefauver, and choke on the aftertaste of sour grapes at how Eleanor “hated my father and can’t stand it that his children turned out so much better than hers.”  


My Dear Boy

Following Jack’s 1958 re-election to the Massachusetts Senate with the assumption that it was a likely foothold propping open the door to the 1960 presidential nomination, Eleanor commented on the ABC Sunday afternoon program College News Conference that she had learned from her sources that “Senator Kennedy's father has been spending oodles of money all over the country and probably has a paid representative in every state by now”. This sent shockwaves throughout the Democratic Party and initiated a two-month exchange of correspondence beginning with Kennedy’s open challenge for her, as a “victim of misinformation”, to demand of his slanderers ”concrete evidence” of their “gossip and speculation”. Though her first retort ended with an admonition that “building and organization is permissible but giving too lavishly may seem to indicate a desire to influence through money”, Eleanor offered to give voice to Kennedy’s rebuttal, which she did in the January 6, 1959 edition of her syndicated column My Day.

Kennedy was grateful but pressed the advantage. At the risk of seeming “overly sensitive”, he wondered whether “the fairest course of action would be for you to state that you had been unable to find evidence to justify the rumors.” He dismissed her proposal of a follow-up article and hoped that they might get together in person to hash out their differences and make amends.

Eleanor got the last word on the matter by way of a haughty Western Union Telegram which said “My dear boy, I only say these things for your own good. I have found, in a lifetime of adversity, that when blows are rained on one, it is advisable to turn the other profile.” Her intentional wording of the concluding adage is an obvious reference to Kennedy’s book Profiles in Courage.


1960 Election

Knowing all too well that devotion dies hard, Eleanor remained steadfast in her fidelity to Adlai Stevenson, the two-time loser who most party faithful conceded was the best candidate but simply unelectable. “For my part,” Eleanor recalled, “I believed the best ticket would be Stevenson and Kennedy, with the strong chance that the latter would become president at a later time.”                                                      Despite the concerns of Eleanor’s associates that Kennedy was “making a political football of your husband’s noble experiment”, to say nothing of the tragic death of her twelve year-old granddaughter Sally following a horse-riding accident two days prior, Eleanor agreed to meet with the Senator at her home in Val-Kill before his visit to the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York that August to commemorate the 25th anniversary of FDR’s Social Security Act. As the personal and philosophical breach between the two narrowed enough for a mutually navigable bridge to be erected over the remaining chasm, Eleanor confided to a friend that she now found Kennedy to be “so little cock-sure” and possessed of a “mind that is open to new ideas”. Civil rights, which was a cause near and dear to her heart and on which she had seen her own husband flounder so feebly in spite of her aggressive efforts, was one of the discussion’s central topics. Her final analysis (to borrow from Kennedy terminology) was that “here is a man who wants to leave a record (perhaps for ambitious personal reasons) but I rather think because he is really interested in helping the people of his own country and mankind in general.”

The eager candidate drafted a letter only two weeks later to Eleanor who was in Warsaw, Poland on behalf of the United Nations Association. In it, he regrets the failure of the Senate to pass the proposed medical care, minimum wage, and housing legislations but promises to “take this fight to the people during this campaign” and that, if elected, he will “make the most of those first 100 days to bring about these and other measures which the country needs so badly.” Kennedy also made sure to extend his gratitude to Eleanor and Franklin’s grandson Curtis Roosevelt, acting Vice Chairman of the Democratic Advisory Council whose “reform clubs are beginning to galvanize into action”, he assured the presidential candidate.

In response to Kennedy’s October 21 statement in the New York Times amenable to pledging financial and military aid to “non-Batista forces in exile and in Cuba itself, who offer eventual hope of overthrowing Castro”, Eleanor took it upon herself to chastise the president-to-be less than a fortnight preceding the election. “I thought I understood you to say during the last debate that you did not intend to act unilaterally but with the other American states,” she wrote in a letter drafted three days after Kennedy's piece in the Times. “I think it would be unwise for people to have the impression that you did expect separately to interfere in the internal affairs of Cuba.”

“Things at present look as though they are going pretty well,” Eleanor ends cheerily, albeit offset by an added sense of disquiet regarding his opponent. “I cannot, of course, ever feel safe till the last week is over because with Mr. Nixon I always have the feeling that he will pull some trick at the last minute.”


Did you enjoy this article? If so, tell the world! Tweet about it, share it, or like it by clicking on one of the buttons below!

You can also read earlier articles by Chris on the visits of Elvis (link here) and Johnny Cash (link here) to Richard Nixon’s White House. 



  • The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt (1961, Harper and Bros.).
  • Kennedy and Roosevelt: An Uneasy Alliance by Michael Beschloss (1980, WW Norton & Co.).
  • Kennedy by Theodore Sorensen (1965, Harper & Row).
  • Papers of John F. Kennedy (with relation to Eleanor Roosevelt) from the Archives of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

Jacqueline Kennedy was one of the most high-profile -and private - women of the twentieth century, and her marriage to John F. Kennedy remains the source of intense speculation. While the public rarely heard her voice during her lifetime, letters and interviews released since her death have provided insights into who she was and, as Wendy Loughlin recounts here, how she felt about JFK.


She was famous for wanting privacy and famous for not getting it, becoming instead the object of an intense public fascination that has outlived her by 20 years. Jacqueline Kennedy followed her husband into the spotlight reluctantly, and then spent nearly half her life fighting its glare without him. 

Jackie and JFK in May 1961.

Jackie and JFK in May 1961.

The doe-eyed young Jackie who was terrified of the crowd that assembled outside the church on the day she married John F. Kennedy is not the Jackie we came to know later—not Jackie O, the persona, the jetsetter who hid behind dark sunglasses and silence. But it’s the young Jackie whose voice we heard—or partially heard—after a Dublin church unearthed and nearly auctioned off a cache of her letters last month.

She wrote the letters to Irish priest Joseph Leonard over the course of fourteen years, from 1950 to 1964—years in which she met, married and lost JFK. Excerpts were first published in the Irish Times and quickly re-printed by publications around the world. And while the letters must have included her thoughts on a number of different topics, it’s telling that the passages chosen for release focus almost exclusively on John F. Kennedy.


Portrait of a Marriage

History has repeatedly been revealed through letters, but the letters of first ladies are often compelling in intimate, as much as historical, ways; at their core, they tell us about a marriage. The Kennedy marriage, with its mixture of glamour and tragedy, hearsay and scandal, has captured the public’s imagination for half a century.

They say she was intelligent with a rapier wit, that she could size people up in a single meeting, that she made JFK laugh. We see it in footage from the 1962 America’s Cup dinner, when she leans across the table toward him as if no one is watching. She’s wearing a strapless Cassini gown, looking conspiratorial as she rocks her chair in his direction, oblivious to the puffs of smoke from his cigar. He bends toward her easily, listens intently, smiles. 

But mostly, we don’t see it; and her silence after his death, alongside rumors and revelations about his philandering, left a vacuum that has been filled with countless books and articles full of an almost feverish speculation about the true nature of their relationship. Ironically, her quest for privacy deprived her of it, made people clamor for her all the more, more than for any other first lady in history. Which is why the letters are so titillating.

It may be also why reading the letters feels like an invasion of privacy, why it probably is and why even a public usually hungry for a glimpse behind the scenes of Camelot felt uncomfortable with their release. A few weeks after the story broke, the Kennedy family intervened and the letters were removed from auction on May 21.

Another photo of JFK and Jackie from May 1961.

Another photo of JFK and Jackie from May 1961.

Public Figure, Private Thoughts

Still, the letters don’t feel any more intimate, any more telling about the Kennedy marriage than parts of Jackie’s 1964 oral history interviews with historian Arthur Schlesinger, which were released by Caroline Kennedy in 2011. Like when Jackie recounts what she said to JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis: “If anything happens, we're all going to stay right here with you... I just want to be with you, and I want to die with you, and the children do, too—than live without you.” Or how, after the death of their newborn son, Patrick, “he sobbed and put his arms around me.”

But as Caroline notes in her introduction to the interviews, Jackie knew she was on the record when she spoke with Schlesinger, knew her words would shape history and one day become part of the public domain. When she began writing to Father Leonard in 1950, a 21-year-old Jackie Bouvier certainly could not have imagined this, could not have known what lay ahead for her—that ten years later, she would become first lady. “I feel as though I had just turned into a piece of public property,” she told Time magazine on the eve of her husband’s inauguration. “It’s really frightening to lose your anonymity at 31.”

This is not the first time Jacqueline Kennedy’s private letters have turned public, nor even the first time her letters have provided a glimpse at her feelings about John Kennedy. “I loved you from the first day I saw you,” she wrote to him a month before his death, “and if I hadn’t married you my life would have been tragic because the definition of tragedy is a waste. But ten years later, I love you so much more.”

The letter, which ran seven pages long, found its way into the hands of a private collector in the late 1990s, and excerpts from it have been published several times since. As with the Irish letters, the Kennedy family objected to its release. Yet this letter in particular may be the most compelling argument against the most persistent negative rumors about their marriage—that she only married him for his money, or that he only married her because he needed a first lady.

In fact, they loved each other—and the handful of times we hear her in her own words, that’s what she tells us. Is that fact historically significant? Perhaps not. But it’s still nice to know.


Now, click here to read our article on John F. Kennedy and the Tsar – The parallel lives of two fatherless boys.

AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones
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The story of how a JFK-backed, CIA-led operation to topple Cuban Communist leader Fidel Castro unfolded. And how a decision by JFK changed everything.

The new issue of History is Now magazine is out now. And the cover story is a daring tale of intrigue in a country that had just been rocked by a revolution.

To find out more, take up a free trial of the magazine for up to 2 months and download your free copy of our interactive digital magazine for the iPad and iPhone today!

Click here for more information!

And here is what our editor has to say about the new issue…

Issue four of History is Now magazine has arrived. Since we left you in January, we have continued to refine the layout of the magazine, as well as writing some great history articles!

This month we have two pieces on how Cuba and America dramatically fell out following the Cuban Revolution. Firstly, we look at the fascinating real story of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. This invasion took place in 1961 and sought to topple Cuban Communist dictator Fidel Castro from power. But with US President John F. Kennedy wavering in his support for the Cuban dissidents, this task became much harder. Our second article considers Castro’s rise to power and argues that Castro was not a committed Communist when he visited Eisenhower’s America in 1959. Even so, the US would go on to try and assassinate Castro a number of times. These articles are complemented by our podcast on the Cuban Missile Crisis, an event that very nearly destroyed our world.

Then there is the story of David Porter and the USS Essex during the War of 1812, a tale of adventure, some success against the British, and much more. An equally intriguing article looks at the life of Sidney Reilly. Reilly was a Russian-born British spy who successfully changed the course of oil exploration in the Middle East in the early 20th century, and more significantly, almost changed the course of Russian and world history. Following, we finish our story of the Imjin War and look at Yi Sun-shin’s epic victories when faced against a Japanese fleet of epic proportions. This is a true story of success and tragedy – like many of the most captivating events in history are. Our final article takes a light-hearted look at food in the 19th century. What food did the average person normally eat? How did the upper-class dine? And what constituted good manners for a lady? You’re about to find out!

Click here for more information and to take up your free trial


With all that and more, come and join us inside for a free trial of up to 2 months…

Just click here for more information! Alternatively search for History is Now on the app store.

George Levrier-Jones

On the fiftieth anniversary of the day that John F Kennedy was shot, it seemed fitting that our image of the week looks at that event.


John F Kennedy was possibly the most charismatic President of the 20th century. His oratory skills can still provoke shivers down our spines today. His sense of style is timeless. But, he came to be known for the most tragic of reasons.

Having been inaugurated as President at the tender age of 43, he would leave us on November 22, 1963 after being shot in Dallas, Texas.

The first image below shows JFK with his wife Jacqueline Kennedy before the motorcade that they were traveling in that day left.

20131122 Waiting for motorcade to begin.jpg

The second image shows JFK smiling at the crowds. Soon after, he was fatally shot.

20131122 JFK day he was shot.jpg

Our final image shows the outcome of that day. The funeral of JFK on November 25, 1963.

20131122 funeral.jpg

To find out more about John F Kennedy, listen to our introductory podcast on him. Click here.

George Levrier-Jones

AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones

The Cold War wasn't just dangerous - as this syndicated article shows us!

20130814 JFK letter tumblr_mm8gbtbefn1r6kbseo1_500.jpg

A letter dated September 3, 1962 shows JFK asking his Mom, Rose Kennedy, to stop mailing Khrushchev for pictures.  What’s even funnier, is it looks like she sent the photos she received to her son so that he could sign them.

At the time, the U.S. had just launched the Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 and had installed an embargo against Cuba in February 1962.  A month prior to this letter, the U.S. become aware that the Soviets were building the missiles sites in Cuba.  The month after this letter was sent the U.S. would be involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis for almost two weeks.

His Mom’s response is pretty funny:

“I understand very well your letter, although I had not thought of it before. …When I ask for Castro’s autograph, I will let you know in advance!”


This article originally appeared here on the History Kicks Ass blog, an interesting and varied blog about topics in history!


Clickable references


JFK Presidential Library


Hi All,

Our book sales have been going better than we could have imagined since we launched our free Cold War history book - thanks! If you still haven't downloaded it, hurry! It is only FREE until January 30th. The link is here:

Get the Book - Amazon US | Amazon UK

Cold War History - To the brink of nuclear destruction – From World War 2 to the Cuban Missile Crisis – Part 1: 1945-1962 (Required History)

I´d also like to thank our friends at www.fkbooksandtips.com who helped promote our book. That site has a range of free Kindle books with daily updates.

George Levrier-Jones

PS - only a few days until our new series of podcasts!