tv Reel America The White House the First Year - 1962 CSPAN December 26, 2020 8:19am-8:47am EST
within with a wise, fearless, and resolute desire to make of this nation, in the end, as the centuries go by, the example for all the nations of the earth, a nation in which we shall see the spirit of peace and of justice incarnate. >> while he had lived, something did happen to america but more to be remembered than his achievements is the passion with which he upheld basic american beliefs and principles and the way he brought alive a similar spirit in others. together with our greatest leaders, he still moves among us. always our great need is for his kind of idealism, willingness, and courage. ♪
♪ >> on january 20, 1961, john f. kennedy took office as president of the united states. on that day he made it clear that a new administration was on the move. a year had passed in which bold new programs moved. sometimes with success, sometimes not, but always with vigor. president kennedy set the keynote for his new administration in his inaugural address. >> so let us begin anew. remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of
weakness and sincerity is always subject to proof. let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate. [applause] >> throughout the year kennedy assembled a group of men with an intellectual stance and and with records as doers. among them, hamilton heading the new foreign aid agency. as well as the ambassador to nato, the alliance for progress had, mr. williams, assistant secretary of state for africa, sergeant shriver, head of the new peace corps. adlai stevenson, u.n. ambassador. william foster, disarmament agency head and dean rusk, secretary of state.
[applause] >> at his state-of-the-union address in january, mr. kennedy put his new programs squarely before the people. he had been a senator. now he appeared before his former fellow congressmen in the new role of president. [applause] >> life in 1961 will not be easy. >> these were the elected representatives of 185 million citizens. the success of the new president's program rested primarily on their approval. he embodies the will of the people. these were the peoples' representatives. [applause] >> kennedy faced international problems from the beginning. in laos, communist guerrillas were threatening. at a press conference he said -- >> strongly and unreservedly support the goal of a neutral and independent laos tied to no outside power or group of powers. threatening no one and free from
any domination. we are faced with a clear and one-sided threat of a change in the internationally agreed position of laos. this threat runs counter to the will of the laotian people who wish to be independent and neutral. it is posed by the military operations of elements directed from outside the country. this is what must end if peace is to be achieved in southeast asia. we are earnestly in favor of constructive negotiation. among the nation's concerned and among the leaders of laos, which can help laos back to the pathway of independence, and genuine neutrality. >> mr. kennedy's first setback came when fidel castro crushed an exile attempt to liberate cuba. cuba's move toward communism caused thousands to seek refuge
in the united states and latin america. in havana, women protested against castro's jailing of husband who dared to oppose him. castro's police quickly put down such protests. finally at years end, castro proclaimed himself a marxist leninist that he would pattern his government after that of the soviet union. one of kennedy's bold new programs was the peace corps. here he tells its purpose in his own words after signing the bill. >> i've today signed an executive order providing for the establishment of a peace corps on a temporary pilot basis. it will be a pool of trained men and women sent overseas by the u.s. government or to private institutions and organizations to help foreign countries meet their urgent needs with skilled manpower. we'll send americans abroad who are qualified to do a job. we're going to put particular emphasis on those men and women who have skills in teaching, agriculture, and in health.
i'm hopeful that it will be a source of satisfaction for americans and a contribution to world peace. >> kennedy implemented his plan to help foreign countries economically by naming george mcgovern to administer a food for peace program. under mcgovern's direction, the agriculture department sent tons of food to nations who need new strength remain independent and free. kennedy emphasized his policy of helping nations to help themselves. ♪ >> in washington, at the headquarters of the organization of american states, the president told oas members about
one of his most ambitious and far reaching new programs. the alliance for progress. a plan to aid latin american nations to strengthen themselves economically and socially. >> our task is to build a society of men and women, of -- conscious of their individual identity, of their national aspirations and also of their common interests. this means recreating our social system so that they are better served, our nation and our people. it means social legislation for workers, and agrarian legislation for those who labor in the land. it means abolishing illiteracy. it means school for children and adults as well. and it means strengthening institutions of higher education. technical as well as humane. it means doctors and hospitals for the sick. it means roads, making the
interior frontiers -- it means the spread of industry and the steady increase of both industrial and agricultural production and it means above all the assurance that the benefits of economic growth will accrue not just to a few but to the entire national community. >> congress authorized the money to carry out the program and diplomats and economists from formerican republics met the first alliance for progress conference. a new program was under way. ♪ >> kennedy found time, on occasion to meet with his predecessor, former president eisenhower. here at camp david in the maryland hills, they discussed national and international
affairs. a scientific breakthrough for the united states during kennedy's first year, the suborbital space flight of alan shepard.naut the president joined most of the nation in watching the event on television. kennedy welcomed shepard at the white house after the successful flight. the new president went to canada in may to confer with the prime minister, his first official visit. to a foreign capital. the first -- to a foreign capital. lady, jacqueline kennedy, attended a show with the royal canadian mounties there. a lighter moment for the president when he performed a traditional presidential prerogative and threw out the first baseball of the year.
on may 29, in boston, the president celebrated his 44th birthday. ♪ >> the cake was a model of his new residence in washington. ♪ ♪ >> the next day, president and mrs. kennedy went to paris. mr. kennedy actively implemented his plan to strengthen relations with the north atlantic treaty organization and with other allies. the president went on to vienna to meet soviet premier khrushchev.
later, he reported to the american people. pres. kennedy: mr. khrushchev and i had a full and frank discussion of the interviews on the issues that divide the two countries. i can tell you now it was a very sober two days. there was no discourtesy, no loss of tempers, no threats or ultimatums by other side. no advantage or concession was either gained or given. >> final stop on the kennedys euro trip was london. [applause] [cheers] >> the citizens there welcomed the new president with special enthusiasm for he had lived there as a boy when his father was ambassador to england. ♪ during the summer, hundreds of exchange students from around the world went to washington to see the president. impressed with their numbers
and various nationalities, he asked them to identify themselves. pres. kennedy: i wonder if we can find out where you all come from. could we have everybody hold up their hand who comes from europe. europe? [cheers] pres. kennedy: and then if we could have everybody who comes from latin america. [cheers] pres. kennedy: and then everyone who comes from africa. [cheers] pres. kennedy: and then everyone who comes from asia. [cheers] ♪ >> mr. kennedy then experienced one of the hazards of his office. he was engulfed by the students, each one eager to shake his hand. later, he made an appeal to all students of the world -- pres. kennedy: when you come here, and when you study, and when you teach us, i hope that you will go away not merely expressing doubts that we've
been unable -- because we've been unable to reach our high aspiration, but also recognizing that those high aspirations represent the ultimate goals of our society. and where we fall short, we know it, and we mean to do better. the chinese have an old proverb, that to begin a voyage of a thousand miles requires the first step. i believe that we've taken more than the first step in this country, that we are moving ahead. but i realize we have a long way to go to build a free and open country here and free and open societies around the world. we want for you freedom. we want for you a better life. we want for you friendship for -- with our people. >> refugees in berlin, symbol of one of the major crises the president faced during his first year, the communists, embarrassed by the thousands of
the flight of from eastof refugees berlin to west germany built a 27-mile wall of bosh wire along the border between east and west berlin. mr. kennedy had the vice president go to berlin to tell them they would not give up -- despite the wall, east germans continued to escape to freedom by whatever means they could manage. they came through barb wire at -- barbed wire at unguarded points. they jumped from buildings which spanned the border. east german guards themselves fled. under the ussr move against the cause of peace, even as talks were underway in geneva for a nuclear test ban, the soviet union broke a three-year moratorium. she exploded 50 nuclear devices,
one of more than 50 megatons. nevertheless, expressed his determination to attain a workable ban treaty. pres. kennedy: in spite of the evidence that shows, very clearly, that the soviet union was preparing its own tests while pretending to negotiate their cessation at geneva, the united states maintains its determination to achieve a world free from the fear of nuclear tests and nuclear war. we will continue to be ready to sign the nuclear test treaty, which provides for adequate inspection and control. the facts necessary for such a treaty are all evident. the argument on both sides have all been made. a draft is on the table, and our negotiators are ready to meet. >> the kongo, difficult for policy problem for the president. the conflict involved internal leaders, east and west, and the
united nations. mr. kennedy firmly supported u.n. efforts to keep the congo a united nation, sent u.s. planes to aid in transportation when fighting broke out in the sensationalist part -- cessationist part. in september, the u.n. secretary general went to the congo to try to arrange a cease-fire and was killed in a plane crash. president kennedy paid him tribute in these words. pres. kennedy: i know i'm speak for all my fellow americans, expressing our deep sense of shock and loss in the untimely death of the secretary general of the united nations. his dedication to the cause of peace, his untiring labors to achieve it, his courage under attack, his willingness to accept all responsibility, in trying to strengthen the united nations and make it a more effective instrument for the aspirations of the hundreds of millions of people around the globe who desire to live out
their lives, those efforts of his are well known. i express my sympathy to his country, the government of sweden, and i hope that all of us will recognize the heavy burden that his passing places upon us. >> later in the fall, kennedy went to the united nations headquarters in new york to make his inaugural speech to that assembly. he discussed the united states' position on all major issues in the world, expressly the issue of disarmament, outlying his program for disarmament. pres. kennedy: our new disarmament program must include the following proposals -- signing the test ban treaty by all nations. this can be done now. stopping the production of fissionable materials for use in weapons and preventing their transfer to any nation now lacking in nuclear weapons.
gradually destroying existing nuclear weapons and converting their materials to peaceful use. [applause] >> premiers and presidents came to washington to confer with kennedy during the year. britain's macmillan. president frondizi of argentina. indonesian president and the president from mali, a new african nation. from pakistan, the president, for whom mrs. kennedy arranged an unprecedented gala at mount vernon, home of the first u.s. president. indian premier nehru conferred with the president in a stroll through the white house rose garden. former president truman and his family visited with the kennedys.
and a group from another new african nation, nigeria. japan's premier hayato ikeda and his wife, with dean rusk, met the president. ♪ president youlou from the congo republic, former french congo, came to call. at a reception for puerto rican la, president and mrs. kennedy, both actively, interested in the arts invited a renowned cellist to play for them at the white house. the american poet carl sandburg visited.
at hyannis port in late president gave an interview to the editor of a soviet newspaper. for the first time, the people of the soviet union could read the views of an american leader in full. despite the pressures of official duty, the president was able to enjoy the pleasures of family life. his two small children became favorites of the cameramen. caroline at her fourth birthday in late november and baby brother john had his first a few days earlier. here's caroline as she tried to snatch a few extra moments with her busy father. kennedy planned urgent new moves in international trade late in the year to gain the support of -- late in the year. to gain the support of the business community, he addressed the national association of manufacturers. pres. kennedy: for the world of trade is no longer the same.
some 90% of the free world, industrial production may soon be concentrated in two great markets -- the united states of america and an expanded european common market. >> he also went before the united states labor to tell the country's need for new trade proposals. here he talks at the afl-cio meeting in florida. pres. kennedy: the european market is a tremendous market. it has more people than we do. its rate of growth is twice ours. its income is about 3/5 of ours, and may, someday, be equal to ours. this can be a great asset not only to them but to us. a great strength tying western europe and the united states and latin america and japan together as a great area of freedom. and it is a fact that the six countries of the common market who face the problems that we now face have had, in the last four years, full employment and an economic growth twice ours.
even a country which faces staggering economic problems a decade ago, italy, has been steadily building its gold balance, cutting down on its unemployment, and moving ahead twice of what we have over the last four years. so what i'm talking about is an opportunity, not a burden. this is a chance to move the united states forward in the 1960's. not only in the economic sphere but also to make a contribution to the cause of freedom. [applause] >> toward the end of his first year, the president and first lady made their final trip abroad, this time to south america, where the president discussed the alliance for progress program with leaders of colombia and venezuela. thousands of well-wishers incomed the visitors bogotá, caracas, and in small towns visited in venezuela. [applause]
>> at the president's side, jacqueline spoke to the people in their own language. >> [speaking spanish] [applause] [cheers] ♪ a new, low cost housing development near bogotá, mr. kennedy helped lay the first cornerstone for a school in a project to provide homes and schools for 125,000 people. the project was financed under the alliance for progress operation.
♪ mrs. kennedy visited a group of young children at a school in caracas. in keeping with the holiday season, they exchanged gifts. ♪ when mrs. kennedy was about to leave, all protocol was abandoned. palm beach, florida. a deeply worried president made a hurried trip here in late december. his father, joseph kennedy, lay seriously ill after suffering a stroke. ♪ but while the elderly kennedy's
condition was listed as critical for some days, he showed improvement as the president's first year ended. ♪ the president returned to washington in january. the first year drew to a close. once again, congress and the second state of the union message. he spoke of conditions at home and outlined the nation's goals abroad. pres. kennedy: yet our basic goal remains the same. a peaceful world community of free and independent states. free to choose their own future and their own system, so long as it does not threaten the freedom of others. [applause] some may choose forms and ways that we may not choose for ourselves, but it is not for us that they are choosing. we can welcome diversity the
communists cannot, for we offer a world of choice, and they offer a world of coercion. the way of the past shows clearly that freedom, not coition, is the way to the , is the- not coercion way to the future. [applause] at times, our goal has been obscured by crisis or endangered by conflict, but it draws sustenance from five basic sources of strength. the moral and physical strength of the united states, the united strength of the atlantic community, the regional strength of our hemispheric relations, the creator strength of our efforts in the new and developing nations, and the peacekeeping strength of the united nations. arms alone are not enough to keep the peace. it must be kept by men. our instrument and our hope is the united nations, and i see
little merit in the impatience of those who would abandon this imperfect world instrument because they dislike our imperfect world. for the troubles of a world organization merely reflect the troubles of the world itself, and if the organization is weakened, these troubles can only increase. we may not always agree with every detailed action taken by every officer of the united nations, but with every voting -- or with every voting majority, but as an institution, it should have in the future, as it has had in the past, since its inception, no stronger or more faithful member than the united states of america. [applause] ♪ [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪