News / USA

Presidential Recordings Shed Light on Final Kennedy Days

President John F. Kennedy speaks to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, on May 25, 1961.
President John F. Kennedy speaks to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, on May 25, 1961.

Newly released recordings reveal many of President John F. Kennedy’s private conversations and meetings during the final months of his administration.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on Tuesday declassified the final 45 hours of White House audio recordings the president secretly taped.

The tapes include meetings with then Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, discussions on the conflict in Vietnam, Oval Office visits from the president’s two young children, and discussions about his schedule for the week after he was killed.

The tapes end just two days before the president was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963. In a conversation with an advisor, he discusses a day he could meet with an Indonesian general. Kennedy describes Monday, which eventually was the day of his funeral, as “a tough day.”

“I will see him, when is he here?  Monday?"  [Answer: "Monday and Tuesday"].  "Well, that’s a tough day."  [Response: "It’s a hell of a day Mr. President.  He’ll be coming back here though, I understand, on Friday because I offered to entertain at dinner"].

In the background of a recorded meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, you can hear the president's young children, Caroline, then five years old, and two-year-old John, playing. The children stop into the meeting and Kennedy explains to them that Gromyko’s boss, the Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, is the one that gave the family a dog, Pushinka.

“You can just open the door there - Just have you say hello to my daughter and son.  Come in a minute and say hello.  Want to say hello to the minister?  Do you want to say hello to John?”... “His chief is the one who sent you Pushinka.”

In the tapes made mostly in the Cabinet room or the Oval Office, the Russian diplomat tells the president that U.S. relations with the Soviet Union did not offer “much of a fresh look.”  Kennedy had a more optimistic response on the Cold War relationship, saying they had made progress.

“I don’t want you to be discouraged. … There is only a certain tempo which you can move in these matters.  We’ve gone ahead with the test ban, we’ve made some progress which for the United States is rather - do you realize that in the summer of 1961, the Congress unanimously passed resolutions against trade with the Soviets and now we’re going ahead, we hope, with this very large trade arrangement that represents what’s changed in American policy of some proportions. That’s progress.”

In the tapes released by the Boston library, Kennedy appears frustrated that his military and diplomatic advisors on Vietnam deliver two different viewpoints on the ongoing war, asking if they visited the same country.

“I mean how is that you get such different - this is not a new thing, this is what we’ve been dealing with for three weeks.  On the one hand you get the military saying the war is going better and on the other hand you get the political [opinion] with its deterioration is affecting the military … What is the reason for the difference - I’d like to have an explanation what the reason is for the difference.”

Kennedy also discusses his re-election campaign plans, asking his advisors “what do we have to sell” to young voters to garner their support. He also talks about creating the films for the 1964 Democratic Convention in color rather than black and white. The U.S. and U.S.S.R. race to the moon is also discussed.

In all, Kennedy recorded over 248 hours of meetings and telephone conversations during nearly three years in the White House, keeping them secret from even some of his closest aids. Historians say they were not made in any apparent pattern.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid