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John F Kennedy

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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John F. Kennedy came to office in 1961 with a promise to "get this country moving again." The question was, moving where? The reforms of the Progressive Era and the New Deal had been driven by a widely shared sense of social crisis. Strong majorities in both eras had felt a need for radical change. Kennedy's narrow victory over Eisenhower's vice president, Richard Nixon, in 1960 signaled no usch popular mandate for reform. Kennedy won with only a 0.2 percent majority of the popular vote. The country was in the midst of a mild recession, which had worked to Kennedy's advantage in the election. But there was no widespread sense of crisis. Garfinkle, p 129

Kennedy's assassination in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, shocked the nation as perhaps no event since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It marked a social watershed between 1950s-style normalcy and the coming counterculture of the 1960s. Garfinkle, p 133