"Again my thanks, my pledge and my passionate hope that your words may become history. And I believe they will!"
— John Steinbeck to JFK
A letter from author John Steinbeck to President Kennedy, thanking him for his dedication to the arts.
(From the White House Central Subject Files, Box 711, Folder: PP 6-1 Entertainers)
At the urging of his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, John F. Kennedy made intellectual disabilities a priority for his new administration. Before his inauguration, he created a transition task force and once in office, he followed its recommendation to establish the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Still in existence today, the institute was charged with conducting and supporting research on intellectual disabilities as well as all aspects of maternal and child health and human development.
Read more about JFK and People with Intellectual Disabilities on the Kennedy Library website.
Image: 24 October 1963 Bill Signing, H. R. 7544, Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Amendments of 1963. President Kennedy hands signing pen to Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
JFK Visits Cape Canaveral
On what would be his last visit to Cape Canaveral, President Kennedy is briefed by Dr. Wernher Von Braun regarding the Saturn rocket on November 16, 1963.
Pictured: (L-R) Associate Administrator of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Dr. Robert C. Seamans, Jr.; Senator George Smathers of Florida; unidentified (mostly hidden); President Kennedy; Administrator of NASA James E. Webb; Dr. Von Braun (partially hidden); Deputy Administrator of NASA Dr. Hugh L. Dryden; Military Aide to the President Chester V. Clifton. (Cecil Stoughton/JFK Library)
-from the Kennedy Library
“I can imagine a no more rewarding career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.’”
– John F. Kennedy, Remarks at the US Naval Academy, August 1, 1963
-from the JFK Library
Grace Kelly was born on this day, November 12, in 1929. Here she is during a visit to the White House. President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy hosted a luncheon in honor of Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace of Monaco on May 24, 1961.
See all the White House photos from the luncheon here.
-from the JFK Library
LBJ with “Godfather of Black Politics,” Louis E. Martin
Louis Emanuel Martin was a close advisor to three Presidents; John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Jimmy Carter. As a trusted White House counsel, his impact on African American issues and voters earned him the nickname “the Godfather of Black Politics.”
While working with JFK on the 1960 run for President, Martin persuaded Kennedy to call Coretta Scott King after her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested. That phone call is largely seen as the tipping point in winning over the African American vote for JFK in the Presidential election.
During LBJ’s time in office, Martin’s influence was prominent in marquis policies such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and in the nomination of Thurgood Marshall as a Supreme Court Justice. At the time of this photo, Martin was also the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), a position he had held since 1961 under JFK.
Jimmy Carter called Martin to the White House again in 1978 to serve as a special assistant to the President.
Photo from the LBJ Library: President Lyndon B. Johnson with White House advisor Louis E. Martin at the Reception for Democratic National Committee Delegates. In the Red Room of the White House. 4/20/66.
A Brief History of Camp David
The Presidential retreat was originally called “Shangri-La” by Franklin D. Roosevelt, but in 1953, Dwight d. Eisenhower re-named it “Camp David” in honor of his grandson David Eisenhower.
The name change rankled Democrats and there was talk of the name reverting to “Shangri-La” after Eisenhower’s presidency, but President Kennedy vetoed the idea and Camp David it remained.
Extensive redecorating and building took place at Camp David on Ike’s watch. Picnic tables, an outdoor cooking area, a bomb shelter and a projection booth were added during the remodeling.
Ike valued Camp David as a place to relax, but he also conducted official business there. Recuperating from a heart attack in late 1955, Eisenhower held Cabinet meetings and four meetings of the National Security Council at the camp.
In July 1957 he flew to Camp David by helicopter as part of the civil defense exercise “Operation Alert.” Ike was the first president to travel to Camp David by chopper. The helicopter cut the commute from Washington, D.C. down from two hours to just thirty minutes.
Eisenhower also used Camp David to entertain foreign leaders, a tradition that continues today.
In April 1961, former President Eisenhower traveled back to Camp David for the last time when he met President Kennedy there to review the failed Bay of Pigs operation.
Eisenhower’s many trips up the mountain, combined with his renaming of the compound and his highly publicized use of it for recreation and official business, helped make “Camp David” synonymous with the modern American presidency and international diplomacy.
Photo: David Eisenhower at the entrance to his namesake Presidential retreat, Camp David. 10/2/60.