President Kennedy was so moved by the enormous poverty he witnessed on the 1960 campaign trail in West Virginia that one of his first acts in office was to establish a three-year food-stamp program beginning in 1961.
Here he is at a February 1, 1961 press conference announcing the executive order.
-from the JFK Library
“We sincerely appreciate the many true Americans who insist on equal rights for all.”
Telegram to the White House, August 13, 1957
Jack Roosevelt Robinson (1919-72) was the first black man to “officially” play in the big leagues in the 20th century. In the course of a distinguished 10-year career beginning in 1947, Robinson led the Brooklyn Dodgers to six National League titles and one victorious World Series.
Beyond his many and baseball feats, Jackie Robinson went on to champion the cause of civil rights when he retired from the game. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson all received candid correspondence from Robinson on the need to act for civil rights.
Our holdings at the Presidential Libraries and National Archives include numerous records relating to Jackie Robinson. You can see a number of the telegrams and letters Robinson sent to the White House here.
Image: Telegram to the White House from Jackie Robinson regarding the 1957 Civil Rights Act from the Eisenhower Library.
January 31, 1919 - October 24, 1972
The First Inaugural Poet: Robert Frost
Today, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Richard Blanco as the inaugural poet for Barack Obama’s upcoming ceremony. Blanco will become the fifth inaugural poet in the history of U.S. Presidents.
John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration was the first to feature a poet at the swearing-in ceremony, and he named Robert Frost for the honor.
Frost wrote an original poem for the occasion called “Dedication.” He presented a handwritten version of the poem to President Kennedy. Jacqueline Kennedy framed the poem and wrote on the backside in pencil,
“For Jack. First thing I had framed to be put in your office. First thing to be hung there.”
Frost had planned to read a typed copy of the poem during President Kennedy’s Inauguration, but due to sun glare reflecting off the snow, he was unable to read his own draft. Instead, he recited “The Gift Outright” from memory.
Image: Framed poem, “Dedication,” handwritten by Robert Frost for the Inauguration of John F. Kennedy.
Mona Lisa in Washington
For 27 days, the Mona Lisa was lent to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC for a very special one picture loan. This special exhibition was arranged by the White House and was viewed by 518,525 people in Washington before it traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from February 7-March 4, 1963.
Unveiling of the Mona Lisa. President Kennedy, Madame Malraux, French Minister of Cultural Affairs Andre Malraux, Mrs. Kennedy, Vice President Johnson. Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art., 01/08/1963
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
President Kennedy’s 1962 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation.
(Not) Good Eating, Mr. President
President John F. Kennedy received a Thanksgiving Turkey from members of the Poultry and Egg National Board on November 19, 1963.
Although this was before the formal tradition of pardoning a White House turkey each Thanksgiving, President Kennedy spontaneously spared this turkey.
-from the JFK Library