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The Assassination of John F. Kennedy in Context


John Simkin
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When JFK was killed in November 1963 I did not really question the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin. Of course, like most people, I became highly suspicious when Jack Ruby killed Oswald a few days later. However, I just assumed that Oswald had been killed because of what he knew and that he was part of a conspiracy. I did not really question the fact that Oswald had been part of this conspiracy.

At the time, I had just become very interested in politics. The Cuban Missile Crisis was one of the reasons why I had become concerned about world issues. I felt that JFK had taken us to the verge of nuclear oblivion. My view of JFK was that he was just another Cold War warrior and that his assassination was just another example of America’s violent society.

My views on the assassination did not change for the next 35 years. In 1997 I started by Spartacus Educational website. At first I concentrated on British political history. However, by 1998 I had moved into 19th and 20th century US history. Eventually, I decided to create a page on John Kennedy. The more research I did, the more I discovered that JFK was not the politician I thought he was. While it was true that he became president as a Cold War warrior. He was changed by the Cuban Missile Crisis. He realized just how close he came to destroying the world. The released documents now show that JFK was using Lisa Howard and Jean Daniel to carry out secret negotiations with Castro’s government.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKhowardL2.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKdanielJ.htm

What was so amazing about this was that JFK was trying to keep these negotiations secret from the CIA. This was an unsuccessful strategy as the CIA had bugged the United Nations building where the negotiations were taking place. As David Kaiser pointed out in his very important book, American Tragedy, JFK was the first president since the Second World War to deviate from the US foreign policy established by Harry Truman (Kaiser makes the point that Lyndon Johnson was quick to return to this foreign policy as soon as he gained office).

I also discovered that JFK was also changing direction with his domestic policy.

In October, 1960, he said that he appreciated "the value and importance of the oil-depletion allowance. I realize its purpose and value... The oil-depletion allowance has served us well." The reason JFK said this was that he was after the support of the oil industry in Texas.

However, two years later, Kennedy decided to take on the oil industry. On 16th October, 1962, Kennedy was able to persuade Congress to pass an act that removed the distinction between repatriated profits and profits reinvested abroad. While this law applied to industry as a whole, it especially affected the oil companies. It was estimated that as a result of this legislation, wealthy oilmen saw a fall in their earnings on foreign investment from 30 per cent to 15 per cent.

On 17th January, 1963, President Kennedy presented his proposals for tax reform. This included relieving the tax burdens of low-income and elderly citizens. Kennedy also claimed he wanted to remove special privileges and loopholes. He even said he wanted to do away with the oil depletion allowance. It is estimated that the proposed removal of the oil depletion allowance would result in a loss of around $300 million a year to Texas oilmen. It is very interesting that at 2.10 pm, on 23rd November, 1963, Johnson phones George Smathers, who is on the Senate committee discussing JFK tax proposals. They discussed possible strategies to undermine JFK’s proposals. However, Smathers warns LBJ that Hubert Humphrey had told the committee that if they do this: “They (the Republicans) are going to try to make the new President look immediately like he is an old Texas oilman." Despite this warning, LBJ got his way and JFK’s oil depletion tax reforms were dropped.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKoildepletion.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAjohnsonLB.htm

It is clear that in November, 1963, America’s ruling elite had a serious problem. They had a president who had been elected as a cold war warrior and a man who had promised not to make substantive tax or social reforms. (JFK had sent Robert Kennedy to talk to senior Democratic politicians in the Deep South in 1960 in order to convince them that he had no intention to instigate any serious social reforms, including civil rights.) After the successful conclusion of the Cuban Missile Crisis he was extremely popular and it appeared that with Barry Goldwater as the Republican front-runner, JFK was also fairly certain to win the 1964 Presidential Election. Those who had made their fortunes from the military-industrial-intelligence-oil complex, must have been very concerned by these political developments.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAkennedyJ.htm

When I discovered the real situation in November 1963, I was willing to believe that there had indeed been a conspiracy to remove JFK from power. It was at this point that I read a few books about the assassination of JFK. The most significant information that I got from these books was that the government, starting with the Warren Commission, were engaged in a cover-up. This cover-up can be traced back to LBJ, Hoover, the FBI and the CIA. This does not mean that the people involved in the cover-up were also responsible for the assassination. However, it is clear, that the president and government agencies did not want the people responsible for the assassination to be identified.

I believe the Kennedy Assassination is part of a world-wide conspiracy that began in the 18th century. This was the century when political activists first began to promote the idea of democracy. Probably the most significant event was the publication of Tom Paine’s Rights of Man in 1791.

The British ruling elite were outraged by Paine's book and it was immediately banned. Paine was charged with seditious libel but he escaped to France before he could be arrested. Paine announced that he did not wish to make a profit from The Rights of Man and anyone had the right to reprint his book. It was printed in cheap editions so that it could achieve a working class readership. Although the book was banned, during the next two years over 200,000 people in Britain managed to buy a copy. One person who read the book was the shoemaker, Thomas Hardy. In 1792 Hardy founded the London Corresponding Society. The aim of the organisation was to achieve the vote for all adult males (it was a few years before it was argued that women should be given the same rights as men).

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRpaine.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRhardy.htm

Paine’s ideas spread throughout Europe (he came close to being executed in France) and the United States, where his pamphlet, Common Sense (1776) attacked the British Monarchy and argued for American independence. During the war with the British, Tom Paine wrote articles and pamphlets on the superiority of republican democracy over monarchical government and served with Washington's armies.

However, Paine’s “Rights of Man” went far further than “Common Sense”. It questioned the whole idea of a country being ruled by an elite. As Paine pointed out:

What is government more than the management of the affairs of a Nation? It is not, and from its nature cannot be, the property of any particular man or family, but the whole community. The romantic and barbarous distinction of men into Kings and subjects, though it may suit the condition of courtiers, cannot that of citizens.

We have heard The Rights of Man called a levelling system; but the only system to which the word levelling is truly applicable is the hereditary monarchical system. It is a system of mental levelling. It indiscriminately admits every species of character to the same authority. Vice and virtue, ignorance and wisdom, in short, every quality, good or bad, is put on the same level. Kings succeed each other, not as rationals, but as animals. In reverses the wholesome order of nature. It occasionally puts children over men, and the conceits of nonage over wisdom and experience. In short we cannot conceive a more ridiculous figure of government, than hereditary succession.

Since the publication of “Rights of Man”, every country in the world has been involved in the struggle for power between the ruling elite and the masses. Although the ruling elite have suffered the occasional reverse, they have always been able to fight back and re-establish control. Most of this is done quietly behind the scenes, but sometimes, in times of crisis, acts of extreme violence, take place. The assassination of JFK was one such example. So also, was the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAlincoln.htm

In this case, the government accepted that Lincoln had been the victim of a conspiracy. On 29th June, 1865 Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, George Atzerodt, David Herold, Samuel Mudd, Michael O'Laughlin, Edman Spangler and Samuel Arnold were found guilty of being involved in the conspiracy with John Wilkes Booth to murder Lincoln. Surratt, Powell, Atzerodt and Herold were hanged at Washington Penitentiary on 7th July, 1865.

However, these were only minions involved in the plot. The people who paid for the assassination have never been identified. What we do know is that the man who replaced Lincoln as president, Andrew Johnson (yes, another Johnson from the Deep South). The reasons why they had been appointed as vice-president, were also very similar. There is no way Lincoln would have been assassinated if Hannibal Hamlin had remained vice-president.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAhamlinH.htm

Once in power, Andrew Johnson began to undermine the move towards democracy made by Lincoln. President Johnson became increasingly hostile to the work of General Oliver Howard and the Freeman's Bureau. Established by Congress on 3rd March, 1865, the bureau was designed to protect the interests of former slaves. This included helping them to find new employment and to improve educational and health facilities. In the year that followed, the bureau spent $17,000,000 establishing 4,000 schools, 100 hospitals and providing homes and food for former slaves.

In early 1866 Lyman Trumbull introduced proposals to extend the powers of the Freeman's Bureau. When this measure was passed by Congress it was vetoed by Johnson. However, the Radical Republicans were able to gain the support of moderate members of the Republican Party and Johnson's objections were overridden by Congress.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USASradical.htm

In April 1866, Johnson also vetoed the Civil Rights Bill that was designed to protect freed slaves from Southern Black Codes (laws that placed severe restrictions on freed slaves such as prohibiting their right to vote, forbidding them to sit on juries, limiting their right to testify against white men, carrying weapons in public places and working in certain occupations). On 6th April, Johnson's veto was overridden in the Senate by 33 to 15.

Johnson told Thomas C. Fletcher, the governor of Missouri: "This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men." His views on racial equality was clearly defined in a letter to Benjamin B. French, the commissioner of public buildings: "Everyone would, and must admit, that the white race was superior to the black, and that while we ought to do our best to bring them up to our present level, that, in doing so, we should, at the same time raise our own intellectual status so that the relative position of the two races would be the same."

In June, 1866, the Radical Republicans managed to persuade Congress to pass the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. The amendment was designed to grant citizenship to and protect the civil liberties of recently freed slaves. It did this by prohibiting states from denying or abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, depriving any person of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or denying to any person within their jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

In 1867 members of Radical Republicans such as Benjamin Loan, James Ashley and Benjamin Butler, began claiming in Congress that Johnson had been involved in the conspiracy to murder Abraham Lincoln. Butler asked the question: "Who it was that could profit by assassination (of Lincoln) who could not profit by capture and abduction? He followed this with: "Who it was expected by the conspirators would succeed to Lincoln, if the knife made a vacancy?" He also implied that Johnson had been involved in tampering with the diary of John Wilkes Booth. "Who spoliated that book? Who suppressed that evidence?"

Much was made of the fact that John Wilkes Booth had visited Johnson's house on the day of the assassination and left his card with the message: "Don't wish to disturb you. Are you at home?" Some people claimed that Booth was trying to undermine Johnson in his future role as president by implying he was involved in the plot. However, as his critics pointed out, this was unnecessary as it was Booth's plan to have Johnson killed by George Atzerodt at the same time that Abraham Lincoln was being assassinated.

On 7th January, 1867, James Ashley charged Johnson with the "usurpation of power and violation of law by corruptly using the appointing, pardoning, and veto powers, by disposing corruptly of the property of the United States, and by interfering in elections." Congress responded by referring Ashley's resolution to the Judiciary Committee.

At the beginning of the 40th Congress Benjamin Wade became the new presiding officer of the Senate. As Johnson did not have a vice-president this meant that Wade was now the legal successor to the president. This was highly significant as attempts to impeach the president had already began.

Johnson continued to undermine the Reconstruction Acts. This included the removal of two of the most radical military governors. Daniel Sickles (the Carolinas) and Philip Sheridan (Louisiana and Texas) were sacked and replaced with Edward Canby and Winfield Hancock.

In November, 1867, the Judiciary Committee voted 5-4 that Johnson be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors. The majority report written by George H. Williams contained a series of charges including pardoning traitors, profiting from the illegal disposal of railroads in Tennessee, defying Congress, denying the right to reconstruct the South and attempts to prevent the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment.

On 30th March, 1868, Johnson's impeachment trial began. Johnson was the first president of the United States to be impeached. The trial, held in the Senate in March, was presided over by Chief Justice Salmon Chase. Johnson was defended by his former Attotney General, Henry Stanbury, and William M. Evarts. One of Johnson's fiercest critics, Thaddeus Stevens was mortally ill, but he was determined to take part in the proceedings and was carried to the Senate in a chair.

Charles Sumner, another long-time opponent of Johnson led the attack. He argued that: "This is one of the last great battles with slavery. Driven from the legislative chambers, driven from the field of war, this monstrous power has found a refuge in the executive mansion, where, in utter disregard of the Constitution and laws, it seeks to exercise its ancient, far-reaching sway. All this is very plain. Nobody can question it. Andrew Johnson is the impersonation of the tyrannical slave power. In him it lives again. He is the lineal successor of John C. Calhoun and Jefferson Davis; and he gathers about him the same supporters."

Although a large number of senators believed that Johnson was guilty of the charges, they disliked the idea of Benjamin Wade becoming the next president. Wade, who believed in women's suffrage and trade union rights, was considered by many members of the Republican Party as being an extreme radical. James Garfield warned that Wade was "a man of violent passions, extreme opinions and narrow views who was surrounded by the worst and most violent elements in the Republican Party."

Others Republicans such as James Grimes argued that Johnson had less than a year left in office and that they were willing to vote against impeachment if Johnson was willing to provide some guarantees that he would not continue to interfere with Reconstruction.

When the vote was taken all members of the Democratic Party voted against impeachment. So also did those Republicans such as Lyman Trumbull, William Fessenden and James Grimes, who disliked the idea of Benjamin Wade becoming president. The result was 35 to 19, one vote short of the required two-thirds majority for conviction. The editor of The Detroit Post wrote that "Andrew Johnson is innocent because Ben Wade is guilty of being his successor."

On 25th July, 1868 Johnson vetoed the decision by Congress to extend the activities of the Freeman's Bureau for another year. Johnson continued to issue pardons for people who had participated in the rebellion. By the end of his period in office he gave 13,350 pardons, including one for Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy during the American Civil War.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAjohnsonA.htm

The assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy were the most dramatic examples of how democracy has been undermined in the United States. However, there are many other examples of how the ruling elite have destroyed threats to their power. They have done this via various agencies. For example, the first branch of the Ku Klux Klan was established in Pulaski, Tennessee, in May, 1866. A year later a general organization of local Klans was established in Nashville. Most of the leaders were former members of the Confederate Army and the first Grand Wizard was Nathan Forrest, an outstanding general during the American Civil War. During the next two years Klansmen wearing masks, white cardboard hats and draped in white sheets, tortured and killed black Americans and sympathetic whites. Immigrants, who they blamed for the election of Radical Republicans, were also targets of their hatred. Between 1868 and 1870 the Ku Klux Klan played an important role in restoring white rule in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

At first the main objective of white supremacy organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, the White Brotherhood, the Men of Justice, the Constitutional Union Guards and the Knights of the White Camelia was to stop black people from voting. After white governments had been established in the South the Ku Klux Klan continued to undermine the power of blacks. Successful black businessmen were attacked and any attempt to form black protection groups such as trade unions was quickly dealt with.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAkkk.htm

The KU Klux Klan was also used against the Industrial Workers of the World. They were responsible for the lynching in the Deep South of several organizers of the IWW.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAiww.htm

The Pinkerton Detective Agency was another organization used against those attempting to make America a more democratic society. In 1875, one of its agents, James McParland, infiltrated the secret organization, the Molly Maguires. McParland's evidence in court resulted in the execution of twenty of its members.

In the 1880s the ruling elite was concerned about the growth of the International Working Men's Association. On 3rd May, the IWPA in Chicago held a rally outside the McCormick Harvester Works, where 1,400 workers were on strike. They were joined by 6,000 lumber-shovers, who had also withdrawn their labour. While August Spies, one of the leaders of the IWPA was making a speech, the police arrived and opened-fire on the crowd, killing four of the workers.

The following day August Spies, published a leaflet calling for a mass protest at Haymarket Square that evening. On 4th May, over 3,000 people turned up at the Haymarket meeting. Speeches were made by August Spies, Albert Parsons and Samuel Fielden. At 10 a.m. Captain John Bonfield and 180 policemen arrived on the scene. Bonfield was telling the crowd to "disperse immediately and peaceably" when someone threw a bomb into the police ranks from one of the alleys that led into the square. It exploded killing eight men and wounding sixty-seven others. The police then immediately attacked the crowd. A number of people were killed (the exact number was never disclosed) and over 200 were badly injured.

Several people identified Rudolph Schnaubelt as the man who threw the bomb. He was arrested but was later released without charge. It was later claimed that Schnaubelt was an agent provocateur in the pay of the authorities. After the release of Schnaubelt, the police arrested Samuel Fielden, an Englishman, and six German immigrants, August Spies, Adolph Fisher, Louis Lingg, George Engel, Oscar Neebe, and Michael Schwab. The police also sought Albert Parsons, the leader of the International Working Peoples Association in Chicago, but he went into hiding and was able to avoid capture. However, on the morning of the trial, Parsons arrived in court to standby his comrades.

There were plenty of witnesses who were able to prove that none of the eight men threw the bomb. The authorities therefore decided to charge them with conspiracy to commit murder. The prosecution case was that these men had made speeches and written articles that had encouraged the unnamed man at the Haymarket to throw the bomb at the police.

The jury was chosen by a special bailiff instead of being selected at random. One of those picked was a relative of one of the police victims. Julius Grinnell, the State's Attorney, told the jury: "Convict these men make examples of them, hang them, and you save our institutions."

At the trial it emerged that Andrew Johnson, a detective from the Pinkerton Agency, had infiltrated the group and had been collecting evidence about the men. Johnson claimed that at anarchist meetings these men had talked about using violence. Reporters who had also attended International Working Peoples Association meetings also testified that the defendants had talked about using force to "overthrow the system".

All the men were found guilty: Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer, Louis Lingg and George Engel were given the death penalty. Whereas Oscar Neebe, Samuel Fielden and Michael Schwab were sentenced to life imprisonment. On 10th November, 1887, Lingg committed suicide by exploding a dynamite cap in his mouth. The following day Parsons, Spies, Fisher and Engel mounted the gallows. As the noose was placed around his neck, Spies shouted out: "There will be a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today."

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAhaymarket.htm

The Pinkerton Detective Agency was also involved in setting up leaders of the Western Federation of Miners, for the murder of Frank R. Steunenberg, the former governor of Idaho, in 1905. Steunenberg was much hated by the trade union movement after using federal troops to help break strikes during his period of office. Over a thousand trade unionists and their supporters were rounded up and kept in stockades without trial.

James McParland, a detective working for Pinkerton, helped Harry Orchard to write a confession that he had been a contract killer for the WFM, assuring him this would help him get a reduced sentence for the crime. In his statement, Orchard named William Hayward (secretary-treasurer of WFM) and Charles Moyer (president of WFM). He also claimed that a union member from Caldwell, George Pettibone, had also been involved in the plot. These three men were arrested and were charged with the murder of Steunenberg.

Charles Darrow, a man who specialized in defending trade union leaders, was employed to defend Hayward, Moyer and Pettibone. During the three month trial, the prosecutor was unable to present any information against Hayward, Moyer and Pettibone except for the testimony of Orchard and were all acquitted.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAhaywood.htm

Between 1901 and 1912 membership of the Socialist Party of America grew from 13,000 to 118,000 and its journal Appeal to Reason was selling 500,000 copies a week. This provided a great platform for Eugene Debs and his running-mate, Emil Seidel, in the 1912 Presidential Election. During the campaign Debs explained why people should vote for him: "You must either vote for or against your own material interests as a wealth producer; there is no political purgatory in this nation of ours, despite the desperate efforts of so-called Progressive capitalist politicians to establish one. Socialism alone represents the material heaven of plenty for those who toil and the Socialist Party alone offers the political means for attaining that heaven of economic plenty which the toil of the workers of the world provides in unceasing and measureless flow. Capitalism represents the material hell of want and pinching poverty of degradation and prostitution for those who toil and in which you now exist, and each and every political party, other than the Socialist Party, stands for the perpetuation of the economic hell of capitalism. For the first time in all history you who toil possess the power to peacefully better your own condition. The little slip of paper which you hold in your hand on election day is more potent than all the armies of all the kings of earth."

Debs and Seidel won 901,551 votes (6.0%). This was the most impressive showing of any socialist candidate in the history of the United States. In some states the vote was much higher: Oklahoma (16.6), Nevada (16.5), Montana (13.6), Washington (12.9), California (12.2) and Idaho (11.5).

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAdebs.htm

Eugene Debs and the Socialist Party were strong opponents of the First World War. He argued that the conflict had been caused by the imperialist competitive system. In an article in September 1915 he wrote: "I am not opposed to all war, nor am I opposed to fighting under all circumstances, and any declaration to the contrary would disqualify me as a revolutionist. When I say I am opposed to war I mean ruling class war, for the ruling class is the only class that makes war. It matters not to me whether this war be offensive or defensive, or what other lying excuse may be invented for it, I am opposed to it, and I would be shot for treason before I would enter such a war."

The combination of militant trade unionism and opposition to the First World War caused panic amongst the ruling-class of America. The IWW, that opposed the war became a major target of repression. Joe Hill, one of IWW's leading organisers, was set-up for the murder of John Morrison in Salt Lake City. He was executed by firing-squad on 19th November, 1915.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAhillJ.htm

Another leader of the IWW, Frank Little, organize workers in the metal mines of Montana. This included leading a strike of miners working for the Anaconda Company. In the early hours of 1st August, 1917, six masked men broke into Little's hotel room in Butte. He was beaten up, tied by the rope to a car, and dragged out of town, where he was lynched. A note: "First and last warning" was pinned to his chest. No serious attempt was made by the police to catch Little's murderers. It is not known if he was killed for his anti-war views or his trade union activities. Later, Dashiel Hammett, who was a Pinkerton agent in Montana, later claimed the agency was involved in the lynching.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAlittleF.htm

Between 1914 and 1917 Eugene Debs made several speeches explaining why he believed the United States should not join the war. After the USA declared war on the Central Powers in 1917, several party members were arrested for violating the Espionage Act. After making a speech in Canton, Ohio, on 16th June, 1918, criticizing the legislation, Debs was arrested and sentenced to ten years in Atlanta Penitentiary.

The Espionage Act prescribed a $10,000 fine and 20 years' imprisonment for interfering with the recruiting of troops or the disclosure of information dealing with national defence. Additional penalties were included for the refusal to perform military duty. Over the next few months around 900 went to prison under the Espionage Act.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWespionage.htm

Criticised as unconstitutional, the act resulted in the imprisonment of many of the anti-war movement. This included the arrest of left-wing political figures such as Bill Haywood, Philip Randolph, Victor Berger, John Reed, Max Eastman, and Emma Goldman.

On 23rd August six members of the Frayhayt, a group of Jewish anarchists based in New York were arrested. Charged under the Espionage Act, the group were accused of publishing articles in the Der Shturm that undermined the American war effort. This included criticizing the United States government for invading Russia after the Bolshevik government signed the Brest-Litovsk Treaty.

One of the group, Jacob Schwartz, was so badly beaten by the police when he was arrested that he died soon afterwards. Mollie Steimer was found guilty and sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment. Three of the men, Samuel Lipman, Hyman Lachowsky and Jacob Abrahams received twenty years.

Over 450 conscientious objectors were imprisoned as a result of this legislation including Rose Pastor Stokes who was sentenced to ten years in prison for saying, in a letter to the Kansas City Star, that "no government which is for the profiteers can also be for the people, and I am for the people while the government is for the profiteers." Soon afterwards Kate Richards O'Hare was sentenced to five years for making an anti-war speech in North Dakota.

The socialist journal, The Masses was prosecuted in 1918 under the Espionage Act. It was claimed by the authorities that articles by Floyd Dell and Max Eastman and cartoons by Art Young, Boardman Robinson and H. J. Glintenkamp had undermined the war effort. The legal action that followed forced the journal to cease publication.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/ARTmasses.htm

In 1919 Woodrow Wilson appointed A. Mitchell Palmer as his attorney general. Soon after taking office, a government list of 62 people believed to hold "dangerous, destructive and anarchistic sentiments" was leaked to the press. This list included the names of Jane Addams, Lillian Wald, Oswald Garrison Villard and Charles Beard. It was also revealed that these people had been under government surveillance for many years.

Worried by the revolution that had taken place in Russia, Palmer became convinced that Communist agents were planning to overthrow the American government. His view was reinforced by the discovery of thirty-eight bombs sent to leading politicians and the Italian anarchist who blew himself up outside Palmer's Washington home. Palmer recruited John Edgar Hoover as his special assistant and together they used the Espionage Act (1917) and the Sedition Act (1918) to launch a campaign against radicals and left-wing organizations.

A. Mitchell Palmer claimed that Communist agents from Russia were planning to overthrow the American government. On 7th November, 1919, the second anniversary of the Russian Revolution, over 10,000 suspected communists and anarchists were arrested. Palmer and Hoover found no evidence of a proposed revolution but large number of these suspects were held without trial for a long time. The vast majority were eventually released but Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Mollie Steimer, and 245 other people, were deported to Russia.

In January, 1920, another 6,000 were arrested and held without trial. These raids took place in several cities and became known as the Palmer Raids. Palmer and Hoover found no evidence of a proposed revolution but large number of these suspects, many of them members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), continued to be held without trial. When Palmer announced that the communist revolution was likely to take place on 1st May, mass panic took place. In New York, five elected Socialists were expelled from the legislature.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAredscare.htm

The persecution of people who questioned the right of the ruling elite to control the United States was highly successful and the left never recovered from this, leaving the two main political parties, Democrat and Republican, to share the administration of the country. However, they were only the “public face” of the real rulers.

The situation remained fairly stable until the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s. This resulted in a revival in Ku Klux Klan organizations. The most of important of these was the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan led by Robert Shelton. In the Deep South considerable pressure was put on blacks by klansmen not to vote. An example of this was the state of Mississippi. By 1960, 42% of the population were black but only 2% were registered to vote. Lynching was still employed as a method of terrorizing the local black population.

On Sunday, 15th September, 1963, a white man was seen getting out of a white and turquoise Chevrolet car and placing a box under the steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Soon afterwards, at 10.22 a.m., the bomb exploded killing Denise McNair (11), Addie Mae Collins (14), Carole Robertson (14) and Cynthia Wesley (14). The four girls had been attending Sunday school classes at the church. Twenty-three other people were also hurt by the blast.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAC16.htm

A witness identified Robert Chambliss, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, as the man who placed the bomb under the steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. He was arrested and charged with murder and possessing a box of 122 sticks of dynamite without a permit. On 8th October, 1963, Chambliss was found not guilty of murder and received a hundred-dollar fine and a six-month jail sentence for having the dynamite.

It would seem that in October, 1963, those who threatened the status quo could not get justice. However, we now know that the ruling elite were very concerned about losing their power. The following month saw the assassination of JFK. This was followed by the assassinations of other political leaders that posed a threat to the ruling elite: Malcolm X (21st February, 1965), Martin Luther King (4th April, 1968), Robert Kennedy (6th June, 1968), and Fred Hampton (4th December, 1969).

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAmalcolmX.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAkingML.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAkennedyR.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAhamptonF.htm

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...and two hours after watching JFK's ''the time of waiting is over'' mid '63 Civil Rights speech, Medgar Evers (to whose Brothers side RFK flew and they remained friends with Charles being with RFK to the end, and for him at the time, he, in shock, said it was an end indeed) was shot in what has been described as the first modern political assassination by a KKK member, who was pally with arch segregationists like Eastland and Walker, who was finally convicted many years later.

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Much was made of the fact that John Wilkes Booth had visited Johnson's house on the day of the assassination and left his card with the message: "Don't wish to disturb you. Are you at home?" Some people claimed that Booth was trying to undermine Johnson in his future role as president by implying he was involved in the plot. However, as his critics pointed out, this was unnecessary as it was Booth's plan to have Johnson killed by George Atzerodt at the same time that Abraham Lincoln was being assassinated......

The people who paid for the assassination have never been identified. What we do know is that the man who replaced Lincoln as president, Andrew Johnson (yes, another Johnson from the Deep South). The reasons why they had been appointed as vice-president, were also very similar. There is no way Lincoln would have been assassinated if Hannibal Hamlin had remained vice-president.

This is quite a post, John, with much to digest. I just want to make a brief comment, and I preface it by admitting that it is years since I gave any study to the Lincoln assassination.

I think you are correct in arguing that Lincoln's assassination would not have happened without Andrew Johnson as Vice-President. And it MAY be true that Booth himself planned to have Johnson killed also, but I have serious doubts that the actual masterminds intended that. I strongly suspect that the "plan" to kill Johnson was a ruse, intended to fail (easily accomplished if Johnson was forewarned), but to serve the function of deflecting suspicion from Johnson, the man who had most to gain from Lincoln's murder.

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John,

Very informative and well thought-out presentation. Thank you.

Kathy

Edited by Kathy Beckett
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This (Jim) is so. He had gained a moral authority way before he became President. However,he had to become President, He was a political realist. He spent a large part of his Presidency establishing a strong authority in a number of hard tests. Having done so, a transformation was under way and he could reasonably expect a second term. In that term he would have guided many foreign and domestic issues that had he tackled off the bat would likely have made his first term very difficult. (imo)

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John, the ongoing battle you describe is not as one-sided as depicted, IMO.

You might want to throw in something about the assassination of McKinley by an anarchist, and how this brought a "progressive" like Roosevelt to power. You might also want to add that Roosevelt's pragmatic progressive policies possibly saved capitalism from itself.

McKinley was, as I recall, a full-blown capitalist, who believed capitalism was God's will, etc...

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Guest Tom Scully

Running outwardly as conservative as an Irish catholic democrat from the northeast could possibly present himself to be, John F. Kennedy barely won the popular vote in November, 1960, if he even did win a plurality of the vote, at all.

No candidate from a northern state has won a U.S. presidential election, since. Reagan and the Bushes were born

in northern states but developed images as Californian and Texans. Obama comes closest, coming immediately from Illinois, but claimed Hawaiian and foreign roots. It is easy to remember the outcomes of the campaigns of other candidates from the northern states, Rockefeller, Humphrey, Mondale, Dukakis, and Kerry.

Fresh from his extremely narrow victory and with the next campaign in mind, it is easy to mistake, by his deeds, Kennedy's personal convictions in the first days of his presidency.:

http://books.google.com/books?ei=DMFhTIrgDoL6lwfNpujDCw&ct=result&id=ZnhkAAAAIAAJ&dq=lundberg+republicans+camp+of+great+wealth&q=republicans+camp+of+great+wealth

The rich and the super-rich: a study in the power of money today

Ferdinand Lundberg - 1969 - 1009 pages -

Kennedy, even with no war providing an excuse for a coalition, awarded his chief Cabinet posts to Republicans from the camp of big wealth.

And, Pat, I have to disagree with you, if you put John's portrayal of where we've been in the context of where we've been and where we are now, I think he understated the influence and effects of right wing extremism.:

"I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested," Gibbs said. "I mean, it's crazy."

The press secretary dismissed the “professional left” in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, "They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality." ..

...Gibbs said the professional left is not representative of the progressives who organized, campaigned, raised money and ultimately voted for Obama.

Progressives, Gibbs said, are the liberals outside of Washington “in America,” and they are grateful for what Obama has accomplished in a shattered economy with uniform Republican opposition and a short amount of time.

Edited by Tom Scully
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Much was made of the fact that John Wilkes Booth had visited Johnson's house on the day of the assassination and left his card with the message: "Don't wish to disturb you. Are you at home?" Some people claimed that Booth was trying to undermine Johnson in his future role as president by implying he was involved in the plot. However, as his critics pointed out, this was unnecessary as it was Booth's plan to have Johnson killed by George Atzerodt at the same time that Abraham Lincoln was being assassinated......

The people who paid for the assassination have never been identified. What we do know is that the man who replaced Lincoln as president, Andrew Johnson (yes, another Johnson from the Deep South). The reasons why they had been appointed as vice-president, were also very similar. There is no way Lincoln would have been assassinated if Hannibal Hamlin had remained vice-president.

This is quite a post, John, with much to digest. I just want to make a brief comment, and I preface it by admitting that it is years since I gave any study to the Lincoln assassination.

I think you are correct in arguing that Lincoln's assassination would not have happened without Andrew Johnson as Vice-President. And it MAY be true that Booth himself planned to have Johnson killed also, but I have serious doubts that the actual masterminds intended that. I strongly suspect that the "plan" to kill Johnson was a ruse, intended to fail (easily accomplished if Johnson was forewarned), but to serve the function of deflecting suspicion from Johnson, the man who had most to gain from Lincoln's murder.

I agree with you about the plan to kill Johnson was a ruse. At the same time I do not think either Johnson was actually involved in the plot to assassinate Lincoln/Kennedy. Their important role was in the cover-up and in the implementation of policies favoured by the ruling elite.

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John,

Nice work this. I know you put a lot of thought and effort into it. I also appreciate all you do to keep the forum afloat...but, I do not agree that JFK was a Cold Warrior, nor do I believe he was elected based on such a perception. Moreover, the Cuban Missile Crisis had absolutely nothing to do with his predisposition against war, except perhaps to confirm that of which he was already convinced.

Joseph Kennedy was an isolationist, by nature. JFK was a pragmatist--a very bright, quick learning, pragmatist. In his view, any political policy that included "war" in its planning was fundamentally flawed. And he was right. "Planning for war" is, far and away, a different animal than is being "prepared for war". JFK subscribed NOT to the former, but to the latter--from the very beginning.

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While Andrew Johnson's administration angered radical Republicans who - in the years just after the Civil War - were still committed to African-American rights and what we would later call a "desegregated" South, at the time of Lincoln's assassination Johnson of Tennessee was looked on as a turncoat to the South and an enemy of slavery. It s probable that Booth was surveilling Johnson at his hotel, for assassination later by the timid and not too bright Atzerodt, who abandoned the attempt.

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John, the ongoing battle you describe is not as one-sided as depicted, IMO.

You might want to throw in something about the assassination of McKinley by an anarchist, and how this brought a "progressive" like Roosevelt to power. You might also want to add that Roosevelt's pragmatic progressive policies possibly saved capitalism from itself.

McKinley was, as I recall, a full-blown capitalist, who believed capitalism was God's will, etc...

Of course, I am not suggesting every assassination is part of a right-wing conspiracy. Leon Czolgosz was definitely a lone assassin. Interestingly, three months before the death of McKinley, Abraham Isaak, a leading figure of the anarchist movement, became convinced that Czolgosz was a spy and issued a warning about him in his journal, the Free Society. At this time, most American anarchists, were followers of Peter Kropotkin, who was an advocate of non-violence.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAczolgosz.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAkropotkin.htm

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I do not think either Johnson was actually involved in the plot to assassinate Lincoln/Kennedy. Their important role was in the cover-up and in the implementation of policies favoured by the ruling elite.

I don't see how the JFK plotters would fail to include such a natural ally as Johnson. Aside from his corruption and his political desperation at that time, they must have known of his prior involvement in murders. And as VP he was in a position to help get things done in terms of preparation, e.g., planning of the Dallas trip, getting almost the entire Cabinet out of the country on the day of the president's murder, and planning the cover-up.

What does Johnson know in this photo that the other two gentlemen don’t?

http://www.ronaldecker.com/connally.jpg

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A most excellent post and read.... a bit more food for thought..

and "they" said roack and roll would corrupt our youth.... guess "they" got it right

http://www.xat.org/xat/moneyhistory.html

Pink Floyd's Animals.... Pigs, Dogs and Sheep :eek

Pigs on the Wing (Part One) (Waters) 1:24

If you didn't care what happened to me,

And I didn't care for you,

We would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain

Occasionally glancing up through the rain.

Wondering which of the buggars to blame

And watching for pigs on the wing.

Dogs (Waters, Gilmour) 17:06

You gotta be crazy, you gotta have a real need.

You gotta sleep on your toes, and when you're on the street,

You gotta be able to pick out the easy meat with your eyes closed.

And then moving in silently, down wind and out of sight,

You gotta strike when the moment is right without thinking.

And after a while, you can work on points for style.

Like the club tie, and the firm handshake,

A certain look in the eye and an easy smile.

You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to,

So that when they turn their backs on you,

You'll get the chance to put the knife in.

You gotta keep one eye looking over your shoulder.

You know it's going to get harder, and harder, and harder as you

get older.

And in the end you'll pack up and fly down south,

Hide your head in the sand,

Just another sad old man,

All alone and dying of cancer.

And when you loose control, you'll reap the harvest you have sown.

And as the fear grows, the bad blood slows and turns to stone.

And it's too late to lose the weight you used to need to throw

around.

So have a good drown, as you go down, all alone,

Dragged down by the stone.

I gotta admit that I'm a little bit confused.

Sometimes it seems to me as if I'm just being used.

Gotta stay awake, gotta try and shake off this creeping malaise.

If I don't stand my own ground, how can I find my way out of this

maze?

Deaf, dumb, and blind, you just keep on pretending

That everyone's expendable and no-one has a real friend.

And it seems to you the thing to do would be to isolate the winner

And everything's done under the sun,

And you believe at heart, everyone's a killer.

Who was born in a house full of pain.

Who was trained not to spit in the fan.

Who was told what to do by the man.

Who was broken by trained personnel.

Who was fitted with collar and chain.

Who was given a pat on the back.

Who was breaking away from the pack.

Who was only a stranger at home.

Who was ground down in the end.

Who was found dead on the phone.

Who was dragged down by the stone.

Pigs (Three Different Ones) (Waters) 11:26

Big man, pig man, ha ha charade you are.

You well heeled big wheel, ha ha charade you are.

And when your hand is on your heart,

You're nearly a good laugh,

Almost a joker,

With your head down in the pig bin,

Saying "Keep on digging."

Pig stain on your fat chin.

What do you hope to find.

When you're down in the pig mine.

You're nearly a laugh,

You're nearly a laugh

But you're really a cry.

Bus stop rat bag, ha ha charade you are.

You xxxxed up old hag, ha ha charade you are.

You radiate cold shafts of broken glass.

You're nearly a good laugh,

Almost worth a quick grin.

You like the feel of steel,

You're hot stuff with a hatpin,

And good fun with a hand gun.

You're nearly a laugh,

You're nearly a laugh

But you're really a cry.

Hey you, Whitehouse,

Ha ha charade you are.

You house proud town mouse,

Ha ha charade you are

You're trying to keep our feelings off the street.

You're nearly a real treat,

All tight lips and cold feet

And do you feel abused?

.....! .....! .....! .....!

You gotta stem the evil tide,

And keep it all on the inside.

Mary you're nearly a treat,

Mary you're nearly a treat

But you're really a cry.

Sheep (Waters) 10:19

Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away;

Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air.

You better watch out,

There may be dogs about

I've looked over Jordan, and I have seen

Things are not what they seem.

What do you get for pretending the danger's not real.

Meek and obedient you follow the leader

Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel.

What a surprise!

A look of terminal shock in your eyes.

Now things are really what they seem.

No, this is no bad dream.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want

He makes me down to lie

Through pastures green He leadeth me the silent waters by.

With bright knives He releaseth my soul.

He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places.

He converteth me to lamb cutlets,

For lo, He hath great power, and great hunger.

When cometh the day we lowly ones,

Through quiet reflection, and great dedication

Master the art of karate,

Lo, we shall rise up,

And then we'll make the bugger's eyes water.

Bleating and babbling I fell on his neck with a scream.

Wave upon wave of demented avengers

March cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream.

Have you heard the news?

The dogs are dead!

You better stay home

And do as you're told.

Get out of the road if you want to grow old.

Pigs on the Wing (Part Two) (Waters) 1:27

You know that I care what happens to you,

And I know that you care for me.

So I don't feel alone,

Or the weight of the stone,

Now that I've found somewhere safe

To bury my bone.

And any fool knows a dog needs a home,

A shelter from pigs on the wing.

Edited by David Josephs
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I disagree with the thesis that JFK was a Cold Warrior who was altered by the Missile Crisis. That idea is also a flaw in the Douglass book. The record will simply not support that. Especailly in Vietnam and Congo. Neither will a study of Kennedy's powerful speeches against French colonialism on the floor of the Senate. The best book on Kennedy's evolving foreign policy is Mahoney's JFK: Ordeal in Africa. I used it to write the following:

Nice work this. I know you put a lot of thought and effort into it. I also appreciate all you do to keep the forum afloat...but, I do not agree that JFK was a Cold Warrior, nor do I believe he was elected based on such a perception. Moreover, the Cuban Missile Crisis had absolutely nothing to do with his predisposition against war, except perhaps to confirm that of which he was already convinced.

There is no way that John Kennedy would have been elected in 1960 if he had not presented himself as Cold War warrior. In fact, in his campaign, he attempted to position himself to the right of Nixon and the Republican Party on foreign policy.

As Richard D. Mahoney points out in Sons & Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy, during the campaign, Kennedy used “Cuba as an illustration of Republican weakness against communism. In campaign speeches Kennedy would charge that the threat of communism was now only ‘ninety miles from our shore’.” (1)

This disturbed some of his advisers. In his autobiography Harris Wofford argues that “during the 1960 campaign, Kennedy seemed to relish taking rhetorical shots at Castro and competing with Republicans over who would take the strongest action against the new Cuban regime.” Wofford “was most disturbed” when Kennedy issued a statement calling for the United States “to strengthen the non-Batista democratic anti-Castro forces in exile, and in Cuba itself, who offer eventual hope of overthrowing Castro.” Kennedy then went onto say that “thus far these fighters for freedom have had virtually no support from our Government.” (2)

Richard Helms admits that the leadership of the CIA favoured Kennedy over Nixon. He admits that it was possible that CIA Director Allen Dulles leaked information to the Kennedy team via Stuart Symington, which allowed the “Democrats to blame the Eisenhower administration for the famous missile gap – that is, permitting the Soviets to outdo the United States in the production of long-range missiles.” (3)

It has been argued that hardliners in the CIA were more impressed with Kennedy than they were with Nixon during the 1960 Presidential campaign. Richard Bissell commented in his book, Reflections of a Cold War Warrior (1996): “The inauguration of John F. Kennedy provided the prospect of a new beginning for the nation. His vision and message and the vigor with which he undertook his responsibilities created high expectations. While his hard-line rhetoric was inspiring, it also served to raise the stakes in America’s global confrontation with the Soviets.” (4)

Robert Kennedy admitted in an interview with John Bartlow Martin on 1st March 1964, that John Kennedy agreed with the Bay of Pigs invasion. He argues that of his senior advisers, the “only person who was strongly against it was Arthur Schlesinger.” (5)

JFK privately vowed after the Bay of Pigs failure, that he would “splinter” the CIA into “a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds”. While it is true that Richard Bissell and Allen Dulles did lose their jobs over the failed invasion, JFK did not change his policy towards Castro. As David Corn has pointed out: “The Kennedy brothers, particularly Robert, the Attorney General, would soon be back knocking on the Agency’s door, demanding something be done about Castro.” (6). In fact, JFK recruited, that well-known Cold War hardliner, Brigadier General Edward Lansdale to come up with a strategy for the removal of Castro’s government.

Lansdale’s biographer, Cecil B. Currey, argues: “It is odd that Kennedy, distrustful of the CIA in the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, still sought out Lansdale – a former CIA agent – to help organize his next Cuban endeavour.” (7) Robert Kennedy argues in his interview with John Bartlow Martin that the reason JFK was angry with the CIA was not because it was immoral but because it had been an “amateur operation”. That is why he suggested to JFK that Lansdale should “take this on”. He argued: “I thought he’d (Lansdale) done so well in the Philippines and was impressed with him, so I got the President to assign him.” (8)

Harris Wofford supports this view. After the failure of the Bay of Pigs he hoped JFK would change direction. Instead, he “lashed out at Chester Bowles for allegedly leaking to the press his opposition to the Cuban invasion”. It was important to JFK that he continued to be seen as a “Cold War Warrior”. As Wofford points out, after the Bay of Pigs: “John and Robert Kennedy committed themselves to counter-insurgency, covert action, and increased military effort as the way to counteract the Cuban defeat and to win in Vietnam.” (9)

I disagree with the thesis that JFK was a Cold Warrior who was altered by the Missile Crisis. That idea is also a flaw in the Douglass book. The record will simply not support that.

This is a major disagreement that you have with James Douglass as it is central to his thesis about JFK’s foreign policy. As he points out: “Only nine days after his American University address, Kennedy had ratified a CIA program contradicting it. Kennedy’s regression can be understood in the political context of the time. He was, after all, an American politician, and the Cold War was far from over. For the remaining five months of his life, John Kennedy continued a policy of sabotage against Cuba that he may have seen as a bone thrown to his barking CIA and military advisers but was in any case a crime against international law. It was also a violation of the international trust that he and Nikita Khrushchev had envisioned and increasingly fostered since the missile crisis. Right up to his death, Kennedy remained in some ways a Cold Warrior, in conflict with his own soaring vision in the American University address.” (10)

(1) Richard D. Mahoney, Sons & Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy, 1999 (page 58)

(2) Harris Wofford, Of Kennedys and Kings, 1980 (page 342)

(3) Richard Helms, A Look Over My Shoulder, 2003 (page 11)

(4) Richard Bissell, Reflections of a Cold Warrior, 1996 (page 163)

(5) Robert Kennedy, Robert Kennedy in his Own Words, 1988 (page 242)

(6) David Corn, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA Crusades, 1994 (page 70)

(7) Cecil B. Currey, Edward Lansdale: The Unquiet American, 1988 (page 240)

(8) Robert Kennedy, Robert Kennedy in his Own Words, 1988 (page 378)

(9) Harris Wofford, Of Kennedys and Kings, 1980 (page 342)

(10) James W. Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, (page 66-67)

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