Decade of Disillusionment: The Kennedy-Johnson Years

By Jim F. Heath | Go to book overview

III
Opening the
New Frontier

DURING the period between his election and his inauguration, Kennedy mixed rest and relaxation with planning for his administration. In late November, he made it a point to confer with Nixon, a meeting which helped to soothe, at least modestly, passions that their hard-fought contest had aroused. JFK's main purpose in seeing his opponent--to discuss the possibility of appointing Republicans to office, particularly to posts abroad--reflected the impact of the narrowness of his victory.

Whatever possibility remained of a Republican challenge to the final election returns ended in early December when President Eisenhower invited Kennedy to call at the White House, thus confirming the legitimacy of the succession. Their talk, which each reported as congenial, focused on the smooth transfer of government responsibilities. To coordinate relations with the Eisenhower administration, Kennedy relied on Clark M. Clifford, former special counsel to President Truman and later Secretary of Defense under Lyndon Johnson. Since August, Clifford had been working for JFK to determine the priority decisions that would be required of the President-elect, what positions would have to filled immediately, and how to establish relations with the outgoing administration. Eisenhower designated an assistant, Major General Wilton B. Persons, to serve as his liaison in the "transfer" of power. Ike disliked the term transition, because it suggested a gradual change, something he rejected. He made it perfectly clear to Kennedy that he intended to retain full authority and responsibility until the end of his term, but

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Decade of Disillusionment: The Kennedy-Johnson Years
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface xv
  • I - Introduction 1
  • II - The Torch Is Passed 14
  • III - Opening the New Frontier 49
  • IV - Ambivalence and Action 94
  • V - The Unfulfilled Promise 143
  • VI - Transition to the Great Society 164
  • VII - The Years of Triumph 195
  • VIII - The Years of Frustration 238
  • IX - The Legacies of Disillusionment 290
  • Bibliography 304
  • Index 321
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