Wednesday, April 24, 1963: Kennedy on Vietnam

We don't have a prayer of staying in Vietnam. Those people hate us. They are going to throw our asses out of there at almost any point. But I can't give up a piece of territory like that to the Communists and then get the American people to re-elect me.

-- Said by President Kennedy to journalist Charles Bartlett. The conversation took place on April 24, 1963, according to Richard Reeves' 1993 book "President Kennedy: Profile of Power."

In late December 1962, Kennedy had said to Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield: "In 1965, I'll be damned everywhere as a Communist appeaser. But I don't care. If I tried to pull out completely now, we would have another Joe McCarthy red scare on our hands, but I can do it after I'm re-elected. So we had better make damned sure that I am re-elected." (As recounted by Kennedy aide Kenneth O'Donnell in his 1970 book "Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye"; link to excerpt below)

* Transcript of JFK's April 24 news conference (from The American Presidency Project: @; from JFK Library: @; audio: @)
* "LBJ and the Kennedys" (Kenneth O'Donnell, Life magazine, August 7, 1970): @
* "JFK Reportedly Planned Vietnam Pullout in 1965" (Milwaukee Journal, August 3, 1970): @
* New York Times review of "JFK and Vietnam" (John M. Newman, 1992; no preview available of the book itself): @
* "1963 Vietnam Withdrawal Plans" (from Mary Ferrell Foundation): @
* Earlier blog post about Vietnam, from December 1962: @ 


Saturday, April 20, 1963: Lascaux cave paintings

Dating back some 17,000 years, the underground paintings in southwestern France were discovered in 1940, and public access was allowed in 1948. On April 20, 1963, the caves were closed to the public because of damage to the paintings, primarily from the carbon dioxide generated by the thousands of visitors to the site.
* Lascaux, from Great Archeological Sites (French Ministry of Culture and Communication): @
* International Committee for Preservation of Lascaux: @
* "Early Color Photos from Another World" (from life.com): @
* From Bradshaw Foundation (Geneva, Switzerland): @
* From United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): @
* From Encyclopedia Britannica: @
* From Atlas Obscura: @
* From Sacred Destinations: @ 
* "The Cave Painters: Probing the Mysteries of the World's First Artists" (Gregory Curtis, 2006): @
* "Lascaux: The Prehistory of Art" (video from Réunion des Musées Nationaux; first of 6 parts): @ 


Wednesday, April 17, 1963: 'American Prospects in South Vietnam'

We believe that Communist progress has been blunted and that the situation is improving.

We believe the Communists will continue to wage a war of attrition, hoping for some break in the situation which will lead to victory.

We do not believe that it is possible at this time to project the future course of the war with any confidence.

Those are among the conclusions of National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) 53-63, prepared by the CIA and the U.S. military and dated April 17. The report's intent was "to assess the situation and prospects in South Vietnam, with special emphasis upon the military and political factors most likely to affect the counterinsurgency movement."

* PDF of report (from www.foia.cia.gov): @
* "Estimative Products on Vietnam, 1948-1975" (National Intelligence Council, 2005; report begins on page 185): @
* "1962-1963: Distortions of Intelligence" (from www.CIA.gov): @ 
* NIE overview (from CIA): @
* NIE overview (from Council on Foreign Relations): @
* "Confrontation or Collobration? Congress and the Intelligence Community" (John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 2009): @


April 1963: 'Letter From Birmingham Jail'

From "Report of the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives: Findings in the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." (1979; full report here):

     Dr. King led an all-out attack in the spring of 1963 on racial discrimination in Birmingham, Ala., which he described as "the most segregated city in the United States." Civil rights activists sought removal of racial restrictions in downtown snack bars, restrooms and stores, as well as nondiscriminatory hiring practices and the formation of a biracial committee to negotiate integration. Sit-ins, picket lines and parades were met by the police forces of Eugene "Bull" Connor, commissioner of public safety, with hundreds of arrests on charges of demonstrating without a permit, loitering and trespassing.

     On Good Friday, April 12, 1963, Dr. King, Reverend Abernathy and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth were arrested for leading a demonstration in defiance of an injunction obtained by Bull Connor. Dr. King was placed in solitary confinement and refused access to counsel. During his incarceration, he penned his "Letter from the Birmingham Jail," a response to a statement by eight leading local white clergymen -- Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish -- who had denounced him as an outside agitator and urged blacks to withdraw their support for his crusade. In this eloquent statement, Dr. King set forth his philosophy of nonviolence and enumerated the steps that preceded the Gandhian civil disobedience in Birmingham. Specifically citing Southern segregation laws, he wrote that any law that degraded people was unjust and must be resisted. Nonviolent direct action, Dr. King explained, sought to foster tension and dramatize an issue "so it can no longer be ignored."

From the Encyclopedia of Alabama (full entry here): 

     Early in his eight-day imprisonment, King read the white ministers' statement and began composing a response. He gave bits and pieces of the letter to his lawyers to take back to movement headquarters, where the Reverend Wyatt Walker began compiling and editing the literary jigsaw puzzle. The men settled on a final version on April 16, 1963. The 21-page, typed, double-spaced essay appears as though it is personal correspondence, addressed to the eight white ministers. It opens with a salutation reading "My dear fellow clergymen" and concludes with "Yours for the cause of peace and brotherhood." The final version of the letter explores two central themes: justification and admonishment. King justifies his presence in Birmingham, his uses of nonviolence and direct action, his timing, his willingness to break laws, and his apparent extremism. The civil rights leader also admonishes white moderates and white churches for not doing more to help the movement's quest for equality.

Image from The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Atlanta (link to two handwritten pages here)

King was released from jail on April 20. Portions of the letter were published in the New York Post Sunday Magazine on May 19. It was published in its entirety by the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group, on May 28 (see link below).
* Summary (from Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University): @
* Letter (from MLK Research and Education Institute): @
* Annotated letter (from MLK Research and Education Institute): @
* Clergymen's letter (as published in Birmingham News, April 13, 1963; from Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections): @
* Text of both King's and clergymen's letters (booklet published by American Friends Service Committee, May 1963): @
* Readings of both letters (video from McCombs School of Business, University of Texas): @
* "Martin Luther King Arrested in Birmingham Demonstration" (Associated Press, April 13): @
* "Martin Luther King Released From Jail" (Associated Press, April 21): @
* "Martin Luther King, Walker v. City of Birmingham, and the 'Letter From Birmingham Jail" (David Benjamin Oppenheimer, U.C. Davis Law Review, 1993): @
* "Blessed Are the Peacemakers: Martin Luther King Jr., Eight White Religious Leaders, and the 'Letter From Birmingham Jail' " (S. Jonathan Bass, 2o01): @
* "Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter From Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation" (Jonathan Reider, 2013): @
* "Letter From Birmingham Jail: A Worldwide Celebration" (Birmingham Public Library): @ 
* Earlier post on King's letter from jail in Albany, Georgia (July 1962): @


Wednesday, April 10, 1963: Edwin Walker and Lee Harvey Oswald

From The Associated Press:

     DALLAS -- A bullet from a high-powered rifle whizzed through a window Wednesday night, narrowly missing former Maj. Gen. Edwin A. Walker, who was sitting at a desk filling out his income tax.
     The bullet bored a one-inch hole in the wall and fell out on the other side on some packages. Splinters from the bullet's casing struck Walker in the arm.
     "I want a purple heart," said Walker, who was not seriously injured.
     Walker grabbed a pistol and made a search for the would-be assassin. He would not say who he though did it.
     "We have lots of enemies in Dallas and everywhere," Walker said. "It looks like the mayor is going to have to start giving out purple hearts."
     Walker seemed more perturbed by the fact he did not get his income tax finished than he did about the attempt on his life.
     Police theorized whoever fired the shot must have done so in an alley about 50 yards from the window. The bullet struck in the middle of the window. Walker was seated about 15 feet from the window.
     Walker, 53, resigned from the Army to become a spokesman for conservative causes.
     He was arrested during the riot at the University of Mississippi last fall and was charged with rebellion, insurrection and seditious conspiracy. He was cleared of the charges.

Note: The Warren Commission report (1964) concluded that the shot was fired by Lee Harvey Oswald, using the same rifle that was later used to kill President Kennedy. The House Select Committee on Assassinations (1979) stated "that the evidence strongly suggested that Oswald attempted to murder General Walker."

Photo from Corbis Images, dated October 1, 1962. Caption reads: Former Major General Edwin A. Walker, who led U.S. troops into Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 to force integration at Central High School, is led away at bayonet point by U.S. troops after refusing to move from the courthouse in downtown Oxford. Walker has been in Oxford to support the stand taken by Governor Ross Barnett, who is attempting to prohibit Negro James Meredith from registering at the University of Mississippi.

* Excerpts from Warren Commission report (from Assassinations Archives and Research Center): @ and @
* Walker's testimony to Warren Commission (from history-matters.com): @
* Excerpts from House Select Committee report (from archives.org): @ and @ and @
* Video of Walker after shooting: @
* Links to FBI and Senate documents on Walker (from maryferrell.org): @
* Walker entry from Texas State Historical Association: @
* Chronology of Oswald's life (from "Frontline," PBS): @ 
* Earlier post on Oswald buying rifle (March 12, 1963): @

Wednesday, April 10, 1963: USS Thresher

Some 220 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the nuclear submarine USS Thresher sinks, killing all 129 aboard. The accident occurred after the submarine lost power and dropped to the ocean floor, breaking apart from the deep-sea pressure.

Photo from the U.S. Navy. Caption reads, "Overhead view of Thresher's upper rudder, photographed from a deep-sea vehicle ... The view shows draft markings on the rudder side and a navigation light at its top. The original photograph bears the date October 1964."
* Entry from Naval History & Heritage Command: @
* Entry from "Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships": @
* "What Really Happened to the Thresher (Popular Science, February 1964): @
* "USS Thresher (SSN-593) 3 August 1961 - 10 April 1963" (Proceedings magazine, March 1964): @
* "50 years later, a look at what really sank the Thresher" (Navy Times, April 2013): @
* thresherbase.org: @
* threshermemorial.org: @
* Photos of crew (from oneternalpatrol.com): @
* "Thresher Loss" (Navy video): @ 


Saturday, April 6, 1963: Learning disabilities

     From the Learning Disabilities Association of America (link below):

     On April 6, 1963, a group of parents convened a conference in Chicago entitled "Exploration into the Problems of the Perceptually Handicapped Child." Professionals from various disciplines and with diverse and extensive clinical experience in dealing with the needs of these children participated. Professionals and parents shared a common concern: the recognition of the dire need for services for their children, services that did not exist.
     The 1963 conference articulated the cornerstones on which the field of Learning Disabilities is based. The underlying assumptions put forth provided the frameworks for legislation, theories, diagnostic procedures, educational practices, research and training models. A consensus was reached on a name for the category ... the term "Learning Disabilities," embedded within the title of Dr. Samuel Kirk's conference paper, was selected.

Note: Kirk first used the term "learning disabilities" in his 1962 book "Educating Exceptional Children" (link to 2012 edition below).
* "Educating Exceptional Children" (Kirk et al): @
* Learning Disabilities Association of America: @
* "Definition of learning disabilities" (from National Association of Special Education Teachers): @
* "Learning disabilities: Historical Perspectives" (from National Research Center on Learning Disabilities): @
* "Learning disabilities movement turns 50" (Washington Post, April 2013): @
* Obituary of Samuel Kirk (New York Times, July 1996): @ 

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