The following is a chronological selection of key events, speeches, and legislation from President John F. Kennedy's administration. For more information please contact Kennedy.Library@nara.gov or 617.514.1629. Have a research question? Ask an Archivist!
1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963
November 8, 1960
Senator John F. Kennedy is elected 35th President of the United States.
January 20, 1961
John F. Kennedy is inaugurated President--"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
January 21 and 24, 1961
President signs Executive Orders increasing quantity and quality of surplus food distributed to jobless Americans and expanding Food for Peace Program to aid overseas needy.
January 30, 1961
President asks Congress to include health insurance in Social Security Program.
February 2, 1961
President asks Congress for program to help end recession, including food stamps, extended benefits for unemployed workers and welfare payments for their children.
February 9, 1961
President requests legislation assisting medical and dental colleges and students.
February 15, 1961
President warns Soviets to avoid interfering with United Nations pacification of the Congo.
March 1, 1961
President initiates Peace Corps to carry American skills and idealism to new and developing countries.
March 13, 1961
President proposes a long-term Alliance for Progress between the United States and Latin America, emphasizing democratic reform and economic development.
March 22, 1961
President calls for long-term Foreign Aid program with new emphasis on self help.
March 23, 1961
President warns Communists that cease fire must precede negotiations for a neutral and independent Laos.
March 28, 1961
President initiates the largest and most rapid defense buildup in United States' peacetime history, doubling Polaris missile program, increasing armed bomber and other missile programs, adding five combat ready divisions and quadrupling anti-guerilla forces.
April 20, 1961
President assumes responsibility for failed Bay of Pigs invasion, says policies and procedures will be changed.
May 1, 1961
President signs long-sought Area Redevelopment Bill to aid communities with chronic unemployment.
May 25, 1961
President proposes an American space effort greater than all previous efforts combined, and designed to put an American space team on the moon within the decade.
June 3, 1961
President opens channels of communication with Chairman Khrushchev of the Soviet Union in an informal conference in Vienna.
June 30, 1961
President signs bill extending Social Security benefits to five million people and permitting people to retire with benefits at age 62.
President signs most comprehensive Housing Bill in history, initiating aid to middle income families and mass transportation users, and increasing urban renewal and elderly housing.
July 20, 1961
President signs bill doubling Federal effort to halt water pollution.
July 25, 1961
President tells nation of determination to deter war in West Berlin, increasing military might and manpower--Soviet deadline for East German Treaty subsequently passes.
August 7, 1961
President signs first of three bills creating National Seashore Parks, the first major addition to the National Park System in 16 years.
August 8, 1961
President signs most comprehensive wheat and feed grain bill since 1938, resulting in higher farm income and lower food surpluses.
September 3, 1961
President signs $1.25 Minimum Wage Bill, expanding coverage by several million for the first time since original passage.
September 22, 1961
President signs bill committing United States to unprecedented search for economic breakthrough in the conversion of salt water to fresh.
President signs bill establishing first Federal program to help combat juvenile delinquency.
September 25, 1961
President, in speech to United Nations General Assembly endorses complete and general disarmament and challenges Soviets to a "peace race."
September 26, 1961
President signs bill establishing the first full-scale, full-time Disarmament Agency in the world.
December 15, 1961
President renews American commitment to preserve independence of Vietnam.
March 2, 1962
President announces that Soviet resumption of atmospheric nuclear testing makes American testing necessary in late April unless effective treaty is signed.
March 15, 1962
President signs first major Federal bill to retrain jobless victims of automation and chronic unemployment.
April 5, 1962
President calls for overhaul of Federal transportation policy, emphasizing increased and equal competition instead of regulation--also renews request for urban mass transportation program.
April 11, 1962
President urges reconsideration of inflationary steel price increase--increase was rescinded shortly thereafter.
July 12, 1962
President couples depreciation reform with tax credit to spur greater investment in plant and industry.
July 26, 1962
President signs the most far-reaching revision of public welfare legislation since enactment in 1935, emphasizing family rehabilitation and training instead of dependency.
September 12, 1962
President addresses an audience at Rice University on the space effort, declaring "We choose to go to the Moon."
September 26, 1962
President signs bill enabling construction of world's largest atomic power plant in Hanford, Washington.
September 30, 1962
President announces action by Federal Government to carry out court order admitting James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.
October 2, 1962
President signs United Nations bond issue bill authorizing American participation in financing United Nations peacekeeping operations in the Congo and elsewhere.
October 10, 1962
President signs first major improvement in Food and Drug laws since 1938, protecting families against untested and ineffective drugs.
October 11, 1962
President signs Trade Expansion Act granting unprecedented authority to end American protectionism and build free world economic unity.
October 22, 1962
President announces naval quarantine to halt Soviet missile buildup in Cuba--Khrushchev subsequently withdraws missiles under United States inspection.
November 20, 1962
President signs Executive Order to prevent racial discrimination in Federal housing.
January 14, 1963
President calls for massive tax reduction and tax reform, accurately predicting longest, strongest economic expansion in American peace-time history to that time.
March 22, 1963
President urges final action on Constitutional Amendment outlawing poll tax as a bar to voting--it became the 24th Amendment.
June 10, 1963
President, in speech at American University, calls on American people to reexamine their attitude toward Cold War.
June 11, 1963
President mobilizes Alabama National Guard to admit two negroes to University of Alabama as ordered by the court.
June 22, 1963
President proposes most sweeping Civil Rights legislation in history to give all Americans equal opportunity in education, employment, public accommodations, voting and access to Federal programs.
July 18, 1963
President presents latest in series of administrative and legislative programs to stabilize United States balance of payments and stem outflow of gold.
September 20, 1963
President, in address to the United Nations General Assembly, proposes additional cooperation with Soviet Union, including outer space exploration--United States and Soviet Union subsequently agree on outer space disarmament move.
September 24, 1963
President signs first major program assisting construction of higher education classrooms.
October 7, 1963
President signs Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, first disarmament agreement of the nuclear age.
October 9, 1963
President announces agreement with Soviet Union to open private negotiations for sale of American wheat.
October 24, 1963
President signs bill launching first major national drive against mental illness and mental retardation.
November 21, 1963
President asks economic advisers to prepare "War on Poverty" program for 1964.