Remembering Camelot: What We Can Learn from JFK's Presidency

Jeremi Suri – University of Texas

John F. Kennedy’s short and tragic time in the White House transformed the image and expectations surrounding the modern American presidency. Kennedy brought a new energy, activism, and intelligence to what had been a conservative office in the previous decade. He made the White House a hub for the nation’s “best and brightest,” and promised to open “new frontiers” at home, abroad, and in space. This lecture will examine the image, expectations, and realities of Kennedy’s presidency, with attention to the legacies of his brief time in office. The lecture will also discuss the lessons — positive and negative — from Kennedy’s presidency for a twenty-first century American nation that is deeply divided and uncertain about future leadership.