Lincoln and Kennedy: Imagining Their Second Terms

October 1, 2013 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

This event is sold out.


Lincoln & Kennedy: Imagining Their Second Terms.

Assassinated six weeks into his second term, Abraham Lincoln was not given the chance to lead the nation from war to peace. But he had been thinking about the reconstruction of the United States, and had spoken about the readmission of the Confederate states and the transition from slavery to freedom. Contemplating what a full second term might have looked like can be a useful device for sorting through the issues of the Reconstruction era and coming to a deeper understanding of Lincoln, the power of the presidency, and the remaking of the nation in the aftermath of the Civil War. This portion of the presentation will be taught by Rutgers University Professor Louis Masur.

Had Kennedy lived to win a second term against Barry Goldwater, would he have continued the existing deployment of special forces in Vietnam, or would he have escalated the war? Absent a major escalation, would he have been able to “fine tune” the economy, or would it have overheated anyway, leading to the fiscal and currency crises that overtook the Nixon presidency? Would Kennedy have expanded the New Frontier program and equaled LBJ’s commitment to civil and voting rights, and if so, could he have done so in ways that would have been politically sustainable? This lecture considers whether a two-term Kennedy presidency would have altered anything fundamental in American foreign and domestic policies, and to what extent the assassination marked a fundamental turning point in American history. This portion of the presentation will be taught by Columbia University / Barnard College Professor Richard Pious.

This presentation will take place at the National Constitution Center on Tuesday evening October 1 from 6:30 to 9 p.m.



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