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Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy (1929-1994)

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy (1929-1994) was known for her beauty, style, glamour, and glittering cultural events at the White House. Beyond appearances, however, was a woman of great depth and intelligence whose knowledge of art and understanding of history informed her complete restoration of the White House--and a famous televised tour of the restored rooms. Behind the scenes, she lobbied strongly for historic preservation and support for American arts and culture, and established the White House Historical Association. After her husband's assassination, she understood the importance of her role in a legitimate transfer of power, led the nation in mourning, and planned the state funeral, full of symbolic flourishes. After the death of second husband Aristotle Onassis, Jacqueline carved out a new life for herself as a respected editor, first for Viking Press and later for Doubleday. At her death, she was one of the country's most popular and beloved First Ladies.


Jacqueline Kennedy's Thank You to the Nation

After the assassination of President Kennedy, thousands of people wrote to Mrs. Kennedy to express their condolences. This is the speech that Mrs. Kennedy delivered to thank people from all over the world:

"I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the hundreds of thousands of letters--nearly 800,000 in all--which my children and I have received over the past few weeks. The knowledge of the affection in which he was held by all of you has sustained me and the warmth of these tributes is something I shall never forget. Whenever I can bear to, I read them. All his bright light has gone from the world. All of you who have written to me know how much we all loved him and that he returned that love in full measure. It is my greatest wish that all of these letters be acknowledged. They will be, but it will take a long time to do so. But I know you will understand. Each and every message is treasured. Not only for my children, but so that future generations will know how much our country and people in other nations thought of him. The letters will be placed with his papers in the library to be erected in his memory along the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts. I hope that in years to come, many of you and your children will be able to visit the Kennedy Library. It will be, we hope, not only a memorial to President Kennedy but a living center of study of the times in which he lived and a center for young people and scholars from all over the world.

"May I thank you again. On behalf of my children and of the President's family for the comfort the letters have brought us all. Thank you."


"Marching Down to Washington, " John F. Kennedy campaign song

"Marching Down To Washington" from the recording entitled Presidential Campaign Songs 1789-1996, Folkways 45051, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. © 1999. Used by permission.

Partial lyrics:
"We’re marching down to Washington
To shake hands with John F. Kennedy
We’re marching down to Washington
The way they used to do
We’re marching down to Washington
To shake hands with Lyndon Johnson
We’re marching down to Washington
The way they used to do…"


"John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address," From The White House or Bust

"John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address" from the recording entitled The White House or Bust, Folkways FH 5503, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. © 1964. Used by permission.

Partial Transcript:
"Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce…And so my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country"
John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961



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