Before you read this!
The following article is what is referred to some as an “Alternative History”, but this type of item has also been called a “counterfactual history” or a “virtual history“. An “Alternative History”, by any name, is nothing more than a form of history which attempts to answer the "What If" question. The purpose is to seek to explore history by means of extrapolating a timeline in which a certain key historical event did not happen or had an outcome which was different from that which did in fact occur. The purpose of this type of exercise is purely as a “mind exercise” and nothing more in order to try to show how one person, or event, might have made a difference.
About this “Alternative History.
What I chose to do with this counterfactual history was to explore the two part question of “What if JFK did not die on November 22nd, 1963 and How would things have changed?”
In order to do this I find that we must stick to the premise of “What would have happened if JFK did not die on November 22, 1963?”. Many who delve into the “What if” question have a tendency to change unrelated historical facts and toss them in with the original premise because they want a desired outcome or they feel they can change unconnected facts “simply because they can“. Quite often they don’t see, or they don’t expect the reader to see, that they changed history for the sake of changing things. I will try refrain from doing such.
To begin this “Alternative History”, we must make a few reminders of how things were before November 22nd, 1963.
Pre-November 22nd, 1963
Let’s begin with a common fact. Our U.S. Presidents were never elected by the Popular Vote in our country, our founding fathers put in place a system called “The Electoral College”. In our system of electing the president, each state is given 1 vote for each Senator (2 votes per state) plus 1 vote for each representative district for that state. This gives each state a minimum of 3 Electoral Votes. Additionally 3 votes are given for Washington D.C. Most of the time, electors in the Electoral College give the E.C. Votes for their State to the candidate who has received the most popular votes in that particular state, however there have been times when electors have voted contrary to the people's decision, which is entirely legal.
In the Election of 1960, the voters cast their votes and JFK won by a thin margin of 112,827 Votes. (The final count being 34,220,984 (49.7%) for JFK and 34,108,157 (49.5%) for Nixon). The country was divided pretty evenly on which candidate they liked despite the often heard comments about “Kennedy Charm” and how Americans loved him. Many out there felt that Jack Kennedy won the 1960 election because of voter fraud but Nixon opted to not delay the process of choosing a new president. This does not mean that there were not recounts, all it means is that the recounts were not excessive.
Another thing to remember about Kennedy is that he only held office about 3 years. With-in that short time his administration had faced the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam situation, the Cold War, and the bungled Castro Assassination attempt. At home he had the civil rights marches, segregation, education, healthcare and other issues which he had to deal with while he was in office. Also the American “Cultural Revolution” was underway and on the rise. American Values were changing and although that did not bother Kennedy’s 1st term in office a great deal, it most likely would have plagued his 2nd term.
Another fallacy floating around is that Jack Kennedy was Anti-War, or Anti-Vietnam… he wasn’t. JFK knew the reasons for getting involved in Vietnam were valid and more importantly he knew that the U.S. could not just pick up stakes and leave before the job was done in a manner satisfactory to the U.S and our interests. The most important thing which Kennedy knew was that whatever the outcome, the U.S. had to leave South-east Asia in such a manner which would not undermine the credibility of the U.S. Government on the world stage. This view is pretty evident in his commentary to the Canadian Prime Minister. The Canadian Prime Minister and Kennedy were discussing “What to do about Vietnam” and Kennedy was told “The answer is simple, get out.”. JFK reportedly told the prime minister that answer given was the dumbest answer he ever heard . Of course the answer was to get out… but the real question is “How?”. No one had a very good answer to that one.
These are just a few things to consider when trying to re-plot history by taking away the Kennedy Assassination.
November 22, 1963:
As we know, on November 22nd, 1963 JFK was shot and killed while his motorcade was passing through a part of Dallas. The findings, to date, show that Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed the president as a lone gunman, however there is some halfway decent evidence to show that there may have been 2nd gunman involved. For the purposes of this Alternative History, let’s say Oswald did have a co-conspirator who acted as “the 2nd Gunman”, just to partially appease the conspiracy theorists, but in order to appease the believers of Oswald acting alone we will leave it at that. The 2nd Gunman will remain nameless and no organizations or individuals will be tied in with the assassination
November 22, 1963 and the aftermath:
1963, November 22 12:30 PM CST: An attempted assassination was made against President John F. Kennedy while he was en route from Dallas to Ft. Worth. Governor John Connally was hit by the 1st shot. . The 2nd Bullet struck a secret service agent who moved in to protect the president.
1963 November 22 12:39 PM CST: The following News Bulletin made over Dallas Radio Station KLIF:
“This KLIF Bulletin from Dallas: Three shots reportedly were fired at the motorcade of President Kennedy today near the downtown section. KLIF News is checking out the report, we will have further reports, stay tuned.”
1963, November 22 approx. 12:35 PM CST: Local viewers of Dallas' ABC-TV affiliate WFAA-TV 8 were watching a pre-recorded program on ladies' fashions when the station suddenly cut over to newsman Jay Watson who was out of breath from running back to the station from Dealey Plaza:
“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. You'll excuse the fact that I am out of breath, but about 10 or 15 minutes ago a tragic thing from all indications at this point has happened in the city of Dallas. Let me quote to you this [briefly looks at the bulletin sheet in his left hand], and I'll...you'll excuse me if I am out of breath. A bulletin, this is from the United Press from Dallas: President Kennedy and Governor John Connally have been cut down by assassins' bullets in downtown Dallas.”
1963, November 22 1:36 EST: Those listening to the ABC Radio Network were the first of the national audience to receive word of the shooting from newscaster Don Gardner:
“We interrupt this program to bring you this special report from ABC Radio. Here is a special report from Dallas, Texas. Three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade today in downtown Dallas, Texas. This is ABC Radio.”
1963, November 22 approximately 1:40 PM EST: A CBS News Bulletin slide suddenly cut off the soap opera "As The World Turns" with Walter Cronkite’s first report:
“Here is a bulletin from CBS News. In Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade in downtown Dallas. The first reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting.”
1963, November 22nd 2:33 EST: Acting White House Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff made the official announcement. He said::
"Today, at approximately 1:30 PM EST, Shots were fired at President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade as it approached Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. The president was rushed to the Parkland Hospital. President Kennedy was looked at by the doctors and they found that President Kennedy suffered no injuries. I have no other details regarding the attempted assassination of the president except that he will be returning to Washington D.C."
1963, November 22 1:55 PM CST: Lee Harvey Oswald arrested at “The Texas Theater” as a suspect in the shooting of Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippet.
1963, November 22 4:47 PM EST: Images shown on TV of President Kennedy and his wife departing Air Force One and heading towards the White House. The commentators announce that President Kennedy will give a press conference the following day.
1963, November 22 7:05PM CST: Oswald charged with the murder of Officer J.D. Tippet
1963, November 22 11:26PM CST: Oswald charged with the attempted murder of President John F. Kennedy.
Post November 22nd, 1963:
1963, November 23 6:54 AM CST: Dallas Police went to the apartment of the alleged 2nd Gunman and during a gun battle he was shot and killed.
1963, November 23 8:00 PM EST: President Kennedy holds press conference. He reassures America of his well-being . When asked about Oswald and the 2nd Gunman, he states:
“I cannot comment upon that for we must allow our legal system to work, unhindered by allegations and innuendoes. Mr. Oswald is innocent until proven guilty and I will not participate in his not being able to have a fair trial.”.
1963, November 29: The Oswald Trials begin . After a hearing the court trial is set for February 4, 1964.
1963, December: In accordance with Kennedy’s National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) of October 11, 1963, 1,000 U.S. “Advisors” are withdrawn from Vietnam. Although JFK withdrawals these Advisors (mostly Military), he leaves no doubt that he is willing to see the Vietnam situation through until 1964 when he wins the election... This leaves about 15,300 US Troops (Advisors) in South-east Asia.
1963, December 23: The returning U.S. Troops arrive “home for Christmas”.
1964 , January: JFK pressures South Vietnam into “Peace Talks” with North Vietnam.
1964, January 11 Saturday: Kennedy holds a meeting in the morning with his campaign advisors about the up-coming elections. He is told, “…with-out Johnson as his running mate, it is doubtful he (JFK) would win the November election, especially if Nixon ran for the Presidency again.” Also JFK was warned, “If LBJ is not chosen for VP in the second term, then the Democratic Party could be split.”
1964, January 17: President Kennedy and Vice- President Johnson meet in the Oval Office to discuss the upcoming Presidential Elections. Johnson tells Kennedy that he will not run for Vice-President, nor will he support Kennedy, unless two promises are made and carried out. Bobby Kennedy sees this as an insult while John while JFK sees it as simply political. JFK accepts the conditions to fully support the Civil Rights Act and to demand no withdrawal from Vietnam unless it is done so honorably in return for Johnson‘s full support in the up-coming election..
1964, February 24th : JFK sends helicopters (along with pilots, flight crews, and support units) to Vietnam. Mostly the Helicopters are used as “spotters“ but there is also some combat involved in their mission. JFK gives a speech concerning Vietnam and states:
“…we must end this Vietnam conflict quickly, but with victory“.
The “Old Left”, and many conservatives, applaud Kennedy’s speech, however “the New Left” voice the opinion that JFK sold out America to the old political machine and begin their protests. Kennedy’s approval rating drops to 59% and does not rise over 60% again while he remains in office.
1964, March: The Anti-war crowd begins draft card burnings and public protests, mostly on college campuses around America as a show of their discontent.
1964, April 6: RFK tells his brother of his decision to run for U.S. Senate. JFK, RFK and LBJ agree to tell the media that RFK is leaving his post to be a Senator and do not comment on the LBJ/RFK Feud.
1964, May: The Oswald Trials end. It is found that the two gunmen were a part of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, but they acted on their own accord. Oswald is sentenced to the death penalty. Appeals for Oswald’s case filed immediately. Some feel that Oswald was “railroaded” because of the speed of the trial.
1964, June to September: Summer Race Riots break out in Harlem (NY, NY), Rochester (NY), Jersey City (NJ), Patterson (NJ), Elizabeth (NJ), Philadelphia (PA) and Chicago (IL).
1964, July: The Civil Rights act of 1964 (PL 88-352) passes, mainly due to the efforts of LBJ.
1964, July 17th: Oswald’s appeal is denied. Death Sentence to be carried out by December 12, 1964.
1964, August 4: Kennedy/Johnson accepted as the Democratic Candidates for President and Vice President in the November Election. Kennedy’s approval rating decreases to an all time low of 53%.
1964, August 7: Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed congress. This resolution is historical significant because it gave U.S. President John F. Kennedy authorization, without a formal declaration of war by Congress, for the use of military force in South-east Asia.
1964, September: “The Vietnam Peace Talks” breaks down and hostilities intensify along the border. Kennedy orders helicopter attacks upon North Vietnam.
1964, October: U.S.S.R. Chairman Nikita Khrushchev, forced into retirement.
1964, November: Kennedy win the 1964 Presidential Election on November 3rd. The popular vote is:
Kennedy 44,926,585 (63.6%)
Goldwater 25,359,502 (35.9%).
1964, November: RFK wins the election for US Senator (State of New York).
1964, December 4: JFK has Lee Harvey Oswald’s Death Sentence commuted to life imprisonment.
1965, January 20: President Kennedy’s 2nd Inaugural Address.
1965, January 27: Kennedy aides, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, send a memo to the President stating that America's limited military involvement in Vietnam is not succeeding, and that the U.S. has reached a 'fork in the road' in Vietnam and must either soon escalate or withdraw.
1965, February: Malcolm X assassinated.
1965, February 22: Kennedy increases troop levels in Vietnam to 23,000 “Advisors”.
1965, March 2: Kennedy meets with Brezhnev in Moscow. Amongst the issues discussed are the situation in Vietnam and relations between the U.S.S.R. and U.S.A. A form of Détente begins with this meeting.
1965, March 5: US Bombings of North Vietnam authorized by JFK.
1965, March 8: 3,500 Marines sent to South-east Asia to protect US/South Vietnamese Air Force Bases.. Troop Levels now stand at 26,500.
1965, April 1: JFK authorizes another 3,500 Marines and 20,000 logistical personnel to Vietnam. Troop Totals now at 50,000 U.S. Troops in South-east Asia.
1965, April 7: President Kennedy gives his version of the “Peace without conquest” speech.
1965, April 17: In Washington D.C., 15,000 students protest U.S. Bombing campaign.
1965, April 20: JFK authorizes another 40,000 US Troops to South-Vietnam. JFK also authorizes all US “Advisors” in Vietnam “Combat Pay”. Troop Levels stand at 90,000.
1965, May 3: The 1st US Army combat troops, 3500 men of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, sent to Vietnam. Troop Levels at 93,500.
1965, June: Lee Harvey Oswald found dead in prison. Death caused by multiple stab wounds.
1965, June to September: Summer Race Riots break out in Watts (LA, CA). Draft card burnings increase.
1965, July 28: During a noontime press conference, President Kennedy announces he will send 44 combat battalions to Vietnam increasing the U.S. military presence to 125,000 men. Monthly draft calls are doubled to 35,000.
1965, August 4: President Kennedy asks Congress for an additional $1.7 billion for the war.
1965, August 6: Voting Rights Act of 1965 signed by President Kennedy.
1965, August 31: President Kennedy signs a law criminalizing draft card burning. Although it may result in a five year prison sentence and $1000 fine, the burnings become common during anti-war rallies and often attract the attention of news media.
1965, October: PL 89-97 Medicare Bill passes.
1965, October 16: Anti-war rallies occur in 40 American cities and in international cities including London and Rome.
1965, November: President Kennedy raises troop levels in Vietnam to 200,000 US Troops.
1966, January: In his State of the Union Address, JFK states his plan for Vietnam, He pledges another 150,000 troops to be sent to South-east Asia and a withdrawal which would result in America’s withdrawal from the region ending in late 1968. Troop Level in South Vietnam rise to 350,000 U.S. Troops. Kennedy also announces the end of American bombing of North Vietnam stating that it served it’s purpose but is no longer required to get the attention of the North Vietnamese leaders.
1966, May 1: In what was to become known as President Kennedy’s “Mayday” speech, JFK states his concerns over Vietnam. First he states that “In opposition to what one may hear, the purpose in Vietnam is not to overthrow the communist government of North Vietnam, but to preserve the South Vietnamese government for Democracy.” He reminds Americans the war in Vietnam is not just an American War, but rather an international conflict and he intends on pressing the United Nations to treat it as such. Kennedy sends another 150,000 troops to Vietnam. The total number of US Troops is now approximately 500,000 and announces this will be the last escalation of the War in Vietnam for America, unless the U.N. and America can reach an agreement on how to handle the situation. He also states his plans for withdraw from Vietnam will begin as planned and on schedule. The media view this as Kennedy putting the U.N. on notice.
1966, June to September: Summer Race Riots break out in Chicago (IL), Cleveland (OH) and San Francisco (CA)
1966, July: The United Nations take active part in the Vietnam War due to Kennedy’s threats about withdrawal. Vietnam is now seen as a world conflict, instead of just an American one.
1966, August 30: Hanoi announces China will provide economic and technical assistance.
1967, January: In his State of the Union Address, JFK addresses some of the successes in Vietnam and the failures. He states that the involvement of China raised the ante on the war and we were handling that through diplomatic means, however U.S. Troop levels will remain high to meet the threat.
1967, February: The 25th Amendment is ratified.
1967, May 1: JFK orders 75,000 US Troops home from Vietnam, leaving 425,000 US service men and women in-country.
1967, June to September: Summer Race Riots break out in Newark (NJ), Planfield (NJ), Cambridge (MD), and Detroit (MI).
1967, August: Rumblings over Kennedy’s failed Vietnam Policy begins making headway in the media. Kennedy’s ratings drop to 45%.
1967, November: Richard M. Nixon approached by members of the Republican Party to ask him to be the Republican Candidate for the Presidency in 1968. Nixon says that he will think about it, but he is concerned about a possible LBJ/RFK ticket.
1967, December 8: 75,000 U.S. Troops ordered home from Southeast Asia. Troop Levels stand at 350,000. JFK approval ratings rise to 47%, but Vietnam is considered a “quagmire” and calls for withdrawal are made by several elements.
1967, December 15: Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) passed by congress.
1968, January 5 to August 21st: Prague Spring occurs. Czechoslovakia invaded by Warsaw pact troops. 5,000 to 7,000 Soviet tanks occupied the streets and 200,000 to 600,000 Soviet Troops sent in to occupy the country. Kennedy refuses to get involved in a new war in Eastern Europe. Approval ratings drop to 44%.
1968, January: In the President‘s State of the Union Address, President Kennedy addresses the Vietnam Issue. He reaffirms that US Troops will be home by Christmas of 1968, except for a small peace keeping force. The Republicans right away accuse the president of back-peddling on the Vietnam issue and push the agenda that the Democrats have mishandled Vietnam from the start.
1968, February 4: LBJ announces his run for the Presidency.. He tells America that the U.S. cannot pull out of Vietnam until, at least, the middle of 1969, or later, due to new problems and UN involvement.
1968, February, 15: RFK officially announces himself as a candidate for the Presidency. He states that all US Troops will be with-drawn from Vietnam by February of 1969 - if he is elected president.
1968, March 17: RFK quietly speaks to Martin Luther King, Jr. and asks if he would run for the office of Vice-President. MLK states that he would consider the possibility. This information is secretly leaked to some in the media by members of Kennedy’s campaign group.
1968, April 4: Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated. Rumors begin concerning an LBJRFK ticket.
1968, January 5 to August 21st: Race Riots break out in Orangeburg (SC), Washington DC, Baltimore (MD), Chicago (IL), Kansas City (MO), Louisville (KY), and Glenville Shootout occurs in Cleveland (OH).
1968, June 6: Robert F. Kennedy Assassinated.
1968, June: 25,000 U.S. Troops ordered to withdrawal from Vietnam. Troop Levels are now 350,000. Kennedy’s ratings rise to 49%.
1968, June to September: Race Riots break out in Pittsburgh (PA), Chicago (IL), New York (NY), York (PA), Los Angeles (CA) and other US Cities.
1968, July 1: Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty opened for signature in New York City.
1968, August: LBJ picked as the Democratic Party candidate. LBJ chooses Hubert H. Humphrey as running mate. They are to face Nixon/Agnew in the upcoming November Elections.
1968, August: Major Offensive made by the North Vietnamese with help from China. 200,000 Communist soldiers flood into South Vietnam. President Kennedy is asked by the U.N. to send more troops and he refuses by saying “The United States of America has sent enough of our boys into combat for that region. Let the South Vietnamese show us how well their training has been learned.”. The Republicans pick up on this right away by saying that the President (and democrats) are leaving our “boys” high and dry for political reasons. Nixon’s ratings in t he polls rises.
1968, October: Kennedy withdrawals another 50,000 troops from Vietnam, LBJ disagree in private but openly support his president’s choices. Troop Levels now stand at 300,000 US Troops in Vietnam Kennedy states that he is fulfilling his commitments to America where Vietnam is concerned.
1968, November: LBJ loses the presidential Election to Richard M. Nixon. The popular vote difference is only a 0.9% margin.
1969, January 20: Nixon gives inaugural address. He tells America that we cannot pull out of Vietnam in 1969 and still declare victory. The Nixon Plan calls for troop escalations and bombing North Vietnam heavily until the North Vietnamese take the “Paris Peace Talks“ seriously..
1969, February 1: Nixon authorizes 120,000 U.S. Troops to go to Vietnam. Troop levels rise to 420,000.
1969, March 1: Nixon authorizes bombings on North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
1969, April 1: South Vietnamese Troops undergo “accelerated training” by South Vietnamese trainers, supervised by US Troops.
1969, May 1: Nixon asks congress for 4.2 Billion dollars for the Vietnam War.
1969, June 1: Nixon sends 35,000 US Troops to Vietnam. Troop Levels rise to 455,000 US Troops.
1969, September: The U.S. and U.N disagree over how to handle the Vietnam War. Nixon states that the U.N. wants to control the war but use mostly U.S. Troops., he withdrawals 75,000 troops. US Troop Levels in South-east Asia now stand at 380,000.
1970, January: In Nixon’s State of the Union Address, he states that “great strides are being made in South-east Asia”. He orders 80,000 troops home. The number of US Troops in Vietnam stand at 300,000.
1970, July: Nixon withdrawals 35,000 troops home from Vietnam. The number of US Troops in Vietnam stand at 265,000.
1970, October: Nixon withdrawals 20,000 troops home from Vietnam. The number of US Troops in Vietnam stand at 245,000.
1970, December 12: Nixon decreases the number of US Troops in South-east Asia to 231,700
1971, February 13: South Vietnamese invade Laos with US Air Support.
1971, February 22: 45,000 US Troops withdrawn from Vietnam. US Troop Levels fall to 196,700 Troops.
1971, March 1: A bomb explodes in the men's room at the White House, the Weather Underground claims responsibility.
1971, April 24: 500,000 people in Washington D.C. and 125,000 in San Francisco march against the Vietnam War.
1972, January 30: LBJ announces that he will not run, nor accept the nomination to run, for US President.
1972, June 17: Scandals begin to plague the Nixon Administration. Rumors circulate that Nixon saw these problems coming and tried to sway the public by bringing home U.S. Troops from Vietnam, thus endangering the U.S. Troops remaining in country.
1972, October 8: Major breakthrough in the Paris Peace Talks.
1972, November: Nixon elected to 2nd term in office.
1973, January 15: Nixon announced a suspension of offensive actions against North Vietnam.
1973, January 22: LBJ dies
1973, October 10: Spiro Agnew became the second Vice President to resign the office.
1973, December 6: Gerald Ford becomes Vice-president
1974, August 9: As a direct result of the Watergate Scandal, Richard Nixon becomes the first President of the United States to resign from office. His Vice President, Gerald Ford, becomes president.
1976, November: Gov. Jimmy Carter elected as President.
1978, January 20: Hubert H. Humphrey dies.
1980, November: Ronald Reagan elected President.