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April 10, 1963 (POD) Unlike our timeline, the bullet fired by Oswald at General Walker does NOT hit the framing and instead goes through the windowpane striking Walker in the upper chest. Also unlike our timeline, Oswald is spotted by nearby neighbors and church-goers who apprehend him and hold him until police arrive.
Walker dies in Trauma Room #1 at Parkland Memorial Hospital some seventy minutes later. Oswald, being held, is charged two days later with murder in the first degree and reprimanded to be held over. Jack Ruby, a local nightclub owner, watches the news of Oswald's transfer on local television.
July 19, 1963 Lee H. Oswald is convicted of murder following a plea bargain deal by ACLU lawyer John Abt, in which no jury is empaneled and Judge Reynolds agrees to life imprisonment instead of the death penalty. Oswald will remain in prison for some 36 years. He will be diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in 1997 and dies in the prison hospital on May 4th, 1999. He writes four books, none of which sell more than a few copies to rare book collectors.
November 22-23, 1963 President John F. Kennedy visits Dallas as part of a general tour of Texas. After luncheon at the Trade Mart, he and Mrs. Kennedy accompany Governor Connally and Mrs. Connally on a trip through downtown Dallas, past the Dealey Plaza. Well-wishers line the streets. The motorcade passes through and the President waves at people on each side. Gov. Connally notes "You can't say Dallas doesn't love you, Mr. President" ... to which Kennedy agrees. They then proceed on to the next event.
November 27, 1963 Gallup conducts a poll on the President's approval ratings in Texas. They note a 4% +/- margin of error bump.
January - July 1964 President Kennedy works hard to try to pass the Civil Rights Act through Congress. Blocked by Southern Democrats, he eventually strikes a deal for a weaker bill in the Senate than the one the House passes. Vice-President Johnson aids significantly with the Senate, especially breaking a filibuster by Robert Byrd of West Virginia. The Administration keeps most Republicans and non-"Dixiecrat" Democrats on board and it passes 70-30 and on July 12th Kennedy signs the bill. Apocryphally, Johnson tells Kennedy "You may have just lost the South to Goldwater ... and to the Republicans for a generation!" But it is hailed as a landmark bit of legislation.
April 3, 1964 White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger announces that Jacqueline Kennedy, age 34, is five months pregnant and due sometime around August 1st. On August 11th, Janet Rose Kennedy is born at Boston's Children Hospital. Tests for hyaline membrane disease, which killed the Kennedy's previous child Patrick, prove negative and two weeks later, Mrs. Kennedy and the infant return to the White House. The christening at St. Matthew's Cathedral is covered by live television (outside the church). Unrevealed to the public, Jacqueline Kennedy receives a tubal ligation while in the hospital and "Jan-Jan" (as the young girl is affectionately nicknamed by the press) will be the Kennedy's last child.
July 16, 1964 Senator Barry Goldwater accepts the Republican nomination for President. His "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" comment begin worries, fed by Democrats, that Goldwater is a radical and hints at him escalating the conflict in Vietnam (and even suggestions he'd employ nuclear weapons) begin to erode his popularity.
August 27, 1964 President Kennedy accepts his Party's nomination again to run as President. Johnson's speech is prominent, with indications he may run in 1968. Kennedy's acceptance speech strikes a moderate tone, with veiled jabs at Goldwater.
Some in-fighting in the Party still occurs, with Governor George Wallace of Alabama openly seeking the nomination against the incumbent President. Though no real threat to Kennedy's nomination, it points to a rift among the Democrats. A similar rift begins to develop in the Republicans, who see an opportunity to break the "Solid South" control that the Democrats have enjoyed since the New Deal, by incorporating their "less government" ideals with the "states' rights" ideals of conservative Democrats.
September 4, 1964 Dean Rusk begins talks with Andrei Gromyko on attempting a "Laos Solution" in Vietnam, with the Soviets reining in the North Vietnamese and their support of the Viet Cong, in return for less belligerent stance towards Cuba. Though non-official, the talks seem to progress well as Khrushchev faces opposition at home and seeks a new victory, given collapsing relations with China and embarrassment over the Missile Crises.
Rusk and Gromyko reach a tentative agreement on September 19th. Based on the weak, but existent "Neutrality of Laos" accord from three years earlier. The Soviets promised to not support Ho Chi Minh's ambitions in the South, in exchange for both a promise from the US to never invade Cuba and to cease all attempts on the life of Castro through the CIA. Also Rusk stated that once Kennedy was re-elected, he'd set a timetable for lifting the Cuban embargo and making trade with the island nation similar to trade with the USSR.
Gromyko returned to Moscow and confirmed the agreement with Khrushchev, who consults with the Presidium. They back the plan, though many still grumble over Khrushchev's lack of leadership and point to Gromyko as the "author of the plan". A month later, Khrushchev is overthrown and replaced by Brezhnev and Kosygin. Dean Rusk gets assurances that Brezhnev will maintain the "Vietnam Agreement".
October 31, 1964 President Kennedy makes his "New Frontier at Home" speech, seeking a "war on poverty", including a higher minimum wage, jobs training, and a full-out push for Medicare. Goldwater and Republicans like Ronald Reagan rail against the proposals, especially Medicare, which they call "creeping socialized medicine". Gallup shows Kennedy with a 50-45% lead over Goldwater.
November 3, 1964 President Kennedy wins re-election by 53% or 37.1 million votes over Goldwater's 47% or 32.9 million. Goldwater wins most of the "Confederate South" except Texas, and of course his home state of Arizona. Democrats pick up ten seats in the House, a reasonable pick-up for an in-power political party during a Presidential re-election. However, the Republicans gain ten seats in the Senate with a total of 42, notable freshmen Senators include; Howard Baker (TN), George Bush (TX), Paul Laxalt (NV), and Robert Taft Jr. (OH).
Goldwater's victory in the "Solid South" point to a key paradigm shift. The old "New Deal Coalition" that kept Democrats in power in the Old Confederacy, was obviously ending with Democratic support for civil rights. Some in the Party that the loss in the South may be permanent and a battle in the North where liberal Republicans hold sway, may be needed.
However, Kennedy's victory re-energizes some, who see both his "Camelot" vision being fulfilled with both the promise of a "New Frontier at Home", the space program, less tension with the Soviets and over Cuba, and what seems like a "cooling" of US involvement in Vietnam.
November 22, 1964 Nguyen Khanh is ousted by other South Vietnamese generals for inability to contain corruption in the SVN Government. Buddhist monk Thich Tri Quang and General Tran Van Don form a new government, still a military junta. A pro-Communist rally is held in Hue and though small, shows the fragility of the Saigon government.
December 10, 1964 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. receives the Nobel Prize for Peace in Oslo. Six days later, a reception for him is held in the White House by President and Mrs. Kennedy. Kennedy and King have a two hour private meeting afterwards, where King discusses the emerging ideas for "affirmative action" in dealing with past discrimination; Kennedy offers support, but no specifics.
January 20, 1965 John Fitzgerald Kennedy is sworn in for a second term. The bitter cold takes its toll on Kennedy after his forty-eight minute speech and he is only attends the Inaugural Ball for an hour that evening, before retiring to the Residence. Unknown to anyone outside the White House, it is due to a severe flare-up of his Addison's Disease. He suffers a fever and some pain in the limbs and the Presidential Physician boosts his dosage of hydrocortisone.
March 7-24, 1965 "The Selma Marches" "Bloody Sunday" occurs in Selma, AL, when 200 Alabama state troopers clash with some 500 civil rights protestors. Followed by a second and third march. Protestors are beaten and gassed and four deaths occur. Images of the non-violent protestors being attacked turns the nation against the segregationists and public sentiment. President Kennedy meets with Governor Wallace and tersely informs him that he (Kennedy) is in his second term and has no need to waste time mollycoddling Dixiecrats anymore and he has the public with him. Wallace leaves in a rage and Kennedy immediately pushes Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act. Three months later, he signs the bill at the White House with Dr. King in attendance.
March 30, 1965 The funeral for Viola Liuzzo, a white civil rights activist, killed by Klansmen in Alabama is held. COINTELPRO, J. Edgar Hoover's "anti-subversive" operation within the FBI, attempts to paint Liuzzo as promiscuous and a bad mother. Kennedy is outraged at the smear. Though he fears Hoover, especially the Director's extensive files on JFK and his affairs, he secretly orders John McCone, Director of the CIA, to use that agency's resources to gather dirt on Hoover.
April 28, 1965 Under pressure to appear more "anti-Communist", President Kennedy orders US troops to the Dominican Republic to impose order. They remain until 1966 and the election of Joaquín Antonio Balaguer Ricardo.
April 30, 1965 An attempt to organize a joint SDS protest in Mississippi fails as black leaders like Stokley Carmichael from the SNCC demand total leadership control over the protest from Tom Hayden and the other white SDS leaders. The SNCC eventually holds the protest with about 10% white participation. Meanwhile the SDS experiences only tepid growth, with few galvanizing issues for the student activists to support. A small protest against Kennedy's deployment of troops to the Dominican Republic is held on May 5th, but it has less than 1000 attendees.
May 15, 1965 A former member of the Viet Cong is elected mayor of Đồng Xoài, the capital town of Bình Phước Province in Vietnam. Openly Communist and supportive of reunification, it is considered a bad sign for the Saigon government and tensions grow in the ARVN generals and higher echelon officers with Thich Tri Quang and General Tran Van Don. On May 20th, the US Congress approves another $40 million in military and economic aid to South Vietnam at the behest of President Kennedy, on top of an early $200 million package.
May 30, 1965 Fidel Castro announces that any citizen of Cuba is now free to emigrate and the "Freedom Flights" from Havana to Mexico City begin. The decision helps to mitigate some of the criticisms of Kennedy for being "soft on Cuba" and a month later, flights directly from Havana to Miami are begun. No moves on lifting the trade embargo are made and the Organization of American States maintains its sanctions. Simultaneously, President Kennedy signs a bill ending quotas for immigration.
July 30, 1965 President Kennedy signs the Social Security Act of 1965 into law, establishing Medicare and Medicaid. Former President Harry Truman is in attendance. Though a major domestic policy victory, Kennedy was unable to get coverage for mental illness in the package, despite openly calling for it due to his sister Rosemary's mental incapacitation.
August 11, 1965 California Highway Patrol officer Lee Minikus fails to note a passing motorist in Watts, as he reads a newspaper article about President Kennedy's upcoming visit to California to stump for Congressional candidates in the upcoming 1966 midterms. The "Watts Riots" are averted...but only for six months.
October 1965 Economic analysis indicate the start of a mild recession, as budget deficits creep up combined with low unemployment and closing of several military bases earlier. The full impact of the recession doesn't hit until Spring of 1966. Kennedy's advisors indicate that due to the deficits, another round of tax cuts is not advisable.
December 5, 1965 A month later than OTL, the great Northeastern Blackout occurs, plunging Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and portions of New Jersey and Canada into darkness for close to 15 hours. Mrs. Kennedy and the three children are in Hyannisport when it happens and are flown back to Washington by Marine helicopter.
January 13, 1966 Trương Như Tạng, one of the founders of the Vietcong, declares his intention to run for mayor of Da Nang, the large South Vietnamese seaport city. Kennedy meets with Dean Rusk, Maxwell Taylor, and Robert McNamara about the situation. None could offer a solution, since the North Vietnamese were abiding by the accord struck with the Soviets and the increasing corruption of Saigon, even with more Buddhist monks participating in the government, was losing popularity with the people. Pentagon analysts indicate that it's likely that within a year, Communists will hold enough provincial power to force the Saigon government to bring them into the coalition. Kennedy tabled another call for a further increase in aid to South Vietnam, with the phrase "Throwing money down a rat-hole."
February 9, 1966 The beating of a black motorists by two white California Highway Patrol officers outside of the Imperial Courts housing project in Watts, sparks 5 days of rioting. Comparable to OTL's 1965 Watts Riots, it follows a similar pattern of property destruction and the eventual deployment of the CA National Guard by Governor Pat Brown. The political ramifications are the same, with the event boosting the fortunes of gubernatorial candidate Ronald Reagan. Kennedy issues a statement condemning the violence, calling for calm, and supporting "law and order". This alienates some of his support among black civil rights leaders who hoped he'd address the joblessness and poverty in the Los Angeles neighborhood.
March 11, 1966 Robert Weaver, two months later than OTL, is named the first African-American to the US Cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
April 2, 1966 Four months later than OTL, a crash (of a different plane and different crew) of a nuclear-armed B-52 occurs off the coast of Spain, near the village of Palomares. The non-nuclear explosives of its four weapons detonate spreading plutonium around a wide area, including the village. Eventually 38 people will die from radiation poisoning. The incident forces an end to the continual flights of B-52s (known as "Operation Chrome Dome") and Gibraltar is closed to any nuclear forces. Including clean-up costs, Francisco Franco demands a billion dollars in reparations over 5 years. The embarrassment of the event cuts into Kennedy's popularity and he dips to a 50% job approval in Gallup as the recession also hits the country.
April 8, 1966 The date for elections for the Presidency of South Vietnam are set by Thich and General Tran. Immediately worries begin that the elections will be rigged, as Tran insists on army units in all major cities near the polling places to "maintain security". Thich prevents another measure from being implemented, the banning of all openly Communist candidates. But many express doubts as to the honesty of the election set for September 14th.
April 19, 1966 President Kennedy suffers a major flare-up in his Addison's. He is bed-ridden for two days, with a severe fever, dehydration, and some mental confusion. The White House cancels all public events with the story that "The President is suffering a bout of the flu, exacerbated by his war wounds." Emerging later, for a photo shoot with the Cabinet, Kennedy appears haggard with dark circles under his eyes, but smiles and puts on a cheery front. The press are brought in after Kennedy is seated and leave before he leaves and do not see that he came to the room in a wheelchair.
After the incident, Kennedy meets with Johnson and informs him of the real cause of his incapacitation. He doesn't want it publicly revealed, but he understands the crises of national security if he became incapacitated and there was no Constitutional means of Johnson at least temporarily taking power. Johnson notes a move by some to come up with a new Amendment to cover the situation. They agree that as part of a list of several agenda items Johnson would push in the Senate, a Constitutional Amendment cover succession and disability of the President would be added. This will eventually become the 25th Amendment. It will pass through the state legislatures in late 1966 and into 1967 and reach the mandated 38 state approval on April 19, 1968, two years to the day of Kennedy's Addisonian crises.
((NOTE: Under normal conditions, even in the mid-1960s, victims of Addison's Disease can live normal, healthy lives with regular treatment. Like diabetics, it will be easily monitored and an alert bracelet or card can identify the patient if they come under distress. HOWEVER, it should be noted that, as we learned later in OTL, President Kennedy also suffered from a variety of other ailments and was on a regimen of powerful prescription medicines, including steroids, phenobarbital, testosterone, and amphetamines, worsening his immune system. Therefore, it should be considered that if he had not been assassinated, he would have been in increasingly poor health (though still in his mid-40s) throughout his second term, as well as the general stress of being President accentuating that.))
May 15, 1966 Trương Như Tạng becomes mayor of the city of Da Nang. His first official act is to open up the city ports to ships from North Vietnam. Though trade was not illegal, no other South Vietnamese port city had allowed it. In Saigon (and in Washington), the move was seen with alarm. Discussions were held at the National Security Council for sponsoring a covert insurgency operation, trying to undermine Truong's governance. Kennedy, under increasing pressure to not let South Vietnam "fall to the Commies", just before the 1966 Congressional midterms, approves a CIA plan to sabotage the Da Nang ports. It will be called "Operation: Phoenix".
June 6, 1966 James Meredith is killed while on a solitary march to Mississippi from Tennessee, when his assassin uses high caliber ammunition instead of birdshot. Meredith's death galvanizes the civil rights movement and 1000s take up Meredith's march. However it sets up the increasing conflict between the "Old Guard" of the civil rights movement (Dr. King, the SCLC) and the more radical elements (Stokely Carmichael, the SNCC). Three months later, the Black Panther Party is founded with Meredith (along with Malcolm X and Medger Evers) being named "martyrs to the Revolution."
August 18, 1966 South Vietnamese soldiers clash with pro-Communist forces in the village of Long Tan. 153 are killed, 3 the South Vietnamese army troops, 133 are villagers caught in the cross-fire, including six children. The incident becomes known to the international press and various Communist governments and pro-Soviet or Soviet-leaning countries express outrage. Four days later, upon the creation of the Asia Development Bank, calls are made to refuse membership to South Vietnam.
August 29, 1966 The first operation of "Operation: Phoenix" is conducted, with a SEAL team detonating several gas lines near the Tien Sa Seaport. It is designed to look like an accident, though sabotage is immediately suspected by Truong.
September 14, 1966 Elections are held in South Vietnam. Almost immediately, charges of election fraud and intimidation are made by UN observers and pro-Communist candidates and activists. General Tran Van Don denies the charges and declares the city, provincial, and national elections fair. Naturally, HE won the Presidency. Tran offered the Premiership to Thich Tri Quang, who promptly refused it siding with those calling the election fraudulent. The US State Department sided with the UN as well, stating they were "disappointed" in the election.
Republicans and other ardent Anti-Communists in America denounce the State Department and Kennedy Administration position, and demand recognition of the Tran government. Richard Nixon comes forward at a GOP Congressional fundraiser and says that "Kennedy is abandoning South Vietnam to the Communists, like he abandoned the forces of freedom at the Bay of Pigs."
September 17, 1966 Thich Tri Quang begins a hunger strike protesting the elections. Rioting occurs in Hue as the Tran loyalist mayor takes office.