September 30, 1962
Belt 4F5, Telephone Conversation between President Kennedy and Governor Barnett
  1. What picture do you get of the situation in Oxford from this brief conversation?
  2. According to the President what is the State Highway Patrol doing at this point?

Questions for further discussion:

  1. What steps could Governor Barnett have taken to curb mob violence?

audio recording of phone conversation

JFK: Hello.

Voice 1: Just one moment, sir.

Voice 2?: There you are, sir. There's the president.

JFK: Hello. Hello.

Barnett: Uh, Mr. President?

JFK: Yes, Governor.

Barnett: I, I just talked with Colonel Birdsong...

JFK: Right.

Barnett: ...who is our director of the highway patrol . . .

JFK: That's right.

Barnett: . . . and he assures me that he has approximately one hundred and fifty men there now.

JFK: Now, we got a report that they're all in their cars two or three blocks away.

Barnett: I told 'em, just like you asked me, to get moving.

JFK: I see. Now, can you get them so that we stop this, uh, rifle shooting? That's what we gotta stop.

Barnett: Well, he says he's doing all that he can. He says there're strangers in there.

JFK: I know it, well that's what we hear.

Barnett: And, uh, he's calling for fifty more, and that'll, that'll put it up around two hundred.

JFK: Can they get those students to go to bed?

Barnett: Well, he says he's trying to, and, uh, I don't think it'll be long before he can get them all to bed.

JFK: Okay. Will you stay at...

Barnett: Maybe not, I can't tell...

JFK: Well, let's stay right at it. We, we ought to be, uh, that's what we gotta do before...

Barnett: Uh, he's...

JFK: ...we can, uh, do anything.

Barnett: ...he's reporting, uh, constantly to a gentleman who has control of the activities of the troops there.

JFK: Yeah.

Barnett: And, uh, he understands that he's doing all he can.

JFK: Well, I think that it's very important, Governor, aside from, uh, this issue, we don't want a lot of people, uh, killed, just because they, particularly, uh, evidently two or three guardsmen have been shot. And, of course, so , our marshals and then that state trooper, so we don't want...

[Recording ends abruptly.]