October 1, 1962
Belt 4G3, Telephone Conversation between President Kennedy and Governor Barnett
  1. Why does President Kennedy believe that "the state police should be the key" to keeping order?

Questions for further discussion:

  1. Could the President have taken a more effective approach in dealing with Governor Barnett?

audio recording of phone conversation


[Begins mid-conversation]

Barnett: ...let the public know that we talked so many times, don't you think?

JFK: That's correct. Now here's what I, I'm gonna....

Barnett: Now, I can tell you, uh...I think you said it mighty well last night, that tried to reach the, uh, conclusion and couldn't, or words to that effect.

JFK: Now, I was very...As you know, in my speech, I didn't even mention you.

Barnett:"[Avenues to negotiate?] fail," I believe you said.

JFK: That's right, you know, and I didn't go into, uh...

Barnett: You made a wonderful statement there.

JFK: Well, now, the thing is, uh, Governor, I want your help in, uh, getting these state police to continue to help during,the day, because they're their own people. And, uh, we are gonna have a lot of, uh, strange troops in there, and we are gonna have paratroopers in and all the rest. And I think the state police should be the key, and that depends on you.

Barnett: Oh, I...You'll have, you'll have the whole force that we have.

JFK: Well, now, you tell 'em...

Barnett: The [word unintelligible] men are not equipped like yours.

JFK: I understand that. But during the daytime they can help keep order on these roads and keep a lot of people from coming in. And that's the...I think that, uh, that doesn't change your position on the issue, but at least it helps maintain order, which is what we've got to do today.

Barnett: All right, Mr. President.

JFK: Thank you, Governor.

Barnett: I'll stay here now.

JFK: Thank you very much.

Barnett: Thank you so much.

JFK: And keep, keep after your state police now.

Barnett: I will.

JFK: Thanks.

Barnett: I, I'll, I'll call him soon as we hang up...

JFK: Thanks.

Barnett: ...'n' tell him to do all he can to keep peace.

JFK: Okay, thanks, Governor.

Barnett: And when'll I hear from you again?

JFK: I'll be talking to you about noon...

Barnett: Okay.

JFK: ...my time.

Barnett: Thank you so much. Good bye.

JFK: Okay, Governor.

[Phone hangs up.]