Thursday, April 14, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 5, No. 1919


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Sixty-six years ago today, April 14, 1950, President Harry S Truman received a long awaited report from the National Security Council on the topic of American cold war policy.  The 58 page report, titled NSC-68, had been completed on April 7th.

Four months earlier, the President had requested a review of United States foreign policy by the council.  The report was not made public, however, until declassified in 1975.    

NSC-68 called on the government to pursue a policy of containment of communism.  This policy, which marked the administrations of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan is known in history books as the Truman Doctrine.

The report advocated a large expansion of the military budget, development of the H-bomb and increased military aide to U.S. allies.  President Truman hesitated its approval, however, because it lacked specificity and called for excessive spending.  He sent the report back for revision and finally gave approval in 1951.

NSC-68 is described as "among the most influential documents composed by the U.S. government during the Cold War."


"NSC-68, 1950," Office of the Historian,


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) One hundred fifty-one years ago at 10:15 p.m. this evening, April 14, 1865, a single pistol shot was fired at President Abraham Lincoln as he was sitting in a rocking chair in a box above the stage at Ford's Theater here in the Nation's Capital.

Some witnesses said they saw a man, later identified as the actor and Southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth,  leap to the stage below the box shortly after the shot was fire and scramble out the rear of the theater.

One of the doctors attending Mr. Lincoln,  Dr. Charles A. Leale, was heard to say "the wound is mortal".  The bullet entered the back of the President's head.  Major Henry Rathbone, a guest in the President's box, was badly wounded in the arm as he grappled with the assassin.  

Not wanting to worsen Lincoln's condition any more than necessary, doctors ordered he be moved to the nearest bed. Mr. William Petersen, who runs a boardinghouse opposite Ford's on 10th Street, offered use of one of his rooms on the 1st floor.  Mrs. Mary Lincoln, in a frantic state, followed her husband into the boarding house.

The President was laid diagonally across the single bed in the room because it was too short for his 6'4" frame.  Dr. Leale was assisted by Dr. Charles Sabin Taft and Dr. Albert F. King who both were in the theater at the time of the shooting.

A hostile crowd gathered outside on 10th Street between the rooming house and Ford's.  Some called for the theater to be torched.


"Bloody Crimes:  The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant For Lincoln's Corpse," by James Swanson, William Morrow, 2010.

Ford's Theater
Photo by John White (2007)