Jan. 15, 1963: Jackie Kennedy dazzles at State of the Union

The press coverage of President Kennedy’s State of the Union address, on the morning of Tuesday January 15, 1963, while generally positive could not match the adulation shown his wife and family.

Jackie at the State of the Union address January 1963

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy arrives at the Capitol to listen to her husband’s State of the Union address on January 14, accompanied the Architect of the Capitol, J. George Stewart. The man gesturing with his had in the background is Secret Service agent Clint Hill who would be at her side when JFK was killed eleven months later. (JFK Library and Museum)

Tom Wicker of the New York Times called the president’s speech “notable for its tone of confidence in the nation’s domestic prospects and foreign policy.” Thanks to JFK’s peaceful resolution of the Cuban missile crisis, the country was not fighting a war in Cuba. He proposed a $10-billion tax cut to stimulate the economy.

“If the State of the Union was improved,” said Russell Baker of the Times, “the political fortunes of the clan Kennedy were at full tide.”

The Washington Post said First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy arrived “looking radiant with a glowing tan from three weeks in Palm Beach and wearing a new black double-breasted mink coat, semi-fitted with the skins worked to form a diagonal effect.” She sat in the front with her mother, Mrs. Auchincloss, and her sister, Princess Radizwill. Also sitting in the galleries were brother Robert, the Attorney General, and Ted, the newly elected Senator from Massachussetts, along with their wives.

“The tableau of beautifully dressed beautiful young people,” wrote Baker, “drew one of the day’s loudest rounds of applause.”

Kennedy’s combination of liberal politics and Hollywood style, while popular, also aroused deep resentment and concern among opponents of his policy who thought he was squandering American power in ways that threatened the national security of the United States. But on this occasion at least, those voices were muted.

In Dallas, Lee Oswald worked his usual 8:05 to 5:15 shift at the Jaggers-Chiles-Stovall graphic arts firm.

(Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, JFK Library and Museum, Mary Ferrell Foundation)


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