New Frontier

The term New Frontier was used by Democratic[1][2] presidential candidate John F. Kennedy in his acceptance speech in the 1960 United States presidential election to the Democratic National Convention at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as the Democratic slogan to inspire America to support him. The phrase developed into a label for his administration's domestic and foreign programs.

We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier—the frontier of the 1960s, the frontier of unknown opportunities and perils, the frontier of unfilled hopes and unfilled threats. ... The pioneers gave up their safety, their comfort, and sometimes their lives to build our new west. They were determined to make the new world strong and free - an example to the world. ... Some would say that those struggles are all over, that all the horizons have been explored, that all the battles have been won. That there is no longer an American frontier. ... And we stand today on the edge of a new frontier, the frontier of unknown opportunities and perils. ... Beyond that frontier are uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered problems of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. ... I'm asking each of you to be pioneers towards that New Frontier. My call is to the young in heart, regardless of age. ... Can we carry through in an age where we will witness not only new breakthroughs in weapons of destruction, but also a race for mastery of the sky and the rain, the ocean and the tides, the far side of space, and the inside of men's minds? ... All mankind waits upon our decision. A whole world waits to see what we shall do. And we cannot fail that trust, and we cannot fail to try.[3]

In the words of Robert D. Marcus: "Kennedy entered office with ambitions to eradicate poverty and to raise America's eyes to the stars through the space program."[4]

Among the legislation passed by Congress during the Kennedy Administration, unemployment benefits were expanded, aid was provided to cities to improve housing and transportation, funds were allocated to continue the construction of a national highway system started under Eisenhower, a water pollution control act was passed to protect the country's rivers and streams, and an agricultural act to raise farmers' incomes was made law.[5] A significant amount of anti-poverty legislation was passed by Congress, including increases in social security benefits and in the minimum wage, several housing bills, and aid to economically distressed areas. A few antirecession public works packages,[4] together with a number of measures designed to assist farmers,[6] were introduced. Major expansions and improvements were made in Social Security (including retirement at 62 for men), hospital construction, library services, family farm assistance and reclamation.[7] Food stamps for low-income Americans were reintroduced, food distribution to the poor was increased, and there was an expansion in school milk and school lunch distribution. The most comprehensive farm legislation since 1938 was carried out, with expansions in rural electrification, soil conservation, crop insurance, farm credit, and marketing orders. In September 1961, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency was established as the focal point in government for the "planning, negotiation, and execution of international disarmament and arms control agreements."[8] Altogether, the New Frontier witnessed the passage of a broad range of social and economic reforms.[9] However, proposed legislation which was considered more revolutionary languished in Congress.[10]


According to Theodore White, under John F. Kennedy, more new legislation was actually approved and passed into law than at any other time since the Thirties.[11] When Congress recessed in the latter part of 1961, 33 out of 53 bills that Kennedy had submitted to Congress were enacted. A year later, 40 out of 54 bills that the Kennedy Administration had proposed were passed by Congress, and in 1963, 35 out of 58 "must" bills were enacted. As noted by Larry O'Brien, "A myth had arisen that he [Kennedy] was uninterested in Congress, or that he 'failed' with Congress. The facts, I believe, are otherwise. Kennedy's legislative record in 1961–63 was the best of any President since Roosevelt's first term."[12]

However, the Independence Hall Association's website U.S. History.org describes then-Vice President and future U.S. President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society as the "largest reform agenda since Roosevelt's New Deal" and as what also managed to "complete the unfinished work of JFK's New Frontier."[13] In his book John F. Kennedy on Leadership, John A. Barnes stated Congress in fact passed few of Kennedy's New Frontier proposals during his lifetime, with major initiatives not being enacted until 1964 and 1965, during Johnson's Presidency.[14] The United States Department of Labor also stated that Johnson "immediately set about to enact the balance of Kennedy's New Frontier" after taking office following Kennedy's assassination.[15] It has also been acknowledged that during his Presidency, Kennedy had placed Johnson, a former Senate Majority Leader, in charge of getting his New Frontier proposals passed through Congress.[16]


Share this article:

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article New Frontier, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.