In 1963, John F. Kennedy, the youngest man ever elected to the presidency, had a lot on his mind. Since he'd taken office in 1961, he'd been trying to lead the country in new directions. He had legislation he wanted passed: a civil rights bill, a tax cut bill, and a health care bill. There were also bills on equal pay for women, aid to cities and poor rural areas, manpower training, and a minimum wage. Despite early opposition, there were signs by 1963 that his ideas were beginning to be accepted in Congress. And Kennedy's reputation was growing worldwide. Great Britain's prime minister, Harold MacMillan, said this: "He seemed, in his own person, to embody all the hopes and aspirations of this new world that is struggling to emerge."
But in Texas there was political trouble, and Texas's votes would be important in the coming presidential election in 1964, when Kennedy was hoping to win a second term. So when Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson, a Texan, asked Kennedy to undertake a peacemaking mission, the President thought he should make the trip. Senator J. William Fulbright urged him not to go. "Dallas is a very dangerous place," he said. "I wouldn't go there." Then Kennedy's press secretary got a letter. "Don't let the President go to Texas. Texas is too dangerous," the writer said. But the secretary put the letter aside.