All 1960s civil rights gains plus most good jobs and benefits are gone. Alaska and Hawaii additions grew America to 50 states. The Korean War left an unsettled armistice. Six decades later, things haven't changed.
Cold War politics settled in. Mutually assured destruction (MAD) prevented WW III. Censure ruined Joe McCarthy. By May 1957, he was dead at age 48. He's not missed or mourned.
The CIA's first coup deposed Iran's democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh. A generation of terror followed. A year later, America toppled Guatemala's Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Decades of genocide followed. Indigenous Guatemalans suffered horrifically. They still do.
Throughout the decade, few followed Vietnam events, France's defeat, and America's growing involvement. Palestine wasn't occupied. Israel was mostly out of sight and mind.
Times indeed changed, and not for the better, including in education.
June 14, 1956 reflected a different time. Thousands filled Harvard's yard that day. Dignitaries showed up. Jack Kennedy delivered the commencement address. Senator JFK. It was 1956.
He was thoughtful and scholarly. Politicians don't talk that way today. He said political parties and politicians only think of winning. Truth and honor are sacrificed for political advantage.
His entire address was full of scholarly references. He quoted Lowell, Milton, Bismark, Goethe, Macauley, and others. He had intellect and showed it.
He reminded listeners that long ago books were politicians' tools, not their enemies. Locke, Milton, Sydney, Montesquieu, Coke, Bollingbroke and others were widely read and quoted in political pamphlets.
"Our political leaders traded in the free commerce of ideas with lasting results" long ago. He named Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Franklin, Adams, his son John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster among others.
He said when freedom is endangered, politicians and intellectuals "should be natural allies, working more closely together for the common cause against the common enemy."
He ended saying "if more politicians knew poetry and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live on this commencement day of 1956."
He also said one of his contemporaries spoke of Jefferson as a man for all seasons. He called him "A gentleman of 32, who could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, dance a minuet, and play the violin."- Advertisement -
He was also a statesman, third US president, and supporter of public and university education. He said "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
"".whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right."