The Cuban missile crisis
By: Jacob Goodman

The New York Times, October 22, 1962, page 1

The New York Times, October 24, 1962, page 1

The New York Times, October 25, 1962, page 1

The New York Times, October 26, 1962, page 1

The New York Times, October 26, 1962, page 4

The New York Times, October 26, 1962, page 5

The New York Times, October 26, 1962, page 6

The New York Times, October 28, 1962, page 1

The New York Times, October 30, 1962, page 1

San Marcos Record, November 1, 1962, page 1

The London Times, October 24, 1961, page 1

The London Times, October 24, 1961, page 13

The London Times, October 26, 1961, page 10

Summary of Findings

The Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest the world ever came to a nuclear exchange. It was a standoff between East and West, Capitalism and Communism, the Soviet Union and the United States.  If missiles had been fired millions would have died, but for the average person it was an atmosphere of uncertainty.

“I remember Linda Canion (cousin) crying that we were going to die.  We didn’t know if we were going to wake up in the morning or not,” said Rick Goodman of Victoria, Texas, 64, about his experience during the crisis.

The Cuban missile crisis was different for the average person but a full summary of the Cuban Missile Crisis can be found here.

Television

The “New York Times” front page for October 22 featured a teaser titled, “Capital’s Crisis Air Hints At Development on Cuba; Kennedy TV Talk is Likely.”  This should be covered because today a political leader going on television is normal, but in 1960 it was still a new medium.  The New York Times prediction proved correct and Kennedy addressed the nation on October 24.

The Blockade

The October 25 front page featured a story titled “Big Force Masses to Blockade Cuba.”  The story, by Seymour Topping, then enumerates the severity of the crisis by saying, “(the force) had instructions to use force if necessary, including sinking of ships, to carry out Kennedy’s orders for a blockade of Cuba.”  The story then provides a statement about the situation saying, “…United States military units throughout the world, including the garrison in Berlin and the nuclear-armed Strategic Air Command, had been placed on Alert.”.

U.S. Planes and Destroyer escort the Soviet Cruiser “Anatanov”, suspected of carrying nuclear weapons, out of Cuban waters. Photo by Associated Press via the Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2001696171/

U.S. Planes and Destroyer escort the Soviet Cruiser “Anatanov”, suspected of carrying nuclear weapons out of Cuban waters. Photo by Associated Press via the Library of Congress

The next day the New York Times ran a story featuring the reply from the Soviet Government.  Seymour Topping reported that the Soviet Union had told the Kennedy administration that if the blockade did not move, it would create nuclear war.  This happened after John F. Kennedy had ordered 25 Russian ships to be intercepted on their way to Cuba.

The next day the crisis cooled when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev suggested a summit meeting and a two-week pause in the standoff.

A Soviet ship moves towards the  American blockade of Cuba http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2001696198/

A Soviet ship moves towards the
American blockade of Cuba. Photo Credit: Department of Defense via United Press International and the Library of Congress

 

The Falling Action

The Bucharest, which was the first Soviet ship to be intercepted, was allowed to continue to Cuba after it was revealed that the ship did not contain weapons.  Jack Raymond on page 1 of the New York Times for October 26, 1962 Raymond wrote, “Other Soviet Ships are still headed for Cuba, it was said, although 12 have altered their course, presumably because of illegal weapons.

It would also be worth mentioning the exchange in the United Nations that promoted Peace.  In a story by Arnold Lubasch, Lubasch described the exchange between United States Ambassador to the U.N. Adalai Stevenson and his Soviet counterpart Valerian A. Zorin.  Lubasch describes the Soviet denial of the missiles in Cuba being discredited by Stevenson’s display of the U-2 photographs.  The story goes on to describe a confrontation between Zorin and Stevenson to which Zorin.

U-2 Reconnaissance Photos shown by Stevenson to the U.N.  Photo from Department of Defense via Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2001696173/

U-2 Reconnaissance Photos shown by Stevenson to the U.N. Photo from Department of Defense via Library of Congress

On October 26 a story titled “Pentagon Issues Shelter Report” is featured.  In this story the Defense Department claims that there are fallout shelters in the United States for 60 million people.  The story also describes these shelters as, “giving a protection factor of 100”.  This phrase is meaningless and seems to have been an attempt to keep people calm, there really was not anything people could do if nuclear war occurred.

“I went to bed early because I had to work cattle at four in the morning.  There just wasn’t any sense of staying up and worrying about it,” said Goodman.

Solution

October 28, 1962 the crisis began to settle when the Soviet Union offered to remove Soviet Missiles from Cuba if the United States removed missiles from Turkey.  Seymour Topping read this in a letter Khrushchev sent the White House.  This should be featured because this was the solution that ended the crisis and the New York Times published it the day it was sent.

Jake Goodman is a Journalism and Mass Communication Student at Texas State University with a minor in history. Contact via email jgoodman53stj@gmail.com, or Twitter @jgoodman53stj.

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