Near Miss: JFK Assassination Attempt in 1960

This is the working title of a writing project I am absorbed in at the moment. I intend to publish a book about this relatively unknown incident. Sure I know I am an unpublished author, but I think this project has great potential. Anything related to Kennedy seems to be of great interest to the general public. The photo shows President-elect Kennedy and his vice-president-elect Lyndon Johnson.Several short magazine articles have been written on this incident, but most just scratch the surface of the people and events. There has never been a book written or published related to this incident. I have seized the opportunity and am researching and writing a manuscript right now.I have a collaborator in the Belmont New Hampshire Historical Society, who has volunteered to assist with research and interviews. This individual has been generous in providing time and effort towards this project. Acknowledgment will be given.

The Incident
In December 1960 while president-elect John F. Kennedy was at his home in Palm Beach, Florida a retired postal worker from Belmont, New Hampshire, Richard Paul Pavlick, allegedly attempted to kill him. Pavlick was 73 at the time of the attempt.This attempt was suppressed at the time and the media still haven’t paid much attention to it. Pavlick tried to kill Kennedy with a bomb. He supposedly had his body and his car wired with several sticks of dynamite and actually got extremely close to Kennedy. The only thing that held him back was that Kennedy’s wife and children were near and he didn’t want to injure them. I guess even assassins have a conscience.

The Secret Service knew about Pavlick, but had no idea he was in Palm Beach stalking Kennedy. They were searching elsewhere for him. In all he was close to Kennedy on several occasions prior to and during his time in Palm Beach. If he had decided to trigger his detonator experts concede that Kennedy would have been killed. Secret Service Chief at the time U.E. Baughman said in his memoirs Secret Service Chief:

“The closeness of the call was appalling” and “Hardly anybody realized just how near we came one bright December morning to losing our president-elect to a madman.”

Pavlick was eventually arrested and the evidence against appears to have been overwhelming. However, questions remain. He was never given a trial. Further he was committed and held in various mental institutions for six years without ever having proper legal representation. Eventually a letter was uncovered showing that he had been declared competent and able to stand trial, but had never received one. In fact the government dropped all charges against him. As a result of a hearing he was released in 1966.Very little has been published about who Richard Paul Pavlick really was and why he wanted to kill Kennedy. I have used my genealogical research skills to supplement historical documents and his autobiographical writing: An Innocent Man Arrested: Six Years Spent in Hell. This document is very disjointed but does offer much insight into Pavlick. It also contains useful background information about his life. In my book I intend to give a fair and balanced view of Pavlick and the incident. Primary goal will be the truth. Even if he was guilty of attempting to kill Kennedy, he should have received a fair trial.Several important issues related to the American constitutional succession procedures need to be looked at. What really happens if a president-elect is killed or dies before he is sworn in as the President? Remember the election takes place in November, but the winning candidate doesn’t become President until January of the following year. For Kennedy this was November 8, 1960 and he became president on January 20, 1961. Succession in the event of death is not as straight forward as most people believe. Presidents have died or been killed while in office, but never a president in waiting. Most people believe that the vice-president elect would automatically become President. The answers may surprise you.

3 Responses to Near Miss: JFK Assassination Attempt in 1960

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