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Richard N. Goodwin

Richard N. Goodwin


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Richard Goodwin was born in Boston on 7th December, 1931. He graduated from Tufts University in 1953. He then went on to study law at Harvard University.

Goodwin joined the Massachusetts State bar in 1958. He worked for Felix Frankfurter before being appointed as special counsel to the Legislative Oversight Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

In 1959 John F. Kennedy appointed Goodwin as a member of his speech writing staff. The following year he became Kennedy's assistant special counsel. Goodwin was also a member of Kennedy's Task Force on Latin American Affairs and in 1961, was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, a position he held until 1963. As one of Kennedy's specialists in Latin-American affairs, Goodwin helped develop the Alliance for Progress, an economic development program for Latin America. Goodwin also served as secretary-general of the International Peace Corps.

After Kennedy's death Goodwin joined the staff of President Lyndon B. Johnson where he worked as a speechwriter and adviser. Goodwin resigned in 1965 and became a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and a visiting professor of public affairs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Goodwin continued to be involved in politics and wrote speeches for presidential candidates Robert Kennedy, Eugene McCarthy and Edmund Muskie. He also wrote for several magazines, including The New Yorker and Rolling Stone. He also published The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys (1986) and Remembering America (1988).

In March, 2001, Goodwin was a member of a United States delegation that visited the scene of the Bay of Pigs battle. The party included Arthur Schlesinger (historian), Robert Reynolds, (the CIA station chief in Miami during the invasion), Jean Kennedy Smith (sister of John F. Kennedy), Alfredo Duran (Bay of Pigs veteran) and Wayne S. Smith (Executive Secretary of his Latin American Task Force).

Richard N. Goodwin, who wrote speeches for Kennedy during the 1960 campaign and accompanied him to the White House, described Robert Kennedy as "completely his brother's man. He was a guy whose basic purpose in life was to advance and protect the career of John Kennedy." In an interview for this book in 1997, Goodwin recalled one meeting between the president and a group of southern senators on the White House balcony. One of the senators "leaned forward and said, 'Well, Mr. President, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to attack you on civil rights: And Kennedy says, 'Can't you attack Bobby instead?' Bobby played that role," Goodwin explained. The younger Kennedy "was always reflecting his brother's feelings"

Goodwin was also present at a White House meeting after the Bay of Pigs when Bobby tore into a senior State Department official who, after the fact, had told a reporter that he was opposed to the invasion. "I watched Bobby just lash into him," Goodwin recalled. "`You can't undermine my brother." And John Kennedy just sat there quietly, never said a word throughout. But I have no doubt that Bobby was reflecting conversations that the two of them had.

President Fidel Castro sat alongside ex-CIA operatives, advisers to President Kennedy and members of the exile team that attacked his country four decades ago as former adversaries met Thursday to examine the disastrous Bay of Pigs landing.

Dressed in his traditional olive green uniform, Castro read with amusement from old U.S. documents surrounding the 1961 invasion of Cuba by CIA-trained exiles, which helped shaped four decades of U.S.-Cuba politics. Some of the documents were analyses of a young, charismatic Castro.

Castro arrived in the morning as protagonists sat down to start a three-day conference on the invasion. Participants at the meeting - which was closed the media - said he was still there in the evening.

The Cuban president personally greeted former Kennedy aide and American historian Arthur Schlesinger, but made no public statement.

Participants later said that at one point, Castro read aloud from a once secret memorandum to Kennedy about his own visit to the United States as Cuba's new leader in 1959.

"`It would be a serious mistake to underestimate this man,''' Castro read with a smile, said Thomas Blanton of the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

"With all his appearance of naivete, unsophistication and ignorance on many matters, he is clearly a strong personality and a born leader of great personal courage and conviction,''' Castro read, according to Blanton. '``While we certainly know him better than before Castro remains an enigma.'''

Blanton said Castro told the group he believed the actual aim of the invasion was not to provoke an uprising against his government but to set the stage for a U.S. intervention in Cuba. Blanton said a member of the former exile team, Alfredo Duran, agreed.

Among the newly declassified documents about the April 17-19, 1961, event was the first known written statement by the Central Intelligence Agency (news - web sites) calling for the assassination of Castro.

In one document released Thursday in connection with the conference, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev warned Kennedy in a letter sent the day after the invasion began that the "little war'' in Cuba" could touch off a chain reaction in all parts of the globe.''

Khrushchev issued an "urgent call'' to Kennedy to end ``the aggression'' against Cuba and said his country was prepared to provide Cuba with "all necessary help'' to repel the attack.

Trained by the CIA in Guatemala, the 2506 Brigade was comprised of about 1,500 exiles determined to overthrow Castro's government, which had seized power 28 months before.

The three-day invasion failed. Without U.S. air support and running short of ammunition, more than 1,000 invaders were captured. Another 100 invaders and 151 defenders died.

Blanton called the conference "a victory over a bitter history.''

Other key American figures attending were Robert Reynolds, the CIA station chief in Miami during the invasion; Wayne Smith, then a U.S. diplomat stationed in Havana; and Richard Goodwin, another Kennedy assistant, who with Schlesinger considered the invasion ill-advised.

On the Cuban government's side were Vice President Jose Ramon Fernandez, a retired general who led defending troops on the beach known here as Playa Giron, and many other retired military men.

Former enemies who fought each other 40 years ago have together revisited the site of one of the key battles of the Cold War, the Bay of Pigs in southern Cuba.

The visit was the culmination of a three-day conference designed to investigate the causes of the conflict, what went so badly wrong for the US-backed forces and the lessons to be learnt from it.

Among those taking part were historians from both Cuba and the United States, Arthur Schlesinger and Richard Goodwin - both former advisers to the then US president, John Kennedy - soldiers from both sides and President Fidel Castro himself.

During the first two days in Havana previously classified documents were exchanged.

In the Cuban papers were transcripts of the telephone communications between President Castro and his military commanders during the battle.

They showed how closely involved he was, the tension of the moment and the joy when, after more than 60 hours of fighting, it became obvious that the invasion had been defeated.

The US documents chart in detail the humiliation felt at the nature of the defeat and the embarrassment caused to President Kennedy.

One State Department paper puts the blame for the debacle squarely on the CIA, which trained the invasion force.

It said: "The fundamental cause of the disaster was the Agency's failure to give the project, notwithstanding its importance and its immense potentiality for damage to the United States, the top-flight handling which it required."

It added: "There was failure at high levels to concentrate informed, unwavering scrutiny on the project."

In the aftermath of the failed mission, another US paper lays out the early plans to destabilise the Cuban government - a plan which became known as Operation Mongoose.

This included a number of bizarre schemes, including one to put powder in Fidel Castro's shoes to make his beard fall out and another which included exploding cigars.

The document suggested that the most effective commander of such an operation would be the then attorney general, the president's brother, Robert Kennedy.

Among those searching for answers in Cuba was the Kennedy's sister, Jean Kennedy Smith.

Walking the beaches of the Bay of Pigs, she said the conference had been a big boost in helping to bring peace between Cuba and the United States.

Another of the US delegates was Alfredo Duran, one of the invading force 40 years ago.

He faced the man he tried to overthrow, Fidel Castro, as well as other Cuban defenders.

As he stood on the beach he said: "This has been a very emotional time, especially discussing with the colonel in charge of the operation the very intense fighting that took place in this spot."

The beaches along the Bay of Pigs in southern Cuba are now littered with sunbeds and overlooked by luxury hotels.

But there is plenty to remind the visitor that this was the scene of an important battle... as the Cubans see it the victory of a small country against an imperialist oppressor.

For the Americans it was a humiliating defeat that helped to shape its Cold War strategy for the next generation and its policy towards Cuba until now...

There was much talk at the conference of how President Kennedy was reluctant to back the invasion.

One of his former advisers who came to Havana, Arthur Schlesinger, said the president felt obliged to go ahead since he had inherited the plan from the previous Eisenhower administration.

"I advised against it," said Mr Schlesinger, "But my advice was not heeded."

In the aftermath of the failed invasion, any hopes of reconciliation with the United States died and President Castro moved closer into the Soviet camp.

The tension increased, culminating the following year in the Cuban missile crisis when the Soviet Union tried to station nuclear missiles in Cuba, pointing at the United States.


Obituary for Richard N. Goodwin

Richard "Dick" Naradof Goodwin was an author, playwright, and former political advisor and White House speechwriter to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, and to Senator Robert F. Kennedy, died peacefully after a brief bout with cancer on Sunday evening May 20th at his home, surrounded by his family and friends. He was 86.

Mr. Goodwin crafted what are widely considered to be some of the greatest and most influential presidential speeches in American history, including Lyndon Johnson's civil rights "We Shall Overcome" and Great Society speeches, John F. Kennedy's Latin American speeches, and Robert Kennedy's "ripple of hope" speech in South Africa in 1966.

Mr. Goodwin was the author of four books including The American Condition, Promises To Keep: A Call For A New American Revolution and his memoir, Remembering America: A Voice From The Sixties, which was re-released in e-book format in July 2014. Remembering America is an inspiring history that evokes the hopes, dreams and ideals of an extraordinary and turbulent decade.

In Remembering America, Mr. Goodwin chronicled his experience as special counsel to the Legislative Oversight Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives, during which he conducted the now well-known investigation of the Twenty One Quiz Show scandal. His story was the basis for Robert Redford's 1994 film, Quiz Show and he was portrayed by the Golden Globe® Award-winning actor Rob Morrow. Quiz Show was nominated for four Academy Awards®, including Best Picture, and four Golden Globe® Awards.

Mr. Goodwin authored a play, many articles for The New Yorker and Rolling Stone and numerous editorials for The New York Times, The Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times, among others. He was often called upon to offer reflections and analysis for documentaries, articles and books about the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations.

His play The Hinge of the World is a riveting drama about the confrontation between Galileo Galilei and Pope Urban VIII, which was published by Farrar Straus & Giroux, and performed as a theatrical production internationally at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, England, and at the Huntington Theatre in Boston, where it was retitled Two Men of Florence. The play has been adapted by screenwriter Alyssa Hill for a feature film currently in development at Warner Bros.-based Gulfstream Pictures.

Mr. Goodwin graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University and Harvard Law School. He was the recipient of Harvard Law School's prestigious Fay Diploma. Mr. Goodwin served as a Law Clerk to United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter, before being appointed as special counsel to the Legislative Oversight Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mr. Goodwin, at the age of just 29, entered the White House as an aide to President John F. Kennedy, having first travelled with then-presidential candidate Kennedy and writing speeches for his campaign. After Kennedy's election, Mr. Goodwin served as Assistant Special Counsel to the President and as a key specialist on President Kennedy's Task Force on Latin-American affairs, originating the Alliance for Progress and meeting in secret with Che Guevara in Uruguay in August 1961. Mr. Goodwin also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, and was Secretary-General of the International Peace Corps.

After President Kennedy's assassination, Mr. Goodwin served as the Special Assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, where he formulated the concept of the Great Society and drafted many of President Johnson's major addresses and messages dealing with civil rights. President Johnson asked Mr. Goodwin to write his historic 1965 civil rights speech, which came to be known as the "We Shall Overcome" speech that President Johnson delivered on March 15, 1965 to the joint session of the United States Congress. This speech was the cornerstone of progress for voting rights and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that President Johnson signed five months later.

The "archetypal New Frontiersman" is how Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. described in Mr. Goodwin in his book A Thousand Days. "Goodwin was the supreme generalist who could turn from Latin America to saving the Nile Monuments, from civil rights to planning a White House dinner for the Nobel Prize winners, from composing a parody of Norman Mailer to drafting a piece of legislation, from lunching with a Supreme Court Justice to dining with Jean Seberg -- and at the same time retain an unquenchable spirit of sardonic liberalism and unceasing drive to get things done."

Mr. Goodwin resigned from the White House in 1966, joining the U.S. Anti-War Movement. He briefly directed Eugene McCarthy's presidential campaign in New Hampshire and Wisconsin, and wrote speeches for presidential candidate Edmund S. Muskie, before joining Senator Robert F. Kennedy's presidential campaign. Mr. Goodwin was with Senator Kennedy in Los Angeles when he was killed in 1968. Mr. Goodwin helped craft Vice President Al Gore's presidential concession speech in 2000.

Mr. Goodwin was the recipient of many awards and honors, including the John F. Kennedy Library Distinguished American honor, the Aspen Institute's Public Leadership Award, and honorary degrees from Tufts University, UMass Lowell and Hebrew Union College.

Mr. Goodwin was at work on his next book. He lived in Concord, Massachusetts, with his wife of 42 years, the presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin, with whom he has two sons, Michael and Joseph. Mr. Goodwin has a son Richard from a previous marriage. The Goodwins have two granddaughters, Willa and Lena.

Family and friends will gather to honor and remember Mr. Goodwin on Friday, June 15th, at 12pm at the First Parish in Concord, 20 Lexington Road, Concord, MA

Concord's town flag will fly at half-staff on Friday, June 15th in honor of Mr. Goodwin's service to his country in the United States Army.


Career [ edit | edit source ]

Early career [ edit | edit source ]

After clerking for Justice Felix Frankfurter of the U.S. Supreme Court, Goodwin became counsel for the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce where Goodwin was involved in investigating quiz show scandals, particularly the Twenty-One scandal. ΐ] Ε] This affair provided the story for the 1994 movie Quiz Show, in which Goodwin was portrayed by actor Rob Morrow. ΐ]

Kennedy administration [ edit | edit source ]

Goodwin joined the speechwriting staff of John F. Kennedy in 1959. Γ] Fellow Kennedy speechwriter Ted Sorensen became a mentor to Goodwin. Β] Goodwin was one of the youngest members Ζ] of the group of "New Frontiersmen" who advised Kennedy others included Fred Dutton, Ralph Dungan, Kenneth O'Donnell, and Harris Wofford, all of whom were under 37 years old. Η]

In 1961, after Kennedy became president, Goodwin became assistant special counsel to the President and a member of the Task Force on Latin American Affairs. Later that year, Kennedy appointed him Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Goodwin held this position until 1963. Goodwin reportedly opposed the Bay of Pigs invasion, unsuccessfully trying to persuade Kennedy not to order the operation. Α] In August 1961, Goodwin was part of a delegation headed by US Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon that was sent to Uruguay to attend a conference of Latin American finance ministers. ⎖] ⎗] The topic under discussion was the Alliance for Progress, which was endorsed by all countries representatives excepting Cuban representative Che Guevera. However, Guevera had no intentions of going home empty handed he noticed that Goodwin smoked cigars during the meetings, and through an intermediary challenged him, suggesting he wouldn't dare smoke a Cuban cigar. Goodwin accepted the challenge, and subsequently, a gift of cigars in an elaborate polished mahogany box arrived from Guevera. Guevera expressed his desire to talk informally with Goodwin, and Goodwin received permission from Treasury Secretary Dillon. However, during the last day of the conference, Guevera had critical words for the press concerning the Alliance for Progress, and being the only representative to do so, speaking passionately on the topic, was upstaging the business-like, pin-striped, former-Wall-Street-banker Dillon. Dillon retracted his agreement for Guevera and Goodwin's meeting. However, Guevera persevered, and Goodwin agreed to listen, but he stressed that he had no real negotiating power. ⎖]

Later that evening at a party, Brazilian and Argentinian officials acted as intermediaries Guevera and Goodwin were introduced, and went to a separate room so they could talk. Jokingly, Guevera "thanked" Goodwin for the Bay of Pigs invasion that had occurred only a few months earlier, as it had only solidified support for Castro. The ice was broken and the two idealists, both within a few years of 30 and sitting almost knee to knee, spoke through the night. Although they understood their countries were not destined to be friendly allies, they focused on what they could accomplish for the sake of peace. Goodwin found Guevera very open and honest. Ultimately, they came to the nonbinding conclusion that if Cuba would be willing to desist from forming any military alliances with the USSR, nor try aid revolutionaries in other Latin American countries, America would be willing to stop trying to remove Castro by force and lift the trade embargo on Cuba, and vice versa. They agreed to reveal their conversation to only their respective leaders, Castro and Kennedy. ⎖]

After returning from Uruguay, Goodwin wrote a memo for Kennedy on the meeting, ΐ] where he stated how successful he was in convincing Guevara that he was a member of Guevara's "newer generation" and how Guevara also sent another message to Goodwin where he described their meeting "quite profitable." ⎘] While the meeting prompted a "minor political furor," Α] President Kennedy was ultimately satisfied with the outcome of Goodwin's efforts, and was the first to smoke one of the contraband Cuban cigars Goodwin had brought back. "'Are they good?' the president asked. 'They're the best,' Goodwin replied, prompting Kennedy to immediately open Guevera's gift and sample one of the Havanas." ⎖] Goodwin also did significant work in the Kennedy White House to relocate ancient Egyptian monuments that were threatened with destruction in the building of the Aswan Dam, including the Abu Simbel temples. Α] Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., in his book A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House, called Goodwin "the supreme generalist" who could:

". turn from Latin America to saving the Nile Monuments, from civil rights to planning a White House dinner for the Nobel Prize winners, from composing a parody of Norman Mailer to drafting a piece of legislation, from lunching with a Supreme Court Justice to dining with [actress] Jean Seberg — and at the same time retain an unquenchable spirit of sardonic liberalism and unceasing drive to get things done." ΐ]

Johnson administration [ edit | edit source ]

Goodwin in 1965 (left), with Bill Moyers and President Johnson in the Oval Office.

From 1963 to 1964, Goodwin served as the secretary-general of the International Peace Corps Secretariat. Γ] In 1964, he became special assistant to the president in the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. Γ] Goodwin has been credited with naming Johnson's legislative agenda "the Great Society", a term first used by Johnson in a May 1964 speech. ΐ] Although Goodwin contributed to a speech for Johnson outlining the program, Α] Bill Moyers, another Johnson advisor, was the principal author of the speech. ⎛]

Goodwin wrote speeches for Johnson reacting to Bloody Sunday, the violent police suppression of civil rights marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge (1965) ΐ] and calling for passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Α] Goodwin was also one of the writers of Robert F. Kennedy's Day of Affirmation Address (1966), the "ripple of hope" speech in which Kennedy denounced apartheid in South Africa. Α] Goodwin was a key figure in the creation of the Alliance for Progress, a U.S. program to stimulate economic development in Latin America, Γ] and wrote a major speech for Johnson on the subject. Α]

Career after government [ edit | edit source ]

In September 1965, Goodwin resigned from his White House position over his disillusionment with the Vietnam War. ΐ] After his departure, Goodwin continued to write speeches for Johnson occasionally, the last being the 1966 State of the Union Address. Δ] In 1975, Time magazine reported that Goodwin had resigned after Johnson, who wanted to oust people close to Robert F. Kennedy from the White House, had asked FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to investigate him. ⎜] The next year, Goodwin publicly joined the antiwar movement, publishing Triumph or Tragedy, a book critical of the war. He also published articles criticizing the Johnson administration's actions in Vietnam in The New Yorker under a pseudonym. ΐ] After leaving government, Goodwin held teaching positions he was a fellow at Wesleyan University's Center for Advanced Studies in Middletown, Connecticut, from 1965 to 1967 and was visiting professor of public affairs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1968. Α] Γ] In 1968, Goodwin was briefly involved in Eugene McCarthy's presidential campaign, ΐ] managing McCarthy's campaign in the New Hampshire primary, in which McCarthy won almost 42% of the vote, which was considered a moral victory over Johnson. Α] Goodwin left McCarthy's campaign and worked for Senator Robert F. Kennedy after he entered the race. ΐ] Goodwin served briefly as political editor of Rolling Stone in 1974. ⎝] He wrote a memoir, Remembering America: A Voice from the Sixties (1988). Α] In 2000, he contributed some lines to the concession speech Al Gore wrote with his chief speechwriter Eli Attie following the Supreme Court's controversial decision in Bush v. Gore. Α] ⎞]

His work was published in The New Yorker and he wrote numerous books, articles and plays. In 2003, the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, England, produced his new work The Hinge of the World, which took as its subject matter the 17th-century conflict between Galileo Galilei and the Vatican. ⎟] Retitled Two Men of Florence (referring to Galileo and his adversary Pope Urban VIII, who as Cardinal Maffeo Barberini had once been Galileo's mentor), the play made its American debut at the Huntington Theatre in Boston in March 2009. ⎠]


‘The Great Society’: A Speechwriter’s Draft

A draft of the speech that Richard N. Goodwin wrote in 1964 outlining Lyndon B. Johnson's signature legislative agenda, “the Great Society."

“Dick Goodwin was a lion of liberalism before it became a dirty word, crafting speeches for Democratic icons that define the politics and progressivism of the 21st Century,” Mark K. Updegrove, the president and chief executive of the LBJ Foundation, said in an email. “His ‘We Shall Overcome’ speech, L.B.J.’s plea for the Voting Rights Act in the wake of Selma’s ‘Bloody Sunday’ resulting in direct action from a formerly reluctant Congress, ranks as one of the most eloquent and effective presidential speeches in history.”

Mr. Goodwin helped draft the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed literacy tests and other discriminatory practices that had long disenfranchised black Americans. For a time, as Mr. Goodwin later recalled, he deeply believed in Johnson because of his work for civil rights and social reforms.

But as the administration’s involvement in Vietnam grew, Mr. Goodwin left in 1965 and began to write and speak against the war. In 1968, after Johnson announced that he would not seek re-election, Mr. Goodwin became an adviser and speechwriter in the Democratic presidential campaigns of Senators Robert F. Kennedy of New York and Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota, both staunch opponents of the war.

Mr. Goodwin was with Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles when the senator, after winning the California primary, was fatally shot by an assassin. He was then McCarthy’s speechwriter, until the Democrats nominated Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey at a Chicago convention overshadowed by clashes between the police and antiwar protesters.

Brilliant, intense, sometimes abrasive, Mr. Goodwin had the look of a rumpled professor. He smoked big cigars, favored turtlenecks and corduroy jackets and had long, shaggy hair. His voice was gravelly and slightly slurred, his face craggy, with silver-gray eyebrows that jutted up devilishly.

He taught at Wesleyan University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and wrote for Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, The New York Times and other publications. His books included “The Sower’s Seed: A Tribute to Adlai Stevenson” (1965), “Triumph or Tragedy: Reflections on Vietnam” (1966), “The American Condition” (1974) and “Promises to Keep: A Call for a New American Revolution” (1992).

His memoir, “Remembering America: A Voice From the Sixties” (1988), stirred controversy with a portrayal of President Johnson as erratic, isolated, even paranoid. Some who had known Johnson disputed Mr. Goodwin’s conclusions. Critics praised his passionate liberal assessment of the era, but said he ignored many scholarly and political re-evaluations of the 1960s.

Richard Naradof Goodwin was born in Boston on Dec. 7, 1931, one of two sons of Joseph and Belle Fisher Goodwin. Dick and his younger brother, Herbert, grew up in Brookline. Dick was first in his class at Tufts University, graduating in 1953, and in Harvard Law School’s class of 1958. He was a clerk for Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter of the Supreme Court for a year. His brother, a Massachusetts district court judge in Brookline for many years, died in 2015.

In 1958 he married Sandra Leverant, with whom he had a son, Richard. She died in 1972. He married Doris Kearns in 1975. They had two sons, Michael and Joseph. Besides his wife and sons, he is survived by two granddaughters.

In 1959, Mr. Goodwin joined the staff of a House subcommittee investigating rigged television quiz shows. Part of “Remembering America” focused on the scandals and was a basis for the 1994 film “Quiz Show,” which he helped produce. His work impressed Robert Kennedy, and he was enlisted for Senator John Kennedy’s staff. He and Theodore C. Sorensen wrote most of Kennedy’s presidential campaign speeches.

Mr. Goodwin’s play, “The Hinge of the World,” on the struggle during the Inquisition between Pope Urban VIII and Galileo, who was accused of heresy for arguing that the earth was not the center of the universe, had its premiere in Guildford, England, in 2003. It was produced in Boston in 2009 as “Two Men of Florence.”

“Richard Goodwin’s talent as a playwright was unique,” Edward Hall, who directed both productions of the play, said in an email. “He had the rare ability to take huge ideas and render them into human drama. Being in a rehearsal room with Richard will remain a highlight of my career. His characters were enriched by an author who blended a lifetime’s experience of working close to power, with a deep understanding and care of humanity.”

Al Gore’s presidential concession speech in 2000, written by Mr. Goodwin, quoted Senator Stephen Douglas’s concession to Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 presidential election: “Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism.”

Mr. Gore’s speech went on: “Just as we fight hard when the stakes are high, we close ranks and come together when the contest is done. And while there will be time enough to debate our continuing differences, now is the time to recognize that that which unites us is greater than that which divides us. While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America, and we put country before party we will stand together behind our new president.”


Richard N. Goodwin, former speechwriter for Kennedys, LBJ, dies at 86

REPORTING FROM NEW YORK — Richard N. Goodwin, an aide, speechwriter and liberal force for the Kennedys and Lyndon Johnson who helped craft such historic addresses as Robert Kennedy's "ripples of hope" and LBJ's speeches on civil rights and the Great Society, died Sunday evening at age 86.

Goodwin, the husband of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, died at his home in Concord, Mass. According to his wife, he died after a brief bout with cancer.

Goodwin was among the youngest members of President Kennedy's inner circle and among the last survivors. Brilliant and contentious, with thick eyebrows and a mess of wavy-curly hair, the cigar-smoking Goodwin rose from a working-class background to the Kennedy White House before he had turned 30. He was a Boston native and Harvard Law graduate who specialized in broad, inspirational rhetoric — top JFK speechwriter Theodore Sorensen was a mentor — that "would move men to action or alliance."

Thriving during an era when few feared to be called "liberal," Goodwin also worked on some of Lyndon Johnson's most memorable domestic policy initiatives, including his celebrated "We Shall Overcome" speech. But he differed with the president about Vietnam, left the administration after 1965 and would later contend — to much debate — that Johnson may have been clinically paranoid. Increasingly impassioned through the latter half of the '60s, he co-wrote what many regard as then- Sen. Robert Kennedy's greatest speech, his address in South Africa in 1966. Kennedy bluntly attacked the racist apartheid system, praised protest movements worldwide and said those who speak and act against injustice send "forth a tiny ripple of hope."

Goodwin's opposition to the Vietnam conflict led him to write speeches in 1968 for Kennedy and to manage the presidential campaign for antiwar candidate Sen. Eugene McCarthy. But McCarthy faded, Kennedy ("My best and last friend in politics," Goodwin wrote) was assassinated and Republican Richard Nixon was elected president. Goodwin never worked for another administration, although he and his wife were fixtures in the Democratic Party and he continued to comment on current affairs for Rolling Stone, the New Yorker and other publications. In 2000, he was called upon for one of the least glamorous jobs in speechwriting history: Al Gore's concession to George W. Bush after a deadlocked race that ended with a 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Bush's favor.

Goodwin was admired for his rare blend of poetry and political savvy, and criticized for being all too aware of his talents. Even one of his supporters, historian and fellow Kennedy insider Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., would say that he "probably lacked tact and finesse." But Schlesinger also regarded Goodwin as the "archetypal New Frontiersman" of JFK's brief presidency.

"Goodwin was the supreme generalist," Schlesinger wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning "A Thousand Days," published in 1965, "who could turn from Latin America to saving the Nile Monuments, from civil rights to planning a White House dinner for the Nobel Prize winners, from composing a parody of Norman Mailer to drafting a piece of legislation, from lunching with a Supreme Court Justice to dining with Jean Seberg — and at the same time retain an unquenchable spirit of sardonic liberalism and unceasing drive to get things done."

Richard Naradof Goodwin was born in Boston on Dec. 7, 1931, but spent part of his childhood in suburban Maryland, where he would recall being harassed and beaten because he was Jewish. His enemies only inspired him. He graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University, at the top his class from Harvard Law School, then clerked for Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, the first of a series of powerful men Goodwin worked under.

His road to Kennedy's "Camelot" began not with an election, but with the corruption of TV game shows. He was an investigator in the late '50s for the Legislative Oversight Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives, which helped reveal that the popular "Twenty One" program was rigged. Goodwin's recollections were adapted into the 1994 film "Quiz Show," directed by Robert Redford and featuring Rob Morrow as Goodwin, who was one of the producers. "Quiz Show" received four Academy Award nominations, including for best picture, but was criticized for inflating Goodwin's role in uncovering the scandal.

His efforts were noticed by JFK, then a U.S. senator from Massachusetts and aspiring presidential candidate. Goodwin was hired to write speeches for the 1960 race, advised Kennedy for his landmark television debates with Nixon and held a number of positions in the administration, from assistant special counsel in the White House to an advisor on Latin America. When the president was assassinated in 1963, Goodwin took on a sensitive task — prodding the military to act upon Jacqueline Kennedy's wishes and place an eternal flame at the national cemetery in Arlington, Va.

Under Kennedy, Goodwin's most ambitious work may have been on the Alliance for Progress, a program of economic and social reforms meant to break the U.S. from its history of supporting dictators in Latin America. The Alliance was announced in March 1961 with a promise from Kennedy that the spirit would not be "an imperialism of force or fear but the rule of courage and freedom and hope for the future of man." In the long term, the alliance had mixed results, as support dropped among subsequent administrations. In the short run, it was overshadowed by an imperialist fiasco, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the failed U.S.-backed attempt in April 1961 to overthrow Cuba's socialist government, led by Fidel Castro.

Goodwin had questioned the plan, but still had to answer for it. Not long after the Bay of Pigs, he met with Castro ally and finance minister Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the two of them sitting on the floor of a hotel room in Montevideo, Uruguay. They were both in town for an Inter-American conference that was to ratify the alliance.

"But, of course, when we started this conversation though, he said, `Mr. Goodwin, I'd like to thank you for the Bay of Pigs,"' Goodwin recalled during a joint 2007 appearance with his wife at the John F. Kennedy library in Boston. "He said, `We were a pretty shaky middle class, support was uncertain, and this solidified everything for us.' So what could I say? I knew he was right."

After Kennedy's death, Goodwin was urged — implored — to stay on by the new president: "You're going to be my voice, my alter ego," Goodwin remembered Lyndon Johnson saying. There was constant tension between Johnson, a Texan, and the "Harvards" around Kennedy, but Goodwin initially had strong influence and was an essential shaper of LBJ's legacy. He was assigned key policy speeches, including the 1964 address at the University of Michigan, when Johnson outlined his domestic vision of a "Great Society." Johnson's 1965 civil rights speech to a joint session of Congress is among the most famous presidential orations in history. It was written by Goodwin — within hours, he alleged — in the wake of the bloody marches in Selma, Ala., and ended with an exhortation, drawing upon the language of the protest movement, that reportedly left the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in tears.

"Their cause must be our cause too," Johnson said. "Because it is not just negroes, but all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome."

Upon signing the Voting Rights Act in August 1965, Johnson gave the pen to Goodwin. But by then, LBJ had committed ground troops to Vietnam and Goodwin was personally and professionally estranged. He had become convinced, he later wrote, that "President Johnson's always large eccentricities had taken a huge leap into unreason."

"My conclusion is that President Johnson experienced certain episodes of what I believe to have been paranoid behavior," he wrote in "Remembering America," published in 1988. "I do not use this term to describe a medical diagnosis. I am not L.B.J.'s psychiatrist, nor am I qualified to be. I base my judgment purely on my observation of his conduct during the little more than two years I worked for him."

Goodwin's theory was widely debated. He was backed by Time magazine journalist Hugh Sidey, while former Johnson aide Jack Valenti said Goodwin was simply trying "to flog a book."

Goodwin was married for 14 years to Sandra Leverant, who died in 1972. Three years later, he married Doris Kearns, a former LBJ aide who became one of the country's most popular historians with such works as "Team of Rivals" and "No Ordinary Time." Goodwin had three children, one with his first wife and two with his second.

Goodwin's other books included "Triumph or Tragedy: Reflections on Vietnam," released shortly after he left the Johnson administration and "Promises to Keep." He also wrote a play, "The Hinge of the World" (later retitled "Two Men of Florence"), a drama about the clash between Galileo Galilei and Pope Urban VIII that reflected on the need to raise "poor, lowly creatures" from ignorance so they could "travel the Heavens."

"And how is this mighty liberation accomplished?" Goodwin wrote. "Not through holy text. By these hands, these eyes, this brain. The skull of a single being imprisons the power to unravel creation, to encompass and describe the entire world. Why, this teaches man they may regain our native, the dominion granted Adam in their days of innocence. Creatures who can accomplish this have such power, they are almost like Gods."


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Richard N. Goodwin, White House speech writer, dead at 86

In this Jan. 12, 1966, photo provided by the White House, President Lyndon B. Johnson prepares for his State of the Union address with, from left, Richard Goodwin, former presidential assistant called back from Wesleyan University to help on the speech, Jack Valenti and Joseph A. Califano, Jr. at the White House in Washington. Goodwin, an aide, speechwriter and liberal force for the Kennedys and Lyndon Johnson died Sunday, May 20, 2018, at his home in Concord, Mass. His wife, the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, said he died after a brief bout with cancer. Associated Press

FILE - In this May 29, 2010, file photo, author Richard Goodwin receives a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree from Trustee Edward Collins during commencement ceremonies at UMass-Lowell at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass. Former White House aide and speechwriter Goodwin has died. He died Sunday, May 20, 2018, at his home in Concord, Mass. His wife, the historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, said he died after a brief bout with cancer. Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Richard N. Goodwin, an aide, speechwriter and liberal force for the Kennedys and Lyndon Johnson who helped craft such historic addresses as Robert Kennedy's "ripples of hope" and LBJ's speeches on civil rights and "The Great Society," died Sunday evening at age 86.

Goodwin, the husband of Pulitzer Prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, died at his home in Concord, Massachusetts. According to his wife, he died after a brief bout with cancer.

Goodwin was among the youngest members of President John F. Kennedy's inner circle and among the last survivors. Brilliant and contentious, with thick eyebrows and a mess of wavy-curly hair, the cigar-smoking Goodwin rose from a working class background to the Kennedy White House before he had turned 30. He was a Boston native and Harvard Law graduate who specialized in broad, inspirational rhetoric - top JFK speechwriter Theodore Sorensen was a mentor - that "would move men to action or alliance."

Thriving during an era when few feared to be called "liberal," Goodwin also worked on some of Lyndon Johnson's most memorable domestic policy initiatives, including his celebrated "We Shall Overcome" speech. But he differed with the president about Vietnam, left the administration after 1965 and would later contend - to much debate - that Johnson may have been clinically paranoid. Increasingly impassioned through the latter half of the '60s, he co-wrote what many regard as then- Sen. Robert Kennedy's greatest speech, his address in South Africa in 1966. Kennedy bluntly attacked the racist apartheid system, praised protest movements worldwide and said those who speak and act against injustice send "forth a tiny ripple of hope."

Goodwin's opposition to the Vietnam conflict led him to write speeches in 1968 for Kennedy and to manage the presidential campaign for anti-war candidate Sen. Eugene McCarthy. But McCarthy faded, Kennedy ("My best and last friend in politics," Goodwin wrote) was assassinated and Republican Richard Nixon was elected president. Goodwin never worked for another administration, although he and his wife were fixtures in the Democratic Party and he continued to comment on current affairs for Rolling Stone, The New Yorker and other publications. In 2000, he was called upon for one of the least glamorous jobs in speechwriting history: Al Gore's concession to George W. Bush after a deadlocked race that ended with a 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Bush's favor.

Goodwin was admired for his rare blend of poetry and political savvy, and criticized for being all too aware of his talents. Even one of his supporters, historian and fellow Kennedy insider Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., would say that he "probably lacked tact and finesse." But Schlesinger also regarded Goodwin as the "archetypal New Frontiersman" of JFK's brief presidency.

"Goodwin was the supreme generalist," Schlesinger wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning "A Thousand Days," published in 1965, "who could turn from Latin America to saving the Nile Monuments, from civil rights to planning a White House dinner for the Nobel Prize winners, from composing a parody of Norman Mailer to drafting a piece of legislation, from lunching with a Supreme Court Justice to dining with Jean Seberg - and at the same time retain an unquenchable spirit of sardonic liberalism and unceasing drive to get things done."

Richard Naradof Goodwin was born in Boston on Dec. 7, 1931, but spent part of his childhood in suburban Maryland, where he would recall being harassed and beaten because he was Jewish. His enemies only inspired him. He graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University, at the top his class from Harvard Law School, then clerked for Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, the first of a series of powerful men Goodwin worked under.

His road to Kennedy's "Camelot" began not with an election, but with the corruption of TV game shows. He was an investigator in the late '50s for the Legislative Oversight Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives, which helped reveal that the popular "Twenty One" program was rigged. Goodwin's recollections were adapted into the 1994 film "Quiz Show," directed by Robert Redford and featuring Rob Morrow as Goodwin, who was one of the producers. "Quiz Show" received four Academy Award nominations, including for best picture, but was criticized for inflating Goodwin's role in uncovering the scandal.

His efforts were noticed by Kennedy, then a U.S. senator from Massachusetts and aspiring presidential candidate. Goodwin was hired to write speeches for the 1960 race, advised Kennedy for his landmark television debates with Nixon and held a number of positions in the administration, from assistant special counsel in the White House to an adviser on Latin America. When the president was assassinated in 1963, Goodwin took on a sensitive task - prodding the military to act upon Jacqueline Kennedy's wishes and place an eternal flame at the national cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Under Kennedy, Goodwin's most ambitious work may have been on the Alliance for Progress, a program of economic and social reforms meant to break the U.S. from its history of supporting dictators in Latin America. The Alliance was announced in March 1961 with a promise from Kennedy that the spirit would not be "an imperialism of force or fear but the rule of courage and freedom and hope for the future of man." In the long term, the alliance had mixed results, as support dropped among subsequent administrations. In the short run, it was overshadowed by an imperialist fiasco, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the failed U.S.-backed attempt in April 1961 to overthrow Cuba's socialist government, led by Fidel Castro.

Goodwin had questioned the plan, but still had to answer for it. Not long after the Bay of Pigs, he met with Castro ally and finance minister Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the two of them sitting on the floor of a hotel room in Monte Video, Uruguay. They were both in town for an Inter-American conference that was to ratify the alliance.

"But, of course, when we started this conversation though, he said, 'Mr. Goodwin, I'd like to thank you for the Bay of Pigs,'" Goodwin recalled during a joint 2007 appearance with his wife at the John F. Kennedy library in Boston. "He said, 'We were a pretty shaky middle class, support was uncertain, and this solidified everything for us.' So what could I say? I knew he was right."

After Kennedy's death, Goodwin was urged - implored - to stay on by the new president: "You're going to be my voice, my alter ego," Goodwin remembered Lyndon Johnson saying. There was constant tension between Johnson, a Texan, and the "Harvards" around Kennedy, but Goodwin initially had strong influence and was an essential shaper of LBJ's legacy. He was assigned key policy speeches, including the 1964 address at the University of Michigan, when Johnson outlined his domestic vision of a "Great Society." Johnson's 1965 civil rights speech to a joint session of Congress is among the most famous presidential orations in history. It was written by Goodwin - within hours, he alleged - in the wake of the bloody marches in Selma, Alabama, and ended with an exhortation, drawing upon the language of the protest movement, that reportedly left the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in tears.

"Their cause must be our cause, too," Johnson said. "Because it is not just negroes, but all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome."

Upon signing the Voting Rights Act in August 1965, Johnson gave the pen to Goodwin. But by then, LBJ had committed ground troops to Vietnam and Goodwin was personally and professionally estranged. He had become convinced, he later wrote, that "President Johnson's always large eccentricities had taken a huge leap into unreason."

"My conclusion is that President Johnson experienced certain episodes of what I believe to have been paranoid behavior," he wrote in "Remembering America," published in 1988. "I do not use this term to describe a medical diagnosis. I am not L.B.J.'s psychiatrist, nor am I qualified to be. I base my judgment purely on my observation of his conduct during the little more than two years I worked for him."

Goodwin's theory was widely debated. He was backed by Time magazine journalist Hugh Sidey, while former Johnson aide Jack Valenti said Goodwin was simply trying "to flog a book."

Goodwin was married for 14 years to Sandra Leverant, who died in 1972. Three years later, he married Doris Kearns, a former LBJ aide who became one of the country's most popular historians with such works as "Team of Rivals" and "No Ordinary Time." Goodwin had three children, one with his first wife and two with his second.

Goodwin's other books included "Triumph or Tragedy: Reflections on Vietnam," released shortly after he left the Johnson administration and "Promises to Keep." He also wrote a play, "The Hinge of the World" (later retitled "Two Men of Florence"), a drama about the clash between Galileo Galilei and Pope Urban VIII that reflected on the need to raise "poor, lowly creatures" from ignorance so they could "travel the Heavens."

"And how is this mighty liberation accomplished?" Goodwin wrote. "Not through holy text. By these hands, these eyes, this brain. The skull of a single being imprisons the power to unravel creation, to encompass and describe the entire world. Why, this teaches man they may regain our native, the dominion granted Adam in their days of innocence. Creatures who can accomplish this have such power, they are almost like Gods."


Richard N. Goodwin, White House speech writer, dead at 86

NEW YORK (AP) — Richard N. Goodwin, an aide, speechwriter and liberal force for the Kennedys and Lyndon Johnson who helped craft such historic addresses as Robert Kennedy’s “ripples of hope” and LBJ’s speeches on civil rights and “The Great Society,” died Sunday evening at age 86.

Goodwin, the husband of Pulitzer Prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, died at his home in Concord, Massachusetts. According to his wife, he died after a brief bout with cancer.

“It was the adventure of a lifetime to be married for 42 years to this incredible force of nature_the smartest, most interesting, most loving person I have ever known. How lucky I have been to have had him by my side as we built our family and our careers together surrounded by close friends in a community we love,” said Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Richard Goodwin was among the youngest members of President John F. Kennedy’s inner circle and among the last survivors. Brilliant and contentious, with thick eyebrows and a mess of wavy-curly hair, the cigar-smoking Goodwin rose from a working class background to the Kennedy White House before he had turned 30. He was a Boston native and Harvard Law graduate who specialized in broad, inspirational rhetoric — top JFK speechwriter Theodore Sorensen was a mentor — that “would move men to action or alliance.”

Thriving during an era when few feared to be called “liberal,” Goodwin also worked on some of Lyndon Johnson’s most memorable domestic policy initiatives, including his celebrated “We Shall Overcome” speech. But he differed with the president about Vietnam, left the administration after 1965 and would later contend — to much debate — that Johnson may have been clinically paranoid. Increasingly impassioned through the latter half of the ’60s, he co-wrote what many regard as then- Sen. Robert Kennedy’s greatest speech, his address in South Africa in 1966. Kennedy bluntly attacked the racist apartheid system, praised protest movements worldwide and said those who speak and act against injustice send “forth a tiny ripple of hope.”

Goodwin’s opposition to the Vietnam conflict led him to write speeches in 1968 for Kennedy and to manage the presidential campaign for anti-war candidate Sen. Eugene McCarthy. But McCarthy faded, Kennedy (“My best and last friend in politics,” Goodwin wrote) was assassinated and Republican Richard Nixon was elected president. Goodwin never worked for another administration, although he and his wife were fixtures in the Democratic Party and he continued to comment on current affairs for Rolling Stone, The New Yorker and other publications. In 2000, he was called upon for one of the least glamorous jobs in speechwriting history: Al Gore’s concession to George W. Bush after a deadlocked race that ended with a 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Bush’s favor.

Goodwin was admired for his rare blend of poetry and political savvy, and criticized for being all too aware of his talents. Even one of his supporters, historian and fellow Kennedy insider Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., would say that he “probably lacked tact and finesse.” But Schlesinger also regarded Goodwin as the “archetypal New Frontiersman” of JFK’s brief presidency.

“Goodwin was the supreme generalist,” Schlesinger wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning “A Thousand Days,” published in 1965, “who could turn from Latin America to saving the Nile Monuments, from civil rights to planning a White House dinner for the Nobel Prize winners, from composing a parody of Norman Mailer to drafting a piece of legislation, from lunching with a Supreme Court Justice to dining with Jean Seberg — and at the same time retain an unquenchable spirit of sardonic liberalism and unceasing drive to get things done.”

Richard Naradof Goodwin was born in Boston on Dec. 7, 1931, but spent part of his childhood in suburban Maryland, where he would recall being harassed and beaten because he was Jewish. His enemies only inspired him. He graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University, at the top his class from Harvard Law School, then clerked for Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, the first of a series of powerful men Goodwin worked under.

His road to Kennedy’s “Camelot” began not with an election, but with the corruption of TV game shows. He was an investigator in the late ’50s for the Legislative Oversight Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives, which helped reveal that the popular “Twenty One” program was rigged. Goodwin’s recollections were adapted into the 1994 film “Quiz Show,” directed by Robert Redford and featuring Rob Morrow as Goodwin, who was one of the producers. “Quiz Show” received four Academy Award nominations, including for best picture, but was criticized for inflating Goodwin’s role in uncovering the scandal.

His efforts were noticed by Kennedy, then a U.S. senator from Massachusetts and aspiring presidential candidate. Goodwin was hired to write speeches for the 1960 race, advised Kennedy for his landmark television debates with Nixon and held a number of positions in the administration, from assistant special counsel in the White House to an adviser on Latin America. When the president was assassinated in 1963, Goodwin took on a sensitive task — prodding the military to act upon Jacqueline Kennedy’s wishes and place an eternal flame at the national cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Under Kennedy, Goodwin’s most ambitious work may have been on the Alliance for Progress, a program of economic and social reforms meant to break the U.S. from its history of supporting dictators in Latin America. The Alliance was announced in March 1961 with a promise from Kennedy that the spirit would not be “an imperialism of force or fear but the rule of courage and freedom and hope for the future of man.” In the long term, the alliance had mixed results, as support dropped among subsequent administrations. In the short run, it was overshadowed by an imperialist fiasco, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the failed U.S.-backed attempt in April 1961 to overthrow Cuba’s socialist government, led by Fidel Castro.

Goodwin had questioned the plan, but still had to answer for it. Not long after the Bay of Pigs, he met with Castro ally and finance minister Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the two of them sitting on the floor of a hotel room in Monte Video, Uruguay. They were both in town for an Inter-American conference that was to ratify the alliance.

“But, of course, when we started this conversation though, he said, ‘Mr. Goodwin, I’d like to thank you for the Bay of Pigs,’” Goodwin recalled during a joint 2007 appearance with his wife at the John F. Kennedy library in Boston. “He said, ‘We were a pretty shaky middle class, support was uncertain, and this solidified everything for us.’ So what could I say? I knew he was right.”

After Kennedy’s death, Goodwin was urged — implored — to stay on by the new president: “You’re going to be my voice, my alter ego,” Goodwin remembered Lyndon Johnson saying. There was constant tension between Johnson, a Texan, and the “Harvards” around Kennedy, but Goodwin initially had strong influence and was an essential shaper of LBJ’s legacy. He was assigned key policy speeches, including the 1964 address at the University of Michigan, when Johnson outlined his domestic vision of a “Great Society.” Johnson’s 1965 civil rights speech to a joint session of Congress is among the most famous presidential orations in history. It was written by Goodwin — within hours, he alleged — in the wake of the bloody marches in Selma, Alabama, and ended with an exhortation, drawing upon the language of the protest movement, that reportedly left the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in tears.

“Their cause must be our cause, too,” Johnson said. “Because it is not just negroes, but all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.”

Upon signing the Voting Rights Act in August 1965, Johnson gave the pen to Goodwin. But by then, LBJ had committed ground troops to Vietnam and Goodwin was personally and professionally estranged. He had become convinced, he later wrote, that “President Johnson’s always large eccentricities had taken a huge leap into unreason.”

“My conclusion is that President Johnson experienced certain episodes of what I believe to have been paranoid behavior,” he wrote in “Remembering America,” published in 1988. “I do not use this term to describe a medical diagnosis. I am not L.B.J.’s psychiatrist, nor am I qualified to be. I base my judgment purely on my observation of his conduct during the little more than two years I worked for him.”

Goodwin’s theory was widely debated. He was backed by Time magazine journalist Hugh Sidey, while former Johnson aide Jack Valenti said Goodwin was simply trying “to flog a book.”

Goodwin was married for 14 years to Sandra Leverant, who died in 1972. Three years later, he married Doris Kearns, a former LBJ aide who became one of the country’s most popular historians with such works as “Team of Rivals” and “No Ordinary Time.” Goodwin had three children, one with his first wife and two with his second.

Goodwin’s other books included “Triumph or Tragedy: Reflections on Vietnam,” released shortly after he left the Johnson administration and “Promises to Keep.” He also wrote a play, “The Hinge of the World” (later retitled “Two Men of Florence”), a drama about the clash between Galileo Galilei and Pope Urban VIII that reflected on the need to raise “poor, lowly creatures” from ignorance so they could “travel the Heavens.”

“And how is this mighty liberation accomplished?” Goodwin wrote. “Not through holy text. By these hands, these eyes, this brain. The skull of a single being imprisons the power to unravel creation, to encompass and describe the entire world. Why, this teaches man they may regain our native, the dominion granted Adam in their days of innocence. Creatures who can accomplish this have such power, they are almost like Gods.”


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Watch the video: American political write Richard N Goodwin Dieds at 86 (May 2022).