An Evacuation Plan for White House Dependents During the Cuban Missile Crisis

Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
May 12 2014 9:30 AM

An Evacuation Plan for White House Dependents During the Cuban Missile Crisis

The Vault is Slate's history blog. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @slatevault, and find us on Tumblr. Find out more about what this space is all about here.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, as the government made alternative plans in case of war, Tazewell Shepard, an aide to President John F. Kennedy, wrote this memo to White House staff. This copy of the memo is addressed to Evelyn Lincoln, Kennedy’s longtime secretary.

As the crisis developed, officials in charge of emergency planning for government continuity found that their system suffered from “a cascade of problems,” as historian Alice L. George writes. Some of the bunkers meant to house government officials didn’t have protection from fallout. Communication between the bunkers was inadequate. And officials from the various departments were poorly apprised of the meanings of the various alert statuses and unsure of when or how they should evacuate.

Advertisement

Bill Geerhart, on his blog Conelrad Adjacent, writes that Shepard was tasked with coming up with a plan for the dependents of White House staff after aides began to receive their own evacuation plans, which didn’t include their families. Staff members were understandably concerned about the welfare of their spouses and children, and the Shepard memo was meant to assuage those fears.

Close readers, as Geerhart points out, might not have found the plans outlined in the memo very reassuring: “Captain Shepard does not include a Plan B to address the inevitable D.C. evacuation gridlock and general panic.”

TicketOut

National Archives.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Altered State
Sept. 17 2014 11:51 PM The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 17 2014 11:48 PM Spanking Is Great for Sex Which is why it’s grotesque for parenting.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?