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Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Transmitting a Bill To Continue and Expand the Peace˜ Corps

February 26, 1962

Dear Mr.______________:

The Peace Corps is now one year old. Twelve months ago I asserted that only through the most careful planning and negotiation could its success be assured. Today I am pleased to report to the Congress that its early successes have fulfilled expectations.

Careful preparation and sound training have assured the selection of qualified men and women and minimized health and other hazards. Economy of operation has held actual expenditures for each volunteer recruited, selected, trained and supported overseas to an admirably low level. Careful selection of administrative personnel, both at home and abroad, has resulted in maximum efficiency with minimum staff.

I am transmitting herewith, for the consideration of the Congress, legislation to enable continuation of the current Peace Corps program, and to make possible a further expansion of its work. This legislation will permit the Peace Corps to have 6,700 volunteers in the field by June 30, 1963, compared to the maximum of 2,400 permitted under the present appropriation. While this number will still not permit us to meet all requests from foreign countries, it will enable us to make the most of an historic opportunity to achieve better understanding among nations.

By June 30th of this year there will be 2,400 Peace Corps Volunteers in service or in training. Another 2,700 are scheduled to enter training in July or August of this year. But the overwhelming response to this program in actual operation abroad makes further expansion both necessary and desirable. Volunteers have been welcomed with friendliness and affection in every one of the villages, towns, schools, factories and hospitals to which they have gone to share their skills with the peoples of less developed nations.

In many instances Peace Corps Volunteers are working where no American has ever lived or even traveled. The enthusiasm with which they are received is perhaps best reflected in this statement on the Peace Corps by President Alberto Lleras Camargo of Colombia: "... the finest way in which the United States could prove to the humble people of this and other lands that the primary purpose of its international aid program is to build a better life in all of the free world's villages and neighborhoods."

The reception accorded the Peace Corps is underscored by the fact that every one of the twelve countries in which volunteers are now at work has requested additional volunteers. In most cases the Peace Corps has been asked to triple and quadruple the number of men and women already supplied. Nigeria, for example, has requested 400 additional teachers.

Equally heartening has been the enthusiasm for the Peace Corps in our own country. More than 20,000 Americans have volunteered to serve--a convincing demonstration that we have in this country an. immense reservoir of dedicated men and women willing to express by their actions and convictions the highest values of our society. Although the average age is 241/2 for men and 25 for women, many of the volunteers are in their thirties and forties-and three are in their sixties. Approximately 1/3 are women--nurses, home economists, social workers and teachers. These volunteers are from every part of the Nation and represent every segment of American life. As an extra bonus to our own country, Peace Corps graduates will constitute an invaluable addition to the very limited pool of trained manpower in our own country with this kind of constructive overseas experience; and I have no doubt that many of them will go on to make still further contributions to their country in the foreign Service and other posts.

The Peace Corps has successfully weathered its experimental period, and has enjoyed widespread bi-partisan support. I urge prompt consideration of the legislation authorizing an increase in the authorization to 63.75 million dollars for Peace Corps programs in fiscal year 1963• This legislation will also effect a small number of other changes designed to make it more effective. I urge the Congress to give prompt consideration and approval to this clearly justified measure.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable John W. McCorrnack, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

On April 27 the President approved an act providing for an extension of the Peace Corps Act (Public Law 87-442, 76 Stat. 62).

John F. Kennedy, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Transmitting a Bill To Continue and Expand the Peace˜ Corps Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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