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Although he'd served almost three years in office, John F. Kennedy was only 46 on Nov. 19, 1963, and the vigorous young president had a crowded calendar that day in advance of leaving the White House for a political trip to Texas. What was on his mind that day? Judging by the schedule, lots of matters. CIA Director Richard Helms came to the office to discuss Cuba; Secretary of State Dean Rusk came to talk about Vietnam; and various domestic aides had appointments to discuss the administration's housing and anti-poverty programs.

In the afternoon Kennedy did the ritual "pardoning" of a turkey in advance of Thanksgiving. He also met with William Mahoney, the U.S. ambassador to Ghana -- although China, not Africa, was the subject on their minds. Thurston Clarke, author of a riveting 2013 book "JFK's Last Hundred Days: The Transformation of a Man and the Emergence of a Great President," reported that the two men also discussed the possibility of Mahoney managing Kennedy's reelection effort in Mahoney's native Arizona, also the home state of Sen. Barry Goldwater, Kennedy's old Senate pal -- and the Republican he expected to run against in 1964.

Clarke's book also detailed a riveting conversation Kennedy had with his secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, about his desire to replace Vice President Lyndon Johnson. According to Lincoln, the president believed North Carolina Gov. Terry Sanford would be a better fit as a 1964 running mate.

Was JFK serious? Perhaps. Johnson was certainly worried about it. Sanford himself, however, later suggested that Kennedy's ruminations may have been "one of those things that you say…just to get it off your chest."

The most chilling revelations about Nov. 19, 1963, that Clarke related in "JFK's Last Hundred Days" concern premonitions of those around the president about the looming Texas trip. White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger had received a letter from a woman in Dallas beseeching Salinger to not let the president come. "I think something terrible will happen to him," she wrote. Knowing it wouldn't do any good, Salinger decided not to pass along the warning. Yet when the press secretary, who was heading to Honolulu with several Cabinet members, came to wish the president bon voyage, Kennedy told him with a sigh, "I wish I weren't going to Texas."

For her part, Evelyn Lincoln had no such compunction about sharing her fears with the boss. She passed along the worries of her husband, Harold, about the trip. In response, she received a bit of Irish fatalism. "If they are going to get me," Kennedy said, "they will get me -- even in a church."

Before the trip, though, there was one public event on the schedule. It was a speech to the officers of the National Education Association and various state educators in late afternoon. The event was held in the Rose Garden as a concession to the unseasonably nice weather. Kennedy spoke briefly about education, offering few specifics, remarks any president could easily make today.

"I think the number of children who do need an education and the complexities of our society place a much higher burden upon the average citizen than ever before," JFK said. "This is no new role for the federal government. You know this better than anyone. Since the Northwest Ordinance and the Land Grant Acts and a dozen other legislative acts by the Congress, we have indicated that we believe a free society must be well educated."

To underscore his point about the importance of public education, Kennedy did what he often did -- he cited the words of Thomas Jefferson: "If we expect a nation to be ignorant and free, we expect what never was and never will be."

And that's our quote of the week.

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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