Riding high after successfully averting nuclear war in the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK made the chilling assessment about his reputation privately to wife Jackie.
Previously unheard conversations involving JFK’s wife in the months after his murder — and not due to be made public until September — relay the president’s dark realism.
The astonishing revelation was made by eminent Kennedy historian Professor Robert Dallek after examining the pages of Jacqueline Kennedy’s Oral History — conversations the former First Lady had with historian Arthur M Schlesinger Jnr in 1964.
“(JFK) said to Mrs Kennedy after his success in the Cuban Missile Crisis: ‘If anyone’s going to kill me, it should happen now,’” Professor Dallek said in an interview.
JFK was shot on November 22, 1963 as his open-top motorcade travelled through Dallas, Texas. He was both the youngest US president, and the youngest to die.
Jackie Kennedy gave a series of seven undisclosed interviews in early 1964 during which she talked about JFK’s early campaigns to the Cuban Missile Crisis, including an evolving sense of herself and her role as First Lady; family and married life in the White House; and the president’s plans for a second term.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy administration, her family is making available both the interview transcripts and the six-and-a-half hours of audio recordings of those interviews.
US television channel ABC will broadcast the interviews this September.
Prof Robert Dallek claimed the ominous anecdote was uncovered when the oral history was being examined.
He said JFK had previously been told by an historian that Abraham Lincoln’s reputation may not have been as great had he lived long enough to become embroiled in tough domestic challenges.