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Experts who have studied economics and President John F. Kennedy’s policies said there was no evidence he was planning to end the Federal Reserve.
An executive order that has been cited as support for this theory in the past did not limit the power of the Federal Reserve.
The theory that President John F. Kennedy was planning to end the Federal Reserve has been around for decades, but it is not supported by evidence.
The claim persists on Facebook, where a recent video was captioned: "JOHN F KENNEDY WAS PLANNING TO END THE FEDERAL RESERVE."
In the video, a man appears to be speaking in front of a backdrop of a still photo of former President Donald Trump and his wife Melania, walking in a parade on Inauguration Day 2017. A small moving rhinoceros has been added to the page. The audio narration is a voice-over, and the words don’t match up with what the man on the screen appears to be saying.
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The claim that Kennedy was planning to end the Federal Reserve, a central bank that has independence and influence over monetary policy, has been the subject of various online postings and a book, so we wanted to see whether there was any truth to it.
Economic and government experts, a report from the Congressional Research Service, and Kennedy’s public statements all disprove the claim.
The theory goes like this: Kennedy signed Executive Order 11110, transferring power from the Federal Reserve to the U.S. Treasury by replacing Federal Reserve notes with "United States Notes," according to an explanation in New York Magazine. "The government, such theorists contend, printed a small fortune (over $4 billion) in ‘Kennedy bills’ before his assassination. Just days afterward, ‘all of the money President Kennedy had created was destroyed, and not a word was said to the American people.’"
Ira Stoll, the author of a book about Kennedy’s economic policies, "JFK, Conservative," told PolitiFact that in his research, he found no evidence that Kennedy was planning to end the Federal Reserve. What Kennedy would think of the Federal Reserve now is hard to know, because it changed under President Richard Nixon, when the dollar was de-linked from gold, Stoll said. Kennedy’s assassination makes people theorize about what he would have done, he said.
While Kennedy and the Federal Reserve clashed, there is no evidence that he ever proposed getting rid of it, said Nicholas F. Jacobs, an assistant professor of government at Colby College, who has written about economics in the Kennedy era.
"In fact, all evidence points to the idea that the Federal Reserve System was a necessary component of Kennedy’s larger economic plan," Jacobs said.
In 1962, Kennedy supported legislation to reorganize the terms of the Federal Reserve, so that the chair and the vice chair are appointed when the president begins their term of office, Jacobs said. The proposal would have taken effect in 1965.
"Importantly, the proposed legislation would first take place after Kennedy’s first term would have ended, so it was not an attempt to cajole existing members," Jacobs said. The terms of the chair and vice chair were staggered then, as they are now, in such a way to prevent a president from having undue influence over Fed leadership. When a new president is sworn in, they deal with the Federal Reserve’s existing leadership.
The Congressional Research Service in 1996 debunked common myths about the Federal Reserve, including a theory from author Jim Marrs that Kennedy’s purported desire to rein in the Federal Reserve somehow led to his assassination.
The theory is supposedly supported by Executive Order 11110, which proponents say was intended to strip the Federal Reserve of its power.
In reality, if anything, the executive order enhanced the Fed’s power.
Kennedy’s Executive Order 11110 and related legislation decreased the circulation of Silver Certificates, with Federal Reserve Notes taking their place, the CRS said. Kennedy made the change due to the rising cost of silver and increased economic activity, which created a need for more small-denomination currency.
In two speeches just before his 1960 election, Kennedy said he was committed to keeping the Federal Reserve.
"I do not, let me make clear, advocate any changes in the constitution of the Federal Reserve System. It is important to keep the day-to-day operations of the Federal Reserve removed from political pressures," he said in New York City in October 1960. He said something similar that same month in Philadelphia.
A Facebook post said Kennedy "was planning to end the Federal Reserve."
Experts said that there is no evidence to support this claim. The Congressional Research Service, more than 30 years after Kennedy’s death, said that an executive order that proponents of this claim hold up as evidence actually does the opposite of what they suggest.
Kennedy’s pre-election speeches also indicate he did not intend to eliminate the central bank.
We rate this claim False.
Facebook, video, Feb. 6, 2022. Accessed Feb. 11, 2022.
Congressional Research Report Library of Congress, "Money and the Federal Reserve System: Myth and Reality," CRS Report for Congress, No. 96-672 E, G. Thomas Woodward, specialist in macroeconomics, economics division, July 31, 1996. Accessed Feb. 12, 2022.
New York Magazine, "Oswald Didn’t Kill Kennedy," Nov. 25, 2013. Accessed Feb. 14, 2022.
Email interview, Ira Stoll, author, "JFK, Conservative," Feb. 10, 2022.
Email interview, Nicholas F. Jacobs, assistant professor of government, Colby College, Feb. 11, 2022.
Email interview, Beatrice Cherrier, Ph.D., co-author, "The Transformation of Economic Analysis at the Federal Reserve during the 1960s," January, 2019. Feb. 15, 2022.
Lead Stories, "Fact Check: NO Evidence Presidents Lincoln And Kennedy Were Assassinated For Trying To End Federal Reserve," April 27, 2020. Accessed Feb. 15, 2022.
University of California, Santa Barbara, The American Presidency Project, "Statement by Senator John F. Kennedy on Balance of Payments, Philadelphia, PA," October 31, 1960. Accessed Feb. 15, 2022.
University of California, Santa Barbara, The American Presidency Project, "Speech by Senator John F. Kennedy, to the Associated Business Publications Conference, Biltmore Hotel, New York, NY," October 12, 1960. Accessed Feb. 15, 2022.
Congressional Record, Senate, April 19, 1962, re: Bill S. 3202. Accessed Feb. 17, 2022.
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