Establishing the Peace Corps: Launching The Idea, Post 13

The Mayflower Hotel Gang outlined “seven steps” to form the Peace Corps in a February 22, 1961 memorandum to Kennedy. This memo is interesting for several reasons. The first point Shriver made was that the Peace Corps should be established by an Executive Order within the Mutual Security Program. William Josephson, then the only lawyer in the ‘new’ Peace Corps was the principal author of the President’s Executive Order. [This is not entirely true for Shriver was a lawyers, as was Wofford, among others, but Josephson had come in with Wiggins with their Towering Task Memo, and was a government employee, as was Warren Wiggins who was made Director ad interim. And, therefore, the FIRST DIRECTOR of the agency.] Shriver was appointed by Kennedy on March 4, but subject to Senate confirmation. It was May 21 before Shriver made his appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his appointment was confirmed. In fact, he became the director only one day before the first Volunteers received letters from President Kennedy himself–on May 22, 1961–asking them to join the new Peace Corps.
     By January 1, 1962, a year after Kennedy had become president, the Peace Corps had trained and placed 580 Volunteers in 10 countries. By the end of 1963, 7,000 Volunteers were in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and what they then called Oceania.


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