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Peace Corps Anniversary (1961 – 2011)

S. 2000, Peace Corps bill, introduced by Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D-MN), June 1, 1961

RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate

The concept of volunteers serving abroad on grass-roots foreign aid projects originated in Congress in the late 1950s. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order and Congress recognized it through legislation later that year. The organization promotes peace by providing countries with trained workers to help address problems such as poverty and disease, and by creating closer ties between American volunteers and the people of the communities they serve. The Peace Corps celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2011.

In 1960 Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota and Representative Henry S. Reuss of Wisconsin introduced bills concerning a federal volunteer program for service abroad. Humphrey's bill was first to name the program the "peace corps." After President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, Humphrey introduced this bill to authorize its funding.

President John F. Kennedy sent this letter to Senate President (Vice President) Lyndon B. Johnson describing the successes of the Peace Corps pilot program. Kennedy included a draft bill authorizing the Peace Corps that was identical to the bill Senator Hubert H. Humphrey introduced on June 1, 1961. President Kennedy signed that bill into law on September 22, 1961.

Letter from President Kennedy to Vice President Lyndon Johnson regarding the Peace Corps Bill, May 29, 1961, page 1

RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate

Letter from President Kennedy to Vice President Lyndon Johnson regarding the Peace Corps Bill, May 29, 1961, page 2

RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate


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