The year was 1963, and by late November events of dramatic consequence had already occurred:
- In August, Martin Luther King, Jr., had energized the civil rights rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., with his "I have a dream" speech.
- In June, President Kennedy had publicly called segregation “morally wrong” following the anti-integration stand made by Governor George Wallace at the University of Alabama.
- Two young English rock bands, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, were about to tip into worldwide celebrity.
- Nuclear warhead testing was ongoing in advance of a partial test ban treaty signed during the summer by the United States, Russia, and England.
- President Kennedy had visited West Berlin in June and charmed the Germans with his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech.
- The first-class postage stamp was raised to a nickel in January, and the U.S. Postal Service had just that year introduced the Zip code.
- The U.S. population stood at 190 million, the nation’s unemployment was at 5.5%, and Federal debt was $310 billion.