“And now on to Chicago”..the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy
Nineteen sixty-eight was a traumatic year in American
Politics. Battered by dissent
over the Vietnam War, incumbent Lyndon Johnson withdrew from the Presidential
race in late March. His surprise
action came only two weeks after Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY), brother of
the assassinated President John F. Kennedy, joined maverick Gene McCarthy in
challenging Johnson for the Presidential nomination. April 4 Martin Luther King was killed and riots ensued nationwide.
Defeated by McCarthy in Oregon, Kennedy desperately
needed to win the California Presidential Primary.June 5, 1968 he did. His
victory speech at Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel ended with the phrase:
“And now, on to Chicago…” Leaving the building through the hotel’s
kitchen area, Kennedy was accosted by a Palestinian, Sirhan Sirhan, who was
reputedly angry with Kennedy because of the Senator’s support of Israel. Firing at Kennedy, he felled the Senator with three shots, including
one to the head, and also hit other bystanders with gunfire. The Senator died the next day. His funeral was an emotional event that
began at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and culminated in Arlington
Cemetery’s only evening burial. Vice President Hubert Humphrey ultimately
received his party’s nomination at the infamous Chicago Democratic
Convention, and was defeated in November by Republican Richard Nixon.
Sirhan Sirhan was convicted of Kennedy’s death during a
trial that ran from January-April 1969. He remains in prison. The belief that
Kennedy’s death was a conspiracy, and/or that more than one person was
involved in the shooting, persist.
National History Standards
Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the
National History Standards for Grades 5-12:
Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
STANDARD 2: How the Cold War and conflicts in Korea and Vietnam
influenced domestic and international politics.
The student understands the foreign and domestic consequences of U.S.
involvement in Vietnam
7-12: Assess the Vietnam policy of the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations
and the shifts of public opinion about the war. [Analyze multiple causation]
Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 to the
STANDARD 1: Recent developments in foreign policy and domestic politics.
The student understands domestic politics from Nixon to Carter.
the effectiveness of the Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations in
addressing social and environmental issues. [Assess the importance of the
individual in history]
Speech on the Death of Martin Luther King (text and audio clip)
DATE: Indianapolis, April 4, 1968
NOTES: This speech,
just two months before his own assassination, is considered one of the
finest moments in RFK’s career. In it Kennedy, who hears the news as he
arrives for a campaign stop, announces King’s death to an unsuspecting
crowd of followers. This clip also gives students an opportunity to hear
the senator speak
SOURCE The John F. Kennedy Library, Boston Massachusetts.
REPOSITORY: John F.
Kennedy Library, Boston Massachusetts
RFK Seconds After
DATE: June 5, 1968
NOTES: Probably the most famous photo of the RFK Assassination. This Time-Life photo shows the busboy who comforted the Senator.
SOURCE: The RFK Assassination Web site
Diagram of the
Ambassador Hotel Kitchen Area
SOURCE The RFK Assassination Web site
Angeles Police Department
Gov. Agnew on Kennedy's Shooting & Death
DATES: June 5,
1968, June 6, 1968
SOURCE: Executive Records, Governor Spiro T. Agnew, 1967-1969, Vol 83, Page 840-841
REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives
Kennedy's Eulogy of Robert Kennedy (text and audio)
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, June 8,
SOURCE: The American Experience, “The Kennedys”, PBS, Alternative: Text
Excerpt of Edward Kennedy Eulogy
REPOSITORY: John F. Kennedy Library
Bruce Morton Radio
Broadcast on RFK's Funeral (audio)
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: June, 1968
SOURCE: CBS Radio News
REPOSITORY: Radio Days Broadcast Journalism and Historical
RFK Must Die!
(Sirhan Sirhan Notebook)
DATE: May 18, 1968
NOTES: This chilling page from Sirhan Sirhan’s notebook reveals his obsession with killing
SOURCE: The RFK Assassination Web site
REPOSITORY: California State Archives Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Investigation Records
Kranz Report on
the RFK Assassination, Kranz
part B, Kranz
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: May 4, 1977
NOTES: Was there a second gunman in the RFK Assassination? Or
problems with the quality of police work? The Los Angeles Police
department commissioned Thomas Kranz to investigate.
SOURCE: United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau
REPOSITORY: Freedom of Information/Privacy
F. Kennedy Assassination (Summary)
SOURCE: Freedom of Information Act
REPOSITORY: Federal Bureau of Investigation
Additional Media Resources
RFK 40 Years Later. NBC News video and images associated with Robert Kennedy's assassination with a followup on the people and places associated with the event.
“People Here are Dismayed.” Baltimore Sun June 6, 1968
NOTES: Average Maryland residents responded to Kennedy’s shooting. Also
coverage from June 6-9th in same publication. Located at Enoch
Pratt and other Maryland County and major college libraries.
"Throngs Pay Final Homage Along Track." Baltimore Sun June 9. 1968.
Coverage of the Kennedy funeral train.
F. Kennedy Assassination Investigation 1998
NOTES: A review of the items on the site that provides details of the
breadth of information covered in the investigation. California
State Archives Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Investigation Records
Intervew Abstracts. 1968 California State Archives, RFK Assassination Investigation Records. Appendix E: List of Audio Tapes.
NOTES: A review of these tape abstracts provides an idea of the type of information provided to witnesses to the event, or connected to it.
of Exhibits from the Sirhan Sirhan Trial Jan-April 1969. California State Archives Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Investigation Records Appendix H:
List and Description of Trial Exhibits 1968 Published online 1998
NOTES: A list of items involved in the trial of Kennedy’s Assassin.
of Massachusetts Dartmouth Library RFK Assassination File
The Robert F. Kennedy Assassination
Archives Collection: Largest archive of RFK Assassination Materials. Contact: University of Massachusetts
Dartmouth Library 285 Old Westport Rd. North Dartmouth, MA 02747-2300
Phone: 508-999-8686 Contact: JFarrar@umassd.edu
A website which offers access to historic TV broadcasts. Tapes require a small fee, but abstracts indicating key elements of the
broadcast, who, when, reporter etc. are free. Tapes begin August, 1968. Free registration for access.
Search Robert F. Kennedy for references, plus broadcasts in January 1969-April
for the Sirhan Sirhan Trial.
Additional Instructional Resources
on Incorporating Primary Sources and Historic Sites in Classroom Instruction
F. Kennedy Memorial
Kennedys. From The American Experience/PBS
NOTES: This site covers the entire Kennedy Family but has a specific area on
Robert. F. Kennedy
RFK Assassination UK website The
Second Gun Conspiracy Murder
in the Heartland
Websites purporting to prove there was a coverup, a second
gun or other conspiracy in the Kennedy Assassination abound. These are just three examples. The first of these includes photos from the California State Archives, Time-Life and LAPD, noted as being from the Moldea book.
Career. Biography from the RFK Memorial Foundation site.
Official Senate Biography
Special Report: Death of Robert F. Kennedy. Museum
of Broadcast Communications Archives firstname.lastname@example.org
Jansen, Godfrey. Why Robert Kennedy Was Killed: The Story of Two Victims. New
York: Third Press, 1970.
Melanson, Philip H. Who Killed Robert Kennedy? Berkeley, California: Odonian, 1993.
Moldea, Dan E. The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy: An Investigation of Motive, Means,
and Opportunity. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995.
Schlesinger, Arthur Meier. Robert Kennedy and His Times New York: Ballantine Books, 1979
Turner, William V., and John G. Christian. The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: A Searching Look at the Conspiracy and Cover-up 1968-1978. New York: Random House, 1978.
Witcover, Jules. 85 Days: The Last Campaign of Robert Kennedy, New York: Putnam,
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American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.
Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.
This document packet was researched and developed by Karen A. Lubieniecki.