John F. Kennedy Decides to "Quarantine" Cuba in Response to Nuclear Threat

On October 21st, ExComm, and President Kennedy decided that a quarantine was the best course of action.

The administration called it a quarantine, because the term "blockade" would symbolize war. Then they began the rigorous task of alerting U.S. allies of the White House’s decision. Dean Acheson, the former Secretary of State, was sent to inform Charles De Gaulle, the leader of France. When Acheson offered to show De Gaulle the photographs of the missile sites, the French leader brushed them aside and said, "A great country such as yours does not act without evidence. You may tell your President that France will support him". Meanwhile the Press was getting closer and closer to ascertaining the big news that was keeping the White House up at all hours. To keep the media down, President Kennedy himself called the publishers of The New York Times and The Washington Post and request that they don’t extensively talk about the current situation. They both agreed.

In the course of this conference, blockade papers were approved and the President's speech set for Monday night at 1900Q (October 22). Although the President at first wished to make the statement on the 21st, he was dissuaded from this to allow for adequate military preparations and to provide for time to notify our allies. The possibility remained, however, of acting sooner if a security breach developed.

That night, the State Department sent preposition messages to all Latin American posts to warn against Communist-inspired rioting and to indicate the course to be taken if violent actions transpired.