The concept of volunteers serving abroad on grass-roots foreign aid projects originated in Congress in the 1950s. In 1961 President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by executive order. President Kennedy then sent this letter to Senate President (Vice President of the U.S.) Lyndon B. Johnson describing the successes of the Peace Corps program he had established. Kennedy included a draft bill authorizing the Peace Corps with his letter. Kennedy’s draft bill was identical to the bill Senator Hubert H. Humphrey introduced on June 1, 1961. President Kennedy signed S. 2000 into law on September 22, 1961. The Peace Corps celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2011.
Letter from President Kennedy to Lyndon Johnson, 5/29/1961, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 6016232)