John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy

Overview
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy (May 29, 1917 November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination
John F. Kennedy assassination
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas...

 in 1963.

After military service as commander of the Motor Torpedo Boats
PT boat
PT Boats were a variety of motor torpedo boat , a small, fast vessel used by the United States Navy in World War II to attack larger surface ships. The PT boat squadrons were nicknamed "the mosquito fleet". The Japanese called them "Devil Boats".The original pre–World War I torpedo boats were...

 PT-109
Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109
PT-109 was a PT boat last commanded by Lieutenant, junior grade John F. Kennedy in the Pacific Theater during World War II...

 and PT-59
Motor Torpedo Boat PT-59
Motor Torpedo Boat PT-59 was a 77-foot Elco PT boat that served with the US Navy in World War II. She is noted for being the second command of then-Lieutenant, junior grade John F...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 in the South Pacific
South West Pacific Area
South West Pacific Area was the name given to the Allied supreme military command in the South West Pacific Theatre of World War II. It was one of four major Allied commands in the Pacific theatres of World War II, during 1942–45...

, Kennedy represented Massachusetts's 11th congressional district
Massachusetts's 11th congressional district
Massachusetts Congressional District 11 is an obsolete congressional district in eastern Massachusetts. It was eliminated in 1993 after the 1990 U.S. Census. Its last Congressman was Brian Donnelly; its most notable were future Presidents John Quincy Adams and John F. Kennedy and Speaker Tip...

 in the U.S. House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 from 1947 to 1953 as a Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

.
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Timeline

1943   World War II: the Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109 is rammed by the Japanese destroyer ''Amagiri'' and sinks. Lt. John F. Kennedy, future U.S. President, saves all but two of his crew.

1960   In Chicago, the first televised debate takes place between presidential candidates Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy.

1960   While campaigning for President of the United States, John F. Kennedy announces his idea of the Peace Corps.

1960   Robert McNamara is named president of Ford Motor Co., the first non-Ford to serve in that post. A month later, he quit to join the newly-elected John F. Kennedy administration.

1960   Richard Paul Pavlick is arrested for attempting to blow up and assassinate the U.S. President-Elect, John F. Kennedy only four days earlier.

1961   John F. Kennedy is inaugurated as the youngest elected and first Roman Catholic President of the U.S. His inaugural address is one of the most memorable of the 20th century.

1961   In Washington, D.C. John F. Kennedy delivers the first live presidential television news conference.

1961   John F. Kennedy appoints Janet G. Travell to be his physician. This is the first time a woman holds this appointment.

1961   President of the United States John F. Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps.

1961   Apollo program: U.S. President John F. Kennedy announces before a special joint session of the Congress his goal to initiate a project to put a "man on the Moon" before the end of the decade.

 
Quotations

The voters selected us, in short, because they had confidence in our judgement and our ability to excercise that judgement from a position where we could determine what were their own best interest, as a part of the nation's interest.

Profiles_in_Courage|Profiles in Courage (1956), p. 15

A man does what he must — in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers, and pressures — and that is the basis of all human morality.

Profiles in Courage (1956)

The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word "crisis". One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger — but recognize the opportunity.

Speech in Indianapolis, Indiana (12 April 1959) (see also wikipedia:Chinese translation of crisis)

The New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises — it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them.

Acceptance Speech as the Democratic presidential nominee (15 July 1960)

Their platform, made up of left-over Democratic planks, has the courage of our old convictions. Their pledge is a pledge to the status quo — and today there can be no status quo.

Encyclopedia
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy (May 29, 1917 November 22, 1963), often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination
John F. Kennedy assassination
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas...

 in 1963.

After military service as commander of the Motor Torpedo Boats
PT boat
PT Boats were a variety of motor torpedo boat , a small, fast vessel used by the United States Navy in World War II to attack larger surface ships. The PT boat squadrons were nicknamed "the mosquito fleet". The Japanese called them "Devil Boats".The original pre–World War I torpedo boats were...

 PT-109
Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109
PT-109 was a PT boat last commanded by Lieutenant, junior grade John F. Kennedy in the Pacific Theater during World War II...

 and PT-59
Motor Torpedo Boat PT-59
Motor Torpedo Boat PT-59 was a 77-foot Elco PT boat that served with the US Navy in World War II. She is noted for being the second command of then-Lieutenant, junior grade John F...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 in the South Pacific
South West Pacific Area
South West Pacific Area was the name given to the Allied supreme military command in the South West Pacific Theatre of World War II. It was one of four major Allied commands in the Pacific theatres of World War II, during 1942–45...

, Kennedy represented Massachusetts's 11th congressional district
Massachusetts's 11th congressional district
Massachusetts Congressional District 11 is an obsolete congressional district in eastern Massachusetts. It was eliminated in 1993 after the 1990 U.S. Census. Its last Congressman was Brian Donnelly; its most notable were future Presidents John Quincy Adams and John F. Kennedy and Speaker Tip...

 in the U.S. House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 from 1947 to 1953 as a Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

. Thereafter, he served in the U.S. Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 from 1953 until 1960. Kennedy defeated then Vice President and Republican candidate Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 in the 1960 U.S. presidential election
United States presidential election, 1960
The United States presidential election of 1960 was the 44th American presidential election, held on November 8, 1960, for the term beginning January 20, 1961, and ending January 20, 1965. The incumbent president, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, was not eligible to run again. The Republican Party...

. He was the youngest elected to the office, at the age of 43,
the second-youngest President (after Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

), and the first president to have been born in the 20th century. Kennedy is the only Catholic president, and is the only president to have won a Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

. Events during his presidency included the Bay of Pigs Invasion
Bay of Pigs Invasion
The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an unsuccessful action by a CIA-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba, with support and encouragement from the US government, in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The invasion was launched in April 1961, less than three months...

, the Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

, the building of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

, the Space Race
Space Race
The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national...

, the African American Civil Rights Movement and early stages of the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

.

Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. Lee Harvey Oswald
Lee Harvey Oswald
Lee Harvey Oswald was, according to four government investigations,These were investigations by: the Federal Bureau of Investigation , the Warren Commission , the House Select Committee on Assassinations , and the Dallas Police Department. the sniper who assassinated John F...

 was charged with the crime, but was shot and killed two days later by Jack Ruby
Jack Ruby
Jacob Leon Rubenstein , who legally changed his name to Jack Leon Ruby in 1947, was convicted of the November 24, 1963 murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Ruby, who was originally from Chicago, Illinois, was then a nightclub operator in Dallas, Texas...

 before a trial could take place. The FBI, the Warren Commission
Warren Commission
The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known unofficially as the Warren Commission, was established on November 27, 1963, by Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963...

, and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin, with the HSCA allowing for the possibility of conspiracy based on disputed acoustic evidence. Today, Kennedy continues to rank highly in public opinion ratings
Historical rankings of United States Presidents
In political science, historical rankings of Presidents of the United States are surveys conducted in order to construct rankings of the success of individuals who have served as President of the United States. Ranking systems are usually based on surveys of academic historians and political...

 of former U.S. presidents.

Early life and education


John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born at 83 Beals Street in Brookline, Massachusetts
Brookline, Massachusetts
Brookline is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States, which borders on the cities of Boston and Newton. As of the 2010 census, the population of the town was 58,732.-Etymology:...

 on Tuesday, May 29, 1917, at 3:00 pm, the second son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.
Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.
Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Sr. was a prominent American businessman, investor, and government official....

, and Rose Fitzgerald; Rose, in turn, was the eldest child of John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald
John F. Fitzgerald
John Francis "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald was an Irish-American politician and the maternal grandfather of three prominent United States politicians—President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Senators Robert Francis Kennedy and Edward Moore Kennedy.-Early life and family:Fitzgerald was born in...

, a prominent Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 political figure who was the city's mayor and a three-term member of Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

. Kennedy lived in Brookline for ten years and attended Edward Devotion School
Edward Devotion School
The Edward Devotion Elementary School, affectionately known as "Devo," is a public elementary school located at 345 Harvard Street, Brookline, Massachusetts, USA. The school was founded in 1894 on land bequeathed to the town by Edward Devotion , and is probably named for his eponymous grandfather ...

, Noble and Greenough
Noble and Greenough School
The Noble and Greenough School, commonly known as Nobles, is a coeducational, nonsectarian day and boarding school for students in grades seven through twelve. It is located on a campus in Dedham, Massachusetts. The current enrollment of 550 students includes a balance of boys and girls, of whom...

 Lower School, and the Dexter School
Dexter School
Founded in 1926, the Dexter School is an independent school for boys located in Brookline, Massachusetts, USA. Its campus is also home to its sister school, Southfield, an independent school for girls founded in 1992....

, through 4th grade. In 1927, the family moved to 5040 Independence Avenue in Riverdale, Bronx
Riverdale, Bronx
Riverdale is an affluent residential neighborhood in the northwest portion of the Bronx in New York City. Riverdale contains the northernmost point in New York City.-History:...

, New York City; two years later, they moved to 294 Pondfield Road in Bronxville, New York
Bronxville, New York
Bronxville is an affluent village within the town of Eastchester, New York, in the United States. It is a suburb of New York City, located approximately north of midtown Manhattan in southern Westchester County. At the 2010 census, Bronxville had a population of 6,323...

, where Kennedy was a member of Scout Troop 2 (and was the first Boy Scout
Boy Scout
A Scout is a boy or a girl, usually 11 to 18 years of age, participating in the worldwide Scouting movement. Because of the large age and development span, many Scouting associations have split this age group into a junior and a senior section...

 to become President). Kennedy spent summers with his family at their home
Kennedy Compound
The Kennedy Compound or Hyannis Port Historic District is the name given to six acres of waterfront property on Cape Cod along Nantucket Sound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, United States....

 in Hyannisport, Massachusetts, and Christmas and Easter holidays with his family at their winter home in Palm Beach, Florida
Palm Beach, Florida
The Town of Palm Beach is an incorporated town in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. The Intracoastal Waterway separates it from the neighboring cities of West Palm Beach and Lake Worth...

. For the 5th through 7th grade, Kennedy attended Riverdale Country School
Riverdale Country School
Riverdale Country School is a co-educational, independent, college-preparatory day school in New York City. One of the most competitive private schools in the nation, it is located on two campuses covering more than in the Riverdale section of The Bronx, New York.-History:Founded in 1907 by Dr...

, a private school for boys. For 8th grade in September 1930, the 13-year old Kennedy attended Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut
New Milford, Connecticut
New Milford is a town in southern Litchfield County, Connecticut, United States north of Danbury, on the Housatonic River. It is the largest town in the state in terms of land area at nearly . The population was 28,671 according to the Census Bureau's 2006 estimates...

. In late April 1931, he had appendicitis
Appendicitis
Appendicitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the appendix. It is classified as a medical emergency and many cases require removal of the inflamed appendix, either by laparotomy or laparoscopy. Untreated, mortality is high, mainly because of the risk of rupture leading to...

 requiring an appendectomy, after which he withdrew from Canterbury and recuperated at home.

In September 1931, Kennedy was sent to The Choate School
Choate Rosemary Hall
Choate Rosemary Hall is a private, college-preparatory, coeducational boarding school located in Wallingford, Connecticut...

 in Wallingford, Connecticut
Wallingford, Connecticut
Wallingford is a town in New Haven County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 43,026 at the 2000 census.- History :Wallingford was established on October 10, 1667, when the Connecticut General Assembly authorized the "making of a village on the east river" to 38 planters and freemen...

, for his 9th through 12th grade years. His older brother Joe Jr.
Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.
Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Jr. was an American bomber pilot during World War II. He was the eldest of nine children born to Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Sr., and Rose Elizabeth Kennedy....

, was already at Choate, two years ahead of him, a football star and leading student in the school. Jack spent his first years at Choate in his brother's shadow, and compensated for this with rebellious behavior that attracted a coterie. Their most notorious stunt was to explode a toilet seat with a powerful firecracker. In the ensuing chapel assembly, the strict headmaster, George St. John, brandished the toilet seat and spoke of certain "muckers" who would "spit in our sea". The defiant Jack Kennedy took the cue and named his group "The Muckers Club", which included roommate and friend Kirk LeMoyne "Lem" Billings
Lem Billings
Kirk LeMoyne "Lem" Billings was a prep school roommate and then lifelong close friend of President John F. Kennedy. Billings took leave from his business career to work on Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign...

. While at Choate, Kennedy was beset by health problems, culminating in 1934 with his emergency hospitalization at Yale – New Haven Hospital. In June 1934, he was admitted to the Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical practice and medical research group specializing in treating difficult patients . Patients are referred to Mayo Clinic from across the U.S. and the world, and it is known for innovative and effective treatments. Mayo Clinic is known for being at the top of...

 in Rochester, Minnesota
Rochester, Minnesota
Rochester is a city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and is the county seat of Olmsted County. Located on both banks of the Zumbro River, The city has a population of 106,769 according to the 2010 United States Census, making it Minnesota's third-largest city and the largest outside of the...

 and diagnosed with colitis
Colitis
In medicine, colitis refers to an inflammation of the colon and is often used to describe an inflammation of the large intestine .Colitides may be acute and self-limited or chronic, i.e...

. Kennedy graduated from Choate in June 1935. For the school yearbook, of which he had been business manager, Kennedy was voted the "Most likely to Succeed".

In September 1935, he made his first trip abroad, with his parents and sister Kathleen
Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington
Kathleen Agnes "Kick" Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington , born Kathleen Agnes Kennedy, was the fourth child and second daughter of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Kennedy. She was a sister of future U.S. President John F. Kennedy and widow of the heir to the Dukedom of Devonshire.-Biography:When...

, to London, with the intent of studying at the London School of Economics
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

 (LSE) as his older brother Joe had done. There is uncertainty about what he did at LSE before returning to America in October 1935, when he enrolled late and spent six weeks at Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

. He was then hospitalized for two months of observation for possible leukemia
Leukemia
Leukemia or leukaemia is a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells called "blasts". Leukemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases...

 at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Brigham and Women's Hospital is the largest hospital of the Longwood Medical and Academic Area in Boston, Massachusetts. It is directly adjacent to Harvard Medical School of which it is the second largest teaching affiliate with 793 beds...

 in Boston. He convalesced further at the Kennedy winter home in Palm Beach, then spent the spring of 1936 working as a ranch hand on a 40,000-acre (160 km2) cattle ranch
Ranch
A ranch is an area of landscape, including various structures, given primarily to the practice of ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle or sheep for meat or wool. The word most often applies to livestock-raising operations in the western United States and Canada, though...

 outside Benson, Arizona
Benson, Arizona
-Transportation:Benson Airport is located 3 miles north west of the city.Benson is served by Interstate 10 to the north, which travels directly to downtown Tucson....

. That summer he raced sailboats at the Kennedy home in Hyannisport.

In September 1936, Kennedy enrolled at Harvard College
Harvard College
Harvard College, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is one of two schools within Harvard University granting undergraduate degrees...

, where he produced that year's annual "Freshman Smoker", called by a reviewer "an elaborate entertainment, which included in its cast outstanding personalities of the radio, screen and sports world". He tried out for the football, golf, and swim teams and earned a spot on the varsity swim team. In July 1937, Kennedy sailed to France, with his convertible on board, and spent ten weeks driving through Europe with Billings. In June 1938, Kennedy sailed overseas with his father and brother Joe to work with his father, Roosevelt's U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James's
Court of St. James's
The Court of St James's is the royal court of the United Kingdom. It previously had the same function in the Kingdom of England and in the Kingdom of Great Britain .-Overview:...

, at the American embassy in London. In August the family went to a villa near Cannes
Cannes
Cannes is one of the best-known cities of the French Riviera, a busy tourist destination and host of the annual Cannes Film Festival. It is a Commune of France in the Alpes-Maritimes department....

. In 1939, Kennedy toured Europe, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, and the Middle East in preparation for his Harvard senior honors thesis. He then went to Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 and Germany before returning to London on September 1, 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland. On September 3, 1939, the family was in the House of Commons
British House of Commons
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lords . Both Commons and Lords meet in the Palace of Westminster. The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 650 members , who are known as Members...

 for speeches endorsing the United Kingdom's declaration of war on Germany. Kennedy was sent as his father's representative to help with arrangements for American survivors of the SS Athenia
SS Athenia
The S.S. Athenia was the first British ship to be sunk by Nazi Germany in World War II.-Description:Athenia was built by the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Ltd., and was launched at Govan, Scotland in 1923. She was built for Anchor-Donaldson Ltd.'s route between Britain and Canada...

, before flying back to the U.S. from Foynes, Ireland
Foynes
Foynes is a village and major port in County Limerick in the midwest of Ireland, located at the edge of hilly land on the southern bank of the Shannon Estuary. The population of the town was 606 as of the 2006 census.-Foynes's role in aviation:...

 to Port Washington, New York
Port Washington, New York
Port Washington is a hamlet and census-designated place in Nassau County, New York on the North Shore of Long Island. As of the United States 2010 Census, the community population was 15,846....

 on his first transatlantic flight.

As an upperclassman at Harvard, Kennedy became a more serious student and developed an interest in political philosophy. In his junior year he made the Dean's List. In 1940, Kennedy completed his thesis, "Appeasement in Munich", about British participation in the Munich Agreement
Munich Agreement
The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without...

. He initially intended his thesis to be private, but his father encouraged him to publish it. He graduated from Harvard College with a S.B.
Bachelors Of Science
Bachelors of Science is the stage name of Phil "Rene", Chris and Lukeino. They met in California and formed a successful act, quickly becoming one of the top drum and bass producers in the electronic music scene...

 cum laude in international affairs
International relations
International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

 in 1940. His thesis, published that year as a book entitled Why England Slept
Why England Slept
Why England Slept is the published version of a thesis written by John F. Kennedy while in his senior year at Harvard College. Its title was an allusion to Winston Churchill's 1938 book While England Slept, which also examined the buildup of German power...

, became a bestseller
Bestseller
A bestseller is a book that is identified as extremely popular by its inclusion on lists of currently top selling titles that are based on publishing industry and book trade figures and published by newspapers, magazines, or bookstore chains. Some lists are broken down into classifications and...

. Kennedy enrolled and audited classes at the Stanford Graduate School of Business
Stanford Graduate School of Business
The Stanford Graduate School of Business is one of the professional schools of Stanford University, in Stanford, California and is broadly regarded as one of the best business schools in the world.The Stanford GSB offers a general management Master of Business Administration degree, the Sloan...

. In early 1941, he helped his father complete the writing of a memoir of his three years as an American ambassador and then traveled throughout South America.

Military service




In September 1941, after medical disqualification by the Army for his chronic lower back problems, Kennedy joined the U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, with the influence of the director of the Office of Naval Intelligence
Office of Naval Intelligence
The Office of Naval Intelligence was established in the United States Navy in 1882. ONI was established to "seek out and report" on the advancements in other nations' navies. Its headquarters are at the National Maritime Intelligence Center in Suitland, Maryland...

 (ONI), former naval attaché
Attaché
Attaché is a French term in diplomacy referring to a person who is assigned to the diplomatic or administrative staff of a higher placed person or another service or agency...

 to Joseph Kennedy. Kennedy was an ensign
Ensign (rank)
Ensign is a junior rank of a commissioned officer in the armed forces of some countries, normally in the infantry or navy. As the junior officer in an infantry regiment was traditionally the carrier of the ensign flag, the rank itself acquired the name....

 serving in the office of the Secretary of the Navy
United States Secretary of the Navy
The Secretary of the Navy of the United States of America is the head of the Department of the Navy, a component organization of the Department of Defense...

 when the attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

 occurred. He then attended the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps
Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps
The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program is a college-based, commissioned officer training program of the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps.-Origins:...

 and Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Training Center, was assigned duty in Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 and later in the Pacific theater where he earned the rank of lieutenant, commanding a patrol torpedo (PT) boat
PT boat
PT Boats were a variety of motor torpedo boat , a small, fast vessel used by the United States Navy in World War II to attack larger surface ships. The PT boat squadrons were nicknamed "the mosquito fleet". The Japanese called them "Devil Boats".The original pre–World War I torpedo boats were...

.


On August 2, 1943, Kennedy's boat, PT-109
Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109
PT-109 was a PT boat last commanded by Lieutenant, junior grade John F. Kennedy in the Pacific Theater during World War II...

, along with PT-162 and PT-169, were ordered to continue nighttime patrol near New Georgia
New Georgia
New Georgia is the largest island of the Western Province of the Solomon Islands.-Geography:This island is located in the New Georgia Group, an archipelago including most of the other larger islands in the province...

 in the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

, when it was rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri
Japanese destroyer Amagiri
was the 15th of 24 s, built for the Imperial Japanese Navy following World War I. When introduced into service, these ships were the most powerful destroyers in the world. They served as first-line destroyers through the 1930s, and remained formidable weapons systems well into the Pacific War. She...

. Kennedy gathered his surviving crew members together in the water around the wreckage, to vote on whether to "fight or surrender". Kennedy stated, "There's nothing in the book about a situation like this. A lot of you men have families and some of you have children. What do you want to do? I have nothing to lose." Shunning surrender, the men swam towards a small island. Kennedy, despite re-injury to his back in the collision, towed a badly burned crewman through the water with a life jacket strap clenched between his teeth. He towed the wounded man to the island and later to a second island from where his crew was subsequently rescued. For these actions, Kennedy received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Medal
The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is the second highest non-combatant medal awarded by the United States Department of the Navy to members of the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps...

 with the following citation:
For extremely heroic conduct as Commanding Officer of Motor Torpedo Boat 109 following the collision and sinking of that vessel in the Pacific War Theater on August 1–2, 1943. Unmindful of personal danger, Lieutenant (then Lieutenant, Junior Grade
Lieutenant, Junior Grade
Lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer rank in the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, United States Merchant Marine USMM, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps, with the pay grade...

) Kennedy unhesitatingly braved the difficulties and hazards of darkness to direct rescue operations, swimming many hours to secure aid and food after he had succeeded in getting his crew ashore. His outstanding courage, endurance and leadership contributed to the saving of several lives and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.


In October 1943, Kennedy took command of a PT boat converted into a gun boat, PT-59
Motor Torpedo Boat PT-59
Motor Torpedo Boat PT-59 was a 77-foot Elco PT boat that served with the US Navy in World War II. She is noted for being the second command of then-Lieutenant, junior grade John F...

, which in November took part in a Marine rescue on Choiseul Island. Kennedy was honorably discharged in early 1945, just prior to Japan's surrender. Kennedy's other decorations in World War II included the Purple Heart
Purple Heart
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. military. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York...

, American Defense Service Medal
American Defense Service Medal
The American Defense Service Medal is a decoration of the United States military, recognizing service before America’s entry into the Second World War but during the initial years of the European conflict.-Criteria:...

, American Campaign Medal
American Campaign Medal
The American Campaign Medal was a military decoration of the United States armed forces which was first created on November 6, 1942 by issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt...

, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
The Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal is a service decoration of the Second World War which was awarded to any member of the United States military who served in the Pacific Theater from 1941 to 1945 and was created on November 6, 1942 by issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The medal was...

 with three bronze service stars
Service star
A service star, also referred to as a battle star, campaign star, or engagement star, is an attachment to a United States military decoration which denotes participation in military campaigns or multiple bestowals of the same award. Service stars are typically issued for campaign medals, service...

, and the World War II Victory Medal
World War II Victory Medal
The World War II Victory Medal is a decoration of the United States military which was created by an act of Congress in July 1945. The decoration commemorates military service during World War II and is awarded to any member of the United States military, including members of the armed forces of...

. When later asked by a reporter how he became a war hero, Kennedy joked: "It was involuntary. They sank my boat."

House of Representatives


While Kennedy was still serving, his older brother Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.
Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.
Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Jr. was an American bomber pilot during World War II. He was the eldest of nine children born to Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Sr., and Rose Elizabeth Kennedy....

 was killed in action on August 12, 1944 while part of Operation Aphrodite
Operation Aphrodite
Aphrodite and Anvil were the World War II code names of United States Army Air Forces and United States Navy operations to use B-17 and PB4Y bombers as precision-guided munitions against bunkers such as those of Operation Crossbow....

. Since Joe Jr. had been the family's political standard-bearer
Kennedy family
In the United States, the phrase Kennedy family commonly refers to the family descending from the marriage of the Irish-Americans Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald that was prominent in American politics and government. Their political involvement has revolved around the...

, the task now fell on John.

In 1946, U.S. Representative James Michael Curley
James Michael Curley
James Michael Curley was an American politician famous for his four terms as mayor of Boston, Massachusetts. He also served twice in the United States House of Representatives and one term as 53rd Governor of Massachusetts.-Early life:Curley's father, Michael Curley, left Oughterard, County...

 vacated his seat in the strong Democratic 10th Congressional district in Massachusetts to become mayor of Boston. Kennedy ran for the seat, beating his Republican opponent by a large margin; this, despite not having previously included politics in his career planning. He was a congressman for six years but had a mixed voting record, often diverging from President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 and the rest of the Democratic Party.

Senate


In 1952
United States Senate election in Massachusetts, 1952
The United States Senate election of 1952 in Massachusetts was held on November 4, 1952. This election marked the end of the Lodge family dynasty and the beginning of the Kennedy family dynasty.-The campaign:...

, he defeated incumbent Republican Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. was a Republican United States Senator from Massachusetts and a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, South Vietnam, West Germany, and the Holy See . He was the Republican nominee for Vice President in the 1960 Presidential election.-Early life:Lodge was born in Nahant,...

 for the U.S. Senate. The following year he was married to wife Jacqueline
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier "Jackie" Kennedy Onassis was the wife of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and served as First Lady of the United States during his presidency from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Five years later she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle...

.

Kennedy underwent several spinal operations over the following two years, was at times critically ill and received Catholic last rites
Anointing of the Sick
Anointing of the Sick, known also by other names, is distinguished from other forms of religious anointing or "unction" in that it is intended, as its name indicates, for the benefit of a sick person...

, and was often absent from the Senate. During his convalescence in 1956, he published Profiles in Courage
Profiles in Courage
Profiles in Courage is a 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography describing acts of bravery and integrity by eight United States Senators throughout the Senate's history. The book profiles senators who crossed party lines and/or defied the public opinion of their constituents to do what they felt was...

, a book about U.S. Senators who risked their careers for their personal beliefs, and which received the Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 for Biography in 1957. Rumors that this work was co-authored by his close adviser and speechwriter, Ted Sorensen
Ted Sorensen
Theodore Chaikin "Ted" Sorensen was an American presidential advisor, lawyer and writer, best known as President John F. Kennedy’s special counsel, adviser and legendary speechwriter. President Kennedy once called him his “intellectual blood bank.”-Early life:Sorensen was born in Nebraska, the son...

, were confirmed in Sorensen's 2008 autobiography.

At the 1956 Democratic National Convention
1956 Democratic National Convention
The 1956 National Convention of the Democratic Party nominated former Governor Adlai Stevenson of Illinois for President and Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee for Vice President. It was held in the International Amphitheatre on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois August 13–17 1956. Unsuccessful...

, Kennedy was nominated for Vice President, for the presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson, but finished second in that balloting to Senator Estes Kefauver
Estes Kefauver
Carey Estes Kefauver July 26, 1903 – August 10, 1963) was an American politician from Tennessee. A member of the Democratic Party, he served in the U.S...

 of Tennessee. Kennedy received national exposure from that episode; his father thought it just as well that his son lost, due to the political debility of his Catholicism, and the strength of the Eisenhower ticket.

One of the matters demanding Kennedy's attention in the Senate was President Eisenhower's bill for the Civil Rights Act of 1957
Civil Rights Act of 1957
The Civil Rights Act of 1957, , primarily a voting rights bill, was the first civil rights legislation enacted by Congress in the United States since Reconstruction following the American Civil War.Following the historic US Supreme Court ruling in Brown v...

 Kennedy cast a procedural vote on this which was considered by some as an appeasement of Southern Democratic opponents of the bill. Kennedy did vote for Title III of the act, which would have given the Attorney General powers to enjoin, but Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson agreed to let the provision die as a compromise measure. Kennedy also voted for Title IV, termed the "Jury Trial Amendment". Many civil rights advocates at the time criticized that vote as one which would weaken the act. A final compromise bill, which Kennedy supported, was passed in September 1957. In 1958, Kennedy was re-elected to a second term in the Senate, defeating his Republican opponent, Boston lawyer Vincent J. Celeste, by a wide margin.

Senator Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy
Joseph Raymond "Joe" McCarthy was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957...

 was a friend of the Kennedy family; Joseph Kennedy, Sr. was a leading McCarthy supporter, Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy , also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician, a Democratic senator from New York, and a noted civil rights activist. An icon of modern American liberalism and member of the Kennedy family, he was a younger brother of President John F...

 worked for McCarthy's subcommittee, and McCarthy dated Patricia Kennedy
Patricia Kennedy Lawford
Patricia "Pat" Kennedy Lawford was an American socialite and the sixth of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald, sister to President John F. Kennedy, Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Edward M...

. In 1954, when the Senate voted to censure McCarthy, Kennedy had drafted, but not delivered, a speech supporting the censure, but was in the hospital. Though absent, he could have participated procedurally by "pairing" his vote against that of another senator, but did not do so. He never indicated how he would have voted, but the episode damaged Kennedy's support in the liberal community, including Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights. After her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt continued to be an international...

, in the 1956 and 1960 elections.

1960 presidential election



On January 2, 1960, Kennedy initiated his campaign for President in the Democratic primary election
Primary election
A primary election is an election in which party members or voters select candidates for a subsequent election. Primary elections are one means by which a political party nominates candidates for the next general election....

, where he faced challenges from Senator Hubert Humphrey
Hubert Humphrey
Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Jr. , served under President Lyndon B. Johnson as the 38th Vice President of the United States. Humphrey twice served as a United States Senator from Minnesota, and served as Democratic Majority Whip. He was a founder of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and...

 of Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 and Senator Wayne Morse
Wayne Morse
Wayne Lyman Morse was a politician and attorney from Oregon, United States, known for his proclivity for opposing his parties' leadership, and specifically for his opposition to the Vietnam War on constitutional grounds....

 of Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

. Kennedy defeated Humphrey in Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

 and West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

, Morse in Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 and Oregon, as well as token opposition (often write-in candidate
Write-in candidate
A write-in candidate is a candidate in an election whose name does not appear on the ballot, but for whom voters may vote nonetheless by writing in the person's name. Some states and local jurisdictions allow a voter to affix a sticker with a write-in candidate's name on it to the ballot in lieu...

s) in New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, and Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

. Kennedy made a point of visiting a coal mine in West Virginia; most miners and others in that predominantly conservative
American conservatism
Conservatism in the United States has played an important role in American politics since the 1950s. Historian Gregory Schneider identifies several constants in American conservatism: respect for tradition, support of republicanism, preservation of "the rule of law and the Christian religion", and...

, Protestant state were quite wary of Kennedy's Roman Catholicism. His victory in West Virginia confirmed his broad popular appeal. At the Democratic Convention, he gave his well-known "New Frontier
New Frontier
The term New Frontier was used by Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy in his acceptance speech in the 1960 United States presidential election to the Democratic National Convention at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as the Democratic slogan to inspire America to support him...

" speech, saying: "For the problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won—and we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier ... But the New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises—it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them."


With Humphrey and Morse eliminated, Kennedy's main opponent at the Los Angeles convention was Senator Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 of Texas. Kennedy overcame this formal challenge as well as informal ones from Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic nominee in 1952 and 1956, Stuart Symington
Stuart Symington
William Stuart Symington was a businessman and political figure from Missouri. He served as the first Secretary of the Air Force from 1947 to 1950 and was a Democratic United States Senator from Missouri from 1953 to 1976.-Education and business career:...

, as well as several favorite son
Favorite son
A favorite son is a political term.*At the quadrennial American national political party conventions, a state delegation sometimes nominates and votes for a candidate from the state, or less often from the state's region, who is not a viable candidate...

s, and on July 13 the Democratic convention nominated Kennedy as its candidate. Kennedy asked Johnson to be his Vice Presidential candidate, despite opposition from many liberal delegates and Kennedy's own staff, including brother Robert. He needed Johnson's strength in the South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 to win what was considered likely to be the closest election since 1916
United States presidential election, 1916
The United States presidential election of 1916 took place while Europe was embroiled in World War I. Public sentiment in the still neutral United States leaned towards the British and French forces, due to the harsh treatment of civilians by the German Army, which had invaded and occupied large...

. Major issues included how to get the economy moving again, Kennedy's Roman Catholicism, Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, and whether the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 space and missile programs had surpassed those of the U.S. To address fears that his being Catholic would impact his decision-making, he famously told the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12, 1960, "I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters – and the Church does not speak for me." Kennedy questioned rhetorically whether one-quarter of Americans were relegated to second-class citizenship just because they were Catholic, and once stated that, "No one asked me my religion [serving the Navy] in the South Pacific."

In September and October, Kennedy appeared with Republican candidate Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

, then Vice President, in the first televised U.S. presidential debates in U.S. history. During these programs, Nixon, with a sore injured leg and his "five o'clock shadow
Five O'Clock Shadow
Five O'Clock Shadow is an a cappella group from Boston, Massachusetts, that has been in existence since 1991. The band has performed on FOX News, A&E Network, ABC, ESPN and VH-1's "breakthrough" series. They have released 4 cassettes and 5 CDs, winning many Contemporary A cappella Recording...

", looked tense, uncomfortable, and perspiring, while Kennedy, choosing to avail himself of makeup services, appeared relaxed, leading the huge television audience to favor Kennedy as the winner. Radio listeners either thought Nixon had won or that the debates were a draw. The debates are now considered a milestone in American political history—the point at which the medium of television began to play a dominant role in politics. After the first debate Kennedy's campaign gained momentum and he pulled slightly ahead of Nixon in most polls. On Tuesday, November 8, Kennedy defeated Nixon in one of the closest presidential elections of the twentieth century. In the national popular vote Kennedy led Nixon by just two-tenths of one percent (49.7% to 49.5%), while in the Electoral College he won 303 votes to Nixon's 219 (269 were needed to win). Another 14 electors from Mississippi and Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

 refused to support Kennedy because of his support for the civil rights movement
Civil rights movement
The civil rights movement was a worldwide political movement for equality before the law occurring between approximately 1950 and 1980. In many situations it took the form of campaigns of civil resistance aimed at achieving change by nonviolent forms of resistance. In some situations it was...

; they voted for Senator Harry F. Byrd
Harry F. Byrd
Harry Flood Byrd, Sr. of Berryville in Clarke County, Virginia, was an American newspaper publisher, farmer and politician. He was a descendant of one of the First Families of Virginia...

 of Virginia. He was the youngest man elected president, succeeding Eisenhower who was then the oldest (Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 surpassed Eisenhower as the oldest president in 1981).

Presidency


John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President at noon on January 20, 1961. In his inaugural address
Inaugural address of John F. Kennedy
U.S. President John F. Kennedy delivered his only inaugural address at 12:51 Friday, January 20, 1961, immediately after taking the presidential oath of office administered by Chief Justice Earl Warren.-Background:...

 he spoke of the need for all Americans to be active citizens, famously saying, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." He also asked the nations of the world to join together to fight what he called the "common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself." He added: "All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin." In closing, he expanded on his desire for greater internationalism: "Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you."

In its scope, the address also reflected Kennedy's confidence that his administration would chart a historically significant course in both domestic policy and foreign affairs. The contrast between this optimistic vision and the pressures of managing daily political realities at home and abroad would be one of the main tensions running through the early years of his administration.

Kennedy brought to the White House a stark contrast in organization compared to the decision making structure of the former general, Eisenhower; and he wasted no time in dismantling it. Kennedy preferred the organizational structure of a wheel, with all the spokes leading to the president. He was ready and willing to make the increased number of quick decisions required in such an environment, and did a monumental job of selecting his cabinet and other appointments, some experienced and some not. In those cases of inexperience, he stated, "we can learn our jobs together". There were a couple instances where the president got ahead of himself, as when he announced in a cabinet meeting, without prior notice, that Edward Lansdale
Edward Lansdale
Edward Geary Lansdale was a United States Air Force officer who served in the Office of Strategic Services and the Central Intelligence Agency. He rose to the rank of Major General and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 1963. He was an early proponent of more aggressive US actions in...

 would be Ambassador to South Vietnam, a decision which Secretary of State Rusk later had Kennedy alter. There was also the rapid appointment of Harris Wofford
Harris Wofford
Harris Llewellyn Wofford served as a Democratic U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania from 1991 to 1995 and as the fifth president of Bryn Mawr College, and is a noted advocate of national service and volunteering...

 who was summoned and arrived at the White House for swearing in, without knowing the position he was to assume.

Kennedy further demonstrated his decision making agility with Congress and his staff. Much to the chagrin of his economic advisors who wanted him to reduce taxes, he quickly agreed to a balanced budget pledge when this was needed in exchange for votes to expand the membership of the House Rules Committee in order to give the Democrats a majority in setting the legislative agenda. The president insisted on a focus upon immediate and specific issues facing the administration, and quickly voiced his impatience with ponderings of deeper meanings. Deputy national security advisor, Walt Whitman Rostow
Walt Whitman Rostow
Walt Whitman Rostow was a United States economist and political theorist who served as Special Assistant for National Security Affairs to U.S. President Lyndon B...

, once began a diatribe about the growth of communism and Kennedy abruptly cut him off, asking, "What do you want me to do about that today?"

Foreign policy


President Kennedy's foreign policy was dominated by American confrontations with the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, manifested by proxy contests in the early stage of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. In 1961, Kennedy anxiously anticipated a summit with Soviet Premier
Premier of the Soviet Union
The office of Premier of the Soviet Union was synonymous with head of government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics . Twelve individuals have been premier...

 Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

. Unfortunately, the President started off on the wrong foot by reacting aggressively to a routine Khrushchev speech on Cold War confrontation in early 1961. The speech was intended for domestic audiences in the Soviet Union, but Kennedy interpreted it as a personal challenge. His mistake helped raise tensions going into the Vienna Summit
Vienna summit
The Vienna summit was a summit meeting held on June 4, 1961 in Vienna, Austria between President John F. Kennedy of the United States and Premier Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union. The leaders of the two superpowers of the Cold War era discussed numerous issues in the relationship between their...

. On the way to the June 1961 summit, Kennedy stopped in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 to meet Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

, whose advice to Kennedy was to expect and ignore Khrushchev's abrasive style. The French president was nationalistic, and disdainful of the United States' presumed influence in Europe, in his talks with Kennedy. Nevertheless de Gaulle was quite impressed with the young president and his family. Kennedy picked up on this in his speech in Paris, saying he would be remembered as "the man who accompanied Jackie Kennedy to Paris."

On June 4, 1961 the president met with Khrushchev in Vienna and left the meetings angry and disappointed that he had allowed the Premier to bully him, despite warnings received. Khrushchev, for his part, was impressed with the president's intelligence but thought him weak. Kennedy did succeed in conveying the bottom line to Khrushchev on the most sensitive issue before them, a proposed treaty between Moscow and East Berlin. He made it clear that any such treaty which interfered with U.S access rights in West Berlin would be regarded as an act of war.
Shortly after the president returned home, the U.S.S.R. announced an intent to sign a treaty with East Berlin, abrogating any third party occupation rights in either sector of the city. A depressed and angry president then assumed his obligation was to prepare the country for nuclear war as the only option, and which he then personally thought had a one in five chance of occurring.

In the weeks immediately after the Vienna summit, more than 20,000 people fled from East Berlin to the western sector in reaction to statements from the USSR. Kennedy began intensive meetings on the Berlin issue, where Dean Acheson took the lead in recommending a military buildup with NATO allies as the appropriate response. In a July 1961 speech, Kennedy announced his decision to add $3.25 billion to the defense budget, along with over 200,000 additional troops for the military, saying an attack on West Berlin would be taken as an attack on the U.S. The speech received an 85% approval rating. The following month, the Soviet Union and East Berlin officials began blocking any further passage of East Berliners into West Berlin, erecting barbed wire fences across the city, which were quickly upgraded to the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

. Kennedy's initial reaction was to ignore this, as long as free access from West to East Berlin continued. This course was altered when it was learned that the West Berliners had lost confidence in the defense of their position by the United States. Kennedy sent Vice President Johnson, along with a host of other military personnel, in convoy through West Germany, including Soviet armed checkpoints, to demonstrate the continued commitment of the U.S. to West Berlin.

Kennedy gave a speech at Saint Anselm College
Saint Anselm College
Saint Anselm College is a nationally ranked, private, Benedictine, Catholic liberal arts college in Goffstown, New Hampshire. Founded in 1889 by Abbot Hilary Pfrängle, O.S.B. of Saint Mary's Abbey in Newark, New Jersey, at the request of Bishop Denis M. Bradley of Manchester, New Hampshire, the...

 on May 5, 1960, regarding America's conduct in the emerging Cold War. The address detailed how American foreign policy should be conducted towards African nations, noting a hint of support for modern African nationalism by saying that "For we, too, founded a new nation on revolt from colonial rule".

Cuba and the Bay of Pigs Invasion



Prior to Kennedy's election to the presidency, the Eisenhower Administration created a plan to overthrow the Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

 regime in Cuba. Central to the plan, led by the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 (CIA) with help from the U.S. military, but with no covert help from the United States, was the arming of a counter-revolutionary insurgency composed of U.S.-trained anti-Castro Cuban exiles, led by CIA paramilitary officers were to invade Cuba and instigate an uprising among the Cuban people in hopes of removing Castro from power. On April 17, 1961, Kennedy ordered the previously planned invasion of Cuba to proceed. In what is known as the "Bay of Pigs Invasion", 1,500 U.S.-trained Cubans, called "Brigade 2506", returned to the island in the hope of deposing Castro. In keeping with prior plans, no U.S. air support was provided. As CIA
Director of Central Intelligence
The Office of United States Director of Central Intelligence was the head of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, the principal intelligence advisor to the President and the National Security Council, and the coordinator of intelligence activities among and between the various United...

 director Allen Dulles
Allen Welsh Dulles
Allen Welsh Dulles was an American diplomat, lawyer, banker, and public official who became the first civilian and the longest-serving Director of Central Intelligence and a member of the Warren Commission...

 later stated, they thought that once the troops were on the ground any action required for success would be authorized by the president to prevent failure. By April 19, 1961, the Cuban government had captured or killed the invading exiles, and Kennedy was forced to negotiate for the release of the 1,189 survivors. After twenty months, Cuba released the captured exiles in exchange for $53 million worth of food and medicine. Furthermore, the incident made Castro wary of the U.S. and led him to believe that another invasion would occur. According to biographer Richard Reeves, Kennedy primarily focused on the political repercussions of the plan rather than the military considerations; when it failed, he was convinced the plan was a set up to make him look bad. Nevertheless, in the end, Kennedy took the blame himself. Afterwards, he opined, "...We got a big kick in the leg and we deserved it. But maybe we'll learn something from it."

Late in 1961 the White House formed the "Special Group (Augmented)", headed by Robert Kennedy and including Edward Lansdale, Secretary McNamara and others. The group's objective, to overthrow Castro via espionage, sabotage and other covert tactics, was never pursued.

Cuban Missile Crisis





On October 14, 1962, CIA U-2
Lockheed U-2
The Lockheed U-2, nicknamed "Dragon Lady", is a single-engine, very high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force and previously flown by the Central Intelligence Agency . It provides day and night, very high-altitude , all-weather intelligence gathering...

 spy planes took photographs in Cuba of intermediate-range ballistic missile sites under construction by the Soviets in previous months. The deployment of these missiles had come to the attention of the intelligence community when Soviet shipments to Cuba began and a debate had ensued in the National Security Council (NSC) as to whether the intended use of the weapons was offensive or defensive. The photos were shown to Kennedy on October 16, 1962, and a consensus was reached that the missiles were offensive in nature and thus posed an immediate nuclear threat. Kennedy faced a dilemma: if the U.S. attacked the sites, it might lead to nuclear war
Nuclear warfare
Nuclear warfare, or atomic warfare, is a military conflict or political strategy in which nuclear weaponry is detonated on an opponent. Compared to conventional warfare, nuclear warfare can be vastly more destructive in range and extent of damage...

 with the U.S.S.R., but if the U.S. did nothing, it would be faced with the increased threat from close range nuclear weapons. The U.S. would as well appear to the world as less committed to the defense of the hemisphere
Western Hemisphere
The Western Hemisphere or western hemisphere is mainly used as a geographical term for the half of the Earth that lies west of the Prime Meridian and east of the Antimeridian , the other half being called the Eastern Hemisphere.In this sense, the western hemisphere consists of the western portions...

. On a personal level, Kennedy needed to show resolve in reaction to Khrushchev, especially after the Vienna summit.

More than a third of the members of the NSC favored an unannounced air assault on the missile sites, but for some of them this conjured up an image of "Pearl Harbor in reverse". There was as well some reaction from the international community (asked in confidence) that the assault plan was an overreaction in light of U.S. missiles placed in Turkey by Eisenhower. There also could be no assurance from the Council that the assault would be 100% effective. In concurrence with a majority vote of the NSC, Kennedy decided on a naval quarantine, and on October 22 dispatched a message of this to Khrushchev and announced the decision on TV.

The U.S. Navy would stop and inspect all Soviet ships arriving off Cuba, beginning October 24. The Organization of American States surprisingly gave unanimous support to the removal of the missiles. The president exchanged two sets of letters with Khrushchev to no avail. UN Secretary General U Thant requested both parties reverse their decisions and allow a cooling off period. Khrushchev said yes but Kennedy replied no. After one Soviet-flagged ship was stopped and boarded, on October 28 Khrushchev agreed to dismantle the missile sites subject to UN inspections. The U.S. publicly promised never to invade Cuba and privately agreed to remove its Jupiter missiles in Turkey, which were at that time obsolete and had been supplanted by missile-equipped US Navy Polaris subs. This crisis had brought the world closer to nuclear war than at any point known before or since. In the end, "the humanity" of the two men prevailed. The crisis improved the image of American willpower and the president's credibility. His approval rating increased from 66% to 77% immediately thereafter.

Latin America and communism



Arguing that "those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable," Kennedy sought to contain communism in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 by establishing the Alliance for Progress
Alliance for Progress
The Alliance for Progress initiated by U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1961 aimed to establish economic cooperation between the U.S. and South America.-Origin and goals:...

, which sent aid
Aid
In international relations, aid is a voluntary transfer of resources from one country to another, given at least partly with the objective of benefiting the recipient country....

 to troubled countries and sought greater human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 standards in the region. He worked closely with Governor of Puerto Rico
Governor of Puerto Rico
The Governor of Puerto Rico is the Head of Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Since 1948, the Governor has been elected by the people of Puerto Rico...

 Luis Muñoz Marín
Luis Muñoz Marín
Don José Luis Alberto Muñoz Marín was a Puerto Rican poet, journalist, and politician. Regarded as the "father of modern Puerto Rico," he was the first democratically elected Governor of Puerto Rico. Muñoz Marín was the son of Luis Muñoz Rivera, a renowned autonomist leader...

 for the development of the Alliance of Progress, as well as developments in the autonomy of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

.

When the president took office the Eisenhower administration, through the CIA, had begun putting into place assassination plots in Cuba against Castro and in the Dominican Republic against Rafael Trujillo. Kennedy instructed the CIA privately that any such planning must include plausible deniability by the U.S. His public position was in opposition. In June 1961 the Dominican Republic's leader was assassinated; in the days following the event, Undersecretary of State Chester Bowles led a cautious reaction by the nation, and Robert Kennedy, substituting for his brother who was in France, and who saw an opportunity for the U.S., called him "a gutless bastard" to his face.

Peace Corps



As one of his first presidential acts, Kennedy asked Congress to create the Peace Corps
Peace Corps
The Peace Corps is an American volunteer program run by the United States Government, as well as a government agency of the same name. The mission of the Peace Corps includes three goals: providing technical assistance, helping people outside the United States to understand US culture, and helping...

. His brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver
Sargent Shriver
Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr., known as Sargent Shriver, R. Sargent Shriver, or, from childhood, Sarge, was an American statesman and activist. As the husband of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, he was part of the Kennedy family, serving in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations...

 was the first director. Through this program, Americans volunteer to help underdeveloped nations in areas such as education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

, farming, health care
Health care
Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

, and construction
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

. The authorization grew to 5,000 members by March 1963 and 10,000 the following year. Since 1961, over 200,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps, serving in 139 countries.

Southeast Asia


When briefing Kennedy, Eisenhower emphasized the communist threat in Southeast Asia as requiring priority; Eisenhower considered Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

 to be "the cork in the bottle" in regards to the regional threat. In March 1961, Kennedy voiced a change in policy from supporting a "free" Laos to a "neutral" Laos, indicating privately that Vietnam, and not Laos, should be deemed America's tripwire for communism's spread in the area. In May 1961, he dispatched Lyndon Johnson to meet with South Vietnam's President Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngô Đình Diệm was the first president of South Vietnam . In the wake of the French withdrawal from Indochina as a result of the 1954 Geneva Accords, Diệm led the effort to create the Republic of Vietnam. Accruing considerable U.S. support due to his staunch anti-Communism, he achieved victory in a...

. Johnson assured Diem of more aid in molding a fighting force that could resist the Communists. Kennedy announced a change of policy from support to partnership with Diem in defeat of communism in South Vietnam
South Vietnam
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam" and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" . Its capital was Saigon...

.

Kennedy initially followed Eisenhower's lead, by using limited military action to fight the Communist forces led by Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh
Hồ Chí Minh , born Nguyễn Sinh Cung and also known as Nguyễn Ái Quốc, was a Vietnamese Marxist-Leninist revolutionary leader who was prime minister and president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam...

. Kennedy continued policies providing political, economic, and military support for the South Vietnam
South Vietnam
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam" and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" . Its capital was Saigon...

ese government. Late in 1961, the Viet Cong began assuming a predominant presence, initially seizing the provincial capital of Phuoc Vinh. Kennedy increased the number of helicopters, military advisors and undeclared U.S. Special Forces in the area, but he was still reluctant to order a full scale deployment of troops. Kennedy formally authorized escalated involvement when he signed the "National Security Action Memorandum – Subversive Insurgency (War of Liberation)" in early 1962. Secretary of State, Dean Rusk
Dean Rusk
David Dean Rusk was the United States Secretary of State from 1961 to 1969 under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Rusk is the second-longest serving U.S...

 voiced strong support for U.S. involvement, as illustrated in his emphatic statement in fall 1962 that, "...neutralism [in South Vietnam] is not neutralism at all; it's tantamount to surrender". "Operation Ranch Hand
Operation Ranch Hand
Operation Ranch Hand was a U.S. Military operation during the Vietnam War, lasting from 1962 until 1971. It was part of the overall herbicidal warfare program during the war called "Operation Trail Dust"...

", a broad scale aerial defoliation effort began on the roadsides in South Vietnam.
In April 1963, Kennedy expressed his assessment of the situation in Vietnam: "We don't have a prayer of staying in Vietnam. Those people hate us. They are going to throw our asses out of there at any point. But I can't give up that territory to the Communists and get the American people to re-elect me". By July 1963, Kennedy faced a crisis in Vietnam; despite increased U.S. support, the South Vietnamese military was only marginally effective against pro-Communist Viet Cong forces.

On August 21, just as the new U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge arrived, Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngô Đình Diệm was the first president of South Vietnam . In the wake of the French withdrawal from Indochina as a result of the 1954 Geneva Accords, Diệm led the effort to create the Republic of Vietnam. Accruing considerable U.S. support due to his staunch anti-Communism, he achieved victory in a...

, and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu
Ngo Dinh Nhu
Ngô Ðình Nhu was the younger brother and chief political advisor of South Vietnam's first president, Ngô Ðình Diệm. Nhu was widely regarded as the architect of the Ngô family's nepotistic and autocratic rule over South Vietnam from 1955 to 1963...

 ordered South Vietnam forces, funded and trained by the CIA, to quell Buddhist demonstrations. The crackdowns heightened expectations of a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 to remove Diem with (or perhaps by) his brother, Nhu. Lodge was instructed to try to get Diem and Nhu to step down and leave the country. Diem would not listen to Lodge. Cable 243
Cable 243
DEPTEL 243, also known as Telegram 243, the August 24 cable or most commonly Cable 243, was a high-profile message sent on August 24, 1963 by the United States Department of State to Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., the US ambassador to South Vietnam...

 (DEPTEL 243), dated August 24, followed, declaring Washington would no longer tolerate Nhu's actions, and Lodge was ordered to pressure Diem to remove his brother, Nhu. If Diem refused, the Americans would explore alternative leadership. Lodge replied, stating the only workable option was to get the South Vietnamese generals to overthrow Diem and Nhu, as originally planned. At week's end, Kennedy learned from Lodge that the Diem government might, due to France's assistance to Nhu, be dealing secretly with the Communists – and might ask the Americans to leave; orders were sent to Saigon and throughout Washington to "destroy all coup cables". At the same time, the first formal anti-Vietnam war sentiment was expressed by U.S. clergy from the Ministers' Vietnam Committee.

A White House meeting in September was indicative of the very different ongoing appraisals; the President was given updated assessments after personal inspections on the ground by the Department of Defense (Gen. Victor Krulak) and the State Department (Joseph Mendenhall). Krulak said the military fight against the communists was progressing and being won, while Mendenhall stated that the country was civilly being lost to any U.S. influence. Kennedy reacted, saying, "Did you two gentlemen visit the same country?" The president was unaware the two men were at such odds they did not speak on the return flight.

In October 1963, the president appointed Defense Secretary McNamara and Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor
Maxwell D. Taylor
General Maxwell Davenport "Max" Taylor was an United States Army four star general and diplomat of the mid-20th century, who served as the fifth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after having been appointed by the President of the United States John F...

 to a Vietnam mission in another effort to synchronize the information and formulation of policy. The objective of the McNamara Taylor mission
McNamara Taylor mission
The McNamara-Taylor mission was a 10-day fact-finding expedition to South Vietnam in September 1963 by the Kennedy administration to review progress in the battle by the Army of the Republic of Vietnam and its American advisers against the communist insurgency of the National Liberation Front of...

 "emphasized the importance of getting to the bottom of the differences in reporting from U.S. representatives in Vietnam". In meetings with McNamara, Taylor and Lodge, Diem again refused to agree to governing measures insisted upon by the U.S., helping to dispel McNamara's previous optimism about Diem. Taylor and McNamara were also enlightened by Vietnam's Vice President, Nguyen Ngoc Tho
Nguyen Ngoc Tho
Nguyễn Ngọc Thơ is a Vietnamese politician who was the first Prime Minister of South Vietnam, serving from November 1963 to late January 1964. Thơ was appointed to head a civilian cabinet by the military junta of General Dương Văn Minh, which came to power after overthrowing and assassinating Ngô...

 (choice of many to succeed Diem should a coup occur), who in detailed terms obliterated Taylor's information that the military was succeeding in the countryside. The mission report, after it had been through the NSC, nevertheless retained, at Kennedy's insistence, a recommended schedule for troop withdrawals: 1000 by year's end and complete withdrawal in 1965, something the NSC considered strategic fantasy. The final report also portrayed military progress, an increasingly unpopular Diem-led government, not vulnerable to a coup, albeit possible internal assassination.

In late October, intelligence wires again reported a coup of the Diem government was afoot. The source, Duong Van Minh
Duong Van Minh
Minh was born on 16 February 1916 in Mỹ Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, the son of a wealthy landowner who served in a prominent position in the Finance Ministry of the French colonial administration...

 a/k/a "Big Minh" wanted to know the U.S. position. Kennedy's instructions to Lodge were to offer covert assistance to the coup, excluding assassination, but to ensure deniability by the U.S. Later that month, as the coup became imminent, Kennedy ordered all cables routed through him, and a policy of "control and cut out" was initiated – to insure presidential control of U.S. responses, while cutting him out of the paper trail. On November 1, 1963, South Vietnamese generals, led by "Big Minh", overthrew the Diem government, arresting and then killing Diem and his brother Nhu. Kennedy was shocked by the deaths and by finding out afterwards that Minh had asked the CIA field office to secure safe passage out of the country for Diem and Nhu, but was told 24 hours was needed to get a plane. Minh responded that he could not hold them that long and thus handed them a death sentence. Initially after news of the coup, there was renewed confidence in America and South Vietnam, that now the war might be won. McGeorge Bundy
McGeorge Bundy
McGeorge "Mac" Bundy was United States National Security Advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson from 1961 through 1966, and president of the Ford Foundation from 1966 through 1979...

 drafted a National Security Action Memo to present to Kennedy upon his return from Dallas. It reiterated U.S. resolve to fight communism in Vietnam, with both military and economic aid at a higher level, including operations in Laos and Cambodia. Before leaving for Dallas, Kennedy told Mike Forrestal that "after the first of the year ... [he wanted] an in depth study of every possible option, including how to get out of there ... to review this whole thing from the bottom to the top". When asked what he thought the president meant, Forrestal said, "it was devil's advocate stuff."

Historians disagree on whether Vietnam would have escalated to the point it did, had Kennedy survived and been re-elected in 1964. Fueling the debate are statements made by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara
Robert McNamara
Robert Strange McNamara was an American business executive and the eighth Secretary of Defense, serving under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1968, during which time he played a large role in escalating the United States involvement in the Vietnam War...

 in the film, "The Fog of War
The Fog of War
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara is a 2003 American documentary film about the life and times of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara as well as illustrating his observations of the nature of modern warfare...

", that Kennedy was strongly considering pulling out of Vietnam after the 1964 election. The film also contains a tape recording of Lyndon Johnson stating that Kennedy was planning to withdraw, a position Johnson states he strongly disapproved. Further, Kennedy had signed National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) 263, dated October 11, 1963, which ordered the withdrawal of 1,000 military personnel by the end of 1963. Nevertheless, given the reasons stated for the overthrow of the Diem government, such action would have been a policy reversal, but Kennedy was moving in a less hawkish direction since his acclaimed speech about World Peace at American University
American University
American University is a private, Methodist, liberal arts, and research university in Washington, D.C. The university was chartered by an Act of Congress on December 5, 1892 as "The American University", which was approved by President Benjamin Harrison on February 24, 1893...

 on June 10, 1963. According to historian Lawrence Freedman
Lawrence Freedman
Sir Lawrence David Freedman, KCMG, CBE, PC, FBA, FKC is Professor of War Studies at King's College London, and was a foreign policy adviser to Tony Blair...

, Kennedy's statements about withdrawing from Vietnam, were "less of a definite decision than a working assumption, based on a hope for stability rather than an expectation of chaos". Some of the details of Kennedy's involvement in Vietnam were classified until the release of the Pentagon Papers
Pentagon Papers
The Pentagon Papers, officially titled United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense, is a United States Department of Defense history of the United States' political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967...

in 1971.

U.S. involvement in the region escalated until Lyndon Johnson, his successor, directly deployed regular U.S. military forces for fighting the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

. After Kennedy's assassination, the new President Lyndon B. Johnson immediately reversed his predecessor's order to withdraw 1,000 military personnel by the end of 1963 with his own NSAM 273 on November 26, 1963.

American University speech


On June 10, 1963, Kennedy delivered the commencement address at American University
American University speech
The American University speech, titled A Strategy of Peace, was a commencement address delivered by President John F. Kennedy at the American University in Washington, D.C., on June 10, 1963...

 in Washington, D.C., "to discuss a topic on which too often ignorance abounds and the truth is too rarely perceived – yet it is the most important topic on earth: world peace...I speak of peace because of the new face of war...in an age when a singular nuclear weapon contains ten times the explosive force delivered by all the allied forces in the Second World War...an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and air and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn...I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men...world peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor – it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance...our problems are man-made – therefore they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants." The president also made two announcements – that the Soviets had expressed a desire to negotiate a nuclear test ban treaty and that the U.S had postponed planned atmospheric tests.

West Berlin speech




In 1963, Germany was enduring a time of particular vulnerability, due to Soviet aggression to the east, de Gaulle's French nationalism to the west, and the impending retirement of German Chancellor Adenauer. On June 26, 1963, Kennedy visited West Berlin
West Berlin
West Berlin was a political exclave that existed between 1949 and 1990. It comprised the western regions of Berlin, which were bordered by East Berlin and parts of East Germany. West Berlin consisted of the American, British, and French occupation sectors, which had been established in 1945...

 and gave a public speech reiterating American commitment to Germany and criticizing communism; he was met with an ecstatic response from a massive audience. Kennedy used the construction of the Berlin Wall as an example of the failures of communism: "Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in." The speech is known for its famous phrase "Ich bin ein Berliner
Ich bin ein Berliner
"Ich bin ein Berliner" is a quotation from a June 26, 1963, speech by U.S. President John F. Kennedy in West Berlin. He was underlining the support of the United States for West Germany 22 months after the Soviet-supported East Germany erected the Berlin Wall as a barrier to prevent movement...

"
("I am a citizen of Berlin"). Nearly five-sixths of the population was on the street for the speech. He remarked to Ted Sorensen afterwards: "We'll never have another day like this one, as long as we live."

Israel



Kennedy encountered problems with the Israeli government regarding the production of nuclear weapons in Dimona
Dimona
Dimona is an Israeli city in the Negev desert, to the south of Beersheba and west of the Dead Sea above the Arava valley in the Southern District of Israel. Its population at the end of 2007 was 33,600.-History:...

. After the existence of a nuclear plant was initially denied by the Israeli government, David Ben-Gurion
David Ben-Gurion
' was the first Prime Minister of Israel.Ben-Gurion's passion for Zionism, which began early in life, led him to become a major Zionist leader and Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946...

, in a speech to the Israeli Knesset on December 21, 1960, stated that the purpose of the nuclear plant at Beersheba was for "research in problems of arid zones and desert flora and fauna". When Ben-Gurion met with Kennedy in New York, he claimed that Dimona was being developed to provide nuclear power for desalinization and "for the time being the only purposes [of the nuclear plant] are for peace". Kennedy did not believe this, and in May 1963 sent a letter to Ben-Gurion stating, "this commitment and this support would seriously be jeopardized in the public opinion in this country and the West as a whole if it should be thought that this Government was unable to obtain reliable information on a subject as vital to peace as Israel's efforts in the nuclear field." Ben-Gurion repeated previous reassurances that Dimona was being developed for peaceful purposes, and Israel firmly resisted American pressure to open its nuclear facilities to International Atomic Energy Agency
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 (IAEA) inspections. According to Seymour Hersh
Seymour Hersh
Seymour Myron Hersh is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and author based in Washington, D.C. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine on military and security matters...

, the Israelis set up false control rooms to show American inspectors. Abe Feinberg stated, "It was part of my job to tip them off that Kennedy was insisting on [an inspection]." The State Department argued that if Israel wanted arms, it should in return accept international supervision of its nuclear program. Kennedy had tried to control the arms being sold and given to Israel because the Israelis would not sign the IAEA compacts for the Dimona nuclear site, would not fully admit its purpose and continued to insist it was for peaceful energy purposes. In early March 1965, the director of the State Department's Office of Near Eastern Affairs, Rodger P. Davies, had come to the conclusion that Israel was developing nuclear weapons. He reported that the target date for acquisition of a nuclear capability by Israel was 1968–69. A science attache at the embassy in Tel Aviv concluded that parts of the Dimona facility had been "purposely mothballed" to mislead American scientists during their visit. Dimona was never placed under IAEA safeguards. On May 1, 1968, Undersecretary of State Katzenbach told President Johnson that Dimona was producing enough plutonium to produce two bombs a year. Attempts to write Israeli adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to...

 (NPT) into contracts for the supply of U.S. weapons continued throughout 1968.

Iraq


In 1963, the Kennedy administration backed a coup against the government of Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 headed by General Abdel Karim Kassem, who five years earlier had deposed the Western-allied Iraqi monarchy. The CIA helped the new Ba'ath Party government led by Abdul Salam Arif
Abdul Salam Arif
Abdul Salam Mohammed Arif Aljumaily was President of Iraq from 1963 till his death. He played a leading role in the coup in which the Hashemite monarchy was overthrown on July 14, 1958.-1958 revolution and conflict with Qasim:...

 in ridding the country of suspected leftists and Communists. In a Ba'athist coup, the government used lists of suspected Communists and other leftists provided by the CIA, to systematically murder untold numbers of Iraq's educated elite—killings in which Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 himself is said to have participated. The victims included hundreds of doctors, teachers, technicians, lawyers, other professionals, military and political figures. According to an op-ed
Op-ed
An op-ed, abbreviated from opposite the editorial page , is a newspaper article that expresses the opinions of a named writer who is usually unaffiliated with the newspaper's editorial board...

 in The New York Times, the U.S. sent arms to the new regime, weapons later used against the same Kurd
Kürd
Kürd or Kyurd or Kyurt may refer to:*Kürd Eldarbəyli, Azerbaijan*Kürd Mahrızlı, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Goychay, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Jalilabad, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Qabala, Azerbaijan*Qurdbayram, Azerbaijan...

ish insurgents the U.S. supported against Kassem and then abandoned him. American and UK oil and other interests, including Mobil
Mobil
Mobil, previously known as the Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, was a major American oil company which merged with Exxon in 1999 to form ExxonMobil. Today Mobil continues as a major brand name within the combined company, as well as still being a gas station sometimes paired with their own store or On...

, Bechtel
Bechtel
Bechtel Corporation is the largest engineering company in the United States, ranking as the 5th-largest privately owned company in the U.S...

, and British Petroleum, were conducting business in Iraq.

Ireland


On the occasion of his visit to the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 in 1963, President Kennedy joined with Irish President Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

 to form The American Irish Foundation. The mission of this organization was to foster connections between Americans of Irish descent and the country of their ancestry. Kennedy furthered these connections of cultural solidarity by accepting a grant of armorial bearings from the Chief Herald of Ireland. Kennedy had near-legendary status in Ireland, due to his ancestral ties to the country. Irish citizens who were alive in 1963 often have very strong memories of Kennedy's momentous visit. He also visited the original cottage at Dunganstown, near New Ross
New Ross
New Ross is a town located in southwest County Wexford, in the southeast of Ireland. In 2006 it had a population of 7,709 people, making it the third largest town in the county after Wexford and Enniscorthy.-History:...

, where previous Kennedys had lived before emigrating to America, and said: "This is where it all began ..." On December 22, 2006, the Irish Department of Justice released declassified police documents that indicated that Kennedy was the subject of three death threats during this visit. Though these threats were determined to be hoaxes, security was heightened.

Nuclear Test Ban Treaty


Troubled by the long-term dangers of radioactive contamination
Radioactive contamination
Radioactive contamination, also called radiological contamination, is radioactive substances on surfaces, or within solids, liquids or gases , where their presence is unintended or undesirable, or the process giving rise to their presence in such places...

 and nuclear weapons proliferation
Nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation is a term now used to describe the spread of nuclear weapons, fissile material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information, to nations which are not recognized as "Nuclear Weapon States" by the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the...

, Kennedy and Khrushchev agreed on the desirability of negotiating a nuclear test ban treaty, originally conceived in Adlai Stevenson's 1956 presidential campaign. In their Vienna summit meeting in June 1961, Khrushchev and Kennedy reached an informal understanding against nuclear testing, but Khrushchev began testing nuclear weapons that September and Kennedy responded by conducting tests five days later. Shortly thereafter, new U.S. satellites began delivering images which made it clear that the Soviets were substantially behind the U.S. in the "missile gap". Nevertheless, the greater nuclear strength of the U.S. was of little value as long as the U.S.S.R. perceived themselves to be at parity.

In July 1963 the stage was set for negotiations, and Kennedy sent Averell Harriman to Moscow to negotiate a treaty with the Soviets. The introductory sessions began with Khrushchev, who then delegated Soviet representation to Andrei Gromyko
Andrei Gromyko
Andrei Andreyevich Gromyko was a Soviet statesman during the Cold War. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet . Gromyko was responsible for many top decisions on Soviet foreign policy until he retired in 1987. In the West he was given the...

. It quickly became clear that the stated objective of a comprehensive test ban would not reach fruition, due largely to the reluctance of the Soviets for inspections to verify compliance. Ultimately, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union were the initial signatories to a limited treaty, which prohibited atomic testing on the ground, in the atmosphere, or underwater, but not underground; the U.S. Senate ratified this and Kennedy signed it into law in October 1963. France was quick to declare that it was free to further develop and test its nuclear defenses.

Domestic policy


Kennedy called his domestic program the "New Frontier
New Frontier
The term New Frontier was used by Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy in his acceptance speech in the 1960 United States presidential election to the Democratic National Convention at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as the Democratic slogan to inspire America to support him...

". It ambitiously promised federal funding for education, medical care for the elderly, economic aid to rural regions, and government intervention to halt the recession. Kennedy also promised an end to racial discrimination. In his 1963 State of the Union, he proposed substantial tax reform and reduction, in income tax rates, from the current range of 20–90% to a range of 14–65%; he proposed a reduction in the corporate tax rates from 52 to 47%. Congress did not act until 1964, after his death. To the Economics Club of N.Y., he spoke in 1963 of "...the paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and revenues too low; and the soundest way to raise revenue in the long term is to lower rates now." Few of Kennedy's major programs passed Congress during his lifetime, although, under his successor Johnson, Congress did vote them through in 1964–65.

Economy


Kennedy ended a period of tight fiscal policies, loosening monetary policy to keep interest rate
Interest rate
An interest rate is the rate at which interest is paid by a borrower for the use of money that they borrow from a lender. For example, a small company borrows capital from a bank to buy new assets for their business, and in return the lender receives interest at a predetermined interest rate for...

s down and encourage growth of the economy. Kennedy presided over the first government budget to top the $100 billion mark, in 1962, and his first budget in 1961 led to the country's first non-war, non-recession deficit. The economy, which had been through two recessions in three years and was in one when Kennedy took office, accelerated notably during his brief presidency. Despite low inflation and interest rates, GDP had grown by an average of only 2.2% during the Eisenhower presidency (scarcely more than population growth at the time), and had declined by 1% during Eisenhower's last twelve months in office. Stagnation had taken a toll on the nation's labor market, as well: unemployment had risen steadily from under 3% in 1953 to 7%, by early 1961.

The economy turned around and prospered during the Kennedy administration. GDP expanded by an average of 5.5% from early 1961 to late 1963, while inflation remained steady at around 1% and unemployment eased; industrial production rose by 15% and motor vehicle sales leapt by 40%. This rate of growth in GDP and industry continued until around 1966, and has yet to be repeated for such a sustained period of time. There were nevertheless some painful moments, as in the stock market, which had steadily declined since Kennedy's election, and which dropped a full 10% shortly after the administration's action on the steel industry in 1962.

The major steel companies announced in April 1962 a 3.5% price increase (the first in 3 years) within a day of each other. This came just days after the companies had reached a settlement with the steelworkers' union, providing in chief a wage increase of 2.5%. The administration was furious, with Kennedy saying, "Why did they do this? Do they think they can get away with this? God, I hate the bastards." The president took personal charge of a campaign against the industry, assigning to each cabinet member a statement regarding the effects of the price increase on their area. Robert Kennedy, echoing his brother's own sentiments, "We're going for broke...their expense accounts, where they've been and what they've been doing...the FBI is to interview them all...we can't lose this." Robert took the position that the steel executives had illegally colluded in doing this. There was genuine concern about the inflationary effects of the price increase. The administration's actions influenced US Steel to rescind the price increase. The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is an American English-language international daily newspaper. It is published in New York City by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corporation, along with the Asian and European editions of the Journal....

wrote that the administration had acted "by naked power, by threats, by agents of the state security police." Yale law professor Charles Reich wrote in The New Republic
The New Republic
The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...

his opinion that the administration had violated civil liberties by calling a grand jury to indict US Steel for collusion so quickly. A New York Times editorial praised Kennedy's actions and said that the steel industry's price increase "imperils the economic welfare of the country by inviting a tidal wave of inflation." Nevertheless, the administration's Bureau of Budget reported the price increase would have resulted in a net gain for GDP as well as a net budget surplus.

Kennedy had little knowledge of the agricultural sector of the economy, and farmers were definitely not on his list of priorities, at least in his 1960 campaign. After giving a speech to a farming community, he rhetorically asked an aide, "Did you understand any of what I just said in there? I sure didn't."

Federal and military death penalty


As President, Kennedy oversaw the last pre-Furman
Furman v. Georgia
Furman v. Georgia, was a United States Supreme Court decision that ruled on the requirement for a degree of consistency in the application of the death penalty. The case led to a de facto moratorium on capital punishment throughout the United States, which came to an end when Gregg v. Georgia was...

 federal execution, and, as of 2008, the last military execution. Governor of Iowa Harold Hughes
Harold Hughes
Harold Everett Hughes was the 36th Governor of Iowa from 1963 until 1969; he had been a Republican earlier in his life. He also served as a Democratic United States Senator from 1969 until 1975.-Background:...

, a death penalty opponent, personally contacted Kennedy to request clemency for Victor Feguer
Victor Feguer
Victor Harry Feguer was a convicted murderer and the last federal inmate executed in the United States before the moratorium on the death penalty following Furman v. Georgia, and the last person put to death in the state of Iowa...

, who was sentenced to death by a federal court in Iowa, but Kennedy turned down the request and Feguer was executed on March 15, 1963. Kennedy commuted a death sentence imposed by military court on seaman Jimmie Henderson on February 12, 1962, changing the penalty to life in prison.

On March 22, 1962, Kennedy signed into law HR5143 (PL87-423), abolishing the mandatory death penalty
Capital punishment in the United States
Capital punishment in the United States, in practice, applies only for aggravated murder and more rarely for felony murder. Capital punishment was a penalty at common law, for many felonies, and was enforced in all of the American colonies prior to the Declaration of Independence...

 for first degree murder in the District of Columbia, the only remaining jurisdiction in the United States with a mandatory death sentence for first degree murder, replacing it with life imprisonment with parole if the jury could not decide between life imprisonment and the death penalty, or if the jury chose life imprisonment by a unanimous vote. The death penalty in the District of Columbia has not been applied since 1957, and has now been abolished.

Civil rights


The turbulent end of state-sanctioned racial discrimination was one of the most pressing domestic issues of the 1960s. The Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 had ruled in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 , was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which...

that racial segregation
Racial segregation
Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

 in public schools was unconstitutional. Many schools, especially in southern states, did not obey the Supreme Court's decision. Segregation had also been prohibited by the Court at other public facilities (e.g. buses, restaurants, theaters, courtrooms, bathrooms, and beaches) but continued nonetheless. Kennedy verbally supported racial integration
Racial integration
Racial integration, or simply integration includes desegregation . In addition to desegregation, integration includes goals such as leveling barriers to association, creating equal opportunity regardless of race, and the development of a culture that draws on diverse traditions, rather than merely...

 and civil rights; during the 1960 campaign he telephoned Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King was an American author, activist, and civil rights leader. The widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King helped lead the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.Mrs...

, wife of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

, who had been jailed while demonstrating for equal access of African Americans; Kennedy secured the early release of King, which drew additional black support to his candidacy.

Nevertheless President Kennedy believed the grass roots movement for civil rights would anger many Southern whites and make it more difficult to pass civil rights laws in Congress, which was dominated by conservative Southern Democrats, and he distanced himself from it. He also was more concerned with other issues early in his presidency, e.g. the "Bay of Pigs" fiasco and Southeast Asia. As articulated by brother Robert, the administration's early priority was to "keep the president out of this civil rights mess". As a result, many civil rights leaders viewed Kennedy as lukewarm, especially concerning the Freedom Riders who organized an integrated public transportation effort in the south, and who were repeatedly met with violence by whites, including law enforcement both federal and state. Kennedy assigned federal marshals to protect the Freedom Riders as an alternative to using federal troops or uncooperative FBI agents. Robert Kennedy, speaking for the president, urged the Freedom Riders to "get off the buses and leave the matter to peaceful settlement in the courts."

In September 1962, James Meredith
James Meredith
James H. Meredith is an American civil rights movement figure, a writer, and a political adviser. In 1962, he was the first African American student admitted to the segregated University of Mississippi, an event that was a flashpoint in the American civil rights movement. Motivated by President...

 enrolled at the University of Mississippi
University of Mississippi
The University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss, is a public, coeducational research university located in Oxford, Mississippi. Founded in 1844, the school is composed of the main campus in Oxford, four branch campuses located in Booneville, Grenada, Tupelo, and Southaven as well as the...

, but was prevented from entering. Attorney General Robert Kennedy responded by sending some 400 U.S. Marshals, while President Kennedy reluctantly federalized and sent 3,000 troops after the situation on campus turned violent. Campus Riots
Ole Miss riot of 1962
The Ole Miss riot 1962 was a riot fought between Southern segregationist civilians and federal and state forces as a result of the forced enrollment of black student James Meredith at the University of Mississippi at Oxford, Mississippi.On October 1, 1962, James H...

 left two dead and dozens injured, but Meredith did finally enroll in his first class. On November 20, 1962, Kennedy signed Executive Order 11063, prohibiting racial discrimination in federally supported housing or "related facilities".

In early 1963, Kennedy related to Martin Luther King, Jr., about the prospects for civil rights legislation: "If we get into a long fight over this in Congress, it will bottleneck everything else, and we will still get no bill." However, civil rights clashes were very much on the rise that year. Brother Robert and Ted Sorenson pressed Kennedy to take more initiative on the legislative front. On June 11, 1963, President Kennedy intervened when Alabama Governor George Wallace
George Wallace
George Corley Wallace, Jr. was the 45th Governor of Alabama, serving four terms: 1963–1967, 1971–1979 and 1983–1987. "The most influential loser" in 20th-century U.S. politics, according to biographers Dan T. Carter and Stephan Lesher, he ran for U.S...

 blocked the doorway to the University of Alabama
University of Alabama
The University of Alabama is a public coeducational university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States....

 to stop two African American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood
James Hood
James Hood was one of the first African Americans to enroll at the University of Alabama in 1963 and was made famous when Alabama Governor George Wallace blocked him from enrolling at the all-white university....

, from attending. Wallace moved aside only after being confronted by Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach
Nicholas Katzenbach
Nicholas deBelleville Katzenbach is an American lawyer who served as United States Attorney General during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration.-Early life:...

 and the Alabama National Guard
United States National Guard
The National Guard of the United States is a reserve military force composed of state National Guard militia members or units under federally recognized active or inactive armed force service for the United States. Militia members are citizen soldiers, meaning they work part time for the National...

, which had just been federalized by order of the President, and which had hours earlier been under Wallace's command. That evening Kennedy gave his famous civil rights address on national television and radio, launching his initiative for civil rights legislation – to provide equal access to public schools and other facilities, and greater protection of voting rights. His proposals became part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women, including racial segregation...

. The day ended with the murder of a N.A.A.C.P. leader, Medgar Evers
Medgar Evers
Medgar Wiley Evers was an African American civil rights activist from Mississippi involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi...

, at his home in Mississippi. As the president had predicted, the day after his TV speech, and in reaction to it, House Majority leader Carl Albert called to advise him that his two year signature effort in Congress to combat poverty in Appalachia (Area Redevelopment Administration) had been defeated, primarily by the votes of Southern Democrats and Republicans.

Kennedy signed the executive order creating the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women
Presidential Commission on the Status of Women
The Presidential Commission on the Status of Women was established to advise the President of the United States on issues concerning the status of women. It was created by John F. Kennedy's executive order 10980 signed December 14, 1961.-Background:...

 on December 14, 1961. Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt led the commission. The Commission statistics revealed that women were also experiencing discrimination; their final report documenting legal and cultural barriers was issued in October 1963. Earlier, on June 10, 1963, Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963
Equal Pay Act of 1963
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is a United States federal law amending the Fair Labor Standards Act, aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex . It was signed into law on June 10, 1963 by John F. Kennedy as part of his New Frontier Program...

, a federal law amending the Fair Labor Standards Act
Fair Labor Standards Act
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 is a federal statute of the United States. The FLSA established a national minimum wage, guaranteed 'time-and-a-half' for overtime in certain jobs, and prohibited most employment of minors in "oppressive child labor," a term that is defined in the statute...

, aimed at abolishing wage
Wage
A wage is a compensation, usually financial, received by workers in exchange for their labor.Compensation in terms of wages is given to workers and compensation in terms of salary is given to employees...

 disparity based on sex.

Over a hundred thousand, predominantly African Americans, gathered in Washington for the civil rights March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was the largest political rally for human rights in United States history and called for civil and economic rights for African Americans. It took place in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr...

 on August 28, 1963. Kennedy feared the March would have a negative effect on the prospects for the civil rights bills in Congress, and declined an invitation to speak. He turned over some of the details of the government's involvement to the Dept. of Justice, which channelled hundreds of thousands of dollars to the six sponsors of the March, including the N.A.A.C.P. and Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is an African-American civil rights organization. SCLC was closely associated with its first president, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr...

 (SCLC). To ensure a peaceful demonstration, the organizers and the president personally edited speeches which were inflammatory and agreed the March would be held on a Wednesday and would be over at 4:00 pm. Thousands of troops were placed on standby. Kennedy watched King's speech on TV and was very impressed. The March was considered a "triumph of managed protest", and not one arrest relating to the demonstration occurred. Afterwards, the March leaders accepted an invitation to the White House to meet with Kennedy and photos were taken. Kennedy felt the March was a victory for him as well and bolstered the chances for his civil rights bill.

Nevertheless, the struggle was far from over. Three weeks later, a bomb exploded on a Sunday at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham; at the end of the day six children had died in the explosion and aftermath. As a result of this resurgent violence, the civil rights legislation underwent some drastic amendments that critically endangered any prospects for passage of the bill, to the outrage of the president. Kennedy called the congressional leaders to the White House and by the following day the original bill, without the additions, had enough votes to get it out of the House committee.

Civil liberties


In 1963, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover
J. Edgar Hoover
John Edgar Hoover was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972...

, who hated civil-rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

 and viewed him as an upstart troublemaker, presented the Kennedy Administration with allegations that some of King's close confidants and advisers were communists. Concerned that the allegations, if made public, would derail the Administration's civil rights initiatives, Robert Kennedy and the president both warned King to discontinue the suspect associations. After the associations continued, Robert Kennedy felt compelled to issue a written directive authorizing the FBI to wiretap King and other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is an African-American civil rights organization. SCLC was closely associated with its first president, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr...

, King's civil rights organization. Although Kennedy only gave written approval for limited wiretapping of King's phones "on a trial basis, for a month or so", Hoover extended the clearance so his men were "unshackled" to look for evidence in any areas of King's life they deemed worthy. The wire tapping continued through June 1966 and was revealed in 1968.

Immigration


John F. Kennedy initially proposed an overhaul of American immigration policy that later was to become the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, sponsored by Kennedy's brother Senator Edward Kennedy
Ted Kennedy
Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy was a United States Senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party. Serving almost 47 years, he was the second most senior member of the Senate when he died and is the fourth-longest-serving senator in United States history...

. It dramatically shifted the source of immigration from Northern and Western European countries towards immigration from Latin America and Asia and shifted the emphasis of selection of immigrants towards facilitating family reunification. Kennedy wanted to dismantle the selection of immigrants based on country of origin and saw this as an extension of his civil rights policies.

Space program


As a senator, Kennedy had been opposed to the manned space program. The Apollo program was conceived early in 1960, during the Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 administration, as a follow-up to America's Mercury program. While NASA went ahead with planning for Apollo, funding for the program was far from certain given Eisenhower's ambivalent attitude to manned spaceflight. Early in his presidency, Kennedy was considering plans to dismantle the Apollo program due to its cost, but postponed any decision out of deference to his vice president whom he had appointed chairman of the U.S. Space Council and who strongly supported NASA due to its new Manned Spacecraft Center
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
The Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's center for human spaceflight training, research and flight control. The center consists of a complex of 100 buildings constructed on 1,620 acres in Houston, Texas, USA...

 in Texas. In his January 1961 State of the Union address, Kennedy had suggested international cooperation in space. Sergei Khrushchev
Sergei Khrushchev
Sergei Nikitich Khrushchev , son of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, now resides in the United States where he is a Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.-Career:...

 said Kennedy approached his father, Nikita, twice about a "joint venture" in space exploration—in June 1961 and autumn 1963. On the first occasion, the Soviet Union was ahead of America in many aspects of space technology.

On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961....

 became the first person to fly in space, reinforcing American fears about being left behind in a technological competition with the Soviet Union. Kennedy was eager for the U.S. to take the lead in the Space Race
Space Race
The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national...

 for strategic reasons. Kennedy first announced the goal for landing a man on the Moon in the speech to a Joint Session of Congress on May 25, 1961, stating:
"First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."
Kennedy later made a speech at Rice University
Rice University
William Marsh Rice University, commonly referred to as Rice University or Rice, is a private research university located on a heavily wooded campus in Houston, Texas, United States...

 on September 12, 1962, in which he said:
"No nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space."
and
"We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

On November 21, 1962, in a Cabinet Room meeting with NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 Administrator James E. Webb
James E. Webb
James Edwin Webb was an American government official who served as the second administrator of NASA from February 14, 1961 to October 7, 1968....

 and other officials, Kennedy said:
"This is important for political reasons, international political reasons... Because otherwise we shouldn't be spending this kind of money, because I'm not that interested in space. I think it's good, I think we ought to know about it, we're ready to spend reasonable amounts of money. But...we've spent fantastic expenditures, we've wrecked our budget on all these other domestic programs, and the only justification for it, in my opinion, to do it in the pell-mell fashion is because we hope to beat them [the Soviets] and demonstrate that starting behind, as we did by a couple of years, by God, we passed them. I think it would be a helluva thing for us."

On the second approach to Khrushchev, the Ukrainian was persuaded that cost-sharing was beneficial and that American space technology was forging ahead. The U.S. had launched a geosynchronous satellite in July 1962 and Kennedy had asked Congress to approve more than $25 billion for the Apollo program.

In September 1963, during a speech before the United Nations, Kennedy again proposed a joint lunar program to the Soviet Union. The proposal was not enthusiastically received by Khrushchev. Kennedy's death only a little more than a month later essentially made the proposal irrelevant. On July 20, 1969, almost six years after his death, Apollo's goal was realized when Americans landed on the Moon
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

.

Native American relations


Construction of the Kinzua Dam
Kinzua Dam
The Kinzua Dam, in the Allegheny National Forest in Warren County, Pennsylvania, is one of the largest dams in the United States east of the Mississippi River....

 flooded 10000 acre (4,047 ha) of Seneca nation
Seneca nation
The Seneca are a group of indigenous people native to North America. They were the nation located farthest to the west within the Six Nations or Iroquois League in New York before the American Revolution. While exact population figures are unknown, approximately 15,000 to 25,000 Seneca live in...

 land that they occupied under the Treaty of 1794
Treaty of Canandaigua
The Treaty of Canandaigua is a treaty signed after the American Revolutionary War between the Grand Council of the Six Nations and President George Washington representing the United States of America....

, and forced approximately 600 Seneca to relocate to the northern shores upstream of the dam at Salamanca, New York
Salamanca (town), New York
Salamanca is a town in Cattaraugus County, New York, United States. The population was 544 at the 2000 census. The name is from a major investor in a local railroad....

. Kennedy was asked by the American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 to intervene and halt the project but he declined citing a critical need for flood control. He did express concern for the plight of the Seneca, and directed government agencies to assist in obtaining more land, damages, and assistance to help mitigate their displacement.

Assassination




President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, at 12:30 pm Central Standard Time on November 22, 1963, while on a political trip to Texas to smooth over frictions in the Democratic Party between liberals Ralph Yarborough
Ralph Yarborough
Ralph Webster Yarborough was a Texas Democratic politician who served in the United States Senate and was a leader of the progressive or liberal wing of his party in his many races for statewide office...

 and Don Yarborough
Don Yarborough
Donald Howard Yarborough, known as Don Yarborough , was a liberal Democratic politician who was reportedly the first Southern politician to endorse the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Yarborough, an attorney in Houston, Texas, ran for governor of Texas in 1962, 1964, and 1968...

 (no relation) and conservative John Connally
John Connally
John Bowden Connally, Jr. , was an influential American politician, serving as the 39th governor of Texas, Secretary of the Navy under President John F. Kennedy, and as Secretary of the Treasury under President Richard M. Nixon. While he was Governor in 1963, Connally was a passenger in the car in...

. He was shot once in the upper back and was killed with a final shot to the head. He was pronounced dead at 1:00 pm. Only 46, President Kennedy died younger than any U.S. president to date. Lee Harvey Oswald
Lee Harvey Oswald
Lee Harvey Oswald was, according to four government investigations,These were investigations by: the Federal Bureau of Investigation , the Warren Commission , the House Select Committee on Assassinations , and the Dallas Police Department. the sniper who assassinated John F...

, an employee of the Texas School Book Depository
Texas School Book Depository
The Texas School Book Depository is the former name of a seven-floor building facing Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas . Located on the northwest corner of Elm and North Houston Streets, at the western end of downtown Dallas, its address is 411 Elm Street. The building is notable for its connection to...

 from which the shots were suspected to have been fired, was arrested on charges for the murder of a local police officer and was subsequently charged with the assassination of Kennedy. He denied shooting anyone, claiming he was a patsy, but was killed by Jack Ruby
Jack Ruby
Jacob Leon Rubenstein , who legally changed his name to Jack Leon Ruby in 1947, was convicted of the November 24, 1963 murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Ruby, who was originally from Chicago, Illinois, was then a nightclub operator in Dallas, Texas...

 on November 24, before he could be indicted or tried. Ruby was then arrested and convicted for the murder of Oswald. Ruby successfully appealed his conviction and death sentence but became ill and died of cancer on January 3, 1967, while the date for his new trial was being set.

President Johnson created the Warren Commission
Warren Commission
The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known unofficially as the Warren Commission, was established on November 27, 1963, by Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963...

—chaired by Chief Justice Earl Warren
Earl Warren
Earl Warren was the 14th Chief Justice of the United States.He is known for the sweeping decisions of the Warren Court, which ended school segregation and transformed many areas of American law, especially regarding the rights of the accused, ending public-school-sponsored prayer, and requiring...

—to investigate the assassination, which concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin. The results of this investigation are disputed by many. The assassination proved to be an important moment in U.S. history
History of the United States
The history of the United States traditionally starts with the Declaration of Independence in the year 1776, although its territory was inhabited by Native Americans since prehistoric times and then by European colonists who followed the voyages of Christopher Columbus starting in 1492. The...

 because of its impact on the nation and the ensuing political repercussions.

Funeral



A Requiem Mass was held for Kennedy at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle
The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington D.C., most commonly known as St. Matthew's Cathedral, is the seat of the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington. As St...

 on November 25, 1963. Afterwards, John F. Kennedy's body was buried in a small plot, (20 by 30 ft.), in Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...

. Over a period of 3 years, (1964–1966), an estimated 16 million people had visited his grave. On March 14, 1967, Kennedy's body was moved to a permanent burial plot and memorial at the Cemetery. The funeral was officiated by Father John J. Cavanaugh
John J. Cavanaugh
The Rev. John J Cavanaugh, C.S.C. , a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, served from 1946 to 1952 as the 14th president of the University of Notre Dame, having previously served as its vice president since 1941...

. It was from this memorial that the graves of both Robert
Robert F. Kennedy
Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy , also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician, a Democratic senator from New York, and a noted civil rights activist. An icon of modern American liberalism and member of the Kennedy family, he was a younger brother of President John F...

 and Ted
Ted Kennedy
Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy was a United States Senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party. Serving almost 47 years, he was the second most senior member of the Senate when he died and is the fourth-longest-serving senator in United States history...

 were modeled.

The honor guard
Honor guard
An honor guard, or ceremonial guard, is a ceremonial unit, usually military in nature and composed of volunteers who are carefully screened for their physical ability and dexterity...

 at JFK's graveside was the 37th Cadet Class of the Irish Army
Irish Army
The Irish Army, officially named simply the Army is the main branch of the Defence Forces of Ireland. Approximately 8,500 men and women serve in the Irish Army, divided into three infantry Brigades...

. JFK was greatly impressed by the Irish Cadets on his last official visit to the Republic of Ireland, so much so that Jackie Kennedy requested the Irish Army to be the honor guard at the funeral.

Kennedy's wife, Jacqueline
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier "Jackie" Kennedy Onassis was the wife of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and served as First Lady of the United States during his presidency from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Five years later she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle...

 and their two deceased minor children were buried with him later. His brother, Senator Robert Kennedy, was buried nearby in June 1968. In August 2009, his brother, Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Ted Kennedy
Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy was a United States Senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party. Serving almost 47 years, he was the second most senior member of the Senate when he died and is the fourth-longest-serving senator in United States history...

, was also buried near his two brothers. JFK's grave is lit with an "Eternal Flame
John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame
The John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame is a presidential memorial at the gravesite of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, in Arlington National Cemetery. The permanent site replaced a temporary grave and eternal flame used during President Kennedy's funeral on November 25, 1963. The site was designed by...

." Kennedy and William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft was the 27th President of the United States and later the tenth Chief Justice of the United States...

 are the only two U.S. Presidents buried at Arlington.

Administration, Cabinet and judicial appointments 1961–1963



The Kennedy Cabinet
OFFICE NAME TERM
President John F. Kennedy 1961–1963
Vice President
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

1961–1963
State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

Dean Rusk
Dean Rusk
David Dean Rusk was the United States Secretary of State from 1961 to 1969 under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Rusk is the second-longest serving U.S...

1961–1963
Treasury
United States Secretary of the Treasury
The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury, which is concerned with financial and monetary matters, and, until 2003, also with some issues of national security and defense. This position in the Federal Government of the United...

C. Douglas Dillon
C. Douglas Dillon
Clarence Douglas Dillon was an American diplomat and politician, who served as U.S. Ambassador to France and as the 57th Secretary of the Treasury...

1961–1963
Defense
United States Secretary of Defense
The Secretary of Defense is the head and chief executive officer of the Department of Defense of the United States of America. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in other countries...

Robert McNamara
Robert McNamara
Robert Strange McNamara was an American business executive and the eighth Secretary of Defense, serving under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1968, during which time he played a large role in escalating the United States involvement in the Vietnam War...

1961–1963
Justice Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy , also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician, a Democratic senator from New York, and a noted civil rights activist. An icon of modern American liberalism and member of the Kennedy family, he was a younger brother of President John F...

1961–1963
Postmaster General
United States Postmaster General
The United States Postmaster General is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service. The office, in one form or another, is older than both the United States Constitution and the United States Declaration of Independence...

J. Edward Day
J. Edward Day
James Edward Day was an American businessman and political office-holder.Day was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, he studied at University of Chicago, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, and Harvard Law School, receiving high grades...

1961–1963
  John A. Gronouski
John A. Gronouski
John Austin Gronouski was the Wisconsin state commissioner of taxation and the United States Postmaster General.-Biography:...

1963
Interior
United States Secretary of the Interior
The United States Secretary of the Interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior.The US Department of the Interior should not be confused with the concept of Ministries of the Interior as used in other countries...

Stewart Udall
Stewart Udall
Stewart Lee Udall was an American politician. After serving three terms as a congressman from Arizona, he served as Secretary of the Interior from 1961 to 1969, under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B...

1961–1963
Agriculture
United States Secretary of Agriculture
The United States Secretary of Agriculture is the head of the United States Department of Agriculture. The current secretary is Tom Vilsack, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on 20 January 2009. The position carries similar responsibilities to those of agriculture ministers in other...

Orville Freeman
Orville Freeman
Orville Lothrop Freeman was an American Democratic politician who served as the 29th Governor of Minnesota from January 5, 1955 to January 2, 1961, and as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1961 to 1969 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson...

1961–1963
Commerce
United States Secretary of Commerce
The United States Secretary of Commerce is the head of the United States Department of Commerce concerned with business and industry; the Department states its mission to be "to foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce"...

Luther H. Hodges
Luther H. Hodges
Luther Hartwell Hodges, Sr. was an American politician, who served as the 64th Governor of the state of North Carolina from 1954 to 1961 and as United States Secretary of Commerce from 1961 to 1965.-Biography:...

1961–1963
Labor
United States Secretary of Labor
The United States Secretary of Labor is the head of the Department of Labor who exercises control over the department and enforces and suggests laws involving unions, the workplace, and all other issues involving any form of business-person controversies....

Arthur Goldberg
Arthur Goldberg
Arthur Joseph Goldberg was an American statesman and jurist who served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Supreme Court Justice and Ambassador to the United Nations.-Early life:...

1961–1962
  W. Willard Wirtz
W. Willard Wirtz
William Willard Wirtz was a former U.S. administrator, cabinet officer, attorney, and law professor. He served as the Secretary of Labor between 1962 and 1969 under the administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. At the time of his death, he was the last living member of...

1962–1963
HEW Abraham A. Ribicoff
Abraham A. Ribicoff
Abraham Alexander Ribicoff was an American Democratic Party politician. He served in the United States Congress, as the 80th Governor of Connecticut and as President John F. Kennedy's Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare...

1961–1962
  Anthony J. Celebrezze
Anthony J. Celebrezze
Anthony Joseph Celebrezze Sr. was an Italian American politician of the Democratic Party, who served as the 49th mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, as a cabinet member in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and as a U.S. appeals court judge....

1962–1963


Supreme Court



Kennedy appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

:
  • Byron White
    Byron White
    Byron Raymond "Whizzer" White won fame both as a football halfback and as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Appointed to the court by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, he served until his retirement in 1993...

    1962
  • Arthur Goldberg
    Arthur Goldberg
    Arthur Joseph Goldberg was an American statesman and jurist who served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Supreme Court Justice and Ambassador to the United Nations.-Early life:...

    1962

Other courts



In addition to his two Supreme Court appointments, Kennedy appointed 21 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals
The United States courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system...

, and 102 judges to the United States district court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

s.

Image, social life and family


John Kennedy met his future wife, Jacqueline Bouvier
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier "Jackie" Kennedy Onassis was the wife of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and served as First Lady of the United States during his presidency from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Five years later she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle...

, when he was a congressman. Charles L. Bartlett
Charles L. Bartlett (journalist)
Charles L. Bartlett was awarded the 1956 Pulitzer Prize in National Reporting for his original disclosures that lead to the resignation of Harold E. Talbott as Secretary of the Air Force. He started the Washington D.C...

, a journalist, introduced the pair at a dinner party. They were married a year after he was elected senator, on September 12, 1953. Kennedy and his wife were younger in comparison to the presidents and first ladies that preceded them, and both were popular in ways more common to pop singers and movie stars than politicians, influencing fashion trends and becoming the subjects of numerous photo spreads in popular magazines. Although Eisenhower had allowed presidential press conferences to be filmed for television, Kennedy was the first president to ask for them to be broadcast live and made good use of the medium. Jacqueline brought new art and furniture to the White House, and directed its restoration. They invited a range of artists, writers and intellectuals to rounds of White House dinners, raising the profile of the arts in America. The Kennedy family
Kennedy family
In the United States, the phrase Kennedy family commonly refers to the family descending from the marriage of the Irish-Americans Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald that was prominent in American politics and government. Their political involvement has revolved around the...

 is one of the most established political families in the United States, having produced a President, three senators, and multiple other Representatives, both on the federal and state level. John Kennedy's father, Joseph P. Kennedy, was a prominent American businessman and political figure, serving in multiple roles, including Ambassador to the United Kingdom
United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom
The office of United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom was traditionally, and still is very much so today due to the Special Relationship, the most prestigious position in the United States Foreign Service...

, from 1938 to 1940.
Outside on the White House lawn, the Kennedys established a swimming pool and tree house, while Caroline attended a preschool along with 10 other children inside the home.

The president was closely tied to popular culture, emphasized by songs such as "Twisting at the White House." Vaughn Meader's
Vaughn Meader
Abbott Vaughn Meader was an American comedian and impersonator whose achievement of fame with The First Family album spoofing President John F...

 First Family comedy album—an album parodying the President, First Lady, their family and administration—sold about four million copies. On May 19, 1962, Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, singer, model and showgirl who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s....

 sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President
Happy Birthday, Mr. President
"Happy Birthday, Mr. President" is a song sung by actress and singer Marilyn Monroe on Saturday, May 19, 1962, for President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, at a celebration of his forty-fifth birthday, ten days before the actual day of his 45th birthday . Sung in a sultry voice, Monroe...

" at a large party in Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden (1925)
Madison Square Garden was an indoor arena in New York City, the third of that name. It was built in 1925 and closed in 1968, and was located on Eighth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets in Manhattan on the site of the city's trolley car barns. It was the first Garden that was not located near...

, celebrating Kennedy's upcoming forty-fifth birthday. The charisma of Kennedy and his family led to the figurative designation of "Camelot" for his administration, credited by his wife to his affection for the then contemporary Broadway musical of the same name
Camelot (musical)
Camelot is a musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe . It is based on the King Arthur legend as adapted from the T. H. White tetralogy novel The Once and Future King....

.

Behind the glamorous facade, the Kennedys also experienced many personal tragedies. Jacqueline had a miscarriage
Miscarriage
Miscarriage or spontaneous abortion is the spontaneous end of a pregnancy at a stage where the embryo or fetus is incapable of surviving independently, generally defined in humans at prior to 20 weeks of gestation...

 in 1955 and a stillbirth in 1956. Their newborn son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, died in August 1963. Kennedy had two children who survived infancy. One of the fundamental aspects of the Kennedy family is a tragic strain which has run through the family, as a result of the violent and untimely deaths of many of its members. John's eldest brother, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.
Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.
Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy, Jr. was an American bomber pilot during World War II. He was the eldest of nine children born to Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Sr., and Rose Elizabeth Kennedy....

, died in World War II, at the age of 29. It was Joe Jr. who was originally to carry the family's hopes for the Presidency. Then both John himself, and his brother Robert died as a result of assassinations. Edward had brushes with death, the first in a plane crash and the second as a result of a car accident, known as the Chappaquiddick incident. Edward died at age 77, on August 25, 2009, from the effects of a malignant brain tumor
Brain tumor
A brain tumor is an intracranial solid neoplasm, a tumor within the brain or the central spinal canal.Brain tumors include all tumors inside the cranium or in the central spinal canal...

.

Years after Kennedy's death, it was revealed that in September 1947, at age 30, and while in his first term in Congress, he was diagnosed by Sir Daniel Davis at The London Clinic
The London Clinic
The London Clinic is a private healthcare organisation based in central London. Although it maintains several consulting rooms in the traditional doctors' street of Harley Street, the main hospital site is on the corner of Devonshire Place and the Marylebone Road...

 with Addison's disease
Addison's disease
Addison’s disease is a rare, chronic endocrine disorder in which the adrenal glands do not produce sufficient steroid hormones...

, a rare endocrine disorder. In 1966, his White House doctor, Janet Travell, revealed that Kennedy also had hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism worldwide but it can be caused by other causes such as several conditions of the thyroid gland or, less commonly, the pituitary gland or...

. The presence of two endocrine diseases raises the possibility that Kennedy had autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 2
Autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 2
Autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 2 is a form of autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome.Autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome, type 2 is the most common form of the polyglandular failure syndromes. It is more heterogeneous and has not been linked to one gene...

 (APS 2). He also suffered from chronic and severe back pain, for which he had surgery and was written up in the AMA's Archives of Surgery. Kennedy's condition may even have had diplomatic repercussions, as he appears to have been taking a combination of drugs to treat severe pain during the 1961 Vienna Summit with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

. The combination included hormones, animal organ cells, steroids, vitamins, enzymes, and amphetamines, and potential side effects included hyperactivity, hypertension, impaired judgment, nervousness, and significant mood swings. Kennedy at one time was regularly seen by no fewer than three doctors, one of whom, Max Jacobson
Max Jacobson
Max Jacobson was a German-born New York physician, nicknamed "Dr. Feelgood" who administered dangerous levels of amphetamines and other medications to several high profile clients including American President John F...

 was unknown to the other two, as his mode of treatment was controversial and used for the most severe bouts of pain. There was often disagreement among his doctors, as in late 1961, over the proper balance of medication and exercise, with the president preferring the former as he was short on time and desired immediate relief. Details of these and other medical problems were not publicly disclosed during Kennedy's lifetime.

Caroline Bouvier Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Bouvier Kennedy is an American author and attorney. She is a member of the influential Kennedy family and the only surviving child of U.S. President John F...

 was born in 1957 and is the only surviving member of JFK's immediate family. John F. Kennedy, Jr.
John F. Kennedy, Jr.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. , often referred to as John F. Kennedy, Jr., JFK Jr., John Jr. or John-John, was an American socialite, magazine publisher, lawyer, and pilot. The elder son of U.S. President John F...

 was born in 1960, just a few weeks after his father was elected. John died in 1999, when the small plane he was piloting crashed en route to Martha's Vineyard
Martha's Vineyard
Martha's Vineyard is an island located south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, known for being an affluent summer colony....

, killing him, his wife, Carolyn Bessette, and his sister-in-law.

In October 1951, during his third term as Massachusetts's 11th district
Massachusetts's 11th congressional district
Massachusetts Congressional District 11 is an obsolete congressional district in eastern Massachusetts. It was eliminated in 1993 after the 1990 U.S. Census. Its last Congressman was Brian Donnelly; its most notable were future Presidents John Quincy Adams and John F. Kennedy and Speaker Tip...

 congressman, the then 34-year-old Kennedy embarked on a seven-week Asian trip to India, Japan, Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, and Israel with his then 25-year-old brother Robert (who had just graduated from law school four months earlier) and his then 27-year-old sister Patricia
Patricia Kennedy Lawford
Patricia "Pat" Kennedy Lawford was an American socialite and the sixth of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald, sister to President John F. Kennedy, Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Edward M...

. Because of their eight-year separation in age, the two brothers had previously seen little of each other. This 25000 miles (40,233.5 km) trip was the first extended time they had spent together and resulted in their becoming best friends, in addition to being brothers. Robert was campaign manager
Campaign manager
A campaign manager is a paid or volunteer individual, whose role is to coordinate the campaign's operations such as fundraising, advertising, polling, getting out the vote , and other activities supporting the effort, directly.Apart from the candidate, they are often a campaign's most visible leader...

 for Kennedy's successful 1952 Senate campaign and later, his successful 1960 presidential campaign. The two brothers worked closely together from 1957 to 1959 on the Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor and Management Field
United States Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor and Management
The United States Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor and Management was a select committee created by the United States Senate on January 30, 1957, and dissolved on March 31, 1960...

, when Robert was its chief counsel. During Kennedy's presidency, Robert served in his cabinet
United States Cabinet
The Cabinet of the United States is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, which are generally the heads of the federal executive departments...

 as Attorney General
United States Attorney General
The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. The attorney general is considered to be the chief lawyer of the U.S. government...

 and was his closest advisor.

Some corroborated reports allege, but others deny, that Kennedy had affairs with a number of women, including: Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, singer, model and showgirl who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s....

, Gunilla von Post
Gunilla von Post
Karin Adele Gunilla von Post Miller, usually Gunilla von Post, was a Swedish aristocrat noted for a book alleging an intimate relationship with John F. Kennedy in the 1950s, titled "Love, Jack", published in 1997...

, Judith Campbell
Judith Exner
Judith Exner was an American woman who claimed to be the mistress of U.S. president John F. Kennedy and Mafia leaders Sam Giancana and John Roselli. She was also known as Judith Campbell Exner.-Early life:...

, Mary Pinchot Meyer
Mary Pinchot Meyer
Mary Eno Pinchot Meyer was an American socialite, painter, former wife of Central Intelligence Agency official Cord Meyer and intimate friend of United States president John F. Kennedy, who was often noted for her desirable physique and social skills...

, Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich was a German-American actress and singer.Dietrich remained popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself, professionally and characteristically. In the Berlin of the 1920s, she acted on the stage and in silent films...

 and Mimi Beardsley Alford. There was some medical opinion that the drugs the president required for Addison's had the side effect of increasing virility. The president remarked about this to UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
Harold Macmillan
Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, OM, PC was Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 10 January 1957 to 18 October 1963....

, "I wonder how it is for you, Harold? If I don't have a woman for three days, I get terrible headaches." Kennedy inspired affection and loyalty from the members of his team and his supporters. According to author Reeves, this included "the logistics of Kennedy's liaisons...[which] required secrecy and devotion rare in the annals of the energetic service demanded by successful politicians." News of Kennedy's affairs (if he really had any) did not become known to the general public until well after his death. In those days, discretion concerning the private lives of elected officials was much more rigorously practiced, and it was far more difficult to discover the extramarital activities of a U.S. President than it is today.

Kennedy was a Life Member of the National Rifle Association
National Rifle Association
The National Rifle Association of America is an American non-profit 501 civil rights organization which advocates for the protection of the Second Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights and the promotion of firearm ownership rights as well as marksmanship, firearm safety, and the protection...

. Kennedy came in third (behind Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa , born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu , was a Roman Catholic nun of Albanian ethnicity and Indian citizenship, who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, in 1950...

) in Gallup's List of Widely Admired People
Gallup's List of Widely Admired People
Gallup's List of People that Americans Most Widely Admired in the 20th Century is a poll published in December 1999 by The Gallup Organization to determine which people around the world Americans most admired for what they did in the 20th century....

 of the twentieth century.

Ancestors


The Kennedy
Kennedy family
In the United States, the phrase Kennedy family commonly refers to the family descending from the marriage of the Irish-Americans Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald that was prominent in American politics and government. Their political involvement has revolved around the...

 family originally came from Dunganstown, County Wexford
County Wexford
County Wexford is a county in Ireland. It is part of the South-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Wexford. In pre-Norman times it was part of the Kingdom of Uí Cheinnselaig, whose capital was at Ferns. Wexford County Council is the local...

. In 1848, Patrick Kennedy left his farm and boarded a ship in New Ross
New Ross
New Ross is a town located in southwest County Wexford, in the southeast of Ireland. In 2006 it had a population of 7,709 people, making it the third largest town in the county after Wexford and Enniscorthy.-History:...

 bound for Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 on his way to Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

. It was here he met the woman he was to marry, Bridget Murphy. Patrick Kennedy came to Boston, took a job as a migrant worker, and died within eight or nine years, of cholera. He left behind a widow and children to carry on.

Legacy


Television became the primary source by which people were kept informed of events surrounding John F. Kennedy's assassination. Newspapers were kept as souvenirs rather than sources of updated information. In this sense it was the first major "TV news event" of its kind, the TV coverage uniting the nation, interpreting what went on and creating memories of this space in time. All three major U.S. television networks suspended their regular schedules and switched to all-news coverage from November 22 through November 25, 1963, being on the air for 70 hours, making it the longest uninterrupted news event on American TV until 9/11. Kennedy's state funeral procession
State funeral of John F. Kennedy
The state funeral of John F. Kennedy took place in Washington, DC during the three days that followed his assassination on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas....

 and the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald were all broadcast live in America and in other places around the world. The state funeral
State funeral
A state funeral is a public funeral ceremony, observing the strict rules of protocol, held to honor heads of state or other important people of national significance. State funerals usually include much pomp and ceremony as well as religious overtones and distinctive elements of military tradition...

 was the first of three in a span of 12 months. The other two were for General Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 and Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

. All three have two things in common: the commanding general of the Military District of Washington during those funerals was Army Major General Philip C. Wehle
Philip C. Wehle
Philip Campbell Wehle was a Major General in the U.S. Army and the Commanding General of the Military District of Washington from 1962 to 1965....

 and the riderless horse
Riderless horse
A riderless horse or caparisoned horse is a single horse, without a rider, and with boots reversed in the stirrups, which sometimes accompanies a funeral procession...

 was Black Jack, who also served in that role during Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

's funeral.

The assassination had an effect on many people, not only in the U.S. but around the world. Many vividly remember where they were when first learning of the news that Kennedy was assassinated, as with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

 on December 7, 1941 before it and the September 11 attacks after it. UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson said of the assassination: "all of us... will bear the grief of his death until the day of ours." Many people have also spoken of the shocking news, compounded by the pall of uncertainty about the identity of the assassin(s), the possible instigators and the causes of the killing as an end to innocence, and in retrospect it has been coalesced with other changes of the tumultuous decade of the 1960s, especially the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

.

Special Forces have a special bond with Kennedy. "It was President Kennedy who was responsible for the rebuilding of the Special Forces and giving us back our Green Beret," said Forrest Lindley, a writer for the newspaper Stars and Stripes who served with Special Forces in Vietnam. This bond was shown at JFK's funeral. At the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of JFK's death, Gen. Michael D. Healy
Michael D. Healy
Major General Michael D. Healy spent 35 years serving in the military, completing tours in Korea and Vietnam. Although he is now retired, he has been granted permission to wear the symbolic Green Beret to honor his service to the Special Forces...

, the last commander of Special Forces in Vietnam, spoke at Arlington Cemetery. Later, a wreath in the form of the Green Beret would be placed on the grave, continuing a tradition that began the day of his funeral when a sergeant in charge of a detail of Special Forces men guarding the grave placed his beret on the coffin.

Kennedy was the first of six Presidents to have served in the U.S. Navy, and one of the enduring legacies of his administration was the creation in 1961 of another special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 command, the Navy SEALs
United States Navy SEALs
The United States Navy's Sea, Air and Land Teams, commonly known as Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy's principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command as well as the maritime component of the United States Special Operations Command.The acronym is derived from their...

, which Kennedy enthusiastically supported.

Ultimately, the death of President Kennedy and the ensuing confusion surrounding the facts of his assassination are of political and historical importance insofar as they marked a turning point and decline in the faith of the American people in the political establishment—a point made by commentators from Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal is an American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist. His third novel, The City and the Pillar , outraged mainstream critics as one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality...

 to Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and implied by Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone
William Oliver Stone is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Stone became well known in the late 1980s and the early 1990s for directing a series of films about the Vietnam War, for which he had previously participated as an infantry soldier. His work frequently focuses on...

 in several of his films, such as his landmark 1991 JFK
JFK (film)
JFK is a 1991 American film directed by Oliver Stone. It examines the events leading to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and alleged subsequent cover-up, through the eyes of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison .Garrison filed charges against New Orleans businessman Clay...

.

Kennedy's continuation of Presidents Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 and Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

's policies of giving economic and military aid to the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 preceded President Johnson's escalation of the conflict. This contributed to a decade of national difficulties and disappointment on the political landscape.

Many of Kennedy's speeches (especially his inaugural address) are considered iconic; and despite his relatively short term in office and lack of major legislative changes coming to fruition during his term, Americans regularly vote him as one of the best presidents, in the same league as Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

, George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

, and Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

. Some excerpts of Kennedy's inaugural address are engraved on a plaque at his grave at Arlington.

He was posthumously awarded the Pacem in Terris Award
Pacem in Terris Award
The Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award is a Catholic peace award which has been given annually since 1964, in commemoration of the 1963 encyclical letter "Pacem in Terris" of Pope John XXIII...

. It was named after a 1963 encyclical
Encyclical
An encyclical was originally a circular letter sent to all the churches of a particular area in the ancient Catholic Church. At that time, the word could be used for a letter sent out by any bishop...

 letter by Pope John XXIII
Pope John XXIII
-Papal election:Following the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958, Roncalli was elected Pope, to his great surprise. He had even arrived in the Vatican with a return train ticket to Venice. Many had considered Giovanni Battista Montini, Archbishop of Milan, a possible candidate, but, although archbishop...

 that calls upon all people of goodwill to secure peace among all nations. Pacem in Terris
Pacem in Terris
Pacem in Terris was a papal encyclical issued by Pope John XXIII on 11 April 1963. It was the last encyclical drafted by John XXIII, who died from cancer two months after its completion ....

 is Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 for 'Peace on Earth.'

President Kennedy is the only president to have predeceased both his mother and father. He is also the only president to have predeceased a grandparent. His grandmother, Mary Josephine Hannon Fitzgerald
Mary Josephine Hannon Fitzgerald
Mary Josephine "Josie" Hannon was the wife of John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, the mother of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, mother-in-law of Joseph P. Kennedy and maternal grandmother of John F., Robert F. and Edward M. Kennedy...

, died in 1964, just over eight months after his assassination.

Throughout the English-speaking world
English-speaking world
The English-speaking world consists of those countries or regions that use the English language to one degree or another. For more information, please see:Lists:* List of countries by English-speaking population...

, the given name Kennedy
Kennedy (given name)
Kennedy, , is a unisex given name in the English language. The name is an Anglicised form of a masculine given name in the Irish language. The has been sometimes been given in honour of American politicians John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert F. Kennedy, who were both assassinated in the...

has sometimes been used in honour of President Kennedy, as well his brother Robert.

Eponyms

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport
    John F. Kennedy International Airport
    John F. Kennedy International Airport is an international airport located in the borough of Queens in New York City, about southeast of Lower Manhattan. It is the busiest international air passenger gateway to the United States, handling more international traffic than any other airport in North...

    , American facility (renamed from Idlewild in December 1963) in New York City's Queens County; nation's busiest international gateway
  • John F. Kennedy Memorial Airport
    John F. Kennedy Memorial Airport
    John F. Kennedy Memorial Airport , also known as JFK Memorial Airport, is a general aviation airport located 2 miles southwest of the city Ashland, in Ashland County, Wisconsin, USA. It covers and has two runways.- References :...

     American facility in Ashland County, Wisconsin, near city of Ashland
  • John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge
    John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge
    The John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge is a seven-lane, single-deck cantilever bridge that carries Interstate 65 across the Ohio River, connecting Louisville, Kentucky and Jeffersonville, Indiana. The main span is and the bridge has a total length of...

     American seven-lane transportation hub across Ohio River; completed in late 1963, the bridge links Kentucky and Indiana
  • John F. Kennedy School of Government
    John F. Kennedy School of Government
    The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University is a public policy and public administration school, and one of Harvard's graduate and professional schools...

    , American institution (renamed from Harvard Graduate School of Public Administration in 1966)
  • John F. Kennedy Space Center, U.S. government installation that manages and operates America's astronaut launch facilities
  • John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School – trains United States Army
    United States Army
    The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

     personnel for the United States Army Special Operations Command
    United States Army Special Operations Command
    The United States Army Special Operations Command is the command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Forces...

     and Army Special Operation Forces
  • John F. Kennedy University
    John F. Kennedy University
    John F. Kennedy University is a nonprofit, private university located in Pleasant Hill, California, with satellite campuses in Campbell, Berkeley, and Costa Mesa. It was founded in 1964 to focus on providing continuing opportunities for non-traditional higher education. Enrollment is approximately...

    , American private educational institution founded in California in 1964; locations in Pleasant Hill, Campbell, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz, U.S. Navy aircraft carrier ordered in April 1964, launched May 1967, decommissioned August 2007; nicknamed "Big John"
  • John F. Kennedy High School
    John F. Kennedy High School
    John F. Kennedy High School or Kennedy High School is the name of many secondary schools, including:Canada:*John F. Kennedy High School , in Montreal, QuebecUnited States:*John F. Kennedy High School...

     is the name of many secondary schools., U.S. Navy aircraft carrier to begin construction in 2012, and to be placed in commission in 2018.

Coat of arms


In 1961, Kennedy was presented with a grant of arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

 for all the descendants of Patrick Kennedy from the Chief Herald of Ireland. The design of the arms strongly alludes to symbols in the coats of arms of the O'Kennedys
Kennedy (Ireland)
The Kennedy family of Ireland is a royal dynasty founded in the Middle Ages who were Kings of Ormond. Their founder was the nephew of High King Brian Boru . Kennedy is an anglicised form of the Irish "Ó Cinnéide". The name Cinnéide belonged Brian Boru's father Cennétig mac Lorcáin, King of Thomond,...

 of Ormonde and the Fitzgeralds
Earl of Desmond
The title of Earl of Desmond has been held historically by lords in Ireland, first as a title outside of the peerage system and later as part of the Peerage of Ireland....

 of Desmond, from whom the family is believed to be descended. The crest is an armored hand holding four arrows between two olive branches, elements taken from the coat of arms of the United States of America and also symbolic of Kennedy and his brothers.

Kennedy received a signet ring engraved with his arms for his 44th birthday as a gift from his wife, and the arms were incorporated into the seal of the USS John F. Kennedy. Following his assassination, Kennedy was honored by the Canadian government by having a mountain, Mount Kennedy
Mount Kennedy
Mount Kennedy is a peak in the Saint Elias Mountains within Kluane National Park, in Yukon, Canada. Its 4250-m to 4300-m summit lies within 10 km of the Alaska Panhandle. Dusty Glacier lies against it to the north....

, named for him, which his brother, Robert Kennedy, climbed in 1965 to plant a banner of the arms at the summit.

Media


In other media and popular culture


A conspiracy theory about Kennedy's assassination was the subject of the Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone
William Oliver Stone is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Stone became well known in the late 1980s and the early 1990s for directing a series of films about the Vietnam War, for which he had previously participated as an infantry soldier. His work frequently focuses on...

 film JFK
JFK (film)
JFK is a 1991 American film directed by Oliver Stone. It examines the events leading to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and alleged subsequent cover-up, through the eyes of former New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison .Garrison filed charges against New Orleans businessman Clay...

, and footage of him appears in the Robert Zemeckis
Robert Zemeckis
Robert Lee Zemeckis is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Zemeckis first came to public attention in the 1980s as the director of the comedic time-travel Back to the Future film series, as well as the Academy Award-winning live-action/animation epic Who Framed Roger Rabbit ,...

 film Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump is a 1994 American epic comedy-drama romance film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis, starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright and Gary Sinise...

.

He features in the video games JFK: Reloaded
JFK: Reloaded
JFK: Reloaded is a "historical simulation" quasi-video game, designed to recreate the John F. Kennedy assassination. It is noted for its controversial subject matter, and was released November 22, 2004 by Scotland-based Traffic Games...

and Call of Duty: Black Ops
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Call of Duty: Black Ops is a first-person shooter video game developed by Treyarch, published by Activision and released worldwide on November 9, for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii consoles, with a separate version for Nintendo DS developed by n-Space. Announced on April 30, 2010,...

.

During his lifetime Kennedy was the focal point of a Superman
Superman
Superman is a fictional comic book superhero appearing in publications by DC Comics, widely considered to be an American cultural icon. Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born American artist Joe Shuster in 1932 while both were living in Cleveland, Ohio, and sold to Detective...

 comicbook
DC Comics
DC Comics, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in the market for American comic books and related media. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner...

, Superman's Mission for President Kennedy.

Kennedy is portrayed by Michael J. Shannon in the 1997 Red Dwarf
Red Dwarf
Red Dwarf is a British comedy franchise which primarily comprises eight series of a television science fiction sitcom that aired on BBC Two between 1988 and 1999 and Dave from 2009–present. It gained cult following. It was created by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, who also wrote the first six series...

episode "Tikka to Ride
Tikka to Ride
"Tikka To Ride" is the first episode of science fiction sit-com Red Dwarf Series VII and the 37th in the series run. It was first broadcast on the British television channel BBC2 on 17 January 1997...

", which deals with an alternate timeline where Kennedy survived the assassination attempt.

Kennedy appears in the 2011
2011 in film
The year 2011 is notable for containing the release of the most film sequels in a single year, at 27 sequels. The following tables list films that are in production or have completed production and will be released in the United States and Canada at some point in 2011.- Highest-grossing films :...

 superhero film
Superhero film
A superhero film, superhero movie, or superhero motion picture is: action, fantasy and science fiction film; that is focused on the actions of one or more superheroes, individuals who usually possess superhuman abilities relative to a normal person and are dedicated to protecting the public...

, X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class
X-Men: First Class is a comic book series published by Marvel Comics starring the X-Men.-Publication history:The original series was an eight-issue limited series. It began in September 2006 and ended in April 2007. It was written by Jeff Parker and penciled by Roger Cruz...

in archive footage of his address to the nation regarding the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

See also



  • Abraham Zapruder
    Abraham Zapruder
    Abraham Zapruder was an American manufacturer of women's clothing. He was filming with a home-movie camera as U.S. President John F...

    , photographer of the primary film of assassination, the Zapruder film
    Zapruder film
    The Zapruder film is a silent, color motion picture sequence shot by private citizen Abraham Zapruder with a home-movie camera, asU.S. President John F...

    .
  • Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy
  • History of the United States (1945–1964)
    History of the United States (1945–1964)
    For the United States, 1945 to 1964 was an era of economic growth and prosperity which saw the victorious powers of World War II confronting each other in the Cold War and the triumph of the Civil Rights Movement that ended Jim Crow segregation in the South....

  • Jesuit Ivy
    Jesuit Ivy
    "Jesuit Ivy" is the title of a commencement speech delivered at and, subsequently, a nickname given to Boston College, a Jesuit university in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, United States. The term was coined in a 1956 commencement address by then-Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy...

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport
    John F. Kennedy International Airport
    John F. Kennedy International Airport is an international airport located in the borough of Queens in New York City, about southeast of Lower Manhattan. It is the busiest international air passenger gateway to the United States, handling more international traffic than any other airport in North...

  • The John F. Kennedy Memorial Park
    The John F. Kennedy Memorial Park
    The John F.Kennedy Memorial Park in Eyre Square, County Galway, Ireland commemorates the assassinated American President, John F.Kennedy, who visited Ireland during the term of office.He was the first of America to do so and there is a commemorative plague to his memory in the park...

     (in Ireland)
  • Kennedy Curse
    Kennedy Curse
    The Kennedy tragedies, colloquially called the Kennedy Curse, is a term sometimes used to describe a series of tragedies involving members of the Kennedy family. Many of the tragedies have been caused by preventable reckless choices like driving drunk, piloting an airplane under unsafe conditions,...

  • Kennedy Doctrine
    Kennedy Doctrine
    The Kennedy Doctrine refers to foreign policy initiatives of the 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, towards Latin America during his term in office between 1961 and 1963...

  • Kennedy Family
    Kennedy family
    In the United States, the phrase Kennedy family commonly refers to the family descending from the marriage of the Irish-Americans Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald that was prominent in American politics and government. Their political involvement has revolved around the...

  • Lincoln-Kennedy coincidences urban legend
  • List of assassinated American politicians
  • List of Presidents of the United States
  • List of Presidents of the United States who died in office
  • Operation Northwoods
    Operation Northwoods
    Operation Northwoods was a series of false-flag proposals that originated within the United States government in 1962. The proposals called for the Central Intelligence Agency , or other operatives, to commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities and elsewhere...

  • Orville Nix
    Orville Nix
    Orville Orhel Nix was a witness to the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963...

    , photographer of the second film of assassination
  • Peace Corps
    Peace Corps
    The Peace Corps is an American volunteer program run by the United States Government, as well as a government agency of the same name. The mission of the Peace Corps includes three goals: providing technical assistance, helping people outside the United States to understand US culture, and helping...

  • "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy" retort by Senator Lloyd Bentsen
    Lloyd Bentsen
    Lloyd Millard Bentsen, Jr. was a four-term United States senator from Texas and the Democratic Party nominee for Vice President in 1988 on the Michael Dukakis ticket. He also served in the House of Representatives from 1949 to 1955. In his later political life, he was Chairman of the Senate...

    , 1988 VP debate
  • US Presidents on US postage stamps
  • Kennedy half dollar
    Kennedy half dollar
    Within hours of the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, Mint Director Eva Adams called Chief Engraver Gilroy Roberts, informing him that serious consideration was being given to depicting Kennedy on one of the larger silver coins: either the silver dollar, half dollar, or...



External links



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