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Dedication to John F Kennedy

Considered to be one of the greatest Americans to ever live, John Fitzgerald Kennedy stole the hearts of everyone around the world with his people oriented speeches and general charisma. His penchant for trying to do the right thing finally drew the ire of the American seedier established values within the political underground of the old-boys network and they had him assassinated. The mafia, cia, fbi, political foes, the military and madmen have all been named as his killer and perhaps they are all responsible but there tracks have been covered by complicity and the case is a mockery with a single untarnished bullet that stands as it’s symbol. This is not only the failing of Americans but of humanity, that we should kill our finest in their prime.    (Namron Soar)

After Kennedy’s military service as commander of the USS PT-109 during World War II in the South Pacific, his aspirations turned political. Kennedy represented the state of Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953 as a Democrat, and in the U.S. Senate from 1953 until 1961. Kennedy defeated former Vice President and Republican candidate Richard Nixon in the 1960 U.S. presidential election, one of the closest in American history. To date, he is the only practicing Roman Catholic to be elected President and the only President to have won a Pulitzer Prize. Events during his administration include the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Space Race, the American Civil Rights Movement and early events of the Vietnam War.

Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with the crime, but was murdered two days later by Jack Ruby before he could be put on trial. The Warren Commission concluded that Oswald had acted alone in killing the president; however, the House Select Committee on Assassinations declared in 1979 that there was more likely a conspiracy that included Oswald. The entire subject remains controversial, with multiple theories about the assassination still being debated. The event proved to be a poignant moment in U.S. history due to its impact on the nation and the ensuing political repercussions. Many regard President Kennedy as an icon of American hopes and aspirations; he continues to rank highly in public opinion ratings of former U.S. presidents.

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Early life and education

Kennedy was born at 83 Beals Street in Brookline, Massachusetts on Tuesday, May 29, 1917, at 3:00 p.m., the second son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., and Rose Fitzgerald; Rose, in turn, was the eldest child of John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, a prominent Boston political figure who was the city’s mayor and a three-term member of Congress. Kennedy, who was to be the first U.S. president born in the twentieth century, lived in Brookline for his first ten years. He attended Brookline’s public Edward Devotion School from kindergarten through the beginning of 3rd grade, then Noble and Greenough Lower School and its successor, the Dexter School, a private school for boys, through 4th grade. In September 1927, Kennedy moved with his family to a rented 20-room mansion in Riverdale, Bronx, New York City, then two years later moved five miles (8 km) northeast to a 21-room mansion on a six-acre estate in Bronxville, New York, purchased in May 1929. He was a member of Scout Troop 2 at Bronxville from 1929 to 1931 and was to be the first Scout to become President. Kennedy spent summers with his family at their home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, also purchased in 1929, and Christmas and Easter holidays with his family at their winter home in Palm Beach, Florida, purchased in 1933. He attended Riverdale Country School, a private school for boys in Riverdale, for 5th through 7th grade.

For 8th grade in September 1930, Kennedy was sent fifty miles away to Canterbury School, a lay Catholic boarding school for boys in New Milford, Connecticut. In late April 1931, he had appendicitis requiring an appendectomy, after which he withdrew from Canterbury and recuperated at home. In September 1931, Kennedy was sent over sixty miles away to The Choate School, an elite private university preparatory boarding school for boys in Wallingford, Connecticut for 9th through 12th grades, following his older brother, Joe, who was two years ahead of him. In January 1934 during his junior year at Choate, he became ill, lost a lot of weight, was hospitalized at Yale-New Haven Hospital until Easter, and spent most of June 1934 hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for evaluation of colitis.

He graduated from Choate in June 1935. Kennedy’s superlative in his yearbook was "Most likely to become President". In September 1935, he sailed on the SS Normandie on his first trip abroad with his parents and his sister Kathleen to London with the intent of studying for a year with Professor Harold Laski at the London School of Economics (LSE) as his older brother Joe had done, but after a brief hospitalization with jaundice after less than a week at LSE, he sailed back to America only three weeks after he had arrived. In October 1935, Kennedy enrolled late and spent six weeks at Princeton University, but was then hospitalized for two months observation for possible leukemia at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston in January and February 1936, recuperated at the Kennedy winter home in Palm Beach in March and April, spent May and June working as a ranch hand on a 40,000 acre (160 km²) cattle ranch outside Benson, Arizona, then July and August racing sailboats at the Kennedy summer home in Hyannis Port.

In September 1936 he enrolled as a freshman at Harvard College, residing in Winthrop House during his sophomore through senior years, again following two years behind his older brother Joe. In early July 1937, Kennedy took his convertible, sailed on the SS Washington to France, and spent ten weeks driving with a friend through France, Italy, Germany, Holland and England. In late June 1938, Kennedy sailed with his father and his brother Joe on the SS Normandie to spend July working with his father, recently appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s by President Roosevelt, at the American embassy in London, and August with his family at a villa near Cannes. From February through September 1939, Kennedy toured Europe, the Soviet Union, the Balkans and the Middle East to gather background information for his Harvard senior honors thesis. He spent the last ten days of August in Czechoslovakia and Germany before returning to London on September 1, 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland. On September 3, 1939, Kennedy, along with his brother Joe, his sister Kathleen, and his parents were in the Strangers Gallery of the House of Commons to hear speeches in support of 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, before flying back to the U.S. on Pan Am’s Dixie Clipper from Foynes, Ireland to Port Washington, New York on his first transatlantic flight at the end of September.

In 1940, Kennedy completed his thesis, "Appeasement in Munich," about British participation in the Munich Agreement. He initially intended his thesis to be private, but his father encouraged him to publish it as a book. He graduated cum laude from Harvard with a degree in international affairs in June 1940, and his thesis was published in July 1940 as a book entitled Why England Slept, and became a bestseller.

From September to December 1940, Kennedy was enrolled and audited classes at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In early 1941, he helped his father complete the writing of a memoir of his three years as ambassador. In May and June 1941, Kennedy traveled throughout South America.

Military service
Main article: Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109

In the spring of 1941, Kennedy volunteered for the U.S. Army, but was rejected, mainly because of his troublesome back. Nevertheless, in September of that year, the U.S. Navy accepted him, due to the influence of the director of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), a former naval attaché to the Ambassador, his father. As an ensign, Kennedy served in the office which supplied bulletins and briefing information for the Secretary of the Navy. It was during this assignment that the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred. He attended the Naval Reserve Officers Training School and Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Training Center before being assigned for duty in Panama and eventually the Pacific theater. He participated in various commands in the Pacific theater and earned the rank of lieutenant, commanding a patrol torpedo (PT) boat.

Lt. Kennedy on his navy patrol boat, the PT-109On August 2, 1943, Kennedy’s boat, the PT-109, was taking part in a nighttime patrol near New Georgia in the Solomon Islands. It was rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri. Kennedy was thrown across the deck, injuring his already-troubled back. Nonetheless, he swam, towing a wounded man, to an island and later to a second island where his crew was subsequently rescued. For these actions, Kennedy received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal under 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) 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.

Kennedy’s other decorations in World War II included the Purple Heart, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. He was honorably discharged in early 1945, just a few months before Japan surrendered. The incident was popularized when he became president and would be the subject of several magazine articles, books, comic books, TV specials and a feature length movie, making the PT-109 one of the most famous U.S. Navy ships of the war. Scale models and even G.I. Joe figures based on the incident were still being produced in the 2000s. The coconut which was used to scrawl a rescue message given to Solomon Islander scouts who found him was kept on his presidential desk and is still at the John F. Kennedy Library.

During his presidency, Kennedy privately admitted to friends that he didn’t feel that he deserved the medals he had received, because the PT-109 incident had been the result of a botched military operation that had cost the lives of two members of his crew. When asked by a reporter how he became a war hero, Kennedy joked: "It was involuntary. They sank my boat."

In May 2002, a National Geographic expedition found what is believed to be the wreckage of the PT-109 in the Solomon Islands. One of the Kennedy family also returned to the islands to give a gift to the scouts who are still alive today, but were turned away when they traveled to the inauguration because of communication problems. The Australian coastwatcher who dispatched the natives was also invited to the White House.

Early political career

After World War II, John Fitzgerald Kennedy considered becoming a journalist before deciding to run for political office. Prior to the war he had not strongly considered becoming a politician, because his family had already pinned its political hopes on his older brother, Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Joseph, however, was killed in World War II, giving John seniority. When in 1946 U.S. Representative James Michael Curley vacated his seat in an overwhelmingly Democratic district to become mayor of Boston, Kennedy ran for the seat, beating his Republican opponent by a large margin. He was a congressman for six years but had a mixed voting record, often diverging from President Harry S. Truman and the rest of the Democratic Party. In 1952, he defeated incumbent Republican Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. for the U.S. Senate.

Kennedy married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier on September 12, 1953. He underwent several spinal operations over the following two years, nearly dying (in all he received the Catholic Church’s "last rites" four times during his life), and was often absent from the Senate. During his convalescence, he wrote Profiles in Courage, a book describing eight instances in which U.S. Senators risked their careers by standing by their personal beliefs. The book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1957.

In the 1956 presidential election, presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson left the choice of a Vice Presidential nominee to the Democratic convention, and Kennedy finished second in that balloting to Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee. Despite this defeat, Kennedy received national exposure from that episode that would prove valuable in subsequent years. His father, Joseph Kennedy, Sr., pointed out that it was just as well that John did not get that nomination, as some people sought to blame anything they could on Catholics, even though it was privately known that any Democrat would have trouble running against Eisenhower in 1956.

John F. Kennedy voted for final passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 after having earlier voted for the "Jury Trial Amendment", which effectively rendered the Act toothless because convictions for violations could not be obtained. Staunch segregationists such as senators James Eastland and John McClellan and Mississippi Governor James Coleman were early supporters of Kennedy’s presidential campaign. In 1958, Kennedy was re-elected to a second term in the United States Senate, defeating his Republican opponent, Boston lawyer Vincent J. Celeste, by a wide margin.

Years later it was revealed that in September 1947 when he was 30 years old and during his first term as a congressman, Kennedy had been diagnosed by Sir Daniel Davis at The London Clinic with Addison’s disease, a rare endocrine disorder. The nature of this and other medical problems were kept secret from the press and public throughout Kennedy’s lifetime.

Sen. Joseph McCarthy was a friend of the Kennedy family: Joe Kennedy was a leading McCarthy supporter; Robert F. Kennedy worked for McCarthy’s subcommittee, and McCarthy dated Patricia Kennedy. In 1954, when the Senate was poised to condemn McCarthy, John Kennedy drafted a speech calling for McCarthy’s censure, but never delivered it. When on December 2, 1954, the Senate rendered its highly publicized decision to censure McCarthy, Senator Kennedy was in the hospital. Though absent, Kennedy could have "paired" his vote against that of another senator, but chose not to; neither did he ever indicate then nor later how he would have voted. The episode seriously damaged Kennedy’s support in the liberal community, especially with Eleanor Roosevelt, as late as the 1960 election.

1960 presidential election
Main article: United States presidential election, 1960

John and Jackie Kennedy campaigning in Appleton, Wisconsin, March 1960On January 2, 1960, Kennedy declared his intent to run for President of the United States. In the Democratic primary election, he faced challenges from Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota and Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon. Kennedy defeated Humphrey in Wisconsin and West Virginia and Morse in Maryland and Oregon, although Morse’s candidacy is often forgotten by historians. He also defeated token opposition (often write-in candidates) in New Hampshire, Indiana and Nebraska. In West Virginia, Kennedy visited a coal mine and talked to mine workers to win their support; most people in that conservative, mostly Protestant state were deeply suspicious of Kennedy’s Catholicism. His victory in West Virginia cemented his credentials as a candidate with broad popular appeal.

With Humphrey and Morse out of the race, Kennedy’s main opponent at the convention in Los Angeles was Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas. Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic nominee in 1952 and 1956, was not officially running but had broad grassroots support inside and outside the convention hall. Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri was also a candidate, as were several favorite sons. On July 13, 1960, the Democratic convention nominated Kennedy as its candidate for President. Kennedy asked Johnson to be his Vice Presidential candidate, despite opposition from many liberal delegates and Kennedy’s own staff, including Robert Kennedy. He needed Johnson’s strength in the South to win what was considered likely to be the closest election since 1916. Major issues included how to get the economy moving again, Kennedy’s Catholicism, Cuba, and whether the Soviet space and missile programs had surpassed those of the U.S. To address fears that his Catholicism 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’s 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."[14] Kennedy also brought up the point of whether one-quarter of Americans were relegated to second-class citizenship just because they were Catholic.

In September and October, Kennedy debated Republican candidate and Vice President Richard Nixon in the first televised U.S. presidential debates in U.S. history. During these programs, Nixon, nursing an injured leg and sporting "five o’clock shadow", looked tense and uncomfortable, while Kennedy appeared relaxed, leading the huge television audience to deem Kennedy the winner. Radio listeners, however, either thought Nixon had won or that the debates were a draw. Nixon did not wear make-up during the initial debate, unlike Kennedy. 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 national 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 refused to support Kennedy because of his support for the civil rights movement; they voted for Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr. of Virginia.

Presidency (1961-1963)
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John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural AddressJohn F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President at noon on January 20, 1961. In his inaugural address 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." 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 the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you."

Foreign policy

Cuba and the Bay of Pigs Invasion
Main article: Bay of Pigs Invasion

Prior to Kennedy’s election to the presidency, the Eisenhower Administration created a plan to overthrow the Fidel Castro regime in Cuba. Central to such a plan, which was structured and detailed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with minimal input from the United States Department of State, was the arming of a counter-revolutionary insurgency composed of anti-Castro Cubans. U.S.-trained Cuban insurgents 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. With support from the CIA, in what is known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion, 1,500 U.S.-trained Cuban exiles, called "Brigade 2506," returned to the island in the hope of deposing Castro. However, Kennedy ordered the invasion to take place without U.S. air support. 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. The failure of the plan originated in a lack of dialog among the military leadership, a result of which was the complete lack of naval support in the face of organized artillery troops on the island who easily incapacitated the exile force as it landed on the beach. After 20 months, Cuba released the captured exiles in exchange for $53 million worth of food and medicine. The incident was a major embarrassment for Kennedy, but he took full personal responsibility for the debacle. Furthermore, the incident made Castro wary of the U.S. and led him to believe that another invasion would occur.

Cuban Missile Crisis
Main article: Cuban Missile Crisis
Kennedy’s Cabinet meets during the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 29, 1962 
Greeting Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna in 1961

Meeting Nikita Khrushchev in 1961The Cuban Missile Crisis began on October 14, 1962, when American U-2 spy planes took photographs of a Soviet intermediate-range ballistic missile site under construction in Cuba. The photos were shown to Kennedy on October 16, 1962. America would soon be posed with a serious nuclear threat. Kennedy faced a dilemma: if the U.S. attacked the sites, it might lead to nuclear war with the U.S.S.R., but if the U.S. did nothing, it would endure the threat of nuclear weapons being launched from close range. Because the weapons were in such proximity, the U.S. might have been unable to retaliate if they were launched pre-emptively. Another consideration was that the U.S. would appear to the world as weak in its own hemisphere.

Many military officials and cabinet members pressed for an air assault on the missile sites, but Kennedy ordered a naval quarantine in which the U.S. Navy inspected all ships arriving in Cuba. He began negotiations with the Soviets and ordered the Soviets to remove all defensive material that was being built on Cuba. Without doing so, the Soviet and Cuban peoples would face naval quarantine. A week later, he and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev reached an agreement. Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles subject to U.N. inspections if the U.S. publicly promised never to invade Cuba and quietly remove US missiles stationed in Turkey. Following this crisis, which brought the world closer to nuclear war than at any point before or since, Kennedy was more cautious in confronting the Soviet Union.

Latin America and communism
Main article: Kennedy and Latin America

Arguing that "those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable", Kennedy sought to contain communism in Latin America by establishing the Alliance for Progress, which sent foreign aid to troubled countries in the region and sought greater human rights standards in the region. He worked closely with Puerto Rican Governor Luis Muñoz Marín for the development of the Alliance of Progress, as well as developments in the autonomy of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Peace Corps

As one of his first presidential acts, Kennedy created the Peace Corps. Through this program, Americans volunteered to help underdeveloped nations in areas such as education, farming, health care and construction.


In South East Asia, Kennedy followed Eisenhower’s lead by using limited military action to fight the Communist forces ostensibly led by Ho Chi Minh. Proclaiming a fight against the spread of Communism, Kennedy enacted policies providing political, economic, and military support for the unstable French-installed South Vietnamese government, which included sending 16,000 military advisors and U.S. Special Forces to the area. Kennedy also agreed to the use of free-fire zones, napalm, defoliants and jet planes. U.S. involvement in the area continually escalated until regular U.S. forces were directly fighting the Vietnam War in the next administration. The Kennedy Administration increased military support, but the South Vietnamese military was unable to make headway against the pro-independence Viet-Minh and Viet Cong forces. By July 1963, Kennedy faced a crisis in Vietnam. The Administration’s response was to assist in the coup d’état of the Catholic President of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem. In 1963, South Vietnamese generals overthrew the Diem government, arresting Diem and later killing him (though the exact circumstances of his death remain unclear) Kennedy sanctioned Diem’s overthrow. One reason for the support was a fear that Diem might negotiate a neutralist coalition government which included Communists, as had occurred in Laos in 1962. Dean Rusk, Secretary of State, remarked "This kind of neutralism.. is tantamount to surrender."

It remains a point of controversy among historians whether or not Vietnam would have escalated to the point it did had Kennedy served out his full term and possibly been re-elected in 1964. Fueling this speculation are statements made by Kennedy’s and Johnson’s Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara that Kennedy was strongly considering pulling out of Vietnam after the 1964 election. In the film "The Fog of War", not only does McNamara say this, but a tape recording of Lyndon Johnson confirms that Kennedy was planning to withdraw from Vietnam, a position Johnson states he disapproved of. Additional evidence is Kennedy’s National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) #263 on October 11, 1963 that gave the order for withdrawal of 1,000 military personnel by the end of 1963. Nevertheless, given the stated reason for the overthrow of the Diem government, such action would have been a dramatic policy reversal, but Kennedy was generally moving in a less hawkish direction in the Cold War since his acclaimed speech about World Peace at American University the previous June 10, 1963.

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

West Berlin speech

Kennedy meeting with West Berlin governing mayor Willy Brandt, March 1961Wikisource has original text related to this article:

JFK’s Ich bin ein Berliner speechUnder simultaneous and opposing pressures from the Allies and the Soviets, Germany was divided. The Berlin Wall separated West and East Berlin, the latter being under the control of the Soviets. On June 26, 1963, Kennedy visited West Berlin and gave a public speech criticizing communism. 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". Nearly five-sixths of the population was on the street when Kennedy said the famous phrase. He remarked to aides afterwards: "We’ll never have another day like this one."

Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

Troubled by the long-term dangers of radioactive contamination and nuclear weapons proliferation, Kennedy pushed for the adoption of a Limited or Partial Test Ban Treaty, which prohibited atomic testing on the ground, in the atmosphere, or underwater, but did not prohibit testing underground. The United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union were the initial signatories to the treaty. Kennedy signed the treaty into law in August 1963.

Further information: The Ireland Funds

President Kennedy in motorcade in Ireland on June 27, 1963On the occasion of his visit to Ireland in 1963, President Kennedy joined with Irish President Éamon de Valera 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, as the first person of Irish heritage to have a position of world power. Irish citizens who were alive in 1963 often have very strong memories of Kennedy’s momentous visit. He also visited the original cottage where previous Kennedys had lived before emigrating to America, and said: "This is where it all began.. " On December 22, 2006, the Irish Justice Department released declassified police documents that indicated that Kennedy was the subject of three death threats during this visit. It was interpreted as a hoax.


In 1963, the Kennedy administration backed a coup against the government of Iraq headed by General Abdel Karim Kassem, who five years earlier had deposed the Western-allied Iraqi monarchy. The CIA helped the new Baath Party government led by Abdul Salam Arif in ridding the country of suspected leftists and Communists. In a Baathist bloodbath, 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 himself is said to have participated. The victims included hundreds of doctors, teachers, technicians, lawyers and other professionals as well as military and political figures. According to an op-ed in the New York Times, the U.S. sent arms to the new regime, weapons later used against the same Kurdish insurgents the U.S. supported against Kassem and then abandoned. American and UK oil and other interests, including Mobil, Bechtel and British Petroleum, were conducting business in Iraq.

Domestic policy

Kennedy called his domestic program the "New Frontier". It ambitiously promised federal funding for education, medical care for the elderly, and government intervention to halt the recession. Kennedy also promised an end to racial discrimination. In 1963, he proposed a tax reform which included income tax cuts, but this was not passed by Congress until 1964, after his death. Few of Kennedy’s major programs passed Congress during his lifetime, although, under his successor Johnson, Congress did vote them through in 1964-65.

As President, Kennedy oversaw the last pre-Furman federal execution, and last, to date, military execution. In both cases he refused to ask for commutation of the death sentences (Iowa governor Harold Hughes personally contacted Kennedy to request clemency for Victor Feguer, who was sentenced to death under federal law in Iowa, and executed on March 15, 1963).

Civil rights

Kennedy delivers the 1963 State of the Union Address, January 14The turbulent end of state-sanctioned racial discrimination was one of the most pressing domestic issues of Kennedy’s era. The United States Supreme Court had ruled in 1954 that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. However, many schools, especially in southern states, did not obey the Supreme Court’s judgment. Segregation on buses, in restaurants, movie theaters, bathrooms, and other public places remained. Kennedy supported racial integration and civil rights, and during the 1960 campaign he telephoned Coretta Scott King, wife of the jailed Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., which perhaps drew some additional black support to his candidacy. John and Robert Kennedy’s intervention secured the early release of King from jail.

In 1962, James Meredith tried to enroll at the University of Mississippi, but he was prevented from doing so by white students. Kennedy responded by sending some 400 federal marshals and 3,000 troops to ensure that Meredith could enroll in his first class. Kennedy also assigned federal marshals to protect Freedom Riders.

As President, Kennedy initially believed the grassroots movement for civil rights would only anger many Southern whites and make it even more difficult to pass civil rights laws through Congress, which was dominated by Southern Democrats, and he distanced himself from it. As a result, many civil rights leaders viewed Kennedy as unsupportive of their efforts.

On June 11, 1963, President Kennedy intervened when Alabama Governor George Wallace blocked the doorway to the University of Alabama to stop two African American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from enrolling. George Wallace moved aside after being confronted by federal marshals, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and the Alabama National Guard. That evening Kennedy gave his famous civil rights address on national television and radio. Kennedy proposed what would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


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. 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.[33] 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

President Kennedy looks at the spacecraft Friendship 7, which made three earth orbits piloted by astronaut John Glenn, February 23, 1962, Cape Canaveral, FloridaKennedy was eager for the United States to lead the way in the space race. Sergei Khrushchev says Kennedy approached his father, Nikita, twice about a "joint venture" in space exploration-in June 1961 and autumn 1963. On the first occasion, Russia was far ahead of America in terms of space technology. Kennedy first made the goal for landing a man on the Moon in speaking to a Joint Session of Congress on May 25, 1961, saying: "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 back 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 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." "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 the second approach to Khrushchev, the Russian was persuaded that cost-sharing was beneficial and American space technology was forging ahead. The U.S. had launched a geostationary satellite and Kennedy had asked Congress to approve more than $25 billion for the Apollo Project.

Khrushchev agreed to a joint venture in late 1963, but Kennedy died before the agreement could be formalized. On July 20, 1969, almost six years after JFK’s death, Project Apollo’s goal was finally realized when men landed on the Moon.

The Kennedy Cabinet 
President John F. Kennedy 1961-1963 
Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson 1961-1963
State Dean Rusk 1961-1963 
Treasury C. Douglas Dillon 1961-1963 
Defense Robert S. McNamara 1961-1963 
Justice Robert F. Kennedy 1961-1963 
Postmaster General J. Edward Day 1961-1963 
John A. Gronouski 1963 
Interior Stewart L. Udall 1961-1963 
Agriculture Orville L. Freeman 1961-1963 
Commerce Luther H. Hodges 1961-1963 
Labor Arthur J. Goldberg 1961-1962 
W. Willard Wirtz 1962-1963 
HEW Abraham A. Ribicoff 1961-1962 
Anthony J. Celebrezze 1962-1963
Supreme Court appointments
Kennedy appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:
Byron Raymond White - 1962 
Arthur Joseph Goldberg - 1962
Image, social life and family
Further information: Kennedy political family

John F. Kennedy with wife Jacqueline and children, 1962Kennedy and his wife "Jackie" were very young in comparison to earlier presidents and first ladies, and were both extraordinarily 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. Jacqueline bought new art and furniture, and eventually restored all the rooms in the White House.

Outside the White House lawn the Kennedys established a preschool, swimming pool and tree house. Jacqueline allowed very few photographs of the children to be taken of them but when she was gone, the President would allow the White House photographer Cecil Stoughton to take pictures of the children. The resulting photos are probably the most famous of the children, and especially of John Jr., after he was photographed playing underneath the President’s desk.

The president was closely tied to popular culture. Songs such as "Twisting at the White House" and "Camelot" (the popular Broadway play) were part of the JFK culture. Vaughn Meader’s "First Family" comedy album - an album parodying the President, First Lady, their family and administration - sold about 4 million copies. On May 19, 1962, Marilyn Monroe sang for the president at a large birthday party in Madison Square Garden. The Kennedys also had ties to more serious culture; artists such as Pablo Casals were invited to the White House (Casals performed on Nov. 13, 1961).

Behind the glamorous facade, the Kennedys also suffered many personal tragedies. Jacqueline suffered a miscarriage in 1955 and gave birth to a stillborn daughter, Arabella Kennedy, in 1956. The death of their newborn son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, in August 1963, was a great loss. Since Kennedy’s death, allegations have been made that Kennedy carried on numerous extramarital dalliances during his presidency with women such as Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe and socialite Mary Pinchot Meyer.

The charisma of Kennedy and his family led to the figurative designation of "Camelot" for his administration, credited by his widow to his affection for the contemporary Broadway musical of the same name. She gave an interview to Theodore White, where she mentioned the musical Camelot, and White later said that he had "found the headline".

He holds a record acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s fastest speaker in public life, with a speed of 327 words in one minute in a speech given in December 1961.

In October 1951, during his third term as Massachusetts 11th district congressman, the then 34-year-old Kennedy embarked on a seven-week Asian trip to Israel, India, Vietnam and Japan 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. Because of their eight-year separation in age, the two brothers had previously seen little of each other. This 25,000-mile (40,000 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 for Kennedy’s successful 1952 Senate campaign and 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 (Senate Rackets Committee) when Robert was its chief counsel. During Kennedy’s presidency, Robert served in his Cabinet as Attorney General and was his closest advisor.

Kennedy came third (behind Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Teresa) in a Gallup list of the most admired people of the twentieth century.

In 1946, Kennedy dated actress Gene Tierney, who was separated from her then-husband fashion designer Oleg Cassini. In her book Self-portrait, Ms. Tierney recalled that over an informal brunch, "Jack" told her that even after she divorced Cassini, he couldn’t marry her. If he was to be the first elected Catholic President, he could never marry a divorced woman. Moreover, she was also a Protestant.

Seymour Hersh’s The Dark Side of Camelot (1998) presents a critical analysis of the Kennedy administration, stating that Kennedy "was probably one of the unhealthiest men ever to sit in the Oval Office."

John F. Kennedy assassination

JFK, Jackie, and the Connallys in the Presidential limousine before the assassination President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on November 22, 1963, while on a political trip to Texas. He was pronounced dead at 1:00 p.m.

Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested in a theater about 80 minutes after the assassination. He denied shooting anyone, claiming he was a patsy, and was killed by Jack Ruby before he could be indicted or tried.

President Johnson created the Warren Commission-chaired by Chief Justice Earl Warren-to investigate the assassination. It concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin, but this remains disputed by some scholars and eyewitnesses. Gallup Polls taken since the mid-1960s have consistently shown that approximately 80% of the American people did not believe the Commission’s findings. Conspiracy theories about the assassination and supposed cover-up have been put forward and have become commonplace in popular culture.


Kennedy’s grave at Arlington National CemeteryOn March 14, 1967, Kennedy’s body was moved to a permanent burial place and memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Kennedy is buried with his wife and their deceased minor children, and his brother, the late Senator Robert Kennedy is also buried nearby. His grave is lit with an "Eternal Flame". In the film The Fog of War, then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara claims that he picked the location in the cemetery - a location which Jackie agreed was suitable. Kennedy and William Howard Taft are the only two U.S. Presidents buried at Arlington.


Kennedy’s casket departs the White HouseTelevision 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. All three major U.S. television networks suspended their regular schedules and switched to all-news coverage from 22 November through 25 November 1963. Kennedy’s state funeral procession and the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald were all broadcast live in America and in other places around the world. The state funeral was the first of three in a span of 12 months: The other two were for General Douglas MacArthur and Herbert Hoover.

The assassination had an effect on many people, not only in the U.S. but also among the world population. Many vividly remember where they were when first learning of the news that Kennedy was assassinated, like with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 before it and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001 after it. U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson said of the assassination, "all of us.. will bear the grief of his death until the day of ours."

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 decline in the faith of the American people in the political establishment - a point made by commentators from Gore Vidal to Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Kennedy’s continuation of Presidents Truman’s and Eisenhower’s policies of giving economic and military aid to the Vietnam War preceded President Johnson’s escalation of the conflict. This contributed to a decade of national difficulties and disappointment on the political landscape.

Official Presidential portraitMany 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 during his term, Americans regularly vote him as one of the best presidents, in the same league as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt. 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. It was named after a 1963 encyclical letter by Pope John XXIII that calls upon all people of goodwill to secure peace among all nations. Pacem in Terris is Latin 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 his grandparent. His grandmother, Mary Josephine Hannon Fitzgerald, died in 1964, just 8.5 months after his assassination.


John F. Kennedy had 2 children that survived infancy. Caroline was born in 1957 and John Jr. was born in 1960, just a few weeks after his father was elected. John died in 1999. Caroline is currently the only surviving member of JFK’s immediate family.


New York International Airport (formerly known as Idlewild Airport) was renamed John F. Kennedy.

International Airport on December 24, 1963. Today, the airport is widely referred to as "JFK."

The John F. Kennedy Expressway, a major expressway in Chicago, was renamed for Kennedy by unanimous vote of Chicago City Council a few days after the president’s assassination.

Kennedy Blvd (State Road 60) in Tampa, Florida was renamed for Kennedy in 1964 by unanimous vote of the Tampa City Council. Kennedy visited Tampa on November 18, 1963 only four days before his assassination. His motorcade drove five miles (8 km) down Grand Central Avenue to the heart of the business district.

On November 26, 1963, the Interstate 65 bridge, spanning the Ohio River between Louisville.

Kentucky and Jeffersonville, Indiana, was named the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge.

The North Padre Island Causeway, connecting Padre Island to the Texas mainland, was renamed the John F. Kennedy Causeway.

NASA’s Launch Operations Center at Cape Canaveral was renamed the John F. Kennedy Space Center. Cape Canaveral itself was likewise renamed Cape Kennedy, but a referendum passed by Florida voters in 1973 reverted it to its original name.

A Kennedy memorial was established in Runnymede, England, where the Magna Carta was signed.

A stretch of Interstate 95 in Maryland, running from the Baltimore Beltway to the State Line, where it becomes the Delaware Turnpike, had been dedicated by President Kennedy on November 14, 1963, eight days before his assassination. It was soon renamed the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway.

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy was named on April 30, 1964, and served until March 23, 2007.

Kennedy has appeared on the U.S. half-dollar coin since 1964The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library opened in 1979 as Kennedy’s official presidential library.

John F. Kennedy University opened in Pleasant Hill, California, in 1964 as a school for adult education.

The John F. Kennedy National Historic Site preserves his home in Brookline.

The Harvard Institute of Politics serves as a living memorial which promotes public service in his name.

The School of Government is known as the John F. Kennedy School of Government. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts opened in 1971 in Washington, D.C. as a living memorial to him.

Hundreds of schools across the U.S. were named in Kennedy’s honor. The first school in the United States named after had been the Kennedy Middle School, in Cupertino, California, while he was alive. In the week after Kennedy’s death, the first schools renamed for him were the Kennedy Elementary School in Butte, Montana and the John F. Kennedy Middle School on Long Island in Bethpage, New York.

Philadelphia Municipal Stadium was renamed John F. Kennedy Stadium in 1964. It was razed in 1992 and is now the current site of the Wachovia Center.

Kennedy was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963. Since 1964, Kennedy’s portrait has appeared on the United States half dollar coin, replacing Benjamin Franklin.

Yad Kennedy, a memorial to the U.S. president, was established on a crest in the Jerusalem Forest, on the southwest outskirts of Jerusalem near Aminadav. One of the Solomon Islands is named Kennedy Island.

The city of Evansville, Indiana observed John F. Kennedy Day on November 22, 2003 to mark the 40th anniversary of his death.

One of the five residential towers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is named Kennedy Tower in his honor.

In February 2007, Kennedy’s name, along with his wife’s, was included on a list taken aboard the Japanese Kaguya spacecraft to the Moon, as part of The Planetary Society’s "Wish Upon the Moon" campaign.

The U.S. Army’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School is named after the late president because of his support for the Army Rangers and Green Berets. The park in Eyre Square, Galway City, Ireland is called John F. Kennedy Park, after his visit in 1963.

One suggestion that was rejected was that the State of West Virginia be renamed in Kennedy’s honor. Emile J. Hodel, editor of the Post-Herald of Beckley, West Virginia, wrote an editorial asking, "Why not change the name of West Virginia to Kennedy? Or perhaps Kennediana? What greater respect could the man receive than the renaming of the state he said he held most dear, after his home state of Massachusetts, in his honor?"

John F. Kennedy

35th President of the United States 
In office
January 20, 1961 - November 22, 1963 
Vice President(s) Lyndon B. Johnson 
Preceded by Dwight D. Eisenhower 
Succeeded by Lyndon B. Johnson
United States Senator
from Massachusetts 
In office
January 3, 1953 - December 22, 1960 
Preceded by Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. 
Succeeded by Benjamin A. Smith.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts’s 11th district 
In office
1947 - 1953 
Preceded by James Michael Curley 
Succeeded by Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr.
Born May 29, 1917(1917-05-29)
Brookline, Massachusetts 
Died November 22, 1963 (aged 46)
Dallas, Texas 
Political party Democratic 
Spouse Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy 
Alma mater Harvard College 
Religion Roman Catholic 
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917-November 22, 1963), was the thirty-fifth President of the United States, 
serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.