John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy
35th United States President
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In office Jan. 20, 1961 – Nov. 22, 1963
V. President Lyndon B. Johnson
Political Party Democratic
 
Personal Info
Born May 29, 1917
Died Nov. 22, 1963 (at age 46)
Religion Roman Catholic
School Harvard
Profession Politician, Author
Signature
Wife Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy
Children Arabella Kennedy
Caroline Bouvier Kennedy
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr.
Patrick Bouvier Kennedy
U.S. Presidents 26-35
26. Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)
27. William H. Taft (1909-1913)
28. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
29. Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)
30. Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)
31. Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
33. Harry S. Truman (1945-1953)
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)
35. John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
List of All the Presidents

As the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy was a man with charismatic and charming personality, but mostly known for his assassination.

Early Life

The second son of nine children, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917. His family has already established their legacy in politics and public service by that time. Joseph P. Kennedy, his father, was a multimillionaire business executive and financier at a bank. He was also involved in film industry and stock market. Among his long line of achievements include services as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and of the U.S. Maritime Commission. He also served as the ambassador to the Great Britain.

His wife, Rose, was a daughter of a former State Legislator and one time Boston mayor. During his childhood, Kennedy attended several schools because his family had to move to different locations. Although he spent summers in his hometown in Massachusetts, he stayed with his family at their home in Florida. During the latter years of grade school, he attended the Canterbury parochial school and Choate, both in Connecticut. He was already in twelfth grade by that time. The young Kennedy was considered competitive and was admired by many for his charismatic personality and achievements. However, he was often sick which required hospitalization during those years. He graduated from Choate in June 1935.

Soon, Kennedy traveled to London with his parents and sister with the hopes of entering the London School of Economics where his brother had graduated. Before long, they went back to America and he enrolled at Princeton University. Unfortunately, Kennedy suffered another illness which forced him to withdraw from school. With his inability to attend classes, Kennedy stayed home reading books. He also worked at a ranch in Arizona and did several outdoor activities. Finally, Kennedy recovered and was able to return to school. This time, he enrolled at Harvard University. While studying, he had the chance to travel with his father to Great Britain where he worked as his father’s secretary. Kennedy’s experience touring around Europe inspired him to write his senior thesis which spoke about Great Britain’s military struggles. Eventually, his work was published and became a best-selling book. Kennedy soon earned his degree in International affairs as he graduated cum laude from Harvard. He then pursued graduate studies at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

Time in the U.S. Navy

Kennedy tried for the Army but was disqualified due to medical reasons. Later on, he joined the U.S. Navy in which his father had great connections with. He earned the rank of lieutenant and was assigned to command a patrol torpedo boat. A tragic incident almost took Kennedy’s life when their boat was critically hit by a Japanese destroyer while they were patrolling near Solomon Islands. Along with six other crewmembers, Kennedy survived by hanging on to the remaining portion of their boat. All of them were wounded but were able to swim to the nearest island. All his men were rescued and Kennedy received a military honor for his bravery and great leadership.

Political Life

As the Kennedy’s political legacy was about to be passed to its successor and John’s older brother, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., the latter was killed in a military operation. The death of his brother led John to pursue career in politics despite the injuries he suffered during the war and all other illnesses that troubled him since childhood. His family was in full support and expected him to succeed in the political race. They gathered supporters from the military and colleagues. They also conducted several social events to raise money for his campaigns. In 1946, he ran for the position of the U.S House of Representatives from the Massachusetts’ eleventh Congressional district as part of the Democratic Party and eventually won the race by a large margin against his Republican opponent.

Kennedy was successful in his three terms in Congress which he never lost. His programs were focused on strengthening the labor force such as setting higher wages and providing good working conditions. He also supported several projects of then president, Harry Truman. In 1952, after a long service in the House of Representatives, Kennedy became more ambitious and decided run for Senate in which he outlasted Republican Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. by about seventy thousand votes. The following year, Kennedy married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, a woman who hailed from a socially prominent family. During his tenure in the Senate, Kennedy continued to provide programs that enhance labor force and foreign relations. He served in several committees that work on Labor-management Relations. As part of the Foreign Relations Committee, he advocated support for emerging nations in Africa and Asia. He was able to pass numerous bills in helping Massachusetts’ fishing and textile industries. He also worked on the improvement of New England’s economy.

Running for Vice-President and President

During the 1956 Democratic National Convention, Kennedy was nominated as vice president for presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson but eventually lost to Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee. In 1960, Kennedy formally announced his candidacy for president. He won the Democratic primary election and became its Presidential nominee. He chose Lyndon B. Johnson as his running mate. Part of his campaign was to prove that a Roman Catholic could be sworn into Presidential office. He visited states where people disliked his religion in which he emerged victorious by winning their hearts. His religion served as a huge obstacle in his race to presidency.

In responding to this controversy, Kennedy delivered a speech during one of his campaign which addresses the absolute separation of church and state. He believed that each of these bodies is not to intervene in the other’s affair nor influence its decisions. Kennedy also attended series of debates against his opponent Nixon which was televised. This caused Kennedy’s intention and influences to reach millions at home. His strong personality and dedication outperformed his opponent. His popularity continued to grow as his efforts were doubled to stand strong amidst controversy. It was a very tight presidential race between Kennedy and Nixon. Kennedy’s style in his candidacy emerged as the favorite by the Americans. He was adored for his wit and his family’s public influence. Soon, he defeated Republican candidate, Vice President Richard M. Nixon by just a narrow margin.

John F. Kennedy as President

Finally, On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President of the United States. He became the youngest man and the first Roman Catholic in American history to win the presidency. During his inaugural address, he delivered a speech that resounded all over the American states. His speech was remembered in the lines “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” He called for a country united by common desire to fight and eliminate its enemies, terror, poverty, disease, and war itself. Despite his excellent aspiration for the country, Kennedy’s presidential tenure was bombarded with controversies.

He had to face severe crisis in his short stint as president. One of his most significant contributions was his effort to finally end racial discrimination among white and black people. The barrier that segregated these two groups of people would soon disappear. Kennedy put sheer dedication into protecting civil rights and creating equality among the citizens of the U.S. The issues involving racial segregation in public schools were properly addressed and resolved. Kennedy backed racial integration and civil rights. It allowed members of any race to have equality of opportunity. His fight against racial discrimination led to the release of Martin Luther King, Jr. from jail and in return, more black people gave their support to Kennedy’s administration. On the contrary, some conservatives from Southern Democrats, mostly white people, disapproved this movement creating gaps which made it difficult to pass more civil rights bills in Congress.

Another controversy called “Bay of Pigs” invasion challenged Kennedy’s administration. It is considered as one of the greatest challenges that President Kennedy had to face. There were disputes against the Soviet Union but were later resolved. The invasion of Cuba was halted after Kennedy discovered their plan. His leadership and ability to conquer disaster was again proven after he peacefully overcame this threat. Since it was also a time of the dominance of Communism in the Soviet Union, Kennedy also made an initiative to improve American-Soviet relations.

Kennedy’s Accomplishments as President

In terms of administering foreign relations, Kennedy also made remarkable contributions in addressing the issues surrounding America’s relation with other countries. His ideological view on a world of diversity received high praises in the third world. His diplomatic approach to other nations drew the attention of many people. He was adored for it, as it was not often seen in his predecessors. One of the priorities of the Kennedy administration was to settle disputes among foreign lands by resolving issues of war and bringing peace. He was very considerate in strengthening foreign policies, more so than with domestic policies. Kennedy also addressed the problem of miscalculation as a source of conflicts against other nations, especially the Soviet Union. He worked hard on developing foreign policy without depending on another person. In fact, Kennedy did not appoint a secretary of state. He performed all the duties by himself to make sure everything he intended to do would not be influenced. He also succeeded in creating the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 which aimed to overhaul the American immigration policy. This program was created as an extension of civil rights policies and to abolish discrimination in approving immigration based on country of origin.

Kennedy’s administration also focused on improving economic stability. Although the start of his presidency saw a crisis over the budget, Kennedy was able to lead a significant change in terms of economic growth. The nation was then suffering from a recession but Kennedy insisted that there is hope in recovery through sacrifice to enjoy economic expansion. Due to some disputes with the United States Steel Corporation, Kennedy refocused his attention to cutting tax which favored private investments. He approved a program of $11.1 billion in tax cuts for both corporations and individuals. Through Kennedy’s determination and with the help of his professional economic advisers, America saw success in bolstering economic growth.

Kennedy also made major contributions in enhancing domestic programs. He established the Peace Corps which encouraged Americans to volunteer themselves in helping the underdeveloped nations. The program includes development in education, healthcare, farming, and construction. Throughout the year, a momentous number of volunteers joined the program which served 139 countries. Another ambitious program famed by Kennedy was the “New Frontier” program which aimed to raise funds for education, medical care for the elderly, economic aid to rural regions, and the government’s fight against recession.

In its aim to develop the space program, the Kennedy administration proposed an international cooperation in space with the Soviet Union. Its goal was to create a joint venture in space exploration. However, the Soviet Union was much more advanced in terms of space technology compared to America. Due to this, Kennedy became eager to compete against Soviet Union’s space accomplishments. He announced his vision of landing a man on the moon which eventually led to more improvement in American space technology. Kennedy asked Congress to approve more than $5 billion for the success of the Apollo program.

Despite Kennedy’s short stint in the office, he made significant changes in the growth of American nation. His approach in resolving foreign conflicts and his economic perspective were products of his passion and interest in politics. In his later days in office, Kennedy received several death threats. He courageously faced this fear and addressed the nation how it should stand up in times of fear. On November 22, 1963, president Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, at 12:30 pm. It was the same day where he was about to meet with Democratic Party liberals with whom he had disputes. A rifle equipped with a telescopic lens was used to kill Kennedy. The bullet hit his upper back and another shot went through his head. At 1:00 pm, the president was declared dead. He was only 46 years old at that time and was considered the youngest president to die and was the fourth president assassinated while in the office. The police found the suspect, Lee Harvey Oswald, who was immediately taken into custody for investigation. He denied the allegation of murder and was set for trial. Before the scheduled trial, Oswald was killed by Jack Ruby who was arrested and jailed. A committee was set to investigate the assassination and it concluded by proving that Oswald was the only assassin and had no other connections. Kennedy’s funeral was witnessed by millions of people around the globe and mourned by people from different cultures.

Despite his untimely death, John F. Kennedy’s legacy will live forever and his accomplishments will be remembered eternally. His optimistic approach to a nation struggling under recession was remarkable and brought glory to his name.

One Response to “John F. Kennedy”

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