John F. Kennedy
35th President of the United States
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy pronunciation, often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his death in 1963. After military service as commander of the Motor Torpedo Boats PT-109 and PT-59 during World War II in the South Pacific, Kennedy represented Massachusetts' 11th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1947 to 1953 as a Democrat. Thereafter, he served in the U.S.
Biography
John F. Kennedy's personal information overview.
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News
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LETTER; Jackie’s White House Tour
NYTimes - over 5 years
To the Editor: Reading “ In Tapes, Candid Talk by Young Kennedy Widow ” (front page, Sept. 12), about the newly published Jackie Kennedy oral history, reminded me of a phone call from President John F. Kennedy the day after her televised tour of the White House. At the time, I was chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
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OP-ED COLUMNIST; Memoirs of a Geisha
NYTimes - over 5 years
WASHINGTON Not since Saki's cat Tobermory suddenly began speaking, dismissively skewering a British house party of snobs, has a long silence been so blazingly shattered. The most mysterious, fascinating -- and feline -- woman in American political history has at long last spoken up. And Jackie Kennedy has plenty to say in that inimitably breathy
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In Tapes, Candid Talk by Young Kennedy Widow
NYTimes - over 5 years
In the early days of the Cuban missile crisis, before the world knew that the cold war seemed to be sliding toward nuclear conflict, President John F. Kennedy telephoned his wife, Jacqueline, at their weekend house in Virginia. From his voice, she would say later, she could tell that something was wrong. Why don't you come back to Washington? he
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Doug Clark: Giant leap for mankind, mysterious step for Spokane - The Spokesman Review
Google News - over 5 years
President John Kennedy making the moon a national priority. • Aldrin and Armstrong discussing their mission prior to launch. • The “historic phone call from White House to Moon,” when President Richard Nixon chats it up with our spacemen
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Kennedy: For change, elect new senator - Alexandria Town Talk
Google News - over 5 years
US Senate candidate and state Treasurer John Kennedy, R-Baton Rouge, talks with supporters Wednesday during a campaign stop at England Airpark. / Tia Owens-Powers/tpowers@thetowntalk.com State Treasurer John Kennedy touched on several issues popular
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hostile Hawks a not so social club - Herald Sun
Google News - over 5 years
Legendary Hawk coach John Kennedy revealed at yesterday's 50-year reunion of the 1961 premiership team - the club's first - that Hawthorn had a "hostile attitude" in the lead-up. "It wasn't just to (its opponent) Footscray," Kennedy said
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Crazy Enough
NYTimes - over 5 years
A FIRST-RATE MADNESS Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness By Nassir Ghaemi 340 pp. The Penguin Press. $27.95. After examining the psychological histories of a few living leaders and a whole little power necropolis, Nassir Ghaemi, director of the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts University Medical Center, is ready to proclaim a
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West Coast forward John Kennedy has eye on finals - Herald Sun
Google News - over 5 years
Dean Cox and Josh Kennedy celebrate a goal against Essendon. Picture: Getty Images Source: Herald Sun EAGLES forward spearhead Josh Kennedy has admitted his freak injury late last month was a blessing in disguise and has readied his body for a charge
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Scalpers emerge ahead of sell-out showdown - Sydney Morning Herald
Google News - over 5 years
Rohan Connolly previews the round from Hawthorn's home at Waverley, meeting a true legend of the Hawks golden era - John Kennedy. Scalpers are selling tickets to tonight's AFL showdown between Hawthorn and Carlton at Etihad Stadium at more than double
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Disbarred Houston-area lawyer found with $850K still jailed in Delaware - Houston Chronicle
Google News - over 5 years
Police in Wilmington, Del., arrested John Kennedy on Saturday and found this money in his vehicle and a storage facility. It was the 66-year-old disbarred lawyer's son who was first to stumble across one of his massive stashes of cash
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Local honors Kennedy with art - Fremont News Messenger
Google News - over 5 years
Bernadine Stetzel poses with a portrait she painted of Black Jack, the riderless horse in President John Kennedy's funeral procession, at her home in Fremont on Tuesday. Stetzel painted a series of 71 pictures in the life of Kennedy, and recently
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BOOKS OF THE TIMES; What Befits a Leader in Hard Times? An Intimate Knowledge of Insanity
NYTimes - over 5 years
A FIRST-RATE MADNESS Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness By Nassir Ghaemi 340 pages. The Penguin Press. $27.95. The premise of Dr. Nassir Ghaemi's book about leadership and mental illness is simple. It need not be reiterated as frequently as Dr. Ghaemi repeats it. But he begins ''A First-Rate Madness'' by writing, ''This book
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Celtic Legends beat United - ESPN
Google News - over 5 years
Charity was the real winner though as a huge crowd of 50000-plus turned up for match arranged as a tribute to former Celtic defender John Kennedy, who had to retire through injury. The proceeds will go to Oxfam's East Africa charity appeal. ... - -
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One hundred attend rail station's 100th birthday - Barnstable Patriot
Google News - over 5 years
Cape Rail President John Kennedy told the 100 or so in attendance that he remembered when the building was boarded up just 10 years ago. He and other speakers praised the partners, including the town through a lease, that made its rebirth possible
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Kennedy, Obama - Kansas City Star (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
“When John Kennedy became president, he not only symbolized youth in a world dominated by older men, he brought with him a sense of intellectual adventure. Suddenly, new prospects seemed possible. “Life itself seemed more exciting
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of John F. Kennedy
    FORTIES
  • 1963
    Age 45
    His agreement to the NSAM 263 action of withdrawing 1,000 troops by the end of 1963, and his earlier 1963 speech at American University, suggest that he was ready to end the Vietnam War.
    More Details Hide Details The Vietnam War contributed greatly to a decade of national difficulties, amid violent 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 the 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, 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 (Latin: Peace on Earth). 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. 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 maternal grandmother, Mary Josephine "Josie" Hannon, died in August 1964, nine months after his assassination.
    Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.
    More Details Hide Details Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested that afternoon and determined to have fired shots that hit the President from a sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby mortally wounded Oswald two days later in a jail corridor. The FBI and the Warren Commission officially concluded that Oswald was the lone assassin, but its report was sharply criticized. The United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) agreed that Oswald fired the shots that killed the president, but also concluded that Kennedy was likely assassinated as the result of a conspiracy. The majority of Americans alive at the time of the assassination: 52% to 29%, and continuing through 2013 (61% to 30%), believed that there was a conspiracy and that Oswald was not the only shooter. Since the 1960s, information concerning Kennedy's private life has come to light, including his health problems and allegations of infidelity. Kennedy continues to rank highly in historians' polls of U.S. presidents and with the general public. His average approval rating of 70% is the highest of any president in Gallup's history of systematically measuring job approval.
    A Requiem Mass was held for Kennedy at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on November 25, 1963.
    More Details Hide Details Afterwards, Kennedy was interred in a small plot, (20 by 30 ft.), in Arlington National Cemetery. Over a period of three years (1964–1966), an estimated 16 million people visited his grave. On March 14, 1967, Kennedy's remains were moved to a permanent burial plot and memorial at the cemetery. The funeral was officiated by Father John J. Cavanaugh. It was from this memorial that the graves of both Robert and Ted Kennedy were modeled. The honor guard at Kennedy's graveside was the 37th Cadet Class of the Irish Army. Kennedy was greatly impressed by the Irish Cadets on his last official visit to Ireland, so much so that Jackie Kennedy requested the Irish Army to be the honor guard at her husband's funeral.
    President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, at 12:30 pm Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, while on a political trip to Texas to smooth over frictions in the Democratic Party between liberals Ralph Yarborough and Don Yarborough (no relation) and conservative John Connally.
    More Details Hide Details Traveling in a presidential motorcade through downtown Dallas, he was shot once in the back, the bullet exiting via his throat, and once in the head. Kennedy was taken to Parkland Hospital for emergency medical treatment, but pronounced dead at 1:00 pm. Only 46, President Kennedy died younger than any other U.S. president to date. Lee Harvey Oswald, an order filler at the Texas School Book Depository from which the shots were suspected to have been fired, was arrested for the murder of police officer J.D. Tippit, and was charged subsequently with Kennedy's assassination. He denied shooting anyone, claiming he was a patsy, and was killed by Jack Ruby on November 24, before he could be prosecuted. Ruby was 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.
    In a September 1963 speech before the United Nations, Kennedy urged cooperation between the Soviets and Americans in space, specifically recommending that Apollo be switched to "a joint expedition to the Moon".
    More Details Hide Details Khrushchev again declined, and the Soviets did not commit to a manned Moon mission until 1964. On July 20, 1969, almost six years after Kennedy's death, Apollo 11 landed the first manned spacecraft on the Moon.
    After the associations continued, Robert Kennedy issued a written directive authorizing the FBI to wiretap King and other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King's civil rights organization in October 1963.
    More Details Hide Details 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 wiretapping continued through June 1966 and was revealed in 1968. John F. Kennedy initially proposed an overhaul of American immigration policy that was later to become the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, sponsored by his brother Senator Edward Kennedy. It dramatically shifted the source of immigration from Northern and Western European countries towards immigration from Latin America and Asia. The policy change also shifted the emphasis in the selection of immigrants in favor of 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.
    On June 10, 1963, Kennedy, at the high point of his rhetorical powers, delivered the commencement address at American University in Washington, D.C. Also known as "Strategy of Peace", Kennedy not only outlined a plan to curb nuclear arms, but also "laid out a hopeful, yet realistic route for world peace at a time when the U.S. and Soviet Union faced the potential for an escalating nuclear arms race."
    More Details Hide Details The President wished: 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.
    After Kennedy's assassination, President Johnson passed NSAM 273 on November 26, 1963.
    More Details Hide Details It reversed Kennedy's decision to withdraw 1,000 troops, and reaffirmed the policy of assistance to the South Vietnamese.
    Such an 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 on June 10, 1963.
    More Details Hide Details When Robert Kennedy was asked in 1964 what his brother would have done if the South Vietnamese had been on the brink of defeat, he replied: "We'd face that when we came to it." At the time of Kennedy's death, no final policy decision had been made as to Vietnam. In 2008, Theodore Sorensen wrote: "I would like to believe that Kennedy would have found a way to withdraw all American instructors and advisors Vietnam. But even someone who knew JFK as well as I did can't be certain, because I do not believe he knew in his last weeks what he was going to do." Sorensen added that, in his opinion, Vietnam "was the only foreign policy problem handed off by JFK to his successor in no better, and possibly worse, shape than it was when he inherited it." U.S. involvement in the region escalated until Lyndon Johnson, his successor, directly deployed regular U.S. military forces for fighting the Vietnam War.
    On November 1, 1963, South Vietnamese generals, led by "Big Minh", overthrew the Diem government, arresting and then killing Diem and Nhu.
    More Details Hide Details Kennedy was shocked by the deaths. He found 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 that 24 hours were needed to procure a plane. Minh responded that he could not hold them that long. News of the coup led to renewed confidence initially—both in America and in South Vietnam—that the war might be won. McGeorge Bundy drafted a National Security Action Memo to present to Kennedy upon his return from Dallas. It reiterated the resolve to fight communism in Vietnam, with increasing military and economic aid and expansion of operations into Laos and Cambodia. Before leaving for Dallas, Kennedy told Michael Forrestal that "after the first of the year... 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."
    In October 1963, the president appointed Defense Secretary McNamara and General Maxwell D. Taylor to a Vietnam mission in another effort to synchronize the information and formulation of policy.
    More Details Hide Details The objective of the McNamara Taylor mission "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 (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. At Kennedy's insistence, the mission report contained a recommended schedule for troop withdrawals: 1,000 by year's end and complete withdrawal in 1965, something the NSC considered a strategic fantasy. The final report declared that the military was making progress, that the increasingly unpopular Diem-led government was not vulnerable to a coup, and that an assassination of Diem or Nhu was a possibility.
    Television became the primary source by which people were kept informed of events surrounding John F. Kennedy's assassination. In fact, television started to come of age before the assassination. On September 2, 1963, Kennedy helped inaugurate network television's first half-hour nightly evening newscast according to an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite.
    More Details Hide Details Newspapers were kept as souvenirs rather than sources of updated information. In this sense his assassination was the first major TV news event of its kind. TV coverage united 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 and the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald were 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 President Herbert Clark Hoover. 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 and the riderless horse was Black Jack, who also served in that role during Lyndon B. Johnson's funeral.
    In a radio and TV address to the nation in June 1963—a century after President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation—Kennedy became the first president to call on all Americans to denounce racism as morally wrong.
    More Details Hide Details Kennedy's civil rights proposals led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Kennedy's successor, took up the mantle and pushed the landmark Civil Rights Act through a bitterly divided Congress by invoking the slain president's memory. President Johnson then signed the Act into law on July 2, 1964. This civil rights law ended what was known as the "Solid South" and certain provisions were modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1875, signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant. Kennedy's continuation of Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower's policies of giving economic and military aid to South Vietnam left the door open for President Johnson's escalation of the conflict. At the time of Kennedy's death, no final policy decision had been made as to Vietnam, leading historians, cabinet members, and writers to continue to disagree on whether the Vietnam conflict would have escalated to the point it did had he survived.
    Further, on June 10, 1963, Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a federal law amending the Fair Labor Standards Act, aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex.
    More Details Hide Details Over a hundred thousand, predominantly African Americans, gathered in Washington for the civil rights March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom 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 (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 that the March was a victory for him as well and bolstered the chances for his civil rights bill.
    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 attending.
    More Details Hide Details Wallace moved aside only after being confronted by Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and the Alabama National Guard, which had just been federalized by order of the president. 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. The day ended with the murder of a NAACP leader, Medgar Evers, in front of 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.
    In early 1963, Kennedy related to Martin Luther King, Jr., his thoughts on 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."
    More Details Hide Details Civil rights clashes were on the rise that year. Brother Robert and Ted Sorenson pressed Kennedy to take more initiative on the legislative front.
    To the Economic Club of New York, 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."
    More Details Hide Details Congress passed few of Kennedy's major programs during his lifetime, but did vote them through in 1964 and 1965 under his successor Johnson. Kennedy ended a period of tight fiscal policies, loosening monetary policy to keep interest rates down and to encourage growth of the economy. He 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 presidency. Despite low inflation and interest rates, GDP had grown by an average of only 2.2% per annum 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.
    In his 1963 State of the Union address, he proposed substantial tax reform, and a 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%.
    More Details Hide Details Kennedy added that the top rate should be set at 70% if certain deductions were not eliminated for high income earners. Congress did not act until 1964, after his death, when the top individual rate was lowered to 70%, and the top corporate rate was set at 48% (see Revenue Act of 1964).
    The U.S. Senate ratified this and Kennedy signed it into law in October 1963.
    More Details Hide Details France was quick to declare that it was free to continue developing and testing its nuclear defenses. Kennedy called his domestic program the "New Frontier". 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 July 1963, Kennedy sent W.
    More Details Hide Details Averell Harriman to Moscow to negotiate a treaty with the Soviets. The introductory sessions included Khrushchev, who later delegated Soviet representation to Andrei Gromyko. It quickly became clear that a comprehensive test ban would not be implemented, due largely to the reluctance of the Soviets to allow inspections that would 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.
    During his four-day visit to his ancestral home of Ireland in June 1963, Kennedy accepted a grant of armorial bearings from the Chief Herald of Ireland and received honorary degrees from the National University of Ireland and Trinity College, Dublin.
    More Details Hide Details He visited the cottage at Dunganstown, near New Ross, County Wexford where his ancestors had lived before emigrating to America. He also became the first foreign leader to address the Houses of the Oireachtas (the Irish parliament). On December 22, 2006, the Irish Department of Justice released declassified police documents indicating that security was heightened as Kennedy was the subject of three death threats during this visit. Troubled by the long-term dangers of radioactive contamination and nuclear weapons proliferation, Kennedy and Khrushchev agreed to negotiate 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 the Soviet Union began testing nuclear weapons that September. The United States 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 arms race. Nevertheless, the greater nuclear strength of the U.S. was of little value as long as the U.S.S.R. perceived itself to be at parity.
    When Kennedy wrote that he was skeptical and stated, in a May 1963 letter to Ben-Gurion, that American support to Israel could be in jeopardy if reliable information on the Israeli nuclear program was not forthcoming, Ben-Gurion repeated previous reassurances that Dimona was being developed for peaceful purposes.
    More Details Hide Details The Israeli government resisted American pressure to open its nuclear facilities to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections. In 1962, the US and Israeli governments had agreed to an annual inspection regime. A science attaché at the embassy in Tel Aviv concluded that parts of the Dimona facility had been shut down temporarily to mislead American scientists when they visited. According to Seymour Hersh, the Israelis set up false control rooms to show the Americans. Israeli lobbyist Abe Feinberg stated: "It was part of my job to tip them off that Kennedy was insisting on inspection." Hersh contends the inspections were conducted in such a way that it "guaranteed that the whole procedure would be little more than a whitewash, as the president and his senior advisors had to understand: the American inspection team would have to schedule its visits well in advance, and with the full acquiescence of Israel." Marc Trachtenberg argued: "Although well aware of what the Israelis were doing, Kennedy chose to take this as satisfactory evidence of Israeli compliance with America's non-proliferation policy." The American who led the inspection team stated that the essential goal of the inspections was to find "ways to not reach the point of taking action against Israel's nuclear weapons program."
    In April 1963, Kennedy assessed the situation in Vietnam: "We don't have a prayer of staying in Vietnam.
    More Details Hide Details 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." Kennedy faced a crisis in Vietnam by July; 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, Jr. arrived, Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu ordered South Vietnam forces, funded and trained by the CIA, to quell Buddhist demonstrations. The crackdowns heightened expectations of a coup d'état 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.
  • 1962
    Age 44
    In October 1962, it was discovered Soviet ballistic missiles had been deployed in Cuba; the resulting period of unease, termed the Cuban Missile Crisis, is seen by many historians as the closest the human race has ever come to nuclear war between nuclear armed belligerents.
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    On May 19, 1962, Marilyn Monroe sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" at a large party in Madison Square Garden, celebrating Kennedy's upcoming forty-fifth birthday.
    More Details Hide Details The term "Camelot" came to be used retrospectively as iconic of the Kennedy administration, and the charisma of him and his family. The term was first publicly used by his wife in a post-assassination Life magazine interview with Theodore H. White, in which she revealed his affection for the contemporary Broadway musical of the same name, particularly the closing lines of the title song: In 2002 Robert Dallek wrote an extensive history of Kennedy's health. Dallek was able to consult a collection of Kennedy-associated papers from the years 1955 - 1963 including x-rays and prescription records from the files of White House physician Dr. Janet Travell. According to Travell's records, during his Presidential years Kennedy suffered from: high fevers, stomach, colon, and prostate issues, abscesses, high cholesterol, and adrenal problems. Travell kept a "Medicine Administration Record," cataloguing Kennedy's medications: "injected and ingested corticosteroids for his adrenal insufficiency; procaine shots and ultrasound treatments and hot packs for his back; Lomotil, Metamucil, paregoric, phenobarbital, testosterone, and trasentine to control his diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, and weight loss; penicillin and other antibiotics for his urinary-tract infections and an abscess; and Tuinal to help him sleep."
    Displeased with Kennedy's pace addressing the issue of segregation, Martin Luther King, Jr. and his associates produced a document in 1962 calling on the president to follow in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln and use an Executive Order to deliver a blow for Civil Rights as a kind of Second Emancipation Proclamation - Kennedy did not execute the order.
    More Details Hide Details In September 1962, James Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi but was prevented from entering. Attorney General Robert Kennedy responded by sending 400 federal marshals, while President Kennedy reluctantly sent 3,000 troops after the situation on campus turned violent. The Ole Miss riot of 1962 left two dead and dozens injured, but Meredith did finally enroll in his first class. Kennedy regretted not sending in troops earlier and he began to doubt whether the "evils of Reconstruction" of the 1860s and 1870s he had been taught or believed in were true. The instigating subculture at the Old Miss riot, and at many other racially ignited events, was the Ku Klux Klan. On November 20, 1962, Kennedy signed Executive Order 11063, prohibiting racial discrimination in federally supported housing or "related facilities".
    Kennedy extended the first informal security guarantees to Israel in 1962 and, beginning in 1963, was the first US president to allow the sale to Israel of advanced US weaponry (the MIM-23 Hawk), as well as to provide diplomatic support for Israeli policies which were opposed by Arab neighbors; such as its water project on the Jordan River.
    More Details Hide Details As result of this newly created security alliance, Kennedy also encountered tensions with the Israeli government over the production of nuclear materials in Dimona which he believed could instigate a nuclear arms-race in the Middle East. After the existence of a nuclear plant was initially denied by the Israeli government, David Ben-Gurion stated in a speech to the Israeli Knesset on December 21, 1960, 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 other peaceful purposes "for the time being."
    In early 1962, Kennedy formally authorized escalated involvement when he signed the National Security Action Memorandum – "Subversive Insurgency (War of Liberation)".
    More Details Hide Details Secretary of State Dean Rusk voiced strong support for U.S. involvement. "Operation Ranch Hand", a large-scale aerial defoliation effort, began on the roadsides of South Vietnam.
    Robert was John's attorney general and then a senator who was assassinated in 1968 while Ted was a long-serving U.S. senator from 1962 until his death from brain cancer in 2009.
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    The extent of a relationship with Monroe will never be known, although it has been reported that they spent a weekend together in March 1962 while Kennedy was staying at Bing Crosby's house.
    More Details Hide Details Furthermore, the White House switchboard noted calls from her during 1962. J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI director, received reports about Kennedy's indiscretions. Kennedy inspired affection and loyalty from the members of his team and his supporters. According to 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." Kennedy believed that his friendly relationship with members of the press would help protect him from revelations about his sex life. The Kennedy family came originally from Dunganstown, County Wexford, Ireland. In 1848 Kennedy's patrilineal great-grandfather, Patrick Kennedy (1823–1858), left his farm and boarded a ship in New Ross bound for Liverpool on his way to Boston. Kennedy left Ireland at the height of the Great Famine. In Boston he met the woman he was to marry, Bridget Murphy (c. 1824–1888). Their son Patrick Joseph "P. J." Kennedy was Kennedy's paternal grandfather and father of Joseph Kennedy.
  • 1961
    Age 43
    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 command, the Navy SEALs, which Kennedy enthusiastically supported.
    More Details Hide Details 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 to Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and implied by Oliver Stone in several of his films, such as his landmark 1991 JFK. Although President Kennedy opposed segregation, and had shown support for the civil rights of African Americans, he believed originally in a more measured approach to legislation given the political realities he faced in Congress, especially with the Southern Conservatives. However, impelled by the civil rights demonstrations of Martin Luther King, in 1963 proposed legislative action.
    There were disagreements among his doctors, into 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.
    More Details Hide Details During that time frame, the president's physician, George Burkley, did set up some gym equipment in the White House basement where Kennedy did stretching exercises for his back three times a week. Details of these and other medical problems were not publicly disclosed during Kennedy's lifetime. The President's primary White House physician, George Burkley, realized that treatments by Jacobson and Travell, including the excessive use of steroids and amphetamines, were medically inappropriate, and took effective action to remove the president from their care. It was later observed that President Kennedy's leadership, (e.g. the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis and other events during 1963), improved greatly once the treatments of Jacobson had been discontinued and been replaced by a medically-appropriate regimen under Burkley. Dr. Ghaemi, who studied Kennedy's medical records, concluded there was a "correlation; it is not causation; but it may not be coincidence either".
    In 1961 the Radio-Television News Directors Association presented Kennedy with its highest honor, the Paul White Award, in recognition of his open relationship with the media.
    More Details Hide Details Mrs. Kennedy 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. 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 First Family comedy album, which parodied the president, the first lady, their family, and the administration, sold about four million copies.
    Earlier, Kennedy had signed the executive order creating the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women on December 14, 1961.
    More Details Hide Details Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt led the commission. The Commission statistics revealed that women were also experiencing discrimination; its final report, documenting legal and cultural barriers, was issued in October 1963.
    In late 1961, President Kennedy sent Roger Hilsman, then director of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, to assess the situation in Vietnam.
    More Details Hide Details There, Hilsman met Sir Robert Thompson, head of the British Advisory Mission to South Vietnam and the concept of the Strategic Hamlet Program was formed. It was approved by Kennedy and South Vietnam President Ngo Dinh Diem. It was implemented in early 1962 and involved some forced relocation, village internment, and segregation of rural South Vietnamese into new communities where the peasantry would be isolated from Communist insurgents. It was hoped that these new communities would provide security for the peasants and strengthen the tie between them and the central government. By November 1963 the program waned and officially ended in 1964.
    In May 1961 he dispatched Lyndon Johnson to meet with South Vietnam's President Ngo Dinh Diem.
    More Details Hide Details Johnson assured Diem more aid to mold a fighting force that could resist the communists. Kennedy announced a change of policy from support to partnership with Diem to defeat of communism in South Vietnam. During his administration, Kennedy continued policies that provided political and economic support, and military advice and support, to the South Vietnamese 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 military advisors and special forces U.S. Special Forces in the area, from 11,000 in 1962 to 16,000 by late 1963, but he was reluctant to order a full-scale deployment of troops. Before his assassination, Kennedy used military advisors and special forces in Vietnam almost exclusively. A year and one-half later, his successor, President Lyndon Johnson, committed the first combat troops to Vietnam and greatly escalated U.S. involvement, with forces reaching 184,000 that year and 536,000 in 1968.
    When briefing Kennedy, Eisenhower emphasized that the communist threat in Southeast Asia required priority; Eisenhower considered Laos 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.
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    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.
    More Details Hide Details Robert Kennedy, who saw an opportunity for the U.S., called Bowles "a gutless bastard" to his face. As one of his first presidential acts, Kennedy asked Congress to create the Peace Corps. His brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, was its first director. Through this program, Americans volunteer to help underdeveloped nations in areas such as education, farming, health care, and construction. The organization 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.
    In late 1961, the White House formed the Special Group (Augmented), headed by Robert Kennedy and including Edward Lansdale, Secretary Robert McNamara, and others.
    More Details Hide Details The group's objective—to overthrow Castro via espionage, sabotage, and other covert tactics—was never pursued. On October 14, 1962, CIA U-2 spy planes took photographs of intermediate-range ballistic missile sites being built in Cuba by the Soviets. The photos were shown to Kennedy on October 16; 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 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 also appear to the world as less committed to the defense of the hemisphere. On a personal level, Kennedy needed to show resolve in reaction to Khrushchev, especially after the Vienna summit.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details After twenty months, Cuba released the captured exiles in exchange for $53 million worth of food and medicine. 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 focused primarily on the political repercussions of the plan rather than military considerations. When it failed, he was convinced that the plan was a setup to make him look bad. He took responsibility for the failure, saying: "We got a big kick in the leg and we deserved it. But maybe we'll learn something from it."
    On April 17, 1961, Kennedy ordered what became known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion: 1,500 U.S.-trained Cubans, called Brigade 2506, landed on the island.
    More Details Hide Details No U.S. air support was provided. Allen Dulles, director of the CIA, later stated that they thought the president would authorize any action required for success once the troops were on the ground.
    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, stating that an attack on West Berlin would be taken as an attack on the U.S. The speech received an 85% approval rating.
    More Details Hide Details The following month, the Soviet Union and East Berlin began blocking any further passage of East Berliners into West Berlin and erected barbed wire fences across the city, which were quickly upgraded to the Berlin Wall. 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 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 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 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."
    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 the warnings he had received.
    More Details Hide Details 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 its intention to sign a treaty with East Berlin, abrogating any third-party occupation rights in either sector of the city. Kennedy, depressed and angry, assumed that his only option was to prepare the country for nuclear war, which he 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 alongside NATO allies.
    His mistake helped raise tensions going into the Vienna Summit of June 1961.
    More Details Hide Details On the way to the summit, Kennedy stopped in Paris to meet Charles de Gaulle, who advised him to ignore Khrushchev's abrasive style. The French president feared the United States' presumed influence in Europe. Nevertheless, de Gaulle was quite impressed with the young president and his family. Kennedy picked up on this in his speech in Paris, saying that he would be remembered as "the man who accompanied Jackie Kennedy to Paris."
    He started off on the wrong foot by reacting aggressively to a routine Khrushchev speech on Cold War confrontation in early 1961.
    More Details Hide Details The speech was intended for domestic audiences in the Soviet Union, but Kennedy interpreted it as a personal challenge.
    President Kennedy's foreign policy was dominated by American confrontations with the Soviet Union, manifested by proxy contests in the early stage of the Cold War. In 1961, Kennedy anxiously anticipated a summit with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.
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    In his first State of the Union Address in January 1961, President Kennedy said: "The denial of constitutional rights to some of our fellow Americans on account of race - at the ballot box and elsewhere - disturbs the national conscience, and subjects us to the charge of world opinion that our democracy is not equal to the high promise of our heritage."
    More Details Hide Details Kennedy believed the grassroots movement for civil rights would anger many Southern whites and make it more difficult to pass civil rights laws in Congress, including anti-poverty legislation, and he distanced himself from it. Kennedy was concerned with other issues early in his presidency, such as the Cold War, Bay of Pigs fiasco and the situation in Southeast Asia. As articulated by brother Robert, the administration's early priority was to "keep the president out of this civil rights mess." Civil rights movement participants, mainly those on the front line in the South, 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 white mob violence, including by law enforcement officers, both federal and state. Kennedy assigned federal marshals to protect the Freedom Riders rather than 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." Kennedy feared sending federal troops would stir up "hated memories of Reconstrucion" after the Civil War among conservative Southern whites.
    Upon taking office in 1961, Kennedy postponed promised civil rights legislation he made while campaigning in 1960, recognizing that conservative Southern Democrats controlled congressional legislation.
    More Details Hide Details Historian Carl M. Brauer concluded that passing any civil rights legislation in 1961 would have been futile. During his first year in office Kennedy appointed many blacks to office including his May appointment of civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall to the federal bench.
    John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th president at noon on January 20, 1961.
    More Details Hide Details 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 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.
  • 1960
    Age 42
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr., nicknamed "John-John" by the press as a child, was born in late November 1960, 17 days after his father was elected.
    More Details Hide Details John Jr., died in 1999 when the small plane he was piloting crashed en route to Martha's Vineyard. Kennedy and his wife were younger in comparison to the presidents and first ladies who preceded them, and both were popular in the media culture 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.
    Major issues included how to get the economy moving again, Kennedy's Roman Catholicism, Cuba, and whether the Soviet 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.
    More Details Hide Details 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 the Navy in the South Pacific." In September and October, Kennedy appeared with vice president and Republican candidate Richard Nixon 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", was perspiring and looked tense and uncomfortable, while Kennedy, choosing to avail himself of makeup services, appeared relaxed, leading the huge television audience to favor him as the winner. Radio listeners either thought that 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.
    On January 2, 1960, Kennedy initiated his campaign for president in the Democratic primary election, where he faced challenges from Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota and Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon.
    More Details Hide Details Kennedy defeated Humphrey in Wisconsin and West Virginia, Morse in Maryland and Oregon, as well as token opposition (often write-in candidates) in New Hampshire, Indiana, and Nebraska. Kennedy visited a coal mine in West Virginia. Most miners and others in that predominantly conservative, 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" 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."
    Kennedy defeated Vice President, and Republican candidate, Richard Nixon in the 1960 U.S. Presidential Election.
    More Details Hide Details At age 43, he became the youngest elected president and the second-youngest president (after Theodore Roosevelt, who was 42 when he became president after the assassination of William McKinley). Kennedy was also the first person born in the 20th century to serve as president., Kennedy has been the only Roman Catholic president and the only president to have won a Pulitzer Prize (for his biography Profiles in Courage).
  • 1958
    Age 40
    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.
    More Details Hide Details It was during his re-election campaign that Kennedy's press secretary at the time, Robert E. Thompson, put together a film entitled The U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy Story, which exhibited a day in the life of the Senator and showcased his family life as well as the inner workings of his office. It was the most comprehensive film produced about Kennedy up to that time. While Kennedy's father was a strong supporter of Senator Joseph McCarthy, McCarthy was also a friend of the Kennedy family. As well, Bobby Kennedy worked for McCarthy's subcommittee, and McCarthy dated Kennedy sister Patricia. In 1954, the Senate voted to censure McCarthy and Kennedy drafted a speech supporting the censure. However, it was not delivered because Kennedy was hospitalized at the time. The speech had the potential of putting Kennedy in the position of participating procedurally by "pairing" his vote against that of another senator. Although Kennedy never indicated how he would have voted, the episode damaged his support among members of the liberal community, including Eleanor Roosevelt, in the 1956 and 1960 elections.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1957
    Age 39
    A final compromise bill, which Kennedy supported, was passed in September 1957.
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    One of the matters demanding Kennedy's attention in the Senate was President Eisenhower's bill for the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
    More Details Hide Details 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 B. 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.
  • 1956
    Age 38
    Kennedy underwent several spinal operations over the next two years. Often absent from the Senate, he was at times critically ill and received Catholic last rites. During his convalescence in 1956, he published Profiles in Courage, a book about U.S. senators who risked their careers for their personal beliefs, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1957. Rumors that this work was co-written by his close adviser and speechwriter, Ted Sorensen, were confirmed in Sorensen's 2008 autobiography. At the 1956 Democratic National Convention, Presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson II let the convention select the Vice Presidential nominee.
    More Details Hide Details Kennedy finished second in the balloting, losing to Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee but receiving national exposure as a result.
  • 1955
    Age 37
    His wife Jacqueline Kennedy suffered a miscarriage in 1955 and a stillbirth in 1956: a daughter informally named Arabella.
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  • 1953
    Age 35
    They were married a year after he was elected senator, on September 12, 1953.
    More Details Hide Details The Kennedy family 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. Family patriarch, Joe Kennedy, was a prominent American businessman and political figure, serving in multiple roles, including Ambassador to the United Kingdom, from 1938 to 1940. In October 1951, during his third term as Massachusetts's 11th district congressman, the then 34-year-old Kennedy embarked on a seven-week trip to India, Japan, Vietnam, and Israel with his then 25-year-old brother Bobby (who had just graduated from law school four months earlier) and his then 27-year-old sister Pat. Because they were several years apart in age, the brothers had previously seen little of each other. This trip was the first extended time they had spent together and resulted in their becoming best friends.
    On September 12, 1953, after a one-year courtship, Kennedy, then thirty-six, married 24-year-old Jacqueline Bouvier at St. Mary's Church in Newport, Rhode Island.
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    He was elected subsequently to the U.S. Senate and served as the junior Senator from Massachusetts from 1953 until 1960.
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  • 1952
    Age 34
    Bobby was campaign manager for Kennedy's successful 1952 Senate campaign and later, his successful 1960 presidential campaign.
    More Details Hide Details The two brothers worked closely together from 1957 to 1959 on the Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor and Management Field, when Robert was its chief counsel. During Kennedy's presidency, Robert served in his cabinet as Attorney General and was his closest advisor. Kennedy was a life member of the National Rifle Association. Kennedy came in third (behind Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Teresa) in Gallup's List of Widely Admired People of the 20th century. Caroline Bouvier Kennedy was born in 1957 and is the only surviving member of JFK's immediate family.
    In the 1952 U.S. Senate election, Kennedy defeated incumbent Republican Henry Cabot Lodge II for the Senate seat.
    More Details Hide Details The following year, he married Jacqueline Bouvier.
  • 1948
    Age 30
    His next youngest sister, Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy Cavendish, died in France as the result of a plane crash in 1948.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1946
    Age 28
    Kennedy ran for the seat, beating his Republican opponent by a large margin in November 1946.
    More Details Hide Details He served as a congressman for six years.
    At the urging of Kennedy's father, U.S. Representative James Michael Curley vacated his seat in the strongly Democratic 11th Congressional district in Massachusetts to become mayor of Boston in 1946.
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  • 1945
    Age 27
    In April 1945, Kennedy's father, who was a friend of William Randolph Hearst, arranged a position for his son as a special correspondent for Hearst Newspapers; the assignment kept Kennedy's name in the public eye and "exposed him to journalism as a possible career."
    More Details Hide Details He worked as a correspondent that May, covering the Potsdam Conference and other events.
    On March 1, 1945, Kennedy was retired from the Navy Reserve on physical disability and honorably discharged with the full rank of lieutenant.
    More Details Hide Details When asked later how he became a war hero, Kennedy joked: "It was easy. They cut my PT boat in half." Kennedy's military decorations and awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, Purple Heart Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three " bronze stars, and the World War II Victory Medal.
  • 1944
    Age 26
    Kennedy experienced many personal, family tragedies. His oldest sibling, Joe Jr., was killed in action in 1944 at age 29 over the English Channel during a first attack execution of Operation Aphrodite during World War II.
    More Details Hide Details Kennedy's younger sister Rose Marie "Rosemary" Kennedy was born in 1918 with intellectual disabilities and underwent a prefrontal lobotomy at age 23, leaving her permanently incapacitated.
    Because his eldest brother had been the family's political standard-bearer, and had been tapped by his father to seek the Presidency, his death in 1944 changed that course and the task now fell to the younger Kennedy.
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    After receiving treatment for his back injury, he was released from active duty in late 1944.
    More Details Hide Details Beginning in January 1945, Kennedy spent three more months recovering from his back injury at Castle Hot Springs, a resort and temporary military hospital in Arizona.
    Kennedy was relieved of his command of PT-59 on November 18 under doctor's orders and returned to the United States in early January 1944.
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    On August 12, 1944, his older brother, Joe Jr., a Navy pilot, was killed after volunteering for a special and hazardous air mission when his explosive-laden plane exploded over the English Channel.
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    Kennedy was in Chelsea Naval Hospital from May to December 1944.
    More Details Hide Details On June 12, he was presented the Navy and Marine Corps Medal (the Navy's highest noncombat decoration for heroism) for his heroic actions on August 1–2, 1943, and the Purple Heart Medal for his back injury on PT-109, on August 1, 1943 (injured on August 2). After the war, Kennedy felt that the medal he had received for heroism was not a combat award and asked that he be reconsidered for the Silver Star Medal for which had been recommended initially. (His father also requested the Silver Star, which is awarded for gallantry in action, for his son). In 1950, The Department of the Navy offered Kennedy a Bronze Star Medal to recognize his meritorious service, however he would have to return his Navy and Marine Corps Medal in order to receive it. He declined the medal. In 1959, the Navy again offered him the Bronze Star. Kennedy responded, repeating his original request concerning the award. He received the same response from the Navy as he had in 1950. The Navy said his actions were a lifesaving case. Both of Kennedy's original medals are on display currently at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
  • 1943
    Age 25
    For extremely heroic conduct as Commanding Officer of Motor Torpedo Boat 109 following the collision and sinking of that vessel in the Pacific War area on August 1–2, 1943.
    More Details Hide Details 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. James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy
    On September 1, 1943, Kennedy returned to duty and took command of a PT boat converted into a gunboat, the PT-59.
    More Details Hide Details In October, Kennedy was promoted to lieutenant. On November 2, PT-59, which included three former PT-109 crew members, took part with another boat in the successful rescue of 87 marines stranded on two rescue landing craft on the Warrior River at Choiseul Island which was held by the Japanese.
    In April 1943, he was assigned to Motor Torpedo Squadron TWO.
    More Details Hide Details On April 24, Kennedy took command of PT-109 which was based at Tulagi Island in the Solomon Islands. On the night of August 1–2, PT-109, on its 31st mission, was performing nighttime patrols near New Georgia in the Solomon Islands with PT-162 and PT-169. Kennedy spotted a Japanese destroyer nearby and attempted to turn to attack, when PT-109 was rammed suddenly at an angle and cut in half by the destroyer Amagiri, costing two PT-109 crew members their lives. Kennedy gathered his surviving ten crew members including those injured 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 three miles away. Despite re-injuring his back in the collision, Kennedy towed a badly burned crewman through the water to the island with a life jacket strap clenched between his teeth, and later to a second island, where his crew was subsequently rescued on August 8. Kennedy and Ensign Leonard Thom, his executive officer on PT-109, were both later awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism and the Purple Heart Medal for injuries.
  • 1942
    Age 24
    His first command was PT-101 from December 7, 1942, until February 23, 1943: It was a PT boat used for training while Kennedy was an instructor at Melville.
    More Details Hide Details He then led three Huckins PT boats—PT-98, PT-99, and PT-101, which were being relocated from MTBRON 4 in Melville, Rhode Island, back to Jacksonville, Florida and the new MTBRON 14 (formed February 17, 1943). During the trip south, he was hospitalized briefly in Jacksonville after diving into the cold water to unfoul a propeller. Thereafter, Kennedy was assigned duty in Panama and later in the Pacific theater, where he eventually commanded two more patrol torpedo (PT) boats.
    In January 1942, Kennedy was assigned to the ONI field office at Headquarters, Sixth Naval District, in Charleston, South Carolina.
    More Details Hide Details He attended the Naval Reserve Officer Training School at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, from July 27 to September 27 and then voluntarily entered the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons Training Center in Melville, Rhode Island. On October 10, he was promoted to lieutenant junior grade. He completed his training on December 2 and was assigned to Motor Torpedo Squadron FOUR.
  • 1941
    Age 23
    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 on December 7, 1941, before it and the September 11 attacks after it.
    More Details Hide Details 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. The US Special Forces had 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 US military newspaper Stars and Stripes who served with Special Forces in Vietnam. This bond was shown at Kennedy's funeral. At the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Kennedy's death, General Michael D. Healy, 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.
    He was commissioned an ensign on October 26, 1941, and joined the staff of the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C.
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    On September 24, 1941, after exercising for months to strengthen his back, and with the help of the director of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), former naval attaché to Joseph Kennedy, he joined the United States Naval Reserve (U.S. Navy Reserve since 2005).
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  • 1940
    Age 22
    Kennedy attempted to enter the Army's Officer Candidate School in 1940, but was medically disqualified for his chronic lower back problems.
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    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.
    More Details Hide Details The thesis became a bestseller under the title Why England Slept. He graduated from Harvard College cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in government, concentrating on international affairs, that year. Kennedy enrolled in, and audited classes at, the Stanford Graduate School of Business that fall. In early 1941, Kennedy left and helped his father write a memoir of his three years as an American ambassador, and then traveled throughout South America; including Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
  • 1939
    Age 21
    He then went to Czechoslovakia and Germany before returning to London on September 1, 1939, the day that Germany invaded Poland.
    More Details Hide Details Two days later, the family was in the House of Commons 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 before flying back to the U.S. from Foynes, Ireland to Port Washington, New York on his first transatlantic flight.
    In 1939, Kennedy toured Europe, the Soviet Union, the Balkans, and the Middle East in preparation for his Harvard senior honors thesis.
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  • 1938
    Age 20
    In June 1938, Kennedy sailed overseas with his father and older brother to work at the American embassy in London, where his father was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James's.
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  • TEENAGE
  • 1937
    Age 19
    In July 1937, Kennedy sailed to France—taking his convertible—and spent ten weeks driving through Europe with Billings.
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  • 1936
    Age 18
    Kennedy also sailed in the Star class and won the 1936 Nantucket Sound Star Championship.
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    In September 1936, Kennedy enrolled at Harvard College, 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."
    More Details Hide Details He tried out for the football, golf, and swimming teams and earned a spot on the varsity swimming team.
    He convalesced further at the Kennedy winter home in Palm Beach, then spent the spring of 1936 working as a ranch hand on the Jay Six cattle ranch outside Benson, Arizona.
    More Details Hide Details It is reported that ranchman Jack Speiden worked both brothers "very hard".
  • 1935
    Age 17
    In September 1935, he made his first trip abroad with his parents and his sister Kathleen to London intending to study under Harold Laski at the London School of Economics (LSE) as his older brother had done.
    More Details Hide Details Ill-health forced his return to America in October of that year, when he enrolled late and spent six weeks at Princeton University. He was then hospitalized for observation at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston.
  • 1934
    Age 16
    In June 1934, he was admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, the ultimate diagnosis there was colitis.
    More Details Hide Details Kennedy graduated from Choate in June of the following year. For the school yearbook, of which he had been business manager, Kennedy was voted the "most likely to succeed".
    During his Choate years, Kennedy was beset by health problems that culminated with his emergency hospitalization at New Haven Hospital in 1934, where doctors thought he might have leukemia.
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  • 1931
    Age 13
    In September 1931, Kennedy was sent to the The Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut for 9th through 12th grade.
    More Details Hide Details His older brother had already been at Choate for two years and was a football player and leading student. He spent his first years at Choate in his older brother's shadow, and compensated for this with rebellious behavior which 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 Kennedy took the cue and named his group "The Muckers Club", which included roommate and friend Kirk LeMoyne "Lem" Billings.
    In late April 1931, he required an appendectomy, after which he withdrew from Canterbury and recuperated at home.
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  • 1930
    Age 12
    In September 1930, Kennedy—then 13 years old—attended the Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut.
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  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1927
    Age 9
    In 1927, the Kennedy family moved to a stately twenty-room, Georgian-style mansion at 5040 Independence Avenue (across the street from Wave Hill) in the Hudson Hill neighborhood of Riverdale, Bronx, New York City.
    More Details Hide Details He attended the lower campus of Riverdale Country School, a private school for boys, from 5th to 7th grade. Two years later, the family moved to 294 Pondfield Road in the New York City suburb of Bronxville, New York, where Kennedy was a member of Scout Troop 2. The Kennedy family spent summers at their home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, and Christmas and Easter holidays at their winter home in Palm Beach, Florida.
  • 1917
    Born
    John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born at 83 Beals Street in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917, to businessman/politician Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy and philanthropist/socialite Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald-Kennedy.
    More Details Hide Details His grandfathers P. J. Kennedy and Boston Mayor John F. Fitzgerald were both Massachusetts politicians. All four of his grandparents were the children of Irish immigrants. Kennedy had an elder brother, Joseph Jr., and seven younger siblings; Rosemary, Kathleen, Eunice, Patricia, Robert, Jean, and Ted. Joseph Jr. was killed in action during World War II.
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