John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on May 29, 1917, the second oldest in a family of nine children. His great grandparents had come the United States from Ireland in the mid-1800, s after a famine caused severe poverty in that Country. Although their families had not come to the United States with much money, Both of John Kennedys grandfathers became political leaders in Boston. One of them John Fitzgerald, (for whom he was named), was elected mayor in 1905. John Kennedys Father, Joseph Patrick became a very wealthy businessman, he was and adviser to
President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the United States Ambassador to Great Britain from 1938 to 1940. John Kennedy (his family called him Jack,) moved to New York when He was ten years old. Since the family spent summer months at their home in Hyannis, Cape Cod, Jack still lived a good part of his life in Massachusetts. As a boy and a young man, he traveled to other parts of the United States and to other countries. After graduating from the Choate School in Connecticut in 1935, he went on to Harvard College and graduated in 1940.Order now
That same year he wrote a best selling book, alled, Why England Slept, it was about some of the decisions, which led to World War In 1941, John Kennedy joined the Navy. He became the commander of a small PT boat, assigned to the battle in the Pacific against the Japanese. One night while on patrol, a large enemy ship rammed Kennedys boat. Two men in the crew of thirteen were killed, and the rest led by Lt. Kennedy swam to a nearby deserted island. There they managed to survive mostly by eating coconuts, until they were rescued a week later.
After World War II, John n Kenney had to choose the kind of work he wanted to o. He considered becoming a teacher or a writer but soon he decided to run for political office. In 1946 he was elected to the U. S. Congress, representing a district in greater Boston, Kennedy a democrat served three terms (six years), in the House of Representatives, and in 1952 he was elected to the U. S. Senate. In 1953, he married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier. The following year he had a serious operation on his back. While recovering from surgery, he wrote a book about several U. S. enators, which had risked their careers to fight for the things in which they believed. The book, called Profiles in Courage, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1957.
That same year the Kennedys first child Caroline, was born. Kennedy had narrowly missed being picked as the Democratic Partys candidate for Vice President in 1956. Soon after, he began a long campaign to become President in 1960. At the convention on July 13, 1960, the Democrats chose Kennedy as their Presidential candidate. Kennedy asked Lyndon B. Johnson, a senator from Texas, to run with him for Vice President.
In the general election on November 8, 1960, Kennedy defeated Vice President Richard M. Nixon in a very close race, the popular vote was 34,226,731 for Kennedy and 34,108,157 for Nixon. The electoral vote was 303 for the Kennedy campaign and 219 for Nixon. Kennedy was the youngest man elected President and also the first Catholic. John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President on January 20, 1961. In his Inaugural Address, he spoke of the need for all Americans to be active citizens. Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country, he said.
He also asked the nations of the world to join together to fight what he called the ommon enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself. Soon after the election Kennedys second child was born John Jr. One of President Kennedys first important actions was creating the Peace Corps. Americans who join the Peace Corps go as volunteers to countries requesting assistance. They served as teachers and provided help in areas such as farming, health care and Kennedy also wanted Americas to travel to more distant destinations.
In May of 1961, after Alan Shepard became the first America astronaut to fly into space Kennedy asked Congress to spend more money on space exploration, with the goal of landing a an on the moon by the end of the decade. During his time as President JFK had to make difficult decisions. Many of the hardest choices concerned the relationship between our nation and the Soviet Union. Since World War II there had been a lot of anger and suspicion between the two countries but never any shooting between Russian and American troops this cold war was a struggle between the Soviet Unions communist system of government and Americas democratic system.
Because they distrusted each other both nations spent enormous sums of money building nucular weapons to use if a war begins hoping to build some trust etween their countries. President Kennedy and the soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev met in June 1961. One topic they discussed was the German city of Berlin. after World War II, Germany had been divided into two countries: West Germany and East Germany. West Germany like the United States, was a democratic country where people elected their leaders.
In East Germany a communist country, like the Soviet Union, the government owned all the farms and factories and made many decisions without the approval of the people. The city of Berlin was also divided. Through surrounded by East Germany, half of Berlin was part of West Germany. Many East Germans who did not want to live in a communist country had moved to West Berlin. During their meeting Kennedy and Khrushchev strongly disagreed about the future of Berlin. Later that summer the Soviets built a huge wall diving the two parts of Berlin.
For many Americans and the western Europeans, the Berlin wall became a symbol of communism. In the summer of 1963 JFK visited West Berlin and spoke to a large crowd near the wall. He said that America would support democracy in Berlin and that he looked forward to the The cold War heated up in October 1962, when an America spy plain secretly flew over Cuba and took photos of several military construction sites. the photos showed that the Soviets were building nuclear missile launchers in Cuba. Cubas communist government, led by Fidel Castro, was very friendly with the Soviet Union.
President Kennedy faced a very difficult decision. Should he ignore the missiles even though they were very close to the United States ?. Should he use force to remove the missiles, even at the risk of starting a nuclear war?. What other actions could he take? because he did ot want to let Cuba and the Soviet Union know that he knew about the missiles, Kennedy met in secret with his advisers for several days to discuss the problem. After many long and difficult meetings, he decided to place naval blockade, or ring of ships, around Cuba to prevent the Soviets from bringing in more military supplies.
Several day later, Khrushchev, agreed to remove the missiles and bring them back to the Soviet Union. In exchange the United States promised not to invade Cuba. The Cuban missile crisis had nearly caused a nuclear war. Many people around the world were impressed ith Kennedys leadership during these tense thirteen days. During the next year, Kennedy and Khrushchev set up a hot line, a special telephone connection between the Presidents office in the white house and the Soviets leaders office at the Kremlin in Moscow. They hoped this Hot Line would prevent a war from beginning by mistake.
In August 1963, the United States and the Soviet Union signed a treaty that outlawed nuclear bob test (sound), in the air, under water, and in outer space. The treaty did not prevent the two countries from building more weapons, but it id protect the world from the harmful effects of nuclear tests. Kennedy also asked the American people to think more about making peace with the Soviet Union. We all inhabit this small planet, he said We all breath the same air we all cherish our children While international issues demanded a lot of attention, Kennedy also had to deal with serious problems here in the United States.
In most southern states, schools, buses, restaurants, and other public places were racially segregated. there were separate schools, separate seats on bused and separate areas in restaurants for whites and blacks. State and local laws also prevented black Americans from voting . Since the 1950s many people Black and white had been working to change these laws. During the 1960 presidential campaign Martin Luther King Jr. ,one of the most famous leaders of the civil rights movement had been jailed for leading a protest in Georgia.
Kennedy called his wife Coretta Scott King and offered his Many African Americans the decided to vote for Kennedy Civil rights leaders however were disappointed with the slow and careful pace of President Kennedys efforts to ensure equality for all Americans. Kennedy believed in hallenging unfair laws in the courts rather than holding public demonstrations. He believed that demonstrations would anger many white southern members of congress whose help he needed to pass new laws and approve treaties. events however forced Kennedy to change his views.
In May 1961 a group of white and black people ignored segregation laws and traveled together by bus through the south. In several cities crowds of angry white people beat these freedom riders and burned their buses. Attorney General Robert Kennedy JFKs brother had to sent U. S. marshals to protect the freedom riders. heir actions eventually led to the desegregation of all buses and waiting rooms used for travel between states. In September 1962, the nation faced the threat of violence in the State of Mississippi. James Meredith, an African America and an Air Force veteran, applied and was admitted to the University of Mississippi.
However, when he arrived on campus, university officials would not let him go to class because he was black. Both John and Robert Kennedy had long talks over the telephone with the Mississippi governor, Ross Barnett. However, they failed to convince Barnett to allow James Meredith to attend lasses. In order to enforce the Constitution and to protect Meredith, Kennedy ordered the National Guard and federal marshals to the University. After a riot in which two people died and dozens were injured, Meredith registered for classes and segregation ended at Segregation had not ended everywhere, however.
Almost a year later, Alabama governor, George Wallace, who had promised to support segregation today, tomorrow and forever, would not allow African American students to attend the University of Alabama. After President Kennedy was forced once again to send soldiers to protect tudents who wanted nothing more than an education, he decided to speak to the nation on television about civil rights, He said Americans had a legal and a moral responsibility to provide equal access to education and guarantee voting rights for all citizens.
In addition to all the problems and challenges of being President, John Kennedy also had to fulfill the role of our nations head of state. He and his wife Jacqueline hosted dinners and parties in Washington for the leaders of other nations. They also traveled to Latin America and Europe, because Mrs. Kennedy believed that the nations capital should be he center for the arts and culture as well as the center of government and law, she invited many musicians, writers, and dancers to the White House to perform.
On November 21, 1963 President Kennedy flew to Texas to give several political speeches. The next day as his car drove slowly past cheering crowds in Dallas shots rang out, Kennedy was seriously wounded and died a short time later. Within two hours of the shooting, police arrested Lee Harvey Oswald, and charged him with the murder. On November 24, 1963, a Dallas man, Jack Ruby, shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald, before there was a chance to put him on trial.