John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States.
Hewas the youngest president ever to be elected, the first Roman Catholicpresident, and the first president to be born in the 20th century. Although, hedidn’t get the chance to live out his term and possible another one, he impactedthe entire world. No other president was so popular, especially with the youngpeople. John F. Kennedy was born May 29th, 1917, child of Joseph P.
and RoseKennedy. John had eight brothers and sisters: Joseph P. Jr. (1915), Rosemary(1918), Kathleen (1920), Eunice (1921), Patricia (1924), Robert F.Order now
(1925), Jean(1928) and Edward M. (1932). All of the children were born in Brookline,Massachusetts. They were all very competitive due to their parents.
The onlything that was important to them was winning. John grew up in the nineteentwenties and thirties at his birth place of Brookline, Massachusetts. John hadonce stated, “life is unfair,”1 yet for him the statement wasdefinitely not true. His childhood consisted of many things.
Coming from awealthy family let him have the freedom to do what most kids couldn’t. Thatstill didn’t keep him from behaving like other kids. He and his brothers andsisters all participated in things such as sailboat races, tennis matches, oreven just a simple game of touch football. All family members were alwaysencouraged to get involved with government issues. Small talk wasn’t allowed atthe Kennedy dinner table2. They discussed world and national issues.
The impactof these discussions wouldn’t be seen until later. Joseph and Rose were tryingto prepare their sons for public life and prepare their daughters for marriagesto distinguished young men. In 1937, the Kennedy family moved to Great Britainso that John’s father could become the American ambassador there for threeyears. John stayed in the United States for an education at Harvard University. John was a very good student at Harvard, yet he didn’t make the high grades thathis brother had. So, John joined two clubs and spent most of his time working ona newspaper published at Harvard, “Crimson”3.
When he had finished hisschool term his father decided to let him tour Europe. When he was there hestarted to become interested in wars and politics, after noticing Hitler’sactions. John went back there the following summer and saw how Hitler never gaveup and continued to strengthen his army. He knew of the war that was sooncoming. The United States had sided with Great Britain, so he knew he would haveto go into the war. So, he went to enter the Air Corps, but was turned awaybecause of his back problems.
Instead he went for the position on naval officerand passes the health analysis. He was assigned to the intelligence division, hethought it was very boring. Shortly after Pearl Harbor was attacked, John wassent for motor torpedo (PT boat) training4. Officer Kennedy soon becameLieutenant Kennedy. In Tulagi, John was assigned to a dirty old looking boatthat had already been through nine months of combat. John experienced his firstreal combat when his boat was attacked by a Japanese fighter plane.
Only two menwere injured that time. They continued to stay there until one night when a fullsize Japanese ship came full speed at Kennedy’s boat. The boat was demolishedand the Japanese thought that all of the men had been killed. All of the menwere forced to swim to Plum Pudding Island , three and one half miles away, withKennedy leading them. After his triumph he was promoted to Full Lieutenant andwas awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for saving his crew.
He alsoreceived a Purple Heart for the severe back injury he suffered from thecollision. After that, he took command of another PT boat and took part in manymore missions. For John one particularly bad thing happened in this war, hisbrother died. Which impacted his life so greatly. The family had expected hisbrother Joe to run for public office.
Now that he was gone, John was now theeldest son and it was now his responsibility. In 1946, he had the chance to runfor Congress. Though he was still weak from his war injuries, he campaignedaggressively. He won that election that November, he was only 295. He servedthree terms as a Democratic Congressman, from 1947 until1953.
In 1952 he ran forU. S. senate against Henry Cabot Lodge. He won that election and less than a yearlater he enhanced his appeal to the people. He married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier onSeptember 12, 1953.
He was a very popular and successful Senator. He had almostbecome Stevenson’s vice presidential running mate in 1956. His speech onconcession brought him into over 40 million homes in America. He quickly becameone of the most famous political figures in the country. Already his campaignfor 1960 nomination had begun. Kennedy had to make extreme efforts toward thiscampaign.
People were saying that no Roman Catholic man could ever becomepresident. His mission was to prove them wrong. The press loved him, he and hiswife appeared on magazine covers, photographers followed them everywhere. He hadto do a number of speeches and appearances. So, to transport him and his staffaround the country, his father bought him a forty passenger Convair aircraft6.
In January 1960, Kennedy formally announced his presidential candidacy. Hisrivals were Senators Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota and Lyndon B. Johnson ofTexas. Kennedy knocked Humphrey out of the way and was still battling the rumorsof a catholic president. He dealt with that by winning the primary in WestVirginia, which is primarily Protestant.
He was nominated on the first ballot,and chose Johnson as his running mate. Kennedy narrowly won the general electionagainst Nixon. He was inaugurated on January 20, 1961. At the inauguration iswhere he made his famous speech. The speech was about America’s revolutionaryheritage. Which is when he made this famous quote,” Ask not what yourcountry can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.
“7 Kennedy’sfirst year in office brought him considerable success. Congress passed a billincreasing minimum wage, and Congress passed his bill to create the Peace Corps. Which was an agency to perform social and humanitarian services overseas. Theprogram’s goal was to create peace and friendship with nations. Within two yearsthe Peace Corps were working in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Kennedy raninto some problems after the conservative Republicans joined with the SouthernDemocrats to stop legislation they didn’t like.
A Medicare bill, a civil rightsbill, and a bill to create a Cabinet-level Department of Urban Affairs were alldefeated8. Kennedy didn’t lose all of his approval because he get some of hisbills passed. Congress passed a bill to lower tariffs, authorized a purchase ofover $100 million in United Nations bonds, and Congress appropriated more than$1 billion dollars to send a man to the moon. Kennedy began to lose popularityafter he started forcing universities in the south to accept black students.
People thought that he was limiting their rights as citizens. He continued tospeak out against segregation and lost even more populairty. In 1959, afterseveral attempts, a revolution led by Fidel Castro finally overthrew the Cubandictator Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar. During the next two years Castro becamevery hostile towards the United States. After some problems with $1 billiondollars in properties and companies owned by the U. S.
, Castro began to proclaimhis belief in Communism. Cuba then became part of the cold war. Kennedy approvedan invasion of Cuba by CIA trained Cuban exiles. In April 1961, more then 1000exiles landed in Cuba at a place called Bay of Pigs. Their plan was to moveinland and join with anti-Castro forces to stage a revolt. Castro’s forces werethere to meet the invaders, and the revolt didn’t happen.
The CIA promised airsupport, but that never came. The exiles were taken as prisoners. The prisonerswere released in exchange for food and medical supplies valued at $53 million. In March 1961, Kennedy introduced the Alliance for Progress, which wouldstrengthen democratic institution in the Latin American nation to prevent themfrom doing what Cuba did.
In August in was established by the charter of Puntedel Este. This would be a Latin American version of the Marshall Plan. All LatinAmerican nations except Cuba joined , pledging ” to bring our peopleaccelerated economic progress and broader social justice within the framework ofpersonal dignity and individual liberty. “9 This brought the U. S popularityin Latin America.
On June 3, 1961, in Vienna, Autstria, Kennedy and Khrushchevmet and reviewed the relationship between the U. S and the U. S. S.
R. . There was alot of hostility, considering that there was a shooting down of a U. S spy planein Soviet air space.
The Bay of Pigs invasion created hostility too. NOagreements were reached on any important issues. The Soviet premier actuallymade it clear that the policies toward the Untied States would be even morestrict. In August 1961, the Communists ordered that there be a wall put upbetween East and West Berlin. West Germany was under the control of the US,France and Britain.
Those countries protested the wall, but since East Germanywas Communist, it was done anyway. Allied forced weren’t even allowed to travelthrough Berlin. This was the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This was theclosest the world’s ever been to nuclear war. Khrushchev decided to supply Cubawith nuclear missiles that would be in range of the Eastern United States.
Hedenied it when asked if he was supplying Cuba with missiles, but in the summeror 1962 there a US spy plane photographed a construction site managed by theSoviets and then spotted a missile on October 14th. For seven days Kennedy metwith advisors on how to handle and respond to this, while the administrationcarried on as if nothing was wrong. On October 22nd, Kennedy told the nationabout the missiles, demanded that the USSR remove the missiles and declared thewater around Cuba a quarantine zone. Kennedy warned the USSR that if Cubaattacked the US it would be considered an attack on the US by USSR itself. Troops were sent to Florida to prepare for invading Cuba and air units werealerted. American vessels blockaded any Soviet ships that looked suspicious andsearched them.
For several days Soviet ships avoided the quarantine zone whileKennedy and Khrushchev discussed this. On October 26th Khrushchev agreed toremove all of the missiles. Before the US could respond to that note, Krushchevsent another trying to negotiate other terms. The USSR removed and dismantledall of the mistled and offered the US an on-site inspection. Kennedy promisednot to invade Cuba and to remove missiles from Turkey.
Cuba, angry at the Sovietsubmission refused the promised inspection. US spy planes revealed that themissile bases were being dismantled. Kennedy was a hero, he had avoided nuclearwar and possibly World War III. As a result of him displaying courage andstrength. On November 22, 1963, President and Mrs. Kennedy were in Dallas,Texas.
They were trying to win support from the state that Kennedy had barelycarried in 1960. AS the motorcade approached an underpass, two shots were firedin rapid succession. One bullet passed through Kennedy’s neck and struckGovernor Connally in the back. The other bullet hit the president in the head. His car sped to Parkland Hospital. At 1:00PM he was pronounced dead, he hadnever regained consciousness.
Less then 2 hours after the shooting, on theresidential plane, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th president of theUnited States. That afternoon, Lee Harvey Oswald, who was employed in thewarehouse, was arrested in a movie theatre and charged with murder. On November24 the body of President Kennedy was carried on a horse drawn carriage from theWhite House to the Rotunda of the Capitol. 10 Hundreds of thousands of peoplefiled passed the coffin of the president. The grave was marked by an eternalflame that was lit by his wife and his brothers.