The Life and Death of President John F. Kennedy Essay Example
The Life and Death of President John F. Kennedy Essay Example

The Life and Death of President John F. Kennedy Essay Example

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  • Pages: 13 (3400 words)
  • Published: April 5, 2019
  • Type: Autobiography
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President Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917, in Brooklin, Massachusetts (a suburb of Boston). He had eight siblings: Joseph Jr., Rosemary, Kathleen, Eunice, Patricia, Robert F., Jean, Edward M., and "Ted".

As the Kennedy children matured, their parents emphasized the importance of cultivating their own talents and interests. While family loyalty was valued, there existed a strong undercurrent of competition among the siblings. Jack, who was commonly referred to as Jack within his family, and his older brother Joe were particularly fierce rivals. Despite being occasionally reserved and timid, Jack possessed the ability to assert himself confidently in disputes with his elder sibling. The boys derived pleasure from participating in touch football.

John Kennedy attended elementary schools in Brookline and Riverdale. In 1930, when he was 13 years old, his fath


er sent him to the Canterbury School in New Milford, Conn. The next year, he transferred to Choate Academy in Wallingford, Conn. Kennedy graduated from Choate in 1935 at the age of 18. His classmates voted him "most likely to succeed."

Kennedy wrote a senior thesis at Harvard on why Britain had not been ready for war. The resulting book titled Why England Slept became a best-seller. Graduating cum laude in 1940 from Harvard, Kennedy then enrolled in Stanford University's graduate business school but dropped out six months later. After taking a trip through South America, Kennedy enlisted as a seaman in the U.S. Navy.

Kennedy was stationed in Washington, D.C. for a few months before applying for sea duty after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He was assigned to a PT boat squadron in late 1942 and commissioned as an ensign afte

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learning to command one of the small craft.

On August 2, 1943, during a patrol near the Soloman Islands in the South Pacific, Kennedy's PT boat was sliced in half by a Japanese destroyer. Throughout the night, Kennedy and 10 other men clung to the wreckage, resulting in two crew members losing their lives. Despite sustaining a back injury himself, Kennedy instructed his men to swim to a nearby island the next morning. He then spent five hours towing a wounded crewman to shore. For four days following that incident, Kennedy searched for help in the water until he convinced friendly locals on Cross Island to seek assistance on August 7th. Finally, on that same day, his crew was rescued. As an acknowledgement of his heroism and leadership abilities, Kennedy received both the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Purple Heart for being injured while fighting in combat. Lieutenant Kennedy was subsequently brought back to the United States by the navy in December 1943.

His back was causing him pain and he was experiencing malaria. Kennedy spent the remainder of his naval service as an instructor and in different military hospitals. Later, he pursued a brief career as a newspaper reporter.

John's family initially expected him to pursue a career as a writer or teacher, while his brother Joe had aspirations of becoming a politician. However, Joe's sudden death in 1944 altered their plans. Years later, as a U.S. Senator, Kennedy reflected on the impact of his brother's passing and stated that it was the driving force behind his venture into politics. Kennedy also mentioned that if anything were to happen to him, Bobby would take his

place in the Senate. Moreover, if Bobby met a similar fate, Teddy would assume the responsibility.

In 1946, Kennedy officially embarked on his political journey by running for the U.S. House of Representatives. Despite facing tough competition in Massachusetts' heavily Democratic 11th Congressional District, Kennedy emerged victorious over nine rivals to secure the party's nomination and defeat his Republican opponent.

In 1946, Kennedy's brothers, sisters, and mother played a crucial role in supporting his campaign. They organized teas at voters' homes to help him secure the nomination. However, Kennedy's father held isolationist beliefs, was conservative, and had significant wealth. As a result, he did not actively engage in Kennedy's political pursuits, which made him a polarizing figure.

Kennedy joined Congress in January 1947 and soon after fell seriously ill. His doctors identified a malfunction in his adrenal glands and prescribed lifelong daily medication to manage the ailment.

Kennedy, as a member of Congress, backed most of President Harry S. Truman's social welfare endeavors. He effectively secured victory in the House elections of both 1948 and 1950.

In April 1952, Kennedy declared that he would run against Republican Senator

Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. Despite Lodge's popularity and legislative experience, it appeared likely that he would secure another term in office.

In the campaign, Kennedy received support from his siblings, their spouses, and their mother. Despite the fact that the Republican candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower won in Massachusetts during the 1952 election, Kennedy managed to defeat Lodge with a margin of 70,637 votes.

In 1951, Kennedy met his future wife at a dinner party in Washington, D.C.

Jacqueline Lee Bouvier, a wealthy Wall Street broker named John V.'s daughter.


III attended Vassar College and the Sorbonne in Paris, while also meeting Kennedy at George Washington University. Later on, she worked as a photographer for the Washington Times-Herald. On September 12, 1953, Bouvier III married Kennedy. Their first child was born on August 23, 1956 and remained unnamed at that time. Subsequently, their daughter Caroline was born on November 27, 1957 followed by their son John F.

Jr., was born on November 25, 1960. Another son, Patrick Bouvier, was born prematurely
on August 7th, 1963 and passed away on August 9, 1963. Five years after JFK's death, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis married Aristotle Onassis, who was a Greek millionaire.
Senator Kennedy initially focused on assisting Massachusetts and New England. He sponsored bills to support local industries like fishing, textile manufacturing, and watchmaking. Kennedy served on the Senate Labor Committee and the Government Operations Committee, which was chaired by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin.

Robert Kennedy's brother worked as an assistant counsel for the Government Operations Committee staff for a while.

During that period, McCarthy was the main cause of controversy in American politics.

McCarthy was lauded for his efforts to expose communist influence within the government, but he also drew condemnation for disregarding civil liberties during his investigations. Kennedy held the belief that McCarthy had misused his authority and brought dishonor upon the Senate. While he was not present when the Senate denounced McCarthy in 1954, Kennedy later expressed that he would have voted in favor of the condemnation.

During his initial tenure in the Senate, Kennedy grappled with significant back pain. In both October 1954 and February 1955, he underwent surgeries to address this injury. Throughout his recovery period, Kennedy

authored a book which showcased acts of bravery by various individuals from the United States.

In 1957, John F. Kennedy was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Biography for his book Profiles in Courage by Senators.

In 1957, Kennedy joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a significant role in Congress, where he voiced his opposition to the Republican administration's foreign policy and endorsed a plan to boost aid for underdeveloped nations.

Kennedy supported moderate laws to tackle the supposed corruption within labor unions. He participated in a Senate committee that examined racketeering in labor-management relationships, while his brother Robert worked as counsel for the committee.

The Kennedys and other committee members had intense disputes with labor leaders, such as James R. Hoffa from the Teamsters union.

In June 1956, Democratic leaders became increasingly supportive of nominating Kennedy for Vice-President. At the party's national convention in Chicago, Kennedy delivered the speech nominating former Governor Adlai E.

Stevenson of Illinois was selected by the delegates as the opponent against Eisenhower for the second time. Kennedy made great efforts to secure the vice-presidential nomination but was ultimately defeated by Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee after a closely contested battle.

Kennedy started his campaign for the 1960 presidential nomination immediately after the 1956 convention. He tirelessly campaigned on weekends, and in 1958, he secured re-election to the Senate with a majority of 874,608 votes.

Many Democratic leaders believed that Kennedy faced several obstacles as a presidential candidate. His religion, being Roman Catholic, was considered his biggest drawback. Alfred E. Smith, the only other Roman Catholic to receive a major political party's nomination for President, was heavily defeated in 1928. Additionally, Kennedy's age, family wealth, and

limited experience in international affairs were seen as potential shortcomings. Certain Democrats opposed Kennedy due to perceiving him as too conservative and because he had never actively opposed Senator McCarthy.

Kennedy's strategy for winning the presidential nominations relied on winning as many state primary elections as possible. He believed that these victories would demonstrate his ability to win the presidency. As a result, Kennedy participated in and emerged victorious in seven state primaries.

During the Democratic national convention, Kennedy faced off against Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri, and Stevenson for the presidential nomination. However, Kennedy came out as the victor on the first ballot. At Kennedy's request, the delegates then nominated Johnson as the Vice-President.

The Republican Party chose Vice-President Richard M. Nixon as their presidential nominee, pitting him against Kennedy. In a strategic move, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., who had previously been Kennedy's opponent and was currently serving as the U.S. delegate to the UN, was picked as Nixon's running mate.

The 1960 campaign was a highly contested election with both candidates being young, vigorous campaigners. Initially, the majority of experts predicted Nixon's victory due to his advantage of being Vice-President under the highly popular President Eisenhower.

However, Kennedy was not as unfamiliar as some individuals had thought. His good looks, wealth, and appealing spouse had garnered considerable attention in newspapers and magazines. Television also played a significant role in boosting Kennedy's popularity during his four televised debates with Nixon. His composure effectively dispelled doubts regarding his readiness for the presidency. These debates were historic as they were the first instance of presidential candidates engaging in face-to-face discussions on campaign matters.


emphasized the accomplishments of the Eisenhower administration, while Kennedy promised to lead Americans towards a "New Frontier" and criticized the Republicans for letting the United States lag behind Russia in the Cold War.

Kennedy won the popular vote by a slim margin of less than 120,000 votes over Nixon. However, Kennedy emerged as the clear winner with a majority of electoral college votes. In particular, Kennedy obtained 303 electoral votes while Nixon received 219 electoral votes. Furthermore, Senator Harry F. Byrd from Virginia secured 15 electoral votes.

Kennedy assumed his role as President on January 20, 1961, inheriting a range of challenges. These included escalating racial tensions, unemployment, and a sluggish economy within the country. Internationally, he grappled with the expanding reach of Communist influence and the looming threat of nuclear warfare.

The program called The New Frontier, which Kennedy named, had a slow beginning.

In April 1961, the 87th Congress approved aid for economically depressed areas. Measures sponsored by the administration were finally passed. In May, Congress also approved an increase in the minimum hourly wage from $1 to $1.25. Then, in September 1962, Congress passed the President's Trade Expansion Act which granted extensive powers to the President to reduce tariffs and promote free trade with the European Common Market.

Kennedy's U.S. Peace Corps, established in March 1961 through an executive order and later authorized by Congress, was one of his most successful programs.

The government organization known as the Peace Corps dispatched many Americans to developing nations with the aim of enhancing their living conditions. This organization was often called "Kennedy's Corps" by people in other countries, as it mirrored President Kennedy's enthusiasm. However, Kennedy encountered significant obstacles in

his legislative agenda. Congress turned down his suggestions for a cabinet-level Department of Urban Affairs and healthcare for senior citizens. These measures were eventually passed during President Johnson's tenure. Furthermore, Kennedy's agricultural program also suffered defeats.

Kennedy reshaped the country's defense strategies by enhancing conventional weapons, aiming to be ready for non-nuclear conflicts and making every possible endeavor to prevent the use of nuclear weapons.

In March of 1962, the steelworkers union and major steel producers reached an agreement that boosted workers' benefits without a wage increase. President Kennedy commended the contract, reasoning that it could deter inflation. However, on April 10th, the United States Steel Corporation spearheaded a proposal to hike steel prices by $6 per ton. In response, President Kennedy strongly criticized the move, accusing it of causing avoidable inflation. Consequently, the companies retracted the price increase.

In May, the New York Stock Exchange witnessed a significant price decline, which was the most severe drop since 1929. Many individuals associated this decrease with the actions taken by the Kennedy administration. They believed that how the President dealt with steel companies indicated a negative outlook towards business. To address these claims, the President delivered a speech discussing three prevailing ideas, referred to as "myths," that could impede effective action in our domestic affairs. These myths encompassed the belief that the federal debt is excessively large, the perception that the federal government is excessively massive, and the notion that business lacks confidence in his administration.

The President provided support to businesses through tax benefits offered to companies that invest in new equipment. In 1963, a $10 billion tax reduction plan was introduced by the President with

the objective of lowering corporate taxes. The underlying reasoning behind this decision was to enable the public to have increased disposable income available for spending.

By increasing spending, new business would be created, and the taxes received from a growing economy would surpass the revenue lost in the tax cut.

During the Kennedy administration, there was a significant focus on equal rights for black Americans. In 1961, a group of both black and white freedom riders traveled to Montgomery, Alabama to challenge local segregation laws. This resulted in violent riots, leading Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to intervene by dispatching U.S. marshals.

The following year, James Meredith faced opposition when he became the first black student enrolled at the University of Mississippi. The backlash led to riots in Oxford, prompting President Kennedy to deploy 3,000 federal troops with the goal of restoring order.

In 1963, demands for civil and economic equality from black citizens grew stronger nationwide. Protests and demonstrations took place in both northern and southern states. Birmingham, Alabama experienced rioting in May while President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard in June to enforce integration at the University of Alabama. In September, the Guard was again federalized to ensure integration across three cities within Alabama.

On August 28th of that same year, around 200,000 individuals participated in a Freedom March held in Washington D.C., demanding equal rights for blacks.

Kennedy called on Congress to pass a law requiring hotels, motels, and restaurants to serve customers regardless of their race in response to the growing needs of the black community.

The President urged Congress to grant the Attorney General the authority to file lawsuits in court on behalf of citizens who

were unable to pursue legal action themselves, with the goal of desegregating schools. He emphasized the need for comprehensive civil rights legislation and called upon all branches of government to unequivocally reject racial discrimination in American life and law. In the 1962 elections, Kennedy's Democratic party gained four Senate seats and lost only two seats in the House. This was the third time in the 1900s that the ruling party increased its representation in Congress during a midterm election. During his second year as President, Kennedy appointed two Supreme Court justices, one of whom was Byron R.

White, who served as Deputy Attorney General, was followed by Arthur J., who became Secretary of Labor.

Goldberg is the name.

During their time in the White House, the Kennedy family introduced a sense of youthful energy and informality. Caroline and John, Jr., who were the youngest children of a President to reside there in over sixty years, captivated the nation with Caroline's entertaining behavior and witty remarks.

Many countries had women who imitated Jacqueline Kennedy's fashionable clothing and hairstyle.

In 1961, Mrs Kennedy traveled to Europe with her husband, and wherever she went, large groups of people gathered. President Kennedy introduced himself at a Paris luncheon by stating, "I am the person who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris . . . " In March 1962, Mrs Kennedy visited Pakistan and India without her husband.

Mrs Kennedy was commended for her renovation of the White House. She collected furnishings from previous Presidents and transformed the mansion into a historic showplace and a popular tourist attraction.

The President appointed a Special Advisor on the Arts to acknowledge and assist the creative arts. Moreover,

several artists were extended invitations to visit the White House.

On April 17, 1961, a group of Cuban rebels attempted to overthrow Fidel Castro, the Communist-backed dictator. The invasion had been planned by the United States and was ultimately unsuccessful. President Kennedy took responsibility for the failed endeavor.

In October 1962, the United States discovered that Russia had positioned missiles on Cuba that could target U.S. cities. To counter this threat, President Kennedy initiated a naval blockade to stop the delivery of Russian missiles and mobilized approximately 14,000 Air Force reservists. The situation escalated and war seemed imminent for a week until Russian Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev ordered the removal of all Soviet offensive missiles. As a result, President Kennedy lifted the blockade.

In 1961, Russia planned to give Communist East Germany control over the air and land supply routes of West Berlin. This was an attempt by Russia to end the joint control of Berlin by the United States, Britain, France, and Russia that had been established after World War II. The Western nations strongly objected to any violation of West Berlin's freedom.

In June 1961, Kennedy and Khrushchev met in Vienna, Austria to discuss Berlin. However, no resolution was reached and the situation worsened with both countries bolstering their military forces. In August, the East Germans constructed a wall in Berlin to impede people's escape to the West. In response, Kennedy mobilized approximately 145,000 National Guard and reserve members to reinforce U.S. defense. They were discharged around 10 months afterwards.

In 1961, the United States implemented the Alliance for Progress, a decade-long initiative offering assistance to Latin-American nations that committed to implementing democratic reforms. The primary objective of

this program was to promote social and political advancement while simultaneously combatting poverty.

In 1961, Kennedy was interviewed by the editor of Izvestia, which is the Russian government newspaper and also happens to be Khrushchev's son-in-law. The entire interview was later published by Izvestia.

In 1962, Congress authorized the acquisition of bonds worth up to $100 million to provide financial assistance to the U.N.

While the Western Atlantic alliance remained intact, President Kennedy encountered difficulties in creating a unified NATO nuclear force due to President Charles de Gaulle's decision to exclude France from it. De Gaulle, on the other hand, advocated for an independent role for his country.

In the summer of 1963, Kennedy travelled to several European countries including West Germany, Italy, Ireland, and Great Britain.

In 1961 and 1962, President Kennedy deployed U.S. military advisers to Southeast Asia in response to the Communist menace in South Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos. Throughout the summer and autumn of 1963, the United States condemned the harsh treatment of Buddhists by Ngo Dinh Diem's South Vietnamese government. Numerous Buddhist leaders and students who protested against Diem's regime were imprisoned. To tackle this problem more effectively, Kennedy designated Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., a former Republican senator and vice-presidential nominee, as ambassador to South Vietnam in 1963.

After a three-year unofficial test ban, both Russia and the United States resumed testing atomic weapons in September 1961. The U.S. conducted its tests underground to prevent harmful fallout, while the Russians carried out their tests openly. However, in April 1962, the United States decided to resume atmospheric testing above the Pacific Ocean.

In July 1963, Russia, the United States, and Great Britain signed a treaty prohibiting atomic testing

in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater. However, underground testing was still allowed. It is worth noting that this treaty did not address the unresolved matter of internal inspections which had caused delays in previous negotiations. Additionally, several non-nuclear countries also became signatories to this treaty.

The treaty was approved by the U.S. Senate in September with a vote of 80 to 19.

This section is found in a separate file that includes more detailed information. It specifically focuses on the topic of Kennedy's Assassination.

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