President John F. Kennedy

president John F Kennedy
President John F Kennedy

Number President:

John F. Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States.

Political Party:

Democratic.

When was John F. Kennedy born?

John F. Kennedy was born on May 29th, 1917.

Where was John F. Kennedy born?

John F. Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts.

How old was John F. Kennedy when he became president?

John F. Kennedy was elected at the age of 43.

What years was John F. Kennedy president?

John F. Kennedy was president for just one term for 2 years from 1961 to 1963.

When did John F. Kennedy die?

John F. Kennedy died at 46 on November 22nd, 1963.

How did John F. Kennedy die?

He was assassinated and died from a gunshot wound. 

John F. Kennedy’s Family

On May 29, 1917, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, at 83 Beals Street.

JFK’s father was Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. His mother, Rose Kennedy, had nine children, consisting of four boys and five girls. Jack (John Kennedy’s nickname) was the second child. He was named to honor John Francis Fitzgerald, Rose’s father, who was a mayor of Boston.

John F. Kennedy’s Siblings

  • Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr. (July 25, 1915)
  • Rose Marie Kennedy (September 13, 1918)
  • Kathleen Agnes Kennedy (February 20, 1920)
  • Eunice Mary Kennedy (July 10, 1921)
  • Patricia Kennedy (May 6, 1924)
  • Robert Francis Kennedy (November 20, 1925)
  • Jean Ann Kennedy (February 20, 1928)
  • Edward Moore Kennedy (February 22, 1932)

JFK’s Childhood Health

Jack was a sickly baby, and he suffered from childhood ailments such as measles, whooping cough, and chickenpox.

It was especially terrifying when on February 20, 1920, a barely 3-year-old Jack came down with scarlet fever, a life-threatening and contagious disease. 

President John F. Kennedy
President John F. Kennedy.

His father, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, would go to the hospital every day for about a month to be at Jack’s side until he recovered. But Jack was always sickly, and he would remain so for the rest of his life.

John F. Kennedy’s Privileged Background

When Jack turned 3, the whole Kennedy family transferred to a new residence just a few blocks away from their previous home in Brookline, a community outside Boston. It was a beautiful house with 12 rooms.

Jack’s dad was very hardworking and became a successful businessman. He had pledged to himself while still schooling at Harvard College that he would be a millionaire by the age of 35. 

He was very determined, although fitting in was difficult because they were Irish Catholics, and there was a lot of prejudice at the time.

Sibling Rivalry Between JFK and Joe Kennedy

Jack had an elder brother named Joe. Then, after him, four sisters, in sequence Rosemary, Kathleen, Eunice, and Patricia. Following the girls were Robert, Jean, and Teddy. There were nannies and house servants who helped Rose run the Kennedy household.

Summer was always a happy time for the Kennedys because they would all depart for their vacation place in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod. They swum, sailed, and played touch football.

The Kennedy kids, especially the boys, competed hard against each other. Their father even encouraged such competition amongst them.

On one occasion, Joe and Jack raced with their bicycles and collided head-on. Joe emerged from the collision unscathed, but Jack required 28 stitches from his injuries. 

Joe was two years older, and usually, when they competed, Joe had the upper hand. But Jack was the only real threat to Joe’s athletic superiority.

John F. Kennedy’s Education

John F. Kennedy went to Choate, a Connecticut boarding school for teenage boys. He was very popular and played various sports like basketball, tennis, football, and golf. He was also an avid reader. Jack even had a daily subscription to the New York Times. 

Harvard University campus
John F. Kennedy attended Harvard University.

He had a witty and independent mind, but he was not the best student academically. He wouldn’t study as much as he should, in most subjects, except his favorites which were English and History.

JFK finished his schooling in Choate and was admitted into Harvard University in 1936, where his elder brother Joe was already studying. Jack played football, but Joe always excelled more than him in this sport. 

Jack damaged a disk in his spine in his determination to play well. His recovery after this incident was incomplete, and his back problems continued to plague him for the rest of his life.

A Twist of Fate In the Quest For Greatness

Ironically, it was Joe who exclaimed as a young boy that he would become the first Catholic president of the country. He was extremely confident in this proclamation, and many people also strongly felt about his ambitions.

Jack lived in the shadow of Joe, but he was also active in extracurricular activities and sports and performed well, specifically in his Government and History classes. But his grades were average overall.

Left Alone Together in the USA

Joe and JFK were the only members of the Kennedy clan who were left in the States when their Dad, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, was selected as USA Ambassador to England. He brought the whole family with him to England, except his sons studying at Harvard.

Due to his father’s overseas government appointment, Jack developed an interest in European politics and also world events. 

He eventually enjoyed a summer vacation to England and other European countries, which gave him renewed vigor to elevate his history and government education. He also kept abreast of the current happenings around the world.

Lead Up to the War

JFK and Joe consistently received letters from their father informing them about the rising tensions and conflicts in Europe, which he feared would escalate into a full-blown war. 

American tanks
President Kennedy and his brother Joseph both fought during WWII.

Hitler and Mussolini were the strongmen of Germany and Italy, respectively, and harbored ambitions of taking over the land of other nations.

The fears of Joseph Patrick Kennedy became a reality on September 1, 1939, World War II began when Germany invaded Poland.

At around this time, Jack was graduating from Harvard. He wrote a thesis explaining why Great Britain was unprepared for war with Germany. It even became a published book titled Why England Slept.

JFK graduated from Harvard in June 1940. A cablegram from his father gave Jack praise on two aspects: That he was a smart guy and a swell guy at the same time.

Military Service of John F. Kennedy

Not long after college, Jack and Joe both joined the Navy. Joe was a pilot and was sent off on missions in Europe. Jack was made a Lieutenant, and his designation was in the South Pacific as the commander of the iconic PT-109, a patrol torpedo boat.

Lt. Kennedy and his 12 men were on a mission to halt Japanese ships from transmitting supplies to their soldiers. 

On August 2, 1943, Jack’s crew was scouting the waters looking for Japanese ships to torpedo. An enemy destroyer came in sight at full speed towards them. Jack tried to swerve the boat away but to no avail.

The Japanese destroyer rammed their boat, splitting it in half. Instantly killed were two men, and Jack was slammed with a hard force against the cockpit. His back pains returned because of this. Other crew members jumped off the boat as it burst into flames.

Up until sunrise, Jack was able to find other crew members in the water and towed them back safely on a piece of the boat to a small island that was several miles away. 

Six days later, Jack carved out a message on a coconut shell, which he gave to 2 native islanders who asked for help. The next day, rescuers reached them.

Death of Joe Kennedy

About a year later, Joe died when his plane exploded during Operation Aphrodite.

After Military Service

Upon returning to the USA, JFK was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his extraordinary leadership and courage. 

With the war about to end, Jack could choose the kind of work he wanted to do. His goals before were to be a writer or a teacher, but the whole scenario had changed with Joe’s untimely passing.

John F. Kennedy’s Political Path, Marriage, And Family

jfk west virginia 1960
John F Kennedy giving a campaign talk in Virginia in 1960.

JFK had serious discussions with his father. He was eventually convinced to run for Congress to represent the 11th congressional district of Massachusetts. He won in 1946. He served for three terms or a total of six years in the House, and in 1952, he became a United States Senator.

JFK Marries Jacqueline Bouvier

Not long after becoming Senator, 36-year-old JFK married 24-year-old Jacqueline Bouvier, a writer for the Washington Times-Herald.

Early in their marriage, his back gave him problems again, and he underwent two major operations. While recovering after surgery, he wrote a book about brave United States Senators who risked their political careers to fight for principles they believed in.

That book, Profiles in Courage, was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1957. It was also a memorable year for JFK’s family because it was also the year when his first child with Jacqueline Kennedy, Caroline, was born.

Jackie Onasis
Jackie Kennedy was the wife of JFK. After his death, she married Aristotle Onasis. This photo was taken in 1971.

JFK Blasts Into Politics

Jack was becoming very popular in political circles. He was almost selected to run for vice president in 1956. But JFK decided he would run for president in the next election.

In the run-up to the 1960 elections, JFK worked long and hard every day, traveling around the country on weekends. Eventually, on July 13, 1960, he was nominated as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate. Jack asked Lyndon Johnson, a Texas senator, to be his vice president.

President John F. Kennedy

In the presidential election on November 8, 1960, JFK overpowered Republican Vice President Richard Nixon in a very tightly fought race. 

President Richard Nixon
Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election.

Jack garnered a first in becoming president. He was the first Catholic president. Before he was inaugurated, John Jr., his second child, was born.

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States

January 20, 1961, was the day JFK was sworn in as president of the country. He asked the American people to know what they could do for the country, not what the country could do for them.

He also asked the world’s people to join with the USA to fight their common enemies: poverty, disease, tyranny, and war.

A vibrant White House

JFK, together with Jackie Kennedy and their two kids, brought a new kind of youthful vibrancy to the White House. They believed in the White House as a place to acknowledge American history, culture, and achievement. 

Accomplished individuals from all fields were invited over. Writers, actors, musicians, poets, scientists, athletes, and others were common sights in the White House.

Jacqueline also got her share of the limelight when she gathered some of the finest American art pieces and furniture. She also restored the rooms of the White House to reflect America’s creativity and history.

John F. Kennedy’s Accomplishments as President

JFK was greatly concerned about the possibility of nuclear war between the USA and the Soviet Union. He knew it would be tragic because of the potential death toll. 

After World War II, the former allies had grown suspicious of one another, but there never was any direct conflict between American and Soviet troops.

The Cold War

The Cold War was a confrontation between the communist government of the USSR and the democratic government of the USA.

Cold War facility
JFK was in power when nuclear war became very real threat.

Huge amounts of money were spent on nuclear arsenals on both sides. There are many cases when nuclear war could have erupted, like during the 1962 missile crisis with Cuba in the middle, which JFK handled with statesmanship and coolness that was unseen before. Or when it concerned the issue of the divided city of Berlin.

Leading by example

JFK was a workaholic. He woke up at 7 am and went to bed at 11 pm or 12 midnight or even later. Six newspapers were always on hand as he ate breakfast. He had meetings throughout the day and got reports from his advisers.

He wanted to get all slices of pertinent data before deciding on anything of national or international consequence. He asked the people to be the new pioneers in the New Frontier. For him, it was not a place but a new fresher way of thinking and acting.

He envisioned the USA to advance into the future with developments in science, education, economics, and other fields. He championed democracy and freedom for the whole world.

The Peace Corps

The Peace Corps is a creation of JFK. Americans can volunteer to work anywhere in the world where they are needed for their expertise. They help in the niches of education, health care, farming, and construction. 

Many people worldwide have had wonderful interactions with Peace Corps volunteers and have developed lifelong friendships with them.

Space Program

When Jack became president, the Soviet Union led the pack in space exploration, but he was determined for the USA to catch up and eventually overtake the Soviets.

Cape Canaveral
JFK at Cape Canaveral.

 

JFK requested and got approved by Congress for a $22 billion budget for Project Apollo. It targeted the goal of landing an American man on the moon before the decade ended.

Racial equality and civil rights

The USA had several domestic problems during the term of JFK as president. Even though the US Supreme Court had ruled in 1954 that there would be no more segregation in public schools, many schools in the southern states still refused to obey this law. There was segregation everywhere – not only in schools.

JFK believed that holding protests in the streets would only make white people angrier, and it would be next to impossible for Congress to agree with him to pass Civil Rights laws

But on June 11, 1963, he asked the American people on TV to end racism once and for all. He said that even though President Lincoln freed slaves, their heirs and grandsons were not completely free. 

He believed that all Americans, regardless of color, should enjoy a free and happy life.

A Great Presidency Cut Short

Kennedy lying in state
President Kennedy’s body is placed in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C.

November 22, 1963, was the fateful day when JFK was assassinated. He was in Dallas, Texas, to give speeches and was assassinated as he rode in a motorcade, waving to bystanders, through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas. Jacqueline Kennedy was by his side when President John F Kennedy was slain.

Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested on the day of the assassination and subsequently charged with JFK’s murder. However, on November 24, Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald in the basement of the Dallas police station. 

The Warren Commission was formed to investigate the JFK assassination, to which many questions have remained until now.

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