John F Kennedy Bio
John F. Kennedy was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States, during the height of the Cold War. He was born with a middle name Fitzgerald on May 29, 1917, in Brookline, Massachusetts. Besides, his name is often abbreviated as JFK.
His tenure was from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. The majority of his presidency dealt with managing relations with the Soviet Union. Prior to becoming president, he served as a member of the Democratic Party, and Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as the Senate.
John F Kennedy parents were businessman/politician, Joseph Patrick (Joe) Kennedy, and philanthropist/socialite, Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald Kennedy. The former U.S president had an elder brother, Joseph Jr., and seven younger siblings.
Military decorations and awards
John F Kennedy received military decorations and awards. They included Navy and Marine Corps Medal, Purple Heart, American Defense Service Medal, and American Campaign Medal. Moreover, he received World War II Victory Medal as well as the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three stars.
In April 1945, Kennedy’s father arranged a position for his son as a special correspondent for Hearst Newspapers. The assignment kept John F Kennedy’s name in the public eye and exposed him to journalism as a possible career. He also worked as a correspondent that same year in May, covering the Potsdam Conference and other events.
Kennedy’s elder brother, Joe, was the family’s political standard-bearer. Moreover, their father had tapped Joe to seek the Presidency. Joe’s death during the war in 1944 changed that course. Thus, the assignment fell to Kennedy as the second eldest of the Kennedy siblings.
House of Representatives (1947–1953)
Kennedy’s father financed and ran his campaign under the slogan “The New Generation Offers a Leader”. Consequently, John F Kennedy won the Democratic primary with 12 percent of the vote, defeating ten other candidates.
Even though Republicans took control of the House in the 1946 elections, Kennedy defeated his Republican opponent in the general election, taking 73 percent of the vote. Alongside Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy, Kennedy was one of several World War II veterans elected to Congress that year.
He served in the House of Representatives for six years, joining the influential Education and Labor Committee and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. John F Kennedy concentrated his attention on international affairs. He supported the Truman Doctrine as the appropriate response to the emerging Cold War.
JFK also supported Public housing and opposed the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, which restricted the power of labor unions. The 35th president of the United States also agreed to Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 and he deplored the “Loss of China. The Nationality Act required Communists to register with the government.”
Senate-2 Terms (1953–1960)
John F Kennedy ran for Senate against Republican three-term incumbent, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. His campaign slogan was “Kennedy Will Do More for Massachusetts”. His father financed and managed his candidacy again and Kennedy defeated Henry Lodge by 70,000 votes for the Senate seat.
At the start of his first term, John F Kennedy focused on Massachusetts-specific issues. He sponsored bills to help the fishing, textile manufacturing, and watchmaking industries. In 1954, Senator Kennedy voted in favor of the Saint Lawrence Seaway which would connect the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.
Three years later, Kennedy chaired a special committee to select the five greatest U.S. Senators in history so their portraits could decorate the Senate Reception Room. In 1957, John F Kennedy joined the Senate Labor Rackets Committee. He joined with his brother Robert, who was chief counsel, to investigate crime infiltration of labor unions.
Civil Rights Act
One of the matters demanding Kennedy’s attention in the Senate was President Eisenhower’s bill for the Civil Rights Act of 1957. John F Kennedy cast a procedural vote against it, 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. The former President 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.
In 1958, John F Kennedy authored A Nation of Immigrants which he published later in 1964. The book analyzed the importance of immigration in the country’s history as well as proposals to re-evaluate immigration law. John F Kennedy was re-elected to a Senate second term in 1958, defeating Republican opponent, Vincent J. Celeste. JFK defeated Vincent by a margin of 874,608 votes, the largest margin in the history of Massachusetts politics.
In the aftermath of his re-election, Kennedy began preparing to run for president by traveling throughout the U.S. with the aim of building his candidacy for 1960.
On January 2, 1960, Kennedy announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. Though some questioned his age and experience, his charisma and eloquence earned him numerous supporters. During the 1960 campaign, Kennedy proposed an overhaul of American immigration and naturalization laws to ban discrimination based on national origin. He saw this proposal as an extension of his planned civil rights agenda as president.
These reforms later became law through the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which 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. The late president’s brother, Senator Edward Kennedy helped steer the legislation through the Senate.
John F. Kennedy’s swearing-in as the 35th president occasioned at noon on January 20, 1961. 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.”
What did JFK do?
He added, “All this will not end in the first one hundred days. Nor will it end 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, Kennedy 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.”
Many might ask what did president John F Kennedy do? The 35th president of the United States preferred the organizational structure of a wheel with all the spokes leading to the president. He was ready and willing to make the increased number of quick decisions required in such an environment. John F Kennedy selected a mixture of experienced and inexperienced people to serve in his cabinet. “We can learn our jobs together”, he stated.
Much to the wrath of his economic advisors, who wanted him to reduce taxes, Kennedy quickly agreed to a balanced budget pledge. John F Kennedy focused on immediate and specific issues facing the administration and quickly voiced his impatience with pondering of deeper meanings. In addition, he negotiated the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and initiated the Alliance for Progress.
End discrimination against African-Americans
In his speech, President John F Kennedy called Americans to recognize civil rights as a moral cause to which all people need to contribute and was “as clear as the American Constitution.” He conveyed how the proposed legislation would lead the nation to end discrimination against African-Americans.
During the summer of 1962, Kennedy had a secret taping system set up in the White House, most likely to aid his future memoir. It recorded many conversations with Kennedy and his Cabinet members, including those in relation to the “Cuban Missile Crisis”.
John F Kennedy was in Texas on a political trip to smooth over frictions in the Democratic Party between liberals Ralph Yarborough and Don Yarborough as well as conservative John Connally. 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.
The former President was taken to Parkland Hospital for emergency medical treatment, where he was pronounced dead 30 minutes later. He was aged 46 at the time of his death and had been in office for 1,036 days. President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, at 12:30 pm, Central Standard Time, on Friday, November 22, 1963.
Lee Harvey Oswald, an order filler at the Texas School Book Depository from which the shots were fired, was arrested for the murder of police officer J.D. Tippit and was subsequently charged with Kennedy’s assassination. He denied shooting anyone, claiming he was a patsy.
However, Lee Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby on November 24, before he could be prosecuted. Consequently, Ruby was arrested and convicted for the murder of Oswald. He 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.
The assassination of President John F Kennedy proved to be a pivotal moment in U.S. history because of its impact on the nation, and the ensuing political repercussions. A 2004 Fox News poll found that 66% of Americans thought there had been a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy, while 74% thought that there had been a cover-up.
John F Kennedy Wife
The former President met his future wife, Jacqueline Lee “Jackie” Bouvier when he was a congressman. Charles L. Bartlett, a journalist, introduced the pair at a dinner party. They were married a year after he was elected senator, on September 12, 1953. After suffering a miscarriage in 1955 and a stillbirth in 1956, their daughter Caroline was born in 1957 and is the only surviving member of JFK’s immediate family.
Jackie was born on July 28, 1929, but later passed away on May 19, 1994. She was regarded during her time and afterward as an international icon of style and culture. The couple had four children, two of whom died in infancy.
In November 1993, Jacqueline was thrown from her horse while participating in a fox hunt in Middleburg, Virginia, and was taken to the hospital to be examined. A swollen lymph node was discovered in her groin, which was initially diagnosed by the doctor to be caused by an infection. The fall from the horse contributed to her deteriorating health over the next six months. She passed away at 10:15 p.m., she died in her sleep in her Manhattan apartment at age 64.
John F Kennedy and Jacqueline Lee Bouvier had four children, two of whom died in infancy. Kennedy’s wife suffered a miscarriage in 1955 and a stillbirth in 1956 (their daughter Arabella), their daughter Caroline was born in 1957 and is the only surviving member of JFK’s immediate family.
John F Kennedy Jr. was born in late November 1960, 17 days after his father’s election. The press nicknamed him “John-John” as a child. He was a graduate of Brown University and later died in 1999 when the small plane he was piloting crashed en route to Martha’s Vineyard. In 1963, months before John F Kennedy’s assassination, Jackie gave birth to a son, Patrick. Nevertheless, he died after 2 days due to complications from birth.
John F Kennedy was educated at the Edward Devotion School in Brookline, and the Dexter School through the 4th grade. His father’s business had kept him away from the family for long stretches of time, and his ventures were concentrated on Wall Street and Hollywood. In September 1927, the family moved from Brookline to the Riverdale neighborhood of New York City. Kennedy 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 suburban Bronxville, New York, where Kennedy was a member of Boy Scout Troop 2 and attended St. Joseph’s Church. In September 1930, Kennedy—then 13 years old—attended the Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut, for 8th grade. In April 1931, he had an appendectomy, after which he withdrew from Canterbury and recuperated at home.
John F Kennedy started attending Choate on September 1931, a prestigious boarding school in Wallingford, Connecticut, for 9th through 12th grade. His older brother Joe Jr. 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 with rebellious behavior that attracted a coterie. They carried out their most notorious stunt by exploding a toilet seat with a powerful firecracker.
The Muckers Club
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 a roommate and lifelong friend Kirk LeMoyne “Lem” Billings. During his years at Choate, Kennedy was beset by health problems that culminated with his emergency hospitalization in 1934 at New Haven Hospital, where doctors suspected leukemia.
On June 1935, Kennedy graduated from Choate, finishing 64th in a class of 112 students. He had been the business manager of the school yearbook and was voted the “most likely to succeed”. In September 1936, Kennedy enrolled at Harvard College, and his application essay stated: “The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several. I feel that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university.
…I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college, but is a university with something definite to offer. Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a ‘Harvard man’ is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.” 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.”
In 1939 Kennedy toured Europe, the Soviet Union, the Balkans, and the Middle East in preparation for his Harvard senior honors thesis. He then went to Czechoslovakia and Germany before returning to London on September 1, 1939, the day that Germany invaded Poland to mark the beginning of World War II.
Two days later, the family was in the House of Commons for speeches endorsing the United Kingdom’s declaration of war on Germany. John F Kennedy helped with arrangements for American survivors of the SS Athenia, as his father’s representative. He did that before flying back to the U.S. from Foynes, Ireland, to Port Washington, New York, on his first transatlantic flight.
When the former president was an upperclassman at Harvard, he began to take his studies more seriously and developed an interest in political philosophy. He made the Dean’s List in his junior year. In 1940 Kennedy completed his thesis, “Appeasement in Munich”, about British participation in the Munich Agreement. The thesis eventually became a bestseller under the title Why England Slept.
Kennedy and Roosevelt families
Besides addressing Britain’s failure to strengthen its military in the lead-up to World War II, the book also called for an Anglo-American alliance against the rising totalitarian powers. While John F Kennedy became increasingly supportive of U.S. intervention in World War II, his father’s isolationist beliefs resulted in the latter’s dismissal as ambassador to the United Kingdom, creating a split between the Kennedy and Roosevelt families.
In 1940 Kennedy graduated cum laude from Harvard with a Bachelor of Arts in government, concentrating on international affairs. That fall, he enrolled at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and audited classes there. John F Kennedy left and helped his father write a memoir of his time as an American ambassador in early 1941. He then traveled throughout South America; his itinerary included Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.
John F Kennedy had 8 siblings. His sisters are Eunice Shriver, Rosemary Kennedy, Kathleen Cavendish, Jean Smith, and Patricia Lawford. On the other hand, his brothers include Robert F Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, and Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.
John F Kennedy Facts
♦ In an attempt to get help for himself and his marooned crew of fellow officers, Kennedy etched an SOS message into a coconut shell, which he gave to two natives to deliver to a nearby base in order to arrange for their rescue. As a reminder of the incident, Kennedy had the coconut encased in wood and plastic and used it as a paperweight. It sat on his desk in the Oval Office.
♦ He faked his way into the navy.
♦ Regardless of how he found his way into the navy, Kennedy certainly proved his chops as an officer once he was there. In 1943, he was made commander of a PT-109 patrol boat that came under attack near the Solomon Islands. After the boat sank, Kennedy and his crew swam approximately 3.5 miles to a nearby island, where they were stranded for seven days until a pair of PT boats came to their rescue.
♦ From a young age, John F. Kennedy battled a range of health problems, some of which appeared to be life-threatening—so much so that he received the sacramental last rites a total of four times.
♦ The Wreck Of Kennedy’s Pt-109 Was Discovered Nearly 60 Years Later.
♦ He is the only president to have received a purple heart.
♦ When JFK married Jacqueline Lee Bouvier on September 12, 1953, in Newport, Rhode Island, his brother, Robert, served as his best man. But that best man got a little wild. Robertbehaved like a naughty teenager, stealing a policeman’s hat” on his brother’s wedding day.
Interesting JFK facts
♦ In 1957, Kennedy was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his book, Profiles in Courage.
♦ John and Jackie had four children.
♦ In 1958, Larry King got into a car accident with JFK, who was then a senator, while in Palm Beach.
♦ He didn’t expect Lyndon johnson to say “yes” to becoming his running mate.
♦ JFK was the last president to wear a top hat at his inauguration.
♦ Though not every incoming president has chosen to have an inaugural poet, the tradition itself began with Kennedy, who asked Robert Frost to recite “The Gift Outright” on his Inauguration Day in 1961.
♦ When Kennedy extended a dinner invitation to William Faulkner, the Nobel Prize-winning author politely declined, telling LIFE Magazine: “Why that’s a hundred miles away. That’s a long way to go just to eat.”
♦ He was the second wealthiest president, with an estimated net worth of about $1 billion in today’s dollars.
♦ JFK donated his entire presidential salary to charity, just as he did his congressional salary.
♦ He was an animal lover. The Kennedy White House was a bit of a zoo hosting five horses, two parakeets, two hamsters, a cat, a rabbit, and five dogs, including a mutt named Pushinka.
♦ John F Kennedy was a speed reader. He could reportedly read about four times faster than that, at a speed of 1200 words per minute.
♦ He was a James Bond fanatic.
♦ A day before signing the Cuba embargo, he bought a lot of cigars. About 1000 Petit Upmann.
♦ He recorded more than 260 hours of private white house conversations.
♦ JFK helped get the Manchurian candidate made.
♦ Kennedy was the target of at least four assassination attempts.
♦ His trusty black alligator briefcase sold for more than $700,000.
John F Kennedy Quotes
» “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.”
» “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
» “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
» “We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.”
» “The greater our knowledge increases the more our ignorance unfolds.”
» “A child miseducated (sic) is a child lost.”
» “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.”
» “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.”
» “The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.”
» “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.”
» “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
» “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”
» “When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. poetry reminds man of the richness and diversity of existence when power narrows the area of his concern. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”
» “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”
» “Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.”
» “Ask not what your country can do for you… ask what you can do for your country.”
» “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”
» “Our problems are man-made; therefore, they may be solved by man. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.”
» “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”
» “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
» “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”
» “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”
» “Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.”
» “There is always inequality in life. Some men are killed in a war and some men are wounded and some men never leave the country. Life is unfair.”
» “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.”
» “The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment, but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy.”
» “The supreme reality of our time is the vulnerability of this planet.”
» “In giving rights to others which belong to them, we give rights to ourselves and to our country.”
Other JFK quotes
» “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”
» “World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor – it requires only that they live together with mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement.”
» “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”
» “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”
» “It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.”
» “The unity of freedom has never relied on uniformity of opinion.”
» “The one unchangeable certainty is that nothing is unchangeable or certain.”
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