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


Portrait of President John Kennedy  (National Archives)
Portrait of President John Kennedy (National Archives)



John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th (1961-1963) President of the United States. Kennedy was the youngest person so far to be elected U.S. president (although Theodore Roosevelt was some months younger when he became president upon William McKinley's death), and the first (and as yet only) Roman Catholic president. He beat Richard Nixon, Vice President in the previous administration, in a famous, closely-contested presidential election in 1960. Theodore H. White's 1961 book about that election campaign, The Making of the President 1960, was not only a national best-seller but was also used as a supplementary text in high school and college courses in U. S. government and history.

For various reasons, Kennedy was, during the time he served, perhaps the most popular president in U.S. history. He was a handsome, photogenic man who seemed open and accessible, and his administration marked a notable increase in direct media exposure of the president to the public at large, through television broadcasts from the Oval Office, televised press conferences, and numerous photo spreads in popular magazines. The "charisma" Kennedy and his family projected led to the figurative designation of "Camelot" for his administration. His glamorous wife "Jackie" was as newsworthy as he was, and the way they handled personal tragedies, especially the death of their newborn son Patrick Bouvier Kennedy in August 1963, enhanced their public image.

The house where Kennedy was born in Brookline (in the Boston, Massachusetts, metropolitan area) is now a National Historic Site, open to the public: Kennedy served in the US Navy in World War II, and while he was captain of a PT Boat that was sunk in the Pacific Ocean, he sustained a back injury that plagued him for the remainder of his life, exacerbating a disease the public did not learn of until long after his death. (In May 2002 a National Geographic expedition found what is believed to be the wreckage of that PT-109 in the Solomon Islands: Link to National Geographic News) For his book Profiles in Courage, published in 1956 while he was serving in the US Senate, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Information released after his death leaves no doubt that he had at least one, and probably several extramarital affairs while in office, including liaisons in the White House. Such things were not then considered fit for publication, and in Kennedy's case, they were never publicly discussed.

Kennedy was president for only about 1,000 days. This brief tenure was marked by such notable events as the acceleration of the United States' role in the space race, the beginning of the escalation of the American role in the Vietnam War, the Cuban missile crisis, and the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba; these events aggravated the Cold War with the USSR. He appointed his brother Robert F. Kennedy to his Cabinet as Attorney General.

President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. Lee Harvey Oswald, apprehended for the crime, was himself fatally shot by Jack Ruby before he could be formally charged or brought to trial. Investigations by the FBI and various committees under the auspices of the United States Congress have all concluded that Oswald acted alone, but that official verdict is still highly controversial: The methodology and evidence supporting that conclusion have been strongly disputed by a number of persons, including some who were involved in the investigations.

Kennedy was the most recent Democratic president to push for income tax cuts to improve the economy. He was also the most recent Northern Democrat to win the Presidency.

In November of 2002 long secret medical records were made public, revealing Kennedy's physical ailments were more severe than previously thought. He was in constant pain from fractured vertebrae despite multiple medications, in addition to suffering from severe digestive problems and Addison's disease. Kennedy would get multiple injections of procaine before press conferences in order to appear healthy.



 

 
Photographs of President John F. Kennedy



Eleanor Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, 03/01/1961 (National Archives)
Eleanor Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, 03/01/1961 (National Archives)





Kennedy and Khrushchev at Vienna Meeting, 06/03/1961 - 06/04/1961 (National Archives)
Kennedy and Khrushchev at Vienna Meeting, 06/03/1961 - 06/04/1961 (National Archives)





President Kennedy and family. President Kennedy, Mrs. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Caroline Kennedy. Newport, RI, Hammersmith Farm., 09/29/1961 (National Archives)
President Kennedy and family. President Kennedy, Mrs. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Caroline Kennedy. Newport, RI, Hammersmith Farm., 09/29/1961 (National Archives)





Presentation of NASA DSM to Astronaut Glenn. President Kennedy inspects interior of Friendship 7. president kennedy, col john glenn, jr., others. cape canveral, fl, hangar s., 02/23/1962 (National Archives)
Presentation of NASA DSM to Astronaut Glenn. President Kennedy inspects interior of “Friendship 7”. President Kennedy, Col John Glenn, Jr., Cape Canveral, FL, Hangar “S”., 02/23/1962 (National Archives)





Jackie  Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Jr. White House, Mansion, Nursery., 08/1962 (National Archives)
Mrs. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Jr. White House, Mansion, Nursery., 08/1962 (National Archives)





Kennedy children visit the Oval Office. President Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy ,Jr. White House, Oval Office, 10/10/1962 (National Archives)
Kennedy children visit the Oval Office. President Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy ,Jr. White House, Oval Office, 10/10/1962 (National Archives)





MRBM Launch Site 1 San Cristobal, Cuba 25 October 1962, 10/25/1962 (National Archives)
An example of the photos that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis showing Cuba with Soviet missile equipment - MRBM Launch Site 1 San Cristobal, Cuba 25 October 1962, 10/25/1962 (National Archives)





President Kennedy and his brothers. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Senator Edward Moore Kennedy, President John F. Kennedy. White House, Outside of Oval Office., 08/28/1963 (National Archives)
President Kennedy and his brothers. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Senator Edward Moore Kennedy, President John F. Kennedy. White House, Outside of Oval Office., 08/28/1963 (National Archives)




Photograph of White House Meeting with Civil Rights Leaders. June 22, 1963, 06/22/1963 (National Archives)
Photograph of White House Meeting with Civil Rights Leaders. June 22, 1963, 06/22/1963 (National Archives)





Photograph of servicemen removing the flag from the casket of President John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery, as the late President's widow and other mourners look on., 11/25/1963 (National Archives)
Photograph of servicemen removing the flag from the casket of President John F. Kennedy at Arlington National Cemetery, as the late President's widow and other mourners look on., 11/25/1963 (National Archives)





President's Family leaves Capitol after Ceremony. Caroline Kennedy, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr. (2nd row) Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Patricia Kennedy Lawford (hidden) Jean Kennedy Smith (3rd Row) Peter Lawford. United States Capitol, East Front, Washington, D.C., 11/24/1963 (National Archives)
President's Family leaves Capitol after Ceremony. Caroline Kennedy, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr. (2nd row) Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Patricia Kennedy Lawford (hidden) Jean Kennedy Smith (3rd Row) Peter Lawford. United States Capitol, East Front, Washington, D.C., 11/24/1963 (National Archives)

 
Quick Facts about President John F. Kennedy

Rank: 35th (1961-1963)
Followed: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Succeeded by: Lyndon Johnson
Date of Birth May 29, 1917
Place of Birth: Brookline, Massachusetts
Date of Death: November 22, 1963
Place of Death: Dallas, Texas
First Lady: Jacqueline Lee Bouvier
Profession: politician
Political Party: Democrat
Vice President: Lyndon Johnson

 
To learn more - use these online Internet resources

  • The American President: John F. Kennedy - Fact file and comprehensive biographical sketch based on PBS series. Also includes gallery and quotations.
  • Deconstructing Camelot - ABC special report contrasts Kennedy's public image with what White House insiders knew about his private behavior. Offers video and related articles.
  • Evelyn Norton Lincoln - Biography of President Kennedy's secretary and Navy wife, Mrs. Lincoln. Words taken from contemporary press reports.
  • Influence of Joe Kennedy - Excerpts from books about the influence Joe had on his son regarding his first campaign, first senate campaign and the presidential race.
  • Internet public Library JFK - Background information, election results, cabinet members, and links.
  • JFK New Frontier - Collection of speeches, sound recordings, photos, favorite books, and background on JFK.
  • JFK Resources - Offers book lists, presentations and cancelled envelopes.
  • JFK Resources Online
  • John F. Kennedy Memorial - Dedicated to the memory of John F. Kennedy. It contains biographies, speeches, and a collection of photos.
  • John Kennedy's Vietnam Rhetoric - Extensive review of the public rhetoric of Kennedy on Vietnam concludes that he would have had an extremely difficult time withdrawing, given his public statements.
  • Kennedy Postal Stamps - Timeline featuring birth dates and family information on the Kennedy Clan. Examine and buy the stamps and get historical information about an American Dynasty.
  • The Kennedy Way - Features articles, audio clips and photos of John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy
  • Tears of a Thousand Years - Historical perspective on JFK by Ted Groseclose.
  • Time Magazine Person Of The Year 1961 - From the January 5th 1962 issue of Time magazine, the article citing John F. Kennedy as the magazine's 35th person of the year.
  • Top Biography JFK - Full biography, epilogue, important events, quotations, chronology, famous speeches and images of 35th president JFK.
  • A Tribute To Jack and Jackie - Collection of pictures, quotes and facts about JFK, Jackie and other members of the Kennedy family.
  • Will Of JFK - Text based version of the last will and testament of JFK.


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