John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), commonly known as “Jack” or by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States. He was in office from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. He was the youngest President elected to the office, at the age of 43. Events during his presidency included the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Space Race, the African American Civil Rights Movement, and early stages of the Vietnam War. He was the youngest President of the United States to die in office.
Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on May 29, 1917. He was the second of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy (1888–1969).
Kennedy graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations. Before World War II began, he tried joining the U.S. Army, but was rejected because he had back problems; he instead joined the Navy. When his PT boat was sunk by a Japanese destroyer in 1943, he seriously injured his back. He still saved his surviving crew, for which he was later rewarded with a medal for his bravery.
He was elected to the US Congress in 1946, and the US Senate in 1952. He married Jacqueline Bouvier on September 12, 1953.
Kennedy was a member of the United States Democratic Party. He beat his Republican Party opponent, Richard Nixon, in the 1960 presidential election. Kennedy was the youngest president ever elected. He was also the first Roman Catholic President and the first president to win a Pulitzer Prize. Kennedy was a very good speaker and inspired a new generation of young Americans.
In the beginning of his term, he approved the CIA’s plan to invade Cuba. After the invasion turned out to be a failure, the Cuban Missile Crisis began. During the crisis, Cuba ordered a lot of nuclear missiles from the Soviet Union. It was the closest the world was to having a nuclear war. He ended the crisis peacefully by making an agreement with the Soviet Union. They agreed that the Soviet Union would stop selling nuclear weapons to Cuba. In return, the U.S. would take its missiles out of Turkey and promise to never invade Cuba again.
He also created a plan called the New Frontier. This was a series of government programs, such as urban renewal, to help poor and working class people. He created the Peace Corps to help poor countries all over the world. He also called for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which would make discrimination and segregation illegal.
President Kennedy’s Civil Rights Address, June 11, 1963
Kennedy meets with leaders of the March on Washington in the Oval Office, August 28, 1963
The Kennedys and the Connallys in the presidential limousine moments before the assassination in Dallas