John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States from 1961 to 1963. His presidency marked many firsts for the country. He was the youngest man ever elected to the office, the youngest to die, and the first Roman Catholic to hold the Presidency.
John Kennedy (often referred to as Jack) was born on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts to Joseph and Rose Kennedy. Jack was named in honor of Rose’s father, John Francis Fitzgerald, mayor of Boston popularly known as “Honey Fitz.” JFK graduated from Harvard in 1940 and spent a large amount of time studying history and politics. He entered the Navy following graduation and fought during WWII in the South Pacific where his PT boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer. Jack commanded a crew of 12 men who he led to safety through the night by clinging to a small piece of the boat that was still afloat before coming to a small island in the mid-pacific.
When he returned home, Jack was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps medal for leadership and courage. In 1946 he ran for Congress in Massachusetts’ eleventh district. He served six terms in the house of representatives before advancing to the Senate in 1953 shortly before marrying Jacqueline Bouvier. In 1956 he almost gained the democratic nomination for the Vice Presidency and following that he made the decision to run for President in the 1960 election.
In 1960 the Democratic Party elected John F. Kennedy as their nominee for the Presidency. Kennedy chose Texas senator Lyndon B. Johnson as his Vice Presidential running mate. In defeating Vice President Richard Nixon in 1960 at age 42 Kennedy became the youngest President in US History.
The Kennedy White House was known as Camelot and America was obsessed with following the Kennedy family. The nation was enthralled with Jackie and the Kennedy’s young children. There was a sense of mysticism surrounding the Camelot years. The country fell in love with the Kennedy family and was devastated on that sad November day.
Kennedy’s presidency wasn’t all glamour and fun. It was plagued with international crises and domestic difficulties. The Cuban Missile Crisis and Bay of Pigs invasions were major struggles that Kennedy faced. The Cold War was in its early years and tensions with the Soviet Union were strong. On the home front, racial tension was on the rise and protests across the nation were continuing to grow. Kennedy’s progressive agenda for Civil Rights was stuck in congress until Lyndon Johnson became President and was able to pass Civil Rights legislation.
In November of 1963 President Kennedy was gearing up for the 1964 Presidential election and decided to make a swing through Texas in order to raise funds for the Democratic Party. During his November 22 stop through Dallas, President Kennedy was assassinated. There remains controversy surrounding his assassination and a variety of conspiracy theories regarding who shot Kennedy. The Warren Commission Report which was the legal report on who killed President Kennedy states that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President Kennedy.